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Crowd-sourcing my Vanity

16 Oct

What’s a social media gal to do when faced with choosing a pair of eyeglasses? When in doubt, blog it out!!

Comment below your favorite eye glasses. Wanna try a pair yourself? I loved the handy dandy webcam functionality at Coastal.com

glasses2

My 2 Days in Seattle

23 Jul

It was a bold strategy… invite 30 of the West Coasts largest social media influencers to your city, put them up in a nice hotel for 2 nights, give them cash, and let set them free. No restrictions, just an all expense paid trip for 3 days and 2 nights in Seattle.

I couldn’t believe it when Klout informed me that I had been chosen for a Klout Perk sponsored by the Seattle Visitors and Convention Center Bureau. The SVCC decided to host some of the most influential people on the West Coast, in hopes of luring nearby people to spend 2 days in Seattle. They have a website dedicated to following the tweets of the selected curators. I was categorized under Music, Arts & Culture, and it was great that @SeattleMaven served as the cyber hostess: serving up points of interest to any of us who checked in or tweeted around Seattle. She even hooked me up with Seattle Mariners tickets!!

Our room at Hotel Andra was spacious as well as gracious,

We were put up at the Hotel Andra … I never would’ve guessed that a boutique hotel could deliver such quality service and quiet rooms. We usually stay at the Hyatt, but I can see us returning to Hotel Andra in the future…it was that lovely. The hotel staff greeted me with 2 VIP tickets to see King Tut at the Science Center, a nice welcome note and an invitation to contact them if I have any questions. We were located perfectly between downtown and Belltown, so we were able to walk or bus anywhere. The weather was typical….socked in with fog in the morning, and lovely in the evenings.

Lola was a great restaurant with a Greek inspired menu.

And the food? I’m so used to Portland being a foodie city that I forget that Seattle also has a wonderful and diverse food scene as well. From chowder at Ivar’s to breakfast at Etta’s and everything in between, we never missed a meal, or a cocktail hour!! Stumbled upon the series of Tom Douglas restaurants, and ate our way through half of them over the weekend.

We were instructed to turn on our location device on our smart phones, and to tweet with the hashtag #2daysinSeattle. It allowed them to track us and also allowed us to see where other influencers were in the city.

But, pictures speak louder than words…. check out my visual tweets here.

So many questions, So little time….

5 Jun

I was just the subject of a college paper my boy’s girlfriend had to write. Nothing like being under a microscope ! I’m posting the questions and my subsequent answers because I’m thinking it may just be a great jumping off point for discussion:

Rose Festival Champ Car Races

1.What are some of the challenges you have faced as a parent?

Being the mother to a special needs child with health issues is by far the most challenging part of being a parent. Knowing just how much leash to give your kids, and how not to swoop and smother them as they find their own way is an ever-present challenge.

2. Have you ever received any type of parenting education?

No. We didn’t even go to lamaze classes 😛 Which is fine, because there is no set of rules when it comes to parenting…only guidelines and case histories. When I first came home from the hospital with my special needs baby, I ran to my bedroom to pick up my dog-eared copy of “What to Expect When You are Expecting” ….. only to find a brief paragraph on what to expect when one gives birth to a special needs child…. the paragraph told me to seek professional help elsewhere…. so much for baby books!

3. How has parenting changed as your children have grown and developed?

Not sure how to answer this one…. parenting perceptions have changed societially (i.e. Tiger Moms vs. Baby Wise, etc….) But I’m not sure how my own personal parenting style has changed. I suppose my role as a parent has evolved from primary care giver, to primary first aid boo-boo kisser to primary philosophy giver, taxi driver, and finally primary loan giver. I look forward to the roles changing up again to friend, babysitter, and finally child to my children…..circle of life.

4. Did you have accurate expectations of what it would be like to have children before you became a parent?

I believe so. I was prepared for the work aspect , but I did underestimate how much joy I would feel as a mom raising fun kids.

5. How do you balance family life with your other interests/jobs?

I gave up a successful career as a performer to raise a family. In order to keep my life in balance, and keep a “hand in” I do an occasional symphony performance or drama or recording gig just to keep my skills in check, and to keep me from feeling like I never get to do what I want to do anymore. I do one big show every other year.

I also run a Social Media marketing boutique out of my home. It allows me to work from home and still go on field trips or make the occasional frantic run up to school with a forgotten assignment or lunch. Best of both worlds!

6. What kind of support do you receive from family, friends, schools or the community as a parent?

Because I live so far away from my family (my parents divorced and I was moved away from the midwest in my teen years) I did not have the usual benefits many of my peers had raising their kids. My in-laws are 40+ years older than my husband, and they were not viable grandparents to help raise our kids. Both of my sets of parents live too far away to fill the typical grandparental roles, so my husband and I had to wing it when it came to baby-sitters and weekends away from the kids. My kids don’t know any different, but I do. I grew up spending every weekend at a different set of grandparents…my grandparents literally fought over who got to watch my brother and I as we grew up.

As the parent to a special needs child, I was amazed at the amount of support the Early Childhood Preparatory programs Oregon had for Caitlin. From the time she was 2 weeks old she was eligible for services, and was regularly visited by nurses who checked in on her, gave her physical therapy and helped me navigate through the public schools.

7. Is there anything you don’t like/don’t enjoy about being a parent?

I tire of the monotony of cleaning… It’s a never ending conundrum. I bore easily with volunteer moms at the school who complain about their husbands. I hate neighborhood gossip. I hate having to play momma bear to my special needs child, as I continually watch parents leave my child out of other reindeer games.

8. Has your philosophy on child-rearing changed as you have had more than one child?

I don’t believe so, but I’m sure it did. I often joke that my bonus child (my step-son from my husband’s first marriage) got the best version of me as a mommy. I was all of 25, just did a year as a theme park princess, and knew all the best ways to engage a young kid. I had patience for days and knew better than to push my luck, as our relationship was more environmental vs. biological. I literally spoiled him into submission, using treats as both motivation and reward. I also had to be ultra careful not to do anything that might be controversial. For example, if he had a nightmare and wanted to crawl in bed with his daddy, I would immediately leave the bed and go sleep on the couch, because the divorce was anything but amicable, and I needed to make sure that nothing could be twisted in a way that would hurt my husband’s time with his son.

My first born, got a more maternal version of me…we co-slept for the first year (much to my in-laws dismay) She was my shadow, and still is, at 14. She never left my sight in a mutual way.


And my youngest got a much more pragmatic version of me. With all of her health issues and brain delays, we navigated the world much differently…. much more cautiously and with purpose.

But….really, I think it is that each child brought something different to the equation, not necessarily that my child-rearing changed….For example….if Kelly as a toddler ever broke free and started running down the street, she would always look back and make sure I was chasing her. Caitlin, on the other hand….NEVER looked back. I was paranoid that Caitlin would go home with a stranger, because she just didn’t know any better.

9.What is your favorite part of being a parent?

There is a sense of accomplishment when I feel we are parenting well. It’s not always the case, but when we are sitting around the table talking over dinner and I see/hear the processes we’ve put in place working, I feel great about always putting my family first.

10. Is there anything you would change in your child-rearing if you had another child?

I’m not sure I would…..I’m sure there is something…..I would try and get help to be better organized, so that I could pass organization on to my children.

11. What are 1 or 2 pieces of advice you would give someone before they become
parents?

Go do everything you want to do in your life….travel, experience, do, be… make sure that when you have kids it is because you can’t imagine life without them, not because you think it’s time to go down that road. Don’t put an age on parenthood. I wanted to be a young mom…. I now wish I’d waited a bit and travelled/experienced more.

12. What has been most rewarding part of being a parent? What do you get out of being a parent?

I have front row seats to the best reality show on earth. With a vested interest in the characters, and a cameo role here and there 🙂

13. Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself from being a parent?

I’ve had to deal with my parent’s shortcomings along the way. I realize now that my parents did their own personal best as parents, even if they hit well short of the mark sometimes. My youngest daughter is so much like myself that I find her especially revealing to me. Also, she is brutally honest with me about my own shortcomings…sometimes comical, and sometimes not so much….

14. How has your relationship with your spouse changed as you both have parented?

He was a parent when I met him. So it’s not really a fair question. I was attracted to my husband because of the father he was to his son. I did my best to step in and compliment his methods, and became an instant parent the moment I committed to being with my husband.

15. Do you want to have more children?

I did. I will always wish I had more. But when Caitlin was born with multiple midline birth defects, I knew it would be unethical to bring another child into the world. A second special needs child might have stretched my parenting resources to the brink, which would not be fair for anyone. I always wanted to get the last one out of diapers before I tried for another one…..still waiting….

Now it’s your turn. Yes, YOU! ….what were your greatest challenges you’ve faced as a parent?

Objects in the Rearview Mirror…..

24 Apr

This Blog started out being about Mommy stuff…. then it moved to Social Media Stuff….. and now It’s about to change again.

My youngest daughter (12) needs open heart surgery. This is changing the focus of my life, and consequently this blog. I will be moving all social media related posts to my social media blog :

This blog will move back to its roots and address the challenges of raising kids with special needs. I apologize for the confusion. I may not even post publicly on here for a while, as the posts may prove to personal and painful for my family. I’m hoping that a year from now I can publish many posts on my daughter’s experiences, from diagnosis to prognosis and finally to health. I think writing the posts as they happen and publishing them later will prove to be the best compromise.

In the meantime, anyone know the most economical way to get my family to Disneyland in May? Hoping to make that happen!! (crosses fingers)

The Pen is even Mightier than the Sword…

23 Jan

the pen is mightier than the swordI work with several solopreneurs by helping them build their online communities in meaningful ways. I teach them how to harness Facebook, Twitter, and various other social media avenues and use them as tools to drive business and monitor their brands. I do not represent any of the Fortune 500 companies. Instead, I am very proud of the job I do helping small businesses level the playing field through social media. These are one of a kind brick and mortar salons, restaurants, wineries, mechanic shops, coffee houses….you get the idea. They take great pride in their work, and their businesses aren’t just about bread and butter: It is their heart and soul.

There is an unfortunate trend among some social media dabblers to tweet first and ask questions later. The days of asking to see the manager when you have a complaint has been replaced with reaching for the iPhone and tweeting directly from the dinner table. Don’t like your haircut? Try talking to the salon before giving that one star review on Twitter. You owe it to them to give them a chance to make things right before you go public with scrutiny.

One example: A woman who was unhappy with her haircut and color at a local salon, but waited a full three months before unleashing a rant on Yelp that was so scathing that it would scare anyone away. This woman never called the salon directly, and seemed to just appear out of no where. Her review is front and center on this salon’s Yelp page. It has brought this salon’s rating down a full 1.5 stars, which is quite a bit if you are struggling to keep your doors open.(more on Yelp and their dubious screening practice in another blog)

Another example: A couple who made reservations at a restaurant, and arrived 15 minutes early. It took them 20 minutes to be seated, and they complained about being seated 20 minutes late, even though they really only waited an additional 5 minutes from the reservation time. They similarly started the same mental time clock when they reported how long it took them to get served dinner…counted the 20 minutes waiting for their table as if they had already put in the order…Again, they never said anything during their time in the restaurant, and they never asked to speak to a manager, nor did they express any kind of displeasure to their server. They then ranted, not just to Yelp, but to Citysearch, Trip Advisor, and Urban Spoon.

As the Social Media Director to several smaller businesses, I see my role as cyber GM…I must patrol the social streams daily and alert business owners when something has gone awry. Often times, I can catch a disgruntled patron tweeting while they are still in a restaurant, and it takes a quick phone call to remedy. But I am shocked at how many times I will call a restaurant to let them know that “customer X didn’t like the clams” only to find out that the patron never told their server this information. Customers have a right to satisfactory service and quality products, but they also have a responsibility to go through the proper channels before taking their grievances public.

I’m not saying that it is necessary to add an extra star for the small mexican hole in the wall restaurant vs. the neighborhood Applebees, but I dare say that each mom and pop establishment can be just one bad Yelp review away from obscurity. So, please think twice before you press send on that scathing review, and make sure you’ve given them a chance to make it right before you go around publicly scrutinizing.

This is how I think  it should go:

So please measure twice before you cut once. Think before you tweet, and tweet responsibly. Okay…stepping off my soapbox!!

9/11 in 2001

11 Sep

September 11, 2011 remains an indelible memory for me. I’ll never forget watching the second plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center. I happened to watch it in real-time, because it was my daughter’s first day of preschool, and I was up early with mother angst. Being from the west coast, I was riveted to the television for days, and felt so helpless to be so far away from ground zero. Later that year I would make the trip to New York to see the devastation for myself. But, even to this day, it is impossible to process.

It is impossible to look back 10 years later and not wonder if things could have played out differently. I have mused for the past 24 hours about how social media may have changed the face of that ill-fated day. Imagine if Twitter were able to reach out to the people in the buildings and urged them to exit immediately. Imagine if the Port authority  had used smart phones and text messages to warn those within a 1 mile radius in real-time, ala Amber Alert. Employees had been urged not to panic, and told to stay where they were, but imagine if they had access to real-time information and could make a judgement call for themselves?

Now, to be fair, it may have made goodbyes to loved ones lost even tougher if there was iPhone footage from the 92nd floor. And to put myself in the shoes of widows and children left behind makes me shudder. And hindsight is 20/20.

But I will always wonder if Social Media might have saved more lives that day. God Bless America. Never Forget.

I Might Un-follow You If….

16 Aug

Today I started a fun little game on Twitter, called “I might un-follow you if….” It’s a take on the old “You might be a redneck if….”

Loved how enthusiastic everyone was….love it when Twitter is a chatroom 🙂 The #ImightUnfollowYouif hashtag resulted in the following

I might Un-follow you:

  • If Your avatar “blinks” at me.
  • If you have no picture no profile no tweets.
  • If  your Avatar is you in a bikini doing downward dog.
  • If your profile picture is an egg.
  • If you tweet in a different language with strange characters.
  • If you are a dog or a cat or a horses “back-end”
  • If you keep telling me what U ate 4 no good reason.
  • If you never post original thoughts or interact with your network.
  • If you only talk to celebrities, yet you are not one….
  • If you only tweet about your 24 cats and living with your mom.
  • If I see that all of your linked articles from social media “experts” come from Mashable.
  • If your only check-ins on @foursquare are to strip clubs and pet stores.
  • If your tweets are 90% URLs…
  • If you immediately want to tell me how to win a free iPad.
  • If you DM me about how much weight you just lost.

Special Thanks to @507jeans, @ellemenopee @submittedmelody @bgrmosaic @TheMichaelDJ @itsLizawithaZ @sarahmsalter @leaderswest for collaborating/playing along!

 

Which is your favorite? Did we miss something? Post it in comments below!

Facebook for Embryos

2 Aug

 

Facebook announced this week that it was adding a feature to soon-to-be moms to add an unborn baby, with a due date to their family tree. Facebook for the not-yet-born.

This opens up such a can of worms for me. First of all, it is NOT an option for the father, only the expectant mother…what is UP with THAT?

But more importantly, I fear that the overly excited mom-to-be could be setting herself up for disappointment should anything go wrong in the pregnancy. What it, God forbid, a miscarriage occurs, or a child with severe medical problems is born?

I remember vividly the day I was told my baby was born with multiple midline birth defects. The minute I brought her home, I rushed to my “What to Expect When Expecting” book and looked in the back for the reference page for birth defects. It led me to one paragraph…telling me to seek help from a family therapist….not exactly what I was hoping to read :O

So, I put myself in those shoes again and imagine if I had announced to 3,000 of my closest friends on FB that I was expecting, only to have to delete the listing (sending a FB update announcement to all of my friends) if something were to go wrong?

I’ve seen ultrasound snapshots as profile pics, and I think that is great. But seriously….let’s not count our eggs before they’ve hatched…not meant as a pro-life/choice debate, but seriously!

I have had friends tell me in confidence that they had deleted certain friends because they talked incessantly about their infants ad naseum…this takes it to a whole new level.

What’s next? When a woman’s cycle is she going to be able to update her status to “might be expecting” with a drop down list of possible fathers to tag?

Top 5 Reasons Why you shouldn’t use TrueTwit

12 Jul

Once upon a time I would jump through the captcha hoops and validate myself to those who insist on using True Twit. True Twit is a validation service that offers to cut down on Twitter spam bots by authenticating each and every follower. In order to be followed back, you must leave your current page and sign in by filling in the captcha. Here are my top 5 reasons why I am NOT a fan of True Twit, and why I always advise clients from using it

  • Although True Twit claims to be bot-proofing Twitter, they are actually a kind of bot themselves. When you sign up for the service, they automatically send DMs to all of your followers requesting that you jump through their captcha hoop.
  • There are plenty of sites out there who offer decaptcha services….I will not post the web addresses, because I don’t want to shine a light on them, but believe me they are out there.
  • True Twit assumes you are a bot. I like to believe that tweeters are innocent until proven guilty. If I see a bot in my stream, I squish it like a bug by unfollowing. All by myself.
  • In our real-time news-as-it-happens world, I don’t have time to fill out captcha forms. First of all, from  my iPhone they are minuscule and hard to read, and they take me away to the reason I am on Twitter, to communicate and engage in real time.
  • If you use True Twit validation, you are limiting your Twittersphere to people who are either True Twit believers, or who have lots of extra time on their  hands. I can attest to the fact that there are plenty of cool Tweeps who fit into neither camp.

How about you? How do you feel about True Twit Validation? Enter your comment below!

Thanks for Stopping By!!