Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good Enough is the New Perfect: An Interview with the Authors

Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern MotherhoodThree years ago I came up with an idea for a book. It was going to be a gentle nudge to my table top protector and shopping cart covering mom friends to say "Enough. Relax. Enjoy your kids. Haven't you heard? Good enough is the new perfect." I outlined the chapters and then remembered how much I prefer writing fiction so I wrote some of that instead.

Lucky for me, I then met two delightful ladies who have written the book. So yay. I'm off the hook on that.

They cover it all from being a "good enough" wife to being a "good enough career dog." They're out to show us all how we can have it "all," we just need to define the "all" for ourselves. 

Aside from getting my very own copy of Good Enough is the New Perfect, I've also been given my very own interview with the authors. Which I'm going to share with you right now. But not the book. You can get that on your own. Lucky you, it just came out today.

Q&A with Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple, authors of

1. You talk about two types of working moms in your book: the Never Enoughs and the Good Enoughs. Who are these women?

BECKY: We’re going to generalize here for a moment, but the Never Enoughs are the women striving for perfection at work and with their kids, the women focused on always being #1. We called them the Never Enoughs because many described themselves as constantly running toward expectations but rarely reaching them — or reaching them and deciding it wasn’t enough, or reaching them and then feeling like they’d completely failed elsewhere as a result. These women struggle the most to say no, they’re the ones who beat themselves up the most for making mistakes. In our survey, the Never Enoughs were the women who described themselves as having “a strong need to be the best at everything.” They were six times more likely than the Good Enoughs to say, “I try to be a superstar at work AND at home, even if it kills me.”

The Good Enoughs, on the other hand, told us that being the “the best” wasn’t important, as long as they were “good enough and happy” at work and at home. These were the women who had hopped off that hamster wheel and created their own definitions of success. They were more satisfied with their choices, and less likely to feel they’d sacrificed too much. They were also far less likely to describe their marriages as “a disaster” or “not very good.” They were better at making time for themselves, and at finding time to spend with friends and family. The part that surprised us? The Good Enoughs had given up very little ground at work to achieve this state of contentment.

2. So which ones are you? Good Enoughs or Never Enoughs?

BECKY: Depends on the day! We both have our Never Enough moments — you should have seen me the month before our manuscript was due — but we’re both more “Good Enough” than we’ve ever been. It’s an ongoing effort to embrace this philosophy. I’ve become better at knowing the difference between needing to be the best at everything — and choosing to throw my energy into something that means a lot to me. I’ve learned to accept my imperfections, which, frankly, saves me a lot of time. I don’t need to sit around second-guessing myself as much, and I don’t feel compelled to say “yes” to as many things. Of course, I still fall off the Good Enough wagon all the time. After all, I spent a lot of years trying to accrue “gold stars” — trying to be the best mother, the best at work, the best Downward Facing Dog in yoga class. It was exhausting, and it was pointless.

HOLLEE: I think I am pretty squarely in the Good Enough camp these days. The best example I can think of — which I detailed in the book — involved a kindergarten snack. This fiasco occurred three years ago, during my first foray into providing school snacks, and for some unexplainable reason (maybe a tinge of guilt about being a working mom), I felt a real need to outdo myself (and honestly, the other moms) with this contribution.

So when Gideon said he wanted me to make Oreo spiders (from a Highlights magazine) with pretzel legs for the 22 kids, I was all for it. Until two hours later … when I was still struggling to get the pretzels firmly entrenched without breaking the cookies! As my husband was nibbling on some “spiders” that I had rejected, he wondered out loud whether anyone would appreciate (or even notice) this effort!

Flash forward to this past winter, when I realized about 8 p.m. that I hadn’t made anything to send in for Gideon’s third grade holiday party. I really didn’t feel like making a late-night run to the store — and then I spotted an (already-opened) box of Oreos in the pantry. I sent them the next day, and the kids were thrilled! Lesson learned.

3. What are the “New” Mommy Wars?

HOLLEE: The “New” Mommy Wars are the latest development in the country’s evolving work/life story. In the previous Mommy Wars, at-home mothers were pitted against working mothers, and careers were considered to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Briefcase or stroller — you had to pick.

But with the changes in technology and the shift in mindset toward increased work/life balance, the Mommy Wars have found a new battleground — this time inside the minds of today’s mothers. This generation, groomed from birth to believe they could Have It All, obsesses and overanalyzes and overthinks every parenting and career-related decision. With our unprecedented access to information, we often feel overwhelmed by our ample inheritance, fretting over what’s the “right” or “best” thing to do for our children and our careers. This internal battle becomes even more complicated because there are so many different ways to work and parent today. We have work-at-home moms, freelance moms, hybrid moms … the lines aren’t as sharp as they used to be, and that’s very hard on women. Moms want to be validated and they want to belong. Instead, one of our most surprising findings was that many women said they felt utterly alone in their work/life choices, that no one else was quite like that them. And that made the self-questioning, that new Mommy War, even more difficult to fight.

BECKY: This loneliness was particularly apparent in some of my early reporting. One week, I did a string of interviews in which every woman issued the same complaint: “I’m the only mom in this town who works.” It was funny because these women all lived in the same town. Later, the same thing happened in a different town, too. I pointed this out to one of the women, and it didn’t make her feel any better. She still felt like the odd one out because her jobs, her work arrangement and her attitude differed from the other working moms she knew.

4. Shouldn’t this shared loneliness bring women together?
BECKY: Many women don’t speak up. Some don’t want to admit that they’re struggling, that they don’t have things figured out. Others don’t want to seem ungrateful and whiny. Our generation has been told over and over that we have advantages our mothers and grandmothers could never have imagined. As a result, many of us are reluctant to admit that, despite this, we’re still having a hard time. Or worse, that we don’t appreciate what we have.

5. Another book by a working mom, Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, has garnered a lot of attention in recent months by advocating a rather extreme approach to motherhood. What do you make of this philosophy?

BECKY: You could call us “anti-Tiger Mothers.” We embrace a completely different approach to motherhood — one that allows women to succeed by accepting their imperfections and using that as a springboard to greater success. Amy Chua writes about demanding perfection from her daughters: no grade less than an A, practicing musical instruments for hours each day, never being anything less than the #1 student in every class, except drama and gym.

We think this is too narrow a view of success — and, frankly, we think it’s a bit lazy. Knowing our own passions, shrugging off other people’s ideas of success, figuring out exactly where to spend our energy — that’s hard work. It requires critical thinking instead of single-minded focus. The New Perfect requires constant recalibration, the ability to read cues and understand other people’s talents and viewpoints, and the ability to balance a bunch of goals simultaneously. It means knowing ourselves. Yes, Perfect requires the ability to prioritize, but the New Perfect requires something even harder: the ability to re-prioritize.

HOLLEE: Frankly, I felt disgusted when I first read about Prof. Chua’s approach in the Wall Street Journal. I remembered her darling girls from when I was a student at Duke Law School, and my heart ached for them. Having high standards is one thing, but conditioning love on performance and modeling perfection as the only option — those aren’t prudent choices.

Good Enough Is the New Perfect is available at bookstores nationwide and at Amazon.

About the authors:
Becky and Hollee are the work/life balance columnists for the ABA Journal, the nation’s premiere lawyer magazine. Both graduates of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, they first worked together in the early 1990s, when Becky was Hollee’s first editor at The Daily Northwestern. Like so many of the working mothers they interviewed, they forged non-linear career paths, taking detours in their quests to balance work and family. They blog about work/life and parenting issues at TheNewPerfect.com.
Becky is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Chicago Sun-Times, The Detroit News, USA Today and the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y. In 2001, while on staff at the Sun-Times, she co-wrote a groundbreaking investigative series on “failing teachers” that led to statewide reforms in teacher testing and a crackdown on teacher quality in the Chicago Public Schools. The three-day series, which began one week after the birth of her first child, gave Becky her first experience at balancing motherhood and career. She lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood with her husband, Pete, an employment litigator, and their two daughters.

Hollee is a journalist-turned-lawyer-turned-professor at West Virginia University College of Law. After graduating at the top of her class with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Hollee headed to Duke University School of Law. She graduated in 1999, and then began a four-year stint as a litigation associate at an international law firm. After her first son was born in 2002, Temple returned to her firm on a part-time basis before joining the WVU faculty the next year. Hollee lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, with her husband, John, an author and journalism professor, and their two sons, Gideon and Henry.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Insect Lore Ant Hill Review and Giveaway - Updated with winner info

I'm not a bug kinda gal. I have real issues with the ones with wings, but really, I'm not much a fan of any creepy crawlies, which explains why I have plenty of bug spray on hand. Knowing this,my fascination for the Insect Lore Ant Hill came as a huge surprise to me and to anyone who knows me.

First we got the ant hill in the mail and I was intriegued by its shape. Instead of a flat, tall, skinny "traditional" type ant farm, this is a half dome - much smarter construction and considerably more stable than what I had expected.  

We read all the documentation and carefully clipped out the little section of the manual that needed to be sent back in order to receive the ants. I slipped the paper and a small check into an envelope and smiled. I felt like a kid sending away for a prize featured on the back of an Archie comic. My first gut reaction - annoyance at the archaic system - gave way to that childish glee that I felt as a kid myself when I sent away for stuff. 
Of course, having to wait two weeks for my ants wasn't nearly as fun. How quickly I've gotten used to next day delivery!

And then the ants came. Two little vials of ants, seriously ticked off about being stuck in little vials, with a note saying that they had to be put in their ant hill as quickly as possible. 

They arrived on a Tuesday evening in the middle of a crazy week filled with early mornings and late nights. For two days I passed the envelope filled with its increasingly frantic ants and felt nothing but guilt about jeopardizing the lives of bugs I would have felt zero qualm about killing had they shown up in my kitchen in any other way. 

Finally a quiet evening loomed and I brought the ant hill out of its box. The girls and I huddled around the instructions - which I clearly hadn't read carefully enough the first time around - and realized we should have set everything up as soon as we got the ant hill. I crossed my fingers and poured in the sand and required drops of water.

After a brief stint in the fridge to stun them, the ants went into their new home sedately and started exploring their new digs. (Pun intented)

Hours later, and I really mean hours later, we were all still huddled around the ant hill watching them do their thing. 

It's mesmerizing. There's no apparent rhyme or reason. Some ants take sand away, others bring it back. They climb over each other, shove each other out of the way, ignore each other. And yet, when we got up in the morning, a clear tunnel had been dug. 

Weeks later the ants are no less mesmerizing. The tunnels have changed and moved in no apparent pattern or for no apparent reason. We haven't figured out why they do what they do, but we are no less drawn to watching them be endlessly busy. 

A few things we've learned about the Insect Lore Ant Hill:
- Set up the Ant Farm when you send away for your ants so the sand has time to settle. 
- When they say a corn nibblet amount of food, they really mean that little. The ants eat microscopic amounts and the rest goes moldy. Ew. 
- Ants seem to bury their dead. That's cool. And takes away the worry about wondering what to do with the dead ants. 
- You do have to open the ant hill every so often to give them fresh air. They love it. It makes them all perky. But they do try to escape, so ignoring them is not an option. 
- It's a lot less gross than you might think - as long as you don't think about the ants as, well, ants.
Insect Lore Ant Hill Giveaway:
Insect Lore wants you to discover ants up close and personal too! We're giving away two ant hills, one for the winner and one for the winner's child's classroom. 

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me one thing you've done for your child that grossed you out or that you would never have done in any other circumstance. 

Alternative entries:
Visit the Insect Lore website and leave a comment letting me know what other cool buggy product catches your eye.
Facebook or tweet this giveaway. (Leave a comment with the direct link to your tweet or Facebook post please.)
Giveaway winner will be chosen on Sunday, Jan 9th at 10pm PST.

This giveaway is now closed! Thank you to everyone who entered and tweeted it out! 
Congratulations to WWillows6, #42, winner of one Ant Hill for her family and one for her children's classroom! 

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Marie Callender's Multi-serve Bakes - Review and Giveaway

I'm a working mom. My husband is a working dad. Between school, daycare, preschool, and our jobs, we're not home a lot during the day which makes getting meals on the table more than just a little challenging some days. We manage to have dinner as a family at least three times a week, but I'll be honest and admit that one of those times is out - usually at a fast food joint. 

So when I heard about the new Marie Callender's bakes, I was not just interested, I was downright intrigued. Good meals that I could microwave and that came with better nutritional stats than our fast food dinners? Sign me up. 

First I sent my husband to the grocery store and he came home with the wrong meals. (Who knew Marie Callender's had so many frozen meal options?) Then I went and surveyed the "bakes" options. The trick, which I did not know when I dispatched my better half, is to look in the family meals section of the freezer aisle, not the single entree section. 
I looked at the options offered by our grocery store - I really wanted to try the three meat and four cheese lasagna, but it was not meant to be. Instead I brought home the Vermont White Cheddar Mac&Cheese. It wouldn't do for a family dinner, but if it meant I could get dinner on the table for the girls in under 10 minutes, it was definitely worth a try. Plus, the box made the Mac&Cheese look both harmless and delicious. 

Tonight, at long last, I finally pulled the package from the freezer and popped it in the microwave. 5 minutes later I was drooling as the smell of melted cheese filled the kitchen. Another 4 minutes later and I was pulling dinner out of the microwave. I added some turkey slices and fruit to their plates and served up dinner. 

I wish I could tell you that both children fell over themselves as they gorged on mac&cheese. Sadly that wasn't the case. At first I thought it was because I've spoiled my kids with homemade mac&cheese (they won't even eat the stuff out of the box any more...), but after tasting it I understood. 

The benign dish pictured on the box had an unexpected kick to it. 

I sat down at the table and grabbed a bowl. The cheese was perfectly cheesy and the red pepper flakes gave the creamy noodles a tasty - somewhat more grown-up - twist. 

My own dinner was cooking so I regretfully put down my fork. The kids won't want this dinner again, but I'm putting it on the shopping list for those nights when my husband is out of town I'm so crazed I don't have time to cook a meal for myself. (He doesn't do so well with cheesy dishes...)

Side note: I'm an avid nutritional content checker and this dish compared admirably with other leading brands of frozen mac&cheese. It even bested them in the protein and vitamin department.

Marie Callender's Multi-serve Bakes Giveaway

Want to try for yourself? You're in luck! I have two sets of Marie Callender's coupons - one free dish and a few discounted dishes - to give away to two lucky readers. 

To enter leave me a comment sharing a quick dinner short-cut that works for you. 

Bonus entries: Tweet or Facebook this giveaway. Please be sure to come back and post the direct link to your tweet or Facebook post.

Giveaway will close at 10pm Tuesday, Dec 7th.

Please note, I was compensated by Marie Callender's and TheMotherhood for this post, but all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. 
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Petz Fantasy - Moonlight Magic Review

This post is part of a sponsored series from Ubisoft, celebrating "12 Days of Giveaways." See below for how you can enter up to 12 times to win fun and family-friendly video games.

I have a love hate relationship with the Nintendo DS. I love playing with it and hate it when the kids play. It's not that I'm loath to share my toy, it's more that neither child can read so I constantly have to stop what I'm doing to read what it says on the screen.
Since we opened Petz Fantasy, I'm changing my tune. 

First of all, this game is cute. Seriously adorable. The little magic pet makes cute little noises and has a sweet little face. 

Second, this game is manageable for my 5yo. She still needs me to  read some of the messages, but she can sit and play without needing my help every three seconds. Even better, she's actually having fun! She loves taking care of her little beast and is even tackling the more challenging magical realm games with glee. 

As a mom I'm quite impressed with the different skills she's mastering. Even though her hand/eye coordination is quite good, since she's learning to write, extra practice is never a bad thing. To feed her little pet she has to color in his food being sure to stay within the lines (Harder than it sounds!), to console him she has to burst his tears before they explode. And that's just the start. Each level offers up a new challenge and I, like my daughter, can't wait to see what's next!

To Purchase Petz Fantasy:
Visit Toys R Us where you can find it for $29.99.
Visit Amazon.com where you can also find it for $29.99

Want to win your own copy of this game? 
Easy enough!

Leave a comment below telling my why this game sounds perfect for your child.
Get an extra entry by tweeting or promoting this giveaway on Facebook. Please make sure to come back and leave a comment with a link to your tweet or FB post. 

Winner will be drawn at 10:00pm Friday, December 3rd and will be announced Saturday, December 4th. 

This giveaway is now closed! Thank you to everyone who entered and tweeted it out! 
Congratulations to Rhoneygtn, #35, winner of the Petz Fantasy Moonlight Magic game! 

Want more ways to win great games for the whole family? Visit each of these blogs during our 12 Days of Giveaways from now through December 3!

I was selected to participate in this sponsored series by Ubisoft and Clever Girls Collective. I received a video game and compensation for my participation in this program. We believe in Blog With Integrity.

Please visit these participating bloggers for more chances to win games, including Just Dance 2 (Wii), Battle of Giants: Dinosaur Strike (Wii), Petz Fantasy (DS) and Petz Nursery (DS)!
Rookie Moms
DaDa Rocks
Crash Test Mommy
Scraps of My Geek Life
Mommies With Style
The Fairly Odd Mother
All Things Fadra
Mom to the Screaming Masses
Romy Raves
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Insect Lore Buzzerks Review and giveaway - Updated with winner!

I am not a bug lover. To be exact, I'm not a huge fan of anything with wings, bugs don't bother me beyond that. In fact, if I'm honest I find them somewhat fascinating. I often find myself wondering what it would be like to have one day, or one week be a whole lifetime. Then I ponder what it would be like to see the world through a kaleidoscope. 

Thanks to the Insect Lore Buzzerks my girls have been able to experience what it's like to "see" the world like an insect. The insect "goggles" - shaped like a fire and, mantis, and hornet - are a fun way to dress up like an insect. A neat lens inside the masks allow the kids to see the world through the multiple "eyes" of an insect.

C instantly wanted to be a fire-ant, insisting on a full outfit change so she could dress in all red to fully embrace the role. Little L donned the green glasses of the mantis and the two of them crawled around the house all day. It's a nice change from playing princess all day long! Even better, it's led to a lot of fascinating conversations about insects and what life must be like when it only lasts a day or two.

Insect Lore Buzzerks Giveaway
We've been having so much fun with our Buzzerks, we want to share the fun with you!
Insect Lore is giving away two sets of Buzzerks to one lucky winner - one set for your family, one set for your child's class.

To win leave a comment below telling me what your child would love about the Insect Lore Buzzerks or a funny story about bugs. Giveaway will end Monday, Nov 15th and the winner will be announced at 10pm PST.

Congratulations! We have a winner!

Commenter #7 was.... Nicole! Congratulations Nicole! I'll be in touch via email to get your address.
Stay tuned for more exciting Insect Lore giveaways. There's going to be one a month for a whole year!

I'm participating in a long campaign for Insect Lore. I was sent Buzzerks for review and am being compensated for participating in this campaign. However the thoughts contained in this post are mine and mine alone. Stay tuned to see what else we have in store for you!

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Disney Mickey Mote Review

Kid shows are very inventive when it comes to trying to get children to interact with the action. There are varying degrees of questions and comments directed at the child. Some shows carefully build in "wait time" to give the child a chance to react and answer before the show moves on. But until now, there were few if any shows that put an interactive tool directly in the child's hand.

I was really excited to receive and test the new Disney Mickey "Mote." I loved the concept from the get go. Anything that can turn a predominantly passive activity into an active thinking one can't be bad.

First things first though. Before being able to test out the Mickey Mote I had to set it up, which meant I had to find the DVD remote. I located it in the last place I thought to check (The empty packaging for the new TV that was heading to the trash. Thank you Mickey Mote! I would never have searched for it if it weren't for you!) and started the set up.

I set the two remotes head to head on the floor and followed the instructions carefully, pushing the buttons in order. Clearly I've been working too hard because it took me a good three times to get the set-up right. Had I read the instructions exactly as they were written I would have gotten it right the first time. It really wasn't that hard. 

With the remote set up the girls were ready to play. The timing was perfect, Little L was ready to be set up for her nebulizer treatment. I usually sit with her on the couch to read to her as the medicine does it's thing, tonight I sat her in front of the TV and handed her her Mickey Mote.

We're big fans of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so they were delighted to see the familiar opening credits, not to say a new episode they'd never seen.

A few things to note:
The Mickey Mote doesn't come into play during the usual episode. You have to select the bonus material to have access to the interactive portion of the DVD. For a child who's been handed a fun red remote, it can be a bit hard to be patient until playtime starts. Even if you go straight to the interactive section, there's still a bit of wait time before the questions start.

The first level of play was perfect for my 3-year-old. She was able to easily answer the questions, but they made her think. The second level of play was a bit easy for the 5-year-old, though she did enjoy the interactivity.

All in all I'm a fan of the Mickey Mote. I like the fact that it teaches the children to be active observant viewers. I wish the integration of the interactive parts was a bit less choppy and a bit more seamless. But all in all, this is a nice little product that will entertain preschoolers and help them feel like they're part of the action.

I received a copy of the Disney Mickey Mote and an extra DVD for review. I received no other form of compensation. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eddie Bauer Yukon Classic Down Jacket - Review

I live in California. Let me start with that. So when my new BFF at Eddie Bauer reached out to me to ask me to review a down jacket, I balked. I usually get by with wearing various sweaters and fleece jackets except for the couple days we spend in Lake Tahoe every Thanksgiving and the week we spend out East with my sister and her family when Christmas rolls around. 

But my new friend convinced me that the Yukon Classic Down Jacket, while being rated for temps all the way down to 0F, wasn't too warm for more chilly California nights. 

I bit and ordered it in red.

Back in college I bought myself a bright pink very puffy down jacket. I loved everything about that jacket except for the fact that my school friends promptly nicknamed me The Raspberry. When I put it on I felt cozy, warm, and just plain comforted. 

My Eddie Bauer Yukon Classic Down Jacket brought back that exact same feeling... without the unpleasant nickname. The fleece lined collar and cuffs are extra soft and the down is warm without being unflatteringly puffy.

It's the middle of October and I've already worn my jacket twice. And no, I haven't been out East or up to Tahoe. It's a light enough jacket to work for the cooler CA temps, but I'll also definitely be packing it when we head to the snow. Like all of my other Eddie Bauer duds (pretty much my entire closet...) I love that it's classy, fashionable, but utterly comfortable and functional. Plus, you know, should I ever be caught out in almost sub-zero degree weather, I'll be warm and toasty. Though I better not, I do live in California for a reason after all, namely because I enjoy not being cold. 
The Yukon Classic retails for $129-139, but right now Eddie Bauer is having their 70th Annual Down Sale and the jacket is $40 off until 11/7. It's an unbeatable deal for a jacket you'll have for years.

Just so you know, I was sent a jacket for review purposes, but I was not compensated in any other way to write this post. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. I adore Eddie Bauer and will happily model for you whatever I'm wearing when we meet. 99% guaranteed it'll be from there.  

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