Hippity Hoppity: A Nod or Not?

Did you see viral video of the professor interrupted by his children during a remote BBC interview? The media covered it as a funny and charming moment of the perils of doing an television interview from home.screen-shot-2017-03-10-at-4-45-55-pm

Professor Robert Kelly is an international relations expert and political science professor at a university in South Korea. He was invited to give an interview to BBC World News about the impeachment of the South Korean president.

He has been making television appearances for six years he has said, but this was the first time his children have burst into the room as he was on a Skype interview. His charming four year old daughter was in a “hippity-hoppity” mood, he has said.

(see the video)

As a working professional and mom these are the types of disruptions you hope to avoid, when working outside of the office. I once had to take a call from home, with the former CEO of a major cola company that took weeks to arrange, because my child was sick, fearful the whole call that my son would throw up in the next room. It has also happened to my husband, when our then five year old picked the phone extension when he was on a conference call.

But here’s my question?

Would the video have gone viral, or would we be as charmed, if the gender of the professor had been female? Would reporters have swarmed a female professor’s home for comment the following day?

Or would the reaction have included implicit or explicit notions as:

Makes her look unprofessional.

Why didn’t she make sure the door is secured?

Needs to have a stern word with her childcare provider.

Bet she’ll never be booked on BBC again

Maybe we shouldn’t care. Maybe it is enough to “normalize” the unexpected moments that come with work-life balance, regardless of gender. Maybe this a nod to the realities of solutions to work-life balance.

Hippity-Hop or not.


The Difference between a Phillips-head and a Flat-Head Screwdriver

My father taught me the difference between a Phillips-head and a flat-head screwdriver.

Tools you need to get started

Tools you need to get started

He had a carpentry bench in our garage in Washington DC. I don’t remember either our VW bug or the blue and white VW van ever being in it. I do remember my dad showing me his tools:  the hand saw, the pliers, the hammer hanging on the peg board along with the wood planer.

“There’s a saying,” he would tell me. “Measure seven times and cut once.”  My dad would measure a number of times — maybe not seven —  before he sawed off a dowel rod of whatever else he was cutting, creating a small pool of sawdust on the garage concrete floor.

He showed me the difference between a Phillips-head and a flat-head screwdriver.   Maybe he was a secret feminist in 1970s, but he saw nothing odd about teaching his daughter about tools.

As an adult this has come in handy.  Enter Ikea. Lured by visions of sleek Swedish design,  I am both inspired and overwhelmed by beautifully designed rooms at the Ikea showroom.  Even fortified with Swedish meatballs, my heart races in the massive warehouse as I search for the correct bin number for the yet unassembled item on the shelf.

Halfway there

Halfway there

Hail the Phillips-head and flat-head screwdrivers. Complement with a hammer and patience.

My entryway console should take 30 steps. Just 30 steps between pieces strewn on the floor and a Nordic design sensibility.

The trick is to not feel overwhelmed, I tell myself.  Take your time. Focus on process, not outcome.  Another trick is coffee, chocolate, wine, exercise breaks when you need them.

My dad showed me the tools. You just need some basics. Then figure out the steps (in some logical order.) Once you have that you can build.

Just think what else I might do?  I might write up that business plan, run that marathon, create that budget or build that career.

Finished Product.

Finished product

Helpful doggie friend

Helpful doggie friend


I have to date assembled two nightstands and a hallway entry console.







PS. For those who might be wondering about the difference:  a Phillips-head will work with a Phillips screw head that has four cross points; the flat-head works with a screw with a single slot only. (pictured in the first photo) 

Got it? Good. If not, let me suggest a Home Depot near you.

Photo credit: me (not the helpful canine)

The Day Senator Elizabeth Warren “came” to my House

Senator Warren works here

Senator Warren works here

Our work group had worked for months. It promised to be one of the biggest events of the spring semester and that morning my son got sick.  We were hosting the senior senator from Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren for a noontime talk.  Whatever your politics, getting to meet a national political figure and to see her in person was a treat and a once in a lifetime chance.

I hoped that I could get my teenager settled and then dash to the office for the event. Every parent has had this experience where the needs of your child directly conflict with the needs of the office.  Could I make the 2 mile trek to the office and be back in between his repeated rushes to the bathroom?  Nah. As the minutes ticked by, it became clear that my place was with him.

Since we webcast these talks live, I figured I could watch it from home. The boy snuggled up against me as I propped my laptop up on my knees in the den, where he was resting under blankets.

We watched it together.


The conversation with Senator Warren ranged from stories about the political climate in Washington to what has made her a middle class champion to funding scientific research.

“What’s NIH?” my teenager asked.

“It is a government agency that gives money to scientists to do research that might help find a cure for cancer and other diseases,” I said.

“Oh, Cool.”

So just like that, my disappointment of not being there in person evaporated.

In the grand scheme of things this was actually a better lemons-to-lemonade moment. Maybe he’ll look back on “mom made me watch this stupid video” as something worthwhile. Maybe he’ll view it as “the awesome day my mom and I watched Senator Elizabeth Warren at her school.” Perhaps it will be a day of a stirring or an awakening of a civic something, of justice, of fairness, of fighting for something you believe in.
When work and life collide sometimes it is better to just not fight it.
Photo: courtesy Wikipedia via Creative Commons

Balance Backwards

In the span of a year, I became a mother, stepmother to three, and a wife.

Work-Life Balance is backwards

Work-Life Balance is backwards

It was a happy jumble, but a maelstrom, a whirling dervish and a heart pounding collision of roles and perspectives. Helpful it was not — according to every blended or step-family resource I consulted — that the stepmother typically has the very hardest role. I had a husband, a newborn, an 8 year old, a 10 year old, a teenager, hubby’s lovely maintenance-deferred house, an ex-wife and a microwave that didn’t work.

I regained my balance through work.

Typically when we talk about “work-life-balance”, what we mean is there is not enough time for the life part. The minutes of the day are gobbled up with deadlines, emails, presentations and maybe office politics, so much so that the dog goes hungry, permission slips go unsigned, we forget our anniversary. And the guilt. Oh, the guilt. And not the sneaking Godiva chocolate kind of guilt.

My job was my savior. I felt in control. I knew what I was doing. I was competent. There weren’t constant interruptions of children wanting things from me or dust bunnies lurking in corners. I was in control of my time. There was acknowledgement for a job well done or a presentation well-executed. When was the last time anyone said to you: “I really appreciate your attention to detail,” when you took out the garbage?

And now it turns out there are actually benefits to children for having a working mother. According to a recent New York Times article, there are economic, educational and social benefits for children of both sexes. A new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries:

• daughters of working mothers completed more education
• were more likely to be employed and in supervisory role
• sons of working mothers spent more time on child care and housework

Another study that looked at 69 studies over 50 years, found that in general children whose mother worked had no major learning, behavior or social problems and tended to be high achievers in school.
Not surprisingly, in the US, much of the attitude about working parents depends on whether parents were happy with their childcare and need the income.

Of course, regaining one’s balance through work is a very personal matter and is dependent on a variety of factors. But hopefully the angst that pit working mothers and stay at home moms will abate as we understand that our kids can be just fine.

I adore all my kids and love the family we created, but I needed the work balance to stay sane, in order to be present for them, and to see my way through.

And because work wasn’t apparently enough balance for me, I started a part-time MBA program as well. Who knew that Economics 101 could seem like a vacation!

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Life Balanced Weatherman

Our weather-man is life-work balanced.

A burst of color on a sunny day

A burst of color on a sunny day

Earlier this week on his weather blog, David Epstein urged everyone to get outside. New England weather is notoriously changeable. In the fall especially, the temperature differential can be up to 30 degrees on two consecutive days.  It can be Indian summer or a Nor-easter can be barreling up the coast.

So Epstein suggested we all get our heads out of work for a moment.

“If you get a chance to take a walk or have your lunch outside you’ll be happy you did. I know work can get very demanding and at times it seems hard to carve out some time to stand up let along (sic) go outside, but I think it’s important to enjoy the great weather while we have it and it’s just a lot healthier to not sit so long.

I overheard someone at the gym yesterday saying he sat down at his cube at 7AM and didn’t get up all day including “eating lunch at my desk”. I honestly just felt sad for this person and I know he’s not at all alone. I often why how and why society evolved so that millions of us are stuck in traffic for hours then sit in a cube for many more, leaving only a few precious hours on the weekend to take advantage of a nice day.”

He then went on to detail the weather forecast for the next few days.

Good work life balance advice from a meteorologist.  And when my boss can’t find me, I’ll tell him the weatherman made me do it!


Source: http://www.boston.com/news/weather/weather_wisdom/2014/10/super_monday_weather_followed.html?p1=Topofpage:sub_headline_2