Tuesday, July 31, 2007

BlogHer 2007

It's official. There is nothing more to say about BlogHer that hasn't already been said. Except this: for a (mostly) female event there was an astonishing lack of chocolate. However, what they lacked in chocolate, they made up for in free wine.

Blogher was inspiring, empowering and exhausting. I didn't realize how much fun I was having until I called home and talked to my whiny children. DH did a great job with the boys and the house was clean, clean, clean when I got home. Never mind that I sent Pikachu (formerly Splinter) to camp with a matza sandwich on Monday because we had no bread....

You can get multiple perspectives on BlogHer at http://www.chicagomomsblog.com/ and, of course, http://www.blogher.com/.

Drained as I am, I got my act together to send WhyMommy an 8-pound box of swagolicious goodies, which I hope will bring a smile to her face--as well as that of her toddler's. He will love the GIANT pen. Oh crap, I think Pikachu took it and hid it under his bed. And I just realized I left something out, too. Okay, I guess I have to get another package together.

I met so many interesting women; I'll post some linky love later this week. Or next week.


Monday, July 23, 2007

I'm Leaving my Husband and Playing for a New Team

Relax, I'm just leaving him for the weekend. I was late in realizing that I should stay downtown to make the most of my BlogHer experience--especially given that DH had kindly issued me a three-day pass. He's tackling camp carpool and everything else from late Thursday through Sunday so I can mingle with the Internets. Let's say it together: Awwww, what a guy.

But when I finally made the decision to reserve a room, the best ones, i.e. at the hip, hot W hotel, were all booked. I decided I'd missed my chance, but a day or two later, Fate stepped in. The Chicago Moms Bloggers (who are having an awesome giveaway right now) got an email from WhyMommy, who just learned that she was headed for chemo instead of Chicago. In exchange for supportive posts about beating cancer, she pledged to give away her BlogHer pass and room reservation.

Granted, I didn't realize at first that it was merely the reservation, not a free room; still, I posted and she graciously announced her intention to pass it on to me. But some details needed to be worked out. And, uh, clearly she's got more important things on her plate right now than arranging for my escape to a swanky hotel.

With BlogHer less than a week away and no reservation in my name, I reluctantly, but completely, accepted that fact that I'd be commuting to Navy Pier each day. Even if WhyMommy transferred the reservation to me, at this stage of the game I wouldn't have time to find a roommate to help me afford the discount rate of over $200/night.

Then the universe started screwing with me. Yesterday I received e-mails from both WhyMommy and a potential roommate from the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. A few fast e-mails and phone calls later.... I'm staying at the W!!! And, uh, sharing a bed with a woman I've never met because apparently we're in a room with a single king-sized bed.

True, we haven't met, but our group blogs are "sister sites" and my people know her people, so I think we're cool. Plus, I don't need to worry about her coveting my goods because we will have matching swag bags thanks to the CMB and SVMB founders.

I *promise* to share some of my swag with WhyMommy if she tells me where to send it, because I seriously have no idea what her real name is or where she lives. (Yeah, try calling a hotel and convincing them to transfer someone's reservation to you when you only know her as WhyMommy. Trust me, you won't get far... and you will get laughed at.)

I am so touched that with all that's been going on WhyMommy took time to do this. She's found time to crank out quite a few public service announcements, to boot. Read the excerpt below from her blog and you'll see why I'm batting for Team WhyMommy these days.

I'm also launching a Team WhyMommy Share the Swag project. If you're going to BlogHer and care to pass some of the swag and spirit of the event to WhyMommy, seek me out and I'll pass it along. How will you know me when you see me? I'm five feet tall and my clothes will match my blog.

Now, onto WhyMommy:

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I must stop cutting myself

I know it will take a great deal of discipline to stop, but apparently it's obvious that I'm making a mess of myself, so it's got to end.

As part of my pre-BlogHer primping, I got a haircut- the kind that costs more than $20- at one of those snooty places where all the stylists dress in black and take themselves very seriously. But it was also the kind of place where someone washes your hair and massages your scalp--ah, a bit of heaven-- when I am a billionaire*, I will employ someone for this very purpose.

Anyway, the stylist chided me for the mess I've made of my bangs. I've worn bangs for about, oh, 25 years now. I've been thinking of growing them out for most of 2007. But once they start hanging over my eyes, I go nuts and grab the scissors and chop away. I have to stop this self-destructive behavior. Ugh. If I can just make it through that awkward phase when they are uncomfortably long for bangs, but too short to fit my hairstyle (yes, I said hairstyle; stop laughing at me), I'll be okay.

Oh yes, I also went shopping. Which was frustrating, until I got a shopping prompt**, and then it was a breeze. Can't wait for BlogHer!

* The boys want to buy me a "blog that makes money" for my birthday, so I think I'll be rich soon.
**just click; it's a piece of mine over at the Chicago Moms Blog

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

Mom, did the women have bras back in ancient Roman times?

Friday, July 13, 2007

If you send a geek to sports camp...


I sold Smartypants (9) and Splinter (7) (who has now requested "Pikachu" as his nom de blog) on the idea of Sports Camp. But which one? The indoor version or the outdoor one?

The indoor camp had some appeal- no concerns about sunstroke, ozone emergency days and rainstorms. Plus, though Smartypants is pretty good at soccer, he'd rather bury his nose in book (or if allowed, play video games) all day. Not to reinforce stereotypes about geeky kids, but at the private school for gifted kids that my boys attend, the big sport last year was Four-Square. (To be fair, the soccer field was torn up due to construction.) Even so, it's clear that they've got more mathletes than athletes. Which is a long-winded way of saying that perhaps the indoor sports camp would be good for Smartypants because he'd have a chance to be a stand-out athlete, what with all the sickly asthmatic kids who'd likely attend such a camp.

But, ultimately, I couldn't get past the general lameness of indoor sports camp. I signed the boys on for the outdoor version. While the boys are returning to their private school this fall, we're not quite feeling as much love as we once did and want to keep our minds open about returning to public school. (This is fodder for at least a half dozen posts in its own right; we'll save it for another day.) I had this idea that the outdoor camp would be a litmus test of sorts. Smartypants is so much more confident and emotionally balanced now than he was after his miserable first grade year in public school. And he's friendly and nice. If he can make his way at Sports Camp, I thought it would bode well for a return to public school.

Well, it's not boding well for a return to public school. He just finished his first of four weeks, and guess what? He hates it. Hates. It. And he's miserable.

Several of the boys in his group know each other from school or the first session of camp and when it comes to games like football, they pass to their friends. He's keenly aware than when they do pass to him, it's only because the counselor told them to. The camp counselor confirmed this.

The counselor also confirmed the story about the boy Smartypants got out in dodgeball who refused to leave the game and then, before he finally agreed to step out, whipped the ball back at Smartypants' tummy. (They are age-grouped, and at 55 pounds, Smartypants is generally the shortest and lightest among his peers.)

Additionally, the counselor is a green, new one. He told me that though his first session went well, he lacks control over this new group.

Smartypants thought he'd made a friend after the first day of camp, but this little dude turn out to be one of those manipulative jerks who's constantly pulling the old, "if you do X, I'll be your best friend." I'm proud of my son for steering clear of this boy, but that pretty much leaves him back to being the odd boy out.

It just breaks my heart that he's so upset at the end of each day. I'd pull him from this Lord of the Flies camp, but I've got to be at my office at least 2.5 days each week. (Working mom guilt alert!!) Is there anything to do but frame this as a character-building experience and save our money for more years at private school and those costly geek-tech camps? Ugh

Is that me or a body double? The Lands' End swimsuit has arrived!

I'm finally set with my new suit. DH loves the plunging neckline and I'm loving the skirty bottom--no Brazilian for me!

And with the hot weather last week, I even had a chance to give it a test dive. This means that my three favorite bathing suits are all Lands' End. (Most of them are significantly older than my newest model which shows that you get a great product for your money.)

I pretty much memorized the entire catalogue during my bathing suit selection process, so now with each visit to the pool I can't help from making mental notes. Oooh, she's wearing Lands' End, so is she. They definitely have a corner on the Mom Market.

I'm working on a piece on allergy-friendly foods (peanut-free, gluten free, etc.) for Scrambled CAKE. As a result, lots of tasty samples have been coming my way. So now I've got the suit, my new challenge is to makes sure it still fits by the end of the summer!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Who knew? Aprons are totally hot!

Or should I say cool? Isn't that weird that hot and cool both connote hipness? And isn't it fun that I get to dust off my mommy brain and use a word like connote on my blog?

It's true my virtual life is more rewarding than my actual one, and here are three examples of why:

1) I won this fun new apron through the Chicago Mom's Blog, where I'm also posting much of my witty banter these days. Turns out they get a few, okay a few hundred, more visitors per day than I do. The apron comes courtesy of Hatley's, a Canadian company with a fondness for bears. They also sent us a "Blackbeary" t-shirt. So now DH and I can coordinate with Smartypants. His grandma brought him a Hatley shirt from Canada two or three years ago (that it is still around is a testament to the quality of their line). It's "Hairy Potter" shirt featuring a bear planting. He'll be a stand-out at the HP party on the 20th.

2) BlogHer contributing food editor, Kalyn Denny, recently recently linked to me in an apron round-up. It's like I'm almost famous. Apparently aprons really are hip these days. I recently bought a retro apron at a resale shop--because it matched my blog- for only $2. I just saw retro-style aprons on sale at a website for close to $40.

3) Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn decided to start dishing out interesting links again and my blog, Scrambled CAKE, was among the first he provided!

So the Internets give me a taste of fame (albeit a crumb-sized one), positive feedback, gifts, and swag. Real life brings ants in my kitchen and a wet bathing suit that sat in my son's backpack for 5 days. Can you blame me?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Kicking Cancer's Butt

WhyMommy, the wit and wisdom behind Toddler Planet, recently learned she has breast cancer. Now she's headed to chemo instead of BlogHer. She asked readers to post stories about cancer survivors or other people they admire and is going to be giving one lucky poster a BlogHer pass and her reservation at the W in exchange. I already got my pass (a link from Tribune columnist Eric Zorn and $200 will get your one of those) , but a night or two at the W might be nice.

Here's a note about a woman I admire:

One of my karate instructors was (past tense only because I no longer train karate) a 50 year-old mother of three who beat breast cancer twice. When I took her karate classes I was always in awe of her strength and endurance. Her classes were so physically demanding, and yet, she did every move, every push-up (esp. the push-ups!) alongside the students.

During her cancer treatments, she had quite a bit of of muscle pain and problems after her surgeries and couldn't get the kind of massages she that thought would relieve her pain,. Once she healed up, she enrolled in massage therapy school. She's now the dojo manager, busy mom and runs a massage therapy practice in addition to volunteering her services at a local Cancer Wellness Center.

She kicked cancer's butt and so can you!