Thursday, May 29, 2008

PR pros vs. PR hacks

A little bird whispered to me that some PR folks bristle hearing themselves described as PR hacks as in my post below. They especially take offense if they are the types that follow best practices for blogger outreach.

That is:

They follow the blog to some degree.

They pitch appropriate products to me (i.e., family snacks or Nintendo products, as opposed to baby gear or zit cream for high school prom goers).

And make appropriate requests (i.e., offer samples and say they hope I'll share a review with my readers as opposed to "requiring" a review or only a glowing one).

They also send product samples promptly (um, didn't someone offer me sunscreen for Skin Cancer Awareness Month...which ends Saturday?). I used to think it was silly when companies overnighted items to me. I mean, really, how important is my opinion? But now that I receive more pitches (and have a Day Job and a family...), my M.O. is out of sight out of mind.

If I'm hosting a giveaway of their product, they send it out promptly to the winner so I don't get stuck with shipping expenses. They also notify me ahead of time of any restrictions (i.e., US residents only).

Who are the PR pros? In my mind the category includes Edelman, Fleishman-Hillard, and Christopher Barger's group at General Motors. I've worked with multiple people at these organizations on several occasions and, eh, maybe there's a blip here and there, but by and large these companies get it right and are open to feedback and learning from mistakes when they miss the mark. When I get an email from someone, say at Edelman, I'm going to read and consider it, even if I don't know the sender.

Who are the PR hacks? Well, they may be trying to get it right too, they're just falling a bit short. Okay, some of them are not even tyring or they're quite ignorant of best practices. I'm less inclined to point fingers at the hacks than I am to give props to the pros. That's just how I roll.

So, hats off to the PR pros!

What about the hacks? I urge them to subscribe to Susan Getgood's Marketing Roadmaps blog, or better yet, hire her.

Do you want to give props to any companies? Leave a comment.

Pay it Forward Book Exchange

I learned about the PIFBE from Caroline Grant over at Food for Thought, who has a book of her own coming out very soon, Mama, PhD.

I won a book from Caroline's site and now it's my turn to share the love. Okay, technically it was my turn about three months ago, but I'm slow.

I've got three books to pass on to a blogger (or three) who's willing to host a similar giveaway (of these or other books) on her blog.

To win a book, leave a comment below with the title of the book you're hoping to receive.

Here's what I've gleaned from my bookshelves. Click the titles for descriptions and reviews at

*Raising Your Spirited Child. This is very gently used, because it my boys were not quite as "spirited" as the ones profiled in the book. (Phew, for me.)

* The History of Love. A recent book group read. I liked it.

* Tales of a Female Nomad. Before there was Eat, Pray, Love, there was an older white suburban mom who had the same kind of crisis. She divorces, leaves her family (her kids were in college) and adventures her way around the world. Inspiring! Um, except for the part about divorcing and leaving her family. Is there a way to travel, love and grow spiritually without causing your loved ones such pain? You tell me. And then go write a best selling book about it.
Leave a comment and way to contact you, and let me know which book(s) you'd like. I'll take comments through June 3. A few days later, I'll contact the winners and ship the books via media mail, which will take two to three weeks. Remember, winners are expected to host a PIFBE on their blogs.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Apple Crisp Smackdown

In this corner we have Brothers-All-Natural Fuji Apple Fruit Crisps, sent to me courtesy of a PR hack.* True to their name, the only ingredient in these Crisps is freeze-dried apples. It has no added sugars or preservatives.

And in this corner we have Seneca Crispy Cinnamon Apple Chips. The Chips are made from fresh apples along with a dose of oil, corn syrup, sugar, dextrose (isn't that another sugar?), cinnamon, ascorbic acid and natural flavorings. I picked up a pack at the All-Candy Expo, which actually features many snack foods.

We sampled each snack on a different car ride. The Brothers' Crisps were indeed crispy and delightfully sweet. We all but fought over how to portion out the small bag of Crisps so every member of our family got to nibble an equal amount of tasty snack.

I broke out the Seneca chips on our way to Wisconsin last weekend. Two of the four members of my family spit out the Seneca chips after the first bite. I was one of those family members. Need I say more?

Brothers-All-Natural Fuji Apple Fruit Crisps are the clear winner in the fight for your family's snack dollars!

*I also received a pack of Brothers potato crisps which, despite my love of bland foods, ranks somewhere between cardboard and matzah in terms of texture and flavor. Love those Fuji Apple Crisps, though.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Welcome to your new go take your Ritalin.

Apparently adult ADHD causes many lost work days each year...except in The Netherlands, where having ADHD actually seems to boost worker productivity.

In the countries that are not also known as Holland, some recommend employer-sponsored psych evaluations and for all employees. Hmm. Too much Big Brother or not enough free meds?

Read more about the study here. Or follow me over to the Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Association.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Camp Baby Weekly Blog Roundup

I'm playing along over at MOMformation this week. Check it out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm at the All Candy Expo

And it's not all candy, they have snack foods, too!

I'm so giddy I can barely contain myself! I'm blogging from the press room, with a variety of chocolates just an arm's length away. Must. Have. Self-control. OMG!

More later, including DH's commentary on the event.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Just another manic Monday

Any day that starts at 2:00 AM just isn't going to be a good one. Read more at MOMformation. To summarize, though: Smartypants, infected toe, trip to doctor delayed by a car with a dead battery, kids are late to school. Very late. The clouds of doom part around 10:30 after a trip to my favorite drive-thru.

Exclusive bonus follow-up: AAA guy shows up, discovers my car battery is not only dead, but dangerously corroded, sells me a new battery and installs it right there. And possibly flirts with me; I'm never good at judging that sort of thing. Years ago, though, when I was just barely pregnant with Pikachu my car died inexplicably in a Walgreen's parking lot, where I had gone to buy a pregnancy test. DH was home with our sleeping toddler, so I called AAA. The cutest guy came and got me started. He was like my knight in shining armor. I was so thankful as I drove off into the sunset. Oh, wait, that was a story about me flirting with the AAA guy.

Are you supposed to tip them?

Anyway, things are looking up now. Tomorrow, I'm headed to the All Candy Expo! I'll conveniently ignore the fact that all of my pants are tight because, OMG, the Candy Expo!

Here's a tasty morsel from last year's misadventures:

Eating my way through the All Candy Expo

The Expo was the equivalent size of nearly 10 football fields. In my first walk down one of the many aisles I tried a chocolate covered crispy cricket. It would have been wise to save something this adventurous until later in the show, but I survived. I did, however, vow to avoid eating insects for the rest of the day.

At the risk of sounding too much like the Very Hungry Caterpillar, I also sampled a dill pickle, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, some upscale nut snacks, and a smoked buffalo steak snack (like jerky, but less chewy). I also snagged a marshmallow crispie to bring home for the boys and a bag of caffeine-enhanced potato chips for DH.

On my trip down aisle two I stopped keeping track of what I sampled or grabbed to take home.

By aisle three, I nibbled the tasty morsels offered to me, but tossed most after a bite or two. By aisle 4 (the equivalent of maybe 2 football fields) I groaned with each glimpse of artificially colored high fructose corn syrupy gummy crap.

Another high-end, imported organic 65% cacao chocolate bar? Stop, I can't stand it! Oh, I can take the whole thing home to try? Oh, okay, sure.

By 1:00 I was spent. I looked like a pack mule with my overstuffed bags of candy. I felt like an overstimulated toddler after her birthday party, crashing down from my sugar high. I wanted a nap so badly I could have cried. But one thing stood between the parking lot and me: The Treasure House.

Loosen your belt a notch and read on.... I vow to have more self-control this year even when faced with handful upon handful of my favorite chocolates.

My recent epidural. What? You didn't even know I was pregnant?

I'm not pregnant; I shouldn't even joke about such things. But I really did have an epidural last week. I guess "epidural" is the generic term for sticking a needle into a person's spine.

And it's every bit as fun as it sounds. The deal is I have a herniated disc, several actually, but one in particular that's been slowly stalking me and waking me every night, my personal incubus, if you will (if you will see definition #3, that is.).

When I wrote about my pain in the butt, it was quite uncomfortable, but as the months passed, the pain increased. So I wound up back at the back doctor, the guy who recommended surgery when I had a similar problem last year. I got an MRI (hello $5,000 insurance deductible!), and finally sought relief in the form of a needle in my spin.

Ironic, huh? Relief from a needle in my spine.

Apparently I should have eaten a decent meal before I went to get my shot, but I only grabbed a little snack on my way out of the house. And as I sat waiting and waiting for Dr. N, who, come to think of it, falls into the Dr. McDreamy category, I perused the Rachael Ray mag a PR hack sends me every month. With each new page, the foods looked more and more appealing. my stomach began to growl.

Then he entered the room and we got down to bidness.

I knew the shot would be unpleasant. I'm aware the kind of epidural a woman gets during childbirth provides immediate relief, but this one can take 10-14 days to kick in. I wasn't expecting instant gratification. But when he poked me with that needle, my eyeballs shot out of my head and bounced off the wall before they resettled in their sockets. I felt a searing pain follow the nerve form my spine down my butt and into my upper thigh. ("At least he hit the right spot!" She thought hopefully.)

A quick blood pressure check and then I was off to pick up my boys, just a mile away at school. But even though I had an acceptable blood pressure level, I felt a bit lightheaded. Somewhat reminiscent of the time I nearly (or maybe did) pass out after giving blood because I didn't stick around the blood center long enough to digest my sweet snack.

I did a quick mental inventory of what snacks might be tucked away in my bag: nothing but breath mints. My car: glove compartment- empty, arm rest- maybe a lollipop, backseat- nothing but crumbs, lots and lots of crumbs. Then I remembered a sealed container of cashews tucked away in a secret back compartment. I always keep a little something in case we get stuck in a storm or something.

Am I nuts for keeping those nuts in my car? Every time I hear about a major travel delay (planes, trains, automobile), natural disaster (tornado, earthquake, you name it) or terrorist incident (remember those people who get held captive in a Russian opera house a few years ago?). I feel compelled to keep food with me. On our recent trip to two-day trip to Death Valley, I brought a week's worth of crackers and snack bars with us...just in case, you know?

Despite the foreshadowing, I did not faint. I got the boys home from school with crashing the car, though I did at one point yell at them, "Can you just quiet down and behave for a few minutes?! I'm about to faint here!"

But I think they can work through that in therapy.

Once we were home though, I jumped into bed and, well, I crashed there for about 20 minutes until it was time to take Pikachu to his ball game. I felt refreshed enough to head out by that point.

As for my back, I still have some pain, but I'm sleeping through the night for the first time in months, which is a Very Good Thing. Now that the nerve pain has subsided a bit, I'll either do stretches or yoga and get my back straightened out, or start physical therapy to rid myself of my crooked ways. I've developed this odd leaning posture as a way to relieve the nerve pressure. I'm only 5 feet tall, I need to stand up straight as I can!

So there it is: a shot in the spine can be mighty fine.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A virtual Camp Baby reunion

Some of the Camp Baby bloggers are going to hold reunions in the form of a weekly post roundup. Here's what some of my newest blog friends were up to last week.

Moms Favorite Stuff...Mom's Favorite Stuff reviews the new offerings from Alex Casey Baby including the crayon caddy.

From Dates to Diapers...Tiny Prints -- A Giveaway! Enter to win a set of announcements!

Soy is the New Black... Supa Star! Leeanthro describes her daughter's latest attempt to ham it up in front of a crowd.

Pinks and Blues...finds a product to help make potty training your toddler easier- The Potty Watch from One Step Ahead.

Over at MOMformation Kristina announces big news...I'm having a baby today and I posted a review of Just Tell me What to Say.

Finally, Classy Mommy Reviews Bellybar Shakes, her latest food and beverage obsession. Totally scrumptious. Perfect during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I spoke too soon (again)

Um, yeah, forget that last post, because I just remembered that I'm also celebrating Mother's Day with a mention in the Chicago Tribune's Q Section today in the story, The kids are all right (no thanks to Mom).

As the title suggests, it's a tribute to bad parenting. Look for me on page two of the piece. Yeah, I'm the one teaching her kids to surf for Internet porn (as explained in this post).

Finally! Proof that I have not completely screwed up as a mother

Read all about my proud mommy moment and share one of your own (you must have at least one, yes?) at MOMformation.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Just in time for the new mattress

A present from the Crotch Queen! I just received Yours+Mine, a new addition to the KY line brand designed for couples. Erm, make that heterosexual couples if one is a stickler for following directions.

Yours+Mine comes in a box that designed to open like a book, which of course, I didn't figure it out until I tore it into shreds.

The idea is a partner A applies one lubricant (Yours) and Partner B applies the other (Mine) and together they combine to create a new, unexpected and very satisfying experience. At least according to what I read on the box.

Two images come to mind: the old you, got your chocolate in my peanut butter commercials and the wild, explosive combo of pop (soda, as some of you call it) and fizzy pop rocks. Hmmmm.

I tried it out...on the back of my hand. No blistering or odd, skin reactions. That's a good sign, but I think it needs a more active trial. Which can also put our new mattress cover ("guaranteed to prevent bodily fluids from staining the mattress") to the test. Okay, I'm grossing myself out. How are you doing?

I dare say all product results from this point on will be unbloggable. I may hold a related giveaway, but if not, look for Yours+Mine in a store near you starting next week.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am

Make that thank you sirs. The new mattress arrived this morning! (Read more here.) The delivery guys were in and out in about 5 minutes flat. I'm not used to that kind of service in the bedroom. Ahem. Nor should I be. Unless it's time to run and pick up the boys from Sunday school, if you know what I mean.

Today I will pick the winner of the Lands' End gift cards. I had about 200 entries, but promised extra entries for those who subscribed to my feeds or posted the contest on their own blogs. I loved the extra attention, but didn't quite realize all the extra work I created.

Livin' it up at Home Depot

During my recent lawn mower search (stay tuned for details of our ultra-environmentally friendly grass clipper---no, it's not a goat) I noticed an announcement for a free Saturday morning activity.

I dragged the boys out at 9:00, and we were all surprised to find that the event was pretty cool. Each boy built a pencil holder out of precut wooden parts. Still they got to sand, glue and hammer. Real nails. On their own. So it was a good time.
I just sat and watched, and okay, helped put decorative stickers on the wooden "flowers" that go in the holder.
It was an interesting crowd. Moms, dads, boys, girls, tots to tweens. I noticed that many of the dad's tackled this simple project with an enthusiasm and seriousness that I lacked. As long as no fingers were broken and no skin was pierced, I knew I'd call the morning a success.
Pikachu's grandma is going to receive this for Mother's Day. Smartypants is giving his project to a green-thumbed teacher for an end of year gift. (Let's keep this between us, okay?)
Fun + Free. Who could ask for anything more?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I got me some ParentPower

Susan Getgood is talking about it, The OTHER Mother is talking about it.... In fact, when I saw TOM's badge for the ParentPower Index, I clicked over just to see if I was anywhere on the list.

You know, like number 199 on their list of the 200 top parent bloggers. Turns out Hormone-colored Days ranks a 71, which, admittedly, is not quite the same as 71st, but still quite respectable.

Great, now I have yet another way to obsess over my little blog.

I just added my customized ParentPower badge to the sidebar, and in a misguided attempt to resize it, changed it to display someone else's blogrank. So, if you stop by and see I'm number one, you'll know just how I got there ;-)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Do you honor the Sabbath?

Do you slow down and unplug over the weekend? Really? Tell me more at MOMformation.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Oh Sh*t!

It's 11:00 at night. I'm cleaning up a database for a client, getting ready to hit the sack soon and I *just* remembered that I need to get cupcakes for Pikachu's classroom birthday celebration tomorrow. Thank goodness for the 24-hour grocery store! (She exclaims as she curses under her breath.)

I want to thank everyone who's popped over to enter the Lands' End giveaway. I especially appreciate those who subscribed to my blog feeds and who took time to actually view the site and not just enter the contest and run (is there a term for that?).

I wish I could award a $100 LE gift card to each of you! That's so cliche, but true. I relate to all you mamas wanting to treat yourself or a family member to something that's not in the budget. I hear all you mamas who need a new suit because you've finally lost the baby weight...though I relate more to the ones who want those slenderizing suits! You've reminded me of all the other great Lands' End products beyond clothes and shoes (and cushy PureLoft mattress toppers).

I feel like mini-Oprah hosting a mini-give. I can't wait to make someone happy! Speaking of which, I've got to go get those cupcakes!