29 November 2008
26 November 2008
But you know what's really neat about it?
A year ago, I didn't know any of the other women on the trip. A month ago, I'd only met one of them in person. I "met" some of them just one day before this was taken. But we were already friends, nonetheless, thanks to CafeMom.
Cafemom is - as the name suggests - a social networking site for moms. I sometimes jokingly call it "MomSpace", but it's a world apart from MySpace, FaceBook, Ning and the like.
It really is the best social networking site I've ever seen. It has forums, journals, photos, private messaging, public messaging, articles, games, activities, give-aways, etc. The functionality is very impressive and the CM Team is constantly working to expand and improve it.
One of the best things about CM is that any user can create groups - public or private forums moderated by CM members. There are groups for just about every topic you can possibly think of. And CM makes it easy to explore and participate in them.
About a year ago, I met some great women in one of these groups. I felt an instant connection with many of them. Soon, a few of us broke off and created a new, smaller group. There are 51 of us now. We participate in the public areas of CM, but it's within our private group that we've really been able to get to know each other.
We live all over the country. We even have a token Canadian. (Just teasing, Alex.) :) We range in age from mid-20's to 50+. We have different backgrounds and family dynamics. But we've developed an amazing bond.
We are friends. When someone gets a job, or is expecting a new baby, or loses a loved one, or has a health problem, or wants advice, or needs to vent, or just wants to talk or joke - we are all there for each other in a way that I have never seen before in an online forum.
A few of us who live near each other have had the chance to hang out in person, but last month we had our most ambitious get-together: 14 of us met up in Las Vegas.
For me, the weekend doubled as a mini-vacation for The Husband and me - sans kids. (And that was niiiice.) Some of the others also brought their husbands and/or kids. Others were solo. But we all had a blast "meeting" our friends.
It was a pretty amazing experience. I can be shy in some social situations. (Shut up. It's true!) But this was so comfortable. I didn't feel like I was "meeting" anyone. I felt like I was just hanging out with friends. Within minutes we were laughing at our in-jokes, talking about our families, and chit-chatting away like old pals.
I suppose this might seem a commonplace thing for some - making "real" friends on the Internet. But, to me, this is a unique experience. And I'm thankful for it. These are all smart, interesting, amazing ladies and I'm so proud to know them.
We are already planning next year's "Snarky Moms Meet-Up" and there are even more of us planning to attend. We don't know where we will be yet, but we do know we will be among friends.
24 November 2008
The Imagination Movers rock!
But the love a four-year-old is fickle.
Minon #1 has a new obsession: The Imagination Movers on Playhouse Disney. And Mommy doesn't mind at all that he and his 18-month-old brother want to watch this show. Every. Single. Day.
No, really. Because I like it just as much as the kids do. Seriously, these guys are awesome.
The Movers - Rich, Scott, Dave and Smitty - are four "regular" guys from New Orleans who started recording and performing their own kids tunes and quickly became a local phenom.
Three of the Movers are Dads themselves and only one of them has a "professional" music background. The others have varied backgrounds: Award-winning teacher, architect, firefighter.
Their music has been called "Beastie Boys meets Mr. Rogers" and I'd say that's not a bad description. Their sound is actually pretty eclectic: A little rock, a little pop, a little funk, a little country ... and a lot of fun.
The tunes are so catchy that Minion#1 dances around the living room singing his favorites even when the TV is not on. And the messages of the songs and the show are spot-on for preschoolers.
The Mover Motto: "Reach High! Thing Big! Work Hard! Have Fun!" has become our family mantra for "brainstorming". Just say those words to my boys and watch them grin and start to dance.
If you have a preschooler and, for some strange reason you have NOT seen this fun and educational show, do yourself a favor: Crawl out from under your rock and check it out.
So ... what is YOUR favorite kids show?
20 November 2008
This is a topic close to my heart, and I'm afraid I wrote a whole book - or at least a few chapters - in my response. Sorry, Wedge. :)
So, I thought I'd share my thoughts on this here, as well. Here is the gist of what I had to say:
As a self-professed grammar ninja (which is two degrees kinder, but one degree more dangerous than a grammar snob) I have to fall strongly on the side of "Spelling Counts!"
I walk around my daily life mentally copy editing everything from billboards to menus to shop signs to fliers posted on telephone poles - a habit and hazard of my trade.
My dictionary, thesaurus and AP Style Guide are indispensable tools of that trade.
Yes, we make all make mistakes. Typos Happen. And I'm a teensy bit more relaxed about it in my "casual" writing (personal emails, text messages, blogs, twitter).
But I am absolutely mortified when grammatical errors slip into my professional writing or past my professional editing.
Some of my colleagues think I am a bit over-zealous (thus the "grammar ninja" title). But I would argue that it is not only my job to get it right - and therefore a matter of personal and professional pride - but it is also a matter of the CREDIBILITY of my organization - and not just because I work in public education.
There is little-to-no excuse for companies and organizations to NOT have perfect copy.
As a customer or stakeholder, why should I trust your judgment or have faith in your skills if you can't spell a word associated with your product or service .. or if you don't know the difference between "it's" and "its" ... or if you can't seem to master subject-verb agreement?
Customers SHOULD question the credibility and professionalism of companies that don't know or don't care enough to get it right.
Jules, if you are "outdated" or "arrogant" ... I guess I am, too. Grammar Ninjas Unite. :)
This is not the first time - and certainly not the last - I have climbed up on my grammar soap-box to proclaim my opinion to the blogosphere.
The bottom line? Grammar matters.
19 November 2008
"That's the point of the Equal Protection Clause. The rights of minorities aren't subject to extinction by the majority's fiat."
Yep. That pretty much sums it up.
17 November 2008
This weekend, Motrin pulled the following ad off of it's webpage after a furious backlash from moms. You still can see the original video on YouTube (for a while, anyway)
And this is the transcript:
I mean, in theory it’s a great idea.
There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch.
Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion.
And who knows what else they’ve come up with. Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free.
Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience.
They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others.
But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t?
I sure do!
These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back?!
I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid.
Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom.
And so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.
Ironically, they launched their ad during International Babywearing Week.
I understand that Motrin is already backtracking on it and apologizing.
Here is an article about it from the NY Times:
Online Moms did not respond to the ad by racing out for Motrin. They were offended by the suggestion that they carry their babies to be “fashionable”. They were outraged at the idea that they look “crazy”. They vehemently disagreed with the phrasing that “in theory” carrying your baby around is a good idea.Personally, I'm just not the kind of person to be easily offended. So this ad doesn't bother me as much as it seems to have bothered some other moms. But I do agree that it is condescending and, well, ignorant. And makes me think less of Motrin as a company.But what I find most interesting about this is the demonstration of the power of "mommy-bloggers" and social media.
By Saturday evening they were the most tweeted subject on Twitter. By Sunday there was a nine minute video on YouTube, to the tune of Danny Boy, showing screen shots of the outraged twitter posts interspersed with photos of Moms carrying babies in slings.
Bloggers began calling for boycotts. Bloggers asked their readers to alert the mainstream press. A few voices chimed in to say they didn’t find the ad to be that big a deal. There are a few more examples here and here.)
By Sunday afternoon a few bloggers and tweeters had gotten the ad agency that created the ad on the phone, to find they didn’t know a lot about Twitter and didn’t seem to have a clue that there was so much anger piling up online. And Peter Shankman, a public relations all-star who knows everything and then some about new media, was giving the manufacturers some advice:
I’m not siding with Motrin. They messed up, granted. I’m ok with that. Companies mess up all the time. They fix the problem, and it usually doesn’t make the radar screen. The problem is, Motrin happened to mess up at the expense, and in the face of, one of the most vocal, quickest-to-blog, “strongest-to-band-together-and-form-one-opinion-like-the-Borg” collectives out there - The Mommy-Blogging community.
Now I am NOT slagging on Mommy-Bloggers. Not in the slightest. Nor, am I saying they’re over-reacting to the commercial, which, by rights, was stupid and patronizing. What I AM saying though, is that Motrin will pay a MUCH bigger price, as opposed to if they’d messed up in front of say, “Construction-Worker-Bloggers.” Mommy-Bloggers are not a voice to be messed with, probably because they’re one of the most clearly identifiable voices on the web. You have a kid? You blog about said kid? You’re a Mommy-blogger. You don’t need an advanced degree in particle physics to see what these bloggers have in common.
Or, as one Tweet put it:
note to self … never piss off moms … especially twitter moms … they can be a nasty bunch ;)
It's whole new world out there, folks.
From a PR standpoint, you need to know your audience and you need to understand the power of mass communication has shifted from the media to the masses.
From a PR standpoint, you need to know your audience and you need to understand that the power of mass communication has shifted from the media to the masses.
Shankman is right: The Mommy-bloggers don't need to wait for the mass media to catch up to a "problem". They are already a loosely organized news organization: An international coffee klatch just waiting to be mobilized into a tsunami-like force FOR or AGAINST you.
And even when they are not all riled up about something en masse, the cyber-moms are still a force to be considered. We are out there connecting and talking in real time and across great distances about YOUR company and YOUR product and YOUR policy.
And our greatest influencers are EACH OTHER.
As a PR professional or an advertising executive or a marketing guru or a CEO - how will you use that knowledge?
So ... what do you think?
Of the original ad and of the almost-instant cyber-mom backlash?
14 November 2008
I can relate, because it's been just under a year since I became art.
Okay. I've shown you mine. Now you show me yours!
1) Eat first.
Seriously. Don't get tattooed on an empty stomach. The pain endorphins mess with your blood sugar and leave you all wiped out like your coming down off a Red Bull binge. I just ate a light snack before mine and I was shaking and sweating after the short walk to the car and I just wanted to eat and then pass out.
2) Do your homework.
Get a good artist (yes, they cost more, but they are worth it) and work with her to really get exactly what you want. After all, it's the only thing you will take with you when you go. Choose wisely.
12 November 2008
I've been meme'd. So here are Seven Random Things about me:
1 - I have been knitting the same baby blanket for almost two years. I have no idea what I will do with it when it's completed. But I WILL finish the darn thing. Someday.
2 - I got my first stitches before I was 3 years old. Three stitches. In my face. That pretty much set the trend for my life. I am a klutz and injure myself on a regular basis. But never very seriously.
3 - I like to eat lemons. With salt.
4 - I'm a grammar ninja.
5 - I love the outdoors. But I hate bugs.
6 - I catalogue my personal collections of books and movies. Alphabetically. In Excel. Because I'm just a little bit OCD like that.
11 November 2008
For me, it's like "Cathy" shopping for swimsuits. I start out with positive expectations and slowly devolve into disappointment, frustration and lowered self-esteem to the point where I want to grab the nearest fashion designer by the ears and scream, "REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES!"
Well, it turns out someone was paying attention to that war-cry of hippy women everywhere (I'm lookin' at you, moms.) Because NYDJ came out with Not Your Daughter's Jeans with "Tummy Tuck" technology.
I know. You're skeptical. So was I! I saw the sign and thought, "Pfft, yeah, whatever."
Then I read their miracle-tonic label, "Flattens your tummy! Lifts your Butt!" Suuuuuure it does. "Makes you look and feel a size smaller!" I actually snorted at that one. Ignoring the dirty look from the nearby saleswoman, I read on: "... no love handles ... more comfortable than your favorite sweat pants ..."
What? No claim that it erases wrinkles and cures world hunger?!
I didn't buy their snake-oil sales pitch for a minute .
But ... they did feel really soft ... and the color and cut were nice ... and maybe, just maybe, this pair might actually be made to fit a real person and not some stick-figure fashion model. So I took them into the dressing room and tried them on ...
And a chorus of angels burst into song as I sank softly into the most comfortable pair of jeans I'd ever put on.
I knew without even looking in the mirror that I would buy them, they fit and felt that good. And then I dared look in the mirror: Hmmm, not bad from the front. Not bad at all. No mommy bulge ... no muffin top ...
But what about the back? I stepped outside to face the dreaded three-way mirror.
And there was that choir of angels again!
Waaaa-hooo! My ass looked great, if-I-do-say-so-myself!
Seriously, these are the most comfortable thing I have ever put on my lower half.
They are magic ... a'la Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. They FIT. They DO make your tummy flatter and your butt firmer, and they ARE so comfortable that you could do yoga in them.
I mean, c'mon! Sliced bread's got nothin' on these jeans!
And then I found out they come in SLACKS, too!
*Haaa-lle-lu-jah ... Haaa-lle-lu-jah*
Consider this a Public Service Announcement for curvy women everywhere: Buy. These. Jeans.
At least go try them on.
If I was Oprah, every woman on my show would get a pair of these jeans. "You get a hot ass, and you get a hot ass, and you get a hot ass ..."
* Disclaimer: Jeans may or may not include angelic chorus.
10 November 2008
Daddy, with a chuckle: "Oh? You think you can get all the way to China from here?"
Boy, deadpan, with a hint of reproach at Daddy's lack of faith: "Daddy. It's a VERY deep wheelbarrow."
09 November 2008
I am not a cook. I admit this freely and without shame. The Husband does 90 percent of the cooking in our house. If you want omelettes, pancakes, waffles, enchiladas, Spanish rice, lasagna, chicken breasts or something out of a box - I'm your gal. Anything else - talk to The Husband.
So, considering that disclaimer, why the heck am I blogging about a recipe?! And why on earth should you listen to *me*?!?
Because it is The. Best. Turkey. Ever. And it's EASY!
Why should you take advice from someone as culinarily challenged as me? Because it's not MY recipe - it's Alton Brown's! And HE is a kitchen god (which is a little bit like being a rock god, but yummier.)
Seriously, do yourself, your guests and your bird a favor: TRY THIS RECIPE. I did. And I made a flavorful, moist, golden-brown-and-delicious turkey. Me. The girl who can't boil toast.
Trust me: If *I* can do it, anybody can. :)
So do it!
Good Eats Roast Turkey
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water
For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.
A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.
Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.
Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.
06 November 2008
We've come so far. And yet ... not.
Californians demonstrated this week that we care more about the humane treatment of farm animals than we do about the humane treatment of human beings.
Fortunately, the battle is not over. Because so long as one of us is chained, none of us are free.
In the end, I am confident, compassion and equality will prevail. But only if we don't give up.
We Shall Be Free
This ain't comin' from no prophet
Just an ordinary man
When I close my eyes I see
The way this world shall be
When we all walk hand in hand
When the last child cries for a crust of bread
When the last man dies for just words that he said
When there's shelter over the poorest head
We shall be free
When the last thing we notice is the color of skin
And the first thing we look for is the beauty within
When the skies and the oceans are clean again
Then we shall be free
We shall be free, We shall be free
Stand straight, walk proud
'Cause we shall be free
When we're free to love anyone we choose
When this world's big enough for all different views
When we all can worship from our own kind of pew
Then we shall be free
We shall be free
We shall be free
Have a little faith, Hold out
'Cause we shall be free
And when money talks for the very last time
And nobody walks a step behind
When there's only one race and that's mankind
Then we shall be free
We shall be free, We shall be free
Stand straight, walk proud, have a little faith, hold out
We shall be free
We shall be free, We shall be free
Stand straight, have a little faith
We shall be free
05 November 2008
Nooo ... not the Presidential election. Pfft. That's so yesterday's news.
No, I'm talking about the genius of "Frustration-Free Packaging" from Amazon.
Amazon.com will now deliver (select) products in "an easy-to-open, recyclable cardboard box."
Shhhh ... you had me at "easy-to-open".
Almost any parent can tell you that "wrap-rage" is a serious problem in this country. Kids toys and electronics are the worst culprits.
I can't count the number of times I've wrestled with child-proof, theft-proof, zen-proof packaging while my kids danced around just wanting to "plaaaaaay with it!"
(Mostly, I can't count them because I can no longer see my fingers through the band-aids. Those scars have forever ended any chance I had for a career as a hand model.)
No more tearing into plastic clamshell packages can-opener style; No more piles of teensy-tiny plastic twist-ties and their choking-hazard grommets; No more kung-fu fighting with taped-up, tied-up, trussed-up toys while your toddler cries in frustration.
It's gotten to the point that I break into a cold sweat just walking by toy aisles. Christmas and birthdays make me hyperventilate.
But now! ... "easy to open" ... beautiful.
Where have you been all my life?!
03 November 2008
Yay! Just the idea makes me feel not-so-alone in my opposition to this attempted ban on Same Sex Marriage.
But, I couldn't attend. My children are too young to be trusted anywhere near a busy street corner unless they are being firmly held - or are tied to a lamp post. The first is not really an option for the squirmy mass of limbs that is my escape-artist 17-month-old. And people tend to frown on trussed-up 4-year-olds in public for some reason. Go figure.
So, I did not participate. But I did make it a point to drive by and honk and wave and give a "thumbs up" to those brave folks out there on the street corners with their homemade signs.
And, trust me, it IS a brave thing to do in this town. As I have mentioned before, we are little specks of Liberal Blue awash in a sea of Conservative Red here in California's Central Valley. My thumb was not the only finger being waved from a passing car.
So, we drove by a couple of times to show our support.
And my 4-year-old was fascinated by the joyful cheering and waving from the street corners as we honked and waved.
"Mommy, they are celebrating us," he said in a happy, awed tone.
"Yes, big boy, they are."
"But why are they celebrating us?" This as he waved frantically from his car seat at anyone he could see.
"I guess because we are celebrating them," I replied.
No hesitation: "Yeah, cuz everybody wants to be celebrated. It's nice. It makes you happy."
Everybody wants to be celebrated. Everybody wants to be happy. Everybody wants to love and be loved.
Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness: Self-evident. Unalienable.
Equality. Compassion. Love. Celebration.
Without these, where would we be?
My 4-year-old gets it.
Why don't the h8ers?
My husband and I voted NO on Prop 8.