Archive for category writing

Martha on my mind

At this very moment, I’m sitting on the floor, next to a pile of clothes, all of which I can’t wear tomorrow.  You see, I should be in bed resting up for an (exciting day that will start at 6am no less) but no, this is quite typical for me.

I have closets full of clothes, but nothing to wear.  I know, it’s the same song and dance for so many others, but I literally can’t wear most of these clothes tomorrow.

Why, you ask?  That’s because I’m headed to the Martha Stewart Show tomorrow, the blogger show to be a little more specific. (YAY!)  Why can’t I wear them? Other than my wardrobe being so outdated because I’ve been living in yoga pants for the past year, the show requested that we not wear black, gray or muted colors.

Uh, yeah, that’s my entire wardrobe.  I have every shade of black: pants, shirts, sweaters, socks–everything.  This shouldn’t be so hard, right! Rrrrrrrright.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out…eventually.

TheMarthaStewartShow

Now back to the Martha Show, those that know me well should know that I love being crafty and creative.  I’ve always considered Martha’s recipes, crafts and projects the pinnacle.  At weddings, I used to be able to spot Martha Stewart inspired crafts or decor–I had every issue of Weddings from 2001-2004.  (Yeah, I got married in 2003, I just couldn’t get enough!)

Suffice it to say, I think Martha rocks.

2009 Christmas Card

Today, I have Martha’s Pate Brisee memorized by heart.  If I’ve baked for you, it’s likely you’ve had it and never even knew it, but I bet a Martha fan might.

I’m an obsessive DIYer by choice, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I see cards, paper goods and now, even websites, and think, “I can do that myself!”

Sometimes I can’t, but I’ll teach myself until I can.  I’m crazy like that.

fresh fruit tarts

So, once the whole Martha Show started making waves about their upcoming Blogger Show, I couldn’t NOT go.  Many of my NYC-area blogging friends are going and it’s sounding like it’ll be a fabulous time.  I’ll be sure to update my FB status and of course Twitter with fun updates!

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that going to see a Martha Show is a dream come true.  Let’s just hope that I find something NOT black to wear.

And at this hour, that I get up on time!!!

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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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I’m leeeeeeeaving on a jetplane

After a bittersweet trip to Pennsylvania to attend Jeff’s late great uncle’s funeral today, we had to reshift our focus and do the 4.5 hour drive back to NJ.  All of three of us were exhausted, quite solemn and anxious—for different reasons.  After the funeral service, it was hard to just say, “Ok, let’s go!”

Inevitably, we left “on time,” in hopes of making my flight which was scheduled for 8:30.  As MY luck would have it, we hit torrential downpours and a few nice stretches of traffic.  Problem was, we didn’t really leave a window for the STUPID traffic.

STRESS.

All I could think was, I’ve been anticipating this trip for years/months/weeks/days and I’m going to miss it.

But because Jeff is awesome, he made it happen.  We arrived at the airport an hour and a half before my flight was scheduled to take off.

BUT…

Of course, my flight was delayed.  (It still is, as I type this!) *wah. wah.*

Provided that there aren’t anymore delays, I should be landing in Chicago in 2.5 hours.  And after that, it’s on.

I’ll be in BlogHer mode with no hubs, no kid–for the first time EVAH!

Wish me luck because I’m already missing my boys like crazy.

*chanting to myself, this is good.  This trip will be awesome.  Every mama needs some alone time.*

On that note, it’s time to board!

I'll Be Geeking Out

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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.

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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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Happy birthday to me

It’s shortly after midnight on July 14, and it’s my 33rd birthday.  Happy, sad, elated, conflicted—I’m really not sure how I feel about being in my *gulp* mid-30s.  Actually, to be completely honest, other than feeling like a Mack truck has run me over a 1,000 times by the time 5:00 p.m. hits every day, I don’t feel a day over 23.

Ok, that’s a lie.  I just don’t feel that old.

Well, besides all this gray hair!

I’m not sure that we’ll celebrate this year, like with a cake or whatever.  Other than that sweet Facebook birthday reminder, I’ll be surprised my friends will even remember it’s my birthday anyway.  I’ve been so far off the radar, what with the nose wiping and website creating—who could blame them for not remembering!?

Just like I’ve concurred with a few other friends that are moms, birthdays just seem like any other day anyway.  I’ll still have to do those damn dishes, cook dinner, change diapers and chase a toddler all day, which isn’t all so bad.  It’s the grind.

The celebrations aren’t necessary anymore, really.  No more Friday night What the Buck at our local watering hole.  No evites to lure friends to town for all-night parties.  I have my guys, our family, our health, and as a plus, the websites and writing opportunities are flourishing, and I get to do what I love every single day.

I’m so grateful for this new path in life, but the eye is still on the prize.

I’ll be heading out to Chicago next week to attend Blogher.  (For those that don’t know, it’s an annual conference for women who blog.)  It’ll be my first trip away from both Jeff AND Jack.  It’ll be like a rolling cocktail hour with lots of swag and networking.  There will be conference-y stuff, too.  But parties galore.  Two days off from this whole mom gig!!
Lucky me, I was able to secure a sponsor to defray the cost of the trip.  And as my birthday present, my very gracious parents helped out with the airfare.  Of course there’s the awesome Jeff who pushes me everday and is helping me make ______all______ of this happen.  All of it.

So that trip there?  Yeah, that’s all I could ever want right now, other than the wonderful blessings that I already have.

What more is there to celebrate?

By default, I have an instant plus one, so I can go out and treat myself to one of our favorite brunch spots.  Or maybe have a few cupcakes for breakfast.  Or maybe take the day to unplug and be “just a mom.”

Happy hour, however, would hit the spot, too :)

Nah, that’d be too much effort.

****

Edited to add:  I woke up this morning to the smell of breakfast cooking, changed and fed kid and a clean kitchen!  If you could believe it, we sat down TOGETHER for breakfast!  What a great way to start the day!

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Too much for whom?

It’s been quite a busy week for us, and I can hardly believe it’s already Thursday AND Memorial Day Weekend is already here. Seriously, how did that happen?

I have plenty to share, but I have so much information to sift through before I do so. As many of you already know, we spent the day at PBS/WNET Channel thirteen yesterday; what a fun and informative day! I got to hang out with more NYC and NJ mom bloggers, many of whom I’ve been reading for years. But, the best part of the day was that I got to be a part of something so near and dear to us: learning even more about an educational tv show that promotes literacy.

station identification

I used to think I was one of those parents that would outlaw “too much tv.”

Eh. Who was I kidding?

As much as I watch tv AND love to read and essentially be a geek, how could I be such a hypocrite? I’m immersed in every aspect of media because it’s the fiber of my being. Internet, magazines, tv, radio, books—all of it!

What I took away from the event was that like other moms, I’m not going to apologize anymore for allowing my kid to watch tv. Instead, I’ll continue to watch educational shows ALONG with him in moderation, in addition to cultural outings and activities, outdoor play and all that fun stuff. Life is too short to make limitations.

Media, in general, has come a long way since we were kids, there’s no doubt about that. What was pretty awesome was getting to understand the brains behind our favorite educational shows, because those same brains are other parents who grew up on shows of the 70s and 80s, just like you and me.

Parenting is tough enough without all that “research” reminding me that everything I’m doing is wrong. So, excuse me while we go watch another show before we go play outside.

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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.

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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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