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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Women Of...

The It Moms are the featured "Women Of the Month" on the this cool website: Check out the article.....

WomenOf the Month: The “It” Moms Encourage Women to Live Life with Gusto
Holly Resnick and Marni Renison would say they are just like many other moms in America. They juggle roles and responsibilities while caring for their families. But these two have a gig that most moms don’t: They’re the “It” Moms of Better.tv, a site that features short video clips on everything from family to relationships to fashion, health, decorating and more. The “It” Moms’ clips encourage moms to rediscover the girl inside them, to chase after dreams they’ve forgotten, to try new things. In recent videos, Holly and Marni try out snowshoeing and bellydancing. They also offer advice on everyday matters like how married moms can find activities to do with single moms and how they can help moms in need.

We talked with Holly and Marni about their backgrounds, career paths, and the chemistry that helps them create fun and inspiring videos for the site.

Where did you grow up, go to school, and what did your moms do?
: I grew up in the greater Portland (Oregon) area. I went to Lutheran High School which was a very small private school. I made varsity everything (as did anyone and everyone who tried out...) and managed to get a volleyball scholarship to Mt. Hood Community College. I studied psychology and played ball for two years and then got a job working for the doctors at OHSU. There I stayed for the next six years until I got married and had my first son. I was thrilled with the news of my pregnancy and thrilled to have a reason to leave my miserable job! It wasn't the best fit for me...I got in trouble CONSTANTLY for talking too much and being social. (Now I get paid to talk and be social......a much better occupation for me!)

My Mom worked for Wells Fargo Bank as far back as I can remember. She still does! She is the wire investigations supervisor. She worked hard and always had a smile on her face when she came home. I remember her coming home, making dinner, ironing my dad's suits, helping us with homework, and kissing us goodnight. Thinking back about that, now that I'm a mom, I don't know how she did it! I wonder when she ever got time for herself. She was a saint!

Marni: Originally, I am from Southern California, but have spent most of my life in Oregon. I went to grade and high school in southern Oregon and earned my BS from the University of Oregon in Eugene.
My mother worked as long as I can remember. She was a divorced mother of four and became an entrepreneur when I was in my young adolescence. Against many odds, she was able to provide for us and begin a new cycle for her family that included love, support and strength. One small factoid: my mother has been married five times. My sister and I are a product of her second marriage and she had two children from a previous marriage. Her fourth marriage was to a man that I still call my step-dad, as we still have a close relationship. While her many failed marriages may seem tragic to some, I write this with a smile on my face because I have learned what worked and what didn’t work in her life and I am able to apply it to my own. My mother didn’t have an example to work from to raise her family. She did it from her heart. And still does. I contribute my flexibility and sense of humor to her marital woes. Hee. Happy to say, I think she is finally with the one she will stay with forever. Good job, mom!

What’s your family life like?
Holly: My husband, Scott, is an airplane pilot, mechanic and FAA inspector. We've been married for almost 12 years and have four amazing children. The kids enjoy swimming, soccer, skateboarding and anything outdoors. Our family loves to spend time camping and playing at the beach.
We stay pretty busy...with school, homework, sports, and more....We're always rushing from here to there. It's nice to have those moments where we can be home doing nothing at all. One of our favorite things is sitting around the kitchen table with a jigsaw puzzle! We love to laugh and feel like a sense of humor is the key to a happy home.

Marni: My family life is pleasantly chaotic. I have two beautiful daughters, four years and eight months, and feel blessed to be married to a person I can truly call my best friend. My days are packed with laundry, zipping up princess dresses and changing diapers. There is a lot of energy in our house, so it takes a concerted effort to slow things down enough to enjoy the passing days instead of just watch them fly by. My husband and I are pretty private people, so we enjoy spending time as a family and have a pretty tight family unit. That being said, we also love hosting dinner parties that “wow” our guests and enjoy sunny afternoons when neighborhood children run through our house barefoot to grab the latest “Polly Pocket” to throw into the kiddy pool in the backyard.

How did you end up “It” Moms, and what does it take to be successful in what you do? What's the hardest thing about it and what's the most fun part?
My career path is hysterical! I started my young adult life thinking I'd be a psychologist. Life got in the way and I ended up in an office staring at a computer for eight hours a day. Thankfully, my next "career move" came when I had my first child...a job that gave my life purpose and meaning. Three kids and 10 years as a stay-at-home mom later, I find myself on the adventure of a lifetime!
On a fluke, I managed to get an interview/audition for the new morning show they were starting in Portland, Oregon called MORE (now called Better TV.) A friend who worked at the TV station said they were looking for local women to act as the shows experts: ie: nutrition expert, fitness expert, organizing expert, etc. He suggested I try out for the "fashion expert." Well, I had no experience in this area except for getting dressed everyday so I laughed it off. One day, as the show was getting closer to its air date, I got a call from that same friend who said, "I told the executive producer you were a fashion expert. He's calling you today." Click. And....he called! He said, "So, I hear you are a fashion expert?" Me: "Yup." (Gulp) "OK, come on in tomorrow so I can meet you." Panic.
I went in, they said, "your hired!" They delicately decided to find something else for me as I was not really a "true" expert. During my interview, they got to hear how much I have a heart for moms and how important community and encouragement is when you're in the "trenches." That got the wheels turning in the mind of the executive producer.
In his brilliance, he matched me up with Marni Renison, another fun mom and my soul sister. He gave us our mission: Show how "life after baby only gets better!" Since then, Marni and I have set out to encourage other moms to live life with gusto, face their fears and chase their dreams! We also hope to inspire moms to try new things and make time for the things in life that help them to thrive. If they are fulfilled women, they will be amazing moms! Oh...and always...always....keep a good sense of humor handy!
I guess if I could name one thing that works for us...it's authenticity. We don't pretend that motherhood is perfect, pretty, or smells nice all the time. Sometimes the cake you're trying to make turns out to be a flop that you wouldn't even feed the dog. Sometimes when we're shooting, "how to survive grocery shopping with kids.."your four-year-old has a meltdown and throws himself on the floor. We love that...we say keep the cameras rolling! That's real, that's a mom's life. Tips, strategies, helpful hints are great...but with kids, nothing is fool proof. Oh....and we have the most amazing photographer/editor!!!! Brian Watkins is his name... he's the other silent "It" Mom!!
The hardest part? I guess the hardest part is trying to fit everything you want to say, convey and express into a three-minute segment. Oh...and did I mention the four-year-old meltdowns in the middle of a shoot?
The best part? Wow....Everything! Definitely working with someone you adore is a plus! Marni is a treasure...I love her so. I also really enjoy spending my creative energy on something positive and helpful for other moms. There is so much seriousness and sadness in the world....Moms need a little goose of light-hearted inspiration every now and then. I know I do. It truly is my dream job.

Marni: For the last nearly 8 years, I have worked in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. I have always had an affinity towards medicine and really enjoy this line of work. But, I am sure you want to know about how I got into THIS business, so let me back up a little. After my first baby was born, my husband and I were relocated to North Carolina where we lived for two years. I stayed at home during this time, as we knew our stay in the Carolinas was limited. When we moved back to Portland, I started a small business for personal organizing. This is where it gets interesting. One of my clients was a lead anchor for the 10 o’clock news and explained that they were starting a morning show and needed “experts” for the show. She thought I should meet with the executive producer. So, when I went in to meet the EP, Seth Feldman, I was interviewed for the “organizing expert” position. He first asked, “How many clients do you have?” My answer? “Two”. He knew right then and there that I was as green as they come in the organizing realm and had no business talking about it on television. He was right. I was a mom. And I just had a job offer from a biotech company that was a dream come true. “But, I like you”, he said. “We are going to use you for something.” A few days later I got a call back to go in and talk about a segment for moms. “I can do that!” I thought. “I have this mom thing down….I think”. And the “It” Moms were born.
Oh, and I took the position for the biotech company. One of the best things I ever did. I also did the “It” Moms, which shot about once a week. Wow. That was a couple crazy years.

What does it take to be successful? To be honest, I have no idea. I have a hunch it has to do with having strong shoulders, a sense of humor and courage.
For me, the hardest thing about working in this industry is that it is very subjective. Each viewer has a unique opinion of whether or not we “hit the mark” with a good segment. There is no cut and dry formula we can follow that if we do all the steps, we nail it. The result is a mix of opinions where the majority wins. This is where a set of strong shoulders, a sense of humor and courage come in handy.
The most fun part about working and developing the “It” Moms is when we make a difference. When we get stopped in public and thanked for making people laugh, talking about a specific topic, or passing along some good advice it is incredibly rewarding. Oh, and working with two great friends is probably the best part.

What are the different talents that make up the chemistry mix for you two?
: Marni is both scientific and extremely creative! She is also very organized and driven! She inspires me every day! Marni is an amazing cook, gardener, organizer and runner! These are all skills I DO NOT possess! I guess I'm more of the "free spirit"...the "hippie" of the duo. I enjoy singing, painting, writing, acting, dancing, and hate exercises for the sake of exercise. Exercise has to be disguised as fun, or I'm not into it.
I think our chemistry comes from our ridiculous humor and our love for each other. We also share a love for mommies and want to see them succeed in this crazy rollercoaster of chaos. People often ask us if we've been friends for years and are surprised to find out we met a few days before our first shoot. We had an instant connection!

Marni: Holly is incredibly talented. She is a singer/songwriter and had been at home raising children for 10 years when this began. She is a performer, so she is very comfortable in front of the camera. Holly is spontaneous and has a great sense of humor, so she adds spark to our pieces. Many people think we are “just alike”, but in fact we are very different. I have spent the last ten years working for corporate America with some of that time trying to work and be a mommy. I love baking, gardening and running. Holly claims that she “doesn’t cook” (which isn’t true – I have had her peanut butter and jelly!). I tend to have a dry sense of humor and wish I could make an art of sarcasm.

What kinds of activities have you filmed for Moms to get involved with, and what’s coming up?
We have done some pretty crazy things like: belly dancing, bungee jumping, rock climbing, kickboxing, henna tattoos, crabbing, and skateboarding to name a few. We've done some great "normal" mom things like: gardening with the kids, berry picking, getting a picky eater to gobble up his veggies, how to shoe shop for kids and teaching kids to make friends by example. We've also done some incredible, worthwhile things like: volunteering with and without kids, Race for the Cure, boosting your daughter's self esteem and finding ways to help a mom who’s child is faced with cancer.
We've pushed our comfort zones, tried new things and faced our fears all to nurture the "inner girl" that lives in the heart of every mom!
Coming up we have some great stories: Snowshoeing, a lesson in billiards- "when date night is his idea", cheerleading camp for moms, Spanish class, guitar lessons and much more! We'll be showing a lot of things outside of the normal routine, so we can shake things up a bit! We'll throw in our stories and tips on how to make mom's life easier, too, but who wants to talk about laundry and dishes when you're doing them all the time?!

Marni: We look at anything and everything that a mother could do to get out of the “mommy rut”. Anything to make her feel alive, that she is living for herself as well as her family. Upcoming? We are looking at dancing with professional NBA cheerleaders, taking an etiquette class, fun ways to do your hair as a mommy, when you only have 3 minutes (like so many of us do!)

What do you think the biggest stressors are for moms, working or otherwise?
Holly: I think moms put too much pressure on themselves. I've heard so many friends saying things like, "I feel so guilty..." for things like not getting them in soccer soon enough or not being able to get them into piano lessons because of the cost. I'm guilty of this as well. We need to give ourselves a break. Focus on loving our kids and not showering them with things or activities that the world tells us will make them happy. The picture of June Cleaver is nice, but she was an actress on TV. The reality of motherhood is you do the best you can, you love your kids without condition or expectation, and you wake up every morning and tell yourself, "today is a new day!" And.....this is a big one: We need to stop comparing ourselves to other moms...real or on TV. Just be the best you, you can be! Take some time, every day, to love yourself. Find out what makes you thrive and go for it! Your health and happiness is vital to your whole family's well being! What a great life example for the little eyes watching your every move!

Marni: As a mommy who was working full time for two years with a little one at home, I can honestly say that I think the biggest stressor that we put on ourselves as mothers is the pressure to get it right. Do we work, or stay home? Should we sign her up for that class, or would that be too many activities? Did I read enough to her today? Was I “present” with my kids or just at home with them? This constant self reflection is important but can easily over complicate motherhood. Something we try to do as the “It” Moms is convey a sense of acceptance. A “come as you are” approach to raising children. We are not perfect, in fact we try to make that apparent in our pieces in hopes to alleviate some of the pressure of being a mommy. As mothers, we have a serious job. So, it’s necessary to laugh at ourselves and give ourselves grace. Hopefully mothers watching our pieces will connect with the fact that we can’t bake the perfect princess cake our first try either. In fact, my first attempt was a miserable failure. Just try, and try again. And LAUGH. Remember to laugh.
Check out the It Moms at http://www.better.tv/

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Get It Together

Hey All! Go check out www.parents.com/getittogether. You can see a few of the Discover Card videos we shot a while back. These were the segments written up in the New York Times!

I wrote, produced and appeared with the kids in two, Marni did the same in her two, and the two of us collaborated on the fifth one.

My two are:
* Keeping Kids Organized
* Family Meal Planning

Marni had:
* Caring for Pets
* Saying Thank You

The fifth is:
* Going Green - Teaching Kids to Recycle

They're fun tips for parents to help get the whole family involved in daily tasks and responsibilities! The kids are super cute, too, so it's worth a few minutes if you have time to check them out!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Red Heads Bond

If you grew up a red-head, then you will understand this post. If you did not, hopefully you will gain some insight into the world of a fair-skinned, freckle-faced, red-headed person you either know or will meet in the future. Consider this sensitivity training.

The other night at a birthday party for my brother- in-law, John, I got to hang out with Kim. (She's the one I'm craddling on the left.) If you put two red-heads in a room together, it is most likely that they will gravitate toward one another. No matter how shy or introverted, sooner or later they will cross a crowded room to begin a conversation. Like true kindred spirits, the conversation flows effortlessly and can easily go all evening long and phone numbers will be exchanged by the end of the night.

"Why?" You ask? Well, there is something about surviving a childhood as "the red-head" that draws you to others that have shared the same experience. Let me explain with just a short list of some of the "casualties of red hair."

1. You burn like the dickens. Sun is not your friend. No amount of SPF can save you from becoming a lobster and/or turning into one giant freckle. I gave up my search for the perfect cream that would rid me of the unsightly sun spots sometime in junior high. Instead, I began to pray they would all merge. At least then, I might register some evidence of pigment.

2. Non-existent eyebrows. If you take a close look at this picture, my eyebrows are missing. If not for brow pencils, they would still be invisible to the naked eye. Lashes are the same.....kind of like a pig. My thanks to whoever invented mascara. God bless you.... You're probably a red-head and we would be best friends.

3. Everyone wants to be blond and tan/Everyone wants to date someone who's blond and tan. Ok, maybe not so much anymore, but back in my youth, this was the undeniable truth. The "California girl" image was plastered on every magazine, tv show and movie for my entire, painful adolescent years. My sister (shown here on the right) tried to "help me" once by testing out a frosting kit to give me highlights. Um... the word "candystriper" rolls right off my tongue.

4. The temper sterio-type is real. And yes... you should be scared.

5. Numerous nicknames and countless ways to torment and tease. I'm not going to list any of these, but I'm sure you have an idea. "Carrot Top" was one of the mild ones....not even on the richter.

6. When you're cold, you turn blue. Kind of an ashy, post mortem, grey blue, really.....with freckles on top. Oh, and when you cry, you turn red and blotchy. Nice.

As Kim and I talked on and on into the wee hours....we laughed and celebrated all things red-head. Like long lost relatives, we shared many of the same stories, trials and blessings.

This blog does not highlight any of the benefits of being a red-head on purpose, because...well.... that would just be bragging!

So, thanks, Kim.....for crossing a crowded room, my Sistah!

High Five!