March 30, 2008

Green Living

Posted in green living at 8:17 pm by siliconmom

Cool green websites

I interviewed Green Guru Chris Goodall recently about living a greener life and he told me, if there is one big thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, it’s stop flying! He’s done it for about four years, but it’s a tough call if your family is spread around the world.

Other experts say simply reduce the amount you consume. Every time you’re about to buy something, whether it’s food for the kitchen, toys for the kids, a new hot gismo, or a new pair of shorts for your wardrobe, they say: stop and ask yourself, do I really need this? Can we make do, can we fix the one we have, can we be creative?

Here are some cool websites to get you started – they’re packed with great ideas to reduce your carbon footprint, live more simply and help spread the word about global warming. Don’t forget, it’s OK to start with baby steps…it gets addictive, especially when your kids get involved. Remember, as mothers, we can change the world…

You’re welcome to write and share YOUR favorite websites and ideas for living more greenly. Every month, we’ll be featuring new cool tips for green living.

Cheers Alison van Diggelen

ps click the link below for some green living tips will that cost you NOTHING!

Five quick green tips that will cost you NOTHING!


March 18, 2008

Exclusive interview with Elaine Alquist

Posted in Inspiring mothers tagged , , at 5:14 pm by siliconmom

Meet Elaine Alquist, California State Senator for District 13 (the heart of Silicon Valley), former State Assemblywoman, proud Greek-American and mother of two. Despite her high profile job she says, “nothing is as important as my being Peter and Bryan’s Mom and Jasmine and Logan’s yia yia – Greek grandmother!”

She recently took some time from her busy schedule at the Capitol to address some questions for siliconmom readers.

Q: Did your identity change when you became a mother? How?

A: Yes, “mother” superseded my personal identity the first three years of older son’s life.

Q: What hurdles have you overcome since becoming a mom?

A: Getting back into the workforce – reinventing myself. Balancing family and individual needs and priorities.

Q: What tips would you give a new mom?

1) Set your priorities.  You can do all things – not necessarily at the same time.
2) Be sure they are your priorities.
3) With each child you get one chance to be a good Mom.
4) Know that all things will pass.

Q: How have your notions of motherhood changed as your children have aged?

A: At 63, I better understand the impact of parents’ behavior on a small child’s world and on a small child’s feelings and behavior.

Q: Have you had an “ah ha” moment as a mom? Could you please share it with us?

A: The first time Peter said “I love you, Mommy” and Bryan said “I love you, Mommy.” And as adults when each said “you’ve always been there for me, Mom, and I’ll be there for you.”

Q: Did you take time off when your children were young? If so, what were the challenges re-entering the workforce?

A: I created a self-referral K-8 counseling program for a public school district in St. Louis in 1969. The program was presented at the national APGA conference as I gave birth to Peter.  I took three years off; my self identity decreased, then got my realtor associate license, sold houses in St Louis and took eight weeks off after I gave birth to Bryan. When I showed or sold property, my parents were always there to help. My sons were four and eight when we moved to Santa Clara County. I had double hurdles of finding a good job (I became a financial analyst at Stanford University) and good childcare. I should mention that I was elected to a college Board of Trustees during that 3-year period that I did not have a professional job.

Q: Do you have a mother mentor? If so, who is it and how do they fill that role?

A: My Mom and Yia Yia (Greek grandmother) – both have passed on.  The main focus of their lives was to be a great Mom and a great yia yia – which now is my goal.
For more information about Elaine, check out her website at{73CEE83C-3804-41C4-9B27-D0779CA9D150}
Elaine also invites emails:


March 15, 2008

Five quick green steps

Posted in green living at 8:22 pm by siliconmom

OK, so you’re insanely busy, you want to do something about global warming, but there’s never enough time and anyway it all costs tons of money…
Not true!

Here are some quick green tips that don’t cost a cent and can be good to your bank balance too!

1. Turn your home thermostat down a notch (this will reduce your carbon footprint AND save you money!)

2. Put on a sweater or slippers if the house feels chilly (this is my favorite – it feels cosy and eco-cool at the same time)

3. Turn off lights when you’re not in the room and get your kids to help too (make it a game!)

4. Wait till you have a full load before running the dishwasher or clothes washer

5. Stick to your shopping list: buying less and updating your electronic gismos/ car/ wardrobe/ kids’ toys less frequently has the most direct impact on the earth’s resources.

It’s really that easy. Taking baby steps is a great way to begin.

Good luck!

Cheers Alison van Diggelen

ps coming soon: green tips that make a big difference for $20 or less.

Must read (get real) books for mothers

Posted in Inspiring mothers tagged , , , , at 3:37 pm by siliconmom

Do you ever get mad at the Hallmark view of motherhood? Fed up with the media’s soft focus lens?

Get real books

Get real books

Here’s your antidote.

This list has been compiled by siliconmom contributors for your delectation.  Enjoy the real world of mothers, laugh with them and cry with them…and don’t feel so bad when you mess up! We’ve all been there!

Inconceivable, By Ben Elton
The truth about trying to get pregnant. Witty and real.

Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott
An achingly funny and poignant tale of first time motherhood. This should be compulsory reading for every first time mother.  Can relieve massive guilt buildup.

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a hurry, by Katrina Kenison
Vikki Bowes Mok says, it’s a great reminder to savor the moments of childhood and just let kids be kids.

Perfect Madness. Mothering in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner.

I don’t know how she does it! By Allison Pearson
A hilarious tale of investment banker mother of two, who tries to keep all the balls in the air in a mean man’s world. Excellent read for anyone who is trying to “have it all.”

Surrender to Motherhood
A mother’s journey from high flying journalist to full time mother

Mothers who think
Excellent collection of short essays from a cross-section of articulate mothers including Anne Lamott (don’t miss her essay on temper control!)

Babyhood, by Paul Riser

Misconceptions, by Naomi Wolf

The Myth of the Perfect Mother by Jane Swigart [Siliconmom contributor, Eileen Bordy says that this is a must read item and good reality check]

The Mommy Myth By Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels

Dispatches from a not so perfect life by Faulkner Fox [career choices/ family choices from Duke University teacher]

The Price of Motherhood By Ann Crittenden [outlines the major financial impact of taking time off work for your children and how other countries are more family friendly]
Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk (same authors as above)

Raising Financially Fit Kids by Joline Godfrey [a very worthwhile book with practical tips and age-appropriate tools to teach children the important skills of financial savvy. Joline is a financial guru for children and gives workshops and advice worldwide]

Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
Siliconmum, Deb Gales says, “it’s as depressing as H*** but even though it looks at a marriage of our parents’ generation, it has many relevant and potent themes.

Poetry Speaks to Children, Edited by Elise Paschen [read and hear some of the world’s best poetry, from Robert Frost to Roald Dahl and JRR Tolkein

BOOKS by siliconmom contributors
Getting it right: How working mothers successfully take up the challenges of life, work and family, by Laraine Zappert

Caffeinated Ponderings on life, laughter and lattes by Shana McLean Moore

Femail, A comic collision in Cyberspace by Shana McLean Moore and Linda Sharp

Star Baby, by Margaret O’Hair

The Sport of Motherhood, By Genevieve Butcher: filled with marathon training techniques for busy mothers, from the  cable TV show presenter and mother of four.
Please contact us with your ideas!
Cheers Alison, Editor

March 12, 2008

The Scottish invasion

Posted in silicon valley at 4:14 pm by siliconmom

Last week  Susan Lucas-Conwell, chief of kindly invited me to a gathering of the Edinburgh-Stanford Link, a high tech collaboration between both universities,  funded by Scottish Enterprise. She knows only too well I can’t resist a good evening out with my fellow lads and lassies. Och aye.


Internet guru Mark Fletcher was brave enough to host the invasion of whisky-drinking venture-capital pursuing Scots at his Dr. Suess-inspired pin-ball and pool table filled mansion in the hills of Redwood City.


I chatted with some jolly Scottish entrepreneurs (who sounded suspiciously English!) and they described the humiliation of pitching to VCs at Google. One nugget of advice: if you want to build a social network –  hosting competitions is key. Everyone wants to be a winner of course! Mike Clauser, US tech entrepreneur and angel funder in Scotland seemed a bit under the weather: whisky or flu, I’m not quite sure? But I hope he’s recovered by now.


Also chatted with the host and his entourage about proper kilt wearing etiquette, and the Scots’ propensity for deep frying everything from haggis to mars bars. Even plugged my concept for a green living website, but sadly no blank checks were forthcoming…


Before Susan and I hit the winding road, I met with the charming Margaret McGarry of who told me about the three Scottish entrepreneurs who knocked on every door in Sand Hill Road earlier that day and had some good leads (no joke!). Still hoping to hear the good news from Margaret: that their mission was $$$$ successful. I love to hear about SV sharing its wealth and wisdom with the Auld Country.

March 7, 2008

Champions of community

Posted in silicon valley at 4:16 pm by siliconmom

Guest blog: does everyone know your name?
On Thursday morning March 6 I hauled myself out of bed at dawn to attend Project Cornerstone’s Asset Champions Breakfast. So why should Silicon Valley parents care?
Well, if you aren’t familiar with Project Cornerstone, check out It’s good stuff and every parent in the valley should pay attention.
I won’t give you the marketing spiel but basically Project Cornerstone has identified things we should be doing that will help develop healthy, caring and responsible children. How can any parent argue with that?!
OK, you want the pitch? Here is it, direct from their Web site:
Project Cornerstone’s vision is simple —to build a web of support around every young person in our community. This web of support includes families, schools, community centers, faith communities and local businesses. Unfortunately, these resources are disconnected from each other and often from children and youth themselves. Project Cornerstone facilitates the connection of the separate parts of the web so that young people can count on individuals and organizations working together to provide them with consistent support and guidance.
The great thing about Project Cornerstone is that they have formalized programs but also just simple things we can be doing every day to make our youth feel valued.
Do you know the name of the children in your neighborhood? If not, learn them and greet them regularly.
Do you smile at children and say hello when you pass them on the street or in a store? It’s simple but it makes a difference.
At the breakfast yesterday, Misha Balangit, a senior at Gunderson High School, who was the Masters of Ceremony with Chief of Police Rob Davis summed it up: “You may not realize how a little thing can make such a big difference.”
Cheers,  Vikki Bowes-Mok, SiliconMom reader and contributor

March 6, 2008

Heavy breathing at the Flint Center

Posted in green living, silicon valley at 4:20 pm by siliconmom

Andrew Weil MD got the Flint Center crowd doing some heavy breathing last night at Dick Henning’s celebrity forum. What a guy! Looks more jolly Santa than health and fitness guru, but boy did he have some good advice and most of the audience was straining forward and hanging on his every word.

The future of healthcare in the US is so desperate, he said, the disaster may sink our economy. As our population ages, it will place a larger and larger burden on our workers. Scary stuff! A strong advocate of integrated medecine, he riles against the “anti-aging” approach reminding us that aging is a natural process. Instead, our goal should be staying healthy for longer and to do that, he encourages us to make good lifestyle choices . The usual suspects: good diet, exercise, adequate rest and sleep. But some cool green ideas.

He recommends: plenty wild salmon (omega 3 is brilliant for our blood and has been linked to lower levels of depression); fruits and veggies with strong pigments (esp. berries – strong antioxidants); turmeric and jasmine tea.

Weil also  reminded us that we should  revere and include our older friends and relatives in our lives more, just like they do in Okinawa, Japan (a place with legendary longivity He suggested laughter as a stress buster and then led us in some heavy breathing. Wow: it felt good to switch off for a few minutes; breathe in for 4, hold for 4, then breathe out for 6 …with about two thousand other people. Conspire means to breathe together, so we had one big CONSPIRACY SESSION. I love these simple GREEN solutions to world problems.

Many thanks to Dr. Weil, you’ve inspired me to go back to basics. Now it’s time to get moving… must check out the wild salmon counter at Safeway, grab some “rainbow” fruit and veg… and call my mother!