In the End

Today marks the end of NaBloPoMo: thirty days of solid, uninterrupted blog posts.

Whew.

Part of me wants to keep going just to see how long I can go. The other part of me wants to slap the first part of me for being insane.

The thing is, I have learned some things from all this key-pounding.

For one, I learned that I can, in fact, carve out a slice of time every day to write. Some days it’s only about 5 minutes, but I consciously take the time. It’s been good for me mentally, I think. I feel like I was able to write about stuff as I thought about it rather than saying, “That would make a good blog post…someday.”

By hitting “publish” every day, I also learned that I probably don’t have to hit publish every day. The fact that I sat down to write is the good part. In fact, there are some posts that could stand to have stayed drafts to be revisited later. They just didn’t quite say what I wanted…or at least not the way I wanted to say it.

Not everything I write is gold, but dang if I didn’t write some good stuff this past month. At least in my lowly opinion it was good stuff. And I learned that writing begets writing. I’m sort of afraid to stop because I’m afraid if I skip a day, I will skip another day, and then a week, and then I will be rarely posting again. When I post only rarely, I start putting pressure on myself to write amazing things every time. So then I don’t post because I think what I’ve got to say isn’t good enough to break a silence of days of non-posts. It’s a stupid cycle.

Writing every day also forces me to think like a writer. Everything I do becomes fodder for a post, and I find myself jotting notes on post its, my planner, and even my hand. I write notes on my church bulletin and on receipts. Sometimes it’s singular words. I had “white church” written on a post-it that I carried around until I wrote about it last week.  Sometimes it’s a topic or a phrase. Sometimes I write a bunch of stuff in a notebook and use that to craft a post. I have been looking at my life through my writer’s lens this whole month, and that has felt good.

Lastly, I have learned…or actually reaffirmed…that I am a procrastinator. I never finished my days post (ok, I never even sat down to write them) until the evening. There were nights when–and Cortney can attest to this–I have been crabby and annoyed because I had  to still write something.

But I did it. Every day I did it.

What’s Past is Prologue

With it being National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo), I’ve been thinking a lot about this space. I realize it’s only Day 2 of the month, so Ok, I’ve been thinking about it for awhile, but this is as good of a time as any to actually write about it.

I keep seeing all these links to posts and articles about blogging being “dead”.

This makes me laugh. For one, many of my readers had no idea blogging was “alive” in the first place. Those of you who have stuck around are not really “blog readers” as much as you read MY blog. So ya know, that is cool.

Another reason it gives me a chuckle is because when I started this space over eight years ago, I didn’t even know blogging was a “thing” at all. I just wrote silly, boring updates about our life. Then one day (probably for Wordless Wednesday or something), I posted a picture of a tiny Eddie in a onsie standing with his little hands our on our large front window. I had two comments on it: one from a friend who always commented and one from someone I didn’t know!

That started the whole “blogging is a thing” for me. I realized that there were thousands and thousands of blogs out there on the internet. There were communities for blogging in all areas of social media (who remembers Blog Frog? Anyone? Is it still a thing?). I joined networks and did blog hops and even co-hosted some of these sites for linking up writing. My stats were at an all-time high about four years ago.

If I look at my stats now, I guess I would have to agree that “blogging is dead,” but to be honest, I didn’t really ever do this for the stats.

The reason I started this blog–and continue to post here–is because I want a written record of my stories. Of our life as a family. It started as a way to keep friends and family updated, but it morphed into something even more meaningful once we had kids.

One time my mom and I were looking through my baby book and some things she had saved. In the pile we found some paper with some “memories” jotted down from when I was tiny. She had written some funny things I said (how I said “k-pop pop” for “ketchup”) and did (one time my dad was home alone with me and I threw up on the bathroom floor). She said something about wishing she had written down more because it’s just too hard to remember it all–even when you think you will never forget some of the stuff.

I realized the memories–both small and large–that I put here will help me and my kids know what our life was like right now.

I also have never gone back and deleted a post. There are some that could go because they don’t further my “mission” of writing for my kids–like giveaways. But it is what it is, right? Shakespeare used the phrase “what’s past is prologue” in his play The Tempest meaning that everything in the past is a preface for the present and the future.

That is how I feel about my writing here.

I may do side things or try new writing stuff, but as far as I plan, Sluiter Nation will always be here as my place to write about me, my life, and my kids. On my “About” page, I call this blog a legacy blog because writing my words and my stories–our stories–is a way to leave something for my children.

This is my place to tell stories to remember their little selves, to give my thoughts on everything from potty training to gay marriage to my own {at times shaky} faith.  My hope is that this blog will be here, in some form, long after I am gone.

The hype and trendiness of blogging may have come and gone, but it really doesn’t matter to me. My words will still be here.

BOO!

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Oh. Hi. It’s November.

That means it’s National Blog Post Month (you know, for those of us who don’t have the stones to do National Novel Writing Month). This is where I attempt to post every single day in November.

What could go wrong with that plan, right? I mean, this week is only the end of the first marking period at school. Next week is only  parent/teacher conferences for both my school AND Eddie’s. We only have Thanksgiving coming up plus my starting a new marking period with my students. We only have three birthday parties and two babies due in November in our family. NO BIG DEAL. It’s the PERFECT time to try to write something post-able every. single. day.

[I’m crazy]

Anyway, this first post is an easy one. It’s about last night. Halloween.

I sort of hate Halloween. It stresses me out and makes me cranky.

I know, I know…I’m such a scrooge. Such a Debbie Downer.

That doesn’t mean we don’t do the Halloween “stuff”. Everyone was in a costume (everyone = all three kids) and we had pumpkins that we actually carved. We didn’t do the pumpkin patch because it was on the list of things ain’t nobody got time for, but Cortney grabbed three great ones on his lunch break Thursday, and we carved them up Friday night.

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Saturday the kids dressed up in the costumes. Alice was not all that excited to have whiskers drawn on, but she got over it. Charlie was almost too excited to have a mustache drawn on.

We went to first to Cortney’s mom and step-dad’s house. That is always fun because Granny knows how to rock Halloween. Not only does she have goodie bags for the kids, she also always has cookies and other snacks out…as well as a beer/wine for the parents.

Plus the cousins are there too, so cute goes into overload.

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I know. Alice appears to be questioning all her life choices up to this point. She was so unsure of all that was going on. But she and her cousin, Alia, were adorable as Raggedy Ann and Minnie Mouse.

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SERIOUSLY. SO CUTE.

If we could have just stopped here, I would have been totally cool with Halloween. Seriously.. Maybe next year we should just go here and have the kids trick or treat their neighborhood because there were snacks and wine for adults.

But we went over to my parents house next because Halloween is totally a grandparents dream…seeing their cutie grandkids in costume, spoiling them rotten with too much candy, and then sending them on their way.

By the time we got home, it was rainy and wet and way past dinner time. But the boys wanted to go door-to-door. So Cortney took Alice in to feed her and get our dinner ready, and I took the boys to a few houses.

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Since it was raining and I was cranky, I dropped the boys at the first house, rolled the windows down in my car, and yelled “run to the next house!” while I slowly drove along. We did this for about 8 houses. Then I pulled their damp little bodies into the car, drove around the block to our street, and dropped them to go to the house next door to us. Then they sprinted home to ring our doorbell.

As much as I was over it, I couldn’t help smile at the fact that Charlie looked just like Mario running and jumping through yards.

Until we got home and I pulled shoes off and found dog poop on Eddie’s skeleton foot. Ew.

But then we ate chili and cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate and all went to bed.

Oh, and rolled the clocks back. That was good times too.

Happy November. Happy NaBloPoMo. Let’s see if I can keep up.

30 Blog Posts

I did it.

I posted all 30 days of November, and I learned a few things along the way.

1. I don’t really enjoy posting every single day.

2. I am not entirely happy with what I have written for that day, but instead of just hitting “save” on the draft, I hit “publish” because, well, a post a day!

3. I don’t feel like I wrote more than I usually do; I just hit publish more often.

4. I found myself thinking “is this a blog post?” about everything…like I used to do.

5. I am still annoyed about the picture thing. Yes, there have been pictures but that is either with copy/paste or embedding via Flickr. Both are annoying stand in’s to what I should be able to do here.

6. I do still enjoy writing every day, and it’s not all bad to have some pressure to hit publish once in a while.

7. I’ve been more stumped for content because, I think, I’ve been holding back.  No, I know I have. I have some stuff I really, really want to write about, but I am afraid of being controversial or whatever and I don’t have the energy to “deal with” the fall out. Or even the support.  I know. That is sad.

8. Blogging every day has me somehow missing real people more than usual. I am still working this through my brain about what this even means.

9. I’ve become acutely aware of how much has changed since I was at the “height” of my blogging (stats-wise that is) in 2011/12. I didn’t care what other people were logging about or what had been said already. I was writing my own truth not trying to say something new.  Now I feel like a small, repetitive voice in a sea of “been there, done that” type of writing.

10.. I made time to post, but I didn’t make enough time to read others, and I wish I had. I miss reading blogs just for fun. So to those of you who have popped over here, thank you. I know how big of a deal that is.

Will I do NaBloPoMo again next year? I don’t know. I didn’t know I was going to do it this year until I had posted on November one and decided to see if I could. So maybe?

I also know I am tired and tomorrow starts the three-week haul to Christmas break, so I am going to go grab some rest.

The Pros and Cons of a Janky Blog

My blog ain’t quite right.

A couple months ago I found I couldn’t log in. So I hired someone amazing and she fixed it.

Or so we thought.

I mean, I can log in and my blog is back and not hacked anymore.  She did her thing.  But something is still janky.  Something that is not her fault or mine.  We thought it was a hosting issue. I have a media library, can upload to it, but cannot access it from a post. So you know, that does me no good.  There are also weird memory-type errors. Like it can’t find my list of tags when I start typing them. It won’t let me make new categories. Among other weirdo things.

But GoDaddy can’t figure it out.

So maybe it’s a WordPress thing?  We don’t know. Cortney is working on it because I just hear gobble-dee-gook and start rocking and crying in a corner.

But I can type words.

It’s been driving me nuts to not post a picture with my posts though. I have pretty much had to give up Project 365 for this year since I am over two months behind. I mean, I have the pictures on my computer, but there is no way I am going to put them all up once (if? ACK!) this thing ever gets fixed.

It’s weird not to photo-document this pregnancy with Alice. In fact, it makes me angry. I have so SO many posts and pictures of BOTH boys in my tummy. Nothing of Alice.

Not being able to post pictures has made me use my words though. I have to either write or not post and because I am sick of not posting, I have been putting my words here.

I’d love to put a montage of snuggly pictures to show you how the boys have been with me lately, but I don’t have that option. So I’ll just have to tell you that Charlie likes to sit so close to me that it’s hard to tell where I stop and he begins. He has started to do this thing when we ask him to come to us where he turns and shakes his booty at us. It’s simultaneously frustrating and hilarious.

We have always laid next to Eddie as he falls asleep at night, but lately he has been turning into my negative space and putting a hand on my arm as he falls asleep.  A couple nights ago he confessed that he wishes I wasn’t pregnant because I am too tired all the time and he doesn’t want to have to share a room with Charlie. Then he started to cry because he was afraid Alice would think he didn’t love her.

My boys are so sweet.

I wish I could put their picture here.

But I guess I really don’t need to.

(I still want my janky blog fixed though.)

Internet Friends are Real and Other Lessons

I’ve been home from BlogHer for over a week and a half now and I’m still trying to figure out how to write a recap.

Ok, let’s be honest, I’m struggling to write anything.

Before BlogHer, my whole family got sick. It started with Eddie and a trip to the ER. He was burning up and was sick and scared. Turned out he had a nasty case of strep throat. Then Charlie got it. Then I got it. Then Cortney got it.

We also have this THING going on (that’s not bad, but I can’t talk about it yet).

Just before leaving, my wonderful friend, The Preacher’s Wife, dropped off homemade soup, salad, applesauce, cookies, and a nice crusty loaf of bread. I cried. I just felt so…taken care of. It sounds silly to say out loud, but other than my mom, I don’t have many women near me who just do that sort of thing.

So then the next day I left for San Jose.

My first full day there I found out Eddie was sick all over again. Or rather he was still sick. The antibiotics hadn’t taken care of it all. Cortney was worried that if Eddie didn’t get rid of his fever, his plans to go to a concert Saturday night would be thwarted. I worried because I felt guilty that Cortney was losing so many days at work (and possibly a fun night out) and I was on the other side of the country.

But something happened at the conference.

While I did spend a lot (a LOT) of time texting with Cortney about everyone’s health, I was also surrounded by women who were legitimately concerned too.

I’ve been blogging for seven years, and over that time I have heard over and over “find your tribe”. I will admit right here that I always thought that was hokey.  Wasn’t that just another way of telling women to find their blogger “clique”?  What was this? High school?  I wasn’t in any “tribe” in high school and I wasn’t going to start now. I just get along with everyone…or almost everyone.

Just over a year ago I found myself in a blogger tribe. A group of women who where, at first, my go-to for all things internet and writing. But as we all communicated, it became so much more. Since we are all personal bloggers, personal stuff gets intertwined in the discussion about blogging. We have been there for intense high moments (births, graduations, etc) and horrible lows (pregnancy loss, deaths in the family, divorce, etc).

Many of these women were at BlogHer. Whenever they saw me, the first thing out of their mouths was always, “how are  you? Is everything Ok with the boys? How is the THING?” I felt loved and cared for even though I was worried and exhausted from stupid jet lag.

And that extended to the rest of the conference too. It was smaller this year than in the past years I went and I liked that.

Every presentation I went to from Jenny Lawson to Kerry Washington, from Tig Notaro to all the 10×10’s, and especially the VOTY (which is my #1 reason for wanting to be there in the first place, I felt this mad supportive vibe. The conference was intimate and more intense than ever. Over and over I felt the message was TELL YOUR STORY. TELL IT.

And the stories we heard: hilarious, heart-wrenching, horrible.

I tried to say hi to everyone that I know online if I saw them, but I know I missed a few.

I didn’t feel stressed out by the conference this year because there weren’t a zillion things going on at once. I liked that they eliminated all the outside parties and events and kept everything close.

I was a little bummed by the food choices. I mean, I get that we were in California, but a side salad is not a meal, yo. As Homer Simpson says, “You don’t make friends with salad.” And of course, as usual, the water/beverage situation was lacking. I will say breakfast was yum though. #baconrules

But in the grand scheme of it all, those are minor complaints.

Overall BlogHer was what I needed. I needed to hear those stories and be encouraged to tell mine. I needed to be reminded of the greatness of being a blogger…of being a personal blogger.

Voice matters.

And the voices of my friends were loud and clear: you matter to us, Katie.

In the span of two weeks I experienced something that I never really did before: women taking care of women just because it’s the kind thing to do. Because it’s how we hope our fellow sisters will treat us.

My blogging “tribe”, The Preacher’s Wife, and so many others just praying and helping where they can.

It’s a gift to realize you are loved.

I spend a lot of time an energy thinking about how I am not good at female friendships, but the past few weeks have proven to me that I don’t suck at them either.

just a few of the women who I call my friends. Photo credit: Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life

just a few of the women who I call my friends. Photo credit: Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life

New Year, New You! Kicking Off 2014 {Giveaway}

The holidays are over and all the decorations and traditions are packed up and put away.

The New Year has started and resolutions have been made {and perhaps already broken}.

I’m not a big resolution-maker, but I do always tell myself that I am going to treat myself a little gentler, a little kinder in the new year. I’m going to let myself have small moments and things that bring me joy.

Maybe that is a latte from Starbucks on the way to work instead of my coffee from home. Maybe it’s an hour alone to read a book. Maybe it’s treating my kids or my husband to something for no other reason than it will make them smile…and in turn, make me smile.

To kick off the new year, I want to make you smile! So I have a MASSIVE GIVEAWAY that I, along with my friend Alison of Writing, Wishing, set up!

Twelve prizes means TWELVE winners!  Check out the goods Alison and I have lined up for you!

New Year New You Giveaway

Two book package from author, Kate Hopper

Ready for Air

“After severe preeclampsia derails Kate Hopper’s birth plan, the author confronts her fears of preemie parenthood with brazen honesty and an occasional fitting expletive. Her memoir, a testament to the delights and uncertainties of motherhood, reads like a novel, though you won’t forget for a second that her story is true.” —Pregnancy & Newborn

Ready for Air is a harrowing, poignant, and occasionally hysterical journey through premature motherhood. Ready for Air is a testament to the strength of motherhood—and the sharing of stories—to transform lives.

Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers

“Part instructor, part motivator, part best friend, Kate guides mother-writers from idea through finished product, offering encouragement and hard-earned wisdom along the way. She intersperses poems, essays, and short memoirs…with passages about the craft of writing, and ends each chapter with helpful, short exercises for readers to try at home. Any mother who picks up Use Your Words and follows the carefully-planned instructions will be able to call herself a mother-writer by the final page.” —Hope Edelman, international bestselling author of Motherless Daughters

Both of these books will lead you to your notebook or computer and inspire you to write your own truths. Learn more about Kate’s writing and teaching at www.katehopper.com.

 Sunshine After The Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother anthology from Alexa Bigwarfe

Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother is written for grieving mothers, by grieving mothers (and a few fathers) who have managed to find their way through the muck after losing a baby. If you have found yourself feeling lonely or isolated after the death of a baby or child, this is a book for you. If you have found yourself trying to help someone you love after they have lost a baby and do not know how to do that, this is a book for you. This book is meant to bring hope and encouragement to those who have suffered through the death of a child, the loss of a pregnancy, and for all of those who support them in surviving afterwards.

 Plata Playa Handknit Cowl from Alma Boheme

This lusciously soft handknit cowl by Alma Boheme is made from handpainted merino wool from South Africa. It is a vibrant piece that is perfectly chunky to make you feel cozy and warm. Wear it draped around your neck once or twice depending on your mood. Plata Playa is Spanish for silvery beach, a tribute to its hues of grey blues and raw sienna. The cowl measures 49 inches round and 8 inches wide. It happens to be the first anniversary of Alma’s Etsy shop, which was born out of her love for designing and creating. All her items are easy to wear, and made from carefully selected fibres. In her words, “This giveaway is a gift of love of one of my favorite items, for all the love I have received.”

 A Lady In France, a memoir by Jennie Goutet

In this beautiful memoir, Jennie Goutet details the evolution of one woman’s faith and love in a singular story that is – at once – both intensely personal and universal in its themes. I soared and plunged along with her from beginning to end. ~ Julie Gardner. A Lady In France is available on Amazon.

 The Mother of All Meltdowns anthology from Crystal Ponti

Every mother, at some point, inevitably becomes her own worst enemy. In a millisecond, her halo crumbles and she has a moment so crazed it is forever known as the one—The Mother of All Meltdowns. This eye-opening anthology was written by women who have had their moments. Together they have experienced the anguish and frustration of the adult-sized tantrum. They have shed the tears, dropped to their knees in agony, and asked the age-old question, “Why me?” From poop-decorated rooms to having their liquid gold scrutinized and confiscated by TSA, they’re not afraid to share their collection of thirty tell-all stories. They are survivalists and know that within every meltdown there is a silver lining.

 Karma Gone Bad, a memoir by Jenny Feldon

When Jenny’s husband gets transferred to India for work, she looks forward to a new life filled with glamorous expat friends and exciting adventures. Ten thousand miles away from home, Jenny struggles to fight off depression and anger as her sense of self and her marriage begin to unravel. But after months of bitterness and takeout pizza, Jenny realizes what the universe has been trying to tell her all along: India doesn’t need to change. She does. Equal parts frustration, absurdity, and revelation, this is the true story of a Starbucks-loving city girl finding beauty in the chaos and making her way in the land of karma. Karma Gone Bad is available on Amazon.

Vanilla Scooter from Imagine Toys

 “Retro-styling makes this classic balance bike even more hip. Popular in Europe, balance bikes help develop skills needed to ride a pedal bikelater. Kids sit and make it go by pushing with their feet and gliding. Once they gain balance and momentum, they can lift their tiny toes and just cruise.” The scooter includes: Inflatable tires, adjustable-height seat, pretend lights and tachometer. Imagine Toys is a specialty toy store that carries unique toys that “encourage children to use their imaginations.”

 Alive Leather Slip Knot Bracelet from Simply Om

This gorgeous slip knot bracelet made by female artisans in remote areas of Guatemala will make you feel more alive…or at least your outfit! Simply Om offers beautiful hand-crafted jewelry in a fair trade marketplace. Each piece of jewelry comes with a story–a story that needs to be told, and can be told over and over each time you wear your piece.

$25 Gift Certificate to Sew Curly Creations

 Kristina Grum created Sew Curly Creations after realizing her family used far too many disposable plastic baggies. She started sewing up reusable fabric pouches for snacks, and then larger ones for sandwiches. From there her shop was born and grew to include everything from aprons for kiddos to burp clothes and personalized birthday shirts. She uses all organic, AZO-free dyed fabric for the snack bags.

Set of Coasters from Nicci @ Saving the Universe

 Nicci started her etsy shop, Changing the Universe, in an effort to share her love of creating with the universe. While she still loves to create, she is closing up shop and blog this new year to concentrate more on her children. Her unique fabric coasters are a fun way to add a splash of color to your livingroom, and have a useful design that can attach to the bottom of your wine glass!

$70 Gift Certificate to California Footwear

 California Footwear is a company based in…California, of course! Their mission is to “combine all of the best that California represents into high-quality footwear for people who care about their foot health.” Their sandals and clogs are not only super cute, but they are ergonomically created to treat your feet to comfort and functionality.

 Faith Necklace from R&L Design

This necklace by R&L Design is made of antique bronze with a matching “faith” pendant. The pendant measures 25×5.5mm and the  18” chain has a lobster clasp. Rebekah hand-makes each piece in her etsy shop with skill and love. This piece is simple, yet elegant and adds a bit of personality to any outfit.

*************

Good stuff, right?  To enter to win, simply follow the instructions in the widget below. Twelve winners will be chosen and randomly paired with a prize.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck & Happy New Year!!

Old School Blogging…The Fridge Edition

I am so excited to be co-hosting this month’s edition of Old School Blogging with my friend Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life.

This month we want to know what is on your fridge (or in or on top of, whatever).

I giggled when she told me this month’s meme because the front of my fridge is always a train wreck and I will admit this is what it looks like when it’s CLEAN.  Yikes.

Ok, so let’s start.

This is what it looks like:

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Let’s start with the front.

We have numerous pictures that have been sent to us–mostly of kids (some related to us, some not), but there is a school picture of my best friend, Tonya, up there.  She’s a teacher and so she gets pictures every year too, so of course  I have it on the fridge.

I also throw birth announcements up there. Currently the same Tonya’s new little man, William, has a prime piece of real estate right there by the handle to the freezer.

Then there are the millions of magnets.  Sluiters apparently cannot say no to a tacky magnet, so there they are. They range from the ones Cortney has gotten from bowling (they do this instead of patches now, I guess? Weird.) to homemade ones (the scibbled Noah’s Ark) to souvenirs (the buffalo butt from Wall Drug in SD).

Then there is our “All Out Of” notepad.  I won one of these years back in a blog giveaway and we loved it so much we have reordered a zillion time.  Next to that is our menu for the week.

We also have a letter opener, the poem “Footsteps”, some chip clips, a couple comic strips, the non-emergency number for the county cops, and a coupon for a free donut hanging up there.

Oh, and two magnet toy things: a barn thing and an ABC thing…without the magnets that go in them because I got so sick of stepping all over them on my kitchen floor that I put them in a baggie and threw them in the toy room downstairs.  What?

The top of the fridge is like a collection area for all things that no one knows what to do with, but aren’t ready to dump yet.

We have crafts from Bible School and daycare shoved up there, wii remotes so Charlie can’t reach them, the candle that used to be in the center of the kitchen table but that Charlie kept grabbing for, a pile of movies, m&ms, Boogie Wipes, my purse, the bill basket, and some unidentified crap.

And yes, I said the fridge is CLEAN right now.

Oof.

Ok your turn! Let’s see your fridge! I doubt anyone has as much crap junk stuff as I do, but I’ll let you try.

Post a picture and link up!

The Weekend-Long Hug

I was one of the many thousands of bloggers who went to BlogHer13 in Chicago this past weekend.

The last time I went was in 2011 to San Diego. I spent weeks planning all the things: outfits, sessions, parties…oh the parties. I packed an extra bag to take my swag home in.  I stressed and stressed and stressed.  Then I walked around the conference overwhelmed, sick (from the first trimester yuckies), tired, and depressed.  I didn’t do all the things I had planned; instead I followed what my roommates were doing. Some times this was awesome, other times not, but I did it because I had no confidence in myself. I was afraid to do anything alone (other than walk back to our room in the middle of the day or early in the night so I could get in some pregnant napping).

This time I spent almost no time pre-conference planning. I looked over the sessions, added the ones that sounded cool to my schedule via the BlogHer app, said yes to a couple outside parties with the intent to for sure go to one.

And then Jen came to pick me up on Thursday afternoon and we did the road trip thing to Chicago.

I don’t really know how to describe the three days/nights I was at BlogHer other than to say I came home with a peaceful heart.

It started at check in. I noticed that Ilana was standing behind us in line to check in. Our eyes met and instead of looking down at my feet, I smiled and said “hi” and she recognized me!  We were hurried because just as I was going to say something more, I needed to get out my credit card and blah blah, but we did manage a hug, and it set the tone for the weekend (so thank you, Illana!).

And then not an hour later I tripped and fell over my own flip flop in the middle of a busy sidewalk downtown Chicago. I was nervous this would cancel out my happy beginning and instead set an inauspicious tone for the weekend.

It did not.

scraped up knees. Jen laughed at me. Hard. I deserved it.

scraped up knees. Jen laughed at me. Hard. I deserved it. I would have laughed too.

In fact, the rest of the evening made up for a little bit of the bloody knee.

I am not going to go on and on about any of the parties, the sessions, or anything that I think could have been improved on. I’ll save all that for my BlogHer survey.

What I will say is that this year it was just me and Jen in a room, and that fit my style better. We live near each other, so there was no pressure to do ALL THE THINGS together since, you know, we can do that at home.

We did get quality time together though. Of course.

roomies!

roomies!

I could write a whole post about my love of Jen…but I will save that and say this: I am blessed beyond words to have a friend like her. I hope everyone has a “Jen” in her life.

first night dinner with some of the most lovely ladies on the internet.

first night dinner with some of the most lovely ladies on the internet.

This year I kept the outside parties to a very bare minimum opting instead to hang out with my friends and stick to the BlogHer events. I hugged people and they hugged me back.

In the past seeing someone I recognize and read and love would send me into a flurry of self-doubt over whether I am good enough to say hi…or whether they will like me as much in real life. This year I must not have packed that self-doubt because over and over again I walked up to bloggers I admire and said hi.

On the shuttle from hotel to conference center

On the shuttle from hotel to conference center

On Saturday, I had a meeting at 9:50am. Jen wasn’t really up to being out of bed yet, so I ventured off on my own deciding to see where the day took me. There were some sessions I thought I would check out, and I wasn’t nervous about being alone. I knew I would run into someone.

And I did.

New friends on the shuttle. A reader in line at Starbucks. Friends in the expo. Sluiter Nation fans in the sessions. Twitter peeps in the hall outside the sessions.

We got our make up done...and Shireen got mad lashes, yo.

We got our make up done…and Shireen got mad lashes, yo.

I met people I have been following for what seems like forever…and made fast friends (and was reminded why Indy bloggers totally rock, by the way).

I reconnected with old  friends and laughed and danced and laughed some more.

Me with #WineJen

Me with #WineJen

I got a massage, a manicure, and my make up done.

I felt pretty because I was treated like I was beautiful.

Each night I watched women toss off worry, stress, and body issues and boogie the heck down. Women from all roads of life, all sorts of blogging platforms, and all kinds of beliefs came together and had fun. And loved on each other.

after my manicure and make up

after my manicure and make up

Not once did I think about my squishy middle…or even my newly skinned knees.  Not once did I worry about being judged. Not once did I think I was less than anyone else.  Not once did I feel insecure.

Arnebya and I waiting for some music we can DANCE to.

Arnebya and I waiting for some music we can DANCE to.

I was told I have a Michigan accent…by a Texan as she giggled when I said “back pack” and “map”.

I had lunch with someone who I love and respect as a writer.

I watched someone read her VOTY piece and bawled. Even though I had read the post. It was part out of the emotion of the post and part because she and I had talked for so long about how we absolutely had to meet one day. And now we have.

I was hugged by someone whom I just knew had the best hugs…but was blown away by how good they are.

I found out that someone whom I thought was probably a kindred spirit, was actually a kindred soul.

I found someone who “gets” my looks like only Cortney does.  She is both disturbed and happy about this fact.

And of course there was someone who talked me into doing Karaoke (I’m the loon who starts on the far left and chooses to dance around rather than sing. You’re welcome).

Oh this list could go on and on long into the night. I don’t know where to stop!  I want to tell each and every individual whom I talked to that I loved talking to you…because I totally did. I loved it all.

They make me happy in my heart.

They make me happy in my heart.

To those I didn’t talk to, you made me happy too. The VOTY recipients, the fashion show participants, the session leaders, everyone who smiled at me…you also made me so proud to be part of this community…part of this thing that is blogging.

The weekend felt like a great big heart, soul, and body hug.

I came home exhausted, but happy. Renewed. Joyful.