Tag Archives: blogging

The Wonderful World of Marketing

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A New Perspective

You might’ve noticed that Bubbles and Beebots looks different now.

I may keep on tweaking it until I’m happy. But see, B&B is now getting enough foot traffic to receive advertising invitations and I had to rework its layout into a more ads-friendly theme.

Which is kind of exciting, though I won’t be expecting more than pocket change for a bit. Maybe just enough to get my kids some ice cream at the zoo… don’t you want my adorable kids to be able to eat ice cream, folks?

There. That was my best attempt at salesmanship because I’m so NOT a natural saleswoman. I figured I’d try the guilt angle, since it comes so naturally to parents and as far as I can tell, advertisers usually work their magic using one of a few tools:

Guilt

vintagecaradAgain, a natural selling-point for parents, since we already feel so responsible…

Hey, buy these spoons that tell you when food is too hot, so your trusting baby won’t end up burning her poor little mouth!

Sure, this cereal costs three times more, but there’s a cartoon princess on the box and cartoon princesses make your kid HAPPY. What kind of a monster doesn’t want their kid to be happy?

Using dogs and cats works well too. Aren’t they your best friend?? Don’t they deserve the best!?

Fear

Mostly of being socially ostracized because not buying Product X will make you disgusting.

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Preventing heartbreak with the right soap

I mean, what if you use a substandard deodorant and end up stinking up the subway? You’ll put your arm up to hold onto the rail, and… BAM! No more invites. You wouldn’t want to gross out your taxicab cab partner, would you?

Or toothpaste. What if that woman you’ve had a huge crush on for ages finally walks up to talk to you and you melt her eyebrows with your jalapeño egg salad breath? Don’t be so GROSS.

It also works with more literal fears about your physical safety. There are always tons of commercials for home alarm systems whenever  you’re watching a crime show.

Envy

I’ve been noticing a theme here, and it mostly involves our fears of being judged. We don’t want other people to think bad things about us.

And on the flip side, we DO want them to think good things. Like, it’s great to have a fashionable product because then everyone will know you’re on the level. Or if you’re a hipster, you want a product that ISN’T popular, so you can be part of the elite club that actually appreciates it. We don’t want the ads to look too rehearsed or glossy, in that case.

Let’s say you think that girl from the Sketchers ad is pretty hot and you’d like to look like her or date her (or both, depending on your persuasion). So, maybe if you wear those tennis shoes, some of her hotness will rub off on you and then you can rock her awesome figure without having to do any crunches or lay off the Cinnabons.

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I don’t think this is really about the soda.

And hey, Benicio Del Toro is pretty macho and successful and maybe you could also be a world traveler if you tossed back a few Heinekens. At the very least, you’d be cool.

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Umm… or the beer

Eh… my terrible natural salesmanship is becoming all too apparent. In fact, I should probably pull this post before any actual advertisers read it.

And go back to being a manic pixie who occasionally mentions poop tantrums. It’s what I do best. 🙂

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Getting Fat and Dealing With French Condescension

I haven’t been keeping up with my blog for the past few weeks and ho boy, did the comments, postings and emails blow up. It’s like that old episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy lets everything pile up on the chocolate factory, only I wasn’t seeing the chocolates threatening to avalanche because it was all happening in the mystical, invisible land of the internet.

lucy.jpgSo, today I literally tackled 4000 emails. They weren’t entirely my blog’s fault because I also spent half the day unsubscribing from various marketing assembly lines, which was a dragon whose slaying was long overdue.

I mean, what else was going to happen to an openminded, very curious (likely undiagnosed attention-disordered)  woman like myself? SURE, I’d love to learn about the world of cycling and how runners should eat. How about the mysteries of ancient civilizations and Abraham Lincoln’s private letters while we’re at it? Of COURSE, I want to hear about whenever your breakthrough mascaras that will change my life forever go on sale (shockingly perfect eyelashes -> ? -> perfect life!) And WOW, you’ll tell me whether I have a fire, air, earth or water personality with your free quiz if I just enter my email that you promise not to share with anyone? (So weird, because Six Flags over Georgia keeps telling me about their promotions, though I’m almost positive I never asked).

frenchsnob.pngAaaaand on top of that, I started taking a French class with my mom and working out early in the morning, which screws up my powerfully creative middle-of-the-night writing time more than you’d expect. You see, mom and I thought I would be nice to do something together, like take a French film class. Except she’s a retired French teacher and I… well, I learned some French from hearing her speak it when I was little and later studied it in school, but I haven’t used it in quite some time. Picking a class that would neither bore mom to tears nor be ridiculously over my head was a true challenge.

So, I took a placement test and according to the Alliance Francaise, I’m an Advanced Intermediate, but it hardly feels that way when I’m watching French war films from the 60’s, paying extremely close attention to everyone’s body language in the desperate hope  of figuring out a gnat’s wing of context, and reading out French dialogues in class while feeling about as ashamed as I’d imagine feeling after just peeing on the public floor. (Why do they have to talk SO FAST!?)

The entire class is in French, including the instructions, and while I understand about 87% of it, I nevertheless have to hear myself answering the teacher in cavewoman grunts while watching her look at me with that pained, patronizing expression that means she’s pretending that I don’t sound like an idiot so I won’t get discouraged. When it’s just too rough, I occasionally break into English again, whereupon she looks mildly startled by my capacity for abstract reasoning, as though she’d assumed my aching attempts at normal French conversation reflected my general aptitude. This must be how blind people feel when others shout at them in slow, simple language. Or immigrants, when natives assume that their fractured grammar represents how their whole brain operates.

Eh, I complain because it’s entertaining, but I’m actually enjoying this class a great deal. I like being forced to learn something new. You see, I spend most of my time around toddlers, and while I love my kids to pieces and cherish the time I spend with them, it’s not exactly an intellectual challenge, right about now. For example, I spent the bulk of today’s afternoon helping my 3-year-old practice writing her name, which consisted of her randomly scribbling on a paper then looking really proud of her alphabet mastery. Essentially, she was me in French class, except she’s blissfully unaware of how far off she is, whereas I can’t help but catch every micro-condescension in my French teacher’s eyes.

But in addition to taking the French class, I’ve also started waking up early to work out. You may be wondering why, given my obvious night-owl tendencies…

You see, I decided to start exercising more and eating better after my five-year-old started asking me if she was going to get a new baby sister.

“No,” I told her. “Daddy and I are happy with two girls. We aren’t going to have another baby.”

“But your belly is sooo… BIG. Like when you were making Bridget.”

Sigh.

“No, I’m not having another baby.”

“But it’s getting BIGGER and BIGGER!”

Frankly, I think she’s being a bit of a weight Nazi, because I’ve only put on around ten pounds or so.

Maybe 15. Okay, maybe it’s 15 and I happen to think 15 pounds from skinniness is a little premature to start asking your mom whether she’s pregnant. Still, I read something about how only yoga pants and toddlers tell the truth and figure if your belly is getting big enough for your kids to notice it, it’s probably time to jump on it before it becomes a larger issue.

And it could be worse, given that she’s also been asking her dad if he’s making her a baby brother, since she assumes women make girls while men make boys. Which makes primitive sense, assuming you don’t fully understand the process.

So, I’ve recently embarked on a P90x exercise routine in the mornings, because doing it anytime later throws off my entire day, as well as a bold attempt at eating better. The whole process has made me reflect on how much easier it is to get fat and out of shape once you have kids.

I plan to talk about it in my next posting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bubbles and Beebots In the News!

Yesterday was Bridget’s 3rd birthday. She spent the daylight hours indulging in cookies, cat-stalking and sunshine in the kind of present-moment-savoring paradise that most adults wish they still had the freedom to enjoy.

She was playing on the porch swing when her big sister Brontë put one of Douglas’s dog toys in her mouth, barking and crawling around on the ground.

Oh gross, I chuckled. Brontë, put the dog toy down!

She did. We later went inside to start the birthday celebrations, the girls forgetting all about the dog toy incident… until a startling discovery the very next morning:

 

That’s right.

A photo of Brontë with a dog toy in her mouth splashed across the front page of the The Sacramento Bee today, visible from every newspaper stand in town.

I’ll admit to being a little bit mortified.

And it’s not that I don’t believe most little kids have had far worse in their mouths at some point (kids chew on everything); it’s that random snapshots of our lives can create unbalanced impressions. I didn’t want people thinking I routinely let my kids chew on dog toys that have been sitting outside in the dirt because that’s not usually how we spend our time.

This idea didn’t bother Brontë at all, however. She was too busy being thrilled by her joke making the local news. She grabbed a paper and spent the next couple of hours running up to strangers to point out her featured photo. “It’s SO FUNNY,” she kept telling them. “They put it IN THE PAPER!”

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My girls become local celebrities.

Now, you may be wondering how this all came about…

Months ago, I wrote a blog post called Americans Are Too Damn Clean, inspired by parents who get rid of pets during pregnancies or use hand sanitizer before handling infants from what I consider to be good intentions gone awry, encouraged by our national tendency toward germ paranoia.

In it, I bring up scientific studies showing how kids who grow up around pets actually have fewer allergies, lower rates of asthma and eczema, and better gut ecosystems. No need to get rid of your pets.

Apparently, the Health Reporter for The Sacramento Bee came across my article and was intrigued. She called me for an interview and to set up an appointment to take photos of my girls being natural kids in a laid-back environment around a mom who would let them get dirty.

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Wondering how this will all be spun.

And Brontë, being the natural performer that she is, supplied the piece de resistance by chewing on a dog toy for the cameras, which ended up being a teaser on the front page. Oh, and she also grabbed the camera from the cameraman when he wasn’t looking and snapped some photos of me. Luckily, he was a really nice guy who has twin 8-year-old girls of his own, so he completely understood.

Fortunately, the article didn’t portray me as a filthy lunatic, just a mom who wasn’t convinced that disinfecting everything was the best idea. It was on the first page of the section section and the online version is here: Are Your Kids Too Clean? Microbiome Research Reveals Dangers of Killing Germs.

The only real bummer is how the reporter promised to mention Bubbles and Beebots in the article, which would’ve been great press in a nationally-known newspaper… especially since I live just outside of Sacramento, talk about the area from time to time, and since some of the studies mentioned in the article came straight out of my blog post. There’s a link included on the online version, yet the actual newspaper only referred to me as a parenting blogger.

Dang. Well, maybe the editor cut it. You never know.

At any rate, I think it’s pretty cool that Bridget’s birthday will be forever remembered as the day before she appeared in the local paper. She seems to think it’s pretty cool too.

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My Childfree Post Hits a Nerve

Stephen King once said that if you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society will be numbered.

And I’m finding his point reassuring as I watch my 5 Points I Want the Childfree to Consider article get shredded across the childfree subreddit community.

I’ve never spent much time on Reddit, to be honest. It’s the virtual Mos Eisley Cantina: a wretched hive of scum and villainy where hacked-off limbs barely rate second glances, a den of anonymous hostility and unbridled trolling…

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“We don’t serve their kind here.”

Still, you can’t help being curious when people are talking about you. It’s gratifying to have written anything interesting enough to warrant its own discussion threads, even if those threads mostly consist of people wanting to kill it with fire.

You need thick skin to speak your truth. But in my case, constantly wondering whether my critics even read the article softened the blow. Defeating my logic might’ve been devastating, yet my critics seemed far more interested in contradicting points I never actually made.

The two most common complaints were that I:

  1. Think everyone should have children because anyone who doesn’t is a bad person, and
  2. Didn’t convince them that parenting is wonderful enough to make them change their minds.

It’s actually quite baffling, since I directly said that choosing not to have children is a  reasonable, respectable choice that society should accept.

And if I’d wanted to talk people into the glories of parenting, I definitely wouldn’t have used public tantrums and the lack of American leave benefits as major selling points…

I’ve always tried to be very honest in my blog, never pretending that every aspect of raising kids is wonderful or that it doesn’t sometimes challenge you to the very limits of your emotional and physical well-being. Yet despite the entire nature of my article being the need for greater empathy on both sides, I’m just left feeling as though I’d sold out the whole parenting experience.

Apparently unable to grasp the idea of neither side being “wrong,” these critical subreddit members seemed more interested in either having their own choices validated or being convinced to change their minds.

And since they don’t understand why anyone would want children, they can’t be talked into reconciliation.

So maybe a different approach would help. In my next article, I’ll try explaining why so many of us believe parenting is worth the hardships.

 

A Followup Childfree Interview at The Rinky-Dink Life

snotHello, gentle readers! Sorry I’ve been out of touch (too out-of-touch to even wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy new Year) but my family came down with a wave of nasty sickness for the past week.

I’m sure other parents will know what I’m talking about, here. We all love our kids to pieces, but they really are walking petri dishes sometimes, what with all the touching and chewing on every random object they see. It’s sink-or-swim challenge to everyone’s immune system, I suppose.

In the meantime, I was contacted by the lovely Brittany at The Rinky-Dink Life for an interview. She writes a fantastic blog about the childfree lifestyle, which made it all the more surprising that she wanted to speak to a mommy blog author!

Apparently, she was intrigued by my last article, 5 Points I Want The Childfree to Consider, and wanted to ask some followup questions. She wrote up the interview here and I encourage you to check it out and leave feedback.  She’s an excellent writer who had many interesting questions and I think starting dialogues between parents and people without children is a great idea.

And I also hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas ( or Hanukkah, or Solstice, or winter break) and a very Happy New Year!

Six Word Story Challenge: Worship

worship.jpgAfter a hiatus, I’m back with the Six Word Story Challenges…

These are so fun! You write a story using only six words, based on the weekly theme. This week’s theme is “worship” and the challenge is open from Saturday 19th November 2016 – Friday 25th November 2016.

Anyone can play! Check it out at: Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge.

My entry for this week:

Worship is blind. Love sees everything.

Bob, The Pyramid Construction Guy, Has It Out With His Wife

I’ve talked before about how cool it is that anyone can blog now. Maybe everything published isn’t as polished as it used to be, but at least everyone’s voice can be heard.

It’s neat that future generations will have so many records of what we everyday folks were thinking, even if those thoughts mostly consist of bitching about annoying coworkers, talking about lunch, or showing off stuff we just bought.

That’s just not the case with earlier periods of human history, considering only the writings of highly-educated, elite aristocrats survived. I’ve sometimes wondered if we picture these periods as being more formal than they usually were because their lingering voices are always issuing edicts or chanting lofty works of poetry.

egyptcats.jpgTake Ancient Egypt, for example. Most people couldn’t write and those that could were chronicling important historical events or carving painstaking hieroglyphics across sacred monuments for billionaire employers. Stuff the gods were supposed to read for all eternity.

But what about Bob, one of construction guys hammering out the pyramid bricks? He had a life too. I picture Bob getting home after a long day pushing blocks and talking to his wife Della like this:

Della: Hey Bob, how was your day? Did you remember to pick up some figs?

Bob (groaning): No, I didn’t grab any figs.

Della: Dammit, Bob. I’m meeting Lucille at temple tomorrow and now I can’t make honey fig casserole. And I can’t make any honey cakes either because some rats got into the wheat bags last night. What am I supposed to do!?

Bob: Geez, I’m sorry Della. Guess I was too busy today HAULING 80 TON BRICKS UP WOODEN RAMPS to think about your figs. And how are rats getting into the wheat bags again? What good is your stupid cat? I don’t know why we keep on feeding it.

Della: Watch your mouth, Bob. She’s not just a cat, she’s the living embodiment of the Goddess Bastet.

Bob: Well, your goddess just crapped in the living room again.

Della: Great.

Okay maybe they never had that exact conversation, but I’m guessing more people were  worried about getting to work on time and wondering what they ate that was bothering their stomachs than thinking the highbrow stuff plastered all over city monuments.

 

Monday Motivations Challenge: Stop what you’re doing, now!

I’ve been a total blogging slacker, because I’m posting writing challenges back to back. I promise everyone yet another riveting episode of middle-class suburban family life real soon.

In the meantime, I have another installment of the Monday Motivations challenge from the esthernewtonblog. This week’s challenge was to write a flash fiction piece of between 50-100 words which somewhere includes the line: “No! Stop what you’re doing. Now!” he yelled. Jump on over if you want to play.

Here’s my entry:

“No! Stop what you’re doing. Now!” he yelled.

It was the first time her father had ever yelled.

MOM was always the one harping on about math grades and coming home past curfew.

Her constant nagging made dad afraid to come home.

When he did, he was always so nice. He took her out for pizza. He undid the locks on her cell phone.

Which was why she told the courts mom would get drunk and hit her.

HE loved her, unlike mom.

But he’d been somehow changing, ever since she’d moved in.

 

Monday Motivations Challenge: It was over

Hey everyone!

Just found out about the Monday Motivations challenge from the esthernewtonblog. You write a flash fiction piece of between 50-100 words which includes an assigned line. This week’s is “It was over.”

Fun, right? A chance to flex your fiction muscle. Go check it out if you want to play!

Here’s my entry:

She had no idea why today, of all days, she dug out that ancient photo album.

Maybe it was the deep pangs of loneliness threatening to tear through her chest as she paced around the house. She poured herself a drink, turned on a once-important song, and started flipping pages.

She and Dean were so young back then, their eyes locked in burning intensity. Now they barely looked at each other, running mindlessly through the evening routine.

It was over. Yet she laid down next to him to fall asleep, as she would do for the rest of her life.

 

Do Bubbles Really Cause Obesity?

Every once in a while, we long-suffering bloggers check our WordPress stats and are thrilled by a sudden explosion of new views or followers.

That’s probably the most awesome thing that can happen to bloggers when checking out our stats,  but a close second has got to be finding out the search terms people used to find our blogs.

Because those can be downright hilarious.

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Don’t do it, kid! Save yourself!

Like tonight, when someone inadvertently navigated to my site after asking the internet whether bubbles cause obesity.

I just… can’t make heads or tails of this idea.

I mean, I get the logistics of the search results (my blog has “bubbles” in the title and I guess I’ve talked about dieting and obesity a couple of times), but what’s really throwing me is the idea that someone, somewhere, is genuinely wondering whether bubbles may be responsible for their weight problem.

What kind of bubbles are they even envisioning? Spit bubbles? Soap bubbles? The kind of bubbles you played with as a kid?

Is there some kind of granola-hippie nut job  out there suggesting that chemicals in children’s bubble formulas are responsible for the obesity epidemic in America today?

Have you tried losing weight only to watch each diet fail, time and time again? Well, stop torturing yourself, my friend! There’s no need to feel guilty…  you’ve been a victim of the Great Bubble Conspiracy. Once released from the nefarious bubbesphere, you’ll see pounds melt off effortlessly, without changing your lifestyle or spending countless hours at the gym!

I seriously doubt bubbles have anything to do with gaining weight, unless the bubbles in question are the bubbles in bubble tea. Because those have a startling number of calories.

Sheesh, these weight-loss gimmicks are getting weird.