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Raising Children

Internet Search Engine Site
By Sara Lewis

At the ripe old age of 46 I am, happily, almost eight months pregnant with my second child. Ah, the "Older Mom", it's amusing (mostly) to observe reactions from friends and others - "Oh, I didn't think you were that old", "you look 36"…that old, what's that supposed to mean?

Months ago, when my husband Bob and I discovered we were pregnant (well it did take two of us!), it was exciting, unexpected, and scary all at the same time. Having just purchased a new computer I immediately started surfing the Web for resources on Older Moms…but hold that thought, I'm getting ahead of myself here…Bob and I had already enjoyed four truly great years with our son Matthew and we did at times talk about having another child. But during those years so much was happening career-wise, that planning another child just wasn't in the cards.

After many years of being a successful, globetrotting executive in the entertainment industry, and after surviving several corporate mergers and acquisitions, my turn finally came to be laid off. No big deal, I was immediately offered an even better position at another company, and that was good for about three months until they "unexpectedly" ran out of money and went bankrupt owing me back wages. Now that was a big deal.

Back on the street again I had, shall we say, time to rethink my future. After two futile months of negotiating two film-related positions, and a series of highly enlightening conversations with my credit card companies (one of which unabashedly informed me that "they did not consider loss of a job an emergency") I decided once and for all to quit the corporate world. My basic plan included resuming graduate school, finishing my long-ignored masters in Education, and working as a substitute teacher.

This rather drastic change in lifestyle was at first a bit disconcerting, both psychologically and financially, but it was proving to be rewarding. And it did have a side benefit - quality time with my husband and son, something I wasn't particularly aware that I was missing during my grinding, high-powered corporate tenure.

Six months into this "new life" I was quite unexpectedly offered a full time position as a Kindergarten teacher at my son's school. In a panic, (i.e. without a clue) I started scouring the Internet for help (i.e. lesson plans and ideas). I considered myself a rather competent computer wiz, but my initial Internet experience was extremely frustrating. The well-known search engines had material all over the place - and I don't know about you - but I did not have the time to sift through over 200,000+ listings for every question or problem I had. I soon noticed that many of my fellow teachers also had little working knowledge of the available Internet resources. That was also true of the parents I encountered whose only exposure to the Internet consisted of playing games.

All of which brings me full circle to my rushed thoughts of paragraph two - while attending a millennium gathering with family and friends the conversation turned to the Internet and its many frustrating features. It all seemed to boil down to those bloody "horizontal" search engines. All of them were too big and unwieldy. Why, we wondered, weren't there any "vertical" search engines that focused on topic-specific information?

Wouldn't that be useful? Specifically, I was interested in accessing information about traveling with young children, visiting theme parks, fertility clinics, child development/special needs questions, health problems, learning activities, etc. Wouldn't it be great to find a search engine that focused on these child-related issues and nothing else? That's what was percolating in my mind when (A) I found out I was pregnant and (B) I started thinking about what I could do career-wise that might combine my business, teaching, and parenting skills while keeping me at home.

Incredibly, an old friend of mine, Victor Goodman, who had just successfully developed a website called LinuxStart, had been having similar thoughts, and we came up with the idea of constructing a search engine dedicated exclusively to issues of young children - would I be interested in developing and administrating the site? By the way, I could work at home.

He had his answer in about two seconds. After sweating out a round or two of financing arrangements our work began in earnest. I was given free rein to start designing a user-friendly, all-inclusive index/search engine about pregnancy and young children. The technology, which I had previously viewed with skepticism, has enabled me to work at home and with staff people from coast to coast (some of whom I have never even met). It has also rendered a terrific and extremely useful information resource (we launched in August of this year) for anybody interested in raising children. (Please feel free to visit KinderStart.com - http://www.kinderstart.com/)

Some of the globe-trotting glamour of my previous, business/entertainment career may be missing, but quality time with Matthew, my own schedule, the freedom to create something without corporate heavy-handedness, and laughing lunches (albeit more than I'd care to admit) with my husband Bob have more than made up for those illusory benefits.

Now all I have to do is convince myself that 46 isn't that old for baby number two!

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