Tag Archives: bloggers

A Blissdom Series: The Sessions

For those of you who didn’t attend that conference I keep talking about last weekend (Should I say it one more time?? Ok, Blissdom!) I promise this is my last post about it! 

Then I’ll continue sharing photos of my kids…I mean, who doesn’t want to see the Little Man with an Easter Bunny? 

I enjoyed most of the sessions I was able to attend this weekend, but there were really only 2 who stuck with me the most. It would have been 3 had I not forgot my camera to the Rock Your Camera session! 

I want to share these speakers with you briefly because I think they’re worth sharing. I know my small 800 word blog post can’t possibly do their talks justice, so I’m not even going to try to explain their keynote sessions, but more introduce you to these 2 men that might inspire you as much as they did me. 

Jon Acuff
One of my favorite quotes from this weekend: When you refuse to hide your scars, they become a lighthouse for someone else so they don’t crash into the same rocks.

This is why I started blogging. So you can imagine he got my attention. I wanted to start a blog that would help others along their path to motherhood, and it was through blogging I discovered that my journey through motherhood wasn’t unique, but it was the commonality that would bring a connection between me and my readers. 

And what’s been hindering my blog and my writing? Fear. He stated, 1 insult + 100,000 compliments = 1 insult. And it’s so true. I’ve changed my voice, changed my topics, and changed the direction of my writing so many times so that others would “like me.” (No internet pun intended.) 

I was afraid that if I showed my true voice my biggest fear would emerge; that I’m not important. But what I walked away from his talk with is that Fear wouldn’t exist if what I was doing weren’t important. When we take the easy path, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s when we’re doing something important that Fear begins to show it’s face. 

So, just like his new book…I’m going to Punch Fear in the Face

So is he credible? Jon is a best selling author, popular blogger and public speaker for Dave Ramsey’s team. In his new book, Start, he teaches the road to being awesome and guides you out of your boring day job and towards helping make your dreams a reality. 

Thanks to Blissdom, we received an early release copy just for attendees, and from what I’ve read so far…it’s AWESOME!

You’re going to start to notice a theme…

Scott Stratten
I have to be honest, when I heard the opening Keynote Speaker was going to be a “Business lecture,” I instantly recoiled. It was Friday morning. I’d been up since 6am. I did NOT want to listen to some boring talk about ways to be a better business woman. 

Oh man. 

I was so wrong!! 

His latest book is The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business UnAwesome. And already you’re probably thinking, How does this relate to a SAHM?

Well, it doesn’t relate to me as a SAHM, but it does relate to the brand I’m trying to build; myself! 

He gave this amazing example during his Keynote about the Ritz-Carlton. While staying at their hotel, his son lost his favorite stuffed animal. And when he called up the manager to see if they’d found it the manager offered to mail it back to him. Upon explaining to his son that his stuffed animal wasn’t lost, he was on an “extended vacation” and he’d be returning home soon. 

The next day he’d received the stuffed animal…but it didn’t stop there. The management team decided to prove to his son that his animal was in fact on a vacation, so they took photos of him by the pool, in the spa, and even earning his stay by working for the hotel (with employee ID badge and all!)

What he learned is that the Ritz-Carlton logo and brand wasn’t what the PR and Marketing team spent months creating and perfecting, it was in the management team that went above and beyond. They were the image he’d have in his head the next time he went to choose a hotel. 

That’s what I need to be…it’s not in my logo or the homepage of my blog. It’s about who I am in the community, on twitter, and the respect I give to those around me in person. That’s my brand and who I want to be.

* * * * * *
And in keeping with my new “brand” of being a better listener, engager, and member of the mom community, I want to introduce you to some more amazing moms I met this weekend that I plan on supporting in the future!



WellRounded Home.com

A Blissdom Series: The People

I’d have to say that one of my favorite parts of Blissdom this past weekend were the people I met. 
Borrowed from OSPinteresting‘s Instagram. 
Unlike most people, I don’t have “famous” bloggers I dream of meeting. There are definitely blogs that I follow who have thousands and thousands of followers, but I know these women are just like me. They’re stay at home moms (or working moms) who are just writing about their children and passions. Somewhere along the way, they probably shared some of their best writing or most interesting posts and created a following, but does that make you “famous”? 

For me, I follow these women because I want to know that I’m not alone and there are others out there who enjoy writing as a way of documenting their life or escaping from their day. So, at Blissdom, I wasn’t there to see some famous faces (I probably wouldn’t even recognize their faces or know their real names!) I was there to be surrounded by women who are like me, and that’s exactly what I achieved! 

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I showed up at the Newcomer’s Meet and Greet on Thursday night, and I was prepared to stand in a corner watching everyone else run up to their friends. 

But instead, the exact opposite happened. I walked through the doors of the ballroom, and instantly a community leader walked up to me, grabbed me by the hand, and started introducing me to other people. 

And once I got more comfortable saying hello and introducing myself, I began running into people I knew and friends that they knew. 

On the first night, I walked away with over 8 businesses cards of new bloggers that I wanted to get to know more. 

When the weekend was over, I walked away with a folder full of new business cards, but I also walked away with (what I hope will be) the start of some true friendships! Even if they are just online.

Here are just a few of the amazing women I got to know better this weekend! 
Maybe you’ll have something in common with them too! 

And of course, I couldn’t fit everyone onto one page, so continue reading my Blissdom Series posts, I’ll make sure to add more great bloggers at the end of each one! 

A Blissdom Series: Blissdom vs. BlogHer

This weekend was life changing.

I feel like I’ve said this before, but I guess I say that after leaving a lot of conferences because when you choose the right one’s you leave feeling uplifted, inspired, and rejuvenated. And that’s the way I felt after leaving the Blissdom Conference this weekend. 

I have so much to process and think through (which I’ll share in later posts), and hopefully implement in the future! But for now, the one thing my brain wants to process first  . . .how does Blissdom compare to BlogHer? 

It’s so completely different . . .but similar at the same time! 

After working through some of my mental notes, I realized there are 4 major differences, and I’m not quite sure if those differences are good or bad. So you tell me! 

BlogHer and Blissdom both begin with registration and sponsor booths on Thursday with the actual conference kicking off on Friday and running through Saturday. 

Both start with a breakfast; although at BlogHer some of the breakfasts are “by invitation only” or for newcomers only. Blissdom provides breakfast on both days. 

BlogHer is very intense with sessions running back to back with very few breaks. There’s usually a short 30 minute break in the morning, a short break in the afternoon while they set up for the Closing Keynote, and of course a longer break for lunch (which is provided both days); however, there’s usually a notable keynote speaker during lunch so although you’re “resting” you’re still processing. 

Blissdom is the opposite of this. Blissdom classes only last an hour. With fewer, shorter sessions, they allow for longer and more frequent breaks. Meals are done on your own; with the exception of lunch on Friday.   

The benefit of Blissdom is there’s more time to visit the sponsor booths, meet new people and have conversations with other bloggers, and enjoy some down time before heading off to the next session or event. The downside is there can often be too many breaks. 

By the end of the day Saturday, the breaks seemed to get longer and longer; especially once all the sponsors had been visited. This might discourage people from staying as there was a lot of sitting around waiting for the final Keynote. 

BlogHer and Blissdom are very similar with how they run their sessions. Both have “tracks” that you can choose to follow. 

Blissdom has 4; Photography, Writing, Life Development, and Business. 

BlogHer gets a little more specific with The Personal, The Political, The Professional, The Technical, The Writing, and The Visual; plus a few other “personal” tracks like The Geek Bar and Room of Your Own. 

Both bring in experts of their fields to speak in these sessions; however, BlogHer chooses to use a panel of experts in most of the sessions rather than a solo speaker like Blissdom.

Blissdom offers time to process in each session with handouts and Q&A, where as BlogHer plans in Q&A, but length of content sometimes doesn’t allow for it. 

This is where I discovered the drastic difference between the two conferences. 

BlogHer attendees are very introverted. Although you’re among thousands of women who do the same thing you do, you’ll often find it difficult to meet other people. In my opinion, the atmosphere of BlogHer is every woman for herself. 

Blissdom is not this at all! From the moment I walked through the doors of the Newcomer Meet N’ Greet, I felt welcome. There were community leaders there to make me feel at home and wanted, and that lead the way to an amazing weekend. Women walked up to me to introduce themselves, and these women introduced me to others. 

During breaks as I was meeting new people, I felt that women were open and honest and supportive of my goal and saw the benefit of communicating with one another. 

After Hours

I’m sure you’ve heard about the parties of BlogHer! Well, what you’ve heard is true! BlogHer parties are hoppin’ . . .IF you’re invited to them

BlogHer after hours parties are all exclusive with the exception of the few parties that are hosted at the hotel/convention center by BlogHer. 

Huge brands like Hasbro, Mattel, Bravado, etc. will all rent out large facilities and event centers to host “by invitation only” breakfasts, cocktail hours, and dance parties where they’ll throw amazing swag at you; so much you’re expected to bring an extra suitcase to ship everything home. The more brand parties you’re invited to, the more popular of a blogger you are!

Blissdom, once again, does the opposite. They don’t believe in segregation. Brands throw parties . . .but they’re for everyone. Sponsors will have suites during Blissdom, but they’re not private. Everything is designed to make you feel like you’re important and not a nobody. 

In the End. . .
Both conferences are beneficial and helpful to bloggers, but what expectations you go in with are different. I, personally, was looking for in BlogHer what I found in Blissdom. 

If you want to attend a conference and be with some of the best in their “blogging fields”, BlogHer will get you there. With amazing and informative sessions lead by some great speakers, you won’t be disappointed in the knowledge you’ve gained. 

If you want to attend a conference to feel like you’re a part of a loving community, Blissdom is the place for you. You won’t have as focused tracks (or a suitcase of swag), but you’ll leave feeling inspired and important. 

Have you attended both BlogHer and Blissdom?
 What were your thoughts of the conferences? 

First Time for Bliss

This time tomorrow night I’ll be at a Newcomer’s Meet and Greet at Blissdom; a premier conference for women and bloggers. 

I’ve been so wrapped up in my small world of poppy diapers and tantrum-throwing toddlers that it didn’t actually dawn on me until tonight that the conference is actually this weekend! And not even the weekend, but tomorrow!! 

As I’m reading the Twitter feed of all the ladies who are attending, it’s helping make it more and more real. Women flying in from all over the country talking about what they’ll be wearing and who they’ll be meeting up with. I can’t wait to show up and begin meeting new people, and the best part, actually being able to stimulate my mind! 

But to be honest, all of this talk makes me a tad jealous. 

You see, one of the benefits of living in Dallas is that I can attend the conference very easily. It’s only a 30 minute drive to Grapevine so the drive is simple. And, it was also a lot easier to persuade my husband to let me leave the newborn at home! 

I’ll be able to attend the sessions in peace without having to worry about a hungry, crying baby; take notes, participate in meaningful conversation, and learn a little something from experts. 

But of course, him not being with me is the downside to the conference being in Dallas. 

Any other year, I would have found a friend and booked a room at the Gaylord with everyone else so that I could feel like I was getting the true conference experience, but with a 2 month old, I just couldn’t do it. So while the other women are getting a weekend of pampering and relaxation, I’ll be driving out to Grapevine every morning in traffic, participating in Blissdom, then enjoying the car ride home anticipating the needs of a crying baby. 

Although I’m “getting away” for the weekend, I’m not truly “getting away!”

But that’s okay…I’ll take what I can get. And that’s several days of fun and bliss; even if it is only until 5! 

**You can join in on the fun too by following me via Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!**

Will you be at Blissdom this year? 

Make sure to find me at one of the sessions! 

Here’s a peek at my schedule: 

A #FebruaryFete by Cascade Ice Water

Media Events are one of the perks of being a blogger. You’re often the first to be introduced to a new marketing campaign or asked to experience some great new products. I don’t always write about my Media Events, but sometimes there are products that I get really excited about and just can’t wait to share them with you. 

Cascade Ice Water is one of those products! 

Last week, I headed to Frederic Fekkai Salon in Highland Park Village to join other bloggers and media for a #FebruaryFete sponsored by Cascade Ice Water. 

We were lured in with nails, hair, and make-up, 
and then once through the door, tempted with cocktails and desserts. 

I started the evening with a Cascade Ice Cosmopolitan. 
Made with the Zero Calorie Cosmopolitan Mixer and Vodka, this cocktail was under 60 calories and free of sugar, gluten, sodium and carbohydrates!

I was really skeptical before I took a sip because I’m just not a fan of artificial sweeteners like Equal and NutraSweet; however, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. 

Cascade Ice uses sucrose (Splenda) in their drinks to make it non-caloric which still isn’t ideal, but I’m not planning on drinking these every day so in moderation is fine with me. 

After I’d munched on five one or two desserts, I made my way over to get my hair smoothed out. 
Honestly, my hair is about as smooth as it gets, so the poor Fekkai stylist gave me a brief touch-up and curled my hair instead. 

(Apparently by hair is my best side.) 
Then before having my nails done, I grabbed their second cocktail of the night; 
Cascade Ice Margarita.

(Starting to doubt whether my face if photo worthy…)

The Margarita is slightly higher at 110 calories compared to the skinny Cosmo, but when compared to a normal on-the-rocks margarita with over 400 calories…no comparison!

And it genuinely tasted like a Margarita!

Once again, I can typically taste artificial sweeteners, but I was amazed at how well these cocktails were able to hide the taste of the Splenda! 
(And hide the alcohol too!)

But Cascade Ice isn’t just about the cocktails. 

With over 31 different flavors of sparkling water including a few that are USDA Organic, there’s a little something for everyone’s pallet.

If your interested in trying Cascade Ice Sparkling Water, head to your local Albertsons, Sprouts, or Market Street and browse the shelves. Explore some different flavors, but if you need a suggestion my favorites were the Peach Mango and Strawberry Lemonade! 

Then, once you’ve picked up some Cascade Ice, here’s some recipes you should give a try! 

Cascade Ice Cosmopolitan
1. In a 16oz mixer cup half full of ice, add juice of an Orange and Lime wedge with 1 & 1/4oz of vodka.
2. Add 4oz of Cosmopolitan Mixer.
3. Shake gently or stir aggressively and strain contents into an 8oz Martini glass. 
4. Garnish with a floating orange wheel and when in season drop 4-6 fresh cranberries in the bottom of the martini glass.

Tropical Rum Cocktail
1. Combine 1/2 c. white rum (chilled), 1/2 c. frozen pineapple, 1/2 banana (chilled), 1 c. Cascade Ice Peach Mango, and 4-5 ice cubes in a blender. 
2. Blend until smooth. 
3. Pour in two glasses and garnish with a slice of fresh peach or other fresh fruit. 

Grapefruit Chargers (Non-Alcoholic)

1. Mix 6oz of Pink Grapefruit with 3oz of club soda. 
2. Squeeze in some lime wedges for a zesty kick! 
3.Garnish with small grapefruit wedges and you’re ready to serve!

What do you think?
Is this a drink you’d give a try?

*I wasn’t paid or compensated for this review of Cascade Ice; however, I’d be more than happy to accept compensation if they felt desired to do so! The opinions expressed in this blog post are 100% my own! Salon photos courtesy of Emilia Gaston.

Last Minute Gifts for Mom (& In Time For Christmas!)

Still struggling with what to get the “Mom” in your life? 

With only 5 days still Christmas, you’re not to late to find some amazing gifts that will bring a smile to her face on Christmas morning. 

Here’s some of my favorite Christmas gift ideas that aren’t too late to either be shipped or purchased locally. 

And Remember: You can order gifts through Amazon.com by Friday, December 21st 6pm CST to receive your items by Christmas Eve! 

For the Cook
(Nest is located on McKinney at Knox in Uptown Dallas!) 
For the “Fashionista”
(Simply Adorable Jewelry is locally owned and operated, and carries many of the same items as Charming Charlie’s! Contact Jessica for information on how to make purchases before Christmas!)
For the Organizer

For the Blogger
For the Mom Who Just Needs Help

KneeBouncers.com is currently offering 20% off their memberships; that’s 1 full year for $44! 

Find out more about this AWESOME site on my Dallas Moms Blog Review

(My Little Man can’t get enough of it!) 

Subscriptions to make a mom’s life easier, and when great deals come along, you can’t pass them up! Other subscription ideas would be to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas Arboretum, and the Dallas Zoo! 

What’s that one special Mom gift you’re hoping will show up under the tree this Christmas? 

Our Christmas Card for 2012

I LOVE Christmas Cards! 

They’re not only fun to give, but they’re fun to receive! 
Our 2012 Christmas Card by Shutterfly.

I don’t know about you, but every day you’ll see me making a mad dash to check our mailbox for any cards that may have been delivered. 

It’s so much fun to see the new family additions, vacation photos, and (now rarely) read about a family’s year in review all coming straight to my front door. 

Way, Way better than Facebook! 

I’m a little sad looking at our Christmas card display this year. It seems that the cards are getting fewer and fewer; for reasons I can’t possibly imagine. So, when The SITS Girls decided to do a Christmas Card link up, I jumped on board. 

If I can’t magically make cards appear in my mailbox, I can at least snoop on other people’s Christmas cards and meet some friendly new faces, and maybe even get some great ideas for next year’s card! 

So, I’ve now shown you mine. . .
won’t you leave me your link so I can see yours? 

And, find out what else we’ve been up to this Holiday Season that wouldn’t fit on this year’s Christmas card:
A Leisurely Morning at Northpark
A Meaningful Christmas Ornament Exchange
Ice at the Gaylord Texan

An (As Normal As Possible) Day In The Life

Over the last few weeks several of my friends have done a “Day in the Life” post about their lives. You always wonder what happens behind closed doors and getting a sneak peak into the homes of some of the moms I admire is refreshing and uplifting.  It’s been so fun to read about how crazy other people’s lives are, and it honestly makes me feel better about mine! I love knowing that my toddler isn’t the only one that throws tantrums by flinging his milk across the room or that I’m normal to use the TV as a baby-sitter when needed. (I told you I wasn’t the only one, so don’t judge!)

Just for fun, I thought I’d give you a peak into my life as a SAHM. I thought it was going to be a fairly normal day, but it’s funny how no day ever really ends up normal! 
7:00am– Like an alarm clock, the Little Man wakes up & is ready to come into our room to veg. Due to a tantrum the night before, he refused to eat a full dinner, so he woke up starving. We grabbed him a glass of milk and a small bowl of Frosted Flakes while he sat on our bed watching Baby Einstein.

8:15am– He heads into his room to turn on Elmo and play while I get ready for the day. I get dressed, grab a bowl of cereal for myself, and sit down to check my DMB email while I have some free time to myself. 

8:45am– Since he really hadn’t eaten the night before, he was ready for breakfast #2. I popped in some mini pancakes and broke up a granola bar for him to sufficiently fill him up. 
9:00am– Now that we’re both ready to get started with our day, we head outside to play only to discovered it’s foggy and misty. We only hang out outside for a few minutes before we head back in and play in his room. We go from cars to coloring to blocks. 

10:00am– After cleaning up the floor, we sat on his “big boy” bed for awhile reading books that he can “read;” mostly pointing to pictures and naming the objects he sees. 

10:20am– I finally manage to sneak away to use the bathroom and when I come back the nicely cleaned bedroom looks something like this. . . 
So, this time I leave it knowing there’s no point in cleaning it up so early in the morning. 

10:35am– We have a surprise visit from the MoPS film crew. We let them into our kitchen to videotape what’s in my pantry, talk about what I’m making for dinner, and show them some of my favorite kitchen secrets. (I say it was a surprise, but I actually knew they were coming. I was just supposed to act surprised!)

10:45am– Time for a snack and diaper change. All morning while we were playing I’d been contemplating a project I saw on Pinterest, and since it was still early in the morning, I decided to head to Home Depot and give it a try. 

11:30am– We got back a little later than I expected, so as soon as I unloaded the car it was time prepare lunch. The Little Man was already pretty hungry, so I whipped up some Easy Mac & Cheese. While he worked on this, I steamed some carrots & peas so he could have a slightly balanced lunch. I somehow managed to heat up my TV dinner while he was eating, so for once we actually ate together. (Normally I find it easier to just wait until his nap time.)

12:00pm– We wrapped up lunch, and since he was in a pretty good mood still, we work on our little project for awhile before it was time for a nap. 

12:45pm– Nap time for him & I throw myself onto the couch to catch up on emails and Private Practice

1:45pm– I finish up our wood-working project and clean up the house a little before I notice him starting to stir in the monitor.  
2:15pm– The Little Man finally wakes up from his nap. We sit down to play with the latches before heading outside. 

2:30pm– The fog has lifted and it’s actually a beautiful day, so we spend awhile outside running in circles and playing on the slide. 

3:00pm– I realize I’d better start heading to the store if I want to make it before traffic begins to build on Coit. We pack and load up into the car and head out. 

3:15pm– I try to get a little business done since I’m out and about. I swing by a local restaurant to talk to the manager about sponsoring our next DMB contributor meeting, but have no luck. I talk with an assistant manager before being given the phone number to the GM. (Note to self: Remember to call during nap time tomorrow!) I load the Little Man back into the car, and we head to Tom Thumb. 

4:00pm– We arrive back at home and this time Yo Gabba Gabba is turned on while I unload the car, fix up a small snack for myself, and once again check emails quickly. After Gabba ends, we once again head back into his bedroom to play for awhile. This time it’s wrestling and flying helicopters. I also manage to clean up the room for the second time without him destroying it. 

5:15pm– Remembering the dog mess he’d stepped in earlier in the day and looking at the Mac & Cheese still visible on his clothes, I decide it’s bath time. In a few minutes, the bubbles are poured and the bath is drawn.

5:20pm– He’s decided he doesn’t want a bath, but a shower. A quick change-up and he spends another 15 minutes playing in the shower. Then, it’s time for a diaper and PJ’s. 

5:45pm– I look at the clock and realize I need to start prepping for dinner, so I pull out a small snack for him and turn on Sesame Street.
6:00pm– Bored already by Sesame Street, he’s in the kitchen looking for something to play with. I give him my empty Penne box. He finds some balloon weights from his 1st birthday, and begins to run around in circles. 

6:15pm– I look in the pantry to for some chicken broth only to find we’re all out. I know Tim’s running late, but I’m hoping maybe he’s left and can swing by the store on his way home. I wait about 5 minutes, and when I don’t get a call, I realize he’s probably still stuck in a meeting.

I quickly turn off the burner, grab the diaper bag, and load the Little Man up into the car and we’re off to Albertson’s. 

7:00pm– Dinner’s about 30 minutes later than I’d expected, and with Tim running late, I set the table for two and we begin eating one of my favorite pasta dishes from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. 

7:15pm– Tim walks through the door to join us for the last half of dinner. We talk about our day, and fortunately, the Little Man’s in a much better mood than he was the night before so he entertains us through the rest of the meal. 

7:30pm– I clean off the table, and let the boys go play. I join them a few minutes later to find another wrestling match going on in his room. Tim then gets guided out to the front yard while I grab a spot on the couch. 

7:55pm– It’s finally storytime and bedtime for the Little Man (almost always done by Tim), and I once again check emails and browse Facebook. 

The rest of the evening is spent watching Modern Family before Tim heads to bed, and I finish up this blog post. 

10:15pm– I almost always try and be in bed by 10:30pm because I know (like an alarm clock), I’ll be up by 7am to do it all again in the morning! (Not to mention the lack of sleep from the 4 times I’ll be up to use the bathroom.)

* * * * * 

If you’re like me and enjoy reading about others’ lives, here’s a few of my favorite bloggers that have posted about a typical day looks like for them:

Mother of 2; stay at home mom & landlord-in-training
Mother of 2 boys, 19 months a part & Founder of Dallas Moms Blog

Perspectives from both John & Sherry; THE DIY gurus & parents of 1

4 different moms describing their days;
a mom of 4, living in a loft downtown, a fitness instructor, & a late-night family.

My Experience as a BlogHer Newbie

I’m not new to the blogging scene. As a matter of fact, I’ve been blogging since 2006, and that was way before it was “cool.” But for me, blogging has always been a way of journaling the story of my life and expressing my thoughts and emotions through writing; especially since we all know my verbal skills are lacking!

It’s only been recently that I thought I’d try and make something more of blogging. . . Enter Dallas Moms Blog. It’s become more than a hobby for me; I can definitely see myself writing for this site for a long time to come, which is why I’d decided to attend this year’s BlogHer conference in New York. 

I first discovered BlogHer when they began to recognize several of my blog posts on my personal site by featuring them on BlogHer Moms. (First in January, then again in April.) I’d been slightly participating in BlogHer up until that point, but really began to feel validated as a writer by being featured. This encouraged me to starting looking at my blog not just as a journal, but as a platform. 

The more I got involved in BlogHer, the more I realized I wanted to learn as much as possible about the world of blogging to attract more readers to my The T-Shirt Mama site and be able to write more interesting posts for Dallas Moms Blog. 

So, this past weekend, I found myself at my first BlogHer conference! 

For those of you who might not know what a BlogHer conference is or haven’t attended one before, this post is for you! I honestly searched the internet looking for all the helpful advice I could find before attending, and I still felt under prepared. Hopefully, this inside look will give you a better idea of what it’s like to attend a BlogHer conference, and give you some idea of whether or not you’d like to attend next year in Chicago!

Being my first conference, I chose not to attend the Pathfinder Day. (To be honest, I’m still not quite sure what it is, but now that I have my BlogHer feet wet, I might attend next year to discover more.)  Instead, I met up with Steph from City Moms Blog for lunch, and picked her brain on what to expect. And I’m so thankful I did because it really helped me understand what the sponsors were expecting from the bloggers. 

Thursday night I attended the Evening at the Expo. Imagine any Expo you’ve ever attended, and that’s Evening at the Expo. Sponsors and exhibitors are lined up in a large conference room (At BlogHer, it’s 4 large conference rooms), and they’re there to pitch to you. They want you to hear about their new products and offers hoping that you’ll help them promote. In exchange, you’re building relationships with them in hopes to build your “brand.” 
I spent almost an hour walking around and only made it through one floor of the Expo. And that was rushing! 

It was also at this Expo that I was able to grab my first BlogHer swag bag, and boy did it get filled! 

For Newbies: Thursday night is your opportunity to scope everything out. Bring lots of business cards and expect your swag bag to be extremely heavy by the time you leave. Don’t feel the need to grab freebies that you won’t end up using, and pay careful attention to all the fliers. Many have offers on them which require you to just send a simple email, and you’ll have easy connections with the company. 

Friday & Saturday
Anyone is welcome, but BlogHer hosted a Newbie breakfast that I attended. The food was good, but the room was packed with people! I arrived about 10 minutes early to stand in line, and I wasn’t even near the beginning. 

I was thankful to have someone to sit by, but I quickly found that most people come on their own. I wasn’t alone in feeling alone! 

For Newbies: Don’t worry if you arrive slightly late to any of the meals. They don’t cut off the food until the end! But don’t be surprised if seats are hard to come by. For several meals, I walked out and found many conference-goers sitting on the floor and in the lobby. And don’t be afraid to sit by new people! That’s what you’re there for!  

The rest of the day was spent in sessions. I attended several that would help me with both my personal blog and Dallas Moms Blog; including a brief review of HTML and how to effectively use Facebook & Twitter. 

Many of the more technical sessions were crammed with people, and if I didn’t arrive early, I found myself sitting on the floor. Even still, I found the speakers to be loud enough that it didn’t cause me to lose out on the session. 

In between sessions, and when I could find the time, I continued to rush through the Expo to try and build brand connections. I also made my way upstairs to the suites where several companies had set up shop. 

These were my favorite way of meeting people because it was typically a lot less crowded, and there was more time to visit and discuss any questions you had about products. 

Visiting with a dermatologist one-on-one about rosacea and other skin care questions. 

 Each suite did an amazing job decorating to fit their theme and brand! Hershey/Walmart turned their entire room into a camping ground complete with campfire and s’mores. Which (by the way) I’ve been craving ever since! 

Lunch time on Friday and Saturday was a unique experience! The Hilton did an amazing job ushering almost 5,000 bloggers through almost 8 buffet lines.

 It all seemed very unorganized and chaotic, but surprisingly we made it through really quickly, and even found a seat in time to hear. . .  Martha Stewart!

Martha was the keynote speaker on Friday, and did an amazing job of making the audience feel empowered by their use of the internet. She discussed her personal experience with using blogs, e-magazines, Facebook, and Twitter. She even revealed that Twitter is probably her favorite platform. 

Saturday was more of the same. Sessions and a keynote speech from Katie Couric. 

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the Voices of the Year ceremony after the session had ended. My pregnant body had given up on me by this point, and I had to force myself to head back to the hotel. 

For Newbies: Each day of the conference, I highly recommend not overwhelming yourself with feeling like you have to do everything! The most valuable part of the conference is the sessions. Plan those out first, then fill your time with the sponsors, Expo, and other off-campus activities. The more involved you get, the more overwhelmed you get! 

At one point on Saturday, I just accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to get every free object to be had. I wasn’t going to be able to attended every session. I also didn’t need to feel bad if I had to stop and rest instead of heading to a party. 

The Parties

Being that it was my first year, I felt honored to be invited by Hasbro to attend their sneak-peak party on Friday night. (Apparently it’s one of the parties to go to, and now I know why!) Since it was the only one I was invited to, I wanted to make sure I attended. 

The first 300 people to arrive were given a swag bag, and I’m happy I arrived 30 minutes early because the line was already about 70 people deep.  

Although standing in 90 degree NYC heat for thirty minutes wasn’t ideal, it was in line, that I met some great bloggers like Rachel Marie Martin of Finding Joy and Jenn Perry of Daze of Adventure who offered to let me hang with them since I was clearly alone. :) 

Being pregnant, I knew I couldn’t keep with them, so I ended up grabbing my glass of water, and finding a table where I had a great view of the party. 

I walked away with over $100 worth of Hasbro products (to put in the top of the closet until my son is old enough!) and some great memories! 

For Newbies: When attending parties, they expect you to participate and be a part of the fun. If you’re expecting to go and just show up for the free goodies, you’ve got another thing coming…they make you work for them! Pictures like these may even surface the next day. :) 

Overall, I had a great experience at BlogHer, and I don’t even feel like I fully participated. As you may already know, I cheated slightly by bringing my husband along just in case it wasn’t what I expected. But it was way more!

A big THANK YOU to Stephanie who helped me so much this trip. Without her, I never would have known about the BlogHer Conference Planning Guide and all the other little tips she gave me a long the way. I also appreciate her letting me tag along as she presented City Moms Blog to potential sponsors. I learned so much, and I can’t WAIT to attend BlogHer ’13! 

For Newbies: 
My last few pieces of advice:

  • Apparently the internet never works correctly at BlogHer. If you bring your laptop to the sessions, and can’t log in within the first hour, don’t bother bringing your computer to a session again. It’s not worth the weight on your shoulder, and most of the sessions were posted online afterwards anyway. I just took notes! 
  • No joke. Pack a suitcase inside a suitecase. You’ll need it for all the extra items you bring home or you have the option of shipping. 
  • Speak up! When you sit down at a session, turn to the person to your left and then your right and introduce yourself. It’s the best way to meet new people, and discover weird coincidences! 
    • For example, at the Newbie breakfast a random stranger sat down next to me. She just happened to be rooming with Jenny (a fellow DMB writer!). 
    • Also, standing in line at the Hasbro party, I never would have known I was standing in front of the original author of “Dear Mom Letter”s who we just quoted on DMB. 
    • Or walking up to the Soda Stream station, I’d meet fellow Dallas blogger, A Frugal Friend.
Will I see you at BlogHer ’13?

A Serious Case of "Working Mom" Envy

Browsing through my blog roll tonight, I found a really interesting post by mooshkatoo. When I first read the title A Serious Case of SAHM Envy, I felt as if she were writing to me directly. SAHM. That’s me. That’s my title. When asked for an occupation on forms, this is what I put, and over the past year, it has come to define who I am. 

I’m a stay at home mom. 

That’s it. That’s all. My life and my job is a mom. 

I knew immediately what she was going to be writing about before I started reading. To a working mom (and many husbands), the life of a stay at home mom seems ideal. She dreams of being able to stay at home with her daughter; to spend more time with her and do all those awesome things that stay at home moms do. Picnics in the park. Making forts from bedspreads. Learning through play. . . If I could describe this image of a mom, I’d call it the Pinterest mom. The woman who knows how to cook on a budget, clean to the perfection of a maid, educate as if she were a teacher, and sleep as little as a giraffe. (1.9 hours a day in case you weren’t aware of that fact!) After all, that’s why we pin all those images is to use them, right?

mooshkatoo’s a mom who has come to the realization that in order to help support her family, she has to work, and she’s envious of “me”. I get to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with my son. . . Yet, little does she know, I’m envious of her. 

I’ve mentioned this before, but leaving my job was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I was standing on the ledge of personal success ready to jump into increased responsibilities, earning the trust of my superiors, and a nice, little raise, and I walked away from it all. In my heart I knew that I wanted to be there for my son; to hear his first words, take his first steps, and learn how to give a hug. I watch as my husband works and travels and has to miss out on these new growths and I feel so terrible for him. I was almost filled with tears the day the Little Man decided to take his first steps, and through fortunate situations, my husband had decided to take the day off; otherwise, that would have been one more thing he’d have missed. 

Each day, I can’t imagine what life would have been like if I’d continued to work and had to witness these milestones second-hand, but I can’t help be a little envious of the working mom. I thrive on responsibility and structure. I crave independence and a life of my own. I miss those intellectual adult relationships. 

Just as she sits at her desk thinking about what her daughter is doing at preschool, I sit on the floor of a playroom wondering what I’d be doing if I were at work. Probably jetsetting off to New York for a convention, hosting incredible A-list parties, and designing beautiful invitations for celebrities like Robin Williams and Dan Akyroyd.

Maybe I’m a bad stay at home mom for having these feelings? Perhaps I’m just not living up to my fort-making potential? 

Or maybe the life of a SAHM is the same for everyone? The most rewarding experience of your life, but at the same time not always 100% fulfilling. For every moment I think about being at work, I shake my head and realize it was a choice I made and know it was the right decision. There was no possible way for me to do my job well from 10am-6pm without sacrificing my role as mom and wife. And there was no way for me to do my job as a mom without sacrificing my responsibilities as a manager. So as I wash my son’s bottles for the third time today, I might daydream of what it could be like and I’ll continue to be slightly envious of working moms, but know God put me where I need to be. Just like he put you where you need to be. 

How do you feel being a stay at home mom? Is it ever a struggle for you? 
How do you fight the monotony of the day to day routine?