Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fighting the Flu (Vaccine)

Alright, straight up, I'm going to admit it: I am having a hard time with the H1N1 "vaccine". First of all, I've noted that we've gone from "Swine Flu" to "H1N1." I believe that the latter is more accurate. Or it is more sinister. Possibly both.

Now, I've been following this one closely. I've traveled during times when I expected half the airport to be wearing masks (nobody was) or, based on media air time, when we absolutely should have been in lock down (we weren't). I tried, diligently, to comprehend the concern, balanced with the numbers. Yes, 176 deaths in Mexico City is 176 more than I'd like, but that's still lower than the number of deaths for any influenza over the same timeframe. And still, I trusted. There must be more to this story, I kept telling myself. And I looked for more.

Now, there are conversations revolving in the mediasphere as well as the blogosphere that the powers that be are fast-tracking a vaccine. This concerns me. Especially when I read tonight that this same group is determining who needs it most: those under 2, pregnant women, and school-aged children. To me, this is our most fragile group. Fragile in terms of vaccine reactions.

I've never been scared of vaccines. All of my children are vaccinated. Yes, I did insist on getting the MMR vaccines broken out (and made my pediatrician crazy for it). Yes, I did insist on all dead Polio vaccine (no live virus). And yes, I was not convinced that the Varivax vaccine was a good idea, and prob would end up requiring a booster (and it did). And I figure it might have just been better for the kids to get chicken pox.

But this year I got worried. I got worried when a pediatrician I trusted strongly recommended Gardasil for my 12-year-old and I allowed the first vaccination without checking it out. (and then I consequently flipped out when I did the research later after my child was running a high fever. No additional Gardasil for us for now). And I will still worry that one. Forever.

And today I worry about the H1N1 vaccine. I don't like fast-tracked vaccines. I am still looking for numbers that bear out the urgency with which this is being forced.  I am just plain worried.

As a parent, I cannot say that I will allow my children to get this vaccine. I could be foolish. But something just isn't adding up yet. And if anyone has any amount of insight, I would love to hear it. Seriously. I want to hear what you think. It's important. 

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's Time to Fight for Healthcare

I received an urgent email today from Kristin at MomsRising.org (if you haven't visited their site, please do so). The coming weeks for the healthcare reform fight are going to be critical.

I've been watching President Obama, and I do appreciate his dedication to the cause. I was hopeful that he would be able to get Congress interested in reform before the recess, but I was not surprised to see that a vote would not transpire. I believe that we need change, and change means we keep moving forward, not stalling out.

As I write, there are families who are going without basic medical care, skipping preventive check-ups and lifesaving tests because they don't have insurance. There are patients who are having to forego treatments because they cannot afford them. There are families that are going bankrupt because the cost of a child's cancer treatment has depleted all of their resources. What price is a child's life? Any parent would tell you the same: I'll do anything for my child, even take on financial ruin. Does it have to be that way? 

This issue affects me personally. My mother has been swapped from a medication that was working great (and helping her feel awesome) after being diagnosed with hypertension, to a different medication that is making her feel exhausted. Why? Because the newer drug isn't covered by her insurance, and she does not want to pay the monthly fee for it.

My example pales in comparison to many families, possibly even yours, who are experiencing more difficult issues. But if you want healthcare reform, visit the MomsRising.org site and see what they are up to. We must get moms talking so that Congress hears our voices.

No fun puns today. Just serious business. Let's get talking.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lessons Learned at Summer Camp

My son just returned from a full week at Camp Whitsett. Camp Whitsett is six full days of everything a boy (or, more accurately, a boy scout) could want: camping under the stars, hiking, swimming in the lake, earning merit badges and eating bad food. And, without parental supervision, it has other benefits, including never brushing one's teeth, barely taking a shower, spending your daily allowance on chewy candies your mom would never allow, and perfecting the issuance of inappropriate body noises on demand. On paper, this is a boy's perfect week. 

So when I sent my son off with his duffle bag, fishing rod and three pre-stamped postcards, I gave him a big hug, confident that he was going to have the best week ever. Said child, already mortified by the PDA (no hugs in public! he hisses), had quickly skampered off to the waiting minivan, already taking in the adventure.

Since this was an electronics-free event, I did not hear from him all week. In his absence, I cleaned his room, sorted his socks, changed his bed, and petted his cat, who sat stoicly on his bed for the entire week, waiting for his boy to return. The house was quiet. The other kids barely fought, and it felt as if three kids had gone to camp, not one. It was a lovely, but short vacation.

We got the call on Saturday, right after I got the one and only postcard I would receive. The postcard read simply: I got my fire chit, I got my whittle chit, I am having fun. Love James. Given that he usually signs off with his first and last name (I guess he is usually concerned that we might get confused as to which James was writing to us), I took it that he might have missed us just a tad. The caller I barely recognized. The voice indicated that it was my son, and that he would be in the Target parking lot for pick-up between 4:00 and 4:30 and that he couldn't talk more, he had to give the phone to someone else. I did not recognize the voice. Void of energy, revealing a depth of exhaustion I've never heard in my boy's tone, I figured it was a bad connection.

I also did not recognize the child that was waiting for me. This was a listless, sunburned, underweight kid who could barely pick up his backpack, much less his over-stuffed dufflebag. This was a kid who literally crawled into the backseat of my SUV, resting his head on the cool leather. Camp Whitsett did it. Camp Whitsett conquered my kid.

Now, I can't set up a tent full of bugs, release an army of raccoons, chipmunks and the occasional bear, force him to put all of his belongings in a bear bag, and make him hike between 5 and 10 miles daily. Nor can I replicate the lake swimming test, the brown food served at the mess tent (well, I might have some luck with that), or make him drink out of a mountain stream. Too bad, because the combination of all of these things totally wore out my son.

In the end, he earned three merit badges and the Beaver Award, a distinction that three of 300 campers achieved. He also mastered his lake swimming requirement, learned that it's hard to fish, discovered that chipmunks like Nutter Butters and insists that bears were in the campground. 

And three days later, he is still exhausted, lying on my tile floor watching Sponge Bob and asking for another Popsicle. And I have sent my husband out to REI to buy a tent.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Becoming a mom of few words

I used to try to explain in great detail the reason(s) why I was hyperventilating over any given scenario. For example, "James! You absolutely should not burn up ants with that magnifying glass and a flashlight. First, it's mean. Second, it's fire season. Third, wait, did I already mention that it's mean?"

I'm pretty confident that after the word "James!" said child had completely tuned me out and was on to his next adventure, at least mentally. That, too, was the beauty of the "time out." It gave said punished child up to five minutes not to rethink what he/she had done wrong, but to give greater thought to what he/she could do next.

So as my kids transition into teenagers, I find explaining my philosophies, thoughts, or random observations rendered useless. They use fewer words, and, so, too, must I. 

This shorthand communication is quite effective, I must say. Now, "James. Laundry." at least inspires a grunt of acknowledgement and sometimes, on a banner day, a response like "Yeah, in a minute, as soon as my (interchange electronic devices) iPod, DS, Xbox game/movie/video/whatever) is over." Wow. A complete sentence. From just two words. Amazing.

Additionally, I've found that I often speak in my own language, sort of the mom version of Urban Dictionary. ParentsConnect.com recently posted an article about "momfinitions" (check it out here: http://www.parentsconnect.com/articles/mom-definitions.jhtml) which made me think about the words that I often use. I'm sure you've got your own, but here are a few of mine:

Iposuction (eye-poh-suhkshun): What happens when your tweenager wears her Ipod headphones to bed. Example: Katie, perform some Iposuction stat, it's time for bed!!

Carpoolepsy (carpoolehpsie): The result of sitting in the school's carpool line for more than 45 minutes without a good book and/or a restless pet. Example: "Hey mom, maybe we should swing through the drive thru for a Diet Coke, 'cause you look like you've got a wicked case of carpoolepsy."

Damper (damper): My hamper in the summer, filled with a random array of wet towels, bathing suits, and, occasionally, a cat. Example: "Mom, why did you put my JEANS in the bottom of the DAMPER???? Now they're all wet!!!"

Housepeeking (howspeeking): The act of checking out your friend's, neighbor's, play date's house to compare cleaning skills. (Oh, and don't say that you don't do this!!) Example: "I was at Jane's doing a little housepeeking, and it was so depressing. How can a woman with five kids have more than one room that was absolutely spotless? It's not fair."

Shug (shug): A tweenager hug. This involves the very slightest of motions—as quickly as possible. Example: "James, you're going to be at camp for a whole week, do I at least get a shug??"

Becoming a mom of few words has it's benefits. It's given me time to perfect my "you are so not going to do that again!" stare. My head tilt/hand on hip "cut it out pose" could earn me Olympic gold. And, most of all, it's given me the opportunity to tune in to what my kids say, when they do talk. And that is scary. I mean, enlightening.

And, while you're perfecting your own parenting shorthand, check out some other fun momfinitions at http://www.parentsconnect.com/articles/mom-definitions.jhtml. 


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Plaid Nation 2009 Tour Has Arrived!

Well, the Tee, for sure. 

As I mentioned in a prior post, the very very cool folks from the Plaid Nation 2009 Tour are about to get their tour rolling, pun very much intended, through some major cities East of the Rockies. I believe they load up the Ford Flex in 10 days, to be exact.

Well, much as I would love to meet them and talk social media, I'm going to have to enjoy the live feed while wearing my new T-shirt. That is, if I can wrench it away from the Tweenager, who, watching me open my bag o' schwag, squealed "ooooooooohhhh, it's orange!!! Can I have it????" And, me, happy to see her in something not black, quickly obliged.

And if you are ready to see some cool social media mavericks in action, check out their feed—and read all about them—at www.PlaidNation.com. And, if you live in the Midwest, check the tour dates and get on out there. You'll be glad you did.

Now I've got "Orange You Glad You're Plaid?" stuck in my head. Bad pun on a bad loop.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New Hair = New Woman. Well, Almost

For a majority of us, (and you know who you are), we wake up, we deal with life for 16-plus hours and we go to bed, sorta. And, when we look in the mirror, we say "you know, girlfriend, you don't look half-bad considering you were up at 4:00 a.m. dealing with a nightmare, 5:30 a.m. dealing with cat puke, and 6:30 a.m. getting to the gym (you go, you dedicated girl!). 

Here's the reality: It's been 12-plus weeks since a colorist saw your hair and 18 (or more) since anyone took scissors to it (not counting that embroidery scissors moment so that you could find your eyes, which does NOT count). The mirror isn't telling the whole story.

This I witnessed first-hand today. On myself. Because, after experiencing the weird and totally creepy experience called the "caught my eye in a cosmetics counter mirror and said to myself 'what in the hell is my mother doing in Macy's at 2:30 in the afternoon??? moment' " I made an appointment, stat, for some salon love.

Two hours later (yeah, it takes some of us longer than others), with newly naturally blonde hair I walked out. Happier and more confident. Clearly hair matters. And time away for a little "me" time totally does a body (and a face) good.

So, when I came home, I did expect some "Wow, mom!" moments. Or at least a "Hey, babe!" mention. Here's what I got:
1. From the Tweenager: You look great! Nice top.
2. From the eight-year-old: Where have YOU been???
3. From the 11-year-old: I scraped my knee in Timmy's pool. Where are the band-aids??
4. And from the spouse: How did your meetings go??

I am so glad that my daughter, the Tweenager, witnessed this. Because later, and in a conspiratorial tone, she asked "Dad didn't notice the hair???" "Nope," I replied. "Dork," she muttered. "I know," I added. "Looks great, though, 'bout time, too." She adds. "Thanks." I offer. 

Now she knows. It's not about them. It's about you. Go do something for yourself and enjoy it. You'll feel better. Honest. Just ask my Tweenager. 

Now to schedule the facelift. LOL.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I am Not a Car Painter Mom

There are things you just don't learn until you have kids.

One of them is whether or not you are a car painter. And trust me, you either are, or you are not. There is no in between.

It says a lot about you, this car painting thing. If you are a car painter, your mini van or SUV is regularly adorned with multiple colored lines that tell the world that your kid is in a baseball or soccer playoff; your kid just turned 6, 7, or 13 or simply that mommy loves her new star athlete or honor roll student. Better still, these mommies have excellent handwriting and punctuate their "i"s with little hearts. 

If you are not a car painter mom, nobody in the neighborhood knows what sport your kid plays, or even if your kid plays a sport; what age he or she is; or if you have excellent hand writing skills. You are the unknowns (or from my fave book Queen Bees and Wannabes, you are the "invisibles."). Now, I'm all about flying under the radar. But kids, well, I always assumed they liked the attention.

So, yesterday, after another brightly colored SUV flew past me in traffic, I looked over at my tweenager and calmly asked the Big Question (no, not THAT question, but almost as big): Are you sorry that I was never a car painter mom?

Said child actually turned down her iPod (signalling serious talk). "No, mom, thank you, it's the one thing I think you did right. I don't want my name on the car. Besides, James would find the markers and write something really gross." With that, said child turns her iPod back up and tunes me back out. 

Cool. Well. At least one invisible spawned another. 

But I have to admit that I wish I had cool, legible handwriting to pull it off. 

Oh, and James? Yeah. He totally would have ambushed the car. And a part of me laughs and thinks, well, that is totally my family.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

High Fashion and Plaid Nation Tour 2009

It's only been one week since school officially let out, (well one week and three days, the tweenager huffs) and yet all I see is the "school uniform." If you have a tweenager, you may be familiar with the look: T-shirt (usually black), jeans, (usually above the ankle somewhere because said child continues on a steady climb), uncombed hair and Vans. Now, it's around 98 degrees today, so you MIGHT think, well, shorts? tank top? bathing suit? Nope. Apparently she's going to spend the summer "sweatin' to the oldies" in last year's middle school high- fashion rags. This is not going to be pretty. 

I could remind her about how I used to dress her in lovely smocked frocks, but that would cause her to sigh loudly, turn up her iPod and run (well, move faster than usual) to her room and lock the door. Given that I am trying to keep the lines of communication open, I just offer suggestions like "That looks hot, but in a sweaty way, sure you don't want to change??" Which, actually, gets the same response I just described. Oh well. Communication fail.

So let's talk about a communication win that's both pretty AND cool. If you like a retro-painted Ford Flex (complete with flames across the hood) like I do, well then you're gonna love the Plaid Nation 2009 tour. Unfortunately, we'll all be enjoying it from afar, because these social media mavericks aren't crossing the Rockies to hang with the truly hip out West. 

Still and all, this is a pretty cool tour and, if you're into social media (uh, you're reading my blog, right?) then this group is our people. The tour, identified as (hey, I'm copying because some fab copywriter sweated this out to make it eloquent): "a rolling celebration of creativity and a demonstration of social media in action." What does that mean? They're driving around the country (with sponsors! note the Ford Flex mention?) meeting with creative, brand and internet workers and celebrating their innovations. And while they're at it, they're sharing, showing the latest social media tools in action. For those of us on the coast, we'll have to settle with watching the tour on www.plaidnation.com. 

So, where CAN you see these guys live and in person? Detroit (lived there, sorry, can't go back), Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, Branson (say 'hi' to Andy Williams for me), Jackson and New Orleans. And a few stops in between. 

Why do I care? Because social marketing is a large component of what I do with my advertising agency. And these guys are cool. And, seriously, because everyone needs a laugh, I get my morning chuckle from one of their blogs, makethelogobigger@earthlink.net. Subscribe. Laugh. (okay, note to writer, I did NOT laugh at today's Derek Jeter ad. But it did make me annoyed. Sorry Gillette, not buying).

And best of all, I might just get a T-shirt for my blogging efforts. Which, I figure, will augment my tweenager's summer uniform. Now, all I need to get my hands on is the ICANHASCHEEZBURGER T-shirt from the Seattle Mariners, and I believe she will be ready to rock out eighth grade in style.

Good luck with your tour, guys. I'll be watching you!!!

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