Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Jeannie: The Happiness Jar.

In Experience, Human behavior, Just plain fun, Parenting on 02/06/2015 at 12:22 am

Jeannie was one of our company’s first supporters and quickly became a rockstar in the digital media space. She owns a company called 360Connext that tackles the customer experience aspect of business. We recently met up for the first time in a long time and caught up on so much stuff — life, business, kids, projects.

And in our catch-up conversation, she shared something that she and her family have been doing for a while: the happiness jar. The premise is simple: write down what makes you happy throughout the year. Drop your happy slip of paper into the jar. At the end of the year, go through the jar and remember all of the times you were happy.


I love this idea. And the great thing is, you don’t need to start adding happy slips of paper to your happiness jar on January 1st. You can start being happy any day of the year.

(Photo credit: Tara Leaver)

Jeremy: Say Anything If It’s Funny.

In Be memorable, Just plain fun, Parenting on 01/27/2013 at 3:38 pm

I met Jeremy Piven when Foiled Cupcakes catered an event at the Piven Theatre Workshop. It was 5,000 degrees at the event (a strategic move on the part of the organization to raise money for air conditioning), and everyone was steamy and shiny and just gorgeous, as you can see below.

Jeremy Piven Foiled Cupcakes

During his very pithy (due to the temperature) speech, Mr. Piven acknowledged his mom – a lot. The best part?

“My mom told me I could say anything to her, or to anyone, as long as it was funny. If it wasn’t funny, don’t waste her time.”

I’ve read studies that have shown that kids who exercise their sense of humor early learn to deal with their lives and society in a much more adjusted way. They’re better able to cope with challenges, not to mention smarter and healthier.

A sense of humor was never the first value in my home growing up, but I’d like to figure out how to make it one for my kid. Time to start checking joke books out of the library. Knock knock?

Lindsay: Make Things Easy to Find.

In Be authentic, Organization, Parenting, Super Helpful Info on 08/03/2012 at 2:08 pm

I love Lindsay. She started a business called Mamaloot (which subsequently sold in pretty much, like, 6 seconds) and is now VP at Sandbox Industries. When we met (we were on a panel together at Northwestern), I immediately decided that we needed to be friends. Thankfully, we have a passion for entrepreneurship, being moms, being risk takers and getting things done – so it was easy for us to like each other.

We try to schedule lunch every few months. We usually discuss our businesses, the stress of juggling kid(s – plural for her), how we can help each other. It’s always productive, inspiring and super fun.

But the last time we went to Bongo Room, I noticed her fabulous green wallet and super blinged out phone case before we talked about anything. Naturally, I commented on both.

She said, “Oh, thanks! You know how it is – you can never find what you need in your purse. I figured I better make the stuff I need all the time easy to find.”

I looked at my brown wallet and boring phone case and decided that I needed to adopt this mentality. And guess what? A bright orange wallet and bright orange-and-turquoise phone case DO make things easier to find. And more fun, too!

Jesi: Fold Deep

In Clothes, Organization, Parenting on 01/26/2012 at 4:35 pm

I met Jesi Haack for about two minutes at my lovely friend Iris’ wedding. Jesi was her wedding planner and has a knack for putting together super spectacular events – all the way down to the details.

So of course, now I’m following her on Pinterest. And one of the first things she repinned?

So when you’re going through your stuff in the morning and looking for something in particular, you don’t have to sift down into the depths of your t-shirt drawer, get the piles all messed up, and then crumple everything into a ball when try to re-shut the drawer.

I’ve modified every drawer – all of my thin sweaters and cardigans, the kid’s t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts… even JEANS. And guess what? It all fits into 2/3 of the space that it used to fit in.

I love folding and putting away laundry now. A true miracle!

Shannon: Teaching Kids “Thank You”

In Create, Human behavior, Parenting on 01/16/2012 at 12:06 pm

My (at-the-time 5 year old) kid went to a friend’s birthday party and was promptly sent a thank-you card in the mail. It was handwritten by the receiving kid (pretty legibly). The brilliance? It was fill-in-the-blank.

Here’s why I loved it: it taught the kid the importance of gratitude without overwhelming the child with a task that, at age 5, would have seemed insurmountable (i.e. writing 20 thank you cards and getting serious hand cramps.)

I want my kid to learn how and why it’s important to be grateful, and I want him to learn how to express it. So I copied Shannon’s idea and made these silhouette cards with my son’s profile.

I’ve uploaded these Kid Thank You notes if you want to download them (4 to a page; just trim).

I printed set of these and put them, along with envelopes, at the kiddo’s desk so he has them handy to send a note whenever someone does something nice for him or sends him a gift. I’m thinking I’ll make some “Just saying hi!” cards next.

When he turns 8 though, it’s time for him to start writing out the whole thank-you note. Just sayin’.

Ryan: Certify Your Dog.

In Music, Parenting, Super Helpful Info, Travel on 10/18/2011 at 12:54 am

I was one of the last people to board a Southwest MDW -> LGA flight, so I took the first middle seat I saw, which happened to be next to Ryan, a Broadway performer and theater geek (my very favorite type of geek).

For the first half of the flight, we had a ridiculous conversation about Bernstein vs. Sondheim, Rent vs. Les Mis, how we both don’t really get Glee. It was probably the most animated exchange of words I’ve ever had on an airplane.

Out of nowhere, Ryan reached down to give Phoebe (his miniature schnauzer that had been his “personal item” stowed underneath the seat in front of him) a little love. And I looked at him and said, “She’s been here the whole time?!” (Duh, Mari.)

“Yeah, I need her for emotional support. She’s my service animal, and she flies free. I had to get her certified, but that certification had already paid for itself LONG ago.”

The place to go?, who the government considers legitimate enough to give pets their travel certification.

Who knew?

In the meantime, I stalked Ryan. Here’s a YouTube video of him on stage. Yes, the internet is creepy. 🙂

Melissa: 10 minutes.

In Brainstorm, Create, Human behavior, Parenting, Take action, Tech, Web on 04/01/2011 at 10:21 pm

I went to a party last year, which was a total dud. The only good thing to come out of it? My introduction to and friendship with Melissa. (Which made the event totally worth it.)

Melissa is a fierce, bold, action-oriented, passionate entrepreneur/idea girl/supermom/friend. She decided she wanted to make a film, so she did. She decided she wanted to start a company, so she did. She decided she wanted to interview Seth Godin, so she did. Why not.

I admire everything about her.

She joined me and a couple of girlfriends for lunch the other day. I think we were talking about website domains that she bought for fun. And she said, “If an idea is good enough to stick around for 10 minutes, then it’s definitely worth the $5 it costs to buy the domain for it.”

So basically, don’t waste time. Act.

I should do more of that, and less of what I’m good at: procrastinating.

Thanks, lovely – as always.

Nan: No Training Wheels.

In Parenting, Sports on 03/11/2010 at 2:19 pm

I remember getting a Christmas card from Nan, a college friend from years and years ago. (She and her husband were the ones who said, “Hey, Mari. You should start a cupcake business.”) And in it, she told me about her kids and how her at-the-time four-year-old learned how to ride a two-wheeler. Without training wheels.

1 – Assemble the bike without training wheels and without pedals.
2 – Put the seat low enough so the kid can scoot himself around using his feet.
3 – He’ll get used to balancing on two wheels, and he’ll get so bored that he’ll beg you to put the pedals on so he can just go.
4 – You attach the pedals, and your preschooler is riding a two-wheel bike.

Has anyone else ever tried this?

Scott: It’s tough to be productive with a guilty conscience.

In Brainstorm, Create, Human behavior, Parenting, Take action on 12/01/2009 at 5:13 pm

Nate introduced me to Matt who introduced me to Scott (@chicagojones), with whom I lunched a few weeks ago. Great conversation, smart guy, runs his own ad agency, lots of prominent clients – in short, he’s brilliant.

A few days ago, a colleague sent a link to Communication Arts magazine (which I hear is pretty prestigious), and I was scrolling through the Insights section. Lo and behold, they featured Scott. So I started to read.

While the interview is charismatic and entertaining (and Scott has great responses to every question, so you should read it regardless), I LOVE this:

Q: What’s your approach to balancing work and life?
A: No matter how many hours you put into work, it’s always going to be there; I have three kids who won’t be young forever. Since it’s tough to be productive with a guilty conscience, I try to knock things out when it matters least to them—before they wake up or after they’re in bed.

I often always feel guilty. But being guilty does nobody any good. I need to move past the self-imposed guilt, be productive when my kid doesn’t care that I’m busy, and be intentional when I do get spend time with him.

Great insight, Scott. Next lunch, I’m going to pick your brain about how you balance it all so well. Here’s to late night/early morning work hours, Diet Coke and brilliance.

Colette: You HAVE to try this stuff.

In Health, Parenting on 10/25/2009 at 12:31 am

Colette and I met and bonded over our hair. I tell her all the time that I’ve never known a white girl who had my hair – coarse, frizzy, thick, and unmanageable. But yet the kind that everyone’s jealous of because it’s “so thick and so beautiful!”

The other day at a playgroup, she said, “My hairstylist just introduced me to Moroccan Oil – and it makes my hair so soft, manageable, and takes out all the frizz. You HAVE to try this stuff, Mari!”


So I bought a bottle.

Oh my goodness.

My hair has never felt so soft.

That is all.

(I love you Colette for many reasons, but sharing this secret with me is a definite list-topper.)