Friday Freebie: A Handy Phone App Plus Trendy Eyewear!


If your kids have been sick as much as mine have been lately, today’s freebie could come in very handy—it’s a free website service and free mobile app (for iPhone, Blackberry and Android), called ZocDoc (www.zocdoc.com) that allow you to book doctor appointments online, at your convenience 24/7, without ever having to call and deal with the frustrations of being put on hold.

Here’s how it works:


-Search for nearby doctors who accept your insurance


-View doctors’ photos, qualifications, verified patient reviews and ratings, and available appointment times


-Click on an appointment time to instantly book that appointment


-Receive reminder emails and text messages with the office location to ensure you make it to your appointment 


ZocDoc will also send you e-mail reminders when it’s time to schedule your next dental cleaning or checkup to help you stay healthier long-term. Best part is, ZocDoc gets you in to see a doctor fast! According to a Merrit Hawkins study, U.S. patients wait about three weeks on average for a doctor’s appointment. But 40 percent of ZocDoc patients make an appointment that takes place within 24 hours, and 60 percent make an appointment that takes place within three days!


I can also see ZocDoc coming in very handy when you are out of town.  How many of you have had a sick kid (or sick spouse) while on vacation, or been sick yourself when away from home?  My hand is up in the air, and it’s waving wildly—been there, done that, more than once!


Every Uncool Mom reader who checks out the ZocDoc website and/or free mobile app will be entered in a drawing (exclusive to Uncool Mom readers) for a free pair of Warby Parker eyeglasses or sunglasses, courtesy of ZocDoc—the gift certificate covers the ENTIRE cost, including prescription lenses! (See below for more on Warby Parker.) Just leave a comment in the comments section below telling me what you think of the ZocDoc website, free mobile app, or both, to be entered to win the gift certificate.


This promotion will last until the end of February so be sure to leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 29!


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About the eyewear/sunglasses: Warby Parker is a fun and very unique NYC startup with nine showrooms across the country including NYC, LA, Austin (TX), Philadelphia, and Columbus, Ohio—they offer designer frames at less-than-designer prices, plus free shipping, at-home try-on and return service. For every pair of eyewear sold, they donate a pair of glasses to someone in need. Check them out at www.warbyparker.com!

Potty (Mouth) Training Revisited

I watched with interest all the hoopla last week about the little girl on the ABC-TV show “Modern Family”, who was depicted as cursing on last week’s episode (or is it “cussing”?).  See, “using swear words” had already been a “hot topic” around our house this month.  In the wake of the episode, which was entitled “Little Bo Bleep”, I found lots of online psycho-babble by professors and other experts chiming in about how swearing is, among other things, a natural part of early language development, cathartic, and helps people tolerate pain.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think most people already know that.  And we also know something else the experts were saying, that, just like in the Modern Family episode, little kids use swear words without really knowing what they mean, and get a kick out of adults’ reactions when they use them, and so they’ll say them again.  “Modern Family” was just art imitating real life.  (Does that mean the Parents Television Council, the group who first caused a stink about the show, is not made up of real parents? Sometimes I wonder…) But what I really wanted to know amidst last week’s jaw flapping was how real parents deal with swearing by children and teens.  

When we first heard four-letter-words spoken in the teen years by our oldest, our stance was to ignore them, just like we’d ignore insults, to lessen their “power”, hopefully communicating the message that “if you’re trying to get a reaction out of us, it’s not gonna happen”, which would hopefuly lessen their occurance.  Some “experts”, like the parenting coach at The Huffington Post, would agree.  Well, this stance worked okay— there wasn’t a lot of cussing… but it was still happening.   (I think, whether they get a reaction out of adults or not, teens feel “grown up” when they cuss, especially in front of adults, and that’s a reward in itself!) One day Emmie came to Andy and I and said, “I don’t want to live in a house where there’s cussing, it’s not fair that Allison doesn’t get in trouble, and you know I’d get in trouble if I did the same thing!!” And we said, “You’re right,” because she was.  (Besides, I suddenly pictured two kids swearing in my house instead of one, and it wasn’t pretty.)  And so we changed our stance. A few weeks ago, we told the girls we weren’t allowing cussing in the house anymore, and that if they decided they couldn’t communicate nicely with words, then we’d take away their other main form of communication– their phone.  “F that!!!” said Allison. Au revoir, said her phone.

“But they’re just words! What’s the big deal?” she said.  We explained that every place, every group of people has their own rules, and that in this house, we’ve decided we don’t want to hear cussing anymore. “I don’t think your school wants to hear it in the classroom,” I said, “and I don’t think your church youth group allows it, either!”  More cussing followed, but I think she’s finally gotten the message, now that her phone has been gone over two weeks.

Are we being ridiculous? Is this a battle most other parents choose not to fight?  I checked on CafeMom.com, a great gathering site for moms of all ages and stages, to see if there was any current buzz about swearing.  There were a lot of posts and comment threads about the topic– one in particular among “Moms of Teens” had about 40 different parent replies, and it looked like the majority of those parents don’t allow swearing, especially when it’s directed at someone. 

While I don’t believe we need to tell kids that all swearing is wrong, we can teach them that not everyone wants to hear it, even some of their own peers, and that unless you know someone’s boundaries on the subject, it’s best to keep your four-letter favorites private.  (I’ve known of people who have lost jobs because they thought that swearing during a business meeting would make them appear “tough”!)  Kids might also be encouraged to come up with different words or phrases that can help them “let it all out” without crossing the line.  (I’m sure my kids get sick of hearing me say, “Oy vey!”)  I’ll never forget the time, while I was growing up, when a neighborhood friend told me that she’d come up with a way to “cuss without cussing”.  “You just pronounce the words differently!” she announced proudly.  “So now I can say ‘FEWK’ when I’m mad and I won’t get in trouble!!”

Whatever works, I thought…but somehow, it just didn’t seem very cathartic…

Shared passwords: the new “friendship ring” among kids?

Just when you thought you knew everything you needed to know on what to warn/teach your kids about using Facebook and the Internet…have you heard that kids/teens/20-somethings share their passwords with each other, for everything from email accounts, Facebook and other services? According to a recent New York Times article, it’s a widespread practice among young people, even among young couples who are dating.  Apparently in the dating realm, it’s a sign of trust– i.e. “if I’m your only love, prove it with an all-access pass to your Internet accounts.”  Gee, nothing says “love” quite like mistrusting someone, huh? And I guess nothing says “I’m a stupid risk taker” quite like that either, since of course breakups can be messy, and BFF’s can become BFN’s (Best Friends Never) faster than Justin Bieber can swoosh his hair.  Who wants to risk being kicked off a sports team or not being able to get a job because of an angry or inappropriate post they didn’t even write? Not to mention losing all of their carefully acquired Facebook Friends…but of course kids think they know how the world works, better than we adults…

When I read about this “practice” in the news this morning, I thought that surely my kids don’t share passwords with other kids–  but I thought I’d better check, anyway.  Turns out Allison doesn’t, but Emmie said she does, with one friend. Amazing.  I told her why that wasn’t a good idea and that she needed to change it, and of course she gave the answer I expected: “Mom, she would never post anything bad about me!”  Well, I hope she never does, but if Emmie’s wrong, I guess it will just be a hard lesson that can only be taught from experience… 

If anyone has any other ideas for dealing with this situation, let me know!

And while we’re talking about Facebook, I wanted to let everyone know that Uncoolmom.com now has an official Facebook page (I know, I know, it’s about time).  This is different from the blog’s presence on Facebook’s Networked Blogs application– the official Facebook “page” is just like any other “fan” or organization page, where you can “Like” it, post things to the Wall, and get in on other quick bits of information I might post there that are not on the blog. So please check it out and “Like” it while you are there! Click here or you can search for it by typing UncoolMomDotCom into the Facebook search bar, which is the name of the page.  Enjoy!

The Circle of Pride and Embarrassment

While I generally have an “I don’t worry about what people think about me” attitude, it’s funny that when you have kids, you do care about how they “show” in public, in part because you feel like their actions are a reflection of your parenting skills. You wince when they’re young and throw tantrums in Target, pick their nose while walking down the aisle during a wedding ceremony or point a finger at a stranger in a parade and yell out something brutally honest (“That man is HUGE!!”).  And you rejoice when they remember to say “Thank you” to Grandma, sing a song perfectly at a recital or run to greet you in front of school with a big hug.  I hope I never forget the time when Emmie and I were sitting in a bookstore coffee shop– I was looking through a stack of cookbooks and she was engrossed in one of her Rick Riordan novels, when all of a sudden she looked at me and my books and said, “I am so glad I have a Mom that cooks, and plans out all of our meals, because a lot of people don’t do that very much anymore.” Yes, I about fell off my chair at that sign of appreciation, and yes, the elderly couple walking past our table right at that moment almost dropped their lattes in astonishment, then offered some words of praise to both Emmie and me.  It was a proud moment and I think it made that elderly couple happy, too…

Of course as your kids get older, you hope for more and more proud public moments and less red-faced ones, and generally that has happened for us…but because of Emmie’s size, I realized the other day that we’re in a unique situation. 

See, because she’s very petite for her 13 years, she looks a lot younger.  Which would be great if she was auditioning for a TV show.  But in everyday situations, when people don’t know her age, it can look like we’re raising a veritable wild child.  The other day, a young mother was in the grocery checkout line behind Emmie and me, with a little girl sitting in the childseat of her cart.  And there was Emmie, in an Aerosmith shirt and “fashionably ripped” jeans, a bit of smudged mascara under her eyes, grabbing a tabloid and chatting to me about Chaz Bono, obviously knowing who he/she is and asking questions that anyone around could hear, and me answering her, then answering her questions about the next tabloid subject– I could see the mom noticing her and the checkout dude chuckling, and that’s when it suddenly struck me that they both probably thought she was 9 or 10 (or younger), and maybe they even thought I was one of those (gasp!) “loose” parents, letting my kid grow up too fast…and for the first time in a long time I felt a twinge of red-faced embarrassment…’Some parent I must look like,’ I thought.   

“Let’s put the magazine back,” I told her, trying to save face.  “Most of that stuff isn’t true anyway.”  I secretly wished Emmie would start humming “Jesus Loves Me” or turn and give the young mom a big grin so at least she could see that she had braces on…

Little did I know I would soon be giving Emmie something to wince about.  As we left the store, we passed a group of high schoolers studying at a table in the grocery store’s Starbucks, and I recognized several that I hadn’t seen in ages, kids who’d gone to elementary school with Allison, and I smiled and spoke to a couple of them as we passed.  When we got home,  Emmie went straight to Allison.  “Mom said hi to some of your friends at the store!!!” she gushed.  “She thinks she’s so cool!! It was soooo embarrassing!!!” 

A Vegetable Even Kids Can Love

Though Uncool Mom is often called a “parenting blog” or “mom blog”, one topic it doesn’t focus on much is cooking.  But I do a lot of cooking, so I’ve been thinking that once in awhile I should share a recipe worth sharing, which in my opinion equals something that’s a.) EXTREMELY easy and b.) really good.  Easier than even Cooking for Dummies or one of those “3-ingredient cookbooks”, easy enough for a kid to make, easy for an adult to make by memory…and so good, the most finicky kid should like it, yet it can still impress company.  Because something like that doesn’t come along too often, you can be assured I’m not going to turn this blog into Recipe Central.  Just know that when I do take the time to post a recipe, it’s a keeper.

Like the following for roasted cauliflower, a gem I found in a November ’09 food section of the Dallas Morning News, almost hidden in a sidebar accompanying a larger recipe spread. Hold on, all you cauliflower haters, stay with me.  I’m not a huge fan of broccoli’s white cousin, and neither is my husband, and my kids dislike almost all vegetables, but this is truly amazing. Roasting changes its flavor.  I don’t even know why I tried it, I guess I was getting bored with the usual side dishes…it’s so good, you don’t even need sauce for dipping. Whenever I make it, lots of grabbing hands make their way to the cookie sheet to grab handfuls as soon as it’s out of the oven, before I ever serve it on plates, and people always want seconds once it’s served. And there are only two ingredients, four if you count salt and pepper.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

Heat oven to 450 F degrees.  Take a head of cauliflower and break it into florets, each about an inch wide (but bigger or smaller ones are okay, too!).  Toss them in a bowl with olive oil (try 3 tablespoons per 6 cups of florets) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake about 25 minutes, turning the cauliflower at the 12 minute mark (yes, every piece if possible).  It needs to be browned to taste the best!!  And if it gets crispy and brown in places– even better! If desired, serve with grated Parmesan or a squeeze of lemon juice (but we never do).

Bon Appetit!!

Updates

Time for a few updates, for all of you Uncool Mom readers who are dying to know the answers to such burning questions as: Did my now-17-year-old ever get her driver’s license? Did she ever get a job? How is the exchange student doing now that she’s gone back to France? What was the outcome of the CBS DFW Most Valuable Blogger contest? Read on to find out the answers, and other things I promised to “keep you posted” about in 2011:

The Diet— In August, I
posted about spending the summer doing the Atkins Diet with Allison and how we were both having success with it.  She stuck with it until about a month after school started (it’s a really hard diet for a carb-loving teenager to do, especially when everyone around them is eating chips and pizza). I’m still at it, fluctuating between a 13 and 15-pound weight loss, and still very much enjoying the low-carb way of eating.  One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to make exercise more of a priority so I can hit my target loss of 18 pounds, ’cause I’m not planning to take away any more carbs from my daily eating!

The Exchange Student—  Emmie calls the day we drove Cleo to a local Episcopal church to join the large group of other AFS students heading home “the saddest day of my life” and both Emmie and Allison immediately took up the cause of trying to persuade Andy and I to get another student for 2011-2012, but Andy said we needed a breather, and life went on without a third kid in the house.  We still refer to our game room as “Cleo’s Room”, since the bed, dresser, and makeshift closet are still there. Cleo got busy traveling with her family and getting adjusted to being back in school, and the time difference and our own busy schedules have made our Skype visits few and far between, but we all want to do better at communicating in the new year.  I do hope we can visit her sometime in the near future!

The New Dog— 
Ben Arffleck is still an attention-hogging sweetheart and charming everyone he meets, and one of these days I hope to snap a photo that shows him smiling… we swear he really does!

Being On Time— I’m still working at this, but for the most part, doing pretty good. That journal I bought (for writing about what happens when I aim to arrive 15 minutes early to something) is still pretty empty, but I did recall once how that extra window of time helped me be able to go to the gas station when I’d forgotten I was on “E”. Usually when that happens it makes me really late to something (and causes me to only put in a few dollars’ worth of gas), but in this instance I had plenty of time to fill up the tank and still make it to my destination on time. And that was a great feeling! 

Chair-ache —  not long after I
posted about the dangers of prolonged sitting, even more gloomy news and statistics about it splashed across national media.  So I now have a timer on my desk, and it goes off every 20 minutes to remind me to get up and stretch or move around.

The Quest to Drive— Almost a year ago, I posted about finally signing up for an online Parent Taught Driver Ed course that we were beginning with Allison.  Now 369 days later, that course is still yet to be finished, even though she did complete enough of it to get her learner’s permit last July (remember the Texas Driving Test post?). Her busy schedule and lack of motivation definitely contributed to this whole thing being put in a time warp, not to mention that it’s been hard for her to learn to maneuver in a minivan. Some parents say “the older the better” in starting driving, so maybe we’re right on schedule.  She’s definitely motivated now, since so many other kids her age are driving, and so many who are younger than her.  And, Andy and I are ready to stop being her chauffeur, so ready in fact that we put aside (at least temporarily) the requirement that she had to save up money for part of the insurance and gas before we got another car– over the holiday break, we bought a used Mercury Mariner off Craig’s List, and made up a “driving class schedule” for the next two months.  (Yep, that’s right, we are now a two-dog, two-button, three-car family!!)  She is thrilled to be learning to drive in a car smaller than than a mom machine (not to mention being able to put her drill team decal on a ‘non-embarrassing’ vehicle) and Andy and I are happy to be a little closer to her being totally responsible for driving herself where she needs to be.  Ah, I can see it now– no more facing her wrath if we’re not ready to go at the moment she walks out of the house (even though we’ve been ready for a half hour and have since become engrossed in something else)…no more angry texts if we’re not waiting outside her school at the millisecond she decides to make her exit (WHY ARE YOU AT THE GROCERY STORE!!??)…no more hearing pleas to take her to the fro-yo shop or CVS or a craft store… So far, our renewed “driving class” has gone pretty well (sometimes I’m the better teacher and sometimes Andy is the one for the job) and we’re requiring her to drive every day, so if this continues she should have her license by Spring Break.  Meanwhile, Emmie has announced she plans to take driving at a “real” driver’s ed. school when she’s 14, so she can get her permit at 15…

Bieber Out/Criss is In
—  Justin’s star lost its lustre pretty quickly around here, even before he was accused of being a baby daddy.  Now Allison is obsessed with Darren Criss (of “A Very Potter Musical”, “Glee” and now Broadway fame) and Emmie is into… The Muppets?!

A Summer Job—  Allison did attempt to earn some future gas/car insurance money when she filled out several applications and got a job this past summer working at a mall clothing store, but it was “seasonal” (for the Back to School rush), paid minimum wage, didn’t offer her many hours and didn’t last very long.  Which she was okay with, since she hated the way they made her wear a headset, “work the floor” and put the “hard sell” on any breathing entity that walked through the door. So, needless to say, those paychecks were short-lived and are long gone. But even though she despised the job, she said it was good experience to let her see what she didn’t want to do in her future, and help her really appre
ciate a good job once she finds one…


Kids and Forgetfulness— No magic solution for this yet! Emmie did find her paisley lunch bag after she lost it on the first day of school (a friend found it lying on the floor of a school hallway and saved it for her) but she’s lost it again, this time I think for good (including a cool soup Thermos that was inside as well).  And the other day, Allison left a key to the new car inside a cheetah-print SHOE as she put it back on the shelf AT TARGET!  The key was finally found after a long, panicked, all-store search…

The Blogger Contest— Remember
this one? A bunch of you helped me out and I really appreciate all the votes, but I didn’t win.  CBS DFW gave two awards, one for the most votes and one as a “Judges’ Choice”.  The “most votes” in my category went to a “shopping diva”-type blog, and Judges’  Choice went to a knitting blog… go figure…
but, upon recently reviewing my blog stats for last year, I still feel like a winner.  The number of monthly visitors to UncoolMom.com climbed steadily in 2011, to an increase of over 400% from 2010.

THANK YOU so much for all of your visits, support and comments. It’s hard to churn out content every four days or even every week, but as long as you keep visiting, I’ll keep writing.  Please come back often in 2012 and bring all your friends along for the ride as well!!!!