Scarlett of Suburbia

Field Notes from The Motherhood


August 2011

On Tourism Ads

The 9 y.o.: What is with this lame ad to visit the Gulf States? Just a minute ago the weather guy was all apocalyptic about Hurricane Katia and now all I can think about is Katrina.
The 12 y.o.: And oil spills. And tornadoes. Anyway, why would they stick their tourist ads on right after the weatherman during hurricane season?
The 9 y.o.: WHY would anyone want to visit the Gulf states?
The 12 y.o.: Oh look – “Brought to you by BP”. Doesn’t BP stand for Big Polluters? Like just in case the images of happy people frolicking on the white beaches for 60 seconds would make us forget about the worst oil spill in the history of mankind, they slap a big ole logo at the end to remind us. You keep it classy, BP.


On Grandparents

The 5 y.o.: So what was your father’s name? My grandfather?
The Dad: His name IS Ian. He’s still alive, at least he was yesterday.
The 5 y.o.: What about your mother? What’s her name?
The Dad: Her name is Sheila.
The 5 y.o.: She-Ra? The lady with the sword? I LOVE that cartoon! Wait – that’s your mom?
The Dad: So does that make my father He-Man?
The 12 y.o. (dramatic voice): BY THE POWER WITHIN ME…
The 5 y.o. (from across the room): No, no, no. Get it right. It’s like this, let me show you: BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL!!!

My backpack just arrived!!! It’s cute and small. Like me. Oh – and SMELL! It’s got new backpack smell inside. I can’t wait for school to start so I can test drive this baby out!!!

The 5 y.o.

On Hair Feathers

The 12 y.o.: Do you think the hairdresser can stick a feather in my hair?
The Dad (sings, badly): And call it macaroni?
The Mom: Why do you want to look like a bird?
The 12 y.o.: I want a feather to express my individuality. Like everyone else is doing.

On Favors

The 12 y.o.: Hey M – I *need* to talk with you.
The 9 y.o.: Is this going to have to do with cutting your hair today?
The 12 y.o.: No
The 9 y.o.: Does it have to do with Littlest Pet Shop?
The 12 y.o.: Uh, no.
The 9 y.o.: Do you want a gold dachshund on Nintendogs and Cats?
The 12 y.o.: No!
The 9 y.o.: Do you want me to jailbreak your iPhone?

Menu Plan for the Week 8/29/11 – 9/4/11

When I was a kid, my mother’s idea of cooking involved removing an orange box from the freezer, popping it in the oven for an extraordinary amount of time and then peeling back the scorching hot foil to reveal something brown and lumpy, generally with a disturbing scent that reminded me of burnt Alpo. Mom never bought instant food that I might actually like to eat on the basis that it was either too expensive (like pre-sweetened breakfast cereals with the clever commercials) or “not healthy” (I’m guessing she didn’t realize how much sodium was packed into those frozen triangles of whipped potatoes and fried chicken).

As soon as I could read a cookbook, I taught myself how to bake from scratch out of sheer necessity to gain weight. From cookies and cupcakes and onward to vegetable side dishes and a million ways to prepare pasta, or spaghetti as it was known in those days. I loved the precision of baking and the creativity of cooking. By age 14, I could prepare dinner and dessert from scratch, including breads and pastries. 

Lately I’ve been wondering how differently my children will relate to food since they rarely eat anything other than homemade meals. Will they crave McDonalds or the Krispy Kreme donuts that I only let them eat when a blue moon is present? Or will they share the same passion for food and cooking that I discovered at a young age? One thing is for certain – they are happy to leave the menu planning to me 🙂


Monday, August 29th

Breakfast: Cereal Bar

Lunch: Mac & Cheese / Leftovers

Dinner: Fried Chicken, Green Beans, Corn on the Cob, Homemade Fudge

Activity: Making Homemade Pickles


Tuesday, August 30th

Breakfast: Nutella & Banana Crepes  


Lunch: 3-Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches w Chicken Noodle Soup

Snack: Chips & Salsa

Dinner: Alton Brown’s Mini-man Cheeseburgers w Tomato/Lettuce, Broccoli Souffle



Wednesday, August 31st

Breakfast: Steel-cut Oatmeal w Dried Fruit & Pecans or Wheatabix

Lunch: Turkey Chili with Cornbread

Snack: Peach Cobbler w Milk

Dinner: Paula Deen’s Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps, Buttered Carrots, Baked Potatoes


Thursday, September 1st

Breakfast: Giada de Laurentis’ Eggs Florentine

Lunch: Cheesy Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas,  Heirloom Tomato Salad

Snack: Berries and Yogurt w Granola

Dinner: Pioneer Woman’s Brisket, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Peas & Carrots



Friday, September 2nd

Breakfast: Banana Pancakes w Maple Syrup, Chocolate Instant Breakfast Drink

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Mousy Pizza {Sam’s Club Pizza}, Caesar Salad


Saturday, September 3rd

Breakfast: Breakfast Sandwich on Whole Wheat English Muffins {Ham or Bacon}

Lunch: Cheese Quesadilla and Salsa

Snack: Coconut, Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Dinner: Pioneer Woman’s Shrimp & Pasta in Tin Foil, Heirloom Tomato Salad



Sunday, September 4th

Breakfast (Kids only; Adults fast): Cereal Bar

Lunch (Kids only; Adults fast): Spaghetti & Crockpot Bolognese Sauce, Garlic Bread  

Dinner: Pioneer Woman’s Pork Chops w Apples and Creamy Bacon Cheese Grits


Bon Appetit!

Five Easy Ways To Tell If An Organization Is Really Values-Driven

A lot of companies claim to be values-driven. They publish their values and use them in marketing messages. However, this does not necessarily mean their values guide decision-making and behaviors company-wide on a day-by-day basis.

To know for sure, you can investigate whether leadership practices and company policies are aligned with their published vision and values. But there’s a simpler and quicker way to tell: pay attention to your own experience as a customer.

Here are five quick ways you can tell if an organization is really values-driven.

1. Employees remember what the company’s values are.

Ask three employees what the values of the company are.

  • Can they quickly recall them?
  • Do they repeat the same values?

I recommend that companies choose no more than five values because you want your values to be forefront in people’s minds, and it’s hard to remember more than five.

Interestingly, Zappos is so totally focused on their values that they have listed ten values that employees actually remember. Check out this great video of Zappos employees talking about their company’s values.

2. Employees can describe specific activities and behaviors that demonstrate what the values look like in action.

Ask the employees to give you examples of how the values they listed are lived in the company –what behaviors or actions do they see that exemplify each of the values?

It’s not enough to just have a list of values. The same words can mean different things to different people. Values like “teamwork” “innovation” or “ownership” need to be clearly defined so they are understood by all and can be implemented consistently.

I recommend including 4 or 5 descriptors to give meaning to the words. For example, one company I worked with defined “ownership” as:

  • When making decisions, ask “Is it good for the customer and is it good for the business?”
  • Empowering one another to push decision making to those closest to the customer whenever possible
  • Enabling everyone to feel ready and committed to stepping into a leadership role when opportunity presents itself
  • Being results driven through measurable success
  • Taking responsibility for success of both individual departments and the whole team
  • Providing descriptors like these enables employees and customers to have clear conversations about what should be happening. And it provides a way to determine whether the values are being lived consistently.

    3. The company’s values are visibly integrated into how they do business and are not just something extra they do on the side.

    It is common knowledge that since its inception, Ben and Jerry’s has built a reputation for caring more about people than profit, providing leadership in social and environmental responsibility. And although the company was sold to Unilever in 2000, CEO Jostein Solheim recently provided reassurance that the essence has not changed, stating

    “The world needs dramatic change to address the social and environmental challenges we are facing. Values led businesses can play a critical role in driving that positive change. We need to lead by example, and prove to the world that this is the best way to run a business. Historically, this company has been and must continue to be a pioneer to continually challenge how business can be a force for good and address inequities inherent in global business.”

    So far Solheim has kept true to his word. If that changes, we consumers will quickly know.

    4. The company’s public message matches your own experience as a customer.

    My advice to companies is Don’t make a claim and then miss the mark, consistently. We consumers resent it and you actually lose credibility.

    Recently in an attempt to resolve a problem with AT&T, I was forced to call customer service five times. Each time I heard this exact phrase at the end of the conversation: “My goal is to provide satisfying customer service. Can I help you with anything else?” Obviously they hadn’t helped me in the first place or I wouldn’t have been forced to call five times on the same issue. When the customer service representative repeats the same canned phrase at end of each conversation, regardless of whether the issue was resolved, the company loses credibility.

    McDonald’s wants to change its image by promoting a new initiative “to help children and families make nutrition-minded choices.” What are they going to do? They’re adding apples to the Happy Meal. As a consumer, I have to say that just doesn’t do it for me.

    In the early 60s, AVIS coined the famous tagline: “We’re only #2 in rental cars, so why go with us? We try harder.” In his April, 2011 article, Alan Armstrong makes the following point:

    Lately AVIS has re-adopted part of that tagline, but only part of it. They’ve dropped the important pre-cursor and kept the memorable ending, “We Try Harder”.  The trouble is, “We try harder” is only believable if your market perceives that you really do try harder. In order to believe that, they have to see you as an underdog. It is very difficult to convince the customer that AVIS, now about the same size as Hertz, will really try harder.

    5. Use your own personal experience to identify the real company values.

    Anyone who has flown on Southwest Airlines can tell you without reading their ads that having fun is one of their core values.

    And indeed, on the careers page of their Website, Southwest Airlines recruits specifically for people who “want the freedom to be creative, dress casually, and have fun on the job.”

    Recently a friend told me of an experience that clearly demonstrates their values: during takeoff the flight attendants announced they were tired and didn’t feel like serving the peanuts and pretzels that day. They had decided to roll them down the aisle during takeoff instead and passengers were welcome to help themselves. And that’s exactly what happened. Passengers grabbed items as they rolled by and had a great time tossing them to each other.

    If you complain about the flight attendants’ creative antics, they will not be reprimanded (as long as safety has not been compromised). Instead, you will be told you’ll be missed if you decide to fly on another airline in the future.

    It’s not very difficult to tell if an organization is really values-driven. What has your experience been recently? Have you observed any values-driven companies in action?

    Corporate culture IS marketing in a digital economy.

    On Harvest Time

    The Mom: Isn’t it great to eat all this fresh food from our garden for dinner? Late summer is my favorite time of year when everything comes into season.
    The 9 y.o.: Including females!

    You don’t spell ‘forecast’ with a number 4. 4cast? No. That’s just wrong.

    The 9 y.o.

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