BlogHer Conference 2009

I will be leaving my family on the last day of Family Camp early tomorrow morning.
And thanks to UPrinting, my BlogHer Conference sponsor, I’m flying to Chicago.
I’ve never been. It’s one of my many firsts.
And I’m totally nervous.
(I’m freaked out about the  enormous blogging conference and getting lost on the “L” (whatever that is. I just know my hubby told me six 6 SIX people died in Chicago yesterday, so I better be careful.))
I love the opportunities that blogging has opened up for me. Thanks UPrinting for taking a chance on me. 
I feel like a grown up.
And like a wall flower at the junior high dance.
But I’m wearing these shoes.
And I have a stash of Hello Kitty band aids for the inevitable blisters.
So, seriously, how bad can it be?
Okay, for this introvert, it can be bad! And that’s why I’m stashing my two dear friends in my hotel room with me. (Thanks girls, for going with me!!)
You can follow my anxious Tweets here
(This is the gathering of thousands of bloggers…do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to get a twitpic of the back of their head! Because wallflowers don’t ask for photographs!)

When Blogging Turns Ugly

I like to hang out on Twitter.
It’s a nice place to get to know people more intimately in this huge blog world.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of tweets about ugly blogging. Mom bloggers bad-mouthing other Mom bloggers.
I’m hardly in the know, but I think it has something to do with intertwining product reviews, PR pitches and free trips in with family stories instead of posting those items on a separate review blog of sorts.
Or maybe it’s about so-and-so having a bigger house and driving a nicer car. That’s what the moms on the school porch talk about.
And then again, it could be about you-know-who at recess taking my best friend from me. That’s what my 9 year old daughter complains about.
Frankly, I think it’s the age-old girl problem.
It probably won’t go away.
I’ve talked about being an extrovert on my blog and an introvert in real life. But sometimes in this blogworld, I feel disconnected. I feel like an island. 
I’m usually the last to learn of such matters. I like to stay out of blog conflict. I don’t know the details. I don’t know the names. And I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion either way. I do. I clearly welcome PR pitches (hello, Chick Fil A, we need to talk about unlimited sweet tea).  I’m extremely selective and you won’t see a lot of it here. 
Because that’s not why I blog. 
(But if that is why you blog, then wear those shoes proudly).
It’s important to me to maintain who I am. I can’t pretend to write about something I don’t care about. 
And that’s really the point I’m getting at, why do you blog? 
Define that for yourself.  I’m finding that even though I’m open to marketing that fits me, the amount of offers and enticements and distractions grow everyday. And that’s why it’s important for me to remember that if it’s just me and my keyboard (like it was a year and a half ago), I do this for me. I want to be proud of what I contribute to the blogworld.
So whatever you decide to be, be your best. And give other bloggers (and neighbors with bigger things and girls on the playground) a chance to be themselves. We are all unique. Every blog is different.
But please remember that every word you publish is making an impact. The good and the bad.
And the ugly.

My BlogHer Sponsor {Giveaway}

*Update* Congrats to The Halbert Home! You won! 

I’m going to Chicago!
In July.
For BlogHer (the blogging conference).
I'm Going to BlogHer '09
We’ll talk about my nerves and fears and ohmygosh Ican’tbelieve I’mdoingthis feelings later.
But first, I’d like you to meet the people making it possible.
I owe all my fear and excitement to UPrinting, my BlogHer sponsor!
This company has really impressed me. (They also flatter me since I’m their first blogger to sponsor for a conference).
They have set themselves apart by becoming a friend to Mom blogs. They understand the needs of bloggers and are reaching out to them in an unprecedented way!
You can apply for their blog sponsorship program they recently created! There’s free products (have you seen what they made me?), giveaways, discounts, conference sponsorships and advertising for your blog.

They also sent me 500 custom business cards I created from scratch on their website (There are hundreds of templates or you can create your own). 
And today, they are offering one of you 1000 business cards too! Click over and look at the vast choices and tell me what you like!
You can make Mommy cards, blog cards, or create something really unique (ya know that helps get your laundry done).
Thanks UPrinting for supporting Mom blogs!
This giveaway will close on Thursday.

Have You Met So and So?

On a whim, I added The BlogFrog to my sidebar. I love the idea of a forum on my blog where we can talk. I answer a lot of the same emails and tell so and so what so and so said about a certain DIY project or a potty training resource.
So. Now all my so and so’s can get together in one place.
It’s all very high tech. 
But obviously easy enough for this Internet-wizard to figure out. If you link to my blog, you’re already a member. If not, it’s easy to join.
We are THAT family Community
Have a burning question about the yellow leaves on your strawberry and bean plants? (oh, wait, that’s me) or a plea for help in keeping your toddler in bed (again, me), then click on the We are THAT family Community link to start a discussion. You can also answer other people’s questions (like mine!!)
I’ll pop on regularly too, but I think it will be a fun place to dish. 
Ya know, with so and so.


The deeper I delve into this blogging community, the more I realize that I belong here. 

But I have also discovered that this online world is a powerful vortex that is enticing and time-consuming.   And as much it enhances my real life, I cannot let it become my life.    
I need to blog. I need to write. I need to use my voice. But I do not want my children to remember being raised from behind my computer.   
This is the work I want to pursue. I decided recently I need “work hours.” I wrote down a schedule for allotted computer time. I posted the hours near my laptop as a constant reminder of my goals. It’s going to take some discipline but I’m giving myself an E for effort. 
In my journey, I’ve learned that many others struggle with finding the same balance. Pampering Beki issued an Unplugged challenge encouraging bloggers and readers to unplug one day a week. I decided to join in and rearranged my blog posting schedule to six days a week instead of seven. I’m encouraging our entire family to unplug all the screens in our house one day a week! 
And on the heels of that decision, I learned that Kimba declared Friday (tomorrow) a day to unplug and catch up on life. I’ll be joining her and turning off my computer for 24 hours starting tonight. Look for my DIY post late Friday night (it’s a fun one!). 
I love the Internet. I think it is a valuable tool and it has taken this stay-at-home Mom on an amazing journey and I look forward to the future. But striking a balance is crucial to truly healthy living. 
How do you strike a balance? Do you ever feel the need to unplug?