Oh Dairy Queen – You Broke My Heart

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By now most people have seen the infamous Dairy queen ad with a children’s choir shaming parents into taking a “skip day” from work to go get a Blizzard. If you haven’t seen it, you’re out of luck because the Dairy Queen PR folks pulled the ad after all of the backlash. However, you can click here to see the story about why the ad was pulled. Spoiler alert – it was due to the immediate backlash from parents because the ad is bonkers!

The song in the ad is sung by children to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” with lyrics like “You’ve been working this whole summer. You’re just never home. You’ve been working this whole summer. You’re always glued to your phone.”

“You don’t have to write that email. Forget those status reports. Wouldn’t you feel better at the pool in some shorts?”

“I’m spending more time with the neighbors than you. It’s true. But it’s not too late. You can still fix it. Skip some work. Hang with me.”

Heck yeah – most parents would rather be at the pool with their kids than working. I’d also love to spend the entire summer lounging on a beach drinking frosty cocktails and having my feet massaged, but little things like living expense and bills somehow seem to sidetrack that daydream. How dare DQ, an iconic brand, pull a PR stunt to try to shame parents into buying their products. Way to continue to ignite the ridiculous mommy wars and to alienate life-long customers.

Besides the obvious, I’ve been trying to figure out why this one ad bothers me so much. I’m usually pretty good at letting little jabs about being a working mom roll off my back. However, for some reason, this ad really got to me. It also got under the skin of almost every mom I know – those working outside the house, those working from home and those who stay at home.

I grew up with Dairy Queen. There was a small stand in my hometown and on opening day each Spring there was a line around the corner. It was always a big treat to stop at DQ. For me, DQ represented everything from carefree childhood summers to my first job to first dates.

In fact, the parents of a high school friend owned a DQ in a neighboring town. When I was 15, I was beyond excited to get my first job there. But then I failed the Blizzard test. Yes – there’s an actual test! And, I could not make the trademark “Q” at the end of the soft serve cones to save my life. Sadly, my tenure at DQ lasted only one day when my friend’s parents requested I come back only as a customer. Oh the devastation!

Even after my brief stint behind the counter, I was always a lifelong customer. There is a DQ five minutes from my house now and I take my daughters there at least once a week in the summer. It may be on the weekends or after dinner or after camp, but we are there sitting outside laughing and enjoying our treats. I have no doubt they’re logging the DQ summer memories in their minds the same way I did as a kid.

I think that’s part of the reason why this ad has upset me so much. It’s like a trusted lifelong friend getting drunk and sharing all the things they secretly judged you for behind your back.

I was following the Facebook comments about the ad…well, that was before DQ pulled down the ad and all comments on their Facebook page. Putting on my public relations hat, all I can say is, “bad move DQ!” Erasing all the comments is basically telling the public and your customers to zip the lip. And let’s just say, no one likes to be told that. In any case,  the comments ranged from parents angered like me, to the people who preach that if you’re offended it’s because you already feel guilty and that is your own fault, not DQ’s.

Come on, there isn’t a parent out there, working outside the home, working from their home or staying home with their kids, who doesn’t feel parental guilt at some point. If you meet this superhero who claims to never had a guilty parenting moment, please introduce me. I’d love to take a ride on her pet unicorn and catch up over a dinner of fat-free deep dish sausage pizza and calorie-free french silk pie.

Out of a sense of principle, I will no longer be patronizing my local DQ. This pains me a bit because I know most DQ’s are independently owned and shouldn’t be punished by the all mighty parent company. However, at least for the time being, my hard-earned dollars will be spent at Baskin Robins, Culver’s or Cold Stone.

 

 

 

 

Kids Resale Event: Yeah or Nah?

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I refuse to pay full price for anything. That’s why I scour the Internet for deals and especially love kids resale events. However, just because something is on sale doesn’t always mean it’s a good deal.

I’ve been to resale events and resale stores where I’ve picked up great deals. I’m talking onesie for $1 – $2, dresses for $3 and adorable boots for $5. The onesies came in especially handy when my youngest was a baby and spit up all over 10-12 times a day!

This past weekend, I stopped by a local Spring/Summer event. As I browsed through the racks of clothes, I was taken back by the prices. Gymboree leggings for $8, Children’s Place dresses for $10 and even dresses marked $15 and up. No way – those are crazy prices for used clothes! The whole point of going to a kids resale event is to get a good deal. When did people start overestimating the worth of their kids used clothes?

There are always sales going on for kids clothes at places like The Children’s Place, Gymboree, Old Navy, Gap, Target, Kohl’s, etc.  Why would I pay the same price or even more for used clothes? In fact, I just ordered a romper and dress from Children’s Place for my daughter and paid under $7 for each new item, plus free shipping.

  • The Children’s Place: Currently, the entire store is 60% off, plus free shipping.
  • Gymboree: Shop now for 30% off new styles, $10 t-shirts and $15 swimsuits, plus you can use your 20% off coupon.
  • Old Navy: Girls dresses are on sale starting at $8.50 and shorts for under $10.
  • Gap: Kids sale styles starting at $8 and you will get an additional 20% off.
  • Target: Toddler and Girls dresses are buy one, get one 50% off.
  • Kohl’s: Toddler and Girls dresses starting at $10 and shorts starting at $7. Plus, you can always stack coupons at Kohl’s and earn Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent.

Keep in mind that sales online sometimes differ from in-store. For instance, the romper and dress I ordered online from Children’s Place, were almost double the price in-store. However, the saleswoman told me if I pulled up the online item and showed her the price they can price match. Always check out RetailMeNot and Ebates too for extra discounts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still patron my favorite resale shops and swing by kids resale events. I was recently at Goodwill and found a 100% cashmere sweater for my seven-year-old for $2. It was in perfect condition, but I am guessing it was an adult sweater that someone threw in the dryer. In any case, it is super soft and looks great on my daughter. However, if I see used items priced more than new items, I’ll keep walking.

What have your recent experiences been with kids resale events?

 

I’m Blushing…

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Remember the time you accidentally mixed a red sock with your laundry and your once white jeans and t-shirt turned a pale shade of pink? As the weather gets warmer, you might actually want to consider doing that again…on purpose.

Word on the catwalk is shades of blush are the the new neutral and will be everywhere this Spring. This makes me happy on so many fronts, but mainly because I already own tons of shoes and clothes in blush. As a lifelong lover of the color pink, my wardrobe has an array of every shade of pink you can imagine. Dare I say I am ahead of the trend. 🙂 Stack heals, stilettos, flats, sneakers and wedges, oh my. Throw in a sleeveless duster, sweater, blouse, jeans and tote and I virtually have a blush wardrobe. This should come as a shock to no one.

Blush purse

A tote, like this one from Target, is a great way to ease yourself into the blush trend.

Now don’t get scared by all the pink. I know not everyone is a fan, but blush is honestly the most tame shade of the pink family. And I’m not suggesting you go head to toe. Instead, choose a piece or two to accent what already in your wardrobe. I guarantee it will give you an automatic wardrobe upgrade for Spring.

 

Shoes

Whatever type of shoe you like, there is a blush option. Swap your camel colored neutral

Blush heels

Hard to believe these Sam Edelman heels are comfy, but they are

shoes for a blush heel and change the entire look of your work. This obviously works with anything black and white, but also with tons of other colors. Wear blush shoes with your jeans and other bright colors. Sam Edelman has a super comfy heel that is a deeper blush, but can still be worn as a neutral. Blush hued sneakers are also very on trend. 

Jeans

Blush jeans

DL 1961 jeans from Macy’s.

White jeans are often tough to pull off. Be it the cut, some are super sheer and if you’re anything like me, wearing white means it’s 100% sure dirt, coffee or soda will be spilled. Blush jeans are a fantastic alternative and you will get as much if not more wear out of them as you have your white jeans. Plus, the slightly darker color is tons more flattering than white. DL 1961 has an incredible pair of blush jeans that has spandex to suck you in and smooth you out!

 

Dresses

A blush dress is an instant sign of wedding season and a nice diversion away from floral and black. It’s also a flattering shade on almost all skin tones.

Blush dress

This Eliza J dress comes in blush and black.  

I always lean towards simple dresses that skim my curves. I love this one from by Eliza J.  I tried it on at Nordstrom and am now just waiting for it to go on sale. More brides are even choosing blush colored wedding dresses. Anyone remember back when Jessica Beal married Justin Timberlake? She wore a gorgeous blush colored dress.  

Accessories

Blush necklace

What girl doesn’t like sparkle!?

Accessories like handbags, necklaces and scarves are a fun and inexpensive way to give the blush trend a whirl. Don’t be afraid to mix different shades of blush and patterns too. I’m a big fan of the statement necklace as you can wear it with a basic t-shirt or wear it to add style to a basic sheath dress. Charming Charlie, BaubleBar and Macy’s all have fun options. Light weight scarves and wraps will also give you a pop of color and dress up casual and fancy outfits. They instantly make you look more polished and put together.

I know urge you to go forth and add some blush items to your wardrobe. Or, go ahead and wash your whites with a red sock. I’m all about working with what’s already in your closet!

 

Best Internship Ever!

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I am an Olympic geek. When the previews of the Summer or Winter Games start running, I get super giddy. I’m immediately transported back to 1999 when I was living at the United States Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Spring.

No – I wasn’t an athlete training for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. I was an OTC intern…and cocky as hell.

I interned and lived at the OTC for six-months. Yes – I said lived there too. I still remember driving into the Training Center and then being able to drive past where the tourists were stopped, and entering the private “athletes only” living area. Yowza!!!!

Intern Sister

Two of my besties from the USOC. We are still close friends today, even though we live nowhere near each other.

Not quite sure how I did it, but I landed a six-month internship doing Media & Public Affairs for the USOC. Part of the internship involved living at the OTC with the athletes training for the 2000 Olympic Games, eating in the same cafeteria (which was beyond awesome) and even working out in the same facilities. Imagine being on a treadmill right next to an Olympic gold medalist. How crazy is that!?

To be clear, the dorms the interns stayed in were former military barracks, had shared dorm-style bathrooms and one hallway phone. This was before cell phone were the norm, so if you got a call, someone would yell down the hallway for you. If you were on the phone, you better believe everyone else was ease dropping. You know what? We didn’ care, at all.

The top-tier athletes lived in much nicer dorms. Ahh, the perks of being an elite athlete.

My internship and the people I met there changed the course of my life. I was at the OTC the summer before my senior year at the University of Iowa and for the first semester. Most interns were there for only three months, but I was lucky enough to get to know two groups of amazing people.

Intern Group

Check out these baby faces from back in 1999! 

When I moved into the OTC, the summer interns had already been there for a couple of weeks and they hailed from all over the country. After going to school in Iowa where almost everyone was from the Midwest, it was incredible to meet people from states across the map. There was so much diversity and perspective. And we all shared a love of sports. Lifelong friendships were formed immediately.

For my Media & Public Affairs internship, I got to do amazing things like interview and write profiles on Olympic hopefuls (some who went onto medal), work at the Olympic Congress and even travel to San Diego for the Olympic Cup. The people I worked for were inspiring and gave me full-time employee responsibilities to build my professional portfolio. No getting coffee for this girl. I also got college credit, so it was a win-win.

As interns, we worked hard, but we also played hard. Weekends were spent visiting Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods, the Royal Gorge Bridge, skiing, Denver Nuggets games and maximizing all the beauty Colorado had to offer, including partying with the Olympic hopefuls. Good thing social media and smartphones didn’t exist back then! Oh the stories I could tell.

Intern Christmas

All dressed up for the USOC holiday party. Ahhh – to be 21 again. I’m the blond, second from the right. Yep – I was blond back then.

Remember when I said I was cocky? My first week at the OTC I attended a party with a bunch of people, including well-known former Olympians. Shockingly, some of them are pretty cocky too. My 21-year-old self played a game with one of the athletes pretending I had no clue who he was and even went as far as to ask him if he was one of the interns. It drove him CRAZY.

Another intern used to give tours of the OTC Whenever she’d see me walking by during a tour she’d tell the group to get their cameras out because I was an Olympic ice skater. I have no doubt I am in at least a couple photo albums from vacations to Colorado Springs. 🙂 To bad no one realized ice skaters didn’t train at the OTC.

Since we were there over Thanksgiving, my intern besties and I decided to drive to Las Vegas instead of going home for the holidays. The things you do in your youth. While in Vegas, we told a group of guys we met that we were Olympic gymnasts. Turns out they were from Denver – ooops! Well, we did live at the OTC, so it wasn’t all a lie.

My internship at the OTC was almost 20 years ago now – gulp! As my dad used to say, it was lightening in a bottle. I still keep in touch with many of the interns. Facebook and LinkedIn help with that.

Intern Hallway

Group photo in the dorm hallway. It felt like freshman year of college all over again, only even more fun!

My heart swells when I see all the accomplishments of OTC intern friends. From our group, there is a marketing VP, athletic conference Commissioner, NBA executive, sports phycologist, social media expert, marketing director, sponsorship director, numerous head collegiate coaches, United States Olympic Committee employees, and lots of other awesome job outside of sports.

No matter where we landed, we are still linked together by our experience as OTC interns…and our love of the Olympic Games.

My advice to my daughters and all other kids with a dream – GO FOR IT! Apply for that internship, try out for the team, submit that proposal. I never thought I’d get the OTC internship, but am so glad I pushed past my self doubts and took a risk. It paid off in more way than I could have ever imagined.

Treasure every experience and continue to cultivate those relationships and friendships. They may help shape your life.

Click here to learn how you (or your kids in college) can apply to be a United States Olympic Committee intern.

 

Groundhog’s Day for Grandpa

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Groundhog’s Day was always a special day in my house growing up. My dad and I started celebrating it purely because it is silly! Come on – a rodent is essentially celebrated with festivals, fully sanctioned fan clubs and even a movie. And this is all to tell us there will be more winter. Well, hello…it’s February 2, so it’s pretty certain there will be more winter.

You gotta admit that’s crazy and hilarious! Needless to say, my dad and I shared the same sarcastic and quirky sense of humor, which was evident from my very early years. He even signed me up for the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. As an adult, every February 2, he would call me early in the morning to say Happy Groundhog’s Day and we’d discuss whether or not Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.

Way before I had kids, I would make Groundhog Day cupcakes and bring them into the office for my coworkers. It was fun to brighten people’s day and give them a chuckle. In fact, people I worked with five, 10, 15 years ago still remember the cupcakes.

Cupcakes

The traditional Groundhog’s Day cupcakes.

Now, I make a smaller batch just for my girls. I get up early to decorate the kitchen and make sure their Groundhog’s Day cupcakes are ready when they wake up. Cupcakes for breakfast you ask? Absolutely – that’s part of the traditional Groundhog’s Day celebration!

My dad passed away 10 years ago…before I got married and had kids. It will always sting that he never got to meet my girls. Although I know he is watching down on us and laughing at the constant chaos and giggles. I have picture of him hung in my home and talk about my dad all the time.

Part of keeping his memory alive is passing down the Groundhog Day traditions to my daughters. They get excited each year to celebrate Groundhog’s Day in honor of Grandpa. This year, my four-year-old asked me if Grandpa was eating a cupcake for breakfast in heaven. No doubt in my mind he enjoyed a breakfast cupcake (calorie and fat free as all treats are in heaven) and is grinning from ear-to-ear watching my girls continue his traditions.

I promise one day we will celebrate Groundhog’s Day in Gobbler’s Knob with the other crazy fans. In the meantime, we will continue our traditions at home and embrace our silliness. 🙂

Lies I’ve Told My Kids

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Last night, my seven-year-old lied about brushing her teeth. Want to know how I knew she was lying? I told her to stick out her tongue. You see, I’ve convinced my children if they are lying there will be a big black dot on their tongue and only parents can see it. When she refused open her mouth I automatically knew she was lying about brushing her teeth.

After we had a long talk about why we need to tell the truth and why lying is wrong, something startling occurred to me. I lie to my children ALL THE TIME!  Let’s go over a few of the blatant white lies I tell them, in addition to the black dot on the tongue. These examples don’t even include the Big 3 – Santa (including Elf on the Shelf), the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

  1. The pool is closed. My kids love going swimming at the YMCA pool in the winter. I hate it! Besides having to pour my pasty body into a bathing suit, I have to endure them jumping into the pool no less than 100 times, insisting that I catch them, which often involves a kick to the chest, face or baby maker. So my standard excuse is “the pool is closed” or “the pool is busy because there are swimming lessons.” This lie also works with places like the bounce house or trampoline park.
  2. A favorite toy is sleeping. This only works for younger kids, but it’s very effective. Both of my daughters are infatuated with toys that make an type of loud and obnoxious noise. So much so that it’s often reached the point where I’ve removed the batteries from the and told them it was “sleeping.” IMG_6253Or, I hide the toy and act surprised we can’t find it. However, this has not worked for the infamous Hello Kitty drum set Santa brought last year.
  3. All of your friends are asleep. Bedtime has always been a challenge at my house. For some reason when I tell my younger daughter all of her friends from school are already asleep she settles down. Could be the peer pressure or the fact that she is extremely competitive. In any case, I’ll take whatever works.
  4. The store was out of Cheetos. My four-year-old’s favorite snack is Cheetos, but I rarely buy them because they are also my favorite snack. Give me a five minutes alone with a bag and I’ll emerge covered in orange powder. This is why I tell my daughter the grocery store was out of Cheetos. IMG_9457Although whenever she is with me at the grocery store she gets excited to see that the store has Cheetos back in stock.
  5. You must have eaten all the Halloween candy. Like most kids, mine inventory their candy and know exactly how many pieces of each kind they have in their buckets. Momma is a big fan of Kit Kats and Twix bars, especially since the mini size basically have no calories. 😉 That means a few pieces may go missing. When my children inevitably notice and question the lack of Kit Kats and Twix bars in their Halloween buckets, I always default to saying, “Well, you must have eaten it.” I use the mom tone and look so they know not to question.

Talk about a conflict of moral lessons. But you know what? I don’t feel bad. As a mom, little white lies are part of surviving.

What white lies have you told your kids?

 

 

 

Customers Customers Everywhere!

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The old saying is true – if you love something or have a great experience you’ll tell three friends and if you hate something or have a bad experience you’ll tell 10! Customer service is the cornerstone of any business. The companies who heavily focus on their customers are clearly the ones growing in the marketplace.

I am a big Zulily fan and recently ordered a Prédiré Paris Day & Night Anti-Aging Eye Care Set (products no longer available on site, but check them out on Gilt). I was excited to try the products, especially since the set is normally over $400 and I paid approximately 95% off! The day eye gel worked great, but the pump on the night version never worked…Waaaah.

I emailed Zulily to ask if they could send a replacement. In a few hours, someone responded and apologized for the inconvenience. The company refunded what I paid for the product, said to keep the product and also added a $5 credit to my Zulily account. Yowza – now that’s what I call customer service!

Another favorite is Kohl’s. The company’s return policy is fantastic, even if you don’t have a receipt. A few years ago I received a Keurig as a gift from my in-laws. After about a year, it stopped working. I knew my in-laws purchased it at Kohl’s, so I brought the entire appliance, without the box or receipt to Kohl’s. Keurig

I was nervous as I approached the returns counter, but the woman who helped me said no problem. I walked out with a new Keurig. Only catch is it has to be the exact same model and color. I have lots of other examples of Kohl’s great customer service.

Nordstrom also has amazing customer service, be it in-store or online. Honestly, sometimes the prices are a bit higher than other retailers, but I am willing to pay a bit more because I know they have shipping and are great about returns and exchanges. You might have heard me blab on about my favorite Born Felicia Boots from Nordstrom.Born boot

When I was trying to purchase the boots during last year’s Anniversary Sale, I was having issues trying to use a prepaid VISA gift card. I called Nordstrom and the woman I spoke with walked me through how to enter the card in the system and was so nice about everything, and thanked me for being a customer. How about that!

If anyone has called American Girl to make a reservation for the American Girl Cafe, you can attest to the amazing customer service. The person helping with the reservation asks if there is a special occasion, dietary restrictions and asks about the dolls. It’s almost like talking to a friend. The entire waitstaff at the cafe makes the experience fun and memorable or adults and kids. American Girl

The same goes for the in-store experience. Salespeople who are knowledgable about the products are everywhere to help you and answer questions. That’s not an easy job with excited little girls underfoot everywhere!

The customer experiences I shared may sound super basic. None of my examples are extreme. They simply highlight how customers should be treated. It’s not rocket science.

I worked in retail in college and know firsthand how tough it is. I also know how important it is to be kind and patient, and consider the needs of all customer. Needless to say this notion stretches far beyond retail.

What are some of your best customer experiences? Why are you loyal to specific stores and websites?