Dear *insert PR person name here*,

Editors note: This is in no way directed to those wonderful PR folks I have a relationship with.

Thank you very much for taking the time to contact me. I even appreciate that you put together a personal line or two at the front of your copy/paste pitch. That “How to Work With Mommy Bloggers” seminar is really showing! Since I am overly busy and this is the 5th email like this I received in the last two hours,  I am going to leave this letter up so I can just link you to it. *anyone else too busy to write their own feel free to send them this link*

I would like to address some parts of your pitch here. Don’t worry if this is not the exact wording you used in yours, it all sounds the same to us “mommy bloggers”, trust me.

I’m emailing you because I’m working with **** to get the word out about their ***** program!

So, are you wanting to get the word out to me?

I think your readers would be really interested in this because….

Oh, you want me to tell my ‘readers’!

We’d love if you wanted to write a post about it.  Let me know what you think or if you have any questions!

SURE, cause I have absolutely nothing better to do with my time. I have two kids that I homeschool, run 4 active communities, blah, blah, blah. I don’t have time to go to the bathroom but hey, let me risk a bladder infection so I can rush right over and give you some free publicity!

OK, here is my question. My ‘readers’ (I much prefer to call them my friends) come to my site(s) because they want to see what is going on with me, my family, or the community I have built. You want me to take time away from connecting with my readers to tell them about yours and the 5 other pitches I got just like this today? And you want me to do it cause I think they would care? They don’t, trust me. Let me put it this way, people read blogs for the same reason they watch TV shows-entertainment and education. The trend to DVR’ing through commercials works the same way online. Believe me, if I throw your press release up, their eyes will glaze over and turn me off. Now, why would I want to risk my very hard earned relationship with my friends to essentially run a public service announcement for you??? I don’t know you. I have no vested interest in you or your product.

Lots of talk going on in the PR world about earned vs. purchased content. There is no way on gods green earth you are going to ‘earn’ my time when you attempt to start out a relationship like this with me. You do realize this is the equivalent of meeting a stranger in the bar and asking them to put out on the first date??? Some girls may be that easy. Sorry, I am not.

I am a really nice person, and I am sorry that I had to use such strong language but the thing is, you don’t get it if I don’t. I have PR relationships that I would bend over backwards for. That is “earned”. It is a two way street. I have worked with them in the past,  they have a good quality program and don’t happen to have a big budget right now. I get that! Glad to help out if I can, especially if it is something with a charitable twist. But if you are a Fortune 500 company and your first contact with me is the pitch above, don’t be surprised if a. am kind and just delete, b. tell all my friends c. tell all my friends at a convention than sit around and have a drink laughing at how stupid you are!

and just a note, you are most likely going to get a c if you send me this after I have nicely given you option a.

I emailed my pitch a couple of weeks ago and wanted to ensure you’d received it.

So, please let me give you some advice before you delete out my name and forward the pitch on to the next blogger on your list who is likely a friend or associate of mine.

Think about how you would feel if a total stranger walked up to you and asked you to call all your friends, relatives, business partner, your doorman, your kids and so on shout from the rooftops that XYZ is having a promotion. And they want you to do it for free with absolutely no benefit to you except the good will that you got to share this news! I am guessing you would give them a crazy eye and walk quickly past.That is how I feel, except it happens to me at least 5 times a day.

Want to work with me? Chances are, if you have a quality product, are a nice person, build a relationship with me and consider ME in the equation we could have a long term relationship and that ‘earned’ pr you are looking for will come.

And if you are still reading at this point, it is hopefully because you truly want to make your pitch less delete worthy in the future. May I suggest that you go read the very talented Geek Mommy’s take on this. Read the comments. You will see that I am not alone in my feelings. It is a very good discussion.

It’s Summer Time!


Oh how I love summer~the sun, the heat, swimming~everything a desert girl lives for! Except….

Everywhere we go is plastered by children on summer break. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against school kids enjoying the places we get to all year long. I do, however, have a problem with parents that let their kids ruin these places for those of us who have come to call them home. If you are a homeschooling or unschooling parent you know exactly what I mean. Summer is the time of year we stay away from the zoo, the library, movie theaters and such as our quiet havens of fun and learning have been invaded for the most part by children gone wild. A trip to the pool is like watching young children being trained for college spring break. Moms who are just happy to have something for the kids to do during the summer chatting with their friends and thinking it is so cute to give little Johnny a super soaker to run around and spray anything in sight “Hey, it is SUMMER!”, right? Actually NO, it isn’t alright and it isn’t my families fault that your kids only get out 3 months of the year. It is a choice you make. It is a choice I make that my kids swim 3-4 times a week all year and therefore don’t see it as a chance to go wild. Again, I have no issue with the kids being respectful of others enjoying these places. It is fun to see them get a break. My issue is with the mom who clearly views summer as a chore and looks to offload her kids at any spot that distracts the kids from driving her crazy and lets them do whatever they want because “Hey, it is SUMMER!”

So, my message to those mothers is this: Please realize that 80% of the population couldn’t care less that little Johnny is off for summer break. It doesn’t give him license to squirt me with his super soaker! Realize that you are invading OUR world~shocking I know but there are hundreds of thousands of people that go the movies during the week, grocery shop, swim, go to the zoo, library, museum, ALL YEAR long. These people have the right to continue to use these facilities without risk of injury even though your kids are on SUMMER break. Realize that these facilities are not a novelty to some kids. My kids go to the zoo a lot so I will quietly explain to them when your kid pushes me out of the way to see that “cool polar bear” that I can be patient and let them get a chance to get to know our animal friends. I, however, won’t be nice when your kid pushes mine.

Take the summer to teach your kids that the world does not revolve around them. Give them a fair shot at not ending up on the cover of College Kids Gone Wild a few years from now. Teach them that while summer may be a fun break for them, they still need to be respectful (just like I am sure they are in school).

…and to those of you completely offended by my post, you shouldn’t be unless you are the mom sipping flavored water gabbing to your friends while your kid pushes mine or shoots us with that super soaker. In that case, I hope you are offended ’cause someone needs to tell you how obnoxious you and your kids are!

Kids and Sports

I am going to just smack a disclaimer up here right at that top before I go on.

This is an examination of some segments of our society (yes, that includes me) and our involvement in kids sports. It includes a cold, hard look at my motives and actions as one of ‘those parents’. The discussion does lead into homeschooling eventually.

I was going to start this post with a chronology of my oldest in sports but then I realized the back story to this must be told. Both my husband and I played sports. In fact we met at the ripe old age of 15 waiting after our respective practices for moms to pick us up. I have to admit that the fact that my future husband to be was the upcoming basketball center star was part of his appeal. For him, I think he liked my uniform (I was a competitive swimmer)

I started competitive swimming young. I can’t give you the exact year but my childhood is full of memories of the pool. I know by grade school, I was working out 5 hours a day. I was up at the pool for a two hour workout before school. After school is was back to the training center for an hour of running or weights before I hit the pool for the last two hours of the day. My parents supported this, but they didn’t push me. I loved it. When I look back at all the kids in my neighborhood and all the crap they got into, I know it was swimming that saved me. I was just busy to hang with those kinds of kids.

My husband started sports late. Yes, he played summer baseball leagues and such but he didn’t become serious about basketball until 8th grade (senior citizen age by todays comparison). Between 7th-9th grade he grew over foot and more, finally settling at 6’8″. Because of his gigantor status as a young high school kid, he was quickly pushed through the teams and his non playing status until then was forgiven ;0

I had an accident early in high school that ended my swimming career. I broke 3 vertebrae in my back and by the time I healed I had met the love of my life and found out there was way more to high school then swimming up and down a pool. I was done. Early burnout as studied these days? Probably.

My husband went through high school as our shining center star. He played a little college ball before the burnout hit him. He quit playing as a freshman in college. He didn’t enjoy it anymore.

When my oldest was the ripe old age of three we started t-ball.
It was the age of using tee’s, kids running the wrong way it was all in good fun. It stopped being fun around 3rd grade when baseball became more competitive than the MLB. He lost the love the of the game because the whole atmosphere changed. There were drafts, trades, coaches screaming. Yeah, just not the kind of pressure a third grader needs.

Picture from Penn State

Picture from Penn State

He had intermittently played basketball during the baseball off season. He threw himself into basketball and golf. He liked golf but never wanted to compete at it. Basketball was a whole ‘nother story. He was playing rec leagues and was so frustrated with the level of play. He wanted more. We found a very rough year round league which we all credit with giving him a unique ability to understand the intricacies of street ball vs. basketball. It was rough, it was tough, and it was FUN! Then we moved.

It took a while to find his groove here in our new town but he has done two leagues in the last 6 months. He is looking at local private high school so he is going to play on their summer league as an upcoming 8th grader. And I guess this is where I begin to look at the 7th-8th grade sports mentality:

Most parents I know stopped looking at whatever sport their kid plays as fun and cute around 4th-5th grade. That seems to be the age where the fee’s, schedules, and commitment seems to ramp up. I know soccer parents that pay well over $1,000 a season. There are a few seasons in the year as I understand it. Swimming, gymnastics, dance, the fee’s are unreal. I don’t have experience with hockey, but I hear the cost is sky high. When you factor in travel, time, equipment, lessons, camps parents report spending thousands easily a year on kids in sports ramping up to competitive levels.

It is not just the money, we become emotionally invested. This last season of basketball I saw parents and coaches screaming and discussing at coaches, refs, other parents and kids. We even had a ref call one of our guards a “little mf”…except he actually said it, not the abbreviation. The pressure is unreal at this age. Yet, my kid loves b ball. He wants to play high school ball and so the we need to get him exposure at the high schools he may want to go to. Yes, it is a reality. I know parents who had professional video’s done of last season (and not just on my kids team), had them edited into highlight reels and sent them out with invitations to recruit their kids during the 8th grade season. Did I do this? No. Not that I am judging the parents that did. But I did just pay $500 to get him into the basketball camp at the high school he wants to go to this summer. Am I hoping they pick him up for their 8th grade league? You bet your booty I am! I asked on twitter about this issue and got a response that tend to reflect my thoughts:

kid’s sports.? We spend plenty on hockey and soccer….but it’s so fun to watch her and her teammates!

There have been a lot of articles written on kids sports injuries, especially over use injuries at young ages. Baseball leagues are reacting by limiting the number of pitches each kid can throw in a game in an effort to protect their shoulders. I haven’t seen this limiting in basketball where Osgood-Schlatter Disease is prominent. Osgood-Schlatter is prevalent at this age in running and jumping sports. It happens cause the kids are growing so fast and the stress on their bones and joints is too much. In fact, my son played the last season through this which you are not supposed to do. But, what are parents and kids to do? With the prevailing mentality that you need to be noticed before high school, they just play through it.

So, when we were kids the push was to get yourself noticed by college recruiters. Today’s kids have to get noticed by high school recruiters. Why are we as a society doing this to our kids? The drive to succeed is so prevalent it hits younger and younger. My grandkids will probably be competing for a kindergarten team at this age. I believe in sports though. I believe in the values it teaches: we may not always win but we always try, hard work does pay off, and yes, sometimes life isn’t fair. I like that it teaches health and nutrition in a way that makes my kid actually care. It provides a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of pride, keeps kids busy and builds strong relationships.

But do I believe in the levels we have come to at such young ages?
I don’t know. I really don’t. I struggle with it. We continue to ‘play the game’ (pun intended) but what have we done to protect our ultra-competitive 7th grader? The one decision I am happy with is that we have consistently refused to allow him to play for coaches that yell and demean kids. I know, he will encounter this soon enough but as a younger kid, we have been adament about protecting him from this. I look at some teams and cannot believe parents sit by and let someone talk to their kid like that. We put him in situations to situations to be noticed but we don’t go pimp him out (like videos). Sadly, he is one of those quiet hard workers. Not one of the showboaty kids getting noticed. What he does on allows his teammates to shine. Sadly, we have told him he needs to start showboating his stuff a little more. Harder boards and bigger blocks. We have not let him weight lift yet but we do make sure he trains cardio at the gym consistently. I don’t know that we are doing the right things. I don’t want to push him so much (or let him push himself so much) that he burns out mid way through high school but if you don’t push he may not even get the chance to play.

And where does homeschooling come into this? Homeschooled athletes are getting some real attention. From Shaun White to Tim Tebow, homeschooled athletes are becoming more main stream. It makes a lot of sense, this last season when games were 8 pm on a Sunday night I really didn’t care. We didn’t have to get up for school the next morning. When do we hit the gym? When all the kids are in school of course. Travel teams? Not really a scheduling concern for us. Is this a valid reason to homeschool? Well, it is not our reason for homeschooling but it sure makes this whole sports dilemma more doable. But, we all homeschool for such a variety of reason, be it a religious advantage, academic advantage or philosophically lifestyle advantages, the competitive sports advantage seems just as valid to me. I guess it depends on how much of the rest of this post you buy into. Please, tell me what you think? This is an open discussion on the issue not just my thoughts.

To follow up here is an article from Time (which I credit the basketball photo to): Courting Eighth Graders