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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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Different shades of an intoxicatingly green Saturday

On Saturday, we woke up to a roar of hearty voices out on the streets. It was barely 7am and a sea of green was already flooding the neighborhood. This past weekend was our town’s annual St. Patty’s Day parade, but for many, parade day translates into a huge drunkfest. With drinking into oblivion as the main objective, scores of out of towners come into our small mile-square city by trains, buses and if they’re crazy, cars.

In a different lifetime, the first Saturday of March was always reserved for morning till night bouts of debauchery, corned beef and cabbage, green wardrobe explosions, messy parties in way-too-small spaces and of course, good times with good friends. We’ve been known to start drinking mimosas, kegs and eggs at 9am with the nuttiest of them all. Unlike the many amateurs that ruin it for those that actually live here, we love to party, yet our translation of partying doesn’t equal fall-down-drunkenness and public acts of ridiculousness. I like to pretend I’ve become wise in my old age, or at least smarter in THAT sense. We’re seasoned pros, afterall; just a few short years ago, we were childless and hangovers didn’t equate into a next day death sentence.

Jen and Jeff St. Patty's Day 2006But alas, we set out to enjoy parade day with a whole new perspective.  Because our friends are all busy with their own lives and no one really expressed interest in this year’s St. Patty’s Day festivities, I wrote it off and marked it as a family fun day. So, for the first time, we actually attended the parade—yup, the actual parade for which all the drunken activities originally stemmed. Our first parade was so much fun. We walked over with our neighbors and enjoyed the new sights and sounds of St. Patty’s Day festivities. I never really realized how many organizations and bands participated! The bagpipes, horns and glockenspiels certainly completed this whole new perspective. It was a good time, and one that Jack thoroughly enjoyed.

My favorite band in the whole parade!Hoboken fire truck
crowds at the paradeattempt at self portrait

Even though we only walked a 6 block distance to the parade, walking amidst all the partyers, felt like we were on a different planet. A sober, less tragic one. A planet where I looked in the mirror before leaving the house. A planet where I could still walk in a straight line at 1pm. One where I could see in single, unblurred vision. It felt like we were being Punk’d, where Ashton Kutcher could’ve come around the corner to surprise us— it was THAT weird to be some of the only sober folks in a sea of lunacy.   Jack had a nice glimpse of what the circus is like!

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Pearls of wisdom, the vacation edition

From our recent vacation, we came away not only with a mountain of toys, but also many more pearls of wisdom.  (chuckle)
So instead of another long, drawn-out post about all the happenings, I thought these thoughts deserved bullet points.

1.  When there was only 2 of us, there was never enough time to do/see everything we wanted.  With 3 of us, we don’t even have time to THINK about all those things, never mind actually do them.
2.  You know those little kiddie luggage that say, “visiting Grandma and Grandpa,”  I’m going to get one and cross it out and write: “Going to Lolo and Lola’s.  What Jackson wants, Jackson gets.”
3.  In all seriousness, sleeping in is bliss.  An extra 2 sets of hands is even more bliss.
4.  All that sleeping bliss on vacation translates into interrupted toddler sleeping pattern post-vacation.  Bliss was shortlived–we’re BACK to square one in the sleeping through the night crusade. (sigh)
5.  Once upon a time, when we visited home, we hit many bars in a weekend.  In 2 weeks, we saw 2 bars, for less than 2 hours each.  If New Year’s Eve was really reserved for amateurs, these old partying vets stayed in pjs–by choice.  Funny how times change.
6.  Watching the kid interact with his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousin induced fuzzy feelings and painted-on grins.
Jack learned a new “trick.”  He would grab any unsuspecting person by a singular finger to drag them to the next room to do something mommy usually outlawed.  More fuzzy feelings.
7.  Speaking of fuzzy feelings, my brother introduced us to Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.  Mmmm vodka.  mmmm sweet tea.  Sweet Tea Vodka is delicious, just ask my husband.
8.  Even after all these years of living away, like all most of our old haunts, our favorite Mexican restaurant never gets old.  I think we ate there 4 different times while we were home.  Wondering if they deliver to Hoboken, NJ.  (It’s so ironic that we both worked [and reconnected] at a now-defunct Mexican restaurant chain)
9.  Trading in our old car for the new was a lot of work.  God bless Jeff for doing the grunt work and for dad’s help, too!
10.  Contrary to what many believe, our new sedan IS much more spacious than a small SUV and much more fuel efficient–to the tune of 28 mpg vs.19.  Big difference for a family that can easily burn through 100k miles in 4 years.
10.  Needless to say, good times with family and friends rock, but getting back to our regular routine is healthy.
11.  As hard as it is to say good bye, it makes going back home for a visit that much more special.
12.  Unpacking after said long trip is impossible.  (Wondering if I could keep bags packed until next visit.)

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The Year in Review

Dickens said it best with the first sentence of A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
That infamous intro pretty much sums up our 2008. With the good, came the bad, but it was definitely a big year for our family.

Our kid grew at an exponential pace; with all the milestones and daily debacles, our family grew considerably; and as a person, I felt my own growing pains too. I’ll always hold 2008 dear to my heart because of all the milestones we’ve celebrated, but I’m so ready to say see ya later. We’re all excited for the promise 2009 brings.

And with that, I thought I’d share a pictoral highlights of 2008:

Momma and babe

oooh! I just remembered something.

racing stripe

Jeff's birthday

4 months old

it's official

watch out ladies

High chair

oh hey ma

Easter

Eating solids

Family portrait

wheeee daddyyyyy

new car seat!

Mother's Day at Shea

Mother's day at Shea

Jack "meeting" Paris

Jack the artist

admiring the sprinkler

Boat #2 and 10

10 months old

Watertown this way

Chicago


look familiar?

candles

first haircut

Pumpkin head

There's nothing sweeter than a farewell cupcake

Jack and mom

Toddling

Red and Blue all the way

Busted

Our spread

Jack and Santa

in front of our tree

Lots of promise upon the horizon

Have a safe and happy New Year celebration, everyone.

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Ice, Ice, Baby

We had a very nice weekend, hope everyone did as well.  We enjoyed the snow on Friday, but ended up staying indoors since it was so icy.  stomping inWe discovered that when it rains/sleets in between snow, it leaves a much harder snow on the ground that's almost as solid as ice.  Jack's little footprints stayed above the snow, that's how packed it was!  Still, it was fun to explore at the park for a few minutes.  It's just as cold today, if not colder, and the forecast is predicting the potential of a white Christmas here in the NYC area.  brrrrrr!</p> <p>Besides all the weekend fun, it's 2 days before Christmas, we leave tomorrow and I still have to pack, bake, wrap and clean...but Jack and I are braving the frigid temps to head into the city anyway.  <a href=

On Saturday, we took advantage of our Jack-alarm that goes off at 5am and bundled up to shop for last minute odds and ends before the rest of the crazies did the same thing.  The mall at 7am isn’t so bad when you’re one of 3 people walking around!  Saturday brought more sunshine, so we attempted to play in the snow. It was fun, but shortlived!

It’s 2 days before Christmas, we leave tomorrow, and I still have to pack, wrap, bake and clean, bI'm getting it!ut Jack and I are about to bundle up to head into the City, all in the name of my writing projects. Via Big City Moms, I was invited to attend a lunch to give input on Born Free 2009 product line.  Since we’re big fans of Born Free and I thought this info would generate helpful stories for this blog, my new blog and perhaps other stories, I couldn’t pass up the great opportunity—even if it means trekking through this cold with a kid.

I love the fact that I finally have the flexibility to take on projects that I’m passionate about; I can’t wait to take on even more inteesting projects in 2009.   Feedback and the full story later this week.

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2 week delay and other work hazards

A girlfriend of mine recently asked me, “How in the hell do you get anything accomplished work-wise with a toddler running around.”  Well, the truth is, there are days like today, where I honestly don’t get a thing accomplished.  The last thing I remember was waking up and starting a new day and the next thing you know, it’s dinnertime…and I have yet to tackle that to-do list that’s been the same for two weeks now.

So, as of right now, 2 days before Thanksgiving, I have YET to mail my Thanksgiving cards that I bought a MONTH ago.  (Sorry, family)  I have yet to make it to the gym yet this week and honestly, I don’t even know if we have everything we need for cooking dinner on Thursday.  blah.  But, we do have wine.  Lots of it, thank goodness :)

I’m not complaining really, more like explaining.  It’s all part of the sacrifice and job description. I have a list of reviews I’ve been planning on writing, never mind working on my new website, but alas,  other duties beckon and loudly.  So, why don’t I show you what I HAVE been doing and what’s been keeping me busy…or shall I say who.
Hanging out in the toy basket
Busted

And of course, my favorite:

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The new juggle

Well, I just noticed the calendar, and it’s been about a month since I left my job and took the leap into this whole freelance realm.  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already; it feels like I walked out that door just yesterday.

I’ve learned so much in this first month of working at home.  So far, I’ve come away with the most important lesson that the role of full time mom is the most challenging job I’ll probably ever have.  I guess I’ve always known that, but never really knew firsthand.  Secondly, combining the whole mom gig with the writing gig is just as complicated as it sounds.  I’m working on my time management skills and adopting a more structured schedule, but as the first month winds down, I think we’re making headway.  I wrote for several hours today, went to the gym, made lunch, made sure the kid had a nap…I even took a shower.  As for the house? ha.  I have a sink full of dishes, a stack of newspapers and magazines on the couch that I intended to read this week, nothing ready for dinner and the eternal piles of laundry.  But you know what?  I’ll get to it all…eventually.

This week has been an incredibly inspiring one, mainly because of the seminar I attended (which I WILL write about soon).  I learned so much from the event and came away with realistic expectations.   Jack and I also had a chance to have lunch with one of my good girlfriends, who is a designer that has been freelancing for about a year now.  From this “business” lunch, my friend shared her experience and transition, again providing me realistic expectations about all of this.  She’s been an incredible source of inspiration with her ongoing success.

This whole WAHM-thing?  It’s really not all about sitting in your pjs all day (well, maybe some days.)  It’s about following through with your career goals.  And of course, it’s about finding that balance that everyone deserves.   In this past month in trying to find my bearings, sadly, I’ve been confronted by a lot of pessimists and skeptics–people who have been quite vocal about their lack of faith in my freelance endeavors.   I left a good ol’ boys club because they believed that I was only worthy of being the second string player.  When I sat in that seminar earlier this week with a panel of successful mompreneurs, it reinforced my desire to prove the skeptics wrong and follow through with my creative ambition.

And finally, I can’t even put into words the awesomeness of being home all day to pick up Pirates Booty off of the floor, mop up milk from the carpet (10x a day I might add) and pick Goldfish out of the couch cushions.  To be able to hear my kid learn to talk, watch his imagination burgeon and kiss me (repeatedly) for no reason is worth its weight in gold.  Being a full time work at home mom is a new juggle, but a much, MUCH more rewarding one.

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Blog Party!

For regular readers, I’m sure you’ve noticed lots of transitions since I’ve started writing fulltime.  Well, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be participating in even more events.  Last night, I attended a fantastic Mompreneur seminar in NYC hosted by Big City Moms, which I’ll post about it later today.  This afternoon, I”ll be listening in on a webcast called No More Bedtime Blues. Considering Jack, who’s quickly approaching 14 months, slept like a newborn last night, waking every other hour (!!), this webcast couldn’t come at a better time.  If you’re around and interested, I highly recommend you tune in today at 2.  Sponsored by Sprout, the webcast is featuring  Jennifer Waldburger, LCSW, a pediatric sleep specialist, family therapist and co-author of The Sleepeasy Solution.  But more importantly, I’m participating once again in a Blog Party; this one is hosted by MoMDot.

This Blog Party is holiday themed, so it’ll be a great way to reminisce about Jack’s first Christmas, as well as welcome new readers.  There are a series of questions/statements, with the first one being:  Introduce us to your family and share Holiday pics of years past.

Easy enough, right?

This is my family.
us with Santa

I like to drag my boys, Jeff and Jack, around NYC and the surrounding vicinity. This was with Santa at Santaland at the big Macy*s in Herald Square–y’know, the big Macy*s, as in the huge parade.  The kid looks “over it” because he was…In fact, he hated Santa last year.  Let’s hope this year is different :)

We’re originally from Va., so we spend a lot of time trekking up and down the east coast to be with our famiy. Like for everyone else, the holidays are so much fun, but oh so exhausting.
familyJacky slept through the presentsProud LoloSanta was very generous!

But in the end, it’s worth all the chaos.  It’s all about the family.

That’s why caffeine and booze were created, right?

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