post BlogHer – barely coherent thoughts

I’m still trying to wrap my head around that which was BlogHer. First of all, I had an absolute blast. There’s just something about having friends who normally live in the little box on my desk suddenly come to life that is surreal, and wonderful, and crazy all at once. Have you ever read a book you really loved and wished you could jump into into so you could meet, and hug, and talk with those characters? It’s pretty much exactly like that.

So the experience was amazing, as was visiting NYC for the first time, but I’m having mixed feelings about the conference itself. I absolutely love and respect the people behind BlogHer. The founders, their staff, and the many volunteers do an incredible job and I appreciate them so much for their hard work.

That said, in my opinion it was just too BIGย  for me. I am someone who is very comfortable in crowds, and have no problem walking up to anyone and introducing myself, there were overwhelming amounts of people around every corner. Every session, keynote, party, (elevators!) everything everything was packed to the gills and people had to be turned away from events that were supposed to be open to everyone (Martha.)

From my understanding they are dealing with that situation next year in Chicago by having the sessions and expo in a different venue than the hotel and they will bus everyone in between. Honestly, I’m not really sure that’s the solution. I’ve already made up my mind that I’m probably not going to go unless something drastic happens that I feel like I can spend the money on it again. The enormity of it just doesn’t feel right to me – just me – anymore. I may look for a smaller conference that focuses just on writing and photography so if anyone has a suggestion for such I’m all ears.

The ONLY bummer for me all week was the BlogHer 5K. If you follow me on twitter you know that I trained really hard for this and it was supposed to be my FIRST REAL 5K. I wanted it to be special, and it was most definitely not. We arrived downstairs that morning to find complete disorganization.

We had no official map, just some suggested runs that the organizers were unable to share with us via any electronic means. I looked at the routes to see if I could just program my own GPS and lo, they were only 2.5 miles. That is not a full 5K. The friends that I had agreed to run with and I went out on our own, knowing a vague route through Central Park, and knowing two out of the three of us had a GPS. We were fine and we did it.

It was fabulous in that I RAN in Central Park. ME. And I made two new friends. BUT. It was not a real 5K. There was no number on my shirt. There was no one to greet us when we got back. No one to hand us water and say congratulations. There was no finish line.

If you are BlogHer staff and you are reading this, I have some pretty specific ideas on what simple changes you should make for future 5Ks and I would love to talk with you about it. At the very least, if you can’t have a greeter with water at the end, you probably shouldn’t have a 5K at all.

Okay! Moving on. There were far MORE things about the conference itself that I loved than not. OMG the President spoke to us. I was trying not to bawl because it was so awesome. And Katie! I always liked Katie Couric but I was never a fangirl. I’m a fangirl now! She was so personable, and smart, and funny, and real. Then there was the Serenity Suite and the people I connected with there. My heart, they were fabulous.

I had favorite sessions too, there was one about technology and fitness during HealthMinder Day, and the one I was really looking forward to on iPhoneography on Friday was a good as I hoped, and the very last one I went to on Saturday was just a big meta conversation about blogging. LOVE. So good to hear so many perspectives. The best thing I took away from all of it is that no matter what you’re doing, as long as it works for you, it’s all good. There is no doing it wrong when it comes to blogging.

I know what you really want to hear about is the parties, but I have to be honest with you. I went to all the parties, went in, hugged many people, and left again. (SO MANY HUGS!) I only left because I can’t stand how loud the music is and I hate having to shout and strain to hear other people talk. (I’m OLD – what of it?!) So if you saw me sitting just outside the parties? That was not me disparaging them or fearing them, that was just me hanging and chatting with friends and enjoying every minute I could.

I have so much more to say, about the city itself – photo post to come! – and about the people. It always comes back to the people. I fear doing a linky-love post because I know I will miss someone but I also really want to shout out to those who I had so much fun with. I have to think about that!

If you’re thinking about going to a BlogHer, know that it is really an incredible experience and it’s indescribable and of course different for each person. You just have to do it and remember that what you get out of has everything to do with what you put into it, and not all of it will be perfect. If you hide in your room, you will regret even bothering, but if you make an effort, it will come back to you ten-fold. On that note, I’m going to take another nap. Re-entry is hard yo. xoxo

stress free BlogHer!

It’s that time of year again, when bloggers everywhere start losing their minds over that behemoth of a conference – BlogHer!

If they’re not going they’re lamenting it, (loudly – like me last year!) and if they are going they’re thinking about it, talking about it, tweeting about it, and apparently freaking the heck out over it. Just take a look at the #BlogHer12 hashtag and you’ll see what I mean!

As someone who has been to BlogHer once before I have a few bits of unasked for advice for those who are STRESSING!! You need not stress. Really, it’s awesome and huge and there will be a crazy number of women (and a few brave men) there. Many of them have some sort of anxiety, ADHD, or social disorder. You are not alone! Unless you want to be. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are all of my best tips that I learned from experience:

I hope this helps even a couple of people! I remember being so nervous before I went to BlogHer and I read everything I could get my hands on about what it’s like. I don’t think anyone can really tell you though, you just have to experience it. If any of you want to connect with me there my twitter is @annettek or let me know if you want my cell #!

Oh, and if any of you have been and have any tips to add I’d love to hear them!

happy pi day and other random bits

I love geek holidays, I can’t help it! Are any of you baking pies in honor of Pi day today? I wish I had time! I’d like a blueberry pie, or maybe a chocolate cream pie, or oooo, a bacon quiche? That totally counts as pie right?

In case you noticed my lack of internet presence, I’m completely swamped with work right now. As great as it is to have plenty of contracts and a good chunk of money flowing in, it makes my life completely insane. I never want to be someone who complains about work though, because oh, would it suck to not have any. This is just me saying, I miss you guys!

I really want to be a better blogger though, so in light of that, I’m going to Blog Better Boston in a couple of weeks. It’s just a one day thing, but I suspect I’m going to get a lot out of it! I’m really looking forward to the food photography course I’m taking there. If you’ve ever tried food photography you know it’s wayyy harder than it sounds.

I also decided I’m going to go to BlogHer 12 in NYC this summer. I’ve haven’t been to BlogHer since 2009, the timing just hasn’t been right for me the last few years. I’ve heard it’s gotten sooo much bigger and intimidating but that’s okay with me. I have a pretty good idea of what to expect, I want to spend some time seeing the city through my camera lens, and I have a fabulous roommate who I know will let me tail her like a puppy when I don’t know what else to do with myself. ๐Ÿ™‚ Will I see any of you there?

Okay, so speaking of photography, we bought the cutest camera you have ever seen! It’s small like a point and shoot, but has interchangeable lenses. I’m kind of in love with it and kind of afraid of it! I’m really hoping someone will buy me a macro lens for it. And teach me how to use it??

Soooo, that brings me to the reason we bought the camera – because we’re going on our first “real” vacation EVER. I think every vacation we’ve ever taken has been either to visit family, has been part of a business trip, or has been a staycation. Since we managed this one car thing for so long, and are planning to continue it indefinitely we decided to use some of the savings we would have spent on a second car and go on a trip to the Grand Canyon.

You guys! The Grand Canyon! This is truly a trip of a lifetime for this New England girl. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do but never thought it would happen. I’m sure I’ll have much more to tell you about it as it gets closer. Or hey, no promises, I might not have time to blog again until after it’s over! Either way, I guarantee you I will have a million and one photos to share with you. Heh.

I hope y’all don’t mind if this ends up being a photography blog!

Hello Spring! So glad you’re almost here!

a different kind of year end post

So. I just can’t bring myselfย  to do one of those year end wrap up posts linking you to all of the so-called interesting things I wrote this past year. Yeah right.

First of all, I’m almost a full week late now. I’ve been planning to write this for two weeks but I have like 3,000 work deadlines this month and we all know this blog is the first thing to suffer the consequences of me having to earn actual money. (The second is housework. Or is it the other way around? Seeing as I’m sitting here writing in a very dirty little house. Ahem.)

Honestly though, nothing in my 2011 archives was all that entertaining and well, I just didn’t write nearly often enough to bother. Bad, bad, blogger I am. Lucky for me I’d rather read blog posts than write them! There are gazillions of good bloggers out there writing fabulous stuff every day. Lucky for you I’m going to tell you about a few of my favorites. ๐Ÿ™‚

These are women who write about anything and everything; work, relationships, kids, funny stories, heartache, whatever the topic, if they’re writing about it, I want to read it. Some of them you’ve surely heard of and others you might not have. Popularity doesn’t matter to me, good writing does. These are the blogs that when I spy a new post in my Google reader, I skip over everyone else to read them first!

I’m kind of a terrible commenter, so this is my way of saying thank you to them for being awesome. In random order here are some of my favorite bloggers of 2011:

So seriously, if there is ANYONE on this list you’ve never read before, GO RIGHT NOW!!

BUT WAIT! Before you go, tell me your favorite blogs? I’d love to find some new good reads. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

brainstorming always comes back to the cat puke

You know how right before you fall asleep you think of something so totally freaking brilliant you’re sure you’re going to remember it in the morning? And you wake up and don’t even remember you thought of something much less what that something actually is. I swear that’s why I haven’t written anything here for weeks. I always come up with great topic around 11pm. When I was a newbie blogger I would actually get up and write it out as soon as I thought of it, and then I would hit publish at 2am and no one would read it. By the next day I was happy that no one had read it because my middle of the night ramblings were never quite as good as I thought they were going to be. Usually I wrote stuff about cat puke. Wait, that’s not a good example because cat puke is actually funny. Unless you’re the one cleaning it up. Or stepping in it. Especially when it’s cold. And the ickyness of it makes you hop around on one foot, in the dark, when your muscles are already screaming at you because you went to Zumba the day before. Okay that didn’t really happen. Stepping in the cat puke after Zumba that is. That was a hypothetical situation that I made up to illustrate the typical things that befall me. Stepping in the cold cat puke in the middle of the night was actually 2 weeks ago, and well, the week before that too. Going to Zumba was only a few days ago, and although I couldn’t walk for days I laughed my butt off while I was there. If only that were true, right? That you could actually laugh until your butt fell off? I would be sooo dang skinny. But then I wouldn’t need to go to Zumba. And I wouldn’t be able to laugh with my friends there. And then I wouldn’t be skinny anymore. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle I tell you. Obviously Zumba is bad and I need to get my exercise some other way. Like shoveling the driveway. Which I am certain to have to do again tomorrow. Because of course it’s going to snow again, again, again. And January is never going to end. And I am going to have to rake the stupid roof one more time and my arms will fall off and we’ll get killer icicles. I won’t be able to defend myself from the killer icicles because I won’t have any arms and that is much, much worse than not having a butt. In conclusion, snow is even worse than Zumba and the only good thing about this post was the cat puke.

And I didn’t even write this in the middle of the night.

Go ahead I dare you to comment.

censored!

We had a fabulous day at the beach with my sisters and their families yesterday. The weather was absolutely perfect, 85 and sunny, and the water was warmer than its normal freeze your toes off temp. Perfect shark weather, but no, we didn’t see any. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I gotta tell you, I had better pictures than this one, (all taken with my new-to-me iphone!) but my boy won’t let me post them. ~sigh~ This blog has been going through some growing pangs lately, because he doesn’t really want me to write about him or post pictures of him anymore. He only approved this one photo because his back was to the camera.

I’m being censored.

If we are doing anything fun or if I innocently take a photo I am often asked “you’re not gonna blog about this are you mom?” Huh. I guess not!

He and I have been here before…you may have noticed there have been several posts about him lately that didn’t really show him. A birthday post without a birthday boy, a science post without a clear face, a post about his treehouse with only one blurry image. As you can see, I’ve had to get creative with my photography. It helps that I’m not particularly good at taking pictures so blurry faces are a natural. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I knew this would come eventually. I just didn’t think it would be so soon! I kind of thought I had until he was 10 or 12 before he stopped letting me write about him. In fact, if he knew I wrote this recently he wouldn’t be very happy about it. I published it because I know someday he’ll appreciate it.

I’ve always self-censored anyway, not wanting to get overly personal on something that can’t ever really be deleted, but I’ve always felt pretty free to post about his childhood. Like I own it or something! Well, he is his own person, and has the right to keep his life off the internet if that’s what he wants. I still might write about him, but only if he approves it. Future photos will be faceless, like they were back when I first started and blogged anonymously. Or there won’t be any photos of him at all. I just don’t know yet.

What happens to a mommy blogger (ugh, it’s what I’ve become but I still hate that word) who can’t blog about her kid?? I really don’t have the answer right now! It’s why I don’t post as often as I used to, and I don’t foresee it getting any better.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t depressing. It’s just different. I have to make a change. Write about my own life, or don’t write at all?

my preciousssss

So Damon (mwah!) got me a liiiittle present for my birthday. This is my new baby:

I’ve been begging for desperate to have obsessing over thinking about buying a netbook for oh, um, about a year now, and my new contract made it possible now, as well as necessary. Right?? Riiiight. I can justify just about anything I need for work. ๐Ÿ™‚ And it’s a refurb so it was cheap a sound business decision.

Can I just say, it’s waaaay smaller than I thought it would be, less than half the size of all of my most recent dead laptop. Y’all know I’m a laptop killer but I’m going to try really really hard not to let it get as hot as Mount Doom destroy this one. Pinky swear.

ps. I recently had a conversation wherein I aged myself. I actually said (and thought for that moment) that I was turning 39. Oy. Although you wouldn’t know it by the amount of grey I have to cover, I am, in fact, 38 today. ~ahem~ I’d really rather save my extra 39th birthdays for after the fact, not before it.

pss. I love that my kid saw the title in draft stage and got the LOTR reference by himself. Heh.

kicking cancer’s ass one science post at a time

If you don’t know WhyMommy, well, you should. And if you do know her then you know why I’m doing this.

I was very fortunate to meet and hug (and eat chocolate-dipped fruit with!) Susan aka WhyMommy at BlogHer this summer, but I feel like I’ve known her for oh so much longer. I’ve been a reader of her blog Toddler Planet for years, long before I was a blogger myself. One thing that has always been clear in her writing is that throughout her trials with cancer, Susan is first a mother. She’s also, quite literally, a rocket scientist.

Some of you may know that Susan has recently been diagnosed with cancer again, and is undergoing surgery again, today. We wanted to do a little something to support her, in the way only bloggers know how. In the spirit of Susan’s love for her kids and for teaching them science we bring you Team WhyMommy’s Virtual Science Fair! (Thanks to the amazing Stimey for the putting it all together!)

So the science fair project I did with Josh was one he didn’t actually know was happening. I stealth-scienced him. ๐Ÿ™‚

My goal for this last week was to fit any science topics I could more into our daily life and conversations, whenever and wherever they seemed to fit. Here’s a few of the highlights!

First we took a walk in the swamp behind our house. It’s early for the frogs yet, (and for mosquitoes for that matter! Yay!) but even without spotting any wildlife we enjoyed it. Clearly he did:

It’s so pretty back there, and we’ve never really taken the time to appreciate it. I’m so glad we did. And we’ll be going back weekly to watch the changes as spring and summer progress.

While we were up in Maine this weekend, we had a chance to stop by my friend’s house to see her new baby cow named DC. Short for Diet Coke, the cow was only 3 days old, (!!) and as cute as can be. I don’t think Josh has ever petted a cow before, at least not a tiny one. I wish I had gotten pictures though! I didn’t even think of it. He also got to pet one of her chickens, which she picks up and holds just like I do with my cat. (She’s been known to comment under the alias “Cluckers” here. I wonder why?)

When we got back to my parent’s house from visiting Cluckers, it was dark and the sky was full of stars. Josh and I really don’t get to see that very often. We have too many trees, and far too much light pollution around our own house. So I made him stop and look. I pointed out Orion, and Cassiopeia, and he asked where the Big Dipper was. Now I’m planning an evening out with him, with a star map in hand, and we’re going to look at the stars for as long he wants to!

One of the most fun things we did this week was taking a walk by a nearby brook that looked more like a river from the heavy rains we’ve had.

Whoa! Of course we talked about the flooding, and we inspected the edges to see how high the waters had come up just a few days before.

See where he’s standing? All of that was underwater!

Then he found a clearing and danced like a leprechaun! So much for real science. ๐Ÿ™‚

This week has made me realize that I really don’t do enough of this stuff with my kid. Sure we spend lots of time together, and he loves to read science books, but we don’t experience it as much as we should. I think we just forget to stop and pay attention to things during our usual hectic days, but now that we’ve started I’m not going to stop our science adventures, it’s been too much fun!

Thank you Susan, for inspiring us in so many ways! I hope you can look at the stars with your boys again soon. xo

ps. Go check out all of the other Team WhyMommy’s Virtual Science fair posts!

snippets

I’m going to tell you one little fact that speaks volumes about my life right now; I just *now* (as in this morning) took the Christmas lights down off of my front porch.

~ahem~

Of course, the 5 strings of lights are now wadded up in a ball on my kitchen table and I hope to do something about that before the week day is over. That something will probably be be to stuff the whole thing in a Target bag and throw it in the garage to deal with next November! (At which time I will curse at myself, and go buy new ones.)

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I’m sitting at my desk surrounded by paperwork, books, and Legos. I can’t move from my chair for the amount of work hanging over my head. And when I have a moment to stand up and stretch I step on Bionicles and bruise the poor soles of my feet. Sheesh. I’m on a tight deadline with one rush project, and have two more looming. Work is good to have, but well, yeah. Their vacation was not my vacation. I cannot tell you how glad I am that our so-called vacation is over!

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On Tuesdays I volunteer at the school library. Mostly I put away books, hundreds of pounds of books. I’m also the checkout girl, making sure they’ve brought back their overdue books before they get another, that sort of thing. Sometimes they ask me to help them find just the perfect book. And once I got to read to a first grade class. (They even listened!)

Some of the fourth graders laugh at me because I’m terrible with names. They try to make me guess who they are. I see the same kids over and over, every Tuesday, bright, smiling faces of kids who want to be in the library, who clearly love to read, who get as many books as they can every week. I love it there, even if their names escape me, their happiness doesn’t.

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Today is Tuesday! I get to ignore the pings of emails, silence the ringer on my cell, and forget about the Christmas lights on my kitchen table. I get to go to the library.

just give me something to blog about

(Disclaimer; If you aren’t blogger, most of this won’t make any sense to you. So don’t even bother!)

Somehow it’s been two weeks since I last blogged. As so kindly pointed out not only by the lovely folks behind the BlogHer ads, and by a real life friend who I didn’t even know was reading here but apparently is tired of looking at my last soup post. ~ahem~ So this one is for you Jen, such as it is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, two weeks. There was a time, for a long time, when I couldn’t go two days without writing, much less two weeks. Heck, there were days when I posted twice! I know! What happened that I no longer feel like posting the exciting events minutiae of my day, every day??

Those were the days when I obsessively checked my stats, hoping for more than a handful of hits. I lived and died by how many comments I got in a day. I pimped my posts on twitter and commented like crazy on every blog in my expansive feed reader.

I got my own domain, and a unique design. I thought hard about branding, and niches. I got ads!! (A year and a half and $45 later…) I even started a second blog! Because one was not enough?!!

I envied those going to all the conferences and meeting each other in person. So I went to a conference, and I hugged people I never thought I would meet. I made real-life completely awesome friends. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,* and I loved every minute of it.

But my life got busier in so many ways, and twitter got boring and celebri-fied. I stopped checking Feedburner, and forgot my password to Google Analytics. I stopped using Stumble or Digg, forgot about Technorati, and I haven’t looked at my Page Rank in forever. Heck, I even forgot how to check my Page Rank. And Alexa, wha?

It’s the typical evolution of a blogger. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. (And don’t we all just love these posts?) I know I have, but I never thought it would happen to me! D’oh. and? Duh.

My kid is growing up, and doesn’t really want me telling stories about him here. Posting family pictures in public is getting awkward. One can only blog about a cat so often. (Unless I become the Crazy Cat Lady, and frankly there are too many doing it better.) Weight loss? Heh. Only if it was happening! I have no idea what to blog about. Or even if I want to bother figuring it out. Meh.

And yet, I’m not thinking about shutting it down. I haven’t lost the will to write, just the impetus; that driving force that can turn the smallest moment of the day into a great post. I’d like to be able to do that again.

* Yes, once-in-a-lifetime. I’m not going to BlogHer ’10. As much as I would love to go, I just can’t justify the expense. Sorry peeps. ๐Ÿ™

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