Archive for category internets

Dodging playgroups and hugging my calling card

I had somewhat of an epiphany yesterday…after watching the latest episode of Desperate Housewives.

Yeah, I really just said that.

I’ve always said that I don’t refer to myself as a “housewife” or as they say, SAHM.  We don’t go to playgroups or hangout at Starbucks or Panera like some of my mom friends in town are known to do.  Not that anything’s wrong with that—aside from the work that is being a mother, I consider myself a mom who works at home.

jack and his computerAnd I do…every day while trying to raise a toddler practically by myself during the week, while spearheading a website, making industry connections, attending meetings with toy executives, wiping a resistant booty, while fielding emails and ignoring laundry.

I work.  Just like so many other mamas, my daily struggle is trying to find that balance.  Yup, I’m still going at it.  Boohoo, right?

Nah…but as of late, I feel so completely overwhelmed by this existentialist crisis I have going on.

WHAT am I doing and where am I going with all of this?  Was dropping out of the conventional “rat race” worth it?  If I’m home most of the time caring for my own kid, then why do assholes look at me as if I’m the pariah?   If I went back to work in an office to work for the man again, just to feel worthless and constricted creatively, who wins then?  The kid who goes to daycare from 7am to 7pm everyday?

I’m over a year into this now, but as I get deeper into this path I’m on, I hear/feel/see more flack than you’d ever believe.

Is it really 2010?

This mommy wars stuff is bullshit.  And it’s hitting me hard.

I’ll save the rest of my dialogue for another day, the one where I’ve created this website that fuels my passion and creative desires.  The one where companies fill my mailbox with their new products, just to have a chance to be mentioned on my little site.  I’m only a year in, and I’ve barely scraped the surface.  Again, I’m not moving mountains here, I’m just doing what I’ve always wanted to do…

It’s exciting to experience the progress of this new direction and watch my vision grow.

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Motherhood 2.0, or as some call it, spending way too much time online

A couple of weeks ago, after one of my really horrible days where Jack and I both melted down simultaneously, I remember spouting off to Jeff, something to the effect of, “After days like this, I don’t think I’d be able to handle another kid.”

Yeah, I REALLY said that.

I had a shitty day. And just like many people do, I said something out of haste. So, what I probably meant to say was, “After days like this, I don’t think I can handle any more kids without my support system.”

Living so far away from family, not having many local friends that have kids yet and not being super-close with many mom friends in our area, my support system is much different than what my mom’s support system was like.

In addition to mom, we grew up with my grandma caring for us on a day-to-day basis, we constantly had aunties around, not to mention, dad ruling the roost. Yeah, we were very lucky.

So, as I navigate my own adventures in motherhood, I always feel nostalgic for my own childhood. The house was always crowded with some sort of chaos; it was constantly filled with food and family life seemed like a well-oiled machine.

On any given day, I consider it a good day if both Jack and myself are out of our pjs by noon, nevermind actually find a consistent and responsible babysitter that can help me out regularly. With Jeff’s long hours and commute times, we kiss him goodbye as we’re waking up and he sometimes gets home just in time for bedtime. (It goes without saying that we appreciate his hard work that allows us to live such a wonderful life.)

It’s a long day to navigate without a co-pilot. And that’s not a complaint whatsoever. We chose this life; I cope by blogging about it :)

Ok. So maybe I don’t have the physical support system that I grew up with, or maybe my girlfriends are still hitting happy hour as I wield strollers and diaper bags. I am, however, so grateful for my online support system. If I didn’t have my blogs as therapy, my message board girls to use as a sounding board or Facebook status to update regularly or Twitter to remind me that I’m not “alone,” I’m so sure I’d have gone off the deep end by now.

I’ve seen many articles on Motherhood 2.0, but it’s this latest one that was posted on MSNBC’s site today that really hit home with me. We’ve been quarantined because of Jack’s fever and ear infections, but this article made me smile and count my blessings that I’m never alone in this.

The subhead, alone, sums up what motherhood is like:

It still takes a village to raise a child — the community has just gone from the neighborhood to the blogosphere.

Hell, in that first sentence, you could easily transpose my last name and number of kids to ring true, too!

Jennifer Morais was a stay-at-home mother of three who was struggling financially but couldn’t afford the cost of child care if she went to work.

What it comes down to is, motherhood/parenthood is best tackled together. Whereas in generations past, large groups of relatives helped care for the kidlets, today, we have online support systems that bind so many of us together.

I love the advice and guidance I’ve received from friends online (and sometimes, friends of friends,) many of whom I can’t visit easily, but I sure as hell can get a chuckle from when their pre-schooler celebrates poop sizes. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

A special congrats to one of my mom blog friends, Kim of Mominthecity, who was mentioned in this article. She is a truly influential individual who has been so gracious to extend invitations and contacts, much like many of my other blogging friends have done, such as Carol of NYCityMama. I hope to do the same as often as possible.

In addition to the many wonderful friends I’ve made through blogging, I’m just as thankful for the girlfriends I’ve made online on my message boards and the close friends I can keep up with thanks to Facebook. I know many of you read my blogs and comment gratuitously (which really, really helps.) And trust me, I love reading about your kids on your Facebook status, too.

For all of you who care to interact whether it’s online or in person, I’m so thankful for you—more than you know!

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On the mend

Happy Monday!  If things look a little different today, that’s because they are…

Being in quarantine has its advantages, apparently.  While Jack was on the mend, I started to feel run-down and ill myself.  To fight off everyone’s sicknesses, we took it easy this weekend.  So, I found myself working on this site to spruce it up a bit.  I’ve been neglecting this site with the launch of NKT, and plus, the other theme was getting so cluttered, much like our apartment :)   So, I decided it was time for another overhaul!  I have a few more networking events this week, so I thought I’d look a little more presentable for a change.

Jack’s still under the weather, but definitely much better than he was on Friday.  After my pig flu rant, Jack’s temp spiked up to 103.  With Jeff stuck in traffic, I had an “Oh crap what am I supposed to do now” moment.  I wasn’t sure whether to pack him in the stroller and walk the 5 blocks to the pediatrician or take him to the ER.  I’m pretty sure I was *this* close to asking for advice on Facebook.  103 was friggin’ high!

I ignored both instincts.

Instead, I sat and rocked a sick little boy in the chair.   Thankfully his fever broke through the night.

His nose so raw from wiping, his eyes all teary from misery, my boy was the sickest he’s ever been.  The rest of the weekend involved spending almost all of Saturday afternoon at the dr’s office and then embracing the usual sick kid routine—changing many diapers from an upset belly, shoving Pedialyte down his throat, ignoring/disciplining/dealing with tantrums and hugging.  Lots of hugging.

Sleep is stil a bit off, but the worst was that EARLY morning waking at 3am.  He didn’t go back to bed at all.  Thank goodness Jeff was around to help that morning because that’s when I started to feel sick.  It’s a vicious cycle, I tell ya.

Though the weekend was tough on all of us, there are definitely signs of things looking up.

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Next stop, 30 Rock

Exciting news!  Tomorrow, I’ll be at 30 Rock!  The address, not the show.

Why, you ask?  Well, that’s because I was tapped to be a part of the Today’s Moms Book Bash Breakfast and Diaper Drive.  When I say tapped, I mean I signed up and they selected the attendees for the event.  The event is being held by the authors of Today’s Moms.  Mary Ann Zoellner and Alicia Ybarbo, producers at NBC’s TODAY Show, have been promoting their book, Today’s Moms: Essentials for Surviving Baby’s First Year.

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This breakfast is another one of the book’s publicity events, but this time, it involves “real” moms and mom bloggers.  I might have survived the first year, but just barely!  I guess I met the requirements!  But still, I’m so excited to be a part of it!  Jeff volunteered to play Mr. Mom for the morning, so the childcare situation is all set!  However, I had the chance to bring a guest, only to realize that I don’t have any mom friends.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I do.  But the people that I wanted to bring have work or live so far away.  I have local mom friends, but not good friends, just acquaintances from playgroup, church and such. (I’m such the antithesis from the groups of moms that hang out and socialize with each other in the  park.)  And my other friends, the DINKs?  Yeah, I highly doubt you guys would even want to go to such an event.  (If my assumption is wrong, let me know if you want to go!)  So besides being friendless, I’m super-excited for tomorrow!

The event will broadcast live on their website.  So, tune in to check us out!  Because it’s a publicity event, they’re encouraging us to blog and tweet. I’ll have my MacBook w/ hot pink case–the one like in Shopaholic, but I got mine as a gift before the movie came out ;)   You can’t miss me!  Cool case, yet still friendless.

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Good fodder

Thank God it’s Friday!  With all that was going on this week, I can hardly believe it’s already Friday.  Last night when I took down the recycling, since paper collection is on Thursday nights, I had to recount all the days in my head just to make sure that I had the correct day.  ha.  I haven’t had a week like this in ages…

We live in area where upon meeting you, people sum you up on where you went to college, what degree you have and yes, what you do for a living.  It’s just a very career-oriented place, with many of us sacrificing space for proximity to our workplace.  But on the other side of the token, I think the general perspective is so different back home.  Some go to college, you get a job, buy a house, have a family and go about your business.  It’s clear cut, making little room for diversion.  It’s honorable but quite different than how I’d also envisioned things for myself.

All I’d ever wanted was to write and be creative, but in a capacity where I had no boundaries in doing so.  I wish I could verbalize the fiery passion that I have for this.  But it’s always been there, and there’s no denying it, which is what landed me here.

Having Jeff along made things even more exciting for the good times and tolerable for those tough times…but things for us have been far from predictable.  We’re in our early 30s now, a time when most of our peers are enjoying their homes, a pair of cars in the driveway and working their way towards the 2.5 kids—or whatever that statistic is nowadays.

For the time being, we’ve shelved hopes for the house in place of pursuing our careers and starting our family.  It’s what some people choose to do.  We have family and friends who don’t “get it” and question our tiny space and how our rent is as costly as mortgages.  That’s fine, but again, I’ll gladly take these life experiences before the house, the 2 cars and whatever else it is that most people think we need to be successful.

Here’s the thing, people.  There’s a method to our madness.  We live within our means–at least we try.  We don’t have to be bailed out of a mortgage that we can’t afford.  And most importantly, we’ve both been given so many awesome opportunities because of this path we’ve chosen. Jeff’s skyrocketing as usual; there’s no surprise there.  And for me, well, I hope to continue to share as things progress. I am behind on posts for Babyrific, but there’s so much I need to share.

This week was the culmination of so much for me.  It’s not just some “little business” that I thought up while I was watching Oprah and snacking on cheese puffs.  For those that don’t “get” why we do the things we do, it’s weeks like this when things come full circle.  I’m doing it, ya’ll.  I’m carpe diem-ing.

The launch of my new site, though still in its early stages, is something that I’d been working toward.  I’m fortunate to be home with my kid, but I maintain the 9-5 workdays (with a little napping siesta every now and then.) But ever since I left my office job 6 months ago, THIS is what I’ve been working toward.  It’s just the beginning, but I finally have that running start.

And as I’ve said to many of you already, I couldn’t have done this without your help.  The encouragement, the belief and the inspiration–all of it has helped me reach beyond my comfort zone.  I am so grateful for the support system that I’m lucky enough to call friends and family.  And a big, big shout out to my kickass husband and all of you that have been boosting me up with the comments and frequent visits to the new site.  Thank you.

I’m not moving mountains here or saving lives, but I’m fulfilling that fiery passion and working it all out.  The small apartment, city street parking, frequent trips to the laundromat with the kid in tow?  Trust me, it’ll be good fodder for that best seller one day.

A girl can dream…

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In Memory of Madeline Spohr

A few days ago, as I was blog hopping, I stumbled onto Heather’s site.  I just couldn’t forget her gorgeous daughter’s big blue eyes.  She’s so sweet, I thought.

Yesterday, I noticed a tweet about Heather’s daughter, Maddie, and something mentioning marching in her “memory.”  I knew Heather was active in the March of Dimes and that Maddie was born several weeks premature.   I clicked on links to check out stories from said tweets.  But, I got nowhere because apparently, almost all of the Twitterverse and Blogosphere were doing the same exact thing.

Tonight, I read more about Maddie and was finally able to get back to Heather’s blog.  On April 7, Sweet Maddie unexpectedly passed away after having breathing problems.  She was only 17 months old.

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My heart aches knowing that Maddie left so soon.  Her sunny smile will never be forgotten.

I’ve been in my own bubble this week since I’ve been in website-tweaking mode.  But now, I’m all tears and can’t sleep.  As a mom with a child in the same age range, I just can’t even begin to fathom what they’re going through right now.

In my last post, the underlying message was that we, moms, are not alone, especially during adversities like this.  I don’t personally know Heather or Mike Spohr, and I’m guessing that neither do several thousands of the other people who have shared their support and love over the past two days.  The power of social media and the mom blogging community is a strong force that has no boundaries at times like this.  Everyone is loved just that much.

Please say a prayer for the Sphor family and keep Madeline in your thoughts.  If you’d like to donate to help this family, I’ve listed the information that their friends have provided below:

A PayPal Account has been set up to assist Heather and Mike with any upcoming expenses. You can donate by sending money, via PayPal to formaddie@hotmomreviews.com. All money received will go directly to them to be used at their discretion.

If you want to show Mike and Heather your love and support in person, further details on services for Maddie will be available as they are arranged. The service will be early next week in Burbank, and they’re asking that everyone wear purple. If you are in the Los Angeles area, or want to be in the area for the event, the March for Babies Team Maddie walk is Saturday, April 25th. Click the March of Dimes link above for more information or email undomesticdiva@gmail.com.

Be sure to hug your babies, big kids and loved ones even tighter today.

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On being a digital mom

The Today Show recently featured a duo of segments on what they dubbed the “Digital Mom.”  Yesterday’s segment overviewed how moms are using modern technology as mothering aids, referring to email/web enabled phones, DVR, blogs and message boards as sources of “salvation.”  As one of thousands of moms that employs these tools in my daily life, I agree to an extent with the Today Show’s definition of a Digital Mom.  I appreciated that they included Heather Armstrong, Mommyblogger extraordinaire. But in a way, I think Dooce is in a different category, whose online presence almost surpasses the community of moms who blog.  What I mean by that is, today’s Digital Mom has an ongoing conversation online with various different forums and outlets.  Those forums could include message boards, social networks like Facebook and Myspace, social networks geared directly at moms like Cafemoms, TheMotherhood and Momfaves (my new personal favorite!), photo sharing sites such as Flickr and of course, the almighty blog.  The true essence of a digital mom or as some are calling Mom 2.0, is the fact that she’s sharing information as well as retaining it.  As with any relationship, it’s a 2-way street.  Check out what this mom had to say on this topic.

Because of my background in traditional media and print journalism, my motive to start blogging was a bit different.  At my old job, I wrote, researched and reported on a lot of technical and not-so-glamorous topics.  And because I craved a different creative outlet, I thought, why not blog?  Writing is/was my livelihood PLUS I found it cathartic thus, Babyrific was born as soon as I found out I was pregnant.  It became an open-ended source for our family in Va. to know that we’re still nuts and that our child is well on his way to eating us out of house and home.  Along the way, just like other moms who blog, people shared a similar interest in our lunacy, either that or they liked to point and laugh at us.  And from there, I started to share my thoughts and research about parenting, products and life in general, with the hopes that along the way my sometimes ridiculous anecdotes help/amuse/inform someone else.

Or better yet, I get calls like this from my mom 2 days after a post I’ve written:
Mom: “Hi. How is he?  What did he eat?”
Me:  “Who?  Who ate what??”
Mom:  “Jack.  I saw on your internets.  Is he ok?”
*In the car on the way to Costco, focusing on eating samples for lunch and utterly confused.*
Me:  “What are you talking about mom?”
Mom:  “I saw he ate something.”
Me: Ohhhhhhhhhh.  *lightbulb goes off*  You mean the diaper cream???
Mom:  Yeah!  How did you know that he ate it?
Me:  Well, because he had WHITE STUFF all over his face and his butt smelled like his butt!

This generation of moms is clearly different, with our internets and all.  When we were kids, my mom actually talked to moms and interacted with them.  Today, I’m plugged in and connected to my mom friends in more ways than I can count.  I plan playdates via my local message board.  I score sales and deals from my girlfriends on Facebook and a different message board.  And most recently, I Twitter with other moms to corporate employees from big brands.  Social networking plays a huge part in my daily life, just like it does for many other moms. According to today’s Today Show segment on Digital Moms, 26 million moms are using social networking.  That’s a lot of moms chattering about everything from brands they love to their thoughts on parenting to that McDonald’s Filet O’ Fish commercial.  (That does its job and actually makes me want to haul ass to the drive thru!)

With all those moms talking, it’s no wonder the information and marketing landscape has forever changed.  Remember my year of interviews last year and being unable to get a job as an editor/reporter at another print publication?  Along with millions of other veterans in the print publishing field, those jobs are hard to come by, what with advertising dollars shifting to the online sector.
Why and how?  Well, a lot of it goes back to moms.
Less and less people turn to magazines and newspapers as THE source of information.  We spend our time online.  Thus, the advertising dollars follow the consumers to the online marketplace.  It’s a vicious cycle, but one that I’m trying to learn.

I definitely appreciated today’s Today Show segment that featured eMom and Consumer Queen, both online resources whose sites garner a lot of traffic because of the great content.  What I gathered from the segment was that moms have a powerful voice online, and many entrepreunurial moms are making a business from it.  The advertising professional provided great insight, too, but I think her perspective wasn’t as spot on.  Not all moms blog for the “free stuff.”  Empowering ourselves as moms/consumers and sharing with others in the process is a big motive for me.  As a plus, the excitement I get from writing and reporting about things that I’m passionate about helps me from teetering off into crazyland.  Well, on most days…

Ok, we’re off to go get our Filet O’ Fish :)

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Baby digital age

Jack and the MacOn just my last entry, I poked fun at Jeff and Jack geeking out.  In fact, a slew of my photos include Jack “plugged” into various devices.  With such impeccable timing,  I read an excellent article on Babble that I think is geared directly at us and many of our peers. The article, Littlest Surfers by Camille Sweeney, discusses toddler and preschoolers’ internet activity, video games and the evolution of technology and edutainment, specifically for those under 5.  As cute as we think it is, how much is too much?

A decorative shelf in our living room that once housed decanters and a sculpture is now the “home” for ipods, cell phones and other small electronic devices that I’d prefer to keep in tact. Jack watches me peck at my computer every now and then while he’s awake, so naturally, he’s intrigued. If I leave the laptop open and walk away to go to the bathroom, my man has his chubby little paws all over the keys, as if he knows what he’s doing. He’s certainly at the copycat phase, where he HAS to do everything we’re doing.  Computers, cell phones and technology are around us every day, so how do we tackle this topic in a way that works best for us?  This article points out several points of interest, especially now that Jack is monkey seeing and monkey doing.

Growing up, even now, as a new mom, I often heard my parents say, “I didn’t have that when I was your age.”
Um, yeah. I now say that to my nieces and nephews. And soon, I’m sure I’ll say it to Jack.  Undoubtedly, that phrase applies to all the video game consoles, software, the internet in general and the almighty cell phone!
The article points out:

“We’re at a transitional moment,” says Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children’s Technology Review and author of a recent study on young children’s tech habits. “It used to be there were two main platforms for technology, Mac and Windows. Now, there are over twenty, including Nintendo DS and Wii that kids as young as two-and-a-half can play,” he explained. “Kids are surrounded by screens in a way like never before, at home, in their pockets, in the minivan, and they know how to use them at younger and younger ages.”

While he believes access to technology can make our kids smarter and prepare them for many educational and social challenges ahead, he adds a caveat: Parents must be a part of it.

While I’m still figuring out my bearings on this whole parenting gig, I couldn’t agree more with that last statement.

The article goes on discuss online safety and how parent’s interaction is paramount with their child’s online activity. If you watch the news or read the papers, that should be a given.

My kid is a bit young to be surfing the web. His attention span isn’t long enough for me to type in a the length of the url. But I’m sure, we’ll cross that path one day soon  But once he does reach that age, Sweeny has a list of the best sites for the preschool set.

Recommended Sites for Small Children (6 months to 5 years):

PBS Kids

Fisher-Price

Sesame Street

Internet4Classrooms

Boohbah Zone

UpToTen

CBeebies

This is Daniel Cook

Exploratorium: The Science of Music

KneeBouncers

Starfall

But most importantly, the article says,

There’s a lot to empower little kids, but for the ones still under two-and-a-half, keep it balanced, go analog, go organic. The most enriching experience you can offer them is to get a cat.

and better yet,

For a baby especially, anything that takes away from that human interaction would be less than optimal.

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Sneak peek of spring

Yesterday slidingwas a gorgeous day for us, and from what it sounds like, spring was in the air for many others as well. Jack and I left our big poofy jackets and gloves at home, unzipped the Bundle Me and spent several hours outside. We hit the park TWICE, had lunch and attempted to get some parking pass stuff fixed at the parking utility. Being outside in the sun and warmth made a big difference in our day; I felt much more productive, sociable and considerably happier—well, besides wanting to karate chop the lady at the parking utility. But, I digress…

Even though we officially have several more weeks left of winter, I’ll take one day of warmth and sunshine over none at all. I have a long list of places to go see once the weather is warmer. I can’t wait!

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I’m finishing up last minute details on the new website and have recently made more contacts with a few more companies. I really can’t wait to get things rolling, which will be very, very soon! Speaking of getting things rolling, we’re heading out to Va. again tomorrow for yet another whirlwind weekend. This time, we’ll be home for a shower that I’m helping “host.” ;)

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Gadget Geek’s ABCs

geek boyNot surprisingly, Jack is a gadget geek, just like mom and dad.  The minute we set down one of our ipods or phones, he snatches it up and tries to “use” it.  With the phone, he’ll hold it up to his neck and jabber away.  With the ipod, he already knows that the earbuds go in his ears.  Every now and then, Jeff will let him “play” along or watch a little video, as if he really knows what he’s doing.  He’s truly a product of his environment, that’s for sure.

Like me with my computer, Jeff has been addicted to his iTouch lately.  He’s got a long list of apps that he plays endlessly, so when I saw this kid-centric app on Geek Dad today, I had to share it:

ABC Animals is a clever application because it can be used by children across a large age range. I’m not sure if the developers at Critical Matter intended this. But, I’ve found it can be used by children as young as 18 months, up to as old as seven – depending on their level of development. And, given the rate at which children grow and develop during the first 7 years of their life this a decent achievement.

With Jack interested in counting and ABCs now, this app is certainly of interest.  While nothing replaces old fashioned learning from books, I have a feeling this will be one of the next downloaded apps.

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