Get Ready for #BlogHer 14!

I'm Going to BlogHer '14!BlogHer14 is around the corner! This will be a magical time–a tenth anniversary celebration of all good things female and Social Media! Learning new things, meeting new friends, seeing old ones. Many of us are sitting and wondering (or pacing and wondering) what is on the to-do list before BlogHer.

Here are my suggestions of things you may forget:


  1. Clean your laptop and phone screen. Even if you aren’t taking your computer all day long with you–nothing shows screen grime like airport or hotel lighting.
  2. Post on your blog. Something decent that you won’t mind sponsors and new friends pulling up while you stand there.
    If you haven’t posted for months–make the effort.
    If you’ve posted and the most recent post is going to be something minimalist, just your latest workout or a picture of your lunch and that isn’t representative of what you want to be known for posting–then draft and/or publish a post that is the core of your blog.Don’t fall into the trap of just posting a giddy “I’m going to BlogHer! I hope to see you!” Yes, you can do that, but post something solid.
  3. Make sure there is plenty of space for new pictures and video on your phone. If your camera icon is hard to find: move it to the front page.
  4. Keep an eye out for the app announcement. There will be paper agendas but if you are anything like me–you won’t have them when you need them.
  5. Put an alert on your phone calendar for any do not miss items.
  6. Check out the sponsors. Follow them on Twitter/Facebook if they interest you. Explore their websites a bit.
  7. Wear the shoes you plan on taking. Seriously.I tend to end up getting a pair for wearing with a dress and then…the first time I actually wear them I am blistered in an hour. Better to know that before I go.
  8. Check out the conference group on Facebook. Follow @blogherevents on Twitter. Join the Skype buddy system if you need a buddy or just want to share in the excitement.
  9. Pack a heating pad, medications for headaches/migraines and your usual meds. Oops need a refill? Get it.
    After years of packing for BlogHer and doing the “Is it worth the extra space to take this med? I mean I haven’t had an asthma attack, stomach flu, stuffed up head for years” I recommend taking them.
    Granted there are drugstores in San Jose. There are even sponsors with such things. But, the time you don’t bring them–no dice.
    Likewise take your “feminine” care items. I don’t care if you haven’t had a period for 8 months or have just finished your period–surprise bleeding is common at BlogHer. If you have a uterus–take supplies.
  10. Open your heart and your mind to new ideas, new people. Be ready to poke yourself into a group of other people if they interest you.
    Practice not taking slights, bad wording, bad manners, bad attitudes to heart.
    That woman who pushed past you without a second look? She probably had other things on her mind, bad news from home, something that seemed important to get to on time.
    Be open and receptive. At the same time, don’t take things personally.
    Many of us aren’t professional conference go-ers. Some of us don’t ever get out. The whole range of insecurities, unpolished manners, and stress can lead to someone saying or doing something that takes you aback. Don’t let it ruin your conference.
    At the same time, make an effort to try to be aware of others, speak to them, smile, shine up your own manners. Tuck insecurity away.
    You are special. You are worthy.  You are a BlogHer. Prepare to sparkle!

My Brain is Weird

Last night I got Junie B Jones mixed up with June Jordan. Let me tell you how it happened.

My first born and I were talking about celery last night. First born stated: “I don’t like celery but I don’t know why.” We discussed the many cons to celery. I ended with “But celery stewed is more quietly chewed.” There was a response muttered under breath. I didn’t catch it. What? What did you say? Laughing child said “I am not going to say it. I am not.”

Then I realized what was said “Celery, Raw. Strengthens the Jaw.” (Ogden Nash by the way)

You see, this story then goes back to just after a homeschooling fair we attended probably in 2003. While there I picked up a copy of “Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization” despite the fact that we were there for materials for Michelle who was about 14. The little kids were still “Little” though First Born was probably about 10. My kids were going to learn to love poetry! I loved poetry. This was a cd and book set to help! The next step after the various children’s poetry anthologies I read them as tots! Besides, memorizing things is a lost art.

Thus commenced the practice of listening to the cd in the car. We got through Ooey Gooey. Then came Celery. The little girls picked it up fast. The First Born refused to repeat the poem. Refused. Day after day. We couldn’t move on. First Born threw down the gauntlet. I faced off. The little girls did hear the next poem a few times in hopes of tempting First Born. No. So no more poetry cd in the car. I was a bit sad, (POETRY!) (Money WASTED!) but we weren’t moving on if I couldn’t get participation. And there we left it though the adults and little girls were apt to say either the first or second part of the poem whenever celery came up in conversation.

Last night, I turned off the lights and my brain kicked in high gear. Please tell me this happens to you too.
Bits of nonsense floated around like pesky flies. Midges.

I thought “I didn’t mention on Facebook that First Born DID memorize the Celery poem” Then I thought maybe I would blog about it. Blog about the cd and that book by oh darn it I know her name. JUNIE B JONES. Yes JUNIE B JONES. And the picture of a Scholastic book flashed in my head. Hmm that isn’t right. Then pictures of both a Junie B Jones book and the book I was thinking of flashed in my head. Also a random picture (which proved to be right, of where the book to the poetry book to the poetry book and cd set was and what it looked like) And then I realized I had been thinking of June Jordan. My brain malfunctioned and drew the wrong June out of the card catalog. Then I tried to picture June Jordan and Junie B Jones and laughed to myself. I thought “I really should blog this oddness.” So, I have.

An aside: I strongly recommend June Jordan’s Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint for parents of Tweens and Teens and/or the teens themselves. Ok, I recommend it for everyone.

About Our Pack

dogs at the dog park Pack life See those dogs? That is our pack. Three hound dogs. No they aren’t related. We did get all of them from the same shelter. (Wright-Way Rescue) They are all mixed breeds of varying sorts. Left to Right in the picture with them in bed…Buster not quite one. Then Skeeter Bess–first adopted but about a month younger than Lola–both two years old now.

We adopted all of them within 14 months. It was after a lot of talk of our forever home dog. This dream dog was loosely based on Denise’s mother’s dog–Duncan and my childhood dog Ginger.

Instead we have three coonhounds–who did actually alert us to a sick raccoon in our yard last week.

Buster and Skeeter are about 50lbs each give or take. Lola is 35 lbs. They all believe they are lapdogs. They sleep a lot. They run a lot. But…they do other weird things.

  • Skeeter Bess is a tattle tale. If Buster in particular is breaking a rule–Skeeter will come to tell me ALL about it. Now if Buster’s ill-gotten gains are interesting to Skeeter–she will helpfully take them away and eat/destroy them herself.
  • Lola and Buster can both jump extra tall baby gates. Skeeter does not. She also is the least likely to open one herself if it isn’t latched. (They are the swing open type)
  • Skeeter and Buster alone together sleep. Lola and Buster alone together sleep. Skeeter, Lola, Buster all in the same room means play time or argue time.
  • Lola will not eat her kibble in general until someone is in there threatening to take it away because breakfast or dinner is over.
  • Skeeter and Buster will do anything they understand for a treat. (Buster’s exception is below) Lola doesn’t care.
  • All three love their heartworm medicine and consider it the biggest treat on the planet.
  • We weren’t crazy dog ladies. We’d both grown up with and had as adults various dogs. Mostly one at a time. Our first years as a couple we had two–the mother/son couple Chanel and Jake that Denise got in the way she always ends up with pets. Then just Jake and when my mother moved in Jake and Koto. Then just Koto.  We never imagined after Jake passed away that we would get three more dogs. After adopting Skeeter we sort of wanted another dog to keep up with Skeeter. She was young and energetic. Also, she turned our life upside down. Instead of running errands and spending the weekend in bed, we were taking her to the dog park. We adopted Lola and then were in a 5K.
  • Buster is the tallest of the bunch. He is also afraid of strangers. VERY VERY AFRAID. Strangers is a broad term that includes children who haven’t been home in a while, the landlord that visits at least once a month, delivery people, people staying with us. He won’t eat with strangers in the house. He won’t take any sort of treat. He shakes.
  • His fear of strangers means he plants himself on the bed. If you come to the bedroom and sit on the bed and wait you will eventually get to pet him. This makes said “strangers” very happy. (even if it is a girlchild who is here alternating weekends and more)
  • When they are running wild they are dangerous. Buster and Skeeter both have slammed us to the ground in the house.
  • Buster walks pretty well on a leash–see fear of strangers.
  • Exception: at the dog park. The distance between the parking lot to the gate to the dog park means I am being dragged by 100 lbs of excited dog. Once in the park–the dogs mind and keep in sight, come when called. (exception–last weekend Buster got lost–he started down the path with Skeeter between the pond access points. There were a lot of people. He doubled back beyond us and was back at the first pond access point scared because he didn’t see his pack.
  • They love the dog park with unparalleled abandon. Running through the tall grass with just the tips of their tails showing. Splashing in puddles. Rolling in puddles, dead frogs, dead snakes. Sniffing new dogs.
  • While they enjoy splashing in puddles at the park–puddles in the back yard are a complete insult and they dare not get their feet wet. (except Buster who enjoys the backyard that floods in every heavy rain)
  • Buster is the only one who has kept a hound song. Skeeter had one but lost it–she now barks like a poodle. We heard one recently at the dog park who sounded JUST LIKE HER. Makes sense I suppose since the second highest breed in her DNA after treeing walker coonhound was poodle.
  • Skeeter is very intent on herding the other two, correcting them when they disobey, and generally a nuisance. She also is the first one to roll her eyes at Buster insanity.
  • Lola pushes Denise out of bed in the morning to get a better spot.
  • Lola has a high prey drive and will try to get squirrels, birds, anything that moves outdoors. Lola does some intricate parkour type moves in chasing squirrels. She also loves to just BE outdoors.


Sad, Angry, Worried

Remember last week when Rebecca was a new graduate? When all the world stretched out in front of her. She was not the only child at graduation, of course. The arena was full of young men and young women that also reached a big milestone. There were families cheering them on. Families proud of their children’s achievements.

One of those graduates was Alante Vallejo. Rebecca didn’t know him or share any classes. The high school is huge. Unlike the high school I attended where I had been in classes with the same kids since elementary school or middle school–it is easy to not know everyone in the graduating class. But in any case, as the processional in to the arena went by, I had a 50/50 chance of seeing this young man. I was too busy scanning for my daughter, of course, to say for sure.

A friend has spoken about this young man–and he sounds like a good kid.

But, instead of working a summer job or planning his future, his parents are planning his funeral. In an all too common story, the boy was shot, murdered, on Friday, not too far from the borders between Evanston and Chicago.

It is just one story. It isn’t even the story that occurred at a park where a 17 year old was shot in Evanston on Saturday (miraculously despite face and neck hits–he was still alive last time the paper reported on the story). Neither of these things happened in the late hours when you think your kids should be safe at home in bed. Neither happened to kids who you can list a whole list of reasons why. Of course, I am of the belief that no child should be murdered for any reason.

I know these things happen every day. I HATE that they happen every day. I don’t think the discussion should be guns. I don’t think it can all be fixed by “gang task forces” or calling in the National Guard. I don’t think it can be fixed by gun control laws. I think society needs to change. I think mental illness needs to be addressed seriously. I think that the economy needs a serious retooling. I think that people need to have an urgent societal moral compass saying “Thou shalt not kill.” The media needs to stop quoting the folks saying “concealed carry is the answer” or “tougher gun laws are the answer.” The answer is in not giving the 15 minutes of fame to killers. The answer is good health care, mental health care, morality taught in the home, in the schools, in camp, in religious institutions, in books, media. Celebration of good choices. Making kids work for the trophy.

In the meantime, I will think of those killed locally, nationally, globally. I will pray for their families. I will pray for their friends. I will pray for my own family and friends too.

This all has to stop.