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Social Networking Crash Course

Social Networking Crash Course

Social networking can seem a little daunting if you’ve never dipped your toes in. There are so many different sites – What is each one about? Which ones should you sign up for? How do you use them? In this crash course, you’ll learn enough about each social network to get you started.
Facebook is the largest social networking website in the United States and Europe. Its main features are that you can add your friends and stay in touch, as well as see a constant news stream about what’s going on with the people around you.
In many places in the world, “Facebook me” is a common phrase. Being on Facebook will allow you to stay in touch with people you may otherwise slip out of contact with.
Twitter specializes in fast, sound-bite sized 140 character messages called “tweets.” These can be anything from quick life updates to business tips.  Twitter utilizes a “following” system, where you can “follow” other people to see their tweets and others can “follow” you to see yours.
Blogging allows just about anyone to publish a website quickly and easily. Through blogging, people who wouldn’t otherwise start a website can quickly become ranked in the search engines and publish their ideas to a lot of people.  A blog is short for “Web Log,” a sort of online journal. Blogs tend to be updated more often than other websites.
LinkedIn is like Facebook for professionals. You can upload your resume, work history, references, and testimonials as well as have professional relationships online.
In many industries, especially tech related industries, your LinkedIn profile can be as important if not more important than your physical resume.
Digg & Reddit
Digg and Reddit are voting based news sites. Other users submit articles which are then voted on by the users. When you browse the front page, you’re presented with the highest rated articles.  That means that your news is chosen by democracy and end users rather than by magazine editors.
StumbleUpon is a unique social networking site that helps you randomly find websites that you might enjoy. It does it through a combination of the interests you provide as well as your previous habits.  Here’s how it works: First, you install a browser toolbar. When you want to “StumbleUpon” a new site, just click the Stumble button and you’ll be taken to a random website that the system thinks you’ll like.
Meetup is another popular social networking website. With Meetup, however, most of the interaction happens in person rather than online.  Meetup helps create physical meetings where people get together around various topics, from philosophy to dating to hiking.
Taking Your First Steps in Social Networking
As you can tell, there are all kinds of different social networking sites out there. The best way to learn is to just pick one or two and get started. It’s a lot easier to learn than it looks!
Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Director of Communications for Our Milk Money, the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of Buy By Mom and Buy By Mom Blog. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.

I went to the grocery store with an infant and a toddler ALONE…AND I survived.

I was determined. To heal quickly from my cesarean.
To conquer the idea that I now had TWO kids rather than 1.
To get out of the house.
To prove to myself that although I don’t have family nearby, or neighbors to help out, I was completely capable.
I had been told by several of my friends not to even try it- it couldn’t be done. But I didn’t listen.

A friend of mine suggested that I order the groceries online to be delivered to my home. Another one suggested that I wait until my husband came home from work. I had considered waiting until the toddler had preschool and then take only the infant to the store. All good options, but I had issues with each one: I didn’t want to pay the delivery fee, my husband was working late, and my toddler only had preschool twice a week.
The refrigerator was empty, and so was the pantry.
I had no choice but to attempt this intricate task…today.
It started off fine, believe it or not. As I walked the aisles in the store, I remember thinking, “Hey! This is easy. I can accomplish this!” Of course it was very premature. I was worried that my toddler would take issue with walking NEXT to the grocery basket as opposed to being IN it, since the infant had now taken the prime and ONLY seat available, but actually he seemed to be proud at his new role as the big brother. I was especially grateful that the toddler did not disappear and then attempt to leave the store as he had done several months earlier, at a time when I was pregnant and too handicapped to be able to chase after him.
I confess that I had bribed the toddler with a box of cookies, so he was in fact behaving himself.
The first hitch began when I got to the car and realized that with the double stroller, the diaper bag, and BOTH car seats taking up the entire back seat, I had very little room for groceries.
I made a mental note to bring up the issue of purchasing a bigger vehicle to my husband that evening, which would prove to be a waste of my energy. I would later post my frustration on face book.
Somehow, I managed to squeeze the groceries into the unreasonably small trunk space of the Toyota Rav 4, and slam the door before anything could fall out, knowing full well that opening it again would create a new challenge. I opted not to be concerned for the moment, as I had other tasks to complete. I would cross that bridge soon enough.
Got the kids in their car-seats. First the toddler, then the infant- so as not to have the toddler running in the street and stopping traffic while belting in the infant. Drove home. Okay.
Now HERE is where the real chaos began. By the time I had pulled up to the house, my car at become a chamber of hissy fits, tears and pandemonium.
It was at this point that I realized I had a real dilemma of which action to take first. The infant needed me to nurse him, the toddler wanted his cucumber sandwich with the crusts cut off and a side of apple slices, I hadn’t eaten yet- which was an important task to accomplish before I attempted to nurse, and the groceries were melting in the car.
Plus, I had to pee. Badly. And to those ladies out there who have also been pregnant, you can attest to the fact that it takes several months before one’s bladder is even close to recovering from the trauma.
But this? This was like Sophie’s choice.
What to do first…
Feed the Toddler?
Feed the Infant?
Feed myself?
Save the melting groceries?
Save my bladder?

To be honest, I don’t remember how it went. But the important thing is that it all worked out… because, well, here we are.
As I write this, my well-fed boys are napping (another miracle in itself!), my bladder has been emptied, and the groceries have been put away. Somehow I survived, and I am now able to chalk this up to another lesson learned about how I need not over-extend myself and to know my limitations as a mother.
From now on, I shop when the toddler is at preschool, or my husband is home from work. If I get desperate, I will sit down at the computer and type my grocery list into the virtual shopping cart. If I get REALLY desperate, I will take the boys out to eat.
Now, onto the next task: How to convince my husband that we need a minivan.

Social Networking Crash Course

My Son, The Comedian

Written by Chris Loprete

My 3 year old is hysterical. Seriously. I’m not talking about the little “oh isn’t that cute” type of laughs that an infant elicits. Nor am I talking about the courtesy laughs you give to a joke told at a cocktail party or by the elderly…or your in-laws. No, I mean every day my 3 year old son says or does something that brings a genuine belly laugh out of me. I always thought I was a big shot because I wrote and performed a one man show a few years back. That’s nothing! My kid performs a one man show every night whether it’s on our living room floor or in the bathtub. And it’s all improv. You should see what he can do with a few finger puppets and plastic dolphins. He’s named every one of his toys and not your every day run of the mill names either. He calls his rubber shark, “Rusty”. Who names a shark Rusty? Brilliant! I’m dying over here! He’s tells funnier stories than Bill Cosby, he’s a better prop comic than Carrot Top and can make a bigger mess than Gallagher. He also works blue at times. His bathroom humor would make Howard Stern blush. I’m not all that fond of his potty mouth, but I understand that he has to work in front of all kinds of audiences. I don’t know, I guess some kids at day care go for that sort of stuff. And unlike every comedian who is just starting out, he never bombs. He goes out there and kills every night.

Is he funnier than your kid? Of course he is. To me. You wouldn’t find him funny though. Just like your kid is hilarious to you, but I probably wouldn’t get it. His or her musings and observations would be lost on me while you would be rolling on the floor laughing. Why? It’s all in the material. You’ve heard the question, “Where do they get this stuff?” The answer? Us, of course. Our kids are little Dictaphones. They just spew back to us what they hear. Good and bad. Their brilliance is spewing it back to us when we least expect it. Last weekend my toddler came in to our bedroom at 7AM looked at me in bed and said with extreme disgust and contempt, “Daddy, are you asleep? Oh, I don’t believe it” Not funny right? WRONG! It’s comedy gold. Tonight he looked at me and the trash bag in my hand and innocently said, “Oh! What have you got there?” SEE? That’s funny! It’s not just what he says, but the commitment behind it. I have no idea when I, my wife, or anyone else said those words, but we must have at some point. The fact that he chose these random moments to say them back to us just shows his penchant for comic timing. And he’s not the only funny preschooler in the family. My 4 year old niece makes me howl too. And the two of them together? Abbott and Costello only WISH they were that funny. I’m also excited because my 2 month old just learned to smile. I’m sure he’s starting to mentally jot some notes down that will soon turn into some real A material.

I’m writing this down here in this forum because it’s the kind of thing that only parents can understand. We are all dying to brag or joke about every single thing our kids say and do. We have to show some restraint though. Our friends who are single and married without kids would give us a smile or a courtesy laugh (see above), but they just don’t get it. Our friends with kids would genuinely laugh, but they would be thinking, “My kid said something much more cute and funny the other day”. Don’t believe me? When you update your Facebook status with an anecdote about your child, the only comments you get are from parents who will say. “That’s funny. It reminds me of the time my little Brittney said…”

Now if you’re like me and you have a toddler, enjoy these comedy sets because they will not last. As my kid grows he will always be funny, but he’ll be a different kind of funny. The innocence and complete lack of insecurity is what makes this stage of life so magical and uproarious. So do yourself a favor before it’s too late. Turn off the TV and take time to watch the show that your kid is performing right in front of you. I guarantee it’s better than any reality show or sitcom (except for the fine programming on ABC). And at times they’ll need a straight man so make sure you can keep up.

Chris is an actor/writer living in Los Angeles. He’s performed in movies, TV and on stage with the Groundlings Improvisation troupe, and the award winning Circle X Theatre Company. He recently performed his self penned critically acclaimed one man show “You’re From Philly, Charlie Brown” in several cities across the US. Chris currently works as an Associate Writer/Producer for ABC On-Air Promos for Reality and Comedy. He lives north of Los Angeles, in Santa Clarita, with his wife and two children.

Please Forgive the Pregnancy Brain

Please Forgive the Pregnancy Brain

Written by Ally Loprete

I don’t know how many more times I will be able to get away with the excuse that I am pregnant every time I have a brain fart. Seriously, my brain seems to be functioning less and less the larger the baby in my belly grows. Does the bloat travel upward to our heads as well? I am a bit of ditz, anyway- as my closest friends will tell you. And it’s not for lack of trying, or lack of caring. In fact, I used to be quite sensitive to the blond hair on my head until I met my husband and he helped me learn to laugh at my malapropisms and idiosyncrasies. There. A perfect example of how I mix metaphors and folk lore.
It’s times like these that I notice the difference in the patience level among my friends who parents like me, and those that are not. Not that I blame them, as I know I had less patience before I became a parent. It’s not that I was an insensitive person, but looking back, I see how easy it was to be judgmental. If we witnessed children acting up in a restaurant, for example, my husband and I would whisper to each other that when we have kids, we would make sure that they would behave much better that that. We’d nit-pick at the parents who were obviously are not giving their children the correct attention or discipline. Looking back at that time and that old me, I want to reach back into the past and smack my face. How dare I? The truth is, I barely recognize the person that I was before I had children and perhaps those unsympathetic notions are punishing me today with a very active toddler, often difficult to control in public places.
I used to be embarrassed by loud childhood behavior and public temper tantrums- especially the ones where my son would lay down in a high traffic area out of protest for not wanting me to hold his hand and force him to go in MY direction rather than his own. After nearly a year of this, I stopped apologizing to the disapproving strangers while they stepped over the obviously “poor parented” child on the ground, and stopped caring altogether what they must think of me.
But back to me and the air in my brain.
It’s gotten significantly worse upon becoming a parent, beginning with my first pregnancy. The term is called Pregnancy Brain: a lapse in awareness because of the fatigue that comes with creating a child and the big belly that causes a disruption in balance resulting in complete and total clumbsiness. Once the baby is born, the brain then transforms to Mommy Brain: a lapse in awareness resulting from sleepless nights and lack of adult interaction during the work week.
Of course, just as my toddler began sleeping through the night and I began to meet other numbed brained parents with whom I might commiserate did I rediscover all that lost energy returning. Of course, I became pregnant again soon after. Hello, pregnancy brain, can’t say that I missed you, but welcome back.
It’s no easier the second time around, either. The only difference is that I have stopped apologizing for it, and I’ve accepted it as part of the 9 month cycle. This is not to say that I don’t use the Pregnancy Brain explanation on a daily basis. The thing that I’ve noticed is that I don’t even need to give the explanation to my parent friends. They just nod in empathy when I’ve forgotten something obviously simple, like …oh…my own son’s name, or the year we are living in, or how to write a proper sentence. They get it…because they’ve either been there, or they are there with me now and didn’t even notice.
Yet, for all my non-parent friends, who I love as much as I ever did, for whom I find myself envying now and again for the motor in their minds that is still operating at full functionality- I forgive you for not quite understanding, but appreciate your acceptance, nonetheless. It would appear that parenthood kills more brain cells than the occasional kegger.
Social Networking Crash Course

Back to the Basics

Written by Ally Loprete

As the owner of OMM and a representative of so many members, I’ve had to do something I’ve never done before, and that is to swallow my political opinions and keep them to myself for the sake of everyone. This is because I care about all of our members, the parents who are working hard to support their children and are doing so by running their own businesses. I did not want anyone to think for a moment that I if my opinions differed from theirs in the political arena, that I was not FOR them, when I certainly am.
But I feel the time has come to open my mouth a little. There is so much happening in our country right now that I feel it almost ridiculous not to talk about it, especially when so much of it affects us directly and what we are trying to achieve as an organization dedicated to working moms and dads. So I’ll just say it. I love President Obama. I believe in what he is trying to accomplish, and I think for the first time ever, our voices are being heard.
According to a recent letter I received from Momsrising.org, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first piece of legislation signed by President Obama, both the House and Senate passed an expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and now the Senate is getting ready to vote on an economic recovery package that has a number of key provisions that would directly help moms and their families.
Whether you like Barack Obama as a candidate or not, I think we can all agree that we have been fearful of anyone to step into the white house and take on the mess that has been left for him. Therefore, we are fearful of any new maneuvers that the new president will take on to help the situation. But the reason I am so impressed with Obama is because he is not afraid to take risks. He did not take office to sit quietly and second guess every move that might rock the boat. He is diving in and making something happen. I think if we all follow suit, something WILL happen.
When Our Milk Money was just a blip of an idea, the economy was not in the state that it is today, yet it was created for this exact time. Let me tell you a quick story, that you may or may not have already heard. Before OMM was conceived, I was trying to price a piece of jewelry that I had made, and wondered how it would compare to the prices in the department stores. I guessed $50 would be a good price. And then I imagined all that I could do with an extra $50; a tank of gas, a small trip to the grocery store for milk, bread, eggs, cheese and some fruit, a month of Gymboree classes for my toddler, date night with my husband…
It wasn’t difficult to conclude that $50 was more valuable to me and my family than a large corporation or department store. I wondered if anyone else would care about that value enough to make an effort to change their spending habits and buy my product over someone elses. Yes. Other parents would feel the same way, I just had to find them. I made a decision right then and there that I would make an effort to search for a parent who might possibly be selling whatever it is I needed each time I made a purchase. With the internet, and the master search guru I had become, I should be able to find anything online, right? Wrong. I searched and searched. Nowhere could I find the answers I was looking for.
The rest, you probably know. Our Milk Money, and the first parent only business directory was born.
Why am I talking about this now, almost a year later? Because while I am thrilled to see that our directory is growing, I am concerned about how little it is being used. I imagine that the excuse is that our country is in a state of crisis and people are just not spending money. Wrong. If there was ever a time to use the directory, its now. What better time to rebuild the economy in a way that supports small businesses than right now? The slate is practically clean at this point. And while the excuse is that people aren’t spending money right now, I beg to differ. We are all spending it. That hasn’t stopped. It can’t stop, because in this country we need to spend money to survive. We need to buy things to live, even if they are just necessities. Well, guess what! Those “necessities” are available for purchase by a parent somewhere in your local community, and may even be listed in the Our Milk Money business directory. If you are a parent, you have even more reason to support the directory, because it benefits you as well. We are an organization and a community of parents that need to stick together. What are YOU doing to support others like you?