My Thoughts on the Presidential Address to Congress

The other night after putting my children to bed, I settled onto my couch with my laptop and switched on MSNBC. I was ready to hear from our President. I was looking for hope, for answers, for any sign that there will be a light at the end of this very long and difficult tunnel. Homes in my neighborhood stand empty, friends are losing their jobs, funding for my son’s education is being cut drastically and I’m getting nervous about affording even groceries right now. This speech needed to assure me that eventually everything is going to be alright. And did it? Here is my reaction to the President’s address to congress.

After thunderous opening applause and a quick introduction by Pelosi, President Obama launched enthusiastically into his speech. Right away he recognized just how bad it’s gotten. He explained that he didn’t need to rattle off any more statistics about this recession since we are all experiencing it first hand.

With my arms folded and my heart sadly resigned, I certainly agreed. As much as I support our President whole-heartedly, I know the reality and can’t help but worry the obstacles in front of us are impossible to overcome.

He then reminded us that we are all responsible for our economy, for our environment, for our children’s futures. After years of excessive spending and with no regard for the consequences of bad loans or oil dependence, we’ve wound up where we are. His words were strong, he spoke plainly and he spoke right to me.

All this time, I’ve been smugly blaming the previous administration and everyone else for this mess. But it was at this moment when I realized that this problem is all of ours. We have all played a part in this mess and we all need to make an effort to fix it.

“Now is the time” he demanded. Ok. You’re right. I’m listening.

He then went on to explain this recovery plan will do the following:

  • Create 3.5 million jobs
  • Give 95% of Americans a tax cut by April 1
  • Give families paying for college tuition a $2,500 tax credit
  • Allow unemployed Americans extended unemployment benefits

Honestly? These promises practically make me giddy with hope. I was ready to leap to my feet during this part of his speech faster than Pelosi herself. But I didn’t. I was still holding myself back. These are promises and certainly look great on paper – but I am still waiting and seeing.

Obviously, this recovery plan means that a lot of money (read: trillions) will be floating around. Considering our reckless past, I appreciated the President explaining that careful tabs will be kept on every dollar spent. Americans can go to recovery.gov to see where our money is going. This is good. Actions and process have to be kept transparent if we want if regain any economic confidence.

The next points he brought up were about banking, credit and loans. The message came across loud and clear that our money in our banks is safe and that we cannot stop loaning to individuals and businesses. This will stop economic growth in its tracks. Clearly, trust needs to be rebuilt again.

He also pointed out that “responsible” families struggling to hold on to their homes will be assisted. He said that:

“…the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.”

For a family like ours who followed the rules, bought a home within our means but are still scraping to pay our mortgage – this was very encouraging to hear.

Further into his speech, I was thrilled to hear the three priorities of the recovery plan:

 “…the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.”

He explained that ignoring these areas will change the future of our country if we do not give them immediate support and attention.

This was where my cautious “we’ll see” grumblings gave way to affirmative exclamations. I was emotionally on board then. All I could think about was my child’s school staying open, my $150 co-pays to treat my son’s flu that never responded to his $25 flu shot, and the empty homes scattered all over my neighborhood. Maybe? Could it be? Well, it seems there actually is hope.

As our president concluded his speech, he mentioned the stories of individuals who have made differences in their communities. He then introduced us to the young high school girl who reminded our congress that “We are not quitters!”

You see, that is exactly it for me. I am scared right now. I am nervous that from the bottom of this economic hole, these promises are just too good to be true. I want to hide my head in the sand and wish it all away. Or maybe just wait for someone else to fix it. But we are not quitters. No matter what side of the tracks you fall on: get up, get out and do something. This is everyone’s problem. Not just Wall Street’s or Congress’s or our President’s.

No doubt about it, our President is a fantastic speaker. But he is also an extremely smart and capable leader. The impossible is ahead of us but instead of moaning about what can’t be done, I will follow his lead and consider all that can be done. He is inspiring me to take responsibility, move forward and do my part. It was an excellent speech and I’m excited and ready to see what our future has in store.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, Obama, parental fear, Parenting, Partisanship, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

My Fellow Bloggers Post about the Vivienne Tam NYC Experience

nycgroup

So, you can’t enough of the NYC Vivienne Tam week, huh? Then please go read the posts on my fellow blogger’s sites. They did a great job and its fun to see this experience from several perspectives. Remember that some of us were parent/mom bloggers, some were fashion or accessory bloggers and others were technology bloggers. All were amazing people and I could not have picked a better group to experience this with!

The Art of Accessories
Moosh in Indy (She has video of our initial reactions to the surprise gift too!)
Tech Starlet
A Mom in Red High Heels
Notebooks
Techdiva
Tech Mamas
Mobile PC World
The Mama Bird Diaries

Of course these are not the only bloggers who attended or the only posts about the experience. There were and will be more posts. These are what I grabbed for the time being. (And NYC bloggers, share your posts here if I missed yours!)

Oh and are you STILL wishing you could get a bit of the Vivienne Tam experience for yourself? Well, stay tuned. I may have something to share with you all. Don’t get your panties in a bunch though – its not the HP mini itself. But its still pretty damn cool. You might even see what I’m talking about on some of the sites above. I’ll be posting about this “tech chic” giveaway very soon.

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

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Filed under Blog love, Bloggers, Friendship, Techie Stuff

Vivienne Tam: Giving Thanks and Feeling Worthy

vtstoreme

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.

vtdresses1

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.

vtsig

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

Experiencing the Vivienne Tam Show

mevt

After an evening trying to whip myself together into some sort of presentable look for fashion week, myself and the 20 other bloggers tromped out into the rain to go see the Vivienne Tam show.

What did I expect? Some very beautiful, thin, doe eyed girls trooping around in fabulous outfits and a crew of fashionistas getting it so much more than I am, and eyeing everyone up and down. I doubted I’d see VT herself, but what do I know about how these events go down…

And what happened?

Well, we arrived, were escorted right in and handed glasses of champagne. And there was Vivienne Tam standing with all the models in front of a row of Touchsmart HP screens! After many pictures, the models moved on and the crowd mingled. The wonderful DWJ from the Art of Accessories grabbed my hand (I love this woman, by the way) and managed to get us in for a picture with Vivienne Tam herself!

Um. Is this my life? Here we are. (I have no idea what happened with my hair. I am clearly channeling “A Flock of Seagulls”. Whatever. I’m standing next to her!)

vt-pic

And then a few minutes later, they lined up all the bloggers with Vivienne Tam and took endless pictures. This sounds silly but I totally had a red carpet moment all of the sudden. Little ol’ me. Whoda thunk. I don’t have a big group shot now but will post one when I do.

Anyway, we saw the amazing collection. Its absolutely gorgeous. I fell in love with a beautiful leather dress of hers and was amazed by the beauty of the detail in her dresses.

vtdresses

A Mom in Red High Heels and I checked out the Touchsmart PCs. We pulled up our sites and took pics of ourselves at the event.

We talked to interesting people, learned more about the inspiration of her collection (which I hope to post more about in the future) and just generally had an amazing time.

vtdetail

I think what impressed me most was Vivienne herself. She was so taken aback that we were all women bloggers there to support her show. She said it meant so much to have women supporting her this way and was extremely appreciative of us being there. I said to her that women bloggers absolutely adore this mini and all want one. Her face absolutely lit up. She spun around to some very nice man behind her. “Did you hear that?? The bloggers love the Mini!!!” She was genuine, she was warm, she was truly grateful to have us there.

Grateful. Yes. My words exactly.

What an amazing evening.

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

 

mmsite1

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Filed under Blog love, Bloggers, Friendship, Giving respect, HP, Inspiring people, Photographs, Reviews, Techie Stuff, Travel, Women

A Room with a View and a VT

I’m here and this suburbia bumpkin is amazed. It is hard to get perspective on how utterly awesome Time Square really is. Like trying to capture the depth and size of Grand Canyon, two dimensional pictures are frustrating and minimizing. But offI go, stumbling along, taking pictures of everything around me and moving along in a stream of people, voices, languages, cultures.

Today I head out for a tour of the city and tonight we are going to see the Vivienne Tam show. Its fashion week so its very fabulous around here. 

I’ll leave you with a pic of my room. This is where I sit and post and tweet and annoy all with my “I’M IN NYC!!” updates. I’ll be back with more but the tour bus is waiting.

nyc-room

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Filed under Techie Stuff, Travel

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

leavetonyc
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

Morningside Dad: Thoughts from a Liberal Father

I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
brad
Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.

Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?

B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.

C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?

B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.

C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?

B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.

C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?

B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.

C: So how do you deal with that?

B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.

C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?

B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?

C (smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.

B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!

I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.

C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?

B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.

C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?

B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Boys, Equal Rights, Fathers, Florida, Marriage, parental fear, Parenting, Politics, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness, sons, Teaching kids