Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We Did It

This morning the Today Show actually made me smile. I am a loyal watcher (especially after Hubby convinced me that we HAD to have a TV in our remodeled master bath, to which I initially thought ‘absolutely not, what kind of people do you think we are,’ and then I realized that ‘yes, I like being those kind of people who watch TV in the shower’), but Ann Curry usually drives me batty, I often find myself questioning whether certain stories should really be classified as “news” and my eyes are constantly rolling at overdramatic packaged segments. But I still watch it daily. In the bathroom.

This morning the Today Show aired one of those cheesy overdramatic packaged segments with a “look back at 2008” and I realized two things: 1) being a Today Show talking head must be the best job in the world, and 2) even in light of the tumultuous year that was 2008, there were some highs in the midst of lows and mediums.

In the finality of a day like today, I can’t help but think about what it means to close a chapter that you can never re-open again. I remember being nine, waking up in my bed on the farm the day after fourth grade and being so sad at the thought that I would never get to experience fourth grade ever again in my life. It was done. I could never go back, never have any of the same fourth grade experiences, something I had never really considered before that day-after-fourth-grade moment. I would never sit in the same desk, in the same classroom, in front of a guy named Rocky Stone (that is not a joke). Like it or not, I had to move on.

I’ve been moving on ever since, rolling with the waves of life, through moments I wish would never end (rocking my peaceful baby in the quiet of a winter morning with no work nagging) and minutes that can’t tick by fast enough (watching inadequate nurses attempt to ‘find a vein’ in my screaming infant who may or may not have diabetes). And when the waters are calm and shallow enough that I can actually put my feet down and stand for a moment, I find myself looking around in wonder at the beauty of my surroundings. I realize that I am lucky enough to share my life with two of the most beautiful, wonderful babies that I could have ever hoped for. (Here I go making my own cheesy packaged segment. How annoyingly Ann Curry of me!)

Now, in the calm that is this “transition” time, I’m looking ahead. One hawklet is advising me that he will be three on his next birthday. He is headbanging and playing guitar and sleeping in when we let him. Oh dear God, he’s three going on 17. The other hawklet is gaining some vocabulary (“Elmo” today!) and picking fights with Big Brother between hugs. There is no doubt 2009 will be energetic, espresso powered, and I admit – stressful. Because that’s how we roll – we like to do 10 million things at once while working full time, getting graduate degrees and raising toddlers.

Another year. We did it. And here we go again…

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Almost Conscious Thoughts

This morning I was up from 3:00 – 5:00 a.m. with my baby hawklet who was having trouble inhaling around all the green snot clogging his nostrils. Occasionally said snot likes to run down the pathway between his nose and upper lip and taunt us until we finally get a split second to swipe at it, perpetuating the raw redness congregating at his airways, but at night, it just likes to clog and be a bully, forcing the hawklet to learn how to breathe out of his mouth. Not as easy as you’d imagine.

In that lovely, wonderous window of pre-dawn bonding time, standing over his crib and rubbing his chest, I semi-consciously pondered my re-introduction to VapoRub as a mom. To clarify, I can actually only assume it’s a “re” introduction because I honestly don’t remember my mother ever applying VapoRub to my chest as a child. I know, my rural upbringing left me seriously deprived. But my babies love that gunk like I love my mocha. I’m sure they would drink it if they could (though they’d probably have to chew it rather than drink it, or perhaps spread it on some toast like jelly). In fact, it could be that my baby has replaced his binky addiction (yes, we gave it up cold turkey last week – Merry Christmas!) with a VapoRub addiction.

Sweet, sweet VapoRub. I’m adding you to my favorites list right alongside the drive-thru.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Conversations With a Two-Year-Old, vol. 2

Him (after plopping a ball cap on top of his head): “Now I’m a dude!”

Him: “This is my belly but Papa calls this my gut.”

Me: “What would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?”

Him: “Just a birthday cake I think.”

Him (at the kitchen table): “Banana, you don’t talk, but we eat you.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Woe is Mom

Recently, I read this (albeit feminist) article about moms in advertisements. While at first I found myself rolling my eyes at the seemingly age-old argument that women are too often diminished in media to being their husbands’ slaves, yadda yadda, I came to realize that I couldn’t think of a single ad on TV right now or in the immediate past that mirrored me or my lifestyle as a mom and wife.

Hubby Hawks and I do our grocery shopping together. We *usually* clean the house together. Okay, sometimes it’s because I’m feeling tired and bossy, but he wants to get stuff done just as quickly as I do and we both like to live in a clean home. We equally want our children to live in a clean home. And by the way, we respect each other. Have you ever noticed an ad for a household cleaning product that depicted both mom and dad cleaning together? No, seriously, I’m dying to know if one exists.

My favorite is the Windex ad, in which the wife cleans the windows while the husband naps and then he wakes up and thinks he is in the wrong house. Bingo! Get the heck outta here if you’re not helping! Quite a strategy, Mrs. Windex!

Maybe Swiffer could think about an ad showing mom dusting while dad mops the floors. As in, at the same time. As in, equality. As in, this millennium. Bonus points – you get to showcase more of your products in the same 30 seconds!

And where are those commercial dads while the commercial moms are cleaning? Are they at work? Are they at the bar? Are they building a new Habitat home? In my mind, the commercial moms are cleaning on weekends. You know, in Commercialville. But that’s because weekend cleaning makes sense to me, as that’s when I do it. You know, in Reality. Surely commercial moms work during the week, and have fun with girlfriends and devote time to their favorite causes as well. They’re not just scrubbing and polishing and waxing and washing over and over like Pleasantville robots. After all, their homes are usually spaciously gorgeous, so if they’re not working, I’d love to know what those commercial dads are getting paid!

Are we the weird ones? Or are those antiquated advertisers?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Annoy Me and I Will Blog You

Is Christmas really two weeks away? Seems like just last Wednesday our Thanksgiving weekend kicked off with a bang as we loaded up the car and headed a couple hours south to the in-laws’ house. But not without some Happy Meals, of course. Because when you work all day and have *mostly* packed but still need to do a load of laundry, coordinate two distracted toddlers and clean the house before officially being ready to go (ugh, I hate coming home to a dirty house after being away), then somehow dinner manages to fall off the to-do list. Enter McDonald’s drive thru (ugh, I hate resorting to McDonald’s, but it was strangely the best of the fast food choices in front of us that evening).

Two four-piece McNugget Happy Meals with white milk, please.

Never mind the fact that one would only eat French fries, and the other dropped most of his on the car floor. What annoyed me most was how McDonald’s itemizes Happy Meals. The milk rings up separately. So looking at the receipt, one might interpret that the teeny little milk jugs cost $2.50 – nearly the cost of an entire gallon of milk. So of course, I had to inquire about this with the 16-year old drive thru worker, who had to have a manager come to the window to explain the receipt. Thank you, yes, please explain to me what I just paid you and why I would do that.

Because I know you are just dying for the answer, and won’t be able to sleep until you get to the bottom of this $2.50 (hey, that's mocha money we're talking about!), allow me to explain what that lovely manager taught me. Essentially the milk is not an additional charge, but it shows up separately on the receipt with its own price, under the Happy Meal with its own price. Duh! (palm facetiously slaps forehead)

Surely it’s easy to see why someone could get thoroughly confused. I am your customer and you are showing me a line item that makes me question whether I’m getting ripped off – helloooo, Customer Service, isn’t that reason no. 1 to change how you itemize your Happy Meal milk?

And what was loving Hubby’s observation of the exchange?

“Uh-oh. I feel a blog coming on.” Exactly.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The First Attempt

Ah, the elusive holiday card picture. Here is the outcome of our first attempt. Hopefully we'll have an acceptable final product before Dec. 25. As you can tell, we are still not at a strong 'following directions' stage. I'm considering this the warm up.

Mom, really? You think 'say cheese' works on us?

Come on, man, let's wrestle instead.

Pinning you!

Hug and make up.

Or jump on the bed!

Oh yeah, mom wants us to look sweet. Mwah. Love you, bro.

As good as it gets.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Moms on Drugs

Have you ever considered your "choice" ache and pain reliever? Are you an ibuprofen brand snob, finding yourself partial to Motrin, or Advil? Or perhaps even Walgreen's brand? Do you choose Tylenol instead? Does it all really matter?

Last week, a highly vocal and organized force appeared out of the Internet to say vehemently, "Yes! It does matter!" Oh. It does?

Let me get you up to speed if by chance you only read here for the Hawklet pictures, and you couldn't care less what happens in the world of marketing to moms.

Over the weekend, some moms who have a megaphone called a blog or a Twitter user name came across an online video advertisement for Motrin. Have you ever had a conversation with someone about Motrin? I'm guessing not. Because Motrin is just one of a host of options for general aches and pains. It's not something ground-breaking, sexy or controversial. Like Viagra. Right? So, for something like Motrin to spark a controversy is kind of a big deal. Well, that's exactly what it became thanks to said moms with digital megaphones.

These women were PUT OFF by the snarky sarcastic tone of this particular ad, which likened "baby wearing" (you know, wearing your baby on your body via a front pack or sling) to two negatives: 1) causing horrible back and shoulder pains and 2) serving as an accessory that allows access into a sacred club. "I am now officially a mom because I am wearing my baby." Whoops. Motrin apparently didn't consider the fact that babywearing moms are not in the mood for snark. Nor do they believe babywearing is the root of these evils. Rather, it's a wonderful bonding experience and convenient way to hold baby close while having your hands free to tackle other more meanacing issues, like dishes. (No snark intended! Dishes don't do themselves!)

Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare division markets Motrin, and its VP of Marketing made the decision to pull the ad - a month after it was first posted - because of the explosion of angry moms blogging and tweeting in outrage about this otherwise unknown online ad over the course of a couple days. In other words, using social media, passionate moms took on a healthcare giant, and won.

So while this has been a fascinating case study in the power of the momfluential, and specifically in the social networking space, what I don't get is why these moms aren't as passionate, as organized, and as vocal about things that I dare say matter more than the tone of an online ad. Why not get this organized about children without healthcare insurance? How about contaminated drinking water? There happens to be an economic crisis going on - how about organizing around that? Or, hey, even the fact that Baby Gap doesn't have a motorized door? Have you ever tried to hold a giant glass swinging door open with your foot while using all of your weight to maneuver and push a loaded double stroller through it? Hello, Baby Gap??

Now there's something to get tweeting mad about!

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Frito Pie Future?

Hubby Hawks was a wrestler. He is from a family of wrestlers -- five of the seven boys in his family wrestled in high school. And they were all good. And now two of them, Hubby included, are wrestling officials in their "spare" time between December and February. It's his opportunity to get back on the mat, be in the midst of weekend tourney excitement, the shouting, the old wood gym smell, the Frito pie lunches, the bleachers of middle aged parents weilding video cameras, the sweat, blood and sometimes tears.

Even though wrestling is apparently part of his DNA, he has always said that he does not care if his boys want to follow in his wrestling shoes. He wants them to find their own passions. In the meantime, I'm having a blast sampling the options with them. Sure, in our backyard you'll find the t-ball set and the basketball hoop and the baseballs and bikes, yadda yadda.

But what I find more exciting are the sports you can't buy at Target. Last year, we completed our first round of swimming lessons and discovered we have two water babies. Then last week, Graham took his first horseback riding lesson. My little two-year-old trotted around an arena on a full-sized stallion like a real equestrian. I shared the saddle with him, sitting behind him and beaming with pride that my little toddler was telling this massive animal to "go faster!"
In the meantime, attempting to not assign Reid a label already at just 18 months, he so far actually appears to be...wait for it...a wrestler. It's nearly shocking to see him actually almost doing it right, taking down Graham in the family room. As in, actual technique. (Yes, you may be surprised to know there is actual technique for barbaric acts. There is a "right" way to go about annihilating your opponent.) This 18-month-old may not need any of dad's covert coaxing into wrestling after all. Watching him take down his big brother, I found myself glimpsing the future, smelling the sweat and Frito pies...

But I was brought back to earth when I came across this article about what parents will pay on their kids' sports. "Your kid won't be as good if you don't pay for all the extras," one dad says within. Kids' sports is no longer about fun, exercise and character building; it's about transactions -- an industry with a new array of products. Parents apparently have no choice but to engage with it all if they are to give their kids a chance at making a school team. There are 40 times more kids participating in baseball traveling teams today than there were just 10 years ago. What will this industry look like 10 years from now? Are sports still about kids having fun, or is this a hotbed for sports marketers?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Could a down economy save parents from themselves?

I recently came across this review in the Brooklyn Rail about a book called Parenting, Inc.: How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers—and What It Means for Our Children. Hmm. It’s quite a title. A mouthful, really. And obviously meant for “those” parents who over-indulge their kids with excess that is so readily available in the baby products market. But, wait a minute…I have a diaper wipe warmer. Have I thrown my own wallet into the hyper-consumerism bonfire?

The book points out the ways in which marketers are essentially fear-mongers, snatching up parents-to-be and convincing them they need these (expensive) things to be a better parent. Because if you don’t use a sleep positioner with your infant who can’t even roll over yet, you are subjecting him to possible death. Huh? And you must purchase the motion detector to ensure constant breathing. What? Well, you do want your kid to be safe…DON’T YOU? What kind of parent are you?

This is of course also fueled by an alpha syndrome – the need to keep up with Mommy and Daddy Jones. A friend of mine recently announced that he and his wife decided to register for the Cadillac of strollers because “a $10 stroller is for a $10 baby.” I actually don’t know any babies that cost $10, but boy that would jibe so much more nicely with the current economic state. Actually, from what I’ve read, babies cost their parents about $20,000 in their first year of life. (How’s that for birth control?)

And why do babies cost so much? Exorbitant daycare costs aside, could we actually be doing this to ourselves? Am I a better mother if I spend $600 more on my stroller? Somebody is convincing us that, yes, the more money we spend, the better we parent, and the more likely our kids are to get into Harvard. Oh, so that’s how it happens!

The whole phenomenon is shocking and fascinating to me simultaneously as both a mom and a marketer. The marketer in me exclaims, “Genius!” The mom in me asks, “What kind of consumerism example am I setting for my kids? What kind of consumers will they be as parents one day?”

As our economy continues in a downward spiral, could our (albeit forced) shift towards conservative consumerism actually help us set better examples for our kids?

Perhaps I should buy the book and learn about the ways I’m doing it all wrong, buying too much, and … oh, right, I’ll buy something so that I’ll understand how to not buy things. Problem solved.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Going Green Yet?

I got a wild idea this past August and decided to take two classes this semester. Damn you, ambition! Luckily, I thrive on stress (and sarcasm).

One of said classes is about communicating sustainability (a.k.a. "talking green"). I find this class quite interesting, not only because my professor has appeared on Oprah twice along with a slew of other top-tier media outlets (a.k.a she knows her stuff), but also because there is a wealth of debate surrounding green consumerism, which is somewhat fascinating to me as a marketer. And as you probably know by now if you've listened to any of my spiel, moms are making 85% of household purchase decisions, so its imperative that green consumerism embrace moms. Does a “Green Approved” stamp on a household product make it more attractive to the general mom consumer population? Can established household and baby brands actually encourage moms to go green with them?

As moms, we are attractive targets for many brands because we're part of a lucrative $2 trillion market. Clorox knows us very well. Recently, I’ve gotten to know Clorox a little better.

Did you know that Burt’s Bees (a popular organic brand) is owned by Clorox? Yes, I’m talking about the same Clorox that pumps bleach into our water system. Clorox purchased Burt’s Bees at the end of 2007 for nearly $1 billion (yes, with a “b”) because, according to the New York Times, “Big companies see big opportunities in the market for green products...Analysts say there is far more growth to be had by it and its competitors as consumers keep gravitating toward products that promise organic and environmental benefits.”

In other words, "green" could be a marketing cash cow ready for the tapping. As a student I'm pondering the chicken-and-egg issue with green marketing to moms: Could it be that mom consumer behaviors are actually spurring household and baby products to go green? If more and more household and baby brands with some degree of established brand equity offer green products to moms (Huggies, are you listening?), will more moms decide choose “green” over those “other” colors?

It’s nearly impossible to talk about going green as a mom without mentioning the great diaper debate. I read an article claiming 200,000 trees each year are used to manufacture disposable diapers for U.S. babies, and it takes several hundred years for disposables to decompose in our landfills. Yuck.

What if Huggies, Pampers and Luvs offered a "green" option, the way Clorox offers a “green” line? I was a baby of the 70s who wore cloth diapers and plastic pants, but I am somehow confused by the idea of using cloth diapers on my hawklets. I couldn’t tell you the name of a cloth diaper brand or, frankly, even how to use a cloth diaper (do you just toss in the washing machine? What?), but even before I was a mom I was very familiar with Huggies, Pampers and Luvs. If these brands offered me greener options, of course I would support them with my pocketbook.

This just in: Target sells organic cotton baby onesies? Why wasn't that marketed to me when I was pregnant and spending (and registering at Target) like a crazy woman?

Does green consumerism need to start leveraging moms’ established brand equity to capture more market share? I think the folks at Clorox would say, “Yes!”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And while we're on the subject of little watching eyes and listening ears...

I recently viewed this powerful public service announcement from Australia on another blog and it struck me. This is a reminder about the impact that parents, and adults in general, can have on the little sponges that are our kids. I would love to see a similar campaign here in the U.S., especially as statistics reveal that moms are actively looking to TV spots to educate them about social responsibility.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The bomb hits

On a business trip in Chicago this week I received an *urgent* call from my sister:

"I thought you would want to know what your son did today at Mimi's."


"He dropped the f-bomb."


It hit me like a punch. A confirmation that little ears were indeed listening, absorbing. (Dad's potty mouth, of course. Not mine.) He had been trying to open a stubborn window when the bomb hit. Mimi advised him that "we don't use that word at Mimi's house." And then went on to get to the root of the evil, of course: "Where did you hear that word?"

My son's reply? "In the car." Hmmm...well, that explains it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What's in a name?

Recently I had the pleasure of spending a day with the DMV and the license bureau and the inspection place. I know what you're thinking: "I'm so jealous! What fun you must have had! I only wish I too could waste away my life waiting in line like you got to!" I know, it was awesome.

And in the course of my day and the paperwork that went along with it, I encountered several opportunities to correct people who were getting my name wrong. Hello? Is Liz Hawks really that difficult? Okay, Elizabeth Hawks? Is that difficult? Um, no, I don't think so. But apparently several others do. Take, for example, the four people at the DMV with whom I had to argue that five years ago when I got married I changed my middle name to my maiden name. Missouri was completely fine with that. But Kansas? Um, not so much. (And by the way, Kansas could not care less what Missouri does!) I think I heard the phrase "Homeland Security" about 10 times in the course of these discussions. Right, I am plotting something really dangerous here, as you can tell by the fact that when I got married my maiden name became my middle name. Book me now!

Then there was the inspection guy, who decided my last name was Hawk, not Hawks. Because Hubby's sloppy signature appeared to say "Hawk" even though the printed version clearly included the "s." I had to ask him to add the "s" after he tried to argue that if Hubby signed his name without it, then it must be "Hawk." Um, no, let's add that "s," thanks.

It's funny to me that that one letter makes such a difference. People don't seem to think it's a big deal. But what if we just left the last letter off of others' names? George Bus? Bra Pitt? Something seems off.

Yes, a name is kinda important. Before Reid was born, we spent about 8 months calling him George before deciding perhaps he was a Reid. It's kind of a big decision, one that can't be taken those wonderful DMV employees, and the Department of Homeland Security, also seem to agree with.

Uh oh, I just realized I mentioned both "George Bush" and "Department of Homeland Security" in this blog...I'm just asking to be watched! Well hopefully the CIA can get my name right...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Starting Early

This picture only gives me slight heart palpitations. Visions of my son as a teenager give me full on cold sweats...

Friday, September 19, 2008

As if you needed more reasons to love Sesame Street

It's no secret to most people who read this blog that my laptop is generally considered my third arm. An extension of my body, attached to me at all times. (Okay, sometimes replaced by my blackberry.) The boys love to try to "help" me type as I'm working away (I figure one day I'll be helping them with a procrastinated book report at midnight, right? So they might as well help me work on my marketing case studies now, don't you think?) and inevitably whenever the laptop is powered up, Graham will ask me to "play music." In Graham-speak, this means he wants to watch Sesame Street videos on YouTube.

He doesn't know yet to ask directly for YouTube (though he currently thinks most electronic music-playing devices are iPods) as I'm not sure I necessarily want to encourage his Internet fluency quite yet, I mean at least not until age three or four, right? But because I love that YouTube offers short snippets of video rather than entire episodes, I somehow feel in control of his TV-watching when it's on YouTube rather than "real" TV, so I always give in and take a minute to watch Elmo singing and dancing with letters of the alphabet and other Sesame pals. There is nothing like spicing up marketing research or PR strategy with a little sprinkle of the letter G singing and dancing with a red furry monster. I mean, it really gets the creative juices flowing! And yes, we LOVE Elmo at the Hawks house. (I mean, have you seen my Elmo cake creation from Graham's second birthday? I stayed up late and gave myself arthritis to get that thing done!)

And because we've now seen so many Sesame Street segments on YouTube, I've started to realize how beautifully the brains behind this 39-year-old beloved series have orchestrated parental interest into the programming (a.k.a. celebrities). My favorite Elmo video on YouTube right now is Andrea Bocelli singing Elmo to sleep. It is the kind of thing that I myself want to watch myself every night before bed, with or without my toddler. (Hey, it's Andrea Bocelli singing a lullaby! Who wouldn't want to fall asleep to that?! And by the way, I could probably fall asleep to anything! I have two toddlers, remember!?) Last week, Graham watched Andrea and Elmo on my laptop probably four times and cried because I wouldn't let him watch it a fifth time. Enter that control thing I mentioned before.

And it's not just Andrea Bocelli. In the mood for educational hip hop (who isn't?)? Just fire up Destiny's Child or Chris Brown dancing to songs about walking and street signs. Feeling more bluesy? How about Norah Jones' musical lament about why she misses the letter Y? Yes, marketing a musical act to mom through the goldmine that is Sesame Street is certainly savvy marketing. I am the sucker mom who, after hearing Andrea Bocelli singing Elmo a lullaby, totally powered up iTunes to see what adult-intended Andrea Bocelli classics I might be interested in. It works!

So, what's next? A product placement in our Clifford books? Well, hopefully not, but in the meantime the boys and I will continue to scan YouTube to catch celebs hanging with the Street gang and entertaining parents and toddlers. You know, those little people who will likely in a couple years know more about the Internet than I do today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Conversations with a 2-year-old

Him: "I want to take my leg off."

Me: "No, you can't take your leg off. You need your leg."

Me (at the zoo): "Look at the seals!"

Him: "Those are sea lions."

(Yes, I was corrected by a 2-year-old! Humbling!)

Him (very seriously): "You better tickle me right there on my neck, Mommy."

Me: "Did you play outside today? You got some dirt on your leg."

Him: "It's poop."

Me: "No, it's not poop. It's dirt."

Him: "No, it's poop."

Him: "I don't hear the owls, Daddy. OOOOOOWWWWWWLLSS?!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Apologies and First Day of School

Yes, it's been awhile. But the first step to recovery is owning up to I am admitting right here and now: I am too ambitious. I take on too much. I started a blog. But I had already started a life. As you can tell, if you have been checking here for a recent post, other things have gotten in the way of my blogging in the past few weeks. So first things first: I'm sorry for the delay! In the past few weeks, I started the new semester (oh yeah, I'm still in graduate school, you know -- the six year plan), took a long weekend to Vegas with Hubby, visited friends in Dallas, worked on our half bath "project," got a new vehicle, completed several appointments and to-dos, continued to raise to future leaders, and oh don't forget -- worked at my "other" full-time job (as in my paying job, because of course mothering is my first full-time job).

Graham started school as well. To clarify, he started a Parents Day Out program at a nearby church. This gives Mimi a little break in her week, which now consists of THREE baby boys since Henry started coming after Sara went back to work last week. So a couple Thursdays ago (yikes, it's been a while since I last posted, I mean I had to say a "couple" Thursdays -- bad!) we took him to his first day of "school." He had to bring a backpack and a lunchbox so he is officially a little boy. I think the backpack was the tipping point. And quite a mature little boy, might I add. When we walked into the classroom on that first morning (yes, mom and dad both took him the first day -- we are so proud!), where we saw about 10 kids, all the boys were crying and none of the girls were. (You go, girls!) And I mean these were massive tears. So I looked at my little man, wearing his backpack as big as his body, surveying the room and sizing up the teachers. I pondered his thoughts and figured they could be going one of two ways: either "What are these boys' problems? Take me to the train set!" or "Why are my mommy and daddy leaving me here where there is obviously something really wrong?!" His actions signaled to me that the former was reality. He beelined to the trains and without a word gave us a kiss and started playing quietly. Later in the day, the teachers indicated he completed day one like a pro.

That's my man. The connsumate professional. (Professional lover of trainsets.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Performing surgery in the Stone Age

This week was staycation week. Should have been vacation week, but Hurricane Dolly blew through those plans. Once it was confirmed we would have to cancel our flights to the beach, I immediately switched gears and drafted a staycation plan with details for each day of the week and forwarded it to Hubby Hawks for review and approval. He approved but with an addendum: we would spend the final weekend in Vegas – two fun-loving adults with no regard for diapers or tantrums. Oh yeah. (Thanks Grandma and Papa!) And that’s as much as I’ll say about Vegas on my “mommy blog.”

So back to that “stay” part of staycation. It was action packed. Because of course sleeping is for sissies, even during staycation. We kicked it off with a puppet show, then a train ride, next a day at the zoo, then a day at the water park, and we threw in dinner at T-Rex, the dinner “experience” restaurant. Having no expectations, I actually loved it. Of course, it’s a fantastic family-of-four tourist trap, but I kinda loved being a “tourist,” trapped in my own city. And I am a complete sucker for anything that gets my boys’ eyes wide and wheels turning. The gigantic, fake, moving and breathing dinosaurs that live inside the T-Rex restaurant certainly did that. The food, not so much. The boys ate corn dogs -- as I’m sure the ancient cave people ate as well -- and I had a realization as Hubby and I were sitting there dissecting and blowing on each mini-dog on their plates:

I am always performing surgery on my sons’ food.

And sure enough, there I was, sitting in the Stone Age or Ice Age, or wherever I was, next to a life size woolly mammoth, performing surgery once again. Inevitably, each time we go out to dinner, or eat at home for that matter, the boys’ dinner is too hot for them to eat it when it’s finally ready. And they’re starving. Or have already filled up on Goldfish because they were starving. And about to have a break down. And so not interested in the umpteenth matchbox car I’ve got in my bag of tricks (a.k.a. the diaper bag). So the first thing Hubby and I do as soon as it is placed on the table is steal it from them, take the scalpel to it and start puffing away on it, pumping it with as much cool oxygen as we can before passing out.

Why is it that here we are decades after the introduction of the microwave, and we still don’t have a small appliance that zaps food in the other direction – taking it from steaming hot to just right? I would be first in line.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

And now a message from my 14-month-old, who loves typing


I love that he used all caps. He knew exactly what he wanted to say; nothing wishy washy about him! I love his deliberate punctuation, his banging approach to the keys, as if this was something he'd been waiting to get off his chest for quite some time. And this was literally it. Once he'd typed that final K, he was so done. On to the next thing. As desperate as he was to type this message, he couldn't be bothered with the computer once he was done. I love that conviction about him. I think he got it from me.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Human Head Weighs 8 Pounds!

Is this the cutest 13-month old with glasses you've ever seen?

A couple weeks ago, we had a check up and learned that we were right that in addition to his nystagmus he wasn't seeing things at a distance very well and was developing a slight strabismus in his right eye. The no. 1 question we've gotten from people since then: "How could they tell?"

Yes, it's remarkable. Thank God for pediatric specialists. We are seeing "the best in the city" according to other moms I've referenced.

Which brings me to finding myself smack dab in the middle of what I read about in terms of the biggest influencer in marketing to moms: WORD OF MOM. Hearing from other moms, whether a neighbor or a colleague, that the pediatric ophthalmologist we're seeing is the "best in the city" can not ring louder with me. This is the best endorsement any professional can get for me. Research shows that if a mom endorses a product or service to another mom, there is no better advocate. And it's so true. While we had already been referred to our doc by my pediatrician (also a mom), getting these reassuring endorsements from other random moms solidifies her expertise in my mind even more fully. I don't know what exactly her resume says or what JAMA research she's published, but hey other moms say she's the best. So I know she's the best. And she knows exactly what my baby's eyes need. His EYES. The windows into his soul. How could I trust those with anyone but the best?

So now I'm getting these images of Reid as a young Jerry Maguire kid...but even cuter. Don't you think?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Love Letter to the Drive Thru

Ah the drive thru. (Or is it drive through? Who know what I'm talking about.)

As a mom who is also a consumer, I feel compelled to patronize every drive thru I pass. I want to spend a little money to show my appreciation: Thank you for making my life with little ones a little easier. Thank you for understanding that I'm not lazy, it's just hard work carting them around, in and out of the car, kicking and arching their backs each time they have to strap back into those car seats. Thank you for alleviating the pain we all feel each time we have to go through that dreaded routine. Thank you for saving me from the physical and mental labor of hip-slinging one, dragging the other, wishing I could find a cart -- or if there is a cart, wishing I could keep them in it -- and hoping they don't run off with a criminal or dart into the street.

Yes, the drive thru, while perhaps it was a fast food ploy at first, now is the answer to an errand-running mother's prayer. Adding a drive thru to Starbuck's? GENIUS! And, just another reason to love Starbuck's even more.

As strongly as I feel about my beloved drive thru, I'm baffled by those "other" entities who haven't caught on yet. Do you not care about us multi-tasking moms of the world? Do you not want our money? And if you do, wouldn't you want to make it as easy as possible to get us to you in order to hand over that money?

Helloooooo, post office...library? Are you listening, Blockbuster?

Walgreens will let me drive thru to pick up my prescription, but not my one-hour photos? Excuse me?

And, what about you, Target? Why not let me peruse your aisles virtually, via the comfort of my home computer while my little ones run screaming around the house, not your store. I'll make my selections online, then load up the car and we'll drive to the neighborhood Target drive thru, pick up our bagged selections and pay at the window. Why not? I want to shop online, but why should I pay for (and wait for) shipping when I'm perfectly capable of driving down the street to pick it up myself?

Gas stations have mastered the swipe-and-go. Some dry cleaners offer a drive thru. Yet I'm still amazed that in our convenience-oriented society of consumers, others haven't followed suit more quickly.

Moms of the world, you know you're with me. Have you hugged your drive thru today?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In Memoriam

I love this photo of my grandma holding me. This is so 1970s. So small-town Missouri. This is so Grandma.

I thought it appropriate to take a moment to introduce you to her. Meet Louise. Well, that wasn’t her “real” name, which I only discovered a few short years ago. Her real name was Marjorie, but she never liked that. This is the woman for whom I was given my middle name…no, not Marjorie, but Louise of course. And fittingly, this is the woman at whose house I first watched the classic movie “Thelma and Louise.”

I am not her only namesake. Her daughter, Jennifer, is also a Louise, and Jennifer’s daughter, Justine, is a Louise as well. Three women named for one. That’s quite a feat in my book.

She gave birth to my dad at age 19. Barely an adult. I can only imagine what emotions surged through her heart when she realized she was pregnant so young in 1947.

She was a marrying woman, married three times in fact. But the third time, she was cautious, dating for seven years before she would even consider the “m” word. She ran off to Reno and came back Mrs. Howery, married to a trucker, a veteran. I would never do that. But I love it that she did. And boy did he love her.

She had guts. She also had strength. Strength I think beyond even what she realized as she was dealt punch after punch. She lived with diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and through breast cancer. She inherited her mother’s dementia. In the past year, she would forget that I had children or that my sister was married, but she never forgot us. A blessing that we never got to that point. She could re-tell the story of when I was born like it happened yesterday. And she did. Recounting every detail of that blustery January whenever we talked, and I could always hear the smile in her voice. I’d heard it a million times and the smile was always there.

She was also a working woman – impressive for her generation. She ran a restaurant, then worked in a law office. I always imagined her working as a secretary alongside the likes of Dolly Parton in “9 to 5.” As you can tell, her big hair would’ve helped her fit right in.

She followed Hulk Hogan and friends at the prime of 1980s WWF. She called the sport “wrastling.” We didn’t watch it at home, only at Grandma’s.

She gave me my first television. I was dying to have one in my pre-teen bedroom and she obliged with a tiny black and white hand-me-down with massive bunny ears once after a trip to her house. My mother must have been so livid. But she did it anyway. I watched my three fuzzy black and white channels and thought of her.

Last year, when I was pregnant with baby no. 2, we visited her house for the first time in a long time. It smelled the same as I remembered. Graham played with an old push toy he found in one of the bedrooms as we chatted, and watching him, I imagined myself playing in the same way, in the same place, as a toddler. It was strange, and it was nice.

While we were there, Grandma and Clayton announced they had chosen their headstone and even had a mock-up of the design. “Wanna see it?” she asked. As morbid as it seemed to us young ones, I obliged while joking that of course she was never going to die.

But on Sunday, she proved me wrong.

As with any loss, it’s hard to face the definitive. I will never again see or speak to my grandma. I will never have the chance to tell her that I knew she was strong, and smart, and loved. I will never have the chance to make up for my lag between phone calls or visits. But at the same time, she will never break another bone, or face another hospital telling her they have no room and she’ll have to wait for the treatment she needs now. She will never have to live in a nursing home, her husband demoted to “visitor.” She will never again wonder in frustration why her son doesn’t call.

Though my lifestyle and goals are different, I can only hope that I, too, will be as stubbornly determined, as cared about by my devoted husband, as satisfied in the simple things, like getting my hair done or going out to dinner. We should all be so lucky.

Thanks, Grandma, for the reminder. I love you.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ode to the Hamper

Hampers are fun. Hampers have lids.
Hampers cause giggles for hours on end.

Sometimes they're full. Sometimes they're not.
My brother and I like hampers a lot.

I duck down inside. And then I pop out!
Like Jack in his box, that's what hamper's about.

Now you can see me. Now you can not!
Inside the hamper is my hiding spot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I have an idea...

Last year at this time I was on maternity leave.

I was enjoying long walks on the trail, pushing my double stroller, introducing the newest Hawklet to my favorite coffee shop, figuring out how to maneuver the grocery store with two babies, looking at new houses, and formulating ideas. Oh yeah, Hubby Hawks hates that part.

Those dang ideas. They haunt my mind. They keep my eyes darting around rooms. They send me on discovery trips to places like JoAnn’s fabric store. Those places I thought were meant for small-town quilting grandmas. Yes, I admit – I’ve shopped at JoAnn’s fabric store.

Yes, spending time in my home is sort of a danger to my wallet. Nearly every husbandly eye roll inevitably starts with my saying something like, “I have an idea…”

But I can’t help it. I absolutely love home projects. I love the problem solving, the creative outlet, the sense of accomplishment. I love reporting to myself as my own boss. I love living in the outcome. The feeling of fruition.

In our last house, we painted our bedroom three times in four years. The other bedrooms each were painted twice. I walked around my home and for better or worse, I could look everywhere and see our efforts, our sweat equity, our ideas. Not even a year in our new home and we’ve already done something in every room.

All I need is a quick trip to Home Depot right before the boys’ afternoon nap time and a little manly power drill intervention every now and then from loving Hubby. I will be the next generation’s Candice Olson. I can surely carve out some time between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. to replace my kitchen countertop…I mean, after all, I have the greatest idea…

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mommy, Daddy, Up High!

Hubby Hawks and I have a gift certificate drawer in the kitchen. It’s the dumping grounds for all things redeemable. Every now and then I open it and this wave of guilt comes over me. If I don’t cash these in, they’ll go to waste! I will be letting down the thoughtful gift-givers from whom these came! I will be a bad person, wasting hard-earned money, at the benefit of corporate giants! Nooooooo!

And that’s when I have these “cashing in” days where I run around town, certificates in purse, redeeming what I can and tossing what’s expired.

Recently I realized one of those folded up slips of paper stashed in the mess was a certificate I actually gave Hubby. It was his Father’s Day 2007 gift – the Father’s Day that hit shortly after Reid’s birth and his first as a dad of two. I wanted to make a splash. I was so proud of myself when I landed on a hot air balloon ride – something neither of us had ever experienced. It was unique! It was a first! It was not going to clutter up the garage! Done.

(And, oh yeah, I got to participate in enjoying this gift, too! I am no dummy!)

But as happens with balloons, and weather, and schedules, and planning ahead, it didn’t get done. It sat in the kitchen drawer, keeping company with a Ziploc coupon and expired Applebee’s gift card.

Until a couple weeks ago.

Just a year and a couple days after he opened his gift, he finally got to enjoy it. We did it. We floated, drifted, soared over beautiful, peaceful northeastern Kansas, spotting deer and smelling hay. We watched our colorful reflection in ponds and we waved to kids jumping on trampolines. It was great. (Minus the concern that the tops of our heads might actually catch on fire at any second.)

The hawklets came as well. Not in the balloon (please, we’re not REALLY hawks) but to watch us launch with Mimi, who babysat while we ballooned. They sat there in the field in their double stroller, eyes wide, taking in the balloon and all its colorful glory, and attempting to process. I was reading their little minds, as I love to do: What in the hell is this sheet tied to this giant basket and why do they keep trying to light it on fire?!

Then it was go time. Graham was crying, Reid was confused, Mimi was snapping photos, and Hubby and I were running towards the noisy flame, jumping into the basket, rising off the ground…I can only imagine why Graham was brought to tears. As we called out to him “Byyyyyyyeeee Graaaaaahhaaammm!” waving ferociously, he surely thought he would never see us again.

Two weeks later, he’s still talking about it. Over breakfast or before bed, he reminds us that this traumatic moment still races through his thoughts: “Mommy, daddy, up high!”

Yes, bud, we sure were. And, we’re going to get 50 cents off our next box of Ziplocs, too!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lucky Me

Over the past six weeks, I’ve been away for overnight trips every other week. Luckily, I am married to one of the most hands-on dads I’ve ever seen. Hubby Hawks tackles dinners, baths, PJs, tooth brushing, stories, diapers, sippie cups, breakfasts and car seats maybe better than I do. He can be found mingling with the other moms in the cul-de-sac watching the kids ride bikes in the street while I’m banging away on my lap top or off at night class working towards my graduate degree. He fills me in on the latest neighborhood news.

Hubby Hawks grew up in the middle of eight kids in his small town Catholic family and although I’ve never seen his dad cook dinner or change a diaper, somehow he came away with zero sense of traditional male-female stereotypes. He cooks nearly every night and thank God for that or the rest of us might starve. Or we would eat things like tomatoes or protein bars for dinner and surely that can’t be enough to sustain two growing boys.

We both are dedicated to our careers, but somehow Hubby Hawks manages to leave it at the office and I’m always carrying mine around. It buzzes at me constantly on my blackberry, the looming Wi-fi penetrating all sides, my lap top begging me to it. Somehow, he doesn’t see the point in multi-tasking whereas I am an addict. I envy him.

Recently, in the midst of my latest marketing-to-moms research someone asked me: why moms? Aren’t dads more involved now more than ever? Aren’t parents more likely to share traditional “mom” roles? So, why focus on moms? Is anyone really just focused on moms anymore?

The answer is a resounding yes. While I celebrate the ground we’ve covered as moms and dads who are -- both sides -- responsible for developing the little people we’ve created, the data shows that moms are still making 85% of the family’s purchase decisions. Dads are more willing to change a diaper, but moms are more likely to decide what kind of diaper dad will be changing. The decision-making doesn’t stop at baby products. Moms are deciding what kind of vehicle the family will drive, where they should bank, what healthcare services they will use.

I thank God for the gift I’ve gotten in such a wonderful husband and father. And I’m also thankful that this wonderful man will put whatever brand of diaper on our boys that I choose.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Entering the Potty Zone

Recently in the middle of a typical Monday afternoon and a barrage of emails about data sets, client reviews and extranets, I received a wonderful little ray of light in the form of an email from Mimi, while she was watching the boys:

“When Graham got up from his nap his pants were dry so I asked him if he wanted to go to the potty. He did. And he peed!”

Take that, world! My baby is growing up! Today it’s peeing in the potty…tomorrow, maybe Congress! MY BABY PEED IN THE POTTY!

I imagined the look of pride that must have graced his face when he realized what he was doing. I wanted to give him a hug and tell him what a big boy he is.

I thought about a sign that hung in my old hairdresser’s salon in my small home town:

“Doing a good job around here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit. It gives you a warm feeling but nobody really notices.”

Now this is a big moment for a toddler that barely goes unnoticed. I’m sure we’ll now go get that potty trainer and maybe some Pull-Ups and perhaps we’ll stock up on some key potty training tips at our favorite parenting sites. But for me, this little guy’s mother, well heck, you might say I’m “peeing” right along with him…right into my dark suit.

Friday, June 27, 2008

TV as T-Ball Coach

Almost a year ago, we moved to a new house, new neighborhood, new zip code. It was very exciting. Reid was just a few months old and we were ready to expand our square footage to accommodate our newly doubled number of offspring. We moved from what my in-laws considered “the hood” of Kansas City to a more peaceful setting with gorgeous trees and a bicycle-friendly cul-de-sac. But what wasn’t exciting was moving far away from our best friends who had lived just three houses away in the old ‘hood, and with whom we had spur of the moment dinners, games, drinks…and with whom we even had baby boys around the same time. (They were supposed to be best friends, too! How would they become best friends if we moved a half hour away?!)

So we were quite pleased last week when we had one of our spur-of-the-moment dinner dates at our house, even though they had to drive a half hour home afterwards. Between the eating and the driving, we all hung out in the backyard for a bit and enjoyed our lovely June Kansas City weather. And their little almost-two-year-old adorable Grady played with Graham’s t-ball set – the plastic toy in which Hubby Hawks had been waiting, hoping that the boys would start to show some interest. No matter, it saw a little love from little Grady that night. This almost-two-year-old’s swing was frankly amazing. He whacked the ball off the tee across the yard, over and over, with a power surely harnessed by future pros.

Graham couldn’t have cared less, watching and cheering for “Gary” (still working on Gra-dy) from the bench before getting bored and trying to coax him into riding bikes in the cul-de-sac instead of whacking t-balls.

Our friends, perhaps noting our amazement mentioned that Grady watches a lot of baseball on TV with them at home. Really? That’s the secret? This toddler is emulating the likes of Pujols, Jeter, A-Rod…after seeing them on TV? I got to thinking about the great toddler vs. TV debates of our time. Wasn’t it just last year that Baby Einstein came under such fire from a new study about toddler TV time causing ADD? In my undergrad career I studied the effects of TV ads on children, and how they perpetuate gender and racial stereotypes. TV can create health problems, stereotypes and racism, but I had never considered it could create a t-ball talent. Hubby Hawks surely hadn’t realized this either or he would have plopped Graham down right in front of Sports Center for hours. ADD, schmay-dee-dee! My kid WILL LOVE T-BALL!!!

Luckily, Hubby Hawks isn’t one of those over-bearing sports parents. And neither are our friends. I’m not sure about their attribution of Grady’s hefty swing to ESPN, but they certainly have a little talent on their hands. Now, I’m off to check the TV Guide for the Tour de France airing…hopefully it doesn’t overlap with nap time…

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

View Into the Hawks Nest

What's that smell?

It was a banner day today. I got up early to try to get some work done before the boys got up, but of course one thing after the other...yada yada yada...and then we're 15 minutes late getting out the door and I didn't even have time to log on. This was my first clue of the kind of day in store.

Now on to my second, and most favorite, clue. It smelled like something curled up and died inside the car at some point overnight and then radiated in the heat of our garage until this morning when I opened the doors to quickly strap the boys into their car seats and race off to Mimi's, only to be greeted with the most horrid putridness racing its way right up into my nostrils.

"AAAAHHHH!! WHAT'S THAT SMELL???" I asked the boys. They looked at me like I was crazy (I've seen that look before). (And by the way, do babies and toddlers not get sickened by bad smells? They never seem to care! What is the deal?)

My eyes immediately began darting around the car, looking for the spilled sippy cup of milk, the forming cottage cheese, the half-eaten...something? But I couldn't solve the riddle. There was nothing around. No culprit. Just a horrid smell that we had to sit in, windows down and A/C on in the humid heat of a late June day.

Third clue. About five minutes from Mimi's house, the cell phone rings. Mimi is stuck at the car dealer, where she had dropped her car earlier, expecting a shuttle return to her house before our arrival. No such luck.

"You might as well pick me up. They don't know how long it will be. I'm at 103rd Street."

ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRD? It hit me like a lightning bolt. I'm now officially going to be at least a half hour late to the office. My breathing turned shallow and I imagined the headline: "29-Year-Old Mom Dies of Stress-Induced Heart Attack." I could hear the mountain of work waiting on my desk laughing at me, louder with each block that passed...56th Street, 57th Street, 58th...

The day went on like that. I won't bring you down with the details.

But now it's night. The breathing is still shallow, but no heart attack today. I made it! I even carved out a few minutes this evening to Febreeze the car. Please, God, don't let that smell greet me tomorrow morning. I might hit the breaking point and drive the thing right into the dealership. One a little closer than 103rd Street...

Monday, June 23, 2008


Though it’s been a few months now, I have this moment in my head and just have to share. It’s one of those, you know, moments…the kind where you get that reminder that you are dealing with a higher power and your kids are just angels on loan.

First, let me explain that story time at night is one of my most favorite times with my older son, Graham. Reid is still too little to really enjoy his books. But Graham has gotten to the place, finally, where he can become enthralled with a book and sit through the whole thing. I read the words and feel his body become still on my lap, seeing his face fixated on each page. And I just know that of course this is just my first sign that this kid is going to be President. Of course.

Story time has been especially important to us this year as we realized Graham had a delay in speaking and was lagging behind where “they” say a 2-year-old should be though they couldn’t find any reason why. I remember when “they” told us we needed to start seeing an SLP, and I wondered, “Have I not been reading to him enough? Speaking to him enough? Practicing phonics enough?” And story time became kind of a big deal to me.

But I digress. So on this particular night, I don’t even know the story, but that’s not even the point. The point is actually that the story was over. And we were just rocking in the big brown comfy chair in his room. And talking about the random subjects that make up 2-year-old topics of conversation. This night it was about naming each person in our family. At this point in his speech delay, he called his brother Reid by a sound in the back of his throat that only his dad and I could decipher. It consisted of no vowels or consonants, and I really have no clue how we determined he was saying “Reid” but that’s what parents do – we translate. In trying to get him to speak “Reid” or at least “Weed” a little more clearly, we did a lot of pointing and asking “Who’s that?” So, on this night we were doing a little of that. Naming mommy, daddy, Graham and Weed. And then, out of nowhere, he labeled all of us:


Yep, wherever all four were involved, my baby had decided that’s where his heart was. His home – the magic equation of himself plus mommy, daddy and little brother. His sanctuary, his respite. His home. And mine.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What I've Learned

A year ago today I gave birth to my blonde baby. My little mini-surfer dude. And what a year it has been since! I doubled my volume of offspring, bought a house, lost 35 pounds, welcomed three new sisters-in-law and a niece, completed two more classes towards my master's degree and got a promotion. And I launched a blog! I joined the masses of "mommy bloggers" in the blogosphere, even though most of them don't know I'm here with them...yet. (But hopefully they'll want to be friends? Circle one: yes, no, or maybe?)

Great year, huh!?

I also learned a lot about mothering (since I was suddenly doing twice as much of it) and about nystagmus (my baby's diagnosis) and speech delay (that we are starting to get to finally get to the other side of with my toddler). I learned that it is hard to see your infant anesthetized for an MRI. I learned that no matter how close we get, my sister and I will likely never again have a relationship with our father, and that it's okay to look for the positives in bad situations and not try to fix everything. I learned that my mom is one of the most selfless people I know and I will never be able to show her the depth of my gratitude. I learned that I can be an entrepreneur without taking an accounting class. That I prefer the Gulf to the Pacific. That my New Year's resolutions are going to be the same. Every. Single. Year. That I get giddy about a good deal (who would've thunk it 10 years ago!!) and my husband loves that. And that I have a certifiable addicition to cafe mocha and unfortunately it's an expensive addiction (there goes the benefit of those "good deals" I get giddy about).

What does year two as a mom of two have in store for me? Although I've learned to savor every second because of what "they" say about it flying by far to fast, I can't wait to find out.

Monday, May 19, 2008


My two-year-old has met a milestone -- he has bestowed a name upon my mother: "Mimi." She, of course, is thrilled to have finally been "named." For two years we've all been wondering, "What will they call her?" We've referred to her as "Grammy" but apparently that didn't stick. Or, he decided it wasn't the right fit. "Mimi" it is. So my two-year-old already knows something about branding. As a marketer, I couldn't be prouder.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bring on the big-ticket gift!

The countdown is on…have you purchased your Mother’s Day gift yet? I'm pretty sure Hubby Hawks hasn't, either. I'm sure at some point tomorrow, he'll announce that he and the boys need to go do some shopping. If you're in the same boat, you might want to take note of some interesting trends this year. While retail analysts project a slumping economy will hinder mom-focused gift sales, gift-givers still say big-ticket items are what they’re giving. In fact, 84 percent of Mother’s Day gift-givers will give one big-ticket item rather than several items with small price tags. And a recent Harris poll showed that when given several options, what mothers 18 to 55 value most is relaxation. Thirty-seven percent said they wanted to be given the gift of freedom from their stressful daily routines. Still, while moms want to relax, they also want to spend precious time with their kids. What a fine line. My kids are the ultimate gift, of course -- and also energy draining! If given your choice, what Mother's Day gift would you choose?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thank goodness for traveling grandmas

Hubby Hawks and I are thinking about how to spend our vacation time for the year -- where to go, whether or not to bring the kids, how long we might be able to stand to be away from them. Every vacation we've taken since having the boys has involved my mother who is gracious enough to come along and help out so we can enjoy some sense of "vacation" while on vacation. Is this a common occurance? How does anyone travel with kids (sans grandma) and truly relax?

In March, a national survey conducted by Synovate showed two-thirds of moms say “yes” more often to their kids while on vacation. The survey showed that once at the vacation destination, it’s kids who are “calling the shots,” especially when it comes to indulgences like extra pool time, eating more sweets and sleeping in later. The survey also pointed to a shared interest in cruising by parent and child. Moms and kids alike chose cruising as their second vacation destination of choice, preceded by Orlando. But to today’s multi-minding moms, who are mentally juggling work, home and self-care needs more than ever before (and have 20% more on their mind at once than do their male counterparts), deciding whether to bring the kids along can be a roadblock. Is vacationing with the kids really a vacation? Is there guilt involved in leaving them behind? Nearly one in three parents has never vacationed without their children, according to another 2008 survey commissioned by The findings should be a call to vacation marketers that moms need to know more about kid-friendly vacation options that allow parents to truly “vacation,” guilt-free, but that also provide opportunities for kids to let loose. In the Synovate survey, Moms’ top reasons for taking their children on vacation included: to provide new experiences (79%); to relax and have fun (66%); to get away from the stress of work, school and home (63%); and to spend one-on-one time with them (44%). It's a fine line and tough decision. I miss my kids during the workday when I can't be with them. At the same time, when I've got days off, I want to relax...but with my family. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds?

What if we all had a mission statement

To leave the world a little better than it was when I entered.

It’s a lofty goal. But at the same time, a mission statement. Are mission statements ever supposed to be checked off the to-do list along with “get paper towels” and “bathe children?” I think not. It is a guidepost. Something to strive for. Something that will cause other good things to happen just because it is out there, begging you to come towards it. And in trying, you are able to feel good about so many other things. That’s my mission. That’s the reason for my statement.

And I’d like to go so far as to claiming that even in two years of motherhood, I have made a positive impact on the next generation. I witness daily a growing, evolving pair of future leaders. I see their compassion in application when they decide to share a toy -- or a hug -- without a prompt. I see their little wheels turning with ideas, eyes growing wider when they’ve stumbled upon something new. I see their problem-solving at work, inherent abilities that I dare claim to have something to do with. I am proud.

Monday, April 28, 2008

For the Love of the Cart

I have a confession to make. I'm addicted to Target. I love taking 20 mundane minutes to walk the aisles with a cart and convince myself that "I need that." And then 20 minutes turns into an hour and I walk out with a new toothbrush holder and a Lip Smackers flavor I haven't tried yet and I'm giddy. I loved going to Target mid-morning on a weekday when I was on maternity leave. I wheeled my baby around with the stay-at-home moms and pretended to be one of them. Acting the part. Knowing they could see right through to my inexperience -- my newbie-ness. "Welcome to the real world," they must have thought, seeing me study the bottle selection and gaze wide-eyed at exersaucers. Of course I'm talking about the first time around. The second maternity leave left no time for Target grazing. Nurse this one, chase that one, nurse this one, chase that one...became my rhythm. Now I chase both. Constantly running, all of us -- at home, at play, at work, at school...keep up, keep up, keep new rhythm. But not at Target. There, on the smooth clean white linoleum, I stroll, with my red cart. I let myself fall out of step with the rhythm. I take time to ponder those Lip Smackers flavors and whether it's time for a new throw pillow. And I love every minute of it.