Life is an adventure and I love sharing mine. I published my first family travel story back in 2005. In 2008, I returned to travel writing after a press trip to Club Med (spurred by this post).
In 2009, I contributed to TravelingMom.com as their Educational Traveling Mom Blogger. I wrote feature articles for the site, as well.
I'm not opposed to sitting on a beach for a day or two and massages are a welcome addition to any trip, but my family enjoys active vacations where we keep busy, see new sites and try new things.
Published Feature Stories:
New Items Make Family Travel Easy and Fun
Chicago Foodie Factory Tours
Club Med Punta Cana: Family Fun
Club Med Punta Cana: A Romantic Vacation
Dare to Stand Out on Skydeck Ledge (Sears/Willis Tower)
Grand Adventures in the Grand Canyon State (Chicago Parent; no longer online)
Learning in Louisville: Factory Tours Make it Fun
Find Fall Color in Galena, Illinois
Because a picture is worth a thousand words, I also share stories on Whrrl:
The Sofitel Chicago
And on YouTube:
Maker's Mark Bourbon Distillery Tour, Kentucky
Sears Tower Skydeck Ledge (now Willis Tower)
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Life is an adventure and I love sharing mine. I published my first family travel story back in 2005. In 2008, I returned to travel writing after a press trip to Club Med (spurred by this post).
Friday, August 28, 2009
Now that the school year has begun(!), I feel the need to regroup on many levels. Some levels are psychological, some are organizational, and some are all about food. By the time we reach late August it seems like most of our meals come from reaching into the freezer and pulling out whatever isn't coated with a 2-inch layer of "protective ice." Not good.
I need to start thinking about meal planning both for dinner, school lunches and quick, healthy snacks. Plus, I'd like to get out of my awful (and expensive) habit of multiple runs to the grocery store each week.
So I'm looking forward to next week's webinar with ConAgra and Phil "The Supermarket Guru" Lempert. On Wednesday, September 2, he's hosting a free webcast from
1-2 CST (2-3 EST, 11-1 PST) and it's open to all.
Phil will be sharing money-saving shopping tips, lunch box alternatives (my boys are bored after five years of jelly sandwiches, but cannot seem to move beyond them) and quick meal ideas.
He's a lively and entertaining speaker, full of interesting food facts. More importantly, I always learn helpful tips and tricks from him. But if that's not enough, there will be giveaways throughout his presentation, too.
This is a client project, but one that really interests me as a mom. Most of my work with ConAgra is behind the scenes consulting, but I'm happy to put myself in from of the brands when it's a good fit, as this is. I hope you'll join in!
Click to register for the event. You can follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #FoodsULove on Wednesday, 9/2.
See MommySnacks for a pre-event giveaway of Phil Lempert's book and $50 of ConAgra coupons.
Posted by Kim Moldofsky at Friday, August 28, 2009 ******
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
A few of my blog friends started using Whrrl, an application that let's people share their stories through photos. When I first saw it, it seemed like TMI. I really don't need to see my friends' trips to the grocery store. So when I saw the Whrrl people at the pre-BlogHer09 Social Luxe party, I didn't pay them much mind.
But then it dawned on me that it might be a convenient way to share or enhance my travel stories, even though I don't have an iPhone. An iPhone makes it easy to share stories in real time. But if you know me, you know that I avoid mobile web surfing. When I'm out and about, I try to focus on where I'm going and what I'm doing, not to mention who I'm with. I spend so much time glued to my screen at home that it's good for me to step away from the virtual every now and then.
At any rate, I have not yet succumbed to the iPhone, but I clicked to Whrrl and I liked it. Take a look.
What do you think? Interesting addition to the social media toolkit?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Maybe it's the bad weather we've had most of the year in Chicago. Maybe our kind Midwestern attitudes have simply gone south. All I know is that a couple of my Chicago Moms Blogs friends have admitted to the same concerns I have about gratitude.
Like Tracey, who's in the midst of her own personal gratitude challenge, I'm good at finding the silver lining once I've taken time to explain the cloud hanging over my head, but have to check my gag reflex when it comes to writing or reading about all sunshine and rainbows.
Maybe that's the Midwestern vibe- keeping it real. Complain about a harsh winter and a lack of sunshine (or the deeply personal internal version of such) balanced out by a few hours of Oprah's latest tips and quips.
Snarky Susan admitted that she recently woke up with an unexpected thought. To quote: What if I changed every "I hate" statement I hear in my head to an "I love" statement. I know, I gagged, too, but that hazy, waking, early morning brain is hard to control and, unbidden, it started to make the conversions. Don't panic, there was no epiphany. But it did make me smile to myself in a genuine, unsnarky way — especially when I heard "I love school-related paperwork" whispered in my inner ear — and it got me thinking, which always a dangerous thing.
Interestingly, that bit is an outtake on a post inspired by my gratitude challenge.
So here's the thing- we need to keep it real. We also need to be enjoy life's wonders, but sometimes a bit of self-pity, whining or self-deprecation serves its purpose. Sometimes we need a friend who will join us at our pity party. Someone who understands our troubles, who does nothing but holds our hands and listen without judgment. Someone who gives us space for our sadness or grief before pointing out the rainbow just behind our little storm.
And sometimes we need this:
TinyPrints folks prefer to say, "Take Note. Give Thanks." But, you know, this works, too.
In the spirit of Gratitude with an Attitude, I'm offering up this puzzle for my third Cluttercast. Do you need help snapping out of a funk, cleaning up your mental space so you can find where you left those rose-colored glasses? I'm here to help!
I will send along the puzzle pieces, which I safely ensconced in a ziptop bag after taking the above picture.
Leave a comment letting me know why you'd like this puzzle. Make me laugh, make me cry. I've not yet defined the criteria for choosing a cluttercatcher. This Cluttercast will run for one week, ending at noon on August 30.
Take a peek at the other bloggers participating in the gratitude challenge:
Dawn and Tara
And keep tabs on us all (including several TinyPrints staff members) The Gratitude Challenge.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The Gratitude Challenge is about stopping, looking, reflecting and appreciating the goodness and beauty that surround us. I've been talking with my boys about this and we're trying to practice it.
It's funny how toddlers and preschoolers, so new to the world, do this naturally. It's impossible to walk from Point A to Point B without discovering an interesting insect or some fascinating find. I miss those days, though admittedly, I get tired just thinking about life with toddlers.
When one of my now big boys pointed out this nest he discovered, I stopped to take note as well.
Especially because the full scene looked like this:
I had dumped the green shredded paper out of my gratitude box and when one of my boys cracked eggs and tossed the shells into the garbage, he accidentally created this nest. We all had a good chuckle over it.
(As I type this, I don't know why I didn't put the shreds into the recycling can. I'm an avid recycler. We sometimes compost the shells or crush them and toss the bits into the garden.)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The folks at TinyPrints put together a thoughtful package of 21 writing prompts for each day of the Gratitude Challenge and here I am going off on my own. (Also I'm headed offline for about 24 hours, so I wanted to get this up.)
So with apologies, I offer a few thoughts on Shabbat, as I think I will for the next two Fridays. The Jewish Sabbath starts Friday at sundown and runs through Saturday until three stars grace the evening sky. Though we've fallen way off the Shabbat bandwagon during our hectic last year, in theory, we have a nice family meal on Friday nights and I have the boys write in the Shabbat Journal.*
When they were younger, I did all the writing. I'd share a funny story or two from our week, write about a milestone one of the boys reached and tack in a photo or two (this was before we went digital). Those old books are a gift, a priceless treasure.
We recently snuggled up poured over a few of the old books and, oh, the laughs! Oh, the memories! And oh, those cute, silly little boys I used to have!
In recent years since the boys have been writing, the entries are not nearly as, um, "rich" and they are much harder to decipher, but I like that they take a more active role in creating this family time capsule. In between many notes about what level they are on their latest Mario or P0kemon game, they write about a friend who slept over, a party they attended or something about school. A tiny snapshot of childhood happiness.
The Shabbat Journal is not only a time capsule. It is, in essence, a gratitude journal. About two weeks ago, I bought a plain sketchbook and handed it to the boys: Start writing, it's been a while.
One boy jotted down the required number of sentences (currently three "good ones," but I'm thinking of raising it to five), while the other decided to sketch out scenes from our July trip to Kentucky.
My friend Susan from Two Kinds of People mentioned in a recent post that when she finds spare change, she tosses it into a Tzeddakah (charity) box** with a little prayer. That inspired this post, because it called to mind a story recorded in one of our "ancient" Shabbat journals.
I was out walking with my only son about ten years ago and we found a $10 bill. After we recovered from the initial excitement, I let my toddler hold it in the stroller as he talked about the many things he would buy with it. When we arrived home, a mere two short blocks later, the bill was gone. Once he'd processed the shock and sadness, I told him the old cautionary fable about not counting one's chickens until they hatch and decided that from then on when we found money that wasn't ours to begin with, we should put it in our Tzeddakah box.
I'd love to hear about your treasured family traditions and keepsakes.
*Writing on the Sabbath is technically forbidden, but we are not technical Jews.
**When we "do" Shabbat, along with a nice meal with challah (egg bread) and dessert(!), lighting candles, writing in the journal, and calling my husband's grandma (which we always do, regardless if what's going on at home), we toss a few coins in the Tzeddakah box. Once a year or so we gather up all the change and make a donation to an important cause.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
In keeping with 21-Day TinyPrints Gratitude Challenge, I'm going to write about a blogger outreach event I attended today. I appreciated the truly an original approach. I mean, have you been to many parties the car wash?
Yes, party at the car wash.
With a bit of inspiration from consultant Beth Rosen, the folks from Allstate held an event to introduce us to Allstate's Vehicle Vibes and Friender Bender sites. Ironically, on the drive downtown, I nearly got swideswiped on the expressway thanks to some lady on her cell phone. After I honked her away from my car, she sort of shook her phone in smiling apology, as if to say, "Sorry, I nearly smashed into your car, but, can't you see I'm talking to my boyfriend right now?"
Grateful to have survived my ride, I arrived to be greeted by Marcia Hansen's good hands. Wait, make that the good hands of the massage therapist who was there to relax us while our cars got primped and polished. Yeah, baby.
Car wash, shmar wash; this was an upscale happening. Not only that, but some of Chicago's most connected women in social media were shmoozing about: The Local Tourist, Interactive Amy, Barb Maldonado, Second City Soiree, Jackie Cuyvers, my Chicago Moms Blog Pals Lori and MJ and other fab women.
It was a unique and well-done event at which I made many connections. For that I am grateful.
Speaking of connections, in conjuction with the Gratitude Challenge, today we opened the surprise book, a gratitude journal in which I completed today's assignment, an alphabet of gratitude. Please note that I had a little help on this assignment from some anonymous helper elves.
Etiquette (how else would we know how to behave?)
My mom (aww)
Nana (my mom)
Pancakes, Possibilities, Pokemon
Quiet moments, Quagga
Rock and Roll
X (X-rays and xylophones were the obvious answers, which we avoided in favor of a blank)
Yesterday, today and tomorrow
Zenses (DS game series. Someone was grasping at straws here)
Check out things for which other Gratitude Challengers are thankful. And add your thoughts in the comments.
Anna from Finding Bonggamom
Misty from My Inspiration Lounge
Lea from TinyTalk, the TinyPrints blog
Monday, August 17, 2009
As I veteran blogger I receive no shortage of invitations to write on behalf of other companies and sites...for free. And I'm done with that. I've had enough exposure and link love. If I'm asked to write, I want to get paid.
That said, when I was approached by TinyPrints to take part in their Gratitude Challenge- 21 Days of not just rosey-eyed blogging and vlogging, but real-life gratitude for the people around me- I jumped on it. It feels less like an onerous task than it does a divine intervention.
I've been grumpy lately. About DH's continued unemployment and a whole lot of other stressful issues. And my boys. My bright, beautiful boys, they cannot be in the same room with each other for more than 10 seconds without one of them starting a fight. We've got about ten days before the start of school, which. Ugh. School. Don't get me started.
So all this anger and bitterness has been building inside me (Therapy? Who can afford that?) and the chance to step back for three weeks and recognize, name and feel grateful for the positive things in my life is welcome. And a challenge.
For example, I got a wonderful little goody bag from the TinyPrints folks (photos here on Jessica's blog and Kimberle's blog) last Friday, but we where in the midst of setting up for our garage sale. Multi-minded me had the good sense to put it aside until I could savor whatever was treasures were inside. So when things were running smoothly, I sent one of my boys to fetch the box. Moments later, out came to boys holding various items that had been tucked inside. And I yelled (not YELLED, but still) at them for opening the box instead of bringing it to me.
And now I sit here with the lights low and my children quiet. I return to my box and see a note reminding me to spend a few minutes each day counting my blessings. (Gah! note to self: remember to pick up desserts for Friday night services as we're hosting Kiddush in honor of our anniversary event though we won't be at services. Or should I go late to my book group and attend services even though DH can't, which makes the anniversary nod a potentially awkward situation even though our absences are a matter of timing. But if I want to goof with people's minds I can change my Facebook relationship status, too. Just for fun.)
Oh, where was I? Yes, take a deep breath with me. Cleansed are we?
Day 1 challenge, which I'm meeting just in the nick of time, is to sign the contract making a public commitment to participating in the full 21 day challenge (which will be so much easier once school starts, if you forget about homework fights and carpools, that is).
I will blog, vlog or post photos about my progress 2-3 a week for the next three weeks. Heck, I've even got a Cluttercast, I'm going to work into this!
Okay, for real. Today I am thankful for our bounty. If the garage sale made one thing clear, it's that we can do with so much less than we have.
I am grateful for my boys even though raising highly gifted children provides unique challenges (see items 6 and 7 from the link).
I am grateful for my husband and the chance to escape with him for a night in Chicago without our fabulous boys.
Will you join me on this journey? When you slow down and close your eyes (and, erm, your laptop) what are you most grateful for?
The fine print: All Gratitude Challenge posts will be on this blog or the blog of my choosing, given that I write on several sites. My participation in this project is voluntary. I am not getting paid for my participation, though I did receive a box with a t-shirt, personalized note cards (cute!) and a book of inspiring quotes and two mystery gifts ("another book," my boys assure me). I am free to mention or link to the brand as I see fit; there is no requirement to do so. I provide this information not only in the name of disclosure, but also because I'm often curious to know how different types of brand outreach work. If I show you mine, maybe you'll show me yours, so to speak. I especially hope that as I share my gratitude and good fortune, you'll share yours, as well!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
We did it! We hosted a garage sale last Friday and Saturday. It was exhausting, but we got rid of so much stuff and made a tidy bit of cash in the process. My biggest fear was that we wouldn't even bring in enough to cover the $40 print ad in the local paper. But we paid for it a few times over. Phew!
I know! Why did a social media mom like me even bother with a print ad? Tradition, I guess. That sais, I think most people found us via signage or Craigslist. The ad did seem to bring in a variety of older women, most of whom smelled like they had been driving around in ashtrays.
Who cares about my old crap or how much money we made? There was some fabulous people-watching to be done!
Even before the final hour, I headed out to the Salvation Army with three boxes of items and a 2 drawer file cabinet. Today, we dropped off three or four more boxes and the Hadassah resale shop. And there's still much random crap in the garage. Could our household discards and have somehow multiplied in between customers?
It's an embarrassment of riches. Well, not riches exactly. The thing is we're hardly conspicuous consumers. But, ugh, So. Much. Stuff.
DH said that seeing our household discards all on display along with the low, low prices at which we sold them is making him think about our spending habits even more. He likes the idea of us spending money on experiences- vacations, concerts, lessons and whatnot--more than just buying more things.
I have to admit I agree.
One more note: A pox on adults who can walk by a child at a lemonade stand and not buy, especially when it's only 25 cents a glass! My boys should have cleaned up with the amount of traffic that stopped by. I think they made about $5-$6 over two days. I sent out a tweet about this and it's clear my Twitter pals are with me on this one.
In fact, I was about to give a customer an extra quarter in change, so she could buy a drink from my son. She turned me down, which I assumed mean she would pay for it herself, but she walked right by my boy!
Spend money on experiences (that includes good food, IMO).
If you see kids selling lemonade, stop and buy it even if you secretly dump it on the street before getting back in your car. Bonus karma: let the kiddos keep the change.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Chicago CBS2 News recently ran a two-part series on mommybloggers, with the splashy title: Secrets of Mommybloggers. I'm not sure if the secrets are that we get free product for review (that's a secret? I guess it is if a blogger does not disclose; I do) or that mom bloggers can make a lot of money (um, let's reclassify that as a myth, shall we?).
This mommyblogger's secrets include the fact that I sometimes blog in my underwear.
The CBS crew might find that tantalizing. What they did not grab onto was my response when they contacted me back in June about this series. They wanted my thoughts on the proposed FTC regs, blogging for pay and making money off my blog. (Notice the lack of ads?). My thoughts are below.
First props to my friend Alma, Marketing Mommy, and, well, I'm not sure what to say about Sheena. I met her at BlogHer and thought she was really sweet. I'm glad to see that upgrading her disclosure policy and becoming more transparent (honest) about her paid reviews, but I think she was played for a fool in the piece.
Kim Moldofsky [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2009 12:36 PM
Subject: RE: Blogger Story
Now there are many moms blogging for dollars, but before mombloggers became the Big New Thing, most moms started blogging as a creative outlet, to vent, and/or build a virtual community.
Even if you have a strong IRL (in real life) community, you can’t pick up the phone and call a mom friend to commiserate at 2 AM, but you can go online and connect with other moms who relate. You might not have pregnant women in your workplace, or on your block/in your apartment building, but you can connect with a group of women through BabyCenter.com or other sites to share your pregnancy stories. I know women whose baby groups stayed active for a decade beyond pregnancy.
Through my blog, I have formed friendships with women across the country and beyond. Blogging has opened up my world. I just ignore my husband when he makes comments about my imaginary friends.
Through the Chicago Moms Blog and its sister blogs, I’m connected to a fabulous network of smart, talented women who readily answer questions or share tips on anything from parenting to Facebook.
Blogging has also opened doors I never even knew existed. For example, last fall I spent the day at a rally driving school in New Hampshire thanks to Subaru (who I later did work for). The Subaru invitation was a result of an article in Automotive News in which I was quoted, which itself was a result of attending a GM Malibu test drive event. (Updated to add that hanging out with Nancy Pelosi trumped the driving school.)
Yes it’s fun to try new products and occasionally write reviews of them. And I think it’s great that blogging has also created money-making opportunities for women. Indeed, I consult as a Social Media Mom to help companies understand and connect with online mom influencers, but the feeling of community and the knowledge that I can share my voice in a way mothers of past generations could not are of key importance to me and many other mombloggers.
Are you still awake? Heartfelt as my note was, it obvioulsy didn't make for a very sexy, I mean newsworthy, story.
More on marketing to moms who blog.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Last month I wrote about gifted children and the summer slide, that period over the summer where the acquired knowledge and academic skills of most children takes a big dip, requiring 4-6 weeks of "catch-up each fall." I posited that if other parent frantically enroll their children in learning centers and academic enrichment this summer and I do nothing for mine, perhaps our children would be at equal levels this fall.
Anyway, it's a tough theory to test as my boys read practically 24/7. They have a difficult time completing their household chores as it's hard to change the garbage bag with a book in one hand. They stay up too late reading, we naturally do a fair amount of sciencey things, my 11-year-old is dabbling in game-making software. My boys keep busy and manage to learn without cracking a textbook or filling out a worksheet. Perhaps we should call this the Summer Soar.
So maybe it shouldn't surprise me that when I look over years of my children's MAP reports, an NWEA "Measurement of Academic Progress" test that they take in the fall and spring each year at school, their scores shoot up each fall, indicating a high degree of growth over each summer.
Contrasted with their peers whose scores have leveled or not risen and there's an even larger gap between my gifted boys and, well, almost everyone else in their class come fall.
When the boys attended the Gifted Academy, my name for the private school for gifted kids they attended for three years, a pattern emerged of large gains in the summer based on fall test scores, and small ones during the academic year based on spring tests. It was easy to spot trends on the graph that came with the MAP report.
At the public school my boys attended last year, the MAP reports look slightly different. These new reports have a column noting each child's expected academic gains. I don't know what units these gains are listed in, but of the three areas tested--Language Arts, Reading and Math-- one of my boys only made the "expected" gains in one core area. He only progressed 2/5 as much as expected in another and in math, he made no gains at all according to the MAP test (which is especially disconcerting as he was in an accelerated math class last year and earned good grades).
In theory, this means I should be able to meet with the principal and the school's academic advisors and draft a plan to ensure measurable learning and academic growth during the coming year. Right?
No, really, stop laughing. You're making me think that measurable academic progress is only important when it comes to ensuring that children meet the low standards set by No Child Left Behind. And that can't be true. All children in our nation's public schools deserve to learn and grow. Don't they?
More musings on parenting a gifted child.
*This post was originally inspired by a friend who noticed how her daughter morphed into as lively little information sponge over the summer. The mom pondered what will happen to the girl once she returns to school. She had the poor sense to seek my opinion, so I gave her useless assvice, which may actually provide useful (read: entertaining) fodder for a future post.
** While this was sitting in my queue, I learned that this month's Yahoo MotherBoard topic is Back to School, so now I may just be the first one in our group to post. W00t!
***I'm getting chocolate on my keyboard--a sure sign it's time to step away from the computer.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
There are certain items I can't even consider bringing to the resale shop. And yet, I can't toss them either, so say hello to my second ClutterCast.
Not only have I been decluttering, but I've been helping my mom do so as well. My parents no longer live in the house where I grew up, but they still have the bathroom art from it. Bathroom art?! Yes!
We had a guest bath that was filled with all manner of bathroom kitsch. It was one of those things that started with a cute bathroom-themed piece of art or two and then grew, as collections tend to, when people began to equate my parents with crappy bathroom art and by it for them.
At any rate, if you know someone who'd just love this framed picture of the smoking kitties or you'd love to pass on the urinal scene to your favorite Women's Libber, er, feminist, leave me a note in the comments. I'll run this for at least a week, maybe longer depending on interest (or lack of it?).
And now for the pieces:
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
I don't mean to sound like a greedy, whiny momblogger. After all, I blog with integrity. But when my youngest boy was leaving for camp this morning, the UPS guy dropped off a package from an office supply store, I forget which one, LOL. I'm participating in a webinar the company is sponsoring later this week on back-to-school organization, something I really need, and I recalled a mention of the sponsor sending related product.
I gave my eager 11-year-old son permission to pry open the mystery box, and what good have been a nice surprise, left us saying, "What are we going to do with all this stuff?" See, the box full of goodies went from boom to bust because it was filled with pink, heart and flower-filled folders, notepads and whatnot. Honestly, I'd have to go back and inventory the contents. All my boy and I saw was girl.
No boy in my house is going to show up at school with any of that stuff. I'm open minded, if they want to carry around purple heart notepads, I'm all for it. Believe me; they don't want to.
So the boys are out and I don't need the items myself. The bounty is now a burden.
I won't throw it out. I'm not going to host a giveaway because then I have to pay for shipping. Do I donate it to the school? A women's shelter? Now I'm spending my increasingly precious brain space (believe me) and time (camp ends in three days!) on what to do with these items.
I'm not resentful, just a bit annoyed. I would have kindly passed on the package had I known the contents. I hate to see things to go waste, so the fact that someone wasted effort to send me product that I don't want frustrates me. Also, maybe I have PMS. At any rate, this gets me thinking about an old post of mine: Mommy Bloggers are Pro-Choice.
It also recalls a conversation I heard from the MOB (Mothers of Boys) at BlogHer. It seems there is a perception that mommybloggers only raise future mommybloggers*, that is, girls. But you know us mommybloggers, always something to whine about....
*(Though hooray for PBS for gender-neutral booklights. That is, if moms of girls consider black gender neutral. And kudos to Lego for providing Lego keychains in a whole rainbow of colors.)
Click to read my more coherent thoughts on marketing to mommybloggers.