Volume, Visibility, and Buses, Oh My!

Not So Fine Print: blah blah blah Sponsored Post blah blah blah Full Disclosure blah blah blah That Thing About Any and All Opinions Being My Own. Moving on...

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Volume and visibility.

The first refers to how much noise we are capable of generating when combining our own voice with our community to bring notice to a particular message; the second is specific to how many pairs of eyes follow the yellow-brick road to the land of Oz. Enough noise and you re-energize your existing audience and hopefully expand your reach with a few new voices. Enough eyes and you see the difference between a ripple and a wave.

The wave, y'all, is when one of your social media friends texts you excitedly because your links have started showing up in Facebook shares from her IRL friends. The wave is what happens when momentum starts working for you, turning that snowball you've been working on and turning it into a straight-up avalanche. That's when you no longer have to bust your ass and begging your friends to help promote your blog post, new book, new product line, or otherwise fabulously fantastical idea, because the ginourmous  bus that just drove by in the middle of Times Square with your blog/book/or otherwise fantastical idea all over it...

...and now you know what validation feels like.

I'm proud to announce that Zuesvision Public-- the company that prides itself on leveling the advertising playing field for the little guys -- has selected Aspiring Mama to take part in it kickstarter awareness campaign. In exchange for a blog post sharing the Zuesvision message with you, I get two weeks of bus-sized Aspring Mama ads wheeling their way through high traffic areas in both LA and NYC. II'm not an idiot, so I said yes, but I'm also a hard-ass when it comes to being convinced to sponsor up the blog, so I think it goes with0ut saying that any and all words written on behalf of Zuesvision are my own, right?

(This is the part where you come in.)

Here's the thing, y'all...we all know that it takes more than hard work and busting our asses to make an actual go of whatever it is we feel we are called to do. An advertising budget and/or pure dumb luck tend to play a big part in who we are talking about and who's talking about us. Whether it's building a successful nonprofit like my friend Denisse Montalvan with The Orphaned Earring, getting your glitter on with a new product line launch with a major retailer like my girl, Kathy Cano-Murillo, a.k.a. Crafty Chica, or selling the hell out of their book like friends Rick Najera with Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood and Mercedes Yardley with her new release Pretty Little Dead Girls, or if it's big dreams of bringing your bling to the front lines like my friends Jessica Mazone and Lucy Ball, the struggle is the same: We can write the hell out of the blog posts and share the links on our social media channels like the seasoned social veterans that we are, but we only have so much time to devote to being all self-promotional and shhhtuff.

None of it matters if no one bothers to click the links. We are busy and we'd love an intern and imagine the day when we can afford a reliable assistant to keep us (mostly) on track and of course we don't have time to click every link from the very friends we'd support at the drop of a hat if we knew they needed it (without having to click the links, of course). So here goes nothing...

I want Zuesvision to succeed. I want to see their kickstarter campaign bring it all home and cheer when the company announces the addition of more digital billboard buses to their fleet. Why? Because we need Zeusvision just as much as they need us. We raise our chances of success when we join forces and who doesn't think that ginourmous buses inching its way through Times Square with your $99 URL-containing ad aren't a good idea?

Exactly. 

So pay attention, because I'm about to play hardball.

This is the part where I ask you directly to click the link to Zuesvision's kickstarter campaign. 

This is the part where I ask you directly to donate $5, because five bucks gets you a single 30-second ad on a bus. (If all the $5 spots are taken, this is the part where I tell you to team up with friends to pool funds for one of the larger sponsor spots because...)

This is the part where I ask you directly to gift your ad spot to a worthy cause. Go with your gut, but I'd like to suggest donating that ad spot you just bought Denisse Montalvan of The Orphaned Earring. She is doing incredible things and this is so much easier than scaling a mountain and shouting myself hoarse on her behalf.

And this is the part where I say thank you. 

Let's see what we can accomplish together, Internet. I believe in you.

Congrats to This is My Brave!

We did it. You did it.

I really don't give a damn how cheesy I sound because I am thrilled to announce that This is My Brave just ended a successful kickstarter campaign to produce a live performance of the same title. The focus is ending the stigma of mental illness and that, my friends, is a cause I'm all about supporting.

Check out their Thank You video here...

...and from me to you?

Thank you for making This is My Brave a reality. It's not my project. But that doesn't matter.

What does is the community, support, and joint voices working together.

That, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

 

The Stupid Sister

Can I call your sister stupid? No? Does that bother you? I'm not sure why, seeing as how you don't even like your her. You tell anyone who will listen and rarely go home for holidays. What? What was that? Oh, so you think your sister is stupid? So what's the problem? Why is it that, even if you agree wholeheartedly with my sentiments, that it seems somehow inappropriate for anyone other than yourself to comment on the obvious lack of intellect with which your loved ones were gifted?

You're mumbling. I didn't quite catch that? Oh, you don't know why? That's just the way it is? You don't take too kindly to others doing the name calling? She's your family, not mine? I can think it but I'd better not say it?

Okay then. I'll play nice. But turnabout is fair play, my friend. I'll respect your right and your family and keep my jokes to myself if you can stop being an idiot about a teensy weensy little issue I happen to be dealing with, myself. I have to admit that I'm even embarrassed to be bringing it up, but I guess it's better to get it all out in the open, right?

I'm not trying to be overly sensitive. But you know about the bulimia and the body image issues and the whole body image cheer-leading train I've jumped on, right? I'm not here just to blow sunshine up other people's asses, my friend. I'm here to help me by helping others because that, in that Circle of Life Kind of Way, helps me continue to help because that's usually how this shit works; Yin & Yang and all that jazz.

So when I see careless social media updates making light of eating disorders, even if they aren't meant to hurt my feelings because you'd never dream of doing that, I get a bit pissy. And then I get pissy that your words got under my skin because if I'd never stuck my fingers down my throat to let the feelings I couldn't deal with just fucking escape already, I'd probably be laughing with you and everyone else who doesn't get it. I'm jealous that you don't understand and can laugh.

I'm mad that I do and I can't.

I'm not 'bulimic'. I'm a 'conscientious recycler of edible organic material.' -- says Nobody In Particular.

I had to read that twice to make sure I understood it. Then I got mad. And even madder still when I realized I wanted to ask you if you ever actually had been bulimic because if you are or were or were planning on starting tonight, then, in a darkly comedic and self-deprecating kind of way, your joke would be funny. It would be...

...acceptable.

Can you maybe follow up with a disclaimer? No...actually it's probably better that you don't. I'm not sure how either answer would make me feel. If you made the joke because Bulimia is your stupid sister, I will smile and laugh with you.

Secret Hand Shake In The Club.

If Bulimia isn't even a distant cousin, I'm happy for you for not ever having dealt with the emotional hell that comes with internalizing everything to the point of food and self becoming the enemy. But I'm also pissed because that means you called my stupid sister stupid.

Even if she is.

 

Hashtag: #LatinoProblems

 

While at Latism13, I had the chance to speak to a roomful of 100 influential Latina powerhouses on my transition from blogger to columnist. The transition is actually more like Newspaper Reporter to Freelancer Who Couldn't Remember to Invoice Clients to Didn't Go Back to Work After Baby to Stir-Crazy to Blogging is a Thing? to Columnist, but who's keeping track, anyway?

Writers are a unique lot, I told the Top Blogueras. We are the most vain about the words we share (or we wouldn't share them to begin with) and the most insecure about the words we share (because validation is always a necessity).

And I saw quite a few heads nodding in a agreement. They know.

The longer I'm at it, the less insecure I am about new words written about old topics already discussed. Give me a new topic and I might hesitate (Ok, I will hesitate) a bit, but I'm still hitting publish because at the end of the day it's the voice expressed in the written word that I am most confident in. That's exactly why it took me until after 11 p.m. last night to listen to my debut radio segment (in partnership with Latina Magazine) on Latino USA.

At least, I think that was the reason. Maybe I was just afraid I'd sound like a man?

Either way, I listened and I loved it. Loved the questions and the experience replaying itself in my head as I translated the editing into the full recording session in the halls of the Waldorf Astoria. I smiled because I know my 6-year-old was sitting right next to me for at least one of those questions, snuggling in quietly while I dispensed advice to conference-goers because it was Friday and after five days of non-stop craziness, she was ready to go home.

Take a listen. I've been told I sound Awesome by People Who's Opinions I Respect so it must be true.

Did you listen yet?

Blogher13: The Loner's Conference Guide

When I was a sophomore in high school, I found myself sitting on a hotel bed trying not to cry.

I was in Orlando, Florida with the marching band, and because no one had wanted to room with me, not even the flag girls, I ended up in the extra bed of a room shared by a group of the Popular Girls. One was a cheerleader. Another was a star soccer player. And I was the girl no one wanted in their room only because there happened to be an extra bed.

 

Every year the band raised money to travel to a new location for a performance and that year we were all about Mickey and Epcot and All Things Disney. We had plenty of time to tour the park outside of our performance commitment, and I blissfully attached myself to the room number my roommates shared because that was my only proof that I belonged anywhere.

Until the high school seniors I had leeched onto very kindly sat me down and haltingly explained that we might share a room, but that didn't mean I was their friend.

Even while they said the words and I crumbled inside, I knew they were right. And because I had felt lost, I attached myself to their group without asking if they minded. I'm not mad at them for doing what they did. I'm grateful, actually, because as I found myself wandering BlogHer13 happily alone at times, I thought about the parallels to the insecure 16-year-old who just needed to belong.

A lot has changed. A lot has stayed the same. I might still have bad days, but I'm also arrived in Chicago with only the MultiCulti on my schedule and left proud of myself for going with the flow. I've read posts by friends about their jam-packed schedules and am thrilled they had so much to do and choose from. But I'm thrilled for them.

I was thrilled to have time to take my daughter to the American Girl Store and decided at the last minute that I just had to get to the Voices of the Year where I had the opportunity to tell Dresden Schumaker, one of last year's speakers, that her words still stuck with me and I thanked her for sharing them. Imagine my surprise when she congratulated me on my column and I managed not to blurt out "you know who I am?"

Dresden did. And she made me smile.

Eliana and my mom outside of what has beeb deemed The Best Store in the World.

I wandered the hotel lobby and ran into Elisa All, founder of 30 second mom,  and one of my favorite bosses of all time. I found Deborah Cruz and Jenny Chiu and hugged them both because karma was kind and our paths were meant to cross in a place where hugs and verbal validation were possible. I met a woman working on a documentary about lead poisoning in America and am committed to helping promote her work because it is simply amazing. I inspired a woman to start the blog that made her smile just talking about it and she made sure to find me again and thank me. And then I thanked her for reminding me why I live for the chance hallway/bathroom/elevator meetups.

For me, these stolen moments are the heart of the conference experience. I can plan anything. I'll miss half of it. I always do. But the paths I'm meant to cross and the connections waiting to be made if I'm open to the opportunities as they present themselves? That's why I go.

The only difference between 16-year-old me and 35-year-old-me is that today, I'm perfectly content to wander independently, and that my friends, is fucking empowering.

 

 

A Thing or Two About Me Not Being An Expert

I'm not a social media expert. I am a social media addict who has over 70 thousand twitter updates on just one of my accounts, this blog, another website, a print and online column, two Facebook fan pages, and an instagram stream that serves as my lazy substitute for scrap-booking. So maybe I'm not an expert, but I feel pretty fucking confident about a thing or two.

Since my Latina column became A Thing, I've been working to build community, find my tribe, and follow the buzzword trail to that social media utopia where the world waits with baited breath for that rare moment when I have time to post an update and proceeds to like, retweet, and plus the hell out of the silly shit I share. My goal, for reference, is something between a Scary Mommy social media mafia and Jenny Lawson's very existence. Which probably sounds weird, but only if you've never read the blog post that started the Metal Chicken Revolution. Go ahead, read it. I'll wait. Because at least then I'll know you understand where I'm coming from.

I've been online five-and-a-half years. In that time, I've amassed a decent flow of blog hits per month, some 6-thousand plus followers on my two main twitter accounts, and a smattering of likes and followers on the rest of my regular social media channels. That might sound like a lot. Or it may not.

Because sometimes feel like I am sending out updates that seem to fade into the Great Nether without having any real impact, I started asking friends for tips. How do I foster engagement? Spark conversations? Hit the retweet lottery? Get me some of that Google + community action? Build community??

The responses I got had me adding more to my already insane To Do list. Tweeting and instagramming and pinning and sometimes remembering to post to my fan pages on facebook might take a few moments, but it doesn't seem like work because they are as automatic to me as breathing. Adding more to that equation to build my platform basically made my brain explode.

I found myself on Google +, which is a great social media channel, but one I often treat as an afterthought. I spend an evening joining communities and creating a few of my own because -- who knew? -- a successful community there is the new black, and for about a week, I was all into it. After I hit my regulars, I was on G+ sharing my inspirational quotes and trying to build more buzz for my column with a community dedicated to All Things Spanglish and another for Girl Body Pride. The response was great, but one day, probably yesterday, I just stopped driving myself up the Wall of Craziness.

Sure, I could pay a monthly fee to Hootsuite to allow for the pro options of updating every social media outlet known to man at the same time, but Maybe Later and I need to focus on what I can realistically handle on my own right now. Because that's where I am.

So I found myself falling back to my good old friend, Twitter, as my mainstay because it's what I know. I write here when I have time, (or make time depending on the topic). And I stopped giving a shit (again) about where I'm not.

Here's the thing, Internet; maybe Scary Mommy and Jenny Lawson have built successful blog communities that have led to bigger and greater reach. Maybe Google + communities are the place to be and I'm missing the boat. And maybe Will Ferrell can say Shaggy didn't do it and sit back and watch the retweets fly. But they didn't succeed because Twitter/Facebook/Google made it happen. They succeeded because, no matter where they were or which social media format they chose, they connected with their readers and fans.

See?

It's not the medium. It's the message.

That's the epiphany that I tripped over as I ran from Twitter to Google to Facebook to Google to the nearest bottle of wine. It's not the medium. It's the message.

If you like the simple things like breathing and sleeping, stop making more work and less time for yourself buy trying to spread yourself too thin in the name of Building Your Platform. That's kind of like tossing a handful of balls in the air and hoping a few are reflexively caught by those walking by. You want to build your tribe? Find one person who gets what you have to say. Make eye contact. And throw a pitch directly at them. Maybe it's not as splashy as the first option, but it's the more effective option.

My new plan is to not make a plan. I'm sticking to what I know and what I do.

And I'm going to do them fabulously.

What about you?

 

AspiringMama on MultiCulti Pride - Ananda Leeke Interview

 

It's crunch time for BlogHer '13, you guys. That means (if you're going or want to learn more about it) that you'll be writing about and talking about and tweeting about the conference and parties and excitement so much that you won't mind my current state of mind.

For those of you not going or the conference thing isn't your thing, feel free to take a blog and social media break and stop by in a week or so.

Then again, maybe stick around. Not for conference talk, but because if you are proud of your cultural identity, you'll want to read up on the fabulous women I've got lined up for interviews on AspiringMama. Thanks to my BlogHer MultiCulti party cohostess Ananda Leeke for my interview on The Digital Sisterhood Network and for sharing her answers (and questions) with me!

Click here for my interview and read on to learn about what multicultural pride means to Ananda Leeke!

 

 ***

Pauline Campos: Why is celebrating Multi-Culti at BlogHer important to you?
Ananda Leeke: It gives me an opportunity to be a part of something that celebrates UNITY in the digital space.
PC: Describe your family's Multi-Culti melting pot (ethnicity).
AL: My African American family’s roots represent a mélange of West African, Native American, Canadian, and European cultures. The historical data from the American slave trade has helped my family conclude that our African ancestors who were brought to North Carolina and Virginia came from West African countries. Knowing this to be our only factual tie, I traveled to the slave castles on Goree Island in Senegal in 1994 and Cape Coast, Ghana in 1997 and 2003, to honor the spirits of our African ancestors. Based on family records, research, and stories, I know I am the great-great-great granddaughter of Hence Daniel, a Native American man who married Ann Daniel, a former enslaved African woman who lived to be 113 years old in Kentucky. I am the great-great granddaughter of Ida Goens Bolden, a woman with African, Native American, and Portuguese blood running through her veins. In addition, I am the great granddaughter of James Ebert Leak, a French Canadian man born in Winnipeg, Canada. My grandfather John Leonard Leeke told me his father James Ebert Leak also had Irish blood running through his veins.
As you can see, my family like many American families is a melting pot of people from all over the globe.
PC: What are your top 10 Multi-Culti favorite musical groups and/or songs?
AL: Japan's Keiki Matsui, Cuba's Celia Cruz and Omar Sosa, Haiti's Emiline Michel, Benin's Angelique Kidjo, Afropean songbirds Les Nubians, England’s Sade and Julie Dexter, Jamaica's Bob Marley, and Peru’s Susana Baca.
PC: What is your favorite Multi-Culti fashion (clothing/jewelry/designer/accessories/shoes)?
AL: When I was in Cuba, I purchased a black opal ring that I adore. A few years ago, I purchased a Thai jacket from this store Thai store called Stem in neighborhood. Franco Sarto is one of my favorite shoe designers.
PC: What are your top 5 favorite Multi-Culti foods?
AL: I love Thai, Indian, Cuban, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Mexican cuisine.
PC: What are your top 3 Multi-Culti wines or cocktails?
AL.: Ethiopian honey wine is DIVINE. A Cuban Mojito rocks my world. A French martini is lovely!
 
PC: What are your top 3 Multi-Culti artwork/artists, books, and films?
AL: Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists. My favorite books include anything written by Isabel Allende, The Altar of My Soul by Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, and all of Thich Nh?t H?nh books. My favorite film is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Children of Midnight by Deepa Metha, all of Deepa Metha's films, and all of Mira Nair's films.
PC: What are your top 5 Multi-Culti travel experiences?
AL: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Paris, Egypt, and Senegal.
Be sure to check back in to see who's next! And please share what multicultural pride means to you!

A Thank You to Otterbox

 

I'm talking about the case on my iPhone, y'all. It's pretty spiffy, yes?

Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I am brutal on my electronics. I blame gravity, but The Husband insists gravity had nothing to do with me spiking my last 4s on the kitchen floor hard enough to render the protection of  the previous Otterbox case I had on it utterly useless. I was left with a shattered phone screen and only didn't lose my shit because Apple Care is a Thing.

While waiting for my replacement phone to arrive, I was pleasantly surprised with a tweet from Otterbox inviting me to choose a new case on their site. No strings attached and no requirement to blog or instagram or tell you why Otterbox kicks serious customer service ass. Just a very nice gesture, a replacement case for my replacement phone, and me spreading the social media Otterbox love-fest because this is how I say thank you.

So * This* Happened While My Blog Was Broken

I've got a lot to catch up on and not enough time to do that catching. Mostly because I'm still sitting on some major news I can't share yet, am in the middle of a move from one rental to another  and spending most of my waking hours driving one truckload at a time, and alternating homeschooling with searching for my last nerve. Because I was locked out of admin after that nasty spam attack on Wordpress blogs, my favorite Canadian goldfish saved the day. Funny thing is, I don't even know the woman's real name and yet we've had these day long text message fests in which we argue my point that Tim Horton's is actually Canadian for I Wish I was a Starbucks Inside of a Target Store. Ms. Peach Flambee seems to take offense to that, but I figure it's just because she also happens to think she's a goldfish. Either way, the fish lady is the only reason I'm actually blogging and not sending out smoke signals.

Which is good, because this happened while my blog was broken...

 

 

That's my byline.

On Latina.com. The subject matter is seriously un-funny and was difficult to write, but I'm prouder than hell to see my words where they are.

Also? I can now actually justify all the time I've spent tweeting, blogging, facebooking, instagramming, pinning, Blogher-ing, Google + -ing, and word-whoring myself out in the name of Building My Platform as actual work. My CPA said so. I have never been so thrilled at the prospect of paying taxes.

The best part is that The Husband turns 40 in July.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?

For the first time in the six years since I left journalism to raise Buttercup, he won't be paying for his own birthday gift.

I'd like my finger monkey now, please.

The Laundry List

It's time for another Webisode of How to Fall Apart Publicly and Still Be a Smartass, my friends. In this edition, we're going to talk about how my eggs may not be as scrambled as I thought, why using myself as a scratching post makes me feel a little bit bad for recovering crack addicts, and why Nancy Reagan had it all wrong.

But first, let's talk about the cupcakes currently in the oven for Buttercup's 5th birthday party tomorrow. These gluten-free bad boys will be served along with the pizza and potato chips we like to think makes for stress-free kiddie-party fare. Seeing as how I've been eating paleo for a few months now and feeling better than I have in years, I had been planning on bringing along a little cooler with things like an apple, some nuts to snack on, and maybe a paleo-friendly brownie as my cupcake substitute. But things have changed, friends. And by changed, I totally mean Someone Hold Me and Can I Have a Margarita IV?

I just got the preliminary results back on my food allergy panel. There are 96 foods that I am being tested for (some of which I have been tested for before, mind you) and so far, the following list is exactly why I win the gold for World's Shittiest Dinner Party Guest Ever.

* Apples

* Beef

* Carrots

* Corn

* Oranges

* Peanuts

* Pork

* Shrimp

* Soybeans

* Wheat

* Dairy

* Bakers Yeast

* Strawberries

* Eggs (White & Yolk)

* Oats

I'll give you a minute to pick your jaws up from the floor and take this moment to thank my friends, Allison Nazarian, Becca Ludlum, and Valerie Demetros for helping steer me from the Knowing Something Was Wrong But No Doctor Listening To Me place I was last year to where I am now. A chance Facebook update regarding my hypothyroidism and  a response from Allison is what initially got me back on track with taking an active stance in advocating for my health and searching out medical providers who were willing to look beyond the standard lab results. I can't tell you how many times I've told doctors that something was wrong only to be told that the test results were normal, handed another bottle of pills, and sent on my merry little way.

Through plenty of reading, answer-seeking, and trial and error, I learned that going gluten-free was something I needed to do. Eventually I cut all processed sugar from my diet and following Valerie's advice, I also nixed dairy, all grains, gluten, and all sugars (including honey and maple syrup) to give my body time to heal. Not realizing I was feeling better because of having eliminated so many allergens, I eventually reintroduced a  lot of what I had eliminated (still sticking to my paleo-eating ways) and went back to feeling like hell but not knowing why. I couldn't lose weight no matter what I did. I was always bloated. And the rash that covered my body was a painful, itchy hell that no one could figure out. That's when a tweet from Becca caught my eye. She had found a naturopath in Tucson in the hopes of addressing her own health issues and was reeling from the news that she was allergic to a huge variety of foods.

I wasn't convinced I had food allergies, but I was sure I needed to take the plunge and make an appointment. Mainstream medicine wasn't doing a damned thing for me, obviously. During my first appointment, I was diagnosed as ADHD, which explained why anti-depressants, OCD, and anxiety medication were leaving me depressed, OCD, and anxious. My second had me following a strict medically supervised diet plan in order to reverse my insulin resistance. My third led me to drop all eggs and egg by-products on a hunch from my doctor and just a few days later, a chronic and painful rash on my rib cage suddenly disappeared. And now this.

Got your jaw up from the floor yet? Good. Now you get to wait with me for Monday's blood test results to determine what other food allergies I may (read: probably) have. I've been warned that there's a high likelihood that there will be more foods I need to eliminate based on the first set of results. But the flip-side is that there's also a good chance my eggs aren't as scrambled as we had all assumed and that a modified diet will fix me just fine. Except for the ADHD, of course, and the medication juggling required to keep my head in check. I'm waffling between insomnia when I take my meds too late and the extreme fatigue I'm dealing with right now as I ride out a few days with no magic pills so my body will react to them again. The Husband is hoping that getting me back on track will mean he won't reach into the cupboard for a plate and find a bottle of witch hazel instead. And truth? I have absolutely no recollection is setting that bottle there. I'm very amused and a bit freaked out, but as long as I remind myself that this is why I write non-fiction, it's all good.

Personally, I'm thinking life just got interesting. And I find it hilarious that had I not Just Said No in my formative years, it might not have taken 34 birthdays to figure out my brain was wired wrong.

So...who's up for some plain, grilled chicken?

Get Down with BBC (Ya, You Know Me... Or Something Like That)

A few years ago, I struck up a twitter friendship with one person that led to me signing up for my first social media conference that led to an invitation from another to car pool since she lived in my neighborhood that led to, well, a hell of a lot of awesome. That first conversation was with Dr. Lynne Kenney and the car pool invite was from Becca Ludlum. And that conference? It was Bloggy Boot Camp, y'all. A last minute decision on my part that fit my budget, was close enough to home that maxing my credit card out on plane fare wasn't necessary, and turned out to be the best of all of the conferences I have attended to date.

I showed up not knowing what to expect and left knowing that I wanted to stay. I haven't had the opportunity to attend another Bloggy Boot Camp since, but I can promise you I will when I live on the same side of the country as my family and free childcare.

Because this conference was such an incredible experience for me, I jumped at the chance to share my one and only chance to tell Tiffany she is pretty in person with all of you for Bloggy Bootcamp Day. Better yet: here's my original ode to the fabulousness that is the BBC.

****

 

I wasn’t going to go. There really wasn’t a point, after all. I mean, I don’t do reviews. I don’t really have time to make IRL friends out of the people I already talk to online. And my spare time should be dedicated to that getting famous/book deal thing I’m kinda invested in, so do I really need to be spending a weekend with a bunch of women I probably have nothing in common with in the name of networking and social media at something with a cutesy name like Bloggy Boot Camp?

 

Answer: You bet your ass.

Here’s the deal: When you have familiar avatars and scary-impressive numbers attached to every tweet your send out, it’s bound to intimate the little fish in the pond who might wonder if responding to something your super-famous-self said or if you are even going to see the comment from not-so-famous us. So we follow. We lurk. We type and delete and then figure we’ll try again later when our numbers get just a bit bigger.

But those avatars are tricky little fuckers. They’re teeny. They can be grainy. They might not look so much like the In Real Life you. And that’s when people like me walk up to people like you and forget about the numbers and the followers and the influence and just smile and say “hello” and tell people like Loralee that her purse kicks absolute ass before realizing who I was talking to.

Because it’s that easy.

And that hug Tiffany said she wanted before bloggy boot camp? Ya know…the one she sent me a tweet about? Yeah, she remembered!

And ya wanna know what happened when I opened my mouth? (Aside from making an ass of myself when I heard Katja speak and realized it wasn’t just a cute red head at my table but Katja herself, that is. Because that’s when I turned back to Theresa and loud enough for Katja to hear and said, “OMG. I just realized who I was sitting next to! She’s Katja!” Which I’m sure is a moment Sugar Jones can relate to. Ask her about Patrick Duffy if you weren’t at Bloggy Boot Camp.)

I connected with people. I laughed with them. I learned I wasn’t the only mom-writer there who thought it was going to be a waste of time and left totally high on renewed energy and lots of new dreams.

 

Then there was meeting Carolyn McCray for dinner on Saturday after the conference and before the cocktail party and showed up with my heart in my throat while trying to not sound like I had no clue what I was talking about with her, Dee Dee and Piper Heiney.  I’m thinking I survived, but I may need that vodka Dee Dee provided in her little swag bag to get over any glitches in my portion of the conversation that now make me do some face-palm action.

 

I was only there because Dr. Lynne  Kenney thought it might be a great idea to give it a try and I reluctantly signed up. (And I can’t thank her enough for making me try something new.)

I may have been the picture of confidence but I’ll tell ya a secret. I freaked before I got there. Becca, Melanie, Michelle, Chelsea, and Shey were okay with the fact that I packed a week’s worth of clothes so I could have choices and blend when I got to the Xona Resort, which was nice because I seriously looked like an asshole next to the people flying in from other states with those adorable little over-nighter suitcases. (Note to self: I will not be repeating this mistake next year.)

(Okay, that was a total lie.)

I may not give a damn about SEO (mainly because thinking about it makes my head hurt) or have plans for monetizing the blog. But I did learn to keep an open mind when entering into each and every new situation. Because as I listened to authors who blog talk about making their dreams a reality and to presentations on vlogging and branding yourself, I realized I fit right in with every other mom blogger in the room with me as we work on leaving our marks in the world with our words and figure out how to stay sane while doing it.

 

****

Fine print: I suck at poker and am incapable of BS so this is all me and my own thoughts. If I remember to link up I might have a chance at a free trip to a BBC in 2012, but I might also win the lottery if I remember to buy a ticket, so whatever. I wrote this because I wanted to. The End.

How I Got My Agent

So this one time a writer finished a book she thought was just dripping of awesomeness and, because she figured those silly old rules about letting the story sit and the very real need for multiple revisions and advice about maybe hiring an editor all applied to Writers Less Incredible Than She, the first set of top agents had said writer's query in their inbox faster than you can say "Rookie Mistake." Oh, and the one agent -- named Michele Martin from MDM Management -- that she was referred to by a pretty friend never actually got a query, but instead got a simple email stating that Tiffany Romero had referred her. Of course, she got turned down. By all five of the agents she had queried and had assumed were going to make her the next Exception to the Rule. BASTARDS! Didn't they know WHAT KIND OF TALENT THEY WERE DEALING WITH?

Obviously.....not.

The writer shook off the rejection (it MUST have been a glitch in How The Universe Operates, after all) and started researching the next five agents or so. And lo and behold, there was an email from the agent she had emailed on Tiffany's referral. The agent wanted to talk.

On. The. Phone.

With me. (I mean...oh screw it. It's hard writing about myself in third person without falling into a fit of girly giggles, so I'll stop.) So yeah....the agents wanted to talk with me! Maybe she was going to sign me! Maybe I was the exception to the rule. Maybe...

Maybe I needed to keep querying and slow down and practice not squealing while speaking with Michele the following day. Of course, there was no contract to sign after our conversation. There were suggestions to tighten the manuscript and how to make things work better and where I needed more and why this area needed much less and Just Cut That Part, Okay? So I sent out another few batches of query letters and tightened my work.

After the next batch of rejections, I figured my query sucked and wasn't getting past round 1 at the agencies they were going to, so I took a query workshop and came out on the other end with a query that sucked so little it was positively pretty.

So I sent that bad boy out to even more agents while I worked on making the manuscript Not Suck with Michele (turns out what I thought was literary gold was no more than first draft dribbles..who knew?). All told, she probably worked with me for three months before gently bursting my Bubble of Happiness by telling me that I had talent but the manuscript just wasn't ready. She suggested an editor and invited me to resubmit after I had revised. A Lot.

I told her to bite me (in my head) and thanked her for her time (in an email).

That's when I pulled the plug on queries and put my manuscript in a forgotten pile and went on with my life by keeping busy with the strangest hobby which involved writing more and submitting my work to Other People. I know, sounds strangely like work and building a platform, but don't let yourself be fooled. I was actually just pretending the book I had written didn't exist and this was just one way to stay crazy busy enough to do just that.

And then one day I found myself being offered a featured blogger spot at Lissa Rankin's Owning Pink.

Another found me giggling like a school girl in front of an ice cream truck when Leah Segedie asked if I wanted to be an editor on Bookieboo.

The email inviting me to bring some funny to An Army of Ermas had me at hello.

And the one asking if I was interested in contributing to 30 Second Mom would only have been answered faster if the subject line had read "A yes gets your face on an iPhone app."

And I guess all that got me enough confidence to start submitting individual pieces and that's when Hippocampus Magazine accepted an essay and Funny Not Slutty decided I was worthy and THE POINT IS I FINALLY GOT OFF MY ASS AND GOT TO WORK!

Somewhere in all that craziness I also put my ego away and reread my manuscript. You know, the one that Michele had said showed promise but wasn't ready? Yeah, funny thing. Turns out she was right. I mean, it not only sucked, it also S-U-C-K-E-D. So I took her advice, hired Brooke Warner to edit, and busted my booty turning that manuscript around.

Eventually, I found myself at the Point of No Return. My manuscript was ready to go out into the big wide world or back into hiding. I decided to put on my big girl panties.

That's when I got my pretty new(ish) query out and sent it off to five agents. Right after that I emailed Michele.

And on Valentine's Day I was signing a contract to be represented by Michele Martin of MDM Management, who was originally referred to me by Tiffany Romero of Bloggy Bootcamp and Other Social Media Awesomeness and also now represents Lissa Rankin, who runs Owning Pink, and the synchronicity of the whole bit tells me that some things are just meant to be.

Moral of the story?

It's entirely possible that my query letter still sucks. I wouldn't know. I got my agent with an email.

Go Ahead...Guess What I've Been Reading Lately...

If you give a writer an idea, she'll probably ask for some inspiration to go with it. When you give her the inspiration, she might procrastinate on Twitter for a bit.

Making up new hashtags and ignoring auto DMS will make her lose track of time so you'll give her a well-intentioned Facebook threat to get back to writing which she will miss because she was on Google +.

When she finally sees your GET BACK TO WRITING status update, she'll decide you meant her blog. So she'll post there about how hard she's working on her book.

Then she will post her blog link on Twitter and Facebook and Google + and a random gas station bathroom wall and get sucked into talking about writing again, specifically, how much time it takes.

She'll eventually toggle back to her manuscript document and promise herself to dive in but the blinking cursor will scare her away again.

She'll decide she needs to go read a book instead.

First, she'll browse her e-book library.

Then she'll glance through her hard copy collection sitting on her nightstand.

She might even open one of them up and get lost in someone else's words.

After she reads, she'll want to interview her characters.When they start talking back, she'll smile bigger and hunch over her keyboard just a bit more intently.

When her favorite character reveals her love for four-inch stilettos, she'll want to go shoe shopping.

She'll want you to come, too.

It's research, and her accountant will wonder why he was crazy enough to accept a writer as a client.

You'll take her to Dress Barn because who just buys a new pair of shoes for that really big date with the main character's love interest? She'll update her Facebook status about how much she loves research. She mentally works the outfit into her chapter five and saves the receipts to piss off her accountant.

She'll want to head to Starbucks next. You'll order a Tall Skinny Half-Calf Mochaccino with soy milk, and she'll ask for a Venti Iced Green Tea with three honeys. You will both proceed to ignore each other in real life while tweeting each other online and pretend you don't notice chairs scraping the floor as other customers move just a bit further away from your table as you randomly break into seemingly uncharacteristically synchronized laughter.

This only makes you both laugh harder. At the same time. Then you'll sip your Mochaccino and she'll slurp on her Green Tea.

The Green Tea will remind her that the main character's love interest's mother loves a a squeeze of lemon in her own teacup. She'll ask you for a notebook.

First, she'll scribble a few notes. Then she'll give you back your notebook and tweet that her muse lives on Starbucks.

When Starbucks closes, you'll be the last to leave.

On the way home, she'll read you the funniest comments on her blog post about how hard writing her book is from her iPhone email app. Then she'll want to share her responses to the original comments.

When you get home, she'll ask for that notebook again. She might even find the page she scribbled her notes on.

Seeing the notes will remind her of the inspiration that got her going. She'll probably ask you to beta. And chances are,

if you give her any encouragement,

she'll get a new idea to go with it.

Just Call Me Erma

I've had people tell me I'm the Latina Erma Bombeck with a dirty mouth. Okay, I'll take that. The Divine Ms. Erma is the one who set the comedic bar just high enough for the rest of us to have to work to reach it. Pardon me while I grab my step stool...

I remember my father having one of her books in his little library. Having been raised in a household with four sisters and then moving on to father five girls probably set the man up for a serious need to find a way to laugh at the hormonal hell he was living, so really, it all makes sense. I was old enough to read and tall enough to reach the book shelf but not quite old enough to know when I was supposed to laugh because relating wasn't exactly in my vocabulary.

Then I grew up. Got married. Pushed a baby out my hooha. And suddenly the world of Bombeck became hysterical. So when I found the Army of Ermas site, I naturally tweet-stalked its creator into letting me guest post. Turns out Stacey likes her writers a little on the saucy side and she asked me to officially join the crew.

Hello PLATFORM!

My first post as an official Erma can be found here. Pretend I'm the new kid in class and you feel obligated to ask me to play with you at recess so the teacher doesn't get pissy I'm being left out. In other words: Go. Read. Comment. And?

Thank you.

Random Fact Friday

Two: the number of dollars HC Palmquist handed to Buttercup to cover her tip for Buttercup's painted toes last weekend. Probably because she wanted to speed things along and didn't trust me to tip anyone properly after I got stuck with the We Ran Out of Room But Are Still Going to Charge You Full Price spa chair. Also probably because the chair punched my spleen. I didn't like it.

Shank: Like prison except not because it was used in a direct message to HC. Exact verbage:

Forgot to shank you for Buttercup's tip.

Auto correct: That would be my personal kryptonite.

Tears: What I was wiping away while trying to control the laughter while writing HC yet another twitter DM.

And by Shank I totally meant Thank. Although both are grammatically correct.

Abdominal muscles: The part of me that hurts from trying not to spit water onto my keyboard after reading the following response :

Here's a tip: shanking a friend is not the proper response for not getting the good spa chair.

Of course: As in, it isn't. It was auto correct, dammit. Not a Freudian slip! I'm too pretty for prison.

Original thought: There are none in blogging. Robin O'Bryant wrote a hilarious post with this format and I feel like I know her well enough to take the format, add some typos and improper language and call it my own.

Shank you: And you're also very welcome.

Because Safety Matters

 

Becca thinks you should know CPR.

Frankly, I do, too. I've been certified in the past. And although I once saved my mother from choking by performing the Heimlich maneuver while I was in high school, I am in need of a serious refresher.

I was reminded of that while waiting for Buttercup's swim lesson one day. I read some of the writing on the wall. Every cut out newspaper article told of a drowning, a lost child, and a grieving mother. One especially heartbreaking story told of a mother who lost both of her sons in a neighbor's pool.

Part of me was scared out of my mind. What if? WHAT IF?

But I'll admit it. I remember thinking...That would never happen to me. I'm not those parents. I'm vigilant. I'm aware. She's safe. I make sure of that. So I let myself breath and I moved on.

Until Becca sent me an invite to a mass CPR training class her in Tucson. I can't commit due to the current craziness and a probable move, but I can do my part to bring awareness. So, like a good little blogger, I went to Becca's blog tonight to get the deets and link up. And I read Darcie's story.

Her son was in Buttercup's preschool class.

Buttercup LOVES Jayce.

I've spoken to Darcie countless times waiting for the kids to be brought in from recess at the end of the day. She's sweet, smart, well-spoken. Jayce's eyes lit up every time he saw her waiting for him; an expected surprise. Mommy's here. I Love her.

Jayce almost drowned in Becca's pool. My heart is sick just to think of it.

And Darcie, I am sorry. For judging when I had no right.

Please, if you live locally and are able to attend, do it. And thank you to Becca for organizing such a great event.

 

 

Operation Blog Undercover (ABORT!)

The sun wakes me up. Even with the damned light-blocking curtains in our room, the bits of light peeking through the sides are enough to break into my happy little dreams. I curse myself for forgetting to put on my sleep mask the night before and decide to throw the quilt over my head for a little more time to rest. I'm allowed. My mom is visiting and I know that the minute she leaves, my chances for anything that resembles sleeping in will be out the closest window.

But first I think I'll check my email. You know, in case an agent has decided overnight that my book is Super Crazy Awesome and has sent a message asking me to call them as soon as I wake up because they are considerate enough to realize Arizona is three hours behind New York? So I reach for the phone on my nightstand and with a precision only a social media addict can attempt, have my email loading before I even open my eyes to focus on what I am looking at.

Blah, blah, new twitter followers, blah, blah, blah, I am now rich because of a dead relative I have never heard of in Zimbabwe and can I please forward all of the necessary banking information to the kind lawyer handling the matter, blah, blah, my mother-in-law wants to be friends on Facebook, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and WHAT IN THE HELL?

The fuzziness from sleep is instantly replaced by an overwhelming sense of HOLY FUCK WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW and I resist the urge to reach over to the other side of the bed and backhand the still sleeping Husband because my cover being blown is like, totally his fault. Or maybe it's mine for actually saying yes when he asked if he could like my blog Facebook page. BFF Mel totally warned me that was a bad idea.

"They're gonna find you," she had said.

Who pays attention to that crap?

My mother-in-law, apparently.

Before anyone new here gets too confused, I have a strict Public Blog Policy. In short it goes like this: You are allowed to read if you don't already know me. That might seem ass-backwards to normal people but when you stop to think about it or stop taking your medication it makes total sense. For starters? My in-laws say things like, "Dangnabbit" and "Dadgum" instead of, you know, real swear words. I usually behave when in their presence or on the phone with either one of them, but here?

Have y'all read my shit?

And once the in-laws get on my little social media bandwagon, all hell (sorry, I mean heck...oh shit, it's happening already) will break loose because then my side of the very Mexican and You Can't Say Things Like Fuck family will find out and I'll start censoring what I write and then things will get all boring for me and for you and I'll replace posts like this with posts not like this. Obviously, this is a major problem.

Besides, if I approve the request, there'll be questions about my book and people will assume I like to Share My Feelings with them on a regular basis and I'll most likely piss everyone off, alienate myself from The Family, and The Husband will just sit there looking confused when I try to explain to him Just One More Time the logistics behind not letting anyone know about my writing until I get an agent, a book deal, and make the best seller lists (maybe even all in the same week, right?) because then I will be established and I would totally be okay with that.

But until then this was all supposed to be my secret word garden. Password: Strangers Only.

Before I start to unnecessarily hyper-ventilate, I blink a few times and focus on the phone screen again. Her name is still there. Shitshitshitshitshit!

"What are you doing?" The Husband is now awake and staring at his crazy wife checking her email on her phone before she has even gotten out of bed to brush her teeth and pee. "You realize that if technology as we know it were to disappear tomorrow, you would probably go clinically insane from the withdrawals within a matter of moments, right?"

I don't answer. I don't trust myself to speak. Instead, I hand him the phone and climb out of bed to take care of the morning bathroom routine. As I reach for my toothbrush, I hear him start to laugh. It's probably a good thing he is still in bed because I am pretty sure he wouldn't be able to stand at this point.

I am proven wrong just a moment later.

"Quick, turn around and give me your best Deer Caught in Headlights" look." The Husband is standing behind me with the phone, ready to snap a picture.

I turn around, my expression unchanged from the moment I first saw the email.

"Perfect."

The Christian Mama's Guide meets Aspiring Mama

IMG_1613.JPG I was recently approached to review a copy of The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Your Pregnancy by Erin MacPherson. My first question to the PR rep was if the author has ever seen my tweet stream or is aware that I have a potty mouth category in my blog post tags. I might not be pregnant and I might not go to church often enough (make that only for events with invitations and religious holidays involving rabbits and chocolate), but I had taken a peek at Erin's blog, liked her style, and figured my ability to say The Lord's Prayer in two languages qualified me to give my opinion on this book.

First, let's get the fine print out of the way. Again. Yes, I received the book for free. In fact, I didn't pay for it. And? There was no monetary exchange involved. But maybe more importantly, my blog belongs to me and so do the opinions expressed within. That being said?

This book is awesome.

With a bit of sass, a lot of humor, and a great blend of expert with a dash of girlfriend thrown in, Erin MacPherson covers pregnancy from the obsessive days of peeing on a stick to, "Holy Wow-the baby has to come out where?" While it might not be a necessary read for experienced mamas, I would definitely recommend to first-timers who are searching for a pregnancy book with a  practical and sweetly-stated spiritual side.

But enough with the pleasantries. It's time to talk. Read on for a fun interview with the author.

***

AM: Let's get down to brass tacks: I only see the inside of my church on Easter and for baptisms, I swear, take the Lord's name in vain on a (pretty) regular basis, and am fairly sure I would not have picked up your book had I not been contacted for a review. That being said, it's fantastic! I love how you focus on pregnancy and motherhood with tips on developing a closer spiritual relationship with God. Who do you see picking up The Christian Mama's Guide at the book stores? And what do you say to those (read: me) who may have strayed a bit from their faith?

Erin: I'm so grateful that you picked up my book even though it didn't exactly "fit" into your current mindset.  I appreciate you reading it and giving your honest feedback even if you didn't agree with everything I said.  My goal in writing the book was to create a comprehensive pregnancy guide for women that told them exactly what to expect and what not to expect-- all while pointing them towards Christ.  I do see Christian moms as my primary audience but I pray that my book would speak to any pregnant mom.

AM: I liked your book. Will you like to me and tell me you like my blog? Feel free to lie if this is your first time here.

Erin: Ha!  It IS my first time visiting your blog but I DO like it.  There aren't many blogs out there for writers AND moms and you've done a brilliant job of combining two totally unrelated themes.

AM: Piggy-backing off of #2, you *do* know I swear on my blog, right? Related: I promise to behave for this interview. Response?

Erin: I did NOT know that.  Girl, I have friends from all over the world and blogosphere and while I choose not to swear on MY blog, I definitely have friends who do.  I make it a point to act like a "Christian" on my blog and in life because I want women to know of my love for Christ, but I'm also not one to judge.  If I holed up in a corner and only associated with people who did the things that I did, it'd be a very lonely existence, wouldn't it?

AM: Fact or fiction: praying really, really hard will make all labor pains magically disappear.

Erin: Fiction.  Well, I don't want to put God in a box so I'm going to go ahead and say that God COULD take my labor pains away if he wanted to, but so far, no matter how much I prayed and moaned and groaned, labor still really hurt for me.  And, similarly, I've been praying and moaning for two weeks now that God would make my water break or put me into labor again and I'm still huge and pregnant... so that's not working so well either.

AM: You talk about pretty much every aspect of pregnancy, labor, and the first few days after baby arrives in The Christian Mama's Guide. And you do it with adorable sass and an authoritative but encouraging manner. So my question is: Can we go shoe shopping together?

Erin: Yes.  Please.  My feet have been swollen for weeks and I really want to wear something other than these flip flops.  I need someone to help me find something hip and fun like Gladiator sandals or wedges... and I'm just not hip enough to be able to tell the tacky duds from the up-and-coming trends.  But if you're looking for someone to help you, let me warn you ahead of time... I'm not the best at doling out shoe advice but I will definitely buy you an iced coffee and chat with you while you try on a million pairs.

AM: My favorite part of pregnancy was the part that involved getting pregnant. The resulting nine months are not exactly on my list of things I want to do again (read: hyperemisis gravidarum, three hospitalizations for dehydration, crippling sciatic pain, and feet that got too fat for anything but flip flops. And yet, after reading The Christian Mama's Guide, I kinda, sorta, almost want to get pregnant again. This makes me think you would make a kick-a...I mean, kick-butt hypnotist. Have you ever considered that as a second career choice?

Erin: I hate hate hate hate hate (did I mention HATE) being pregnant.   I've been hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum EIGHT times during this pregnancy (and over the course of my three pregnancies, it's been something like 17 times.  And, I swear, I answered the last question about my feet being too swollen for anything but flip flops before I read this one... so, basically, you've read my mind.  BUT, I wrote the book when I was NOT pregnant and it turns out pregnancy memories turn awfully sweet once you're holding a precious baby in your arms, dont' they?  Anyway, I don't want be be enticing anyone to go through torture again, but I do have to say that in the end, it's always (always) worth it.  In fact, ask me in three weeks after this baby is born and I bet I'll be telling you how wonderful pregnancy is.

AM: You asked for potty training advice (on your blog). As the proud mama of a recently potty-trained almost four-year-old, allow me to shed some light on the subject: pray for patience. It will happen when they are da..uh..darned good and ready. But turnabout is fair play, so I'd like some advice, too. Please explain how I might avoid gaining 45 pounds the next time around...

Erin: Thank you for this.  I have a friend who just potty trained her one-and-a-half-year-old and she's just ranting about how EASY it was and how it just takes patience and dedication and well, darnit, I don't have patience and dedication and it took me almost a year to potty train my second.  And, she peed her pants yesterday while we were at Target.  I think you're right, they must be darned good and ready or you're going to end up with a lot of wet panties to clean.  As far as the 45 pounds, I can't help you.  I'm not sure how much weight I've gained this time (I conveniently avert my eyes at the doctor's office) but I'm sure it's not pretty.

AM: *Running out of material* *Thumbs through book again for more questions* *Lightbulb* *A-Ha!* What do you mean I was acting psychotic while I was pregnant? Have you been talking to The Husband? And if so, nothing he says is true.

Erin: Well, I certainly haven't acted psychotic at ALL during this pregnancy (Case in point:  I did NOT wake my husband up at 3 am this morning to tell him that he was "breathing too close to my pregnancy pillow")... but apparently a lot of women (not me, of course) get all hormonal and cranky when they're pregnant.  Who knew that being 50 pounds overweight and throwing up every 10 minutes could do that to you?!

AM: Let's just pretend I was maybe considering possibly thinking about trying for another baby. With me? Great. Now talk me out of it but not really.

Erin: I'm 38 and a half weeks pregnant so I'm not really in the place to be talking about the glories of pregnancy.  But, I do know that with both of my other kids I swore up and down that I'd never (ever ever ever) get pregnant again and then did it anyway.  And, I can also say that I've never (ever ever ever) regretted my second pregnancy since the day I held my daughter.  And, again, email me in two weeks and I bet I'll say the same thing about my third.  Plus, I have to say that maternity clothes and flip flops are SO much cuter these days than they were six years ago when I was pregnant with #1.  That might be my imagination, but if that's not incentive to get knocked up, I don't know what is.

AM: Will there be a Christian Mama's Guide to Not Going Crazy the First Time Your Kid has a Public Tantrum in the Toy Section at Target? 'Cuz I would totally buy that.

Erin: I've been scheming The Christian Mama's Guide to the Terrible One-and-a-Halfs but perhaps your idea is better.  And, if you want my advice, get an iced vanilla latte at the Starbucks at the front of Target and when your kid starts throwing a fit, turn across the aisle to the electronics section and yell "Hey, someone's kid is really losing it over here?  Does anyone know where his mom is?!"  Then stand back and enjoy your latte.  Works like a charm until your kid is old enough to say something like "Mommy?!  I don't see anyone ELSE throwing a fit!"

AM: Number three is on the way. Any new pregnancy insight to share with the world? Or does Fudge Ripple still reign supreme for cravings?

Erin: Insight, insight... let's see here.  Okay, so, I've gotten so huge that my maternity clothes don't really fit anymore but my husband's gym  shorts and shirts are perfect.  So, I've taken to running around in them.  But, apparently, my husband packs his gym bag the night before for his 5:30 am trek to the gym each morning (which kinda makes me wonder why he can't be that responsible about anything else?!)...and, apparently, husbands who arrive at the gym to find their gym bags scavenged at 5:30 am aren't super happy.  So, word to the wise:  Go ahead and steal your hubby's clothes but you might want to pre-warn him before you do.

And, pregnancy craving #1 at this moment:  Coconut Frappucinos.  They're new at Starbucks and so, so yummy.  And, they're coffee-free so they don't mess with my coffee aversion. BUT, word to the wise, if you have kids, it's NOT a good idea to share your coconut frap with them or you'll end up with a sugar-fueled meltdown (see question #9) which is NEVER fun when you're nine months pregnant.  Just sayin'.

***

It's giveaway time, people. Up for grabs is one copy of Erin's book. All you have to do is follow Erin on Twitter or stop by her Facebook page and click the like button. Stop back here and leave me a comment and boom.

Done.

Entries will be accepted through midnight, EST, on May 20.

Also? Good luck, Erin. That baby you're baking is almost here! And if you want my opinion, Daddy Mac is an entirely feasible baby name choice.

Insomniac says...

Things you realize at 2:25 a.m.: * Insomnia isn't really your thing. It's just a way of life you've grown accustomed to. Exhibit A? Mom came to visit which meant Buttercup slept in her room for the first week. You slept like the dead. Until the New Grandma smell wore off and the baby monitor ended up back by your bed. That's when the fucking thought of even the slightest shift in the cosmos will make it impossible for you to get comfortable in bed, let alone fall asleep.

* Bed time stories entitled Go the Fuck to Sleep? Sound like the best idea ever.

* Dreams of hiring a live-in masseuse start to actually make sense.

* That Facebook Like Page that the rest of the world has? Yeah. You created one months ago, it seems. And because you couldn't sleep tonight, you created a new one, found the old one, realized it was an old one, and deleted the new one. You think. But you aren't entirely sure.

*You are convinced that you are so past the high school social anxiety related to people liking you...until you refresh your Facebook Like Page for the 143rd time at 2:32 a.m. and realize that only 39 people actually like you.

* The puppy licking your toes under your desk feels kinda kinky.

*That thinking about ( maybe possibly trying to) getting pregnant again seems like an entirely feasible way to celebrate the four years it took to lose the 45 pounds gained with the first kid.

* That if this actually works, and it takes four more years to lose the baby weight, I'll be kissing 40 before I can identify my waistline in a police line up.

* That by the time Buttercup loses her first tooth, I will probably have to distinguish between the fruit and the smartphone when I offer her a blackberry.

* And that when she hears a bird say tweet in the park, she will most likely tell me to check my phone for new messages (because that's what I'll be doing, anyway.)

* That I am not in the minority when my phone rings and I get annoyed. Who the hell uses those things to talk anymore?

* It's 2:42 a.m. And my kid didn't come with a snooze button.

Tomorrow morning is not going to be pretty.