Thursday, December 25, 2008

Naked for Chanukah

Not our bodies, our gifts. We're going as green and eco (as in economically friendly) as we can with our gift wrap this year. My friends MJ and Jen at Chicagonista put together a fabulous and inspiring video on green holiday ideas.

They took our boring idea of using newsprint as wrapping paper and took it up a notch by stamping designs on the paper or finding fun holiday-themed graphics in the newspaper.

For years, we've been placing the boys' unwrapped presents in customized, fun reusable, dreidel-shaped felt bags. This year, I bought pillowcases at Marshall's and found a laundry bag at a local charity resale shop and had the boys decorate them for DH, my parents and me. From now on, our gifts will go in these bags, rather than get wrapped.

My boys used Crayola fabric crayons, Tulip fabric spray, DecoFabric pens and fabric Blow-paints (which, sadly, I think are no longer sold), all of which I had on hand.

It's a gift that will benefit mother and Mother Earth for years to come!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Fun: Have a very Blago Christmas

Some carols for you here. H/T to Anna for the link.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging: I'm in it!

This book features loads of blogging advice from Nora Ephron, Alec Baldwin, Jamie Lee Curtis and (squee!) ME! Well, I'm not exactly giving advice, but I'm quoted in a call-out box that is all my own.
I'd tell you what I said, but then you might not buy the book! Hint: it's about being a (ahem) mommyblogger. See p. 159 when you're browsing in the book store.
Once I get over rereading my own little section, I'll look at the rest of it and review the book at Hormone-colored Reviews.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Marketing to Mommybloggers: Why hire a marketing technopologist when you can hire a social media mom?

One of today's most popular Wall Street Journal articles, The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World, contains a lot of useful information, but few secrets. At least it didn't seem to me like many secrets were revealed because I follow several social media thought leaders on Twitter. I learn a lot from their posts and banter.

I'm going to let you in on my secret for successful Web 2.0 Marketing: Hire a Social Media Mom.

I'm a Social Media Mom. I blog at several sites, I have a top-rank and large network on Twitter. I've been to BlogHer (twice) and attended Johnson and Johnson's Camp Baby. I know the momspace.

And I consult on social media efforts. Specifically, I work with companies who want to reach out to mombloggers in an effective manner.

As a social media mom, I help companies identify bloggers and refine blogger outreach programs while keeping my clients informed about trends and conversations in the momosphere in a way that diagnostic software and algorithms cannot.

I've said before that having a mom's eye view will help a company's social media efforts stay better informed and avoid roadblocks and ruffled feathers (Google "Camp Baby Blogstorm" to see what I mean.).

A social media mom helps a client reach out to just the right bloggers in just the right way because she's smart and well-connected, even if she does have a bad case of blogger's butt.

But the WSJ article's authors coined the clunkier, gender-neutral term Marketing Technopologist (MT). According to the article, the MT is the person who should lead Web 2.0 marketing efforts. They define it as "a person who brings together strengths in marketing, technology and social interaction."

Put another way, a manager quoted in the article says, "I'd want to see someone with the usual MBA consultant's background, strong interest in psychology and sociology and good social networking skills throughout the organization."

Sounds like a social media mom to me. Off the top of my head, I could name a dozen sharp mombloggers who fit this description. They may not hold MBAs, but some do. (I have an MS in nonprofit management, FWIW.)

When executive types think "mommyblogger," if indeed they ever do, I doubt that they are aware of the knowledge, talent and enthusiasm that's out there blogging from basements, kitchens and local coffee shops.

If you're not abreast the latest web 2.0 marketing trends, by all means read the article. And if you want to hear more about how a mom can help your social media efforts, drop me a note and we can schedule a time to talk.

Do homemade teacher gifts make the grade?

Apparently they do not not, despite my best efforts. Join the conversation on my MOMformation post, C+ gifts for teachers. You can also click to glimpse of two of my chidren's creations that are sure to get mocked in the teacher's lounge. *sigh*

Monday, December 15, 2008

WTF Walmart?!?

My readers know I'm just not that into Walmart, but after several work-related conversations about the 11Moms campaign, I felt a professional obligation to dig deeper. Please note that I like and admire several of the 11Moms. The moms I know personally and from online are smart and talented.

In the process of reviewing the site, I noticed they still had their Black Friday shopping tips* up. Ugh. You may recall that a 270-pound man was trampled to death by a zealous crowd at Long Island, NY Walmart...and that the store where he died re-opened just a few hours after his death.

I read the Black Friday tips and was appalled and sickened to find this quote from one of the moms: Bring a buddy!!! If you guys think you can do this alone, think again people! These shoppers are die hard and they'll run you over like there's no tomorrow! The more you have, the better!

Sure it was cheeky and certainly written before the death of Jdimytai Damour. It might have been cute in mid-November, but this should have been removed on November 28.

Walmart, you may have social media types buzzing about your campaign, but you've disgusted me once again. And as for the mom who wrote that, I wonder if she asked to have that paragraph removed. Did it slip her mind? I don't know. I'm not seeking to accuse, I'm seeking to understand.

In an odd coincidence, an hour or so before hitting the Walmart site, I posted at Momformation about sources for fair trade gifts and "gifts with a conscience" and I'm giving away a six-pack of Divine fair trade chocolate. (Fair trade chocolate, what are you waiting for?)

Oh, and sorry about the lame image, I'm not great with screen shots and used my camera. I figure the changes will be made soon to the Walmart site and didn't want people to think I'm one of those crazy Internet mommies. Yeah, I know, it's too late for that.

Edited to add: Wow, a Tweep just sent me this snazzy screen shot. Girl's got skillz. She felt sorry for me. And is not a Walmart fan.

* Edited to add site link 12/16/08.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nine-year-olds taking the SAT?

Head over to Momformation for my thoughts on gifted children and above-level testing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pat the Husband giveaway

I reviewed this hilarious take on Pat the Bunny a while back. And now I'm giving away my gently-used copy because my bookshelves are overflowing and this book is too good not to share.

Check it out over at Hormone-colored Reviews.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Happily ever after

"Happily ever after" is a bit ambitious, but I'm happy to report after the recent ups and downs at school Smartypants came home Friday with a smile on his face. Excited! And we'd gotten a nice email from one of his teachers noting that she'd seen positive changes in his behavior.

Considering I was woozy from my morning back surgery, this was especially welcome news.

I'm sure we still have some challenges ahead of us, but the school has been pretty responsive. I still need to remind myself that I'm not dealing with our former public school. That was such a mess. Such an unhappy time for all of us.

Anyway, new school system, new cast of characters, new opportunities. (Repeat as necessary.)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Fun: Your drug of choice?

This is set to post about the time I'm going in for my diskectomy. My day is going to be spent in a drug-induced haze. Did I say day? I meant weekend.

On the right you will find a photo of the drugs I received after the diskectomy I had in August. I'm not much of a druggie, so I still have a lot left over.
I am, however, a bloggy geek, so I took pictures of the pretty pills that matched my blog.
Who remembers?
Who even cares? They are the cutest pills ever and they make me swoon as soon as I look at them.
Plus drugs that match my blog just scream good karma to me.

While I'm passing in and out of consciousness take a moment from your busy day and tell me about your favorite painkilling drugs or techniques.

Late-breaking news. A Friday Funny sent to my inbox on Thursday. Best Prop 8 video ever! It features musci, comedy, Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris and other big names. Check it out. HT to Nicole for the clip.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

All twisted up over this

Well, yes, I'm all twisted up about the man who was trampled to death at Walmart, for one thing. Read more, including my personal confession, at Chicago Moms Blog.

I am crooked, if not twisted, because of a herniated disc. Another one. It started 18 months ago with the on my right side, went away after a few cortisone shots. Reappeared as a problem on the left side. Had surgery. All fixed on the left. Now the right is acting up again. Had an MRI. Spine doctor saw the results-a herniation so large he was amazed I was walking around at all.

That paragraph is like looking into crystal ball. That is what my blog will look like when I am 80. This pain. That pain. No one will read it, but at least I will get to vent. Then I will call my grandchildren, to whom blogging will seem hopelessly old-fashioned because they will just exchange thoughts via microchips implanted in their scalps, and cry, "Why don't you click? Just click on my url some time. Would it hurt you to leave a comment for grandma?"

Anyhoo, our insurance deductible is met, our max out-of-pocket medical expenses for the year is so close I can almost feel it, and let's not forget I am in pain when I sleep, sneeze (weird, I know. I sneeze and feel a pain in my right buttock.) or try to stand upright. That's a lot of the time people! The surgery takes place Friday morning, and the insurance company is practically paying me to have the procedure.

I should not joke about such matters, really. The nurse told me my procedure was pre-approved, but pre-approval doesn't guarantee payment.


It's the Jan Brady attitude. It's an insurer's prerogative to change their mind.

Again, WTF?

It turns out we received a $14,564 dollar bill for Pikachu's summer surgery. And that's only for radiology, not his hospital services.

Sing it to me, people: WTF?

Seriously, though, think nice thoughts for me.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

When your gifted kid gets a detention

Smartypants came home from school and called me into his room. He pulled his math test from his bag and showed it to me sheepishly.

Only it was no math test. It was a note he'd written on a form explaining what he had done that got him in trouble at school today and apologizing for it. Something to do with throwing snowballs ("a yard or so away from X"), which is against school rules.

I'm not clear why he's the only one who got in trouble if, as he says, he was not the only one throwing them. Was he the only student throwing snow on this second or third day where there was enough ground cover to do so? I doubt it. But he still has to stay inside the next two recesses. I'm cool with that. He did the crime. He'll do the time.

I'm sure the vice-principal will scare him straight.

As for DH and I, well, we were all but high-fiving our kid. "A recess detention? For throwing snowballs? Awesome! That's so normal." Seriously, we were delighted to hear he was playing with other students at recess and not just wandering the playground by himself.

Follow-up to teacher conferences

Remember my fabulous advice about staying calm when advocating for your child?
I ignored it.
I didn't turn the conference into a monologue, but I was not as cool as I should have been. I was baited and I went after the bait. The conversation was not what it should have been and in a sign of totally maturity I admit it was not all my fault.
I've written about five conference follow-up notes, all in my mind. I ran the letter I intended to send by DH first and he told me it was too long.
Oh, but I have so much to say!
His point is well-taken, though.

What I want to say:

Giftedness exists on a continuum like, say, autism. You've got gifted (top 3%), highly gifted (HG)(top 1%) and profoundly gifted (PG) (top 0.1%).

A PG child
is as different from a gifted child as a gifted child is from the general population.

PG kids
tend to be a bit quirky compared to their age-grade peers.

A gifted
student is not the same thing as a bright student.

When I tell you my kid is gifted, I'm not saying that to stress that he's freakin' brilliant (even if he is, though he does not bother to do more than the minimum in your class because he is bored--ah, the b-word, cannot use the b-word when talking to teachers/school administrators) I'm telling you my kid is gifted because he has a unique set of social and emotional, as well as academic needs that differ from most of his age-grade peers. He needs your understanding and attention.

And on that note, would it be too much to ask for you to learn my kid's name? It's December, already!

DH is right. There's too much even for one blog post. To be continued....

On a more cheerful note, stop by my new review blog to win a super-cool rocket pass football.