Xtreme Customz by Ridemakerz: It’s a hit!

I had the chance to host MommyParties, sponsored by Ridemakerz Xtreme Customz. We hosted 10 boys and their moms for a fun car-themed party. And let me tell you, these “carz” were a huge hit.

xtreme customz by ridemakerz

I didn’t tell my son ahead of time that we were having a party or what it was about. He is mad about cars and I knew he’d beg me for days to open the box. So I waited to tell him the night before and it was almost too much for him to bear. :)


Some of the boys were new friends, as I knew their moms but my son hadn’t met their sons. He was ecstatic. That’s him above.

All of the boys had a great time opening the boxes and assembling their Xtreme Customz cars. The target age range for these cars is 5-7 and I’d say that’s about right. The cars need some assembly: you snap the chassis into the body, add the tires & wheels & accessories. Some of the pieces are held in the package by clear little rubber bands, so keep that in mind when you open them.

Xtreme Customz

The cars are a little hard for your young one to assemble by themselves. They’re going to need some help getting everything out of the package and put together. And some models were easier than others were.

Once the boys got their cars together, it was nothing but car noises and races and crashes galore. They had a ball running all over our clubhouse with their Xtreme Customz. It was seriously loud with that many boys running around, but it was a good chaos. :)

boys playing with Xtreme Customz

The boys put them through the paces, crashing them off of the stairs and pool table, and even into each other. Although a piece would come off here & there, they easily popped them back on and kept going. I think only one small accessory broke (and that was during assembly) out of all of the cars. And these boys weren’t exactly gentle with their cars. :)

They played contentedly for at least 45 minutes — uninterrupted. And all the moms told me that their boys continued to play with their cars after they got home, too. That speaks to how cool these cars are. I think my son slept with his car for several nights after as well.

assembling Xtreme Customz

I’ve been a pretty big fan of Ridemakerz for a while already. I think we have 4 or 5 of their regular line of cars. These new Xtreme Customz are much smaller and start at a better price point – $9.99. You should be able to find them at Target and Toys R Us. (I even found them at Amazon.)

They were a big hit with all the boys. In fact, my almost 3-year-old has been trying to grab it and play with it, so I think there might be more Xtreme Customz in our future. Ridemakerz makes a good product. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to others. I may or may not have one (or two) of my own that the boys are NOT allowed to play with. Maybe. ;)

Full disclosure: We received a kit of 10 cars. All the boys got a car at no charge, and I was asked to post & share. I participated because I really like Ridemakerz. :)

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On hiatus

I just can’t seem to gather the motivation to blog. I am really busy right now with freelance clients and that doesn’t leave a lot of time for my own projects. It is what it is.

I’m not ready to kill this blog. I’ve had a blog since 2002, and this domain name since 2003. But I’m fooling myself into thinking I have time to blog. I don’t. So maybe if I take the pressure off I’ll feel like coming back. Especially since I have a trip next month and I might want to blog about it & load up some pictures while I’m there. We’ll see.

Anyway, I’ve had a pretty good run. Time to move on to other things for now. See you on the flip side!

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Looking back on 2012

I thought maybe I forgot this last year, but turned out I did do my 2011 retrospective. Figured I might try it again for 2012. Just copying my entry from last year. This retrospective was originally inspired by Linda at Sundry Mourning.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before? I continued with community management, but officially added social media manager to the list as well. We lived in Point Loma all year long, which is a big change for us, having lived near La Jolla for about 13 years. And you know what? I really love this neighborhood. It’s fabulous. We tried to become homeowners in 2012, but didn’t quite make it. We should pull the trigger sometime this month, we think. And we got a dog.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Nope.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My niece had her first baby, but haven’t gotten to him quite yet. Hoping in the spring.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Oh, man. This was a really rough year. We lost THREE friends and all of them we met via fishing. Pam, Stan, Steve — we miss you all so very much.

5. What countries did you visit? Absolutely none, except in my mind. (same as last year!)

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012? A house. (That hasn’t changed.) BUT, we are under contract for our place, so that should happen in January. We hope!

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? My oldest son’s first day of school. The day we lost Steve. The day we decided to shoot the moon and try to buy our place. TEDxSanDiego 2012.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Keeping my sanity pending a possible unemployment and building up my freelance work to compensate. And taking over social media for TEDxSanDiego.

9. What was your biggest failure? Still didn’t build up our reserves like we should, but am taking another crack at it this year. Determined to do it this time.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing too major, except my eyesight is getting worse with this dry eye condition.

11. What was the best thing you bought? A new stove & fridge. LOVE them.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Hmmm. My youngest is learning to talk and doing so well at it. And the oldest has really worked hard in school. His speech is really good now & he continues to work on it. So proud of him.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Just about everyone during the elections.

14. Where did most of your money go? Scraping together enough for our down payment.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Finally owning our own place after all this time.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012? Hmmm. That’s a tough one. Maybe “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. Played that a lot.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? happier, mostly.

– thinner or fatter? slightly fatter.

– richer or poorer? a lot poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Spending fun time w/kids.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Not saving.

20. How did you spend Christmas? We stayed home this year. With job uncertainty & trying to buy the house, we just couldn’t swing it. It was nice to be home, but I really missed being with my parents & extended family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012? Yes, more & more with my family. (same as last year)

22. What was your favorite TV program? I think it’s still Castle. And Game of Thrones.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No, still hating on the same person for, oh, about 9 years now. Some things don’t change.

24. What was the best book you read? I didn’t get to read a whole lot, as usual. I might have to come back to this one.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I don’t have one.

26. What did you want and get by year’s end? Work. Got an extension on my current contract and have other things in the works, so it’s all good for now.

27. What did you want and not get by year’s end? Our house. Just a tiny delay.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? I think I saw one film: Hunger Games. Wanted to see the Hobbit, but we haven’t gone to it yet.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I went to dinner with my dear friend and tried a restaurant that I’ve been dying to try: BoBeau. And it was fabulous. I’m 39.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Doing better at getting out of debt.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012? Non-existent.

32. What kept you sane? Hubby giving me time to get out of the house & do things by myself. Like go have a leisurely cup of coffee. Or browse the bookstore. Or go do some writing.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Nathan Fillion from Castle. Love the show & his character. (no change)

34. What political issue stirred you the most? I can’t stand politics. Truly. (no change)

35. Who did you miss? My mom – I wish we lived closer. And several out of state friends. And those we lost way too early.

36. Who was the best new person you met? Not one, but many: The people I worked with for TEDxSanDiego. What a fantastic bunch. I <3 them.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012. Put money away while you have it. Because you never know when you won’t. A layoff isn’t the end of the world, even though it sure seems like it at first (during panic mode). And never underestimate the power of networking. Or kindness from the most unlikely of places. (no change)

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

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An Awesome Evening

scott-strattenOn Tuesday night I actually left the house and went to a Social Media Club San Diego event with UnMarketing’s Scott Stratten. He was talking about his new book, The Book of Business Awesome and it was … wait for it … awesome.

Scott & Scott – and I didn’t even have to twist him arm to pose with me. And he signed eleventy billion books for all of us, too. What a guy, right? At the end here I’ll post a link to a similar talk he did so you can see Scott’s awesomeness live almost live.

Later I went back to look at what Scott had signed in the book. “Thanks for the seat.” Ha! I had joked that he took my seat at the signing table (I was really just keeping it warm), so he remembered and wrote that in there. See? Awesome. Totally personable and he seemed like he was enjoying himself in spite of being tired. He also mentioned that he would NOT complain about signing a billion books. Why? Because he’s signing a book THAT HE WROTE. If you ever get tired of that, maybe you shouldn’t be an author? See? More awesome.

The talk was great and so was the Twitter conversation going on during it. What? You don’t expect a group of social media people attending a Social Media Club talk from a social media person to not tweet, do you? I didn’t think so.

San Diego has the absolute best social media community. Really – it is fantastic. I meet the coolest people and always have a blast when I’m at an event with them. I got one of the best compliments EVER the other night and it made my week. If you are here locally and you haven’t gone to a tweet-up, local bloggers event, or a SMCSD event, you really should. I love all of them. And none of them paid me to say that at all. Totally spontaneous. Smile We are so lucky to live where we do and get to do the work that we do.

Here’s the other talk of Scott’s:

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Review: Graco SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40

Last week I went to a #GracoSafety home party where I got to check out a SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40. I’ve been a fan of Graco for a long time. In fact, my oldest has a Graco car seat because it has the highest weight rating I could find for a 5-point harness seat: 65 lbs. And that’s a huge comfort considering my son was so big he outgrew his infant car seat way early – I wanted to make sure he didn’t outgrow this one before he hit four years old.

Which brings me back to the new SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40 – it is rear-facing up to 40 lbs. Oh, how I could have used that when my oldest was a wee babe! My youngest is still under 40 lbs. (and my back is so, so grateful for that as I put him in and out of his seat every morning), so he can fit in this seat – without getting scrunched.

You see, the base of this seat is adjustable, so your child can have additional legroom as s/he grows. So you have fewer worries about their knees being halfway to their chest. And it has a little footrest that they can put their tootsies on – great for protecting your seats from those toddler shoes.

#GracoSafety snugride 40

(Danielle & I inspecting the seat. Photo from SITS.)

What were we looking at? There’s an adjustment for the headrest, which also moves the straps. NO MORE RETHREADING STRAPS. Cue angel choirs singing – that is one of my least favorite things about car seats.So why IS it a big deal that this seat can go from infant to two years old in rear-facing mode? Because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children now stay rear facing until the age of two. And while I’ve seen seats that are rear-facing, I’ve never seen one that goes from infant all the way up to two that does that. And with the adjustable straps, you have an easy-to-use seat that will keep your kiddo in the safest position for them.

#GracoSafety(Closer view of the seat.)

And I love this seat so much that I’m giving it to a friend who has an infant (I think he’s close to 2 months old now) so she can be sure that he’s safe all the way up until he’s a toddler. She’s a first time mom and I’m hoping that it gives her one less thing to worry about. And since it’s from Graco, I feel confident that it’ll be reliable and comfortable for her precious little cargo.

The Graco SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40 – the first and only newborn to two-year infant car seat that actually grows with your baby from four pounds all the way up to 40 pounds. The car seat is designed for a parent on the go. The infant car seat can be easily removed from the base and used as a carrier when the infant is small, providing portability and convenience so you can easily move your infant in and out of the car without disturbing them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently made the recommendation to keep all children in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2. Graco set out to make this product so parents can keep infants rear facing longer while still keeping them comfortable.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Graco. The opinions and text are all mine.

Kid philosophers, man

Frankie-smile-10.08.12Today is picture day at the school. My son has such a great smile. I reminded him to smile nicely for the photos. And here’s where the conversation got interesting.

“Mama, are you going to take the pictures today?”

“No, buddy, I’m not the photographer.”

“Well, what are you going to do?”

My son has noticed that mommy’s been sad the last few days. I might be having a midlife crisis, brought on by the prospect of being unemployed around the holidays. Again. Or maybe I just don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

Someone asked a question on FB the other day and it made me pause. It was “Are you making a living doing what you’re good at?” I don’t know. Do I want to continue to look for work along the same lines of what I’m doing now? Am I topped out at what I can do without some more schooling? WTF am I good at?

So I was honest with my son: “That’s a good question. I don’t really know, honey.”

And then this kid, who never fails to surprise me with what comes out of his mouth, said the most profound thing he could. And blew my mind.

“Why don’t you just be yourself?”

Out of the mouths of babes, no?

Category: babbling  3 Comments

A review of Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender


Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender
A Life in Pictures
by Sean O’Hagan
Publication Date: Oct. 16th, 2012

I recently received a review copy of the fantastic book pictured here. And I was super excited to see it arrive on my doorstep. Freddie Mercury is one of my favorite musical artists of all time. I grew up listening to Queen. One of the very first Homecoming games I ever went to had We Will Rock You as the theme. (I think we did We Are the Champions one year as well.) In fact, for many years I had the buttons they handed out with our mascot and the Homecoming theme written on it. Ahem. ANYWAY, did I mention how much I love Queen?

I have to admit that I had heard Bohemian Rhapsody for years and years. I liked it, of course, but I really got to know it all over again in Wayne’s World. Yep. I was in college (the first time) and a friend loved that movie so very much I think we watched it in the neighborhood of 25 times. Maybe more.

In the years to follow, I rediscovered so many Queen songs: You’re My Best Friend, Death on Two Legs, Killer Queen, Flash Gordon (yep, even saw the movie), I Want to Break Free, Another One Bites the Dust (ooh, wait, I think that was a Homecoming theme song, too!), Bicycle, Under Pressure, Fat Bottomed Girls…. Really, I could keep going.

When you first open the book, there’s a great history of Freddie Mercury and Queen. And I absolutely loved the section that talked about the amazing infectious qualities to Bohemian Rhapsody. (Another aside – I didn’t know who Scaramouche was until my college English Lit classes.) Some really good stuff.

And then, you reach the photos. So beautiful and touching. I was a little sad looking through them, it made me miss him and his music so much. But it is also a wonderful tribute to Freddie. There are some stunning photos in there, with bits and pieces of Freddie’s history woven throughout. I haven’t even gotten to the audio interviews yet, I’ve been so lost in the photographs.

If you are a fan of Freddie Mercury and / or Queen, I think you’ll really enjoy this book. It’s still sitting on my desk, waiting for me to flip through it again. It’s definitely a keeper.

[I have one very small quibble - the descriptions next to the photos are in a fairly small print. As my eyes get older (hey, I'm not OLD, old, but still, the 40 bus is about to hit me, okay?) I find it harder to read really small print. We're talking smaller than normal book print. So grab your reading glasses - you might need them. Not that we fans of Freddie are aging or anything. Not at all.]

For days after I first cracked it open, I thought about how much Queen’s music has been a part of my life. I even listened to a playlist that Sondra set up on Spotify, and fired up their rotation on my iPod. Bittersweet, but beautiful. As one of my friends commented on my photo of the book when I posted it to Facebook:

“Greatest Rock Voice Ever”

I think that says it all.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher, Insight Editions. Opinions are my own. Book link uses my Amazon affiliate account.

And the Hullabaloo winner is…

Drum roll…


Holy cow, Rory, that was YOUR comment! Emailing you now. Congrats!

And thanks to everyone who entered. We hope we’ll still see you there. Come say hi – I’ll be the mom with the frazzled look chasing two boys almost 5 and almost 2. (HA – see if you can spot me in a crowd of similar-looking [frazzled] moms. Go ahead.)

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Giveaway: Hullabaloo Family Arts Festival

I love family activities. I don’t think we do enough of them. Our work schedules are crazy and it’s hard to find that family time together, but I really want to. I want to build great family memories for our kids. Things they’ll sit around and laugh about when they’re older, but look back on fondly.

So I’m trying to find fun things to do with them (that involve more than our typical trips to the swap meet on the weekends). And I’m really looking forward to taking the boys to the Hullabaloo Family Arts Festival on the 22nd – especially since it’s right in our neighborhood! There will be music, food, dancing, a creativity zone, and even some authors reading their children’s books.

And to share the excitement, we’re going to give away some tickets.

Hullabaloo Family Arts Festival

Date: Saturday, September 22nd

Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Liberty Station NTC Promenade, also know as the North Promenade

Admission: $7 per person; children under the age of 1 are free; Family Pack of tickets: $25 for up to five family members total (note: due to a technical snag with our ticket vendor, we are not able to offer the family-pack online. Families can purchase them the day of, or we will be selling them at a few of Steve’s shows in the next few weeks.)

But don’t worry, if you don’t win tickets, you can still buy online and skip the lines when you get there!

Oh, wait. I bet you want to know what you’ll win, don’t you? Well get ready, because it’s quite a package, and I might just be a little, teeny bit jealous. Maybe.

Each giveaway winner will receive:

- one Family Pack of tickets, good for up to 5 people (children under 1 year are free)
- A FREE copy of Hullabaloo’s newest CD, Raise a Ruckus!
- A Clif Kid goodie bag
- A free pass to Mon Petit Chateau, good for a one-day visit, up to three children (siblings only)
- one $50 gift card to Renewal By Andersen Windows
- 1 pass to Smart Kids Time, courtesy of SoCal Kids San Diego
- 1 family pass to the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre, also courtesy of SoCal Kids San Diego
- $20 of babysitting services from Urban Sitter!

Giveaway winners will collect their giveaway prize when admitted to the festival- they will go through the will-call line.

And here are some of the great sponsors of the event; I hope that you’ll thank them if you go. I know I’ve been needing a sitter and have heard good things about Urban Sitter, so it’s high time I went and checked them out. (No affiliate or paid links here, people.)

Mon Petit Chateau: http://www.mpchateau.com/

Urban Sitter: https://www.urbansitter.com/

SoCal Kids SD: http://socalkidssandiego.com/

Renewal By Andersen: http://www.renewalbyandersen.com/

Dance to EvOLvE: http://dancetoevolve.com/dancetoevolve-home/

Okay, so you want the rules, I bet. It’s simple. Leave a comment to enter. I’ll use a random number generator to choose the winner. Contest ends at 9pm on next Wednesday the 12th. I need to have the names in by Friday, so if the winner doesn’t respond by Thursday, I’ll choose another. Sorry, I know that’s short turnaround, but I’ll do my best to reach the winner. Please confirm that you’ll be able to make the festival, as that’s where you’ll get all of the additional goodies. Ready? Go! We’ll see you there!

In return for the giveaway, we get entry into the festival. That’s it. It’s a cool event that we’re glad to see come to Liberty Station.

Gone in an instant

“Time flies” has become such a cliché, hasn’t it? But how else do you describe the way time picks up and grows closer to warp speed the older you get?

20120707_151429I still remember how much I wanted to start school when I was little. My brother would head off to the bus and I had to stay home. And now, in a twinkle, it’s my son’s turn to start school. About 3 weeks ago, we heard from the school that they would offer transitional kindergarten and that we should take a look since our oldest qualifies.

I hadn’t expected to walk down that path until next year, knowing he misses the birthday cutoff by about 20 days. An now, suddenly, that reality is thrust in my face. The reality that he’s growing up. That he WANTS to go to school. That time is going more quickly than I like. That my time of influence over him is dwindling and other people will at some point have more influence than we do. That I have to let go. That he’s such a sweet soul and is going to face difficulties with his speech and being a bit behind the others. That other kids can be cruel and no matter how much I want to protect him, I can’t.

That was brought to my attention last night in stark, painful reality. And it almost ended in utter tragedy.

We went to dinner last night with the daughter and her boyfriend. We hadn’t hung out together in a while, so it was nice to visit and have a good meal together. After we said our goodbyes, we went to the car. We were parked on the street, and it’s a busy one headed out to Shelter Island. While we were getting the little one ready for his seat, the oldest was impatient. We had asked him to stand on the sidewalk for a moment and then I was going to walk him to his door, since it’s the one street-side. As we were dealing with M, the wee one, F jetted out in the street.

My heart stopped as both John and I yelled “STOP!!!!” as loudly and forcefully as we could. There were multiple cars speeding by.

He stopped at the edge of the car, just a split second away from getting hit. Our future without two sons flashed before my eyes and I almost lost my dinner right then and there.

Daddy had a long, stern talk with F about being careful and not running into the street. And as I put M in his seat, I said a silent prayer of thanks that he stopped. That he listened for once (because sometimes he keeps going and we have to say stop more than a few times). And that we didn’t have to deal with the “what ifs” that came perilously close to coming true.

And so today, I am hugging my kids a little tighter, grateful for every hug, every mess, every moment. Because it can be taken away in an instant. And we came way too close to that last night.

I can’t keep him by my side forever. I know that. But it doesn’t make it any easier sometimes, this letting go. One of the things we have to get good at as a mom, even as it breaks our hearts to do so.

In spite of all that, though, I do want him to have fun, learn, and make new friends as he starts off on a new adventure, a new phase in his life.

Oh, the places you’ll go, son.