Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Hi-tech Passover

Robots celebrating the festival of freedom? Perhaps it's only funny in that ironic sense because our robotic slaves have yet to overthrow their human creators/captors.

This video was originally sent to me by one of my b'nai mitzvah classmates.

Monday, March 29, 2010

SYS: Save Your Stuff

The other day, I set about to update some links in my About Kim section only to find that many of my old Chicago Parent pieces are no longer available on line.


I guess it's a good thing I saved those old hard copies, which are likely now yellow and brittle with age. I mean, we're talking articles from back in 2006!

Newbie and aspiring writers, take note; do not underestimate the value of a screenshot. Take shots of your articles, guests posts and anything else you want to keep around. How do you take a screenshot? Let me help you.

MomImpact Updates: A New Client

I'm pleased to announce that, wait a minute, head over to MomImpact for the big news!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nancy Pelosi, Health Care Reform and Me, or Don't Bother Mommy, She's Busy Reforming Health Care in America

Last Tuesday evening I was officially invited out to Washington, DC to be part of a press conference on health care reform with Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership. I was honored and humbled to speak on behalf of millions of American families like mine who are paying more and more for monthly coverage (if they can even afford it) and yet receive fewer and fewer benefits.

So Tuesday was the invite, Wednesday I was on a plane to DC thanks to the folks at Consumers Union, and at noon on Thursday March 18, 2010 I was in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office, ready to head to the press conference. Yikes!

Knowing that a vote on the health care bill was just days away, the press corps showed up in full. The press room was packed, there were something like 150 reporters and cameramen crammed into the room.

I stood behind Speaker Pelosi as she made the opening remarks, certain that anyone tuned into C-Span at that moment could see my heart beating out of my chest!

Meg, one of my "handlers" (read: hand-holders) at Consumers Union, and her team had prepared us for this moment, but, wow. She reminded me that I was there to share my story. She advised me to think of my statement like a blog post.

Easy peasy. Writing a blog post is simple. Just me, my thoughts and the computer. But reading a blog post, to a live audience, and not just any live audience, but one fully outfitted with still cameras, video cameras, notebooks and netbooks who are by the way transmitting, transcribing and publishing in real time? Eep.

But I did it. And so did Carolyn, Ed and Stella, the other "real people" brought in to share their stories as a cancer survivor, small business owner and senior citizen, respectively.

And Speaker Pelosi and the House leadership did it, too. We delivered health care reform to the American people. My thanks goes out to all of the people who worked hard to make this happen. I was honored to be a part of this effort.

My thanks also goes out to fab mamas Joanne at PunditMom and Erin of Queen of Spain and everyone else who sent me messages of support and encouragement during my whirlwind trip to DC.

Read my speech on Speaker Pelosi's blog. I'm the second photo down.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Future Food

I thought I'd return from Capitol Hill and have nothing more exciting on my schedule than Laundry Hill, but I was delightfully wrong. Last night DH and I headed to Moto for the premiere of Planet Green's new show, Future Food. Read all about it over at Scrambled CAKE, my food blog.

I'm off to meet with the wonderful women of Mom From Another Country.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Speechless after my speech on Capitol Hill

The tiny head sticking out to Speaker Pelosi's right belongs to me. It's an odd perspective as she's rather petite. I mean, so am I, but I'm not that short.

What a day! The Consumer's Union folks did a great job of prepping us for this big event. I'll be back later with a Whrrl story, including a shot from the Speaker's balcony at the capitol.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm Just a Mom with a Blog

I'm just a mom. With a blog. I'm cool if that makes me a mommyblogger, though I prefer the term momblogger as it's been ages since my boys called me mommy.

I started blogging in 2005. Back then I wrote, I mean really wrote, long posts that I thought might get me "noticed" and jump start a career as a freelance writer. I read and commented on a handful of blogs. Back then, it seemed like there were only a handful of blogs.

It wasn't until I attended BlogHer07 that I really understood blogs as part of a larger conversation, blogs as community. It wasn't until my first BlogHer that I understood the larger impact, the difference we can make when we share our stories out loud online.

Our stories are not always neat, pretty or pleasing, but they are real. At least, the best ones are. That's what I tell these fledgling bloggers, at any rate.

As I got more involved in the larger community and made more connections, I wound up in unexpected place (hello, Club Med?).

Which brings me to this surprising news, the reason I almost fainted at the Housewares Show:

I am writing from a lovely hotel room in downtown Washington, DC. I was brought here by Consumers Union* because tomorrow I will (gulp) be speaking at a press event with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the topic of health care reform.

This is what a mommyblogger can do; this is the power of sharing your story out loud, online.

Me, Speaker Pelosi, health care reform for Americans. Oh. My. Even as I see the words appear on my screen, I have a hard time believing this is real and true.

I've got work to finish up tonight and a big, if not surreal, day ahead tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Thanks to Amy and MJ for connecting me with the CU folks back in early 2008.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why I Nearly Fainted at the Housewares Show

The Housewares Show had just about every gadget and gizmo one can imagine.
A long-handled electrostatic duster for your car's dashboard? Check.
Something to help you roll your own sushi? Got it.
A hot dog stuffer? Yep, though I didn't ask for a demo or review sample.

In addition to perusing miles of the latest housewares, I got a great treat in the form of lunching with the famous Val (whose blog in transition at the moment and who you may recognize from EA Sports Active commercials). And she's a MomImpact member--woot!

During lunch I got a call, which I ignored. Little did I realize I missed one of the most important calls of my life. Amidst the din of a crowd of thousands I was asked a question I never expected to be asked. I had been chosen for something big and important. Me? I'm just a mom who blogs.

More on that later, it still feels very surreal. For now, I leave you with:

I have a second Whrrl story with new and different items over at Scrambled CAKE, my food blog. I'll be sharing more product highlights over there in the coming weeks.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Marketing to Mommy Bloggers in the New York Times

The mommybloggers are once again fodder for America's newspaper of record, but don't look in the business section to read the latest take on online moms because apparently we belong in the style section. *Sigh*

I'm spending the day at the International Housewares Association show, so I'm directing you toward the commentary of my blog sistahs. See what these fine entrepreneurial mamas have to say about the New York Times piece.

Liz Gumbinner
Kelby Carr
Jessica Gottlieb
Angela England
Edited to add: I love Ciaran Blumenfeld's spin on the piece. She gives voice to some of the thoughts that have been swirling in my head since I read the article and Liz's post.

Edited 3/15 to add:
And about that much ballyhooed graphic that accompanied the piece? 5-10 years ago those moms in the image would have been talking on their cell phones. 20-30 years ago those moms would have been puttering around their homes and yards on cordless phones. 40-60 year ago those moms would have been tied to their kitchens or living rooms because their were no cordless telephones. (Gah! Can you imagine?)

I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers her mom on the phone for what seemed like hours each day talking to friends, planning PTA or school board events and generally ignoring my pleas to get off the phone and watch me cartwheel across the family room for the 38th time today.

Are today's social media moms that different? Except that our conversations are global. Oh yeah, and some of us are making money from our efforts.

Thanks to my ConAgra peep Gena Mazzeo for pointing the article out early Saturday morning.

Click through to read a selection of my most popular posts on marketing to mombloggers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Get Your Geek On in 2010: Pi Day

It's almost Pi Day (3/14) and it's time to par-tay!

When my boys attended the private school school gifted children, Pi Day was da bomb, truly a cause for celebration. Alas, at public school it's just another excuse for shoving the nerds in their lockers.

No matter, this year Pi Day falls on a weekend. I asked my Twitter peeps for celebration tips and here's what they told me.

Amy from Selfish Mom suggests making a pie and having your family calculate the circumference (for those who have been out of school for too long, it's Pi x Diameter).

Luann from Training For Fun knows how to get her geek on; she is a rocket scientist! She suggests a contest to see who has the most digits of Pi memorized. (Or maybe she was issuing me a personal challenge?)

ThinkGeek says break out the Einstein wigs! Which, oddly they don't sell. They do have other totally cool Pi Day items; click for deets.

Christine from Boston Mamas thinks maybe Pi cookies are the way to go.

And Rachel from Hounds in the Kitchen is, not surprisingly, rockin' it old skool and is going full throttle not just posting a pie recipe, but hosting a Pi Day blog carnival, so others can share their celebratory recipes, too.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Bat Mitzvah Quote of the Month

You may know that I'm working my way toward my (adult) bat mitzvah.

In recent weeks my classmates and I have been reading and discussing our Torah portion Numbers, ch. 9-20 and are starting to work on our dvars (divrei torah, technically), a talk relating to our section, or parsha, or Torah. The idea of a dvar is to go beyond retelling the story into linking the ancient text to modern life.

But it's not like writing a blog post, at least not my kind of blog post. In addition to discussing the portion as a class and reflecting on it individually, we are reading Torah commentary to see what the rabbis, sages and scholars of yore had to say about our parsha.

I came across this quote reading commentary about the section involving the Israelites, tired of wandering the desert* with Moses, complaining to Moses about their lot in life. Some of the sages explained the Israelites were tired, confused, and frightened, hence the complaining (makes sense to me), other commentators explained this as a crisis of faith, not trusting God to see them through. But a handful of modern commentators had a different take on this. They supposed that the Israelites were bored- all their basic needs were met, what with manna from heaven and whatnot, and they had bigger aspirations that they were not able to meet.

That is the context of the following quote. When we feel that sense of boredom, or ennui, maybe it's telling us something.

Bad will be the day for human beings when they become absolutely content with the life that they are living, with the thoughts that they are thinking, with the deeds that they are doing; when there is not forever beating at the doors of their souls with some great desire to do something larger, which they know they were meant and made to do because they are still, in spite of it all, the Children of God.
Philip Brooks

*Thanks to Neilochka for pointing out my Freudian slip of a typo in the original version of this post.

Monday, March 08, 2010

International Housewares Show

I'm going to the Housewares Show next week. It's every bit as intriguing as walking into the fabled Emerald City of Oz. As a local, I've long heard about this show and its many delights, but was always told it was only for industry insiders. Until this year. Bloggers are in da house!

I'm going thanks to Dorian Dickinson of SotaVenture, with whom I'm also working on an exciting soon-to-be-announced MomImpact project.

There will be a few other Chicago area bloggers at the show as well as a group of moms from around the country sponsored by the Hoover folks. Well, they must know I already have a vacuum I like (though honestly my vacuum of choice these days is the Navigator I got from the Shark folks I met last fall in NYC). Or maybe they know I'm also set to meet with the folks who make the Rolls Royce of vacuum cleaners later this month. And though I want to scream, "What is it with vacuum cleaner companies reaching out to moms?!" I stop short because, even though I have the world's most helpful husband, he rarely touches the vacuum cleaner.

The Housewares Show is about more than kitchen gadgets (and apparently there's a big emphasis on things like color trends--for 2011. Who knew?), but I have to say I'm excited to see the kitchen appliances and gadgets (note to self: we need a new bread machine). This I why I'm going to read this Gaper's Block piece several times over before I hit the ginourmous show floor (additional note to self: don't be distracted by shiny objects, at least not too many of them).

You can follow along on Twitter under the hashtag #housewares. A couple of brands from the show have reached out to me via Twitter, which I appreciate, but it's interesting to note that at this point, most of the #housewares chatter is coming from me and the other mombloggers. I'm not much for color trends, but I can tell you that by the 2011 Housewares Show, more brands will be tapped into the the power of social media moms.

Do you have a houseware trend prediction for me to test out at the show?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

MomImpact Fun

Better late than never, here's a glimpse at some of the MomImpact fun at the Mom2.0 Summit.

I asked my clients if they'd be willing to share a few goodies with MomImpact members who I'd see at the conference and they stepped up. Big Time.

Take a peek!

It's never to late too join in at www.MomImpact.com.
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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Raising Gifted Children: The R-word and the N-word

I learned from new blog friend (and MomImpact member--w00t!) Ellen that today is the day to stop using the r-word (r-e-t-a-r-d-e-d). That reminded me a column I wrote in defense of quirky gifted children long ago on another blog.

{Pardon me while I wipe off the dust.}

I am normally one of those people who is so politically correct that she’s a bore. Don’t tell me a racist joke or one that makes fun of gays. Not funny. And don’t bother including a person’s the religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation in a story unless it’s somehow pertinent to the outcome. Just. Don’t.

However, if we are going to remove the R-word from the vernacular, I ask that we also please severely limit use of the N-word: nerd. And also the G-word: Geek.

These terms- nerd and geek- are often used to suggest bookish, high IQ types with their head in the clouds, no sense of fashion and just as few social skills. Why do we permit this stereotype?

I recall one mom writing that her child’s school had a “dress like a nerd day” during spirit week. Can you image the instant uproar if the school had suggested dress like a "retard" day? Or how about dress like a Jew day? What about dress like a butch lesbian day? I can’t imagine the administration would have let any of those fly. But, you know, go ahead and make fun of those gifted kids. They’re smart. They’ll get over it.

Or maybe as Candace noted in a comment on my recent post, maybe they’ll won't. They will drop out of school or do Lord knows what self-destructive acts. I’ve heard it said that gifted teenagers may not have a higher than normal suicide attempt rate, but evidence suggests that their “success” rate may be higher than the average population. {shudder}

So let's do away with the R-word, but let’s balance that out and do the same thing with the N- and G-words used to stereotypes kids on the other end of the learning spectrum.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Parenting Gifted Children: Must-see TV, Discovery Channel's LIFE Series

Our family watches very little TV, and when my boys were young, they watched almost none. It helped that we didn't have cable, or any TV reception for the (ironically very large) screen in our basement rec room. As a toddler, one of my boys expressed a desire for a TV like grandma's, that "had channels." Our "channels" were the VCR and DVD player, which meant viewing content was carefully curated.

In some ways, that doesn't matter now. My boys, now 9 and 11, will watch Cartoon Network until I see their brains melting out their ears. In other ways, it was a good thing. They are both avid and eager readers, who are just as happy watching educational shows on Discovery Channel, History Channel, Travel Channel or Food Network as they are with CN's brain candy. Well, almost as happy.

Sometimes the "idiot box" can be quite smart. Discovery Channel's upcoming 11 part-series, LIFE, is one of those times. I received a preview of the Reptiles and Amphibians episode, and, wow. Just, wow. The cinematography is stunning. The episode I previewed features amazing camera work, amazing creatures, and amazing moments. Praise God!

Kidding. Sort of. You know I'm not the "praise God" type and I'm definitely not a creationist, but this tiny glimpse into the variety of life on our planet brought about by natural selection is mind-boggling.

I should note that in college I was a wannabe evolutionary biologist of sorts, taking many classes on animal behavior and mating systems. I love this stuff!

Speaking of animal mating systems. There are few scenes of an, ahem, delicate nature in the Reptile episode. The close-up snake sex was a bit unexpected, and the chameleon scene in the desert. OMG!

Really, the poor girly chameleon is essentially wandering the desert, gets raped and is left to wander the vast wasteland again, pregnant. That sequence makes me feel despondent. I'm fighting an existential crisis as I write about it. My son's words as a five-year-old haunting me, "I don't understand. Why are we even in this life?" Why, indeed?

But mostly, the episode left me with a sense of wonder about our world.

I feel like I could easily watch an entire hour-long show on any one of the many animals highlighted in this one episode. Indeed, I predict the shortcoming of the series will be that it covers so much ground so quickly--breadth instead of depth.

However, the website offers glimpses beyond what will show up on your TV screen. Take a look behind the scenes, play some games, and of course, there's an entire Internet full of information, should you be inspired to learn more after watching the show.

LIFE premieres March 21 at 8 PM EST. I can't wait!

Disclosure: I received the LIFE media kit courtesy of my Gayle, who knows I like to get my geek on. She had no idea about my past flirtation with evolutionary biology, but next time we are together I'm going to regale her with stories of masturbating monkeys and lesbian lizards (which were shockingly not featured in this episode).