Friday, August 29, 2008

Chocolate indulgence

A while back a commenter on this blog asked if I wanted to be part of a word-of-mouth campaign for Dove chocolates. Basically, he was offering me free chocolates in return for me talking about them, so how could I resist. It took a while, but at the beginning of the summer they sent me "Dove Pleasure Kit".

It was quite a package they sent. I got a lovely shopping bag filled with goodies. There were four huge chocolate bars, dozens of 'purse packs' -- four bite-size chocolates in each, four packages of sharing chocolates, with about 15 bite-sized chocolates in each, along with a blank journal, a wine glass and a mini-pedicure kit. I assume it's all to reinforce the idea that Dove chocolate should be a woman's indulgence.

It's not a bad word-of-mouth campaign, because I've seen a bunch of other bloggers, all women in Toronto or Vancouver, blog about the chocolates. And I've mentioned them myself in my Facebook feed and my e-newsletter. It's been tough, though, having all this chocolate around my house and trying not to pig out on it. I've shared some with friends, but now I think I should pass more out so I don't have this much chocolate all to myself.

I like the taste of them, although I'm not a huge dark chocolate fan, but I like their milk chocolate and just adore their "dusk" flavour, a mix of milk and dark. And I like the wrappings on each chocolate, because they have really cute suggestions for indulging. Well, some are cute or inspiring, like "Stand up for yourself", "Order dessert first", or "Have a candlelight dinner." But some are kind of goofy, like “A push up bra isn’t cheating,” or ”Remember your first.”But it's fun, like little fortune cookies! Apparently, you can even order Dove chocolates with your own sayings printed inside. I bet these would be great wedding favours.

Anyhow, I recommend trying them, if not for the taste then at least for the amusement factor. And now I've spread the word good and proper, so hopefully someone else will think me influential enough to send me more free stuff!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Invading my space

It's the last week of summer holidays, although judging by all the rain today it's hard to tell what season we're in. Next week the kids go back to school full time and hopefully my husband will get back to his regular working hours (although having had most of the month off with someone else covering all his work, I worry he won't go back or will try to go back for just some of it. This worries me in part because we do need his income, and he has no plan to do anything else. Also because when he's not at work, he's at home, in my space.), and it can't come fast enough for me.

I know I'm about to start a part time job, with two days at an office outside of home, but the other days I want my house back. All summer I've wanted my house back. This isn't just a housewife complaining that her family is underfoot, although that's part of it. But this is my workplace, and I'm sick of my family taking it away from me.

I don't have a real office in our house. I have a nook, kinda carved out with a bookcase for a bit of privacy, but basically my workspace is in the playroom. So everyone is always in here when they're home. When I'm home alone, it's a lovely spot to work. It's central so I don't feel jammed into the basement, I have a huge window right at my desk so I can watch the birds on the backyard feeders. And it's bright and cheery.

But when someone else is home, I feel invaded, no matter how quiet they are. And this summer, between half-day camps, days off and my husband being home this whole month, I have felt very invaded. It's not just that I can't concentrate on work. If that were the only issue I'd unplug my laptop, grab my cordless phone and go to my bedroom where I can shut the door and have some quiet. Thank goodness for wireless internet.

But it's more than that. I see the whole house as my office, not just my workspace, so when someone else is here, it's a loss of privacy. I know they're my family and they live here too, but I just feel, well, invaded. I can't wait until we settle back down into a regular routine next week.

Yeah, back to school!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jurassic Park and other kiddie films

My sons are still pretty young, but my older one is entering the second grade and while I don't like to expose him to too many violent movies, his buddies all seem to be seeing films like Indiana Jones, Star Wars and other stuff that I think is too violent. Am I a big prude because I want to keep the gory and war-ry stuff away from my little guys?

This issue comes up for us now because of Jurassic Park, the 1993 classic (can it be a classic when it's only 15 years old?). We just got back from a great family holiday where we drove to Dinosaur Provincial Park. The boys are now all over anything dinosaur related, so I thought I'd go rent them the film that brought Dinosaurs to life for me, Jurassic Park. But it's rated PG, and I remember being pretty scared of some of the chase and eating scenes, and I was 25 when it came out. So do I let my kids see it?

On the one hand, I want to be the overprotective mom and shield them from this kind of thing. On the other hand, movies like this and ET and Star Wars are a big part of pop culture, and I don't want my kids to be left out if everyone else they hang out with has been exposed to those kinds of things. Imagine being the only kid in the 80s who didn't get the joke when someone said "No Coke, Pepsi!"

If these kinds of pop images form a generation and inform our modern culture, where do you draw the line between keeping your kid up to date and being overprotective?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Old-fashioned driving vacation

When I was a kid, my family took a lot of car trips. We lived in the middle of the country on the prairies, so driving anywhere meant long periods in the car. I don't remember the car parts as much as I remember where we went to, but I also don't remember the car parts as being tortuous.

Well, now I'm the parent and my family is setting off tomorrow for an eight day trip, with basically four full days of driving involved. I am anti-DVD in the car, but I have loaded up the ipods with lots of audio books, have car games ready, surprise snacks, yadda yadda. As the parent, at least at this point in the holiday, all I can focus on is the car part.

But I think the kids will really love our destination -- Dinosaur Provincial Park. And yes, we'll camp there, but we've got hotels planned for the first two days of driving and a two-day stop at a friend's house on the way back. I'm sure it will be fine. Just like when I was a kid.

I hope.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Old enough to see it come back into style

Now that I've got a new job on the horizon, I need to start shopping. I don't have an "office" wardrobe, but then again I don't have much of a budget for clothes shopping. And besides, I'm not a standard size 6, so I rarely find much I like. Frankly, most of the time I see clothes better made for the runway or the high school hallway than I do for a woman of my age or figure.

Anyhow, today I was walking past a consignment boutique that had a great sale on, so I stopped in to see if there was anything I like in my size. I love consignment stores. Everything is affordable, usually in good quality (above the Value Village stuff for sure!), and it's not all this season's stuff, which is good for someone who doesn't like this season's fashions very much at all.

Anyhow, as I perused the racks today, I couldn't believe some of the clothes. There were velour tops, and Flashdance style skirts. There were a lot of things I recognized from my teenage years. I can't believe that stuff is back in fashion.

I'm reminded of my mother talking about sixties fashions coming back into style in the late 80s, when tie dye and mini skirts got chic again, and I remember rolling my eyes about how my mother just didn't understand fashion. She never wanted to discard clothes, because she said they'd come back into style. And she was right, sort of.

But now I'm the mother, and I'm seeing it coming back around to me now. Now I know I'm middle aged.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I said yes

I called the association that offered me the part time job and yesterday I accepted their offer. We agreed that I would start the second week of September (once my littlest guy starts kindergarten), and that we'd work out the details between now and then.

I'm pretty excited about the possibilities, but now have to start making lists of things I need to do before I jump in. First, I need to sort out a new cell phone. Mine is very old, at least three years, and doesn't get email. I will definitely need email, especially for the 45 minute commute in each direction. And I don't want to use webmail at the office, because I've heard a lot of horror stories about companies having the right to read all my email if I access it over their servers, even if it's an outside account. And I need to decide which two days I'll give up to office life. And I need new clothes. I don't have the wardrobe for a job, even at two days a week. Do you think I can wear jeans at least once a week?

This is a big step, but hopefully it's the right one, and a right one in the right direction to offering me more of the security I'm missing as a freelancer, without giving up the freedom and the opportunities I love as a freelancer.

When I called the VP to say I'd take the offer, he was very, very happy, and made me feel welcomed right away. And the office manager emailed the same day too to start talking about what I'll need for office space, admin help, etc. Those things really helped make me feel I'd made the right choice.

The other clincher was my kids. My older son, the seven year old, spent last night at a sleepover, something he only recently felt old enough to do. And my younger guy, now out of daycare as of last week, spent his first day at camp, at the same program that runs after-school care at his soon-to-be school, and when I picked him up, he seemed older, more mature. I took both those facts as signs my kids are moving on, and this is therefore the right time for this kind of change.

I guess 40 really is a watershed year for me, and my whole family.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The downside of taking this job

I have a few more days to consider this job offer, and while there are a lot of pluses, there are also negatives, and I'd like to consider them.

Devoting half my work week, plus commuting time, to the job, might be pretty consuming. I'm sure I'll still be able to do other work, but will I still have time to look for other work? Will I be able to network, go for coffees, go to events? Those are usually pretty useful in the long run to get me more business, and if I'm not doing them, will my incoming work dry up? It would be pretty easy to let a half time job fill my whole week, what with the whole home and family thing on top of it.

And what about the whole home and family thing? Will I have to shop for groceries on Saturday afternoon with all the other working moms? Will I have to do laundry in the evenings? Will I be exhausted every night racing home on the bus to make dinner? Will I have any time left to exercise?

I know it sounds like I'm being lazy, giving up my days at home and having to enter the work world, and it does seem a lot like that. Hopefully with only two days a week in their offices, I'll be able to overcome it.

My other worries are about reentering the office life. It's been about three years since I worked in an office. All the politics, the other people. It's easy to be businesslike and nice when you only have the odd meeting, but when it's all day, that's a lot tougher. And it's hard to go back and forth from the home office to the office office. And then there's the wardrobe. I don't have the clothes for it, even two days a week. And I hate shopping.

And then there's the commute. Their office is clear across town, which I'm pretty sure is two transfers from home, for about 45 minutes each way. I could possibly bike, but I know when it's cold and raining, I don't think so.

On the bright side, I'd need to access my emails on the go, so it's an excuse to buy a new cell phone.

If this is the answer to my worries, why am I still worried?