Thursday, April 29, 2010
I enjoy Facebook, I really do. It’s been a great way for me to connect with my friends, reconnect with old friends, and even rediscover people I may not have been able otherwise find again.
But make no mistake, I am not what Gladwell would describe as a “connector” – the people who link us to each other. You know the type – the people in your own Facebook network who have 500+ “friends.”
I, on the other hand, fall more into the “maven” camp. I love to know things: what’s the hottest new restaurant, where to buy the right pair of summer shoes, and which summer camps give you the most bang for your buck. I also love to know what’s going on with my friends and acquaintances on Facebook. (I just haven’t gotten into the habit of posting information about myself yet.)
Because I’m a totally passive Facebook user, I rarely invite people to be my “friends.” Assuming I've met the person, I will always accept a “friend request” though – until recently.
A friend request landed in my Inbox from someone I knew a long time ago. We were “friendly” then, but literally have not spoken to one another in two decades. I clicked on his Facebook page and found that he had changed a lot in twenty years. His Facebook profile told me about his very strong political and religious views – ones that were really, really different from my own. And I didn’t know what to do. I was reticent to “accept” this old “friend” as part of my network because I was concerned that including him in my network would associate me with his more radical beliefs.
So the question is: Is more really more? Do you want more friends on Facebook so that you can connect with others? Or are you happy as a maven – knowing a lot about just a few?
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Company Name: Red Thread Design
Company Web Site: www.redthreaddesign.ca
Owner: Devorah Miller
What they do: Children’s clothing using Asian and retro-inspired fabrics. Red Thead makes clothes for girls aged 1-12 and boys aged 1-6 that are comfortable, practical, and fun.
Why we love 'em: The clothes are beautiful and cool with an aesthetic that’ll appeal to you as well as your kids. Better still, everything is made ethically in Canada.
What you can get: Red Thread’s famous caterpillar dress named for its ability to transform from a baby dress on a one-year-old to a shorter dress on a two-year-old and then a swing top on a three (or sometimes four)-year-old. And, you’ll love it so much you’ll want it in the closet for 3 years!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
One bonus of having a school-aged child has been the unexpected boost to my social life. I never anticipated that when my daughter started school, my husband and I would be exposed all these parents - so many new and interesting future friends.
One family we’ve befriended has touched me deeply. Their smart and quirky son is in my daughter’s class. And their younger son is, quite simply, a miracle child.
Jonathan is this amazingly sunny kid. But Jonathan is also a really special kid. He was born with a roster of health issues. He spent the first nine months of his life in hospital. His parents traded nights sleeping at the hospital so that their newborn son would never be alone – all this while juggling the needs of a feisty toddler at home.
Over the past three years I’ve watched this family go through way more than their fair share of challenges. They were told that their son would never walk. (But he did.) Then they were told their son would never talk. (Their response? “We’re going to prove them wrong.” And they did.)
One time Jonathan’s mom was telling me about another little boy they knew from the hospital. This kid’s health issues were even more devastating that Jonathan’s. And do you know what Jonathan’s mom said to me? She said,
“I can’t believe we’re so lucky.”
Lucky? You could have knocked me over with a feather. That she perceived her family as lucky despite everything that they had been though just blew me away. Were I in the same situation, I feel certain that I would have just fallen apart.
This has been a big week for my friends. You see, Jonathan experienced so much trauma in his early months that he was never able to swallow on his own. He required a feeding tube for all his nutrition. He needed it to survive.
Well, yesterday, this kid who has been told “no” so many times had his feeding tube removed.
For the first time in his life, he’s truly on his own. This family IS lucky to have had the medical help to get Jonathan to this point. And Jonathan IS lucky that his loving parents have brought him to where he is today, standing on his own two feet.
And I’m lucky too. I’m lucky to have these amazing, new friends.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
We know that moms are starting businesses in droves, but what is it about self-employment that makes entrepreneurship such a compelling choice?
We’ve given this question a lot of thought, and we’ve asked around. Ultimately, the reasons women opt to juggle motherhood and business are as varied as the women themselves. We have, however, observed some general categories of reasons.
- New Boss vs. Old Boss: All moms know that the “real boss” is the child at home. The problem is this new, little boss is making the old boss hard to manage. No workplace boss is going to love that you show up late because you had to change your puked-on suit, miss days of work for ear infections, or nap under your desk Costanza-style from sleep deprivation. The tension between the two “bosses” ultimately drives many women to strike out on their own.
- Fulfilling a Dream: Many women tell us that they started their businesses in order to fulfill a passion, or because they had a great idea, or because they just wanted to work for themselves. In all cases, these women have used mom entrepreneurship as an opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
- Big bucks or Pocket Change: Some moms want to make a zillion dollars and believe entrepreneurship is the best way to do it. Many others are would-be stay-at-home-moms who need (or want) to supplement their family incomes. Any entrepreneurial venture is going to be a lot of work, so getting into it for the money is a pretty solid motivation!
- Identity Crisis: As much as some women want to be home with their kids, many fear that a total immersion means the loss of their own identities. Having a business is an opportunity to remain engaged in the adult working world while still being available to your children. With a foot in both camps, mom entrepreneurship can provide the perfect middle ground.
What we believe is that your motivations only need to work for you. Want to make gobs of cash? Excellent! Want to engage in a business project while the kids are small? Also great. It really doesn’t matter what brings you to mom entrepreneurship. But here’s the caveat – and we can’t stress it enough: Know what your own motivations are. Mom entrepreneurship is too hard to juggle without clearly articulating to yourself why you’re doing it.
Whatever your business, it will involve a lot of work and sacrifice. You will come back to your reasons time and time again – so know why you’re making the leap.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I have a tendency to be a glass-is-half-empty kind of gal. It’s true. I can imagine the worst in any situation. I’ve tried to change it, but I think it may be in my programming. Nonetheless, I’m trying hard to model a more optimistic approach to my children (particularly my pessimistic kid). I’m going to try and believe that I’m fooling them with my sunny ways.
This would all be well and good, except that I’m also an entrepreneur. Now that’s a bad combination! Self-employment can be….how shall I put this delicately… a slog. At least that’s how one mompreneur described it when I caught her on a bad day a while back. As in, “I just never imagined it would be such a slog.” For all of the incredible rewards of going it alone, we all have days when things don’t go as planned. We all try things that fail, or experience the typical frustrations of any job. So add to the sometimes sloggishness of it all a measure of pessimism and things can be tough! If we have a slow day I worry about our business – or heaven forbid a slow week or two – I’ll be utterly convinced that we’re washed up. Amy and I even have a joke about it – when things look bleak we just shake our heads and say, ‘Washed up!’ – then we laugh. (If you know our business you’ll know that we are certainly not washed up! Heck – there’s an endless supply of new customers – there’s one born every minute!)
I however, have a secret weapon. I jumped into mompreneurial waters with an optimist! How smart was that? When I think we’re done for, Amy sees it differently. She frames situations differently and helps me to see the temporary nature of whatever predicament I’m fretting about. And of course she’s right. Things are never that bad, and we’ve survived every challenge we’ve faced. Truth be told – I’d have never made it 8 years (and counting) without her filling up my empty glass.
There are lots of things you should look for in a business partner. Ideally you’ll find someone who complements your skill set and personality traits. But if you’re thinking about making the leap into entrepreneurship and tend toward the pessimistic, make sure you grab an optimist to jump with you.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
My middle daughter is a hippie. This is all fine and well, but for the fact that it is very different from the person that I am.
I’m concrete, she’s abstract. I’m literal, she’s visual. I move quickly, she moves at the speed of snail.
All this is compounded by the fact that my first-born daughter is so much like me. I totally “get” her. If she’s upset, I understand why. If I ask her to do something, she quickly and efficiently complies. But with Daughter #2, the things that set her off are often a mystery to me. What’s important to her – and what she couldn’t care less about – frequently surprises me. (She has no interest in broadening her social circle, but is loyal to a small group of friends. And when faced with any form of competition, she backs right off.) So, I feel like it is my middle child who is really teaching me about being a parent.
It is my four-year-old who is teaching me to see things in a new light. When I lament the pouring rain, this is the kid who looks at me and says, “But Mom, the rain is what makes the flowers grow.”
One day last spring when we were walking to school I found myself a few paces ahead of my middle daughter. As per usual, I (strongly) urged her to hurry up. But when I turned around I saw her crouched down, her dress pooled at her feet, sunlight catching her blond hair, literally stopping to smell the flowers. No amount of rushing was worth having her – or me – miss that moment.
As spring approaches, my little hippie continues to teach me: There is more than one way to approach a situation, you don’t always have to travel in a straight line to get where you’re going, and there is no reason not to wear sundresses year-round.
Maybe it’s time I stopped to smell the flowers too.
Monday, March 15, 2010
All you need to do is go to our Facebook Fan Page and comment on this post. Tell us what your favourite Admiral Road baby blanket style is and why you love it.
You can find all of our styles on our website at www.admiralroad.com.
We'll randomly pick a winner this week from one of the commenters.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
As I start to hit my stride as a parent, I find myself pondering balance: When do you let your kids ‘win’ in certain situations and when do you step in and curb inappropriate behaviours?
If you’ve ever been in line for a bouncy castle you know what I mean. For reasons unknown, it seems that all human decency goes out the window when the bouncy castle appears. Kids jump the line, push others out of the way, and overstay their turn in the castle. What amazes me are the parents who say and do nothing. If you’re one of those parents, apparently you have no trouble letting your kid “win.” And I actually envy you a little. (Although I worry that karma may be coming for you in the teenage years.)
My friend Jill introduced me to the concept of letting your kids “win” when our children were toddlers. We were at a local parenting centre and my two-year-old daughter had patiently been waiting her turn for one of those plastic cars (the ones you get in and drive around with your feet, Fred Flintstone style). When the driver exited the vehicle, a bigger kid came out of nowhere and jumped into the car before my daughter could get in.
Not to be deterred, my daughter ran after the car and literally hauled this twice-her-size boy out of it before getting in and driving off. I stood on the sidelines about to jump in and tell her she couldn’t physically remove this other kid when Jill, who had seen everything, said, “Sometimes you have to let your kid win.” She was right, of course, and my little girl drove that car to her heart’s content that day.
You see, when it comes to a social situation, I’m usually more comfortable letting the other person “win.” I’m apt to let people in line, deflect a compliment, ask my kids to let their friends play with the toy in question – you get the picture. It’s the way I’ve been conditioned – I’m female, innately friendly, and Canadian. I’m no doormat, you understand, but like many of us women, I will defer to keep the peace.
I’ve also been known to excessively apologize for my kids. As they get older, I’m trying not to – but it’s hard to resist the urge. Last week my son kicked his best friend while they were engaged in a play wrestling match. As the other mother tended to her son’s injury, I found myself wanting to apologize for my son’s actions. My inner dialogue went something like this:
Me: Say sorry. The kid’s eye is swollen shut.
Other side of me: Screw that. This was a consensual wrestling match. All’s fair in playdate wrestling.
In the end, I apologized (and of course my son did too). Fortunately, the boy’s mother was extremely gracious. I did note, however, that I hadn’t managed to let it go and leave it between the kids.
I know we’re supposed to let kids work out their own issues – to let them win and lose. But I also know that I’m here to teach my kids how to get along with others – how to be in the world. And, I’m trying to get along in the playground too. With all of these are competing demands I find that I’m still searching for the balance myself. What about you?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Mom entrepreneurship, by definition, means you will juggle the (often competing) demands of career and motherhood. As such, the path of the mom entrepreneur is not a straightforward one. Just like with any other major undertaking, there is so much to think about before taking the plunge, both about what you want and can expect from your business, but also how you see your business meshing with the rest of your life. Before even thinking about what kind of entrepreneurial venture you’re going to take on, you need to first determine if you’re set up to launch.
A few examples of the kinds of questions you’ll need to ask yourself are:
Can I live without a paycheque?
You might need to forgo an income for a long time while you’re getting yourself established.
Do I have a good support system in place?
A husband, family members, friends and mentors are all-important because you’ll need help with your business, childcare or both.
What’s the family plan?
If you’re thinking about having more children, try to imagine how this will affect your business. Do you have help at home? Is your partner in a secure job?
What’s my tolerance for risk?
Think about how much money you’ll need to start up, and how you’d feel if you lost that money.
Am I suited to work on my own?
Imagine how you’ll feel without the camaraderie of water cooler banter and the socializing that goes along with working in an office.
These are just a few of the issues that you’ll need to consider off the bat. But what about your personality? Are you the ‘entrepreneurial type’? If you’re game, try this quiz. (Granted, it’s not tailored to the specifics of “mom” entrepreneurship, but it will give you some food for thought.) But don’t despair if you don’t have a stellar quiz score. You wouldn’t ditch your guy over a Cosmo quiz – and you shouldn’t give up your entrepreneurial dreams for a quiz either.
But here’s the good news: Choosing mom entrepreneurship does NOT mean that you need to have prior business experience. We know piles of moms who have achieved enormous success simply by working hard and learning as they went along. You don’t even have to have a great business idea yet. You just need to make sure that you’re in a position to take on something as consuming as starting a business.
In the months to come, we look forward to sharing with you tips and strategies to get your mom entrepreneur business off the ground as well as some tales from the trenches – the good, the bad and the sticky.
The Business Development Bank of Canada offers this self-assessment tool along with lots of other resources for the budding entrepreneur.
This Wall Street Journal article raises additional questions to ask yourself to see if you’re up for the challenge of entrepreneurship.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I love the Olympics. I always have. Each time they roll around – whether it’s the Winter or the Summer Games, I look forward to them. I can easily get sucked in to viewing sports that I’ve never even heard of before. Skeleton? Sure! The Nordic Combined? Heck, yes!
I grew up on figure skates, so skating has always been my Olympic sport of choice, but really, I love it all.
When it comes to the topic of the Olympics, I know there are naysayers – especially about the figure skating! (“It’s not a sport – it’s a performance!” “The costumes are ridiculous!”)
But I don’t care.
There has been a lot criticism about the 2010 Games in the media. Some of it, like complaints about technical issues, and costs, are valid. But other comments are just plain mean-spirited, like this one from the Russian newspaper Pravda: “Vancouver is not fit to hold the Winter Olympics. It is a surprise that any Russian athlete would wish to remain in that sort of environment for a second longer.”
Frankly, I’m not interested in political battles and cynicism. I’m interested in the athletes – in their abilities, in their stories, and in their achievements.
Sadly, one athlete was killed on the first day of the Games. And a top-ranked figure skated unexpectedly lost her mother. These events are tragic, and sadly, in life, tragedies occur.
But I am inspired by Joannie Rochette and the athletes from Georgia and their desire to go on. Because to me, the Olympics are truly about the triumph of the human spirit. It is about people doing their very best, despite enormous pressures, and sometimes under adverse circumstances.
In the two weeks of the Games, you get an inside look at the lives of Olympians and all that they have had to overcome in order to stand on the world stage, representing their countries. You learn about what it takes to be the best in the world at something.
The Olympics are a microcosm for all of human experience – there is failure and there is success; there is tragedy and there is glory. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. How could anyone not find this kind of drama compelling?
The Olympics – it’s the best reality TV out there.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Amy’s eldest daughter can spot a rainbow anywhere. That kid has seen more rainbows in seven years than most of us will in a lifetime.
For her part, Amy can fill up a kettle with water to the EXACT DROP for how much will be required for tea, regardless of how many people she is serving.
My husband can swat a fly like no one’s business. I’ll bet flies have legends about him. Then again, maybe not, as so few have lived to tell the tale.
As for me… wait for it… I see hawks. Yes, you read that correctly. I can barely look up in the sky without spotting a hawk. Perhaps I worked with birds of prey in a former life, I don’t know. I do know that my superpower is useless in every conceivable way. Even the obscure superpowers that Amy and my husband have are at least marginally useful to every day life.
Which leads me to think about what kinds of superpowers I wish I had. Sure, I wish everything I touched turned to gold (good one), or that I had supernatural strength. In my business life I’d love to have the power to accurately predict the success of new products or marketing initiatives, or heck, even the power to keep my Inbox manageable – but sadly these skills elude me.
But the superpower I most wish I had is an unending well of patience. I would have the ability to endure hours of bickering children. I would welcome the endless stream of people knocking on my door to sell me a product or solicit a donation. I’d be delighted when the driver in front of me turned on his left turn signal at the very last minute. I’d look forward to diving into QuickBooks each business quarter. Can you imagine?
What’s your superpower? Or which one do you wish you had?
As for me, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can trade HawkGirl for SuperPatientLady.
Monday, February 8, 2010
This week Admiral Road is celebrating Team Canada and the Olympics with some great One Day Sales.
We'll be featuring a new Canadian-themed blanket every day, today through Thursday -- at 50% off the regular price! That's enough to make anyone cheer.
Check our website and Facebook page daily for the details on this fabulous sale.
Get one while supplies last -- once they're gone, they're gone.
Stay tuned for another Olympic One Day Sale tomorrow.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Today we’d like to give a shout-out to one Admiral Road customer in particular:
Name: Richard D.
Hometown: New York, NY
Customer since: 2005
Became an Admiral Road fan after: he received an Admiral Road gift for his new baby.
Likes Admiral Road because: "an Admiral Road blanket is my go-to baby gift for clients and friends. Whenever we hear about a new baby, I get in touch with Admiral Road. Their customer service is excellent and their blankets are always well-received.”
Admiral Road customers come from far and wide. In this ongoing feature we profile some of the Admiral Road "Customers We Love." Do you love us too? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you. Any customers featured in our blog receive a very nice coupon toward their next order.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
But in the odd moments of sanity, they’ve made a few very astute comments lately. Here’s a conversation that went down the other day between Charlie (six and half) and me.
Manners, which I don’t.
I laughed hard at this. Why? Because he’s absolutely right. If you’d met my son, you could be pretty sure that he would never voluntarily check out a book about manners from the library (!) – and in fact he doesn’t have it. But what got me thinking is that most of us grown ups would have had the exact same response as Ms. J. It’s the same line of reasoning as telling a kid, ‘You can’t possibly be hungry, you just ate your lunch!’ I, for one, am definitely guilty of this.
So is all child-rearing a form of benevolent brainwashing? As humans we don’t innately want to share, say ‘excuse me’, keep our thoughts and hands to ourselves, etc. These are learned behaviours. How many times have we said to our kids, ‘and what do you say?’ (looking for the elusive please or thank you)? Brainwashing! Wash your hands after using the washroom – brainwashing! I’m starting to think that parenting is inherently unethical.
On the other hand, maybe it’s retribution. After all, they do torture us with the sleep deprivation and mental anguish….