Category Archives: Stuff I have

Win Your Own Bit of Fabulous: a Vivienne Tam HP Wireless Mouse

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As I’ve mentioned before, my entire NYC Vivienne Tam experience with HP allowed this uber practical, coupon clipping, “never splurges on self” mommy to enjoy the luxury of a few beautiful things. It wasn’t something for my children or my family – it was just for me. Honestly folks, it’s unheard of around the parts. I am still so appreciative.

And now I want to share a small part of this experience with you. HP has graciously given me three Vivienne Tam HP Wireless mice to giveaway here on Morningside Mom. (Did you know they aren’t even available for purchase in the U.S.?) I am thrilled to be able to share a little bit of beautiful with you all.

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How do you enter? Simply leave a comment below explaining how everyday working, parenting, budgeting women can take care of themselves when they so often forget to. I will pick three inspiring comments and announce the winners on Friday, March 6th.

And one last bit of trivia about Vivienne Tam before I sign off. The enter key on the VT HP mini has a chinese symbol on it. Do you know what it means? It means “Double Happiness”. And now doesn’t that just make so much sense? I hope this giveaway brings a small bit of happiness to three of you.

Good luck!

**UPDATE – WE HAVE THREE WINNERS!**

Congrats to our three winners: Cami, Chandra and Carol! They wrote inspiring comments and I encourage you all to read them. In fact, I would encourage you to take a moment to read every comment here – what fantastic advice for women to follow. Thank you to everyone who participated, it means so much that you took the time to share this wisdom.

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Filed under Blog love, Contests, Gifts, HP, Mothers, Parenting, Stuff I have, Techie Stuff, Women, Working moms

Vivienne Tam: Giving Thanks and Feeling Worthy

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Do you know that feeling when you watch reality shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” and you see amazing things happen for people and you say out loud “that sort of stuff never happens to me”? Or how about the reality show “What Not to Wear”. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wear really nice clothes instead of jelly smeared jeans? I know these sorts of shows well. I watch, I smile and I think “not in a million years”.

Well, during my time in NYC, I kind of had an “Extreme Home Makeover / What Not to wear” moment. A real one. I think it would have made a great reality show actually. And it all has to do with Vivienne Tam.

As you know by now, I spent 4 amazing days in New York City for fashion week thanks to the folks at Buzz Corps, HP and Vivienne Tam. The entire experience in itself was “reality show” worthy in that this sort of stuff *SO* does not happen to me. I spent every day thanking everyone around me. I thanked drivers (oh wait I hugged him too), door holders, hotel folks, waiters, even random people I passed on the streets for slightly stepping out of my way. I was so damn grateful to be there. Every crack and crevice I happened upon heard my gratitude, loud and clear.

But then something even more amazing happened to all the bloggers on this trip. “What? MORE?!” I hear you mumble. Yes, more. We were given a gift.

We started out mid morning in our shuttle not exactly knowing where we were headed. When we pulled up to Vivienne Tam’s boutique, it was familiar to us after having been there the night before for her show. So we stepped out of the bus and walked in, curious. The entire space had changed into a “store” with racks of her dresses lined up, mannequins dressed, shoes and bags on display. We all wandered around, happy to see the goods in daylight for better pictures and also excited to see more of her line. We snapped pics, picked out favorites, held them up to each other, laughed at the possibilities and moved along.

And then Alan Wang, the Vivienne Tam boutique manager and all around very nice man, got our attention. He stood at the front of the store and thanked us for being here this week. He told us how much Vivienne Tam truly appreciates our support and that she recognizes the important work we do. And as a symbol of her gratitude, she would like to give us a gift. Each of us were welcome to pick out one dress. To keep.

Blank stares. It dawns on us. Mouths drop. Rushed whispering. Quiet squeals. And then me, “Can I hug you right now?”

I am not sure what he said next (although I remember that he diplomatically ignored my invitation for a hug, smart man), but it had begun to sink in. Kind of. We could pick a dress in that room to take home. To wear. To have. To feel fabulous in.

And we were off. Some spending time carefully considering. Others leaping on the handbags and shoes (understandably). And then there was me who grabbed one dress and dashed for the dressing room. What if they changed their minds? Quick. Let me get this on and out the door before they decide this isn’t such a great idea.

I wound up with the second dress I tried on. I truly felt amazing in it. I ran around the store in it. I teared up. Three times. Shamelessly. My friend Moosh in Indy saw my Hanes her Way and that’s cool by me. This was serious business. I got an amazing dress. A Vivienne Tam dress. Glamorous pieces of clothing like this just don’t exist in my life. But now one does. (And it is laughing at everything else in my closet as I write this.)

So what happened next? Just wait. Yes, there’s more.

That night we were welcome to attend another event back at the Vivienne Tam boutique. This was the official launch of the Vivienne Tam Hp Mini. Another night on the town? What better excuse to don our fab dresses. And that we did.

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I also brought my VT HP Mini with me. I just figured it would be good to have it since that evening was all about it.

And so what happens? Vivienne Tam arrives, speaks to her guests and then offers to sign anyone’s computers. So now, under my right hand in the bottom corner of my Mini, is Vivienne Tam’s signature. She signed it for me and you know what she said to me? She said I was so beautiful in her dress.

Wow. This mom with jelly smeared jeans and a leaking sippy cup in her purse could be beautiful.

It was a moment. To be sure.

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And that’s what the dress and the computer have come to represent. Women running around managing the insanity of their lives, elbow deep in dirty boy socks and sticky pots of mac and cheese DO deserve nice things. A dress like this, a computer like this – well, they are simply special things. Little bits of fabulous that remind you that you are actually “worthy” – socks and mac n cheese aside.

So I had that “What not to Wear” moment. And staying true to the thanking theme of my week, I thanked Vivienne Tam that night. I thanked her for making me feel more beautiful and special than I had in years.

My gratitude is endless, my heart is full and my sense of beautiful is in check.

For that (just one more time) I say: Thank you.

vtandme

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

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Filed under Blog love, Bloggers, Gifts, Giving respect, HP, Identity crisis, Mothers, One of those moments, Parenting, Shopping, Stuff I have, Techie Stuff, Women

Trying my Damnedest to Be a Part of It, New York, New York.

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Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today.

That’s right, the day has come. Morningside Mom is finally heading to the City. My parents have flown in to help take over all of that stay at home, groundhog day, going around in circles, cat corralling that I do on a daily basis. Today I fly away from the “oh so predictable” kid schedule of my life and drop into the land of fabulousness, cosmos, culture, no bedtime routines… hell, I’m about to go spend 4 days at the center of the universe.

Bring it on.

And I am going all for the sake of the Vivienne Tam HP Mini Netbook. See mine sitting there? All ready to go?  And the new uncomfortable looking but actually very comfortable shoes I bought for the trip? (Target, by the way. Don’t tell anyone.)

And check out that bag. My mom brought it back for me from Vietnam. The fabulous part is that the silk lining of that bag almost exactly matches the silk handbag that comes with the Vivienne Tam Netbook. Cool, huh?

Well. I think so.

So. Ok. Here I go then. I am going to try and blog as regularly as I can. I’ll be twittering it all too and uploading pics and video when I have something cool to share. And of course, I’ll be doing everything from my VT Netbook.

So here I go, leaving the mommy gig at the door. Off to be… um… fabulous.

I hope I don’t look as clueless as I feel. See you on the flip side.

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Filed under Bloggers, Packing, Panicking, Parenting, Stuff I have, Techie Stuff, Travel, Vietnam

Vivienne Tam HP Mini “Netbook” Review

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Ok folks. I got really lucky again. And I mean REALLY lucky. My favorite PR peeps over at Buzz Corps brought me into the fold of another project for HP. And a couple days ago, they sent me the product we’re reviewing this time. What is it? Oh, you’re gonna like this one. Its a Vivienne Tam HP Mini Netbook. It’s pretty damn fabulous – and I’m going to tell you why.

Now, I am going to warn you. I am going to post here all about how I endorse this product. But I am going to try my damnedest NOT to sound too much like an infomercial… I’m not sure I’ll succeed, but stick with me anyway, ok?

So to keep it interesting, I decided to also check out the 12 seconds site. Instead of typing a bunch of bladdy bladdy blah text, I thought I would try sharing my top 5 reasons why I love the HP Mini on there. Consider it my first stab at “Vlogging”, if you will. But I love the concept of the videos only being 12 seconds – its my personal guarantee that this review can’t get too boring. So check it out because if you’ve read this far, you clearly have an attention span of more that 12 seconds.

So here we go.

Reason #1: It has a camera

Reasons #2: It’s the perfect size

Reason #3: Lovely design = “Mommies Only”

Reason #4: It’s light

Reason #5: SD port for pics

(So, be honest. I really don’t think I got away without sounding a little bit like an infomercial, did I?  Yeah well, what are you gonna do. I’m sure Vanna White is quaking in her stilettos…)

Now there are certainly many other reasons why I like this mini so much. And I know that if you read on it will take more than 12 seconds, but bear with me if your interest is peaked now.

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While it is certainly very light and easy to pop open and work on just about anywhere, it also doesn’t get as hot as my other HP laptop. The weight and low temp make this HP Mini seem almost effortless – and extremely easy to curl up on the couch with. (I guess it should be no surprise it has an energy star rating, right?)

The operating system is Windows XP and comes with Windows Media Player (which I use all the time). But I know someone else who just put Windows 7 on theirs and it sounds like it is working great.

It has two USB ports, one of which I am using for the remote mouse, a headphone/mic jack, a network jack, an expansion port, an SD card reader, and a security cable connector. Along with its camera, the HP Mini has speakers to play tunes on (and for such a little thing, its speakers actually sound surprisingly good – about as good as my regular sized HP laptop).

I know I talked about the design in Reason #3 but I have to go over that point one more time. It is really lovely to look at. The design makes it feel very unique. This mini even comes with a silk cloth “clutch” that you can slip it into. From there, I slip it into my purse. And as I mentioned before, all the flowers and femininity acts as its own security system – my husband, brother, father and the rest of the dudes in my family won’t be taking it out in public to use. With no threats of it disappearing, this mini has become the uber Mommy laptop.

Ok, how about a couple cons? Well, once again, I would have to say the very shiny screen is a frustration (this has been an issue I’ve seen with most HP screens). The shininess is very pretty to look at initially but it is just too shiny. Its very hard to look at outside, especially if the mini is unplugged and the screen is not as bright.

The overall shininess of the Mini also means many finger prints. Finger prints (and other various types of smears) are a reality in this mother’s world. I feel like I need to wipe it down a lot to keep it looking beautiful.

Also the camera seems dark. I need to be outdoors or near very bright light to have any hope of being seen. Perhaps I don’t have a setting quite right but I have heard this is an issue for other VT users too.

**Update about the Webcam!**

While on our Vivienne Tam NYC trip, the wonderful HP rep who came along explained to us that some of the first VT HP minis still have a small bit of plastic over the webcam. She wasn’t exactly sure why it was left on, one idea was that it was to protect the camera from the paint treatment. Nevertheless, it is fixable. She actually opened each of our VT HP minis and peeled the piece of plastic off. If you are having issues with yours, I would call HP tech support and explain the problem. HP has now recommended that you do not try to do this on your own in case it causes unnecessary damage.

If you unplug the Mini fully charged, you really don’t have too long on it without having to power it up again. I think I’ve gotten a couple hours out of it, but that’s about it.

All in all, it is a fabulous ride. And my bottom line is: if you’re someone looking for something stylish and easy, something more than just a blackberry but less cumbersome than a regular sized laptop, you might want to check out one of these Vivienne Tam HP Minis.

In the meantime, I am going to hope the men in my family don’t get over their complex about flowers too soon and do finally walk off with the thing. Wish me luck.

For other blogger reviews of the HP VT Mini, visit this post of mine for links to each blogger involved in this review. They should be listed at the HP Website also. For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

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Filed under HP, Reviews, Stuff I have, Techie Stuff

This Week: My Thoughts, Some Causes and Other Stuff.

Do you ever call a best friend or favorite aunt or your mom and just chatter endlessly? Filling almost the entire hour conversation with everything you’re doing, what you’re thinking about and what you kids did this week? Never quite taking a moment to breath and allow the other person to get a word in edgewise? 

Please tell me you do this, because I do this ALL the time.

And guess what? I consider you are all close friends of mine, so I am going yammer on here for a little bit. Inspired by my “always the link lover” friend Florinda at the 3 Rs, I want to share some links that have me thinking this week as well as just some stuff I like. I am warning you, it will be haphazard, one sided and excessively chatty. But you all don’t mind right? That’s whats friends do, at least what my wonderfully patient friends do, I guess.

First of all, Ike. Yup, the hurricane. It busted right through Texas last week, remember? I know all I saw were live garbled feeds of newscasters positioning themselves in the wind, doing their damnedest to get knocked over. (Is that like some sort of notch on a weather forecaster’s belt? To get blown over during a hurricane?)  And then I saw some pretty insane damage being reported the following day. But then little by little, I haven’t heard much else thanks to our piss-poor economy and election updates.

Well, here’s the scoop. A fabulous blogger, Julie Pippert, expereinced the hurricane for herself. Please read her plea for help here. Things there are NOT ok. And as you will read in her post, a donation to the red cross, even $5, will make an enormous difference. Please consider giving.

How much disposable stuff do you go through? How many paper towels? How many grocery bags do you stuff in your closet or throw away? How many diapers do you use? How many wipes? The Crunchy Domestic Goddess is running a Ditch the Disposables Challenge for September and October. She is asking all of us to try and cut down on some of your disposable products. My goal is to not use paper towels or paper napkins but use cloth towels and sponges. (Shoot, its partially a selfish thing, paper towels are expensive!) Also I am desperately trying to keep using those cloth grocery bags. I think I am doing pretty well with it actually! They stay on my car front seat so I have them ready to go. Also, I am using my old plastic grocery bags as my trash bags and won’t buy actual trash bags either.

Can I just make one more plea for folks? Join the 29 Day Giving Challenge! It’s really been a lot more do-able than I expected. Plus, I am having fun trying to think up a new thing to give everyday. Often I have 2 or 3 things on my list!

Um, this is kind of an obvious one (but who am I to ignore the obvious). A veeery important election is coming up. Have you registered to vote? Do me a favor and please make sure you are registered.

If you know me, you know I feel very strongly about equal rights. One of these rights is marriage – loving couples of every sexual preference deserve the right to marry. A fantastic writer and person, Lesbian Dad, is living in CA. right now with her family. Please read her blog when you can, and this post has a great video to watch. If you live in CA., vote no on Propostition 8. But you certainly don’t have to live in CA. to donate to the cause, so please consider doing that if you can’t vote. There is a long way to go to change discrimination against same sex couples. Did you know that here in Florida, a same sex couple, or single homosexual person, cannot adopt a child? It’s outrageous.

Speaking of discrimination, do you know what I have been recently stressed out about? Racism in this election. I wonder why this election is so close when Obama seems like such a strong choice. I wonder if he were white, if the spread would be larger. I wonder if this country really wants change… or can change. I know there is a post coming about this in my future but read this post here from Momocrats about individuals out rightly admitting they would never vote for a “black”. (Shudder.)

So why should you really vote for Obama? In case you still need more convincing (and assuming race has nothing to do with your decision… please, tell me it doesn’t), the amazing Queen of Spain did a fab job this week of continuing to back Obama. Read about it here. Don’t know who Queen of Spain is? If you have been watching CNN recently during both the DNC and RNC, you’ve seen her. Shoot, here she is – just a mom blogger in her own right – interviewing Obama himself.

After posting about my son C. getting his doll, I read this article here from Motherhood Uncensored about her son playing with “girl” toys. I thought it was fantastic.

Oh and hey, did you know I am writing for Type A Moms now? I am their “Liberal Moms Editor”. Perfect, huh? Here’s the funny part, I am nervous about having a grown up EDITOR title and, as a result, I am having some major writer’s block for my next (and really first ACTUAL) post. I’ll come up with something – I have ideas of course, but nothing seems good enough quite right. I just need to get into the groove of it and gather some confidence, right? Wish me luck.

Finally, I want to list some fun stuff I just plain old really like.

My 5 year old T. and I have been reading these “From the Black Lagoon” books about different people he might meet at school. They are hysterical and I really recommend them for your children if they are just starting at a new school too!

My 2 yo C. and I have just started Music Together classes. He loves them and the music is fabulous (we truly enjoy the 2 CDs you are given when you sign up, one for the car and one for home). There is great teaching about children’s development for the parents and I honestly get a workout every Friday jumping, spinning, dancing, and marching with my kid. If you’ve got the time, I wholeheartedly recommend signing up for a class with your children in your area.

Need a good gift idea for someone or for Christmas coming up? Hyper-dashis a huge hit in my house. I bought it on a whim and both kids really love it. It really gives them a work out too! Yay for tired children more likely to nap…

We recently were given a subscription to High Five Magazine. What fun for my kids to get a magazine in the mail too! They read it cover to cover, T. loves the Spanish learning section in particular.

And another adorable book that I can’t get enough of? The Peace Book. LOVE IT.

Maybe you haven’t heard of the website Starfall? It is honestly the best letter and phonics learning website out there. And that’s not just my opinion. My teacher friends, my pediatrician and my speech pathologist aunt all heartily agree. T. likes to put it on with C., teaching him the ABC’s while playing fun songs and games. Its really terrific, they are on it right now.

Oh and I saw a pretty funny movie last night that I hadn’t even heard of. The Promotion. Great actors you (and esp. your husband) love to watch: Sean William Scott (aka Stiffler) and John C. Riley. And the story is just about regular guys trying to get ahead and take care of their families. I really enjoyed it!

And…. I’m spent.

And how was your week?

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Filed under Bloggers, Causes, Election, Equal Rights, Getting green, Hurricanes, Inspiring people, Marriage, Money, Movies, Obama, Philanthropy, Racism, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Stuff I have, Teaching kids, Toys

Playing with Dooce, HP and Canon.

Voila! I present to you the first video ever taken by *moi* and my new HD Canon video camera! And who is the subject of my first video? None other than the most famous mom blogger ever, Dooce. And where was this video taken? Where else but BlogHer 08. Granted I am hardly a professional movie maker, its kind of jerky (but *whine* my arm was getting so tired). Still. The picture, the subject, the whole thing. Pretty fly, no?

(Does anyone ever use the word “fly” anymore? Or did that go the way of the Running Man, MC Hammer pants and “Criss Cross will make you jump, jump”… It did? Whatever, cut me a break. I’m a 35 year old mom, “getting out” is drinking a bottle of wine with mom friends in my driveway with the monitor on.)

But back to the camera. Before I left to BlogHer, I was offered this laptop and video camera to review by a cool little PR company called Buzz Corp. They are good people – I’d say they are even pretty “fly” folks (No? Time to let that one go?) – who seem very focused on the mom blogger perspective and what products make us tick. (And I will also say they are not paying me a lick to say anything about them. Shoot, there wasn’t even any pressure to post about any of this.)

Well. I can certainly tell you, my HP Pavilion laptop makes me more than tick. It makes me purr. It makes me sing. It makes this little ol mommy blogger positively resonate at every possible frequency. I love this thing. I live on this thing. All I need is some sort of security “add-on” against myself, where upon at a certain time limit it will snap shut and shoo me away from it.

And the HD Canon video camera is small, easy to use and takes the clearest picture I’ve seen. I only recently started playing with it for real (other than just taking video) once I got the fire-wire I needed. Granted, after scratching my head for the last month or so, I admit I didn’t realize I needed one until my tech savvy brother walked me through video camera 101. I learned – ahem, after reading the manual, blush – that the firewire does not come with the camera. I gather that is standard, but was only just an additional $6.00 online at Office max. So anyway, the fire-wire arrived, I plugged it all in and it hummed to life.

Over the past few days, I have been playing around with Windows Movie Maker. WHOA. Cool. Fer real. And this afternoon, I popped out this one cut from BlogHer of Heather speaking. She’s funny. The whole thing was great. I just now wish I had that camera roped to my head and caught absolutely everything I experienced – every speaker, every panel, every conversation – on film. I am now trying to grasp the concept that I can capture what I see, and not just simply write about it. Huh. Oh the possibilities.

Anyway, many many thanks to Buzz Corp. Please enjoy Dooce at BlogHer. I just wish I had more to share of the panel. But you can be sure there will be many more videos to come in the future.

(Oh and quick sidebar: If and when I ever review products here, I promise you, I will only review things I actually find to be quality products I truly support. Please consider my opinion legitimately my opinion. Crazy to have to qualify that but you get me, right? Thanks folks.)

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

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Filed under BlogHer Conference, Stuff I have, Techie Stuff

A Puddle of Fun for the Weekend.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I need some fun around here. At the BlogHer conference, I was given a subscription to Smilebox. I had already been using the free version of Smilebox before but then, to have been given the upgrade, well I was loving the swag life for sure. Now, they haven’t paid me one single dime to endorse their product but I gotta say, I have a ton of fun with it. You can add video too. There are a ton of designs to choose from. They make THE best personalized e-cards. You can send them, blog them, whatever.

So for some fun this morning, I put together a series of pics for you all to enjoy. These were taken last February but they are some of my very favorites. This is my oldest, T., being the wonderful boy that he is.

Have a good weekend!

Click to play Puddle of Fun.
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Filed under Boys, Stuff I have

If You Blog it, They Will Come.

Have you ever paid attention to the universe around you? I mean, REALLY paid attention? I am not sure if it’s something supernatural, something religious, something mystical, spiritual, or a big mish mash of hocus pocus mumbo jumbo, but if we are paying close close attention, the universe does send us signals. And, while taking the risk of sounding completely coo-coo for cocoa puffs, I have a feeling the Powers That Be are trying to tell me something. And I’m not getting subtle smoke signals in the distance either. Something big has been laying down a runway, with lights, and huge arrows, and blinking neon signs with the words “GO THIS WAY” all in caps, and all the gods and goddesses and wonderful souls that watch over me are jumping up and down at the end of that runway screaming: “C’mon! Yoooo whooo!!!! Over here… OVER HERE!!!!”

I know, this is a nut-so idea. I know it sounds like I’ve been spending a liiiitle too much time sniffing my kids markers. But, for real, I believe it. So let me tell you what’s going on.

I started blogging about 5 months ago. And reading back in my recent post about thanking Blog Her, you know I feel extraordinarily humbled by the fantastic opportunity I was given to attend Blog Her. It felt as if the universe opened itself up and dropped this trip in my lap. I was completely caught off guard and have been beyond appreciative. It’s honestly all I have been thinking about over the past couple of weeks. I just can’t wait. And right about when I found out I could go to Blog Her, I think that runway vaguely seemed to be coming into view.

And then it happened to me again yesterday. The universe opened itself up and dropped another fantastic opportunity in my lap. I was contacted by a PR firm representing HP and Microsoft to try out some of their products and bring them to Blog Her. What kind of products? Ohhhhh…. a laptop and video camera. For me. To use. No strings. Just see if you like them. And I don’t even have a laptop (remember, my 6 million dollar computer pieced together with parts, some dating back as far as 8 years?) and then – a video camera? Are you kidding me? I just about fainted dead away. Yup, the runway is clearly blazing with super mega watt lights. *Bing* *bing* *bing*, this way, this way, this way!

So, ok, I’ve got a free trip to this conference. And then just when I was feeling like HOW could I ever POSSIBLY be cool enough at BlogHer without a laptop but, whatevs, I’ll figure it out… um… one is now being magically delivered to me? Yup. Poof, the universe drops one from the sky. Of course.

And then there has been the support for this blog. The wonderful comments and unsolicited encouragement I’ve recieved, well, I am immensely grateful. I have made new friends and have learned amazing tips from other blogs that I have incorporated into my life. Yup, I take this positive experience and the amazing connections created with fellow bloggers as another sign. It’s honestly as clear as day, right? No doubt, the Powers That Be are absolutely doing their “over here dance” at the end of that runway.

Maybe you’d call it luck. Or a crazy coincidence. Or serendipity. Or Karma (that would be nice). Or something from a religion you believe. Whatever it is, something BIG is trying to tell me something IMPORTANT. And what do I think that is? BLOG. Write. Create. Keep doing this. If you blog it, they will come. For real folks. I think this is what some people might describe as: “A CALLING”

Too many magic (they don’t call ’em magic for nothing) markers, I know, I know. But I had to share what’s rattling ’round in my brain. It’s what bloggers do, right?

And that’s the other thing. You see, when good things happen to me, I need to acknowledge it publicly. Why? Because I am truly grateful. I need to call right back up to that hole in the universe, where so many things seemed to have fallen out of recently, and say THANK YOU.

So those are my deep thoughts for the day. And you know I will be looking “fly” with my new gear at BlogHer too, just be sure to come over and smack me if I seem a tad too smug. But what’s more likely is that you’ll have no trouble spotting me from a far. Why? Well, I’ll be the one in some crazy hat that has a sign on it blinking “THANK YOU” out at the world around me.

I’ll let you know if that hole in the universe opens up again. Shoot, a nice family sized hybrid might fall out of there next! But in the meantime, I am going to be paying attention to these signs around me and keep heading down the path I seem to be on. It’s certainly well lit, there’s no trouble there. So, I hate to tell ya folks, blogging it is. I’m going to be around awhile.

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Filed under Blog love, BlogHer Conference, Deep thoughts, Religion, Self-analysis, Signs, Spirituality, Stuff I have, Travel

Cool kid music for picky parents… like me!

(Got a case of the Mondays?  Play this song in your office on “repeat” and pretend it’s Friday.  And God bless TMBG.)

I said I’d never do it. Not with my kids. *MY* children were going to grow up listening to cool, normal music. My music, of course. They would never actually WANT to sing such hits (hits that have been kid hits practically since the dawn of time) as “If you’re happy and you know it” or “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. Pshaw. And because my children would be that wise beyond their years, they will simply chuckle from their infant carriers (cue in the Stewie voice): “But of course mommy! Bare Naked Ladies is an excellent choice of music for our car ride home from that silly little playgroup we were just at.” So, back when I was first pregnant and quite proud of myself, I registered for all the baby gear that came recommended. But when I came across those racks of music with such titles as “Wiggly Wiggly World” and “Here Come the Teletubbies”, I turned my nose up, I knew better. I mean, c’mon. Ewwwwww.

And then I had my first son. While he cooed in his bouncy seat, I made kid friendly mixes for the car – some bouncy Reggae, some BNL too, and I was suuuuure my boy wouldn’t mind a little danceable Justin Timberlake thrown in there too. Why not? Well, not so much. I tried it out on the way to our playgroups, but T. would just wail and holler. Well, maybe it’s not the music. Maybe he’s hungry. Maybe he’s bored. I maybed the maybes all parents do with a new baby and only a fraction of a clue about how to raise them.

When T. was six months old, and celebrating Christmas with the In-laws, I was given a Baby Einstein CD set of all sorts of classical music. “Um, thanks!” And I also got a CD called Mommy and Me.“Greeaaat.” Unopened and stuffed in with the rest of the gifts, I mumbled to my husband that there was no way my kid was going to put up with that sing-song crap. No way. But parenting is one big ironic moment, isn’t it? And on our way back from Grandma’s house that Christmas, during a ghastly two hour looooong car ride, with one arm over the back trying to get him to stop fussing (WHY couldn’t my kid develop some horrid habit like thumb sucking? Or a nice pacifier for the love of Christmas??? What, did my kid think he was better than all the other babies? What was wrong with him?) we caved. Grumbling the entire time, I yanked the cellophane off the CD and popped it in. Desperate times called for desperate measures. (I’d have tap danced on the roof of the car naked if that would’ve gotten him quiet… while it was moving.) And what do you know? S.I.L.E.N.C.E. Huh. Ok then.

So my lesson was learned. Time to do a little shopping. We needed some REAL kid tunes around that joint. But there was certainly something inside of me that cringed at the sight of anything “telletubbyish”. There had to be a compromise!

Fast forward almost 5 years, and I think we have found a pretty cool set of kid music that we love to jam out to. Sure, sure, we have some Wiggles CDs and the Mommy and Me (gag) is often the “go to” with our youngest. But there are some great options out there for my fellow “kid music snobs” (you know who you are). And I thought I would share some favorites with you.

1) They Might Be Giants: Here Come the ABCs and Here Come the 1,2,3s.This household loves and lives on TMBG. Both of these albums are at the top of the pops around these parts. Both boys dance their little patooties off, T. keeps asking when they will come here on tour and my husband and I love their wacky humor.

2) Bare Naked Ladies: Snacktime. A million thanks go out to Lil Mommy That Couldfor turning me on to this new BNL album. Like TMBG, it’s hysterical. In particular, I appriciate one of their songs called “Allergies”. T. has a peanut allergy and absolutely loves this song. Thank you BNL!

3) Dan Zane: You may have heard him on Playhouse Disney and he does great stuff. He offers a rock, reggae, ska, rockabilly, Latino influence (sounds fun, huh?), good stuff all around.

4) Sesame Street’s Platinum All Time Favorites: So this is more kid music than grown up music, but I am assuming you adults grew up around when I did – and loved Sesame Street as much as I did. I rock out to “I Love Trash” and “C is for Cookie” as much as my kids do.

5) Dog Train, the songs are written by Sanda Boynton and sung by various bands such as “The Spin Doctors”, “Weird Al Yankovic” and “Blues Traveler”. She has done some other albums too. The songs are wonderful, funny and the music is perfect for all of us.

6) Baby Einstein. I snubbed this music before I got it. I gather I was too mature for classical. While I wouldn’t say its exactly played by the Boston Pops, nothing soothes my savage boys better than some good old fashioned Baby Einstein. The Lullaby Classics in particular are wonderful just before bed time. And it seems to work better than the classical am station too. We all chill the heck out after a long day on a car ride home. The driver better be sure to have a cup of coffee though.

7) Laurie Berkner. She appeals to the folk music fan in me. Her music is upbeat and cute. We’re fans.

Now there must be stacks of more great kid AND parent music out there. Do you know of any? Please tell me your favorite albums and I will add yours to the list and link it back to you.

Remember, this kind of kid music has one rule: You must love it too.

Now go play the “They Might Be Giants” tune I linked up at the top of this post. If you can’t have fun singing that song with your kid, then there’s a little Teletubbies album I could recommend to you. Enjoy!

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Filed under Children, Music, Parenting, Stuff I have

Really thinking about STUFF.

With my new washer all hooked up, I have settled back into washing daily loads upon loads of dirty laundry again. While sorting socks and thanking my lucky stars for that sweet Kenmore yet again (sigh), I was reminded of my first year and a half with my oldest boy T. We lived in a small one bedroom apartment outside of Boston. The one bedroom was big and we were able to divide it off between us and the baby. However, the apartment itself was a lesson in humility to be sure. Our kitchen was tiny with a small frig, a small oven and no dishwasher. We also did not have a washer or dryer. And with a newborn producing mass quantities of every sort of bodily fluid, it was a struggle. But in the moment, I thought to myself: remember this. Why? Because we got by. We did it. We didn’t have a ton of space, a ton of stuff, we didn’t have every cool appliance or endless cool new baby gadgets. And we were fine.

So now we live in a house, but it’s certainly not the biggest house around. My boys share a room and their toys compete with our living space (the toys are winning by a long shot). Again, I think back to our Boston apartment days. We had a lot less, and we were fine.

Maybe its partly to save money or be more “green” or to save space, but I find myself coming back to the same realization: there is way way WAY too much excess expected in our lives.

Its impossible to avoid. We live in such a world of stuff. Catalogs, websites, malls, magazines, commercials, talk shows… they beckon and lure us in. Friends, moms, neighbors all around fall in love with stuff and try to convince us we need it too. Its cool, its fun, its efficient, its absolutely necessary to get by.

And what is it that we all seem to need? 

How about household stuff: Two cars, and after 4 or 5 years, turn them in for new ones. Stainless steel appliances, even though those regular white ones still work fine. Two computers – a laptop and a regular sized PC with a nice flat screen monitor. Scanners, printers, cable boxes, wireless routers, DVD players, surround sound systems, and a million power strips to try and support it all. A grill, a big one with a big gas canister attached. Ipods, iphones and all the iattachments. Digital cameras, video cameras, phone cameras. Chargers for everything. Digital picture frames, security systems, a TV mounted on the porch, halogen track lighting. Blue tooth stuff. Flat screen TVs – for every room. Video gaming equipment and games upon games upon games. Cool chairs to sit in while you play those games. Garage door openers, garbage compactors, lawn mowers, edgers, whipper snippers, sprinkler systems to maintain unnaturally green grass.

What about babies? Well they need: bassinettes, cribs, excersaucers, bumbos, bouncers, swings, jumparoos, slings, backpacks, play mats, pack n plays, video and/or audio monitors, high chairs, 3 strollers minimally, car seats for each car, and every latest Baby Einstien developmental toy out there. You don’t have those? You’re a horrible mom. And then the diapers. Do I even need to explain the diapers? The excess which diapers represent? And how many of us know cloth diapered babies? I think I can count on one hand moms who use cloth diapers. And I am not one of them. Of course, kids do get potty trained (with potty seats and stickers and treats and endless loads of washing to clean up mistakes). 

Then comes the kid stuff: train tables, all the $15 Thomas the train trains, princess gear, swing sets, board games with pieces spread all over the house, dress up clothes, books upon books upon books, heaps of forgotten stuffed animals (where do they all come from?), bikes of every size, wagons, slip n slides, pools, sandboxes, kiddie kitchen sets, plastic this, plastic that, bright, buzzing, falling apart. New clothes, always new. Old clothes hardly worn because they grew.

Our clothes: Piles of ancient fraying t-shirts, old jeans you swear you’ll fit into, shoulder padded dresses you’ve forgotten you used to like, jackets of every sort even though you live in Florida. Clothes with tags still on them because the sale was too good in the store, but they are sort’ve ugly out of the store. Clothes you bought trying to feel better, clothes you bought that made you feel worse. And shoes that seem to reproduce at the bottom of the closet, old ones falling stiff and flat and forgotten.

Food: Meat, every night, with packaging. Veggies bought, never eaten, rotting at the bottom of the crisper. Bags of potatoes bought in bulk that grow spuds faster than they’re eaten. Leftovers you swear you were going to eat, but seemed to have crawled off to the back of the frig. Seperate overly packaged containers of yogurt, applesauce, cookies, crackers, cheese, granola bars, easy mac, formula, juice. Bottles and bottles of water. Cans and cans of soda. (What DOES soda do exactly?)

And then cleaning it all up: Water left on while you rinse a plate. Handfuls of paper towels to clean up any water spilt while washing that plate. Antibacterial wipes – which we all love – pulled out and used for everything, then tossed. Cleaners of every variety, in big colorful containers. Water is still left on this time to brush teeth, to wash the kids hair in the tub, to water the plants, to play in, to wash the car… oh the water is still on? And some of us recycle, some stuff, some of the time.

Getting anywhere with your stuff: Cool mommy minivan started up and air conditioner on. Gotta get to that other mall across town for that sale. Gunning the accelerator to get through the yellow light. Waiting with the car on, music blaring, a/c blasting in the oh so long drive-thru line …GASGASGASGASGAS…

All of this is just stuff. And a lot of this stuff I have. Or want. We’ve all got it, we all compare it, we all enjoy it, we all toss it out without another thought. I guess what I am trying to do is simply THINK about it. What do I have? What do I really need? What can I live with or without? I want to be aware of why I buy yogurt in individual containers as opposed to the one big quart sized container. Or why I toss things into my cart in the dollar section of Target. Do we really need a new TV? Nope. Did we need that new washer? Yup. But I have made do without one before. So, excuse me as I go gather my garbage for our twice weekly and oh-so-easy curbside pick up tomorrow. I need to go and really think.

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Filed under Getting green, Materialism, Self-analysis, Stuff I have, Unnecessary stuff