Silicon Valley Moms Group Acquired By Technorati Media

6a00d83451bae269e20134890268a6970c-200wiReports of our demise, as the saying goes, were premature. The Silicon Valley Moms Group of sister sites is taking up residence in a new location. Look for that great timely, opinionated, poignant, and sometimes just plain funny parenting content you’re used to seeing on this site over at The Women’s Channel at Technorati. After 6 great years of blogging here, we’ve moved to a new home.

Fondly,

Jill Asher, Beth Blecherman & Tekla Nee

Co-Founders, Silicon Valley Moms Group

A Promise Is A Promise

6a00d83451bae269e20133f1f3ed77970b-200wiThe “blogosphere” is a strange world to enter.  There are no real guidebooks or maps.  Your starting point may be your first, “hello, is anyone out there?” post, but you have no real idea what the final destination is or what the milestones along the way are (oh, sure, you may THINK you know what they are, but you don’t REALLY know what they are).  And while there are certainly a lot of statistics (How many readers?  How many uniques?  How many subscribers? How many return visitors?  How many Twitter followers? Blah, blah, blah.), there isn’t really a great way to measure your journey through the blogosphere.

So I consider it pure coincidence and happenstance that I ran into a bunch of great bloggers at the beginning of my blogging journey, actually pre-Caffeine And A Prayer and learned about the Silicon Valley Moms Blog Group and the DC Metro Moms Blog.  Back then I only had a private, for-the-family-only blog, but I knew I was going to launch a public blog soon.  And I decided when I did, I wanted to be able to be a writer for DC Metro Moms.

Of my checklist of things to accomplish with my fledgling blog, receiving SV Moms Blog founder Jill Asher’s call was one of my most thrilling.

What I didn’t realize was that this goal meant far more than exposure and driving more traffic to my own blog.  It meant meeting a fantastic group of women.  Truly fantastic — not just because they have great blogs — but because they have an incredible sense of community and are funny and supportive and are somehow both an incredibly eclectic yet harmonious group of women.  Put these women in a room and there will be fun.  Put these women in room with food and wine and there will be a party.  Put these women in a room with food, wine, and a problem to solve and there will not only be a solution, but a lot of laughter along the way.  I have had the pleasure of attending multiple events with the DC Metro Moms and not once have I come home wishing I hadn’t gone.  In fact, I’ve come home every time craving another gathering soon.

In a little over a year, these women have taught me so much about blogging, about writing, about networking, about friendship, about women.

Therefore, it was with a heavy heart that I took the news about the Silicon Valley Moms group dissolving. I’ve enjoyed the discipline writing here twice a month has enforced upon me.  I was fearful that our local camaraderie would disappear along with the collaboration on this site.

How could I have been so distrustful?

For it was DC Metro Moms who brought us together, but the bonds formed were real.  Soon, you will see these writers working together again, under different circumstances.

So it seems only fitting to fulfill my promise to DC Metro Moms, to write a post every couple of weeks, to send my last post on the blog’s last day, to say thank you for the opportunities, for the events, but more importantly, for the friendships I have made with local bloggers.  The blogosphere may not have any official tour guides, but you provided an invaluable “hyper-local” (as our editors were fond of saying) way station for this blogger during her journey.

Safety Gates on the Internet?

6a00d83451bae269e20133f1910a04970b-200wiAs a young mom I safety proofed my house, used car safety seats until the kids were 8 years old, held hands when we crossed a parking lot, and cut their food in to teeny tiny pieces. You might think that I would be relieved to remove the last door knob cover, but safety proofing doesn’t end when your child can open a door. Now that my children are no longer babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, why would I let down my guard?

When my oldest first asked to go online she was about 5 or 6. She had heard a commercial. She desperately wanted to go to Nickjr.com to play Blues Clues. I sat with her as she clicked around in the games. l taught her to stay on the Nick website. Her Nick days faded when a friend told her about Club Penguin. Club Penguin was pushed aside when Webkinz hit Hallmark stores and everywhere. Webkinz were the Silly Bandz of 2008.

The pull of Webkinz faded for my daughter when she was about 10. She desperately wanted her own e-mail. She needed to start a web page. She wanted to play games that were for bigger kids. Had she heard about Facebook she would have wanted an account. I was not ready for all these new endeavors.

As a 5th grader she started a website before I started blogging. How funny is that? The kid is a trailblazer! She created a class newspaper online by recruiting her friends as correspondents. She even had a “Dear Abby” column. Sadly we had to close the comments on her website as several classmates posted rude and inappropriate comments. So sad that a few bad apples spoiled it for the rest of her class.

I let her have an e-mail in 6th grade…with a great deal of monitoring and hand wringing on my part. But, Facebook was a no go. She begged. She pleaded. Apparently every 6th and then 7th grade friend was on Facebook. Many kids on Facebook lied about their ages and the schools they attended — if in elementary or middle school, the kids would list our local high school as their school. I held firm.

I discovered Yoursphere.com over a year ago. Yoursphere is a social network site for kids, tweens, and teens that is for kids only. No adults. Parents can sign up their kids for Yoursphere, but must go through an online security program.

Yoursphere was an alternative to Facebook. My daughter got to play on a site that wasn’t babyish, while I had the reassurance that she was in a safe environment online. A win for both of us.

Moms of kids, preteens, and teens may want to know that Yoursphere is now FREE.

Jill blogs about #onlinesafety #kids #tweens #teens and #notatechie at Musings from Me. She was a Yoursphere Test Drive Mom for Mom Central on behalf of Yoursphere. She received a free lifetime Gold membership on Yoursphere.com, Yoursphere t-shirts, and a $50 American Express gift card to facilitate her review.

Holding Firm…or Not

6a00d83451bae269e20134851a4436970c-200wiMy husband and I do not see eye to eye on all parenting issues. Sometimes I am the heavy in the argument. The one who pushes my agenda down his throat. Occasionally he is the one who is insistent on an issue. There is one issue that we agree on. One issue that we both declared was a topic not up for discussion or consideration. Contact sports.

As a young couple — we met when I was just-21 and he was almost 20 — we quickly moved from getting-to-know-you conversations to deep discussions. I was a senior in college, while he was a junior. We weren’t engaged. Nor had we dated long. It sounds strange to think about now, but we did talk about marriage, kids, and even death.

We talked about what we would name our due in the distant future kids. We tut-tutted at the way a couple at our health club brought their young kids to late night wallyball game. (Wallyball? I am dating myself now…big time. Wallyball was played in a racquetball court.) Sports was a big topic of conversation for us.

My husband is a sports nut. Nowadays he plays sports, watches games, coaches our children, and plays video games. As a kid, he played very few sports due probably to the long hours his dad worked and his mother’s health. I have never played a team sport, except for P.E. classes. We both agreed that our children would play sports. My husband was excited to coach the kids in ANY sport. I wanted my children to have something that I missed out on — the experience of being part of a team. We liked the idea of our future offspring being a part of a team.

In our musings about our future sports stars, we were adamant about one thing. No child would play a contact sport. For my husband, it came down to safety. For me, football is an aggressive game. I’m from England, the land where soccer stars in the 80s regularly stepped on the field with perms, highlights, and gold medallions. It was not unusual for a professional soccer play to get knocked down, writhe around in agony, then hop up a moment later. No kid of mine would play a contact sport.

After watching two little girls, play soccer, basketball, tball, and now volleyball, we assumed our son would take the same path replacing t-ball with baseball. He played soccer for two seasons, but didn’t love it. Basketball was not his thing, Neither was t-ball. What would his sport be I wondered?

This past winter during our snowbound quarantine, he and his dad watched lots of football. He talked about playing football many times over the winter. I said but you’re playing soccer in the fall…you’re too little for football… To be fair he is very tall for his age. At 7, he is as tall as many 9 year olds.

Football — in England we call it “American football” as soccer is called football — is an aggressive, full body contact type of sport. Injuries. Concussions. Broken bones. You name it, I worry about it.

My son would not agree to play soccer. We compromised by signing him up for flag football. Only we had one small teeny tiny problem. He is too old for flag football. What to do, what to do?

After many discussions. e-mails back and forth to moms and dads of tackle football players. Much hand wringing we agreed — reluctantly — to sign him up for tackle football. He’s 7 and tall for his age, but the decision is still a weighty one to make.

Jill blogs at Musings from Me on sporty kids, preteens, teens, and even husbands, which is funny because she is not sporty at all.

Original post to DC Metro Moms.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok: A SV Moms Group Book Club

Transplanted from Hong Kong to New York City as a (very poor) young girl with her mother, Ah-Kim or Kimberley, struggled to make things better for her family, to learn English, to walk the line between traditional Chinese duties and the Americanized teenager she grew into. Join us today as we discuss the book Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok.

6a00d83451bae269e20133f1a3ebed970b-200wiHere are what the SV Moms Group contributors ave to say today, all inspired by the book Girl in Translation:

Silicon Valley Moms Blog is hosting the book club discussion this month. Please leave a comment here to join in the discussion.

Past SV Moms Group Book Clubs have included:

Click here to read all about the SV Moms Group Book Club.

He Has a Point About Father’s Day

6a00d83451bae269e20133f1193071970b-200wiI asked my husband what he wanted to do for Father’s Day this year and he stated with a smirk, “A hike.” I looked at him oddly and asked why he said it so sarcastically.  He explained, “Every year we go on a hike.  Every Father’s Day it is all about being out as a family.  It’s always the same.”

Huh.

Except last we went to a nearby Potomac Nationals game.  He went on a bit more and said, “Mother’s Day is all about rest and relaxation. There are spa treatments, Mom doesn’t cook. She’s pampered and left alone. Father’s Day is all about being up in Dad’s face.”  OK, I might have paraphrased a bit in that last line, but it’s precisely what he meant.  He doesn’t go off alone to play golf, hang with other Dad’s who just want to sip a good pinot noir and watch the sunset or get a massage.

He has a point too.  Traditionally and historically speaking Dad’s have been a bit off to the side when it comes to childcare and household duties.  It has only been in the last few decades that men have taken on more of the tasks at home and with the kids.  We have welcomed it with huge smiles and open arms.  Yet, how we celebrate Father’s Day hasn’t really changed. At least it hasn’t changed in terms of gift guides and suggestions that roll out this time of year. Year after year it is the same ideas. Ties are boring, power tools are better. Get Dad sporting goods.  Wait! Skinny ties are in, get him one of those.  Doesn’t Dad want a giant steak to go with that new riding lawn mower?  How about a fishing pole or a new television?   Last Sunday’s paper was chocked full of these ideas, which is what spurred this conversation initially.

While he still hasn’t decided on what he wants to do with his Father’s Day, it is getting closer to how we celebrate Mother’s Day.  He wants to sleep in and has picked a special dinner and dessert. The girls and I have decided on a gift and to be safe a power tool might be thrown in as well.  Just no ties. Next year maybe we’ll send him to a spa.

Remembering That Ch-Ch-Ch-Change is the Only Constant

6a00d83451bae269e201348443e4c1970c-200wiMy daughter came home from Kindergarten last Thursday acting out of sorts, blue, and really, really down.

I asked her what was going on and what happened that made her feel that way.

Our Word Wall is down.  The walls in our classroom are getting empty, and we took everything out of our cubbies today.  It’s not my same class, and it just. . . makes me feel funny.

Ahhhh, the ole “a new change is-a-comin’ syndrome”–the same one that I still suffer from with the change of seasons, change of schedule, change of just about anything.

My daughter’s teacher is retiring this year, and I’m sure that after close to 30 years teaching in the same county, she’s more than ready to head out come June 16th.  And I couldn’t be more happy for her–I remember feeling like I wanted to start breaking down my own classroom on June 1st so that I, too, could walk out the doors the minute my high schoolers finished their last exam. I was free as a bird but with a belly full of butterflies until my new summer schedule kicked in.  I can only imagine how my daughter’s teacher must feel, walking into retirement in the next week. I wondered if my little one felt the same way, moving out of Kindergarten and into a school-free summer.

I tried to explain to my 6-year old that change is sometimes hard and that it’s strange to watch something you’re really familiar with move in a different direction.

I wanted to tell her that for some, change is hard.  Really hard.  I wanted to tell her how, whether it’s a cleaned-out cubby or a blank Word Wall, the move from Kindergarten to grade one, school year to summer, it can take some getting used to.  But we all move through it. We have to.

I thought about letting her know that in life, change is really the only constant, the only thing you can count on.  I wanted to explain that there are very few things–people, situations, feelings, or events–that will remain unmoved and that just when you get really settled, something will usually come along to switch up your normal.

Big changes–from high school to college, single life to married life, a family of two to a family of three, good health to illness, and the loss of loved ones–are understandably difficult and painful for many.  It could be the change from one baby two to (or three!), the addition of a pet or the move to a new house.  Or the changing seasons of friends, of relationships, of co-workers, it never mattered.  They were all difficult for me.  And usually these changes brought melancholy and moodiness until I got settled and appreciated its “newness”.

I have tried to keep my kids fresh in their openness to try new things and embrace change on a frequent basis.  I have introduced something “new for us” each week, and we celebrate steps of change when we can.  We are active in our community, and we do what we can to be a part of something larger than ourselves so that we can keep things in perspective when change does come upon us suddenly.

But sometimes it’s just hard.  And sometimes, no matter how minimal the change may be, we need a little time to mourn our loss before we are able to embrace what the future holds.

So as we made our way home from school last Thursday, our last Thursday of school of the year, the last Thursday I’d ever walk with my oldest child as a Kindergartner, wedid talk about how changes are sometimes hard and that it takes a while to adjust to something new.

And then we celebrated a sunny Thursday and summer and the upcoming weekend, and we clinked our ice-pops together in a sweet cheers to the adventures that lie ahead.

This is an original DC Metro Moms post.

Amy M. is trying her best to embrace the many changes that lie ahead for her family, her summer, and for the SV Moms Group at large. She’s using what she can as learning opportunities for her little ones–and herself–and she’s sharing the skinny over at teach mama and we teach.

DC Metro Moms Blog – Brand/Blogger Symposium Event at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City

6a00d83451bae269e20133f172f2ac970b-320piOn Sunday, June 6, 2010, SV Moms Group and BitDefender brought together 50 local DC Metro Moms Blog bloggers and 20 sponsoring companies to our fifth Brand-Blogger Meet-up. This time we convened at the lovely Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City. The intent of our meet-ups is to connect brands targeted to women with influential mom bloggers and to build community.

A huge thank you to our fantastic Co-Host sponsor, BitDefender who hosted a lovely brunch and private feedback discussion! And also to our Platinum sponsor K12.

Also attending as sponsors were: Bosch Appliances, TLCStonyfield, Cinnabon, iGo, Army of Women, Cultural Care Au Pair, Lawry’s, Lice Happens, 23andMe, Yoplait KidsDorel Juvenille Group, Eden Fantasys, and Easy Print Design. Thank you so much for participating and making this event possible.

Check out photos from the event at the Flickr stream.

6a00d83451bae269e20133f172f803970b-200wiA brunch hosted by our Co-Host sponsor, BitDefender, opened the day, after which an open and honest two-hour discussion was held, led by SV Moms Group advisor Samantha Fein and editor Vanessa Druckman, about how brands and bloggers are working together.

Following the two hour round-table discussion, the brands and bloggers moved into the ballroom for drinks, food, and one-on-one networking. Here is what a few of our attendees had to share about their experiences meeting with brands, networking and catching up (IN REAL LIFE) with fellow SV Mom Group Bloggers in Washington, DC.

6a00d83451bae269e20133f172f711970b-200wi

(Car) Size Matters

6a00d83451bae269e20133f0ee545c970b-200wiI haven’t had an unobstructed view of the road since 1998.

Before you go calling the cops to report some crazy lady driving around with seriously screwed up vision or something, let me explain.  I drive a Honda Civic.  It’s small, it’s efficient, I can park it anywhere, and it perfectly suited my needs as a single girl in her 20s.  It’s not quite as perfect in my current mode as 30-something suburban mother, but it’s fine. The car seat fits in the back, the stroller fits in the trunk along with a few grocery bags, and the gas mileage is still good. Plus I don’t have the money for a new car and this one is paid off. So, until the day it dies and I have no choice, the Civic is my mode of transportation.  And I like it.  It’s a fun little red car and driving around in it with the sunroof open and the music playing still makes me really, really happy.

But, boy, does it sit low to the ground.  Especially compared to the fleet of minvans and SUVs that have taken over the roads since I bought my Civic 13 years ago.

I know.  I know. You NEED your minivan or SUV because it’s the only thing that fits three cars seats, or half the soccer team, or the piles of art supplies, or an entire Costco run plus both kids.  I know. And it’s fine.  Drive your big cars. It’s a free country and you can drive whatever vehicle suits you.

I do feel entitled to complain about how unsafe they make me feel on the road or in parking lots, though.

At first, it wasn’t so bad when the cars got higher and higher off the ground.  Sure, I’d be behind an SUV and have to crane my neck upwards a bit to see through it so I’d know where the stoplights were up ahead and what color they were.  But then car-makers decided to make all windows the approximate shade and opacity of mascara. Do you know what an SUV with tinted window looks like to a person driving behind it? A giant, SUV-shaped block of lead.  I can’t see over, around, or through it.  I am totally reliant on the SUV driver’s reflexes and reactions because I can’t make my own judgments about the road ahead if I can’t see it. I get stuck in traffic behind a black-windowed SUV and wonder not when I’ll be able to move, but why I can’t. Is there an accident ahead?  Someone parked in a driving lane? A school bus?  I have no idea. The only information I can get from looking ahead in those situations is the dealership that sold the SUV and where the owner’s kids are honor students. The road is not part of my field of vision. At all.

Parking lots are also scary.  It’s not unusual for my little Civic to be sandwiched between two SUVs or minivans since the locations I frequent are popular with the mom set.  And backing out when the cars on either side of me are a third again as long as my car, two feet taller than my car, and offer no transparent surfaces for me to peek through makes pulling out of a parking spot feel a little like hurtling backward out of a blind chute.

And don’t get me started on how freakin’ angry I get when I find a coveted row of “Compact Only “ parking spaces and see that some SUV is wedged into one of the slots. SUVS ARE NOT COMPACT!!!!!! Those spots are physically smaller than regular spots and they are often the only haven of safe backing-out for us little car people.  Please, please, please, stay out of them if you drive a car larger than a four-door sedan. You don’t belong there.

But at least in parking lots people are going pretty slow. When one of these vision-blocking cars parks on a street corner and I’m trying to make a turn around it, I’m playing a blind game of chicken because I can’t see oncoming traffic.

Yeah, there’s a lot of SUV drivers out there who may have done it out of an “If you can’t beat them, join them philosophy. That is particularly seductive when you realize that in an SUV v. compact car collision, the SUV will win.  But, like I said, I can’t afford a new car so I’m just driving as safely as I can in my little car. And I’m going to ask the big car drivers out there to take a few minutes to think when they’re driving.  Think about the car you’re pulling in front of when you change lanes.  Will the driver lose their view of the road when you get in front of them? If so, please wait and change lanes in front of a car that you won’t obstruct. When you’re parking, pick a spot next to another big car, not a little one who won’t be able to see around you to get out of the space. And stay the heck out of spots labeled for compact cares. Finally, if you have to park on the street, try to do it mid-block so everyone has a shot at seeing oncoming traffic when they need to turn, rather than parking right on the corner.

We little car people will thank you and maybe you’ll help prevent an accident.

This is an original DC Metro Moms post

Rebekah drives her little car around Montgomery County and blogs at Mom-in-a-Million.

Aging at the speed of time

6a00d83451bae269e2013484413ca7970c-200wi“She’s growing too fast.” “I wish he would stay this way forever.” “I can’t believe how big she’s getting!”

Do you ever think any of those things about your kids?

I never think those things.

I have a relative who always drops those cliches on my kids’ heads. “They grow too fast,” she always says. I always reply, “no they don’t.”

They grow just right. They grow a little every day. I’ve never understood the sentiment that wants to freeze them in time. It’s selfish, isn’t it? To preserve them in amber so that I can admire their dimpled elbows and funny pronunciations? I want them growing every day, because if they aren’t, what horrible disease has befallen them?

I feel similarly about my own age. I’m 33 years old. I don’t regret the numbers as they ascend. I don’t romanticize my youth or demonize my aging. I believe I’m only as old as I feel, and I feel tired, but I don’t feel old. I look forward to my birthdays. I enjoy celebrating them, even as I acknowledge another year gone by.

And yet, I still manage to forget I’m an adult. Maybe it’s because the voice inside my head stopped aging around 19, but I received two pieces of news this week that stopped me in my thought-tracks: don’t these things happen to my parents’ friends? Surely these are older people’s problems. Surely I am not that old.

A woman I know is undergoing brain surgery this week to explore and ideally remove an entwined brain tumor. She has a family. She has kids my kids’ ages. She’s not old. And we learned this weekend that a couple we know has decided to separate. Their boys are exactly my girls’ ages. We haven’t watched a divorce within our own peer group yet. Maybe, just once in a while, it isn’t so bad to wish for time to be frozen in the past.

I think that, but just for a minute. I wish both of those families painless journeys. I’m keeping them close in my heart. Their news was hard to hear but I think of the beauty in time marching ever forward. I think of my own happy almost-nine-year marriage, of the lung tumor whose removal my husband overcame, of his clean bill of health. I think of my four-year-old who asked me last week, “how do you say you’re starving but for thirsty instead of hungry?” and after I answered her, approached her teacher with “could I have some water? I’m parched.” I think of my two-year-old who this past weekend pronounced the “r” in “orange” for the first time ever, and who sounded like such a big girl in doing so that my heart momentarily forgot to beat. I think of my four-month-old who almost figured out rolling over, but gets stuck on his belly because he doesn’t know how to pull his arm out from under himself.

I can’t wish for time to stand still because I can’t deny him the chance to figure that out and tumble across the floor. But tacitly defending the march of time is so much easier in the context of a baby’s milestones than a family’s heartbreak. I have to remind myself that part of aging is facing our fears and our sorrows, lending our support, and firmly believing in stories with happy endings.

(Photo credit: Niffty..)