The Ins & Outs of Events

In the past week, I’ve spoken with a lot of bloggers on a topic that has been weighing on their minds. The topic du jour is events for bloggers. If you’ve been blogging for a while and your site is receiving lots of traffic, you have probably been on the receiving end of several invitations to attend events. These events range from conventions to events in your area to online teleseminars. When all you’re trying to do is blog, how can you make sense of the events that are right for you?
Well, as someone who hosts events for moms, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the events that work, the ones that don’t, the ones that moms love and the ones we can do without. So here’s an overview and if you have a story to share, please send it my way.
INTIMATE GATHERINGS: Some of my favorite gatherings are the ones where I am invited to a breakfast or lunch with a limited number of bloggers in attendance. After I was invited to a breakfast sponsored by Subway, I got the chance to finally meet Katja Presnal and we’ve been friends ever since. What I loved about that breakfast was that Subway wanted to hear from the bloggers – getting a sense of what would interest our respective communities. When a company reaches out to you at the beginning of their campaign, it’s pretty cool to be on the ground floor of helping them shape their media and marketing plans. If they want you to participate in a focus group, you should also ask for compensation. Time is worth money – consider yourself a social media consultant and do not let them take advantage of your expertise.
EXPERIENCES THAT YOU KNOW YOU’LL LOVE: If you’re invited to an event where you’re totally going to have a great time along with other fun bloggers, there really is no downside if you have time in your day to swing by. Some of my favorite experiences (thanks Nintendo, Disney, Glamour and Suave) have taken place because I’ve accepted invites to events for products and services I would love to try and feature on my blog. Plus, some of my favorite bloggers attend these events too, so it gives me a chance to catch up with friends. When I produce events, I always plan them with bloggers in mind – giving writers plenty of time to network while attending an event that will be enjoyable and entertaining at the same time. One of my favorite event hosts is Barbara Jones at One2One Network, a former music executive who knows how to combine fabulous workshops with amazing entertainment.
NETWORKING EVENTS: While there seem to be meet-ups, tweet-ups and conventions taking place all the time, your time is valuable. Pick the meet-ups that make sense for you. And since conventions can be pricey – speak to blogger friends about the events that truly made the best use of their time. If you’re looking to learn about blogging, enhance visibility to your site and meet new people, then Blogher or Blissdom might be great for you. If you’re already an expert blogger, then you should either be a speaker at these events or you might want to try smaller gatherings where you can connect with other like-minded women who might offer great insight or leads to help you build your platform.
ONLINE EVENTS: Since my expertise is media, I usually participate in Twitter’s Journchat every Monday night. These events are spearheaded by PR guru Sarah Evans (follow her on twiiter at #prsarahevans). I love seeing the comments and questions fly and for me, I find it incredibly valuable to get a sense from journalists and publicists about what pitches work and which fall flat on their face. For moms, there are plenty of parties going on each week. Twittermoms hosts wine tasting events, Resourceful Mommy hosts Sitewarming Parties with tons of giveaways and Katja Presnal offers chats and in person meet-ups on mastering Social Media. I’m not saying you should be online all day but determine the chat that suits your interests best and attend when you can.
Bottom line – your time is valuable and while it would be great to say yes to every invitation you receive – you should be selective and decide which events will truly interest you and make for great material on your blog or lead to a valuable networking opportunity.
If you have a story to share about a positive event experience, then send us your comments today!

The 411 on Verizon Fios for Families

I had a great conversation the other day with Bobbi Henson, media relations director at Verizon Fios and as a fellow working mom, she shared some great information about what Fios offers families to make all our lives faster and easier. From parental controls, to online games to giving your family the ability to record your favorite shows on 6 different TV sets in your home, Fios seems to be a great option for families who want to get the most of their online, phone and TV experience.
On-the-go FiOS TV subscribers can use the service to remotely review, change or add recording requests, delete recorded programs, browse and search TV and video-on-demand listings, set parental controls, and more. And the coolest thing is – you can even record a show from your cell phone so you never have to miss one of your favorite shows again!
Customers can access the remote control service through Verizon’s FiOS TV Web site (www.verizon.com/fiostvcentral) or by using downloadable software on their Verizon Wireless LG enV2, LG Voyager or LG Chocolate 2 handsets. The wireless remote DVR capability will become available on additional Verizon Wireless handsets in the future.
(A preview of what customers can expect with Remote DVR programming is available at http://verizon.mediaseed.tv/.)
These services are provided at no additional charge to FiOS TV customers who subscribe to Verizon’s unique Home Media DVR, which allows customers to use one DVR to record programming that can then be watched on up to six other TV sets in the home. This includes simultaneously viewing up to three separately recorded programs on different TV sets, and the ability to pause recorded programming on one set and continue watching it on another.
Plus, Fios also has a Parental Controls page which offers vital information about protecting your kids on the Internet. So if you’re looking for a great cable, online and phone option for your family – Verizon is currently running some great deals to sign up for Fios so don’t delay! For more information, click here.

The Role Mommy 411 on Disney

DSC00005.JPGI’ve just returned from a whirlwind Orlando vacation that I had not planned on experiencing this year except when I received a golden ticket from Disney to attend the red carpet premiere of the American Idol Experience, I couldn’t resist. While I attended that incredible event solo, as any guilty mom would attest, I couldn’t head to Disney without my family. And so, I flew them all down for five days of fun in the sun.
Let me rephrase that by saying it was actually five days of running, waiting, eating junk and waiting while my kids and husband went on dozens of rides at three different theme parks. In a total of five days, we hit Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Universal Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, Sea World and Gatorland. Are you as exhausted as I am just reading this list? Well think about living it. Since I like to take things in all at once, I’m going to share with you the highlights of our vacation.
So, without further ado, here’s the 411 on Disney…more theme parks to follow in the coming days.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Now that my kids are past pre-school age, we found this vacation to be the most enjoyable for them. Operative word is THEM. You see, what I love about Disney are the shows – Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, the parades, and of course Disney’s newest attraction, The American Idol Experience, where you get to play the role of judge and vote for one lucky park-goer to gain the ultimate fast pass and cut to the front of the line at any American Idol attraction. While I did convince my family to attend that show, we missed all the others. Now I’m sure you’re wondering – how could that happen. Simple. Roller coasters.
Day 1 – Magic Kingdom
In Magic Kingdom alone, my kids and husband went on two roller coasters and a water ride several times. We luckily were in possession of an ultimate fast pass which enabled them to instantly join the fast pass line on their favorite rides and so, they proceeded to hop on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain at least four times. We also tried out the Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland, and we hit the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Factory too – all were very enjoyable – except the kids would have preferred taking the time we spent in the Laugh Factory to hop on Space Mountain yet another time.
There were great parades – which my kids missed but my mom and I watched – featuring stilt walkers, an international twirling competition and the usual Princess Parade fanfare. So while my husband and kids were losing their lunch on the rides, we sat and watched the parades while nibbling on chocolate caramel corn from one of the many candy shops located near the entrance of Magic Kingdom.
This time around we actually missed It’s A Small World and some of the other classic rides, but my kids were perfectly content going on roller coasters over and over again.
Day 2…Three Parks in One Day
We kicked off a marathon day with breakfast at Perkins where a balloon guy made umbrellas for my daughter and niece and a sword for my son. And after we filled up on eggs and pancakes, we hit Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As soon as we arrived, my husband and son wanted to hit Tower of Terror (the girls were too scared to try the ride). And so, we grabbed our fast passes and my family disappeared…until I received a call from my husband that my son had chickened out and I needed to retrieve him as soon as possilbe. Of course, that didn’t stop my hubby. He and my brother walked back up the hill to the ride and we waited outside Toluca Turkey Legs for at least 45 minutes waiting for them to return from the ride.
Next up was the Rock n’ Rollercoaster featuring music by Aerosmith. Again, the girls were too afraid of that one since it went upside down, but my son faced his fears and went on that ride twice! For a kid who last year at this time was afraid to go on the kiddy coaster at Rye Playland, he’s totally come a long way…I’m so proud.
At this point, I was getting annoyed. The Beauty & The Beast show was right across the street but nobody wanted to see it. All they wanted to do was go on rides and so I told them it was time we parted ways. My parents and I took off to the Toy Story attraction while the others hung around the roller coaster for another hour.
The Toy Story ride gets a huge thumbs up from me. But let me caution you right now. If you hit Hollywood Studios in the morning, then the first thing you should do is head to Toy Story and grab a fast pass. Otherwise, they close the fast passes pretty early in the day and if you don’t get one, you’re going to spend two hours waiting in line to get on the ride. And don’t get me wrong – the ride is really fun – you get to play a shooting game against your partner and they reveal the winner at the end of the ride. It’s not worth waiting two hours for but if you get your fast pass, you will not be disappointed.
Once we reunited with our family and inhaled some Turkey legs and taco salad, we all hit the American Idol Experience where we got to vote for a woman who was spending her first time in Disney celebrating her birthday with her mom and aunt (what a cool present). While she beat out two other contestants during our show, I don’t know how she fared in the finale – you see, there are several shows throughout the day and they culminate in a finale show where one of the finalists from the day gets the chance to win that Ultimate Audition fast pass. Either way, it was a fun experience and once it was over, it was time to hit another theme park.
Getting Soaked in Animal Kingdom
We raced over to Animal Kingdom with only 2 hours to spare – the park closes at dusk – I guess the animals do need to get their rest. So with our handy dandy Disney brochure, we mapped out exactly where we wanted to go. We had already been on Safari during a previous trip and had seen the shows as well (although I would have loved to have seen Finding Nemo again). So my husband and kids trudged on with one mission in mind – to hit some roller coasters and water rides. The first ride they went on was Kali River Rapids – a must for anyone visiting Animal Kingdom – just make sure you bring towels because you will get soaked. Next up was the latest roller coaster attraction, Everest. All three kids bowed out of that one but my husband and brother decided to hit the ride and as we waited for them to careen down a steep hill, their roller coaster was the one that got stuck in a tunnel. Luckily, it was a minor setback and three minutes later they came racing down the hill in one piece. After that, we checked our watches and realized, we had to go – it was time to hit Epcot!
Off to the Future…Epcot
We arrived in Epcot at around 7:30 pm and hadn’t made any dinner reservations – big mistake on that front. But that was okay – we weren’t really hungry yet and we had two rides we were determined to hit – Soarin and Test Track. While the lines were quite long on both – we had our trusty fast pass card and got the chance to experience these incredible rides. If you visit Disney, then you must hit Soarin’. A friend of mine told me how amazing it was and she was absolutely right. Hands down, Soarin’ is one of the best new rides at Disney. Next up, my husband and kids hit Test Track – a ride that puts you in the drivers seat of a race car and you feel like you’re actually racing around a track Nascar style. That ride got a huge thumbs up from the crowd as well – in fact, my hubby says he liked that one better than Soarin’ but that’s because he loves fast rides.
So my assessment this year of Disney and their rides is simple. In order of favorites, here’s the breakdown…
THE KIDS FAVORITE RIDES
Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Splash Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Thunder Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Toy Story (Hollywood Studios)
Rockin’ Roller Coaster (Hollywood Studios)
Test Track (Epcot)
Soarin’ (Epcot)
Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)
Buzz Lightyear (Magic Kingdom)
MY HUSBAND’S FAVORITE RIDES
Test Track (Epcot)
Soarin’ (Epcot)
Splash Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Thunder Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios)
Rock n’ Roller Coaster (Hollywood Studios)
Everest (Animal Kingdom)
Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)
MY FAVORITE RIDES & SHOWS
Soarin’ (Epcot)
American Idol Experience (Hollywood Studios)
Toy Story (Hollywood Studios)
Buzz Lightyear (Magic Kingdom)
Laugh Factory (Magic Kingdom)
Finding Nemo (Animal Kingdom)
High School Musical, Senior Year (Hollywood Studios)
So if you’re planning a trip to Disney, feel free to use my picks as a guide for each member of your family. And if you want more advice from 16 moms in the know, just visit the Disney Moms Panel at www.disneyworldmoms.com – they have the inside track on everything!

Moms Who Make a Difference

If you missed our last event, then now’s your chance to see what you missed. Click on the video below and you’ll find out about some amazing Westchester moms who have dedicated their personal and professional lives to helping others.

Our incredible speakers included:
Lee Headshot credit Stefan Radke-1.JPGLEE WOODRUFF
In An Instant ppbk-11.JPGAs co-author of the best-selling In an Instant, Lee Woodruff garnered critical acclaim for the compelling and humorous chronicle of her family’s journey to recovery following her husband Bob’s roadside bomb injury in Iraq. Appearing together on national television and radio since the February 2007 publication of their book, the couple has helped put a face on the serious issue of traumatic brain injury among returning Iraq war veterans.
Woodruff is currently a contributor for ABC’s Good Morning America, reporting on a variety of home and family related topics. She is working on a second book.
A freelance writer, Woodruff has penned numerous personal articles about her family and parenting that have run in such high-profile magazines as Health, Redbook, Country Living, and Family Fun. She also works as a contributing editor of Family Fun, where she writes about health and travel, and has served as a spokesperson for the publication, participating in national and regional broadcasts to discuss various topics on its behalf.
In addition to freelance writing, Woodruff ran her own public relations and marketing consulting business for 16 years. Before that, she was senior vice president of public relations firm Porter Novelli, and spent a year in Beijing, China, working for communications company Hill & Knowlton, counseling clients as varied as GE, Chrysler/Jeep, Bausch & Lomb, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. In the latter position, she helped international clients break into markets in the People’s Republic of China.
At present, Woodruff lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband. They have four children.
alisonandjodie.jpgALISON TEPPER SINGER
Alison Tepper Singer is an autism advocate and most recently served as executive vice president for communications and awareness at Autism Speaks. Alison has been with the foundation since its launch in March 2005 and is a member of the board of directors, in addition to overseeing the strategic communications and development of the growing organization. She served as interim CEO of the organization from March through July 2005.
alison and oprah.jpgPrior to joining Autism Speaks, Alison spent 14 years at CNBC and NBC in a variety of positions, including vice president of programming in NBC’s cable and business development division, producer of CNBC’s MoneyWheel and MarketWrap programs, and, most recently, special projects producer at CNBC, where she produced the award-winning series, “Autism: Paying the Price.” She has a B.A. in economics from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Alison has both a daughter and an older brother with autism, giving her long-term, personal experience with the disorder. She lives in Scarsdale, NY, with her husband, Dan, a partner in the media practice at McKinsey & Company. They have two daughters, Jodie and Lauren.
Cropped.jpgLAUREN CANDELA KATZ
2008 Westchester Fundraiser of the Year recipient Lauren Candela-Katz, is a fundraiser and not-for profit professional for twenty years, who has an extraordinary gift to connect with people. She radiates enthusiasm and is known for her passion, tenacity and perseverance. When Lauren sees a need un-met or someone says “this can’t be done,” she comes up with the right plan and execution to get the job done and doesn’t take no for an answer. Lauren has a rare ability to see the big picture and a compelling manner to lead others to achieve it.
In 2004, Lauren brought her talents and experience to the White Plains Library Foundation to help reach a million dollar goal to build The Trove, the new Children’s Library. She continues to raise annual funds for The Trove and recently embarked on a new campaign to build The Edge, a new area for teens. Among her accomplishments for the Library, Lauren has brought hundreds of new donors, recruited many new volunteers, and launched two new library fundraisers that have become the talk of the town – the annual Treasures Gala and Trumble in The Trove. Lauren’s efforts also help identify additional needs among the constituency and she creates new programming for the Library to meet those needs.
Before coming to the Library, Lauren raised millions of charitable dollars at United Jewish Communities, formerly United Jewish Appeal, Jewish Federations and Calvary Hospital.
Lauren is also an avid volunteer community activist and brings her heart and professional expertise to these roles as well. She serves on the Auxiliary Board of White Plains Hospital Center and headed the committee to raise funds to build a new playground at Church Street Elementary School. In addition to many other community projects, Lauren also mentors new non profit professionals, those looking to make a career change into the field and high school students involved in community service projects.
Lauren received her Masters of Social Work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies from Ohio State University. She is married to Michael Katz, partner at Cuddy & Feder, and resides in White Plains with their two children, Daniel and Ethan.
For more information, visit the White Plains Library at www.whiteplainslibrary.org. Or, if you’d like to RSVP, email me at beth@rolemommy.com.

Meet Mom of Reinvention, Jamie Lentzner

b&w pict.jpgRole Mommy: What did you do before you became a mom?
Jamie: Before I became a Mom I was an animator and art director for The Learning Company. I helped design educational software for children and worked on character animation. I stopped working after my son was born in 1999. I don’t even remember my life before my children were born, maybe I slept in more.
Role Mommy: Tell us about the inspiration behind your business.
Jamie: After my daughter was born I had an idea to personalize her room. I took my artistic talent and painted her name on 4 x 4 tiles with matching flowers that complimented her bedroom. I then had my husband drill holes in them. With some decorative ribbon I hung them in her room – and the prototype for my company was born. I went from being a stay at home Mom to being an entrepreneur almost over night. I found myself making sales calls, pitching stories and growing my business – things I had never done before. I had to read books, lean on my husband who was on sales and pretty much develop a thick skin and forge ahead. I made mistakes but I continued to get back up and tried again.
Role Mommy: How have your children influenced your career path? How many do you have?
Jamie: I have two children, a son and daughter – both in grade school. They are the reason I own my own business, I did not want to miss part of them growing up. We used sitters when they were younger so that I could work outside of the home. Being the owner of the business I am in charge of my own destiny and I can make sure not to miss a major milestone or any special event in their lives. Even now with them in school full time I could not imagine working for someone else, I like having the freedom to grow and work in my business and at the end of the day I can be there to pick them up and spend afternoons at home with them.
Role Mommy: What’s your favorite Time Out Tip for Moms?
Jamie: Get out of your regular schedule and go out and have fun with friends or a group of couples or just your husband. I would say laughing with old (or new) friends can get me re-freshed and renewed for work. Laughing over a few drinks (or not) helps me to let go of the stress I may be having at work. It helps me that none of my friends own their own business, so I am forced to NOT talk shop or about work, not obsess over it – just to enjoy myself. If I can’t get out due to my husband’s travel schedule, I will have a friend over at least once a week so that I can have some adult interaction. Owning your own business means working all the time, at home, at the office and checking my blackberry for email. Getting out of the house and socializing with other adults is healthy and fun!
Role Mommy: Tell us about Jamie’s Painting and Design
Jamie: My company, Jamie’s Painting & Design makes personalized children’s artwork, keepsakes and gifts. It has almost every theme for children and babies rooms. My blog (www.jpd.tyeppad.com) offers help, advice and humor for Mom’s that are also entrepreneurs. I enjoy helping others, sharing my stories (good and bad) and connecting with other Mom’s that can relate to what I am going through, whether good or bad.
Role Mommy: What do you hope for your own children?
Jamie: I have been lucky to enough to be able to follow my dream, after college, spending time with them and now with my own business. I am very happy with the way life turned out, my husband – my kids. I would hope that life would be the same for them that they are able to follow their dreams – I hope nothing holds them back. I also hope they are able to realize that you as a mother it does not mean you have to sacrifice everything for your children, I was still able to do what I love and raise my children.
Role Mommy: Who is your Role Mommy?
Jamie: I have no idea who I would say is my Role Mommy – I have so many women that I look to for guidance and get inspiration from. In my industry I admire Susie Flougerousse owner of Rosenberry Rooms, Vicki Bodwell owner of The Warm Biscuit Bedding Company and Shelly Kennedy owner of Drooz Studio. All three women seem to have the balance of running a successful business, while also having time to enjoy their children. My Role Mommy here at home – would probably be my Mom. She is a constant shoulder for me to lean on and helps me out all the time. She taught me at a young age to be resourceful and self-sufficient.

I Am Officially The Biggest Loser

I don’t know about you, but my life has been in fast forward mode for several months. I haven’t had a chance to relax for a second and even when I took a vacation this past week, we hit Disney, Universal, Sea World and Gatorland in five days, then took a plane home to New York where we circled White Plains for nearly an hour, then landed at JFK, took a bus back to White Plains and then, after traveling by car in thick pea soup fog, we finally arrived home at 2 am.
When I got around to unpacking this morning, I realized that I lost something…again. This time, it was a shoe. Over the last month I haven’t lost weight but I have lost possessions. No – I wasn’t robbed. Just careless. It started about a month and a half ago when I nearly lost my diamond tennis bracelet while I was racing around town with my clients. While we found the bracelet, that same day, I lost my new scarf in a taxi cab. Then, a few days later I nearly lost my laptop when I placed it on top of a bunch of magazines while I paid for gum and an US Weekly and as I walked away, realized something was missing. Thankfully, I raced back and my Mac Book Pro was still there.
And then there was my earring. After I went to the gym, I noticed that only one of my favorite earrings was missing. Looked all over, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Meanwhile, a few days later, I officially lost my bracelet. Rather than get the safety clasp fixed, I kept checking it wherever I went and during a rare moment when I wasn’t paying attention, it disappeared into thin air.
For the life of me, I can’t remember the last time I was wearing my bracelet and nearly had a nervous breakdown when I realized it was gone. And now, nearly two weeks since I lost it, I’ve still been looking all over my house, hoping it’ll miraculously turn up. But it’s gone and I’m a big loser. This is the second time I’ve lost an amazing piece of jewelry (inadvertently threw out my wedding band when I was 9 months pregnant) – and at this rate, I don’t think I’ll ever receive an expensive diamond gift again (sniffle, sniffle). While some people have lost their shirt in the stock market, I’m doing my part to contribute to our nation’s crumbling economy by losing expensive jewelry, scarves and one black sandal.
I guess I should look on the bright side. In an effort to cheer me up, my mom told me that Angelina Jolie just lost a pair of diamond earrings that were worth over $100,000. Thanks Angie. At least I’m not the only one.

Disney’s American Idol Experience

020_20.JPGSo my whirlwind trip to Disney World for the American Idol Experience is over, so now the fun begins…I get to share it with you! I stayed at the Polynesian – which is a great hotel for families – my room was located between two pools – which made me remember to call my hubby so he could bring my bathing suits when he comes out today! They also have the Lilo & Stitch breakfast at this location and they’ve got the Hawaiian theme going in full swing. During lunch with the members of the Walt Disney World Moms panel and media relations guru Laura Spencer, I got the chance to meet some fabulous bloggers including Mommy Musings, Leigh with Theme Park Mom and Heather at NiaOnline.com.
By 4pm, we headed over to Hollywood Studios for the red carpet and caught a glimpse of the dozens of Idols who were riding down the blue carpet in GM cars and waving at the crowd…even Carrie Underwood and David Cook were on hand for the procession! Below is a quick Flickr slide show and I’ve put together a video of our fun filled night. Enjoy and I apologize in advance for my shaky handycam!


Role Mommy Hits Disney’s American Idol Experience from Beth Feldman on Vimeo.