Monday, November 30, 2009

Disclosure Policy

This policy is valid from 30 February 2009
This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact kim at MomImpact dot com. This blog does not accept any form of cash advertising, sponsorship, or paid topic insertions. However, we will and do accept and keep free products, services, travel, event tickets, and other forms of compensation from companies and organizations. This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner(s) of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owners. We will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our experience, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. The owner of this blog would like to disclose the following existing relationships. These are companies, organizations or individuals that may have an impact on the content of this blog. Through her company, Positive Impact, Inc. Kim consults with: ConAgra Foods and Steaz. To get your own policy, go to http://www.disclosurepolicy.org

Finally, A Blog Button!

Okay, I'm only getting ready for my four year blogaversary and I've *finally* figured out how to make a blog button. (Four years! How the heck did I wind up with gifted kids?)


Hormone-colored Days


Here's the code:

Hormone-colored Days


D'Oh! When I paste the code in "compose" mode Blogger automatically posts the graphic again. Further proof of my technospazosity, which could the Big Word of 2010. You know, like Unfriend and Twitter are for 2009. If you so love my blog that you'd like to post it on your sidebar blog, let me know and I'll email the code to you. *sigh*

Edited to add: Thank goodness for @DrewKime!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Should I List my House with a Real Estate Agent?

As we ponder getting a little more action on our Skokie House for Sale, we're wondering if we should just go ahead and list with an agent. But, ugh, the thought of writing one of those ginormous commission checks is killing me. So I chatted with an agent friend of mine to learn more about where the commission goes. Read about it on my blog, Have I got a House for You!, at Roost.com.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Young Frankenstein: The Latest from Broadway in Chicago

I was once again fortunate to be a guest of Broadway in Chicago, as they invited me and a friend to check out their latest offering- Young Frankenstein. In a nutshell, it was like the 1974 Mel Brooks movie, only in full color, with singing and dancing. For me, the highlight was a rousing number called "Join the family business" in which young Dr. Frankenstein is called in his dreams to join in his forefather's dream of bringing new life to a corpse. The all-singing, all-dancing piece involved a delightfully original element of puppetry that made it a "wow" in my book.

I asked my guest, Karen Kring, to share her thoughts about the musical.

I had the special opportunity to go with my neighbor friend Kim Moldofsky to see "Young Frankenstein" at the Cadillac Palace earlier this month. It did not disappoint.

The musical seemed to include most of the classic lines I remember from the Mel Brooks' 1974 movie, such as "what hump?" "what knockers!" and one of my favorites "walk this way". They did a whole song based on "roll, roll, roll in the hay." Other new songs include "Transylvania Mania" and "He Vas My Boyfriend".

Had to appreciate the updates in this production, a reference to a soy macchiato and some other changes that indicated some additional creativity put into the production and not a mere translation of the movie to stage.

The play blew out their version of the "Putting on the Ritz" number making you forget you were watching a play set in Transylvania Heights.

Watching the play I had to remember Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, Gene Hackman, and of course Peter Boyle, as if they were long lost friends. Though not an identical production, performances of Roger Bart, Corey English, Shuler Hensley, Beth Curry, Brad Oscar, Joanna Glushak, Anne Horak, and others should satisfy the the movie's cast, if not make them proud.

Like the movie, the horses neigh when they hear "Frau Brucher". It wasn't until seeing the play that I'd heard the idea that Brucher means glue in German*. Having studied German in college, I was surprised not to have known this. Sure enough, according to various web sources, my German/English dictionary and my German bud Daniel, Klebstoff is glue in German and Brucher is just a surname.

If you go see the show, I'd be interested in what you think. I'm especially curious about people's reaction this show based on their relationship with the movie. I'd seen the movie many times and wonder if knowing or not knowing the movie would affect someone's enjoyment of the play.

While we were in the balcony, and I was fine with that, see if you can get floor seats. There's a part where the actors come off stage and I missed that. In case strobe lights are a concern for you, know that they use them.

Karen Kring is a photographer, journalist, designer and editor by choice and a writer by necessity. She lives in Skokie, tweets at @LiveFromSkokie and runs Kring Lerner Group, an agency doing a variety of photography, journalism and other media projects and campaigns.

*I as the one who told her brucher meant glue because that's what my trivia buff of a husband told me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Truth Be Told


Truth Be Told, this game was sent to me for review by the kind folks at Buffalo Games.
Truth Be Told, the name of the game really is Truth Be Told.

It's one of those games that in my house, never quite gets played through to the end because such hilarity ensues that my boys, ages 9 and 11, just lose themselves. I should mention that the two of them have turned charades into a contact sport. They get a bit crazy when they're having fun. This is a good thing, though, because it means deep belly laughs and side-splitting guffaws shared as a family.

Truth Be Told is like a personal version of Balderdash AKA Dictionary (another family favorite that gets broken up by goofiness and pee-in-your pants fun). In Balderdash, players try to guess a plausible definition for an obscure word; in Truth Be Told, players try to guess each others' likes and dislikes.

For example, in Truth Be Told, I take the role of "the host" and read a card that says, "Truth be told, I get annoyed by _______." I secretly complete my write on/wipe off fill-in-the-blank card (no wasted paper!) "whiny children."

As I write, each of other the other players write answers on their cards. So DH might write, "When DH doesn't change the empty roll of toilet paper," and one of my boys might guess (answering as me), "When I run out of chocolate."

As the host I then collect the completed fill-in-the-blank-cards and read off the the results. Players consider the responses and vote for what they think is the real answer (all of which have some degree of truth in my hypothetical case).

Points can be scored in several ways: voting for the true answer, getting others to vote for your bluff answer. But again, we didn't get quite that far. That said, the recommended age range for this game is 12 and up, so my boys are a bit young for it. We were in it more for the laughs than the competition, anyway.

So far, we've managed to keep all the write-on/wipe off cards, paddles and markers, which means no scavenging for paper and pencils when we play. It would be nice if it came with some kind of wiper for the boards or a starter pack of tissues for that purpose, assuming you don't want your kids to use their hands or shirts to do the job.

I look forward to trying this out with our cousins over Thanksgiving Break.

From the company: This game retails for $27.99. It is designed for 3-8 players. It is currently available in Buffalo, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix and St. Louis, as well as through the Buffalo Games website. It will available nationwide in January 2010.

One more bit: Meet the folks behind Buffalo Games as the Chicago Toy and Game Expo (CHI-TAG) at Navy Pier November 21 and 22. Click to get $2 your admission to CHI-TAG courtesy of my friends at Chicagonista.

This game was sent to me at no cost. This review expresses my opinion and was not influenced, previewed or edited by anyone at Buffalo Games.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Prayers for Anissa

Last night I saw the #prayersforAnissa hashtag on Twitter and got concerned. She has recently tweeted that her young daughter was found to be cancer-free after one year without chemo. My first thought was that there had been a mistake in the interpretation of the results and the cancer had returned. But, no.

I was shocked and saddened to find out that Anissa had suffered a severe stroke and was in ICU down it Atlanta. I think every mom on Twitter went to bed last night with thoughts of Anissa and her family.

By the crack of dawn today, the community had mobilized, thanks for Anissa's good friends.

I'm told that Anissa's group site, Aiming Low is having traffic-related server issues, so I'm sending you to Heather Spohr's site for information on how you can help Anissa's family.

There's been a call to for bloggers to use their PR connections to help- help with lodging for out of town family, food to provide sustenance, items to keep her three kiddos busy and more. I'm proud to say that my clients at ConAgra foods acted swiftly and without question when I raised the issue to them.

I mostly know Anissa through her funny, snarky comments on Twitter, but she can be quite poignant as well. My thoughts and prayers to Anissa and her family.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Marketing to Moms Who Blog: In Defense of Twitter Parties

Twitter parties can be fun and interesting or artificial and annoying depending on how the party is staged. Tonight there's a party for #Steaz that will be interesting and fun. Of course, it will be, it's for my client!

The party, run by Amy, AKA @ResourcefulMom is not about the #fakegush, nor is it all about the product. I mean, certainly you'll learn a bit about Steaz's tasty organic, fair trade iced teas (now available at Target Stores nationwide and always available at Whole Foods) and have a chance to win Steaz drinks and Target gift cards, but much of discussion will focus on green living with fab mamas Jennifer Taggart (@theSmartMama) and Sommer Poquette (@greenmom). Full details at Amy's blog.

Twitter parties can be useful to brands because they create opportunities to connect with and listen to a relatively large amount of people in the social space in a short period of time, especially when the parties are hosted by an established provider. Long-time providers, party planners like Amy (sitewarming parties) and Jyl (#GNO), charge for their services, but they can bring in a crowd as well as expertise that most bloggers cannot.

For more details on why Twitter Parties Don't Suck, check out Stefania Pomponi Butler's explanation on the Clever Girls Collective blog. She provides a great overview as to why brands might pursue a party as well as tips as to how those who find them annoying can tune out for a wee bit without ruining their Twitter time.
Oh, and get a peek at Steaz Zero and a free coupon for it over at my food blog, Scrambled CAKE. Well, I've actually only got an empty bottle because one of my boys drank it up lickety-split.

See you tonight at 8 PM CST on Twitter.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marketing to Mommy Bloggers: What She Said

In recent weeks, I've been so busy with client work, hosting a local tweet-up and my new blog at Roost (Have I Got a House for You!), trying to stay on top of my email, and pondering Twitter's new features in addition to real life responsibilities, that I've lagged on my marketing to moms posts.

Never fear. I've got smart peeps who pick up the slack. Go read Kimberly Coleman's post on her site, Mom in the City, "What a Mommy Blogger (Does Not) Want."

Kimberly was recently part of a top-notch momblogger panel at the Child's Play Communication's Blogger Brunch. She posted her tips in case she didn't have time to express all her thoughts as a panelist.

She has great advice. In you're a marketing or PR pro, her post is a must-read. And of course, you can always read through my marketing to mommy bloggger archives, too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Parenting Gifted Children: Speaking Out for Gifted Children in Illinois

Here is my testimony from the ISBE budget hearing.

Like you, I want to see every student in Illinois demonstrate academic achievement. As the mother of two academically advanced elementary school students, I’m unclear on how this is done. Tests like the ISATs mean little for children like mine who exceed government dictated expectations for a given grade level long before they enter it.

I want my children to work hard and learn new things. I want them to demonstrate significant and measurable achievement each school year. I want the State of Illinois to recognize and serve gifted students as a special needs population. High ability/academically talented/gifted- choose your term- these children have social, emotional and educational needs that differ from those of most students.

Not only that, within the gifted population, there is a continuum of abilities, such that a highly or profoundly gifted student is as many standard deviations away from a moderately gifted student, as a moderately gifted student is from an average one. But that’s an aside, expecting public schools to accommodate the type of students who, by very definition, are quite rare is a pipe dream. Unless that student has learning or physical differences that place them on the low end of the bell curve, of course.*

There’s a perception that gifted children have all the advantages, but many parents I know struggle with the intensities and challenges such a child often brings. .... (At a recent) PTO meeting, I held back an ironic chuckle when a teacher proclaimed, "If our students aren't challenged, then they’re cheated."

Let me be clear, high ability children throughout the state of Illinois are being cheated because of a lack of funding, lack of teacher training, and lack of appropriate coursework.

It would be nice if our state and nation worked harder to recognize and serve academically advanced students like my sons. I’m not promising one of my boys will find the cure for cancer or be the next Einstein (have you heard how he treated his first wife?), I just want what the state wants- demonstrated academic achievement and preparation for success after high school. If my boys and other children like them don’t learn to work hard now, if they don’t experience the frustration of facing a challenge and the joy of overcoming it during their most formative years, what will happen to them beyond high school?

Please stop leaving gifted children behind.

*This came off as kind of snarky and I'm torn that I included it. I left it in because, tone aside, that does seem to be my experience.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Parenting Gifted Children. Advocating for Gifted Children.

Last week I attended an Illinois State Board of Education budget hearing to advocate for gifted children. It was every bit bad as I feared. In fact, it was much like the last time.

So the ISBE hearing, or as I like to call it, The Cavalcade of Blind and Visually Impaired Children, got me thinking about a few things. But first, a brief recap.

Oh, there was the normal plug for Head Start and early intervention programs that serve poor immigrant families. What's not to like about early childhood ed? Especially when it serves children from low-income homes. (No sarcasm intended; this is good stuff.)

Then came the blind and visually impaired students who showed up in force to argue for the return of the $700,000 that was cut from a program that provides crucial assistive technology. And again, I'm not poking fun. They were a case study in effective advocacy. They showed up in large numbers armed with compelling stories. They kicked budgetary ass.

My goodness, first there was the little eight year-old visually impaired boy with albinism who asked the board to “please, please, please” restore the funding for assistive technology. He was followed by other blind and visually impaired teens asking for the same, all with touching stories about the crucial role that technology such as BrailleNote computers and JAWS play in their lives.

But the clincher was a cute nine-year-old blind boy who read his own braille-typed speech from his computer, concluding with something like, “When you vote for the final budget, remember me.”

My goodness, I don't think there was a dry eye in the house as he walked back to his seat.

Damn it.


The blind kids won.

And when I say they won it's because yes, this is a competition. I wish it wasn't. I wish all worthwhile programs could get funded. But the Illinois education budget is tight and only getting tighter.

Several times during the two-hour meeting, in between attendees pleading for their slice of the pie, the chairwoman sighed, "Who is going to get left behind?"

So when I got up to speak, the first thing I said was, "I know who's going to get left behind. It's my sons and children like them." She smiled at me as if I was kidding. But I wasn't.

I'm certain that if it weren't for these jerky real estate guys who spoke about wanting schools to sell and lease back their buildings, I would have been the least popular speaker in the room. *sigh*

Then again, no one could come close to those kids. Even if I brought my boys, or the entire kindergarten class from the the private gifted school they used to attend for that matter, it would not have had the same effect.

It's easy to see that the blind children have to work hard to overcome the obstacles life has placed before them. You know they are working hard to achieve. Gifted kids? They have all the advantages. Or so it seems.

How does one show that a child is in the 97th or 99th or 99.99% is not making the expected academic process? How does one demonstrate that a child who is making straight A's is an underachiever?

Sure, there is research that indicates academically talented students do better, that is, they make more progress each year when placed in homogeneous groups that move at a faster pace than a typical age-grade class. Research, shmesearch. It seems an eight-year-old who reads at a junior high level is cute, precocious, someone to be admired, not someone to throw state education dollars at. Grrr.

But the thing is, the thing that became more apparent to me as the night went on, is that compared to other special needs students, appropriate educational interventions for gifted students are ridiculously inexpensive.

My blogfriend Daisy, who is an educator and has a blind son (though not in Illinois), chimed in through Twitter that the cost of educating a visually impaired child is high, but not as high as the cost of not educating them.

Make sense, for sure. But I think in comparison gifted children fall short. What is the cost of not fully educating a child who already exceeds government dictated standards? I think there a cost, and it's high, it's just not something Illinois nor the US Department of Education choose to make a priority.

So my second experience at a state by budget hearing was every bit as disheartening as my first. On the other hand, this time I was the only one who spoke up for gifted education, so I in that sense I'm glad I went.

It does not serve my children's interest to post my testimony in its entirety, but I will post a chunk of it later this week.

Edited to add: this post is also inspired by the Yahoo!MotherBoard. This month we're talking about education funding and budget cuts. See what April at All About Balance has to say about the role of the arts in education.


Click for more musing on raising gifted children.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Skinny dipping in the school pool and why advocating for gifted kids is like masturbating

Yep, skinny dipping at school, that's how things worked in Chicago public schools back in the 1950s. Read on at Chicago Moms Blog.

I think I'm going to work the old skinny dipping as school policy into my statement advocating for gifted children in Illinois at the upcoming state board of ed budget hearing. Honestly though, I'm tempted to talk about how advocating for gifted kids is like masturbating. I feel compelled to do it (advocate, I mean), and I'll feel good for doing it (for speaking up, I mean) but it's not a very productive use of my time.

Color me cynical, but it seems to me that the most compelling arguments for recognizing gifted children as special needs children aren't apparent until one is raising such a child.

Your thoughts?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Special Programs for Gifted Children: Luxuries or Necessities

Last summer Candace Lindemann, Ed. M., a former colleague of mine from the Momformation blog, interviewed me for her piece Gifted Programs: Luxuries or Necessities? I'm a little late blogging about it, but no matter, the question is timeless.

Because they sometimes only serve a small number (or by definition in the State of Illinois, a small percentage) of students, and high performing students at that, gifted programs are often seen as a luxury. How does a school justify a class for six students who seemingly excel when other students in the grade are still struggling to read?

Gifted students have special needs. They have special educational as well as social-emotional issues. Though affective (social-emotional) is ignored in many programs, a cutting-edge program should include that component.

Special classes for gifted children are not luxuries, they are not privileges, they are appropriate educational interventions.

When Michele Kane, president elect of the Illinois Association of Gifted Children, spoke at my recent parent gathering, she mentioned that as a group, parents of gifted kids do not advocate as vociferously, as passionately as parents of other special needs children.

In Illinois, there's still time to change this. There are two remaining Illinois State Board of Education Budget hearings left.

Go.
Speak.
Advocate.
  • Thursday, November 5, 2009 – 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Wheeling
    Community Consolidated School District 21
    Board Room
    999 W. Dundee Road, Wheeling (Enter from East side of building only)

  • Wednesday, December. 9, 2009 – 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Mundelein
    Mundelein School District 75
    Lincoln School Multipurpose Room
    200 West Maple, Mundelein
I have a class Thursday night and need to think about where I need to be. If you (or I) can't make it, contact the Superintendent's office at the State Board of Education Phone: 217-782-2221; TTY/TDD: 217-782-1900; Fax: 217-785-3972.

Edited to add: Okay, I realized I *need* go to Thursday's budget hearing; I can't let the opportunity pass. Unlike the last time I went to an ISBE budget hearing, I'm going to prepare remarks ahead of time. I'll post them on my blog in the next week or so.