Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Teenage Werewolf: I loved this book! And a giveaway!

My interest piqued by the real-life story of a mom who followed her adolescent daughter around for the better part of a year, I accepted a review copy of Lauren's Kessler's My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, A Daughter, a Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence.

Even though I have boys, much of what Kessler wrote about her middle schooler daughter applies to my son of the same age. The book's premise is shocking at first- Kessler shadows her daughter (with permission, but still...) at school, online, in the wrestling ring and on the athletic field. It sounds horrifying! Like she's one of those overparenting, helicopter "smothers" who lack boundaries and is completely controlling. Only Kessler pulls it off for the most part.

The book starts out with information on adolescent development with a focus on brain growth (or lack thereof) and how it affect teen behavior. As you might recall, the emotional life of a teenage girl is quite a roller coaster ride. And I can see how it's even trickier to negotiate a second adolescence via a daughter than a son (though, believe me, it's still no picnic).

I found the early chapters informative and reassuring. Kind of like when a friend's toddler has blowout tantrum in front of you and you are relieved to know that it happens to other moms, too. Honestly, I wanted to hug Kessler at times, which is maybe why I trusted that her intentions were good, that she truly set out to be more Margaret Mead than Mommy Dearest.

True, at times she crossed the line between observer and participant, but I was on her side, so I forgave her. Plus, I know how hard it is to walk that line.

My Teenage Werewolf is at turns an interesting companion, an insightful friend and a fun read.

Edited to add: I received word that I've been cleared to give away three copies of this book. The first one goes to SoCal Mom who commented even before I offered up a book (and has a teen daughter).

The other two are up for grabs. To enter to win a copy of this hardcover book, leave a comment and make sure I can reach you via email. Enter by 2:00 PM CST on Friday, Sept. 10 and I will randomly choose winners and notify them by the same time on September 13.

Congrats to book winnders Daisy and Michelle!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to School with 100 Pencils. Or Maybe Just 50.

100 pencils. That is the number my 5th grader’s school supply list dictates he bring into his classroom when school starts. Is he supplying the whole class? Have they adopted a school in Haiti to which they are sending extra supplies?

I question my son about the need for so very many pencils. He tells me the number sounds right to him because he goes through a pencil a week (through loss or theft. Theft?). Um, Mr. Advanced Math Student, there are 52 weeks in a calendar year and about 36 or so during typical school year.

Everyone to whom I mentioned this number has had the same reaction: 100 pencils?!

***

This year I am determined to use as many leftover school supplies as I can before purchasing new ones. Given that my boys have been attending elementary school for years, we have a huge glut of old, half-used supplies.

But few of my stock items match this year’s supply list. I used to regard The List as one might the very tablets on which the 10 Commandments were forged. One year I ran to three or four stores looking for the specific line of watercolors the art teacher asked the parents to supply.

Never again.

Now The List may indicate Crayola, but I’ll buy the RoseArt if it’s cheaper. Whatever damn brand of glue stick comes packaged in the correct quantity is the one that winds up in my shopping cart. And I’m sure that my mega box of 300 tissues is just as good (it’s better, really) than two boxes of 100 tissues each. I just hope the teacher looks at the number of tissues rather than the number of boxes my child brings in.

Speaking of the right quantities. I have just enough 3×5 note cards for the 5th grader. Woot! But my 7th grader is supposed to have 4×6 note cards. Does it really matter if they are 4×6 or 3×5? I convince myself that it just might, so now 4×6 cards on are my shopping list.

Did I say shopping list? My husband insists that I needn’t make any purchases due to the many supplies alrready around the house. True, I’m bundling up gently used pencils instead of buying a new ones, I’m gathering items, like pens, that have been scattered about the house and I’ve got the above-mentioned note cards, but I still need a few more things.

“Hogwash!” the husband says.

“No,” I counter. “I need to buy. See we have a perfectly good box of fine point markers, but the 5th grader needs broad stroke markers. And I have a decent old pack of 12 colored pencils, but they each need a packet of 24.” (Damn, I guess despite my small rebellions, I continue to regard The List as the word of God.)

“I’ll take care of the school supplies,” he volunteers.

I look at him quizzically.

He announces that he is going to pack up the supplies he thinks the boys need without regard to what their teacher thinks they need. He has no regard for The List.

I roll my eyes at him. “That’s crazy talk,” I insist even as he convinces the 5th grader to fill an old pencil box with a rainbow full of markers from my overflowing craft bin rather than have me buy him a new box.

How do you handle this? Does a new school year dictate new…everything? Or do you try to be thrifty or green by re-using what you can? Do you follow the list down to its tiniest detail or do you fudge here and there?

And how many pencils should I send to school with my 5th grader?

This post was inspired by the Yahoo Motherboard members who are talking about about going back to school this month.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Wayback Edition

I spent a lot of time scanning old photos this summer. It started out as a way to prepare for Thing 1's upcoming bar mitzvah. Of course we will have the obligatory photo montage, but we didn't go solidly digital until he was about five years old. Amidst the baby and toddler photos, I few a few other family gems.

Me before I was a mom (I really was a dolphin trainer!):


My mom, long before she was a mom:


And my grandparents before they were parents:



Saturday, August 21, 2010

Proof that I'm doing it all wrong

The other day I announced that MomImpact is giving away a scholarship package to the Type-A Mom Conference.

Yeah,
so I don't need the pass I purchased and rather than get a refund, I thought I'd pass it along to a MomImpact member.

I know that to really get a bang for my buck, I'd open this up to all interested bloggers, I'd make them link back to me in their entry posts and tweet their entries and Like MomImpact on Facebook (woot- finally go that vanity url). To make a splash, I'd require potential recipients to jump through any number of hoops that promote MomImpact along the way.

But I didn't.

Passing on my pass is a way to build community, it's a way to support a MomImpact member that has supported me even before she knew I could save her a few hundred bucks on a conference pass.

I really just want to help a member who otherwise might have not made it to the conference. I want to read about why she wants to go and how she will make an impact at the conference and with her blog. I want to hear her thoughts more than I want to use her to support my brand.

And though I'd certainly like the women who enter to mention or link back to MomImpact in their posts, it didn't feel right to require it.

So I'm excited to help a blog sistah out, but I can't help wonder if this make me a #PRFail.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to Disable Facebook Location Tags

Maybe you don't want all of your high school pals to know where you are. Maybe you don't want your boss/mother/spouse/stalker du jour/nieces and nephews and other random peeps to know where you are.

Click for Valleywag's instructions on how to disable Facebook's location based tags. I might be kind of a buzzkill at parties and blogger events, but I'll feel safer and my clients won't know I'm out partying when I should be working. ;-)

Think I'm paranoid? Check out Please Rob Me.

Parenting Gifted Children: Afterschooling and Head Rush

I'll credit Jen from Laughing at Chaos for introducing me to the term afterschooling. That is, supplementing your gifted child's mind-numbing day at school with enriching math, science or language arts activities after the school day is complete.

If you're an "afterschooler" the Science Channel has got your back this fall with Head Rush, their new programming block. Launching on August 23, this new programming block offers an hour of commercial-free exciting science-minded programming hosted by Kari Byron of MythBusters.

The programming block will feature content from Mythbusters, but the episodes will be selected with pre-teen sensibilities in mind, so you won't be fumbling for the remote as I was recently when the regular old Mythbusters episode featured a man getting shot in the family jewels (or maybe it was about a suspicious pregnancy myth, all I know is it was time to change the channel).

Kari's role as Head Rush host will include interviews and other special features and, I hope, many reminders about safety precautions.

For those of you who aren't into watching TV on weekdays during the school year, what with homework and extracurricular activities and all, Head Rush will also have a two hour block each Saturday morning for your tween's viewing pleasure.

Head Rush airs on the Science Channel weekdays from 4-5 ET, 3-4 CT, and 4-5 PT and from 7-9 on Saturday mornings.

And just to prove what a MythBuster's geek I am, here's an old screenshot I took about (circa 2009ish) when show host Adam Savage tweeted a shout-out to my boys, one of whom was getting over a stomach bug. I get coolness point with my kids however I can.


Also, I took my tween boys and two friends out for iCream the other day and Mythbusters was mentioned no less than three times, so I think the Science Channel folks are on to something. iCream is Chicago's hottest spot for cool treats. They blend your custom liquid ingredients into ice cream with the help specially outfitted mixers and a dash of liquid nitrogen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday Caption Contest

As I was loading a group photo from the recent Kenmore Blogger Summit onto MomImpact (they are a client. And, yes, the summit was fabulous.) I noticed this in the background. Needless to say, I posted a different photo on MomImpact, but I had to post this snippet here.

While the lovely Heather Spohr innocently smiles for the camera, behind her back Redneck Mommy and NYCityMama are, well, what the hell is going on there?

This just begging for a caption, don't you think?
Leave your suggested caption below and the one that makes me snort my drink through my nose will win a Dunkin Donuts gift card that I have sitting on my bookshelf (it's loaded with $5 or $10 dollars I think; don't know if it's good in Canada, though).

Comments posted prior to noon August 25 at noon CT will be eligible for the gift card, and those that are deemed obscene or unfit for the general public will not be posted.

And yes, I got permission from Tanis and Carol before posting this photo.

So, what did Tanis tell Carol to cause that reaction?!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Parenting Gifted Children: No, you cannot build a bomb in the backyard

2010 will go down as the best summer of geek camp ever. Now, these often pricey science, chess, math and arts camps don't always provide their value in content, or even in instructors, but they do typically provide a positive social setting for the child who is, say, more mathlete than athlete or who cares more about Bach than baseball.

In recent weeks my older boy completed courses in roller coaster physics, robotics, and pyrotechnics AKA combustion AKA blowing things ups.

One of these (literally) mind-blowing experiments involved hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil. Yes, did you know you had the makings of a bomb in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets? Suffice to say we all learned a little something new this summer.

Well, this little experiment caused a small explosion in our house when said child came home eager to replicate the activities of his class. Foolish me had told the excited child that he could show us what he did in camp that day. However, when he mentioned the HCl, a dangerous, toxic material I hadn't handled since I cleaned dolphin tanks in Hawaii (and that was wearing work gloves and a gas mask) I got a little suspicious.

DH and I were both concerned that the teacher would send kids home to try out such a dangerous "experiment" without written instructions and a long list of safety precautions, so I had a heated discussion with one of the camp administrators the next day that started out something like, "What the hell is going on in these classes?!" at least in my mind that's how it began.

It turns our my eager child with serious selective hearing issues missed the multiple Do Not Try This At Home warnings. Oops.

One of the ways I rationalized loving my small house, especially after the Columbine tragedy, was that my kids would never be building bombs without my knowledge in such a cozy space. Now, I'm not so sure.

Stay tuned for Part II of our pyrotechnic adventures, the one where my younger child nearly goes up in flames. Don't worry folks, it's all in the name of summer fun. And science!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chicago Blogger Event: Social Media Master's Summit

The Social Media Master's Summit takes place in Chicago on August 23 with brand/blogger speed dating and a VIP party followed by the actual summit on the 24th.

This promises to be a fun and informative event. I'm thrilled to be speaking alongside Esther Crawford*, Danielle Smith, and Miss Lori*, sharing experiences and tips about bloggers working with brands.

There's a special blogger registration fee of only $99.

In addition to great bloggers, there's a top-notch group of corporate social media and marketing pros on the agenda, too.

It can be hard to rationalize spending hundreds of dollars to head out of town for a blogger conference, so events like this make it easier to build your skills and your network on a budget. Let me know if you plan to join in!


*MomImpact member (woot!)

Answer: Soup, Mashed Potatoes and Apple Sauce

Question: what do you stock up on when your child is about to get a mouthful of braces?

Yes, "Phase II" orthodontia begins today, right before we head to school to pick up class lists, sign on to the PTO and put a few shekels in the hot lunch fund. Wish us luck on all accounts.

I'll be out at a blogger event all day tomorrow when the discomfort really sets in. I'm confident that soft foods, grandma's love and a day spent in front of TV/playing Wii (plus maybe a bit of Advil) will go a long way to ease the pain.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

About Kim

Kim Moldofsky is a Chicago-area Social Media Mom of tween boys. She writes about parenting gifted children (learn from her mistakes!) and marketing to moms, as well as whatever else catches her attention. She is also the founder of MomImpact, which connects brands and bloggers for conversations and events.

After staying home with her children until the youngest started kindergarten, her career was in the toilet. But she put on her big girl panties, so to speak, and now she's a published freelance writer, experienced problogger, oft-quoted influencer, informative speaker, and savvy consultant whose clients have included Kleenex, Kenmore, LeapFrog, ConAgra Foods and Subaru. Click below to learn more about her work.

Kim was the original managing editor of The Chicago Moms and is a former contributor to Chicago Moms Blog (a Nielsen Power Community) and BabyCenter's Momformation blog. In fact, she was quoted in Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging.

She is active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Posterous.

In March, 2010 Kim was a featured speaker at a Capitol Hill press event with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House leadership.

In late 2010, Hormone-colored Days was named as one of the 50 Best Blogs by Women. In 2009, this blog was named as one of the Chicago's top parenting blogs.

Speaking Engagements

MomBlogger Marketing

Blog Conferences, Brand Events and Retreats

Published Writing: Print and Online

Travel Writing

Web Coverage

Print Coverage: Noted and Quoted

Vlogging


December 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yahoo! Part 2

I was delighted to take part in an all-star panel at a Chicago-based Yahoo! marketing event in late July. Read more over at MomImpact.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tripped up by President Obama on LSD

As if the pouring rain didn't slow me down enough as I made my way to "Not BlogHer Chicago," I decided taking Lake Shore Drive would be quicker than I-94, but shortly after committing to the LSD route, I heard on the radio that President Obama was headedto town for his birthday.

I knew about his trip. What I hadn't known was that Obama's arrival would lead to a closure on LSD.

D'oh!

I'm not sure where he landed or if he was just dropped down off a ladder to a random skyscraper's rooftop, but I saw these guys pass overhead.


We had a blast at our party. Check out the photos.

Chicago Women Bloggers Support Tutus for Tanner

Noticing that the Tutus for Tanner tweetathon was showing up quite often in my Twitter stream, it dawned on me that we should incorporate it into our NotBlogHer Chicago party.
For a $5 donation, donors would get a fab picture of themselves in a tutu.

Of course, as the mom of two boys, I didn't have any tutus around the house. I stopped at Target and picked up two tutu, size 10 girls, the largest they had. It fit me like a garter, which is to say one leg per tutu.

So I quickly channeled the crafty and talented Kim and cut the tutus apart and sewed them together. At the party. Even though I was late. And talking to folks. And I goofed. And had to redo matching up the front sides more carefully this time. (Note: actual needle in hand.)


The first brave volunteer, Weasel Momma (before I joined the two skirts together)


Below: Sara, co-hostess, Self-Made Mom

Tracey from Just Another Mommy Blog
Jan James, who delighted us with her voice.
Amy
Me
And the winning picture below was shot at the end of the evening, when Kennedy, a nonblogging friend of one of the young bloggers at the party, dropped in her five bucks to wear the tutu. Looking at her, I think every 30 and 40-something year old woman in the room was nostalgic about her younger, less saggy body. But let's be honest, most of us never looked this good. (And speaking of looking good, don't I appear to be about 2 feet tall in this shot? Photo credit: Michelle Pendergrass

Did I mention with all the rushing out to buy tutus, I forgot to tuck a freshly charged battery in my camera? Sara helped out with her Droid and I received some photos from Amy as well.

We raised $65 for the cause. I'm off to make the donation.

Posted 8/6/10
Done!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Mega Bubbles


#NotBlogHer Chicago Party---tonight!

I cringe when I hear fab woman berate themselves for not going to BlogHer10. Yes, everyone is going to have a great time in NYC this weekend, but I believe we can have a little fun here, too. I rallied a few friends I knew were staying behind and we agreed to do something for our local blogging peeps.

Hope from Windy City Social, Sara from Self Made Mom (and The Chicago Moms) and I had brainstormed several ideas to help local woman bloggers connect, learn and have fun. In the end the one that stuck was cocktail hour(s) downtown at Theory.

Following the schmoozing and schnapps, we'll view Melissa Pierce's documentary, Life in Perpetual Beta. And a few bloggers will share favorite posts.

We're expecting a crowd of about 30 bloggers and I don't even recognize all of the names on the registration list. Lucky me! I get to make new blog friends and I don't even have to leave Sweet Home Chicago to do it.

P.S. We still have a few spaces left, leave a comment and I'll send you a link to the EventBrite registration page.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Yahoo! Motherboard Summit

The Yahoo! Motherboard Blogger Summit was an incredible experience. As one who in not going to BlogHer10, it was real treat to hang with many of my best blog friends while picking up new blogging tips and tricks at Yahoo.

Seeing that I was practically glowing upon my return, a real life friend asked if I got a good swaggy haul from the event. No, it was not that kind of thing. I mean, they gave us a nice branded laptop sleeve with a few Yahoo trinkets inside, but there was so much more to summit than swag.

I passed my bag on to Melanie, a local Motherboard member who was unable to make the trip, all while reassuring her that it wasn't a big deal that she missed out. I was crossing my fingers behind my back, you know in the way that makes it okay to lie, because really, the summit was fabulous.

We not only received a copy of The Yahoo Style Guide, we had a chance to pick the collective brains of its editors. The style guide is a thick paperback compendium of what one needs to know to write for the web. It's a must-have for any blogger that wants to go pro, though undoubtedly some of the lessons will disappoint: go for SEO-friendly titles instead of the clever turn of phrase ones, keep posts to 300 words. No wonder I'm where I am today.

Other informative sessions included the skinny on Yahoo! properties including Shine and Flickr, which I plan to start using thanks to the Pro Membership they gave us and my waning love for Whrrl (I wish they hadn't gone all location-based, society this and society that).

We saw an impactful presentation on cyber-bullying and got a chance to speak informally with a Nate and Victor from the Yahoo Accessibility Lab, which was really cool. Also, it made me feel guilty about every picture I've ever loaded without a description. Actually, I'm not even sure how to do it on Blogger; it's nice to know that Yahoo aims to make their content accessible to people with different abilities and physical challenges.

For a thorough recap of the sessions, check out Kimberly Coleman's Posterous blog. She took great notes and posted them all before I'd even packed to come back home.


Kudos to Amy Heinz, Jeanne Moeschler from Yahoo, as well as Stacy Libby and Nicole Rodrigues from Voce and the many "Yahoos" that made the Motherboard Summit such a wonderful event!

Yahoo covered my airfare, hotel and meals for this summit, but did not require me to write about it. My participation in the Motherboard is voluntary and unpaid. Okay, sometimes they send me lovely flowers. My husband never does.

Preparing for an "unofficial summit session" with Anne-Marie Nichols, Vanessa Druckman, Jennifer Perillo (provider of the sweets), Jessica Rosenberg and Ilina Ewen. I'll add links in later!

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