Monday, December 21, 2009

Sick and Sitterless in the City

It was inevitable wasn't it? No sitter, no school? Someone had to get sick. The twist? The sickie is me!

I made this whrrl story with few of my (new favorite) comfort things. They are all awesome, if you don't have a stomach virus. Which is what I turned out to have! Back to the drawing board...

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What do you do when you are sick and home alone with kids?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Birthday Mello Roos

I've been a mom for almost 13 years. My kids have had all sorts of friends and playmates over those years. Nice ones, nasty ones. I've been aghast at the cruelty of five year old girls who make fun of fat people and I've been mesmerized by the charity of 8 year olds. But rarely have I been flummoxed as I was today by a classmate of my daughter's. Lets call her Chutzpasha.

Chutzpasha just had a birthday party this past weekend. A big gala affair with at least twenty or thirty kids invited. Including my daughter. My daughter decided she'd rather skip the festivities. Her own sister's party was at the same time, and she wanted to be there. She and Chutzie are hardly bff's. Plus the last time she visited this particular party bounce house palace, she broke her arm & the owners were very mean to her, accusing her of being a big baby. Hell if we were going back! But I digress. My daughter was an ixnay on the artypay.

Which was a relief. Because frankly, with the holiday season, teacher gifts, adopt a needy family gifts (umm, how needy is needy? Cause I am thinking we are two tanks of gas away from qualifying here), secret santas, school fundraisers etc, we are TAPPED OUT. Scraping the bottom of the holiday cashpoor bucket. I knit my husband a sweater for Hanukkah. I made toys out of old socks. You get the picture.

Apparently I was mistaken in my assumption that we did not have to get Chutzpasha a gift, however. A mistake that she has seen fit to correct quite vociferously. There are credit card calling centers in India who could use this kid to shake down defaulted accounts. Two text messages, a phone message and a few live calls came in rapid succession today. I think there were deadlines and vague threats of further action alluded to. My daughter was starting to twitch every time her phone bleeped in the same way I twitch when I think my Amex card might not go through. Like she wished a giant hole in the time space continuum would just open up and take her away from the consumerverse. If only for a brief moment.

I may not be an etiquette expert, but last time I checked, it wasn't mandatory to gift at parties for kids you are not close with, when you did not attend the party. But I admire Chutzie's well developed sense of entitlement which is why I have come up with the following options as gifts. Please vote in the comments and/or suggest other ideas?

1. Flaming bag of poo
2. Etiquette handbook
3. In Lieu notification (donation to Smile Train or local kid's charity)

I have to wonder what Chutzpasha's mom would thing of her daughter's demands. She'd probably be mortified. I know I would be! But one thing's for sure. The next time anyone is late paying me? I'm calling that kid.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fry me to the moon

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It's day two of Sitterless in the City. The evening before Hanukkah. Not a present is wrapped, the beds are unmade. The dreidels are lost somewhere under the couch and the bills are unpaid...

Oh wait. I don't have to write the entire post in rhyme. Thank god.

I'm happy to report that despite our home and holiday being somewhat in a shambles, no-one has lost an eye yet. All that could end however, when Hanukkah commences tomorrow and we start to fry things. It's traditional to make latkes for the holiday but since I am not fond of potato pancakes (or the accompanying smell that takes ten years to go away, only slightly less time than say, fried fish) I am going all middle eastern with our holidays and making Sufganiyot. AKA Israeli Jelly Donuts. Now that's a holiday treat!

Meanwhile I decided to come up with a top ten list of fried foods to try in future years. The tradition is to eat foods fried in oil, but it doesn't say what kind of foods. Who knows, we could start a whole new tradition! Why should carnies and Christmas celebrators have all the fun. It's time to light your menorah, spin your dreidel and consider the following:

Top Ten Foods Destined for Chanukah Frying Greatness?

1. Snickers
2. Ice Cream
3. Twinkies
4. Pickles
5. Oreos
6. Poptarts
7. Fried Chicken in Donut sandwich
8. Fried Bacon (lets call it fried turkey bacon, for the sake of our kosher pals)
9. Fried Mac & Cheese (I have it on good authority that this is delish)
10. Fried Maccabee Christo - lose the ham, double the cheese.

Did I leave anything off the list? Please be sure to tell me in the comments below!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sitterless in the City

You know how everyone has some kind of secret to their superpowers? Mine is our babysitter. She works part-time for us, half housekeeper, half baby wrangler and occasional carpool driver. Without her I'd be driving three plus hrs a day to get all my kids where they need to go, when they need it. I'd have mountains of clean laundry that never gets put away (I wash, she folds) and little kids that get bathed half as often. My floors would not be as swept and my countertops even more cluttered, which is almost alarming to imagine. Her not being here is like kryptonite to me. I lose all ability to function. I shrivel and twitch like Superman in the crystal cave. Eventually I am rendered useless.

She's not just helping me with the basics, she's saving me from myself. On a daily basis. Left to my own devices, without assistance, I inevitably obsess. It's not enough for me to just clear off the kitchen counter. I must clear every. last. scrap. of clutter and then I must disinfect and scrub the grout. Afterwards I will guard that space like an angry tiger ready to dismember the next person whose cereal sploshes a little. Rinse and repeat with the garage, the bedroom, the laundry room, the hall closet.... You can imagine how much my family enjoys seeing me like this. It's really a good thing when I delegate housekeeping. I can disengage from the mess and tantrum slightly less frequently.

The sitter also saves my marriage. Because for three or four hours a day, it's neither one of our "turns" to change a really really nasty shitty diaper. Instead we both get to go on a quick Starbucks run. This, at the moment is more magical than hot sex at a hotel, let me assure you.


Our sitter has taken a much deserved, well earned, month (MONTH!!!!????) off to go visit her family. I've gone through the requisite five stages of grief since learning about her plans to leave us and decided there is only one thing that might get us through. I'm going to blog about it. Yep. I'm using my sitter's absence as blogfodder. Whee!

It's Day One and I am sitting on the couch. I'm trying to resist the housekeeping pull of the clutter on the counter and the unmade bed upstairs. Must. Get. Work. Done. My husband and I have split the days and the carpool driving in a complex calculation or "You're on, I'm off" time mostly revolving around the 22 month old who requires constant attention. Off time is when we are supposed to get work done. So technically I am off, so I am on. Online, anyway.

Staytuned for reports from the front. It could get ugly...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Caveat Swiner

After all the hype and hoopla about Swine Flu, I'm not shocked that my house has been hit and hit hard. I was expecting it, taking into consideration my four kids special talent at catching every bug to circulate at their loverly place of infection /education, I was already resigned to the inevitable.

And so I did the sensible thing. I went out and bought some new jeans in a size smaller than usual. I got some tiny tees and made plans for some family photography that would feature the new, post swine, svelter version of me.

Come on. We all know that the one single silver lining of dealing with flu season is the post flu jeans try on, right?

Well I was duped. Swine flu is not your friend in the dieting department. It turns out that I got the non barfing, non high fever version and as a result, was able to eat lots and lots of halloween candy as I convalesced with my fellow sickies. Sure I coughed almost nonstop for two weeks, but coughing all day seems to only burn off one or two snack size Snickers. It doesn't even begin to address the Starbursts or Jolly Ranchers that were a medical necessity at the time. No wonder this disease is named after a pig. I think I've gained close to 10 lbs with all this laying around and getting better!

I know there is a lot of public health info out there on Swine Flu, and I suggest you read it so you will be prepared, should you come down with the dreaded disease. A little information goes a long way and can save you cash. Cash that you might have spent on a new pair of skinny jeans online, if you thought you'd come out of this minus a few LB's. Caveat Swiner.

Good luck to all of those who are currently convalescing, and those who are doing their best to ward off the disease. If you're looking for a shopping distraction to get you through this, best you stay away from clothing and candy and check out the Swine Flu Retail Therapy "Shop Yourself Sane" guide on Popshopology. If nothing else it will make you laugh. And a good belly chuckle is the best medicine of all. Plus it burns more calories than coughing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Old Fashioned Community Fun at the Journey School

It happened. I finally gave in. As if I am not busy enough with four kids, the blogging and clothing businesses... This year I also am on my school's "parent cabinet", our school's equivalent of PTA. It's unclear whether I am a control freak or a glutton for punishment (equal parts of both?) but I've volunteered for the Harvest Faire committee as well. And though it's hard work, it's been a blast.

We've all been working so hard to put together a festival that is magical, and quite unique. This Harvest Faire that we've all been working so hard on is definitely different than anything I have experienced in the OC. I almost wish I was not working a booth so I could take advantage of the many craft projects (fairy house decorating, hat making, apple stamping, felt gnome creation, candle making), and activities (hay bale maze, pixie potion creation, cake walk, potato sack races). There will be live music, a hearty lunch courtesy of Soup Plantation, and treats and sweets and coffee for sale in a whimsical Fairy Cafe.

This event is a marked change from the various elementary school fundraising fairs I have attended at other schools in the past. These other events usually revolved around commercial enterprise, rather than craft and, and business often eclipsed pleasure. What says Harvest about a dentist handing out toothbrushes and a closet specialist showing off organization tips? Water bottles from realtors and frisbees from flooring companies do not a fun Saturday event make. These events were not so much about making and doing as sales demos and spending. This is not good for community, and I realize now that community is one thing we as a family have been lacking.

My kids' school is a Waldorf inspired School and what this means for us as parents is a much more eco-friendly campus, with a decidedly noncommercial, non media bent. Sometimes it can be challenging, as it was yesterday when my daughter was sent home admonished for wearing a shirt "branded" with characters from Sesame Street. We've had to wean ourselves off of ziploc baggies in order to comply with the waste free lunch rules, and we're still struggling with media free weekdays (the school asks that kids do not watch tv, use the computer or play video games on school days).

But the trade offs are rich. We've found the atmosphere at school to often be quite magical. This was especially evident on Halloween when the children dressed up in mostly handmade costumes, all of which related to their classroom studies. It was a kinder gentler sort of Halloween, free from pop stars, cartoon villians, dastardly superheroes and bloody gross out suits. I didn't miss the licensed characters one bit!

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If you live in the OC and are looking for something different and a little old fashioned to do this weekend, please do stop by. The Harvest Faire is taking place from Noon till 4 at the Journey School: 27102 Foxborough in Aliso Viejo.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This Bat Mitzvah Brought to you By...

The Papparazzi was present, along with a few select brands at Nancy O Dell's Daughter's Birthday Party. Star Jones was the poster bride for sponsored weddings. And now, not to be outdone, we have my oldest daughter's Bat Mitzvah.

Oh sure, I'm no celeb. But according to at least one site you don't have to be a celebrity to seek out sponsors. You can do it if you're even a little bit famous, cough cough. Like say... a blogger.

I've yet to personally embrace the whole "Sponsored Blogger" trend* but lets face it folks. Bat Mitzvahs are expensive. There's the private helicopter that delivers you to the reception, the troupe of break dancers that do lap dances for your great uncle if you pay them extra, the fireworks, the cherries flambe atop the ice sculpture atop the river of chocolate surrounded by the ice cream & candy buffet. Plus it all has to be Kosher. Do you know how expensive kosher "Shrimp" Cocktail is these days?

Fortunately for my daughter, I am an eagle eyed trendwatcher. I see the way personal blogs are going to the big brand dawgs, and thus I am finally seeing a solution for the whole "how to pay for the Bat Mitzvah" issue. I've discussed it with my darling tween daughter. I wisely made sure to get her fresh off an episode of My Super Sweet 16. Together, we have decided to open up this Simcha for Swagcha.

Can you see it now? This reception is not only a family get together. It is a fabulous marketing opportunity. Sponsors not only have a chance to reach out to and brush elbows with illustrious and diversely Jewish relatives like Uncle Dave, Aunt Ellen and Cousin Jon, they have a chance to make their Bat Mitzvah sponsor awesomeness known across the entire blogosphere. Here's a few scenarios:

1. Kedem can sponsor the ceremonial wine and provide large bunches of grapes for the buffet backdrop. Out of deference to the temple, they can also provide decorative/branded airsickness bags in the restrooms for the inevitable: that an unknowing teen or alcoholic relative snags more than a few extra shots and find themselves second guessing that decision.

2. Manischewitz can bring in some artists to construct a giant matzah diorama of the Old City of Jerusalem on one side of the dais and do a spray painted matzah Jewish Star walk of fame (provided we can solve the debate over whether Marilyn M was or was not a MOT) thus merging our daughters love of tradition with her desired theme of Hollywood glam.

3. We could never leave out Rokeach, so we'd ask them to contribute all the candles we'll be needing. They haven't been getting a lot of social media attention lately, possibly due to the fact that aside from sabbath candles, their bread and butter comes from candles sold to honor the dead. We'd like to help bring new life to their company by running a contest amongst our readers for the most clever reuse of the glass containers (juice cup anyone?). Winner gets the privilege of getting a mention by our Rabbi and chance to light one of the candles in our family candle lighting ceremony.

Let's face it. We're going to need more than matzoh and wine to make this reception truly memorable though. Goodmans, Entennmans, Wissotzky, you're all invited to break (and supply) bread with the mishpucha. But why stop there? We're also looking for a fine Jewish hot air balloon company, lighting, special effects and of course, performers (Note: Jo Bros, we'll make you honorary Jew Bros for the day if you'll don kippot). No idea is too crazy to consider. Sure no one is getting married here, but if you have a solid milk chocolate chupa that you want to highlight, let's talk.

When it comes to our little princess, no party detail is too outrageous to consider. Weddings may come and go, but she's only going to have one Bat Mitzvah.

And that's our pitch. Don't like it? We'll take cash instead.

* Disclaimer: Yes, fine, that was me passing out organic cough syrup at Blogher, my one claim to personal sponsorship fame. But honestly, it was practically a public service. People were coughing. They needed it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween Sluts...They're all Bitches

In part two of my Halloween Sluts coverage Halloween Sluts PLUS! I jokingly theorized that with tween and plus sized mamas being bombarded with fetishwear, it was was just a matter of time till pets got in on the act.

Well thanks to an eagle eyed reader, I am excited to tell you, that time is now!

That's right. It's official. EVERYONE is sexy on Halloween. No matter how old you are, what you weigh, how hairy you are, or even what species you belong to. There's a french maid and sexy pirate costume out there for you to get into and get your hot bitch groove on.

I'm not sure where this is going next. Any suggestions? Have sexy Halloween costumes jumped the shark or is there even more room for exploitation of this market?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Halloween Sluts...Plus

In part deux of my slutty halloween costumes coverage (lack there of?) I'd like to examine a phenomenon that is brand new this year. We saw it coming on last year but only recently has this concept blossomed into full figured ripeness.

"Fat"chicks are sexy too!

At least on Halloween. There was a time when plus size mamas were relegated to dressing as a witch or a nun or a hawaiian frocked tourist. Muumuuu ya big Moo Moo was the message then. The naughty nurse and hot supergirl costumes only came in size tween, small and medium.

But check out the mother-lode of xl hotness available this year:

Especially exciting to me is the fact that many of these xl costumes are *exactly the same* as the tween versions. You know what this means moms! We can shame our daughters out of wearing slutty halloween costumes by ordering up our very own matchy matchy suit! Even if we are a size 16!

Honestly, I'm not sure how to react. On the one hand I find it empowering and healthy to see that the mainstream has deemed it acceptable for plus sized women to strut their stuff. Who says only size four is sexy. On the other hand, I'm a little puzzled about when Halloween became a big ol' sex fest. What's next? Skeletons with pasties? Fluffy the ho-dog costumes?

Stay tuned till next year. In the meantime, I've got some hot mama costumes to order.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Girl Crush, Crashed

Goddess on the school blacktop
Burning like a silver flame
Show me the beauty and love

and XXXX was her name

From day one, the new mom in my daughter's class was hard to miss. Not as if she was trying to be ignored. At six ft tall, with supermodel long (and thin) limbs, she was hard to miss.

Being a mom can be boring. The predicable PTA meetings, the mommy cliques that bring us all back to jr high. The brand names have changed but we still dress alike to declare our social allegiance. Tribe Birkenstock warily eyes the members of Tribe Chanel Sunglasses.

But then she showed up. And to top it off, her goddess name. Bold. Unusual. Not trying even a little to fit in. She eats Amys and Jennifers for breakfast and tops em off with Summers and Aprils. At dusk she spits out their bones on the school's front lawn. I like her.

For the first month of school, each day at dropoff, the Goddess graced us with her get ups. Micro mini and furry stilletto boots. Feather earrings that grazed her skinny shoulderblades. Leather vests with tube tops beneath. All the better to see the tattoos dusting her back and shoulders. More! More! More! cried the mommies, and probably more than a few of the daddies as well. Finally, something other than a bake sale and parking lot traffic to talk about.

Honestly her big hair and layers of liquid eyeliner brightened my day so. I was afraid to have a conversation with her and let it get in the way of my admiration from afar. I text messaged friends daily to report on Goddess attire. They begged me to get a photo. I was a little tempted to ask her permission, which would require chatting, or worse, to snap a shot on the sly. Which would make me a renegade, by disassociation. Mom behaving badly. Just guessing what she'd turn up in today was thrill enough. My daughters played along too. They were more than a little wistful that I couldn't pull off four inch heels and leather skinny jeans. It was almost a bonafide girlcrush - family style. Until the day I saw her getting into her car.

The horror! The betrayal.The Kia minivan.

Goddess how could you!? Does Heidi Klum shop at Walmart? Does Giselle Bundchen hang out at Sizzler? I'm shattered. My girl crush has crashed. The object of my affection has toppled off the mountain top and landed flat on her suburban ass, in a minimall.

And we still need a fix for the parking lot traffic. I say we ban Kia minivans.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Here Come The Slutty Tween Halloween Costumes

The "Red Hot Mama" Pimp costume: Comes in matching teen sizes for those moms who like to dress up with their daughters.

Back to school time is slightly funereal around here. No one wants to give up the ghost of carefree summer days. The one thing that makes life still worth living in light of long school days and strictly enforced bedtimes?

Halloween Costume Catalogs.

God bless the marketing geniuses that time the arrival of these things with the certain realization that your fabulous new "cool" teacher is actually going to make you bust a hump and do some homework.

My kids love to spend hours pouring over the catalogs, discussing what they'll be this year. It's a critical decision. You only get so many costume choice years of childhood in between the the time when your mom still makes you dress up like a farm animal and you're far too old to be trick or treating any more.

We have a few rules in our household. I'm not a fan of branded character costumes. But I'm not inflexible. I've been known to waive my high ideals for a really cute Wall E or Princess Aurora costume. With the big girls I'm a little harsher. No matter how much they beg? No fetishwear.

I know, cruel. What kind of mother am I anyway?!

Banning the fetish wear does not prevent me from making fun of it though. Each year I am more and more amused (amused because horrified gets old, and laughter is the best medicine, right?) by the halloween costume fails perpetrated on girls my daughter's age. So without further ado, here are some of the costumes that will not be making the cut in our house this year.
Tween Little Bo Peep (in fishnets) costume: I sure hope that losing her sheep is not a metaphor for something else. Little Bo needs a bathrobe!

Teen Strawberry Shortcake Costume: See mommy, I'm still your little girl. I'm dressed up like a children's character. I'm not on ecstasy! I just love you sooooo much. Can we hug? Fake ID what?Teen Rootin Tootin Cowgirl Costume. Comes with teen pregnancy test and cancelled Disney sitcom contract. The Teen Oktoberfest Bar wench. Das es Nicht Gut. Or something like that. Keep your lederhosen on little lady!

The Tween "French Maid" Uniform. I'd only relent if the costume caused my kids to clean their rooms. But they would never ever be allowed to leave those rooms once they were clean.

Note: all of the above are REAL costumes sold on many sites this season. The same sites sell a lot of adorable costumes that are appropriate for teens and tweens, and not just call girls and bored housewives. Maybe if you buy some of the costumes that are cute, there will be less of this mess next year. Then again, I'd have nothing to make fun of. And that would be a shame.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Break a Leg

By some miracle I got all the kids to school on time today. No-one was missing a lunch, the camera was charged and I even remembered the media card. The baby bag had wipes, diapers and an emergency change of clothes. Nobody wept. It was perfect. A little too perfect if you ask me.

"Break a Leg" I told my son. And I encouraged him to play with Sam, who is far more adventurous than my boy, but we could all use a little shove down the big slide of life every now and again by a fun loving friend, can't we?

The kindergarten program that my son is in really prides itself in their ability to immerse the kids in the "magical world of imagination". Just about everything is magical in this classroom from the whimsical and uncommon names of common foodstuffs, to the notion of putting your "outdoor voice" in a basket for safekeeping when you come in from outdoors. Here at home we call that "piping down". For safekeeping we have "or else!"

My son really took to the world of imagination swimmingly. Or I should say flyingly. By the end of three hours of this, in fact, he was so convinced of his magical abilities that he was sure he could fly. Sam told him he could. His new girlfriend (let's just call her Wendy) told him he could.

And so Peter Pan leapt off the stairs of the play structure, into the air like a giant bird, and... WHAM.

Turns out he's not as magical as he thought. First day of Kindy was all about magic. Second day is going to be all about science, as it looks like my little lost boy is going to need xrays.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back to Fool Shopping

I'm onto them. 8 years and three kids into the public school "back to school" shopping ritual and I've figured it out. They don't actually want us to buy anything on the damn list. They just want us to go stark raving mad trying. It's like a fraternity hazing. A process.

I sauntered into the third Target store today and was barraged by the massive school shopping frenzy. Moms pushed carts aggressively, rude teens shoved each other to grab at notebooks and calculators and whipped looking employees skulked around with electronic tagging guns, apologies at the ready."Sorry Ma'am, were clean out of gluesticks here too."

Up until that very moment I'd been sorry summer was over. Wishing for a few more pool and beach days. Not with those kids around! My 9 year old quickly located the "fine point" sharpies in the office supplies aisle. Almost at the same time my 12 year old found sharpies in the back to school aisle. I picked up a third package of "fine point" sharpies on an end cap. And guess what? They all had radically different sized points. Of course all three were labelled fine point, though. Arguments ensued. I added duct tape and Margarita fixings to the back to school list.

If you think locating the last of the tinted gluesticks and the right sharpies, a mere 24hrs before school's in session is tough, you should get a load of the rest of my list. This year the teachers at my kids Waldorf style school have served up an especially fun last minute scavenger hunt for us parents. Items include:

1. Logo/Media Free Hat. Skip Target for this as well. Not. A. Single. One. Unless you can make an argument that Spiderman is neither logo nor media. I'm considering hand sewing a wad of hand felted wool over Spidey and calling it a "Die Spinne" hat. Five bucks to the first teacher that susses out this is German for Spider Man comic books.

2. Indoor Shoes. Think you know what this means? Then please, by all means enlighten me. I can tell you what it does not mean. It doesn't mean light soled shoes that won't mar the gymnasium floor. We don't have a gym. It doesn't mean slippers or crocs, according to the teacher. It doesn't mean shoes that you change into on a snow day when you leave your boots dripping in the hallway. We have portables. No hallways. Also no snow. This is So Cal. I did the only sensible thing. I bought Uggs. I will have to slap a wad of hand felted wool over the logo now and call them "Die Uggs".

3. Two Large Metal Washbasins. Technically this was not on the regular list but on the "wish list". My husband signed up for this one about five minutes before he realized he had no effing clue what a washbasin actually was. Arguments also ensued about this as we scoured Ikea top to bottom for anything metal, basin like and washworthy. We each fought valiently for our planter and mixing bowl to achieve washbasin status but ultimately left empty handed.

4. A Metal, Logo/Media Free Mug. This item took the cake this year as most annoying and difficult to find. Last year it was a very specific white natural rubber german eraser that could only be found at one obscure art store in the OC. But the metal mug is this year's winner. First let me explain why the metal mug. Because plastic is POISON. This was what the teacher told us at the meeting. No plastic anything in the classroom. We had to go forth and find a lightweight unbreakable metal mug. She held up a rustic but festive enamelware example of wholesome drinking vessel goodness for us to observe and invoked Ikea as a wholesome euro-friendly location to find such a treasure. Note: I'm sure they had these mugs at Ikea right next to the washbasins. Five year agos. After exhausting Ikea, two camping goods stores, Home Goods, Target (again, no glue stick and no metal mugs) we finally happened upon a metal mug at our local Dick's Sporting Goods store. It was expensive but there comes a time when you are willing to pay ten bucks for a wholesome cup just so you can hit the drive through before putting your kids to bed an hr past their bedtime on the first night of back to school.

I turned the beautiful, healthy, non-poisonous, made in china, metal mug over and read "Caution, This Mug Contains Chemicals know to cause cancer, including LEAD"

On second thought, I'm going with the BPA free plastic. Slap some felted wool on that. Call it "Diecommonsensse"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dear Mom Bloggers: Stop Apologizing for Being Awesome!

I've had it. I'm sick and tired of the notion that Mom Bloggers should not be making money off their blogs. There are far too many people out there wanting to suggest that it makes them dirty unethical whores, to reap any rewards for their endeavors.

It doesn't actually matter who's pointing the finger of blame - other moms, traditional media, deadbeat exes or jealous neighbors. Enough already! Why should anyone and everyone else make money from their time, effort and talents and not Moms? Being paid for your work is not shocking or unethical. Expecting people to work for free and to only suffer for their art? Might be.

I got so fed up with the dirty rumors circulating about unethical mom bloggers that I wrote an article over the weekend for LA Moms Blog -
"The Dirty Whores of Blog Dot Mom". In it I described 2 unethical mom bloggers ("whore a & whore b") stereotypes that have evolved into near Urban Legend Status. I thought I'd make these legenday blog whores some badges while I was at it.

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I also made a badge for all the Mom Bloggers who recieve compensation for their efforts and feel that this is a source of pride, not shame. It's time we stop apologizing for our success.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Instant Momification

Moms are not only taking over the internet, they are taking over the dictionary. Lately I've been seeing so many mommified words being bandied about that I thought I'd start keeping an informal dictionary. Got a new one for me? Leave a comment and I will add it!

Momarazzi - the legion of moms taking pictures at every school event
Momtourage - you and your backup
Mompreneur - mommy with a biz
Momfluential - Hey! That's Me!
Momnesia - I forget what this one was
Mamanista - fashionable mama
Momedy - mom comedy
Momentum - when a bunch of moms get going...
Momnicient - moms who know it all
Momumentary - a film about moms
Momversation - converstation between moms
Momcierge - mom who makes dinner reservations
Sanctimommy - mommmy with a stick up her butt who never gives her kids junk food
Mommified - being utterly wrapped up in mom culture
Mominee - the poor sucker who was nominated to collect $ for the class party
Mominate/tion - the process by which the poor sucker was elected
Momsense - something only a mother would understand
Momtastical - things a mom makes or says
Momakin - a woman who wears a bathing suit within a month of birthing
Momtini - martini with a pacifier in it, drunk during a playdate
Momkini - bikini with a kinder cut, tankini
Momnificent - her royal momness
Mamalicious - haute mommy, yummy mummy
Mamaste - yoga mommy
Momnipotent - because mom said so
Mompetition - my kid's in the 99% ile. And yours?
Momocrat (tm) - Demo moms
Momjeans - the 80's called and wants their high rise back
Momisode - your own mommy reality show
Mamarama - too many moms at mommy and me
Mamapalooza - too many moms at drunco bunco

Monday, March 16, 2009

Too Much of a Good Ning. The Strip Mall Effect.

No, I don't hate Ning. Or strip malls even. I've even been known to pop over to ours and get my nails done, pick up the dry cleaning and buy last minute party supplies at the party chain store.

But I don't really hang out there with my friends.

When Ning first showed up on the scene, it was a lot like when our community finally got a grocery store, Hairmasters, Starbucks and gas station. Elated. We finally had somewhere to go! Shyly we ventured out to get coffee hoping to to make friends and make this town our own.

But before the paint had even dried we started to notice something. Our little So Cal town? Looked a hell of a lot like the one our cousins in Northern Va. call home. Down to the same couch and artwork at Starbucks. The Hairmasters Salon was identical to the one two towns over. It was the old "there's no there there" problem. Strip malls strip communities of their individuality.

I am now experiencing the online version on this phenomenon with the mushroomlike growth of Ning communities. One after another they are popping up. With irritating similarity. There are times when I forget which site I am actually on. Different sites, same themes and structure, and often the same people. We're like me and my desperate neighbors. Clearly we want to hang out. But once we realize our digs have no charm, no uniqueness, we move on. I've even made up a name for my frustration with this. I call it Annoyning.

At the same time I see why this is happening. It's just so *easy* to get your community up and running with the Ning platform. It's too tempting. Gone are the days when you had to hire someone to build a costly custom community that took months to get up and running. You can get your community up in under an hour with Ning. It's instant gratification. And for some sites, it's enough. They can build a thriving community on the Ning platform. Some small niche groups are making happy hermit-crab like moves from forums/boards to Ning as well. But for others? Is all this Ning-ing too much of a good thing?

I'll be interested to see what happens to Ning communities in the coming year. I predict that the ease of building communities will lead to a plethora of them and a backlash that is not at all dissimilar to the backlash against strip malls.

It's tricky biz. We can't all be Old Town Pasadena. But where would you rather hang out? Pasadena or somewhere between the Generic Dry Cleaners, Karate Place and KFC?

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm Ciaran Blumenfeld and This is My Page

Name: Ciaran Blumenfeld aka "The Accidental Momfluential"
Recent Projects:
Francie-Pants - Fun, Fashionable, Patterned Sports/Privacy Shorts for Girls
Popshopology - Retail Therapy Blog
Car and Caboodle - Life in the "Family Lane" Blog

@momfluential (main), @popshopology, @francie-pants
Facebook: Send me a message, I tend to only friend people I know or who are immediate friends of friends who I should know, but you never know!
Flickr: My Photostream

My Family: Always beside me are my wonderful husband and tech guru(@bmaso on Twitter), and four fabulous children.

Other Excellent Blogs I write for:
Mommies With Style, Senior Contributor & Product Reviewer
LAMomsBlog, Contributor

Why This Page?:
I've got a chronic case of career ADD. It started in college at Johns Hopkins University, when I couldn't pick a major. Thus I graduated with a triple degree in Anthropology, Creative Writing, and Psychology. This illustrious degree qualified me to... Well, not a lot of jobs have those qualifications in the help-wanted ad, do they? I spent several years as a freelance copywriter, mostly in advertising. Fun, but I was not fulfilled. I took a leap into the unknown and started a clothing company called Little Lubbaloo. It flourished, I kvelled, but soon found that I really missed writing.

And then along came the internet. The boom of blogging and birth of social networking was well timed with the arrival of my four kids. As a Work-at-Home-Mom (WAHM), it was a pleasure to connect with others in similar situations. Sharing my knowledge and experiences with other parents and manufacturers has been a fabulous adventure.

Though I did not set out to be a product expert or advise others about parenting, small business/marketing concepts, or to be tagged with the label "Momfluential", here I am. You know what's nice? For the first time in my life, my degree, and my lifestyle, makes perfect sense!

I've outgrown my Twitter profile and felt I needed a place, with links, to send folks when they asked just what it was I do. A location for the whole "list". Blogger, Fashionista, Ferocious Mama Lion, Designer, Car Enthusiast, Retail Therapist, Kids Product Expert. So many hats! So many wonderful friends and colleagues. I truly feel fortunate.

*Because it's the first thing I am asked, it's pronounced like "Sharon". The Cia are "Sha" as in Marcia. No I am not Irish. Yes I know it's supposed to be Keeran. Yes I know it's a dude's name. I answer to all reasonable guesses at the pronunciation and am rather freaked out when people get it right!