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Post BlogHer Post

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Well, I am back from a whirlwind weekend away at the blogging conference that is BlogHer and I haven’t written until now. It takes a lot of work to step out of our lives for even a little while, and while it is easier for me than for a mom with young ones, it was still challenging. I had (first time) sleep away camp to prep for (she packed herself while I was away – well, with help from Dad) and only forgot one thing which I actually had in the car. By the seat of my pants, I tell you.

Here is the thing, I started this post days ago and have hesitated to hit publish because I wasn’t expressing the over-riding feeling I have had from BlogHer. Gratitude. Exhaustion and Gratitude.

Sometimes I have a gratitude problem. It is true. Many of us do. It is easy to criticize, to correct, to suggest ways to improve on something (and I have plenty of suggestions for the organizers, if they care to ask), but here is the main takeaway:

I am lucky that I could go – it is an expensive trip and lucky that my family is supportive.

I learned things (about blogs, social media, conferences, expectations, how to present myself, how to give an elevator pitch).

I met interesting, kind and generous people willing to share their knowledge and experience at the sessions, on the expo floor, in a cab, in a restaurant. Everywhere.

I got to travel in a Blogher Bound bus (Thank you, McDonald’s) to an exciting place that I love and don’t get to often enough.

I won prizes. What? Prizes, you say? Yes. Prizes. Like what? Let me say that as a Blogher newbie, I didn’t even know there would be prizes. I had heard about the swag but really had no idea that it was anything and certainly not why I went.

But, what did I win? A $100 Best Buy gift certificate. I was walking down from the suites on the 42nd floor (TMobile, Hershey’s) because the elevators were so very busy when I got the call and I didn’t realize the expo floor was closing. By the time I got there, the super nice rep from Best Buy was alone in the almost empty hall waiting for me to claim my prize. So nice! Above and beyond, Best Buy! Thank you!

I also won a folding bicycle (a very sweet ride from Gotham Bike) from the lovely people at Advil for taking part in their scavenger hunt. It is really cool and I can’t wait for it to get here! I’ll take my own pictures when it arrives, and I think it has already been claimed by my children.

I got a ride with McDonald’s on their bus bound for BlogHer and learned more about them, and that was really nice. Thank you, McDonald’s.

More, yes, there is more. A $25 Pet Smart Gift card, and some Lysol products. bags, pens, notepads and zip drives. Am I done? Kind of. The stuff wasn’t why I went to Blogher but it’s what I tally when I get back. That and the stack of business cards I am still puzzling over (I did not write on them as I was advised to do. Next time I will).

I met people from Newton, Needham, Boston, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, California and Canada. I enjoyed every conversation and meeting. I had two breakfasts on Friday, the one for newbies and one with McDonald’s. Here is a link to Honest and Truly blog and a transcript of the Question & Answer session at breakfast. I got a recharge massage at TMobile (their tech stuff is awesome).

I went to Getting Gorgeous, had my hair straightened (thank you, GG and CVS, and I love my Extracare card) and it held up in the humidity, and have some more great stuff there. Okay, I’ll share! Super cute dark wash boot leg jeans from Coldwater Creek that make me look smaller than I am, a pair of gorgeous shoes from Naturalizer, and a gift card from Diet Pepsi! There is more but I think that may be another post.

So…Blogher in NYC. Huge. Overwhelming. Loud. Crowded. Busy. Both the city and the conference, so imagine them combined. I like the chaos for a while (as the oldest of five, it is my natural state of being) but then I need a break which I took in the form of a run through Central Park on Saturday morning.central park imagine strwaberry fields nyc manhattan capability mom blog

It was wonderful to connect with bloggers from Boston Parent Bloggers some I met for the first time on the BlogHer Bound bus. We had plenty of laughs (especially at the rest area where seven other buses stopped at the same time, yes, I said seven) and we got to know a little bit about each other, and found out we shared some connections other than blogging (even though that would have been enough). I had a Martha’s Vineyard connection with one super nice, grounded blogger and learned about more about Kegels than I ever thought I would know), talked to another BPB Blogger who is running the Falmouth Road Race to benefit the Melanoma Foundation of New England (something I am into, too) and I met someone who is funnier than I am (it is rare because I think I’m really funny – ask my family).

Once we got there, it was super crowded and chaotic. The elevators were jammed and it didn’t help that FFaNY was in the building (all the rooms on our floor were shoe showrooms except for ours and one across the hall). What a confluence that could have been. Women with sore feet and 14 stories above people selling shoes. Next time, FFaNY, bring shoes to sell. Seriously. Twitter was full of people looking for other shoes because they only packed cute heels.

But I digress. The conference proper is kind of hard to tease out of the side events. While it was great to meet so many people with a shared interest in blogging, writing and playing nicely with social media, it it does seem like it should be easier to find and schedule things.

One of the sessions was so overcrowded (so great that so many people wanted to learn about turning posts into published essays) that I stood against a wall trying to find enough air to breathe, never mind trying to take notes. I think PhD in Parenting was there,too, but couldn’t confirm. That was my main celebrity sighting* and I’m not even sure it was her. I may have been lightheaded from lack of air.

As always, NYC is a great destination and there could never be enough city love time. I wish that some events were “off campus”, as in not in the Hilton (as nice as it is). It is a shame to not explore such a fabulous city.

Pragmatic Mom and I found a great local restaurant (Thank you, Hilton concierge) and had a wonderful dinner where we met some lovely shoe people from FFaNY. We may even have a shoe giveaway with them – Stay tuned!

Best things about BlogHer? The people, the sessions (although they need a better system), the location (more recess time needed if you are in the city), and the sponsors are interesting and varied, which is always good. I saw Advil, Clorox, Lysol, CVS, Verizon, Best Buy, Disney Jr, Poise, Dannon, Samsung and so many more. I’ll go into it later or this will be the longest post ever.

I liked connecting with people, brands, bloggers, seeing new things, learning something new (so like Martha), trying something new, and sharing it all. Did I love every minute? No, I am no Pollyanna. Some things were size and location related, some easy fixes, some more complicated. If you really want to know, comment below! I promise to share and even over share!

*Correction – I did get to see Jeannie Mai, host of The Style Network’s “How Do I Look?” She looked great. I was in a button down and a pencil skirt. Ehh.

Lest this post makes it sound like I was careening hither and yon getting swag, I was not. I went through the Expo Hall and stopped at booths where I engaged in a dialogue with brand representatives and happened to get lucky. I found great new finds and will write about them when I sort through the bag of note and paper…too much paper!

A Preschool Mom’s Day

capability mom blogIf you think I have been goldbricking all summer, well, I haven’t. I have posted less frequently mostly because my driving schedule has increased exponentially. I’m happy that my children have found fun things they like to do this summer: sailing, soccer camp, farm camp, culinary camp, but because the camp schedules are so varied and in different towns, no less, I am on borrowed time. Basically I am a preschool mom. If you don’t have preschoolers yet, you don’t know what the heck I am talking about. When you are at home with small children, you are 24/7, that is a given. When they start preschool, you realize you will have three whole hours to yourself! You have plans, big plans, like cleaning the house (including the really big projects washing the walls or windows), planting a garden, reading the paper, reading a book, writing a book, heck, buying a book, grocery shopping alone, starting a part-time job or business, volunteering at your local library, learning a musical instrument, a new language, taking a class, meeting friends, shopping for cute clothes, starting a blog, reading a blog, working out and grabbing a shower. Maybe all of these.

Well…Reality check. You will have time for maybe one of these activities, possibly two and sometimes, well, none. What?! You are just not organized! I can do so much in three hours. Yes, yes, you can except when you can’t. It is unbelievable how fast three hours goes by. You have coffee with a friend, volunteer to help at the school, have to take your car in for service or you have a dentist appointment or a mammogram or the dog throws up and the day is gone and your house does not look like anything on Pinterest. Don’t worry and cut yourself some slack. Some days are easier/better/sunnier than others, it’s okay.

When your dear ones go on to elementary school and you have six or more hours. Okay, now you are talking, now you have some time. The activities above, you can do three, four or more, some days, still none. I know, weird. Now, picture his not-superbly organized and slight germaphobe mom of two who have been in school for 6 hours a day for about 10 years reduced to a 3 hour day with increased driving responsibilities and work. You can understand why I am a little more frazzled and off my game (this is supposing I had a game before) and my house looks nothing like anything on Pinterest (my pretend house is lovely).

capability mom blog favorite cleaning reference book
Great Resource


So…What can you do in three hours? A walk and a shower and a quick sandwich. Run errands in something I like to call Speed of Sound Time (errands without children of any age). Start a cleaning project but break it up into manageable bits so you don’t get overwhelmed (I cleaned my kitchen including pantry and inside all cabinets and drawers by breaking out a one hour block each day – sure it took me a week – better than your spending your entire Saturday doing it). Sneak in reading time – bring a book or magazine to pick up at school or camp, if you get there early (I wish) you can read a few pages.

What else can you do? Get something reupholstered (okay, you do have time to pick out fabric and drop it off) – you can recover dining room chairs with some fabric and a staple gun…great tutorials at Design Sponge. Renew your driver’s license or passport including new photo. Read about home keeping (so much more fun than actually keeping home). Plan meals for the week and grocery shop alone – it is cheaper to go solo, you only have your impulse purchases to contend with.

Most importantly – Recharge. Do whatever you like to do that makes you happy. A book, a run, yoga, a coffee, music that you choose, time with friends, time alone – anything that makes you energized. You are going to need it for the other 10-12 hours left in your day!

 

Papersalt – Family Friendly, Positive and Gorgeous – A Review

papersalt books - capability mom blogpapersalt books capability mom blog I just received these lovely books from Papersalt and love everything about them, the paper is nicer than standard cardstock, the colors are gorgeous, the graphics creative and the messages are spot on. Wow, imagine how I would gush if they paid me to write this (which they most assuredly did not). I did receive four books to review being a girl, being a boy,take the stairs and dinner table manners. I had a tough time deciding because the messages are so lovely and delivered in such a creative and simple way. Positive, helpful and sweet – the books are a pleasure to handle and you can write in them, too.

My family liked the taking the stairs and dinner table manners because there was more concrete information (Eat like you have hours) but I liked them all. I probably should have asked for the teen books if I wanted a better family review. Maybe that will be a future post!

Papersalt produces these books to help families get moving, get talking, and be positive. All of the messages and affirmations are wonderful and accessible for even the youngest children) and even families with older kids need a gentle reminder or two…our family needs this one from time to time.

capability mom loves papersalt bookscapability mom loves papersalt booksVisit Papersalt online to find more great books and their lovely blog with posts like The Skirt I Shouldn’t Have Worn To School  by Marina Orievsky which I may just forward to all of my friends with girls.

Making the transition into high school can be difficult for some girls. High school is an experience that you go into feeling all grown up and come out of only to reflect on just how much you’ve learned and how much you still have yet to learn. Being at a new school around older kids has added pressures for “fitting in.” For me, I wanted to look like all the other girls who came to school with a full face of makeup and wearing six-inch long Abercrombie skirts in the winter. The whole idea seemed silly to me but I couldn’t help but take on a “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” approach. This is an excerpt – to read the rest of this post go to Papersalt.com

 

 

 

12 Days of Shopping – Kids Make the Gifts – Crafts on Day 2

I really do love homemade gifts the most – especially from my children. I have every gift they ever gave me and now I understand why my mom kept that macaroni necklace I made for her (thanks, Mom). I also love the messiness of Mod Podge and the only reason there isn’t more of it in my house is because I tend to go on sprees…yes, there have been Mod Podge sprees.  One weekend my oldest and I reclaimed a table (then proceeded to Mod Podge the inside of an old medicine cabinet). No, I am not suggesting you do a table for a gift. Just showing that you can.  We used a calendar with gorgeous prints that I picked up in the Anthropologie sale bin last year. This year’s version is shown below from Paper Source (love this store, too!). Don’t be silly, I spent under $10 not $20. Paper Source also has a great sale section, too.

capability mom roskd mod podge

Gather any paper you that like – wrapping or old books or cards. Tip: I like to put them in a folder in the basement so my very tidy spouse doesn’t mistakenly throw them away (invariably I forget where I put them, though so it’s the same as if they had been thrown out). So on to the craft! Here is a site I have mentioned before, Mod Podge Rocks. It has tons of great projects and this is one is particularly easy and fun!

Just using an old Altoids tin or small box you can make a gift card holder – make the gift cards, too! Plain cards and stickers are sweet. The finished project shown is from Mod Podge Rocks.

Here are the raw materials capability mom uses mod podge to make holiday fiftsthat I pulled out of the craft drawer (oh-so-different than the present drawer!). You can also put a handle on the tin and style it as an adorable mini-purse.

If you aren’t excited about this project, here is an easy Mod Podge Pencil Holder from Family Eduction –  you can fill it with baked goods, Lindt truffles, candy canes or candy kisses for a teacher or hostess gift. All you really need is an empty can, Mod Podge and some paper. Now don’t get all Martha and perfect about it. Break out the Mod Podge and go. Plain glass vases, cans, bottles, jars …everything is fair game. You can decorate the container with your children then fill with flowers (made out of the sweet paper or real) or baked goods that you make together.

I personally like to see tree shaped styrofoam either painted or Mod Podged or plain with Hershey candy kisses all over, probably because my mom has them every year.  Education.com makes it a counting activity for little ones and uses a glue gun to make their tree. Wow, was that what my mother was doing, too? No, I am pretty sure we just randomly stuck most of the kisses on the tree (which is all good, too). Speaking of education moms – head on over to Pragmatic Mom – her craft is adorable and super easy and not messy at all –  Clove Fruit which I like to do even after the children become tired of it. Put down some paper (newspaper is fine) and when they are finished wrap them in tissue (this is a good gift to start now).

capability mom finds a counting activity project from education.com

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