Friday, July 18, 2008

BlogHer08 Day One

You know, it would be cool if I could figure out how to post the widget that links me to the rest of the people who are blogging about the conference during the conference. Oh well, I'll try to figure it out again later.

Today was a day very full of fun sponsors' booths, free stuff (from the sponsors' booths) and informational sessions. But VERY LITTLE NUTRITIONALLY VIABLE FOOD. I have realized today how often I eat at home. I have also been heard to say at least twenty times, "I am starving for protein." Breakfast actually turned out to be continental breakfast. Bagels, muffins, danishes, fresh fruit, and juice and coffee. This is not what my body is used to. I wanted eggs. I thought, "well, hopefully there will be something cheesy, perhaps, at snack time?" Nope. Snack time brought huge cookies, water, and soda. I'm very thankful for the water, but skipped the cookies (and I rarely drink soda). Lunch was better. The vegetarian meal was a wrap which included cheese and mushrooms (as well as other tasty veggies and a delectable sauce), along with another fruit salad (I will not complain about or turn down fresh fruit - yum!), a pasta salad, and some dessert (a little piece of some kind of custard/cake thing, and a square of Ghirardelli chocolate - of course, we're in San Francisco, right?). I ate as much as I could, knowing that the next snack would most likely be all carbs or sugar.

They actually surprised me at the next snack time. In both directions. The first thing I saw was candy bars. Which blew me away. There had already been so much sugar out for us to eat today and then they took it to the highest level of concentration! BUT there were also bags of peanuts. I ate one (the nuts, that is, not the bag - snort) and grabbed two more to keep in my bag for when I need them tomorrow. Because now I KNOW I will need to grab as much protein as I can find every time I see it.

But maybe you want to know about the sessions - the actual reason I'm here? (Well, actually another big part of the reason I'm here is to meet these fabulous women).

The first session I attended was about blogging basics. Yes, I've been doing this for a while now, but I have not jumped in and played around with the tools and widgets and all the fun things that are constantly coming into being. I found that I already knew most of what was discussed during that session but it was still a good place to start, and I did learn a couple new things and get some great resources for learning more. There were four presenters in this session but I only go one of their cards. Her name is Michelle Mitchell and her blog is called Scribbit; Motherhood in Alaska, and she knows a lot about using Blogger to create a successful blog.

During the second session I attended (there were looooooooots of options during each time slot) the panel addressed concerns that mommy bloggers have about privacy issues that come up when blogging about our children. We discussed what our biggest fears are that give us pause when we post about our children and one of the panelists gave some perspective about some of it. For example, the top fear among the group was sexual predators getting information from our blogs and finding our children and she gave statistics (I know, 85% of statistics are made up on the spot. Heh.) which, if they can be believed, show that predators are going to take the easy route. That would be to try to get to kids who live where they live. It's much more work to stalk a family on the internet and go find them. Makes sense. Panelists also gave differing points of view on the matters discussed and shared what their different practices/policies are when it comes to blogging about their children. Crystal is irreverent and hilarious and lets it all hang out, whereas Ms. Lowe is a more private blogger and does not show pictures of her children's faces, which she says has made her become a more thoughtful photographer. She also has a funny post up right now in which she recounts her difficulty not sneezing during a conversation with Emily Posts's great-great-granddaughter Anna Post, who is apparently here. I noticed some Emily Post kids' books and wondered about them; will have to stop by that booth tomorrow.

As I walked out of the second session I was pulled into an American Heart Association class on infant CPR. Of course my kids are no longer infants but the AHA folks were quite insistent and I figured, "my kids aren't the only ones I might need to learn CPR for," so I went in to check it out. They gave each of us an Infant CPR Anytime Personal Learning Program, which is a boxed kit containing reading materials, an instructional DVD, and an inflatable infant CPR doll. The idea is that you can buy one of these kits and learn basic CPR at home, which I think is brilliant. Since Sweet Pea was born I have wanted Slipshod and I to take a CPR class but we have never gotten around to it because the courses are day-long deals. Tomorrow the American Heart Association is doing an adult/child CPR class during one of the breaks and I really want to take that one, since it is relevant to the ages of my children. And adults. The ages of the people I'm around on a regular basis.

The last session I attended was very powerful for me. The subject discussed was body image and how we instill good body images in our children despit all the other influences they're getting from TV, magazines, billboards, other kids, etc. Some of the moms who stood up to ask questions or share their experiences talked about situations they're dealing with with raising their 10-year-old and older daughters and it made me flash forward and get very scared and concerned about how Slipshod and I will deal with this with our daughters.

The wonderful and oft-mentioned Mochamomma was on this panel, as was Tracee Sioux. I did not get the fourth panelist's name or card, but everyone's input was great. Obviously I'm putting all these links in here for you to check out, but if you have a daughter I particularly encourage you to check out Tracee's site. She is very outspoken about empowering our daughters and has oodles of resources and insight to share.

After the session I spoke with the panel moderator, Laurie Toby Edison of Body Impolitic, who has a daughter who is just 4 years younger than I am, to thank her for the great session and I told her that after all the discussion I felt rather emotional and scared for the future. She reiterated to me a point she had made during the discussion, which was that you have to tell your kids over and over and OVER and OVER until you're sick of your own voice what you want them to learn and know. But more importantly, you have to let them know they are loved. And they will want to learn and know. It sounds simple but it was very comforting. It also helped, after getting caught up in the discussion, to remember that even though it seems like the kids grow too quickly, right now we're not there. Right now we're dealing with kindergarten (well, when school starts) and potty training. We'll focus there for now. :o)

After the third session we all gathered back in the big meeting hall and twenty two folks read excerpts from their blogs. It was a lot of fun to hear them read their posts out loud. Some were sad, some were angry, some dealt with very serious personal difficulty, and some were hilarious.

Dinner? I opted to eat all the vegetarian food I could find at the cocktail party at Ruby Skye (a club down the street). It was slim pickins downstairs and I was so starved for protein that I choked down a little piece of chicken to get me through. Upstairs I found more options and ate quite a few rich little mushroom pastries. Yum. Wish I had some here in my room.

Now I am not one for clubs or loud techno music or huge parties with lots of alcohol, but I went to the cocktail party with Christina and met more people and handed out more cards and noted mildly out loud the predominant caucasian presence at this conference (other locals and I think it feels strange since we're used to more a diverse demographic).

Aside from meeting and chatting with more folks and trying to see the ones I knew, I had a mission at the cocktail party. That was to find and squee at and hug Queen of Spain's husband the Kaiser, who I have not seen in 4 years, and who, now that I have done the math, I realize I have known for TWENTY THREE years. Dang, that's a long time!

That done, I returned here, purportedly to hit the hay early, but you know what I'm really doing. Though if I hadn't been waiting all night for my husband to call (dead cell phone, remember? Figure it's cheaper for him to call me than for me to call out from the hotel), which he is apparently not going to do, I might have gone to bed earlier. Aren't you glad I didn't? :oP

Country Mouse in the Big City

Water pressure is a wonderful thing. I think I took my shower this morning in record time (for me) due to the fabulous water pressure. Of course, it also helped that I'm the only person using this bathroom and I'm not taking care of two little girls while showering.

Last night I fell asleep around midnight on what my body reports to be a VERY comfortable bed. I woke up at 5:55am in the same position I went to sleep in, but my back doesn't hurt at all! Imagine. I intended to sleep another hour but the tens of doors slamming shut down the hall around 6am pretty much killed that idea so I laid there until close to 6:30 just enjoying the luxury of not having to get up and take care of children. It occurred to me that if I took my shower and got dressed quickly I might have time to check in on here, so I was done getting ready by 7am and here I am.

The Westin St. Francis is definitely the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in (in this country, anyway; there was the fabulous Flodigarry Hotel on the Isle of Skye in Scotland). By 11:30 last night, exhausted after the stress of finishing up my packing at home, saying goodbye to my family (who I never leave), getting here, and then meeting kazillions of women and talking with them, I could barely stand up. I made myself go back downstairs toward (I say "toward" because I only got as far as the hallway - never even figured out where the party was) the People's Party because it occurred to me that I had no idea where to go this morning. All the agenda says is "breakfast," and I wanted to know WHERE. Nobody else knew either, though, so I'll just go down to the lobby and check like everybody else. :o)

When I say "down," that's 10 floors down. I'm on the 11th floor and the (newbie) party where I spent most of my time last night was on the, get this, THIRTY SECOND FLOOR. I made the mistake of squishing myself toward the windows (the compartment was packed) in the elevator on the way up. Even though I was careful to look toward the door that would eventually open and deliver me back onto solid flooring, I kept catching bits of skyline in my peripheral vision, slipping further and further below. EEP!

The first two people I saw last night were friends - Christina from A Mommy Story and Erin from Queen of Spain. It was really nice to see them right off the bat. Christina is being so wonderful about reassuring me about everything. She remembers how overwhelmed she was the first time she did this. We were going to party hop together but I really wanted to go to the newbie party so we parted ways with the intention of finding each other at the People's Party, but as you know I never made it there... did end up riding the elevator up with Christina, though. :o) I had a great time meeting new people at the Newbie Party and nearly lost my voice talking to them, it was so loud. There were so many people there! I've already got at least 20 business cards and have given out as many of my own. Maybe I should have had more than 100 printed...

Skipping back to the evening: Leaving home was difficult. Sweet Pea, who until then had appeared nonchelant about my leaving, burst into tears as I was readying to leave the house. She just wanted to hug me and hug me. I started to wonder if she'd been such a pill for the previous two days because she didn't want me to leave. Seems entirely possible - why didn't I think of that at the time? Now I feel bad, even though I did everything I could to prepare her for this.

The Bug was totally laid back about me leaving, which surprised me to no end. "Bye bye, Mommy!" she yelled as she waved me off. I called home when I arrived at the hotel and somehow she knew it was me. "MOMMY!" she squealed in the background. Slipshod put his phone on speaker and as soon as The Bug heard me she lost it. She started sobbing and the longer she could hear me the harder she cried. Sweet Pea was all chipper and happy to talk to me. I told Slipshod that today when I call, it's probably best not to let the little one hear my voice.

I miss my family so much. They're probably waking up right now, and I sincerely hope the girls are able to wake their daddy to take care of them. :o)

The BlogHer pre-conference guides were wonderfully detailed so I feel like I packed everything I needed EXCEPT for one thing. I wish I had brought granola bars or something. I only had two bites at the cocktail party last night and went to bed hungry. Now, of course, I'm even hungrier and can't wait for breakfast!

Well, I'm off to find out about breakfast. Don't know if there will be time to come back up to the room so I guess I need to take the computer downstairs with me.

Have a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tomorrow's BlogHer!

You might think that since I'm going to a conference about blogging this week, I might just... I don't know, UPDATE my blog? Obviously not.

There have been exciting things afoot around here, but mostly I just can't even get packed because I'm trying to do that AND take care of the kids. If I were working outside the home I would be a horrible, bitchy wreck every single day, I'm sure of it. I have huge mommy guilt because I keep ignoring the kids to get my own stuff done - and then I'm not really getting it done because I *am* attending to their needs (and I get distracted far too easily in general).

On top of that Slipshod and I are ogling houses for sale that are posted on the internet. It is really fun to look at all the pictures and sometimes we drive by them as well. Last Sunday Slipshod even took Sweet Pea out for part of the day and then went to FIVE open houses! Sweet Pea now demands that our new house must have a pool. ha ha! We'll see about that. It's a possibility but maybe not a probability.

I'm so excited about going to BlogHer tomorrow but have not put a single item of clothing (or anything else) into a suitcase. The main days of the BlogHer conference are Saturday and Sunday with a full day of "unconference" on Sunday (which I am not attending) but I am going up to the City tomorrow night because there are lots of parties going on in the evening, including a newbie mixer which I plan to attend. AND I don't want to be doing the commute BARTing Friday morning and trying to get my butt there and checked in at 8am. Bleh!

I am going to miss the kids SO much. Sweet Pea says she will miss me too, but she's very accepting of what's going on. The Bug was initially just saying, "no." when I would talk to her about me going away for a few days, but now she seems to understand somewhat and said to Slipshod last night, in a nearly-crying voice, "I wanna stay with you, Daddy, when Mommy goes bye bye." He assured her that he and Sweet Pea will both be here with her, and I assured her that I would be coming back after I'm done with the conference. She sniffled, "okay..."

Of note on a completely different subject: I have been working out on our elliptical machine very close to every day for the past four weeks. To my dismay the number on the scale has not changed. AT ALL. However, the number on the scale is the least impressive feat of exercise as far as I'm concerned (it's just the easiest to measure, so it does have some impact on my enthusiasm). I *feel* better and have noticed a big increase in my energy level. My legs & bootie are firming up. Today I took my measurements (just bust, waist & hips - should measure legs & arms too, to see more change) with the intention of comparing them against the measurements I took the first week I was exercising. Then I couldn't find my old measurements for a couple hours and was really bummed because I wanted to be able to see if I had made any improvements. While e-mailing my sister to tell her I couldn't find the old measurements, I looked next to my monitor on my desk and saw the old page. I am happy to be able to say that I have lost 2 inches off my waist and 7/8 of an inch off my hips. Slipshod will be thrilled to know that I have not lost any inches off my bustline. ha ha ha! I look forward to getting stronger and more fit but right now I'm just happy to be active again! :o)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Good Morning

Well, it's Tuesday morning. I'm still trying to feel "back to normal." At first I thought I was feeling this way because of our 4-day family vacation, but it shouldn't take a whole week to get back to normal after that. Especially since I unpacked us and washed all the dirty clothes from our trip as soon as we got home. I think part of the way I feel has to do with being locked inside the house to avoid the smoke from all those fires, but mostly I think it's because it's summer and we never settled into a new routine after Sweet Pea got out of school. We just pretty much hit the ground running, and now we're continuing to blunder from one thing to the next. Whenever we have a day with no plans, I try to keep working on keeping the house clean and making cleaning improvements before Sweet Pea's birthday party. Whee...

Here are some pictures from Asilomar, and then I'll chat about other things.

The first two days we were at Asilomar were quite warm so we enjoyed some time at the beach before dinner each night.

So we got there on a Friday, hiked a lot and narrowly avoided getting hit by lightning on Saturday, and on Sunday Sweet Pea was still completely exhausted from all the hiking she'd done on Saturday. She fell asleep at dinner.

I can't remember what I had told her "no" about, but The Bug was not happy. But I think it's a great picture. ha ha!

My family is very musical. My brother has played guitar since high school and every time we get together, if we can get our hands on a guitar (we borrowed this one from friends b/c my bro didn't want to take his guitar on an airplane from VA), he plays and we all sing. It's fun. Sweet Pea is exposed to a lot of music at school - one of her teachers plays guitar, they sing every day, and they have a dedicated music teacher come in on Thursdays. The Bug, however, upon hearing my brother start to play the guitar and sing, stood up, looking around wildly, and yelled, "IS THERE A TV IN HERE?!" I was a little mortified at that. Maybe I should learn to play a musical instrument. hee hee...

A lot of my thought these days is going toward preparing for BlogHer. I'm a total newbie, never been to a conference, my blog is (at this point, anyway - don't know whether or not I'll change it - I might get inspired) not about making money with ads or attracting zillions of readers, so I'm interested to see what I'll learn and come away from the conference with. But right now I'm just worrying about what to take to wear, how I get from BART to the Westin (it's a three block walk but I did the Google street view and I am rather certain that if I don't have a map I will get lost), and other little things like that.

I am very thankful that Megan at Velveteen Mind posted specifically to newbies about how we'll need cards to hand out - and she even procured a discount for us from! Christina at A Mommy Story is going to put up a post soon, again for newbies, to tell us what to expect at the conference. YAY and thank you, ladies!

I still need to procure a nice sweater for the event, SF being what it is weather-wise and all, and I'd also like to buy a certain pair of shoes and if I can't find my license plate purses before the conference (they're still packed but I don't know where, argh) I may also purchase a small Basura Bag to use as a funky purse.

I'm still dreading leaving the kids for three nights. I know I am going to have a lot of fun and it will be really good for me to get away from home and do something for JUST ME. Furthermore, I know that Slipshod will take good care of the girls on the Friday of the conference and they'll have a lot of fun that night and all day Saturday with the added presence of their Grandma S and Boopa. But I've never left them like this before, so it's a big unknown and somewhat heart wrenching for me to think of leaving them for that long. Especially since I'm going to have to leave them after dinner on Thursday at the BART station. The Bug is really not going to like that. Sigh.

Oh well. I'm going to have a lot of fun and I'm very excited that Christina and I have already made a date to party hop together on Thursday night. Yay!

In the mean time, I am on a mission to prepare the house for Sweet Pea's birthday party as well as work out the details of food and helium for the balloons before I leave, so that when I come home I won't have to freak out and work like crazy that last week before the party.


After the conference and the birthday party, I am hoping to FINALLY locate all of my soapmaking stuff in the garage, order what I need (the solid oils - palm & coconut), and get back into soapmaking, for fun, to get a jump on Christmas presents for the family, and possibly to teach as well - some members of my local chapter of the Holistic Moms Network have asked me to teach them how to make soap. Should be fun!
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