Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Starbucks: So much more than just coffee

Anyone who knows me at all is aware of my Starbucks habit. Since what feels like the beginning of time - or maybe just after my kids were born - I have visited Starbucks almost on a daily basis. There were a few years when I wasn't working full time and tried to cut back on my expensive habit; during those leaner years, I may have visited a few times per week rather than daily.

Friends make fun of my little habit, relatives think I spend too much money on coffee and my husband - who I may add also has a Starbucks addiction - laughs at me. Even my children have learned that Mom often stops at my coveted cafe on the way to soccer, family outings, shopping, etc.

To this end, my daughter purchased the book Onward for me for my recent birthday. For those who are unfamiliar with the book, it was written by Starbucks ceo (yes, he uses lowercase for his title) Howard Schulz and details "How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul." I just started reading it and only 25 pages in, I realized that for me, Starbucks is about way more than just coffee.

In the book, Schulz discusses that for him, Starbucks was never just about selling coffee. It was always about the experience. When you go into any of their locations and look around, you may see: professionals on their way to work, students working on research papers, Moms with their babies in tow, friends meeting up after going to the gym, the list goes on forever.

After I gave birth to Zachary and spent a year at home, it was a major adjustment, as it is for most new Moms, especially for those of us who were out in the workforce and were now at home full time. As wonderful as it was, there were times when I felt isolated and just needed to get out of the house. Going to Starbucks was a break in my day; a time when I could do something - even something small - for myself. And I always felt comfortable bringing Zach in his stroller.

Fast forward a few years and I'm back in the workforce, juggling kids and career. There is little - if any - time to slow down. I'm always racing between schools, work, back to school and managing things at home. So a daily stop at Starbucks is my small break in the day, a time to enjoy my own little tradition. And on occasion, I will grab a coworker for an afternoon coffee break or meet a friend for an after lunch latte.

Starbucks does not just represent great coffee for me; it's about a tradition, an experience that for a few minutes takes me away from all of my responsibilities and harried lifestyle. For some of us, that "tradition" or experience might be a daily run or reading the paper. Or, for commuters, it could be that half hour when you can read a book on the train. The point is that making that time for ourselves and respecting that tradition is critical for our well-being.

Thank you, Howard Schulz, for going beyond the standard coffee shop, for creating a place where people can have an experience, where they can feel comfortable and socialize while enjoying an amazing coffee treat. And go ahead, friends and relatives. Make fun of my grande non-fat latte habit...I won't be pulling out my Starbucks Gold Card for you!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Food for thought

I often hear my Mom friends complain about their kids' eating habits. One has a son who will only eat chicken nuggets - day in, day out, for lunch and dinner - chicken nuggets. Another Mom I know complains because her daughter only eats a few bites of food at every meal. Consequently, the doctor monitors the little girl's weight and they have goals like a positive weight gain of a half pound per month. Time after time, I hear similar stories.

Enter my family into the mix. We love to eat; breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks...you name it, we eat it. And none of this "few bites" business or only one type of food. My husband and I are not overweight but we're not skinny, either. Then there's Zach. The word beanpole comes to mind when I look at him yet he already cleans out my refrigerator. He's an incredibly active kid so this probably makes sense; he is always running, playing soccer, swimming, etc. Even my cat loves to eat. She is on diet cat food and can only have a quarter cup of food 2 times per day. Poor thing doesn't run too quickly these days...

And then there's my 6-year old daughter who is the real subject of this post. I think that she came out of the womb with hips. Brie is not overweight but not skinny, either. She's very tall for her age and is fairly active: soccer, swimming, gymnastics. She also loves to eat which I consider to be a good thing. And she doesn't eat junk food; in fact, none of us does. There are no chips in my house as a rule, no cake, cookies, pop tarts, soda. We eat protein and vegetables every night and I pack the kids' lunches every day to avoid the unhealthy meals served at school. And we all eat fruit daily.

Yet, with all of this, our doctor has now lectured me at our past 2 appointments about Brie being overweight. I have explained that while she is not a beanpole like Zach (who, BTW, is supposedly at the 100% for weight and is supposedly on the brink of being overweight!!!???) she eats healthy food and exercises daily. Yes, there are times when she may eat too much of something but it's usually fruit. And there are the cupcakes and ice cream at birthday parties that I feel are fine as treats. But overall, my kids are healthy and happy. So should I really obsess about the extra pounds? Should I instill in her the need to conform to a BMI chart and make her aware of the fact that she's not a skinny twig at the age of six? My answer is consistently NO.

I have been concerned about my weight since I was a young girl, as many of us are. And I would say that I still am. But I now try to focus more of my attention on leading a healthy lifestyle rather than what the scale says. Our kids - and more specifically our daughters - have many years ahead of them where they will also obsess over their looks and their weight, ideas imposed by society and their peer groups. Do we really need to start working on this when they're young kids?

Interestingly enough, when our most recent appointment was over, our doctor then proceeded to tell me that even though she and her family are vegetarians who eat tofu and vegetables all the time, none of them (including her) is thin. It's just the way that their family is. Hmmm. Food for thought, I think...no pun intended.

Gotta go...I hear my cat meowing for her quarter cup of diet cat food...