Thursday, December 31, 2009

Military_Mom, Craig Dobkin and Miracles

If you follow events in the momosphere you've likely heard that Shellie, known on Twitter as @Military_Mom lost her two-year-old boy recently. He drown in the family's pool, which she announced shortly after the fact. It didn't take long before haters on Twitter started criticizing her for tweeting such raw, personal news and, worse, blaming her for her son's death.

My heart goes out to Shellie and her family. I completely understand and support her impulse to tweet during a crisis. And I don't blame her for her son's death. All Moms Are Fallible as Jessica Gottlieb wrote on her blog; go read it.

Lately, I've been thinking about of moments of inattention. We all have them. And in a busy world where 15 minutes of fame seems to have been reduced to 15 seconds and there are so many things completely or our attention, it's increasingly difficult to pay attention to any one thing.

Or is that just how I feel?

I didn't think I was alone in this and my thoughts were confirmed during a recent meeting of my bat mitzvah class when we talked about our intentions for the coming year. So many of us talked about 2010 as being a time for strive for focus or kavanah, a Hebrew term meaning conscious thought, intention, concentration.

A moment of inattention is what landed a former colleague, Craig Dobkin, in a wheelchair. He was an experienced rock climber who forgot to check his safety ropes before setting off on a 80-foot descent well over a decade ago. In the late 1990s, I attended a workshop on miracles he led at a local conference for experiential educators. Most of the sessions focused on how to be a better facilitator or new team-building games or techniques, but knowing Craig's dynamic personality, I choose to attend his program, even though the topic seemed a bit touchy-feely.

Craig set the tone by talking about the moment of inattention that led to his falling from a high cliff, but recounted all the events that followed as a series miracles, miracles that brought him to lead that session for us.

As I was doing an end-of-the-year office cleaning, I came across my old notes from that session. Ten or twelve years later they reduce the whole thing to series of soundbites, but I think these soundbites are worth pondering as we face a new year.

The world according to Craig Dobkin (circa 1997?).

We can create personal and professional miracles by:

* noting that all behavior is purposeful
* recognizing that miracles are possible and noticing them when they occur
* taking risks
* keeping love present
* understanding that every person in our lives is a potential teacher.

Busy-ness is violent, it destroys relationships and makes it impossible to focus. (Yeah, that's in bold for a reason.)

A person's comfort zone is safe and routine; the learning zone may be uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking, but ultimately leads to growth.

One never has enough information to be pessimistic.

All feedback is positive.

What are your thoughts for the new year?

I wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chanukah, Interrupted

Nothing like waiting until the last minute. This month my peeps on the Yahoo Motherboard are sharing thoughts on holding it together during the holidays (or not). You can read my post on the topic, Chanukas Interruptus, over at the Chicago Moms Blog.

What's up with Gifted Education?

Raising gifted children is a topic I often touch upon on this blog. When I checked the gifted tag recently, I was surprised to see I haven't written about gifted kids or gifted education in weeks. I've certainly been thinking about it.

Honestly, though, I've been wondering if it's ever worth continuing to write about it. Why? Personal experience, plus this tweet and the related post, "Our Shameful National Commitment to Gifted and Talented Children," from Joel McIntosh of Prufrock Press.

What is the point? It's not even a Sisyphean battle because gifted advocates, as a whole, never seem to make much progress. So frustrating....

But then I got this comment (I swear I didn't write it myself). So maybe I'll keep writing, after all.
Thank you, Anonymous!

At the same time I've been thinking about leaving gifted children behind, I've also been considering the years of archived posts buried here on this blog. What a waste. People typically only find them through web searches.

I've come up with two solutions to breath a little life into my archives:
1) I've added a nifty widget called LinkWithin to my blog and now at the bottom of each post, you'll find a few relevant (I hope) old posts to take a peek at.

2) With the help of my friend, Mari, I've now got links and a brief summary for all of my old posts on gifted children. I'm not sure if I'm merely going to list them in a new post, or do what I do with my marketing posts, and list the archives on a site dedicated to marketing to mombloggers and my consulting business. After all, I did just buy up a bunch of domains.

It's nice to know that my words and my acquired wisdom (read: mistakes with my own kids) help, so, yes, I will forge ahead here. Because not only do I have all those old posts on highly gifted children and quirky gifted children and the challenges of raising them in my archives, I've also got quite a few in draft mode.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Year in Review: Most Dubious Social Media Accomplishment

Many bloggers set out with specific goals in mind, to make a name for themselves. I started blogging four years ago as a creative outlet. I planned to make a name for myself in the world of freelance writing and beyond. In fact, I was sure, naively so, that each time I had a blog visitor from NYC, it was an editor or literary agent checking me out.

So, I never made it big as a writer. Still, this blog has led to writing opportunities, consulting opportunities, travel adventures and many new friends. I've come a long way from the frustrated mom who began writing from the dark corner of her basement late at night.

Now I'm the frustrated mom writing and tweeting at all hours of the day from my bedroom in an Ikea kids desk that used to belong to my youngest son.

And did I mention I'm speaking at Blissdom 2010?!

Still, with an odd mixture of pride and embarrassment, I present you with my most dubious social media achievement of the year: driving roughly 1,100 people to this Whrrl story. It's a completely organic and unsponsored story in which I shared the joy of an unexpectedly delightful find.

What are some of your social media achievements of 2009 (dubious or not)? Leave links and I'll check them out.

Oh, and if you want to join me at Blissdom, but your budget is tight, check out this confrence pass giveaway from my client, Steaz.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Master of My Domain

Make that, domains. I did a little belated holiday shopping for myself. Like any respectable geekgirl, I bought a bunch of domain names. It's not like I've got Big Plans, but I do have big ideas, and should I turn them into plans, I'm set.

A few of my domain purchases were long overdue, like and .coms for my two main blogs. However, my blogspot addresses have so much page rank credibility that I'm concerned migrating to say,, will put me back to zero with the search engines. Can anybody speak to this? No rush, I've got three years to get it figured out without anybody squatting on my blog names.

The other domain names won't lead to my domination of the blogosphere nor, sadly, any get-rich quick (or slow) schemes but they might come in handy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Getting High for the Holidays

Oh my, more than week off the blog. I've been busy. In addition to a tweet-up later today to ride the CTA's Santa train (with treats from Starbucks, thank you Edelman), I hosted a tweet-up, waaaay up--103 stories high, at the Willis Tower Skydeck Ledge on Monday.

Check it out; I'll add more pictures soon.

Yes, it was as fun as it looked. And once you take that first step out onto the glass ledge 103 stories up, it's fine. That first step is a mindfreak; it's completely counter-intuitive to leap or even crawl out over the city, but once you're convinced the ledge is not going to break off you can get silly, as you will see below.

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Thanks for Marketing Mommy, Self-Made Mom, Steph, SassafrassJess, Windy City Social, Brandie and Miss Lori for joining in. And thanks to the Meg and Arielle at Fleishman-Hillard for covering our admission, cookies on the skydeck and the unlimited photo ops!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Eight Days of Chanukah Giveaways!

Are you kidding? We're not usually the kind of parents that give presents each night of the holiday, especially not this year. Oy. Lucky for us, the boys often have grandparents and other relatives to fill in our stingy gaps.

I can only hope you also have loved ones to fill in some of your gift gaps. I'm here to help with three nights, but you have to hurry to enter. My current giveaways are:

$25 Bonefish Grill Gift Certificate enter by 11 PM CST on 12/13/09

Chanukah Gift Basket enter by 2:00 PM CST on 12/14/09

Pampered Chef Cookie Press enter by 5 PM CST on 12/16/09

You must click on the links and follow the directions listed to enter. I'm not getting paid to host any of these giveaways, I'm just doing it because I want to help you find your happy place.

Two of these giveaways are posted over at The Full Mommy, where you can find other great giveaways.

Puzzling Behavior

I turned my avatar in to a puzzle. How's that for Friday Fun? Speaking of Friday Fun, I stopped that feature a while back due to lack of enthusiasm--both mine and that of my readers who rarely commented on the hilarious gems I dug up and put on display each week.

But there are some goodies contained within the Friday Fun label (click if you've got time to waste).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Chanukah Gift Basket Giveaway!

Edited to add: Check out this must-see Chanukah video. I dare you not to smile.

Have you noticed the trend toward talking about holidays instead of just Christmas? It's nice when people recognize traditions like the solstice, Diwali, Kwanzaa and Chanukah, but all too often "holiday" is really a PC word for Christmas.

Take the CTA Holiday Train. Who are we kidding? It's the Santa Train. (That said, I think it's delightful and I'm working on a Tweet-up on 12/23 to celebrate it's arrival in Skokie because the train seems more like reason for a family-friendly get-together than, say, the opening of the new LazerZone.)

My point is, yesterday the folks at 1800Baskets offered me the chance to provide a holiday gift basket for my readers and I thought of it as an opportunity to go Full Chanukah. Yeah, baby.

Thanks to them, I'm offering a Chanukah gift basket filled with goodies that will arrive before the end of the holiday. Well, it's not Full Chanukah and possibly not all Kosher, but it does have a tasteful blue ribbon and shiny blue packaging, which will nicely complement the Chanukah-themed kitchen and bath towels gifted to you many years ago.
Beyond the tasteful ribbon, the basket contains many tasty treats within: sugar cookies, chocolate covered graham crackers, honey wheat pretzels, chocolates, and much more. Click for the full scoop on the basket, which has a retail value of $74.99.

To enter, leave a comment sharing one of your favorite Chanukah traditions. Make sure you leave me your email or a link to it, so I can contact you. For extra entries, tweet this giveaway and come back and comment letting me know you've done so. Entries will be accepted through 2:00 PM CST on Monday, 12/14/09.

Fine print: The only payment I'm receiving for the contest if the joy of sharing. If only warm fuzzies paid the mortgage....The prize will only be shipped to a US mailing address. Sorry, DH, I know you love snacky gift baskets, but this contest is not open to members of my immediate family. The winner will have 24 hours to contact me with a mailing address or another winner will be chosen in order to expedite the prize.

Take a peek behind the scenes of 1-800-Baskets in my Whrrl story. I haven't looked at gift baskets the same way since then.

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While I was on tour at DesignPac, the 1800Baskets facility, I noticed they are sister companies with HearthSong, which offers fabulous alternatives to holiday gifts from Big Box stores. They have loads of fun, creative toys that are not branded with corporate icons and labels. When my mother attempted to offer my young boys Toys R Us Greed Guide, I offered up the HearthSong catalog as an alternative. I knew they could choose anything out of it without me having to censor their choices.

Monday, December 07, 2009

What Happens to My Social Media Accounts When I'm Gone?

And I mean real, real gone, like no longer alive. It's an odd question to ponder in midst of so much holiday cheer, so let me explain:

The other day I was searching around for a contact at a local company on LinkedIn. Among the results I saw the name of a friend of a friend. I shuddered when I saw her name. This woman was listed as the manager of online marketing with a comfortable tenure of over 3.5 years on the job. Only, she's been deceased for about three of those years.

A scene from poltergeist flashes in my head, "They never moved the bodies!" I feel the need to wash my eyeballs. Instead, I Tweet my creepy find. Then, following advice from a Twitter friend I alert the folks at LinkedIn about the situation.

Another Twitter friend mentions the need for social media moms like us to include some instructions in our wills regarding these various accounts. (You're a parent; please tell me you have a will.) To some that might come off as cheeky, but for me and my ilk, social networking is serious business. Literally. Sure, we use social networking for fun and personal support, but we also use it to connect with clients.

Friends, clients, no matter, the fact is I have several blog accounts, a Facebook account, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, a Parentella account, a Big Tent account, not to mention PayPal, as well as various subscriptions and site registrations. Along with these various accounts, I have a range of passwords. NONE OF WHICH ARE WRITTEN DOWN.

You heard me. I'm awesome like that.

The folly of this has occurred to me. Even before this morning, say I slipped and took a tumble, I'd have a passing thought of, "What if I hit my head when I fell and passed out and didn't remember my user names and password combos when I came to?"

Like I said, I'm awesome like that. Anyway, I guess I'm adding another to-do to my list. What about you?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Raising Gifted Children: Dropping Out of School

Maybe we parents of gifted children should not be so surprised when our high ability children drop out of school. After all, many of us have memories of their earliest days of formal education, those days when we packed our bright, eager learners off to school only to have them return unhappy at best, miserable and depressed at worst.

I remember passing off my copy of Genius Denied, a book that rocked my world back in the day, to another preschool mom. She returned in to me in a daze a week later, "Incredible. How did you think to give this to me?" She asked. My son never played with the girls in class, so I didn't have much insight on her child; I did have a hunch though.

It was only after the mom returned the book that I learned of her daughter's morning stomachaches, how the girl dreaded preschool and complained each day on the way to class. (The girl always seemed happy enough when I saw her in class, but that's how many gifted girls roll. Little pleasers.)

Around that time, I heard a lecture by Joan Franklin Smutny, author of several books on gifted education. She mentioned that many highly gifted children drop out of college their freshman year disillusioned by rote classes that seem like an extension of high school rather than the pursuit of knowledge.

As a senior in high school, I recall practically drooling over the college course catalog. So many interesting classes; I couldn't wait to take them. Except as a zoology major, my schedule was largely predetermined and I couldn't fit them into my plan. Ultimately, I switched my major rather than drop out of school, but there was a guy a year or two ahead of me who decided to drop out of UT. Maybe you've heard of him? Michael Dell. Yes, that Dell. He seems to have done okay for himself.

Nobody's dropping out of anything right now at Chez Moldofsky, but when a blog sistah posted about her son not going to college, it got some other friends talking, including mom I adore, Darryle, who told me in a much earlier conversation about her supersmart daughter who took a nontraditional route. (Summary here, but click on her links for the back story). All this chatter reminded me of other stories of budding geniuses who also passed on the expected, traditional route.

It's nice to know mothers with older children who forged their own path and seem to have found their way. I should mention that the sense that those children (now adults) have found their own way typically came after many years of hand wringing and, I'm certain, a pool of tears (on behalf of the mothers, at least).

Along these lines, I'm declaring Secrets of Buccaneer-Scholar the best book of 2009. Well, I should call it the best book I haven't read in 2009; I'm not finished yet. But I love the premise, which is found in the subtitle: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success.

Self-made man, author James Marcus Bach (son of Richard Bach) offers his philosophy on the dust jacket."A Buccaneer-Scholar is anyone whose love of learning is not muzzles or shackled by any institution or authority; whose mind is driven to find is own place in the world." (Yes, I've made it a bit beyond the dust jacket. And yes, Bach's kids are homeschooled.)

It will be easy (albeit expensive) for my boys to take the traditional path. But it's reassuring (falsely so, I hear my cynically husband saying) to know that as long as they love to learn and have the capacity to do so, they will wind up where they are supposed to be.

More musings on parenting gifted children.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Geeking out with Underwriters Labs

Bloggers are urged to be authentic online, right? That's why I turn down offers of freebie review items like $200 jeans, but gleefully accept things like an Underwriters Labs Fire Safety movie featuring the Lion King's Pumbaa and Timon. I'm a geek.

I get excited about UL and Consumer's Union and the like. What can I say?

Underwriters Labs sent me a free review copy of their educational fire safety video. I grabbed my nieces and nephews and gathered them round the TV to watch over Thanksgiving Break. The movie is a far cry from the kind of educational filmstrips (filmstrips!) I was made to watch as a child. It's edutainment at its best.

Even though four out of the five children in my audience were over the prime recommended K-3 viewing age, they all laughed in the right places and learned a lesson or two.

Because it's animated, it's easily dubbed over in many languages. In fact, the DVD they sent me can be viewed in 16 different languages including Danish, Hindi and Kannada. Because this DVD makes fire safety information so accessible (and fun) to so many, I'm going to donate my copy to a local ELL (English Language Learners) co-op set up by the area schools in the hope that other families can benefit from it.

Now, I'm hoping Santa brings me the Bill Nye Smart Science: Electricity DVD that's part of the Safety Smart DVD Series. What can I say? I'm a geek. Also one of my boys stuck tweezers into a electric outlet just a year or two ago when he was old enough to know better, so I'd like that budding scientist to watch the video a time or two.

Take a peek below at a UL-hosted blogger meet-up. PR pro Trish Taylor took special care to find a Chanuka light for my boys (no the little guy is not my son) at the event, which I greatly appreciated. Was the light UL listed? See for yourself.

Also, UL is tweeting @safetyathome, and huzzah, they've hired bloggers, fabulous ones at that, the Rookie Moms, to create content for the Safety at Home site.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Give Thanks, Take Note (of the Holiday)

We're lucky that we have so many family members nearby with whom to share holidays. Usually we try to rotate a bit from year to year, but we're bad about remembering where we were each year.

Luckily, the Jewish New Year usually involves two nights of celebration, one with DH's family, one with mine.
Chanuka is eight nights long, enough time to fit in both families.
There are two Passover seders, so again it's an easy split. Our Jewish forebears had their act together, what can I say?

Thanksgiving usually rotates. Given that my blog is something of a family memory book what better place to record that we spent Thanksgiving, from crudites through dessert with my husband's family in 2009. In 2007, we were with my family, in 2008, AKA the year of the half-cooked turkey, we celebrated with DH's family (odd thing about the turkey as his sister is a fabulous cook).

On Thanksgiving, I often think of a song with this title from Poi Dog Pondering.
(from my fading memory, maybe not in the right order)
"Sometimes I find myself way out of lines from the ones I have drawn.
Wasn't the best of paths, you could attest to that, but I'm keepin' on...
I owe my soul to each fork in the road, each misleading sign.
Cuz even in solitude, no bitter attitude, can dissolve my sweetest find.

Would our paths cross , if every great loss had turned out a gain? Would our paths cross if the pain it had cost of, was pain in vain?

Thanks given, for every wrong move...that made it right. That made it right."

Speaking of which, please send love to my friend Kristina from Momformation (with great gratitude wisdom from her daughter) and my blogfriend Meowmie, who's husband passed away quite suddenly and unexpectedly a couple of months ago.

Love to you and yours.

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

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

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.

  • 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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Coming Home to Roost

Coming home to, that is. Last week, I joined my friend Kim Tracy Prince of House of Prince fame over at Roost is a site that makes it easy to find a home almost anywhere in the US. Site visitors can browse the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) as well as get value added information like local market insights and industry news.

I had used the Roost to sort of window shop (monitor shop?) for houses long before I started writing on the site, so it's nice that things came full circle--or they will once I'm able to purchase a new house.

I'm writing about my wacky misadventures trying to sell @SkokieHouse in my Roost blog, Have I Got a House for You! Kim TP is chronicling her adventures looking for a new home and getting hers on the market in The Diary of a Moving Mom.

This week's post, How Much is my House Worth?, details what happened the day I met with three different Realtors to get competitive pricing information on the Skokie house. In a nutshell, I...well, go read!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Safety Tips and Your Candy Personality

Tips for a happy and safe Halloween- our latest contribution to Johnson and Johnson's Health Channel on YouTube. I received a PR pitch for a video on this topic earlier in the week and I have to say, I think our homespun effort is better. (But I'm biased.)

The great news for bloggers is that JNJ Health purchases these videos for use on their site. (I think I may have also signed over my firstborn grandchild; I'm not great at reading the fine print on contracts.) I'll share info soon on how you can do this, too.

And click through to learn more your Candy Personality.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blogger Outreach in Chicago

Sure, just a couple of weeks ago I was complaining about the lack of events, and now I'm headed to my third one in a week.

Last week at The Pampered Chef headquarters, they each attendee one of their newly redesigned cookie presses. Did someone say cookie? Within 24 hours, I was baking with my son. Check out our results and see the press in action.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yesterday I was a Pampered Chef

Read about this Chicago foodie fun event over on my food blog, Scrambled CAKE.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jewlicious: Shmooze. Nosh. Call your Mother.

Yiddeshe Mamas, Represent!

I'm pleased to announce Jewlicious 2010: The Beauty of Guilt.

Throughout the conference, those lovely ladies from Parentopia, prime issuers of absolution, will help us assess our priorities and deliver us from guilt due to:

  • Blogging too much
  • Not blogging enough
  • Not commenting enough
  • Ignoring the family in order to keep up with Twitter/Facebook/Whrrl/Google reader
  • Spending more time reviewing products than our children's homework
In addition to programming, shmoozing and spa treatments, another key component of Jewelicious is our devotion to the art of the Nosh.

Featured speakers in this track include David Sax of the new book, Save the Deli. After noshing on everything from chopped liver to knishes, Jennifer Perillo, an Italian-Catholic shiksa daughter-in-law who puts us to shame with her fabulous holiday spreads, will teach us to look at Jewish soul food in a new light.

But wait, there's more!

Sessions you won't want to miss include:

Got Kvetch? There's an App for That! Jessica Gottlieb and Jami Becker

How to Raise a Mensch The mother of Peter Shankman

Twiteleh and Other Hot New Social Media Tools Techmama

Keeping up with the Goldbergs: 2010's Hottest Tchotkes PopJudaica

You Want I Should Write about that on My Blog? How to Approach PR Kim Moldofsky

Bi-cultural in the Boonies Naomi Shapiro and Aliza Sherman

Buy Kosher in the Boonies The Angel Forever

It's Never Too Late: Adult Bat Mitzvah Marketing Mommy

JDate Success! Interactive Amy

So, you want to be Jewish... Leah Jones

A Skinned Knee? Meh, It's a Blessing
Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.

Not Tonight Dear, I Have a Headache Paula Kamen

Mommybloggers, Go Forth and Make Money Ayelet Waldman

Jewlicious will include a kick-ass tzeddekah project, to boot.

And what's a gathering of powerful blogging mamas without a bit of swag? Keep this on the QT, but rumor has it our group will be the first to bring home up the new "Tefillin Barbie!"

There are so many other surprises in store! Ladies, this conference will be beyond.

Of course, Jewlicious is open to all.

Well, it would be if it were real.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Party on with Nancy Loo

Who needed Blog World Expo? Many of Chicago's key social media players were partying it up in our hometown last weekend courtesy of Chicago newscaster Nancy Loo as we gathered to celebrate her new blog.

Props for a great event also go to: Chicago favorite Garrett popcorn (nom nom), Ai sushi (yum!) Juvenesse Spa (aaaaaaah), and Steaz (woot! my newest client), as well as Duong Sheahan and MJ Tam.

I had a wonderful time hanging out with with Amy Ravit Korin and Nicole G. Simonds and my ride sponsor by Karen Kring, in addition to new acquaintances such as Alecia Dantico, and Sue Markgraf.

Oh, and you may recall last week's plea for more Chicago-based events? The blogging gods heard me and I've now got a full dance card of parties, brand events, press meetings and the like. That was easy, even if I am hosting two of the events. Now, I just have to figure out how to call attention to my talented, but geographically challenged, friends.

Next up on my request list--more public speaking opportunities. Do you hear me, Internets? Take a peek at my updated About section and let's talk about where I can talk.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Parenting Gifted Children: Chicago Area Parent Talks

Two exciting events for parents of gifted children are taking place in the Chicago area.

I am hosting the first one Tuesday night, an evening with Michele Kane, Ed.D., mother, teacher*, counselor**, advocate and president-elect of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children.

Michele will share tips on raising emotionally intense children and advocating for those children at school. She is a treasure trove of information and resources and I'm delighted and incredibly thankful that she volunteered her time for this talk.

*She also has a Master's Degree in Educational Administration
**and Master's Degree in Counseling and Guidance

I plan to livetweet the talk under the hashtags #mkane #gifted

I asked my tweeps if they had any questions and here's what came in:

JeanneBernish asked, "How best to educate the educators and admins on best practices for teaching/I.D. #gifted"
and "and how best to encourage the training to percolate down through a PS hierarchy?"
and "finally, how to empower our G/T specialists within their schools to help serve #gifted pop"
(Keep in mind Twitter's 140 character limit; I can see what she's getting at.)

TeachAGiftedKid said, "I would to know how to educate all the parties involved with our gifted too."

If you have questions, leave them below in the comments and I will pass them along to Michele. See this blog next week for answers.

Event number two is The Challenge of Parenting an Artistically Talented Child
by Andy Mahoney at Science and Arts Academy in Des Plaines
Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 7:00 pm
There is no charge for this lecture, but donations will go to benefit the art department of SAA.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blogalicious Was Swagalicious, So What's The Problem?

I just flew back from Atlanta and are my arms tired. Ba-dum-bum.

Seriously, the MamaLaw ladies, put on a fabulous conference. The speakers were great; I picked up tips and tricks at every session I attended, and the conference atmosphere was thick with support.

Once I got past feeling intimidated by the wealth of knowledge and success that surrounded me, I was able to relax and enjoy. And there was plenty of enjoyment to be had. Liz Henry has an excellent recap over at BlogHer, along with links to the reflections of several other attendees.

The swag was flowing at Blogalicious, thanks in part to my sponsor (and client) ConAgra Foods and their super crunchy Alexia chips. Many other generous sponsors filled swag bags, too. I didn't see any shoving or fighting to get to the bags which were offered at every party and even some meals.

And yet.... I have concerns.

That's why I'm creating Kim's Commandments O' Swag. I'll start with a few of my own guidelines and I'd love for you to add your thoughts.

Be mindful of those who traveled from afar and don't want to pay for checked luggage. In other words, just because attendees appreciate your generous offer of three, 18-ounce bottles of nicely scented lotion doesn't mean they're eager to fill up their suitcases with your product and pay a $20 fee to check their luggage to bring it home. Consider offering coupons to those who want to travel light.

Don't hand out swag during the final hours of the conference.
Again, this largely applies to out-of-towners, but keep in mind that many attendees don't make it to the closing session and those who do may already be packed and checked out of their rooms.

Ask conference organizers to consider instituting a recycling system.
It seems like the last thing a sponsor wants it to see a recycling table full of their product, but I'd say the last thing they want to see if their product in a garbage can. Not every item is going to be right for every attendee, but you know what they say about one woman's trash being another woman's treasure.

At Blogalicious, I gave my hair care products to a new blogfriend who was more likely to appreciate them. She was happy to get the extra and I was happy the sponsor samples did not go to waste.

At BlogHer08 the Zwaggle folks operated an awesome swap room where bloggers left what they didn't want and were free to take what they did. Zwaggle folks worked to find homes for whatever product was left over.

Connecting with a local woman's shelter is another option.

I'm sure the thought of this leaves some potential sponsors cringing, but if they saw the three bags full of appreciated, but unwanted, items left behind by my roommate and I (multiply that by a few dozen or a few hundred other attendees), they might reconsider.

I don't mean to imply that this issue is unique to Blogalicious. It's not. It's pervasive issue, though I probably didn't notice it at my first blog conference because it was all so new and exciting. Free stuff!

I also don't mean to insinuate that sponsors should just stay home. This is not at all the case! Sponsors are great. Swag is exciting. It's fun. It's a great way to gain exposure for products. It's just that every bit of swag is not going to be a great fit for every conference attendee.

How does a sponsor or a blogger maximize "fit" and minimizing landfill waste?

How can we make this delightfully swaggy process more efficient?

More on marketing to moms.

Powered by Whrrl

Monday, October 12, 2009

Marketing to Moms: Won't You Please Come to Chicago

I've previously mentioned that blogging and social media have opened up my world. As a result I now have friends (or "friends" as my husband likes to say) all over the country. And I've noticed a few things about my peeps in New York City- they are always headed somewhere and doing something.

Sure, NYC is the city that never sleeps, but it's more than the busy, hip lifestyles of my friends. NYC is a marketing favorite. Not a week goes by that my bloggy friends aren't off to one brand event or another.

What gives? Chicago is toddlin' town, sweet home to a wonderful community of blogging mamas and other social media types. The city is home to many fabulous PR agencies (if only their branch offices) and many large brands.

When it comes to brands, why do Second City mamas play second fiddle to our NYC brethren?

I welcome your thoughts. And if you represent a brand and want to reach a savvy, but grounded and highly connected Midwestern crowd, drop me a note and I'll get your people in touch with my people.

I don't mean to distract you, but I couldn't resist including this clip from the Daily Show, "Chicago Nope," regarding the Olympic Committee's announcement of Rio as host of the 2016 Olympic Games. Comment first, then watch this hilarious clip.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Chicago Nope
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Edited to add: Despite strong representation from my Windy City peeps, even the Blogalicious crew passed us over for next year. Admittedly cold rainy weather is easily trumped by wifi on the beach--the conference will take place in Miami.

More musings on marketing to moms who blog.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I'm leaving on a jet plane

And heading to Atlanta for

Blogalicious Site Badge

You may recall that earlier this year, I had an article up at MediaPost Engage:Moms on increasing diversity at brand sponsored blogger retreats. As a result, I am delighted to be part of the panel, Marketing to Women of Color: The Real Deal, alongside seasoned PR pros and bloggers.

One of my clients, ConAgra Foods, is covering my expenses. They are providing a few snacks for the swag bag, as well. I don't want to ruin the surprise, but I know the munchy crunchy products were a big hit in my house.

In addition to my presentation, I'm excited to see old friends and make new ones. BlogHer was such a busy rush; I expect this smaller conference to have a calmer, more intimate feel. I'm looking forward to it!

Follow along on Twitter #Blogalicious09.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

When Do You Give a Kid a Cell Phone?

I had the opportunity to review a Kajeet cell phone just over two years ago. At the time, I felt my nine-year-old son was a bit young for his own phone, but I thought it might make for an interesting experiment.

Now a strapping 11-year-old with a growing sense of independence and increasingly busy schedule, I think it's time to activate the phone for reals. I mentioned this to DH, who responded by asking if junior high kids typically have cell phones. And you thought I lived in a cave.

Yes, many (most or all if you ask my son) junior high students have cell phones.

If my boy is going to be at school after hours working on projects or going places with his friends (without me!) I want him to be able to reach me.

I need to spend time over at the Kajeet site to see what's changed, but a quick trip to my friend Stacey's blog, Tree, Root and Twig, indicates it operates much the way it did two years ago. That is, we can start the service and cancel at any time without messy contractual obligations. We can set time limits and budgets on phone calls and texting.

Actually, Stacey tweeted about the need to take the phone away from her text-obsessed teen daughter the other night, which motivated me to look into this. I think the downloadable games are more likely to be my son's downfall.

Though I'm not pleased about adding extra expenses to our budget (did I mention the free oil change I had where I was informed my car needed $600 of repairs? We had this confirmed by a second source which offered a *slightly* less expensive repair option. Sigh.), I think the time is right.

And when I say the time is right now, I mean I hope to be organized enough to get this going by Halloween because he's hoping to go trick-or-treating sans adult.*

*That makes me nervous, but I think we started going on our own by 4th grade back in the day.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Raising Gifted Children: School for Disruptive Students

Earlier this week I came across a commentary piece in the Chicago Sun-Times which got me thinking. Esther J. Cepeda's article, "School for disruptive students might work," voices concerns which I've tossed around in my mind for a while now.

Reflecting on a former student who behaved in her classroom, but not for other teachers, Cepeda writes, "...I do know the destructive impact he had on classmates outside of my algebra lessons: mounds of lost instruction time, undermining of other students' respect for their teachers; some diluted bullying, annoying those who wanted to learn."

She wonders if putting disruptive students into special classrooms with teachers trained to "reach" them would help.

As the mother of a child who functions best in a structured and calm setting, I've been frustrated and disappointed to find how few teachers provide such an environment. I understand that some kids have the need to get up now and then and yet others lack the typical amount of self-control (and that in my middle class suburb I dare say most of these kids have IEPs), I just wish those kids didn't meet their needs at the expense of my son's needs.

Can I get my boy an IEP that states his need for a calm structured environment? Oh, right.

At any rate, as Cepeda ponders the efficiency of removing disruptive students from the class, she wonders if such special classes for disruptive students would merely turn into a dumping ground.

Still, she writes that perhaps that concern, "...should be set aside to investigate the possibility that such a program could recoup thousands of hours of instruction time in mainstream classrooms."

I can't help but think that part of the issue is our nation priority focused on raising the bottom, rather than helping all children learn and grow academically. And I think that Cepeda's dumping ground fears are valid.

Still, the thought of my boys being in classrooms where learning, rather than classroom management, is the focus is quite appealing.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

When product reviews yield unexpected results

Hey, the new Shark cleaning products arrived!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Marketing to Moms: Social Media Moms for Hire

Having recently attended a blogger event that fell flat at times, I am keenly aware of the degree to which having a momblogger on staff can help boost brand efforts to a higher level.

The momspace can be tricky- it's good to have a tour guide, a Social Media Mom, by your side to help you navigate. The few hundred or even few thousand dollars it may cost to hire that experienced mom is well worth it.

I wrote about this yesterday over at MediaPost's Engage:Mom column. The article, Social Media Moms: A Worthwhile Investment, includes useful insights from bloggers Meagan Francis and Audrey McClelland.

In related news, as I write this, there's a #NestleFamily blogger retreat taking place. If you follow any moms on Twitter, you've likely caught wind of the fact that some moms are calling out Nestle for their infant formula marketing practices and are criticizing bloggers who chose to participate in the retreat. (And yet others are using the hashtag to inform women who have fed their babies formula that they have ruined them. Nice.).

It's the largest case of Hashtag Hijack I've ever seen.

One tweet in a flurry of exchanges that caught my eye was from Liz Gumbinner of Mom-101. She said, "The issue is that marketers don't know what they want the bloggers to be. Press? Consultants? Evangelists? Enlightened consumers?"

What is the role of bloggers on a retreat? There's great discussion on this over at Christine Koh's personal blog, Pop Discourse. Christine, AKA @BostonMamas, wrote about why she chose not to attend the Nestle retreat and Meagan Francis chimed in with a great comment and others shared insights, as well.

Go read. Comment. Tweet. Share your thoughts.

Edited to add this link to Amy from SelfishMom's post on When a Hashtag Gets Hijacked.

More on marketing to moms who blog.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NYC Adventures

My trip to New York City was a blast! I always thought I'd hate the city, but now I cant' wait for an excuse to go back (cough *BlogHer 10*). I had a great time hanging out with old friends and meeting many new ones.

I met up with Ilina from Dirt and Noise, Carmen from Mom to the Screaming Masses, Jenn From Frugal Upstate and we enjoyed a fun, if touristy, dinner at Ellen's Stardust Diner (singing waiters!) then we walked about 100 blocks through Times Square to the LUSH store and headed to a sponsored meet and greet.

I met up with BlogHer friend Jennifer Perillo from In Jennie's Kitchen and couldn't hear more than the conversations going on to my immediate right or left in the dark noisy room. That said, when one of my companions got up to make a call, I called Drew from Cook Like Your Grandmother over and we chatted.

Jennifer, Ilina, Drew and I headed to Lindy's for late night dessert. I only had 24 hours in NYC, when else was I going to try to the local cheesecake? Despite a citywide banana shortage, a good time was had by all, including Naomi from Superdumb Supervillain, who joined us after her late arrival to the hotel.

Naomi, Drew and I wandered around Times Square, but having already had my walkabout, I headed back to the hotel on my own. Halfway there, though, I stopped, enthralled by street performers near the half-price ticket place. I finally headed back to my hotel when it started to drizzle and I feared a street fight would break out to due a crazy or drunk (or perhaps mentally ill and drunk) woman. Um, make that many drunk and/or mentally ill people gathered in a small space.

At any rate, it was midnight, raining and I was heading to my hotel alone. I was only two blocks from my hotel when I stopped to watch the street action. But when I looked down the street to where I thought the hotel would be (have I mentioned my ability to get lost in a paper bag?), I didn't see it.

I almost freaked out seeing as I was in New York City, alone after midnight in the rain, (which was really more of light drizzle).

Also, knowing all too well my poor sense of direction and how easy it is to get lost in NYC, DH warned me not to go out alone.

So anyway, my heart was pounding as I pondered calling my husband and telling him, "Hi. I'm alone in NYC at midnight in the rain. If I tell you what intersection I'm at will you MapQuest me back to my hotel?"

But at the same time, I knew the hotel was nearby. I'm not much on street names, but I know my landmarks. I knew I was down the block from the the giant M&M sign. Still, walking from the brightly lit Times Square onto a darker side street concerned me. Once I did though, I saw my problem. Construction scaffolding was blocking the Sheraton sign. Phew!

I made it back to the hotel safely. Then adrenaline still pumping through my veins, I checked email and signed onto Twitter where I chatted with Jennifer (as in the woman I shared dessert with) and Kim Tracy Prince, who has living it up in Hawaii.

The next morning Carmen, Jenn and two later arrivals, Jendi from Simple Vlogging Tips and Jen from My Kitchen Addiction and I headed to the Today Show bright and early. Make that early, but not bright--the sun wasn't even out when we left the hotel!

I left before I got my Today Show screen time because I needed to change and walk over to the event hotel. However, I did get screen time of a different sort of the Today Show Blog (I'm the fourth one down).

As far as the products I learned about, they were interesting and I'll write about them when I receive review samples. I hope it's soon because Google is already sending people looking for product information to my blog based on my introductory Ninja post. In other words, I'm number one! (Though need another lesson in screen shots. This looks like crap. Help?)

Oh, and of course, other highlights included meeting (however quickly) Nikki from Blasian Baby Notes and Kimberly from Mom in the City and getting a quick overview of the Manhattan skyline from Liz at Mom101.

Too tired to read? See my trip in pictures!

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