Why I’m glad I didn’t go to BlogHer this year

Last week, when I was in the throes of a “woe is me” moment, I started crying when I was talking to my dad.

I said, “And I don’t even get to go to BlogHer this year. All of my friends will be there, and I can’t go. And I know that’s selfish because I should be putting my kids ahead of me, but there it is. I’m selfish. I want to go and I can’t and it’s not fair.”

I went to the bathroom to get myself cleaned up, and when I came out, my mom had come in the room and said, “Wait, when is BlogHer? You need to go!”

They’ve said several times that they can’t handle both girls overnight, so it didn’t occur to me to even ask if they could take the girls so I could go. I just assumed that they would say no.

Of course, by this point, the conference was long since sold out, and I couldn’t get a plane ticket on less than a week’s notice, so it wasn’t going to happen. But: next year? So there.

This year, though, it turns out that it was really lucky that I didn’t go, for two different reasons:


1. Last Tuesday, I got really, really sick. Like, fever spiked to almost 104, I was hallucinating, the whole thing. My mom had to call 911 to have the paramedics take me to the ER so my parents could stay with the kids. They pumped me up with fluids and IV antibiotics and pain meds and I finally got discharged from the hospital around 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Oof.

I’m still on antibiotics, but I’m mostly ok now (it’s a long story and I don’t really want to get into my diagnosis since it partially involves my lady bits, and… well. No.), but I’m so glad that I wasn’t in a hotel room in NYC when all of this happened. It’s much nicer to be sick and miserable in your own bed, and I would have missed so much of the conference being sick. So it was kind of lucky that I wasn’t there.


2. Lucy started walking on Thursday. Like, for real walking.

That video is actually not the best example, she can usually get from one side of the room to the other without falling over, which is kind of amazing. And if I had been at BlogHer, I would have missed it.


So, you know, I’m ok with the fact that I missed the conference this year. I was a little sad reading tweets from people I love talking about meeting up with other people I love, and thinking, “I want to be there with youuuuu!!”

But overall, it’s ok. This weekend had some really nice moments, even without all of the awesome people and parties and big city and all of that.

It's milk time, y'all.
This is how we have a drinking party at my house.

Kitchen Tidy-Up Project

Disclaimer: I almost never do sponsored posts, but I was given a gift card from BlogHer and HomeGoods, and hey, if you’re going to give me money to go shopping, then heck yeah I’ll blog about it. And bonus: if you read this, you get to see pictures of my kitchen. Oooh, special, right?

Since the cleaning lady came to tidy up our house last week, Dave and I have been having ongoing arguments about what I call Chronic Kitchen Counter Crap. This is the stuff that seems to live on the kitchen counter all the time, no matter what. I tend to believe that all food-related items should be put away in a pantry or a cabinet. Dave disagrees and thinks that it’s fine for frequently-used items to stay out, as this keeps them easily accessible. And it drives. me. NUTS.

Also? I am WAY more cranky about things like Chronic Kitchen Counter Crap when I am (a) pregnant and therefore grumpier in general, and (b) expecting many houseguests and visitors over the next few weeks. But it doesn’t matter how many times I put these things away, within a few hours, Dave has left them on the counter again.

So, I decided to take advantage of this HomeGoods/BlogHer gift card offer to do a little de-cluttering in my kitchen, before the holidays are in full swing.

Here are the before pictures, so you can see what I was unhappy about.

Exhibit A:
Before: bread pile
The bread pile. The knife rack and the toaster are fine, I don’t mind that they live on the counter. But we obviously eat a lot of different types of bread products (there’s wheat, white, mini-bagels, and hamburger buns in that pile), and I hate seeing that stuff all piled messily in the corner.

Here’s what it looks like after my shopping excursion.
After: basket for the bread makes it feel tidier
Ideally, I would’ve liked an old-timey breadbox that I could close and shut everything away, but those are pretty hard to find these days. I like the basket as an alternative, because it makes it feel like it’s tidy and organized since it’s all in one place. And it’ll be much easier to clean around it, since I can just pick up the basket (rather than 6 different bread bags!) when I wipe down the counters.

Exhibit B:
Before: sugar, tea & coffee always on the counter
Sugar, coffee, and tea are always out on the counter. Again, I don’t mind the electric kettle or the blender being out, since they’re both appliances that get used daily, but the food items themselves drive me crazy. I don’t even drink coffee or tea! My Diet Cokes are all neatly concealed inside the fridge. But Dave, being an Englishman, drinks a steady amount of coffee and tea pretty much all day long.

Here’s the “after” picture for that one (this is by far my favorite part of this whole kitchen tidy-up project):
After: containers for sugar, coffee & tea
I got airtight containers for the sugar, coffee, and tea. And I love them. It makes the whole counter look cleaner.

I’m very pleased with the results. And I’m no longer anxious about people judging the chronic messiness of my kitchen when they visit my house for the holidays, so I’d definitely call that a win.

PR Done Right

**This post is not sponsored in any way, shape, or form. I just think this was a particularly awesome experience that warrants a shout-out.**

One of the major things people talk about at BlogHer is the swag. Last year, I brought home way too much stuff, and a lot of it eventually wound up in the trash. This year, I was way more cautious about only bringing home stuff that I genuinely wanted. The rest of it, either I didn’t pick it up in the first place, or I gave it to one of my hotel roommates.

Something I actually did want to keep, was a Play-Doh duffel bag. Sure, it’s nothing huge, but I knew Catie would like it, so it was one of the things I shoved in my suitcase to bring home with me.

Flash-forward to Sunday, at LaGuardia airport. My suitcase was 3 pounds overweight. The (not-very nice or helpful) airline attendant told me that I’d either have to take some stuff out or she was going to charge me $75. (Which, BTW, would be on top of the $25 I was already paying to check my one damn suitcase in the first place, and good GRIEF, don’t get me started on that sucky new airline policy.) I didn’t want to pay $75 for 3 pounds worth of stuff, so I quickly opened my suitcase and grabbed a few things to shove into my carry-on.

Without thinking about it, I put the Play-Doh duffel bag in my carry-on bag. It never occurred to me that Play-Doh would be considered a “liquid” (WTF?), and so, a few minutes later at security, my Play-Doh was confiscated by the TSA.

To be fair: I know this was my fault. I should’ve packed more carefully ahead of time. I was annoyed with myself, and I was irritated with the TSA (because come ON, you can see that the package is sealed and has never been opened or tampered with, and I also heard from other people who got their Play-Doh past the TSA without a problem, which just made me even more irritated). I mentioned something on Twitter about how the TSA took my Play-Doh, and somebody made a joke about how they actually took it so they could play with it themselves in their break room, and I really thought that was the end of that.

A few days after I got home from NYC, I got an email from a representative of Hasbro, apologizing for the trouble I had with the TSA, and asking for my mailing address so they could replace the Play-Doh that was taken. I was pretty surprised. None of this incident was Hasbro’s fault in the slightest. What am I going to say? “Damn you, Hasbro, you gave me a lovely gift for free and I lost it, and it’s all your fault!” That doesn’t even make any sense.

We got the new Play-Doh set in the mail yesterday. Catie is very pleased.

Catie loves Play-Doh

Catie loves Play-Doh

So, thank you, Hasbro. You made a little girl’s Saturday morning a lot more fun than usual.

**Honest to God. Not sponsored at all. I just thought they deserved a little praise there for handling the situation so well.**

BlogHer '10 Recap

Getting back to real life this week has been crazy hectic. Here’s my BlogHer recap as quickly as possible (which is still probably way too long). Expect sentence fragments & a ton of links ahead!

* Flew in on Thursday. Minor flight issues (re-routed to JFK instead of LGA), but otherwise fine. Registered, settled into the hotel, met my roomies (I already knew Angie, but this was my first time meeting Patrick and Mandi), couldn’t get the wi-fi to work, and met my Boyfriend of the Weekend, Armand – aka the Hilton’s IT guy. (He was awesome. And cute. And he flirted with me, which, like, never happens. I mean, come on, I’m a chubby mom in my mid-30’s. I’ll take what I can get.)

* Got dressed up for Thursday night parties: first the People’s Party (highlight: I met The Bloggess!), then the Schick Intuition party (and I know, it feels weird to say I’m going to a party sponsored by a ladies’ razor, but really? That party was freaking awesome. Open bar!).

Jen (@jenbshaw) & me

me with Ali (@adil320)

Danielle (@daisyJD) double-fisting her cocktails
Danielle! (Who I’d never met before, but she’s awesome! And very pretty!)

* Left the party and sat in Jen and Brittany’s hotel room and ate greasy pizza at midnight and gossiped about all kinds of random stuff with Heather, Heather’s cousin Leah (Leah, do you have a blog?), Ali, Mishi, Danielle, and… um… at least 1 more person who I’ve totally forgotten. (I’m not trying to be rude, I’d just had like 4 drinks that night, so things are a bit… blurry.) That might’ve been one of the highlights of my weekend, I love those ladies.

* Got up way too early on Friday, and Angie and I went to Dawn and Lotus‘s room to wake them up. I saw Dawn’s boobs. (Side note: WOW.) We all split up since I was in DIRE need of breakfast and Diet Coke.

* Went to lunch at Carnegie Deli with Angie, Aunt Becky (who is awesome and hilarious; she threatened me with physical violence within like 5 minutes of meeting me, so she’s totally my kind of people), and the one and only Anissa freaking Mayhew, which was amazing. There were also husbands there, and a couple of people who met with us later, but OMG the links are getting obnoxious, aren’t they?

* Had a free reflexology foot massage. Another highlight of the trip, for sure. That felt amazing.

* Community keynote speech. Awesome. Left my iPhone on the table. Not awesome. Realized it when I got upstairs to our room, then ran back down to retrieve it. I ran into Armand, my Hilton IT Department Boyfriend, and he said he’d help me find it. I almost kissed him. (I didn’t.) (Oh, also? Found out that because Patrick and I had been alone in the room when Armand came to set up our wi-fi, and we were both talking about our spouse and kids, who obviously were not the same people, he thought that Patrick and I were having an affair. Even though I’d just met Patrick, like, 15 minutes earlier. I found this highly amusing.) Ran back to the ballroom where the keynote speech had been, but my phone was gone. Found some friends, asked them to tweet about it, and Armand very sweetly walked me ALL OVER the damn Hilton looking for it. I filed a report with security, he took me way back in the kitchen to make sure it hadn’t gotten scooped up with the dishes & linens, etc. It was really so nice of him, since it was way above & beyond his regular job duties. I even tweeted the Hilton that they need to give him a raise.

* My iPhone never turned up. Broke my damn heart.

* More parties on Friday night. More booze too. Wish I knew that the photobooth pics were going to end up online, because I would’ve taken more. (Although that one with Miss Grace is awesome.) Snuggled with miss Annabel Spohr, made my ovaries ache.

Annabel and me

Tried to go to sleep that night but stayed up talking about hair metal with Patrick. We share a common love for c0ck r0ck. (Angie slept through that conversation, but we kept poor Mandi awake with all our talk of Warrant, Bon Jovi, etc.)

* Saturday, went to a couple of sessions. One of them was the session on writing through grief and loss with Cecily, Loralee, Kim, Anissa & Peter. It was a really touching session, and everyone around me was crying, but I was doing a really good job of holding it together. Until I got an email from my sister, which said, “I want you to enjoy your weekend in NYC, so go to the Apple Store and buy yourself a new iPhone, and I’ll pay for it.” THAT, my friends, is the moment that I burst into tears. (It wasn’t just the phone, it was a combination of everything, I think.)

* Saturday afternoon, went to lunch at Serendipity with a bunch of people (seriously, enough with the linkage already), then walked over to the Apple Store to get my new phone. Walked back to the hotel, synced my iPhone with my laptop, and I think that probably everyone within a 5-mile radius heard my screams of joy when all my data was restored. (Sorry about that.)

* Saturday night, more parties and more booze.

me and Miss Jenny Grace (@grace134)

It was awesome and so fun, and I’ve totally lost my voice from talking over the loud music. (In fact, that was my only teeny-tiny complaint about the parties – the music was TOO LOUD. Which I think shows that I am officially old.)

* Sunday morning: cab ride to LaGuardia with Lotus and Jen.

cab ride to LaGuardia with Lotus (@sarcasticmomlc) and Jen (@jenbshaw)

We look good for how tired we were.

* Got through security and found Casey.

sleepy at the airport with Casey (@mooshinindy)

Who also looks good for how tired she was.

* Flight home was uneventful. Saw Catie and Dave waiting by the escalators at baggage claim for me, Catie started jumping up and down when she saw me. I picked her up, and for the first time in ages, I didn’t care that all 37 pounds of her hurts my arms. I just couldn’t get my face out of her neck. I missed the feel and smell of her. Who knew you could miss someone so much after just three days?

Happy to be home, but yes, we heart NY

I think she was pretty happy to see me, too.

Not the pre-BlogHer post I was planning

Tomorrow, I’m getting on a plane bound for New York City, so I can go to BlogHer ’10. I bought my conference pass ages ago (February, I think?), so I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

But yesterday, there was a big chunk of the day where I thought I was going to have to scrap my NYC plans completely. See, yesterday we found out that my uncle Stanton (you know my cousin Cat who I talk about all the time, and our kids are BFFs with each other? This is her dad) had a massive heart attack. Like, he was dead for 10 minutes and the EMTs managed to shock him and get him back. It’s really really bad.

It makes no sense. He’s one of the most athletically fit people you’ll ever meet. He’s an avid cyclist and rides his bike every day. This whole thing actually happened while he was on a bike ride with his friends. It’s just a freak thing. It’s basically the equivalent of Superman having a heart attack. Completely illogical.

And all I could think about was how Cat must be feeling, about how I’d feel if it were my dad, and I just wanted to do something. Anything. So at one point I offered to sell my BlogHer pass and change my plane ticket to fly to Texas with her. She said no, and she flew out last night with Austin, her 18 month-old, since he can still fly for free, plus you know, the Magic Healing Powers of Grandbabies can’t possibly hurt. She told me not to change my plans, to go to BlogHer and have fun. (Sure. Easier said than done!)

Right now it looks like things are very much in a wait-and-see phase, and we likely won’t have any news until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest, by which point I’ll already be in New York.

So, you know, just FYI: I’m generally not the socially anxious type, and I don’t do Blogger Drama as a rule, so if you see me obsessively checking my phone with worry lines on my forehead? I’m not freaking out about the conference thing at all. I just don’t cope very well with family crises (but then: who does?). So if you happen to notice me looking all frazzled and distant, please come over and talk to me, give me a hug, slap me upside the head, shove a drink into my hand, whatever. I’d really appreciate the distraction.

Oh, also, for those of you who’ll be at BlogHer this weekend? See y’all tomorrow. (Yay!)

better luck next month

I knew this wasn’t going to be our month.

I started charting my cycles again – I even dropped $1.99 on the oh-so-handy iPeriod app for my phone – and I started taking my temperature every morning. Doing that helped me get pregnant with Catie, so why not try it again?

Side note: I lost my basal body temp thermometer sometime during our last two moves. I searched everywhere and couldn’t find it, so I finally bought a new one at Target. Dave saw the package and misread “basal” as “anal” – he wasn’t wearing his glasses, obviously – and he said, “WOW. That’s ONE way to wake up in the morning!” I laughed, but uh… no. (Can you imagine? If I had to do that in order to get pregnant, I’d probably decide that one kid is PLENTY. Jeez.)

Anyway, since I’m charting, I had a pretty good idea of exactly when I ovulated. And I knew our timing was off. I shrugged it off and thought, oh well, no big deal, at least now I sort of have an idea of how to predict it so maybe we’ll get it right next time.

But then, on Sunday, I woke up with a bad headache and really horrible nausea. I mentioned on Twitter and Facebook that I didn’t feel well and immediately got a bunch of “OMG do you think you’re pregnant???” And I thought, well, if I am, surely it’s way too early for symptoms, but… maybe?

By Sunday night, I noticed that the nausea was at its worst when my stomach was empty. As soon as I ate something, I was ok. Which is pretty much exactly what I felt like when I was first pregnant with Catie. I also noticed that my boobs were sore, which is not a typical PMS symptom for me.

Monday was more of the same: more nausea (which was at its worst when I was hungry) and more sore boobs. And I was really weepy about the strangest things. Normally when I’m PMSing, I get irritable, not sad. Huh.

I bought a pregnancy test and took it as soon as I got home. It was negative. But, I thought, it’s still early and I didn’t use my first morning pee like you’re supposed to, so… I guess it’s still remotely possible? I decided I’d wait a few days before I tested again.

This morning, when I took my temperature, I noticed that it had dropped. I knew that wasn’t a good sign.

I started my period a little while ago. Which, you know… it sucks, but I knew, I knew this was coming, right? I knew two weeks ago that the timing was off. So I don’t quite know why I’m so sad about it. But I am. There you have it.

And? I’m still having nausea issues, which at this point, feels like just rubbing salt in the damn wound. Like, ok stomach, I get the point, you win. I’m so sorry for whatever I ate FOUR DAYS AGO that you’re still upset about. You can ease up now.

On the bright side: this means that I don’t have to lie to anyone at BlogHer next week. Dave’s very superstitious about saying anything during the first trimester, and I respect that, but I didn’t know how that would work when I’m surrounded by a bunch of my friends who all know that we’re trying. It’s easy to hide this kind of stuff online; you only talk about what you choose to talk about. In person, things get more complicated. I imagined it going like this:

Bartender: Drink?
Me: No thanks, just water.
*record scratch, stunned silence*
All 2,000 BlogHer attendees: OMG you are totally pregnant!
Me: *blushing and hiding my face because I am a terrible liar*

So, you know, I don’t have to lie about anything. And I’m free to have as many fruity girly cocktails as my drink tickets allow. I guess that’s good.

Silver linings, people. I’ll take ’em where I can get ’em.

my little BlogHer recap

BlogHer was amazing, as I expected. I know tons of people are going to write posts about it, far more eloquently than I can – although, let’s be fair, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage since I’m pounding this out on the airplane with the most epic hangover I’ve had in years. (Typing blog posts in MS Word to copy & paste later, can I get an amen?)

(Also: the last time I had to get on a plane while hungover-or-possibly-still-drunk-from-the-night-before was when my cousin Teresa passed away in 2004. And even though the circumstances around last night’s alcohol consumption were much more joyous this time [celebrating new friendships rather than mourning a horrible loss], flying with a hangover sucks exactly as much as I remember.)

(Also also: hi parentheses! Prepare to be overused. My brain is basically one giant non-sequitur today.)

So, yes. I met tons of bloggers that I adore. The few “rock star” bloggers that I got the nerve to talk to were all lovely and sweet and completely gracious. Some were a little shy and awkward (which, yeah ok, I sort of forget that we’re all basically nerds; I keep thinking that I’m the only one), and some were a lot warmer than I expected and gave me big hugs. I was surprised at how many people knew my name – or rather, my Twitter handle. (Another parenthetical aside: it was VERY weird to introduce myself as PooBou for 3 days. No one actually calls me that in real life, but after a while I just kind of got used to it.)

Then, of course, there are the bloggers who I talk online with a lot, and I was worried that our online connection wouldn’t translate to real life. And you know? It totally translated. From the second I met them in person, it felt like I was just hanging out with old friends who I’ve known for years. Like there’s already an established history, it was totally comfortable and easy. I loved that.

Heather & me

Maura & Krystle

Jen & Brittany

Greis & me

I didn’t attend as many sessions as I wanted. Some I intentionally skipped because they just didn’t apply to me, or because I needed a nap, or because I went wandering through downtown Chicago to go meet up with an old friend (who I’ve known literally since the day my parents brought me home from the hospital, and who I hadn’t seen in over a decade). (Hi, Dendy!) Then there were a few sessions that I really wanted to attend, but they were in tiny conference rooms that I couldn’t get into. People were lined up in the hallways trying to cram themselves in, and just couldn’t. (So, if any BlogHer people read this: bigger conference rooms for the Room of Your Own sessions next year, please!) The best part of the sessions by far was the Community Keynote speeches at the end of the first day. I’ll post a link when it’s online, but seriously, I was doing the full-on ugly cry during a few of them, and almost peeing myself laughing during the others. Anyone who says that bloggers aren’t really writers should watch those.

Of course, you can’t get 1,400 women together without some drama. There were rumors about some illicit affairs happening between bloggers (which I’m 99.9% sure were all b.s.), and there were some women there who got nicknamed “swag whores” because they were literally shoving people out of the way to grab all the free stuff they could. Fortunately for me, I didn’t witness any of that, I just heard about it from other people. I’m generally not a fan of drama, so I’m honestly relieved that I missed all of that and it didn’t put a damper on the experience for me.

Overall, it was great. The swag is nice, sure. I got some cool toys to bring home to Catie. (And some for myself – ahem *thank you room 704 ladies, mwah!* cough cough.) And I got to meet Tim Gunn and have my picture taken with him, which was awesome. (And I’m waiting for the Tide people to post the picture so I can nab it, but they haven’t yet. Argh!) I was in head-to-toe Old Navy, I felt totally unfashionable, but he was so kind and funny and wonderful that I didn’t even care. Plus I made him laugh, and I didn’t accidentally say the f-word in front of him or anything, so bonus points for me.

Tim Gunn sighting!

But the whole point of going to BlogHer for me was to learn more about great writing in this space, to meet the other bloggers that I love, to hang out, and to have fun. So really, the highlight of the weekend was just sitting around a hotel with some insanely talented, hilarious, smart and just effing fantastic people who I absolutely adore, and who I am so proud to call my friends.

So, thank you so much. To Greis, Krystle, Jen, Dawn, VDog, Mrs. Flinger, BJ, Maura, Meghan, Heather, and soooo many other people I can’t even name them all, who made this weekend so completely wonderful and fun. I love y’all, and can’t wait to see you next year!