Monthly Archives: November 2008

A Special Saturday Odds and Ends

Just didn’t get around to blogging yesterday, so for this week, “Friday odds and ends” is being replaced by “Saturday odds and ends”.

1) At least my blog didn’t make it onto this list: http://tech.msn.com/products/slideshow.aspx?cp-documentid=13523062

2) Because nothing says “I love you”, like a gift with the word “bomb” in it: http://lifehacker.com/5099743/make-your-own-bath-bombs

3) My favorite “Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious” headline of the day…”Wal-mart death preventable, union says.” Uh, yeah, if only all those people hadn’t rushed the store…

4) There is nothing funny about this entry.  But I was so moved by looking at the Tribune coverage remembering the 50th anniversary (today) of the Our Lady of the Angels School fire which killed 92 children and 3 nuns. There were no fire escapes from the second floor, and most of the children who survived jumped from the windows: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-081120-angels-fire-photogallery,0,5934226.photogallery

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And now for a word of thanks

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I love it because it’s the only “religious” holiday we have that isn’t specific to one religion…it unites rather than divides us.  (I also happen to like it because it kicks off the holiday season, which is my second-favorite time of year, after October…I know, it’s kind of random.)

So here’s my partial list of things I’m grateful for this year:

1. I was lucky enough to be born in the U.S., which isn’t perfect, but is better than anywhere else, and which (I believe) is going to start getting better come January 20.

2. We have three healthy, happy, well-adjusted, funny, delightful children who I love to hang out with, and you can’t ask for any more than that.

3. I am healthy, and able to run, which I don’t like while I’m doing it but love the feeling after I’m done (kind of like beating your head against a wall).

5. We have many wonderful, wonderful friends who add joy and depth to our lives, and who will help us if we need it and we ask.

6. Our cute  house is plenty big enough, and the roof doesn’t appear to leak anymore.

7. We live on a block with wonderful neighbors who know and care for each other, and who love to have fun together.

8. I have a job that I find highly rewarding, I work with smart, talented, caring people who I enjoy being with every day, my job is flexible enough that I don’t have to be there at 8:30 9:00 on the dot every day, and I’m in an industry that is relatively recession-resistant (so far, at least.)

9. I was raised in a loving, supportive family by parents who taught me to see the humor in everyday life, and who lived to see, enjoy and impart wisdom to their grandchildren.  (I had my dad for almost 90 years and I still have my mom.)

10. I am married to a wonderful, sweet, kind, caring man, who I love a lot.

11. The kids’ room is done as of today (well, done enough so they can move back into it.) No more dorm room!

12. I married into a wonderful family whose kindness and generosity I will never be able to repay.

13. I got an excellent education (high school social studies notwithstanding).

14. I was raised in a small town full of wonderful, caring people, including a lot of my relatives (with some characters thrown in for good measure) and I had an amazing “second mom” named Marian who thought that I hung the moon.

15. I get to cook Thanksgiving dinner in my brand-new kitchen!

As I said, you can’t ask for any more than that. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

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8 things I never thought I’d say

Sometimes I hear myself saying things that I never imagined would come out of my mouth.  Here are some of my favorites:

1) “If I hear any more fighting over the (INSERT NAME OF TOY HERE), it’s going to toy jail.” –  For the first 10 years of parenthood, I had only one child.  So this whole sibling rivalry thing is still new to me.  And still baffling. The concept of “fairness” has taken on a whole new dimension.  Toy jail is one of my favorite concepts. It’s located on top of the refrigerator, and it’s where toys go to pay for the sins of their owners. Depending on the crime, the sentence can be LOOOONNNGGG.  The Lego building set has been in toy jail for a week and a half.

2) “You get what you get and you don’t complain about it.” – This is usually in response to David (age 5) crying because I gave him the “wrong” cereal bowl, or because Margaret (age 2) got peach yogurt and David got blueberry, or because one of them perceives that the other got a bigger piece of brownie more grapes.

3) “I can’t understand you when you whine.” – This works like a charm for our kids.  I wish I had heard of this phrase about three years earlier than I did.

4) “Stop tormenting your brother.” – I never in a million years thought I would say this to Emma, as she’s ten years older than David.  Doesn’t matter. He’s a little brother.  By definition, she has to torment him.

5) “It’s okay to cry, but no one wants to hear you, so you’re going to have to go in the other room by yourself.” – I used this one tonight when David kept screaming at the top of his lungs because I gave him the wrong plate for his eggs and toast.

6) “If you get out of bed one more time, I’m going to take your beano (blankie) and close the door and you’re going to be in the dark. By yourself.” – Okay, this is mean, but I only use it as a last resort and sometimes it’s the only thing that works with Margaret, the child who laughs when you punish her.

7) “Eeny, meeny, miny, mo…” – A perennial favorite to determine who gets out of the tub first.  (Although David has now figured out how it works, so he rigs it so that Margaret is always “mo”.

8) “You need to eat that (INSERT NAME OF FOOD HERE) in the kitchen.” – Okay, this one rarely works, and our couch is testament to that fact. Ai yi yi. 

Anyone have any favorite parenting lines?

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An amazing story of love, faith and hope

Some of you may have been following this story.  I learned about it a few months ago while watching the Today show.  Stephanie and Christian Nielsen were critically burned in a small plane crash that killed the pilot.  Before the crash, Stephanie and her sister, Courtney Kendrick, each had popular blogs about parenting and family life.  During Stephanie and Christian’s recovery, Courtney has been caring for three of their four children (another sister is caring for the fourth), and has been keeping followers of Stephanie’s blog updated on their recovery.  It’s an amazing story of a family’s love and strong faith, which gives them strength and hope for Christian and Stephanie’s recovery.  Here’s an article that was in an Arizona newspaper:

http://www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/2008/11/20/20081120mr-stephanie1120.html

And here’s the link to Courtney’s blog.

http://blog.cjanerun.com/

Definitely worth reading the story and viewing the video on the newspaper site.

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Another Friday of odds and ends

It’s been a light blogging week, folks.  The AMA Higher Ed conference wore me out.  I’ll try to do better next week, but here’s today’s hit parade of odds and ends:

1. I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Joseph Jaffe talks about how the Big 3 automakers got themselves into this mess, and how frustrating it is to think about bailing them out: http://www.jaffejuice.com/2008/11/what-we-have-here-is-a-failure-to-communicate.html

2. This is without a doubt the stupidest study I’ve ever read. I guess 100% of people have long-term developmental problems, because EVERY ONE of our parents used front-facing strollers: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/11/21/baby.buggies/index.html

3. I can just picture Pete’s dad (who used to be general counsel at Helene Curtis, back in the day) shaking his head: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20238396,00.html

4. I know it’s a turkey, but who’s that with Sarah Palin:

5. I’m not a huge Rosie fan (more like a Rosie agnostic) but this is pretty funny:

http://weblogs.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/blog/2008/11/rosie_odonnell_reaction_to_bab.html

6. Jack is back. I don’t care if it’s getting mediocre reviews, I’m still going to watch it: http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2008/11/24-kiefer.html

7. Amen, Kathleen: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-oped1112parkernov12,0,1115580.column

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This is why I buy generic ibuprofen

No, not really.  But the recent Motrin experience is a great illustration of the power of social media.  In case you haven’t heard, Motrin started running this ad on their Web site on Friday:

By Saturday morning, I started getting Tweets about the uproar it was creating on mommy blogs and in social networking sites, primarily among moms who found the ad offensive (which I think it pretty much is).  I’m not sure when J&J, the makers of Motrin, began to realize what was going on, but by Monday they had pulled the ad.  The power of social media.

The timing of this was interesting to me, as I’ve been at the American Marketing Association Symposium of Higher Education here in Chicago since Sunday (it ends tomorrow.)  At least half of the presentations are about social media, and its potential use in higher education.  There’s an absolute frenzy around social media in higher ed right now, with colleges and universities (full disclosure: including DePaul, with our social community for parents) scrambling to participate, using Facebook, Twitter, proprietary social communities, student blogs (which we’re also starting at DePaul),  Flickr, and every other thing out there.  As my colleague Jon says, all without a shred of evidence that it’s doing anything to help us attract more students or students of higher caliber, which is what we’re all trying to do, whether we admit it or not. 

Good to have examples like Motrin to keep us humble, make us cautious, and not rush to participate in the latest marketing phenomenon just because it feels like everyone else is, because if you screw up, it can get amplified really fast (I guess that’s true not only of new tactics, but established ones as well).  It’s also a good reminder not to insult our target audience in our advertising. Finally, it highlights the need to make sure we have people checking blogs and Twitter over the weekend to make sure we find out if people are out there talking about us, so we can respond quickly.

If you’d like to read the full Chicago Tribune article about the Motrin example, here it is:http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-talk-motrinnov18,0,1054732.htmlstory

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I finally figured out what it’s about

This blog, that is.

It came to me this morning as I was getting ready to go for a run before leaving for breakfast with my sponsor, followed by an “open” AA meeting (a meeting open to anyone, regardless of whether or not you’re an alcoholic), followed by a blogging seminar, with a quick trip home in-between to make something that Emma could throw in the oven for dinner.  I was just about to put on my running clothes, and David said the magic words, “Mommy, will you snuggle on the couch with me”? And in about 5 seconds, I evaluated the situation, and decided to snuggle instead of going for a run.  I could say it was a gut decision. But I know that I actually spent about 5 seconds quickly evaluating the options. On the “pro-run” side, I was going to be sitting in a hotel conference room for two hours in the afternoon, and it would have been good to get some exercise.  On the “pro-snuggle” side, I went for a run yesterday, I wasn’t feeling particularly sluggish, and I wasn’t going to get to spend much time with the kids today.  Easy decision.

It’s cliche to say that life with kids and a career is a balancing act.  I would bet that you could read thousands of blog posts about it every day from moms who are always feeling guilty. Do I really have anything new and fresh to add to that conversation?

But here’s the thing: I don’t feel guilty.  I’m not sure what you call a person like me, but for some reason, the word “satisficer” comes to mind. I don’t know if that’s the correct use of the term (I think I’ve heard it before in the context of purchsing decisions), but whatever, I’m going to make it my own.  The fact is that I have friends who work longer hours. And friends who take their kids to the park more. And friends who run marathons.  And friends who are more active in Al-Anon. But I prioritize my life, I make choices, and I do a good job (not a perfect job) at all of the things I do.  And I let go of the things I can’t do, or that I do at less than 100%. The bottom line is that my kids are happy, healthy, bright, and well-behaved (well, Margaret’s not so well-behaved, but it’s not really my fault – she was born that way). I’m well-respected at work, and I do work that I’m proud of.  I have wonderful friends. I have so many blessing in my life. Why feel guilty about it?

This blog is about my observations and experiences as a wife, mom, higher ed marketer, daughter, sister, runner, cook, Al-Anon member, friend, singer, pianist, Episcopalian book-lover, and how I manage to do a good enough job at all of them without feeling guilty.

That wasn’t a randomly-ordered list, by the way, but a prioritized order.  Things change – the priorities will probably change order at some point. And if something gets out of whack, I’ll have to adjust things.  I may have to let things go. I may want to add other things.  I’ve already made choices in my career based on that element being really out-of-whack (not so much that I worked too many hours, but that I HATED MY JOB and that threw everything out of whack.)

So that’s what this blog is about. Whew – I’m so glad that’s settled. I guess I have to change the name of it at some point, because “Laughter is the Best Medicine” doesn’t really fit. But that will be a decision for another day…

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