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The conversation is changing

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about motherhood in general. I mean, besides my constant complaints…

Lots of cool stuff going on today–actually all of this week. As I’ve mentioned and tweeted about frequently, as a blogger and writer, I’m often asked to attend cool events. Today’s event is a rather cool one, and one that I’ve spoken about candidly, but have treaded lightly for reasons I’ll explain below.

I have such fond memories of my whole nursing experience. Ok, so maybe I might have wanted to punish a certain snoring someone because I was exhausted from all the on-demand nursing at 3 and 4am. But overall, nursing was just one of those things that worked out for me.

And if you know me or read this blog enough to know, nothing ever quite works out the way it should…

except my whole breastfeeding experience.

Ok, I vehemently take that back.

I might have pumped in a storage closet/defunct kitchenette for almost a year.

photo credit:  Roboto_san

photo credit: Roboto_san

Yeah…everything went smoothly for me except that.

As a full time work outside of the home mama, where I pumped twice a day was a small detail, right?

WRONG.

Oh so wrong.

Until now, I’ve never felt that I was one to preach to the masses about breastfeeding. Quite honestly, I know it may even make some of you, my readers, my family, my friends uncomfortable. I know this.

But that’s about to change.

Today, I was invited to attend the Bravado Breastfeeding Launch Event, which is geared to be an intimate event in NYC celebrating the launch of BBIC, the information arm of Bravado Designs. The event is described as being a roundtable filled with data and commentary where the BBIC will share their research and findings based on 17 years of expertise and as told by 80,000 moms.

As a  first time mom who read books, upon books about motherhood and how to be a “great” mom, I truly didn’t know nearly enough about breastfeeding. I have often referred to Kellymom, but obviously there’s so much more to know about the topic, which is why I’m so honored to have been invited to such a groundbreaking event.

From this event, I hope to share some new-found knowledge about breastfeeding on this blog, and perhaps, in print somewhere.

Mamas, no one should ever have to pump in a supply closet, dirty restroom or anywhere else that’s unsanitary. EVAH.

Stay tuned to find out what I leared at the BBIC launch event or better yet, follow me on Twitter or along on the webcast!

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These are the days

Yesterday morning, before opening his eyes, Jack was already clapping his hands and requesting his favorite (but my not-so-favorite) show.

The kid wasn’t even AWAKE yet, and he’s all about Twist, Shout, Kiki and Marina. What the hell?

In case you’re not familiar, this particular show showcases some of the hottest moves for preschoolers. It even has Jeff dancing and singing about some damn “Loco Legs.”

;)

You guessed it; our sick boy is back to normal. It took 4 visits to the dr., 2 antibiotic shots, LOTS of tears and lost sleep, but he’s back to normal. And by normal, I mean he’s dancing and singing, screaming and jumping, too!

It’s good to have this craziness back.

For about a week, I had to cancel plans and dump our regular schedule of visiting the park for a few hours each day. No social interaction for a week—not including the nurses, doctors and people in the doctor’s office—makes for a loooong week. I guess I had a refresher of what the long winter indoors will be like. Let’s hope we find ways to keep busy with our local friends when it gets all cold again.

**

Speaking of busy, last Friday was my one year anniversary of quitting my job. As I said on FB, what a year it’s been. One year ago, I never envisioned myself to be ___here___. Perhaps, I had totally different expectations, but I never visualized myself becoming totally immersed in social media and the blogosphere. It’s been an interesting transition, but a great one. I’ll have to devote a whole post to it later, but I love where I am. Love.

I love all the friends I’ve made, all the contacts I’ve met, all the events I’ve attended, all the cool experiences to speak of, but especially, getting to witness the little things with Jack each and every day.

Don’t get me wrong, some days with him obviously suck the life out of me, but the other days that are filled will kisses, hugs and snuggling, yeah, those are the days that justify all that doubt about me quitting my job and letting go of that chapter. Those days are the ones that make me forget about not being able to get those overpriced boots or declining that fun soiree that no longer fits in the budget. Those are the days where I want *maybe* 3 more Jacks.

These are the days that make me love this job so, so, much.

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Adventures in babysitting, or the lack thereof

Many years ago, when I pulled the shock and awe moment of telling my parents that I’d be moving to NYC to pursue a career in magazine journalism, they, of course, yelled at me.

Ok, maybe yell is a bit exaggerating.

They full-on freaked out.

“What if you can’t find a job!”  “It’s NYC!” “Where will you live” “WHAT IF YOU CAN’T FIND A JOB.”

In tears, I assured them I would.

And, I did.

I landed an internship at a well known men’s magazine at the time.

Ok, so it was unpaid, but it was a job.

From there, I went on to work at my last position…well, we all know how that ended up.  But, I loved what I did.

Correction, I love what I do.

If I didn’t, we wouldn’t have stayed; we surely would’ve moved back to our hometown, where life is more predictable, mortgages are half of what we pay for rent and more importantly, reliable (sometimes FREE) babysitters flow like water.

And, it’s days like today that make me wonder WHAT THE hell was I thinking?

::

On Sunday night, I had butterflies because of all the exciting events and gigs that are starting to fill my icalendar:  luncheons, social media events, holiday showcases, meetings with PR friends, writing gigs.  A year ago, on Sunday nights, in anticipation of returning back to work, I’d get stomach cramps, insomnia and anxiety-induced headaches.

Ah, the Sunday shitstorm, I so don’t miss that!

But now, things are starting to come full-circle; or, at least I thought so.

In line with these new opportunities and gigs, we hired a new part-time babysitter—a sweet lady with college-aged children.  We lined her up to start today, to cover for me while I attended a media luncheon with a major children’s shoe company.  Kids were welcome to the event, but because Jack is in that temper tantrum/into everything stage AKA psychotic 2 year old phase, a sitter would be the only way to go.

I did the dishes, cleared the toys—-hell, I even organized my piles of papers and mountain of product samples that arrive in my mailbox daily.  That, in itself, was a feat.

Though I had a late start in getting dressed, I was done flat-ironing my hair by the time 10:58 a.am. rolled around.  With the lunch at noon, I asked her to arrive at 11 a.m. so I’d have plenty of time to show her around before jetting off into the City.

11:05, still no sitter.

11:13, still no sitter.

11:22, NO DAMN SITTER.

I checked my email—nada.

I checked my voicemail and that’s where things got crazy.

I tried to check voicemails and got some effed up message.  Of course, my phone was not working.  Why would it?

I sent a frantic email to Jeff telling him about the situation, who then, called my phone with no problem.  WTF? His phone worked, but not mine.  But even more interesting, I could receive incoming calls, but could not make any outgoing calls.

WHY me?

At 11:30, still no word from the sitter, but the phone situation figured itself out.

At this point, all I could think about was the childcare battles I had while I was still working at my old office—all the tears, the inappropriate comments, the stress.

It actually broke my heart that the childcare problem reared its head once again.  Jack is such a wonderful boy, and all I want to do is continue the momentum I have going with this new career path, WHY IN THE HELL is it so hard to secure reliable, affordable childcare? Isn’t that why I left my office job in the first place?

By 11:38 a.m., attending the luncheon was a lost cause.  With such a heavy heart, Jack and I grabbed a few books and did what we always do:  we sat and hugged and read.

And then, the doorbell rings.  and rings, and rings, and rings.

It was the babysitter.

Of course it was…

Even before she could make it up the stairs, she was yelling, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”  And then she went on to tell me her story about how she was interviewing for another job a few towns away.  The bus to the lightrail to a cab—her commuting stars just didn’t align.  Like many of us in the area, she’s dependent on public transportation.  And of course, she didn’t have my number on hand.  So compile all the other ridiculous details above, this is exactly the kind of nonsense that can only happen to me.

I sent the sitter home since there was no way I could show up an hour late.  I emailed and left a voicemail for my PR contact, but I still felt so awful.  All I wanted to do was attend this lunch, and then childcare chaos happens.  Why does it have to be so damn complicated?

[As a sidenote, Jeff usually covers for me when I attend most media events.  But because this one was sort of last minute and in the middle of the day, I foolishly thought I could easily get a babysitter.]

I ranted about the whole scenario via my Facebook status, but still, I felt so disappointed.  I’ve had all day and night to think about this and I’ve come to terms that I can’t be upset.

Public transportation is a wonderful thing, though when you missed one connection, you’re screwed.  I know this all too well.  The sitter, who lost her job as a programmer 2 months ago, really is a nice person.  Not to mention, Jack immediately warmed up to her.  Even people he knows get a 5 minute Jack warm up buffer!  How could I be mad when, of all people, I know to expect the unexpected.

Like my cousin wisely said to me when I called her to whine about my day, all of this happened because, for some reason, I wasn’t meant to attend that event.

It’s not the end of the world if I miss an event due to things out of my control.  If I learned anything today, I’ve learned to forgive and forget. I’ll likely email the sitter later today to see if we can have a do-over.  I’m a big believer in second chances.

And oh yes, the scrubbing of the stovetop in preparation for a babysitter?  Yeah, I learned that the stuff I normally put off, it can always wait until tomorrow. Aim low, it’ll leave less room for disappointment.

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Smelling the flowers

This email greeted me in my inbox a few weeks ago, but life has been too crazy to blog about it until now. Things haven’t slowed down, but instead, I’m taking the time to get to get back to basics and make myself write my thoughts out—the whole reason why I started blogging in the first place.

My Toddler This Week

Hello, Jen!
Have an hour to kill? Ditch the stroller and let your toddler lead you on a walk around the block. You’ll be amazed at how many times your curious explorer will stop to check out small objects such as an interesting rock, a dead leaf, or a parade of ants. Your toddler isn’t trying to drive you crazy by dawdling. To him, the journey is as exciting as the destination, and the small details of the world are irresistible.

Still trying to juggle all of this, I caught myself forgetting my priorities, and sometimes losing my temper because I just couldn’t be “bothered.”

All I could think about this email was, how appropriate!

The kid’s journey and my journey?  It’s all the same.  The main difference, however, is that we’re just trying to grasp the unique details of our world on the way to our destination.

IMG_2506

NKT, and the opportunities that are coming about because of it, has me constantly on the go. When some people ask what I “do” and then I tell them that I’ve transitioned to a blogger and freelance writer, I always get THE look: the facial expression that dispels my/our choice to leave my old job (that, btw, negatively affected every fiber of my being for years.) It’s also the look that says, “Oh, so, really, you’re just a stay at home mom that has a website.”

Sure, if that’s what you want to call it.

I kind of think of it as, I’m a mom, who together with her hubs, decided that taking a risk to follow my passion was invaluable. (with many, many sacrifices involved)  But also, I’m a mom that writes because it’s what I “do.”

Just like Jack dances and dances then runs and then explores?  It’s what he does.

But we do it, because it’s what’s right, it’s what makes us happy and it’s what makes sense.

As I get all caught up in the moment with this conference, travel plans, writing, blogging, networking, it’s easy to lose focus.  It’s easy to forget that I’m a mom with a kid who needs her FIRST.

As a reminder for myself: when he begs to explore and I resist because I’m worried about the repercussions, it’s not because he’s being irrational, but instead, it’s because the journey is as exciting as the destination.

smelling the flowers

We’ll get there—eventually.  But (literally) taking time to smell the flowers and pick up rocks?  It’s the most important part of the whole experience.

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Who needs a McMansion when life is just as grand here

In our expansive abode (heh.) there are so many areas that are off limits to the boy:  the bathroom(s), kitchen and our bedroom. Lately, the sneaky guy he’s become, he’s learned to finagle his way in to those off-limit areas.  The minute you open the child safety gate, he’s right behind you shadowing to make it in before that gate closes.  The instant he hears the bedroom doors swing open, oh, he’s chanting, “Go, go, go!”

This boy, I swear.

But truly, the holy grail for him is the bed.  It’s bouncy, it’s big, it’s comfy and yes, it’s off limits.  But he’s persistent and swift. Oh, and he’s cute, too, which is probably why he gets away with playing on the bed.  Actually, when it’s time for me to do my workout on the Wii, I let him “read” or watch tv on the bed.  I can see him from the living room, so that helps with him being out of my way when I do my lunges on my balance board. You gotta love the advantages of living in a small space! ha!

But tonight was such a special night.  Jeff came home early to relieve me while I went to a press event for LeapFrog.  The boy and Jeff had a few hours on their own again, something they can’t seem to get enough of, well, ever. I came home early enough to help make dinner and we actually ate TOGETHER!!!  That’s huge, dudes.  Huge!

After dinner and our usual routine, Jeff headed off to the east wing (aka as the bedroom) to call grandma.  All I heard was, “go, go, go” which meant Jack, of course, had to follow his daddy so he could play on the bed.

I was able to enjoy a few short minutes to catch up on emails and then I heard the pitter patter of his little feet coming my way.

He pushed my laptop down, looked me in the eye, pointed to the east wing, grabbed my finger and led me to where he felt I needed to be: with him and daddy.

He giggled, we laughed and we awww’ed.

For such a little dude, I love that he ‘gets’ the joy of the three of us being together, even if it was something as simple as sitting on our disheveled bed-turned-playground in our tiny apartment.  As if that wasn’t enough, Jeff and I hugged and smooched, but like he does now, my very protective Jack wiggled his way in between our faces to make sure he got my full attention.

No hugs for mommy unless they’re given by Jack.

So mushy, so sweet, but seriously so frickin’ cute.  Contentment at its best.

With all the worries in our world—Jeff’s long work weeks, when/where are we going to move and etc.—forgotten for just those few moments, I asked Jeff, “Do YOU remember what was like life before this kid?”

“I can hardly remember,” he said.

Neither can I.

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Big City Moms Biggest Baby Shower and my new baby

Big City MomsEarlier this week, I had the chance to attend the Biggest Baby Shower, another really awesome event hosted by Big City Moms.  You’re probably wondering, baby shower?  Why a baby shower?  Well, that’s because I have a new baby.   First things first:  nope, it’s not that kind of baby.

In between picking Cheerios out of my hair and cushioning my daredevil toddler’s head dives from the couch, I’ve been working laboriously on my new website for the past few months.  I’ve been researching trends, finding and making contacts, figuring out website layouts, understanding demographics and really, everything else to make sense of this project.  I’m clearly no where near finished, but I am, however, ready to release the Beta version to share with all of you, my friends and family that have kept up with my adventures through this blog.

My new website is a product of many things, but most importantly, it’s driven by the things that I’m passionate about.  Many of you already “know” my story and how none of this particular career trajectory was not really planned.  In case you don’t remember, here’s a quick reminder:  as former magazine editor turned freelance writer, I sought, more than anything, a work-life balance. In October 2008, after countless interviews amidst the failing economy and troubled field of print journalism, I decided to end THAT chase and start a new one, on my own terms.

As I wrote my goodbyes to various colleagues, one simple reply changed everything. “Wishing you all the best on the Next Big Thing.” From that moment, I knew exactly what my next big thing was; it was this, the Next Kid Thing. With my professional background, coupled with my interests as a new mom, I strive for my new website, the Next Kid Thing to be a blog that follows the latest kid trends with a magazine-type flair. From babies to big kids, from books to apps, from features to reviews, the Next Kid Thing is your go-to source for all things kids and the modern-minded grownups that love them.

logo-1

Which brings me to the baby shower…as a mom with a journalistic background, I have a sincere interest in finding and understanding the unique stories that relate to the kid business.  At events like the Biggest Baby Shower, I have the unique opportunity to learn about the “Next Kid Things,”  such as the latest new stroller, toddler tables and bottle designs and more.  As I continue to build this site and meet more contacts with the help of social media, it’s my hope to include fun interviews, reveal neat finds and of course, share the good stuff.

While I continue to tweak the website, I welcome any constructive criticism, ideas, suggestions and whatever else you have to say.  In the beginning, you may see some familiar stories that I originally posted here on Babyrific. In the future, I hope to keep the two websites separate, with minimal duplication.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to round up my ideas and new posts, specifically on the great products and companies I learned about at the Biggest Baby Shower.  And finally, As with any website’s success, your comments, frequent visits and spreading the word will help in more ways that you know!

And while you’re there, check out the latest review and great giveaway.  Thanks for checking out the new site :)   Official launch date and more giveaways will be announced soon!

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Sweet dreams are made of this

I had a pretty sweet day yesterday, and I mean that quite literally.  On behalf of Philips AVENT, the awesome baby products manufacturer, I had lunch at Dylan’s Candy Bar. (which, by the way, was my third trip within the last few weeks–yum!)

I dusted off my business attire, smooched my boys–one sick, the other whiny– and headed into the city.  This event was my first press function as a blogger and freelance writer.  Even though I have attended more press functions than I care to count, to be honest, I felt a bit out of practice. In this life, my day consists of singing about parties in my tummy, dancing with Bongo Bird, picking up foam alphabet letters, extinguishing meltdowns, in between researching several stories, then writing 3 words and then deleting 2 words—and all this before lunch and Y&R.  After 4 months out of the game, that magazine editor world seems like a lifetime away.
Dylan's
As soon as I approached the mecca of all that is sweet, I headed upstairs to the cafe area.  The lovely PR ladies greeted me and like most events where one is invited, they asked me who I was and who I was with.  I could barely say my name without stuttering, nevermind say “Babyrific” without feeling like a dork.

I’m sure I said something like, “Um, I’m Jen and I write” and left the rest for her to figure out.  She checked her spreadsheet with the expected attendees and couldn’t find my name.  Naturally, I couldn’t remember if I RSVP’ed with my hyphenated name or my professional/maiden name.  To make things easier, she asked for my business card.  Of course, I came unprepared. Several months ago, I’d have 658 business cards in my right pocket for easy synchronization with my introduction. Today, I had zero. And, I could barely speak the language in which I have a degree.

So she handed me the list so I could fill out my name and information.  And there I was, the second name on the list:  Jen with Babyrific.net. I felt so much validation at that very moment—and not because I’m on some list, but because I was back in the saddle on my own terms.  After all those fruitless interviews in ’08, dodging the awkward conversations with people who don’t “get” this whole new direction I’m taking and questioning my choice to take said direction, everything is finally starting to make sense.  The ideas, the research, the determination—all of it!

So besides my sweet dreams, today’s function was all about sweet dreams.  The renowned Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, author of Good Kids, Bad Habits, gave a presentation to help Avent launch some new products.  I received so much great information,  multiple posts are in order. Product reviews, details and Dr. Jen’s helpful hints soon to come.

P.S.  Isn’t Annie Lenox awesome? I love that song.  Sweet dreams are made of this, indeed.

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To do: Intrepid Kids Week

Next week, most of the kids in the tri-state area have off from school for a winter break.  With the unpredictable weather, undoubtedly, most kids (like my own toddler) will be climbing the walls looking for something to do.  With a little effort—for us, hopping on a ferry or train—there’s bound to be a quick fix to shake that cabin fever.  Well good news for those in the area, the Intrepid is hosting Kids Week starting tomorrow, Feb. 14 until Feb. 22.

Intrepid

The newly refurbished vessel and museum touts interactive and educational exhibits that focus on the sea, air and space.  Because of my many years of work covering this field, I thought it would be interesting to check it out, well, for fun.  Kids Week is set to showcase a week’s worth of entertainment including an appearance from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and even, our fave, Mr. Met!

If you’re in the NYC area, Kids Week runs from Feb. 14- Feb. 22, 10 am to 5pm.  The museum is located at Pier 86, 12th Ave. & 46th Street.  Directions can be found here and tickets are here.

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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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Don’t Panic.

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, it’s hard not to ignore the cacophony and reality of buzzwords–crisis, doom and gloom, economic downturn, recession, depression.

Times are rapidly changing—unemployment is in freefall, various companies are going belly up, the government is bailing out corrupted financial firms. I even had a heart-to-heart with a cabdriver last night about the stock market tanking. On a good day, cabbies limit the small talk to one question: “Where you going?” (No time for complete sentences.)

It’s hard not to ignore. But, whatever you do, don’t panic.
I’m no financial guru, but things will work themselves out; it has to, right?
It’s the time for frugality. We’re all making cuts; it’s imperative at this point.

For our family, as the price of gas teeters between outrageous and ridonkulous, we’re browsing for a more economical vehicle. We’re planning on traveling home for one holiday, instead of all of them. I spend Friday nights scouring sale pages for the best deals. I buy 3 different newspapers on Sundays, instead of 2—for the coupons. (Aside from the journalistic enlightenment, of course.)
Now is the time to reassess priorities.

…which is why we assessed that our family is always our number one priority. At a time when joblessness is at a high and people are losing jobs byway of layoffs, I’m quitting mine.

But this isn’t the time to panic.

After feeling so broken and defeated after 11 fruitless interviews for 9 different companies, I have to hold it together. As I often tell Jeff, if I crack, who is going to drive me to the crazy house? (There is a possibility of a carpool if anyone needs a ride.)

In all seriousness, even though I’m holding on by a thread, when push comes to shove, there’s got to be a better way. Thanks to Jeff’s faith in me, the stability in his career (not to mention his kickass bosses for acknowledging his sickening brilliance/hillbillyness {those characteristics, at least for my husband, are interchangeable}) and the moral support from friends and family, I’m taking the Leap.

Visualize Jack clapping and flashing that toothy grin.

When my career became a job, and the job became a source of too much anxiety and angst, I knew in my heart that having it all didn’t necessarily mean doing it here. As always, I have lots of ideas and I can’t wait to pursue them.

I’ve been writing a lot of goodbye emails to colleagues this week who, in return, have wished me well on The Next Big Thing. Once I get my act together–hopefully by next week–I will have some exciting announcements about The Next Big Thing.

I can’t wait to share, so please stay tuned!

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