Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Clutter is Suffocating Me

I can't stand it anymore. I have no order or control in the house. I suck at tidiness. I occasionally try to get it under control, and almost immediately the house has another clutter bomb. It is so frustrating. It is also a complete waste of time. I would rather do what I want to do, (read, blog, ride bike) but however life has other plans. I can never make a dent in it.  Look at all the laundry that needs to be handled.
Laundry Explosion
Master bedrooms are supposed to be romantic and inviting.  Mine is anything but. This is my bedroom floor.  It's a total tripping and fire hazard.  A little farther into the room you would see a huge paper and technology clutter pile.  Lap top, XM stereo, wires, phone, answering machine, magazines, stacks of books, bills, coupons, business cards, receipts, unemployment claim checks... a chaotic mess that needs to be tamed.  
I normally ask the chickadees to help me fold and put away, but it takes so long to micromanage them not to mention how extremely frustrating and exhausting it is. These girls are a brute force against me. Their ignoring skills are top notch. Their cluttering skills are unparalleled. I have no control, no organization,  no time management, poor discipline methods, limited patience or self control.

It is 1:00. I would love to knock out my simple to do list. Unfortunately I'm bogged down by the most frustrating obstacles of parenting. I want to scream. I have writing work to do but can't get past the mess everywhere and the childcare needs to turn on the computer.  I start something and am interrupted and forced to stop.  It's paralyzing!  I need a babysitter and housekeeper. Can't afford or justify it. I need a psychotherapist too. This is why so many stay at home moms are on meds. But not me! I can handle it on my own. Yeah right. I just want to ball up and cry.  But must press on...

Safari Spotting in Orange County

It's really cool to tote around a whole zoo in your back car window.  This traveling safari was spotted in south Orange County, California.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bouncing Back After Being Laid Off

Looking for some inspiration in jump-starting my job search, I stumbled upon this career advice article - 'Bouncing Back After Being Laid Off.'

I thought it would help motivate me.  I couldn't make it past the first step - 'Grieving Time'.  No grieving here folks - it's celebration time.  I'm aiming for a year-long unemployment party!  

But if you happen to be grieving the loss of your job, here is some helpful advice: 

"Before you bounce into job-search mode, take some time to grieve. There's no denying your loss. And while you may be thinking your employer will call you back on Monday, it's highly unlikely. So go ahead and mourn, and then prepare yourself for the new life ahead of you."

The new life ahead of me... That is what I can't determine.  Is it a new corporate job?  Part time?  Full time?  Is it a SAHM?  WAHM? Entrepreneur of some sort?  How long can I take to decide?  

Instead of trying to figure it out each and every day, I choose to take fun gym classes like Spin, Pilates and Yoga.  It's good for my grieving process. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: Paper Culture

At BlogHer 2011, I had the pleasure of meeting with Sarah Hawley of Paper Culture.  She was so friendly and authentic - an excellent representative of the company.  Paper Culture is a Northern California-based company that makes premium greeting cards, baby announcements, invitations and Bamboo Wall Art for nurseries.  

Their booth was in the very back corner of the exhibit hall, dwarfed by all the giant booths they were surrounded by, but they were big in design and character.  It had a very warm and inviting charm and you couldn't help but stop to chat and peek around. 

Paper Culture's products are all eco-friendly as they are made with recycled paper, as is their packaging.  What makes them extremely unique is that they plant a tree in your honor through the Arbor Day Foundation with every order.  As a tree hugger natural woman myself, I LOVE this concept!  What a great idea for a paper company.

All of their cards are printed on high-quality paper with rounded corners.  They also have beautifully-designed artwork with a modern, yet timeless look.  

About Paper Culture (in their words):
"Paper Culture was born from our four founders' love of bold modern design and eco friendly products.  We create what we want to buy, but can't find.  We create in a way that we hope will make our children proud."
I was asked to review a sample of their baby-themed cards, and I accepted gladly.  I am a big fan of old-school communication methods (cards, letters).  There is no electronic substitution for the feeling you get when you receive something personal in the mail.  Cards will never go out of style.

Paper Culture's cards feel nice in my fingers.  They have a strong, crisp texture to them. They are definitely not flimsy.  When you take your finger and 'snap' the corner of the cards, they make a loud, satisfying noise.  Try it yourself - you know you want to!

Some of the baby shower invitations and announcements are so playful and fun.  You can't help but smile when you see them.  Those are my personal favorites.  Others are classic and heartfelt for places for you to upload a photo of your irresistible newborn.  
My model showing off Paper Culture baby announcement AND his assets.

Model choosing to eat the baby announcement.
Paper Culture offers additional services with the purchase of their products to include free mail and addressing service and custom message options on all mailed cards.  Also, professional graphic designers work on each order.  They offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee to their customers.

After reviewing their website, I see that it's designed beautifully as well.  It has a clean, modern design that is very simple to navigate.  It is supreme eye candy with gorgeous images and photography.  

I am very happy to have stumbled across Paper Culture.  Take a peek and see for yourself how awesome they are.  They are also on Facebook and Twitter for all you social media savvy folks - you know what to do.  

Disclaimer: Paper Culture provided me with a sample pack of cards for this review.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Tea Party in the Estates

A very good friend of mine, we'll call her 'Mansion Mom', has recently moved into a new neighborhood.  Apparently they are called 'The Estates'. Or maybe that's the term the sophisticated ladies use down south. ??

A little back story: Mansion Mom, or MM for short, and I grew up together in a quaint little town in the Pacific Northwest.  We played the kids' game M.A.S.H. many a time, and as luck would have it, she landed on M for Mansion.  (Just happened to marry a man who likes big digs.) (I've had all dwellings BUT mansion, sadly.)

MM will be contributing funny stories and photos on See Mom Work to showcase her comical life. She is not a working mom, but neither am I right now.  So we will let her in our little club anyway, okay?

MM is currently living in North Carolina until they are able to move back to the great northwest. In the mean time, she is settling into her new neighborhood since recently selling their plantation.  One of the sweet southern belles in the neighborhood put a note on her door (on beautiful stationary that was probably scented) that read:

For the ladies in the Estates:

I thought it would be nice to get to know each other better!  
Please come to my home for coffee and lite bites...
Doesn't it sound absolutely delightful?! You don't get that kind of hospitality in Orange County, folks! All of my neighbors scramble to get into their garage and quickly shut it again so they don't have to say hi.  Perhaps I should start distributing these types of notes to my 'Chicks in the Cul de Sac'.

Are your neighbors as sweet as sweet tea like this?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

BlogHer Swag

As it was my first BlogHer Conference and my participation in outside parties or events was nil minimal, my swag intake was also minimal.  But I also I wanted to avoid the 'Swag Hoarding Syndrome'.  

The swag I did bring home though were things I really liked and would use.  (Excluding the Softcup - which I'm still undecided if it's a viable alternative to tampons.)

Here is an overview of the cool swag I scored:
  • Softcup. Listed first so I can be sure you read about it.  What can I is a cup that fits over your cervix to catch your period blood.  Um...I tried this about 15 years ago and it was a little messy.  But I give props to the woman at the booth who described in detail the features and benefits of the product.  They even had a life-like diagram to demonstrate how it's used.  She didn't even blush or crack even a hint of a smile.  I'm too immature for that; I would be laughing through it all. Fired by lunchtime I'm sure.
  • Snapfish photobook with 2011 BlogHer best of blog photos. I picked this up at the swag exchange room.
  • Snapfish pink sunglasses. (Takes 15 years off your age.)
  • Lowes houseplant. Plants are good for your health and make you happier - FACT.
  • Best Buy bracelet made by women in India who took advantage of their microfinancing charity program. Love this concept.
  • Passport to Good Health by to document your health history and keep track of necessary exams by age.  
  • BlogHer pin - every attendee received one in their registration bag.  PROOF I WAS HERE!
  • Pfaltzgraff bicentennial crock. Cute little ceramic jar that picked up at the swag exchange room.
  • Mommy Day Planner. I traded a few drink tickets for this with a woman in front of me at the humor session.
  • Retail Me Not water (or vodka) bottle.  It's BPA and lead-free. Score!
  • Tempurpedic travel pillow.  It is so soft, comfy and awesomeThe booth chick was smartly dressed in cozy PJs and fuzzy slippers; it really set the mood.  What was great about the Tempurpedic booth was that it was directly in front of the Kudo's booth, which had hunky men in hard hats working it.  You could lay down on the Tempurpedic bed and drool liberally. 
  • Hallmark t-shirt. Their booth and marketing tactics were awesome and interactive.  You write in a purple Sharpie something that is a special occasion.  I wrote, 'Sleeping Through the Night'.  Then you pose with your shirt for the camera.  They upload your picture to use in a mosaic and later email it to you.  You also write on a big sticker what you like to celebrate and stick it to their exhibit wall.  Also, in their meeting room, they have cards that you can write in and they will mail it for you.  So sweet!
Hallmark Warms My Heart
  • Knorr chicken stock and flashdrive of recipes. Their food samples (chicken and asparagus) were delicious and they were very friendly people.  The booth dudes were all handsome too.
  • Kudos snack bar. Delicious of course, but did I mention how hot the guys in hard hats were?
  • Dole apple and cinnamon fruit cups. Not only that, but coupons too.  Sensible and good for you too.
  • HTC goody bag with pen, notebook and tissue.  This was given out at the Voices of the Year keynote, so it was very clever.  There were a lot of tears in the room.
  • Waterpik SinuSense neti pot and sinus cleaner. This came in all attendees' bags and I can't wait to try it out. It's supposed to help prevent and lessen cold symptoms. On a side note, I have a neti pot that has a strangely phallic tip.  It was interesting putting it in my nose. 
  • Ella's Kitchen organic baby food in a squeeze pouch - sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples and blueberries.  I spoke to a dynamic woman about the product and the company. I love the concept and the wide range of fruit/veggie combos.
  • Baby Orajel Naturals - a natural way to treat the discomforts of teething.  Perfect timing as the l'il chicken hawk is starting to teethe.  It is benzocaine, alcohol and dye-free; it uses a clove oil formula for the pain reliever.
  • Lansinoh lanolin nipple ointment, breast pads and milk storage bags compliments of the Lansinoh Lactation Lounge. Loved that room!
  • Shari's Berries were giving out delicious cake pops! Loved them! I also got a cute little reusable bag in a strawberry themed that packs up into a little strawberry. Adorable.
  • Dove travel cooler bag packed with coupons and catalogs on their new products and programs.  I had no idea they had a Dove Chocolate franchise business where you host parties.  I've never been one of those women to sell products to my friends, but if I was, I would definitely pick this one.  Everyone would love all the things in their catalog.
  • Paper Culture - a box of baby announcement and card samples to review on my blog.  Their exhibit was so adorable and quaint.  Small, and not in the best location in the hall, but perfectly inviting with beautiful baby room art and decorations.  I will write up a review of their products and website in the near future, but I love what I've experienced from them so far.
So there is my swag list.  Not as exciting as winning an iPad2 perhaps, but I'm content with it.  My biggest take-away was what I learned in the sessions.  I also really enjoyed meeting some very smart and savvy women and hearing about their blogs.  


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Postpartum Hair Loss

This is what always happens to me at about 6 months postpartum - tremendous hair loss. Then it grows back all funky. 

I've got a huge section of my bangs currently growing out and it's about an inch long.  It tends to stick straight up and there's not much I can do about it.

Gotta love it!  Having babies is fun!

Postpartum hair loss leads to funky regrowth.

I can make milk. What's your superpower?

My sister gave me this pin 2 babies ago. I love it but can't wear it too many places.  I should have worn it to BlogHer '11 in the Lactation Lounge!

I could be an Olympic Gold Medal champ in milk production.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Newbie Tackles BlogHer

This was my very first BlogHer, so of course I was excited, nervous, scared - but mainly excited. I wasn't disappointed!  There is so much to write about. 

I chronicled some of my conference tidbits via Twitter. They provide a snapshot of my experience and interactions with the cool chicks I met.

Eavesdrop on the conversation(@seemomwork):
A synopsis of my BlogHer experience:
  • I decided to save money by walking from my hotel in the heart of Gaslamp district to and from the convention center - about 1.5 miles each way. With my rolling suitcase and comfy shoes, it was a fail-proof plan.  Except I got lost BOTH ways - coming and going. DOH!(Even with Google Maps/Navigation).
  • The Newbie Breakfast was awesome. Delicious food, overcame my shyness and met some really nice women.  I actually even sat at the EXACT SAME table as another local blogger that I tweet with regularly, Megan of Sunshine Wonderland. It was our first time meeting in real life.
  • My first session was Bad Blogger Pitches and I learned a lot there.  It is very similar to regular PR but with the blogging slant.  Always good to be reminded of good etiquette and guidelines to follow.
  • I then became acquainted with the Lansinoh Lactation Lounge where moms were nursing their babies or pumping.  I loved the samples and pumping was delightful.
  • Lunch - delicious. Felt the awkward shyness returning, but ended up sitting at a table with some very nice, friendly women. Hill & Knowlton girls, P&G girls and The Zen Mom, Angela Chee. 
  • My second session: Essential Blog Content Development. I loved the info I gained from this immensely. However, I did feel that familiar sense of insecurity creeping in. I have not been following the RULES. I never knew there were such strict guidelines. What a buffoon!
  • The blur that followed: pumped, chatted it up with peeps in the Lansinoh Lactation Lounge (Tonia from The Chatty Momma and Brigitta of Brighter Schemata), watched the kick ass Voices of the Year, ate a tasty bright green cupcake (courtesy of HTC) and split to meet the family for dinner.
  • Yes, got turned around leaving the convention center and became a bit disoriented. Walked down by the harbor towards the setting sun.  So beautiful... BUT - the complete opposite direction.  So finally made it to dinner around 7:00.
  • Needless to say, no parties for me that evening. Just one big pomegranate margarita at dinner. Walked back to the hotel and crashed. 
  • Day 2. Didn't get lost. Didn't pack as much stuff to lighten my load and to fit swag.
  • Toured the exhibit hall, talked with booth staff, tasted samples, entered drawings, learned more about product reviewing and gathered some great swag.  I didn't go over the top, but I was happy with what I did receive. (Photo and post to follow.)
  • Delicious breakfast. Light conversations. Tired eyes.
  • First session - Blog Design Workshop. I learned A LOT! Please don't hate my ugly blog design - I'm on it!
  • Pump, pump, pump.
  • Delicious lunch.
  • Session 2 - Putting the Professional in Professional Blogging. Packed room and packed full of good insights. 
  • Session 3 - Humor Blogging. It didn't disappoint. I laughed.  How could you not with all the funny women blurting out hilarious and off the wall comments.  It felt like home. I've decided I would rather focus on funny content as opposed to the Debbie Downer crap. But, I do love to vent...
  • Pump, pump, pump. 
  • Closing keynote speech: Ricki Lake!! Gotta love her - she's coming back to TV with her own show again too. Also, cool video with song, "I will not be afraid of women." I say be very afraid of women!
  • Walked back to the Gaslamp District, met the family for dinner, pounded another margarita, walked back to the hotel resigned to the fact that there is no party girl left in me this year. I gave away my drink tickets and pushed away any thoughts of attending the post-conference parties. Well, I did want to go, but I couldn't get myself to want it bad enough. I would need my posse of friends with me to convince me.  Also, a gap from 6:00 to 8:00 between events was too long to wait. Excuse after excuse with me, isn't it?
This morning we had a nice continental breakfast on the rooftop of the hotel. I tolerated enjoyed spending time with the wee ones.  I daydreamed about WiFi and what I might write about. How I can be more creative as well as driven.  How to best juggle my aspirations with the requirements of being Mom.  Resigned to the reality that I just need to focus on taking care of them right now and put myself secondary - until I come up with a better strategic plan.
Overall, it was very inspiring to be surrounded by so many smart and talented women.  Definitely a little intimidating at times, but in a good way.  I am so energized to grow my blog more and make it better.  The unemployment checks will stop arriving soon enough, so I better come up with a better plan for income. Sell my breast milk to make ice cream?