When you go to the orthodontist and a blogging conference breaks out

When you go to the orthodontist and a blogging conference breaks out

I have a face for radio, and a voice for print media, so blogging is the perfect venue for me. Orthodontics really doesn’t fit into that picture. So, when Mama Kat posted an invitation to a social media conference at an orthodontist’s office, I was intrigued, but a bit skeptical. Why was an orthodontist hosting a social media event? Also, is this something I want to get myself into?

Kat would be there, and I trust her judgment (or at least if it turned out to be lame, she’d be an entertaining companion with whom to endure lame), and it was just exactly in my price range: free. Also motivating, I would get to talk to grownups; as a SAHM blogger, that is a rare and precious occurrence. Other mom bloggers to talk to? I’m in.

So I sequestered my paralyzing fear of dentists into a small dark corner in the pit of my stomach, and braved up. After all, it wasn’t like I was going in for treatment, right?

I was still curious about what social media had to do with orthodontics, and I have to admit, there was a part of me that was picturing the requirement to sit through a time-share sales pitch before getting to go one the 2 hour booze cruise.  As it turns out, there were no time-shares, and no booze. This all played out before noon on a Saturday morning.

I walked in, said hi, and they took me back to take an impression for my teeth whitening tray. Wait, what?  The little ball of fear in my tummy churned a bit.  But it was just an impression… quick and easy. No drills, needles, or reprimands about flossing, and the need for more frequent dental visits. I had forgotten that the swag for this little gathering included a custom fit teeth-whitening kit. Awesome!

So what was this all about? What was the orthodontics angle? It turns out that Dr. Molen is quite the savvy orthodontist. He recognizes the power of social media and mom bloggers, and also made the connection that most of his patients have moms or are moms. So if he provided a space for mom bloggers to come together and talk about blogging, maybe they would blog about their experience in his office…  Hey, look what just happened here.

Mama Kat

Kat put together a great presentation on blogging basics that covered everything from “should you start a blog?” to finding your niche (which I still haven’t done) to monetizing your blog.  The discussion came at a timely point for me, because I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how I’m making money from blogging. Thanks to her presentation, I think the best choice for me personally is to use my blog as a showcase for my writing, a portfolio of sorts, to generate paid writing opportunities elsewhere, rather than focusing on paid product reviews and advertising. Perhaps I should start proof-reading and using spellcheck as well?

Dr. Aaron Molen

After Kat finished up, Dr. Molen stepped up and took a few moments to dispel some myths about orthodontics. I have to admit that I was holding on to some incorrect ideas about what orthodontics entails. I really thought it was only about straight teeth, I had no idea of the artistry involved, or the impact on the entire face.


I also came away with some specific red flags to keep in mind in case my daughter ever needs orthodontics.  I know now to turn and run if any orthodontist wants to fit her with headgear like I wore through 5th and 6th grades.

Are you laughing at that poor 11 year old in the picture? It’s all right, Internets, I embrace my inner awkward.

By far, the best part of the entire experience was the time we had to sit around and chat.  There were, I believe, six of us bloggers in attendance, so it was a small enough group to really have a nice chat. I would have enjoyed more time chatting.

I would have enjoyed more time chatting so much that I wonder if other Seattle bloggers would enjoy time chatting in the real world.  What do you think? Is anyone else interested in meeting up in a coffee shop for some “Coffee Talk”? (Admit it, you said that in a Linda Richmond/Mike Meyers voice.)  No agenda, no presentations, no entrance fee… just bloggers meeting up somewhere in the Seattle area to get a cup of coffee or glass of wine and talk blogs, SEO, parenting, privacy, trolls, and anything else that happens to be on our minds.  Is there enough interest to set up a Meetup? What do you think?

I want to send out a big thank you to Dr. Aaron Molen at Molen Orthodontics. Thank you for thinking of us, coming up with a completely original idea, and making it happen. I’d love to see more of this. And to the other ladies in attendance, @youcanstayhome, @improperlykeli, and @BitingMyHand, it was so lovely to meet you!

Molen Orthodontics Mommy Blogger Workshop

photo courtesy of Dr. Aaron Molen, @MolenOrtho

Reasons I Love Seattle: #5 We’re never far from mother nature

All the benefits of a robust metropolis and yet, nestled between the mountains and the Salish Sea, it takes no effort at all to let nature envelope you in Seattle.

duck and lily pads

duck and lily pads

lily pads

lily pads

And now, from around the interwebs…

Me: As Seen On…

TV: yes! really! I was on CNN! So here’s the deal: I got an opportunity to say thank you, and help tell the story of a woman who was there for me while I was going through the worst of my cancer treatment. Debbie Cantwell created The Pink Daisy Project to pay it forward after her own bout with cancer. She helped me at a time when the expense and exhaustion of getting through cancer treatment was really wearing me down. She sent gift cards so I could get food, diapers, and gas, and she hired some people to come clean my home.  It’s hard enough to keep your home clean with a toddler – add the side effects of cancer treatment, and it’s overwhelming.

From what I understand, out of the 25 heroes highlighted throughout the year, CNN will be selecting 10 finalists  for the awards ceremony. Web traffic and buzz are considered in their selection criteria – so the more you view and share this story, the more you like or recommend it on Facebook, and the more you comment on the story there on the CNN website, the better the odds that Debbie will be selected as one of the finalists.  As a result of the story so far, Debbie has already received an increase in donations to help more women. She also received a significant increase in requests for help.  As we get the word out more, Debbie will be able to help more and more women. And that’s the whole point.

There is also a second video; this one is even longer and shows more of my family.


Darrah Parker Photography: We met up with Darrah at Ravenna Park on a sunny afternoon, and she took the most beautiful pictures of us.  My little family was hot and tired, and bordering on cranky, but Darrah found the best in us. We had a grand time posing for photos, and the results are just lovely.

Awesome stuff I found while I was pretending to be busy

It Matters: Mama Wants This explores the unexpected ways her life has has been enriched by blogging, and the unexpected ways in which she has been hurt by blogging.

The Aums: a discussion of that emotionally charged issue of, gasp, body image.

Dog Days of Summer: Northwest Mommy hosts guest blogger, Diane LeBleu, and her discussion of starting a business, getting a dog, breast cancer, and other bad ideas.

Peanut  Butter in my Hair: finding beauty in unexpected places

The Days Pass: Susan of Toddler Planet is one of my heroes. She’s battling her fourth cancer in four years; this time it’s metastatic. She writes so beautifully about balancing her pain management so that she can tolerate the pain, yet still savor the moments with her husband and young children.

A Shy Girl Walks into a Blog Conference… #BBCSEA

A Shy Girl Walks into a Blog Conference… #BBCSEA

Yes, I’m the shy girl. You, in the back, that just snorted – I heard that.

People who have known me for a long time may not realize how shy I can be. But the truth is, especially in cocktail hour, conference-type settings, I’m awkward silence girl.  These events stir up all kinds of anxieties in me. I sit there and rack my brain trying to think of something to say – and the harder I think, the longer and more awkward the silence gets, which makes it even harder to think of something to say. It’s a deep, and endless spiral.  And that’s if I manage NOT to blurt out something stupid, or nonsensical, or inappropriate, or offensive.

Conversing is so different from writing. There’s no opportunity to edit while you are speaking. Time delays are built in to written conversations, and expected, even when chatting or tweeting. But when you’re in a live, real world conversation, all bets are off. You’re out there, on your own, flying without a net.

Wine helps. A little.

More wine helps a little more.

Even more wine helps me nap right where I’m standing.

Unfortunately, most conferences start before the cocktail hour. But seriously, I do need to learn how to participate in a conversation without that kind of lubricant.

How do you do it?  How do you keep a conversation going? Even if it’s with someone you’ve been dying to meet for years. Especially if it’s with someone you’ve been dying to meet for years.

How do you bridge the gap between standing alone in the center of a packed room, and walking up to someone, or a group of someones, and saying “hi” – and then what do you say next?

My pulse is racing while I write this. It’s a terrifying prospect for me.

I spent the day Saturday at Bloggy Boot Camp Seattle, which was, in a word, Awesome. But it was also, among other things, a networking event: talking required. I learned a lot – but of course, one of the biggest benefits of such an event is the opportunity to meet other bloggers.  That meant sticking my hand out, and walking up to someone to introduce myself. And I did it! Most of the time without tripping over my own feet, or getting too terribly tongue tied.

There were still those moments where I stood in the middle of the room and surveyed groupings of people deep in conversation. What were they talking about? Could I easily join this conversation? Was anyone else also looking for someone to talk to? Or were they, like me, pretending to look busy so they didn’t look pathetic in the middle of the room silently trying to figure out who to talk to and how to start a conversation?

One of the brilliant bits of planning on the parts of the amazing ladies who organized this conference, was assigned seating that changed with each presentation.  This meant that every couple hours or so, I was at a different table with a different group of bloggers, and it made it so much easier to make introductions, start conversations, and meet a larger number of people.

Blogging ConferenceAnd the people who attended this event were just wonderful. From the moment I showed up to check in, an hour late (another story for another time), I was overwhelmed by just how amazing and, more importantly for me, approachable, everyone was. Superstar-blogger MamaKat has been one of my blogging heroes for years, and she got up and gave me a giant hug when we finally met at the conference. JennyOnTheSpot sat down next to me at lunch, and actually got me to talk a bit about myself to the table.

So many amazing people, and I’m still a little start struck and in awe of the entire event.

I learned a lot, too.  Not that I have actually applied anything I learned yet. For instance, Danae Handy and MamaKat led an amazing breakout session on writing. They didn’t just tell us to apply the narrative arc to everything we write; they actually showed us how to apply it to a blog post. For instance, this infernal post that you have been reading forever because it just wont end (thank you for sticking with me, by the way) would fit beautifully into a hero’s journey format.

I would be the hero (I like the sound of that), and my quest would be to summon the courage to make more connections (and maybe even friends) at a networking event, the antagonist would be my shyness and insecurities, my allies would be the other amazing people at the blog conference and the speakers who all seemed to do a great job of building my confidence as well.

I would build the story in ever increasing waves of tension as you follow along through my attempts to initiate and navigate through conversations, and triumph with me as I leave the conference with a head full of great ideas, a belly full of wonderful wines,  fists full of schwag and the business cards of other bloggers, and most importantly, my confidence through the roof.  In the end my anxiety would be vanquished, and I would be the queen of the bloggers (or at least the queen of CoffeeJitters.Net) and then my allies would be rewarded with loads of link love (which I’ll try to do anyway). Those things happened, I just didn’t write the post that way. But I can totally see now how that structure would improve this monstrosity.

See, I get it Danae. I really do. But, I also know myself well enough to know that any thoughts of rewriting this 1000+ word post are little puffs of nothingness that will never happen – especially while I”m in the middle of this 4000 mile road trip. So the post goes up as is.

The conference was worth every penny, and worth every moment of awkwardness. I feel a little more confident in what I’m doing as a blogger, no one bit me or gave me a why-the-hell-are-you-talking-to-me look while I was at the conference, I made some new friends, and now it’s time to put this post to bed and get some sleep. We’ve got a long drive ahead of us tomorrow. The next post will come from 600 to 900 miles away, and maybe from a different country. Not sure yet. We’re flying by the seat of our pants.

Reasons I Love Seattle: #4 Amazing Food Trucks

Reasons I Love Seattle: #4 Amazing Food Trucks

Why is it that food purchased from the side of a truck always seems to taste better? We have some amazing food trucks in Seattle.

Skillet Hamburger and Fries

Seattle is making a name for itself with it’s foodie culture, but many may not know about the amazing food being served up on wheels around the area.  There are, of course, the traditional taco trucks, but keep your eyes peeled for Thai trucks and Pho trucks, as well.

A day like this is heaven – Skillet and Molly Moon‘s Ice Cream food trucks parked right next to each other.

Molly Moon and Skillet in Seattle

Hello Cholesterol!

And now, from around the interwebs…

Me: As Seen On…

GalTime: The Next Big One: How to be prepared – One of the best ways to help your entire community in time of crisis is to be prepared for that crisis yourself: learn first aid, get certified in CPR, and prepare a disaster kit sufficient to care for your entire household for at least three days. Each person, or family, with their own emergency food, water, and other supplies relieves the stress of support services trying to help those without. In this article, I give some guidelines and pointers for preparing yourself and your family for the next big emergency.

The SITS Girls: Inspire the Best in You – I was one of the leads on the Inspire the Best in You: Letting Go project by the amazing girls at SITS, and my post on Letting Go of the Illusion of Control was highlighted. Thank you so much for this honor.

Awesome People Who Linked to me Recently

(If you do link to me, let me know, most of the time I stumble across these links by accident.)

Studio30+ linked to my post on Letting Go of the Illusion of Control on their Sunday Spotlight.

Awesome stuff I found while I was procrastinating on my homework

Hamster Central: One Month – I’ve been following Jen’s blog for a couple years now. She lives in Tokyo. This quick check-in, one month after the devastating earthquake and tusnami, came with news that the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Cherry blossoms signify the ephemeral qualities of life. Hope Blooms.

Northwest Ladybug: A Beautiful Day on the University of Washington Campus – I truly believe that the UW campus is one of the most beautiful in the world. These photos are a gorgeous illustration. We’re so lucky to live here.

All Adither: Mommy Blogger – Angie struggles with the label “Mommy Blogger.” I struggle with that, too. Sure, I write a lot about my kid these days, I consider parenting her the most important thing of everything I do, so naturally it will bleed in to my writing. But it’s not all there is to me. I also tend to struggle against labels in general, but I understand that, as humans, we like to categorize things. Where do you stand on the label?

Miss Britt: Everything you wanted to know about the big trip – I’ve written about this before, but it has really captured my imagination. Britt and her husband and kids are about to sally forth in a motor home, and explore the country for a year. Every time I think about this, my brain spins. So many questions. How to pay the bills? What about the kids? Here Britt supplies some answers, and even more fodder for my imagination as I ponder what adventure is next for my little family.

Not Martha: a weekend on Guemes Island – This post is actually a couple months old, but I’ve revisited it several times. I’ve been feeling the need to get away lately. To pack up my little family and go somewhere quiet, surrounded by nature – and the water. To hear water lapping against rocks, and birds singing and chattering in the morning. To let go of deadlines and due dates, even if just for a weekend, and sink in to a deep tub, or sink my teeth into a sinfully decadent yet simple dinner. To read a book for pleasure – without taking notes. Sigh. One of these days…

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

This is my first Ultimate Blog Party with 5 Minutes for Mom, and I’m excited about it. I’d love to meet more bloggers.  I love the interaction and sense of community that comes with blogging.

I’m a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed a year ago, just before my baby’s first birthday. A little over a year later and she’s almost two, and I’m almost done with treatment, but cancer is still part of my every day life. If you want to know what this blog is about, that’s a good start.

chemo buddy - CoffeeJitters.Net

Why is it so difficult to take a self portrait where you don’t look stoned? Or is it just me with that problem?

Before breast cancer, this was a mommy blog.

Before I got pregnant, I swore I’d never let my blog turn in to a mommy blog. It’s still a mommy blog, but cancer, and parenting with cancer weighs in as well.

What’s wrong with having a mommy blog, anyway? I write about what I’m passionate about. I write about my husband, too. But most of that passion is left off the page. No worries. This blog is mostly PG. But I can be snarky at times. Or sarcastic. Sometimes both at the same time.

I’m also a full time college student trying to finish up a degree in Social Sciences while my husband finishes up his Master’s Degree in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. That means, with cancer, and a toddler, that I’m really, really busy. I don’t post every day. Sometimes not even every week. But when I do post, I hope it’s interesting, or makes you think, or even better, smile.

Reasons I Love Seattle: #3 Trees Bloom in February

Several years ago, a friend flew down to visit me from Anchorage.  During the visit, she asked me if I had considered moving back home to Alaska.  This was mid-February, it was bitter cold up North, the ground and everything else covered in snirt (gray, gritty, dirty snow). I looked around at all the flowers, and the fresh fruits and vegetables on the stands as we walked through Pike Place Market, mountains on view in the background, and ferries making their way across Elliott Bay. “Seriously?” We both got a good laugh.


blooming trees


Me: As seen on…

GalTime: The Pink Daisy Project: Helping Women with Breast Cancer – I interviewed Debbie Cantwell on how she found the silver lining in her own breast cancer battle when started the Pink Daisy Project to help other women with breast cancer

Awesome people who mentioned me in their posts

Misadventures With Andi: Saturday Six #53 – Andi linked to my pictures of house boats from her lovely travel blog.

Its been a long… Happy Birthday Sweet Matt – Anna, a fellow breast cancer survivor, linked to my story about my brother Matt. Her story, based on her blog, was written as a play and presented by Coyote Rep Off Broadway at Wings Theater in Greenwich Theater this past October. See the clip below.

My favorite recent reads

The View From Right Here – not a read so much, but a picture that stopped me in my tracks. Photo of a homeless women in stark focus as the world blurs by.

Lavender and Limes: When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth – These gorgeous photos of old school card catalogs at the library really took me back.

Public Bookstore: Having a Crappy Night? – I loved this post on dealing with a crappy evening. Made me smile, and might have even made me feel better. Certainly inspired me to look in to Little House on the Prairie re-runs.

BlogHer: Olly Olly Oxen Free – My, this was the week for sentimental reads. This post took me back to 9 years old. Not the awkward, gangly, prepubescent aspects of the nine year old me, but the running through a field with the wind blowing through my hair, and nothing to prove to anyone just be free me.