Archives for October 2012

A Tale of a Tail–and of Social Good!

Me:  What do you want to be for Halloween this year?

Her:  A cat.  A black cat.

Me:  Finally.  An easy costume.  Yes, let’s make this happen.

Bought black leotard, tights, cat ears.  Stumped on what to do for a tail.  Feeling lazy (costume-wise) compared to last year.  Thought about who could help me get a tail mounted onto the back of a wheelchair.

Light bulb moment:










Somebody ’round these parts is serious about tail.  Big tails.  Truly Nolen is a pest control service company which is well-known for turning their company cars into adorable mice.  Whiskers on the front fender, rodent ears along the top, a tail on the back.  Charming vehicles and effective critter control, yes.  But maybe Truly Nolen could be good for something else…

So I sent off an email.  A week later found us 180 miles away in Tucson at Truly Nolen corporate headquarters, so that this could happen:













All that so that this could happen:

















Between you and me, sometimes I think that kids who aren’t  in wheelchairs get the short end of the stick when it comes to Halloween costumes.  I don’t know of any able-bodied kid who could wear a better cat costume than hers.  Right?

Either way, tremendous thanks to Truly Nolen!  Their Marketing department (Michelle, Caitlin) was quick to respond, lovely to deal with and served as a go-between for their garage and me.  The garage staff adapted one of their existing tails by removing the heavy metal core of the tail and fashioning it into something of lighter weight that wouldn’t tip Lauren’s wheelchair over backwards.  And while I asked only to borrow one of their tails, after all the work they put into it they have given Lauren this tail to keep!

Additionally, kudos to the half-dozen folks at our nearby Lowe’s store for helping us figure out a way to mount the tail to her chair.  With the guidance of Keith, Mario and the rest I have always been confident that the good people at Lowe’s can happily solve any of my problems!

Additionally, Truly Nolen is hosting a costume contest on their Facebook page.  Details here.  There are prizes involved!   You have all week to submit your costume photos!  Check it out!


This post was the product of and gratitude for the extreme lengths that Truly Nolen went to last week to make a little girl happy on Halloween.  I received no compensation for this post, other than being gifted the tail referenced above, and Truly Nolen is unaware that I would write about their thoughtfulness and generosity.  But when people are kind and go out of their way to make a difference to a child, it deserves attention.  Who doesn’t love a company who does that?


Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at

Itty Bitty Toy Parts

I have had it up to HERE with toys and games that have tiny pieces and parts.  Why Why WHY do toys have to have so many parts?  If I wanted my kids to play with something that has lots of little pieces, I’d send them to pebble boarder that lines the outside of our yard.  Or maybe give them a snack pack of stomped-on Teddy Grahams.

You wanna know why the kids’ playroom has been a hot mess for the last two years?  Because there are so many pieces and parts spread out to all four corners that it would take a forensics team to put everything back together.   It could be called (wait….for….it….) CSI Hasbro.  No no–CSI Melissa & Doug.  Maybe CSI Crayola?  Hold the phone, I think I’ve got it: CSI Game of Life Edition.

In any case, the children certainly couldn’t be expected to meticulously piece back together two years’ worth of a toy tornado in that room.  No no, that’s a job for Mom (which is why it never got done).  It’s long, annoying work to determine which Little People person goes with the house, the circus, or the castle.  And does that shoe belong to a Barbie or a Polly Pocket?  And what were the makers of Uno thinking by reimagining a perfectly fine card game into a farm themed nightmare with dozens of colored balls to keep track of?

But today I made some headway.   A place for everything and everything in it’s place–which mostly means lots of stuff in baggies and all the Orbees and Pixos are stored in the Shop-Vac tank.  Exactly where they belong.













And this photo was taken after I’d spent four hours in there.  Hey look–I can see some floor!

Any toy with more than two pieces should come with it’s own handler.  I am the mother of three young children, and I approve this message.  #toyreform2012


Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at


Vegas, Old Friends, and Getting Our Blog On

Tiffany and I Back in the Day

Bloggy Boot Camp. It was a refreshing weekend… not one that you typically expect when traveling to Las Vegas. The loud noises and the bright lights… The obnoxious people and poorly spent wages were all lost on me. It was a time of reunion. Reuniting with women that I began this journey with nearly 5 years ago. In Internet time… 5 years is an eternity.

On that first night, as we gathered in a small, tightly knit group… I made a statement: “We grew up together.”

And we did.

It’s with these women (and many more along my journey than I could possibly list)… that I’ve developed into the role I’m in today. Their friendship and advice has been invaluable. Their cross promotion. Their re-tweets. Taking chances on each other. Supporting new endeavors.

Women like Laurie Turk… who has been a dear, trusted, friend in the often unkind world of the Internet. Laurie radiates light. She is an example of one who gives of herself,  but not one who is taken advantage of. She doles out advice, measured with friendship.

Or how about Tiffany Romero? She gave me my first speaking gig. I’ll never forget when a fellow blogger said to me…”Why do you get to speak?” Following that… Tiffany took me along on the Bloggy Boot Camp Tour in 2010. It was one of the best years I’ve had in this industry… traveling across the country, meeting my peers, and soaking in all the knowledge. Today, I know I can still call and text her for her opinion on things. I trust her. And… her voice is like that of a thousand angels. She should really be a host on QVC or HSN. (That was just for you T).

Tiffany introduced me to Cynthia Wheeler… also known as NapWarden. We roomed together once in Philadelphia and discovered we had lived these sort of parallel lives. She’s since redesigned 2 of my sites and I’m on board for more. She’s given me tips and tricks and helped when I’ve gotten stuck in coding. She’s irreplaceable. I always recommend her.

There’s Danielle Smith… who I first met as Extraordinary Mommy (she’s since become Danielle Smith TV). A beautiful, television journalist turned blogger… Danielle has gone through the same struggles many of us have in this business. Mainly, balancing family and work. This industry is 24/7. When do we find time to unplug? Danielle has been very candid about her experiences and shared a session on this particular trip about how she’s managed to make office hours. I admire that.

I remember the night I first met Theresa Seid. She was having a Wii Dance Party in her home. How did it come to be? I’m not sure other than discovering we had a mutual connection to the man who seems to connect everyone, my mentor, Ted Rubin.  And it was from Theresa, that I met my karaoke singing soul sister, Mary Burt-Godwin. And from there… the dewy faced, gorgeous Stefanie Mullen.

I looked around the small table that night and realized how lucky I am to have fallen into such an amazing group of peers. Yes… I’ve taken a slightly different path. I managed to turn my knowledge of content development and online branding into a lucrative career in Community Building. But they’re still my peers. In fact… we’ve all taken a slightly different path since the day we wrote our first blog posts. From developing successful conference tours to sharing tips and DIY to millions each month, to vlogging, to consulting… I’d say this group covers it all.

It was an amazing weekend filled with new and old friends. There were fantastic sessions (and still much to be learned). There was time to sneak away for a diet soda with a friend and a chance to bounce new ideas off of one another. There were laughs and hugs… and even a few tears.

And what stuck with me the most? A compliment. One of the most heartfelt compliments I’ve ever received. I was told that I haven’t changed. That I’ve not become jaded or let the space change me. That I’ve not bent in order to conform. That I’ve not jumped on the latest band wagon. That I’m still me.

And you know what? I’m ok with that. In fact… I’m proud to know that is my legacy so far.

Thank you dear sweet friends for helping me to keep my feet planted. If it hadn’t been for you (and others like you along the way)… I’d long since have been bent and broken.

*Disclaimer… I wish I had the time to list ALL of the amazing people who have been a part of my life during this blogging journey but I wanted to focus this post on those bloggers who were there at this particular small gathering. I try to make an effort each day to let each person who impacts me know how very important they are to me. I couldn’t do it without my “core” peeps. Someday I will attempt to list you all… *much love*

Lululemon, Trampolines, and Sunshine

It was a gorgeous early evening last night in Phoenix. Rachel and Allison slipped on their “work out” clothes so they could get their exercise on the trampoline. Ever since I’ve been kickboxing nightly… they also want to slip on some yoga pants and get their sweat on. I think it’s great! Not only are they getting some fresh air and exercise… they are completely worn out and ready for bed early!

I took the opportunity to do an impromptu photo shoot. The pictures turned out really cute! (Did I mention I’ve picked up a new photography hobby in all of my spare time?) Here’s a sample of a typical evening on the trampoline at our house:

Don’t you just LOVE the thumb holes in the sleeve cuff to keep little hands warm? And the comfort of the fabrics… *sigh* I don’t blame them for wanting to live in yoga pants. I do. Practically. And not just any yoga pants. If you buy the cheap ones… they get all worn out with little rolled up balls of fabric between the inner thigh. Yeah… my thighs touch. What of it? And… they fade and look worn quickly. They don’t have that sheen that you can go out in public in.

BUT… Both Cassandra and I will swear by Lululemon’s yoga pants… for reals. Dress them up a bit for a casual golf course. Wear them grocery shopping or to the library. Slip some on for a Vegas road trip. Or… actually SWEAT in them! :)

And now… there’s Lululemon for our kids! A brand new pop-up store has appeared in Scottsdale and will be open through January! Lululemon has created ivivva athletica for girls 6-14 years old. My kiddos were given a set to romp around in. The question now is… how do I get them out of them?

Allison is 6 years old and wearing the pink ivivva hoodie. It’s a cozy cotton fleece with the clever thumb holes! And… it’s pre-shrunk! Yay! She’s also wearing the Tumblin’ Tank II. It’s made with a luon fabric that’s breathable because it has a special wicking. It also has lycra to keep its shape. At $35 I was a bit hesitant… but not after I’ve seen it in action. The straps stay up because of the racerback structure and it has flat seams that keep her from saying that it’s “itchy”. This is a tank that we all agree on! The pants are the Studio Bound Pant. These can go from a day out running errands with mom… straight to the gym for dance or tumbling class. They have a cotton-like feel and also contain the luon fabric for wicking and a flat seam!

Rachel is 8 and is wearing the Routine Jacket. This is a luon fabric jacket with what they call 4-way stretch. This allows it to move with her! (And she is a bouncy one!) The pockets zip and the sleeves have those awesome little thumb holes! Her tank matches perfectly. It’s the Activity Racer. The luon fabric gives a snug fit (even on her skinny self!) And the flat seams don’t irritate! Rachel’s pants follow the luon fabric theme. The Straight Up Pant II has a wide, smooth, waistband and straight leg. There’s even a hidden waistband pocket for an iPod or phone.

These are investment pieces that will last. Where can you get yours? At the new pop-up store in Scottsdale:

Scottsdale ivivva Pop Up Store Address

15147 N. Scottsdale Road

Ste. 108

Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Not local? Check out


The Great Tooth Fairy #Fail


I used to think that perpetuating my kid’s belief in the bizarre concept that a tireless being with wings and an insatiable desire to rid children’s pillows of spare body parts would be one of the best things about being a parent.  ‘Cause being a parent is so full of tough love, hard decisions, sucky moments, “an unacceptable percentage of my body is covered in my kid’s tears/poop/vomit” moments, pressure from other parents, and “there’s not enough money to buy my kid a pony” years that it’s pretty cool to be the Good Guy every once in a while.

That’s how I used to feel, anyway.  Since becoming a parent I found out that I’m really good at the tough love and the hard decisions, and I excel at being partially covered in my children’s bodily fluids and letting pressure from others affect me, and so far have easily resisted any urge to purchase a farm animal for the whimsical enjoyment of my spawn.

You know which awesomely fun parenthood task I really suck at?  Channeling the Tooth Fairy.  I forget.  Every single time.  And this weekend I really knocked one out of the park:  I forgot about the Tooth Fairy two nights in a row.

After the first night of forgetting, the kid came tearing out of her bedroom holding her (gross and revolting) tooth wailing, “The Tooth Fairy didn’t come!  I can’t believe this!”  The second morning after I forgot about my obligation to perform the coolest job ever conceived, she stomped out of her bedroom declaring, “I am livid.  Again!  The Tooth Fairy forgot to come.  Again!”

Let’s suspend our disbelief, for the moment, that someone for whom the term “livid” is a part of her vocabulary is young enough to still believe in the Tooth Fairy.

My husband and I locked eyes and recognized that we were both struggling with the “fight or flight” stress response while we independently searched to come up with an explanation.  In the end it was determined that because she sleeps on her lower bunk, the Tooth Fairy’s senses were obstructed and maybe if we left a note this time (third time’s the charm?) it would improve her chances of finally making some money off of this grotesque and disgusting display of her slow journey into adulthood.  (I’m sorry, I just hate wiggly teeth or teeth otherwise not firmly in place within the jaw bone.  That kind of thing completely skeeves me out.  “Solidly anchored in the mandible” is my comfort zone.)

So on the third night I finally remembered.  Finally remembered to pick up the gross tooth that wasn’t even good enough for her mouth to keep solidly in there.  As I tip toed into her room, I nearly shrieked as I stepped on the shell necklace that my parents brought back for her from that one time they went to Hawaii.  Then I almost tripped on a maraca.  A MARACA.  This is no coincidence, folks.  She has booby-trapped the Tooth Fairy.  The Tooth Fairy barely made it in and out of her bedroom, carefully slipping a ten dollar bill beneath her pillow (I usually give one dollar but I was desperate, and lucky to even have a ten on me).  I couldn’t even find her tooth.

Well, she got her money.  She ultimately never noticed that I didn’t take her tooth.  She also didn’t notice that I never took her letter.  I found it later the next morning.  Turns out it was all for naught.  There’s no competition–the kid wins.

“Dear Tooth Fairy,

I would like it if you took this tooth and left me a hampster with everything he/she needs.  Her needs are the following:  A ball to roll in, water bottle with her cage, food, a cage door with a lock, and the hampster!

Thank you, your friend Jenna”


















Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at


Chick-O-Stick Cookie Recipe: Diabetes Friendly

Hi Friends!

I rarely bake. But I had these lovely candies from Atkinson’s Candy Company on my counter and I couldn’t help but take a shot at whipping up some cookies using them! These cookies not only taste amazing… but they contain only 7.5g of Carbohydrates! This is a fantastic little treat that doesn’t require me to give Allison any additional insulin. Around here… we call that a “free snack”. As you can imagine… free snacks are popular.

Here’s the recipe I used. I’ve adapted a basic peanut butter cookie recipe to make it low-carb and diabetes friendly.


1 cup of peanut butter (You could use low carb for this and make your treats even lower in carbs…I used regular Peter Pan)

1 cup sugar substitute (I used Splenda)

1 egg

1 tsp of vanilla extract

6 finely crushed bite sized pieces of Chick-O-Stick


Mix all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl.

Scoop rounded teaspoons of the mix onto your cookie sheet. (I was able to get 12 cookies)

Bake on 350* for 12 minutes or until cookies have set.

Allow your cookies to cool before eating or they’ll fall apart!

That’s it!

Have you had a chance to check out Atkinson on Facebook and Twitter? You totally should. Join in the fun! Contribute your recipe ideas or be a part of fun contests held regularly on their page.

Disclosure: I was compensated by Atkinson Candy Company to write a promotional post and participate in a Twitter party on the evening of Oct. 2nd. This post was a bonus for you! Just for fun and to fill my tummy with cookies. *nom*