5 Ways You Know You’re Getting Older

I don’t know HOW this happened, but I’ve been feeling, well OLD lately!  It’s been creeping up on me a few times in the past few months:

1. An 8 year old tells you that you look like the mom from iCarly.  This happened over summer.  She added to that saying, “but you’re nice.”  Umm…thanks?!

2. Names of things change – no more brontosaurus, it’s actually apatosaurus. I’m learning from story time right along with my two and four year old!

3. There are fewer planets: see ya Pluto!  I’m not sure where that puts my amazing solo during the “Oh Pluto” planet song during a fifth grade assembly.  Somehow I still remember the words (some sung by other dear friends):

“Isn’t it lonely?

To be the only.

The last planet on the rim.

And it ain’t so nice.

Being just rock & ice.

Oh Pluto.”

It goes on to talk more about “from the cold blackness where I sit,” but that’s all I remember from verse two.

4. Your game has declined.  For me this means my basketball and volleyball skills peaked 15 years ago! One mean-spirited former colleague once told me that I won’t be able to play basketball and volleyball when I get older, so I should really take up golf. Given that my alumni team took second place in our basketball tournament, I’m STILL managing to play the sport I love. (Cue image of me thumbing my nose at said former colleague)

5. You’re not the youngest at work anymore.  I guess working with people almost ten years younger than you CAN make you feel old. They don’t understand your childhood references like He-man or She-ra (obviously an important topic at work) and may not know Axel Rose (true story). I find myself looking at my boss, who is part of my generation, and just smiling at the reaction to some of these “generational difference moments.”

I can clearly remember my first jobs in my twenties.  I was the nerdy one showing up with the company issued work badge at the regional office, showing up so early that I had to just sit in the very small lobby, and wait for someone to come and let me in past the key-coded door.  That same person who punched in the code and let me in the office area immediately noticed my badge and said, “We don’t use these here.”  Rookie mistake.

I remember being SO tired during long work days and afternoon meetings.  Perhaps I ate too many carbs and the low lighting needed for Power Point presentations made conditions ideal for some good head-nodding, fighting-a-nap maneuvers.  Horrible! I was mortified that others noticed, so I made sure to caffeinate prior to such meetings. I shared this story with some older and wiser friends, and they just laughed, teasing me about being a young’in and remembering those days themselves. Fortunately I outgrew this and adjusted to long work days and meetings of many kinds.

After much learning in my early twenties, I am now comfortably in my thirties. I enjoy remembering those kid-free days of my younger colleagues. Despite my “old feelings,” I wouldn’t want to go back, as I’ve truly embraced all of the roles that are part of me as an individual, wife, employee, and mom.

Do you have “old moments?” How do you cope?

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Jeans Day Everyday!

The wonderful small business for which I work part-time has adopted a casual work attire policy.  It literally can be jeans day everyday – except when there is a customer meeting.  This is great, right?!  It IS quite lovely and easy to throw on a pair of jeans and a nice top on mornings when I head out the door for work.

However, having been accustomed to business professional dress (wearing suits almost everyday), I’m struggling to put together work-appropriate jeans-wear that couldn’t also be worn to a bar for going-out.  I’m not a huge fan of skinny jeans, which also happen to be my date-night jeans.  Other pairs of jeans are part of my “mom wear” on my work from home as a full time parent days. I hope they don’t look too much like Mom Jeans!

Similar to mom jeans, a few months back I wrote about my “mom bob.” While I LOVE being a mom, I don’t want to have a hairstyle or clothes that immediately scream MOM. As a 30-something mom, I feel stuck in a fashion rut.  I can’t dress like a 20 year old, though I’m not ready for the cat applique sweatshirts either.  Plus shopping with a toddler and pre-schooler in tow is not exactly enjoyable, so I avoid it at almost all costs, just wearing what I have in my closet.

Maybe I need to upgrade a few pieces. Maybe I’m not digging the skinny jeans and flowy tunics that remind me of too much of maternity wear. Maybe I need to consider shopping in different stores. Maybe I need to just wear yoga pants and throw my hair in a pony tail and hope that What Not to Wear is secretly watching me. I totally understand why moms are helped by that show so often because it’s so easy to put everyone else in your family first, leaving your appearance and clothes much lower on the priority list.

Any advice dear readers / blogosphere?  Do I need to search Pinterest for outfit inspiration?  What casual work attire do you think works best?

Memories of Japan: Part II

As I really enjoyed reading blogs about Japan and sharing my own stories in Memories of Japan,  I felt inspired to break out my very first scrapbook of my summer in Tokyo.  I ended up taking pictures of my favorite pages (kind of lazy, old school, right?) since I don’t have a scanner.  Overall, I think you’ll be able to get the effect of my scrapbook along with my riveting informative narrative.

As I mentioned in my first post on Japan, I met a lovely family through my best friend’s, cousin’s friend. Here I am when I met them for the first time, when they kindly met me in Yokohama and drove me to their home.  I love the expression on their oldest daughter’s face – like “WHO are you?”  I stayed with them overnight and the mom graciously escorted through the HUGE maze of Tokyo station with my massive suitcase.  I was so grateful for their friendship.  They made my three-month stay so much more enjoyable!

meeting new Japanese friends for the first time

meeting new friends

Here’s my scrapbook page of my apartment in Akasaka, an area of Tokyo that is home to many embassies (and is very safe and conveniently located).  It was a tiny apartment for sure and the street leading up to it looks like many typical streets in Tokyo (which is part of the reason why I got lost on my first day going home – especially since it was already dark).  My sister and I pose by the address, and I show off the supplied utensils that the apartment provided. She and her boyfriend – now husband – visited me and were also able to stay at my apartment in a separate room. It wasn’t much – a pot, a spoon, a mug.  My mom, who also visited me, teased me that it reminded her of the song Anatevka from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

small apartment in Tokyo

Here’s a picture of my bathroom – complete with slippers that are strictly reserved for that room.

bathroom slippers and other customs

My sister poses by the squat style toilets that she really liked.  I didn’t mind using them either, though it was a PAIN to pull down panty hose on a hot, humid day to use this type of toilet.  Other toilets were super high-tech with built in seat warmers, bidets, and even music you could play, so others in the public bathroom would not hear your personal business.  Great, right?!

I also learned from our rather strict, conservative Japanese translator that it is incredible rude to walk down the street and eat at the same time.  He wanted to stop, so I could either finish, throw away, or put away my Starbucks scone.  I guess it can be a bit sloppy and sort of rude, but geez, can’t a girl get a quick snack with coffee?!

karaoke fun I LOVED doing karaoke in Japan – especially because you do so in your own private karaoke room.  You simply call on the phone and order whatever drinks or food you would like (think small plates of bar food, sort of like tapas but Japanese style).  Various karaoke places even had musical instruments or props you could buy / rent.  I didn’t exactly do a lot of ordering of food or buying accessories, as I usually went with Japanese speaking colleagues or in this case with my Japanese friend.

my last day in Tokyo

This last page is from my final day in Tokyo.  As you can see in part of the picture, I wrote a detailed schedule for myself, so I had everything organized for my last day.  I’m pictured with members of the marketing departments with which I spent part of my internship.  We formally did “greetings” and gave presents to five sections of the company, which took about thirty minutes.  Notice how NO ONE is touching in all of the pictures.  I’m so used to putting arms around other people in pictures – even if it is work people – but this certainly wasn’t the norm in Japan with larger personal space bubbles around everyone. I truly missed shaking hands and giving hugs – and desperately wanted to do so on my last day! Oh well…

When I paid my final bills at my apartment, I realized that I had inadvertently packed one of the provided spoons, so I had to pay for it!  Not a big deal, as I wasn’t going to rifle through my huge suitcase, but funny nonetheless and indicative of the fine attention to detail that is commonplace.  I was unable to navigate my luggage on the short walk to catch the bus to the airport, so I hailed a cab to drive me there!  By 11:30 – almost two hours after going to work, saying goodbye & giving gifts, taking the subway back to Akasaka and picking up luggage – I was on a bus to the airport ready for the return flight to Atlanta and then Chicago.

My parting thoughts in my scrapbook are as follows:

As I finished this scrapbook, I often paged through it wondering if these pages really captured all of the emotions and experiences that I went through during my three months in Tokyo. This was truly an unforgettable “growing” experience for me.

I came head to head with a new culture – one that I found fascinating & endearing at the same time. Fortunately in this high tech, neon-lit city I found friendship. The compansion of Yukie, Tokie, Mr. Hara, and many others truly made me feel more at home in a very different place.

Frequent reminders of home – whether a visit, phone call, letter, or email – also helped me through the ups & downs. I was so happy that my mom, sister, and (future brother in law) could get a taste of Japan and join in my exploration.

Most importantly, I learned that I can feel “at home” and still feel close to loved ones no matter where I am in the world.

I’m really excited to see that Tokyo won the 2020 Olympic bid – since I was there during the 2002 World Cup. Hopefully a return trip with my husband will be in our future!  Check out the related article. It includes a picture of my favorite view of the Imperial Palace: Nijyubashi.

 

I’m 1 Year Old! Happy Birthday Go Mama O!

Cheers! My Blog is officially 1 year old today! AND it’s my 100th post! I celebrated last night on a date night with Daddy O.  Here I am toasting myself with a cucumber, cilantro vodka concoction.

blog bday

We had the most amazing tapas! It was the perfect meal for an end of summer evening to dine al fresco and sample bits of this & that (without committing to one HUGE entree). This savory waffle with smoked gouda and chives topped with chicken asparagus and mushrooms was so pretty I HAD to take a picture before devouring it. Tell me I’m not the only one who takes pictures of my food…c’mon! delicious tapas

Looking Back

Reflecting on Go Mama O’s first year, I would say that I have learned a lot this past year.  One of my earliest posts, Top 5 Things I Learned from my Kids, still holds true even one year later, and I’m STILL learning to be a more patient parent.

In this past year, I met some helpful fellow moms along the way – including a sweet elderly woman at a grocery store. Gained a contract job that I did while my son napped and my daughter watched all episodes of  Wonder Pets on Netflix. I job hunted & got rejected several times before finding the right fit.  In the meantime, I learned to slow down more and enjoy many million dollar moments of parenting.

I am most proud of times when I gave up control a bit and empowered others to make a “good choice.” When potty training my daughter, I ultimately told her that SHE WAS IN CHARGE of her pee-s and poops.  I mistakenly gave her too much free reign on one toilet session, and paid for it dearly, so much so that I had to call in for back-up.

This aforementioned incident aside, I started to realize that this parenting thing DOES get easier as your kids grow older and slowly more independent.

Come April, I had landed a part-time marketing job that continues to be a good balance of work & parenting.  A few job related posts:

We have mostly overcome issues with growling, survived a cross-country road-trip, and I’m adjusting to the dinnertime rush on my workdays. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come (and my family too) in this past year.  For all the stress and worry that I felt one year ago, I wish I would have just RELAXED more because everything did work out for the best.

Thank you so much to the many fellow blog-friends, and my readers, who may relate to or simply enjoy my mom / work / cheese obsession / travel posts.  I look forward to celebrating more Blog Birthdays with you in the future!

Any feedback, suggestions, or thoughts on topics that I write about?  I’d love to hear from you!  Do you frequently look back at old posts and think about how life has changed since then?

Story of Mum: mums making an exhibition of ourselves

I came across this amazing post from Mum Turned Mom this morning, and it’s words truly resonated with me. I could relate to being defined by what I did – my job – and the difficult decision to make a career downshift when I had my two, beautiful children.  It was the best decision I have EVER made, and I am a much happier mom (now working part-time) with more balance and gratitude in my life.

Read on as this fellow Mum / Mom serves as curator for this virtual exhibition, and enjoy the happy, go-mama message!

Story of Mum: mums making an exhibition of ourselves.