31 August 2006

Going to Nashville, Baby!

We launched this blog one month ago and we've already been invited to speak about blogging as an innovative way to reach our readers at the 2007 Parenting Publications of America conference in Nashville. Love it! Maybe we'll catch a glimpse of that hunky Bachelor dude Travis while we're there. --shelley

30 August 2006

Unexpected Reminders

It’s day four of my five-day cycle of Clomid and man am I feeling the effects: I rocket back and forth between upbeat and perky to sad and withdrawn to quick tempered and tacky, all the while being completely exhausted — but I know it’ll all be worth it in the end! I did get a nice little distraction from the emotional rollercoaster yesterday afternoon, though, along with an unexpected reminder of what I’m working so hard for.

For the November issue I’ll be profiling Frisco’s own Leisa Hart — of the Buns of Steel videos fame. She’ll be dishing all about what life is like raising three little ones and being a fitness icon to millions of women (especially moms). And while Leisa served as a fantastic interview (the piece is a must read) it was more the background noise of our phone interview that really got me. While we chatted, Leisa was busy feeding her 6-month-old little girl, Mary Frances, and every once in awhile I could hear the baby cooing and giggling in the background. The little snippits I could hear were the sweetest sounds I’d heard all day — only from the mouths of babes.

Thanks to Leisa and Mary Frances for bringing me out of my Clomid funk and for reminding me what it is I’m fighting for.

much love ~

September Issue!

The magazines have hit the newsstand early. One of my mommy friends, Lauren, commented on how "different" and "fresh" this issue looks. I have to say that it is my favorite ... I can't stop looking at it. And, typically in this biz, once the magazine is published the editors are SO done with it. Mostly because we are in the trenches of another issue already. Take October, for instance. We're working on two must-read stories about the state of foster parenting and the psychological issues behind childhood obesity. Each issue we push ourselves to do even better. That's the “Madonna factor” of magazines; you can reinvent yourself every month. --shelley

28 August 2006

Hobnobbin’ with Pat & Vanna

While our story on the parenting perspectives, secret tidbits and notable quotables of Pat Sajak and Vanna White (they were in town this past weekend filming three weeks worth of shows) won’t be ready for you to read until you pick up our October issue, I thought I’d share the behind-the-scenes, all-access pass to the “Wheel” story that’ll never see print.

Yesterday our art director Laura (aka, the “New Vanna” — more on that in a bit) and I arrived at NOKIA theater ready to hobnob, chit chat and rub elbows with the reigning King and Queen of game-show society. After checking in and encircling our necks with our official “Wheel of Fortune” press passes, we were escorted upstairs — by security (you’d think we were there to meet the president) — to the press club (a smallish room dotted with a handful of round tables, a feast of goodies ready for the noshing and a slew of publicity people milling about). Since this was day three of a three-day shoot, the other media outlets were slim, which suited me just fine — it meant I wouldn’t have to battle it out with other reporters to get Team P/V to answer my Q’s.

Hoping to stave off a tension headache I’d felt forming since crawling out of bed, I started downing Diet Pepsi like a champ, meaning 10 minutes later I needed to visit the little girl’s room. When I asked where the nearest facilities were, I was shocked (to say the least) when I discovered I wouldn’t be “going” alone.

“Oh, I’ll escort you,” I was told by some official-looking, headset-wearing woman. “Huh? Seriously?,” I asked.

“Yes ma’am, all members of the press have to be escorted throughout the building — at all times — even to the bathroom,” headset said.

“Wow. Haven’t had a bathroom buddy since kindergarten, but OK,” I said trying to break the tension I had about being “taken potty” by some random stranger.

Headset wasn’t impressed. “I’ll wait outside the door for you and will walk you back when you’re finished.”

Thank goodness she didn’t have to actually hear me flush, too — I probably would’ve suffered from shy bladder syndrome.

After being escorted back to my seat, Laura and I had about an hour to hang out before Pat and Van were ready to talk. During the downtime another headset, a male one this time, walked by and looked at Laura, “Wow, are you auditioning to be the new Vanna?,” he asked her. “Huh? Um, huh?” she stammered. We were both caught off guard and at a total loss for words … but we’re pretty sure he was paying her a great compliment because later not only did a photog from the Dallas Morning News ask me if Laura was our stylist because she looked so great, but even Vanna White herself told Laura during the interview that she loved her hair!!! (note to all: if Laura is ever the next tile turner on Wheel, you can say you heard it hear first, lol!)

When it was time to chat with Pat, I was surprised at his entrance. He just kind of walked on in and sat down beside me. No big “Ta Dah!” No nervous headsets buzzing about giving us a countdown or telling us to keep our distance (we can’t potty or walk by ourselves, but we can chit chat with the talent with no handholding — cool.)

This was the same when Vanna came in, too (she showed up in lounge-about clothes, while Pat was already suited up for the show). I’m not sure what I was expecting, having grown-up watching these two on TV (something I always shared with my grandparents) I guess I expected them to be larger than life — but they weren’t. They were just cool, down-to-earth real people, real parents. Each of them was equally engaging — quick with great, witty responses when needed and honest and forthcoming when the rare, more serious question called for it.

They were fun and it made for a great interview, a great experience. When the headsets did start buzzing about, telling us it was time to wrap up, both Pat and Vanna took a moment to take pics and scribble their monikers on a souvenir shirt for Laura’s 10-year-old daughter, Sabrina, who is a devoted Wheel watcher.

After they left, we were ushered into the theater (which was teaming with some 20,000 screaming North Texans!) for the first taping of Family Week (will air Nov. 13). We were told when to clap, when to “ooh,” when to “ahh,” when to scream, when to be silent. Laura and I just kind of sat back, took it all in and watched as the “regular” Pat and Van again looked larger than life.

Then headset escorted us to the exit. What a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

much love~

24 August 2006

If you want to look like Lauren ...

by shelley

OK, so I'm the "oldest" editor on staff. By far. Working around these gorgeous, young 20-somethings ... well, I could be depressed. Or, I could just steal their secrets! I asked Lauren (pictured right), who looks flawless every day (damn her), to "e-mail" me her beauty tricks. Of course, I'm going to share them with all of you other, ahem, 30-something+ Mommies. I'm sure Lauren won't mind ( :

Lauren’s Make-Up Must Haves

1. Laura Mercier Stardust Powder, $34
2. Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Wheat, $22
3. Laura Mercier Eye Liner in Black Ebony, $20
4. Laura Mercier Lip Pencil in Terra Cotta, $18
5. CHANEL Ombre D’Eau Fluiod Iridescent Eyeshadow in Source, $30
6. Rimmel London Volume Lash in Extreme Black, $XX (need to find out price)
7. Yves Saint Laurent Beaute Touche Brillance lip gloss in Spark Garnet, $27.50
8. NARS Sheer Blush in Outlaw, $25

I would be off to the make-up counter right now (my "lunch" break), but we're going to press (three magazines this week!). Sigh. I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow when I am in California on my first girl's getaway since my third child was born last fall. Try not to miss me girls!

Passing Notes in Class

A few things happening in the near future that we’d like to pass along…

The 7th Annual Family Fiesta Health Fair happens Saturday, September 9th at Reverchon Park in Dallas. This is a free event offering dental, health and vision screenings, as well as immunizations to children.

Also in health care, Parkland Health & Hospital Systems will provide free mammogram screenings this Saturday, August 26th at the Concord Missionary Baptist Church. Funding is provided by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. (It’s almost Race for the Cure time, too…)

These events are no-cost, easy, and happening soon, so take note if you or someone you know could benefit.

Build-A-Bear Workshop at Stonebriar Centre is holding an open casting for boys and girls ages 5-12 this Saturday, August 26th. The first 100 kids will get to create an audition tape for a possible role in the upcoming movie Alice.

For all little ones (and their handlers) with stars in their eyes, this could be a great opportunity, or at least some fun. Jimmy’s Mom, this is for you…

Upcoming in October…how far would you go to make your child famous?

19 August 2006

Connor’s Customized Creation

Being in the parenting-magazine biz, we receive tons (and I mean TONZ) of info on fabulous (and sometimes, not-so fabulous) products for families, kids, moms and dads. And, I have to admit, receiving the inside scoop on all of the great new gear out there is by far one of my favorite perks of the job.

Not too long ago I received a press release about an online e-tailer dubbed BabyFable, which offers customized art for your little bundle’s nursery. Though, I’m not a mommy, (yet … countdown to Clomid: 6 days) I fell in love with this product. There are five themed watercolor prints to choose from (the Baby’s Zoo Debut is my personal fav) that can be personalized with Baby’s name, birthday, weight, length, time of birth, mom and dad’s monikers and city of birth. You can order with or without a frame or purchase a certificate to gift that soon-to-be mommy in your life.

While a lot of products that come across my desk seem wonderful, I always have to try them out in person first, before I give them my stamp of approval (remember: I’m prepping for momhood, so I’m always looking for things I’d love to have when I finally get there).

I ordered the Baby’s Zoo Debut Nighttime to give to my friend Lindsay. She’d decorated her son’s nursery in a jungle theme and I thought the zoo pic would be the perfect piece to add. I chose the frame that matched Connor’s crib, plunked in the details and hit order. Within about two weeks the art arrived and before I even saw the item, I was already blown away by the company — the care they take packaging their product to ensure it arrives safe and secure is awesome. (I think it took me 10 minutes and a sharp pair of scissors just to plow through all the layers of packing material.)

The picture was just as I thought it would be — awesome. But the true test? What the “real” mom thought.

“I like the whimsical theme and the artwork is beautifully detailed. I love the way the artist incorporates the details of the baby’s arrival — it’s just so creative. And the piece went perfectly in Connor’s nursery.” — Lindsay, Lewisville mom of 8-month-old Connor

Yay! Success! I’m thinking like a mom already (well, in the d├ęcor department, anyway. Lol!).

Happy shopping.

much love~

17 August 2006

"Maxed" Out

I have had credit cards on the brain for several weeks now, but thankfully, not my own.

Having just wrapped up a story for DallasChild’s October issue, I’ve become aware of a scary new phenomenon—Identity theft of children.

Identity theft, in general, scares me to the point of near-paranoia for two reasons:

1.) I now know how easy it is for a thief to accomplish (Tessa and I plotted the perfect crime one afternoon, but no laws were broken)
2.) I can’t think of anything that would make me feel more powerless

You’re thinking “But kids don’t have credit cards; what are you talking about?” I know. Kids’ credit histories are clean, and that’s exactly the point….as you will read in October.

Slightly less scary, I’ve also just finished a story for our forthcoming North Texas Teens issue about teenagers and credit cards. How young is too young, what should limits be, etc. Now, I could have done some serious damage as a teen, but I probably would have known my limits, too. Or my mother’s wrath. The good thing about paying cash when you’re a 17-year-old with a taste for Prada—no incriminating paper trail.

My father recently admitted that he feels may have done me a disservice by not teaching me more about money and finances as I was growing up. Although I disagree, I appreciated the confession, and I think it came through in my story. Having the funds to pay the bills is one thing, but understanding the language of finance is quite another. There’s a lot kids will never know if someone doesn’t tell them.

Also upcoming this fall, but thoroughly un-financial, today I had an intriguing interview with an author who claims that children can be potty-trained in just one day. She has scores of devotees to back her up, but the jury is still out in our office. Having never trained anything in my life, I’d like to direct that question to you, our readers. Let me know if you’ve potty trained in under 24 hours…using a doll…or a party…anything.

15 August 2006

“Daddy” Test Run

With 100 degree days that make us glisten (my dad always said men sweat, ladies glisten) within seconds of stepping outside, it’s hard to imagine that fall will be upon us soon (not that it’ll change the temperatures much, well, for awhile anyway). And with the new season, brings our second issue of babydallas magazine – the fall/winter issue. Though we only print this sister publication twice a year, I have to admit, it’s by far my favorite.

As a wanna’ be mommy, researching/interviewing/writing about all of the news, trends and must-know info relating to the preggars-through-baby’s-first-year period makes my heart go pitter pat … it’s kind of like cramming for life’s biggest exam. In the nearly two years that I’ve been with Lauren Publications, I’ve learned all about the benefits of breastfeeding, what DHA is and why new moms need it, the truth behind episiotomies, how babies impact the romantic aspect of marriage and much, much, much — way much — more. And this issue will be no different, though I won’t reveal our secrets … well, just yet anyway.

Since I feel I’ve been prepping for momdom since I started at the magazine, this past weekend I thought it only fair that my husby, Chris, get in some quality crunch time, as well (we are, after all, starting Clomid next month and I’m trying to stay positive that I’ll soon be blogging about baby bumps).

At the crack of dawn Saturday morning (OK, it was 8:14am, but it seemed to be the crack of dawn) I received the following text message from my dear friend Lindsay: If U R N town & have nuthn going on please come c us. Boy (this would be her 7-month-old son Connor) has been sick and Will (this would be her husby) is gone today & im on my own w/ the babe for the 4th day n a row. Would luv some company.

Girl time, plus quality bonding opportunity with baby? I was so there! Linz was in serious need of grown-up chit chat (and some make-up, but hey, don’t tell her I said so, lol!), so we spent the day catching up (apparently, I was in need of some chit chat myself). By the end of the afternoon I was kicking both mom and dad out of the house so they could mix and mingle with the rest of the world that knows nothing of binkys or Baby Einstein videos.

Things were looking good, until about 5 minutes into babysitting when Connor began to bawl … and bawl … and bawl … and BAWL. He’d been battling some baby illness (roseola I think?) and he was so congested it just broke my heart. So, like any good, never-been-a-mom type of chick, I called for reinforcements — the husby. We loaded the baby into his carseat and headed out for a drive … within 5 minutes he was out, that is of course, until I tried to UNload him.

Chris plucked the crying tot from my arms, grabbed the bottle Linz had made and curled up on the couch with both. Sitting in this burly, bald man’s arms, the baby was suddenly at ease … the tears stopped … peace was restored.

And I was in shock.

Here was my husband, this goateed, tattooed, teddy bear of a man all sunburned and swathed in his swim trunks (I pulled him away from a day of fun in the sun with his fam) completely wrapped around the finger of this itty, bitty baby. Connor stuck his hands in Chris’ mouth, yanked on his earlobes, spit up all over his shirt — and my husband was lovin’ every minute of it.

It was awesome.

When Connor started rubbing his eyes, Chris went to put him in his swing/sleeper thing while I went to stash the empty bottle in the kitchen. By the time I got back, I was greeted with precious sights and sounds: two bald boys snoring happily together.

I always thought my husband would make an incredible dad, but after Saturday night, I know he will.

So, for now, while we wait for the Clomid to kick in, I’ll keep boning up on mother/baby basics that we feature in the magazine and Chris, well, he can just keep doin’ whatever it is that he does to soothe the souls of cry babies. (Thanks to Linz and Will for letting us get in some “practice”.)

Great test run “dad.”

much love~

Why We're So Quiet

Wondering what happened to us? We're like little beavers at our desks pounding away at the keyboard (just not on the blog - lol). Must be the week before press! We are busy putting the final editing touches on stories and working closely with the lovely and talented Laura Oertling (our art director and New Orleans' transplant) on the layout of the magazine. I'm super excited about this issue ... we just finished editing an enlightening piece on the new gender gap in the classroom, plus a moving feature on "Children of the Storm" — Katrina evacuees one year later. We have a surprise too - one of our sections is being redesigned at this very moment to make it even more reader-friendly ... can't wait to hear your feedback. So all the copy is in Laura's hands (except the Editor's Note, of course ... I'm always late!). I guess we can get back to blogging now … I mean working on October’s issue. Cheers. --shelley

11 August 2006

Forever Alma

I know I should probably write about the article I’m working on, or what great new products I’m loving right now, and I will, I’ll get to those things, in another entry, at another time, but tonight I need to write about something else, about how fast time flies, even when it seems you’re standing still.

After much coercing on my part (and whining, begging and pleading on my husband’s), it was decided that we’d make tonight a cuddle-up-on-the-couch-and-watch-a-chick-flick kind of Friday night. I knew what I was getting myself into when I popped in The Notebook. (I’ve seen it a zillion times, though, to my credit, it has been months since I last watched it.) But I did it anyway. I thought I’d be OK.

I was wrong.

If you’re not familiar with the title, here’s the general idea: it’s a beautiful story about the romance of two young teens (each other’s first loves) who, by society’s standards, should never be together, but according to the crazy language of love, should never be apart. While the romance and the drama of “Will they or won’t they?” is enough to draw in even the harshest of cynics, it’s the part of the movie that captures what dementia looks like through the eyes of a loved one that truly captivates my soul.

My grandmother, Alma, is battling dementia and it breaks my heart. When I was little I would go and stay for weeks at a time with her and my grandpa Raymond. I loved being with them, they made even the littlest things seem so incredibly special. Grandpa would go to work, leaving us “girls” to go on long walks around the neighborhood, get ice cream cones at Dairy Queen where everyone always knew her name, and crafts, oh the crafting we would do together. I didn’t know then how special those memories would be to me now and I cling to them — I cling to them with enough strength for the both of us because I know I’m now the only one who remembers.

I think I could handle cancer or heart disease or some other equally difficult condition, but watching my Grandma, seeing the true essence of her soul that I have loved for so long, be replaced by someone I don’t even know, someone who barely knows me, wreaks havoc on my heart. When I see her or talk to her, I feel like that little girl again who so desperately wants to sit at her Grandma’s kitchen table and glue together sequins and popsicle sticks.

I do not feel old enough, mature enough to handle this, perhaps no one does. I wonder when I became this grown woman, this adult with her own life and her own family whose Grandma is no longer the vivacious spirit of her childhood. Where has the time gone? And how do I make it stop?

After watching the movie, I called my mom and told her I wanted to write Grandma (her mom) a letter, but I didn’t know what to say, I was/am afraid she won’t know who I am. “Write what’s in your heart,” she said. “You need to do it. For you. She may not understand, but she’ll hand your letter to Grandpa and he’ll explain it so that she does. Be sure to send a picture so she can see you.”

So I did. And I have vowed to keep writing. Grandma has always loved getting letters — the old-fashioned kind that seems a lost art in today’s e-mail and IM world. I will write to my Grandma until I have no words left and then I will write until I find new ones. She may not be as concerned with what I write, but more with the fact that I wrote, and that is enough. I can’t make time stop, each year it only seems to quicken its step, but at least for the moment I can document the here and now and share it, in some small way, with the Grandma I hold so dearly in my heart.

Your letter’s in the mail.

much love~

Fresh Faces

Just back from our September shoot, I have to report that it went pretty well. Conflicting schedules made it a bit of a challenge this month (with school starting, our fabulous photographer heading off to Padre for a week, and the deadline-filled existence of both myself and our art director, Laura) to get everyone at one place at one time – but as always, we made it work.

With minimal time to prepare, I am quite pleased with our results. Just to let you in on some inside info… you’d never guess that these pictures were taken in our photographer’s driveway with the backdrop and lights set up just outside her garage! Like Jennifer said though, one of the great Hollywood photographers has a set up just like hers – also in the comfort of his own garage (apparently Billy Bob Thorton, one of his celeb subjects, didn’t mind having his picture taken in the make-shift studio either, just like our cover kids).

It was all boys today at the shoot in the spirit of our main September feature about boys getting the short end of the education stick. Despite the blistering sun beating down on our backs and causing beads of sweat to appear on our foreheads, the boys (Kyle and Silas) were troopers and posed like pros for the camera. Both boys are hoping to win over girls after they see these stylin’ studs on the September covers (from what I hear from Silas’ mom, he apparently already has an entourage of four girls at school that follow his every move – that will probably multiply after his female classmates get a look at this cover!) Both boys did a fabulous job, and I have to thank them for that!

Look for the September issue to find out more about these boys, and the “lost boys” of the education system – you won’t want to miss this one!


10 August 2006

Fort Worth and Freedom Writers

I had the pleasure of attending the Fort Worth ISD’s Teacher Convocation this morning, and it was something of a field trip. After a tense morning drive, complete with bad directions and highways I’ve never heard of (this Dallas girl needs a very good reason to stray west of I35), I made it to the Wilkerson-Greines Athletic Center and found nothing short of a coliseum full of teachers.

Grouped in the stands by schools, it was a grown-up pep rally for some 5,000 educators. After some inspiration from Superintendent Melody Johnson, the main event featured keynote speaker Erin Gruwell. Haven’t heard of Erin yet? You will soon enough. Paramount Pictures has adapted Ms. Gruwell’s experiences as a teacher to some seriously at-risk high schoolers scheduled to hit theaters January 2007.

Moved by the catastrophe she witnessed in Los Angeles following the Rodney King verdict, Gruwell gave up plans for law school for secondary education, only to be handed 150 of Long Beach’s most “un-teachable” youth. Her students attended class with their parole officers, but she credits many of them as having “PhDs of the streets.”

Not to ruin any Hollywood endings, but Gruwell proved a most engaging speaker, and there were few dry eyes in the house. On a lighter note, she is the founder of the Erin Gruwell Education Project, and her students’ writings were first published in a book, The Freedom Writers Diary.

So, I’m inspired. I’ll be first in line at the movie theater, come January. I’m doing my best to schedule an interview with her. And I did make it back to Dallas in one piece.

Thanks, Erin! And thanks, Fort Worth teachers! -Liz

Fall's Fabulous Fete

At lunch today with a local fashion exec, I was informed of a fabulous party that I MUST attend next Thursday. Hearing this good news, I knew that I had to pass on this hot tip to you. New York Knights & Nighties is the fall event of the season for Neiman Marcus Willow Bend. On August 17 from 7 to 10pm, the city’s finest “knights” and women dressed to the nines in their “nighties” will be in attendance of a truly spectacular night (poker for the men, and a pajama party for the ladies) benefiting The Assistance Center of Collin County. Tickets are $100 per person, or $150 for couples (call 972.424.8501 for more info). Think of it as the last hoorah for summer, and the start of a fabulous fall season to come! Hope to see you there…. --Lauren

09 August 2006

Inspiration for the Day

A friend and fellow mommy just sent me this quote: "Success is loving life and daring to live it." -- Maya Angelou. It's going on our bulletin board. Thanks, Allana! --shelley

08 August 2006

For Kindergarten Mommies Only

I just received this beautiful story from a mommy who lovingly recounted her experience as she ushered her son to his first day of kindergarten in Allen yesterday. She is allowing me to share it on our blog. I love our readers. You inspire me everyday. Thank you, Michelle Marks! --shelley

I awoke at 6:30 this morning and made coffee. My son ... my baby ... my little man was still sleeping. As was my husband. I was thinking what an ungodly hour to wake up.

I went into my son's room and pulled the blanket off of his angelic head. He opened his eyes and I said, "Good morning. It's time to wake up and get ready for your first Big Day!" He said, "I'm still tired. I wanna wake up at 8." After I kissed him all over his face, he finally woke up. He climbed onto my lap and I hugged him. He still likes snuggles. Still.

He sat on the couch next to Daddy and watched some cartoons. A little while later, he sat down for breakfast. He didn't want eggs and waffles. He wanted cereal and toast. I prepared his breakfast and he ate it all up.

He got dressed in his new shirt. He didn't want the new shorts on so we chose another pair. Navy dress shorts with a light blue striped shirt. I looked at him and my breath was taken away. He looked so handsome and so GROWN UP. Wow.

I made his lunch — a turkey and bologna sandwich to go along with chips, cookies, Froot By The Foot and a banana, two bottles of water and Sunkist orange "juice."

I helped him put his new Spiderman shoes on. Then we were off. As we were walking, I felt a knot in my stomach. 'Is this really happening? Is it really time to go already?'

We arrived at the school to confusion. We went to his classroom but were told to go to the gym. The gym was full of children of many ages. I asked where my son should sit and we went to the kindergarten section. There he sat, looking so small. He looked nervous.

His class was the last line to leave the gym. He wanted to walk with us but we told him to stay with his class. He was very hesitant but he marched on. We arrived at his classroom and he sat down at a table. He just looked around. He was looking for his friend who lives next door. She was late. The teacher then told the kids to put their backpacks and other items into a cubby. My son picked out a cubby and put his lunch box in it. He then stood in line to get a name tag that hangs from the neck on a string. He sat down again and continued to look around the room at all the other children.

His friend arrived and he called her name but she sat at another table. With a couple kisses and lots of hugs, his dad and I left. My eyes were filled with tears. Another parent asked me if I was crying too and I replied that I was. She asked me which one was mine, so I pointed my son out to her and she pointed her daughter out to me. I hugged her. It was a little comfort knowing I wasn't alone in feeling sad.

I bawled all the was home. Sobbing and crying. I am still crying. I miss him already. So now I am writing this because I wanted to write while it was still fresh. The silence in my home is deafening. My heart is aching for my little boy. I miss him. But at 9:45 a.m., I will look out through my back window and see him playing at recess. He is so close yet he feels like he is so far away from me.

Someday, he will read this after I print it out and put it in his special school box we bought. My son, I love you so much! I hope you flourish and learn and grow to be a wonderful person. Learn a lot and be good!!!

Are You a Wheel Watcher?

The DallasChild/FortWorthChild offices are a hotbed for celebrity interviews right now! Shelley’s got Brett Paesel (see her blog entry “Scored an interview with…” for the scoop), our editorial intern, Megan Weadock, just chatted with Andie MacDowell about what it’s like being a mom AND a feathered friend in the new kid flick Barnyard (grab the August issue on stands now to read all about it) and I’ll be meeting up with everyone’s favorite gameshow mega-couple Pat Sajak and Vanna White when Wheel of Fortune rolls into town next weekend.

The Wheel will be taking over NOKIA Theatre in Grand Prairie to film three weeks worth of themed shows in three days, including Best Friends Week, North Texas Week and Family Week. And in between takes, I’m hoping to get Pat and Vanna to spill the beans on their personal parenting philosophies (they each have two kiddos), what it’s like working on the No. 1 program in the history of syndicated television and how they each successfully blend the aspects of both.

Plus, if I play my cards, um, spin the wheel just right maybe I can get Vanna to dish on her secrets to staying thin and entice Pat to share his staying-young/looking-young tricks of the trade (his 60th B-Day is coming up in 2 months!!).

I’ll be heading to the Wheel with our art director, Laura, next Sunday, so if you’d like to see any particular questions posed or want to send a few birthday greetings, just shoot me an email!

much love~

P.S. If you’d like info on attending one of next week’s tapings, contact CBS 11. Oh, and be sure to check out what Pat and Vanna had to say in our November issue!

Define “Kid-friendly” Restaurant

I’m curious – what do you think qualifies a restaurant as kid-friendly? Is it the finger foods, the noise-level, the ubiquitous crayons and color-it-yourself-menu, the smattering of machines that require tons of pocket change? I am asking because recently we dined out at a casual, pizza-buffet kind of place. There really wasn’t much for the kids to do except take notes on gluttony, but it was packed with families. In fact, many children were running amok (think: little hands all over the buffet) while parents dined obliviously (after all, your first beer or margarita was “free” that night). Also, one family must have decided that shirts for their boys were optional. Does kid-friendly also mean uncivilized?!? Email your thoughts. --shelley

07 August 2006

Scored an interview with …

Brett Paesel!

The LA mom, wife, actress and writer is the author of Mommies Who Drink. Basically, I could have knocked out this book in an evening after putting the kids to bed, but I’m savoring every chapter because I don’t want it to end (and I’m one of the lucky ones – her book is just now hitting the shelves). I’ll be honest … the title intrigued me, but I didn’t expect much. Then I started reading it and it’s sort of like the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for motherhood (in fact, Brett appeared on the show and little does she know that I am going to sneak in a question about what it was like working with Larry David – BIG FAN). Anyway, yes, Brett talks about drinking – she lives for her weekly girls-only happy hour. But, more importantly, she takes the reader on a refreshing, witty, autobiographical (and often R-rated) odyssey of what it’s like to be a woman living in a mother’s body.

Please send me an email if you have any questions you want me to ask Brett. Look for the interview to appear in the October issue. --shelley

It’s Coronation Time …

I was bleary-eyed and sluggish when Chris and I walked into the doc’s office on Friday morning, but the signs of my sleep deprivation were quickly replaced with a giddy exuberance (think: birthday-girl-blowing-out-her-candles-and-making-a-wish-just-as-Dad-rolls-in-the-pink-bike-with-a-huge-bow kind of happiness).

We got the Rx — just call me Clomid Queen!

I asked all of the right questions:
Me: “Will I have heinous mood swings that will make my hubby want to leave the country?”
Doc: “No, you’ll be fine.”
Me: “Will there be any other side effects like sprouting a third arm or turning purple?”
Doc: “You may feel a little nauseated and have a mild headache, but other than that, you’ll be fine.”
Me: “Is this gonna’ work?”
Doc: “It just depends on your body, but no matter what, you’ll be fine.”

I did all the right things:
• I squeezed Chris so tight I think his ribs are still realigning.
• I immediately found my mom (who works on the hospital floor above the doc’s office) and told her the good news.
• I took on a massive weekend project (decorating my little sister’s very first rent house) to keep my mind occupied and away from my obsessive-compulsive thoughts about the small slip of paper I had tucked in my purse.

And now it’s just a waiting game.

Here’s how it works: I chill out (sure, like that’s going to happen, lol) until every woman’s favorite “aunt” drops by for a visit, then I can start my first cycle. There are five 50mg pills (which, since insurance doesn’t shell out one cent to help with infertility treatments, packs a $400 wallop to the wallet, although Chris just called and said he confirmed with the doc that we could opt for the generic brand — only $150). I take one pill a day on days five through nine of my cycle. Then, starting on day 11 and every other day through day 15, when I “should” be in what I’ve dubbed “the O zone” (ovulation), Chris and I, well, um, ya’ know, do the laundry (always nice to toss in a Friends TV reference when possible).

On day 26 I’ll swing by a lab and offer up my VERY-HARD-TO-STICK veins so that a needle-happy phlebotomist can draw some blood to determine whether or not I’ve ovulated. The results are then faxed to the doc and the doc will then call me and let me if I was in fact in “the O zone.” If I was, we wait and see if Aunt Flo visits again; if she’s late, I pee on a stick and pray for a positive sign. If she shows, we rev up for cycle No. 2. If I wasn’t “O” then the doc will increase my Rx to 100mg and then I’ll repeat steps 1-100 until we hit we get it right.

As of today, I have (according to the best of my calendar-counting abilities - who knew there was soooo much math involved in making a baby … lol!) exactly 14 days to fill until the “fun” begins.

Not sure what I’ll do to whittle away the hours (Shelley would say “DO YOUR WORK!”). I do need to wrap up September’s feature (and work on my novel), but aside from that, who knows … maybe I’ll create a “how-to” crown kit for other local ladies who are striving (or are) Clomid queens. The fabulous little number sitting atop my head was handcrafted by Sabrina, our art director, Laura’s, daughter. (Thanks Bri Bri, you rock!). I look worn out (a weekend of decorating in the sweltering Texas heat will do that to ya’), but I couldn’t post another blog without looking like “royalty” (another shout out to the wonderful DallasChild paparazzo, Susan, for the pic!).

Chris and I don’t know that this medication is going to give us that “nudge” we need, but we’re hopeful — we’re trying to have some fun with a situation that can be anything but. So, until the stick says prepare for parenthood, I’ll be the one with the crown.

Have a marvelous Monday!

much love~

04 August 2006

We Love Breastfeeding and It Shows!

Today, our publisher, Joylyn Niebes, and I accepted an award from the Dallas Area Breastfeeding Alliance for "Outstanding Support of Breastfeeding." Mayor Laura Miller gave the keynote address at the event and recalled her own determination to publicly breastfeed her three children. She was extremely gracious, entertaining and enviably thin. She also reads DallasChild!

Part of our core mission is to focus on stories that encourage moms to breastfeed their babies. We also do not accept any advertising from the formula makers. I saw many friendly faces in the crowd (who are always willing to answer our interview questions), including Stephanie Scholz Neurohr, who recently produced this beautiful DVD series on breastfeeding. Also - surprise! We got to sit next to my sweet friend Tracey Rauen - a fabulous childbirth instructor if you ever need one - who I met in Presby's new mom's class when our firstborn sons were infants. I also had the pleasure of meeting Nina Jones, who will be profiled in our Mom Next Door column in September. Nina is the president of the North Dallas chapter of Mocha Moms and the founder of a breastfeeding support group for mothers of color. It was such a warm and friendly event filled with women (and men) all bound together by a common belief in doing what's best for baby.

As a mom who is currently breastfeeding my third child and as a journalist, it was quite an honor. I guess I didn't mess up the acceptance speech too much (but I did drop the award - it was HEAVY ... I know you are laughing, Tessa). Thank you, DABA! -- shelley

Clomid Queen: Will I Get The Crown?

It’s 2am and I can’t sleep. I’m nervous and anxious and I’m experiencing a bad case of the “midnight mind” (translation: it’s what occurs in the wee hours of the morning when your body is tired, but your brain is wired – uugghh!). Too many thoughts, too little time, I guess.

My hubby, Chris, and I drove to Abilene (our hometown) last night for a weekend visit … well, with a twist. We’ve been on a self-induced “baby break” (meaning no charting ovulation, timing intercourse, yadda, yadda) since April and in just a few hours we’re going to the first “infertilty” doctor’s appointment we’ve had in months.

So what’s on the agenda? A big ol’ sash that says “Clomid Queen.” Lol! I’ve had surgery to “tweak a few things,” I’ve lost 35 pounds (and counting) and now it’s time to take the next step — amping up my ovulation. Our fingers are crossed (as are our toes, and any other body parts we can concievably cross without doing serious damage) that we’ll get a prescription to start the meds next month and that this will be the last “little nudge” we need.

On my way out of the office yesterday, Shelley (head-chick-in-charge) said she’d be sending baby thoughts our way and suggested that I ditch my plans to wear my “infertile myrtle” tee to the doc’s office — guess the “Barren” tee would be better? Lol!

Here’s hoping that the next “fertility” fashion statement I make includes a crown.

Happy Friday!

much love~

03 August 2006

August Odds and Ends

Editors get a lot of e-mail. If it were paper, it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to say we’d probably be buried in it, and you probably wouldn’t see a magazine every month. Some of it helps us communicate with each other and our sources, and some of it comes from outsiders wanting to bring to our collective attentions the latest products or events, ranging from the irrelevant (stock tips!) to the bizarre (Chia pets!).

I read (scan) it all, and I am realizing that my city is more dynamic than I often give it credit for. Here’s a bit of what missed the deadline, or didn’t make the cut for our August issue:

FLINCH Productions is a new theater company that debuts this month at the Stone Street Theatre in downtown Dallas. Although their schedule hasn’t been confirmed with any family-friendly shows, it might be just the thing for mom and dad’s next date night. FLINCH’s first play “COZY” opens August 17.

A Pea in the Pod maternity in north Dallas has a full schedule of pre- and postnatal yoga, fitness classes, and other events during the month of August. And, they’re conveniently scheduled for mornings and evenings, Mondays through Thursdays. Might be a cleansing breath of fresh air once school is back in session…

Oh, and Pat and Vanna will be here August 25-27. Good luck getting tickets (I can’t help you there), but Wheel of Fortune fans will be pleased to know that the north Texas taping is predicted to pump $2 million into local economies. Most of that will probably come from Vanna’s wardrobe. --Liz

Black, White and Red All Over

Straight from a Dallas fashion exec’s mouth, there is one color this fall that every hot mama needs to have – RED, RED, RED. I’m not saying go out and buy red everything, but red is the IT accent color for the upcoming fall season, especially when paired with black and white. One of my personal favorite indulgences are a pair of leopard print/red patent wedges from Guiseppe Zanotti (available at Saks and Neimans). As animal print is now considered a “neutral,” these shoes will go great with just about any outfit for fall/winter. Whether it’s a touch of red on shoes, or a necklace or even in a detail, red is the color you want to be seen in not seeing as the weather changes (for the better!). I know not every mama can (or wants to) wear sky high wedges, but if you’re up for the challenge, I assure you that you’ll get you’re money’s worth from them this season (and many more to come).

On the “red” note, there is a fairly new organization founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver, called (RED), that helps raise support and awareness for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. So far, companies such as American Express, GAP, Converse, Emporio Armani, and Motorola all carry their own specialized (PRODUCT) RED. A percentage of each (PRODUCT) RED sold, is given to The Global Fund to aid women and children infected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. It’s not only funky and fashionable, but supports an extremely worthy organization that helps mothers and their children have their chance at survival.

Also, look for our new style section (formerly “KidStyle”) to debut in our October issue. We combined Stuff We Like and KidStyle into one to bring you an even better version of fashion and style finds in the Dallas area. We’ll also be adding a style section to our babyDallas Fall/Winter 2006 issue out in October as well, so if you’re expecting or know someone who is, be sure and take a look!

- Lauren

Welcome to Our Blog!

If you love DallasChild, you're going to want to bookmark this special "behind the scenes" blog chronicling the daily lives of the editors at Lauren Publications (where we also create FortWorthChild, BabyDallas and DFWEverythingFamily.com).

We aim to provide running (note: unedited) commentary, including sneak peeks at upcoming stories (things we are working on/challenges we encounter), juicy tidbits that don't make it into the magazine, Stuff We Like (and Don't Like), opinion about parenting issues, interesting internal debates, info, tips and updates on timely events (things we find out about after we go to press), etc. It will give you a glimpse into what it takes to put the magazine together, as well as the personalities, the private and professional struggles as writers, women, mothers.

Of course, we encourage you to join the dialogue and share your comments (good or bad - we like a good argument; but, please note that we will remove any comments that are not relevant or helpful to the discussion). Also, feel free to email us.

02 August 2006

To Work or Not: Wait, What's the Question?

Earlier this year, one of my favorite mommy-lit authors, Judith Warner, posed this question: Are You In, or Out? If the title alone didn’t grab me the subject matter did: Why are highly educated, career-wired women leaving the workforce to stay at home with their kids?

I would be lying if I said the work-or-not conundrum hasn’t been a constant struggle for me since my first son was born five years ago. When I returned from maternity leave, my boss at the time (a guy) confided in me at a staff retreat that I was on the “VP-track” … “unless motherhood derails you.” I was mortified. And determined to prove him (that sexist!) wrong. But I now know he verbalized “that which must not be mentioned” in a PC work environment as a somewhat friendly attempt to prompt me to examine my career in the context of a new life.

When my son was 18 months old, I left the company (leaving behind an offer for a coveted post in LA – my boss’ job … he had been fired). Though my career was heading exactly where I had hoped (and had worked so hard to attain), the hours and abject commitment to a job rang hollow when I looked into my baby’s precious little face. I no longer had the same zeal for the crushing demands of a high-powered career.

Without a paying job, I finally got to partake in the activities connected to long stretches of free time: gym class, story time at the library, a random trip to the zoo on a Tuesday. I tried to write on the side, but I was often too exhausted to flex any creativity after a long day with a toddler (parenting is, after all, also work – and rewarding at that). Eventually, I returned to outside employment on a flexible schedule, focusing on my two greatest passions: writing and parenting (while still allowing big chunks of time with my children).

And everyday I continue to question my choice.

Maybe it is because others (particularly family members) continue to question it: “Why don’t you just stay home? Your kids will only be little once ...” is the oft-repeated, mostly rhetorical, query. Or, others feel obliged to share a different refrain, “I guess I’m just lucky that I don’t have to work.” Usually, I brush such comments off, countering that “I work because I want to.” The truth is I secretly wonder: Am I being selfish by wanting to work, even at a reduced pace?

Reading Judith’s essay, crystallized the dilemma in a way I could not: “Given the nature of work today, I don’t think it’s all that surprising that women who don’t take any particular pleasure in their work or have a particular sense of a professional calling or a particular need to make money should choose to opt out.” Bingo. The modern-day American working world sucks and if you don’t love, love, love it (and don’t depend on it), giving it up for a full-time mommy role (which is demanding in a different way) is a no-brainer for some women. You’re not lucky as much as you are practical. And, I’m not unlucky as much as I am drawn to a calling (and, when it comes right down to it, practical, as well). So, maybe the real question isn’t "Should you work (even if you don’t have to)?” but “How do you balance your own desires/needs with raising a family?”

--shelley pate