Twitter – Not Just a Social Networking Service

Monday was the day that I realized Twitter was not just a tool I use for networking, idol chat and promoting City Mom.  Because on this day,  I used Twitter to ask for support, and support I received.

My husband underwent shoulder surgery on Monday and being the worrier that I am, I started to feel anxious as soon as they wheeled him away.  I got my iPhone out to pass some time and found myself reaching out on Twitter.

My first outgoing update was very simple and to the point:  Trying to pass time while my husband is in surgery…talk to me.  I followed up with:  Maybe I should mention I’m feeling a bit nervous and would like some distractions.   (Messages can be no more than 140 characters)

Within seconds I was receiving my first response.  In total, I began comforting ‘conversations’ with eight of my ‘tweeple’ (a blend of Twitter and people).  I read reassuring comments such as “Don’t be too nervous. He’s in the best hands possible!”, “I’m sure your husband will be fine – but I don’t blame you for worrying – I would do the same!” and one friend even sent me a link to a humorous video to help me pass the time.

There was something these short messages offered that day that nothing else could have.  I wasn’t in the mood to talk on the phone and I certainly wasn’t feeling social enough to strike up a conversation with any of the strangers sitting nearby. 

These interactions provided a light diversion to help me through my nervousness but didn’t require too much of my energy, leaving me feeling drained, which is easy to have happen when you’re stressed.  It was just what the doctor ordered.  No pun intended!

Although I’ve never met most of my Twitter friends face-to-face and some of them live in an entirely different country, it doesn’t seem to matter.  A few characters on-screen and some kind people made me realize that Twitter is not just a social networking tool.  It is a friend-maker, a relationship-builder and a support network.

A special thanks to my tweeps who were there for me the other day.  If you’re not following them already, please do so:  @kimforgeta, @Tinytoot, @slypigjeff, @j0_mAmA@gracekellycakes, @saucygurl915, @SweetSheil and  @CaseKidsLikeIke.    And if you don’t have a Twitter account, start one up today!

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. Photograph by jscreationzs.

White Chocolate Gingersnaps

Cookie dough balls tossed in sugar coating.

This post is dedicated to my American friends. These tasty, tender cookies are a perfect addition to any Thanksgiving table.  And Christmas? Forget about it…baking list complete!

The combination of ginger, cloves and cinnamon with white chocolate make these soft cookies a spicy-sweet treat that will quickly become a holiday family favourite.

This is an easy recipe to allow even the smallest hands to help with.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 /2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup confectioners’ sugar

Adding molasses to the brown sugar mixture.

DIRECTIONS

  • In a medium bowl, beat brown sugar and butter until blended
  • Beat in the egg, then the molasses
  • Mix the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves
  • Gradually add to the wet mixture and mix well (the dough will be stiff)
  • Stir in white chocolate chips until well mixed
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1.5 hours
  • Combine both sugars in a deep bowl
  • Shape dough into 1 inch balls
  • Toss in sugar mixture
  •  Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray
  • Bake at 350° for 11-13 minutes or until set
  • Cool for a few minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. 

White Chocolate Gingersnaps

Yield: 3 dozen

Happy baking & Happy Thanksgiving!

Blemished & Blushing

Consider this post to be out of pure vanity and utter shock!  Sorry, I won’t be trying to solve the world’s problems today.  Nor will I be teaching you how to get your child to sleep through the night.  Today I will be focusing on me…and you, if you’re in the same boat.

I consider myself to be relatively young.  After all today’s 50 is the new 40 and today’s 40 is the new 30…and so on.  So at the  age of 33, I am experiencing a problem that I didn’t expect;  a problem that I thought I had successfully sidestepped during my teenage years; a problem that is impossible to hide. 

Right now I’ve got a face that only a mother could love.  A new red spot pops up each day.  One goes away and another stops in for a visit.  And let me assure you, I didn’t invite them over. 

Why is this happening?  Is this common?  And if I must have a teenage face, may I have my teenage body?     

I’m calling out for some woman-to-woman support.  Am I alone?  Are there tips, tricks and remedies you can share?

Signed,
Blemished & Blushing

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. Photographed by Ahmet Guler.

Guest Post: Lossie and Lara

Last week I authored my first guest post on a blog called Lossie and Lara.  This blog is written by two sisters who write about being Gen-Y in the workforce.   They have a very unique format to their blog which is what attracted me to their site in the first place.  I wanted to return the opportunity so I invited them to be guest contributors.  This is another first for City Mom.

We are an unusual pairing.  At first look our two blogs couldn’t be any different.  But at the root we do have some things that link us together; we are women in the workforce and we each have a sister (in my case, I have two) whom we adore today.

Lossie and Lara give us a humorous and interesting insight on growing up together and learning to appreciate each other, against all odds. 

Sibling Rivalry

Lara:  We’ve alluded to this story on our own site, but until now, we’ve never shared it with the Internet.

Lossie:  It was a dark, dark day… I get chills just thinking about it.

Lara:  I don’t know how old we were, but I couldn’t have been older than nine or ten. You must have been six or seven.

Lossie:  I was at least old enough to acknowledge the lack of logic in this argument, but young enough to still lose the fight in the end.

Lara:  I’m not sure what prompted it – maybe I was learning about civics in school?  But I decided that what you had done was very serious, and you needed to be judged by a jury of your peers.

Lossie:  Chances are it all started when I breathed on you, or I was singing along to songs in the car.  Both were common arguments that we would share back in the day.  But looking back on it, creating a jury was ingenious.  How could I argue with that at the time?

Lara:  A jury made up of my stuffed animals.

Lossie:  I just remember saying over and over, “It’s not fair! They’re YOUR stuffed animals! Of course they’ll agree with you!” Again, the logic was somewhat there, but not 100 percent in my case.

Lara:  We really disliked each other from the beginning.  I would even passively smack Mom as I walked by her for months after you were born.  We knew early on how to push each other’s buttons.

Lossie:  That continued for a few years, well not the smacking part, rather, the deep sense of anger with each other. It really wasn’t until you went to college that we really got along.  We just needed space I guess, ha-ha.

Lara:  We had some good collaborative moments growing up.  Remember when we’d tape over cassettes with imaginary news reports and made-up musicals?

Lossie:  Those are still my favourite memories.  We would figure out what skits to create and what we would talk about.  It was truly us being equally creative together.

Lara:  But even though we had our moments of being well-behaved and moderately loving, it took us a while to grow out of really disliking each other.

Lossie:  I think it was partly because we had to accept that we are very different people; we have different ways of just being.  In the end, we had to focus on how those traits complimented each other rather than how they were different.

Once we were really able to accept the fact that our differences were strengths it became clear that we were a very powerful pair of women.

We have different experiences and similar ways of dealing with people.  And after a few years of realizing these strengths, it became clear that a new business venture could actually be very effective.

We talked on the phone one night about how we could collaborate. We were eager to find something for us to be creative together on.  It spawned a blog and maybe in the future an even bigger business venture.

Our parents can now rest assured that they reared two well-behaved young women who really do get along. Though we spent the first part of our lives vehemently disliking each other (and probably driving our parents crazy) we just needed to grow into adults to learn to like each other. 

So don’t worry even if it seems like your children will never get along, we promise it will all work out.

And In case you’re wondering, Raggedy Ann (the judge) sentenced Lossie to probation. They’ve had a tenuous relationship ever since. Rest assured, Lara got what was coming to her:  Lossie’s jury of Barbie dolls evened the score by leaving their decapitated heads under her pillow.

All the World’s a Stage


A friend of mine, who became a Mom 10 months before me, has always been there to give me advice and lend an ear when it comes to the ups and downs of motherhood. I often use her son as a measuring stick to what I can expect with little S in the near future. One of her pearls of wisdom is that everything with young children comes and goes in stages.

This little phrase has come in handy in two ways:

  1. It reminds me to cherish and appreciate the blissful stages
  2. It reminds me to cherish and appreciate the blissful stages

That’s not a typo. When we are in one of the more likeable stages with little S, we are on cloud nine. But when we are in a tough stage it becomes hard to see the light and to ever picture an end.

Today you’ve got me in the midst of a tough stage. I can’t recall when this one started and the blissful one before it, ended. More importantly, I have no idea when this one will stop. So far I see no sign of a cease-fire.

We’re at the bossy-moody-not listening stage. She’s now telling us what to do and if you tell her to sit down, she’ll stand up. If you tell her the sky is blue, you’ll quickly learn that it’s not! This girl has a mind of her own.

I appreciate the qualities she demonstrates. The harder these qualities are to deal with as parents, the better they will serve her as an adult. For example, she often questions everything:

Me: “S, please don’t jump on the couch.”
S (still jumping): “Why can’t I jump on the couch?”
Me: “Because I don’t want you to fall off and get hurt.”
S (still jumping): “Why don’t you want me to get hurt?”
Me: “Because I love you and I don’t want to see you in pain.”
S (still jumping): “Why don’t you want to see me in pain?”

And you can imagine how the rest goes.

This little dialogue is something that I like to think of her doing at the age of 18. Not asking why and not wanting to know more can lead to trouble. No garden path for this girl.

The worst part of the stage we’re in is the blatant ignoring and not listening. We tell her one thing and she does another. We get down to her level and explain our feelings. She says she understands but runs off and does the opposite to what we explained. It’s like she’s a child! Oh wait…she is!

So what gets me through these hair pulling times; my friend’s advice. This is just a stage and it too shall pass! The silver lining is that what follows will be heart-melting, laugh-your-butt-off, happy-tear-instigating, wonderfully beautiful. And when I get to kiss those cheeks and feel those small arms around my neck, I am quickly reminded how worth it this all is.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. Photographed by nuttakit.

I Love Bugs! Bobs & LoLo Ticket Giveaway

 CONGRATULATIONS TO ROBERT.  HE IS THE W INNER OF THE BOBS & LOLO TICKET GIVEAWAY.  ENJOY THE SHOW ROBERT!

Listen up London (literally) because on Saturday November 6th Treehouse TV’s Bobs & LoLo are coming to London and you’ll have a chance to win 2 tickets to their morning performance.  Contest information will be displayed at the bottom of this post. 

If you have a young child then you likely know Bobs & LoLo.  With catchy, toe-tapping songs like “I Love Bugs”, this singing duo quickly becomes a family favourite. 

In our home we all stop what we’re doing when one of Bobs & LoLo’s videos come on TV.  Little S loves to sing and dance along.  When I heard the news of their planned performances I was excited and I wanted to know more about them so I decided to ask. Bobs and Lolo shared the story of how they met, their inspirations and some of their future plans.

City Mom: Tell me a bit about yourselves.
Bobs & Lolo: We first connected at a Girl Guide camp on Vancouver Island when we were kids. After a fun-filled weekend of campfire sing-along’s, silliness and laughter, our friendship was sealed!  We went to different elementary schools but ended up filtering into the same high school (Dover Bay Secondary). Our friendship continued to grow from there and we began singing together in the school choir.  We also studied piano with the same music teacher and hit the courts together as power forward (Bobs) and shooting guard (Lolo) on the Dover Bay girls’ basketball team. Go Dolphins Go!

CM: How did Bobs & LoLo come to be?
B&L: We didn’t start our B&L adventures with a real plan; it really just evolved from our friendship and a mutual interest in working with children. “Bobs & LoLo” were actually our nicknames in high school, so we were B&L long before songwriting and children’s entertainment was introduced to our lives.  

Before we started our musical adventures, Robyn (Bobs) was teaching elementary school prior to which she had completed a degree in linguistics at the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Education at UBC. Lorraine (Lolo) previously worked in the fields of environmental education and non-profit fund development.  Her academic background includes a Bachelor of Human Kinetics (Exercise Science) from UBC.

Songwriting and performing really started out as a side project for us. It was a fun way to create some content for our jobs working with children.  We never dreamed it would lead to running our own small business much less national television!

Our very first show was in the spring of 2003 at an event hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium for patients from the BC Children’s Hospital. We had only written 5 songs at that point and we volunteered to basically sing them over and over throughout the event. That first performance opportunity led to us doing lots of local birthday parties which eventually led to our first CD.  That led to bigger shows and so on. 

Our biggest “break” to date has definitely been the broadcast of our music videos on Treehouse TV. We feel so fortunate to have been able to get our On Your Feet DVD in front of the right folks in Toronto.  The opportunity to connect with families across the country through Canada’s national preschool network has been amazing.

While the partnership with Treehouse is still relatively new, the TV exposure has already opened up new performance opportunities for us, and we’ve been able to build our CD and DVD distribution beyond Western Canada. We’re hoping this is just the start, and we’ll be able to keep things go, go, growing in the upcoming years.

CM: What is it about your songs and performances that you think children like so much?
B&L: We put a lot of energy into making our music educational, family focused and listener friendly for all ages. We want our music to engage and inspire children to learn more about the topic at hand, to care about the world around them and above all to get up and dance!

We think the kids really respond to the music first and the storyline of the songs  second. We also think the kids really enjoy connecting with us as ‘real’ people given that they often live in a world filled with animated or make-believe characters.

CM: What message are you hoping to share with children?
B&L: Our main goal is to really just inspire kids to care about the world around them. We try to use the tools of music, movement and make-believe to connect children with positive messaging about the natural world.  At the same time we want to show them that their actions can make a difference for themselves, the people around them and the planet. It’s conservation messaging at a level that’s appropriate for preschoolers.

CM: What do you like most about being Bobs & LoLo?
B&L: Performing for young audiences is by far the best part!  The things kids say, the way they move and the endless energy our audiences bring to our shows is rewarding, inspiring and motivating. We can both honestly say that we would not be performing or putting in the long hours behind-the-scenes without the kids cheering us on (parents too)!

CM: What is your favourite Bobs & LoLo song?
B&L: It’s hard for us to pick a favourite. The choice for us really comes down to the children`s top picks. Our current favourite songs to perform are Raindrop Pop (they really seem to love this one!), I Love Bugs (interpretive bug dancing by preschoolers is awesome!) and Cindy Seahorse (the best cuddle song ever!).

CM: Do you write your own songs?   Where do you get your inspiration for writing them?
B&L: We do write all of our own songs. We write about things we love like nature, friendship and family.  We usually just try to tell a story with the songs and the lyrics and music come together naturally.  It’s a really organic process for us. We don’t follow a formula or have a real system for songwriting. Writing the lyrics is a fun, creative process that we like to do together. Sometimes the final version of a song is completely different from what we started with and other times we come up with something that works right away. Songwriting is a nice break from the regular office work and occasionally it’s a good excuse to enjoy a bottle of red wine.

CM: What does the future hold for Bobs and Lolo?
B&L: We’re putting together some ideas for a fourth album that we hope to release in the early New Year. We also have many upcoming performances including our shows in London and Brampton this week.  We have a heap of holiday events on the west coast. We are also looking to continue building our relationship with Treehouse TV, and we hope to produce some new content with them down the road. On a personal note, we’re both keen to start families.

Bobs & LoLo Ticket Giveaway
Enter to win a set of Bobs & LoLo tickets.  Tickets are for the 11am performance on Saturday, November 6th at Aeolian Hall in London.  Note:  Performances do not have assigned seating.

How to Enter
Leave a comment and include your name and you or your child’s favourite Bobs & LoLo song. Check out song titles and sample tracks at bobsandlolo.com.

Contest Details
The contest will be open until Thursday November 4th at 6pm ET.  A winner will be selected at random using random.org.  The winner will be notified at the email address used when entering the contest.  The winner will have until 9am on Friday November 5th to accept the prize by responding to the notification email.  If the winner is unable to accept the prize another random winner will be selected.

Good luck!

Find Bobs & LoLo:
Web:  www.bobsandlolo.com
Twitter:  @BobsAndLoLo
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/BobsandLoLo

Ticket Information: Tickets are only $15