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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reconnecting Friendship


I met Jen in third grade. My family had just moved to Windham, Maine from Heber City, Utah. In an effort to harness my energy and desire to perform, my parents enrolled me into ballet classes. With nine kids my mom was busy and asked around about carpooling to and from dance classes, which were held in Portland (about 15 minutes away).

Coincidentally, one of my third grade classmates also took classes from the same dance school, so my smarty momma hooked up a carpool with the other dancer's mom. Sitting in a back seat for 15 minutes while her mom drove us to and from dance class gave me and my carpool pal a lot of time to chat and giggle. Soon, Jen and I were inseparable.

Throughout elementary school, junior high, and high school, we did nearly everything together. We even joked that we shared a brain. You know the kind of friend that finishes your sentences, knows exactly what movie reference you're talking about and laughs at all of your dumb jokes? That was Jen.

Then, I moved to Utah for college. We slowly fell out of contact. My parents moved from Maine to the West and the only remaining family tie there was a brother with whom I wasn't super close.

I would dream about Jen every now and then. Mostly I'd wake up feeling empty and sad. I'd put it out of my mind and tell myself, "people move on and so should I." But, I secretly longed for that connection with an old friend who had known and loved me when I was a chubby, self-conscious dancer worried about the rolls of fat that couldn't be hidden in her leotard. Jen was that friend for me. She always lifted me up and made me laugh.

My 20-year high school reunion was two weeks ago. I went to Maine and we reunited. I was just a little nervous that we wouldn't connect...but, I plunged in and just two weeks ago, I got my best friend back. Like old times we laughed, finished each others sentences, and were goofy and wacky together. I felt like a kid. Now we have weekly Skype dates...almost like we're in the back of her mother's car on the way to dance class.

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

There's something to be said about spending time with someone who has known you for 30 years. I love the friendship we had, but I'm giddy over the friendship we're reconnecting and building.




Friday, August 19, 2011

How to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School

My second daughter started at a new school this last year. She was in 6th grade. The only friend she had was a neighbor girl who was in 7th grade. After the initial coolness of being the new girl wore off things got hard. She didn't know anyone in her grade and the school was small. Most of the friendships were already established making it difficult for her to break in to a friend group. Her older friend didn't seem to have much time for my daughter.  She felt lost.

As a result, her report card got progressively worse and she felt more and more inadequate. The further behind she got in her school work the more hopeless she felt. She finally just gave up,  rationalizing that it was too late to turn things around.

Next year I'll know the things I wish I had known this year. Next year, I'll be a better support for her. I know she'll do better too, because she's the kind of girls who can't stand to be bad at something.

Whether your child is starting kindergarten or just changing schools (elementary to junior high or junior high to high school counts), here's my advice for parents with a child starting at a new school:

  • Get to know the teachers and school administrators. When there are problems (and there will be), they'll already know you and the conversations will be more productive.
  • Be patient. The transition will take a good year for everyone to get adjusted.
  • Your child may exhibit uncharacteristic behavior in a new situation and with a different social setting. Expect that you'll need to be more available for them with extra love and a listening ear. Don't always rush in to fix a situation. Let them try. If it seems like it won't turn around, step in carefully and let them know.
  • Create a schedule for your child to include homework time, reading time, and chilling out time. The consistency in their after-school schedule will help balance out the unsteadiness they feel in their school schedule.
  • Make sure they feel your confidence in them. Ask them if there is one thing they are nervous about and listen. Encourage them and tell them how proud of them you and that you'll be there for them if it gets rough.
Change can be difficult, but you and your child can learn to work through it together. If you have a child starting kindergarten, check out this post I wrote for KidSteals.com.

Good luck!

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    The Painful Truth About Threading

    Threading doesn't look painful, but it is (as my mommy used to say, "stars and garters!"). Here's my video to prove it. I've done everything from bleaching to waxing to plucking. Threading is, hands down, the best way to effectively remove the tiny little hairs on your face (around your mouth, chin, 'stache, etc.). The process takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on your threshold for pain and your need to come up for air before you run screaming from the building. The hair doesn't regrow for at least 5 weeks and it costs about $15.


    Note: The threading woman is named Nikoo, she's from Iran, and she must love watching women go through excruciating pain for beauty, because she's been doing this a loooong time. If you want her number, leave a comment.

    Quick Fix: Reunion Hair

    Before
    When you have long hair and you're a mom of four, you tend to put off getting your hair cut. This upcoming reunion was the push I needed to trim, smooth, and fancy myself up.
    After

    Me and Amanda
    I love Aveda salons because you get the nice massage before your hair cut and every thing smells lovely in there.  My stylist, Amanda, was very sweet and kept my hair change fairly low-key. Which is good for a reunion...I'll leave the half-shaved head for another day.

    First-time hair cuts with new artists at Landis are around $20! If you're in Salt Lake and want to pamper yourself, check out Landis. They have two locations: Liberty Heights (900 East and 1300 South, where I went) and Marmalade.  

    The groovy outside wall of Landis in Liberty Heights.




    20-Year High School Reunion: A Journey Back in Time


    Me and my bestie, Jen. Age 13. 

    My journey back in time began with a Facebook invitation. Besides getting in touch with friends from my past, this frequent time waster was again filling up my inbox. The invitation, though, was one I couldn’t pass up — my 20-year high school reunion.  In Maine.

    11 days after I graduated, I hopped a plane to college in Utah. Saying goodbye to family and friends was a bit hard, but I soon threw myself into this new adventure of college and being an adult. Two years later, I found myself in love, getting married and starting another adventure. I visited Maine once, after my first daughter was born, but didn’t really connect with any high school friends while there for the holidays. Aside from occasional online messages, I haven’t seen the 100 people with whom I shared graduation day. (Yes, my high school was that small.)

    After making the decision, I’ve gone through the gamut of feelings. Excitement, trepidation, denial, anxiety, impatience, giddiness…all the emotions of a young girl getting ready for prom. 

    I have to get my hair done! What am I going to wear? Should I try to lose a few pounds in a hurry? Will I still like my friends? Will they still like me?

    I just turned 38. I feel all the angst of a teenager — without the smooth skin and endless energy. This is weird.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    The Trouble with Blog Headlines

    The Canyons Resort in Park City. Location of the Evo Conference 2011.
    Recently, I attended an informative and uber-cool event in picturesque Park City, Utah.  Evo Conference: The Evolution of Women in Social Media many talented women (and men) in social media were there. Many of them have blogs. Some write more than a few blogs (that just makes me tired). I learned a lot about using social media, working with brands, building a better blog, and how to make vlogs that won't stink. (A "vlog" is short for video blogging. One of the presenters for that session was Jenny on the Spot...vlogger extraordinaire. Check her out here).

    Me and vlogging sparkle star, @jennyonthespot at #evoconf.
    One of the sessions I went to was led by three smartypants editors of BabyCenter (find them on Twitter @BabyCenter). They taught us how to write better and nurture our blogs so they can grow. They were knowledgeable, approachable and adept — filling our heads with lots of useful information on how to get better at our online craft.

    Here is a handy checklist the staff from BabyCenter shared with us for writing better blogposts:

    • Headline: Write a compelling and understandable headline. Keep it short and tight (5 to 7 words). Use trending terms when possible (You can find trending terms here.) Some great clickable headlines the editors of BabyCenter suggested started with these words or phrases: how to..., the worst..., the best..., the trouble with..., easy..., top....
    • Compelling: Engage your readers. To inspire comments, finish your post with a question asking for their perspective.
    • Photo: Upload a great photo (or photos) to illustrate your post. Make sure you include a caption, photo credit, link, and alt text when possible.
    • Links: Check your links to make sure they're working and linking to the correct pages. If there are opportunities to link to fellow blogger or a past link of your own, do it!
    • Tags: Use Google AdWords to develop a list of key words and trending terms when possible.
    • Spell Check: Don't simply trust your computer or blogging platform to check for proper spelling. Double check all proper nouns and word usage. Common misspellings the electronic spell-checker won't catch: its, it's; to, too, two; their, they're, there; your, you're.
    • Punctuation: Do all sentences end with punctuation? Make sure you're not over using exclamation points. My own personal rule of thumb is one exclamation for every 500 words. When you use them sparingly, they have more punch.
    • Read aloud: Right before you post, read your writing out loud to yourself. This will help you catch typos and grammatical errors that might confuse your readers.
    • Promote: Post your content on Facebook and Twitter. Give your story a thumbs-up on StumbleUpon. Pinterest your post. Start a thread about your post in online communities. Email a link to your story to competing blogs so they can include it in a similar story. Don't be shy.

    What a treat! Meeting Elmo at the Evo Conference 2011.
    In other news...and because I want to brag...I met Elmo at the Evo Conference!

    Want more details about the Evo Conference? Check out this very thorough conference wrap-up blog by Laurie, the Tip Junkie and another social media babe.

    Hope to see you at Evo Conference 2012 — registration is open now!

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