Type-A Parent Conference Ticket Winner

type-a-parent-conference
150 entries are in.

The competition was fierce.

andrea bates winner

Seriously, so much love for Type-A Parent Conference.

I ran the contest through Rafflecopter, with results through Random.org, and the winner is…

(drumroll please…)

Andrea Bates of the blog Good Girl Gone Redneck! Her extra tweet on the last day of the contest did the trick.

nicole bullock and andrea batesI was excited to see that Andrea won the contest because she is one of the most wonderful friends that I made at Type-A Parent Conference in Atlanta last year in Charlotte. We bonded during a session about storytelling where we were paired up for an exercise. We talked about some of our greatest accomplishments and greatest struggles, and we knew that we were kindred spirits. We had a great time again in New York City at BlogHer ’12 where we ducked out of Sparklecorn early to have a heart-to-heart sitting on the hallway floor of the Hilton. I urge you to follow this awesome blogger!

Bummed you didn’t win the giveaway?

It’s not too late to register for Type-A Parent Conference through Eventbrite. Click through this registration link for a special discount.

Thank you to all who participated!

Social Media Marketing World 2013

social media marketing worldThis spring, I’ve been on a conference bender. I’ve attended three big conferences in the last 3 months, with 2 more in the next month. I can barely recover from one conference before heading out for another, and haven’t adequately blogged about my experiences.

Last week I attended Social Media Marketing World 2013 in San Diego. I was sent by my company, and have already written a recap on the DegreeSearch blog, but there were a few more personal notes that I wanted to put into a blog post here. As soon as I heard about SMMW13, I knew this was THE social media conference for me to attend this year. I’ve been registering for a mix of blogging, search/SEO, and social media events this year, and knew I’d get the best social media information at SMMW13. The list of keynotes and speakers was intense: Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, Ric Dragon, Mark Schaefer, Lee Odden, Nichole Kelly, Sally Hogshead, Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, and many other social media practitioners that I’ve come to love and respect.

I knew that the conference would be intense, so I arrived a day before the official conference events began. I did a little shopping, sightseeing, and relaxing. I love going into a conference knowing as many attendees as possible, so I planned a dinner on Saturday night to start the mingling early. The 12 people who attended this dinner ended up being the people that I spent the most time with during the event.

degreesearch business cardsSocial Media Marketing World was the first conference that I’ve attended on behalf of a company. I’ve done some networking for clients before, but it was the first time where I set aside my personal interests (and the business cards with my blog on them) and planned my conference schedule around the sessions that will best help my company. Luckily, my coworker Joseph created these awesome DegreeSearch business cards, and I gained a nice amount of new followers for my company. There were a lot of representatives within higher education, and I loved talking strategy with others who interact in the same circles as I do.

There were some amazing keynotes and sessions that I attended. This is what my conference schedule looked like:

Monday:

  • Social Media Marketing in 2013: New Research and Its Implications by Michael Stelzner
  • Advanced Networking: How to Make Lasting Connections by Larry Benet
  • 10 Ways To Improve Your Facebook Reach by Mari Smith
  • Using Google+ To Build a Platform by Guy Kawasaki
  • The Science Of Community Building In The Age of Social Media by Ric Dragon
  • Social Media ROI: How to Finally Deliver Measurable Results  by Nichole Kelly
  • How To Fascinate With Your Social Media Messages by Sally Hogshead

Tuesday:

  • Are We Getting Better or Just Busier? Panel by Jay Baer, Mark Schaefer, Chris Brogan, and Mario Sundar
  • How to Build a Thriving Community With Blogs – Panel with Srinivas Rao, Marcus Sheridan, Michael Stelzner, and Joe Pulizzi
  • Community Building for Big Brands –  Panel with Sarah Robinson, Susan Wassel (Sharpie), Ekaterina Walter (Intel) and Kat Smith (Petco)
  • Google+ Marketing Success: It’s Much More Than a Social Network  by Jesse Stay
  • How to Implement and Optimize Your Social Strategy by Neal Schaffer
  • Why It Pays To Be Likeable by Dave Kerpen

taking notes at smmw13Every time I attend an event, I’m torn about the best ways to take notes. Do I use my laptop, iPad, or just tweet as I go?

This time around, I decided to take handwritten notes. I’ve read lots of studies that say that you retain information better when you take handwritten notes, and I believe this to be true. I feel like I retained a lot more information than the usual event, but I still kept Twitter open to share awesome quotes. I had a few people tell me that they wished that they took notes by hand. Maybe it will be the new trend. I’m going to do it again at Type-A Philly this weekend.

One of the sessions I really enjoyed was Sally Hogshead talking about How To Fascinate, a personality assessment based on how others view you (not how you view yourself). I took the test, and found out I am a catalyst (motivated by passion and rebellion, appealing to others with emotion and creativity). It’s a great test – I think you should do it!

kersten anderson nicole bullockFrom a social perspective, a social media conference is a great place to make new friends. I met people in the hotel lobby, hotel bar, hotel pool, and throughout the conference areas. Conference attendees were, on the whole, friendly, attentive, and fun to be around.

One of the key friends that I made was Kersten from Speakeasy Market Strategies in Tulsa. She gave me a lot of inspiration, we collaborated some ideas, and she gave me some confidence in the things I’m doing right in social media marketing. But we also became fast friends – we were swimsuit shopping within an hour of meeting each other Saturday, and the fun didn’t stop until we arrived at the airport Wednesday. Kersten and I did a trolley tour of San Diego on Sunday before the craziness of the conference began, hung out at the parties, and roomed together the last night.

The opening night party was at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. We loaded up tour buses at the Marriott, and drove about 10 minutes to the museum. There was a fun game to find people to fill out a “Twitter bingo card” that got people networking (for the chance to win fabulous prizes!). The party atmosphere continued back on the bus to the Marriott, and into the bar. Whether or not you were drinking, people were having fun. I like to be around happy people. I met people from all over the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Philippines, and many other countries.

friends at smmw13 collageMonday night, there was a harbor cruise on a yacht. Before the boat set sail, I went to dinner with a big group at Dick’s Last Resort, and it set the mood for a great time on the boat. I’ve never gone on a cruise before, so it was pretty impressive (to me) to be on a boat with over 1000 people. The bottom floor had dancing and a live band, the middle floor had karaoke, and the top floor was the boat deck with a gorgeous view of the bay. I spent most of my time on the top deck, but did get up on the karaoke stage to sing my go-to karaoke song: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips. If it’s not exhilarating to have a group of your peers cheering and singing along with you, I don’t know what is.

I made so many new friends, and I feel sad I didn’t get a picture of all of them. In this photo are some of the people I met at this conference: Amanda (@myofficebooks) from Australia, Kristin (@kristin_bush) from Orange County, Kris (@helloitsbutters) from Iowa, and EJ (@EJSchiller) from Chicago.

I can’t wait until registration for Social Media Marketing World 2014 opens up, because I’m going to be there!

 

New Media Expo 2013 – A Recap

@jmowery @cuteculturechic @kristenwright_Last week, I attended New Media Expo 2013 in Las Vegas. Formerly known as BlogWorld, it was my first year attending this conference. And let me say…it was awesome!

I found it interesting to be at a conference that wasn’t a blogging conference geared toward female bloggers. I love my lady blogger friends, but it was fun to meet a lot of smart guys that I could share my nerdy technical side with.

I included a photo collage in my Wordless Wednesday post about #NMX last week, but I didn’t say who was in the photos with me. Without further ado, here’s a rundown of some of the awesome people I spent time with at #NMX and the best parts of the conference:

The first day of the conference, I spent most of my time with @elijahryoung and @thatguydeuce. Both of them had attended BlogWorld in previous years, so they were able to introduce me to a lot of great people. Scott (@thatguydeuce) and I had gone to Dick’s Last Resort the night before, and it was a good kick-off to a really fun few days.

@ahockley – Aaron was one of the first people to reach out to me in the weeks leading up to NMX. Being a newbie this year, it was nice to establish a connection with someone before arriving. I attended his photography session titled “You’re a Better Photographer Than You Think You Are,” and got some great tips on how to use my new Canon Rebel T3i. He’s from the Portland area, which automatically makes him a winner in my book.

@WPmodder – Adam and I met at the opening party at Lavo. It was so loud in the club, and we both had been screaming to talk to people, so our voices were hoarse. We went out to the hallway to chat, and threw around blogging and WordPress ideas. He was an invaluable friend to make, because he was the one who connected me to so many other new friends during the conference. He was at the conference representing ManageWP, and he connected me to James, the CEO of ManageWP. He told me about FooBox, a great WordPress plugin for image management. We ended up hanging out several times through the conferences, including time at the top of the Rio at the Voodoo Lounge.

@jmowery of @ManageWP – James got the crash-course rundown on who I was from Adam, because I went to the ER for a reactive hypoglycemia attack (and I’d been updating Adam on how I was doing). When I was back from the hospital, I went to the expo hall to check out the booths, and briefly met James. Later in the evening, we became acquainted in the hotel bar with lots of other conference-goers. My favorite memory of the conference was when he was a bit tipsy from some vodka cranberry drinks, and he was just fascinated by me eating TicTacs. I would shake them out of the box, and it would look like the box was empty, but there were a few stuck up in the top (which you couldn’t see because the dispenser was covering them. But the next day I hung out at his booth with Adam and learned all about ManageWP, which is a great integrated dashboard product for WordPress users who manage multiple sites.

@WendysHat – Wendy and I met at Bloggy Boot Camp in 2010, and we’ve been wanting an excuse to see each other again. NMX was our excuse. She LOVES to wear hats, and I caught her for a photo-op at a rare moment where she didn’t have a hat on.

@cebsilver – Curtis and I met at Type-A Parent Conference in 2011 in Asheville, and we ate at a really good restaurant (and all I can remember is that I met Curtis that night and the food was good). I tend to run into him at a lot of conferences, and he was at NMX on behalf of Gunnar Optiks. I chilled with Curtis and the Gunnar folks, and spent some time in the pimped out Gunnar bus.

@Matt_Siltala – I have been following Matt online for several years, but had yet to meet him until NMX. He was there with the crew from Avalaunch Media, who are so local to me in Utah, I could walk from my house into their office. I think he’s pretty much a digital marketing rockstar, and it was fun to get to know him on a personal level.

@kristenwright_: Honestly, there weren’t a lot of women that I talked to at NMX that I didn’t already know. I met Kristen for dinner at the hotel bar with James and Adam, and we talked WordPress and ideas for upcoming website launches. It’s always refreshing to find ladies in the tech field who have a brain like mine (understanding the quirks of HTML) but also have a spunky side with an irreverent sense of humor. Kristen and I hit it off immediately, and I’m sad that this dinner was the only time we could hang out during #NMX.

@petershankman – Another digital marketer I admire, Peter and I ran into each other in the hall the first day. We’d met each other before, and I was impressed that with all of the people he meets, he immediately knew that he knew me. I’m excited that we got to connect at NMX because he’s the featured speaker for February’s Social Media Club of Salt Lake City event.

One of my favorite things about hanging out with my social media friends is that we are all alike. We can’t handle putting down our phones for more than the time it takes to eat a meal. We tweet. We take pictures of our food. We punch up a website in our mobile browser to show each other. We show each other the newest apps. I try to not be totally chained to my phone when I’m out to dinner, but when everyone else at the table is too…it’s hilarious. All of us snap photos of each other, and sometimes silly panorama shots appear online that show just how silly we are.

The content of the conference was some of the most relevant to my interests and career than any other conference I’ve attended to date. I love going to blogging conferences, but it was nice to be able to get a more integrated approach to new media, podcasting, blogging, and the evolution of digital marketing. Since I’ve become a social media manager for my company, learning about the ways to integrate strategies for different platforms has been a daily source of research. To be able to hear the latest and greatest from industry leaders made it 100% the price of admission. The fact that I was able to connect personally with people that are making a difference in the digital marketing and new media space was just icing on the cake. I just can’t get over how many cool people I met!

lavo las vegasThe opening night party of the conference was held at Lavo Nightclub in the Palazzo Hotel. Going clubbing in Vegas typically isn’t my thing, but I have to admit that it appealed to me a lot more this time around. I’ve lost a lot of weight, I had a cute and sexy dress, and I arrived without any group of friends. It made me go out of my shell to introduce myself, dance around, order my Diet Coke at the bar, and enjoy the energy of the club that hadn’t appealed to me much in the past. My main frustration was that it was so loud and so dark that you had to get up into the faces of the people you were talking with, and sometimes be cheek-to-cheek to hear what the other person had to say.

It was humorous to me that I was hit on by so many guys…because I wasn’t wearing a blingy ring. I was wearing my new Celtic ring from Ireland that Taylor got me for Christmas, which is a simple woven silver band. Even though it was on my left ring finger…I had some disappointed men when I mentioned my husband. It was the first time since losing my weight that I felt uber-attractive and got a lot of attention…and it was interesting that it coincided with the first non-female-focused conference I attended.

ambulance drive during NMXThe only part of the conference that wasn’t fun was when I went to the Emergency Room. I partied too hard…which is funny to say for a girl who didn’t touch a drop of alcohol. I made the lousy mistake of staying up for 23 hours to play and party, then only slept for 3 hours, and then went to the hotel gym for a workout (since I knew it would be the only chance I had for the day). I went to a networking breakfast after, but apparently I didn’t eat enough. While I was in Guy Kawasaki’s keynote, I started feeling the evil crash of reactive hypoglycemia. Dizziness, double vision, sweating, and they chills. It was time to eat again – NOW.

I slipped out of the ballroom and got some food from the hotel convenience store. I sat down on a bench in the hallway to eat and recover, but it didn’t happen as quickly as usual. I flopped over so I could lay down on the bench, and a concerned conference-goer grabbed casino security for me. They called in the EMTs, who gave me some gross glucose gel and tried to get my blood sugar back up. Usually after 15 minutes, I feel remarkably better…but not this day. They called in the paramedics, who took my blood glucose level. Even though it was back in the normal range, my symptoms hadn’t improved. They strapped me on the gurney and rolled me out to the ambulance.

During the conference, there was a contest going for a free conference ticket for the best photos with the hashtag #NMX on Instagram. I was in a memorable predicament, so I had to document it for the chance to win. Once vitals were taken and oxygen administered, the paramedic took my picture in the ambulance. I Instagrammed that sucker, and arrived at the emergency room.

They took several vials of my precious blood, and hooked me up to an IV for fluids. The ER was busy, and since I was no longer a critical case at that moment, I knew I’d be there a while. I napped for the majority of the 4 hours at the ER, where they concluded that I was severely dehydrated and my electrolytes were out of whack. 3 bags of IV fluids later, they discharged me with the charge to rest and recuperate.

I still kept pretty busy during the rest of NMX, but that hospital visit was enough to scare me into not push it quite so hard. I ate more frequently, avoided a lot of physical activity, and spent time in conversation with friends instead of partying it up my last night in Vegas. I missed most of the conference on Monday, but caught everything I could on Tuesday. I spent a lot of time talking to people in the expo hall, and made some great contacts.

Overall, NMX was a blast…and I can’t wait for next year. Now, to see if I win a free ticket for next year for my ambulance Instagram photo…

Divinity

divinity candy

“Ladies, we are like Divinity. Some of us are smooth, some are crusty. But we all taste good.”

-Rea Allsop

Today in Relief Society, one of my favorite women in my old/new ward gave the lesson. Four hours later, I can’t even remember what the overall outline of the lesson was, but that comment stuck with me. Partially because I tweeted it out right after she said it, partially because she also passed out homemade divinity (with no nuts! Glorious!). But I can’t get the idea out of my mind.

Have you ever tried to make divinity? It’s light and fluffy classic homemade candy. It’s a very temperamental candy to make, especially when heat and humidity conditions aren’t good. But isn’t that how life can turn out? When trials abound, and we’re under tremendous pressure, we might not end up the way we hope. We may not be the right color. We might not be the right texture. We might look a lot denser, misshapen, airy, or gritty than the one next to us. But when it comes down to it…we are all sweet and special. And we are divine.

Non-Tangible Birthday Gifts

birthday candles Saturday is my birthday. Other than being excited to see friends for the Frida Tweetup – whoop-de-doo. Make no mistake about it, I do love my birthday. Born on February 5th, I’ve said since about 1985 – “Feb 5 is a great day to come alive.” It’s situated far enough past Christmas that budgets have recovered, and just before people have shot their wad on Valentines’ Day. I do love presents….but this year, it really seems unimportant.

Last year I celebrated my 30th birthday, and it felt pretty monumental. But  for the first time ever…this birthday just feels like another year in the history books. At this point, I’m really just happy to still be around. 30 was a year of physical health struggles, mental health struggles, financial struggles, and the beginning of the biggest identity crisis I’ve ever faced. I’ve made it through with the support of family and friends – both online and in person.

Earlier this week, I had a discussion with a friend over Facebook about birthday gifts. She wanted to know if she should get me an iTunes gift card or something off my Amazon Wishlist. She’s been unemployed for several months, and it meant so much that she was planning to spend her meager funds on me. I hate to think of her spending money on that I know she doesn’t have. I told her that I didn’t need a gift…and she seemed sad that I rejected her opportunity to give. Since then, I’ve been pondering this idea. And late in the night, I had a thought – this year I’d rather have non-tangible gifts.

It means the world to me when a random stranger smiles at me. Or someone offers to watch my daughter so I can have some non-mommy time. I read and reread the heartfelt emails I receive which say why I’m loved and important to them. Blog comments and Twitter replies feel like a gift…it helps me know that my thoughts and words make a difference. I love getting invitations to come over to have dinner with a friend’s family, thus taking away the stress of deciding what to make for dinner after work. I love getting unexpected mentions online, such as links to my blog posts or professional recommendations on LinkedIn. I love when people show up at my house randomly to give me a hug (and don’t judge me for my messy house.) Or just slap a sombrero on my head, sing Happy Birthday in Spanish, and present me with a dish of fried ice cream.


So unless you were planning on giving me a stash of Coke Zero, don’t waste your money on a birthday gift for me. I’m curious what people will do/say, so I will report back next week to let you know how my non-tangible birthday gift experiment went.

Way to Go, Wahlee!

Today, one of my very best friends achieved one of the most significant accomplishments of her life. Emily (aka Wahlee) has been working on her masters degree at BYU, and after much travail has completed her thesis and passed her defense. I was on campus when she passed to give her a big hug. She’s worked so hard…CONGRATS!

Emily and I have known each other since 1993. We met in our 8th grade science class. We were at the same table, and I was quickly intrigued by her last name Bytheway. She loved music (just like me) and was smart enough that I couldn’t keep up with her. We became fast friends, and have been ever since. She adopted my quirky addiction to They Might be Giants music, and we created our own TMBG-land as partners in 9th grade Geography. We wrote intricately-folded notes to each other in a secret language. We planned things out in our Franklin Quest planners. We listened to Broadway music together. We were roommates for EFY, and attended BYU Education Week together for many years. We were in the same high school dance groups, went to plays together, studied like maniacs, and sang together in MHS’s Womens Chorus, A’Cappella Choir, and Bel Canto. We memorized Scripture Masteries together. We both took French in high school, and still slip in words en francais without thinking. She put up with my boycraziness, which is a MAJOR feat.

Emily is a DIE HARD BYU Cougar fan. She’s been attending BYU football games faithfully, and has even attended some of their womens’ football clinics. After high school, she headed down to Provo as I headed up to Rexburg. We emailed each other often, and met up on the weekends we both were in Murray. She was one of the first people I introduced “my fiance” to, and was my maid of honor at my first wedding. She was my shoulder to cry on when my marriage dissolved. She got me into blogging. She hooked me on to Harry Potter (and I’ve never seen such a devoted HP fan). She shares my mad addictions to Keane, Donny Osmond, Disneyland, BYU bookstore fudge and chocolate-covered cinnamon bears. I’m really lucky to have such a great friend.

Je t’aime Em!

At my 17th Birthday party

Green Gables Girls on High School Choir Tour to British Columbia

Jello-suckaholics Anonymous

Emily with her Hogwart’s-obsessed family

Me, Em, Rosie, and Dobby at WahleeCon 2004

At my (2nd) wedding reception

Chilling with old friends at Dana Point

In line for Star Tours at Disneyland


Em’s Family has felt like my 2nd family for many years, especially her sisters

Chillin’ in the SLC at Sam Weller’s Bookstore
Out to eat…our favorite thing to do together

Blog Stalking – Creepy or Complimentary?


I am certifiably addicted to blogs. I’ve been a blogger on and off for seven years. As of today, I have 357 different subscriptions in my Google Reader, plus about 15 private blogs I follow (yeah, I know I’m crazy). I don’t read EVERYTHING in detail, and I usually only comment if there’s something particularly noteworthy. I’d do nothing but read blogs if I commented on every post (which I used to do). Some blogs I’ve been following as far back as 2002, and I stick in a few new subscriptions a month.

When I find a blog that strikes my interest, I usually read it all the way back to the beginning. That way I have reference to different family member names, significant events, etc. I spent the better part of my free time reading all of the archives on Dooce this summer. I’ve met approximately 20 of my blogger friends in the last two years in real life. After reading their stories, I rarely have any awkwardness meeting IRL. I call this “reading all the way back to the beginning of the blog” phenomenon blog stalking. When I tell a fellow blogger that I’ve stalked them, I mean it as a great compliment.

A few months ago I stumbled upon a blog of a girl from my ward. She had an interesting story and wonderful humor, and I read all of her archives. She was an acquaintence, we had common friends, and I requested her as a friend on Facebook. She immediately accepted, and we chatted well into the evening about various topics. We had kids in the same primary class, went to the same college, and I was looking forward to getting to know her better. The next time I saw her at church, I told her I’d stalked her blog back to the beginning. After church I went to look at her FB page, and she had disappeared. Not only off my friends’ list, but she wasn’t even found in the search feature. This means she had unfriended AND blocked me. Then I went to her blog…it was changed from public to private. Every subsequent time I tried to talk to her, she acted nervous and began avoiding me. I don’t remember saying anything offensive to her….my only guess is that she was creeped out by the term “blog stalking.”

Another blogging acquaintence friended me on FB this week, and we also had a good instant message conversation. I joked that I enjoyed stalking her blog, and she replied that she liked stalking mine. Yesterday I decided to contact her on FB to ask her out to lunch….and it was like deja vu – off my friends list, all previous wall posts disappeared, and not found in search. I know that being “friends” online isn’t the most important thing…but I’ve been feeling sad about it.

So opinion time…do you think the term “blog stalking” is creepy or complimentary?

Indiana with Julie

Last week I talked about how I really wanted to get out of town for the weekend. I had hoped for Orlando, but it wasn’t in the cards for the weekend. LAX, SLC, CVG, DTW, PDX and other locations I typically visit were booked solid. I put out a message on Pilot Wives Club to see if anyone wanted to get together for the weekend. Julie in Indiana was more than happy to have me visit while her husband was on a weekend trip. We had a phone number miscommunique Friday night, but we talked on the phone for an hour and decided that I should try to fly out Saturday morning on the first flight.
Julie picked me up from SBN around noon on Saturday. First we went to Michigan City, IN to the Lighthouse Factory Stores. I scored some cute yoga pants at the Old Navy Outlet, and a little hunk of maple fudge from the dessert shop. Next we went to Mt. Baldy and the beach of Lake Michigan.
We had to climb the crest of Mt. Baldy around through some sand dunes to finally see the lake. When we made it to the top, the view was beautiful!

Here’s me above the beach!

Julie and I took a few pictures, but I think the better ones are on her camera. I kept having issues with my zoom, and ended up with a bunch of closeups.

Two adventurous pilot wives = Fun!

Mount Baldy is actually a big sand dune next to the lake. It was deceptively further to the beach than we anticipated. Luckily, we got a lot of excercise in the process, and proceded to blow our efforts at a little pub in town.

We had to do a lot of driving on rural roads. Here is Fail Road. Awesome.

Our next stop was back in South Bend at the Notre Dame campus. I decided I’m an absolute college campus junkie. I love the vibrant spirit of the students, the mix of historical and modern achitecture, the abundant walkways, and the beautiful cathedrals.

This was my favorite shot on campus.


We ran into Bagpipe Band practice, and listened for a few minutes.
Jesus statue
“Touchdown Jesus”

After Notre Dame, we saw “Revolutionary Road” at the dollar theater. On the way back to her home, I saw a DEL TACO and made her practically swerve across lanes to be able to turn right to get to it. I got my two 99-cent chicken soft tacos that I’ve been craving for months. When we got back to her house, we logged into the Pilot Wives Club chat for an hour or so. We tried to start a movie, but both of us were dozing within 15 minutes. And because my flight departed at 5:50, and we had to be up at 4:00…we tucked in at 12:30. What a weekend!

Revisiting my past in Texas

This weekend, I’m in the Dallas area with my good friend Janet. We have been friends since 1993. We grew up in the same neighborhood, have many common friends, attended YW together, were in drama in HS together, our parents are friends. We have a lot of history. Her dad is a very senior captain for Skywest, and has been one of my husband’s aviation mentors. Our birthdays are both in February, and we try to do something special with/for each other every year.

Last night, we flew in to DFW, Janet and her husband Jonathan were waiting for us as close to our gate as they could. They greeted Rosie and I with big hugs. Only one other time in recent memory, when Liz picked me up from LAX a few months ago, has a friend actually gotten out of the car and been my welcoming committee. It was so awesome! (Not to say I don’t appreciate all the times I’ve been picked up at the curb…it’s probably saved me thousands in rental car expenses)

The stars at night, actually ARE big and bright…*clap clap clap clap*…deep in the heart of Texas!We got dessert at Braum’s on the way back to Little Elm. The caramel on my sundae actually rivaled Leatherby’s as my favorite. Instead of Leatherby’s creamy, hot and drippy sauce, Braums has thick, taffy-like caramel that is just like homemade caramels. Once we got back to their beautifully decorated home, I crashed into bed around 12:30.

Today we’ve got a lot on the agenda. After some amount of consideration, we are going to be meeting up with Rosie’s aunt and uncle at one of our sightseeing stops. Yes, that would be my ex-husband’s brother and his wife (who I must add, looks incredibly similar to my ex) I don’t think I’ve seen them since before he and I got divorced. They are very sweet people who hold no animosty toward me, but it feels a little strange. Actually, the whole extended family is great…but we had some rough patches through the whole court experience.

The last time I was in Texas was at Christmas in 1999. My ex and I came to spend 5 days with his brother’s family. My funniest memory of that trip was going on rollercoasters at Six Flags over Texas. I looked at the signs on the rides, and kept laughing, “Good thing I’m not pregnant! I love rollercoasters.” One week later, my pregnancy test was positive….and nine months later Rosie was born. Maybe she’s so awesome because she went on thrill rides in utero.

Birthday Bash

Last night was my big (little) birthday bash. It was an evening of friends new and old: high school friend, old roommates and pilot buddies. Taylor made his fabulous fajitas, and we celebrated with chocolate fudge fantasy cake. I was serenaded by Clint on his new single in production (and I say that a loosely as possible) Rosie took lots of funny pictures. We ended the night watching my favorite movie, Better off Dead, with a bunch of people who can quote the movie as well as I can. A fun evening, and a great way to usher in the last year of my twenties.