Monthly Archives: July 2009

Overwhelmed

I got back from BlogHer on Monday evening.

Tuesday was a blur.

So was most of Wednesday.

I worked today, went to a retirement party, and tried(semi-unsuccessfully) to get my photos up for you all to see.
(They’re on Facebook.  So if we’re Facebook friends, you can see them there.
I’m working on getting them on Flickr.  I didn’t like me tonight.)

And tomorrow morning I’m supposed to pack up and head out of town again.

And although it’s just an overnight trip(for which I have not yet packed!),
and although I really want to go,
and although I can’t wait to see my best friend(it’s really been too long)…

I’m tired.

And overwhelmed.

And I did it to myself.
Like I always do.

I keep forgetting that my baby girl is turning 3 on Sunday.
How is that possible?
How can she really be three years old?

For the Love of Stuff & Money

This blog is at a turning point.  And, as of right now, I’m not sure which way it’ll go.  I’ve decided a hundred times to print out all the posts I’ve written so far, let the  domain name registration expire, and have the whole site just disappear. But 101 times I’ve decided to keep the cursor blinking…waiting on new words, new thoughts, new ideas, new posts.

This blog began as a way for us to keep our parents up-to-date with our growing family.  And it quickly changed to a space that I could use to talk.  It was so lonely when Marshall was in residency.  My blog was one of the few places where I didn’t have to focus on my kids. Of course, there are a lot of posts about my kids.  Plenty of pictures, too.  But I’m not all-mommy-all-the-time here.  I guess I’m technically more of a “life blogger” than a “mommy blogger”, but really aren’t “mommy bloggers” just blogging about their life?  I’m not really sure that I understand the controversy over semantics in this case.

Through blogging, I’ve met some really incredible people.  But I know some really incredible people outside the blogosphere, too.  If I were to quit blogging right now, there would be people I’d miss.  Really miss.  But it wouldn’t be remotely as hard to leave the blog behind as it was to move away from my IRL BFF.

But on the other hand, I’m an ok writer(sometimes).  And I usually have a decent number of regular readers.  I get anywhere from 75-100 hits a day, on average.  But it’s really nothing to write home about and, ultimately, I’m a D-list blogger. A lot of my readers are people in my current community and the town I left behind.  Some of my readers are friends from out of town.  And some of my readers are internet strangers who have become internet friends.

But like I said, I’m at a turning point.  And sometimes I really do just want to stop blogging.  I mean, I see sites like this one belonging to an old college friend and his wife and think: Seriously, Chris and Katie are blogging about being missionaries in Africa!  Expensive dolls, Bollywood movies, giveaways, and my random soap boxes can’t compare with working for Jesus in the hot African sun.

And I’ll never be as big or as popular as some blogs.  Nor do I think I want to.  It seems to be that being a popular blogger leads to more headaches than it’s worth.  To me, at least.   People being mean just be cause they can.  I’ve only had one “troll” situation, and I promptly removed the comment and ignored it all together.  There have been two bloggers in my sphere of reality who have unexpectedly lost children in the past few months.  Both of them, at one time or another, have had some kind of controversy within the comments of their blog.  I know bloggers are supposed to grow thick skin, but I’m not sure I could handle some comments as gracefully as I’ve seen these ladies do it.  My blog is very personal and important to me, and when you insult it, it hurts my feelings.  It probably always will.  I’m tough, but I have a hard time with opening myself up and then getting hurt.

And there seems to be another problem that I’m not exactly sure how to handle: free stuff.  Once upon a time, I would come upon a blog with a review and think: “Wow!  They really love this fill-in-the-blank-wonderful-life-changing product.”  Now my first thought is: “Did they get paid to write this review?”  And if they did get paid, are they giving their actual opnion, or is it swayed by the free-ness?  I’ve, so far, had 3 give-aways on this blog.  One of them was an item I made.  One was a gift subscription I paid for out of my pocket.  And one was an item that I found, loved and asked the company if they could spare one for a giveaway.  But now, after being to BlogHer, I’ve already been contacted by 2 people/companies who are willing to help me give away some free stuff.  And I have decisisons to make.  Do I keep blogging?  Do I keep giving away free stuff?  Am I really selling my soul to the devil if I do give away free stuff?  And isn’t there a line there?  A line that says “I’ll pimp your stuff if I actually like it.  And if I don’t like it, all you lost was one product and a miniscule portion of your revenue.”

So to blog or not to blog; that is the question.

And if I do keep blogging, am I really selling out if I give away free stuff that I actually believe in?  I am open to PR.  But only if I can be honest.  Is that asking too much?  It shouldn’t be.

My New Crush…

…is not a person or a product.  It’s a place.

I ♥ Chicago!

BlogHer09 was fun, there’s not denying that.  But just plain old Chicago was fun, too.

The short version of BlogHer is:

  • I shared a late-night Chicago-style pizza with Casey and Emily.

20080611 giordanos pizza

  • I had mah hairs did by Luke O’Connor but didn’t know that he’s Debra Messing’s former (award-winning) hair stylist until after I’d talked to him about cows and Walmart. And did I remember to take a picture of my spectacular hair? No. Seriously? I take pictures of everything…WHY didn’t I remember to take a picture of my amazingly beautiful hair??
  • I went to a photography “master class” done by Erin Manning, and learned a lot on the photo walk we that 4 of us went on with her.

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  • Took myself on a wonderfully quiet and relaxing photo walk of Chicago.  Did you know there were spots like this in downtown Chicago?

4thPres

  • Went shopping and didn’t buy a thing.  (Mainly because I didn’t want to have to carry it the rest of the day!)
  • Met Chris Mann.  Heard him sing. Got a picture of me(dorky looking) and Chris Mann(not dorky looking at all).  See?

ChrisMann

  • Went to the Navy Pier and rode on the Ferris Wheel at midnight.  The city was GORGEOUS at night.  Nearly as gorgeous as Chris Mann.  See?

NightSky01

NightSky02

  • Went to a private Ann Taylor fall preview and tried on the perfect dress, but didn’t buy it because I couldn’t justify spending that much on a dress when I have very few occasions to actually wear it. (Ignore the obscene amount of arm fat, please.)

AnnTaylorCollage

  • Enjoyed spending time with some old high school friends who now live in Chicago.

JC in CHI

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  • Saw a movie that made me regret mentioning the word “bean”, although I do not regret seeing the movie because it made me laugh a lot!
  • Went to the art museum where I saw Renoir’s, vanGogh’s, Monet’s and Seurat’s, which was fabulous and beautiful.  I would love to go spend days at this museum!  It was humongous and surreal and wonderfully overwhelming.

ChiArtMus

  • Walked by the lake and enjoyed the windy weather and the stunning water view.

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  • Laughed a lot.  Cried a little.
  • Decided that I my kids would love Chicago as much as I did.  Chicago?  Get prepared.  We’ll be there sometime in the next few years with all of our usual chaos.
  • And oh, yeah, I went to some conference sessions, too.  🙂

More Than Just Stuff

Yesterday’s post, hastily written and short, was mostly about the stuff.  The SWAG.  And the swag is good.  And it’s fun.  I got a video camera and a massage and some other cool stuff out of the deal…so I’m not complaining or anything.

But BlogHer is about so much more than just the stuff.  It’s about people.

And I’ve just gotten back from the Community Keynote, which was amazing.  A room full of women(and a few guys) laughed at stories*** about missing tampons, cried over relationships never formed, laughed and cried over struggles with infertility, had our hearts swell as a dad read what he’d written to his little girl on her fifth birthday, had stereotypes** blown out of the water.  We were all wrapped up in the stories these guys and girls shared.  These glimpses…these very, very tiny glimpses into the lives of real people.   Real people with faces that are larger than their 2×2 twitter picture.  Real people with real voices.  Real people who are no longer strangers, but weren’t really strangers before now either.

The blogging community is a unique one.  One that I like.  One that I’m glad to be a part of.  One that’s hard for non-bloggers to understand.  And one that occasionally is even hard for me to comprehend.   Before I left home, I saw someone say this on twitter(pardon me, I can’t remember who!):

Don’t talk to strangers, and don’t meet people you meet on the internet.

Perfectly sensible advice that I’m glad I didn’t take.

*My roommate, CityStreams, was a live blogger for this…check out her post for more details on all the speakers! There were too many great ones to link here!
**This is my friend Issa!!!!
***Links soon to follow! I promise!

S.W.A.G.*

**I recently found out that “swag” really stands for Stuff We All Get.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it makes sense.**

Ok, so I’d heard that the swag at BlogHer was fantastic.  But seriously?  I had no clue it’d be this cool.

We’ve already gotten so much stuff that I have 2 large bags FULL!  Best swag so far? This.

I’ve met so many people(Issa, Linda, Alli, Casey, Heather, Megan….just to name a few) and I’ve seen a lot of people I recognize, but the highlight of the trip so far?  I was standing around and Chris Mann came up to me and said, “Queenofhaddock, right?”  O.M.G!  Chris Mann recognized me!  Did you catch that?  Chris Mann recognized me.

It’s crazy.  It’s chaotic.  It’s fun.  And I still have one more party tonight.  I’m used to being up late.  I, however, am not used to being all dressed up late at night.

I can see how people have said before that they didn’t like BlogHer.  It’s hard sometimes to put names with faces.  You have to be outgoing.  You have to put yourself out there.  If you see someone you read, go up to them and introduce yourself.  There are so many people and it’s so loud.  I did have to come take a break and regroup.  Deep breaths…

Wordless Wednesday: My Favorite Babysitter Edition

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BlogHer '09

A lot of people in my “real” life don’t get blogging.  They don’t understand the community.  They don’t understand the camaraderie.  And they really don’t understand why I’d want to go to a blogging conference.  After so many strange looks coming at me when I say “I’m going to Chicago for a blogging conference”, I now just say “I’m going to Chicago for a girl’s weekend”.  Which is kind of true.  But it’s more than that.

So for those of you who are curious about BlogHer, here’s the deal.  BlogHer is actually a website.  They showcase different blog posts from various members on their homepage(which is actually how I just found out that Jimmy Carter left his Southern Baptist church over their treatment of women!).  Any member can add their name and blog to the BlogHer blog roll and people can search blogs by category in the Blog Directory.  Want to read a blog about “Mommy& Family”?  There’s a place for that.  “News & Politics”? Check.  “Money & Personal Finance”?  Got that, too.  They also have an entire section devoted to “Special Offers” where you can enter to win a lot of free stuff!

So if BlogHer is a website, why do you keep talking about “going to BlogHer”?
When I say “BlogHer”, I’m usually referring to the BlogHer Conference.  The BlogHer conference is the largest blogging conference in the world.  Although the name may seem to imply that this is a “girls only” kind of thing, men are welcome at BlogHer.

What in the world do you do at a blogging conference??
You can see this year’s agenda here.  I’m hoping to be able to connect with my online friends IRL, learn more about CSS(so I can make this here blog purty), learn how to take supa-awesome pictures(in an excursion trip!!), hear some of my friends read one of their own blog posts at the Community Keynote, and hopefully picking up some awesome swag!

Am I freaking out about BlogHer?
I’ve cycled through between excited and nervous for a few weeks now, and I’ve had my fair share of freak-out moments.  But then I realize that there’s really nothing to freak-out about.  It’s not like I’m going to a chaperoned school-sponsored trip.  If I get there and hate it(which I doubt will happen), I can go out exploring.  I’ll be in Chicago, which I’m pretty excited about.  And I have friends who now live in Chicago and I’m planning on meeting up with them at some point anyway.  And my travel partner and roommate is CityStreams, and I’m pretty sure she has nice friends I can borrow if I get there and hate my own.   Just kidding…I don’t hate any of you.  But what if you have poofy hair or wear clothes from Walmart.  Oh wait…that’s me.  Promise you won’t hate me.

Did you buy new stuff for BlogHer like the rest of the free world?
Of course I did.  New clothes were on the horizon anyway…I’ve been in maternity clothes for so long I kind of forgot what “real” clothes were like.  But just so you know…I don’t do heels.  Or dressy-dresses.   I’m really a tee-shirt and jeans kinda girl.  Wearing black capris is about as dressy as it gets around here these days.

Are you a party animal?
Ummm…in one word: No.  But I’m a self-proclaimed people-watcher, so I did RSVP for my fair share of parties.  And I’m pretty sure that at least one or two people will like me because I’ll have my drink tickets up for grabs.  🙂

What’s your biggest fear about BlogHer?
This is going to sound ridiculous.  I’m worried I’ll get everyone mixed up.  I already have a hard time when I see InstaMom and AMomTwoBoys on Twitter.  I have to think a moment.  Ok…which one is Megan?  The other one is Allyson, right?  They’re not really anything alike…other than having ‘mom’ in their name.  How in the world will I keep all the real names, Twitter names, and blog names straight?  I mean I know that’s the whole point of business cards.  But seriously…I’m not great with names to begin with.  But I have to keep THREE names straight??  For one person?  So if I’ve met you 20 times and I still ask your name, don’t be offended.  Maybe we should just all wear one of those big poster-board advertisement thingies with our real name, TwitterID and blog address.  If we wear them big enough, then all this bru-ha-ha about what to wear that everyone seems to be talking about would be null and void.  🙂

Will you blog from BlogHer?
We have free internet access, and I have a camera.  So you should at least get a picture or two or ten!

Mouthwatering Monday: Peach Pie

PeachPie

When I was growing up, our church used to have Family Night Supper at church on Wednesday night.  It was potluck, and it was good!  (We still have Wednesday night dinners, but they’re catered.  And it’s still pretty good!)   We also had a peach packing plant in our small town.  So peaches-canned and fresh-were always pretty easy to come by.  So for her dish, my grandmother always took peach pie.  I remember pre-heating the oven with her.  Mixing.  Pouring.  She didn’t cook often(because of her arthritis or because she didn’t like to…I don’t know??), but she could make one mean peach pie.

Here is that recipe:

  • 1 stick of butter or margarine
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 3/4 cup of self rising flour
  • fruit and syrup(either 1/2 can of Raggedy Ripe peaches and 1/2 the syrup
    OR 4 cups cut-up fresh peaches, 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar)

If you are using canned peaches, skip this first step.  Combine 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar, and mix well.  Place 4 cups of cut up fresh peaches in a saucepan and add sugar water mix.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Place butter in a square baking dish, and melt butter in the oven.

Combine sugar, milk and flour.

Pour batter over melted butter and do not stir!

Add fruit and syrup and do not stir!

Bake for 35-45 minutes in convection oven or up to 1 hour in conventional oven, until lightly brown.  Turn off oven and leave pie in to finish browning.

This recipe can be easily doubled and cooked in a 9×12 pan.

Wordless Wednesday: Crazy Hair, Crazy Face

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The Baby Doll Debate

Lydia’s third birthday is quickly approaching.  So is my trip to Chicago.  Do you know what’s in Chicago?  One of the largest doll stores in the country.  Not just any doll, but the American Girl doll.  I know a lot of people my age had American Girl dolls when they were growing up.  Me?  I didn’t even know they existed until about 10 years ago(although the company started in 1986).  These dolls are high-quality, made-to-last dolls.  They even have a doll hospital that can do anything from ” general cleaning to ‘major surgery’ “.  I know of someone recently whose dog chewed up the doll’s hand.  She(the doll, not the girl) was sent to the hospital and returned as nice as new.  Even though that service is provided for a cost, I have to admit that it would be nice to have your very own doll back.  And I know from seeing other people and their dolls…they last.  They don’t turn black in the sun(we’ve already had one doll do this to us).  They don’t come unstitched easily(we’ve also done this).  They can tolerate “hard” play.  (And with Lydia, there’s lots of hard play!)  Oh?  And did I mention that they also have hair stylists for these little beauties.  I remember how knotty and gross the hair on my dolls used to get.  Well, if that happens, there are people to fix that(also for a price).

But then I look at the prices, and I think:  Am I really going to spend a that much on a doll?  Is she really old enough to appreciate it?  She’s three.  THREE.  And the extra services are nice, but are they worth it?  Could you just buy a new doll for the price of the hospital visit.  I’m pretty sure they don’t accept insurance.

I’m really torn on this.  It seems almost ridiculous to buy an expensive doll for a three year old.  Should I wait until she’s bigger, older and will really be able to appreciate it more?  Am I pleasing her or me?  And if I do get one, is it one she’ll want for years to come?

But there are a lot of pluses, too.

And Carter did get a train table for his third birthday…with trains and tracks(they were Target brand versions of the Thomas the Tank Engine trains & tracks).

So, enlightened readers, do I:

  • buy an AG doll and AG clothes/accessories
  • buy an AG doll and buy knock-off clothes/accessories
  • buy a knock-off doll(which is about half the price) and AG clothes/accessories
  • go knock-off all the way…doll, clothes and accessories

*I asked my facebook friends what they thought and they were split 50-50, so you guys were no help at all!  🙂

**UPDATE:  After thinking about it, I really can’t justify spending that much on a doll right now.  I hope that when she gets a little bigger(5, 6 maybe?) she and I can go to the American Girl store together and pick out a special doll.  I’ll get the knock-off doll and the knock-off accessories and the knock-off clothes.  But maybe I’ll splurge and get actual girl-doll matching clothes from the AG store in Chicago.  That’s totally worth it for the pictures, right?  🙂