A good MBA-friend, and my financial planner, gave me a semi-gentle shove toward a networking group. Wow. It was really very cool! I like networking in general, what’s not to like, a collection of people who choose to come together to help each other succeed in business; Social interaction + Capitalism = Win. I was a bit afraid when there was another social media person but she does the other end (like there are ends… ha! more like spaghetti pie) and her preference is in the setup of a site/platform and my preference is continuing content, so, complimentary really rather than conflicting.
I walked in with just about no sleep because Niamh got sick around 3 am and kept me informed of her pain and suffering until morning. The 30min stretches of sleep were full of anxiety dreams half based on a networking meeting, half on sick kids, and another extra half on Niamh messing up my Ingress game. Good thing people in general give me more rather than less energy and I left with a fist full of cards, a meeting set up, and a few “I’ll call yous”. In return, I have a few things I can immediately reach out to people I know, and, a pocket full of people I can recommend when people ask (and I get asked a lot actually). Too bad there wasn’t a handyman there, maybe he could have done my roof… I bet the group knows someone. I have to talk to Lars about joining the group officially and look at the rules because I’m not sure I can actually go every single week but I highly recommend the BNI networking format since it runs quickly and smoothly. Lucky for me at least 5 MBA classes had ‘elevator’ speech components so I’m decent at giving 30 seconds of info.
Later tonight I hope to go to my first PTA meeting. Who knows what that will be like but I’ve got my win for the day already, it would just be extra good to find TWO cool new groups of people.
ps. Niamh is fine, I think she ate too much ice cream and when she finally purged herself of the evil burger king concoction at 7am she was fine and is enjoying a lazy day at home.
pps. as I was spell checking I got the call that Zoe is sick at school. Oh well. cross fingers for a fast and easy virus because Niamh has been right as rain all day post puke. Off I go!
Today is my first day in 90 days that I have had zero children… I sat at my desk from 9am until noon slogging through all the finance ‘stuff’. Last few weeks I stole an hour from the bigger girls to do what had to be done including fighting about PMI and figuring out the billing round and round from Fiona’s overnight in the hospital. Today the treat was going over all the things with a fine tooth comb and I do this every so often because I almost always find a problem (or 5).
You heard that right – in my absolutely normal household expenses I basically ALWAYS find an error. I’ve come to expect it…
I know these things are pretty common because I used to work near people who’s entire job was to look at invoices and make sure they were right. Guess what, there are enough errors to support many full-time jobs in the world. Go look at your bills… Look carefully, look at trends over time… When I was doing my MBA one of the finance teachers primary job was a fraud specialist and I was fascinated by his job, he said that the best way to catch fraud was to read your mail. Too many people put faith in institutions to be doing the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, I think most companies are doing their best, but you can’t just trust without verification.
Our daycare will randomly revert to the tot pricing for Fiona ($20 more per day than preschool room she is in). Not sure how it happens and they always fix it but I always catch it.
The town will sometimes misapply our check for the water to one of the other properties under our name and rebill, or, we get credit for payments from a tenant. I have to remember to check even when I don’t get a bill!
Not to mention the fact that if you have PMI they don’t seem to keep track of when it is over so if you are paying PMI go look and calculate when it should be done and make a note on your calendar to check on it.
Today I was pleasantly surprised with nationstar mortgage. When Nationstar mortgage redid the escrow for the year they found we were over by $25 (reduction in insurance rate, and, minor other reduction). I am overpaying that mortgage by 1/12th a month to pay off the principal faster and have that extra built into the auto pay. The bright thing they did was to reduce the amount I was paying total (including the extra) by $25. I’m incredibly impressed by this because way too often when they refigure the total due they just pop that new number in and beans with any special other things going on. See, low expectations….
It might sound like I harp on every extra penny but I really don’t. I don’t do this review weekly, I do it every few months to make sure things are good. Once I found out our (old) insurance had stopped debiting because they messed up a form in their system and we never got a notice, I just saw they had not deducted for a month… I’ve found items billed on phone/cable/internet bills that didn’t exist, I’ve basically seen too much to trust the system(s)
Ok, enough for the day, I’ve got follow up items for next week set and now on to the bon-bon eating portion of my day off 🙂
My last post on a way too popular topic; potty training.
Our house is now diaper free (pull up at night). #3 is reliable to a good degree to even go by herself. This has been a long journey full of 7.4 years of diapers and I’m happy to NOT have to buy and/or wash diapers anymore.
Personally just NOT buying/washing is all the reward I need but this was a team effort and when the team has an achievement the team needs a celebration. (Someday I’ll write a book on how an MBA is a very good tool for parenting).
The process for training a third child who has close siblings is its own trick. There is the not so small matter of one child getting prizes for going to the bathroom while the other two are told they are too big and had their treats as they were learning too – not an easy lesson for a 4 year old to internalize and accept. Secondly the process of training 1 out of 3 means 2 of 3 are sometimes left hanging while their little sister gets the special treatment or a fast trip to the bathroom dropping everything else. None of this is very fair or fun so long ago I told them at the end, we would have a diaper-free party to celebrate winning as a team.
Today is that day
Niamh actually decided that it was time for a party and took a poll of what they wanted and presented me with a list. Ok, she needs help spelling but that isn’t a stone I can throw.
Here is the resulting cake – chocolate with blue icing, sprinkles, and a dolphin. I have no idea where the dolphin idea came from but I had one in the toy box so on the top it went. We did not do it outside since it is 90 degrees and I’ve had enough of that over the past 2 months and now I have my AC and I’m staying in it!
we added 3 candles, one for each girl who only uses the potty – or, for the 3 years it took Fiona –
It was the first time I made cream cheese icing and I like it, pretty easy overall – 1 stick butter, 1 8oz cream cheese, 2c powdered sugar and 1tbl flavor. I have a bunch leftover too, even after repairing a few licks to the cake.
They were all happy to have a celebration and so am I to mark the end of this phase. It is also a handy thing as an end point for potty treats, any time she asks for one I can refer her to the cake…
I have no idea if this will help anyone else out there potty train a second or third child but the idea that you always celebrate achievements, even small ones, is one I want my kids to have.
On many of my tag lines around and about I put “MBA Mom” and it isn’t (just) because I don’t want to forget that I have a high quality brain functioning behind the scenes but I honestly earned that degree and I use what I learned all the time. I bet you can make a case for any higher degree applying well to parenthood but I think the MBA really and truly fits the parent model.
My job right now is to make good people happen. Not unlike what a manager is supposed to do at a company. Contrary to 75% of my personal experience, a manager is supposed to be helping their employees grow and succeed because successful people are happy, and, successful happy people do good work for the company. Micromanaging, unchangeable protocol, keeping people ‘in your pocket’ and obviously demanding absolute unquestioning obedience is not conducive to a productive positive environment. Those are also entirely, 100%, true for raising kids.
When I see kids with absolute obedience I wonder, do they ever get the chance to explore?
When I see a parent jump in at the first sign of struggle is that micromanaging or loving devotion? What will happen to that shoelace at school?
When I see someone flip out or even just glare about an infraction of ‘the rules’ I wonder if those kids are ever allowed to make mistakes? Good stuff can happen from doing it wrong when not much is on the line.
I saw this poster today on facebook, created by Wittyfeed.com and @kaushik
and can not help wanting to frame it in my house. I’ve explained this a dozen different ways – someone being happy does NOT mean you are not happy, and, someone failing should not make you feel good. You might be unhappy for unrelated reasons but because they are doing well should not trigger feelings in you of unhappiness and what about failure would really make you happy? This is something we officially learned in MBA coursework, but, it is also something lurking around the lessons of life from preschool on. I walk a fine line, I’m not an ‘everyone wins’ person, but, I am an ‘everyone can be happy’ person. There are winners and losers, not winning means you try harder next time.
I can’t say I’m not guilty of all three poor management items above in regard to parenting but days that I follow the right path are always better. The poster though; that I have down. I love to see people do well, I think it makes all of us better and I’m usually sad for others if they fail. I love collaborative games. I think it is great when one of my kids does something excellent and I encourage the other two to not envy but congratulate their sister. There have been times when 2 kids buckle up and #3 is bouncing around the car and they looked pretty smug about the coming tictac distribution and I declare NOBODY gets tic tacs because we win as a team and a few times of that and I’ve got all of them getting in the car like its their job. (it is btw) ((and I’ve just as often rewarded the good buckler and denied the other(s) when they were trying to get their sister to buckle, or, at best neutral/ignoring))
This post just sprung to mind after seeing the poster, i can go on and on about MBA stuff that I’ve foisted on my kids but that’s how life goes. My mom gave me plenty of second hand psychology and I know more then average about vet stuff – I even have a decent knowledge of cultural anthropology in regard to women’s studies and the basics of special ed teaching. Good stuff happens when parents and grandparents talk and kids listen. I’m sure Monday I’ll be back to normal mommy blogging but as a glimpse into my life I have kids that talk about scarcity and market demand and how they earned something (said with pride)…
I want to say that in the end, I did get what I wanted from Best Buy and the actual experience was fine BUT it was a fight to get there AND there is now a policy at Best Buy that will prevent me from ever shopping there for a gift and probably from ever shopping there.
The situation; An un-named 3 year old broke a kindle the day we were going to Pennsic (remember, the MONTH we were away over the summer). I bought a kindle fire on BestBuy.com and had it to pick up at the Best Buy near where we were picking up a friend to go to Pennsic. At Best Buy I asked the geeksquad guy to point me at the right case. He pointed me at the wrong case. I thought it was wrong, he said it was right, I paid $40 and ran out the door. It was wrong…. A month passes and we are away, we take a few weeks to get back on track and I thought “well, we are basically at 60 days, lets motivate and return this thing”.
The Problem; Apparently now Best Buy has a 15 day return policy. So I’m <45 days over the limit and they deny Lars the return.
The Solution; I called customer service and spoke to a few people. My tactics ranged from very polite to not so much and in the end I got a manager at the store who said he would take it back because it was their error.
The lasting issue for me is that 15 days is a blink of an eye. I can’t buy a gift there ever because I like to shop on a day earlier then the day I plan on giving a gift and unless the person rushes right out the next day to return whatever they are stuck with what I give them. I don’t like limiting a gift like that! Best Buy is telling me to shop at Target or Amazon for my electronic gift needs.
This was far more scathing in my head before the return was actually done but there is damage done. I know Best Buy is fighting for a foothold but policy like this is digging the hole deeper. I’m glad the site management is authorized to at least try and fill in the hole but they get a baby spoon to work with.
I am glad to have $40 back and one less thing in my house and if you find this post because you are trying to return something past the minuscule 15 day window my advice is to talk to a manager and mention corporate complaints.
For Lars’s birthday we went out to the new fine dining establishment in Forest Lake MN; Acqua. I was cautiously optimistic, I had heard good things but also conflicting reports so here is my review.
First Impression – Favorable. We drove up and there were pleasantly aggressive valet parking guys waving us up to what appeared to be the sidewalk. It was not really the sidewalk but driving up onto the apron of the restaurant does give a grand first impression. BTW, we drove past a perfectly good parking spot AND that is where our car was subsequently parked but they actually have a very small lot and as a service they do valet to insure positive parking lot experiences. For that they get high marks from me, one of my fears in life is about finding parking.
Restaurant building – I want to say Yacht Club… I suppose I liken it to the Yacht club I know and to ones I’ve seen on TV but it has the open airy feel of a place that is easy to enjoy in the summer. Large windows, wrap around porch, huge deck and the view of a lake does not hurt the yacht club vibe. It is painted bright nautical blue with white accents and everything is fresh and clean looking and feeling. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the view but I peeked into the dining room and it looked like a bright and cheerful place to eat.
Tone – Upscale casual. This is where I had heard different things – I had heard that inside was fine dining suit and tie and outside was boat up burgers and fries. This is not true in either direction. Inside and outside looked the same level to me and had the exact same menu. The patio was not more casual but on the other hand the inside was not overly fancy. We dressed nicely but we saw someone in a sequined gown and also someone in a trucker hat. I would say we were the average look – I wore a khaki skit, cute shoes and a nice shirt, Lars wore jeans and a decent polo style blue shirt. I think the conception of ‘boat up menu’ is because they do have a dock and do get people arriving by boat but then they have to go in to the hostess station in the front. Here is my only explicit critique – they should have a hostess station by the dock too for prime boating days at least. Wandering around to the front is a bit uncomfortable.
Food – I know, food is 4th on the list but hey, food is about 4th on my list always. Food was very good. Fresh ingredients and well prepared. Lars had the Ossobuco;
This picture is from their site and it is also on the billboard on 35. I would say Lars was influenced but he claims he was not. It was tender and meaty and filling. I got the special fish dish, it was Mahi Mah,i and I was not super impressed but I think it was the nature of the fish not the chef and I was swayed by how good it sounded when described to us. The shining stars were dessert.
We got 2 and shared both. The first Butterscotch Budino with Caramel and the second Chocolate Souffle Cake, Toasted Marshmallow & Graham Cracker Ice Cream. Both were so awesome it was like everything good in the world reduced into a dessert. I was moved to take pictures of both so I could relive the experience. The kitchen in this place is great, they get food out fast and well plated, Gordon Ramsey would be proud.
The most impressive thing – was the ‘person’ who greeted us after we were seated. He told us our waiter would be there soon (it was busy) and he took our drink order including recommending a beer and wine for us. He ended up coming again when our waiter again was MIA and described the specials and took our order. He described them so well I ordered something I knew I would not really normally order. He checked in with us at least 3 other times during the meal. I saw him do the same for other tables, and, he even picked up a stray ‘something’ on the lawn. When our waiter finally did turn up we asked who the other guy was and apparently he is the owner JJ. That impressed us a lot – the owner was very cool and charismatic and seemed to really care that everyone had a good dinner. With a guy like that in charge, perfectionist yet willing to do the work himself, good things should keep happening.
When I took my real-estate class for my MBA one thing stuck with me; a great restaurant is one where people will drive past other similar restaurants to get to yours. I would say Aqua has achieved that since it is off the beaten path and seems to be doing a brisk business. We will go back again, maybe just for dessert, but we have already recommended it to at least 5 couples.