Stressing Over Extra-Curricular Decisons

Just a quick cross-post here to point to my latest musing over on the This Mommy Gig blog.

… I hear that: “The pluses of participating in activities for children are obvious. Children learn in all realms of development. Listening to a note in music class triggers connections in the brain that will be used later when solving math problems.”
Not to mention, we hear every day about the dangers of childhood obesity. I don’t want my daughter to become some troglodyte playing video games all day.
But, inversely, there’s also the fear of creating an over-scheduled kid. Neither she or I need the stress of trying to drive all over town every day to attend multiple classes or play weekend sports tournaments.
Navigating all this won’t be so easy.

Read the full post on ThisMommyGig.com!

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Should My Husband Blog/Twitter/Facebook/Etc?

My husband is in sales. Car sales, to be exact. He’s sold new cars, high-end used cars, and currently is in the car leasing industry. This often takes people by surprise when they meet him because he’s a former rocker with a very relaxed personality. (His coworkers don’t call him “The Blur” because of his high-speed, high-pressure sales tactics)

When he moved over to the leasing business, it was in the role of “Internet Sales”, which basically just meant that his direct phone number was the one on the company’s web site. If you went to the web and were interested in talking to someone after browsing, you’d get him.

Well, while we were on vacation, they changed that so the general number that all of the sales guys answer was on the web; and, when we returned they decided they weren’t going to change it back. So, this has caused some introspection on hubby’s part. Is it a sign that he should switch jobs and go back to something more entrepreneurial? Maybe open another landscape design firm like the one that paid the bills during his rocker days – when he didn’t have a girlfriend.

But, he’s built up a good customer base over the years and he kinda hates to leave them. One of his customers recently returned to Austin to lease through him even after moving to San Antonio, so he’s got loyalty that would be hard to rebuild. One idea he tossed out is that maybe he could scale back to simply servicing those return customers and their referrals, thus taking himself out of the competition amongst all the sales reps for new leads. He could do a lot of that from a home office, and potentially we could avoid having to pay for after-school care when our girl starts kindergarten in the Fall.

But, maybe there’s more that could be done. I’ve mentioned to him before that getting involved in Twitter could benefit his business. I used Summize (now search.twitter.com) to show him that people were talking about car leasing and he could jump into their conversations. I told him about how many realtors were leveraging it. He remained reluctant.

Now, I’ve renewed my pitch to him that getting involved in social media would be a good thing. While he continues to serve his loyal customer base, he could begin to build a new one online. He could blog about cars, car sales and car leasing. Sharing his knowledge could help establish him as a good source of information and potentially generate new business.

He asked me about Facebook, and I told him while it wouldn’t hurt to get on it, I don’t think it should be his primary focus. He asked if he might be viewed as predatory or a pushy sales guy if he got into Twitter, and I said it all depends on how you approach people.

I’m not sure he’s convinced about my social media marketing plan for him. So, I thought I’d take it to the blogosphere for more input. What do you think about all this? Could it be a good thing? How would you react if you twittered “thinking about leasing a new car” and someone replied to you that they could help you out? Would you read a blog about cars and leasing? What sort of content would interest you on the topic?

Let me know if I’m way off base here; or, give him encouragement to give it a go!

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Can’t Chose Just One Favorite

One of the most common things people have asked me since returning from our trip to Italy is “what was your favorite part?” I have to say I can’t name one favorite. But, I have pondered the question and decided that I can come up with one favorite for each city we visited. Maybe. Here goes:

Rome

While we spent three days in Rome, I don’t think it was quite as exciting as in Sheryl Crow’s song The Book. It was, though, a fantastic opportunity to see first-hand so many things I’d only studied and read about. I think my favorite part turned out to be the thing I’d initially been “meh” about doing – the Vatican Museums. Not being Catholic, I thought it wouldn’t really mean that much to me; but, I obviously had no idea just what was inside. Sure the Sistine Chapel was cool, but I really liked the sculpture museums with all of the ancient Etruscan and Roman pieces. The ability to get so close to these pieces and freely photograph them amazed me.

Vatican Museums

Florence
Next we traveled by train to Florence, which was luckily much cooler than Rome was, and also had a more relaxed feeling to it. I like it immediately. With so many beautiful sites to see around the town, it was really hard to choose a favorite, but I guess it would be the Uffizi because it gave me a chance to see things like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus in person. We only had two hours, but with a knowledgeable guide it was like an entire semester of art history class. Couldn’t take any pictures inside there, so all we’ve got is a shot of us outside the cafe.

Uffizi

Pievescola

From Florence, we rented a car and drove out into the Tuscan countryside to a small town near Siena and a former Papal Villa named La Suvera.  It’s rather funny that this turned out to be the first place I able to get online and post an update, since it was the most “away from it all” place we went. My favorite of the three days we spent here was the one I spent alone. Yes, I am an “I” on the Meyers-Briggs assessment and I do enjoy my time to myself when I can get it. It was just so relaxing and rejuvenating to spend a full day in this gorgeous place, reading in the gardens, by the pool and on our balcony. The massage from Antonio down in the spa didn’t hurt either!

La Suvera

Venice

After returning the car in Florence, we took the train to Venice – the “City of Falling Angels” I’d read about and looked so forward to seeing. We couldn’t get behind the scenes like John Berendt did, but a walking tour with a native did prove a great way to learn more about all the things we saw through the twists and turns of the rio, riva, calle or fondamenta. (the Venetian dialect has many different names for streets that I could never remember)

Piazza San Marco

Sorry, my mind got to wandering … remembering … imagining … oh, yes, what was my favorite part of Venice? All of it. It reminded me a lot of New Orleans. I need to go back to soak it in some more. Maybe when the dollar gets a little strong, huh?

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Back Into the Swing of Social Media, Virtual Worlds and the Web

Got back home from vacation at 2am this morning and saw that there was an Austin Tweet-up tonight. Since my girl is still at “Camp Grandma”, and I still had not started back to work yet, it was easy to pop over and catch up with several of my local Twitter buddies. I also got to meet several new twitterers; and after giving them my Moo cards that have in image of Pyrrha Dell on them, the conversation turned to Second Life and virtual worlds in general.

Then, I came home and found a message over on Facebook from Annie Ok, Metaverse Meetup assistant organizer, pointing me toward this cool new timeline of virtual worlds.

I checked it out while I was uploading vacation pictures to Flickr. Finally broke down and got a pro (paid vs. free) account there because there were just too many cool trip pics that I wanted to share! You can see some over in my sidebar here. I need to finish tagging and organizing them, but I’m too tired tonight.

I’ve still got to go through all the video, too, but here’s one snippet I shot with my still camera in the piano bar of our hotel in Rome. No idea what the song was, but the audience sure seemed to like it!

After so much time recently away from a computer, it’s pretty amazing how fast I can get back into the swing of using one so much. Tomorrow, it’s back to the office for me where I’ll probably spend most of the day digging through e-mail.

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On the 7th Day I Rest

This will be one very quick post, not only because I have too much to process in the short time I have internet access; but, also because it is hard for me to type on an Italian keyboard!
Yes, I am here in the middle of vacation stealing a few moments to revist the rest of the world. We have been cramming every day full trying to see everything we can in Roma, Firenze and now we are in the countryside outside of Siena. My husband and his brother and the brother’s other half have gone to a nearby town, but I begged off to have some “me” time at this fantasic place we are staying – Relais La Suvera. It was once the home of a Pope.
Maybe it is all the British accents I hear in the other English-speaking guests, but I keep expecting Robin Leach to pop out and tell me I am on some new reality show where they take regular people and put them into Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous! Sitting in the gardens, reading and relaxing without a worry other than making it to my massage appointment at 4pm is pure heaven.
So, I’ll sign off and head back to it. Can’t wait to get back and share photos. I have already taken more than 200 still shots and we have about 35 minutes of video to edit. That should keep me busy after we return!