Thursday, July 23, 2015

Target Audience

The following is a blog post for COM0014 - Blog Post 3:

I have considered creating a blog for Ottawa parents who like to get out and do things around town with or without their kiddos. Through my research, I’ve determined that #Ottawamom and #Ottawaparent are not that popular, however there are many Ottawa parent groups on Facebook (I’m part of 14, and those are only the Ottawa-specific ones). There are also umpteen Ottawa-based parenting blogs like Oui C’est Chic, Macaroni Kids, Ottawa Mommy Club, and Make it Mom, just to name a few.
The target audience for these blogs and groups are mothers, generally overachieving first-time mothers, who have access to a vehicle and work during the day. They are budget-conscious so prefer low-cost and no-cost activities. They are social and enjoy meeting new people. They are looking for ideas to entertain and educate their children. They are style-conscious and enjoy pretty things. They are bright and well-educated.
Would there be an interest for YET another blog? My idea is slightly different: more of a Crystallina-brand of parenting than the perfect do-it-all moms. My blog would be the #Pinterestfail of parenting blogs. So, I polled some friends and the answer is….
Parents are busy. We don’t have time to read and follow blogs! All we have time for is a quick Facebook feed scan while breastfeeding, which is why there are so many various Facebook groups, and which is why instead of starting a blog, I started one of my 14 parenting groups.
I post interesting events that take place in Ottawa, and would appeal to my audience. Because it is an open forum, anyone can post their interesting events as well. I can effectively speak to my target audience because I know them - it’s a group that includes my parent friends and their parent friends. The most recent success story was two Saturdays ago where I posted a picture of a Park Party poster. I took my daughter to the Park Party and five friends who saw the picture in their quick scans also came with their children.
This format works. I’ve evaluated my target audience and have catered to them.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Once upon a time

The following is a blog post for COM0014 - Blog Post 2:
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Crystallina who was obsessed with food, so she got a Twitter account and posted pictures of all her meals and easy how-to kitchen tips. She focused on a target audience (Ottawa foodies), used plain language to engage (as well as to save on character limits) and always proofread her posts (because she h8ed bad grmr and por speling).
Crystallina wanted her followers to feel little jealous of her delicious food. Her biggest downfall in keeping a food Twitter was that she didn’t actually eat enough interesting foods to sustain daily original posts.  She also didn’t have an unlimited budget to review restaurants regularly. She took notes about restaurant so she could post new content, even if it wasn’t necessarily in real time (#throwbackthursday). She made sure to vary content so her followers didn’t get bored. She routinely live-tweets cooking adventures like making lemon curd ice cream. (Idea: lemon curd ice cream!)
To engage her followers, Crystallina asked questions, @mentioned Twitter friends, and retweeted relevant content. She either tried to tell a story with individual tweets or live-tweeted a particularly fun meal, like a 10-course Chinese banquet. She enjoyed painting the picture of an everywoman foodie.
Crystallina proofread her posts, and issued corrections where necessary. She is, after all, human. A large, happy, food-filled human.
One day in the near future, a local online newspaper catches wind of Crystallina’s food Twitter and offers her a part-time job reviewing restaurants. She accepts and is finally able to visit all of the fun restaurants around town. She is thrilled that her food Twitter has panned out into her dream situation. She is thankful for the consistent communications style she’s adopted for that channel.
And she lived happily ever after.

From Backpacking to Babywearing

The following is a post for COM0014 - Blog post 1:

The first trip with a baby is weird. Instead of a backpack, suddenly we’re also packing baby clothes for all weather conditions, toys, diapers, wipes, a portable crib and so much more.
Last February, my family went to Hawaii. We stayed in Honolulu for a week and then went to Kona for two. Little Bear liked the beaches but was too young to appreciate the Dole Plantation or Polynesian Cultural Centre. She did love the luau and dancing to ukulele music.
After one trip, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in traveling with a baby. Kidding!  Still, here are my tips for travelling with a nearly-one year old to Hawaii:

1.       Bring a great stroller. 

We bought a Baby Jogger City Mini GT because it folds with one hand and is lightweight. It was a total lifesaver! It was awesome for exploring the cities, i.e. Shopping and sampling coffee and shave ice (pro tip: coconut guava).
Pros: Small enough for gate-checking! Plus, it reclines for midday naps.
Cons: does not work on sandy beaches (does any stroller?)

2.       Bring baby food.

Hawaii has grocery stores, but Gerber puffs are $2.79 CAD in Ottawa, but $4.99 USD in Kona. And when you circumnavigate the islands, trying to recreate that epic road trip with Husbo right before you learned you were pregnant, it’s helpful to pass your baby some snacks to avoid a new kind of epic (meltdown). Making sure we had enough non-perishables for Little Bear allowed us to drive around the Big Island, visit a coffee plantation and a macadamia nut processing plant, visit the still-active volcano, and take gorgeous hikes.

Pros: Besides saving money, after the food is eaten, you’re left with a luggage cavity that can now be filled with souvenirs like chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.
Cons: you do have to lug it there. Pros outweigh cons.

3.       Bring a babycarrier (or three).

At 11 months, Little Bear still couldn’t walk, so we had to make sure we could comfortably carry her. I brought a ring sling for easy ups and downs, a mesh sling for taking Little Bear into the water, and a buckle carrier for hikes.

Having the carriers facilitated adventure-having. Instead of being thwarted by inaccessible sites, we strapped her on and hiked Diamond Head, Pololu Valley Lookout, and Thurston Lava Tubes. While Diamond Head was littered with tourists (still worth it), Pololu was deserted. Our only company was a brave Nene. We’d have missed out if we’d only had the stroller.

Pros: Hands free adventures!
Cons: Sometimes your back gets tired and babies can be heavy.

I met up with a friend who was also traveling with her baby. She said, “Traveling with a baby is just as fun as before, right?”

Well, no, but these three things helped me bridge the gap between my old traveling style and my new reality. Traveling with a baby is a different kind of fun. We sat for hours as Little Bear discovered sand and waves. We ate fresh coconuts every day. It was an amazing trip.

What are your must-haves for first-time parent travelers? Would you do anything differently? Was there anything you didn’t need? Let me know in the comments section!


Monday, December 29, 2014

No adventures in 2014?

I just realized it's been over a year since I posted on this blog, not for my lack of snarky things to say, but because I hadn't gone on any travels, and I generally only use this to document my travels. Basically, I print these off and throw them inside my scrapbooks with ticket stubs, photos, and other flat vacation memorabilia.

But it isn't true, not that I haven't had any adventures -- I have. I have had adventures.

2014 was a particularly big year: I gave birth to a baby girl.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, has been my biggest adventure to date.

We've seen teeth, and crawling, and epic poo blowouts, and napping in awkward places, not napping, epic 2-hour naps, butterflies, solid food, choking incidents, trying to jam two fingers in her mouth to rescue a piece of candy wrapper but accidentally sliding it down her throat (it's ok, she puked it up a moment later), power puking, changing sheets a million times, catching up on a nearly-20 year absence from General Hospital, attachment parenting, detachment parenting.....

but no, I haven't been out of the country. We did go to Windsor for Thanksgiving to visit The Boy's grandmother (Minime's great grandmother!), but hopefully we can make up for our passports' lack of usage in 2015.

In the meantime, happy new year!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Auf wiedersehen (Munich 2, and Goodbye for now, Germany!)

We made our way back to Munich. It just made more sense, and cost us less to fly in and out of one city than to get two one-way flights.

In Munich, we saw the things we hadn't seen and tried to eat all the food we hadn't eaten. We tried Reiberdatschi, which was some sort of deep fried potato latke business served with apple sauce. It was.. It was interesting. Kind of bland and greasy. The most interesting thing is that it was served on a wafer plate. like the inside of a Coffee Crisp, but not chocolate-covered, and big. How very eco-friendly.

We did our last rounds of Christmas Marketing, visited a couple of stores to buy things we'd considered buying before and "When In Germany" right? Its hard for me to justify buying a lot of clothes right now, as I'm just getting fatter and fatter (er, more and more pregnant), and who knows when (if) I'll return to my "normal" size.

So we came back to Canada. What a fun experience with LL and JP. Wonder if AW, LS, and JK will join us next time :)

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Blizzard (in Berlin)

We arrived in Berlin late on Wednesday. We arrived pretty late to our apartment. We couldn't really go out and get food.

On Thursday, we got up early to go to the Reichstag. My mom came to Berlin years ago and was told how beautiful the Reichstag was, and that entrance was free. What her tour guide didn't do was secure any reservations or permits for them to visit. Chinese tours: you get what you pay for. Crappy service.

Anyhoo, we made it our mission to make sure we went, so we showed up just in time for our reservation to go up to the dome. The self-guided audio tour is awesome and we saw lots of Berlin from this amazing vantage point. We set out afterwards for our free walking tour of Berlin, but it was rainy and windy, and we were shivering so much (and none of us wanted to be the first to crack) that we hopped on a CitySightseeing tour to visit the major sites. We saw the Holocaust Memorial and the TV Tower and Pariser Platz and the Brandenburg Gate. We got off on the Kudam where we warmed ourselves up with some shopping and then  explored the Christmas Markets there.  We visited Checkpoint Charlie, got changed quickly at our apartment, and then went out to meet LL's friend for dinner at MarySol, a spanish tapas place with great reviews. She was really sweet.

We left late and had to take a cab to the Deutsche Oper where we had more subpar seats to see Falstaff in Italian. If we had been sitting just a bit closer, we'd have been able to see the German surtitles, but we wouldn't have understood them anyway. We read the (poorly translated) program during the intermission, but by that time i was having a miserable time. We'd tried so hard to warm up during the day that i'd overheated and was doing the pregnancy hot flash manipura anger thing. It was not a good scene. JP and LL said they heard me trying to do cooling breath during the opera. I finally cooled down back at the apartment where I could strip down and relax. OMG.

Yesterday, the rain had evolved into a full out snowstorm. We went to visit the Berlin Wall, which is beautiful. We couldn't make it the whole way. JP broke her boots so we went to a mall to buy new boots. Then we explored a number of Christmas Markets, including the Gendarmenmarkt (the only one we had to pay to get into, but a really nice one) and saw Smaug being built for the Berlin opening of The Desolation of Smaug.

For dinner, we tried to go to the Reisling Lounge, but it was full up on reservations. We had a wee bit of reisling and more currywurst for dinner. Then, we went to Fassbender Rausch for the the richest hot chocolate ever, the most delicious little chocolate cakes, and then some amazing chocolate shopping. We met Boris, an American expat who moved to Berlin to learn German 15 years ago and then just stayed. 

We packed and then.. this morning, we had to catch our flight back to Munich. We're en route to Munich now. I definitely want to come back to Berlin one day to explore it properly. Maybe sometime in the summer so we can see the whole wall and do the walking tour without fear of frostbite :)

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Little Toys for Girls and Boys (Nuremburg)

Our train to Nuremburg was really smooth, except for the crotchety old man selling candy. where did he expect us to stand, and was he prepared to hoist our luggage overhead, or what?

Arriving in Nuremburg was easy, and finding our apartment was easy enough too. Our landlord, Ingeborg was very sweet, though the apartment was very smoky. We walked through the castle and ate out. I had spatzle and nuremburg sausages (tiny ones). We walked up to Christkindlmarkt but it was just closing. We met a German expat named Maggie who introduced us to the rummy gl├╝hwein (all the alcohol was burned off) and ate candied nuts. JP promptly chomped down on her tongue and literally had a flap. *shudder* .. it bled for hours. We walked around for ages, then stayed up late to Facetime with LL's family and with The Boy.

Yesterday, LL and JP meant to get up early to go to the Nazi Rallying Grounds and the Documentation Centre, but by the time they'd gotten up, i'd done some yoga and thought about it. Given the opportunity, i should join them. I didn't want to go to the sites, but holocaust victims sure didn't want to go there either, and they didn't have a choice. We took the #9 tram to the museum and spent most of the afternoon there.  Then we took the #36 bus, which had a free  leaflet to describe the many local sites, to the Toy Museum.

The Toy Museum is full of old trains and amazingness, including a shaggy-haired sixties Ken Doll and beautiful doll houses. We were right down by the Chriskindlemarkt so we spent the next four hours there buying many gifts and souvenirs. LL and I shared a 1/2 m wurst. I ate a Bismarck (fish?)  sandwich with far too many onions, and then back at the apartment, we all shared a schneeball, this delicious-looking chocolate covered disappointment that was actually a weird stale-fried dough business. Gross.

Today, we all slept in again. We're on vacation, damn it. We stopped at the health food store around the corner to pick up some food and then took the U1 to the Palace of Justice, location of the Nuremburg Trials. Even though it's a weekday, we were lucky and the local trial taking place either finished or took a long break, because we were able to visit the famous Courtroom 600. At this point, though, I am emotionally drained and maybe done with museums.

We rushed back to the apartment to check out, went back to Hauptbahnhof to purchase our train tickets (no crazy rush this time), walked around a smaller Christmas Market. I bought some schnitzel (yum!) and a "foam kiss", another chocolate-covered confection that was kind of a blown up jetpuffed marshmallow deliciousness that was NOT a disappointment at all! JP needed McDonalds ("I want McDonalds. I need McDonalds. McDonalds. I need McDonalds. McDonalds now. Is there a McDonalds there? McDonalds McDonalds McDonalds") so finally got some.

I almost missed this train because i needed to pee! It's been difficult to walk around with this pregnancy, my horrible hip pain, and my crap knees. The girls were already on the train when i rushed up the platform. German trains... you can set your watch to them!

We got on First Class by mistake, and then JP was promptly sick (McDonalds? tongue infection?).  We're on our way to Berlin now!