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PostHeaderIcon 10 Questions

PostHeaderIcon 10 Questions with working moms: hemorrhoids, lying, overpriced strollers, pooping, sex and more

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Aimee Grove, 41, and Marcie Carson, 42, grew up in Danville and have been life-long friends. Both are working moms with small children. Last summer, they decided to write a book about their experiences juggling child rearing and working full time. They also launched a blog www.womoments.com to get the word out about their project. 

All News No Blues checked in with these two working moms and here is what we found:

1. ANNB: How did you come up with the idea for the blog?

AG:  The blog was really an extension of a book project (www.womobook.com) that seeks to poke fun at our absurdly chaotic lives … the life of any working mom, really. The book was Marcie’s idea – she called me and proposed the idea. We both agreed that even though there are a ton of mommy blogs and books about parenting, there were very few titles about working motherhood specifically, and absolutely none in the humorous, illustrated gift book category. The blog features “womoments,” funny material and observations about their lives. For example, on the first day of my son’s preschool, I came home and realized that I had purposely dressed up in my best Louboutin pumps and pencil skirt for the drop-off. I realized it was my lame attempt to “one-up” the stay-at-home-moms in Juicy sweats, who made me so jealous most of the time. Confessing that act of insecurity was a very cathartic post for me.

MC: Since both of us are marketers in our “day jobs,” we understand the power of social media to build a following for our voices. It has also allowed us to refine the WoMo brand — what works, what seems to be most relevant, what feels right. The book had a flirty, even sexy, quality to it from the beginning and we are going to play that up even more because it really seems to resonate on the blog.

2. ANNB: What seems to be the most popular type of postings among your readers?

AG: We get the most reaction from list posts:  “10 Signs You’ve Hit the Style Wall,” or “Things I’ve Lost/Gained Since Becoming a Working Mom,” or “What a Working Mom Does When No One’s Looking.” Maybe this is because they are the easiest for busy gals to digest.

MC: I also think women appreciate our brutal honesty. Aimee did a post and mentioned that she checked out the bottoms of other moms. It was such an obvious observation (come on, we all do it), but nobody ever admits it. The post generated tons of comments about that single sentence. Similarly, I just completed a post titled “Liar, Liar” about 15 lies I had told the prior week. One of the comments we got was, “THIS is the reason I like womoments.com. Fascinating posts.”

3. ANNB: Tell us a little about your backgrounds?

AG:  We’re both Danville girls and have actually known each other since third grade and then went to college together at UC Santa Barbara. Earlier in my career, I was a journalist, writing and editing for a variety of publications including Diablo, San Francisco, and VIA magazines. For the past nine years, I have worked in public relations and currently serve as vice president of  Consumer/Hospitality Practice for Allison & Partners in San Francisco.

MC: Immediately following UCSB, I dabbled in fashion and music, and finally graphic design. I started IE Design + Communications in 1995 with the hubby (two months after we got married, nine years after we met). We had our first baby seven years later, and another one four years after that.

4. ANNB: What makes you guys experts in this arena?

AG:  We would be the last people to ever call ourselves experts at being working moms – if anything both of us are constantly kvetching about how close we are to crying or losing our cookies. That said, I think we are both pretty damn good at getting other women to share their stories, highlighting the irony and craziness of the working mom’s life and writing about these experience to elicit a laugh. That comes from years spent as journalists, communicators and artists. 

MC: One of the very first things we say in the book is this: “Let us be perfectly frank: we are nobodies. Two run-of-the-mill girls hotfooting it through the rat race with heavy, overpriced strollers. But like we said, we get it. Every chaotic moment — and if we haven’t been there ourselves, we’ve talked to a mom who has.”

5. ANNB: What will set your book apart from the other parenting/working mom books out there?

AG: The biggest difference between our book and the other parenting and mommy titles  is first a sense of humor. The purpose of our book is to entertain and make people laugh. It’s not really a “guide to” anything. The vast majority of books related to working moms are fairly serious nonfiction tomes providing advice or discussing issues. Also, the style of our book is not long-form prose or a narrative. Instead, it will be short nuggets and nibbles – sidebars, pull quotes, anecdotes, lists, graphics, Cosmo-style quizzes. The kind of quick read you will pick up for a few minutes at a time, find an amusing tidbit and share that with a friend or your sister.

MC: The book design is also completely unique. That’s really where the idea started for me. I felt like when I was pregnant, there were a ton of funny books to help ease the pains of pregnancy. But now, when I needed a good laugh even more, I didn’t have time to read a book (not to mention there weren’t any genuinely funny titles available). I own a graphic design firm, so I started bouncing ideas off some of the girls in my office. We started with the visual approach — defining a working mom’s chaos in pictures — the copy came later.

6. ANNB: Parenting has changed so much in the last 30-40 years, why do you think parents "need" books and blogs and Web sites to be successful?

AG: The biggest need working moms have is for more time in a day. But next to that, they also need permission to laugh, and a little help to see the humor in their lives. Blogs and books with quick observations about life fulfill both of those needs – they are quick, easy and provide comic relief.

MC: I’m honestly not sure we need books, blogs and Web sites. In fact, there’s a lot of noise out there in the parenting category right now. I think the vast majority of working moms actually need a break — we simply don’t have the time to participate in all this “stuff.” It’s exhausting and overwhelming. So our intent was never to fill a “need”… unless, like Aimee said, that need was simply to laugh.

7. ANNB: Is there any topic that is off limits on your blog?

AG:  Not really, but I do think we both try pretty hard to avoid bashing stay-at-home moms or stumbling into the whole mommy wars idea. It just seems overplayed right now, and besides, there are very few “purists” these days –  women who work 40+ hours a week in an office with full-time childcare or those who stay at home full-time without working any kind of freelance gig on the side.

MC: Let’s see, I’ve posted about hemorrhoids, lying, sex, infidelity, pooping, addictions, lame ass loser moms, and even a few nontoxic stay-at-home-mom observations. I’d say nothing is off limits.

8. ANNB: Do you ever have trouble coming up with ideas for the blog?

AG:  Almost never – I have at least three ideas rattling around my brain right now. They always hit in the morning as I am schlepping to the San Francisco on BART at the crack of dawn while the rest of my family is at home snoozing, or when I call home and my kid refuses to say hello.

MC:  It’s a bit harder for me. I enjoy the writing, but it definitely doesn’t come as easily for me. I’m the visual one.

9. ANNB:
What do your husbands think of having their personal lives so exposed?

AG:  I would say they are super supportive. That said, I don’t think mine reads the blog unless I force it under his nose for editing, so I get away with a lot in there.

MC:  One of the first stories included in the book was about my husband (and it wasn’t complimentary). We were working on the book design for months using this awful story about him. Pages were posted all over my office with different versions of a dumfounded man covered in toilet paper and question marks. (Did I mention my husband and I work together?) One day, he comes into my office, “I’ve provided a lot of content for this book, haven’t I?” It was a bit of a realization for him, but I think he would agree that it was a good one. The entire process has actually been cathartic for us, so he’s been incredibly supportive.

10. ANNB:
How can we follow your progress and have you had any media exposure?

AG and MC: Follow us at allisonpr.com | twitter.com/allisonpr | facebook.com/allisonpr | youtube.com/apwest. Check out our clip on "View from the Bay": http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/video?id=7343927&section=view_from_the_bay&syndicate=syndicate--KB

Last Updated (Tuesday, 23 November 2010 01:57)


PostHeaderIcon 10 Questions with Internet Safety Cop

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East Bay resident Steve DeWarns has nearly 20 years experience in law enforcement. For the past decade, he has taught online safety to parents and children. He is the founder of www.internetchildsafety.net and has appeared on the NBC Today show and the Dr. Phil Show. He regulary speaks to children in local schools. We asked Officer DeWarns to share a little more about Internet safety with All News No Blues. Here is what he had to say:

ANNB: What got you into the field of Internet child safety?

SD: It all started after a case from the San Jose Police Department made its way into the East Bay police department, where I am a police officer. The case was that of a person posting an ad online asking to hire someone to rape a woman. As shocking as that sounded, I was more shocked when we found people were actually answering the ad. We found the person responsible to be a 19-year-old who was only doing it as a fantasy and did not plan to actually commit any crime. I then felt I needed to find out as much as I could about Internet crimes. I asked our chief of police if I could conduct some undercover operations online in search of online predators and after only two minutes in my first Internet chat room, I had an arrest.

ANNB: In the past decade, has Internet child safety improved?

SD: I think it has improved as there is more awareness and more education in our schools, however, technology continues to grow ever so rapidly and with some great ideas, there is always someone looking to exploit it.

ANNB: What's the best place to keep a computer in the home?

SD: The best place to keep a computer is in a well-traveled area of the home such as the living room, family room, or kitchen. This way, parents can interact with their child as they are spending time online and children have easy access to parents to ask questions.

ANNB: How can parents keep youngsters safe online?

SD: Being aware of what your child is doing online. You don’t need to "spy" on your child, just be informed and interested in what their online interests are. Parents should have an open communication about online safety and set up rules for Internet use. Parents should also install and use "parental control" software as this will help to limit access to unwanted sites.

ANNB: Specifically, what is cyber bullying?

SD: Cyber bullying is the common playground bully moving over into cyber space. With technology such as computers, the Internet and cell phones, bullies can use these forms of technology to spread rumors and hate, making the victims lives miserable. This form of bullying is more psychologically damaging compared to the playground bully because online you don’t know who your attacker is. Being attacked in your own home and being attacked by multiple attackers.

ANNB: What do most parents want to know about cyber safety/cyber bullying?

SD: Most parents want to know what to do in the event their child becomes a victim. I provide this information but focus more on how we should raise our children to be "cyber savvy" and to teach "cyber citizenship" where children learn how to behave online and respect themselves and one another. I feel this is more important as it is more preventative measures and not waiting for something bad to happen.

ANNB: What do most children/teens want to know about cyber safety/cyber bullying?

SD: Most questions I get asked are in the form of: "Is it ok to do this…" or "is it safe to do that…" I think this response comes from children who are doing those things and just want to know how to change what they have already done. Kids will make mistakes online, but it doesn’t mean they can’t go and change the way they use the Internet. We need to look at the way we live our lives in the real world and portray ourselves the same way online. No one would ever walk up to a stranger on the street and give all their personal information to them, but online, we tend to do things we wouldn’t normally.

ANNB: What is the best parental control software and why?

SD: McAfee’s Family Plan is one of the best programs out there. I sit on the Consumer Advisory Board for McAfee and I am very pleased with how they listen to what law enforcement, parents and students have to say about what they want regarding parental control software.

ANNB: Is cyber bulling a problem all over the world? Is it worse in the USA?

SD: Cyber bullying is a problem all over the world. There is not one place worse than another. The problem only continues to grow and due to this, we are starting to see laws being developed to target such individuals who behave like this online.

ANNB: Tell us about what you teach in schools.

SD: I focus on teaching children and parents to be more aware of the technology they use. Take responsibility for your actions and protect yourself from becoming a victim. I am pro-technology and want people to not be afraid of the Internet, but I also want them to know how to navigate and use the popular sites in a way that will keep them safe and won’t put them at risk.-KB

Last Updated (Saturday, 04 September 2010 19:05)


PostHeaderIcon 10 Questions With Fitness Trainer Shawn O'Connell

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In honor of everyone who has fitness goals on their list, we asked Shawn O’Connell, a fitness trainer at ClubSport San Ramon, some questions to help people get started. O'Connell holds multiple personal training certifications including the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). O'Connell is also a certified nutritionist (ISSA) and a Sports Performance and Conditioning Coach for USA Weightlifting.

Here’s what he had to say: 

ANNB: How can you get rid of wobbly lower arms, often called bingo arms?
SO: Proper diet for body fat loss and any style of triceps extensions or pressing exercises, such as push-ups will help with tone the arm.

ANNB: Should you do cardio or weight training first if you are trying to tone?
SO: Cardio can be more effective after weight training, however you should always warm-up 5-10 minutes before any type of resistance training.

ANNB: Is it true that you should drink one ounce of water for every minute you work out?

SO: This could be true or false depending on how long you’re exercising. A better rule of thumb would be: if you exercise moderate to vigorously; drink one ounce of water per pound of bodyweight daily. Average water intake for most people should be at least half an ounce per pound of body weight daily.

ANNB: Should we believe those "charts" that list ideal weights and Body Mass Indexes (BMI)? 

SO: BMI, which uses height and weight to identify weight problems can be useful for most of the population, however body fat percentage, which measures the percentage of fat your body contains is a much better representation of health and ideal weight.

ANNB: How many calories should you aim to burn in a week?
SO: This depends on your fitness goals. If one is trying to loose we need a daily caloric deficit, if trying to gain we must increase caloric intake above maintenance level.

One helpful tool in trying to figure out how much to burn is one pound of body fat is equal to 3500 calories. So to loose a pound of fat, you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories.

ANNB: What are some anti-oxidant foods?
SO: Antioxidants are vitamins A (specifically beta-carotene), C, and E. Any foods rich in these specific vitamins (many dark colored vegetables and fruits are helpful), Blueberries are among the best.

ANNB: I always start the new year with the intention of getting in shape, but get busy or distracted and fall into my old habits. How can I stay motivated to reach my goals?
SO: Tracking progress is number one. Tracking weight and body fat losses, food journaling, tracking increases in exercise performance.

ANNB: How much cardio and strength training (in minutes) do I really need to do?
SO: This depends on ones fitness level. A good goal to shoot for is: Cardio 30 minutes 4-5 days a week and strength training 30 minutes 2-3 days a week. Both of these can be increased or decreased as needed to accommodate ones’ fitness level.

ANNB: What are some of the mental benefits to getting in shape?

SO: When we “get in shape” we look better and physically feel better, this can give a more positive outlook on many facets of our daily lives. The stronger and more functional the body becomes through proper diet and regular exercise the less physically demanding our daily tasks become, which in turn lowers stress. Exercise also can release the endorphin hormone, which has a calming effect on the body and lowers stress.

ANNB: What are the benefits to joining a gym?

SO: Many health clubs such as ClubSport San Ramon offer many amenities, this make the exercise experience more enjoyable and more varied. Many gyms and health clubs also offer a variety of exercise equipment and a staff of fitness professionals to help the member use the equipment more thoroughly and effectively. Then there is the social factor, most of the members are from within your community and have a similar goal of getting or staying healthy.

To learn more about ClubSport San Ramon, please visit www.clubsportsr.com.

To read more about the ClubSport Challenge 2010 and I Lost it at the Club, click here.

Last Updated (Monday, 22 March 2010 01:26)


PostHeaderIcon 10 Questions with EclipseSpa Owner

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Many people dream of owning and running their own business, but Anne Keefe of Danville is actually doing it. About three years ago, Keefe, 47, started EclipseSpa, (www.eclipsespa.com) a company that makes organic bath and body products and is committed to green and clean products and business practices. EclipseSpa does not support animal testing and uses natural raw ingredients in its products. Most of the herbs and additives have been organically grown and she uses recycled materials for just about everything.

We talked with Keefe about her business and learned a lot about relaxation.

ANNB: How did you first become interested in making body care products?
AK: I've always loved cooking and doing craft projects. When I was looking for alternatives to continuing work in the dental field, making body care products really resonated with me. I get to work with fabulous, great smelling ingredients and share them with others.

ANNB: What is the mission of EclipseSpa?
AK: The mission of EclipseSpa is protecting the environment by providing organic and natural spa products that are biodegradable and containers that are recyclable. We use recycled shipping boxes when we can, recycled tissue paper, natural handmade gift baskets and most of our products are made in a 100 percent wind-powered production facility that was built using eco-conscious materials and methods. Products are paraben and sulfate free, and 99 percent preservative free. We are also committed to providing jobs for developmentally-disabled adults and support women who want to work at home with our sales consultant program.

ANNB: Where does the name come from?
AK: The moon and the sun. I've always enjoyed the stars and planets and the name Eclipse came to mind when thinking about a business name. We added the spa, because these are spa products that you can use at home to create a relaxing environment.

ANNB: What is the process for making a body scrub?
AK: It’s a trade secret, never to be revealed. Women marvel at how soft and radiant their skin is after each use, and it's fun to hear all the amazing testimonials.

ANNB:  OK, what about the process for making one of your soy candles?
AK: There are key ingredients for soy candles. One is the purest grade soy wax, the correct wick size for the container the candle will be made in, and oils for scenting. We use high-grade essential oils or fragrance oils without the toxic ingredients that most fragrance oils contain.

ANNB: Where do you get your ingredients?
AK: The ingredients are found all over the world. Our shea butter comes from Ghana Africa. There is a tribunal of women in a small village that formed a cooperative. They hand-harvest the shea butter-also known as karite butter which is extracted from the nuts of the genus Butyrosperum Parkii Kotschy tree, which grows in Central Africa. Karite Butter is superior to cocoa and jojoba butter in its ability to heal damaged and dry skin. It’s an honor to help support these women so that in turn they can support themselves and their families.

ANNB: Tell us about your Spa at Home parties.
AK: Spa at Home parties are where a hostess who wants to earn free spa products hosts a party. They hostess willl invite their girlfriends over for a foot bath, scrub, and moisturizer. The women can choose to purchase some products before they leave. This is how the hostess earns free products. The hostess typically will serve beverages and snacks and everyone has a relaxing girls night out.

ANNB: What is someone doesn't have time to host a Spa Party, but wants to earn free spa products. Can they do that?
AK: Absolutely.  It’s called a silent party. The “hostess” can print out our catalog, take it to work or e-mail her friends and family to tell them she is having a silent party to earn free spa products. The hostess has 30 days to collect her orders to send to EclipseSpa. At the end of 30 days we total up her orders and make the appropriate calculation for her free products.

ANNB: Is your work making the products messy?
AK: It can be very messy at times. I can make a huge mess making anything, according to my husband.

ANNB: What do you love about being a self-employed business woman?
AK: I've basically been self-employed for 13 years now and enjoy the independence it allows me to have. I love that I can take off at 9 a.m. to go for a quick work-out and then come back and work until I want to--which can be, at times, many hours.  Being self-employed allows you to try things that you normally wouldn't be allowed to do in a 9-to-5 job. 

Last Updated (Thursday, 11 March 2010 07:42)


PostHeaderIcon 10 Questions With Matthew Silverman….

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From dishwasher to celebrity chef and restaurant owner, Matthew Silverman’s career is as diverse as it is interesting, especially considering that he is only 31 years old. Starting as a musical prodigy and evolving into an executive chef working for top restaurants and resorts in Las Vegas, Silverman has cooked for some of the world’s leading celebrities.

In partnership with noted restaurant specialist, Thomas Bensel, Silverman formed Verve Hospitality Group (VHG) in 2009. The company recently opened STOMP – an upscale wine lounge specializing in small plates and COA – a contemporary Mexican restaurant. Laurus - a casually elegant Southern European bistro – is slated to open December 2. All are located at Blackhawk Plaza in Danville.

Despite his exceptionally busy schedule, Silverman gave his thoughts on a few things.

ANNB:  You’ve shot to the top so quickly that obviously being a chef suits you well. When/how did you decide that was what you wanted to do?
MS: At a young age I always enjoyed watching cooking shows and experimenting in the kitchen. Cooking for me is a way of balancing the creative aspect with the technical side of things. People who cook (at home and professionally) often make the mistake of being too creative (mixing ingredients that should never go together) and not keeping in mind flavor combinations, textures, colors and what makes food good.

I think I decided at around the age of 17 that cooking and balancing the creative with the technical aspects of cooking was something that I have a gift for. I have the ability to picture food in my head and combine the flavors to see what they will taste like before I make something. By having this ability, there is not too many “trial and errors” that most cooks go through. I know before making the dish that “this is going to be great or really bad.”

ANNB:  You studied music and performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. What instrument did you play and when did you realize that pursuing a career in music wasn’t the right path for you?
MS: I played the timpani, xylophone and various other percussion instruments. I really enjoy the creative aspects of playing music and the level of complexity that it puts your mind through. Music is one of those things that challenges the analytical part of the mind at the same time as challenging the creative side. I really enjoy things that challenge me in different ways. I realized playing with the LA Philharmonic that the people who perform there have a natural given aptitude and gift that not many people possess.

I believe that even if I worked as hard as I could, I would never have what these people have. I decided then to persue an avenue in which I thought I had that gift and could really explore something that I was meant to do.

ANNB:  So has cooking always been a passion?
MS: I have always enjoyed cooking and creating new and different flavors. I also like finding out what people like and playing a little with what they think they like by introducing them to new and different ingredients and combinations.

ANNB:  Did someone inspire you to be a chef?
MS: I liked watching the Frugal Gourmet, but really I just liked cooking and pursued on my own.  

ANNB: You’ve cooked for a number of celebrities. Do you have a favorite/least favorite?
MS: I try and cook for everyone the exact same.  Some tend to have more requests than others, but all of them have been great to cook for and I hope that they have enjoyed everything. I still cook for celebrities on a regular basis, but I have to admit, I don’t always know who they are when they come in. If you loose sight of who your customers are on a day-to-day basis, the restaurant has a way of suffering.

ANNB:  What’s your favorite dish to make or favorite cooking style?
MSL: I think that one of my strengths is being very diverse. Every menu that I do seems to be different. I am always incorporating new ingredients, flavor combinations and cooking methods. I think what is fun is to take ingredients from one region or country and cook them in a style or traditional dish from another country or area.

Last Updated (Monday, 22 March 2010 01:31)

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