Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Check out these cool knit-covered trees in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
The stitches are so perfect they look machine knit, then sewn together around the trunk.
 Still, pretty cool. Check out other, quirkier versions (knit bike lock cover?) on

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sports brand endorsement

This morning, getting the kids dressed, Ava said: I know these letters: N-I-K-E.
Me: What's that spell?
Ava: Daddy!
Me: Yeah, basically.
Seriously. We are a Nike family, thanks to my husband's 15+ years of basketball coaching and training, including being a Nike Skills Trainer, and his lifelong devotion to Nike apparel. And by devotion I mean not wearing any other sports apparel and owning more than 85 pairs of their shoes. That's the current count. He gave away at least 20 pristine pairs over the past couple years to nephews who've caught up to him in shoe size.

Given his choice of career, it's at least a fitting hobby/obsession and at least he uses them regularly. But I don't know the breakdown of "work/gym/training" shoes versus "stylin' and profilin'" ones. The gym ones never get worn outdoors, and vice versus. The kids have been similarly outfitted since birth, thanks to family and friends who know about J.'s Nike love.

If J. is tasked with buying the kids' clothes, it's simply a given that wardrobe updates will include new Nike athletic gear. If I say they're growing and need new shoes, new sneaks in the appropriate size appear, unless I specifically say that they need casual or dress shoes or sandals.

With the latest batch of sneakers, we discovered that petite, 3 1/2 year old Ava now wears the same size as solidly-built, 18 month old Dylan: size 8. Technically, he needs a 7.5, but as fast as he's growing, we needed some space in the toe and Ava is now sharing his new LeBron James edition high tops that Dad just bought. Crazy. And fortunately, Dylan doesn't care one way or another. Yet.

 If they're still wearing the same size in a few years (highly unlikely) I doubt they'll be as accommodating.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm there! RT @BellevueChamber: Getting set up for Eastside Leadership Conference - it's going to be great!! #elc2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gave Customer Service training to new supervisors & managers. Positive feedback, esp. for role play showing do's & don'ts.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Top five blogging boot camp pointers

Last weekend, I attended a Bloggy Boot Camp put on by the SITS Girls. The camps are ostensibly aimed at teaching women how to blog and better-use social media.

Having passed my five year blog-iversary last fall, I'm clear on the mechanics. But as evidenced by the dearth of entries over the last year compared to previous years, I could use some inspiration and ideas on keeping the ideas flowing, finding creating time between work, home and volunteer duties, and making the content worth the effort, for me and readers.

So this event offered some great tips to either get started blogging or blog more effectively, and how to leverage  social media, branding, and other tools, especially for those interested in monetizing their online efforts.

Best of all, the small number of participants (about 100-125) made it really intimate. Intimate as in small, not as in those team building events that begin with an ice breaker like, "Think of your deepest, darkest secret...Now whisper it to your neighbor..."

So herewith, some of the great tips I gleaned during the time I was able to spend at the event.
  1. The first is more relevant to my own experience of not being able to be fully present this year: spend the time to revel in the event. The organizers Tiffany Romero (hilarious) and Francesca Banducci (lovely and uber-organized) do a great job of making the whole experience very inclusive and low-impact. For example, seating is assigned during most of the day, so you don't have to worry about reliving some mean girl scenario from middle school/high school/college/professional career where the cool kids are staring at you from their table and you think it would just be easier to go sit by your locker and study until the next period. What? Just me? Okay. Moving on. Nothing to see here.
  2. Because you rotate to new groups of cool women (and the occasional man) all day, trading names, Twitter handles, business cards, and knowing nods at particularly resonant bits of advice from the speakers, bring cards. Even if you don't have a business, you'll want to be able to look up the other folks there afterwards or make it easy for others to connect with you. I arrived and realized I only had out-of-date business cards with my pre-promotion title and out-of-date personal cards that lacked my Twitter handle (@NatashaJ), web address and LinkedIn address. If you're not sure what you're going to do yet online, you can still just get 50-75 basic, inexpensive cards at Fedex Office (formerly Fedex Kinkos), Costco, or any number of local retailers, many of whom can do it in an hour or two in a pinch.
  3. Share: your story, your advice, your questions, your enjoyment. If something resonates with you, say so. If the speakers say something that raises a question in your mind, say so. It's a very inclusive event and there are clearly folks attending who have learned a thing or twenty about this online stuff, even if they're not presenting. Even you. By sharing, you help others advance from wherever they are at the moment and encourage those who may have the same question or comment but not be as comfortable speaking in a group as you.
  4. You don't have to be the next online super star, unless you want to. Social media is about community. If you just want to write and maybe build relationships with others who like vintage cameras, automotive repair, crafts, or whatever floats your particular boat.
  5. Give encouragement. Nearly every speaker that I heard during my short stint there confessed to being nervous speaking to the group. Smart, creative, business-running, job-rockin', household managin', got their stuff in one bag with a label on it and a hashtag social media gurus, and they were nervous. So when you go (you've gotta get to one if you can), give encouragement and kudos to the speakers, the organizers, the other folks you meet for being there and sharing their time and knowledge.
There were lots of interesting folks there and many have also written lovely lists, compilations,r eviews and fyi's about the event, including Northwest Mommy, And Then She SnappedThrough the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, MeAndMine, Heligirl, and others. Read them, blog-stalk them, enjoy and revel in their talent with words, pictures and video. They rock and you're welcome. ;-)

Interested in attending a Bloggy Boot Camp yourself? Check them out:
Shakespearean-esque discription of our weekend: "Something viral this way comes." Luckily, Hubby & I recovered & kids dodged it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Postal present

As much as I love all things technology-related, nothing beats getting a package or letter in the mail. A month or so ago, my friend BryAnn came to Seattle for a visit and showed admirable patience while I gave her a quickie tour of the city with two kids.

Today, we received a lovely card and present from her and Ava was beside herself when she saw the plush bears and mugs.

 I know this is blurry but it was the best I could do whipping my camera around to catch her look of glee. Her exact words were, "CUPS! We got cups!" I couldn't catch Dylan as he ran around hugging the bears after sneaking them while Ava was looking at something else.
One for each bear. Thank you BryAnn for the lovely visit and for showing my girl the joys of snail mail.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sun and school = the write stuff

Take 70+ degree Seattle day, add 30-40 preschoolers, siblings, parents, food, ice cream and slip & slides. Stir. Smile. Enjoy.

To wrap up our crazy-busy week, we had Ava's preschool picnic and the Seattle Bloggy Bootcamp the same day, followed by an early morning appointment to help out at the Puget Sound Race for the Cure at the Seattle Center on Sunday.

After a couple hours of listening to great speakers and meeting other Northwest bloggers (including Vancouver, BC), I had to duck out of the all day boot camp to get to the picnic with other current and new families at Ava's preschool, which meant I missed lunch and networking. I was totally bummed about that, but knew several weeks ago when the school announced the date for the picnic and I realized it conflicted with the bootcamp that something was going to have to give. But I vowed to do as much as I could of both events. I'll write more about lessons learned there, but it was a very productive event and I strongly encourage others to hit the other BBCs in other cities this year.

Although I had to zip over to the park, I was consoled by being able to be out at least part of the day enjoying the picture-perfect weather with my family: sunny skies and heat creeping up into the low 70s.

Ava joined several classmates in getting her face painted with a butterfly, which slowly disappeared by the end of the night as she played with a small spray bottle given out as gifts by the teachers. They know their target audience: my parents reported that she played with it for HOURS, alternately spraying herself, the dog, and every single flower and blade of grass in their yard.

We also discovered her growing writing confidence after finding her name tagged all over the picnic area with the sidewalk chalk the teachers provided. Again: great give for the preschoolers and how cool is that for my little 3.5 year old to be writing her name?!
Having a short name definitely helps, but just a day later, as we read books before bed, she surprised me by reading each letter in the words on each page of her brother's toddler word book, only mixing up a few similar looking one, like lower case n and h and i and t.

After getting over my shock and glee and giving her high fives and hugs, we went to show J. who was equally bowled over and swept her up in a huge bear hug of kisses and tickles, sending her into giggling spasms. Holy cow! She on the road to reading! I'm so excited for her.

Meantime, her brother is now sitting down of his own accord and flipping through books and definitely understand more words than he can say. In the books with animals, he tries to blow the elephant trumpet sound when he sees one, and when he sees pictures of ducks, he says, "Cack, cack, cack." (quack, quack, quack). As Ava read the letters, when we flipped to the picture of a t-shirt and I said, "What's that?", he pinched the fabric of his own shirt.(!)

He's verbalizing more and his repetoire at 17 (nearly 18 months) is made up of ma or mama, dada, nana (whose name he says everytime we pull up to their house), adn dat (that). This past weekend while showing me something he'd picked up off the floor, he added his first sentence: "Ma, ook." (Ma, look). I love it! Especially the "Ma" for some reason. Perhaps it reminds me of those beloved Little House on the Prairie books, even though we are a decidedly urban family.
Dylan with Papa and Nana.
Dylan letting it all hang out at the preschool picnic.
Because nothing says almost summer in Seattle like 75 degrees, ice cream, a diaper and Teva sandals. I think I saw an adult dressed like this in another part of the park.

Sunday, Ava and I were up and out by 7am to help coordinate a team from my job at the Race for the Cure, then met up with J. to pick up Dylan before heading off to meet up with our PEPS parents group and kids at a local park, where we saw several parents from the picnic and other friends. Sunny Seattle days bring everyone out. But the two days of early starts and chock-full days at the end of a chock-full week wiped me out: after returning home from the park in mid-afternoon, I went down for a nap with the kids. For three hours. And I'm not a napper, outside of long car or plane rides.

All in all, a lovely, busy, developmental milestone-y week that I don't plan to repeat schedule-wise anytime soon. Except the fun networking, sun, ice cream and napping parts. I'm down for those whenever.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Hubby working, kids with grandparents, Mama's at Bloggy Boot Camp! #BBCSEA Can't wait to meet some nice peeps.