Vacation Days

I think I’m taking two unplanned Ask Moxie vacation days (yesterday and today). I’ve been having horrendous insomnia since March, and haven’t slept much in those four months. I caught a cold at BlogHer (and Brooke, I don’t think it was your baby). The cold is winning out over the insomnia, and the past two nights I’ve fallen asleep, fully clothed on my bed, within 10 minutes of getting my kids to sleep.

I’m taking the sleep, since it’s so novel. Which means I haven’t gotten it together to even check my Ask Moxie email, let alone answer any questions.

So while I sleep, you talk amongst yourselves: What is one aspect of your life that could be changed that would have the greatest positive impact on your emotional health?

I’ll be back to Q&A on Monday.

Wow

Verizon Public Relations rocks as much as their customer service sucked. I emailed Corporate PR (on the advice of a rep from a different mobile phone company, which shall not be named) to let them know I was getting the runaround. A few hours later, Nicole from upper-level customer relations just called to tell me they were taking off the fee for the phone I donated and gave me a sincere apology. She also asked how I thought their service could be improved, so I told her that the whole problem could have been avoided if the store that switched my broken phone for my new phone had just kept the broken phone.

I'm very happy that they fixed the problem for me. The whole reason I've been with Verizon for 8 years is that their reception is better in NYC and also rural Minnesota. So now I'm not so conflicted about having evangelized for them for so many years.

what are you wearing?

Today we have a question submitted by me, in honor of going back to working in an office. Moxie writes:

“Hi Moxie: first and long. I’m going back to work in an office after freelancing for half a year. Could we talk about what to wear? My industry tends to be casual but not anything-goes, so I think I’m OK on days in the office with a dress and flats or slacks/T/jacket/heels. But my question is about client meetings and site visits. Is it worse to be overdressed or underdressed?

Oh, and my boss is no help. He’s a man, so he wears jeans to the office and khakis/polo to client site visits.

I try to see this as a fun exercise in demonstrating my creativity and sense of self, but part of me wishes women had the same kind of uniform men do.”

So there you have it. I’m not really asking you to tell me what to wear for my first client site visit, but I would love to hear what you wear. If you work in an office or on a jobsite, if you work from home, and if you’re home fulltime with your kids. Are there any unwritten rules? (Playground moms in the part of NYC I used to live in didn’t wear shortsiijust skirts or capris or jeans, for example.)

After months freelancing I’m thinking about it on an individual level and a larger scale, too, about how what we wear affects how we work and feel. So let me know what you think, please.

Grr

In the continuing saga of Verizon Customer Service Hates Women, I went to the store that handed me my old phone without telling me I had to return it and without giving me any paperwork indicating I had to return it. I explained the situation to the manager, who was rude and condescending, and told me there was nothing they could do since they didn't have the device.

I know you don't have the device, because I donated it to charity.

This is ridiculous. Not only are they punishing me for attempting a good deed, they're punishing me for being their customer.

There’s a lot to say, so I’ll use numbers:

1. I have accepted a full-time job! It’s working with someone I’ve always loved working with, doing something fun that I’m good at, in the same industry my last FT job was in. I start Monday.

2. I’m actually starting Monday by getting on a plane Sunday for a trip. But today I’m coming down with a cold, and BlogHer has fogged my mind so that I can’t remember what I’m supposed to do. Is Zicam bad now? Zinc? Honey? Help me head this thing off at the pass, please, before the weekend.

3. I would like to write you a big fat juicy BlogHer review, but I was off line all weekend (the irony of truly crappy web access at a BlogHer conference) and now my computer’s malfunctioning. If you’d like to read what I think about it, please go read Cecily’s rehashes over at http://www.uppercasewoman.com (I’m typing this on my BlackBerry and can’t figure out how to hotlink).

Julia from Uncommon Misconception (my roommate) and I spent a ton of time with Cecily and Sarah, and have very similar opinions about how it went.

For me the highlight was meeting Julia.

4. The Chicago meetup was great! We got around ten readers, some with kids and some not. It always amazes me that at Ask Moxie meetups the women look like they wouldn’t necessarily be friends if they ran into each other at the park, but because of being readers people settle in and get comfortable really quickly.

I’ve also fallen in love with the public art in Millennium Park. I love Chicago.

Anyone have anything to say on those topics? Or any other topics?

Pre-Debriefing

I’m almost back home from BlogHer, so I’ll give the full report tomorrow.

Still in this insane swamp of nastiness with Verizon. It fascinates me that they seem to delight in telling me I shouldn’t have given the old phone to charity. Not that companies need to be actively philanthropic themselves, but you’d think they wouldn’t be so publicly against helping out battered women.

I realized that the worst part of last week’s travel debacle for me was knowing that I’d violated my number one rule of travel: Never check your bag.

Do you all have hard-and-fast travel rules? They can deal with kids or not. And don’t restrict yourself just to air travel if you’ve got other rules.

things I learned yesterday, by Moxie

1. The NYC subway system can change on a dime, taking you from early for your flight to late for your flight in a heartbeat.

2. No matter how cute Enrique the ticket agent is, and how deep his dimples are, do not be charmed into checking your bag. When you violate your cardinal rule of travel, nothing good can come of it.

3. The prices at the salad bar at the Whole Foods in JFK are no higher than the ones in the city.

4.People like to tell me about their lives. Wow. It is no coincidence that I write an advice column.

5. People *really* like to talk about their divorces. Really.

6. Apparently I do not look 36 or like I have kids. Boo ya.

7. The JetBlue terminal at JFK would be a good place to go on a date with someone who also likes to watch people.

8. Surliness is contagious, but so is loopy, resigned whimsy.

9. It could always be worse, and sometimes it gets there.

10. Friends who live near the airport and who offer to house you at midnight are as good as gold.

11. When you sleep in your friend’s pajamas (’cause your pajamas are on their way to Chicago on the flight you didn’t get a seat on) in her spot in the bed (while she’s away), her cats will be reeeeeally confused by that.

12. People are basically good. The system is essentially bad.

13. Coffee.

Today is the day I get to BlogHer. I can feel it.

Special shout-out to Enrique and Diana of JetBlue at JFK, the dad who took his daughter to the American Girl store three times and then carried all her dolls through the airport, Ericka and Thomas in the bar near gate 8, the pretty girl in the blue dress who needed to be in class this morning, the mom who was trying to get to her son’s graduation this moring, and my cab driver Ira this morning (have a good dinner with Gloria!).

Adult children taking care of parents

My grandma had a stroke yesterday. (I know–how many action-packed events can be crammed into three weeks of one woman’s life, and you don’t even know the half of it.)

Fortunately, my uncle lives in her same town. And my mom and dad were there with her when it happened on their annual trip to her house. So she got to the hospital right away and they were able to give her blood thinners to help mitigate the effects. My cousin’s last report last night is that she’s already got some function back.

This made me wonder about how we’re going to juggle it all. Some of you know that I watched my own dad have a stroke five years ago. His recovery was unbelievably easy (relatively speaking) because we got him to the hospital right away.
But if it hadn’t been, how would I have managed to help my mom? I live 500 miles away and I had a toddler.

So I wanted to talk about exactly this: How do we care for parents who are living longer but might have health problems that need to be managed? How do we juggle the priorities? What are the actual (not perceived) challenges? How do we keep healthy under the emotional pressure?

I’m going to BlogHer today, so you can follow me at Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/askmoxie) or by reading the Twitter feed over in the right-hand column.

Chicago meetup, assorted, and potty regressions

Chicago meetup this Sunday at 2 pm at the Bean in Millennium Park.

Things are starting to come together in my apartment and for BlogHer. A friend designed cards for me, which are being shipped to my hotel. Now if i can only find a cat-feeder before tomorrow morning…

Curious minds want to know about the apartment: I'm not sure how big it is (maybe 900 sq feet), but it's a two-bedroom, so the boys are still sharing a room, but this one is huge. And I have counter space in the kitchen, which is amazing. The last apartment had barely any.  And it just has a better vibe in general, and no creepy memories. Lots of sunlight.

Today's question is about potty-training regressions. I've gotten a few email questions in the weeks before the move (and from other friends) about kids who potty train and then after a few days or a week regress.

I think there are two distinct situations. One is with younger kids (2-3 years old) who train. It seems like regressions in kids that age are the result of learning the new physical and emotional skill. They do relaly well when they first start doing it, but then get a little fatigued from the concentration and may have a relapse. It's normal and not anything to worry about. Just carry on the same way you did during potty training, and clean up any accidents while still affirming that the child can do it and this is just an exception.

The other situation is when kids who train at an older age (over 3 or so) potty train and then stop wanting to use the potty. This, to me, seems like a more emotional issue. The kids might have issues with being "big" and want to test to see if they can still be a baby. Or it might be a form of rebelion against something else.

This seems to be a little trickier to deal with, since you don't want to turn it into a control game. The goal, I think, is to make using the toilet just a given, with no emotional importance whatsoever. So if an older child regresses, if you can, just keep on as if of course the child is going to keep using the toilet. No emotional response, just staying the course with using the toilet.

What do you all think? Have you been through it? My kids both did the small physical regressions because they both trained before they were 3. How have people dealt with the regression/refusal in older kids?

still discombobulated

Feet still not completely under me, but I’m better than last week. Now freaking out about BlogHer. I have no business cards with my website on them, and it’s now too late to get them printed (isn’t it?)!

For Chicagoans who are meeting this coming Sunday in Millennial Park at 2, is there a specific place we should meet? I don’t know the park at all, so one of you should pick.

Also, I thought you’d like to know that my new bedroom is big, and is on a corner, and one side looks out onto a beautiful park, and the other onto a check-cashing place.