Girls Night Out – Our New YouTube Video

December 12th, 2009

Remember what it was like to be young and free, to go out and party all night?  This video shows three women doing just that, then shows the same women going out just 5 years later, after kids.  Think minivans and mom jeans….

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I Used to Be Cool Contest Winners

November 27th, 2009

Thank you so much to everyone who entered our contest.  We really appreciate the comments, the facebook fans, twitter followers, blog entries, and everything.   If you did not win, we will be having more giveaways, so please check back.  Please remember I used to be cool when holiday shopping–our shirts make really funny gifts!

Our winners were chosen by drawing this morning.  They are Kerry Brown, Shannon Dickson, and Carol Sue.  I will post what they chose as soon as they let me know.

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Shannon from I used to be cool

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I Used to Be Cool Giveaway–Three Prize Packages–Each package includes 2 Shirts, 2 Stickers, 2 Huggers

November 15th, 2009

We are giving away three prize packages–each prize package consists of two shirts of your choice, two stickers and two can huggers.  Here’s how to enter:

1 entry: Go to www.iusedtobecool.com and check out the merchandise.  Come back here  and leave a comment about which shirts, bumper stickers, or other items that you like the most.

kid

1 entry:   Become a fan on Facebook. Include this in your comment or leave a new comment.

2 entries: From the links at the left on the I used to be cool Facebook page, suggest the page to your friends.  Leave this in your comment or leave a new comment.

2 entries: Post to the wall of the Facebook
group www.iusedtobecool.com.
Leave this in your comment or leave a new comment.

2 entries: Post this contest and/or the Facebook group on your wall.  Include this in your comment or leave a new comment.

I used to be cool...now I drive a minivan.

1 entry: Follow me on Twitter.  Include this in your comment or leave a new comment.

2 entries: Tweet about this contest (see post to Twitter link below).  Include this in your comment or leave a new comment.

2 entries: Link to us (http://www.iusedtobecool.com) from your website or blog.  Leave this in your comment or create a new comment.  We will gladly link to you from our website and our blog!

3 entries: Blog about us.  Include this in your comment or leave a new comment.

I'm still cool. - Men's Shirts



stuff

Winners will be chosen by a random drawing on November 27. They will be posted, along with the merchandise that they choose.

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The Disney Boat ROCKS

October 4th, 2009

I used to think of Disney in the same way that I thought of minivans: “I will never…” And I was serious. Just as I truly believed that I would never, ever drive a minivan, I truly believed that I would never, ever take a Disney vacation. Disney was off the table. To me it represented everything that I loathed about parenting mediocrity; using perfectly good vacation time and spending WAY too much money to do something that everyone else does, something that you are supposed to do. In my mind, kids would enjoy lots of vacations just as much as a trip to Disney but WE could never enjoy Disney.  When the kids got older their aunts could take them there and we’d go to the beach.   Then we were offered a free Disney cruise. A complete fluke, someone that we knew had overbooked a Disney cruise and four tickets were offered to us. We would be fools not to accept a free trip, especially given the economy and the fact that our kids had never been on an airplane or to the beach, much less a cruise ship.

I love to be proven wrong and boy was I wrong about Disney. Disney has got it DOWN. Everything on that ship went off without a hitch. Everything was perfectly on schedule. Everything was perfect. Ours was a 3-night cruise, it left from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a Thursday afternoon and arrived back at port on Sunday morning. A Disney cruise is the best possible all-around vacation that I can imagine because it is an excellent mix of family time and adult time. There are “clubs” for your kids, and you can check them in and out anytime from about 8am until 1:00 in the morning. It’s not babysitting either, it’s kid crack. There are slides, dress up chests, TVs, and activities the whole time that they are in there. They don’t want to leave the kids’ club. Ever.

Here is an example of our Friday:
9ish: Wake up after night of excellent sleep in the insanely comfortable bed, call room service to bring us a
pot of coffee (room service is free!)
10:00 Go to breakfast, which is basically gourmet, the kids get a plate of fresh fruit and pancakes, my husband gets an omelet, I get steel cut oats because I don’t want to gain the requisite 7 cruise pounds, but end up going back for waffles anyway.
10:45: Kids go swimming in the Mickey Mouse pool, which on the top deck, is shaped like Mickey Mouse, is no more than a foot deep anywhere and has a giant slide.
12:15: Drop kids off at the kids’ club for Ratatoullie Cooking School, where they make chocolate chip cookies (We at this point have the option of going to the all-adult pool, working out, reading in a lounge chair, or retiring to our stateroom)
2:15 Pick up the kids and go have lunch
3:00 Kids swim at the Goofy pool while watching a Disney movie on the gigantic 100-foot movie screen.
4:00 Drop the kids off at the kids club for Dancing lessons with Snow White. We disembark to catch a little of the local flavor in Nassau.
6:00 Pick up the kids and go to the production of Toy Story, which is basically as good as a Broadway show.
7:00 Take the kids for burgers/fries, then back to the room to dress them as pirates.
8:00 Drop the kids at the kids’ club for pirate night
8:15 Four course, four star meal. Seriously it was insane.  Here’s the choice of first course:  crab rockerfeller, tuna or homemade asparagus soup.  That’s not even getting into the salad, main course or dessert.  It was this every night, food as good as any food I’ve ever eaten.  Plus, dinner without kids and no babysitter to pay–how often does that happen?  It happens every night on the Disney boat!
10:00 Pick up our kids up from the kids club (we could have left them there until 1am) and go to the top deck for the pirate party.  The pirate party is hard to put into words, the Disney people are up on stage leading this massive and crazy fun mayhem that absolutely everyone is loving, and ends with a full fireworks show.
Then a divine sleep in a bed that did not make my back hurt once (practically a miracle), with all feather pillows and super high-thread count sheets.

The trip was absolutely perfect and if you told me right now that a year from now we could take any trip that we wanted, I would take the exact same trip again, well, next time we’d do a 4 or 5 night cruise.  God bless Disney.


Castaway Cay, Disney’s very own island in the Bahamas, where you get to spend a whole day of your cruise.  That’s the boat in the background.

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September 8th, 2009

blog-iutbc-mens blog-kids-shirt blog-pink-van blog-can-huggers www.iusedtobecool.com

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It’s Hard to Be Cool in a Minivan

September 8th, 2009

The other day I came across a song that pretty much sums it all up:   “It’s Hard to be Cool in a Minivan” by the Oakridge Boys.  In retrospect, it’s pretty amazing that no one has told me about this song, as it came out in 2006 and all my friends know about my minivan hang-ups.  Here is the first stanza and chorus:

Sittin’ at a red light, down around Sunset
A girl pulled up beside me in a candy-apple red Corvette
She pulled down her shades, gave me a wink
I gave her a little smile back
Then she laughed as she hit the gas
I remembered where I was at

Chorus:
(‘Cause) It’s hard to be cool when you’re behind the wheel
Of an eight passenger automobile
In a big bubble, cruisin’ down the street
With Barney blarin’ and a baby seat
Hey it can be done, but I’m tellin’ you man
It’s hard to be cool in a minivan.

I couldn’t begin to count how many times I said, “I will never drive a minivan” back when I was hip and cool (or imagined that I was). Of course  it was said with absolute contempt for anyone who actually did.  And I really really believed that I never would.  When my friend Tara traded in her Ford Explorer for a Windstar I couldn’t believe it;  I was so disappointed.  Then her extremely hip mother did it too, for the grandkids, and I was just beside myself.  Two years later, I had a ten-month-old and was 4 months pregnant.  I was driving my husband’s Silverado extended cab (I had an F-150 single cab) and was having a hard time getting my daughter or myself into the truck.  So it was time to shop vehicles.  We didn’t even think to consider a minivan;  we were looking for used SUV’s and they were all just too hard to get into, hard to reach back to our daughter, more money than we had to spend. One freezing day in January we were standing in the lot at Carmax holding the baby carrier and shivering to death, and the salesman said, “I have a Windstar all heated up and running if you want to try that.”  We rolled our eyes at each other but we did, mostly because we were so cold.  We took a 20-minute ride and got out and got back in the truck, both too ashamed to say what we were thinking: “That was GREAT!”   Captain’s seats with armrests up front, seating for 5 more; when my daughter started crying I just got up and walked back there and sat next to her.  Then there was the automatic sliding door, I had never experienced anything like that.  And these are the features on an old minivan—imagine a new one—all 3 of the back doors open automatically, DVD systems with LCD’s in the second and third rows, stow-and-go seating.

Once we admitted our shame we started looking for a minivan, and ended up with our 1999 Toyota Sienna.  My friends gave me so much crap that I had an “I used to be cool” bumper sticker made up for it, which made me feel slightly better; at least people were laughing at the sticker and not me.  Well, they were probably laughing at me too.

That was 5 years ago and our van is now 10 years old and it has been pretty darn fantastic—no maintenance (knock on wood) at 128K.  It’s fun, and quite useful,  to configure the seats around in different ways.  Here is the very best part:  when I walk out of my house, I click ‘unlock’ and then I click ‘open door’ and my kids run into the van and are sitting in their car seats by the time I get there, loaded down with all of their junk.

So you might be thinking that this should be titled, “Ode to the minivan”.  Not true.  I have a love/hate relationship with my van.  The hate part is pretty much summed up by the song. The second that you buy that van, your coolness just washes away, potentially gone forever, because by the time that you get rid of it you’re probably going to be too old or worn out to be cool anymore anyway.   I can promise you this:  you will never feel sexy in that van, no matter how sexy you might feel prior to getting in.  Driving the van to the party (or wherever you’re going) puts a hex on your whole night, so drive the other vehicle if you can.  Also, nobody will ever look at you or flirt with you in your van.  Well, maybe except for some “MILF”s from teenage boys at stoplights, and you don’t feel that good about that anyway because you know that they are probably laughing about it as they blow past you.  (And, really, is MILF something to feel good about in the first place?)Bookmark and Share

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Ways to Stay Cool After You Have Kids – Part 2

August 12th, 2009

1.  Drive anything but a minivan. It doesn’t matter how much Honda tries to get people to respect the van, no one will ever respect the van. And you can’t feel cool in one. Trust me on this–we have one. Put yourself in this scenario–you have a big night out, the kind for which you (or your wife) bought a new dress and had your nails and hair done and booked an overnight babysitter. It’s nice out and the windows are open. You take an hour to get ready, listening to your favorite music on 10 because the kids are gone. You look hot and you feel fantastic. You’re ready to get out there and knock ‘em dead. You open the front door, take your (also looking hot) spouse’s hand and head down the front path to your minivan. Poof! The carriage just turned into a pumpkin and your glass slippers just fell off. You get into the van, sit on some goldfish, turn it on and Preschool Classics blares from the CD player. All semblance of hotness has just washed away. Now you are just middle-aged parents driving to a party in the minivan.

2.  A really important thing for parents to do if they want to stay cool is to have Date Night. This is because if you don’t plan to have a date night, and budget for it, you might never go out without your kids again. For those of you who are pregnant for the first time, or just thinking about being parents, Date Night is harder than it seems. First it requires hiring a babysitter. No problem? Yeah, well, 15-year-olds charge between $8 and $10 per hour now. Bet you didn’t know that. Plus, some people find that they have major issues leaving their babies with random people. That’s what grandparents and nanny cams are for. Nanny cams are not a violation of privacy, they are smart. Plus if you casually mention to the kid that there are nanny cams all over the house, I guarantee that she’s not going to neglect your baby. So you got that part down, now there’s the fun part–going out. Believe it or not, this might not be so much fun. When we started trying this (when our daughter was 7 months old)it was actually awkward. We were scheduling to try to get in as much as we could; sitter comes at 6:30, out the door at 6:45, dinner reservations at 7:00, movie starts at 9:30, movie is 2 hours 10 minutes, be home by midnight. Thing is, before kids we never knew where we were going to eat (much less at what time) and we had never been to a movie at all-we had always just waited for the DVD. So we were having these extremely orchestrated dates that were more stressful than fun. And they were costing us between $100 and $150 depending on where we ate. After several months of this, we decided to have a “No Plans Date Night” and the sitter came and we said we’d be back before whatever time and we got on our bikes and rode off and did whatever. That’s when we started having fun again.

3. This one is from my experience as an elementary teacher. Don’t be the parent who is at school everyday. Don’t get me wrong, every school loves volunteers, and they love good parents. It’s nice to have parents come in once every week or once a month to help with filing and copying and, especially, one-on-one help for the kids who need it. It’s nice to have great relationships with parents and to have parents who are comfortable talking to you about their kid’s situation; after all, teachers are there for the kids. What isn’t cool is the parent who is in the school every single day, worried about every thing that’s going on, gossiping about the staff, going over the teacher’s head and demanding special treatment. The teachers will think that you have no life, that you are a weirdo. They will dread the prospect of having your child in their class because they don’t want you in their face all of the time. They will talk about you in the teacher’s lounge. You don’t want to be that parent.

4. Remember the people that don’t have kids. Whether they are childless by choice, are waiting awhile, are having trouble conceiving, or you don’t know what in the heck their deal is, the bottom line is that they don’t have kids. They probably don’t want to hear you talk about your kids all of the time. Their interests and intentions might not lie in child-rearing at all, in which case it would be a good idea to give an “all’s great with the kids” and move on to subjects that everyone is interested in. This is especially hard when you are in a group of, say, 3 mommies and a non-mommy; conversation just keeps going back to the kids. Not everyone is as straightforward as my sister, “Okay, STOP talking about kids, no one can talk about their kids for the rest of the night!” Think back to when you didn’t have kids, did you really want to sit around at dinner and hear about spit up and speech development? Save the all-kids-all-the-time talk for your mommy group.Bookmark and Share

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Mommy Wars – Working vs. Stay at Home Moms– How is this an issue?

June 28th, 2009

I made the mistake recently of looking at parenting.com. Not for fun, mind you, as I try to avoid anything that is aimed at making me feel like a crappy mom or person in general, but some of my ads run on there and I wanted to see what the space looks like. So I came across a bunch of articles on the so-called Mommy wars, or the debate about being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. You may, particularly if you are a man, be thinking, Why is there a debate about that? It’s not like there’s a vote and it’s going to be one or the other for all women.

For some reason, be it societal norms or just the way that we females are wired, women worry way too much about what other women are doing and love to look down on those that aren’t meeting their expectation of correctness. The hardcore breastfeeders act as though a woman who gives her baby formula is a criminal, prompting all women who didn’t breast feed to explain themselves, “I didn’t have enough milk”, “He wouldn’t take it”, etc. Seriously, have you ever once heard a woman say “I just didn’t want to”? No, because they’re scared to. TV Nazis looove to go around explaining the evils of TV to the less-informed/intelligent of us. Don’t even get me started on organic food superiority. Where I’m going with this is that you might think that it would take a very insecure woman to listen to, or even care about, what other women think about their choice to work or not work, but it has become so commonplace to make and to accept judgments that we do.

It is my opinion that there is no right answer here.  What is right is what works for you and your situation, though I will say that it has been my observation that my friends who work part-time seem to be the happiest overall. In my five years as a mom I have covered the spectrum. I had always just assumed that I would work, and I went right back to teaching when my daughter was four months old. The thing that I could not have predicted was that I couldn’t handle childcare. In fact, in the course of a ten-month school year, I went through three day care situations. Every day of that year was absolute torture for me, imagining my little girl lying unattended with a dirty diaper on the floor, crying in a crib, being tolerated but not loved. I was also pregnant with my son that year, and the hormones no doubt fueled my paranoia. Needless to say, that was my last year teaching. My son was born and I was officially a stay-at-home mom. This was a necessity for me;  I literally could not deal with daycare (and god do I envy those who can). About a year into my stay-at-home stint, I realized a definite loss of identity. Just about any stay-at-home mom will tell you that they experience this; there is pretty much no societal value put on staying home with your kids. It’s mentally draining and there’s no transition-it’s the same job all day, until the kids go to bed, including weekends. That said, it’s not the worst situation in the world-if you use your time wisely, you can keep the house clean, keep up with laundry and go to the grocery (albeit, with kids) during the day, which leaves your nights and weekends much more open to enjoying family time and time with your husband. About a year and a half ago, I started my business and work part-time from home. This would be ideal except that I haven’t yet contributed to our family’s income because I have this thing about paying off my business before I take a paycheck. So I basically work for free, but it has done wonders for restoring my identity.

I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to judge me for my choices, to have said, “She’s neglecting her child” when I worked, to have said, “She’s wasting her career potential”  when I wasn’t working. But I’m sure that they did, and I’m sure that they still do. Whatever. They aren’t me and they aren’t in my situation, and they aren’t in your situation either. I’ll do what’s right for my family and sanity and you should do what’s right for your family and your sanity. And for god’s sake, we’re not in the 8th grade, let’s all stop worrying about what other women are doing.

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Is That Teenager Laughing at ME????

June 11th, 2009

Last week I went to Holiday World with my kids and my husband in our minivan. Yes, Holiday World, a kiddie amusement park. A place that I always swore that I would never, ever, ever go in my whole life. Funny how having kids changes your perspective on things. I never understood how parents did crazy things like use precious vacation days and pay $110 to get into an amusement park and be happy to do it, just because it makes their kids happy. But now I understand.

The weather was fantastic. It was not crowded because most schools hadn’t let out yet–only a handful of parents with young kids and a bunch of teenagers on their 8th grade graduation trip. It was freaky clean so I didn’t have to worry (as much) about my kids getting a vile disease from the grip bar on the Scrambler. It was fun, it really was. Our kids were ecstatic and we decided that maybe we are amusement park people after all. I was having a great day.

At one point, I was walking along with my friend Laura, and she said, God, can you believe that we are 40? All of these teenagers are laughing at us. WHAT??? Laughing at us? Laughing at ME? Then I realized how I must look to them with my bent-up straw cowboy hat, my I’m still cool at 40 t-shirt (yeah, right), my capris that, according to Adam Glassman in Oprah magazine, are exactly the wrong length for me, and my tennis shoes and crew socks. Pushing an empty stroller strewn with sippy cups, SPF 50 sunscreen and wet wipes.

Then it hit me: Karma had come and bitten me right in the butt. I had a sudden flashback of being on Spring Break in New Orleans with my roommate and getting into a verbal altercation with a woman at a bar. When we left, we stood outside the plate glass window and taunted her with hand motions that said, Me 22, You 44 over and over again. Yes, big exaggerated movements where I would point to myself and put up 2 fingers on each of my hands and then point to her and put up 4 fingers on each of my hands. Over and over. Yes, I really did that. I am not proud. And I feel soooo bad for that woman now. What if she was really only 38 or 40 at the time? What if she was on a date with a man that she was trying to impress? What if she was already having a really hard time coming to grips with getting older? The fact that I had consumed 4 Hurricanes doesn’t alleviate my guilt. What if some young girl did that to me?

I realized that hypothetically being laughed at by teenagers isn’t the worst thing that could happen to me and enjoyed the rest of the day with my family and friends being a happy, uncool 40-year-old mom with snot on my shirt at an amusement park.

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My Kids Are Underscheduled

May 26th, 2009

My kids are not involved in one single extracurricular activity. Not one. Granted, they are only four and three years old, but I don’t know of a single other 5 or 4 year old kid who isn’t involved in something.

It makes me a little nervous. My husband is unemployed and I have just started substitute teaching, so there isn’t a lot of extra money floating around our bank account. But our kids weren’t in anything before he lost his job.

In fact, one summer of ballet for my daughter is all that we’ve ever done. 8 ballet classes. I signed her up for summer ballet because there is no recital and there is no way in hell that my daughter is going to wear makeup for a recital. Other moms that I know are taking their pre-schoolers to soccer, gymnastics, music, art, dance, martial arts, even basketball (basketball!)

Our kids get their enrichment from Blues Clues computer programs, playing whiffle ball with Dad in the back yard and endless Tom and Jerry reruns. Okay, so maybe that doesn’t count as enrichment. I vascillate between guilt over this, “shouldn’t they be involved in something?” and ambivalence, “They are only 5 and 4, for chistsakes!” My husband is squarely in the ambivalence camp.  His argument is, “What can a four year old learn about soccer, they just run around out there.” Kind of like our feeling about Disney, which is that they won’t remember it until they are at least five years old, so why waste our money now?

I kind of think about Tiger Woods starting golf lessons at three, not that I really care if my kids become professional golfers, or professional anything for that matter. But I am aware that kids absorb like a sponge at this age, and wonder if we will regret this later. Before I had kids I was absolutely against activities, as a teacher, I would hear parents complain about “running their kids” from the minute that they picked them up in carpool until 7:00 at night, grabbing dinner at the McDonald’s drive-through and rushing home to do homework and go to bed. To me that was ridiculous and appalling, how can a kid be a kid if they are scheduled all of the time? Where is the play and the fun? And what is the woman’s life like who is essentially an unpaid taxi driver? And how can a kid swim for two hours straight? How can a kid swim for two hours straight five days a week? Swim team was always the most brutal of the activities, in my mind. from the time that one of my fourth graders told me that he went to swim team practice from 5:30-7:30am every day of the week, and when I asked what his mom did when he swam he said that she just “sat there”. Well, what else are you going to do at a natatorium at 6 o’clock in the morning?

As a 30-year-old single teacher without kids, I thought that his mom must be out of her mind. As a 40-year-old mom who worries about what I’m “supposed” to do more than I wish to admit, who lives down the street from a world-class swim club with a daughter who swims like a fish, I can see that it is probably my fate. Not that I’m looking forward to it.

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