What I have been doing in the last [redacted] days since posting here. James Spader is involved.

Since starting this blog in 2006, I have never gone this long without posting. Hell, I have never gone this long without checking my comments. After deleting a fistful this morning from folks like AllekLiglim, unioxyidoia, and Gucci Sale Ugg Boots, I now remember why that’s a bad idea.

On a personal note, I have always disliked posts about why you haven’t been posting or why you feel guilty about it. Blah blah blah…just tell me a joke or write when you’re ready. So here, in no particular order, is just what’s been happening with me since mid November. For the few of you who wrote to ask if I’m okay. And thanks for that.

james spader then and now | mom-101


ZOMG The Blacklist! Homeland meets Silence of the Lambs meets 24! Bald James Spader in dark glasses! I had to watch Less Than Zero one night just to reset my brain with 80’s James Spader. Bless the guy, he’s still working, and still creepy-sexy awesome.


sage nutcracker | mom-101
I can’t talk about it too much or I’ll cry. Sage is a rag doll. Thalia is the little non-racist Chinese doll who gets a solo in the second act. Ugh, now I’m crying. Instead, I’ll think about the 4 million rehearsals that nearly broke us all.


My girls got theirs late, and so their grandfather was kind enough to make up his own to stave off the anxiety. You’ll be happy to know they got straight A’s in carrot picking, smiling, cat petting, and karaoke. I am very proud.


I’ll just say that a close relative was in worse shape than I ever want to see anyone I love in ever again. It was a devastating experience, and I couldn’t write about it, which made it extra hard for me. However thanks to remarkable will, perseverance, inner strength, super professional care, and likely some magical intervention from elves and unicorns if you ask me, recovery is beyond what anyone could have expected. Including the nurses. Everyone is home safe now and doing phenomenally.

We had a lot to be grateful for at Thanksgiving this year.

Though I do believe the girls miss getting to play with the automatic hospital bed buttons during visiting hours, and scoot around on wheelchairs down the slippery hallway floors.

Isn’t it lovely  that everything is an amusement park ride when you’re 8 and 6?


After much deliberation–and the inability to listen to the girls sing along to My Little Pony: Equestria Girls one more time–we took the plunge with Danny and Sandy. It was my favorite movie when I was 9 and 10 and I thought eh, the inappropriate stuff will go right over their heads as it did mine. And I was right.

Holy cow, do you realize how bawdy the Greased Lightning lyrics are? I definitely did not know what “the chicks will cream” meant even though I sang those words about 62,487 times the year the film came out.

We just chalked up all the sexism and delinquent behavior to teaching moments.

Grease album cover | Mom-101

What they did like: The Hand Jive (Thalia now has a plan to create an assembly to teach it to her whole school), the lesson that people should love who they want even if their friends don’t like it (as Sage put it), having a carnival right at your school, Frenchie’s orange hair, and shiny pink jackets. In other words, my girls are me, only a few decades later.

What I did like: Thalia saying “you know, if they make movies for kids they REALLY should take out the sexy parts! All that kissing is GROSS.”

Also, Sage getting excited that she might learn how to put together a whole car in a high school class some day.


New family, old family, new babies who turned into older toddlers, new friends, old friends, and a new tradition: The great Cousins Cookie Contest. Straight from the Not-Ready-For-Pinterest files.

This was the Thanksgiving Cookie Contest vision courtesy of Sweetopia:

Thanksgiving Cookies from Sweetopia | Cool Mom Picks


This was our result:

cookie decorating contest

There was no way in hell we were going to cut anything out in any shape at all. And it was perfect.

cookie contest ribbons

Actual prizes went for things like “most fit for a princess” or “most like a magical trip to outer space.” Everyone got a ribbon, everyone got to eat two cookies, and everyone was happy. And you know? Best Cousins Cookie Contest ever. We are so doing it again every year.


My 8 year old sometimes has 2 or more hours of homework a night. It’s brutal. It’s tedious. Instead of writing the next chapter of her graphic novel, The Secrets of Star Aslon, she has to write about Timmy and Billy who would rather go skateboarding than study for a test and now have to face consequences. Despite no child in 2013 being named Timmy or Billy, ever. You know, that alone should be their consequences; they have to live with those crappy old names the rest of their lives while all their friends have cool new names like Caleb and Oliver and Sam and Holden. TAKE THAT YOU NO-GOOD, HOMEWORK-AVOIDING, SKATEBOARD HOOLIGANS.

Gah, standardized testing and gah common core. And that’s all I’ll say for now. At least the Thanksgiving-themed math problems referred to Native Americans and not Indians so I’ll take that as a small glimmer of hope.


Victory of major proportions. Major. Bigger victory: They still fit. Thank goodness for small favors and small feet that didn’t grow inordinately this year.



liz gumbinner on today show
Everything you need to know about Twitter basics in 4 minutes that turned into 2.5 minutes. Which turned into 2 things you need to know about Twitter. Including the fact that you should download Twitter. I always have the best time doing the Today Show, even when I’m getting cut off mid-sentence to go to commercial. And Al and Willie really did look foxy, which is why I tweeted as much.


So the biggest thing of all is that we relaunched Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech with a major new design, functionality, search that actually works, categories that make sense, and a first post that made me weepy every time I started to write it.

the new cool mom picks

 It is also possible that the heightened emotions had something to do with ten consecutive nights of less than 4 hours sleep.

How were we able do that in college again and still get up for 8:30 classes?

Of course the monstrosity of the change and resulting challenges should be expected when you try to import more than 8,500 (!) posts from one platform to a completely different one, no matter how talented your team. And yet, I did not expect to see the clock hitting 3:00 AM that many nights in a row.

Here’s the thing though: I’m not complaining. Not a bit.

Spending hours on G+ video hangouts day and night with our team, I was having serious flashbacks to my late 20’s spent working in advertising, and the all-nighters for new business pitches or humongo client presentations. I remember presenting scripts at 3AM, my boss saying “eh…you could probably do better,” then slumping shakily back to my office with more coffee and more vending machine snack foods and desperately trying to type something that didn’t come out like myxypaooiusellyrsazr.

(Also the name of one of my favorite spam commenters. Coincidence?)

The difference was, that was my job but it wasn’t my business. This is my business. Our business. And pulling all-nighters when it’s something you created, something you love and believe in with all your heart takes away that awful resentment you might feel instead of oh, say, writing newspaper headlines at midnight for a pompous jackass of a CEO who is going to reject anything you do because he learned in Bad Client School that you should just yell BIG SALE AT OUR PLACE! then stick a massive logo beneath it and be done with it. Hypothetically. Of course.

(In reality, every pompous jackass CEO I ever worked with actually didn’t attend any institution named Bad Client School. That’s how you know I’m joking.)

All that is to say, please click over and tell me you like the new sites. Because we’ve sure come a long way from how it looked we first launched it as a typepad blog tagged onto Motherhood Uncensored.

Cool Mom Picks circa 2006

 Yes, it really was called Cool Mom Shit. For about three days.


The only thing better than running a business you love is getting to do it with people you love, who are talented, tirelessly hard-working, and always smiling. Thank you to Julie Marsh and Kari Dahlen who keep us sane behind the scenes and sometimes in front; Jon Armstrong who puts all other web developers and content strategists to shame with his amazing skills of code hackery and analytic know-how that makes my head spin; remarkable editors and writers who care  more about writing well than sticking keywords in a post, and deserve a lot of credit for that; and of course to the best business partner in the world, Kristen Chase. I couldn’t do it without you. In a totally real non-exaggerated, non-hyperbolic way.

Also, thank you to all of you for never going to Bad Client School which is why your taste is so impeccable.


“Hey, let’s launch our best holiday tech gifts post series right at the same time as our entire site relaunch!”


“And then, let’s try to get the Cool Mom Picks guide up right afterwards?”

“That’s not a crazy idea at all!”

cool mom tech holiday gift guide

As I blurted out on Twitter somewhere through a thick mental haze,  people who say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” aren’t actually tired. If they were, it would come out “myxypaooiusellyrsazr.”

Callback! See how I did that? And my improv instructors ten years ago only thought I was the worst one in the class. Brian Huskey and Rob Huebel, I hope I’ve made you proud today.


Of course when you haven’t updated for a while, it’s a little like not talking to your best friend for six months. The longer it goes the more you put it off because it just seems overwhelming to catch up on so much in so little time. But now we’re caught up. Mostly.

Thanks for bearing with me all these weeks. I’m glad you came back here today. I missed you.


21 thoughts on “What I have been doing in the last [redacted] days since posting here. James Spader is involved.”

  1. Tacy and a friend watched Grease on Netflix here last weekend, and I’m pretty sure all the “p*ssywagon” business went over their heads too. They did enjoy my trivia about how the crew had to sew those leather pants onto Olivia Newton-John, and their eyes just about popped out of their heads when I proudly showed them my original Grease LP.

    I could not believe the physical toll of our migration. My skin hasn’t looked that bad since middle school, and I’m just now getting over the awful cold that too little sleep helped bring on. We won’t discuss the emotional toll. But you know what? All worth it. Count me in for the next seven years too.

  2. Wow, that is SO MUCH STUFF! Too much to comment on while at work so I will just say sorry about the hospital time, and the cookies are gorgeous.

  3. I saw Grease when it originally came out at the age of 6. I was very shocked when I watched it when old enough to get all the references. I certainly didn’t understand them as a child.

  4. Damn girl. You’ve been busy-fa-flizzy. Doing good things! I’d like to comment on every single one!
    Sage in that costume! {sigh, cute, cutey cute!}
    Homework boo.
    You look stunning in your TwitterTutorial Pic!
    CMP and CMT look awesome-congratulations!
    Exciting, good things happening.

    1. Thanks Kelley…it feels like a huge time of transition for lots of us. Hoping to hear about more doors opening for you too.

  5. I haven’t posted since Erin’s first day of first grade, which was…holy crap, was that August? I wonder if I can go half a year without blogging…

    You are exactly right about it being like not talking to your friend for a while. By now I’m all “So, you’re still a blog reader, huh? That’s great. Yeah, no, I really mean it. How’s things?”

  6. Ha! I’m so techno-challenged. I posted my gooing gahing fawning all over ya lauding compliments on your SECOND most recent blog post! duhhh, d’oh! Loony should get back to sleep!

    Thanks, Liz, for continuing your awesome work.
    You inpsire so many of us.

  7. Welcome back! When real life and my blog are in competition for scarce time, real life wins every time. And I like it that way. Usually. I have a couple of posts I’d really like to write right now, but I think I need to just accept that not many posts will get written until after Christmas.

    1. You are wise as always. It’s like hm…I could write about the cookie contest or I could sit here and eat cookies.


  8. I have never posted a comment on the internet, anywhere – ever. But I felt compelled to say I’m glad you’re back. I read one or two blogs occasionally but I always come back to yours – it’s a remarkable thing to identify so much common ground with someone you’ve never met. Thanks for posting.

    1. Wow Meredith, that’s about the nicest thing anyone could say. I so appreciate you taking the time to comment, especially for the first time. Duly honored.

  9. I think Meredith says it all. You inspire so many of us with your remarkable honesty and your amazing wit. ( And if you’re not careful I’ll post pictures of you at 6 in your leotard getting ready to perform.)

  10. I just saw Elizabeth Gilbert speak here in Philly. I got to ask a question (and I was so crazy excited about it). I asked her if she writes all the time or if she takes breaks when she’s researching. Her answer: There is a season for writing. There is a season for researching. They don’t often overlap.

    Sometimes I think there are seasons for blogging and there are seasons for living — which, hey, let’s call that second one “research” for us bloggy types.

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