Category Archives: bloggers

15 from ’15

It is now that vague time between the One Thing and the Other Thing when we forage in the fridge for the rest of the cheese and are mildly surprised that the need to do laundry and buy milk continues just as before. Surely one of my Christmas presents should have been an invention to take all those tedious things off my hands forever more. But no.

Anyway, the other thing that happens now is people taking stock, looking back, reviewing the year, to get all that out of the way before the looking forward and making resolutions that will be happening in a few more days. So this is my 15 for 2015, part of a linky with Sadhbh at Where Wishes Come From. Pop over there and see everyone else’s 15s when you’ve read this. (Here’s mine from last year, just to see how far we’ve come.)

  1. Most Popular Post
    My most popular post, according to the stats, was the Yoda Cake one, followed by Weaning and then banana muffins. The Yoda and muffin hits come from Google or Pinterest searches, and the Weaning post was part of a Carnival of Parenting linky that gets consistent visits. But my most popular new post this year happened when I discovered a new term to judge and be judged by: Lawnmower Parenting.
  2. Favourite Post
    Once again, this category gives me trouble. Do I have to pick just one? Here’s a selection, chronologically:
    A stormy night
    Why I love New York City
    Dash turning nine
    Baseball
    Faith
    Fireflies
    Trust, which it turns out is very much like Faith
    Mabel turning seven
  3. Favourite Photo
    My favourite photo is often just my most recent. This is especially true now that I’ve taken delivery of my lovely new Christmas-present DSLR camera that takes such beautiful crisp shots. But I do have a few other faves from the year:

    Mountains and a beach and a big sky with clouds

    This one of the Kerry mountains at Clochane strand

    Dash and Mabel walking through a painted tunnel

    Or this one of the kids looking like an album cover, about a week ago

  4. Best Adventure
    Our biggest adventure this year was a three-week trip home to Ireland where we got to travel quite a bit of the country (and see some lovely Irish bloggers) as well as spending time with family in Dublin.

    Small harbour and island with tower

    Dalkey Island

  5. Favourite Craft
    My knitting fell sadly by the wayside this year: I got a lovely craft bag for Christmas last year so that I could keep it somewhere safer than a shopping tote, and somehow putting it away sounded the death knell. Also, I tried and failed at socks and didn’t do anything after that. I did (re-)learn how to crochet but I didn’t actually make anything after a few exploratory squares. But I’m planning another trip to Joanne’s any day now.
    Mabel and I made some nice melty-bead Christmas tree ornaments, though.
    IMG_2586
  6. Favourite Food I Blogged About
    I didn’t do much food blogging this year, but this post from the summer covered a lot.
  7. Most Common Theme
    Ireland, America, ex-pat, and parenting are my most oft-repeated tags. But I’d say the most consistent theme this year has been writing, if that’s not too meta.
  8. Favourite Comment
    Emily and Tric were my most frequent commenters. I love all my comments. No favourites.
  9. Favourite Celebration
    My birthday, I think. I spent it introducing my children to my the rock pools I played in as a child.

    Mabel on a small Irish beach

    Sandycove at mid-tide

  10. My Best Move
    I probably should say “Writing a book” but I’m going to say “Sending Dash to a new school.” He’s where he should be, progressing instead of just treading water. We haven’t sorted out his reading difficulties yet, but now I feel like I have a team of experts on the case, instead of just me, floundering.
  11. Best Blog Moment
    Did I have blog moments this year? Did my blog have moments? My blog isn’t that sort of blog, most of the time. I made the shortlist in the Blog Awards Ireland, but not the Finalists this time. I was in the running for Best Writer for the Irish Parenting Blogs Awards, though, in very good company. Tric won, more power to her.
  12. Favourite Thing I Wrote Elsewhere
    Aktcherly, I had an article published in a national newspaper this year; but that was as myself so I won’t link it here. The only other writing I did elsewhere was right at the start of the year when I wrote a few pieces for the brand new HerFamily.ie website. Here’s one: Six degrees of crunchy parenting.
  13. My Favourite Title
    Let’s take this one, even though it’s an old joke: Praise Cheeses
  14. Favourite blog-series or linky
    I joined in on a few linkies this year, but I’m going to nominate my own ongoing Transatlantic Subtleties series here, because it always brings out the word geeks in my readers, and I love you all for that.

    Map of Ireland showing provinces and counties

    Source: http://www.spirited-ireland.net/map/_counties/

  15. What My Blog Did For Me in 2015
    My blog was the place I came to talk about how the writing was going. I haven’t really told people in real life what I’m doing with my days when the kids are in school at the moment; I’m still holding out for that moment when things come to fruition and I can announce a triumph in public. But when I couldn’t keep in the impatience any more, when I had done something and needed to tell somebody – my blog was there. Thanks, blog.Head on over to Sadhbh’s place and see the rest of the linky!
    15 from '15: a recap of 2015 on Where Wishes Come From

Beauty blogger for a day: Barefaced beauty linky

Two days after Dash was born, I remember putting on makeup before I took him to his first doctor’s appointment. It was really important to me to do that, to signal to everyone (or maybe just to myself) that I was coping fine, that I could do this, that I wasn’t going under. That I was still the same person, just with added baby.

There are so many reasons to wear makeup, and lots of them have very little do do with how you look. That said, as time has gone on and I have become more dug into my SAHM life in my hippy-commune-like town, I wear less makeup than I used to: many days it’s a swipe of lipstick at most, and even when I push the boat out and wear more, I want to keep it as minimal looking as possible so nobody asks me if I have a job interview. (Seriously, in this town it is not unheard of for people to do the school run in pyjamas. It’s pretty much the antithesis of trying to impress at the school gate.)

Also, there’s the fact that when it’s 90 degrees and humid outside, anything I put on my face is liable to just slide off immediately. So summer makeup is even more minimal.

But Sinead started a linky, and I’m joining it. Because I do have makeup, and I do enjoy wearing it, from time to time if not every day. Without further ado, my makeup:

IMG_1062

I’ve really pared down my makeup collection in the last few years, and this is almost all I own, barring a few other crazy eyeshadows and a lot of fun nail varnishes. I could probably do with expanding it a little more in sensible directions… I’m learning a lot from the other posts in the linky, I tell you.

So it appears my tastes run to Maybelline plus a few expensive bits. I’m willing to splash out on a decent foundation if I can find one in extremely pale – I need a pink that’s blue-toned and not at all yellowy, which is hard to find. Especially in America; I usually have better luck finding something in Ireland.

Base:

I don’t wear BB cream every day, but I use it as a light base if I want to look a bit more polished. I mix it with moisturizer to make it go on more easily and because I’m paranoid about having a visible line where my foundation ends. And no matter what they claim about BB cream working for all skin tones, “light” is never anything like as light as I am. This is Maybelline Dream Fresh, which I read a couple of good review of back when BB creams were the new thing.

The Makeup For Ever compact is one of those powder base things that you can use alone or over something else, with a sponge or a brush. I had a lovely Prescriptives one that was a perfect shade, but I couldn’t find it again because Prescriptives is not a widely available brand here, and I had to get what I have now instead. I think it’s a tiny bit the wrong colour for me, but it’s okay.

The gold tube on the far right is my beloved Touche Eclat. I used to wear it all the time, but I hardly use it at all any more. Not because I don’t need it; more because it’s actually not a concealer, and because I feel it’s not blending in as well as I’d like it to. I think I need a better base, or a primer or something.

Eyes:
 
Minimal makeup for me is eyeliner on the top lid, mascara, and my new discovery of an eyebrow pencil. I think those in the picture are all Maybelline, in espresso and brownish black for the first two and “soft brown” for the third. In the last year or two I’ve discovered that the eyebrow hairs I’ve spent years plucking are finally not growing back (we shall not speak of the way they’re migrating to odd places like my upper lip instead), and I’m suddenly paranoid that I’ve overplucked and have a thin spot in the middle. So my eyebrow pencil is my new best friend and I need a new one because this is nearly gone. (I like the little brush at the end like a mascara wand for combing my eyebrows.) It probably makes no visible difference at all, but it makes me feel proactive in the matter of eyebrows.

If I’m going cuh-razy with the makeup, like for a moms’ night out or a theatre opening or something, I’ll put eyeliner on my bottom lid too and delve into the lovely Urban Decay Naked pallette I bought myself for my birthday last year. I stick to smokey browns, mostly, though I do have a chunky pencil in copper if I feel like some sparkle (not pictured).

Those are my eyeshadow brushes on the far left, because I love them, and the little black circle is Benefit Lemon Aid, which is a pretty good eyeshadow base, though in cold weather it’s a bit unyielding. I try to remember to use it.

Lips: 

I like a pinkish berry lip; darker in winter, lighter in summer.  The Revlon Just Bitten is bizarrely good: it’s like colouring your lips with a marker, but it stays on pretty well and there’s a lip balm at the other end. (This colour is called Twilight, though it’s not as dark as that sounds.) The lip pencil is Revlon too, ColorBurst Balm Stain in Honey, it says. I bought it because a blogger I like recommended it, and it does feel nice though I’m not convinced it lasts very well. I always try to have some colour on my lips before I leave the house, the better not to don’t frighten little children.

*****

Evidently, what I am missing is a primer, some real concealer, and some blusher. I was never very good with blusher, and bronzer is a joke for me; I’d rather look like myself, and myself is never bronzed. If you’ve any advice, have at it in the comments…

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.09.21 PM

 

Awards Afternoon: The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul

The Blog Awards Ireland ceremony took place last night in Ireland. The one I was a finalist for. I wasn’t there, but everyone else in the world was. (Apart from the other moms closer to home who were also having a night out. I wasn’t there either. Next year I will vet my husband’s choice of marathon weekend more carefully before agreeing that I’m fine to solo parent just then.) But I will now tell you all about the night out I didn’t have anyway.

Tl; dr version: I didn’t win. But some other people did, so that was good.

It was Saturday morning but archery (Dash’s current thing) was cancelled so we had no engagements. I had stocked up on milk (yay, planning) but apparently dropped the ball on all other breakfast goods (boo planning), so Mabel and I went out almost first thing to get some cereal, maple syrup (just in case I made pancakes), and bagels. I considered the children fed for the day and proceded to do my best to ignore them from then on while I took up my station in front of Twitter and Facebook and followed agog the goings-on on the other side of the Atlantic.

Since we’re five hours behind over here, all the excitement took place in daylight hours. This meant that, on the one hand, I didn’t have to stay up late to get to the bitter end, but, on the other, I was still nominally in charge of children who were not remotely in bed, and who were constantly demanding food and drink and other unreasonable things, and it was too early to drink. Everyone else in the Twitterverse seemed to be having a nice glass of wine, and all I had was half a bottle of flat beer (and I waited till dinnertime to drink that, I’ll have you know).

I am fully aware that life goes on in Ireland when I’m not there, but it’s not usually quite so in-your-face about it. Yesterday it was a little surreal to know that while I stood at my computer on the kitchen counter in Maryland, a parallel universe me was getting dolled up for a night out, driving to Clane (okay, let’s leave that bit out of the imaginings because I have no idea how to get to Clane), walking into a room full of semi-strangers, and getting quite squiffy and pretending to be famous, just because I happened to have advanced to a certain stage in a fairly arbitrary manner in a competition that’s really of much less consequence than it pretends to be.

Still, consequence or no, I would have loved to have been there. A night out’s a night out, after all, and who better to party with than a group of mommybloggers?

I amused myself posting things like this to Twitter, using the hashtag with abandon:

Though I might have been a little more restrained if I’d realised that all the #blogawardsie tweets were being projected onto a big screen in the room itself. The girls said it was as if I was there. I’m sure I’d have been drunker and worse at finding the little keys on my stupid phone if I’d been there, so everyone was spared a lot of terrible typos, at least.

The afternoon wore on. In Ireland, people were giving up and going to bed, much like watching the Oscars live here on the east coast of America when they don’t finish till midnight. It was exactly like the Oscars, actually, if you couldn’t watch it on telly but could only frantically follow all the hashtags instead. In Clane they were handing out five or six awards, tweeting them, and then everyone would pause for food before getting down to the next group, working in alphabetical order through the categories all the way up to best blog post and best overall blog. In Maryland I was refreshing Twitter obsessively, jumping on the announcements and then putting them on Facebook, gossiping about things on Facebook, and blithely sending smart comments and congratulations/commiserations into the ether whenever I came up with them. 

The comforting predictability of the alphabet meant that my category, Diaspora, was pretty near the start, so at least we got that over with. I didn’t win. A nice man called A Trip to Ireland did, which was fairly much a foregone conclusion because if you’re in the category called Best Blog of the Diaspora the judges want your blog to be good and diaspora-y. I only really talk about Ireland when I’ve just been there, so the blog awards take place at entirely the wrong time of year for me to be in with any sort of chance.

But there was a huge pause (main course, I think they called it) before the other categories I was emotionally invested in – Lifestyle, Newcomer (for Parent.ie), Personal, and Parenting (where a bunch of other friends were nominated, since all my Irish bloggy friends are from a wonderful group called Irish Parenting Bloggers. This group, I might add, saw about 40 women attending the awards, with at least 26 members nominated, spanning 11 categories plus three in the final ten for best blog post. And to think the blog awards didn’t even have a Parenting category last year because they didn’t think there was the demand for it. Sheesh.)

I got a bit stroppy with the tweets at that point.  

But we didn’t all have giant Connect-4 and floor prizes and an interval act and whatever else it was they had going on over there. Some of us were just at home WITHOUT EVEN WINE and with children who still wouldn’t leave us alone, and we needed answers.

Anyway, Parent.ie didn’t win best newcomer and neither did the parenting blogger who was nominated in that category, and my friends didn’t win best lifestyle blog (they were robbed) but Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers had (most deservedly) won best health and wellbeing, and then to much fanfare Lisa from Mama.ie won best parenting blog, which was wonderful and much deserved not least because – though this was not part of her winning it at all – she was and continues to be the brains behind putting the IPB group together in the first place.

But I still couldn’t even contemplate making dinner because the best blog post prize hadn’t happened yet. I turned on the oven anyway, as a gesture. The kids were … I’m sure they were around somewhere. Hand-wavy gesture towards the rest of the house. Whatever. Suspense, man.

And then just as we (those of us stuck at home, not at the party, in Ireland or abroad) were giving out on Facebook about how long it was all taking, suddenly it transpired that one of the givers outers had just won best blog post. So that was very exciting too, and there was much squeeing, and after that I think everyone just danced a lot and some people fell over a few times because they had terrible shoes on and someone slept in a van and some people took home the table centrepieces and I probably should stop now before I say anything I shouldn’t.

And then in America we had oven chips and broccoli for dinner because I wasn’t up to anything more complicated. And while I missed all the fun and the dancing, I also missed the late night and the hangover, so I suppose there’s that.

(I hasten to add that the title is mostly Douglas Adams, lest anyone would think it was just me.)

What I miss

Helen at The Busy Mama’s asked me to join in her linky about the things you’ll miss when you don’t have babies any more. “I’d love to,” I thought. “Just let me think about what those things could possibly be…”

Once Upon a Time... Tales of Parenting Moments Gone By, a blog linky with The Busy Mama

I loved having babies. (Well, just one at a time, I mean.) But when I stopped to think what it was that I loved about it, I wasn’t quite sure. Their delicious chubby thighs, their little wiggling fingers, watching them grow and learn and discover the world? Yes, all those things. But babies are also just basically little pink slugs, lying around (or, worse, propelling themselves into everything) waiting for you to change them and feed them and try in vain to make them sleep at some time that might make your life easier instead of harder. What’s to miss, really, I wondered…?

Then I got it. The thing I’ve been vaguely nostalgic about lately. The thing that was so wonderful about having my own little babies was the exact same thing that was so terrible, so daunting, and such a millstone around my neck – their total and utter dependence on me.

It’s just, it’s pretty special, that feeling, when you’re the one who puts them to sleep and wakes them up, the soft body they look for to press themselves against when they’ve gone bump, the one whose touch can stop them coughing at night, the one they want to fall asleep beside. (It’s also suffocating and terrifying, but let’s not dwell on that aspect.)

I feel like I’m not selling this very well. I know, of course, that I wasn’t the only one, and some lucky babies even have more than just two of those people who are that special. I also know that I could be special to another baby in time, even if it’s not exactly my own.

But there – that’s the thing. It’s having my own. Maybe I’m just selfish. Maybe I liked the limelight-by-association that I had as mother-of-cute-baby (and every baby is cute, of course). Maybe it was the pride in knowing that I grew this baby in my own body and nourished it with my own milk and here it is growing and learning and laughing and crying and wanting to be with me, more than anyone else. Being so totally attached to and entwined with another being that you wake when they wake and feel pain when they cry.

It can’t last, that time. Nor would you want it to. Which is what makes it so precious, so fleeting, so hard to live in the moment.

mother and baby asleep

A Week of Dinners

I’ve done a week of dinners a few times before, usually one at a time to get me out of a blog rut. This is just a quick one, the whole week in one fell swoop, with not enough photos, as part of a linky thing from Bumbles of Rice. Go check out what everyone else is eating too…

Monday

This was a supremely bad week to choose because I did no meal planning and precious little food shopping. On Monday I remembered too late that Dash had a baseball game at 6pm (our usual eating time) so I had to throw this together even faster than usual. Luckily, carbonara with ham and peas is about as quick as quick dinners come; it’s usually a Friday night standby for me.

Carbonara

I like my carbonara with linguini. Makes a nice tangle.

Tuesday

An actual dinner that I prepared for. Chicken and bean burritos slathered with avocado. I put some rice and red peppers and onions and salsa in here too, as well as cheese, of course. (There might not have been beans, actually. I don’t remember.)

Burrito

I wanted to pick it up, but this was really a knife-and-fork burrito.

Wednesday

I totally forgot to take a photo, but Wednesday was some salmon fishcakes I had made ages ago and put in the freezer, with steamed brocolli. There was potato in the fishcakes, so that’s all there was on the plates, which made them look a bit sad.

Thursday

I’m a sucker for a nice label, and for some reason I thought this Safeway Select Tikka Masala sauce might be nice. The ingredients were okay, though the 30% sodium was not; but I knew the kids wouldn’t come within a mile of it anyway. More chicken, chickpeas, and courgettes (zucchini) went in as well to up the veg content.

Tikka masala in a jar

There’s the jar.

Served with basmati and naan bread. Okay, but not a patch on homemade Indian, which I do make now and then.

Tikka masala on the plate

Look! Inauthentic vegetables!

Friday

This is the sort of dinner I think is very boring but that makes my husband very happy, what with the meat and the spud. So I cook it every now and then, because I like him. Pork chop (with steak seasoning), mashed potatoes, and ginger roasted carrots (really, nothing easier and the only way I like carrots since I found out about them) and roasted broccoli.

Pork chop

Manly dinner

Saturday

I forgot to take a photo on Saturday, but it was just the rest of Thursday’s heated up, with cous cous instead of rice.

Sunday

Sunday was Mother’s Day in America, which is where I am, so I ordered a pizza online in good time, and picked up a nice bottle of white wine when I went down to pick it up, because if you want something done right, you should just do it yourself. We have a new local independently owned pizzeria and it’s pretty good. We had a mediterranean with ham, and Mabel got her own cheese pizza because she eschews toppings. And I made these cupcakes for dessert.

 

You will note that I don’t mention what the kids ate. If you like, you can imagine that they ate all these things except maybe the Tikka Masala. Some people’s kids might have.

Uncharacteristic pursuits

Apparently aliens landed and replaced me with a badly researched clone of myself the night before last, because yesterday saw me painting watercolours with the children and also gardening.

Or else it’s the spring air.

Mabel had been painting again the day before, and seemed to enjoy it so much that when I was at Target in the morning I picked up a watercolour pad I’d seen before and some brushes that looked a little more decent than the “brush that comes with the 1.99 paint set” we had at home. It was a raging success.

Mabel's assortment

Mabel’s assortment

The pad has 20 sheets of proper, thick, watercolour paper for 2.99, which seemed like okay value to me – though since we went through every one of them yesterday, I think I’ll be heading to an actual art-supply shop next time I’m feeling the urge. The brushes were also 4.99 for a selection of five different sizes, and they’re much nicer quality than the crappy Rose Art brushes I’d bought before. Both were from the Target Kid Made Modern range, which I really like. Their products are my new go-to kid birthday presents.

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Dash’s stormy sky

My dad paints lovely watercolours, but he’d never really given me a lesson. I gleaned the tiny amount of knowledge I have much more recently, from Joanna and Emily. I talked about wetting the paper first with the big brush and soon the kids and I were happily bandying about the term “colour wash” as if we all knew what we were talking about.

One of my favourites by my Dad

One of my favourites by my Dad

(Okay, this is such a bloggy love-in bit here, but I have to explain. Actually, it’s all down to Jane at That Curious Love of Green. Jane asked Joanna to write a guest post on her blog showing how she does her lovely watercolours. And Joanna based her picture on a photo I had previously put on my blog. In the same series, Emily painted a beautiful picture for Jane to give away – and I won it, so it now graces my hallway here. I love the Irish bloggers.)

My lovely painting by Emily

My lovely painting by Emily

Meanwhile, in the garden, I discovered that our huge and indestructable rosemary bush had gone from partly dead to entirely and irrevocably dead, and was actually looking pretty atrocious, out there right in front of the house. So I cut it back as much as I could with the shears, in advance of informing The Muscles that we need to lug it out altogether. I also discovered that our poor rhodedendron looks so pathetic because it’s being crowded out by about four small trees that seeded themselves and started growing up right beside it. Apparently you have to keep a close eye on things or else they grow without permission. Then I dug up some dandelions and called it a day. My back did not thank me for that hour and I have strange pains in my forearms today. Much like housework, gardening is dangerous.

My masterpiece

My masterpiece

I think I’ll stick to painting.

Parent.ie

I love the Internet.

About a year and a half ago, I stumbled across an Irish parenting blog called “And My Baby” (now defunct). It led me to a Facebook group, quite newly formed, called the Irish Parenting Bloggers. After a little hesitation, I joined the group, happy that they’d have me, considering the way I’m not entirely an Irish blogger (except when I am).

Anyway. That was then. Over the past week, I’ve found myself frantically messaging and writing and editing and giggling and logging in and checking and updating and discussing, and generally marvelling at how amazing the Internet is. Here I was, working, collaborating, with a group of women I’d barely or in some cases never met, on something we hoped could be really big.

We launched it on Tuesday. It’s called Parent.ie. It comes from a team with a dizzying breadth of professional and personal experience, and I’m very proud to call myself one of them. We hope it will be topical, relevant, local, global, intelligent, entertaining, irreverent, thought-provoking, and informative. I’d love to see you over there too.

I write for Parent.ie

Redirection

I’m busy working on an exciting new venture that will be unveiled at a later point, but in the meantime, Office Mum interviewed me a little while ago, and you can read the results of that over here:

Office Mum stories – Maud of Awfully Chipper

Also, it’s snowing again, and I don’t really want to talk about it.

Dublin bloggy meetup

Meeting other bloggers is a funny thing. They may look like their profile photos or have unaccountably cut their hair since, but that’s really the only aspect of them that you’ll probably find to be in any way as you expected. Last time I met up with some other bloggers, I wasn’t familiar with their online voices, so what I noticed was more superficial. But on Saturday I met up with some of the Irish Parenting Bloggers in Dublin, and was delighted and surprised by how similar or different people can be in person when you know them best (or only) through an online medium.

In writing, you can’t tell an extrovert from an introvert. You can’t tell a Dublin accent from Cork from Texas. You might have an idea who would command the floor if a group got together in person, but you might not be right about that at all.

When it comes to socializing, having an online persona doesn’t exactly level the playing field, but it definitely changes the game. A bloggers’ meetup is a bit like a gathering of rock stars in reverse: far from looking for the limelight, many writers, by nature, tend to shy away from attention and want to deflect instead. We prefer to interact on the page, on the screen, where we have time to consider our words and where we’re never too far from the delete key.

So the fact that a bunch of us dared to meet up at all, in daylight, with laptops left at home and phones put away, is a testament to the power of our connection online. And it turned out that we had a lot to say to each other about everything that was not blogging, as well as things that might be.

Here’s everyone. From left to right at the back we have Looking for Blue Sky, Laura from My Internal World, Mind the Baby, Lauren of The Dare Project, Sadhbh from Where Wishes Come From, Caitriona from Wholesome Ireland, yours truly, and Office Mum. The front row has BlueSky’s daughter Smiley, then Lisa of Mama.ie with adorable baby, Lucy of Learner Mama, Muuka of One More Pair of Boots, and Glitter Mama Wishes.

BlogHer ’13: The one with all the links

I don’t want to just name-check a bunch of people I met at BlogHer. I’d prefer to list them logically, both as a reminder for myself and also to help you find new blogs that interest you. So here we go: hold onto your hats for a whistle-stop tour.

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My BlogHer family came ready-made for me by my wonderful and open-hearted roommates, who – like the best of parents – gave me both a safe space to come back to and the freedom to roam and have my own crazy BlogHer experience. I am more grateful to them than I can say. They just happen to be a thematic group as well, as they came together a long time ago and bonded over infertility, pregnancy loss, and adoption. They blog the hard topics with more courage, grace, and good humor than I could ever hope to have.

ALI bloggers
Justine of A Half-Baked Life
Kathy of Bereaved and Blessed
Erin of Will Carry On
Mel of Stirrup Queens
Amy of Life According to Johnny
Jamie of Sticky Feet

My crazy-night-out accomplices, who let me crash their gang at the Voices of the Year reception and sit on the floor with them; and if nobody sang karaoke, never let it be said that it was for want of my encouragement or enabling. They just happen to all be autism parenting bloggers.

Autism bloggers
Jean at Stimeyland
JennyAlice at Into the Woods, Living Deliberately
Kim at Autism Twins
Mir at Woulda Shoulda

(That night I also met a barman from Galway who’s been in Chicago twenty years. But I don’t think he blogs.) 

People I sat beside at lunch, or on the bus, or even on my flight home. They don’t really fall into a single handy category.

Parenting
Cheryl of Busy Since Birth
Kimberly from Red Shutters
Jolawn from Spelhouse Love 
Gina from Mom Psych
Ruby of Growing Up Blaxican
Louise of Single With
Allison of SilverSpiral
Melissa Langsam Braunstein, who I was standing right beside on the first morning, but didn’t end up introducing myself to until we turned out to be sitting beside each other on the flight home to DC.

Personal
Emily at Zweber Farms, who has the moo-est Moo cards ever.
Kailynn of Ginger Sass
Sarah of Bluegrass Redhead

Food
Stephie of Eat Your Heart Out
Stephanie of Sarcastic Cooking
Mary Fran of Franny Cakes, who filled me in on the vital difference between a macaron and a macaroon.

Style/fashion
Alice of Practically Stylish

Useful stuff
Sarah from USA Love List
Stephanie of SuperMom Tested
Kim and Lisa of Bliss-Chicks
Shannon of Social Moms
Kyle of ShopGab (Hey! You’re a guy!)

Everyone else
Joyce of The Voice of Joyce
Margaret of Nestache
Jenny of Jenny on the Spot
Jo of Media Mum
Kim of Save My Sunshine
Javacia of See Jane Write
Julie Danis
Blondie of Tales from Clark Street

Very important speaker-type people. I went to some really great conference sessions, but my favourites were the writing round-tables. Inspiration and entertainment in one great package. These gals are the pros, and I look forward to learning from their writing.

Turning a blogpost into an essay
Rita Arens at Surrender, Dorothy

The UnMarketing Manifesto
Veronica Arreola of Viva la Feminista
Jenna Hatfield of Stop Drop and Blog
Dresden of Creating Motherhood
Michelle of Burgh Baby

Humor bloggers
Pat Dunnigan of Suburban Kamikaze
Georgia Getz of Bossy
Krista of Effing Dykes
Elizabeth of Flourish in Progress

Anatomy of a story
Vikki of Up Popped A Fox
Jenny Chiu of Mommy Nani Booboo  
Nicole Blades of Ms. Mary Mack
Tanis Miller

Finally, I did manage to meet up with one blog crush. I was thrilled and delighted to meet Stacey of Is there Any Mommy Out There?, who was gracious and sweet and instead of running away when I twitter-stalked her, arranged to meet me in the lobby and let me yammer on at her for far too long. If you don’t already read Stacey’s beautiful, hilarious, eviscerating blog, please proceed directly there. She’s a writer who inspires me. Thank you, Stacey.

Maud and Stacey
I never know what to do with my hands, and it shows.