May 28, 2010

Social Media Agent

I have a new title...and I'm feeling very Generation Y with it. I'm a Social Media Agent. What is that exactly?
Well...I'm sort of in the apprentice stage right now, but according to Wikipedia (All sources of truth), it's the person who helps manage a company's social media marketing. It's a person who blogs, tweets, and chats in forums in order to generate online conversations within social networks to help drive business.

Q:Well who's business am I helping to drive?

The other half to my mommy blog movie review assignment is to act as a social media agent. I've been tweeting, chatting with total strangers, researching blogs, and learning everything there is to know about Disney. I may have two young kids but I'm feeling very "instyle" with my new gig. (I need a better word for gig....that's too Gen X.)

When you get out there into the "real" world and see who is posting on forums, you realize that there is an entire world of, let's just say, people with free time.
Because I checked my free time at the door about 5 years ago, I didn't realize how many conversations I was missing. The irony though is that I barely have time to talk with my best friends, but now I'm making time to tweet with complete strangers.

Maybe my friends and I can work out a mutual agreement that for 10 hours a week we can commit to online chatting with each other. No money has to change hands, but we may need to send in a few status reports if the contract is broken. That's how it works in the "Social Media World".

Well free time is up. Back to reality....spilled Apple juice, and wheel barrel filled with dirt just made it through the back door. I have other special agent responsibilities to tend to.

May 26, 2010

Birthday Eve

What's on your wish list????

Mr. Potato Head?
Giant Shovel?
Gardening Apron?
Superhero Cape?

I can hardly wait for the soon to be 2 year old to wake up. He was born at 1:34AM, so if he can just hold out until 6AM we'll be in much better shape than we were 2 years ago!

Off to finish frosting the rest of the cupcakes...and then find a spot to hide them. (Not from the obvious children.)

The Water Leaks by Nathan Willbanks

Lately I've been testing out some new book ideas on Nathan, and he seems to have caught the writing bug as well.

Here is Nathan's latest book, titled, "The Water Leaks".

Once upon a time there was a man who lived in a gold house and his name is Richard Conjen.
Richard has a dog and lives in a small town where the water comes from.
The problem with the water is that it leaks all over town. All of the people smell so bad because of the gross water. Richard fixes the water leak with a hammer. The smell then goes away.
The End

So if I were reviewing this story, a couple of questions come to mind.
1. Richard Conjen - isn't he the guy who won the first season of Survivor 10 years ago????
2. Richard lives in a gold house...interesting...I wonder how much that would go for? And can you melt it down if you're desperate for cash?
3. Where do I get a magic hammer like Rich has? It fixes leaks with one quick smack? Look out Handy Manny this could be bad for you.
4. Is it possible that Rich lives in a waste management plant? I sure as hell wouldn't be drinking from the tap.

Overall the author painted a vivid scene that captured our senses and left us on the edge of our seats wondering if the town's personal hygiene problem would soon be resolved. Thankfully, it ended with a fairytale conclusion. Rich, the hero, came in with his mighty hammer and saved the day. It's an easy read, half a page, (2 notecards to be exact) and the illustrastions are Caldecott worthy!

I think it's definitely ready for submission.

May 23, 2010

The 2nd birthday!

20 kids under 5
35 minutes of trampoline time
40 minutes of pretend play
5 pepperoni pizzas
1 puppet show
= Jack's 2nd birthday party!

We celebrated with all of Jack's closest buddies today at the new Playspace in Menlo Park called UME.
It's the cleanest, most organized children's event center I've ever been to. The coordinators were better than most weddings. Infact it was uncanny how many similarities there were to our wedding.

1. As soon as I thought about refilling a juice box another one appeared.
2. There was quite the anticipation about the favors from a few guests. (It's all about the goody bags.)
3. The cake was lemon flavored. (He who orders it, get's their favorite flavor.)
4. The photographer forgot to get a family shot!
5. We're up to our ears in gift boxes. (Thankfully no styrofoam popcorn was included.)
6. I'm sure we went over our budget.....but it was worth every penny.
7. We didn't have to clean up, and the cake was packed in a to-go box.

The true test for the birthday boy is the nap-o-meter. The more fun and excitement Jack has, the longer the afternoon nap. The results = two hours of a solid sleep, for both Jack and mom. Wearing out Jack is hard to do! All in all it was a success!

May 18, 2010

Hot off the Press

I've made my Sickel and Ebert debut.
Last week I was hired to be one of three mom's who review Disney movies each month. I'll be blogging about the movie, as well as doing other social media work. Doug and I rushed out on Friday night for my first assignment, to review Alice in Wonderland.

Hot off the press...the new blog has gone live. You can read my full movie review here.

Stay tuned for upcoming releases. I'm hoping Toy Story 3 is on my list. I'll be reviewing that one with or without pay!

May 16, 2010

Only 20 minutes from home

It's one thing to find out a new kid's amusement park opened and is only 20 minutes from your house, but it's another to run into some of your best friends on the day you chose to go.

Yesterday was family day at the Willbanks home. We took Nate and Jack to the newly improved Happy Hollow park and zoo. The park has been closed for the past two years for renovation. Our first and only experience was about two years ago when I was pregnant with Jack. It was probably 100 degrees that day, no shade anywhere in sight, and a petting zoo where Doug refused to touch the animals. In his defense the animals did look a little raggedy. They weren't your typical "zoo" animals. There were animals on display like rats, and guinea pigs.
But with two years, came some much needed improvements. We were pleasantly surprised at the new and improved Happy Hollow. Here are some of the hightlights to yesterday's field trip.

1. Beautiful clean new park and zoo.
2. Landscaping was incredible. An abundance of shade trees.....they obviously needed two years to grow.
3. Ran into our long time friends Darren and Brittany with their adorable little girl Shelby.
4. Petting zoo included true animals you could pet. i.e. horses, goats, donkeys. They did have the guinea pigs still, but their new habitat was significantly better.
5. Climbing structures with rope courses, net bridges and look out towers. An imaginary pirates dream.
6. Puppet shows - Well this was actually the low light. The main character was abused by his brothers, and the voices were a bit demonic. It had potential though. The theatre and stage were shaded and tiered for easy viewing.
7. Lunch  - The cafe had an assortment of choices, some even healthy. The food was pretty good including the yogurt. (You'll see that on Jack's face below.)
8. Admission - Only $12 a person and Jack was free. We took advantage of the fact he wasn't quite two.
9. Rides - We never did make it to any of them, but we now have a reason to go back. (As if we needed one.)
10. Many drinking fountains. Jack's new found love. You'll see from the pictures below we spent a good 20-30 minutes at one fountain.

Overall we would give it a four thumbs up for a Saturday. We'll be planning our next trip soon. Who knew in only 20 minutes we would find our new kid's oasis.

Here are few pics from the day.

(Note that is Doug helping to feed the horse.)


May 14, 2010


I have a new assignment.... and I've chosen to accept it!

My job is to blog about specific Disney releases on a soon to be launched website, called  I'll be one of 3 moms who will be reviewing the latest Disney movies and providing my "expert" opinion. They've chosen mom's from various backgrounds, locations, and children's ages.

I feel prepared for this assignment. I think my "training" will pay off. I've been working hard over the past 5 years to sharpen my children's movie watching skills by:
1. Not falling asleep
2. Fake laughing at appropriate parts
3. Covering the kid's eyes during nightmare inducing scenes

Now my time has come to put my hard earned skills to work.  

My first Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland!

You can look for my review on Monday 5/17/2010 when the site goes live!

Signing off to take on my 1st mission!

Lori - Lori Willbanks

May 11, 2010

My Day Off

I love having days off in the middle of the week. They are so much better than the weekends. It cuts your week into two parts, which for some reason just makes it feel so much more bearable. In my opinion, a weekday also has a certain calm about it, much more than a Saturday or Sunday. People are at work, the neighborhood is quiet, (except for our house), and there is no need to rush around.  It just works for me.
Mari had an appointment today, so rather than try to juggle work and the kids I took an official day off. I've been looking forward to May 11th for a few weeks. Besides the calm about my day, the other main perk is getting to spend one on one time with Jack. While Nate is in preschool, I get Jack ALL to myself, and he's hilarious. Each day he shows his true personality more and more.

Today we had big plans, drop Nate off at school, head to Target, go for a run, head to the library for storytime and then finally hit the park before picking up Nate. I know that doesn't sound like a peaceful day to some but it truly beats the grind of getting the kids and myself ready by 7:30AM, out the door and on to conference calls by 8:00AM.
We did have a minor hiccup in our day. Luckily it didn't destroy it all together, but it was close. During the Target trip, I lost my car keys. We had been in the store shopping through various aisles for about 30 minutes when Jack said, "Keys".  Since Jack started talking a few weeks ago, he adds new words to his vocabulary everyday. I can't tell you how thankful I am that "Keys" was on his list today. I of course repeat everything he says just to make sure I understand him. He'll always correct me with a deep, "Yah," or a very clear, "NO".  When he said "Keys", I instinctively said, "Yes, keys Jacks, wait....keys, where are the keys?"

With no keys anywhere in sight, I started thinking about everyplace we had been. I spent a while in the shoe aisle looking for some new tennis shoes for Jack. Of course the cute new sandals caught my eye and took me on a detour. So I realized I better go down every aisle and even recruited some nice lady to help us. Finally I spotted them...just lying on the floor in clear sight. I have no idea how I didn't hear those drop. Just chalk it up to a chatty 2 yr old. My recruit overheard me say we found them and replied "Oh thank God, I'm so glad you found them, but you seem so calm about it all."

I replied, "Yah, I guess so, it's all relative. We've dealt with worse." (I didn't have time to give her our daily list of crises.)

Here is picture of my hero with his new shoes. Mom, if you're reading this you should avert your eyes, he's got applesauce all over him. I didn't have a chance to clean him up before he ran away in his new shoes. Don't worry though, he's clean now, and sleeping peacefully and yes that is a stamp on his belly. He insists that the librarian at storytime give him a stamp on his belly rather than his hand. Like I said, he's hilarious.

May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Weekend

It's always a treat when my parents come to visit, but having them come on Mother's Day weekend was even better. When they arrived on Saturday the kids were so excited they just ran through the house, literally, back and forth with pure joy. (Picture a puppy when you come home from work.)

On really special weekends my dad will bring his tool set, and fix everything we've been saving for him. This weekend we needed curtains hung in Jack's room, the hinges on the toy box fixed, and the bikes hung in the garage. He brought his power tools, so he was up for the challenge. The boys loved to watch Grandpa at work, and typically "helped" by throwing a toy or two underfoot just as he was balancing with a drill in his hand. They have a lot to learn, hopefully they were picking up tips through osmosis.

Mother's day started out a bit rocky with a bloody nose on Jack, but it significantly improved as the day went on. My mom and I snuck out to get some lunch and stimulate the econony at Stanford Mall. Doug and the kids gave me some much needed running essentials. I got the very cool pedometer from Nike + that slips in your shoe and then plugs in to your IPOD. So now when I run I have a very polite lady interrupt my music with a sweet little messsage about my distance, pace, and how much further to go. It's like having your very own cheerleader built into your ear! Because of her, I was able to run a 5K yesterday, and one today. I love to hear her voice when she says, "You are half way there!" I think I'll send a letter to Nike asking if they can have her suggest a few menus for dinner, maybe what I should wear today, or what my calendar looks like when my run is over. Come to think of it, I've put too much responsibility on "her". I need a personal assistant.
Maybe I can ask for that next Mother's Day!

So not only did I burn a few hundred calories on my quest for a bikini body, I got to spend Mother's Day shopping with my Mom, and my wonderful dad put our life back in order! We can now get two cars in the garage. Life is simple.....on Mother's Day!

May 6, 2010

This post is brought to you by the number 6!

We've got numbers on our mind. I feel like I'm living in one giant episode of Sesame Street. You know the part where the numbers morph into common objects. i.e. a person will be sitting on the park bench and the  street light will turn into a number one or the bus wheels turn into zeros. Well, that's what it's like at our house, only every door, now has number.
You can find Nathan in room 6, Jack is in room 3, the door to the garage is number 2... you get the idea. Now when a guest says, "Where is your bathroom?" I can say, "Oh it's room number 1 right around the corner.
Or when it's time to leave, I can say, "Let us walk you out through door number 4."
You may be wondering why? Well, it's our new learning experiment. We're practicing "living with numbers". We're hoping if Nate sees them everyday and we refer to them often, they'll come a little more naturally to him.

So now in the middle of the night I can say to Doug, "Who is that crying? Is it coming from Room 6 or Room 3?"  It might feel a little clinical, but we could always benefit from a little more routine in our house. Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea if we treated home more like a Dr's. office. We could install clip boards on the outside of the doors, so when we enter their rooms we get an instant status update. "Oh I see your chart says you're having a bad day, ...I'll be back in 30 minutes."

Enough creative ideas for the day....I'm off to the Mother's Day party at preschool. My favorite time of the year. I can't wait to hear what Nate said about me. It's always a surprise!

May 3, 2010

Someone Pooped in the Pool

And thank God it wasn't MY child!

After the 5 o'clock mad dash, with feeding the kids, changing their clothes, and getting ready for swimming, we rushed to Nate's swim lessons.

It was 80 degrees outside and a perfect night for swimming. In fact, it's safe to say it was the best night we've had so far.

Doug surprised us and came home early, so I left Jack to bond with Doug for the next 30 minutes. Typically I spend the 30 minutes during Nate's lessons running after Jack making sure he doesn't jump into the pool, or run on to grass that has a giant sign, "Keep Off".

Tonight though, I had the opportunity to sit on a quiet bench, by myself, by a pool for 30 minutes on a beautiful night. I was tempted to bring a magazine, but didn't feel like being judged by the parents with the video cameras.

My plan was sadly foiled. We arrived at the pool to see chaos had broken out. Nobody was in the pool, and a lot of parents with soaking wet kids were standing around looking confused. I asked one of the father's what happened. He said, "I'm not quite sure, they've shut the pool down.". Then I looked at a mother and I knew what happened. She said, "Somebody pooped in the pool!"Oh right, the fecal matter in the pool situation. I've seen this happen before.

I have to admit I was pretty annoyed. I was looking forward to my 30 minutes of fun in the sun.

Then it hit me. I should be thankful tonight. This could have been a very different blog post. Some poor mother is sitting at home tonight wondering why she didn't double diaper her child, and hoping this doesn't effect her priority enrollment for the next round of lessons.

Since I don't believe in rotten endings, we drowned out sorrows in visiting the opening day of a new Frozen Yogurt store! Gummy Bears and Reeses Pieces on top hit the spot for one 4 year old.

May 2, 2010

May Day

Dear April,
Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

A flower seeking individual.

To celebrate May's arrival, we went to the annual Woodside May Day parade. I don't fully understand the holiday..something about a May pole, children, and the arrival of Spring. I'm sure I could Google it, but I don't really have the time. I'm just a casual observer who is looking for something fun to do on a Saturday.

The kids loved the horses, the firetrucks, and of course the candy that was thrown from every float. Grandma and Grandpa from "the woods", (that's how Nate refers to them.) live within walking distance to downtown, so we met at their house first and then walked to the parade.

We celebrated the arrival of Spring on Sunday as well. It was time to let our "beloved" butterflies go, for two reasons.
1. Jack was terrified of them. He couldn't eat breakfast until I moved them into another room.
2. I didn't want the responsibility of having to feed them. It's just enough to remember to feed the four of us. I was feeling incredibly guilty that I hadn't changed their orange slices yet.

I have to admit, I was a little sad when they flew away. I was comforted though by our oldest son who hasn't quite learned the concept of money yet. He said, "Don't worry mom, we can just buy some new ones!" So much for the lesson on metamorphosis.

However, I was reassured of his gentle nature when he picked the butterflies out of the net and let them go. He instructed me that we needed to find some flowers and a safe place. He had no problem putting his hand into the  net. Jack on the other hand stood by with a safety bat, just in case he needed to take any one of them out.

Spring has sprung....and we are thankful!