laid off and learning to love it… my journey from corporate sprinter to life marathoner

the sweet spot: look at them 08/12/2013

Filed under: General,Parenting,SAHM Choice,Uncategorized — ccatet @ 6:47 am

usually i am right next to my kids, walking and talking with them. but this summer, i have been able to watch them from a distance a little more – and they amaze me.

last summer they both wore life jackets EVERY TIME we hit the pool. now they both swim like fish (or a mermaid in the case of my daughter). this week, they were each practicing flips in six foot water, my son was cannon-balling off the diving board and my daughter was swimming across the width of the deep end – and she did it easily. she bobbed and flipped between front crawl and backstroke, taking her time and enjoying the water. my heart swelled with pride.

i have to stand back, and not cling too tightly. they are ready to do it alone.  i am not quite ready for it, but i won’t hold them back. i watch them move through the water with such happiness and grace. and while they are good swimmers, they are also new swimmers. they aren’t aware of all the things can happen. true to my motherly duties, i watch around them constantly and keep them in spots where they can have fun and be safe.

the process of teaching a child to swim is in stark contrast to my old work life with deliverables and deadlines. you cannot rush any child to swim, or put him on any kind of deadline. you can offer lessons, expose them to water, make them feel safe, and make the time fun. and based on how frequently you do this, your child may or may not swim in the next ten years.  it can be a long road, or a shorter one. it all depends on the kid, and you.

nobody tells you this out of the gate, but most aspects of parenting are like this: a very long road. there can be so much day to day minutiae, especially as they get bigger and more autonomous, that you forget to just look at them and take it all in.

i don’t get sentimental very often. yet this summer, more than ever before, i am aware that they are becoming big kids and we are sliding into the sweet spot. my baby turns 5 and starts kindergarten next week. the minutiae is in high gear with birthday events and school coming, piled on top of the end of summer activities. even though i still need to get a lot done to be ready for each event, i will find a way to actually take it all in – by their side and from a distance. i don’t want to miss a thing.


sahm: summer bucket trip to youngs dairy 06/06/2012

Filed under: Activities — ccatet @ 8:20 am

last week, we made the one hour trek on 70W to young’s dairy near yellow springs.

we all loved it, and here’s why:

farm animals, check.

sinks to wash hands after petting farm animals, check.

large tractors to climb on, check.

burlap bag slide where my kids could catch some air, check.

an enclosed play area with plenty of shade where the kids could play, run, get really dirty and worn out, check.

homemade ice cream, check.

happy kids and mama, check.

read my guest post at cbusmom.com for more information and some tips if you decide to make the trip! Fun times!


sahm: summer bucket of fun 2012

Filed under: Activities,Parenting — ccatet @ 6:46 am

it’s summertime, and i have a plan.

although i can’t believe it, this is my FOURTH year and my fourth summer home with the kids. i have learned much about myself – and them – in these years. during the summer, one of the things i have learned is that i need a loose framework through which to manage the long days, especially for the times when no formal activities are scheduled.

i can’t help it, i like a plan. you can go ahead and call it a schedule.

and yes, there is a summer daily checklist. it’s a sickness, i tell you.

the checklist essentially is the framework for our daily life during the summer. i won’t bore you with the other four things on our summer daily checklist, but i will tell you about the most exciting part of the checklist for the kids: the summer fun activity.

our full list of summer fun activities shall from this point forward be known as our summer bucket of fun.

thanks to pinterest, i took the bucket idea from here and browsed this list of 100 things to do with your kids this summer. i then asked the kids what they wanted to do this summer. i looked at our calendar with their camps and classes and decided to pare the list down to approximately 40 activities so we would essentially have something fun (and new) to do every weekday this summer – mostly for the days when there was not another activity formally scheduled.

don’t freak out. some of these activities are as simple as doing hopscotch in the driveway – and as big as going to kings island.

here is a picture of our bucket. 

and here are the 40+ items on those clips you see.

  1. tie dye t-shirts
  2. draw self portraits
  3. make oobleck (slime)
  4. have a lemonade stand – donate half money to food pantry
  5. have hopscotch fun
  6. do some sand play at a beach (alum creek, huntington, etc)
  7. go bowling
  8. make puppets
  9. camp out with tent in backyard
  10. make beaded necklaces
  11. donate time / volunteer
  12. make bird feeders
  13. go to a parade
  14. visit cosi – farm days
  15. visit cosi – big machines days
  16. visit youngs dairy
  17. pick strawberries
  18. pick peaches – utica
  19. visit ice cream factory – ye olde mill in utica
  20. pottery painting – clay cafe visit
  21. build boats from juice containers and find a place to test their floatability
  22. swim at friends’ outdoor pool
  23. visit jungle jacks
  24. visit anthony thomas for a factory tour
  25. bike ride to DQ
  26. go to a baseball game at huntington park
  27. go to movie at dollar theatre
  28. make chalk paint and paint up driveway
  29. collect crayon bits around house and melt into large crayons
  30. build an obstacle course
  31. go to kings island
  32. draw a play city on butcher paper, tape to floor – add directionals, cars, etc
  33. go to a fair – ross county, ohio state, etc
  34. visit inside trampoline place
  35. visit santa maria downtown pirate ship
  36. work on an art project with lids
  37. show a movie in the backyard projected onto house – invite friends to bring canned food for donation
  38. make homemade ice cream
  39. go to pb&j jazz
  40. visit olentangy caverns
  41. go to a columbus commons friday funday
  42. have a mini-olympics session

for the summer, in an attempt to fire up my writing again, i will share some of the things we get into. also, i will share what we choose to bag and why, mainly so you can get entertainment from my failures and hopefully avoid my mistakes. we also may add some new ideas in as we stumble on them… i am crazy like that.

in all honesty, i think my kids would read books and play legos every day this summer and not be bored for a minute. and for those days when they ask for this “schedule” and nothing else, i am happy to skip the bucket and let them run the show. but for those days when they are looking for adventure, i am glad i won’t have to think too hard to keep them engaged. the work around this bucket is done so i just can pull ideas whenever i need them.

i have to say, it’s good to be spontaneous – and i do it much better when i know about it ahead of time.


runner’s ego: training to lose 03/11/2011

Filed under: General,Running — ccatet @ 3:10 pm

i ran my first half marathon almost 6 years ago. ah, may 2005: pre-engagement, pre-wedding, pre-marriage, pre-kids… the uncomplicated life. my finish time was a 2:06-ish. i was pleased because after running casually for almost two years, i finally had a baseline and it was an average of 9:36 minutes per mile. fast forward 6 years, and i want to try again. however, i also want to improve my time and lose some minutes.

i have been debating my second half marathon for over 6 months now. here’s my problem: i am competitive with myself. i want to run my next half marathon under 2 hours. i believe i am faster than i was six years ago, and i want my race time to reflect that. this is definitely my running ego talking.

i have determined that to achieve my goal, i need to run under 9:06 minutes per mile. yep, this means around 30 seconds less per mile compared the last race.

shaving several minutes off a race goal is no small feat. the good news is that i have had essentially six years to get ready. ha! plus, i have an amazingly supportive husband who will do whatever he can to make sure i get all my training time in. the bad news is that my knees are not top of the line. plus, training for the last race, i developed plantar fasciitis which requires a really fashionable boot to correct. i have to be cautious and diligent with training so that i do not injure myself – or end up wearing corrective gear that makes me look silly.

to top it off, i don’t like to run in races. it’s not my running mantra. first and foremost, i like to run for the peace and quiet of the road and how good it feels physically and mentally. i run on a treadmill in the winter to avoid injury and it’s not nearly as relaxing but i do it to keep my fitness level up. secondly, i am a cheapskate and do not like to pay someone else in order to run.

i also struggle with the idea that training for a 13.1 mile run, where i could potentially injure myself thereby taking away one of my great joys, conflicts with wanting to run for the next 20-30 years of my life. the need to run and be active is vitally important to me, yet i want to prove to myself that i can do another 13.1m – and do it better than my first.

here is where you come in. if you’re reading this, you’re probably a friend, a former colleague, a former classmate, or someone who reads every blog in the stratosphere and stumbled upon mine. regardless, i need your help. it’s difficult for me to coordinate training with anyone since it’s a constant juggling act to find the time to train just by myself. as a result, i am lacking camaraderie and motivational running spirit in my training. this is my official request for support and encouragement: please. i need it and will take any ounce of it you throw my way. thanks in advance.

i *feel* like i can do this. i just registered for the race and paid 70 bucks saying i *think* i can do this. now i just need to actually do this, and train hard enough to lose. wish me luck.


saving money: one month down 02/01/2011

Filed under: Organization,SAHM Choice,Saving Money — ccatet @ 7:54 am

i need tangible goals. i will admit that i enjoyed the annual review process and goal setting when i worked in corporate america. i know, i am a sick person. yet there was something rewarding and fulfilling about knowing what was expected of you for that upcoming year.

the first year after i was laid off was all about survival: could we pull off living happily on one salary plus my part time meager income? once i knew the answer was yes, i knew i needed to challenge myself. in the absence of goals, i tend to lose focus on the bigger picture. to combat this, last year i set a few financial goals, never even sharing them with anyone but my husband. i was thrilled that by december 1, 2010 we had met all goals!

for 2011, i needed to change it up. i stumbled upon a simple organized living article in november which spoke of items a certain frugal family never pays for. i was intrigued. click here to read it. subsequently, i spent time over the holidays reviewing our 2010 budget. specifically, i was curious which categories we spent the most in and where we might have room for additional savings.

let’s be serious. i wasn’t willing to go to any extreme. i refuse to cut out diet coke, a margarita here and there, 1-2 monthly restaurant outings, my iphone, running shoes, gutter cleaning, or the rare trip to the dollar movie theater with the kids. first, i made a decision to not renew any magazines during 2011. this is no biggie since i have ZERO time to read them anyways. plus i know i can find the same, if not better information, online.

next comes the second and much larger goal. during 2011, my husband and i will refrain from purchasing clothing and accessories for ourselves, with the exception of running shoes. although my husband would probably survive given the +15 pairs of running shoes he has around the house currently, i am not willing to injure myself in the process of meeting this goal!

in the 31 days since 2011 started, this goal has already not been easy – for me. my husband will probably not notice that the year has passed without new clothes – men!! me on the other hand, i have been eyeballing a more functional winter jacket and have gotten ticked off at the lack of water protection on my current winter boots. yet, almost daily i remind myself that they are perfectly fine and i do not need anything.

on the plus side, i am looking very closely at everything i wear (and don’t wear) and already have a nice pile of items to donate. i am fairly certain that by the end of this year, i will know exactly what items i truly need and will be much more conscious about clicking “add to cart” and “submit order” in the future. i also hope to sock enough away in our family vacation fund that we can actually go somewhere this year and pay for it all up front –  maybe even disney!

i can now say that – whew – i made it through one month. only 11 more to go. wish me luck.


sahm: dinosaur bones in cleveland 01/31/2011

Filed under: Activities,General — ccatet @ 3:14 pm

several times during my childhood, my mom took my brother and i to the cleveland museum of natural history. one of my favorite parts was climbing the huge stegosaurus out front! i was excited when i learned that this museum was also FREE with a COSI membership – and yes, the stegosaurus is still there!

considering my 4Y son is enamored with dinosaur bones, i thought it would be fun to check it out with him. click here to read part 2 of my museum day guest post on the cbusmom blog!

it was a fun but long day. thankfully, the most expensive thing about the day was taking the kids to red robin for dinner… but the unlimited french fries always have a way of perking me up! YUMMMMMM!


sahm: going new places, doing new things 01/25/2011

Filed under: Activities — ccatet @ 8:43 am

a few weeks ago, i made a new friend at the rec center. this should come as a surprise as i tend to be somewhat anti-social with new people. remember, i don’t like people? however, she was funny, friendly, and normal. plus, we’re both aspiring to run more. and so, a new friendship began.

a few days later, i learned that she writes a major columbus blog for parents! yay, new ideas AND a new friend! amazingly, she asked me to write a guest post for her – my first! i am thankful to her for reminding me that i have a blog. i had almost forgotten.

if you haven’t already checked her out, Cbus Mom is a great local site offering first-hand information on where to go and what to do with kids in columbus, ohio. today her guest post is part 1 of our recent trip to visit two museums in cleveland. Click here to read it!