Thursday, July 28, 2011

My balance of work/baby/life

I am inspired to write my own response to the “My balance of work/baby/life” series created by Joanna on her blog: A Cup of Jo. I am a working momma with a full time Marketing Manager job at Capella University. I work in an office but thrive on family time so have negotiated a flexible schedule which allows me to work from home a day or two a week. In addition to my full time job, I am a portrait photographer and run an Etsy shop with Sarah, my lovely sister. My husband and I have one fascinating and brilliant daughter who is just over 10 months. When she was born, we were between homes and living out of boxes at my in-laws gorgeous and spacious home. Shortly after our daughter was born and I returned to work, we found a fantastic home in an amazing neighborhood but it was a foreclosure that needed a lot of work. We closed on the house just before Christmas, cleaned like crazy, made a few necessary updates, and moved in on New Year’s Day.

The past 7 months have been a whirlwind of  construction projects, landscaping, playtime at the beach (which is a hop-skip-and-a-jump from our front door), and enjoying precious family time. Although I feel I have found ways to balance everything that is going on in my life, figuring out the best schedule has not been easy, mostly because as our daughter grows, her schedule and needs change. As soon as we've found a schedule that works, something changes and we need to figure out a new one.

1.    What's your work schedule?
I typically work in the corporate office in downtown Minneapolis 4 days a week and from home on Fridays. If possible, I work from home one or two more days a week, but we have so many meetings, it’s not usually an option. On days I go to the office, I get up around 6am, do yoga on our deck and then wake up my husband. While I shower and get dressed, he makes a big breakfast and then I hightail it for the transit station to make the bus. On the 25 minute bus ride, I usually focus on a work project, check email, or read. My day is filled with meetings, emails, and some work time and sprinkled with calls and text messages from my husband, Mum, Sister, or Mother-in-law. I typically leave work at 4pm, work on the bus ride home, and spend the evening hanging out in the yard or at the beach with my husband and daughter. Sometimes we have family or friends over for dinner and once in a while I have an evening event to attend. On Fridays, I start and end work a little earlier, and usually get a walk in or read some books with our daughter too. It’s so nice to see and hear her in person on days I can be at home!

2.    How do you handle childcare?
Shortly after we were married, my husband's company had a massive layoff and he was let go from his manufacturing engineering position. We really wanted to start a family and didn't want to do full-time childcare so decided that I would continue to work and my husband would stay home with our daughter. He is very busy updating our new house and takes on a few short work projects here and there so once or twice a week my Mum, Sister, or Mother-in-law take care of our daughter.

3.    Where do you work during the day?
Most days, I work in a cubicle on the 7th floor of a skyscraper in downtown Minneapolis. Although I love the hustle and bustle of downtown, lately I don’t take time to leisurely explore things because I am usually running errands or on my way to or from work. On days I work from home, I had been setting myself up on our kitchen peninsula but we recently brought a desk into our living room so I now work there. Our kitchen, dining, living room is one big open area right in the middle of our house so I’m in the middle of it all – which I love!

4.    What do you like best about your current set-up?
I love that my husband and I are our daughter’s main caregivers and that she has not been sick or had any injuries due to group childcare. I also love that I have a stable job with benefits and that my company is very flexible and values home/life balance.

5.    How do you and your husband fit your marriage into the balance?
We have a really great relationship and find time throughout the day to check in. Sometimes we talk while I’m pumping at work, and sometimes we catch up while lying in bed. We are also really in tune with each other and support and respect each other’s contributions to our family. Before our daughter was born, we were more social, but home life is our new normal and we both love it!

6.    Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Have you talked to other women about it?
I often wonder how other moms seem so put together, relaxed, and happy! But I have not talked much with other working moms about how they manage it. Once in a while at work we exchange stories of victory or horror including sleepless nights, house catastrophes, and vacation adventures. But we don’t really get into managing a work/life balance. Even before I read the “My balance” blog series on A Cup of Jo, I created a list of working moms I want to talk to in order to find out how they manage it all!

7.    What would you love to change down the road (or would change right now, if you had a magic wand?
I would love to work from home full time. Being around other creative people is inspiring and motivating, but I like to buckle down and get work done rather than spend time in meetings and at the water cooler. I find my work-at-home days to be much more productive and fulfilling than my office days.

8.    What's your favorite part of your home life?
My favorite part of my home life is just doing things together. I love it when my daughter and I are playing or starting dinner, and my husband is working on a project, and then we all sit down to eat and chat together. It's so nice to have a wonderful, loving family.
9.    How does your husband contribute to managing the juggle/house/childcare?
My husband is our main childcare provider right now, and also is doing a lot of home construction projects. He usually makes me breakfast and does the dishes. We trade off on making dinner and getting groceries. I’m in charge of cleaning and laundry. We use cloth diapers so do a little extra laundry each week. I also make all of our daughter's food from scratch and freeze it in ice trays so her daily meals are a cinch for him to prepare and super healthy. Since our house is under construction it is a bit of a mess. My husband and I have different definitions of “clean”. He is a bit of a germ-o-phob and I’m an organization freak. But I would not describe our house as tidy or germ-free! Neither of us spend much time cleaning!

10. Do you have time for yourself?
I used to run a few miles every day but nursing has really zapped me so now I just do a few minutes of yoga in the morning. The drive to and from the transit station and the bus ride also serve as quiet time. I don’t need much alone time though – I get my energy from being with other people so this is typically enough.

11. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
I would recommend making sure you are comfortable and happy and talk openly with the people closest to you. Also, a schedule is nice, but being present in the moment and flexible will make you happier, and everyone else happier too!

Posted by Christa

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Photography: Dan & Casey's Wedding

I had the amazing privilege of capturing the special moments of Dan and Casey's intimate sailboat ceremony on camera. I used a Canon Digital Rebel EOS XTi and a Canon S90.  We were lucky enough to dodge the rain during our time on the boat and overcast skies are perfect for photos! The champagne and the love warmed us up, which was good because the air was a bit chilly. That evening, we had a delicious dinner at Fitger's Brewhouse. Two days later, Dan and Casey celebrated with hundreds of friends and family at Dan's parents' house, which is perfect for an event like this! Check out all the photos in the Flickr set I created. I'm really pleased with how amazing the images are and I just love unique weddings. If you are married, what is your wedding story? If you are not married, what is your dream wedding location? I'd love to hear the beautiful and amazing stories you each have!

Posted by Christa

Dan & Casey on the front of the boat - right after saying "I do!".

Monday, July 18, 2011

Christa is on Flickr!!!

It has been hot hot hot and humid here in Minnesota, but we have been busy! There are some new items in our Etsy shop and Christa has started a Flickr account featuring her fantastic photography.  Her work spans from artistic nature shots to intimate family portraits. Here are a few of our favorites. Tell us what great photos you've taken this summer!

Posted by Sarah
One of my favorite places: West Yellowstone, MT. I captured this sunrise/moonset combo right outside the Blue Spruce cabin which my in-laws own and rent to visitors. A large print of this image hangs inside the cabin.
Fantastic pinstriping on a hot rod at the Hastings Cruise In.
A wonderful wedding and a unique portrait of the rings for friends Jen and Shad.
This was a really fun reception and the boys had fun dancing with the bride.
Travel photography is amazing - it always takes me right back to the location.
This is from a special trip we took to Venice, Italy before Sarah began her MA program.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Northrup King First Thursdays Open Studios

Yesterday afternoon we headed to the Northrup King Building in northeast Minneapolis to take a look at the open studios. The building was built in 1917 to house a seed company and now is home to over 190 artist's studios, offices, galleries, and event spaces. It is such a unique place to visit! We met a lot of great artists and saw a nice variety of art, though many studios seemed to be closed because of summer and the holiday week.

We met Heidi Ehalt who started a collective photography studio in the Northrup King Building. Her work spans from portraits, commercial, to fine art, all very beautiful.

photograph by Heidi Ehalt

Another interesting artist we met was Allison Johnson who's jewelry line potpourri is primarily made of wood, with the addition of stones and silver. Her line is very unique but extremely wearable, you can buy her work at retail shops around the metro and on Etsy.

citrine gemstone in walnut on blackened sterling silver Allison Johnson

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!!

To get in the spirit for the holiday weekend, take a look at Christa's Etsy Treasury list 'Star's and Stripes Forever' featuring some great items made by other Etsy artists. We absolutely love the cute handmade pillows by uneekpillows.

Mini Primitieve American Flag Pillows by uneekpillows