Thursday, April 30, 2009

Giving Thanks

Last night social media guru and SOBCon founder Liz Strauss was saying nice things about me on Twitter. As was Cody, a guy who's working hard to bring social media to the Heartland (we're talking Hutchinson, Kansas, people).

I tweeted back to them that I was blushing. And Liz replied:


Which reminded me of an exercise I often used to close my team-building programs. During their out-of-the-box team building exercises, group members learned a lot about each other. At the end of our day together, I'd have the participants circle up in their small groups and instructed each person to compliment a fellow team member.

We are often are own worst critics. We downplay our achievements, or maybe we fear coming across and cocky. For many of us, it's hard to accept compliments.

So in this exercise, the recipient of the compliment had to give one of three responses to the praise heaped upon them.

Thank you.

Thank you. I think so, too.

Or, thank you. I'd like to hear that again. (In which case the complimenter obliged.)

It's such a simple exercise, yet was often very challenging. Very powerful.

Next time someone offers me a compliment, I will think back to this and graciously accept.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cleaning where the sun don't shine

I've spent the last two days in the fog of a relentless headache, but it's finally clearing. Speaking of clearing, I've been doing a lot of clearing out and wiping down at Chez Moldofsky.

For some people Spring Cleaning means wiping the windows and waxing the floors, but for me it means digging deep into the spaces nobody sees. Which is odd that I'd spend my time that way, especially considering the improbable blob of bird poop stuck to the picture window outside of the living room. (How did it get there? Its placement seems physically impossible. Like this guy in the suit doing a trust fall.)

I'm cleaning out closets and junk drawers. I'm stowing away the mittens and scarves and breaking out the beach towels even though summer, like the bird poop, seems a physical impossibility given our recent weather.

I've amassed piles of clutter, some of which I might try to sell via Craigslist. We sold my car that way last year. (Oh, and check out Meagan's nearly creepy Craigslist encounter.) I'm going to do a guest ClutterCast soon, but likely I'll drag much of the stuff (some of it's good) over to the resale shop, the path of least resistance that pays in its own way because we get a tax deduction for our donation.

I'm also digging into my old work files. Oh, my precious files. I used to develop programs- training programs, not computer ones-and I have loads of files on listening, goal setting, communications, team building, you name it.

Sure I've culled them over the last decade, but this week I looked at them and knew they no longer serve a useful purpose. And if I do need any of the information contained within, chances are I can find it online.

That said, a few bits and pieces caught my eye, caused me to reflect on where I've been and where I'm headed. A few of the papers I came across made me think and might even provide good fodder for this blog.

Still, I must have recycled a tree's worth of paper today. And I think about what Oprah's clutter-guru says. When we clean out our clutter, we make room for something new in our lives. I can't help but wonder what's in store for my family with all this space I'm creating.

Along with all those papers, I have a good number of team building supplies, or props. I cleaned out a bunch last fall and gave them to the PE teachers at school. This week, I decided to whittle down my collection even more. However, I still felt compelled to keep two dozen squishy balls, half a dozen Koosh balls, five 20-foot pieces of webbing, and two parachutes. After all, if a bird can poop on a vertical surface and the Mother Nature can deliver summer, maybe I'll be facilitate another team building session some day. (It was fun work. These pictures are from my long-defunct corporate teambuilding website.)

Speaking of long defunct, after six months of unemployment, DH starts a new job tomorrow. Can I hear an "Amen?" Sadly, it's only a temporary gig, but it seems like a great fit and it will be nice for him to get a proper paycheck, if only for a few months.

And speaking of cleaning where the sun don't shine, I don't want to disappoint you if you came here with, you know, certain expectations, so check out this scary/funny post at Red Dirt Woman. Two clues: 1) Lysol, 2) douche.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Welcome to Hormone-colored Days

Smartypants is taking one of those weekend gifted enrichment classes. The program he's in offers weekly lectures for parents. At last week's lecture, the speaker (yet another mature woman who was so thrown for a loop raising her own gifted children that understanding and educating gifted children became her life's work) mentioned that one of the challenges of raising gifted kids is not just the isolation they feel, but the isolation their parents feel. Amen!

Gifted kids can be intense and challenging. Gifted children can be quirky and socially awkward. But it's not socially acceptable to discuss these issues in mixed company because, as you may be aware, there are worse problems than having a kindergarten genius or pint-sized prodigy.

So I decided to pass around cards with my blog info and I'm offering up a little welcome in case any of them click.

{clears throat}

Welcome to my blog. I started writing here about 3.5 years ago and have nearly 50 gifted-themed posts to date. I also write fairly often about marketing to mommybloggers (and consult in this area as well). And, because it's my blog, I also write about whatever else I want, like funny stuff.

I also do occasional product reviews and give my readers a chance to win one of whatever is it I got (like a Lands' End bathing suit--enter through the weekend).

While I do have dedicated readers, many parents and educators find my blog through Google. Each day, people land here searching terms like gifted but socially awkward, gifted grade acceleration, and gifted education in Illinois. Some of the folks at the Illinois Association of Gifted Children pop in here (Hi Terry!), a few of my posts have been reprinted elsewhere and I've been linked to other gifted blog and boards as far away as Australia.

Which is not to say I have anything to offer you. Indeed, I sometimes share resources, but mostly I share my thoughts.

I've written about leaving the public schools, and what happened to my oldest, highly gifted child when he was in public school. I've written a bit about the private school for gifted kids that my children attended for three years and I've written about my gifted boys returning to public school.

Sometimes I talk about advocating for gifted education.

As the wonderful speaker said last week: There is no perfect parent and there is no perfect school. On this blog, I provide plenty of evidence that she's right.

The fact is, when it comes to raising my highly gifted boys, I don't really know what I'm doing. But I can share my thoughts, my journey. You can choose to read and relate and maybe learn from my mistakes. Or you can click away from my blog, write me off as a crazy mama and avoid all eye contact with me at the remainder of the Saturday morning lectures.

Comments are always welcome.

Here's a listing of all my posts on giftedness and raising gifted children.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Fun: A Retro Take on Facebook Etiquette

In today's Friday Fun you'll find good advice in this hilarious black and white retro take on Facebook manners. Check out the computing machine.

Can you think of the millions of ways you might have embarrassed yourself as a teen if you had all these web 2.0 and social networking tools? Oy.

H/T to my unemployed husband who is spending way too much time at College Humor.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lands' End Giveaway

Read about my fab new Lands' End "Slendersuit" and enter to win a $100 Lands' End gift card over at Hormone-colored Reviews.

An Explanation of how I Made History Last Week

Granted, this may not be one for the record books, but I just may have been the first person (or mom, at least) to be quoted in the New York Times and NYC's Printed Blog on the same day. What an odd intersection of old new media.

I take it that you have heard of the New York Times. The Printed Blog is just what it sounds like. They take interesting bits from around the blogsphere, print them on paper(!) and distribute at popular commuter hubs, like train stations. They sell highly targeted, but relatively inexpensive advertising. It's an interesting idea.

The NY Times piece was on orthodontia in tough economic times. Yep, despite DH's unemployment, Smartypants got braces earlier this year. He got them not just for an overbite, as noted in the article, but a host of other issues as well. Hes in what's now called "Phase One" orthodontia. Phase One is about alignment and jaw issues, not cosmetics.

Although I'm quoted accurately, the article makes is sound like we've given up our country club lifestyle to finance his braces. If you know me, you know I've never had a country club lifestyle!

And I cringed as Smartypants excitedly read his friend the articles opening lines over the phone, "With her husband newly unemployed, Kim Moldofsky isn't about to drop thousands of dollars guilt-free.

"Except to straighten out her firstborn’s teeth.

"The way she sees it, dipping into their rainy-day savings to correct her [son's] overbite is a sound investment when few exist." It's his first taste of fame and he's already drunk on it. Read the full article here

The piece was also fodder for a post on the Dental Divide on the Free Exchange blog over at Economist.com.

Take a look a the full copy of issue 10 of the Printed Blog, New York. My quote was a part of a compilation of answers to a question they tweeted, "What TV or movie character did you look up to when you were younger?" See all the answers here. And leave yours below.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Marketing to Mommy Bloggers: Inviting Diversity Part I

Last week I sent off an article that will appear in MediaPost's Engage: Moms column in a few weeks. The title (for now, anyway) is "Inviting Diversity to Your Brand-Sponsored Blogger Retreat" and based on the group photo I saw from a recent Hallmark mom blogger event, the timing couldn't be better.

Hallmark invited a group of mombloggers to their headquarters to learn about and discuss the brand. No wait, they did even better, they invited the moms and their children to attend, and planned a day of fun for the kiddos that rivaled the moms' experience.

That was a fabulous! So family friendly! If you've been in this space for over a year, you will recall the flap caused over babies being banned at Johnson and Johnson's Camp Baby. Kudos to Hallmark! It was very forward thinking to take this family-friendly step.

Which is why it surprised me to see that the attending guests were overwhelmingly white.

Haven't businesses been promoting the value of diversity for a couple of decades now?

Then why is it that company after company seems to be hosting groups of white women bloggers on their corporate retreats? Hallmark is by no means alone in this, um, shall I call it an oversight? When you see my article you'll note that one of the fab mamas I interviewed uses stronger language than that.

For the record, I am Caucasian. In fact, I am so white that the last time I went to the beauty counter for a consult, the tech pulled out a bottle of Liquid Paper to use as my foundation. And the mom I mentioned above, the one who calls it as she sees it? She thinks that white mamas like me need to represent for their sisters of color.

That is, if a (white) blogger is invited on a swank retreat or even to a local brand event, it's incumbent on that blogger to not only ask who's included, but insist on diverse crowd. And stay home if there isn't one.

If you're a blogger, could you? Would you? Have you done this?

If you're a PR pro, please share ways you make diversity a priority. And if you don't yet do this, you'll find some great pointers in my upcoming article.

I'll follow up on this post and give a shout-out to some of the folks who chime in below, when I post Part II after my article goes live.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fun: Flutter, the new Twitter

Look out microblogging. Here comes the next Big Thing: nanoblogging!



Thanks to Jordan Sadler of the Wonderwheel for pointing this out to me and bringing a smile to my face on an otherwise gloomy day.

Edited to add: Maybe you've heard? Today is the Big Day- Oprah is doing her first tweet. She has about 70,00 followers and 0 updates this morning. Sigh.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gifted Kids and Gifted Education in Illinois

Please chime in to support HB4044, which will provide increased funding for gifted children in Illinois public schools.

The Illinois Association for Gifted Children has easy peasy instructions on their website with tips on who to call (or fax or email) and what to say.

And if you're free next Wednesday, April 29, consider heading down to Springfield for a "gifted education advocacy action day." I'm sitting out this trip, but I am pleased to know that last year the legislature approved a pocketful of change for gifted education. This would not have happened if parents and educators did not speak up for gifted children.

I hope that with continued advocacy our state will return to, let's say surpass, where we were roughly five years ago when the gifted budget was cut and the mandate for gifted education was ended.

I made history today

Check this out.

Here comes the sun

It finally feels like spring. The sun is shining and the chill is gone from the air--at least for today. DH had a job interview yesterday, it was just for a temporary position, but we recently learned that he can take a short-term stint and then return to his current unemployment benefits when it's up. I feared he'd lose his benefits for the sake of a temporary job, which of course would be a huge disincentive to pursue anything but the Big Job. Not that he doesn't want something permanent, whatever that means in the new economy.

On my end, I am working on a big consulting project-- yes, the Social Media Mom gig of my dreams--about which I'll share details (and product samples) when the time is right.

I just sent off an article that is set to appear on MediaPost's Engage: Moms column in a few weeks. The title (for now, anyway) is "Inviting Diversity to Your Brand-Sponsored Blogger Retreat."

(Paused. Reflected on previous sentence and just wrote my Monday Marketing to Mommy Bloggers post on the topic.)

Last Friday we headed to Indiana. You can read the whiny version at Chicago Moms Blog and the slightly happier "farm version" at Traveling Mom.

Tomorrow, I'm off to a media preview of the new Illinois Holocaust Memorial, a visit I'm both anticipating and somewhat fearing. I don't know if I'll see the entire place. My main interest for now is experiencing the children's (defined as age 9 and up) section in order to write about it for Traveling Mom.

Take a moment to reflect on one of your life's blessing today.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This blog is currently on hold

By 8:30 this morning I learned that Shana, another mommyblogger lost her little baby, this time a three-month old boy named Thalon. My heart goes out to Shana's family.

As if the momosphere wasn't already depressing enough, a mom I know from my boys' preschool years was diagnosed with breast cancer.

And the weather was cold, wet and miserable.

Oh yeah, and I have a post up at Chicago Moms Blog about our mishap filled trip to Indiana last Friday. It's almost as whiny as this, but maybe a bit funnier.

I'm also working on posts about an upcoming advocacy day for gifted education in Illinois, an effort that I'm too cynical to get excited about.

I'll be back in a day or two. I do have a funny video in the queue for Friday Fun, so I'm not completely over this blog.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

My heart goes out to them

It's one of those nights. In an effort to snuggle my boys to sleep, I dozed off only to wake up after midnight realizing I need to write the article I intended to finish after I put the boys to bed several hours ago.
After giving my teeth a proper brushing and flossing I checked my email only to find a sad and unexpected message, Maddie the little girl of my blog sister Heather from the LA Moms blog passed away.
I don't know Heather directly, but I follow her on Twitter and was vaguely aware that her daughter was sick, maybe with RSV?, and that she was in the hospital. I don't know the details. I don't need the details. All that matters is her little girl is gone.
It doesn't get any sadder than this.
Maddie was born prematurely after a complicated pregnancy. Heather has written about the important role the March of Dimes played in supporting and informing her throughout her pregnancy. In fact, she was recently asked to be an official representative for the organization.
In just 17 days, there's going to be a big MoD walk in LA. Heather's been raising money for it. I don't know if she's still going to participate in the walk, but I know that my LA blog sisters are already organizing to support her if she does.
I can't be there, but I did make a small donation to Team Maddie, something the family has asked for in lieu of flowers. (Well, they asked for a general donation to March of Dimes, but this seems most appropriate.) You can leave a note of sympathy on Heather's blog.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Marketing to Moms who Blog: What You Say May be Used Against You in a Court of Law

Bloggy product reviews and sponsored conversations are a great way for companies to engage mommy bloggers and their readers. So many companies are reaching out to moms who blog; this is an exciting time for us, for moms who like to get in on the newest and latest in personal products, food, travel, fashion and technology and share our opinions online.

But after reading this post, I fear the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is busting up our party. Mom, lawyer, blogger and lawyer who advises bloggers, Linsey Krolik wrote a post at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog about a facet of social media law that is of growing interest to the FTC.

She explained that the FTC is considering guidelines that "would hold not only companies, but individual bloggers, liable for false statements made in connection with product reviews."

I'm no attorney, heck, I'd don't even play one online, but it's clear that both bloggers and the companies that want to connect with them need to take a look at their potential liabilities. Most moms I know who make money off of their blogs fund their Starbucks habit or maybe even earn enough to send their kids to day camp. That's certainly not the kind of money worth losing the house for in the case of a lawsuit.

There are a few steps bloggers can take to reduce their liability. I do my blogging, freelance writing and consulting under a corporation I formed many years ago, Positive Impact, Inc. My product review blog has a disclaimer on the sidebar. I'm told these things might help, but it's wise reading up and consulting with a lawyer if you're concerned.

I realize there's a bit of a catch-22 there. If you make $500 a year off of your blog and consider blogging more of a hobby than a job, do you want to spend half of your income meeting with an attorney? Did product review blogging just get a little less fun?

And then there's the corporate aspect.

I realize that the companies offering products for review have their own bottom lines and legal responsibilities to look after, but is it fair for Big Corporate to ask a small independent blogger to shoulder a potentially large liability?

What if the blogger writes a review based on information provided by the company? Review products are typically accompanied by a fact sheet or two and bloggers may incorporate this information into a review. If these facts are later found to be more like wishful thinking, should a blogger be held liable spreading untruths?

And speaking of Big Corporate vs. Small Blogger, I was once offered the chance to host a fabulous giveaway for my readers just for posting a video a PR firm was trying to help go viral. I thought the video was pretty funny and the giveaway would have been a real treat, but the PR hack mentioned some documents I needed to review to seal the deal.

Those documents included a waiver releasing the company behind the brand mentioned in the video from any liability associated with me posting it on my blog.

Huh?

I couldn't imagine any harm that would come from showing the video on my blog, and the PR hack repeatedly reiterated how harmless the forms were as he encouraged me to sign off on them. I refused. I couldn't see any reason for a mom blogging from her kitchen to indemnify a multi-million dollar corporation, even if it meant giving her readers the chance to win a $100 gift card.

I mean, I like you guys; I'm thankful for my readers, but I'm not gonna risk the ranch (ranch house, really) for you.

I'm all for honest, thoughtful product reviews, or honest, funny reviews, but the liability and potential FTC crackdown concerns me.

How about you? Whether you are on the PR end or the corporate end, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Further reading: Advertisers brace for online viral marketing curbs in the Financial Times.
My musings on marketing to moms.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Can I make horseradish from scratch?

Amy over at MomAdvice writes up what she calls a weekly notebook experiment where she often tries making this or that new food. I channeled her as I decided to whip up a batch of horseradish for this week's Passover seders. Horseradish is the condiment of choice for gefilte fish, which itself is the traditional Passover appetizer. If you click on this link, you will understand why I chose to try the condiment, rather than the fish.

When I Googled for a recipe, I found one from my blog sister Andrea from Andrea's Recipes. I know she knows food, so I gave her recipe a try. I noticed that she made hers outside, but from what I learned on Google, sensed I could try it indoors without overwhelming my senses.

Unlike what you see on her blog. I began with one long, firm horseradish root. It was so huge, it resembled a femur (but feel free to insert a phallic or dildo joke in the comments if you're up for it).

In my kitchen, I chopped it by hand into 2 inch bits and tossed it into a blender with water and cider vinegar, per the recipe. I'd also roasted a few pieces of beet and added a handful of those to the blender. It gives the prepared horseradish a nice pink color and adds a hint of sweetness.

I decided to run the blender on our porch because I'd read that this is where the smell can start getting unbearable. A few minutes later, my pink condiment was almost ready. I lined a colander with paper towels and drained my mixture.

After draining it for a minute or two, I spooned the mixture into storage containers. That's when the fumes became intense. My eyes stung and began to water as I scooped up the prepared horseradish.

I called DH in for a taste test (I'll wait to eat it at seder). It didn't make him cry, but I don't know if that's good or bad. He likes intensely spicy foods that give him a near-death experience. Me? Not so much.

On a related note, do you include a Miriam's Cup as part of your seder? Click through for ideas on how to incorporate this. After all, a little Girl Power is a good thing. Unless you ask my niece (just click).

Also, you don't have to be Jewish to love this amazing Passover dessert that's good all year long.

Cross-posted to Scrambled Cake.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Guess where I am today?

Guest posting over at Ask Patty, the go-to site for women and cars.

I'm writing about the Subaru Fantasy Rally I attended last fall. It was the most fun I've ever had driving a car. Take a peek.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Fun: Perpetual Kid

You know you don't need fridge magnets that look like chewed up gum.

You can get by without underpants for the squirrels in your backyard.

And yet, this site is sooo appealing. Grab a cuppa Joe and check out Perpetual Kid's unique gifts to entertain your inner child.

Via Jessica on Twitter.

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