No BlogHer for me

This is kind of a bummer, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I really can’t go to BlogHer this year. Two major reasons:

1. Money. I’m currently on an unpaid maternity leave, so spending a huge amount of money for airfare to San Diego, plus hotel, meals, taxis, etc.? It’s just not practical right now.

Plus, Dave’s 40th birthday is in September and we were going to try to do a family trip then, so I should really be putting any “fun” money toward a trip for all of us, rather than something just for me.

2. Lucy. My original plan, back when I bought my BlogHer conference pass in December, was that I’d go and bring Lucy with me. I’ve seen people bring babies to conferences before, and she’s tiny, so it’s easy, right? Just put her in a wrap or a sling and go. No big deal!

Only, I seem to have a baby that does not sleep through noise, so the parties would be difficult. And I couldn’t go to any sessions because I wouldn’t want to disrupt them with a crying baby. Dave has said repeatedly that I can leave both kids with him, and he can manage fine. And I’m sure that’s true, but my heart just can’t leave Lucy for three days when she’s this tiny.

So, I’m selling my conference pass. I got it at the super early bird price, so it’s only $150, if anyone reading this is interested at all.

I’m really bummed to miss it, because I love so many people who’ll be there. But there’s always next year. Money should be less of an issue then, and Lucy will be over a year old, so I’ll (hopefully) feel less guilty about leaving her.

Lucy's agenda for today: nap on mom's lap. Check.

I mean, come ON. Could you leave that face?

And for those of you who will be in San Diego: drink something fruity (preferably with alcohol in it) for me, ok?

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.

looking for my party dress

I’ve got a bunch of stuff swirling around my head right now, but most of it is not really all that interesting. I doubt any of y’all really want to hear about:
* This chapter I’m writing, which is due on Friday, and has got me all sorts of stressed out. Oh, and how yesterday I drew the most awesome diagram of an Active Directory-integrated DNS zone in the entire history of diagrams of DNS zones. Yeah, baby.
* The fact that my house is a mess (because of the aforementioned book deadline) and it’s starting to gross me out. I’m already making a mental list of which tasks I’m going to tackle as soon as I’m done writing.
* House-hunting and my ridiculously long list of criteria, and how we sort of like this one new development, but there are a whole bunch of risks associated with new developments these days, and oh my god, how am I supposed to make a decision like this? Whine whine, woe is me and my privileged little life. People are losing their dream homes left and right and I’m debating over whether to buy resale or have a house custom-built for us. Yeah. Poor me, I know. Shut up, Cindy. God.

So instead, let’s talk about BlogHer. Because I’m going.

BlogHer '09 In Real Life

It’s next month, and I’m already getting a little nervous. As it turns out, when you go to BlogHer, it’s not just the conference itself (which is on Friday and Saturday), but there are also a bunch of parties. So, I’m flying in on Thursday evening, and I’ve already RSVP’ed to two different parties that night. And that’s just Thursday! Before the conference has even officially started!


And I’m also going to the Room 704 party that night (alas, their badges aren’t working).

The parties are at different times, so that’s fine, I should be able to attend both. But here’s the thing: everyone dresses up for these events. And my wardrobe consists mostly of jeans and hoodies. Seriously, you should see the shoes that some people plan on wearing. (Hi, Heather!) It’s crazy. I’m definitely feeling the pressure to cute-ify myself up a bit. (Yes, I just used cute as a verb. Shush.)

So I’m now shopping online for dresses that I can wear on the plane, so I can arrive at the hotel looking gorgeous and ready to party. It’s only an hour and a half direct flight, but you know, it’ll be July. So the sweatiness (and ensuing shiny forehead) is a concern. And I need a dress with at least a little bit of sleeve. Because as much as I might act like my flabby upper arms don’t bother me and I’m fine and “yeah, I’m cool with my size 12-ness” in person, I also know people will be taking pictures at these parties. And if I see photos of my flabby upper arms, my whole self-acceptance facade will fly out the window, and I will cry and beg people to delete the pictures of me. So that’s no good. But it does make it harder to shop, since it seems that most dresses are sleeveless.

I did, however, manage to find these online (thank you, – now if you’d only make linking easier so I don’t have to copy & paste everything):

black & white dress
I think this one is my favorite. It’s so pretty and looks like it would be very flattering.

black & white patterned dress
I honestly can’t tell if this is flattering or not because of that ridiculous pose the model is doing. But I think I might like it? Maybe?

brown dress with cap sleeves
I’m not sure what I think about the brown, but it also comes in black. It meets my two requirements as far as covering a little bit of arm and not being too clingy on my tummy area. And if worn with the right bra, it might actually give the illusion that I have boobs. Hmm.

black & white print dress
I don’t usually like all-over prints on me, but something about this dress really appeals to me. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s cute.

little black dress
This one might work, since I know I won’t look nearly as severe and dead-behind-the-eyes as the model. I probably won’t lean on walls like that either.

What do y’all think? Votes?

As for the shoes, I think I’m going to have to find some cute ballet flats or something, because I refuse to be That Woman who wears heels through the airport. Maybe I’ll toss something cuter in my bag to change into once I get to the party, but I haven’t figured that part out yet.