Category Archives: Multitasking

The End of the Blog Hiatus

I

I tried to stop time. But time won.

The problem with having a blog called Very VERY Busy Mom is that it implies that if I am busy enough to warrant the second VERY in the title, when the heck do I find time to write a blog?

Exactly.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry’s gal pal Hermione Granger uses a device called a “time turner” which transports her to the past so she can double up her class schedule.

I’d love to win lotto one day, but I would trade those millions for my very own time turner. I’d get my work done with no stress at all, then use the time turner to spend time with my kids, hang out with my husband, exercise regularly, clean my house, and maybe have coffee with a friend.

But after a day or two of time turning, I’d want to tear out my lawn and put in drought-resistant plants, learn to speak Spanish fluently, write a book, start a small business, and train for marathon.

Don’t get me started on travel or getting a few more degrees.

I could never be happy with just two time turners. I would need two. Or three. Or infinity.

When other busy moms are taking a little “me” time – getting a mani-pedi, munching on a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels while watching Oprah (or possibly full seasons of Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones in a single sitting), or taking a little 5150 vacation in a psyche ward, I prefer to be productive. And write. My blog is my creative outlet, my little pick-me-up, and my own “Mommy’s Little Helper” without the hangover in the morning.

But for the past seven months, Very VERY Busy Mom has fallen by the wayside in favor of other pleasant pastimes like occasional exercise, a minimum sleep requirement and establishing a regular dog poop pickup routine before my backyard earns the nickname “Lord of the Flies.”

I decided to take a break for a week, which turned into a month, then turned into over half a year, and I felt like quite the loser whenever friends would come up to me and say, “Hey, Very VERY Busy Mom! I haven’t seen a new blog lately!” Their intention was encouraging and good-natured, but the translation into my insecure brain was “You’re a slacker! Show me your collection of bed sores!”

Instead of writing blog posts, I ended up finishing my third season editing dialogue on the ABC fairy tale drama Once Upon a Time (if you haven’t seen it yet, add it to your Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones marathon). The lack of time spent writing blogs enabled me to get my show done without it getting bounced from the stage – a term synonymous with “you’ll never work in this town again.”

My year-long obsession researching colleges, scholarships, and ACT & SAT prep for my 17-yeat old has culminated with her acceptance to the perfect college for her (Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois – known for its attraction of quirky kids ), but on the flipside, I haven’t practiced driving with Emily often enough to be certain she’s a safe enough driver to earn her license. Not that LA drivers generally are considerate enough to warrant a license, but I want her to be somewhat prepared for the cockfight.

I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time behind the wheel of my minivan transporting my 13-year old social butterfly to probably two dozen Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (even though we don’t have a drop of Jewish blood in our veins – Mary is loved by all races, creeds, and religions), and more social events than a Presidential candidate campaigning for a tight seat.

Although I’ve been making it a priority to read Harry Potter to my 7-year old every night (we’re now on #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) my son unfortunately has received the dregs of any free time I had left, so I missed a few of his baseball games and Cub Scout activities. Fortunately my Prince of a Husband picked up the slack as baseball coach and Assistant Den Master and managed to be the token parent there for absolutely every event. My hubby also loves it when I mention him favorably in my blog, so I’m glad he gave me something to write about.

I still love volunteering at the kids’ schools and in the community, but there have been whole weeks when I’ve gone completely AWOL and the other very VERY busy moms, dads and community do-gooders manage to get everything done even without my indispensable help. Proof that no one – even mwah (not sure how to spell this one correctly since it’s not really a word) is irreplaceable.

This is not the post I envisioned after a long hiatus from writing. I would rather have penned “How I Invested My Lotto Winnings,” or “Reflections as a Staff Writer on The Daily Show,” but unfortunately, that’s not how I’ve spent my last seven absent months.

I’ve just been very VERY busy.

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Filed under Career, Family, Humor, Husband, Kids, Multitasking, Parenting, Teenagers, Volunteering

10 Tasks You Can Complete While Sitting on the Toilet

multitasking on the toilet I call it multitasking; my husband calls it insanity.

I like to get things done.

Let me revise that.

I like to get a lot of things done simultaneously.

I think it’s a noble quality to be productive. The last thing I would ever want on my tombstone is a picture of myself as the spokesperson for the 7 Deadliest Sins and being remembered for what I believe maybe the deadliest sin of all: sloth.

For anyone who knows me, there’s little chance of that happening, particularly since I’ll never slow down enough to actually die.

However, my so-called virtue was criticized by my husband recently when he called me from work. I picked up on the fourth ring, a little out of breath.

“I’m so glad you called,” I said, relieved. “I really had to pee!”

Tom didn’t get the correlation. What did a phone conversation with my husband have in common with my overflowing bladder?

I informed him that I was trying to get a scene cut, and I really felt the need to go to the bathroom, but because I was short on time I wanted to keep cutting until I was absolutely forced to take a break. I had actually contemplated putting on a Depends, but that would have required taking the break that I didn’t have time for.

Hence the insanity observation.

However, for all those busy BUSY gotta-get-it-done-now Virgos out there who can relate to my multitasking skill, I’ve decided to compile a list of:

10 Tasks You Can Complete While Sitting on the Toilet

Pine-Sol1. Clean the bathroom floor. With a soapy sponge pre-soaked in Pine-Sol, you can scrub a wide semi-circle of your bathroom floor as far as your arm will reach while still sitting on the pot. The rest of the floor will have to wait unless you have a very small bathroom or a really long arm.

Junk Mail2. Sort through junk mail. This is a productive double purge – clear out your waste while you clear out the mail. All those ads, charity solicitations, and balance transfer offers can get chucked to the recycling bin. (Well, maybe keep those balance transfers. I’m on hiatus now so it’s time for the money juggling act). Also, if you run out of toilet paper and are desperate you can use those mailers to wipe your fragile behind. Just make sure you don’t use the ones sprayed with perfume unless you’re into that kind of thing.

Taking off makeup3. Put on or take off makeup. For the former you’ll need a mirror. For the latter, you don’t really need to watch yourself during the sad process of transforming yourself back into your makeover “before” picture.

Dogs in bathroom4. Pet your animals. All three of my dogs know how to twist the doorknob and knock down the bathroom door to crowd around me during my several constitutionals throughout the day. I can scratch Spike’s ears with one hand, stroke Jasmine’s throat with the other, and rub our new little Yorkie Bella’s belly with my right foot. We’re temporarily taking care of our friend Travis’ Old English Sheepdog Kobe who weighs more than I do, but fortunately I have a fourth limb (my left foot) to pet her fluffy fur. Everyone should have such great quality time with their mutts.

Nails5. File your nails and trim your toenails. However, it’s not a good idea to paint your fingernails unless you want to wait long enough for the paint to dry so you can wipe your rear. This waste of time would defeat the whole purpose of multitasking on the potty.

empty toilet paper roll6. Change the toilet paper roll. How hard is it (I’m primarily talking to men here) to change the toilet paper roll when you use the last square of paper? C’mon! It’s a common courtesy!

I obviously didn't take a photo of my Kegel exercises, so this is a replica.

I obviously didn’t take a photo of my Kegel exercises, so this is a replica.

7. Kegel tightening. Here’s the exercise: Pee. Stop. Pee. Stop. Great exercise if you’re pregnant and leaking a bit, and it also makes the process of making that baby a lot more fun.

iPhone8. Returning phone calls. Every one of my friends knows that at some point in our conversation they’re going to hear a toilet flush.

shopping list9. Make the shopping list. This is the time I usually remember Kleenex, shampoo and air freshener. If there was a toilet in the kitchen, I wouldn’t keep forgetting to buy coffee.

Coupons10. Clip coupons. So sad that I spend two or three minutes clipping the coupons for things I plan to buy, then run out of time to actually buy them before the coupon expires. Perhaps I should come up with another #10.

I hope these tips help you to be more productive and give you about 10 more minutes to cram something else into your day.

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Filed under Humor, Multitasking, Top 10 List

Falling Asleep at the Burnt Out Class

falling asleep

I love school! If I won lotto tomorrow, I would just plan to take classes for the rest of my life, whether or not I could earn a degree for it. I don’t care if it’s on auto repair or astrophysics or how to put up an astrological horoscope, if there’s learning involved, sign me up.

Unfortunately, my work schedule during the tv season virtually prohibits the commitment to a regular class schedule. In 2008 I went back to school taking online classes from Clarion University in Pennsylvania, and even though I was working at the time, in 2010 I earned my Master’s degree in Library Science.

It nearly killed me.

I felt like I fell off the face of the earth for two years as I concentrated solely on work, school, and kids – unfortunately in that order. It’s a learning experience I’ll never get from a classroom – even an online classroom. And it’s one I don’t wish to ever repeat.

Now I save my learning fix for hiatus and then search for classes like a dog with a bone. I finished up my last stage fix for Once Upon a Time on Monday night. Only 26 hours later I began a 12-week series of seminars for small business owners which takes place downtown for three hours every Tuesday and Thursday night.

Do I own a small business? No. But if I start one up, I’ll know what to do.

My medical insurance plan offers several workshops throughout the year on everything from nutrition to stress management to CPR so I signed up for three upcoming classes.

I was especially looking forward to Wednesday evening’s “On Empty and Burnt Out” which asked: Feeling as if you are running on empty? … Learn a new approach to your busy life – one in which you will be able to repair mentally, physically, psychologically and emotionally.

For anyone who knows me, I thrive on being productive, and I get a real rush when I have a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately this rush was causing incidences of embarrassing short-term memory loss, occasional crying fits and the feeling like someone should just shoot me in the head.

Not something I would advocate, even if I do have a blog called Very VERY Busy Mom.

Frankly, I was hoping they would give me some tools to enable me to multitask more efficiently, offer advice so I don’t feel like such a flake if I have to let something go, and ways to make my sleep more productive so I could get by on 4 hours instead of 6.

Instead, the other potentially burnt out attendees and I were greeted with the advice we didn’t want to hear:

  • Get 8-9 hours of sleep each night
  • Remove all sodas, processed foods and refined sugar from your diet
  • Choose one day a week to slow down and perhaps make it a day of pampering
  • Exercise by walking or running 20-30 minutes each day, practicing yoga 3-5 times each week, and lifting weights 10 minutes each day

This is another great reason why I would like to win lotto. If I had time to do all this, I wouldn’t need to take a class called “On Empty and Burnt Out.” As much as I was excited to attend this class and enjoyed learning the information, I was having an extremely serious problem that was holding me back.

I kept dozing off.

The instructor wasn’t boring. She wasn’t repeating herself. She was knowledgeable and passed along information that would be incredibly beneficial to enriching my life.

I was just tired. Beat to my bones. And I was kicking myself that I made myself too busy that afternoon to grab a Monster Energy Drink, and the seminar didn’t have a coffee pot in sight. As I fought to pay attention to the lecturer, I performed wake up tricks like pinching my ears, pressing the web between my thumb and forefinger, tightening my Kegels and flexing my hamstrings – all to no avail.

I probably came across looking seriously ADHD.

It wasn’t until the next morning, after my first full 8 hours of sleep in weeks, that the lesson of the “On Empty and Burnt Out” class hit home.

Whether I’m working beaucoup hours or not, my tendency is to fill up every waking minute with something. The trick is, now that I’m on hiatus, it’s the perfect time to try to put these habits into place. Perhaps I should try sleeping for 8-9 hours, cutting out the things I shouldn’t be consuming, exercising every day, and taking a day to relax.

If I can do that, maybe then my short-term memory won’t be so shot to hell that I forget to do sleep, eat right, exercise and relax in the first place.

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Filed under Anxiety, Career, Family, Humor, Kids, Learning, Multitasking, Parenting

The Mom Olympics

Pumping up for the Mom Olympics

I’ve never really been into spectator sports, unless of course it involves watching my 5-year old son in Toluca Baseball and praying that he stops playing in the dirt. I love going to see the Dodgers, but if they suddenly closed the concessions stands and I couldn’t wolf down a Dodger Dog, I probably wouldn’t fork out the 50 bucks. And although I love his enthusiasm, I just don’t see my husband’s attraction of yelling at our tv on Sundays at a bunch of helmet heads who obviously can’t hear him all the way in Florida. Are these big guys really going to move faster with my husband is calling them a tool?

This week he’s is trying to lure the whole family into watching the Summer Olympics. Tom is gushing about his respect and amazement over the physical feats of these athletes who have been training for their sport even before they grunted their way through the birth canal. I’m enjoying bits and pieces, while my daughter Mary is learning the lingo about gymnastics (They didn’t stick it!) and coaching me on the athletes’ names, countries and probable endorsement deals.

All this hype has persuaded the YouTube MomPulse channel to ask the question: “What would be in the Mom Olympics?” So in honor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, I have proposed:

12 Categories for the Mom Olympics:

#1 Fastest sun block application

#1 Fastest sun block application

You earn extra points if your kid is crying, but lose points if he’s crying because you squirted sunblock in his eyes.

______________________________________________________________

#2 Shotput toys from the living room back into the bedroom

#2 Shotput toys from the living room back into the bedroom

You lose points if you happen to hit a kid or dog walking by.

______________________________________________________________

#3 Synchronized teeth brushing

#3 Synchronized teeth brushing

SpongeBob toothpaste is allowed.

______________________________________________________________

#4 Fastest sprint to save your child from entering the street

#4 Fastest sprint to save your child from entering the street

Most moms would beat any Olympiad’s Gold Medal record in this competition.

______________________________________________________________

#5 Hosting the largest slumber party without committing homicide or suicide

#5 Hosting the largest slumber party without committing homicide or suicide

Extra points if your guests are particularly high maintenance.

______________________________________________________________

#6 Judged by distance, time and amount, how many groceries can you carry from the minivan to the house?

#6 Judged by distance, time and amount, how many groceries can you carry from the minivan to the house?

Extra points for using your own reusable bags. Not because it’s a more difficult skill; Mom Olympics should be environmentally friendly.

______________________________________________________________

#7 Hurdling over dogs to answer the phone

#7 Hurdling over dogs to answer the phone

Don’t you hate when you waste all that energy just to get a telemarketer?

______________________________________________________________

#8 Most patience while teaching your teenager to drive

#8 Most patience while teaching your teenager to drive

See #5 above. The homicide or suicide rule applies to this event as well.

_______________________________________________________________

#9 Standing high jump while trying to dust the top book shelf

#9 Standing high jump while trying to dust the top book shelf

For the Dad Olympics, they use a footstool. Or rather, they tell their wife to use a footstool.

_______________________________________________________________

#10 Driving the most stressful car pool without flipping anyone off or using the wrong 4-letter words

#10 Driving the most stressful car pool without flipping anyone off or using the wrong 4-letter words

Extra points if you have to listen to the same Glee song over and over.

_______________________________________________________________

#11 Creating the cheapest edible meal for a family of 5

#11 Creating the cheapest edible meal for a family of 5

I wanted to post a picture of an off-brand macaroni and cheese made with nonfat dry milk and Butterbuds, but then I’d have to eat it, which would violate the second part of Rule #5. It would be inedible and might create inadvertent suicide.

______________________________________________________________

#12 Triple jump homework help

#12 Triple jump homework help

This is harder as your kids get older and start taking calculus. Unless you majored in math, which is unlikely for most moms. What a shame.

_______________________________________________________________

It’s too bad I didn’t have time to book a flight to London this year, but I hope to see you all in 4 years in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Mom Olympics.

“Adeus!”

That’s “Cheerio!” in Portuguese.

To view my Mom Olympics vlog click the link below:

MomPulse Vlog: What Would Be in the Mom Olympics?

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Filed under Family, Humor, Husband, Kids, Multitasking, Parenting, Top 10 List

Very VERY Busy Stagnation

During the summer when I’m on hiatus from work and the kids are off school, the world is my oyster and the possibilities are endless. I wake up in the morning excited about my choices for the day. Should I clean out my closet? The kids’ rooms? The garage? The pantry? Weed the side yard? Trim the trees? Plant grass seed in the bare spots? Read a book? Update my address book? Hike? Go to Pilates? Take the kids to the beach? To the park? Write a blog or shoot a vlog? Sort through emails? Juggle the bills?

Where do I start?

I start them all.

I started gutting the kids’ room, but now the living room is filled with donation bags and their room looks like the Wicked Witch of the West flew through it.

I started sorting through CDs, but I’m halfway done, so there’s still a pile on the living room floor. “Blues?” “Alternative?” “Heavy Metal?” I’m mainstream rock so I have to ask Tom about his categories.

I started cleaning out my closet, so now I have a pile of too-big-or-too-small clothes and hangers on my bed.

I started putting in a landscape border for plants, but the border is still stretched across the driveway.

I started going to Pilates, but I didn’t stay for the optional final stretching because I had too much to do at home.

I started the second Fifty Shades book, but I’m feeling horny and guilty.

I started weeding through emails, but I’ve only made a dent.

I started writing about a dozen different blogs but didn’t post any in the past two weeks.

I’ve started three dozen things, but I haven’t finished anything.

I am so completely overwhelmed, my completion rate has become stagnant. If I have a choice in time management, I end up running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Someone should cut off my head.

My husband tells me to breathe. I’m trying to meditate, but my mind keeps wandering back to my to-do list.

Yesterday I was determined to finish the half-done things and today I finally reached a turning point.

I’ve finished my first blog post in two weeks (this one).

The kids’ room is clean, the donation bags are banished to the patio, and the CDs have been sorted and alphabetized. The grass seed is planted. I’ve deleted a ton of emails and only have 2975 to go. I’ve put about a thousand miles on my new minivan transporting the kids from one summer activity to another, so my mom points are back in the black.

I’m on a roll. The rest of my tasks are coming along.

I’m done hyperventilating.

Just in time to get ready to go back to work.

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Filed under Anxiety, Debt, Family, Humor, Husband, Kids, Multitasking, Parenting

Volunteerism – It’s Not Just a Job; It’s a Job Without a Paycheck.

At about 3:45 pm on Tuesday, I dropped by the dubbing stage on the Disney lot, where Erik the recordist downloaded my conformed dialogue tracks. By 4:00 pm I was waving goodbye to my supervisor, my boss, the mixers and the producer of “Once Upon a Time.” I probably won’t see any of them again until season 2 begins next September.

I love my job as the dialogue editor on the show, but with only 22 episodes a year, it leaves a very long hiatus.

So on Wednesday morning I woke up and started my new job. I love this job too – probably even more than I love working on a hit show. And my new job pays nothing.

When I say “nothing,” I don’t mean that it’s something close to nothing like minimum wage at McDonald’s. My new job pays nothing because for the next month I’ll be working as a volunteer.

Since 2001 I have been a parent at Colfax Charter Elementary School in Valley Village. Back then, most families in the neighborhood sent their kids to private schools. They didn’t really know much about our little public school. So in 1998 when my daughter turned 2, I started volunteering at Colfax in an effort to infiltrate the school and see first hand what it was like.

They placed me in a 1st grade class with a teacher named Paige Gage, and I fell in love. Besides having a name that rhymed (something every 1st grade teacher should have) she was engaging, fun, and she genuinely seemed to enjoy being there everyday with the kids. It turns out she was a parent there years ago and became a teacher later. Her children are now grown and she’s still at Colfax and teaching 2nd grade now. And I’m still in love with her.

There are countless parents and members of the community who consistently devote a truckload of time to help this little gem of a school. Throughout the work season I participate in little ways as a room parent and in PTA, but when I’m on hiatus, I have the opportunity to really dive in. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to work with other volunteers to make our wonderful school even better and be able to interact with the kids. Here are some of the really fun things I can look forward to doing for the next 6 weeks of the school year:

Kindergarten violins

On Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:30 I get to help my son Jake and his classmates place their feet correctly on the Arthur Murray-like foot positions on the floor and keep the boys from having sword fights with the bows. The kindergarten recital is May 24. For that day I’ll probably work as a kid wrangler and try to keep them from messing up their white button-down shirts. Good thing the recital is first thing in the morning or after recess I’d be racing home and washing a large load of white button-down shirts.

Helping in the classroom

Today I helped the kids paint sunflowers. I let a girl named Emma make a second one after I totally screwed hers up by suggesting she fix a part of it. She was doing way better without my help.

Beautification

This Saturday, May 12th we’re all bringing our gardening gloves, rakes and creaking backs to the campus to sweep, clean and plant. It’s scheduled right between Jake’s baseball game and my niece’s baby shower in Yucaipa, so I can just spare an hour. That’s how long it should take to clean up 10 square yards of an area covered in juice box straw wrappers. Damn Juicy Juice.

PTA/PACE Elections

May 17th I get to see who’s going to be Co-VP of Communications with me. The term will be up for my current partner Joanne, which is really scary since she’s the one who takes the great photos and sends out the Constant Contact email messages to the whole school. I’m crossing my fingers that the new Co-VP is artistic and tech-savvy. Otherwise I’ll need to learn how to take photos where people actually have their eyes open.

Restaurant Fundraisers

Lisa and Abbe are a couple of energetic go-getters, and I work with them on Restaurant Fundraisers where Colfax gets 20% back. I have the task of counting out the exact number of flyers for each classroom and placing them in the teachers’ boxes so they’ll go home in the students’ backpacks. We have fundraisers at Menchie’s on May 18th and a combo Cold Stone Creamery / Green Apple China Bistro on June 5th. The teachers scoop the ice cream at Cold Stone, and there’s always a line out the door of students who ask, “Mrs. Tepper…  can I have another sample?”

Teacher Appreciation Lunch

I’ve signed up to bring lasagna. I used to make an amazing lasagna before I had kids.  Now every year I sign up to bring a lasagna to the Teacher Appreciation Lunch with the intention of making a homemade one, and every year I realize that an amazing lasagna takes about half a day to prepare. I’m thinking of just cooking a Stouffer’s in one of my Corningware trays so it looks like I actually spent more time on it than merely turning an oven dial.

Vaudeville

Every year, that same teacher I volunteered for back in 1998 puts on a Vaudeville Show. Starting in January, Paige Gage has rehearsals every Wednesday afternoon not only for her 2nd grade class, but she also offers it to every 2nd grader in the school and any older student who wants to help with the show. I’m the gal who gets to press “play” on the iPod. The kids sing songs like Jimmy Durante’s Inka Dinka Doo, perform magic tricks, and tell really corny jokes. I’ll hear the words “knock knock… who’s there?” more than any sane person should hear in a lifetime.

School Site Council

There’s a governance meeting once a month where we get to discuss the school charter, curriculum, budgets, and other topics that would make a kindergartner’s eyes glaze over. This is the time I get to act like a grownup and try to act like I really understand all that “I second it” and “I’d like to make a motion” stuff. Because it’s elementary school, I’d love to call it “Me too” and “Whatcha think if…?”

Career Day

I have the opportunity to make three 20-30 minute presentations on what a sound editor does for a living. After I explain that I work from home and wear headphones all day, the kids who will decide to pursue this career when they grow up will either be sound aficionados or anti-social shut-ins.

Tribute Songs

During the very last PTA/PACE meeting of the year we have a presentation to say goodbye to all the 5th grade parents who have gone above and beyond in volunteering for the school. I have the dream-of-a-lifetime job of writing a bunch of parodies and having some of the 5th graders perform it that night. My goal is to make the parents simultaneously roar with laughter and weep like babies. (Have some fun and check out last year’s karaoke version at Colfax 5th Grade Tribute 2011 on Youtube).

Colfax World Fair Marketing

This is the Big Kahuna of my volunteer activities, which is fitting since one of the things I get to hype is the Big Kahuna – a huge water slide at the Colfax World Fair on June 2nd. Last year about 7,000 guests attended this event which made $140,000 in a single day. My job is to get the news out about the fair by any means possible and to make enough money to keep all of Colfax’s extracurricular (and curricular) programs alive. I have a great team of volunteers working with me this year who will be spreading the word with Facebook, Twitter, Patch, emails, banners, posters, car magnets, flyers, postcards, lawn signs, newspapers, magazines, radio, online or just good old fashioned word of mouth. By June 2nd, if you haven’t heard of the Colfax World Fair, it means you’ve been in a coma under a rock on a desert island.

Finally…

Tuesday, June 19th is the last day of the 2011-2012 year for this little LAUSD school. So at 1:30 pm I’ll be clocking out.

By then I’ll need a nap.

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Filed under Family, Humor, Kids, Multitasking, Music, Parenting, Public Education, Public Schools, Volunteering

My year as a Neighborhood Council Valley Village Board Member

Neighborhood Council Valley Village is made up of 15 dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly for their community. Please take a look at Communications Chair Steven Stokes’ open letter to Valley Village and president Tony Braswell’s list of accomplishments for 2011 by clicking here. It definitely takes a village.

It’s been nearly a year since I was elected to the board of Neighborhood Council Valley Village (NCVV), and I can’t believe what a rewarding experience it has been. Board president Tony Braswell recently listed NCVV’s accomplishments for 2011, and the total is quite impressive.

A year ago, I didn’t know much about local politics, and I wasn’t even sure exactly what neighborhood councils were. I’ve since found that neighborhood councils started forming nearly ten years ago when the San Fernando Valley threatened to secede from Los Angeles. Instead, neighborhood councils were formed across the city of LA to form a bridge between the mayor’s office and their local communities. These volunteers give and receive input about matters like the budget, as well as programs and issues that are important to their community.

For me personally, there were some very satisfying moments:

I'm the 4th from the right

I donned a hard hat and shovel and posed with Councilmember Paul Krekorian for the Valley Village Park improvement groundbreaking ceremony.

I worked hard to try to get shade structures installed over the playground at Valley Village Park, and although there were a few neighbors across the street from the park who were pretty angry (they felt that the park was already too crowded), during Christmas week when the temperature hit the high 80’s my son Jake was able to play without getting heat stroke.

I fought the good fight trying to drum up a letter writing campaign to convince the state Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) not to split Valley Village in two. We were unsuccessful, but not for lack of trying.

I was able to chat with Councilmember Paul Krekorian and State Assemblyman Mike Feuer numerous times. Although I had barely heard their names before I joined the board, by the time I met and shook hands with them, I was pretty star-struck.

I'm on the left, waving like Miss America

After marching with my neighbors in the Valley Village 4th of July parade for a decade, this year I was able to wave from a convertible with my fellow board members.

I had a great time volunteering at events like the Pet Adoption Fair, Paul Krekorian’s Inaugural Celebration, National Night Out, Neighborhood Watch, adding information to the NCVV website, promoting events on Patch, attending conventions and seminars like the 2011 LA Congress of Neighborhoods, ethics training, and the Neighborhood Council Green Practices & Projects Workshop, enjoying the Police Activity League Supporter (PALS) Luncheon and Awards and chatting with Officer of the Year Bill Lantz, and working with some very knowledgeable and devoted members on the projects and communications committees.

At the East Valley Police Activity League Supporter (PALS) Luncheon and Awards with Officer of the Year Bill Lantz and felllow NCVV board members Ginny Hatfield and Suzanne Lewis

By getting involved in NCVV, I was able to provide firsthand information regarding the notorious fence with the commissioned graffiti, the continued closing of the two tunnels under the 170 Freeway, additional park improvements, Neighborhood Watch, specific crimes in our neighborhood, and the events at National Night Out.

I admit the meetings can be a little dull and they don’t attract a lot of people. But there was a particular purpose I wanted to serve. I figured that like me, there are hundreds of other parents of young children who live in Valley Village. During our board meetings they are busy working late or making dinner or helping the kids with their homework or giving them a bath… They probably want to know what’s going on in their community, but they’re busy with their daily lives. I figured that since I interact with a lot of them, I could tell them firsthand what’s going on.

This year I look forward to adding more information to the Neighborhood Council Valley Village website (myvalleyvillage.com) and working on and promoting events like our upcoming blood drive (April 10th at Colfax Charter Elementary School), the Virtual Garden Tour, the Pet Adoption Fair,

NCVV logo

the Valley Village Park Refurbishment Celebration, and the online business directory.

I encourage anyone who lives in the Valley Village area to participate by attending our meetings at Colfax Charter Elementary School at 7:00 pm on the 4th Wednesday of each month, or join one of NCVV’s committees, which also meet monthly. You can devote as little or as much time as you like. You too can experience the rewards of volunteering and being more involved in your community.

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Filed under Multitasking, Parenting, Volunteering