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Month: August 2011

Show a local business some love with a grant from Intuit!

Show a local business some love with a grant from Intuit!

For as long as I can remember I always wanted to start a small business. I had dreams of opening a small, cozy bookstore. (Think Cheers where everyone knows you name but with books and coffee.) There would be small reading corners with comfortable couches. I would have work areas where writers could set up and write in comfort. And of course, there would be coffee. Though the dream never died, the reality of it became something I wasn’t able to do. I never really thought of myself as a small business owner but the truth is a freelance writer and author, I am a small business. I am just on the other side of my dream business. My passion has actually turned into a small business of my own. The one my heart loves and has more successful with than a bookstore owner.

Intuit is hosting a “Love A Local Business” competition. or a local business in your community. 

 Each month Intuit will be giving away $25,000 to a deserving local business with theirLove a Local Businesscompetition. Your nominations and votes will help secure a better future for a local business in your community. Yes,  you can help show your love to a local business. (And let’s face it, our local businesses could use all the love we can give them.)

The more votes a business has the more chances they have to win. So, be sure to nominate your favorite local business or even yourself. I don’t know any small business who couldn’t use a tremendous grant like this one!

Now, I don’t see myself opening that bookstore I dreamed of any time soon, but I know many of you own or support a small business. Why not nominate yourself or a business you want to see win this grant? It could make a huge difference!

 I am curious to hear, what small business would you start if you could?

By replying you will be entered to win an iPad 2! (Score!)

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Intuit’s Love A Local Businesscompetition. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs August 10 to September 1, 2011. A random winner will be announced by September 6, 2011. Official Contest Rules

A carpool PSA because you’re probably doing it wrong

A carpool PSA because you’re probably doing it wrong

The beginning of every school year it takes a while for new parents to adjust to how the carpool works. You do NOT want to mess with the carpool lane. Hey, you over there who is probably thinking that since your kid is older you can ignore the rules. No. Bad driver. You are most definitely doing it wrong!

If you are at the Elementary School That Shall Go Unnamed, for the love of all things ticket worthy, do not– under any circumstances–  turn left. Ever. They even took down a sign that every school I’ve been to has up declaring “No drugs. No guns. No weapons.” to put up a No left turn sign. It’s so not a joke. The police are watching you. Don’t ask me how I know. I just know.

No Left Turn EVER!

So for all of you who think you can get away with a new year, break the rules, you can’t. You will be called out because you are doing it wrong.


BlogHer’11 The Photo Edition

BlogHer’11 The Photo Edition

I used a lot of words summing up BlogHer’11 in my last post. It’s okay. This one is all about the pictures. They tell the story. (I’ll tell you a bit about the picture then post it. You can come up with your own captions if you want to. You people are way funnier than I am!)

I’ve heard it said as an adult we can be blessed with two families: The family you were born into and the family you choose. These are just a few pictures of the family I have chosen. And I am blessed.

These are the women I look to to help keep me sane. (That should answer a lot of questions, people.) :

These women keep me sane.

These two women are my sister friends. (Because sister wives are so 2009.) Liz and Elizabeth and I have been friends since way back when we had to write our blog posts with a quill and scroll. We laugh together. We cry together. We snort (laugh) together.

Me, Liz and Elizabeth

Here are two more women who keep me on my toes. Melisa (with one S) has been so encouraging and makes me laugh. (Even if she calls me Gidget.) Kendra and I met at BlogHer in San Francisco and have been good friends ever since. These are amazing women who always have my back!

They've got my back!

You’d never know that Canada and Texas are geographically so far away. Kim and I totally got each other. And? She will always hold my earrings. Oh, and we laugh. A lot

Canada and Texas: perfect match!

Sometimes I hang out online with a group of Regular Folks who laugh, share their lives and keep each other close. These are just a few of the women who are a part of that group. (To round up that many was an accomplishment!) They are:  Liz, Michelle, Headless Mom, Busy Mom, Melisa (with one S), Carmen, me and Christina.

We're just regular folks.

But it wasn’t all play.  For example, here we are as old school bloggers trying to figure out modern technology.

Can you hear me now?

But for real, when we are together we have some serious and in depth conversations.  Exhibit A:

I'm totally serious here! *snort*

We did some serious networking with Very Important and Famous Figures.

Oh, yes, that is a costumed character I am with!

I was able to meet up with  Donna and Julie talk some serious politics. (Or not. Can you say photobombers? I knew you could!)

I talked serious politics with MOMocrats

We danced…

Dancing queens

We ate…

Your friends are not lunch!

We shrieked in horror…

No way!

And we hugged. We hugged a lot!! (Which sometimes led to tears with Momo.)

Me not making Momo cry...this time.

But mainly, we laughed and enjoyed being together…

There's no laughing in going ganstah, y'all!

Because some of my favorite moments in life are laughing with friends…

Laughing with friends is a special occasion

I took the pictures from ones I was tagged in. Leave me a comment or message me if you were the photographer. Thinking and tagging is hard, y’all!


The BlogHer’11 wrap-up whether you want it or not- The Pay It Forward Edition

The BlogHer’11 wrap-up whether you want it or not- The Pay It Forward Edition

BlogHer'11 - San Diego

I have been going to BlogHer since  2005 when no one had any idea what a “BlogHer” was. (Okay, technically, I was not physically at BlogHer’10 but I claim honorary attendee with Elisa’s blessing.) This year was probably my favorite year ever. I was honored to speak on an amazing panel with BusyMom and Kathryn Finney moderated by Kyran Pittman named Change Yourself – Old-School Bloggers: Beginner to Big-Time to Burnout and Everywhere in Between . (You can read it there but I warn you: It is a rough transcript. I really am more eloquent. And? My Southern drawl seems to have thrown off the live blogging. You’ll get the idea, though.) What an honor it was to speak on a panel again. For me, this was not a regular panel. For me, it was like coming home. When I looked out at the people who attended our session, I became choked up. I saw so many faces of friends and fellow bloggers I have come to know and love over the years. It was humbling that they took time out of their day to listen and contribute to our panel. (Thank you, friends!)

The first night in San Diego, my iPhone died.  (Let us have a moment of silence.) After the weeping & panicked racing around our room clutching the phone to my chest, my sweet (and patient) roommate, BusyMom, tweeted out that I was phoneless and freaking out. Possibly to get sympathy from those who know what a freaking out and phoneless Jenn must be like but more likely because she is good that way. Big deal, right? Oh, it became a huge deal.

HP Veer


I was told to  meet someone outside the expo hall. Imagine my surprise when I was blessed by the #ATTPhoneFairy. What does that mean? It means that the wonderful people with AT&T (not sure if I can give the PR rep a shout-out or not but I LOVE her!) came up to me and gave me a new HP Veer 4G complete with a SIM card good and taken care of by AT&T for 30-days for me to keep. To keep forever & ever. My reaction was totally professional. I cried like a baby when I realized what she was doing for me. Let me just say, being at a conference away from my family and not having any way to keep in touch with them. Or not being able to connect with your roommates is really tough at a conference the size of  BlogHer. I still get a bit teary that they were so kind to bless me that way. Thank you, ATTPhoneFairy!

Lenovo Ideapad U260

But wait, it gets better. My laptop died before I went to BlogHer. Died. Dead. She’s dead, Jim. So here I am heading off to a blogging conference without a laptop. (I know. The horror!) Again, much to my surprise and happiness, I was blessed with a loaner laptop from Lenovo. They sent me an Ideapad U260 as a loaner so I wouldn’t be without a laptop. (I’ve worked with Lenovo as a member of their advisory counsel but making sure this loaner got to me overnight was above and beyond. Thank you Lenovo!) I had every intention of blogging every night but that is just not realistic with the way my schedule was those 5 days. But, I have to at least admit I did take the opportunity to Skype with my daughter back home. That melted my heart and made me feel so happy to “share her” with my friends. I was connected even though I was half a country away.

When my sandals broke outside the expo hall, I was given a pair of shoes so I wouldn’t have to walk barefoot around the convention hall and hotel. (*shudder*) This is how the entire weekend went. It seemed as if as soon as I had something go wrong, there was someone blessing me with something to replace what was lost. And,  yes, I cried with each blessing I was given.

I was able to  meet PR people I have worked with in person and thank them for their hard work.  I was able to connect with reps who have blessed me by inviting me on the blogger junkets. I got to hug the people I have worked with for years but only get to see at events like this if I am lucky.  I met new people I want to work with in the future. I hid from horrible costumed characters with new friends at the GotMilk booth. I gained (and then lost) custody of Harrison Ford with a milk mustache. (But, for the record here and now, my name is first on the list for the next GotMilk Milk Mustache man. It has been declared and tweeted. And? Truth be told I was pining for any of the Got Milk people. I’d be happy this year with Taylor Swift. But alas, I am Milk Mustache-less this year. ha!) What I did leave with was amazing memories of laughing with new reps & friends.  And a cool mug with a Starbucks card. Awesome.

I met with Pressman Toys who wanted to scare me with their costumed character but instead they blessed me with a new game called Coffee Talk. For real! Mommy Needs Coffee will be able to play a game called Coffee Talk. The world is good. (And a Smurf did not bite my arm!)

But wait. There’s more.

  • A blogger who didn’t even know me offered me her Papa Smurf stuffed toy for my daughter.
  • A vendor gave me 2  brand new 3DS games simply because we enjoyed talking about gaming, games and the 3DS
  • When I had only $6 to my name and no one left at the hotel that I knew and my ATM card would no longer work in any ATM in California due to recent fraud, the Marriott staff worked with me to get a cash advance so I could get home.
  • I was given a Starbucks card just so that I could enjoy my afternoon after a rough morning. Just handed to me.
  • When I burst into tears after the last of my “sisters” left the hotel, a blogger I don’t even know who probably didn’t even know me, wrapped her arms around me and let me cry.
  • When my flight was delayed over an hour and half, another passenger bought me a sandwich at Starbucks.

Some of those things may seem so small but to me they were huge. Added up, they filled up a very empty, broken spirit. Those things really did renew my faith in people.

BlogHer’11 was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. And though the amazing pay it forward moments I was blessed with, it was the time I spend with the people I love that renewed my broken spirit and healed my broken heart. That part of the wrap  up will come in photos next. (Yes, you do have to endure another post BlogHer wrap up. Deal.)