EVPHO

Executive Vice President, Home Operations

Real Interviews For The World’s Toughest Job

This is a priceless experiment!!!   Goes to show you that when you spell out all that is required of moms it is more than just a job, it is the #worldstoughestjob.  (And double that for all those working mommas!)

 

 

I also love that they point out the respect people give job titles.  For whatever reason, Stay At Home Mom just isn’t a title that garners the same respect.   Director of Operations though – now that is something worth applying for!  That is why when I left my awesome career in politics, my farewell email to colleagues and friends stated not that I was leaving work, but assuming a new career and role as EVPHO of the Rudloff Family.  I didn’t see it as quitting work – it was a career change.

 

 

OMG They Are Just Like Us!

From the moment children are born, everyone loves to comment about what traits they get from which parent.  Associate A has a cleft chin like his daddy, and Associate P looked just like me when I was a newborn… but we could already tell he had his Daddy’s feet.  I joked that he was me from the belly button up, the CEO from the waist down ;)

Trying to identify all those cute little physical traits is magically mind-blowing because reality is kids are 50/50 of their parents, and even the most adorable mini-me parent look alike will have some undeniable similarities of the other parent.

The REAL fun begins as the Associates develop their personalities and it because obvious – sometimes awkwardly – that they are just like us.

  • Associate P has his daddy’s OCD tendencies already in full bloom.  Lord forbid I put two foods on the same plate or hand him a wet cup… “DRY IT mommy!”  And he already is very eager to wash hands if at all dirty.  Cute, if you like washing a million kiddy cups every day.  But, just like his daddy, this OCD tendency is just that.  Thankfully, neither are fully over the cliff with quirks, and both are completely oblivious to the tornado of mess they leave behind them.  As long as what is immediately in front of them makes orderly sense, they are happy campers.
  • Associate A does not like to be told “No.”  I have always struggled with this, and become more defensive than a Buckeye lineman facing off against the school up North if I hear the big N-word.  Associate A has also had a visceral, primal reaction to the word from just a few months old.  He throws a mini-terror for 30 seconds…. usually.  Sometimes longer.   Combine that with the way he is eating lately and maybe he will grow up to be a Buckeye lineman.
  • Associate A also loves to dance like his mommy.  Put on some music and that kiddo will bust a move.

Maybe we should look for more of the cute positive personality trait similarities, but usually they only jump out at me when they are the negative ones.

Just yesterday I really reached outside of my comfort level to suggest some painting with BOTH associates.  I am not naturally creative, nor is that where I would say I enjoy spending my time… but it is good for both kids imaginations and fine motor skills, so thus I am compelled to offer it.  Normally this is an activity I enjoy 1:1 with Associate P.  Associate is the wild card free spirit, which is even more reason I should be doing this with him.

Easel and big brown paper on the ground on back porch, check!  Washable paints, check! Clothes off the associates, check!  Towels, rags and wash bowl ready, check!   We were all set to have some amazing creative fun…. for exactly 6 minutes.  They had a great time. Associate P painted two nice neat pictures of garbage trucks for daddy, and Associate A made an amazing amount of mess covering himself in gooey paint from head to toe.

Associate A Mixing His Palette

Associate A Mixing His Palette

They impressed me with their focus.  Associate P set out with a vision and took great care mixing his colors.  Associate A was giddy with joy at the creative process. I thought to myself, “OMG they are just like the CEO.”

The entire time they were painting I was also shallow breathing telling myself it was ok.  That is what they were supposed to do.  It would all clean up. Thanking God for washable Crayola paint.

And after the brief inspired burst ended, they were more than happy to spend 30+ minutes washing the brushes, scrubbing down the easel and wiping down the messy paint cans.

Associate P Washing Brushes and Hands With Great Care

Associate P Washing Brushes and Hands With Great Care

As my blood pressure dropped, I felt a sense of pride swell up as I saw Associate P hose his brother off and help him wash the brushes.  Then I thought “OMG, are these kids me or what??”  I am the one who restores order and is a caretaker… and only enjoys creative release in small doses.

It was a perfect example of their 50/50 split.  They are a little me, a little of the CEO and everyday we get to see a little bit more of their own unique personalities shine through.

 

 

 

 

BUSTED!

So this past weekend I was exhausted… for a number of reasons other than just being a mom of a teething toddler.   I ran a 5k (go me!), the CEO had been out of town for an entire week (i.e. I stayed up too late every night working on the computer), and I’d been losing sleep over a to-do list that has grown out of control.

So Sunday, as jet lagged daddy and associate A napped, I took Associate P out for some 1:1 time.  We biked around the neighborhood and parked at the playground.  After about the millionth game of “pay a toll with a kiss to get by,” I could barely keep my eyes open.  It was 78 degrees, sunny, perfect and breezy.  All I wanted to do was lay down.  So I pulled a play from the dinner playbook and bribed my little one.

“If you let mommy lay on the bench and take a little 10 minute nap, I’ll give you a cookie when we get home!”

Associate P enthusiastically agreed, and promised to stay in the little playground area and play quietly.  I flopped over on the bench and passed out faster than you can say “I LOVE NAP TIME!”

I know he is only 2 1/2 but he is the most cautious kid in the world and won’t consider doing anything remotely exciting or dangerous unless my hand is within reach, so I had full confidence he would stay clear of the huge climbing wall and just be playing “yard work” — cleaning the mulch and bushes  — like he usually does.

10 – maybe 15 – minutes later I open my eyes.  My sweet boy is siting on the ground next to my bench playing with a stick. Then I notice there is another family that has joined us at the playground.  I sit up, wipe the drool from my cheek, and say a quiet prayer they just arrived and didn’t just observe me sleeping while my kid examined rocks and mulch.

I was totally BUSTED napping on the job.  Hopefully they didn’t then hear Associate P say, “can we go home and get my cookie now, mommy?”

We Really Can Have It All

I very vividly remember arguing with my women’s studies professor.   I could not believe a modern American educated woman could complain about our opportunities and choices.  We are the most blessed class of people to have ever lived, IMHO.   We can take on men in the classroom, board room and bedroom, yet we can demand they treat us like ladies and welcome all the traditional acts of chivalry.  Even after working in Politics, a classic example of a male-centric industry, I never doubted that myself or any other amazing woman I worked with could achieve anything we set out to.  We could if we wanted to.

But the reality is, many women don’t want to.  Many women reach a point in life – I blame the hormones – where they value their opportunity to be mother and they willingly choose to “sacrifice” career.

Girls increasingly outnumber and outperform boys in all areas of higher education, and are graduating with  degrees left and right.  In fact, social science is beginning to turn its concern to the poor boys being emasculated at young ages or left behind as their female peers accelerate.

But opportunity to succeed can’t change the simple fact that women are the ones who have both more of a physical and emotional investment in child rearing.   Women not only have to spend time away from work to give birth to the children, but many women choose careers that will allow them flexibility so they can be more available to their families.

From an interesting 2012 article in The Atlantic

“a big part of the difference comes from an hours gap. The vast majority of male doctors under the age of 55 work substantially more than the standard 40 hour work week. In contrast, most female doctors work between 2 to 10 hours fewer than this per week”

Some might read that and think it is a negative for women.  No way.  It is another example of how women today really do have it made.

This TED talk is so worth a watch and really explains very well that

 “60 years after The Femine Mystique was published, many women actually have more choices than men do.  We can decide to be a breadwinner, a caregiver or any combination of the two.”

I love this TED talk, for so many reasons.  It highlights how modern dads, like my CEO, take pride in being an active parent, help around the house and even enjoy cooking – things not embraced by previous generations.  It highlights that having a partnership where one is a caregiver and the other is a breadwinner isn’t traditional or old fashioned, it is functional and purposeful.  It also has a few great lines in there, like “we need to re-socialize men.” :)

But mostly I love it because hearing this self-described feminist explain her ah-ha moment gives me hope that maybe my poor old women’s study professor has had her ah-ha moment too.

“I have come to believe that we have to value family every bit as much as we value work” Anne-Marie Slaughter

YUP! And when we do, we, men and women, really can have it all!

 

 

Let’s Play Find The Poop

I play all sorts of silly games with the kids to help make mundane tasks seem fun.  Pretending we are cranes to pick up toys, etc.   I bet every parent dabbles at least a little bit with this sort of psychological manipulation with hopes they will be the gold star parents to have a teenager who actually likes to help around the house.  (wishful thinking I know!)

It is so second nature, I can make just about any activity a game, in hopes it will brighten my Associates’ spirits and increase cooperation.  Sometimes, like today, we do this to lift MY spirits and remind me not to get upset about the silly stuff kids do.   Let me reenact a scene from earlier today for you:

Scene One: Picture a happy bath time, cleaning up after a fun morning at the beach and lunch.  Two toddlers splashing without a care in the world.

Mommy: It’s time to get out!  Who wants to go first?

Associate P:  Associate A, Associate A.  I get two more minutes.

Mommy Scoops up Associate A, who wiggles and giggles while being patted dry.  He waddles off, presumably to find his lovie and paci, while mommy scoops up Associate P.   Once dry he scampers into his room, and I follow, expecting to see two perfectly clean toddlers naked and ready for clean comfy clothes before nap. 

Mommy: Holy $#!*.   

Associate A is standing next to his brother and his entire bottom and legs are covered in Poop.  Mommy scoops up the soiled child and takes him back to the tub, watching where she steps along the way.  Associate P follows behind. 

Associate P: A poopied mommy! He did it! Did he go poopie in the potty?! Where did he do it mommy? Where? 

Mommy:  ( trying not to cry while doing unthinkable things with my bare hands and warm water.) I don’t know hunny.  I don’t know where he went poopie! Please just sit right there until I get your brother…

Associate P: (interrupting excitedly) Let’s play find the poopie mommy!  Poopie where are you?  Poopie Where are you?!”  (running off… brief silence….) Oh, here it is Mommy!   I win.  I found the Poopie! 

END SCENE

cartoon-poop

Needless to say, this has never happened to me before, and it is a lesson I don’t need to be taught twice.  From now on Associate A will be placed directly in a diaper after bath… no more streaking for him.   I really had to laugh and thank God that everyone was in such a great mood.  Perhaps Associate P saw that I was about to loose it and was emotionally advanced enough to recognize he had to act fast and make it a game.  More likely, he was just imitating what he hears me do, which is find the fun in absolutely everything.  Especially when dealing with poopie situations.

Just Own It

Why fight it?  We are a family with two small kids. We have two cats.  My husband is obsessed with UCF.

So I figured, why not fully embrace what it means to be in this phase of life and go ahead and put the equivalent of a tramp-stamp on my precious car.  YOLO!!! Am I Right?!?!

Photo Feb 18, 5 53 53 PM

 

Unlike an awkward or inappropriate tattoo, I have zero regrets about my life and would be proud for anyone who drives up behind me to say “OMG! Becky, would you look at her trunk!  That sticker is SOO BIG.  Who does she think she is?  She looks like an overeducated housewife.”

And yes, I am tempted to buy the Ohio State family sticker pack and replace the mommy and one child with OSU characters.   But I’ll let the CEO have a win for a while and then when he least expects it, and stops checking, I’ll swap them out :)

For My Mr. Right

February is a stressful month for me.  Valentines Day and my husband’s birthday are super close together and every year I struggle to decide how to translate what the love of my life means to me into some sort of gift or gesture.

Some people are really good gift givers, unfortunately I am not.  Not only am I a super thrifty shopper, I rarely (READ: never!) get to actually go shopping by myself to browse and contemplate gifts in a non-child-stress-induced-rush. For at least three years now, I have survived buying everything I need from Amazon.com, Publix and The Lamb Shoppe.

For a while I tried to say that the CEO was just hard to buy for… he is the type of guy who likes technology and buys  gadgets for himself.  Then I tried to excuse my behavior because we are experience people who enjoy traveling and doing things together.  The reality is, there are things he wants, things he could use and things that would make him smile that I should know and be able to acquire for him.

He desperately needs new athletic socks.  He wants the new xbox.  Neither seem appropriate (we HAVE 2 xboxes, before you men gang up on me) So here I am struggling to find something somewhere between white tube socks and expensive electronics that screams “I love you!”

Ugh. It really bothers me.  Why is it so hard for me to give meaningful, thoughtful gifts or gestures for my favorite person in the whole world?

I started this post about three weeks ago, and have been coming back to it night after night.  After much thought I have realized it is because I will never be satisfied. Nothing will ever be enough – special enough, big enough, or symbolic enough – to show him how much he means to me.  Anything I could buy will seem like junk from oriental trading compared to the love in my heart.  Cheesy, I know, but that is the reason.

As I think back to gifts of past holidays, birthday’s and anniversaries they have all been fine, acceptable gifts.  But it is my perception that they aren’t special enough that stresses me out and causes me to devalue the gift. Lord knows he has never complained and is always grateful (even the year I got him a cheesy engraved compass from Red Envelope). So this Valentines/Birthday bonanza I am going to let go of my crazy, emotional overthinking.  There is no way he won’t love the surprise I have in store for him.  The boys helped me pick it out and have managed to keep quiet about it too.   Check back in a few days and I’ll post a pic :)

tervis

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Pintrest Almost Ruined My Valentines Day

As a non-creative mom, I was dreading the Valentine’s Day party at preschool…. just like I now dread birthday parties and all other kid related events.  Over the top thematic, unique and detailed craftiness of others is really hard to live up to.

And I get it, Pintrest was made for people like me to get inspired ideas and find little ways to spice up our bland lives.  I am 100% positive I would love it and become addicted to searching and pinning recipes, cool kid crafts and domestic ideas.  Which is exactly why I have avoided it like the Plague.   There is no room in my life for another online addiction. Email, Facebook, news (not really, but I want you to THINK I take the time to read current events. I am hoping to improve on this), and my volunteer efforts keep me tied to my computer and smart phone waaaayyy more than I would like.

So this week I have tried to join the When at Home blog in her Tech Free Challenge.  I have been more conscious about putting the phone away, on a shelf, and not carrying it in my pocket.  It greatly reduces the urge to check it while playing with the kids.  I have tried to keep it away during meals, when normally I take advantage of them be confined and occupied so I can squeeze in a few moments of “productivity.”  A shocking thing happened.  Meals were enjoyable and actually a little less messy.  Maybe it would be easier to ensure the food goes in the mouth, rather than just check out and then clean up the tornado wreckage after.

On Tuesday, Associate P’s school reminded us to bring valentines in on Thursday to share with his little friends.  I panicked.  I knew, with 100% certainty that other moms were on Pintrest right then creating something that would be adorably awesome.  I knew all I had to do was log on, create and account and I too could be a crafty creative mom and wow these 2 year olds with a Valentines Day Pun they have zero chance of understanding.

But we had a very busy week.  The CEO works extra long hours on Tuesdays and I’d be on my own for bedtime (read: the house will get destroyed and take an hour to rebuild after the kids are down), I still had 3 loads of laundry to fold, I had legitimate volunteer business to attend to.  We had play dates, gymnastics and a much needed moms night out Wednesday.  I did not have time to try Pintrest this week, I was going to have to make it through another holiday on my own.

It isn’t pretty, but Associate P and I made 8 little Valentines. He helped cut and put stickers on.  I sloppily wrote Happy Valentines Day on them. And you know what, we had fun doing it.  We sent him to school yesterday with a brown sandwich bag filled with our little creations and 2 Hershey’s kisses for each kiddo.  No ribbons, designer stamps or puns were used.  I prayed that the other moms would think ours were sweet and cute, not lazy and sloppy.

When I picked him up and looked through the bag of Valentines he would get, there was only one Pintrest Valentine.  I was so relieved.  The rest were store bought with a piece of candy.  A few had let the kids scribble on the cards.

We are all moms, just trying to get by, doing the best we can.  There is a time and place for Pintrest and I love the idea of it.  But I’ve come to terms that I’m choosing to express my creativity in another way, and that’s ok.

Photo Feb 13, 1 37 56 PM

The Tech Free Challenge

mmmmm…. pepperoni.

Tonight Associate P had Pepperoni and Strawberries for dinner.  The thought of the combo makes me want to throw up and it was hard for me to watch him scarf it down.

I wonder if that is how he felt when I suggested he try the delicious healthy balsamic chicken and spaghetti squash with spinach, tomato and feta.  Maybe my little man is a high-brow foodie, and behind his screams of “no, no, no” he was really thinking “I can’t believe she paired that together.”

The things kids will and won’t eat changes day by day, even moment by moment.  Lunch was a freak out when I spread the sour cream on his quesadilla…. no no no, woman.  Scrape it off and leave it on my plate so I can dip at my leisure.  Yes, your highness.  Whatever you say.  Anything to get your mouth full of gooey food for a few moments, so it is impossible to ask “why?” or bark orders at me.

Associate A, on the other hand, is at the glorious 1 year mark and growing so fast he will eat anything I put in front of him, beg for more, and finish his brother’s dinner.  Associate P used to be that way.  Then he turned 2.

But, always quick to recover and woo my love back, he asks me to save his dinner not throw it away.  “Maybe next time I’ll eat it.”

I won’t hold my breath.

 

Siblings Are A Gift

As soon as we realized we were pregnant with our second, I plugged the required data into a pregnancy app to figure out the due date: Dec. 24th.   Our line from then on was that “We are giving Associate P the best gift he will ever get.” Of course most people assumed we said that because it would be a Christmas baby.  But I really believe that siblings are a gift we give our kids.

Siblings are a special relationship for so many reasons.  You share your life with them.  Friends and neighbors may come and go, but family, as they say, is forever.  You took a bath together when you were little and know each others embarrassing adolescent secrets.  For both my husband and I, there was no question who we wanted to stand next to us at our wedding: our siblings.  No matter where your individual personalities and talents take you, your siblings will always be the people who know you, the whole story.

I love my siblings and know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their influence on my life.  As the youngest of five, I have been able to learn so much from them.  Some things I learned a little earlier than maybe I should have… ahem.   Now as an adult, one of the best compliments I have ever received was to hear that they have learned a few things from me as well.

This is not to say it is an easy relationship.  To the contrary.  It is one of the hardest, most frustrating  relationships you will ever have.  Whether you are too similar, or polar-opposites, from the time you are in diapers your siblings are both friend and foe.  As I’m learning now with my two little ones, the competition for a parents attention is a fierce and babies instinctively covet whatever object it is that their sibling has, and they lack.  Most siblings don’t outgrow these emotions, they grow up with them.   And I find Birth-Order influence fascinating.  I’m no psychologist, but I fully intend on studying and experimenting with its effects on my own kids :)

All this reminiscing is in the wake of the surprising news that my uncle passed away today.  My heart breaks for his kids, of course, but today my heart aches for my dad.  I know he loved his big brother.  I know they have a shared lifetime of memories – happy, sad and everything in between.  And tonight when I saw my little associates cozy in the chair looking at books before bed, I imagined a little Jimmy and little Butchie, 70-some years ago, doing the same thing.

I really do believe that siblings are the best gift we as parents can give our kids…. the gift of a friend for life.

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Executive Vice President, Home Operations

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Executive Vice President, Home Operations

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Executive Vice President, Home Operations

grasping for objectivity in my subjective life

Executive Vice President, Home Operations

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