Thursday, January 29, 2009

2009 Achievement List

At the start of each calendar year every Brandtrust employee has historically written an achievement letter. This is our version of goals or a growth plan. But it's written from the POV of one year later (the end of the year we're starting), looking back at what we've accomplished, or achieved.

I like and have seen the positive results of this future thinking psychology. More times than not, the very act of stating things as if they actually happened plants strong, even if subconcious, motivations for actually doing them. Usually great thought and soul searching are poured into these letters (or this year, lists), but then they're filed away, rarely looked at throughout the year. Yet, when we pull them out at the end, most people have, in fact, achieved what they said they would. What I also love about this exercise is that the company encourages us to consider both professional and personal achievements - recognizing that it's difficult, if not counterproductive, to separate the two lives, and that, where possible, the organization aims to support both personal and professional desired achievements.

Here's a taste of my achievement list for this year. Will you join me in looking back at what you've achieved in 2009 with this simple yet useful tool? Let me know and maybe we can help each other get there!

1. I took a Yoga class 1x/week, swam 1x/week in summer and ran a few 5Ks
2. I stepped up the diabetes management, conducting fasting tests every other week and reducing A1C to 6.0
3. I upped my cooking repertoire, trying out a new recipe every other week
4. Elynor & I maintained playdate Fridays and participated in swimming, tumbling & music classes.
5. We finished decorating/organizing & started outdoor landscaping in the "new" home
6. We celebrated 30th b'days (yikes!) and new home (finally) with summer soiree!
7. I helped with the successful launch of Ethos, our new church, with emphasis on defining & living the mission/vision and developing the visual identity
8. I reimmersed myself in business and/or current, adult thinking by reading a business publication (TBD) weekly and a non-fiction book each month.

Watch out, you'll probably hear about all these things this year!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Batter Finger

We celebrated the end of our homebound adventures with some brownie baking... or, should I say, batter eating? How cute is the "batter finger" Aunt Katie gave E for Christmas in honor of her first introduction to brownie batter (at Aunt Katie's around her 11 month b'day)? I'd say she likes it.


Elynor and I were homebound last Thursday & Friday, when local high temps dipped to negative digits. While we were thankful for a semi-warm home (our old, drafty windows gave the heater a run for its money), we were both thrilled to breathe in some fresh air on Saturday. Here's a little taste of what our indoor days entailed -

It all started with some bookcase destruction. No, we were not burglarized... this is the work of a curious little girl.

And then on to the box of granola. So much better after dumped on the floor.

Calling someone to rescue her - from the house or a self-selected fashion disaster.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Family "Reunion"

We love it when Grandma Jean (GG) comes to visit from Florida because it gives us a great excuse to gather as many Cochrane's (my dad's side) as possible! This holiday season was no exception. We had a blast celebrating a new year in our new home with a fun, impromptu "reunion".

Enjoy these highlights, photog compliments going to Uncle Danny and Rye -

GG always knows a fun toy when she sees it. This mini bead thingy was no exception!

The Cochrane girls
(notice how our Floridian Grandma can't have enough layers while Miss Elynor has stripped down to nearly nothing).

Cheers to our first official dinner party in the new abode!

LIVE music? What a party!
Elynor rocks out to Uncle Danny's tunes.


It looks like Elynor & Austin had a good time while their mamas were workin' yesterday. Special thanks to their photographer (and awesome babysitter) Heather!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Workin' Mama

Today marks a new phase in this motherhood journey, as I'm officially rejoining the team with my previous employer, Brandtrust, on a part time basis. Over the past year I've informally worked with them as an independent contractor. This means I only worked when they had projects - an arrangement that was perfect when Elynor was a much more demanding (at least time wise:) infant and when we were rehabbing the house this summer. But now that things have settled some on the homefront and Elynor is officially a toddler, I'm hopeful this new, more dedicated position will work out nicely. I'll be working approx. 3 days/week spread out over Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from home and Wednesdays in the office. I'm so thankful they've accommodated my desire for flexibility and also thankful for fabulous babysitters who also appreciate this schedule.

While I know this arrangement is about as good as it can get for a mama trying to experience the best of both worlds, to some extent my entry into this new phase is bittersweet. I'm excited to more regularly reengage the part of my brain that's been only periodically activated over the past year and also to reengage with colleagues and clients. I'm also excited to go downtown again and also travel a bit. And practically speaking, the regular paychecks will also be nice. But all this excitement is accompanied by a tinge of sadness. I guess it's been happening slowly with my contractor work, but it feels as if we're now officially turning the page from the intimacy of Elynor's first year of life. Though my schedule is very flexible, I am sacrificing some of the freedom enjoyed this past year. My windows to take classes, go to the park, share playdates, or just play at home have shrunk. Of course we can (and will) still do these things, but our lives now require an increased level of programming and less spontenaity. And being 100% present when with Elynor will now require even greater effort... it will take great discipline for me to focus on work during work hours but not let it seep into others. Possibly the greater risk in this new arrangement is a disappearance of 'me' time. Of course, finding this is challenging for every new mom... but I feel I've found a good balance in the past 6 months. Looking at my new calendar, it appears as if trips to the gym or reading will take place earlier in the morning or later at night.

I know I'm not unique in working through these workin' mama challenges. I'm so thankful I have other women to share with and learn from. But I know the next few weeks will require some adjusting, likely more for me than Elynor or Ryan. I'm hopeful we'll look back months from now with thanks for our 'best of both worlds' arrangement!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Winter Playlot

Who needs snow to go sledding?

Happy New Year!

Elynor freshens up her lipstick to ring in the new year -


We can now check off another box on our 'first time' lists. Just about the time Elynor's patience (or maybe ours) was finished with the drive home, we came across a McDonald's play land. Ryan & I had never been so excited to see those golden arches!

Though she was a little young for the slides and a little small to defend herself against the older kids who seemed like they hadn't been out in days, she loved it. McDonald's may get blamed for the childhood obesity issues in our country, but they've clearly saved many a parent (and/or child) in cold climates and on long road trips!

Christmas #2

Unfortunately, I didn't take many pics during our Christmas celebration in southern IL. Here are a few momentos from Elynor's Christmas #2. If you've got other good ones, please send them to this asleep-behind-the-shutter mama.

A girl and her baby - love at first sight.

Examining my animal flashcards with Daddy & Uncle George.

Too bad this toy isn't for me to take home!

Before & After

These pics are long overdue. You see, every time I've gone to take new house pics over the past few months it's been a mess. And a sink of dirty dishes or floor covered with toys were not the intended subjects. Things were finally presentable a few days back, so here are a few before & after shots. The complete album is here. By no means are we finished... but, thanks to lots & lots of helpers, tremendous progress has been made!