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Friday, March 20, 2009

Photo Story Friday: The Best Part of On Is Off—The Friend Frenzy That Is Social Media!  

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Even though I published my first blog post in February 2008, I didn't technically jump into the social media world until the end of last July when I actively started writing on this blog. (Click here to read about what turned me into a blogging fanatic for 3 weeks in Pennsylvania.) And, I must admit I had no idea what I was in store for. What began as a digital journal has turned my life upside down in every good way possible. The best part? Friends! Glorious friends!

I started out, surprisingly enough to those of you who really know me, as a passive blogger—writing for myself. I didn't really start interacting with people in the social realm until mid August or so when I started reading other blogs and leaving comments thanks to my good and crazy friend, Carissa Rogers at GoodandCrazyPeople. OK, so it only took me 2 weeks for my extrovert tendencies to kick in. And, I'm so glad they did.

I discovered so many fun blogs, but wanted more. Shortly after I started blogging in earnest, I discovered twitter and the rest is a blur... First, Carissa and I started the #gno weekly Twitter parties, after that we formed Mom It Forward, then I started using Facebook like a maniac, formed a YouTube group, a Flickr group, started a Wiki, and officially got into all things online... and as you know, I'm hooked! Or, as my husband says, addicted!!!

I made so many friends in such a quick time and I won't lie to you, my IRL friends and family were a bit nervous thinking all of you were predators trying to pick up on me or get my data to use in damaging ways. So, when I started making the transition from on to offline, I discovered the best part of on is really off! What do I mean by that?

In early December, I joined a few other Mom It Forward (#gno) gals I had met online to join me in a service project at an assisted living facility in Utah. I knew these women from blogging or from twitter, but had never met them in real life. We met up with our kids and shared the Christmas spirit with men and women in our local community. But first, we had a planning meeting! Check out the three of us: Kristina from Pulsipher Predilections and Kristin from Domestically Sassy.

In December, I also joined the Social Media Club of Salt Lake City board and in January, I attended my first meeting and met up with one of my newst BFFs, Krista Parry. We had been tweeting for approximately 2 weeks, but when we met up IRL, we hit it off. It didn't even take until the end of the evening before people were asking us if we were sisters. I felt like I had been friends with her since Jr. High. Fast forward three months... we probably talk more on the phone or live now than we do on Twitter!

Since that time, I have met tons of amazing folks in the local Social Media scene as well as have been able to meet up with some of my favorite mommy bloggers there like Quinn from Created by Mom and Cecily from My Chaos, My Bliss (the co-founder of Photo Story Friday and a co-faculty member in the Fishful Thinking program).

In February, I went to my first social media/blogging conference—Blissdom—in Nashville, Tennessee. There, I met hundreds of gals, may of which I had been tweeting with during #gno—some since early last fall. Going to this conference was like coming home. Nothing can really explain the emotion of meeting someone and realizing it is @sugarjones or @rachel_ferrucci or @jessicaknows—women you feel so close to but have never met IRL. Even better is becoming real life friends with these gal and having a bond tighter than you did before.

Also awesome was meeting new folks at the conference and discovering that offline relationships translate equally as well to online. In other words, I met people at the conference I hadn't really interacted with online and we instantly became friends. Josh and Rebecca Unfried of the amazing Mom Faves site joined us for a service project at the Nashville Rescue Mission. Nothing like chatting over chopping vegetables to bond you for life.

The first weekend in March, I was very fortunate to fly out to New York and attend a parenting workshop as part of the Fishful Thinking program. Mr Youth, the interactive agency for Pepperidge Farm, selected 10 women across the US to help promote this amazing program on positive parenting. They must have known I really needed some help. I'm sure if I share the 5 ingredients of positive parenting with enough people some of it will rub off on me, right? LOL!

My point for bringing all of this up? While there, I met even more fantastic women in the program that were all in social media—amazing moms who blog, network, and manage all of their many roles while trying to be a positive parent! And to add to the fun, I even met up with tweeting friend and now IRL friend Katja Presnal from Skimbaco Lifestyle and her three children for lunch in New York City. Why we didn't have someone else take the pictures so Katja could be in it with us is beyond me. Next time, right?

And just last week, I attended a workshop with about 50 women—some I had met online, others I hadn't. We learned about how to have realistic expectations and how to be terrific moms. We hooked up with "old" friends, got to meet new ones, and even won terrific prizes all over chocolate!

But the treat of all treats, literally, was hooking up with a group of 14 other online women—mostly bloggers—in my local community to go out to eat at a fabulous new restaurant in Highland, Utah called The Blue Lemon.

Not only was there instant friendship, but terrific food! Let me share!

Oh! Yah! Nothing like discovering a new restaurant, going in with low expectations, seeing the sophisticated style, and trying nearly 8 dishes (that doesn't even include dessert) and loving every one of them. And, you know it is bad when you start getting protective of your tomato bisque even when it is really supposed to be a share and share alike type of an experience.

The highlights? The surpringly delicious... ok, delicious doesn't even begin to describe it... SCRUMPTIOUS! DELECTIBLE! AMAZING! (all rolled into one) butternut squash soup. I was so busy eating it that I forgot to take a picture (and it is worth seeing a picture of it even though it doesn't do it justice), but I did snap one of the chef preparing it (a little behind the scenes shot for you!).

And what would dinner be without dessert?

And here's the best part of this long history of my meet ups with these online women (7 months is like 20 years in online time)... these women—every single one of them—are AMAZING. They have talents and skills and beauty (inside and out) and more talents and are funny and sensitive and are full of great ideas for the moms and online women and entrepreneurs so many of us are. Plus, they are energizing to be around, and overall... a huge addition to my life. In other words, they are exactly the opposite of the gals you meet on MySpace that are really weird men! LOL! They would have been my friends IRL had I met them IRL. :)

So now what... does it ever end. Oh! No! This is just the beginning. On Saturday, March 28, Mom It Forward and Make and Takes are hostessing a family-friendly service project for the Christmas Box House. I'm excited to meet more moms as we serve side by side with our families.

And, on Saturday, April 18, we will be having a huge benefit concert for these charities to help provide sustainable incomes and business opportunities for women in Kenya:,, and all under The Pope Foundation umbrella out of Provo.

Want in to see how "off" can be better than "on"? Want to experience the friend frenzy that is social media. Or, just want to connect with other moms? Take advantage of one of the upcoming activities that involve the Salt Lake City social media scene, moms, and more:

  • Meet some friends at The Blue Lemon Bistro (and invite me... unless you want to share the tomato bisque).
  • Attend Ignite and Pod Camp Thursday and Friday, March 26-27.
  • Join us for our March 28 service project.
  • Attend next the Social Media Club of Salt Lake City for its April 16 meeting at The Melting Pot.
  • Join the planning committee or attend the Moms Helping Moms charity event on Saturday, April 18 to help support women in Kenya!
  • Come party with the mommy scene at BlogHer in Chicago the weekend of July 24. I know, it's that or Pioneer Day in Utah, but seriously... think of all the fun, friends, and fabulous information!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Photo Story Friday: Our First Pinewood Derby!  

Last night was our first Pinewood Derby. I learned about the event not even 24 hours before it took place. My son has never really been to cub scouts before, but I, in my this-will-be-such-a-great-opportunity-for-my-son-and-it-only-comes-but-once-a-year mindset, mandated that my husband help him get ready to participate despite his strong and very vocal opinions not to. Did I nearly admit that I was wrong? Lest I give into temptation... onto the races...

Despite my best efforts to apply my new Fishful Thinking knowledge on the power of positive parenting, Red Rover had a complete meltdown during the welcome section of the event. Apparently, shaking hands came too close to "ruining" his car! Oh! My! This was going to be a long night.

But then, his name was called. Lane 1 was his. And, he was able to put aside his fears of losing, people watching him and him getting embarrassed, and not having the right uniform to focus on the task at hand—racing!

Vroom! Vroom! Isn't this fun? That was our goal after all: to have fun!

Ah! Oh! Red flag. Last place! Remember, Red Rover, this was one of the problems we discussed... one of the things that may get in the way of you accomplishing your goal. What's the work around, buddy? Come on... Fishful Thinking, work your magic for this parent! Help me help my son achieve his goal to have fun even though all he really wants to achieve is to become a rock star and grow his hair out LOL!

Score! One of the work arounds to the problem of losing was to focus on the treat. After all, everyone loves a little sugar. And surely enough, the motto "Alls well that ends well" is true!

One derby down and, what?, 10 more years in Scouts to go? Oh! My!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What Do Spam, Goldfish, & Tomato Juice Have in Common?  

Most people would not classify me as a spam freak. By spam freak, I mean someone that gets freaked out easily by or is overly concerned about spam. I often include my e-mail intact without spaces, brackets, or parentheses in posts, on facebook, or other online places. I should be more careful, but so far, I haven't experienced the negative effects of my non-caring attitude (knock on wood!).

That said... when I received a Facebook message in my inbox a couple of weeks ago from Kelly at Mr. Youth, I even surprised myself when my spam alert went off (who knew?) and I deleted it. The reason? The e-mail link was incorrect and went to a wrong site, causing me to feel as if the e-mail was a farce.

But, the non-spammy part of me couldn't just delete the message without jotting down Kelly's e-mail address and sending her a message, mentioning that if the message was not spam, that I'd love to be considered for the golden opportunity she wrote about! By golden, I mean Goldfish. And by Goldfish and I mean no other than Pepperidge Farm's Goldfish Crackers.... yumminess!

Immediately, I got an e-mail back from Kelly, confirming that spam—or our perception of it—isn't all it is shaped up to be and guarenteed that the opportunity she mentioned was not as fishy as it sounded... or fishier, but in a good way!

What in the world am I talking about? Pepperidge Farm's Fishful Thinking Program—a program that enlisted the help of mom bloggers and moms in social media to promote positive parenting. What? Promote positive parenting? Not promote the crackers? Yep! You heard me right. Mr. Youth and Pepperidge Farm are following Groundswell's advice to identify what their customer's "problem" is—or, as I prefer to call it, their "needs"—and are creating a strategy and building a community to provide information regarding that need. By providing customers with solutions to problems that they are concerned about, brands show how much they care about their customers and don't just care about the sell.

But, what "problem" or "need" are they speaking to? Goldfish Cracker purchasers typically have children between the ages of 6 and 12 and if I am anything like the rest of the demographic, I know that one of my greatest needs right now is developing, refining, and learning great parenting skills. So, Mr. Youth and Pepperidge Farm developed the Fishful Thinking program in collaboration with child psychologist Dr. Karen Reivich, the co-director of the Penn Resiliency Project and a research associate in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and also the mother of four. The program centers around five ingredients of positive parenting and kicks off this weekend with a conference in White Plains, New York.

Ten faculty members... or moms... were selected to help build the Fishful Thinking and Positive Parenting program. 1,000 other moms will be chosen to participate in the program as well. I feel fortunate to have been selected as one of the faculty members. So, as soon as I return from my current vacay in St. George (southern Utah), I will be on my way with tomato juice in hand as I fly to the Big Apple. Why tomato juice? Honestly, I don't know. I only drink it while flying. Weird, huh? And, it just occurred to me that Goldfish Crackers would probably taste really good with tomato juice. Spam? Not so much!

I'll keep you posted on what I learn, more about the program, and how much fun I have in my favorite city in the world—New York City!

In the meantime, I'm interested in knowing how many of you prefer plain yellow/orange goldfish to the colored crackers?