Til Senility Do Us Part

So, this week something very special happened.  That Emily and I totally forgot about and remembered later. Because like many couples, although we LOVE each other, sometimes we let life get in the way and forget to stop and smell THE FACT THAT IT’S OUR FIVE YEAR BLOG ANNIVERSARY!

I’d been thinking about this upcoming event for awhile, and was reminded of it last week when Jill posted that it was her five-year blogiversary a couple weeks ago, because we started blogging at virtually the same time.  I thought, “We should do something really awesome like have a huge giveaway or throw a party or something like that.”

But instead, we just…forgot.

Emily BETTER be whittling me that chicken, is all I have to say. (Is a Bloggess reference. Go read. Then come back here and thank us.)

But anyway.  We forgot our blogiversary.

Oops.

Hey, guess what??? We’ve been blogging for FIVE YEARS!! Isn’t that crazy? When we started this blog, we had only three kids between us, and now we have five.  We were both in our twenties and now we’re clearly practically in an old folks’ home.  We’d never been to a blog conference and didn’t know what Twitter was.  We had old appliances and outdated kitchens and our wardrobes were not made up entirely of Lands’ End.  And we certainly never dreamed that so many of you would care about our successes, our failures, our clothes, our kids, our jobs, our pets, or our kids’ poop.  Ok, so most of you don’t care about that last one (but I know a couple of you do! I KNOW IT!)

Thanks for sticking with us all this time. Especially through this really anti-climactic five-year blogiversary post.  Emily and I love doing this together, but what REALLY makes us grin is getting comments from you, you, YOU!  We love the feedback and interaction with you guys.  We hope you’ll stick with us for at LEAST five more years…aren’t you dying to see if we can even remember our own NAMES in five years!?  The odd aren’t great…

Thanks for five great years, you guys.  We love you. Fer realzies.

(We’d also love it if one of you sent us a wooden replica of Beyonce’ the metal chicken.  Just sayin’.)

 

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Philanthropy is good, yo. 100 Cars good!

So last week when I told you about my trip to California with Toyota, I told you I’d be devoting a whole post to their philanthropic efforts.  I promised, and now I’m delivering!

Toyota’s headquarters is in Torrance, California, and they do A. LOT. in their local area as far as giving back, as they should. But what’s great is that they also enable their dealerships across the country to give back to their local communities through a matching gifts program.  Let’s say my local Toyota dealer wanted to write a check to a local charity.  Well, Toyota MATCHES that up to $10,000 for every single dealership in the country!! That’s a lot of cash, and amazing support and encouragement for it’s dealerships to give back.

The biggest and most exciting way that Toyota is currently giving back is on a national level, through a phenomenal program called 100 Cars for Good.  Via the 100 Cars for Good Facebook app (which you do NOT have to “like” to use, by the way), you, me, and the whole wide world can vote EVERY DAY for one of five non-profits to win a car.  It’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s AWESOME!! I love this program.  I love voting every day and encouraging others to vote (hopefully for the  non-profit that I chose, hee hee.)  So, on our Mommin’ It Up Facebook page, we’ll be reminding you to vote!  The program ends August 21st.

So get out there and vote! There are all kinds of resources on the 100 Cars for Good page where you can learn about the organizations up for vote, see previous winners, and even search for which organizations in your local area are up to win a car. You can check out the app, get educated and vote here.

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Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.

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Kaizen, Baby! Or, what I learned at TWIN camp.

So as you may remember, Emily and I are not just cousins but we are also TWINs – members of the Toyota Women’s Influencer Network.  Membership in such an exclusive club has its benefits, one of which was that I spent a couple of days last week in Hermosa Beach, California last week as a guest of Toyota. Woot!  Check out the view from my hotel room:

room with a view, the Inn at Hermosa Beach

I know, RIGHT!?  It was awesome!  After checking in I was able to relax a while and then take a walk on the beach and THEN go to lunch at this cute little quiche place with Jill, and THEN go for another walk on the beach and gape at this terrific pier: Untitled

The event didn’t technically get started until Tuesday evening, when we were treated to a yummy and fun dinner and met some of out great hosts from Toyota.  I was lucky enough to sit with two awesome bloggy friends, Jen and the aforementioned Jill, and with our instant Toyota BFF, Sona.    The dinner was great and I immediately loved all the Toyota staff that came to just hang out with us and get to know us. It was an awesome evening! Here are some gratuitous self-portraits of Jen and Jill and I, and a picture of Sona and I from the following day.

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Ladies and gentlemen, the lovely Jen Bradshaw!

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Jill and I making crazy eyes because we are so excited to be together!

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Sona Moon from Toyota, a rockstar working mom of a 19-month-old girl, who was so lovely I wanted to take her home in my suitcase. And not in a creepy way, just because you know, she's nice to be around. And because we could wear our matching green dresses and be twinsies and that would be awesome!*ahem*

Wednesday we headed out bright and early to Toyota’s campus in Torrance for a day of drinking the kool-aid learning about Toyota as a company. Because I am a nerd, the morning session where we learned about Toyota’s company pillars was my favorite.  Everyone who spoke to us from Toyota had been with the company a looong time. Five years was the least amount of time and after that, it was 10+.  Most were there much longer. Very impressive, especially since most of the folks who spoke to us were women and moms.  Toyota’s company pillars are 1) Respect for People and 2) Continuous Improvement (the Japanese word for this is “Kaizen”, pronounced Ky-zen).  These pillars really struck me as so simple and awesome!  Respect people and keep improving. Boom!  Love it!

Next, we learned about the philanthropic efforts that Toyota does within the community – which were SO awesome, that I am going to save them for their very own post. So stay tuned, I am sure you will be impressed, as I was.

Another fun thing we did that morning was participate in a discussion about what makes a car buying experience good or bad – our most and least favorite thing about the process.  I was impressed by how the Toyota team really listened to what we had to say, wrote down all out feedback, and participated in and encouraged a lively dialogue with all of us.  They were on the edge of their seats, really wanting to get raw feedback from us – very cool!

This led right into the most fun part of the day – taking some Toyotas for a spin!  We got the chance to drive some brand-new Toyotas!  There were lots of Hybrids and I was dying to drive one. I really wanted to drive the Highlander Hybrid and I was able to!   I also wanted to drive the new Sienna to compare it with my 2004 Sienna. I went driving with some VERY cool girls – Jill and Jen (the old standbys) and a new friend, Jeannett of Life Rearranged, who is totally fabulous.  You should all go check her out, even though she doesn’t technically need you to, because she is already famous and fabulous in the bloggy world.  Do it for yourself!  Jeannett, who is about to pop out kid #4, is very anti-minivan, so I was trying to win her over to the Sienna.

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Emily will be disappointed if I do not include as many pictures of myself as possible in this post, so here is one of me and Jeannett. You're welcome!

Ok, so first up: the Sienna. Siennas make me HAPPY!

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Siennas make ME happy, and I in turn make JEN happy.

The 2012 Sienna was totally awesome. I KNEW it was going to be! However, my 2004 is fully-loaded and super-BA, so there were just a couple new things that really stood out to me that I’d like to have.  One is that GIANT DVD screen at the bottom left of this picture below.  That thing is so huge that Jeannett and I gasped when we opened it up.  I mean, DANG!  And you can do split-screen on it so that your children can watch different things!  The van also has the capability to even plug your Wii into it so you could bring that along on a road trip. Amazing!!

The other feature that was super-cool is the removable middle seat in the 2nd row. (See Jill beaming at the middle seat?)   This makes the Sienna an 8-passenger instead of a 7-passenger, and if you don’t need it, it’s very easy to remove so there’s no problem getting in and out of the back seat.  And of course the 2012 Sienna has all the features I love about my 2004 – power doors, navigation, all that cool stuff – just much shinier and newer!  AND it has USB ports for all our fancy smarphones and devices!

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The next vehicle I drove and LOVED was the Highlander Hybrid. We neeeeeeeeeed this car to replace Bobby’s old 1992 Camry station wagon! It’s the closest thing Toyota makes to that old faithful car. I LOVED the Highlander because a third row of seating is STANDARD on it! And the Hybrid engine – what a bonus for great gas mileage!! It has tons of power, too. I hit the gas to see how it would accelerate and it was awesome. Plus, it was a really smooth ride and it looks COOL inside & out. The third row is really, really, easy to put up & down when you don’t need as many passengers and want more trunk space. I seriously wish I could have taken this vehicle home with me. It is really they type that my family needs right now! And it’s smokin’ hot!

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It had plenty of fancy bells & whistles as well – navigation, USB ports, and gorgeous styling.  *sigh* I miss it already!

After lunch and a little more education, we made it over to the Toyota Museum for a quick stop.  I loved this because I am a huge Toyota nerd and they had pretty much every car they ever made. (Except my 1987 Camry wagon, sad face.)  Jill and I were inspired by some of the advertising to re-create the old Toyota “I love what you do for me” commercial from our youth.  Check out that SWEET AIR we got! As you can see,  my Lands’ End pants were comfy enough to do the “Toyota Jump for Joy” in!

Don't be jealous of our sweet jumping skillz

Two nerds in a pod...

Finally, we had time to change real quick to get ready for a fancy dinner and another feedback session with Toyota. This time they wanted to hear what we had to say about the event itself. One piece of feedback that I didn’t give at the session because I didn’t think of it at the time, is that Toyota and the Clever Girls Collective did a great job of choosing a variety of women to be in the TWIN group. It was not just a bunch of moms, there were also plenty of lovely single women. And there were a wide variety of ages represented as well from 23 to 50ish. Here’s the cute little Lindsay of LinzLovesYou, my favorite young’un in the group. She is a doll! And super-talented, if you need a new blog design, hit her up!

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Remember when you were 23? Me neither.

In the “small-world” category, I also got to meet Glennia Campbell who stunned me by announcing she is from the teeny Ohio town where Emily lives and where my own parents are from! Crazeee! She rules Palo Alto now, and is a world-traveler and lawyer at Stanford (no big deal, just STANFORD) but I can’t wait to meet up with her the next time she’s in our neck of the woods to visit her folks. I forgot to get my picture with her (so dumb!) But go check out her blog!

Well, that’s a wrap on my TWIN camp experience for now – thanks Toyota for being amazing hosts!  Can’t wait to share more about the Toyota Way in my next few posts.   Sorry there were only TEN pictures of me in it, I’ll do better next time, I swear!

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Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.

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