‘Tis the Season to say Thank You!

I am a big believer in saying ‘Thank you’ – whether it be by email, phone, in person, or a written card. Most people just don’t take the time to say ‘thanks’ – why? They are busy, it’s not a priority, etc. But in this day and age, I really encourage you to take an ‘attitude of gratitude!’

Here are my 5 favorite quick and easy ways to say ‘Thank you!’:

1. Leave feedback for any products you purchase. I recently purchased a Christmas stocking on Amazon.com. Before I threw my packing slip, away I logged on and in less than a minute, I left this seller a great feedback score. Why? I was really happy with the purchase, it looked better in person than online, and she shipped it very fast. So this season, if you are buying online like many of us – take the time to leave feedback.

2. Leave product reviews. If you have purchased something you loved (or hated!) take the time to do a quick product review. Most big box online stores have consumer product reviews. I love when I go to buy something and I can read reviews of others who have bought the same item. You should do the same for restaurants or medical services – you can do this on Yelp.com.

3. Post a comment on Facebook praising a product or service and tag them. If you are super happy with a product or store – post a comment and “tag” them. You need to “like” their page first. Search on Facebook for the product or store and click “like.” Once you’ve liked them, go to your home page and in your status update type a message like “What a great experience I had with @abc company – 2 thumbs up!” Once you start to type the “@” sign – you’ll see a list of all the pages you like. (see below)

Once you click on it – they will be tagged and your post will show up on their page. This is a great way for them to see the feedback you have provided and share it with anyone else who is a fan of their page.

4. Send handwritten thank you cards. Don’t put the gift away until the thank you card is written, addressed and ready to be mailed. You know why people don’t mail thank you cards? They are lazy! Or, their mother never taught them! 🙂 Make a list of gifts you receive and who sent them and then send a quick thank you note!

5. Thank the cashiers at the stores you visit. After working in retail for years, I always make sure to smile and thank the weary people working in the stores I visit. Working retail is hard work and probably the most under-respected and under-appreciated job out there. At the holidays you get to deal with crazy stressed out people – so any extra ‘thank you’ really goes a long way!

Here are my quick tips – what are yours? Would love to hear your feedback – leave me a comment below!

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A picture is worth a thousand words

I found a very cool and very addicting site this weekend: Wordle. Wordle is a site that lets you input words or a link to a blog or website, and from there, it reads the words and creates a word collage or a “word cloud.” It’s pretty fun to play around with the words, fonts and colors to see what you can create. I’ve tried making one of these in Illustrator before – and although they are just words, it can be time intensive. Wordle creates it in a click of a button.

Here are 2 I created. The first one is using the URL of this site Mommyhood and Marketing:

The second is from the other blog I write for: The Future of Real Estate Marketing

Once you create your Wordle you can customize the layout, color and design. You can then take a screen shot to use on your website or blog.

If you have a website or a blog, a “wordle” may be a fun addition to your site to tell people what you are all about. Enjoy!

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A case of the mommy brain

I swear, sometimes “mommy brain” takes over! There is a myth that when you are pregnant you lose brain cells. I really don’t think it’s myth – I think it definitely happens and I think I may have permanently lost a few last night.

Let me back up…

A couple days ago, a friend of mine asked me to watch her cats while she was out of town this Thanksgiving weekend. I said, “sure, no problem.” So she dropped off her key last week, and being that I had watched her cats last year around the same time, I didn’t think to get her address again.

Not good.

Fast forward to last night. After we put the kids down I tell my husband, “don’t let me forget, I have to run to Kim’s to feed her cats.” So around 9:00 PM I head out the door. I’m driving down the street and talking to myself: “ok, i think it’s right down here….” As I get closer I realize that a) it’s dark, b) all the streets are looking the same (hmmm was it this court… or that one?) and c) that all the houses were looking the same.

Again, not good.

So then I say to myself, “c’mon Katie, don’t doubt yourself, you know where she lives!” I then pull up to a corner house that looks familiar. All the lights are off so I think that this must be it! I park the car, grab her key, and walk up to the front porch. I put the key in, attempt to turn the lock and it doesn’t work! I try it again – jiggling the handle and the key. It was at that moment that I realized what I had done – I WAS AT THE WRONG HOUSE!!! Oh my God! I couldn’t believe it. I hurried back to my car, and quickly drove off. Then in my rear view mirror I see some lights go on it the house. Oh my goodness – they probably thought they were getting broken into!! I felt so silly!!

So then I look on my phone for Kim’s email to see if I can find her address anywhere – no dice. So I sheepishly text her and then call her saying…. “Um, what is your address? I think I almost broke into someone’s house!!”

I wait a few minutes and decide to head home. Around 10 pm Kim texts me back with her address which confirms that YES I almost went into a random person’s house. 🙂

Sigh….

It’s a case of the mommy brain!

So I hope back in the car, head to her correct address, and YEP I pass the other house I almost broke into (now more lights are on the house!!) I quickly drive by and get to her house (which NOW looks familiar – geez!). The cats are all fed and litter box clean. I left the house thinking – ok now I know where she lives but every day for the next 5 days I’m going to have to drive past that other house.

Gotta love that “mommy brain!”

P.S. I am REALLY glad I did not have the baby with me – can you imagine??? 🙂

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Where to put the baby? Baby stations!

One of the little things I forgot about when you have a newborn are the baby stations. The baby stations are all the different places you can put the baby. These stations are important because as the baby cries or gets fussy, or you need to put a load of laundry in (7+ baby outfits a day = lots of laundry), or mom has to go to the bathroom 🙂 – it’s important to have different safe places to put the baby!

Luke on his favorite 'baby station' - the play mat!

Baby stations in our house include:

  • The crib with the all-important mobile. Why oh why, can’t they invent a mobile that just keeps playing music and rotating (without having to keep winding it up?) There probably is one.. I need to google that!
  • The Pack ‘N Play
  • The swing with the very important sound buttons (music, rainforest, etc)
  • The play mat – this one is Luke’s favorite!
  • The bouncy seat (this is a station at Gamma and Gampa’s house)
  • The car seat (brought in the house – don’t leave the baby in the car!) 🙂 (I know, DUH… but still I feel obligated to say that!)

So once the baby is awake, fed, clean, and dry but not tired – the baby stations begin. Here are some of the variations of the baby stations at our house:

  • Holding, cuddling, baby on the lap, holding, swing,
  • Holding, cuddling, play mat, holding, cuddling, crib
  • Holding, cuddling, Pack ‘N Play, holding, cuddling, crib

The variations are endless! 🙂

Requirements of the station include: something safe for baby, somewhere my 3 year old can not easily get to the baby (no always possible), and something with either bars or a harness device. 🙂

As the baby gets older, the stations get more exciting (and larger):

  • An exercauser
  • A jumper
  • A walker (although I am not a fan of these)
  • A bumbo
  • A highchair

And then they start crawling and walking… then the real fun begins!

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The perfect holiday gift for social media, tech and design geeks

You know you are a social media, tech, or design geek when you find these throw pillows irresistibly charming.

I must have these! Anyone out there reading this who maybe thinking of getting me a gift – I would love one of these – especially the Facebook and Twitter one! These would look so cute on my couch 🙂

Click here to see all of the available patterns!

Posted in Just for Fun, Products | 2 Comments

Being a mother, a daughter, and a friend

I don’t have much time to read, so when I take the time to read a book, you better believe it is worth it! If you haven’t heard of Kelly Corrigan, you are missing out.

I first heard Kelly of Kelly when I watched this video that a friend emailed me (see below.) I have probably watched it a half a dozen times and cry every time I see it.

I think this video resonates with me because I can totally relate to her mom’s friends “The Pigeons.” We all have dear friends like that – friends have seen you at your absolute best and your absolute worst. That’s what a true friend is all about.

The second time I heard of Kelly Corrigan, was when my mom lent me the book, The Middle Place. That book probably sat on my night stand for months until someone else emailed me this video again, and I put two and two together – that this author in the video was the same author who wrote the book. I opened up The Middle Place and could not put it down – within a couple days I had finished it.

The book is a beautiful and touching story. Kelly talks about that sliver of time when you are in “The Middle Place” – a daughter but also a mother. She talks about her battle with cancer and her dad’s battle, as well as what it’s like to be a wife and mom. She is so poignant – she writes just like your best friend would sound if you were sitting down together for a cup of coffee and having a heart-to-heart.

Here’s a short excerpt from the book:

“I called my parents from the maternity ward and cried through the following: “Mom, Dad, it’s a girl, and Dad, we named her after you. We named her Georgia.”

Three years after that, almost to the day, I called home to tell my parents that I had cancer.

And that’s what this whole thing is about. Calling home. Instinctively. Even when all the paperwork—a marriage license, a notarized deed, two birth certificates, and seven years of tax returns—clearly indicates you’re an adult, but all the same, there you are, clutching the phone and thanking God that you’re still somebody’s daughter.”

Her latest book Lift, came out earlier this year and I devoured it the day I brought it home.

Here is a wonderful video of Kelly reading an excerpt of Lift:

I love how Kelly talks about how moms never regret their children – so true. And I love how she talks about motherhood. How can you put into words what its like to love your child – you think you know. I thought I knew, but I didn’t really know until it happened to me.

If you want to read two outstanding books, or you are looking for a special gift for one of your girlfriends,  I highly recommend both of them!

Have you read either one of these? Would love your feedback – leave me a comment below!

 

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An easy holiday crap (whoops I mean craft) project

I instantly fell in love with this blog recently: Crap I’ve Made – awesome blog title!

Check out this super easy Christmas project she posted on Monday – it was so simple and creative I wanted to repost it here.

Dry Erase Letters to Santa

“Do your kids change their minds approximately 8754 times before Christmas? Mine do. And that was precisely the reason I came up with this project.”

Click here for the original blog post and instructions >>

I thought these may even be cute for me to make, to drop a couple hints to Paul about Christmas gifts. I also thought instead of Santa lists, these could be used to jot down notes about holiday parties or events, reminders, or notes of things we are grateful for.

Supplies needed: a few frames, a pen, and patterned paper – how simple is that!

Do you have a fun and simple holiday project? Tell me about it or leave me a comment below!

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Social media buzz: Facebook’s Social Inbox and Path

Regardless if you are a mom, a marketer, a small business owner, a CEO, or anyone else – social media has profoundly changed they way we keep in touch with people, how we receive news, how we complain or praise companies and products, and how we share our lives.

photo courtesy of Socialnomics

In the last 48 hours there were 2 very big announcements in the social media world:

1. Facebook announces their Social Inbox. Rumors have been swirling for weeks about ‘Facebook email.’ Yesterday, Facebook put the rumors to rest and announced their Social Inbox.

What I love about this concept is that it just makes sense! We have so many different ways we talk to each other (text, email, Facebook.)

“Why don’t all these technologies work together? All you should need to send a message is the person and the message.” In addition, by default, you will only receive messages from people you know” (perhaps no more spam?!)

One of the things I am most impressed about with Facebook is how they are always raising the bar. They have 500 million users – they have by far the most robust and popular social network, but they are constantly looking to improve and capitalize on ‘what’s the next big thing.’

** You gotta watch the video all the way to the end – it’s the last 10 seconds that really hit home for me.

2. Path – the latest social network launched this week co-founded by a former Facebook executive. News of Path was all over Twitter the last 48 hours. Dubbed the “anti social network” – this network allows you to have 50 connections only.

Unlike collecting as many friends and followers as we can – they believe that most people truly only have 50 close friends they want to share their photos and life with. Hmm, there may be some truth in that.

Path is in beta form and there are a lot of things you can’t do such as “like” a photo or leave comments. But, it is getting a ton of buzz and with some big names behind it – who knows what will happen.

According to their blog:

“Path is the personal network.  A place to be yourself and share life with close friends and family. The personal network doesn’t replace your existing social networks – it augments them.

Path allows you to capture your life’s most personal moments and share them with the 50 close friends and family in your life who matter most.

Because your personal network is limited to your 50 closest friends and family, you can always trust that you can post any moment, no matter how personal. Path is a place where you can be yourself.”

Check out this fun video below from the folks at Path:

What do you think? Leave me a comment below!

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My love/hate relationship with family portraits

I have a love/hate relationship with family portraits.

I love the outcome; everyone perfectly dressed, every hair in place, everyone smiling, and everyone hoping it won’t turn into an awkward family photo. 🙂

I hate the stress of it all; the waiting at the studio, the somewhat cheesy backgrounds, the pushy salespeople (no, I don’t need the 16×20 canvas oil painting thank you), the ‘kids’ factor (spitting up, cranky, crying, hungry, won’t smile, about to have a meltdown, etc.)

I guess I am somewhat of a control freak – and what stresses me out about family portraits is the lack of control I have over the other 3 people in my family. I start thinking about outfits and haircuts weeks in advance – but it’s the unknown that drives me bonkers!

This past weekend, we took our kids to get a famly portrait done – the first one with all four of us. I had a specific agenda in mind. I wanted:

  1. A family portrait
  2. A portrait of just Owen (for his 3 year old photos)
  3. A portrait of the 2 brothers together
  4. Naked baby photos of Luke (2 months old)

Seemed simple enough right?

The progression of this day is really split up into 4 acts:

ACT 1: BEFORE

The photo shoot was scheduled at 11 AM at JC Penney’s, but to properly prep for this day I awoke with Luke sometime early morning – well actually he woke me up, but whose counting, right? I promptly got my husband Paul up to help, then I went to take a shower and pray to the hair gods that I have a good hair day.

I had scheduled a haircut for Owen at 9:30 – we decided Paul should take him. So, I nervously agree – my control freak personality was emerging – I remind him a half a dozen times:

“Don’t let them cut it too short, and make sure she spikes it in the front, but not too much, and have her put the pomade in his hair, but not too stiff, and make sure they let him watch a movie on the DVD player, oh and I promised him he could have a lollipop……”

Thankfully I have a husband with the patience of a saint. He says he’s got it and takes Owen as I am still shouting reminders from the door.

Just me and Luke now. Hmmmm when do I get him dressed? I need to wait until the last possible minute in case he spits up or ‘does something’ in his diaper. Also, I am dressed now too so I feel like the worst mother in the world – I have 3 burp cloths on me and everytime he makes a sound – I hold him away from my body like a football just in case any bodily fluid comes out of him.

I know, I’ll feed him one more time! So I feed, burp and change him and now I’ll get him dressed. I put him in the cutest sweater vest and khakis. I tried putting newborn shoes on him but he screamed so I figured that was not a good idea.

Just then, Paul and Owen came home – success!! His hair was adorable but AAACK his mouth was blue from the lolliop. I quickly washed him off and got him dressed.  He looked so adorable in his blue polo and jeans. My hubby jumped in the shower and was dressed in under 5 minutes. Damn, it must be nice to be a man!

ACT 2: WAITING

We arrive at JC Penney’s at 11 AM on the dot – I am super proud that we are all clean, pressed, hair in place, kids fed – Oh, did I mention we are potty training Owen?! Just one more thing to give me more grey hair! 🙂

We round the corner of Penney’s walking by all the wonderful toys that the merchandising department has put out right at 3 year old eye level (“Don’t touch that Owen, keep walking Owen, don’t touch!”) and as we get to the portrait studio – I say, “Oh, no, this is NOT good.”

The place was packed! Kids, babies, parents, grandparents, siblings – what a mess. Everyone trying to stay calm and clean in a packed little waiting area. Thank God they had a movie on for kids and crayons. Crayons seemed like a good idea, right?

After waiting almost an HOUR – I go up to the counter and ask how much longer is it going to be. Then I play the newborn card, “We have a 2 month old – is there anyway we can get in as soon as possible?” She asked me if I knew what kind of photos I wanted – so I clearly gave her my 4 requirements with the exact backgrounds I knew I wanted. Yeah, I’ve done this before. 🙂

Just then as I’m walking back to my husband and kids, I look at Owen’s shirt and say “WHAT is that??!” There was a nice big red crayon stain. I almost lost it. But thankfully I had a “back-up clothes bag” – so I ripped off his shirt and put on the back-up one.

ACT 3: DURING

So we go into the tiny photo room and there are two photographers. I try to take charge and say “family portrait first – that’s the top priority.” They arrange us a bunch of different ways and of course my adorable 3 year old doesn’t understand saying ‘cheese’ without scrunching his whole face. How do you explain to a 3 year old how to smile naturally? Luckily they got one that I liked.

Next up was Owen by himself. I had the brilliant idea of having him hold a ‘3’ for the photos. Yea, I think I got the last laugh here – he held that 3 in any position expect the correct one. Finally I said, ok let’s get this out of the picture. Eventually did get a bunch of cute ones that really reflected his personality.

Then it was time to get photos with both kids. It was at this point I realized we were definitely ‘on the clock’ because at that moment a 3rd photosgrapher came in who seemed very managerial and really seemed to know what she was doing. She took the camera and was snapping photos very authoritatively – while the other 2 looked on and fiddled with the computer that kept disconnecting her camera from the computer – lovely! Poor Luke was slumping over and Owen was trying to hold him up – we were all barking orders: “Hold him up Owen, no – don’t squeeze him, watch his head, look up here!” – poor kid was probably traumatized!

Last but not least was little “Lukey.” Time to strip him down to his birthday suit – he was not happy. He couldn’t have been hungry – he was stuffed like a turkey. He just was not a happy baby. At that moment all my stress bubbled up to the top like like a pot boiling over: “WHERE’S THE WIPES??” I barked at my poor husband. He told me, but I couldn’t find them, so I  start throwing everything out of the bag. I could practically hear the photographer thinking: “This lady has lost it!” I found the wipes, cleaned him up, held him and finally he calmed down. He still didn’t want to lay down so they put me in a black smock and I held him with my face out of the picture so they could get some good shots. By now I was sweating, make-up melting,  clothes wrinkled – what a sight!

The pressure:  MUST…GET…A…GOOD…BABY…SHOT!

And then we were done!! The whole thing took less than an hour but it felt like all day!

Now, the fun part. They make you stand at a kiosk with a salesperson to buy all your portraits. Thankfully my amazing husband offered to take the kids out of there so I could do the shopping. I knew exactly what I wanted but boy, those sales people are good! And how can you say ‘no’ to all those photos! Luckily I had some experience and I knew what they could do for me – so I think I ended up teaching the saleswoman a few things!  But, man is there the pressure of: DECIDE NOW what you want!!

$200 later and about 20 more grey hairs I was done! Just then I got a text from Paul that they were at Fresh Choice – which leads me to the all-important Act 4….

ACT 4: The Apology

So I stroll into Fresh Choice – Paul has Luke in the carrier sound asleep and Owen eating a plateful of food. I sheepishly slide into the booth, we smile at each other, he shakes his head and says, “Are you ok???” 🙂 I say, “Yes….. I’m sorry honey, I love you.” He just smirks at me. He knows me too well.

EPILOGUE

I thought I was done until I looked at the proofs again and succomed to the pressure of “needing” more photos. I just got off the phone and added a few more prints. It’s all worth it though right?

Now, how can I break it to Paul I want to do this again when Luke is 6 months old? 🙂

 

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Maternity leave the second time around

77 days. This is how long I have been on maternity leave. When I was pregnant in 2007 with Owen, I went through the same thing as this time around with Luke: preparing to go on leave, spending hours at work getting ready and planning for my temporary replacement, writing ‘how to’ manuals on how to do my job, marketing plans, back-up plans, making lists upon lists, and so much more.

There is so much to do, and at the same time there is a definite “due date” of when you need to finish, wrap things up, and go home to wait – wait for that little bundle to arrive. In your last few weeks everyone seems to be asking you “When are you due?” or “Are you ready?”

Taking off for 3+ months takes a little getting used to. I have worked pretty much since I was 15 years old. I took a big break from work when Paul and I got married 9 years ago and then a 3 month leave when I had Owen in 2007, but other than that, I have pretty much been working for the better part of 20 years.

20 years. Wow, that sounds like a long time!

So, how do you get ready for a baby to come into your life? Sure there is the baby room, getting everything decorated, putting the shower gifts away, washing and folding all the tiny clothes, reading all the books, checking out all the mommy blogs, talking to all your mommy friends, but there is so much more to motherhood than all that stuff and all the advice everyone loves to give you.

I thought I would be a little more prepared this time around – heck, this was my second child and I had some very good practice these past three years with Owen. But nothing I think can prepare you – really prepare you for what it’s like to bring a baby into this world. Regardless of how the baby was born – the fact is – you created life!

Created life. How amazing is that?

Nothing quite prepares you for the moment you meet your child and you look into their eyes and realize they are a part of you and your husband, that moments earlier they were nestled inside of you, and that this small baby is a very big part of your legacy.

There is also the ’round the clock demands that regardless of your experience will throw your perfect organized life into a tailspin. Want to take a shower? How about at 11 :00 at night when everyone is finally asleep? Do you like your shirts – too bad they all have spit up on them now and oops, the baby just “did something” on my lap! And nothing prepares you for the middle of the night feedings. Thank goodness I have a wonderful husband who is there in the middle of the night – sometimes more so than I am.

Try getting 4 hours a sleep a night – then try that every day for a week and then for a month. Luke is now 2 months old and he’s done a few 6-7 hour stretches, but he’s still a little guy! On top of that, we don’t just have a 2 month old, we have a 3 year old who we are potty training and is used to being the center of our lives.

I remember a good friend of mine, when she was about to go on maternity leave asked me “What am I going to do with myself? The baby just eats and sleeps, I’m going to be so bored.” I remember smirking and saying “Yea… right!”

Having a little baby depend on you for everything can be overwhelming.

When all the friends and family have seen the baby, and the visitors stop visiting, it is just you and that little baby. Sometimes I feel bad – I can’t give Luke the 110% undivided attention I gave Owen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been holding Luke feeding him and at the same time helping Owen on the potty or helping him get dressed or doing some other form of multi-tasking. I also chuckle at how I’m much more laid back with Luke.

So 77 days in, I finally feel like I’m in my groove.

I’ve cooked my 1st dinner ever, and I even enjoy trying to keep the house clean and tidy (‘try’ is the operative word here)! I spend long afternoons holding and cuddling with Luke, relishing in days where there is no task list and we can stay in our comfy clothes all day.

On one hand I am really, really looking forward to going back to work. I absolutely love my job and the people I work with; but then, I have moments like today. I took a walk with Luke to get a sandwich and I look down in his stroller and he’s looking back at me with his big blue eyes and I melt. How could I possibly leave this little guy?

25 days left until I go back to work.

But whose counting, right?

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