mommy bloggers

Post BlogHer Post


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 Mom’s Guide to Everything…really

That was my tagline when I started this blog because my intent was to provide a Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Foods, Outing, Playdate…yes, Everything. Well, I quickly realized that I was out of my depth. First of all, I started writing this when my youngest was 10 and by then my knowledge and advice was almost as dated as my mom’s (sorry, Mom). Two of my younger sisters were reading The Baby Whisperer and I had not even heLianne's Quick Guide hosted by Capability : Mom blogard of it (What happened to Sears and Leach?) and I was dumbstruck by how out of the loop I was. Plus, I really decided that I didn’t feel like writing about the how-to – Could I  even remember what an outing with a newborn was like?  So I changed direction and for a while wrote about anything that crossed my super hyper monkey brain. Then I settled down and started to focus (after a blog intervention by Pragmatic Mom at our favorite coffee/tea shop L’Aroma Cafe where I wrote her many wonderful suggestions on a napkin – I still have it somewhere).

I am glad to say, someone more capable than I has developed a guide for the new mom – or the not so new mom – it would make a great gift for grandparents, too! Lianne is a mother of four and currently living in a small village outside of Amsterdam (she’s originally from Canada). I only wish I had her Quick Guide when I had little ones! It is a reassuring read of the most basic questions and you can stash it in a handbag quite easily. I love it for the lovely, calm tone, the sensible answers, and thoroughness. All in all, a guide I wish I had written!

Here is an excerpt from her Quick Guide:

Babies 0-6 months

This booklet is full of questions & answers that cover almost all of the daily encounters that you and your baby will experience in your first 6 months. It is based on my experience and that of other mothers and should help you feel like you are not alone in this new and exciting but sometimes overwhelming world of motherhood.

Here are a couple of Questions & Answers that can be found in the booklet. I will change them periodically.


1- I have a baby!!!! What do I do with the baby during the first couple of weeks?

During the first weeks, the baby will be adapting to its new environment and will be sleeping most of the day and night. If she’s not sleeping she’ll be drinking and if she’s not drinking or sleeping then she’ll be looking around, usually quietly before falling asleep again.You’ll be changing her diaper regularly, bathing her and putting her clothes on (which can be time consuming while you get used to her little parts).You will also need a lot of rest – so take advantage of her sleeping time to sleep yourself.Your baby will slowly have more “awake” time and will start to engage with you and be more interested in looking around and exploring with her eyes.
>Link to 39, 42, 66, 70, 120

72. My baby is 6 months old and still not sleeping through the night…

By the time your baby is starting to eat solids there is really no reason other than habit that they should be feeding during the night. This can be a hard habit to break however. If you are sure that your baby has eaten enough during the day at this stage then you may want to experiment with letting your baby cry and fall back to sleep without a feeding… Try this for 3-4 nights in a row. They say 3 is the magic number in breaking a habit with small babies…

126. I find myself talking in a high-pitched singsong voice to my baby. Why do I do that automatically?

This phenomenon actually has a name called “motherese”. This helps babies learn to discern sounds and understand how our language is built. It also helps keep their attention while we talk since babies seem to respond better to higher pitched sounds. It’s an automatic thing that people do around babies. Don’t worry; it’s not permanent and totally natural!

51. Tips for sore nipples?

You can use 100% Lanolin cream or try soaking in a bowl filled with salty warm water or buy hydrogel pads (you can buy at a drugstore). You can also express a little milk onto your nipples (contains a lot of antibodies) and let them dry before putting your feeding bra back on. Try exposing your nipples to air as much as possible. If you are dreading the next feeding because of the pain, see your doctor and he/she can prescribe a healing nipple cream. Dr. Jack Newman creates a good one that you can buy.

Lianne also has a lovely blog and she is full of energy and great ideas. Her tagline is Personal balance is my challenge. 

She is also so nice that she is offering a Lianne’s Quick Guide (Babies to 6 months) to a reader of Capability : Mom.  Thank you, Lianne!!

For a chance to win Lianne’s Quick Guide – Babies 0 to 6 months, please leave a comment below.

For additional chances to win, follow Lianne on Twitter, and like her on Facebook and leave a comment for each action below.
Winner will be determined by the super fancy plug-in called And The Winner Is…  and listed here. Lianne’s Quick Guide will be mailed to you. Lianne is offering this first booklet in her series of booklets, next up is lianne's quick guide to first aidLianne’s Quick Guide to First Aid and to Digital Photography (pre-mom life in digital photography and new media).lianne's quick guide to digital photography

Back to School – The Easy Adjustment

back to school photosAre we all breathing easier now that the first week of school is behind us? Sort of. I know that some people (me, for example) don’t do well with transitions. Despite three calendars and electronic reminders, I still have forgotten things this week. Is it my system? Is it my aging brain? Do I just wish that summer wasn’t over and am in denial? All of the above, I think. How do you make transition to school easier on your family? There are great online calendars and organizing systems for computers/phones/tablets like Evernote and Cozi, and paper ones for you paper people like MomAgenda and Mom Central that clean,  nice and easy to use (if you remember to use them). I am not really organized (cue the snort laughs from loved ones) so I have to set up no-fail systems – I actually just started a secret snack drawer (no, I can’t tell you where it is) so I have full containers of something for sharing (for those occasional times when it is 10 pm and someone remembers that we need a snack to share with the class – yes, I have beverages, too).  I also have a present cabinet (downgraded to a drawer now that the kids are older, the presents are smaller in size). What do I keep in it? Blank cards, basic (but lovely) hostess gifts, iTunes gift cards, Starbucks gift cards, unopened crayons, cool pencils, children’s birthday presents (anything from Klutz – especially the craft kits), books (I like to buy books anyway, and when you place your Scholastic order at school just order a few extra books or gift sets and you will have a great present on hand). Scholastic also has a great Parents page with tips and resources – sign up for their newsletter, too. I just received a packet of books from them to review and am so excited (some went out the door to family friends to read first – I managed to secure the promise of an actual young adult review or summary of the books in return) because I am busy driving carpool and re-learning some math skills  – Thank you, TenMarks! (a great on-line math resource for when I can’t get my engineer dad on the phone and sometimes even when I can). Now I am off to Staples one more time (this makes 6 times – don’t ask) – thank goodness I went for that 15% discount card! Don’t forget to get ready for Parent-Teacher Conferences! Here is a recent article from Social Moms on Making the Most of the Parent-Teacher Conference. What are you doing to get back into the swing of school? Advice? Snafus? Funny stories? I’d love to hear your experiences – Please share!

A Step Up for Strong Women, Strong Girls

There is a group of really dedicated women who have taken it upon themselves to find local charities who need a boost or, if you will, a step up. They focus on small, local non-profits that do not have huge marketing budgets but that are doing good work. It is an informal gathering of women (sorry, guys – you can send a check, though!) and the suggested donation is only $35.  It is a really nice way to connect within your community, socialize a little and make a tangible difference. I encourage you to go (it is fun), get involved and do some good. I wrote about my experience here and they liked it so much they asked to put it on their website. The next fundraiser is October 13 and focuses on Strong Women, Strong Girls which is a great organization that pairs college-age mentors with younger girls.

Our Mission

Strong Women, Strong Girls is an emerging not-for-profit organization that supports the leadership and self-esteem development of women and girls. The mission of Strong Women, Strong Girls is to build upon the lessons learned from strong women throughout history to encourage girls and young women become strong women themselves. By building communities of women committed to supporting positive social change, Strong Women, Strong Girls works to create cycles of mutual empowerment for women and girls.

To do this, Strong Women, Strong Girls has created an innovative after school model that uses the study of contemporary and historic female role models, mentoring relationships with college undergraduate women, and skill building activities to help at-risk girls in grades 3-5 build positive self-esteem and skills for life-long success.

In addition to supporting the development of young girls, Strong Women, Strong Girls also emphasizes the leadership and growth of the college women who volunteer as mentors. Strong Women, Strong Girls seeks to build the skills and leadership capacity of these talented young women to engage them as mentors for girls in their communities now and as life-long advocates for women and girls.

There are chapters at the following institutions of higher education: Boston College,Harvard University,Northeastern University, Simmons College, Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University and U0niversity of Pittsburgh.

From A Step Up’s website:

The mission of a step up is to educate members of our community about the innovative, important contributions made by local charities and to raise money for specific initiatives at these organizations. All of the money we raise goes directly to the people who need help – none goes to overhead or fundraising costs.

To achieve this mission a step up invites women we know to attend fun, informal gatherings. We host the events at our homes and we invite a representative from the organization to speak about their work and impact. We ask guests for a $35 donation which will go towards a specific initiative at the organization we are supporting. We have a chance to socialize with old and new friends while learning about a charity and the many ways to get involved in our community. We hope to make positive changes in peoples lives and raise our level of awareness while meeting new and interesting women.

So please join me in strengthening our community and supporting these hard-working volunteers (they charm local merchants into donating the refreshments and I suspect they go out of pocket if no one ponies up) all funds go to the featured non-profit. They donate the space, the food and beverages (yes, there will be wine) and their time and energy. The least you can do is to join in. Contact them at for more information.

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