Women Entreprenur Series Conference

Last year my BFF and I opened a small business called Trata Threads. We had an awesome idea about making products that celebrate cultural identities. How many times have you walked into Babies R Us to see an endless variety of bibs, onesies and t-shirts talking about Auntie, and Grandma or Uncle? That’s all well and good for those people who use traditional American names for their relatives, but in my family, Auntie = Titi, Uncle = Tio, and Grandma = Abuelita, and there are names that are missing like Madrina (godmother) and Padrino (godfather).  One of the best part of this country is diversity, but we don’t see much of it in our stores. So we decided to do it ourselves.

The problem is that we don’t know the first thing about business.

Fortunately the State of NJ is trying to become business friendly. In these interests, they are hosting a series of conferences for Women Entrepreneurs. I missed the first one, but my bestie, and our friend at LJ Treasures in the Sand, carpooled to yesterday’s second in the series conference.

After exploring a few tables of vendors who are specific to helping small businesses obtain financing, we helped ourselves to some breakfast and met some interesting people. There was a representative, Josephine Ho, who was on the planning committee for this event and was also a member of the New Jersey Chinese American Chamber of Commerce. People were very friendly and interested in discussing the different businesses and ideas for businesses we all had.

The morning keynote speaker, Tracye McDaniel spoke about the efforts NJ is making to encourage businesses to set up shop in NJ, and bring jobs to our state. She stressed the importance of small businesses in helping our economy and closed with a few tips on how to stay motivated. She said “Motivation doesn’t last…but neither does bathing”, so we have to find ways to stay focused and motivated on our goals. She suggested changing your screen saver to an ima

ge that motivates you, whether it’s your business card, or even a business card/logo of a business that inspires you. Use a strategically placed white board to deliver daily affirmations to yourself. Finally, she said, Know your circle of influence.

This is an important one to remember, because whether we realize it or not technology has given us the opportunity to maintain contact with more people than ever.

Keynote speaker, Tracye McDaniel, talking about NJ’s efforts to encourage businesses and on staying motivated.

Use your social media tools for networking and help other people succeed. Every person you know is potential referral. With that in mind S, over at LJ Treasures in the Sand, created a facebook page to help Women in NJ achieve this goal. On the Women Entrepreneurs- NJ group page you can find women like you, who are starting out or trying to expand their small businesses. You can vent your frustrations, read informative articles, or use it as a venue to get your company out there. We hope to see you there soon.

For more information on the Women Entrepreneurs Series, click here.

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My Bizzaro DIY Mother’s Day Gifts-


This post has moved to www.bizzaromom.com, click this link to see the post, and please don’t forget to change your bookmarks!

 

An Atypical Mother’s Day Present

I do love flowers, don’t get me wrong. I love chocolate too, and a day at the spa–well, that’s something I simply adore.  I’ve only had two Mother’s Days (not including the one where I was pregnant). In those two years I’ve watched my awesome hubby struggle with what kind of gift to get me. I mean, what kind of present really expresses how much someone means to you? Big G really is a sentimental guy at his core, and doesn’t ever want to do half-step anything. So this year, when he was asking me about Mother’s Day, during what I secretly call the pre-holiday interview, I mentioned that I wanted something that was going to last. I’m not big on jewelery, and getting an appliance as a gift sends my inner feminist into an angry whirlwind, so we discussed getting a tattoo.

At first Big G wasn’t a big fan, but as the conversation progressed I began to explore how grateful I am to even be a mother at all. After all, the whole reason we decided to have Little G was because after some regular exams brought back an unfavorable test result, my doctor’s recommended treatment had a significant chance of making it impossible for me to carry a pregnancy to term. “If you want to have a baby, I’ll let you put off treatment for a year, but that’s as far as I’m willing to wait,” my doctor told me. I remember the way I felt as if a clock was ticking down the moments until I would have to be treated, and how scared I was that I didn’t get pregnant the first month we tried. Once we were pregnant we moved onto worrying about moving before I was too pregnant to handle it. The walls of my one bedroom apartment began to close in on me as my belly grew larger, but we found a way. We always find a way to get by, and if we don’t find a way, we make one. It’s the best part of our family. The end of my pregnancy was torture. I had kidney stones twice. While treating them we discovered that Little G was breach, and didn’t look like she was planning to move. I cried as the water birth plans we’d made began to fade away. Twice doctors tried to turn her, a pretty uncomfortable and unnerving procedure that is pretty much what it sounds like, they push your baby from the outside, guided by an ultrasound, to get her into position. The first doctor hadn’t clipped her nails and my belly was covered in scratches and my confidence was bruised. The second time we were warned that should she not turn, we were going directly into the operating room for a cesarean. The night before was awful. Both of us were scared. Both of us were disappointed that the birth we’d wanted was not taking place, and most of all, both of us were worried about our Little unborn G.

No, the turning didn’t work, and, yes I ended up having a c-section. It wasn’t what I’d planned, but it was still one of the most incredible things I’d ever experienced. One minute we were a family of two, and a moment later we were three. Big G, Little G, and me. But that was only the beginning. Adjusting to motherhood was difficult. Trying to breastfeed was a painful disaster. Trying to stop breastfeeding was just as bad. Formula was expensive, finances were tight, and then there was the fear. SIDS, viruses, vaccines. I would sit perfectly still at night listening to the sounds of her stirring in her bassinet, just so I knew she was alive. If she was too still I’d get up and run my finger along her hand to see her reaction. I was constantly convinced she’d died. I was never withdrawn from her, but post partum depression didn’t leave me unscathed. I cried in the shower, sad about the scar across my belly. But I got through it. We found a way.

Motherhood and marriage has it’s ups and downs, and my experiences have been no different. We always find a way…or we make one. We are built to survive.

So after research and several long talks, we found something we liked. A quote by Hannibal who was faced with crossing the Alps- Aut inveniam viam aut faciam” – “Either I will find a way or I will make one”.  Once we read it, it was decided.

Now that you’ve heard the story, tell me what you think of my Mother’s Day present:

Hilary Rosen: I invite you to do my job

Mitt and Ann Romney

Last Thursday, Democratic strategist, Hillary Rosen commented that Republican Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, was not someone “regular” women could relate to because she’d “never worked a day in her life”.  Just to put it out there, I’m not a huge Romney fan, and there’s no love lost between us. However, when I heard these comments I couldn’t believe my friggin’ ears! Has feminism really strayed so far?

Back when I was in college, minoring in Women’s Studies, the idea of being a stay at home mother frightened me. My own mother was a stay at home mom, although back then they called her a housewife, who deftly balanced the duties of raising three children alongside cleaning house, doing laundry, and producing the kind of home cooked meals that has made her a legend in our extended family. As someone who has never been a fan of cleaning, who would rather be lounging on the couch with a book than potty training a toddler, the whole concept wasn’t so much foreign as it was daunting. The discussion amongst my academic peers, however, was a fierce one. Was a woman who chose to stay home a traitor to the feminists who blazed the trails which opened the White House doors to women like Condlisa Rice and Hillary Clinton? Was a woman selling herself short by staying home? To add to the debate, there has been a huge trend of college educated,Ivy League, women choosing to to stay home with their children. Are these women abandoning their educations to eat bon-bons and throw cocktail luncheons?

The answer, in my bizzaro opinion, is absolutely NO! In fact, the problem is that we think staying at home is a luxury reserved for the rich, when the truth is that often times the incredibly high cost of child care prohibits at least one parent from working outside the home. Since Little G has been born I’ve done the math, and discovered that I would have to make at least $70,000 a year to bring home a profit. Day care costs, commuting costs (either gas, or public transportation, and the cost of maintaining a vehicle), and the very basic wardrobe I would need to look professional in the workplace would cost most of my weekly salary. Then add onto it the tasks Big G and I would have to share, like cleaning, cooking, and delivering our child to and from daycare, there would be 3 full time jobs between the two of us. This doesn’t include taking the time to educate our child, because let’s be honest, our public school system doesn’t teach kids to read until they are 7 or 8, and the history books they use are less than fair to any other culture than the dominant one. And let’s be honest, I can’t command that kind of salary just now.

What baffles me is that we live in an extremely child centered society, where parents who do not send their children to a train schedule’s worth of daily activities are seen as neglectful. In my eyes, two parents working 80 hour weeks need a nanny, and nannies, my dear Hillary Rosen, are reserved for the rich.

What’s with this mentality that Stay at Home Moms are watchingGeneral Hospital all day long while popping truffled chocolates into their mouths? What housewifeactually does this? Between laundry, dishes, grocery shopping and Little G, I’m lucky if I get enough time to scribble in my blog. Maybe Ann Romney didn’t have to clip coupons, spend hours taking swagbucks surveys, or take on work from home jobs just to have spending money, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t worked her booty off. Let’s not discount the fact that she has had to play second string to a man in politics, soothing a bruised ego when a primary didn’t go his way, making appointments with Mitt’s personal assistant just to spend time with him, or raise her children with a man who was very likely in state less than 50% off the time. The fact that she’s done this job, and has had to LOOK GOOD while doing it, makes her a super hero in my eyes.

As for the feminists who think that stay at home parents are traitors to their gender, let me remind you that birth control wasn’t implemented so that you could stop breeding altogether (despite Betty Freidan), but to help you choose when you were going to start your family, or decide that you didn’t want children at all! Our foremothers didn’t sacrifice, or blaze trails so that we would HAVE TO work. They did it so we could have the choice to be breadwinners, instead of being forced to align ourselves with a man for our own livelihoods.We are fortunate enough, as a society, to live in a place where there can be a discussion about which parent should stay home, because we stay at home moms believe that having a parent at home, to nurse boo-boos, watch first steps, and EDUCATE our children is a more valuable way to spend our time then as a cog in the machine of capitalism.

Hilary Rosen, you should be ashamed of yourself for your words. Ann Romney, just like you, exercised her right to choose to work from home. You decided you’d rather have a stranger raise your kids, and that’s your decision. Perhaps you think that because Mrs. Romney doesn’t get paid for her efforts that she is not working. I would direct you to generations of slaves who would beg to differ. You would have been better off suggesting that she has never “earned a wage” in her life, because for all the strenuous, self-sacrificing, poopy diapers, baby food sneezes, skinned knee mending, and guidance she has never been paid a red cent. You should be saluting this woman instead of condemning her. I suggest you hit the internet and research how much a person would earn were they to do engage in a career of raising children, being a personal chef, chauffeur, teacher, and mentor, combine all of those salaries and see exactly what the job of being a stay at home mother is really worth! Shame on Hillary Rosen, and all of those who supported her sentiments.

I extend the invitation to you, Ms. Rosen, to come to my home for a month and do MY job. Let’s see how much you think the “regular” American woman would be able to relate to YOU then.

Stay at Home Mom and Work From Home Dad–how to deal

Back in September Big G’s office had a fire which sent everyone home for almost a full month. At first it was amazing. I mean, Big G is my favorite person in the universe. Having more time with him was incredible and awesome. Even though he was working, it was like being on a vacation. He planted himself in front of the laptop, on the couch next to me and Little G, and he worked while hanging out with us. It was utopia!

But utopia only lasted for a week or two. Soon Big G stopped getting up in the morning with Little G, something he’d chosen to do in order to make sure they had some one-on-one Daddy/Daughter time, and I was picking up the slack. Our schedules started getting disrupted with another mouth to feed, and someone in the bathroom when I needed it. I felt like I needed to make sure we were available during his down time, so we sort of hung around not doing anything all day. The messes started to accumulate faster than I could hope to keep up with them. The dirty dishes, the laundry…I started to drown in it all.

It was almost a relief when he went back to work. Yeah, I missed him, but things were easier to manage without a third person around all the time. Apparently things at the office began to transition. Big G had outgrown the job, and the company itself was heading in directions he wasn’t sure he wanted to go. The problem was that he was pretty crucial to the running of the company. So, he worked out a deal where he was set to leave in the new year, and he’d work from home until then. Part of this was to help them learn to live without him while completing tasks they just didn’t have time to assign to other people, and part of it was to help give him the time to start looking for work. Big G is brilliant. So no one thought he’d have any trouble at all finding a bigger pond, but the whole working from home thing…for months…was going to be a huge challenge.

It’s not an uncommon issue. In fact, with technology advancing so quickly there are lots of companies that are having their employees work from home to cut the overhead of running an office. Lots of families are now finding themselves having to share work time with home time, and work space with home space. Add to that the rigors of having a stay at home mom in the mix, and this can cause a significant explosion. That’s not to say there was any explosions on the bizzaro front, but there was a real need for change.

It wasn’t a tough conversation, but it happened. I outlined my needs, he outlined his and we came up with a solution that worked for us. For one, when Big G was working, he had to go to work. Luckily for us he already had an office space in the basement with everything he would have had in his office outside the house. He still wanted to get up with Little G, but didn’t mind if I gave him a break every so often. For his own sanity he had to go through the motions like he was leaving the house. That included getting up, getting coffee, taking a shower and getting dressed. When he went to the office, he was working. This kept him out of our hair for the day. At lunchtime he’d come up and eat with us, and then go back down.When he was done at work, he came upstairs and was home for the rest of the  night. That alone was amazing. Previously his commute was at least an hour and a half. So even if he left work at 5, which never happened, he wouldn’t get home until 6:30. Most nights he wasn’t home until almost 7:30. So now, at 5/6 o’clock, he was home!

The best part was naptime. Little G’s naps usually gave me the ability to get some housework done in peace, but with Big G home, I got an hour or more to do THINGS. He had a monitor speaker next to him, just in case, and I’d be able to get out of dodge while she slept and he worked. Most times it was errands, but occasionally I could go out for lunch with a friend, or get my nails done.

I even wrote an examiner article about it (click here to read it), because we were really able to make it work. Today is Big G’s first day of work, and I sure do miss him. But most of all, I’m really happy that we were able to make it work while he was home!

 

Do you have a work from home hubby or wifey? How do you guys make it work?

Job Description for Stay at Home Mom

IMMEDIATE OPENING: Full time ongoing caregiver needed for children. Currently only one 2 year-old girl, but be prepared for an addition to the family within the next 2 years.

DESCRIPTION: This position requires the creating and maintanence of a daily schedule for brilliant 2 year old girl which focuses on educational development. Special attention to be placed upon reading, numbers to be integrated into a variety of imaginative play, independent play, phsyical activity or a combination of such activities. This is the top priority of this position, however additional responsibilities must be prioritzed and fulfilled, including, but not limited to:

  1. Household cleaning and maintenance. Washing dishes, countertops, oven, tabletops, and stove. Dusting and cleaning in livingroom. Weekly vacuuming of carpeted areas. Bathroom cleaning. Bedroom maintenance including laundry for two adults and toddler.
  2. Financial management including bi-monthly bill payments, management of bank accounts, and savings plans with special attention paid towards saving money wherever possible. Possible tasks include mining internet for coupons, weekly coupon clipping from local newspaper.
  3. Planning, developing and preparing a daily menu which provides proper nutrion to your family. Not all offerings will be appreciated, and you may have to get working husband to eat his vegetables just as often as toddler.
  4. Grocery shopping as needed including major shopping trips every other week to replenish food stocks. This will likely be done with a screaming toddler in tow.
  5. Scheduling, management, and transportation to and from doctor’s visits including well-visits, sick visits, and vaccine management.
  6. Provide emotional support for tired working husband as needed.
  7. Any other task that cannot be completed by working husband since you are the person who is home during regular business hours.

COMPENSATION PACKAGE: This position does not have a monetary compensation package. Benefits may be provided by working husband should his employer offer such services. This is a 24 hour/day 7 day/week job. Possible time off may occur should free childcare services manifest themselves (benevolence from parents or other trusted caregivers), or should working husband have enough energy on a weeknight, or weekend day or evening to provide relief. This should neither be expected nor relied upon. There are no vacation days, nor are there sick days. Should the child be sick or somehow slips from routine, it is your responsibility to sacrifice your own sleeping hours in order to provide responsible adequate care. The only compensation available is the knowledge that you are appreciated, although this is not always expressed, and the unequivocal love of the child. Please note: This child will one day grow up and leave the home, and during her teenage years may use the following phrases: “I hate you”, “I wish I was never born”, “I wish *insert name here* was my mother” along with other spiteful angry phrases. You are to maintain your composure and not allow these words to effect your job performance.

This job requires an incredible amount of sacrifice. You are welcome to pursue your own career goals should you be able to find the time to do so without taking away from your primary job responsibilities. This is not a highly regarded profession, and may be regarded by your peers as “the easy life”. There will be an overwhelming majority of people who think you watch television all day and eat bon-bons. Despite the fact that most people have never seen a bon-bon, there is very little you can do to convince others that your work is equitable to the work load of any other jobs held outside the home. Your career will be put on hold until the children are of school years, and even then you will be required to be home with the children to do homework and work on projects, as well as deliver them to extra-curricular activities as needed.

SPECIAL SKILLS: Please have the following skills:

  1. The ability to remove pain or stress with a kiss.
  2. An instant knowledge on home remedies, and an aggregation of symptoms, treatments, and proper procedures for any and all illnesses or injuries.
  3. Patience.
  4. Endless energy even without sleep.
  5. A bottomless well of love.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS: This job involves very little adult interaction. You may be tempted to overwhelm working husband with verbal vomit about dirty diapers, gossip, and interesting tidbits about laundry detergent, but this is not advised, as working husband has spent the entire day dealing with people and just wants a little peace and quiet. It is your responsibility to maintain your own sanity, as there is no one else around, and your primary objective is dependant upon it.

Please attach resume for consideration, as well as references to the skills and qualifications outlined within this job post.

 

 

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