Will BlogHer 2012 Revive LTV Mom?

I love creative writing, which is why I started a blog nearly eight years ago. I often called myself a less-talented, intelligently inferior Anna Quindlen (only because she is my literary hero and vastly more talented than I).

But recently, my beloved blog has been ignored. What have I been doing? Well, I have been:

  • Discovering Austin, Texas, my newfound hometown of nearly two years.
  • Raising my beautiful daughter, who is the love of my life.
  • Playing with my puppy, who I love more than a human should love a non-human.
  • Working like a maniac.
  • Playing golf with my husband (yes, we finally have a hobby in common.)
  • Making new friends and building a community.
  • Enjoying my life.
Can you blame me?
This week, I head to my beloved NYC to attend BlogHer 2012. It’s important to note, I love this conference and I have only missed one BlogHer event since its inception in 2005. I’m a little nervous but very excited to attend this year’s conference for many reasons:
  • Many of my Bay Area friends (who I miss greatly and who happen to be amazing bloggers) will be there, and I cannot wait to see them!
  • I have a client with a first-ever BlogHer booth! (Come see Sifteo at booth #112!)
  • Preparing for BlogHer has forced me to admit to myself — and to my fellow bloggers — that I am not a prolific blogger.
I’ve become a lazy blogger who has other priorities.  Honestly, I am okay with that. I’m just wildly curious if BlogHer will light a fire in me and inspire me to revive my blog with new and vibrant content.
I hope so.
– LTV Mom
Photo Credit: BlogHer

Wordless Wednesday: Poor Roxy

The dog of a 7 year old girl!

The dog of a 7 year old girl!

Taste This! (The Delicious Sequel)

Taste This! The Delicious Sequel

Taste This! The Delicious Sequel

Back in 2009, I was honored to review the cookbook Taste This! by author, blogger and friend Gina von Esmarch. (Gina hails from a foodie family best known for the famous Alioto’s at #8 Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.) While my favorite way to experience Gina’s food is sitting in her dining room and eating until I am stuffed… trying a recipe from her newest cookbook Taste This! The Delicious Sequel is not too shabby either.

This weekend, a group of bloggers rallied to enjoy a “Cyber Dinner” where we each prepared a course and then shared our experience on our blogs. When I first wrote about Taste This!, I chose to write about an appetizer since I believe the first course sets the tone and mood for the entire meal. For the Cyber Dinner, I decided to serve-up the dessert, which (if done correctly) seals the deal for the meal. I flipped through the cookbook and quickly decided on “The Memphis King’s Cupcakes” (banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting!)

These tasty cupcakes, found on page 100 of the cookbook, were a perfect ending to our family-friendly BBQ. The cupcakes are not overly sweet, and have a beautifully subtle banana flavor. The literal icing on the cake is the amazing peanut butter and cream cheese frosting, which would make The King himself happy.

If you’d like to experience the rest of the Cyber Dinner, check out these delicious blogs:

About the book: This version of the cookbook is as exciting at the original. Notable differences are food with global flair, including recipes from Peru, New Zealand and Germany, and the addition of delicious brunch recipes.

Cookbook giveaway: If you would like to bring Taste This! The Delicious Sequel into your kitchen, please comment below by Friday, May 11. Just share your favorite BBQ dessert selection! One winner will be selected at random. Winner must live in the United States.

Author Gina says: “The goal of Taste This! is simple, bring good food and good flavors back to the table.  Whether you are a working parent or a career individual that wants to bring people together at the table, you will find ideas to inspire your inner cook.”

Buy the book: Click HERE to purchase Taste This! and Taste This! The Delicious Sequel, each priced at $30 (includes S&H).

Photo Credit: Gina von Esmarch

Notes: I was given a copy of Gina’s cookbook as a gift. The giveaway copy was received at no charge. The words and opinions on this blog are mine, and I did not receive compensation for writing them.

Golfing after a 30-year hiatus

Golf in Austin

Golf in Austin

This weekend delivered more sunshine-filled days in Austin, which allowed me to accomplish a long-time personal goal of mine: I played a round of golf for the first time in more than 30 years. My husband, young daughter and I grabbed our clubs (yes, I have clubs) and hit the links. Here’s the TOP 10 LESSONS I learned after an afternoon of golfing with my family:

  1. My seven-year-old gives really good golf instructions. (“Mommy, glue down your feet so they don’t move!”)
  2. I have the potential to be a good putter.
  3. My seven-year-old child is a better golfer than I am.
  4. Golf is humbling.
  5. My husband is amazingly patient.
  6. I am not patient.
  7. I really need to apologize to all the worms I possibly beheaded while trying to get the ball from the tee-box to the green.
  8. I need cute golf clothes.
  9. I’m not good at doing things I’m not good at doing.
  10. My daughter and I can have an impromptu dance party anywhere we are!
-LTV Mom
Photo credit: Lakeway Country Club

Back to the Start

Back to the Start” is simply one of the best commercials I’ve ever seen. I am the grandchild, niece, cousin and friend of farmers in Nebraska and Iowa. I will always support family farmers, and I applaud Chipotle for this beautiful story given to us in the form of a commercial.

- LTV Mom

Wordless Wednesday: Lucky Dog

Lucky dog (and cuter than ET!)

Lucky dog (and cuter than ET!)

Finding Unimaginable Answers to Unasked Questions

PlayStation Vita Social Lounge

PlayStation Vita Social Lounge

As a (fairly) recent transplant to Austin, Texas, I miss some of the cool blogger events in California. I’ve been known to tap my West Coast Correspondent in Orange County, and now I have my first Bay Area guest blogger Gina von Esmarch. Not only is Gina a prolific food blogger and a work colleague, she also is my dear friend. Enjoy!

Gina’s thoughts on her techie kids:

Over the winter holiday break I promised my kids — Prima (my 11 year old daughter) and Secondo (my 8 year old son) — that I would take them to ‘work’ with me. Despite the fact that I work with a high-tech PR/Marketing agency, in their minds, I work for PlayStation (my client). Which is nothing less than a tech-child’s dream come true.

While we’ve discussed the reality of this thinking, all my kids can recapitulate is this: I work for PlayStation, and they really want to see the inside of this nirvana one day. Lucky for them, and for me, I recently made their dreams come true.

Later this month, PlayStation will be debuting its newest portable console gaming device called the PlayStation Vita. In honor of the Vita, PlayStation has created the “PlayStation Vita Social Clubs” which are uber-cool lounges filled with Vitas to play and prizes to win in eight cities across the country. And you guessed it, there was a Social Club in my backyard. The kids and I visited the San Francisco Club at 1694 Union Street. I figured there was no better way to get the kids drooling over all things PlayStation than to let them play with the newest “must have” product and meet some gaming experts. Quite honestly, I was even excited about attending the Social Club. I didn’t grow up a gamer, but I married one and now I work in the industry has made me, in my kid’s eyes, the coolest mom around.

Of course, the parents in my community know I work in the industry and, as a result, they are constantly probing me for my opinions on how much gaming is safe, how much time are my kids allowed to game at home and what I consider acceptable gaming parameters. I tell them this: Having games in our house has given me the ability to connect with my kids on another level and has opened up our conversations wider than I ever thought.

I share this story because I continue to be amazed at what I learned during our adventure at the PS Vita Social Club. I was able to guide my kids to my favorite new games, which I had briefly played a few weeks prior. With the help of an expert coach, they were capable of mastering the game basics in less than 30 minutes. It was no time at all before they were teaching me some of the moves and/or tricks.

When I suggested that Prima and Secondo try out Uncharted 3, on the new 3D monitors, I realized how differently my kids think and process information. There was an area in the game that Secondo wanted to access, and the expert was not sure it was possible. Prima was happy to follow along with her expert-guide and eagerly learned new moves, but Secondo was convinced he should be able to get to a certain place despite the fact that he was told it was probably not possible.

Well, after 30 minutes of trying, he remained stuck like a broken record. I watched him and figured he was being stubborn and wasting his time. She was flying through all of these levels and making serious progress. Then it happened. He did it. He figured out the loophole that even the experts had not stumbled across in all of their gaming time. The gaming experts throughout the room rushed over to see what Secondo had accomplished, and the congratulations from a crowd of 20-somethings put a smile on my kid’s face that could span the distance of the Golden Gate Bridge!

I may not be able to understand all that he had to teach me in the game, and how he achieved this goal. I may not have learned ALL of the game functionality like Prima achieved. But, I did learn that my kids are light-years ahead of my tech knowledge when it comes to actual hands-on gaming results. The ‘laws’ that constrict our minds do not restrict their minds. They see endless possibilities and find unimaginable answers to questions yet unasked. My techie kids taught me that I have so much to learn from watching them play.

And while I didn’t take them to PlayStation HQ, I think I made a few dreams come true that day. And I’ll return to the PS Vita Social Club to see what other adventures we can learn as a family because we are growing from all types of gaming together.

– Gina von Esmarch

This post was inspired by participation with the PlayStation Family, where amazing women share thoughts on kids, tech and games each month. While PlayStation is our client, these thoughts are Gina’s, and neither of us received compensation for writing this post. #PSFamily

GO, SKY, GO!

Best Friends

Best Friends

My family moved to Austin a year and a half ago. We left amazing friends (read: my daughter’s godparents) when we left Silicon Valley for the Silicon Hills. Eighteen months later, I am happy to report we have met new and wonderful friends. We are thankful and blessed.

But there is an ironic downside. You meet people you grow to love. And sometimes those people face challenges and hardships you never want your friends, no matter how new or old they are, to face. Here’s the story:

The child of our good friends (and this child is one of my daughter’s best friends) has been in the ICU for more than two weeks. This little girl was named “the sickest patient at Dell Children’s Hospital” and one doctor said, “you don’t get any sicker than this.” This kiddo was on life support and faced failing kidneys, liver and pancreas.

Turns out, this beautiful child — who is named Skylar – is a fighter! As of today, she is out of ICU and is in IMC (intermediate care). She is off a ventilator, and her organs are on the mend. And even being after rushed into multiple surgeries, including Sunday, Tuesday and again today, she keeps a smile on her toothless, sweet, seven-year-old face!

I was lucky enough to see Skylar on her seventh birthday on February 1. Even in the hospital, this girl is kind, sweet and angelic. I’ve said it many times, but I could not have hand-picked a better friend for my child. I wished Skylar a happy birthday, and she replied “thank you, Mrs. Libby.” I did not want to stop hugging her.

Skylar is lucky. Not only for her improving health, but because she has amazing parents. And here is what her parents have taught me over the past two weeks:

  • Tell your kids you love them whenever you can.
  • When you have two hours between dinner and bedtime, put down your iPhone.
  • Kids are stronger than you think.
  • No parent should have to see a child in pain.
  • Parents are STRONG.
  • Have faith.

Many people have asked me what they can do do help. Skylar’s parents have asked for only one thing: Pray for their child. And I pray for that child each and every day.

If you want to read more about Skylar, you can go HERE.

Grab a tissue or two before you read.

GO, SKY, GO!

- LTV Mom

Family Game Night: We Play to Win

My family plays to win!

My family plays to win!

I grew up with family game night, and the tradition continues with my own family. My husband, seven-year-old daughter and I enjoy all sorts of games from “trash” (our favorite card game) to Sorry (our favorite board game) to Start the Party (our favorite video game). But we have one important rule: we play to win.

Yes, that’s right. I make my kid play to win and I don’t “rig” a game to let her win. I’m sure there are parenting experts and psychiatrists who think I am too harsh and should let her win on occasion, and there are probably the same caliber of experts who think I’m doing the right thing. At the end of the day, I want to teach my kid how to play the game… and how to win and lose. I happily help her develop a game strategy, or explain a way to win, but I don’t sacrifice my game to “let” her win.

Oddly enough, she can hold her own, and more often than not, she beats me fair and square.

For example, we just recently purchased Clue, one of my all-time favorite board games. The Kid and I were a team, and we took on Daddy as our opponent. I walked her through the game, explained the objective and some basic strategies. The next day, she and I played each other - the first time she is playing this game by herself — and she beat me. Fair and square. She was so excited, and now we play that game all the time.

We also spend rainy afternoons playing PlayStation’s Start the Party, an interactive video game that uses a motion controller to play physical games where you pop balloons with a stick, catch balls with nets and scare away ghosts with flashlights. This game gets you up and moving, and you can see yourself on the TV, so it requires hand-eye coordination. This was a new kind of game for The Kid, so I didn’t want her to be frustrated and quit before she even started. So, I quickly learned to set her game-play level at “easy” and mine at “hard” to level the playing field. This allows her to win on occasion, but I can still show her that I am trying my hardest and she can honorably log a “W.”

This post was inspired by participation with the PlayStation Family, where amazing women share thoughts on kids, tech and games each month. While PlayStation is my client, these thoughts are mine and I did not receive compensation for writing this post. #PSFamily

Photo credit: Christmas Unwrapped

So much thanks to give…

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving could be my favorite holiday. It’s the day we pause our hectic lives, focus on family and friends, and most importantly, give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. This has been a wonderful year for me and my family. This year, I am thankful for…

  1. Family = I’m not sure how I deserve such a wonderful husband and daughter, but I am beyond thankful.
  2. Sisters = I am one of three sisters. I am thankful they are also my best friends.
  3. Mom = She is a kind, loving and giving mother. I am thankful and blessed.
  4. Friends = When I think about my friends from childhood, high school, college, California, and my new friends in Texas… I get misty-eyed, and thankfulness fills my heart.
  5. Co-workers = I seriously get to work with some of the smartest, brightest, and most talented people in the business. Oh, and my colleagues are insanely funny and sarcastic. And for that, I am beyond thankful.
  6. New community = We moved to Austin a year ago, and I am so thankful to have been welcomed into a wonderful community.
  7. Re-discovered family = I have really smart, funny and wine-loving cousins across the country. We met as kids, and then grew apart as we grew up. I am so thankful to rediscover family members who fill my heart with love.
  8. My pets = Sometimes I have empty days, and an unexpected lick on the cheek can make my day. I know it sounds cliché, but I am thankful for the unconditional love from my adorable puppy and nasty (but beautiful) cat give me every day.
  9. Housekeeper = It was hard for me to hire a housekeeper; I felt bad having someone else clean my mess. Our housekeeper more than cleans my house, she eases my mind. I appreciate her and am so thankful for her time and energy.
  10. Laptop Television = Ah yes, I love my TV and the escapism it allows. I love Modern Family and Parenthood, Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, Top Chef and Chopped, and the incomparable Ellen. I am a busy working mama, and I am thankful for the laughs, tears, and “oh no you didn’t” moments only a TV can provide.
What inspires you to give thanks this year?
-LTV Mom