5 Vacation Memory Lessons From A Tween Traveler

Vacation Memory Lessons

I remember one vacation from my childhood, a trip to California with my grandparents. That family vacation was everything to me, not just when I was 7, but for many years to come. Even today it takes me back to 1977. vacation memories

So when I became a mom I wanted BabyGirl to have more than just one vacation to shape her childhood memories. About a year ago, as I talked to her about memories from our recent vacations I learned a big lesson. My desire to make memories for her, no matter how big or amazing or magical or fantastical were just that. My vacation memories. She needed to make her own vacation memories and instead of trying so hard I needed to let go.

5 vacation memory lessons from a tween

  • Kids will remember things differently than parents but it’s supposed to be that way.
  • A child’s idea of fun may not be the same as mom and dad.
  • Memories are personal and can come from experiences both big and small.
  • Parents’ joy and excitement, as well as my other emotions and feelings, shape the memories others make.
  • Kids aren’t thinking about making memories, they’re just trying to have fun in that moment.

Tween Vacation Collage

Out of the mouth of babes, yes? These kids are so much smarter than we give them credit. Shared experiences can turn in to memories. But as a parent my job is to provide opportunities to create memories, not to force my ideas of what should become her lifelong childhood memory.

Tween Statue of Liberty Selfie

Here’s to superhero families and childhood memories to last a lifetime!


BlissDom At Home: Legal Confidence Session

BlissDom At Home


Nothing like a recording of your speaking session to make you feel like a rock star! As many of you know, I was a speaker at the BlissDom Conference in February 2012. This year my session was recorded and is now available as part of the BlissDom At Home program. This is a great opportunity to get access to all the sessions. If you couldn’t make my session, or you weren’t able to attend the conference live, you can get it all online!

For $99 you get unlimited access to all the sessions posted, as well as any mastermind worksheets that were made available in the sessions. There were fabulous speakers, all sharing their expertise to help you take it to the next level. And this isn’t just for bloggers. These sessions are excellent for work at home professionals, writers, and photographers of all levels.

“BlissDom At Home is your ideal conference…  To Go! Imagine the concentrated intellectual and creative power of 30 experts, in one space, absorbed at your own pace. You are one click away from grabbing the reins of limitless potential!”
                                                                                                                                                                                        ~ BlissDom At Home website

If you missed BlissDom 2012 or just my session, listen to my session on BlissDom At Home. Due to some technical difficulties in the recording, my session will also have an accompanying transcript to help ensure you are able to get all the information presented.

If after listening to my session you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me and I will do my best to clarify the information.

Disclosure: As a BlissDom speaker I have been provided complimentary access to BlissDom at Home. In addition, I am an affiliate and may be paid a small commission for your support and purchase of access to my session.


BlissDom 2012 was … Perfect

BlissDom 2012Going to a conference of your peers, regardless of your industry, brings about a variety of feelings. There is the excitement of seeing people you don’t usually see. The anxiety of meeting new people. The frustration that work will continue to pile up despite your best efforts to tame it at 2am after a full day of learning and letting your hair down.

As I reflect on the BlissDom Conference, so many thoughts run through my mind. I have only 3 photos. OK, 5 if you count the 2 pictures I tweeted of the cool Ritani ring I created and the sparkly pink nails from my first shellac experience. I feel like a total loser because I went to a conference of over 700 of my blogging peers, many of whom are people I tweet with daily, and I have 3 photos, one of which is just above. I went to a number of the sessions – not only to learn but also support my fellow conference speakers. One of those was my friend Amy. Amy is a phenomenal photographer and graphic designer. I give her the title friend because, well, I wouldn’t be afraid to tell her about real life stuff and I know she wouldn’t freak out if I did.

I asked Amy a question in her photography session. How do you capture the moment but not be one of those people viewing the experience through a lens? It probably wasn’t that eloquent, but like her, I think you understand. Maybe we’ve done it, but we’ve definitely seen others do it. Instead of capturing the moment with our eyes, our heart, our soul, we are one step removed because we’re so intent on having a video to share with the world or photos that are blue-ribbon worthy to share with everyone. Amy said you just have to believe you’ve got the photo and step away. Make an agreement with yourself to put the camera down. I could see her brain turning flips on that one. I’m asking a photographer how NOT to preserve every possible moment. The cool thing was that she understood. She knew what I was saying, not as a photographer but as a mom. I got the sense that she’s been ‘that mom’, just as I have. And maybe you have. From her session, the takeaway I got was that perfection is NOT in the photo but in your belief that the image can start the story that your own experience can finish.

I didn’t feel so bad not having, at the time, only 2 photos. But because 3 is the magic number, I asked Amy for a photo. Perfect!

BlissDom 2012
Amy (@Greeblemonkey) and Me!

Unlike other professional conferences, the pre-BlissDom chatter is often about what to wear, how sparkly are your shoes, is there possibly enough glitter to take with me. The thing is, I get dressed up quite a bit that what I wear at a conference isn’t really a big deal for me. I have ‘the uniform’. Don’t get me wrong, I want to dress nicely and how I present myself is important. But, honestly, what you’re wearing is the least of my concerns. I’ve met people dressed to the nines that were not worth a minute of my time. I think we all have. That’s why it actually freaks me out to hear all the talk about clothes. It’s not just a BlissDom thing either, it’s common for most women blogger conferences. I doubt any of the guys who went to BlissDom were fretting over what was going in their suitcase. And, even more, if there had been a game show at the conference for the men about the clothes the ladies were wearing they’d all lose. And lose miserably.

The fact is, everyone is wearing a smile even if they’re nervous or anxious, overwhelmed or totally freaked out. And with that, they’re Perfect.

This year I was not only an attendee but also a speaker. With my own session. Alone. By myself. No one else. Just me. And get this — ON A STAGE! I didn’t have one of those cool sessions about finding your life path, creating the next great thing, or taking the best photos. I was talking about laws, regulations and guidelines related to blogging. When I got to BlissDom, people kept telling me they were going to be a Community Leader in my session. Community Leaders are women who volunteered to mentor others in their niche. After about 10 people telling me this, I started to wonder if Megan, the speaker coordinator, was paying people to be in my session. Seriously, I really thought no one wanted to be in my session so they’re making people go so I don’t feel bad. Sure, I love talking about the law and social media. I could do it for hours! But at a conference with ‘big names’, would bloggers really want to listen to a lawyer?

Evidently the answer is Yes. And for that I’m very thankful. Despite my desire to pick apart my session, it was … Perfect.

So why do I say BlissDom 2012 was … Perfect? It’s how I cho0se to view it. That despite the ‘real world’ things that can go wrong, BlissDom is more than a 3-day conference in Nashville, Tennessee. BlissDom is a state of mind. A belief that goodness, love, and kindness can be the basis of success. BlissDom is a place where imperfection does not exist. In one word, BlissDom isPerfect.


Educational and Fun Apps for Kids

BabyGirl has been playing Rainforest Survival Challenge for awhile. It’s a great app to help kids learn about Rainforest animals as well as the animal food chain.

Ruckus Media has a number of Apps for kids, all of them educational in some way. I wish there had been an iPad when BabyGirl was a toddler because I know she would have enjoyed using these apps. Also, I know I would have liked having audio books of classical stories for her. I mean, really, what mom wouldn’t want to listen to Denzel Washington, Robin William or John Cleese read to their child?

For a few dollars (and often free for the Lite version), we can entertain our kids while sharing with them a fun, positive and educational message.

The newest App from Ruckus Media is Chuck and Friends. Chuck and Friends is available from iTune. You can download the following:

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul $3.99 (for iPad and iPhone)

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul Lite FREE (for iPad and iPhone)


Disclosure: Ruckus Media sponsored Social Soiree. I received no compensation. As a hostess of the event I did agree to tell you about them. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Bruegger’s Free Bagel


I’ve mentioned Bruegger’s before because they were running a special promotion. By me, there is only one location and I’ve stopped in a few times when I’ve been nearby. I like that they’ve got an under 500 calorie menu and feature Skinny breakfast sandwiches. I wish they had that on their Facebook coupon but not everyone is in to that. But if you “Like” the Bruegger’s page you can get a coupon for a free bagel. It’s a one-time thing so if you’ve already done the liking keep your eyes out for their next promotion. They do run them periodically.


Disclosure: Brueggers sponsored Social Soiree. I received no compensation. As a hostess of the event I did agree to tell you about them. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Social Soiree Sponsor Bruegger’s Offers Free Bagel

Bruegger’s has joined in as a sponsor for the Social Soiree event I’ll be hosting next week in San Diego. By me, there is only one location and I’ve stopped in a few times when I’ve been nearby. My daughter likes their Skinny breakfast sandwiches. I’m a traditional bagel and cream cheese gal though. But since there are no gluten-free bagels at my location I’ve gone for the non-bagel options and all have been very tasty.

Fortunately, my gluten intolerance ebbs and flows so if I’m craving a bagel I know where to get one that is like the ones I grew up on. If you’re near a Brueggers or traveling where you’ll be able to stop in to one, head over to Facebook and find the Bruegger’s page and like them to get a coupon for a free bagel. Even if you’re a die hard Bruegger’s fan you’ll appreciate a free bagel!

Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. While Bruegger’s is supporting Social Soiree and will be providing something for the attendee gift bags, (of which I will get one b/c I am attending), all opinions are my own and have not been moderated by a third party.


San Diego – For Business and Pleasure

This coming week I’m heading to San Diego for the BlogHer Conference where I will be speaking. As you also know, I’m part of a group of blogging friends hosting an event to pay it forward to other bloggers and help them meet brands.

I’ve been to San Diego quite a few times and have always enjoyed my time there. On this trip I won’t be visiting many attractions. However, I will get the opportunity to learn about San Diego. One of the sponsors of Social Soiree is the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. As the official point of contact for people wanting to visit San Diego, the San Diego CVB has established relationships with businesses that will help you have a wonderful visit. Whether you’re looking for a hotel, restaurant, transportation, family-friendly attraction, romantic dining or free events, the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau should be your first stop.

Even if you just want to do some arm-chair traveling their site is full of information and beautiful photos. San Diego is beautiful all year ’round, too, if you’re thinking you might need to escape the heat or the cold.

The San Diego CVB reached out to me to be a sponsor for the Social Soiree event I’m hosting with a few friends. I look forward to learning more about how they can help with travel planning. I love their ‘Happy Happens’ phrase too. Because I remember being in San Diego with BabyGirl when she as just a few months old and that feeling of ‘Happy Happens’.

Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. While these companies are supporting Social Soiree and will be providing something for the attendee gift bags, (of which I will get one b/c I am attending), all opinions are my own and have not been moderated by a third party.


Social Soiree Sponsor: Family Fun Apps by Ruckus Media


Awhile back I shared with you a fun kid’s app called Rainforest Survival Challenge from Ruckus Media. It’s a great app to help kids learn about Rainforest animals as well as the animal food chain.

Recently, they’ve teamed with HUB TV and Hasbro to bring everyone’s favorite truck and his friends to an app kids will love! Chuck and Friends have become interactive to help kids learn, problem solve and understand how working together is the way to go.

Features of the Chuck and Friends app include:

• An original story of more than 70 “pages”
• Narrative-driven matching, touch and reveal and spelling activities progress the adventure and teach letter recognition, picture/word association and basic problem solving
• Read along, play along and record your voice: Users can read the story, have it read to them, or even record their own voice for a personalized reading experience.
• Words illuminate as Chuck tells the story, enhancing basic reading comprehension
• Randomized activities provide multiple learning adventures



Chuck and Friends is available from iTune. You can download the following:

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul $3.99 (for iPad and iPhone)

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul Lite FREE (for iPad and iPhone)

Ruckus Media has provided us with several codes for the FULL version so join us at the Twitter party on Wednesday for a chance to win this and over $1,500 worth of other prizes.

I know you may not be coming to the conference but I sure hope you’ll join in the Twitter party because we have over $1,500 worth of prizes to share from our sponsors.

Join A Social Soiree on Wednesday, July 27th from 9pm – 10pm (EST) by following the hashtag #SocialSoiree! Be sure you RSVP in advance to be eligible to win prizes and we can be sure to follow you in advance! Also please follow each of The Frugalistas incase any one of us gets locked out of Twitter.

Disclosure: Ruckus Media has paid a sponsorship fee to Social Soiree. I have received no compensation personally.


What I Didn’t See at BlissDom 2011

Blissdom 2011
My first creative photo thanks to Blissdom Photo Workshop

I spent much of the last week at the Blissdom Conference in Nashville. I learned what most of the pictures and letters mean on my new Nikon D3100 camera, thanks to Mishelle who was able to teach me how to use my camera. This isn’t a post about me and my new-found photography skilz, but I had to tell you this because the photo at the top was actually taken by me. I think it’s pretty darn creative! Don’t expect that much awesome all the time. I’m just learning.

What this post really is about is all the things I didn’t see at Blissdom. When you spend 3 or so days with anything more than about 15 women you start to doubt yourself and find all the flaws. And by ‘you’ I really mean me, but it sounds better to talk about myself in the collective and makes me feel like I’m not the only one who does this. Anyway, you start to pick yourself apart and that little voice inside your head starts to get louder and louder.

This was my second Blissdom conference. I knew it would be a convergence of women bloggers who were beautiful, tall, thin, perfectly coiffed, confident, funny, smart, sweet, kind, fashionable, have good hair, white teeth, great clothes, a zillion twitter followers, fancy cards, cute shoes, and so much more. I also knew I probably wasn’t going to be ‘the awesome’ I pretend to be while typing away on my fancy MAC (which really isn’t fancy when compared to the really fancy ones I saw at Blissdom).

Why would I write about what I didn’t see? Because if I didn’t see it, chance are others didn’t either. And that means that you don’t have to fret and wonder and engage in self flagellation and negative self-talk. It mean you don’t have to feel apologetic or say I’m sorry either.

I didn’t see you were worried about a million other things in your life.

I didn’t see you didn’t have the time or money to get your hair cut or colored.

I didn’t see that the dress you were wearing has been in your closet for ages.

I didn’t see you dying on the inside because you were nervous.

I didn’t see your shoes were new or old.

I didn’t see your top had stains from baby spit up on it.

I didn’t see your camera was fancy.

I didn’t see your earrings were the same ones you wear every day.

I didn’t see that your camera was 10 years old.

I didn’t see you were so anxious about meeting people that you really wanted to crawl under the table and hide.

I didn’t see that you just got your business cards made because you totally spaced you’d need some.

I didn’t see that you gained a few pounds.

I didn’t see your nail polish was smudged or chipping.

I didn’t see your fear that someone will find out your husband lost his job.

I didn’t see that your teenager is struggling with drugs and you’re scared.

I didn’t see your every waking moment is spent worrying about ____________ .

I didn’t see you skipped going to the gym that day.

I didn’t see you’ve spent the last months/years in therapy.

I didn’t see your laptop was 2 years old.

I didn’t see you really should have done the laundry last week.

I didn’t see your photos weren’t perfect.

I didn’t see the imperfect skin.

And for that matter, I didn’t see you just spent $500 to get perfect skin.

I didn’t see that you write in incomplete sentences, have horrible grammar or can’t spell.

I didn’t see that you believed you didn’t belong here.

I didn’t see your gray hair, your wrinkles, your fat, your scars.

I didn’t see your flaws or your faults.

I saw you. I saw your beautiful smile. I saw your eyes, filled with joy and excitement. I saw your heart, full of love for all the friends you met and were going to meet.

I just saw you. I loved you the moment we met.

And I hope you just saw me, too.


LAWsome Bloggers take over Nashville for Blissdom

Sara Hawkins Blissdom Speaker

Nashville may be known as Music City USA. But for a few days at the end of this month, country music will need to take a back seat to three LAWsome women heading to Blissdom. Sure, the women who put on the Blissdom Conference are pretty spectacular in their own right and I’m not here to take anything away from them.

However, a few weeks ago they notified Me, Charlene from Charlene Chronicles (who is a lawyer like me) and Sarah from In the Trenches of Mommyhood (who is a paralegal and despite what some lawyers say, we’re nothing without a good paralegal) that we were the Blissdom Legal Eagles (my phrase, not theirs) and I quick jumped onto email to them and began sharing my crazy sense of how the law should be fun and exciting and that we should be the panel that everyone wants to go to. And you know what? These two women didn’t laugh at me! As a matter of fact, they joined me in the LAWvely banter on Twitter about how LAWkey we are to be doing this and that we’re creating a LAWndry list of topics. Get it? Yes, lawyers (and paralegals) can be funny too!

I think Alli and Megan may be reconsidering asking us to speak. Nah, they know LAWsome when they see it, which is why they chose us! *waves to Alli and Megan*

Here we are, just a few weeks out from Blissdom and Charlene, Sarah and I (yes, even more to confuse you because I’m Sara and she’s Sarah and it makes me think of that SNL skit with Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen as Nuni and Nooni) are working on what is sure to be The legal panel of the new decade, or at least of the conference. We’ve got that great video Charlene created, there will be props and possibly costumes and music! We’re in Music City, we’ve got to have music!

So watch the short LAWsome Blissdom Panel video (about 2 minutes) and get ready to get your LAW on at Blissdom.  If you’re not going to Blissdom, don’t worry because we’ll make sure you get all the info too when the conference is over! If you’re going to Blissdom, I’ll see you at 4pm on Thursday the 27th!

And whether you’re going to Blissdom or not, be sure to follow us on Twitter, as well as the #Blissdom hashtag to keep up on all the conference information.

Follow Me on Twitter

Follow Charlene on Twitter

Follow Sarah on Twitter