Archive for 2012

Prolific – A Forty Weeks Haiku

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

PROLIFIC, A Forty Weeks Haiku:

tap, tap, consider

tap, tap and quickly revise

maybe an apple?

 

A Forty Weeks Guide to What to Expect – An HRH in waiting….

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Talk about a break from the everyday (for the commoners of course)…what fun it is to imagine what comes next –  love, marriage, now a ROYAL baby carriage! Luckily for me I have surrounded myself with some of the very best in the bump and baby business who have offered to share their POV on the HRH on the way!  How about a quick inside line one all things for the bundle of joy on the way for Prince William and Catherine the Dutchess of Cambridge:

Royal Names

HRH names are serious business…and one best handled by the true experts! Baby Name Candy (just the name is a treat!!) is my ONLY stop for insights on the very emotional yet exact art of naming.

Here are some of their early but savvy insights. Keep checking back to their site – as the Prince and Dutchess make their way through their Forty Weeks of name negotiations together.

Some quick vitals – Baby Name Candy shares that in the last 1000 years -there have only been 66 monarchs with only 30 names used  – talk about a limited but prestigious field!

They also suggest that we get ready for a traditional, long-winded name filled with nostalgic tributes (think Princess Diana).

Some early favorites:

Girls:  There more options for girls than for boys (namely by feminizing a traditional male name to create a gender-appropriate version such as Victoria or Charlotte). The pool also includes names in use in the current generation such as Georgia (my personal favorite) or Henrietta.

Boys: A little prince could be a nod to Grand-papa Phillip or even a classic like John.

Nursery

Where will the Royal sweet thing slumber? This one is both personal in nature yet highly visual in outcome. What a question! Good thing I have got the direct-dial bat phone to the one true way to answer this question – by the duo of Melisa and Pam at Project Nursery!  They’ve offered us a sneak peak though the lens of their super savvy eye to see just what a royal nursery might look:

GIRLIE GOLDS                                        ROYAL NAVY

 

Look for a world of design inspiration on Project Nursery – especially worth the wander are their pinterest boards which will leave you completely giddy from the idea of guilded nurseries and royal round-ups!

Gear

When I think out and about with baby I think ChildMode. So, I called on the queen bee of all things gracious and on the go to ask what we might expect to see strolling around the royal gardens. Nadia was generous and gracious sharing a few outing worthy ideas:

“Thanks to my Grandmother’s love for the royals I’ve been a fan of the British monarchy since I was just a child. So to say that I was thrilled to hear this baby news would be an understatement!

All eyes and cameras will be on Kate from here on in – even more so then the past.  It will be interesting to see what gear Catherine chooses for her new addition, although I can be fairly certain the Balmoral Silver Cross Stroller will be just one of the buggies she opts for. Silver Cross has been trusted by the British Royal Family for generations. During travels and quick outings however? My bet is on Baby Jogger’s City Elite.

With so many gorgeous diaper bags out there, it is hard to choose just 1, so I picked two. My bet is on the new Black and White Diaper Bag from Burberry  and Storksak’s quilted Elizabeth.

Highchairs are another must-have for babies and although I feel the new Fresco Chrome is fresh, modern and ‘in’ -  just the thing for William and Kate’s little one -  this oval distressed piece from Posh Tots is more suited for visits to Grandma’s Buckingham Palace.
The new Cybex Aton 2 is packed with ease of use, safety and functionality, making it deal for the little prince or princess.”

Thank you to Jennie, Laura, Melisa, Pam and Nadia for your interest and always clever insights. We’ll all stay tuned…

Getting Closer to Free from the Mommy Wars?

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Kimberly is always a star!

I had lunch with one of my favorite people in the universe last week.  Kimberly Seals Allers and I went to “our place” – the cozy and always delicious Black Market Bistro in Kensigton,  Maryland. She came beautiful and brainy – as always. Her chic black ensemble was at once simple and stunning. And per usual,  her smile and spirt made my day. That is what good  friends are for, and certainly explains why  the ritual of a long, lingering ladies’ lunch is so essential for surivial.

Since then I have been chewing on our conversation and the questions that Kimberly asked for her upcoming (oh, get yourselves ready) book. The bulk of the conversation and her inquiry  had do to with the ways in which women support or derail each other in their role as mother. We talked about evolution and the state of the Mommy Wars  - we did so with an eye on history ( thinking a bit about Rosie the Riveter – she was supporting a war not battling one with other mothers, no?!?!)  but mainly with a deep desire for positive change.

I came to a very disheartening conclusion about how our daughters might experience their motherhood when I looked up and said (with great sadness) – that despite all our extraordinary efforts and the energy around advancing this critical dialog – our daughters would likely not have a very different experience…and I sighed….

Kimberly knows my POV – likely you do do. Success is a highly individualized state, it is based on a deeply personal, internal marker. This is truest in parenting sandbox where there seems to be so little fair play.  And in specific, it is true when evaluating  breastfeeding success, which I believe is found is in how a woman chooses to define it. It his hers alone to gauge. There is no clear answer, standard or finish line. This is a CHOICE

Riddle me this…why are we pro-choice in mixed company but full of judgement among out own?

Funny how we rally around the powerful notion of choice when a male dominated, institutional, governmental “threat” appears…we are good at that!

Just weeks ago there was an election where we clearly stood up for our rights, as women, to CHOOSE.

Still, when we are left among our own – you know with lactating breasts and ready wombs-we go harsh, unyielding and highly judgmental. Where is the sisterhood you wonder? Well so do I.

Two articles this week are well worth reading as you consider why we continue to fail to simply support other mothers. Why and how we have the audacity to support programs that are for the elite among us and that perpetuate the idea of a singular definition of success in parenting? And while our bodies, the very ones which we say we must protect via our right to choose  - become a fertile battle ground among our own…

Take a moment to listen to Suzanne Barston discuss her new book Bottled Up on Take -Two…I neither know Suzanne nor have the read the book in its entirety – though I intend to change both those things! Her points are valid and well stated. Her questions important…

And then please give some focus the the brilliant way in which Alissa Quart and New York Magazine tackle the Milk Culture issues, especially the social-economic question (divide) of  breastfeeding and regulatatory disconnect which is quickly becoming the new standard and very popular stance.

Having spent the week deep in the after-glow of my time with Kimberly (which means a great deal of thinking) and following along in the press, here is where I land:

We need to please stop and consider our actions not just our intentions. And find our way to caring enough as women, for women – to accept that we are not uniform because our parts are the same. We need to care enough to recognize and accept the full range of circumstances in which women live and strive to help to support each woman’s right to choose how to define her success as a mother. It is not asking a lot, but the outcome could be staggering. And, that might find us closer to free…

Cover Me – US Weekly goes two for two on the Bump Cycle, People validates

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson gets glowing – again!

Usually the holidays mark the beginning of the Bump Cycle — you know the old wive’s tales: cold nights, holiday cheer and short days lead to many late summer into fall babies. Some (ok me) predict a bit of a boom (SandyBoom that is) as byproduct of the horrid devastation a of Super-storm Sandy that swept through the East Coast in October. All of this remains in play.

What is curious is not about babies…but the way in which the Family Way dominated the Weeklies… This week the Bump Cycle started early:

December 3 issue of US Weekly is all about a blushing Kate Middleton and a smirky Prince William and a very royal baby watch –  a non-story (Royals having sex hoping for positive results by Christmas) morphs into the cover story -simply put  William and Kate getting busy on the way to baby story — as in “we plan to get pregnant” (even I must stand up and applaud that spin — brilliant really!).  No pregnancy but intention and action…
Not be undone by themselves – US Weekly pops the news today – Jessica Simpson annouces via an exclusive in the December 10th issue of  US Weekly (spotted on-line today) that she is pregnant with baby number two — Surprise! Seven months into motherhood with her long-time fiancé they are over-the-moon (of course!)

December 10 -People magazine’s cover  is all about  Brad Pitt getting personal!  And thus, People becomes the big old baby validator. A sexy, mature and confident (possible bias alert) Brad Pitt shares that parenting has made him a better man – which is great news for both Prince William and Eric Johnson.

And thus the Bump Cycle has hit full stride and early this year. Outstanding questions remain – how many covers will each one of these pregnancies garner? Is there an over-under on the on-line coverage? And of course, who might be next?

This week,  in an interview about my work connecting celebrities with nonprofit organizations focused on the critical needs of at-risk families PR Week mentioned that I was an early leader in celebrity baby trend – may I please just say “not it”….

 

 

 

Sandy Handled Well…An A+ Example

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

So much has been said about how brands are not showing their best face during this post-Sandy clean-up and crisis. I have seen it too – insensitivity played out  my brands in all forums over and again. There are a myriad of reasons ranging from inexperience  (the question of who is in charge of your brand’s voice bubbles up again) to forgetfulness (that masterful auto delivery that ends up biting you in the tush) and more.

Rather than going “there” – let’s try this — let’s notice who is doing well…

There are brands that are doing it right and even some that are doing an exempliary job of finding the right tone and content — creating an approriate message and delivering it well.

My winner  (by a landslide):

J. Crew and Madewell for emailing this pitch perfect note:

 

 

 

Trick or Treat

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Lila strikes a pose in her halloween costume as Rosie the Riveter – adorable!

If you know much about Forty Weeks you must know we do things a little differently. And we like it that way! Our team is made up of the most driven, intelligent and clever moms in the market. We are hell-bent on finding women who have left an idelible mark in the industry, had a baby or two and are in search of the next thing. We like to be that next stop  in a long career – it suits us and it suits them. We gain, we give and we all grow.  Some stay for long periods of time (as in Gina who down-sized out of big agency life to run the media department at Forty Weeks for more than seven years) and others stay for a project or two (Alice, Teena, Nicole to name a few). We are better for all of these women and their contribution to our work. We hire moms by design. We are well known  and proud of our open-door policy to all of our friends across pregnancy and baby-land — we are that most essential pivot, plan B and what comes next for outstanding talent. And good!

One outcome of is that we are surrounded by grateful, inspired team members who feel great about their balancing act (on balance!).  Another outcome would be weeks like this…Natural disaster (loose two days), Halloween (loose one day for parades) family strep throat (ok that was last week – but loose two days). Days where sitting around the conference table ideating or prepping for a strategy session feels like some warped version of fantasy. Days in which memos read like urgent streams of consciousness (as they were written from a doctors waiting room or during a quick bathroom break at the halloween parade). Those days (or weeks) are the trick.  Simply put they are tricky but they leave the entire team feeling like we have found that illusive balance (even in the most micro sense) of personal and professional. And really, as I am sure you have guessed – that is an accomplishment that can only be defined as a treat!

Power…

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Let me simply begin with I’ve been there. Powerless. Literally, figuratively – I have been without power. This year  I’ve already logged my fair share of  “PEPCO is a no-go” hours. Ten days this summer of spoiled food, sweltering heat, basement living…not the end of the world, but by no means ideal. I have been there personally  too as I navigate my way though some murky health waters. Again not killing, just making stronger…

So as the weather report and predictions for a severe Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast began to surface (and scare!) so too did my agenda began to take form. I began to plot my own plan to keep my power. Not via Pepco mind you, rather via the kindness of my beloved team at W hotels, the trust of my MIA (ok he is not missing, but he is in Beijing) husband and my overarching desire to turn this into a positive experience for all of us. My plan was simple: Check into the W, Washington DC with the kids, with the dog and with a lot of good energy. Bring excitement and adventure to a scenario that might otherwise create fear and anxiety. Offer up equal parts of security and silly  - enough to weather the storm you might say…

And so we did. We loaded up the car and checked in – me doing my very best Auntie Mame, N. Leah (my Mommom), Mama Bear   – off for an adventure. It began with a family bar dine and Sam’s super VIP tour of the property (such great history there at the former Hotel Washington).  Next we introduced Addie to the neighborhood via a walk which then required a little puppy nap! And finally, late-day Monday we all just found our groove. Hanging in the most comfortable of rooms, watching the sky darken and the wind pick up- we watched movies, played games and just stayed close.  We took cookies and espresso (for Mama of course) in the room and enjoyed the sheer  luxury of it all. The sum was so much greater than the (remarkable) parts – it was not  just the room nor the views (which were quintessential Washington  -with grey skies and high, blustering winds seen having their way in the many fiercely flapping flags of the Treasury and other Federal buildings that surround the hotel), nor was it  just the decadent cookies or even the amazing gift of all of us in one space with nowhere to go and nothing on our agendas. It seemed to me it was about showing my kids and reminding myself that there are ways to find power in love (giving, getting – it matters not) no matter the weather.

The punch line is (wait for it) – we never lost power here at home. And there is certainly a lesson in that as well. My local friends agree that my stay at the W, DC was the best insurance policy ever and maybe it was. In the end, no power  was lost, a stay-cation was gained and I’ve stored up enough great memories to keep me powered up for some time.

SandyBoom – look for spike in August 2013 babies!

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Hurricane Sandy or Frankenstorm as it is affectionately being called,  is shutting down the whole of the east coast  with extreme wind, rain and even snow in the forecast. Conditions are dangerous enough to keep all of us indoors for the duration (think 3+ days).  Crowd sourcing shows that most are thinking comfort foods and cozy, candle lit fun. And some of us (namely the team here at Forty Weeks) are thinking about the baby boom or as we now call it,  the SandyBoom that we will expect to see on the East Coast come late July and early August of 2013.

How big of a spike to expect is hard to say. How likely is this to come up again in the sunny, humid days of summer? Well that is easy to answer,  in a word -very. So remember, you heard it here first!

Be safe!

 

Ad Hoc it is…

Friday, October 26th, 2012

My son Sam asked for lamb tonight for dinner. I smiled. Friday nights at my grandmother’s home evoke the most remarkable memories — a feast for all my senses comes to life somewhere deep in my soul. I can see myself there — a little girl (maybe Sam’s age) sitting to her right (oh the coveted seat of the eldest granddaughter) as she presented the perfectly petticoated (yes, she put petticoats on her rack of lamb!!!) platter of succulent lamb, roasted vegetables and of course  - herself to the dining room full of family.  The silver is shining, the stately dining room is full of familiar faces , the  scents of roast rack of  lamb and my grandmother’s signature Ivory soap are in the air. That is how I remember our family and my grandmother’s dining room.

So good – lamb for shabbat, I am in! I know just where I will go to try something new. My dearest Lisa Bernstein had given us (as a most lovely wedding gift and thank you Lisa!) Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home — I want to dive in and see what I can play with there. So I grab Thomas Keller off the baker’s rack that houses my cookbook collection. This cookbook collection is one of my real-time intersections with Debbie Moses, Bob’s deceased first wife. She, like I, had a great passion for cooking (and many of the same chefs including Floyd Cordoz) and built a remarkable collection of books which I like to say we now share.

Thinking I was grabbing Ad Hoc I actually pulled Bouchon. As I opened the book to the index in the back, out came  tumbling a menu dated November 17, 2004 ( a year before Debbie passed away). This menu was from an event at Sur La Table (another passion we share) called Great Cooks and Their Books.  Debbie had met Thomas Keller at an event here in DC. Turning to the front – I found this was a signed copy. My eyes welled up with tears. The discovery was just so startling and jarring.

This whole of this moment was a harsh juxtaposition to where I have been this week on so many levels. It was a reminder of how very short, precious and delicious life really is and how it must be savored. And that, above and beyond a cookbook collection or a love of cooking – Debbie and I  share a deep love for, and commitment to the remarkable people who live in this home.  I don’t know what she would make of me or of this blended family I am carefully marinating, seasoning and sharing with the world. I don’t have a recipe. I am doing this ad hoc (as the title suggests) simply by being present – taking advantage of the bounty of season and of the moment. It  feels as though I am constantly making lemonade – some sweet and of course,  some sour. Sometimes I am preparing for a banquet and other times I am simply making do with scraps – really, it varies.  I do know that I am doing my best to do my best…and on this grey Friday in October, I will take it.

 

 

As Luck Would Have it!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Lucky is coordinating a train-meeting with the remarkable Dr. Marisa Weiss, founder of Breastcancer.org as we both make our way south. Add to that – the sun just came out!