Aug 012014
 

Don't let the weeds blow all overI know, I know.  It’s summer.  The days are jam-packed with fun, and will soon to be peppered with a little of the “Holy crap! School is starting!” frenzy. It’s a busy time, and I’m right there with you, trust me.  But listen, don’t let the weeds completely blow over your blog before fall hits.

Let me help you keep the momentum going and get your hard work promoted!  For the entire month of August, I am offering 50% off ALL ad spaces.  Yeah, that means that you can get some advertising for only $7.50. Use promo code AUGUST to get the half-off discount. 

Hop over to my ad page, check it out, sign up and put me to work.We’ll get the word out together and get rid of those nasty weeds!

Jul 282014
 

Earlier this month, I got to hang out at our local library as part of their “Meet the Author” series to share my work in I Just Want to Pee Alone, I Just Want to Be Alone, and You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.  I have mentioned before how much I love the library, so just being there was treat, but this afternoon in particular was a very special kind of cool.

Conveniently set up right beside the restroom for  easy bathroom direction-giving.

Conveniently set up right beside the restroom for
easy bathroom direction-giving.

Did I sell a ton of books?  Not even close.

Did I care? Not in the least.

This afternoon wasn’t about book sales, it was about having an experience.  One of those life experiences you’re not quite sure about, so you have to shove yourself pretty hard to do.  One of those life experiences God uses to surprise you.  One of those life experiences that was so worth it.

What made it so great were the people.  All the people my life got to trip over that afternoon.

The event started at 1pm and kicked off with a bang.  By 1:15, an elderly man had taken my business card, I gave directions to the bathroom, and I met two very nice teenage boys, to whom I had to gently explain that I wasn’t sure my mom humor anthologies would appeal to their demographic.  I could have been wrong about this–you never know.

A sweet grandma wanted to purchase a book for her daughter, but only had $4 in change with her.  So she left, saying she was off to get more cash and would be back.  I didn’t think I’d ever see her again.  She returned a half hour later, bought the book, and thanked me for writing about the stuff no one talked about during her generation. Lump in throat.

I was thrilled to run into an old neighbor of mine who I hadn’t seen in years.  We chatted up how much both our lives had changed, and it was so affirming to see that her can-do spirit that left me admiring her in the past still guides her today.

I met a kind local author, Dan DalMonte, who filled me in on some nearby writing groups.  And we made plans to (as soon as I can get my crap together), review each other’s books.

My husband took a break from work to come say “Go you!” as my personal cheerleader, and this made me blush.

Erika, you are Encourager of the Year!

Erika, you are Encourager of the Year!

A dear friend brought her boys, a hug, and all of the positive encouragement she has endlessly poured over my writing career.  This meant more than she knows; she means more than she knows.

I made a new friend in a fellow blogger, Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy.  She’s a true delight and I’m counting down the days until we get to meet up again at the dinner date we planned.

One older gentleman asked me if it was still possible for him to get a spot in one of the mom anthologies. Sure, a tad tricky to gracefully field this one, but I applaud his interest and pursuit.  And bonus for the chance to bone up on my skills at navigating “more unique” conversations.

I posted about my afternoon on Facebook and the outpouring of friends willing to share in my smile made me a bit teary.

I talked to more writers, past, current and aspiring.  We all encouraged each other.  It felt like a tribe.  For that afternoon, we were a tribe.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to the library, to put myself out there.  It felt scary, and it was.  But if I hadn’t gone, I would have lost all the love, encouragement, laughs and connections that filled those 1-4pm hours.  In comparison, simply staying home that afternoon would have been a very empty choice.

I guess it goes to show you get more out of life if you leap.  And next time God wants to hand me a blessing, I’m just going to take it.

Jun 182014
 

Oftentimes there is a lot of emphatic raging related to the blog around these parts:

“What the heck is this blogging good for?”

“I need clean underwear!”

“What the heck is “The Twitter” anyway?”

It might be helpful to note that 98% of the time I am the one raging.  I am the one confused, confused as to why I am doing this, confused as to how to best do it, and confused as to whether if it is even worth doing it to begin with.

Time presses on, and usually I’m only increasingly confused as it does, but a few things have become a little clearer.  It’s astounding how truths can come to light while shaving or changing sheets–it’s nature’s way of rewarding us for tending to the picky stuff.

Recently, I’ve been generally rolling around in my post-BlogU high (what an incredible experience!) and enjoying a few very cool blog-related realizations:

1) I am capable as a human being.  This transcends into directing people where to carry heavy boxes at a conference (albeit not always directing them to the right place.  Apologies once again to several BlogU staff for the senseless hauling of door prizes across campus and back) to being able to create and write this blog in the first place.  The thing is, it never hurts to believe in yourself.  And make it happen, despite the poopy diapers and sippy cup-related needs.

2) Despite my horrid control-freak planner self, income happens, regardless of the panic I pour into fussing about it.  Blogging is such a weird business.  By nature, I would love to know exactly how much I am making each month and carefully budget my pennies out.  It doesn’t work this way.  Some months, the ad revenue and sponsored posts are friendly; other months, not so much.  There is very little to nothing I can do to control this.  I try to look at it as a bonus for being able to fund our grocery budget when it pays out and then engage in a lot of soothing self-talk during slow months.

3) I am tired.  I love my blog.  I love the people I’ve met through it even more.  My children are still real and will age at the normal human rate.  Some day, this blog will end.  My children will not.  They are my sole legacy on this earth and I will never, ever regret pouring more into them than anything else on this earth.  Also, I like to sleep.

Because Retro Prom is a thing

Because Retro Prom is a thing

4) It is okay to insist on Urban Decay eyeliner.  I am blessed to be besties with the very cool Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases, the founder and CEO of BlogU.  We work together, we support each other, and then I make her wait for me while I put on my make-up.  When she loaded my van with a suitcase 1/3 the size of my own monstrous beast of a packing vessel, I could have felt scared.  Very scared. Instead, I realized that she one of those lovely minimalist people.  I, on the other hand, don’t travel without several cases of make-up.  But here’s the surprise: people will often accept you for who you are.  Excess eyeliner or not.

5.) I am not totally dumb about technology.  I am mostly dumb.  I will still endlessly struggle over html.  I will probably call my husband in tears most times I try to figure something new out.  But…I kind of get it.  For me, “kind of” is huge.  Turns out, I can be smarter than I think.  So go ahead and push yourself–the flipside of pushing is that you might end up feeling incredibly boss.

6.) Working is a beast; I kind of love it.  The sticky wicket about my job situation is that I have one, but don’t have childcare, at least not regularly.  By the time I figure I can remedy this situation, my children will be in school all day anyway.  In the meantime, Mommy panics a lot, uses a lot of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and a lot of lollipop bribes.  Am I the best mom?  Not even close.  Am I the perfectly on the ball?  Never.  Do I love my kids and try the best I can to manage each and every single day?  Always.

7.) Love those around you. The Keynote address was titled, “Collegues, not Competition”, and this couldn’t have been said better.  Life is far too short for smallness in any form.  Support and care for those who God puts in your life to the best of your ability. Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat has discussed how “a rising tide lifts all the boats”.  Such a smart, such a perfect approach.

I have no idea what tomorrow holds for me to learn.  But for now?  These are the truths that are supporting me.  That, plus all of you.  Thanks for hanging with me through all of this, my friends.

Because sometimes growth takes the form of cupcakes...

Because sometimes growth takes the form of cupcakes…

Jun 062014
 

Blog U conference @theblogu @meredithspidelAs I write this, I am headed off for BlogU.  In my world, BIG THING.  I have spent months upon months sorting out details like gluten-free alcohol, roommate requests and appropriate-colored badge stickers with Stephanie Giese, Blog U Founder, and the other conference staff.  It has been an honor, and one I don’t take lightly.

There are many, many things I love about BlogU, but what resonates the most is that this conference was created as a way to build genuine community and friendships within the blogging world.  And that means a lot, a whole lot, to me.

If you had asked me 2 yrs. ago me if online friendships could be real, I would have scoffed.  But it’s funny how God uses the circumstances of your life to change you.  Today, there is very little in my life that could be more real than my blogosphere gals.

I love the women in my tribe that I have built.  You see, blogging is my business, it’s my 9-5 that falls within almost every corner of my 24/7.  When I sink with a post gone wrong or an impossible WordPress plug-in that breaks my day, these women are my go-to.  When I feel like sobbing over some inane circumstance that is too silly to share IRL, I lean on my online backbone.

Blogging has become my job, my comfort zone, my hobby, my passion, and the one talent I’ve developed on this earth. I kind of love it–a lot.

I’m grateful, so very, for the love, the friendship, and the realness blogging has opened up to me.  And to spend a whole weekend celebrating this?  DREAM COME TRUE.

As always, I will see you on the flip side, my friends.  The flip side this time will be replete with a lot more know-how about the craft I love and tons of pics with ladies rocking fab glamour dresses at Retro Prom Night (I know.  I KNOW) having the time of our lives as we build the friendships of our lives.

I can’t wait.

May 152014
 

I’m excited to introduce a new friend to you today, readers. You may have noticed Fluent in Blonde bringing a dash of beauty to my sidebar recently. Ashton is the blogger behind the Blonde, and it’s been too fun getting to know her and her new blog.  The thing about Ashton is that she is as witty as she is gorgeous.

I’ll admit–I look at those long flowing golden locks and am slightly terrified that this gal is too-perfect to be real, but trust me, she’s as down to earth as they come.

She describes herself as “mom-blonde”.  Ashton explains, “That’s a tricky way of saying my post-baby personal hygiene is leaving something to be desired, and I can’t say I care. My husband is really great about complimenting me 5x a day when I wash my hair or shave my legs as positive reinforcement for my desirable behavior. His standards have really come down. I shouldn’t be entertained by that.”

Educated as an English teacher, Ashton now lives in Las Vegas, where she falls more and more in love with her seven months old little guy every day.  She does hair by day (and she’s obviously got mad skills–check out her styling!), and is now delving into the world of blogging.  She pursues all of this in the corners while she works hard at figuring out what the heck this momhood gig is all about.  Ashton notes that while everyone had loads of labor horror stories to share while she was pregnant, but “no one told me anything about the mommy part! I’m trying to figure out my new role while juggling work…and leaky boobs”.

Beautiful Mama, beautiful baby... Even the little guy is craving The Blonde!

Beautiful Mama, beautiful baby…
Even the little guy is craving The Blonde!

I love that Ashton is real and funny. But what really gets me is that she enjoys things like clothing, home decor, hair, make-up, jewelry…style.  In the past year or so, these things have become more important to me too.  Important in the way that when I pay attention to them I feel a little more human.  And  little less of like the Mom Who Has Completely Given Up (but will never surrender her yoga pants because they are too comfortable).

I think it’s fantastic that Ashton delights in beauty and pretty things, and includes this in her writing.  And that she does it all with the perfect touch of fun.  In her recent post about a trip to Home Goods, she kills me with,  “HomeGoods is a type of personal sanctuary that I hold in high regards, paralleled only by select Marshall’s.”  Select…love it!

She then wrote a whole post about what the heck moms are supposed to wear to the pool–because what the heck are moms supposed to wear to the pool with their kids??

And I think my favorite post (so far, because you know there is way more brilliance to come), “Death By Pink, and Other Bad Decisions“. You simply have to read the post to fully appreciate it. I don’t know what I love more–that she has pink hair, that she dyed her parents’ dog pink, or that she documented the entire process with pictures and witty commentary.

I cannot get over this post.  I don’t want to. Also, I now really, really want to meet and kick back with Ashton and hang with her and the pink dog in person over a few laughs.

The cool news is that she will be back next month to share a post of hers here and let you get to know her even better.  Stay tuned! But for now, readers, go love on Ashton, send the dog a sympathy card, and join me in welcoming this delightful new voice to the blogosphere!

********************************************************************************

Fluent in Blonde has claimed this month’s Mom of the Year Award, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to share my genuine enchantment with Ashton with all of you.  Want to me help spread the word about you own fantastic blog?  Snatch up a spot now–using May’s BOGO promo, when you purchase a spot (any spot), you will be sent a code to get another month for free!  Get two months for yourself or share with a friend!

May 112014
 

There are very few things in this world that make me feel as boss as blogging.

It was never something that was planned.  It just happened.  But it quickly became a saving grace as my daughter grew from newborn to infant, as my mother died, and as my son found himself in a body cast.  And then it didn’t stop. I found a voice, I met some of the best friends of my life through the blogosphere, and I continue to daily challenge myself to new things–vlogging? Why not? Plan a blog conference? Sure. Put on a pair of printed leggings and snap a pic of myself for a sponsored post?  I may have to get back to you on that one…

Long and short–BLOGGING IS A BLESSING TO ME.

So when I saw that Cristi of Motherhood Unadorned had made t-shirts specifically for bloggers, I was elated as my fingers madly fumbled over the keyboard in a dash for my Paypal account.  When I understood that Cristi designed them herself and she was doing it as a fundraiser for suicide prevention, I was in awe of her.  She’s sharing her story below, and friends, settle in because it’s a neat one.

And then go buy one.  For yourself, if you’re a blogger, as your own Mother’s Day presentbecause let’s be honest, do the hubs and kids ever really get it right?  Or order one for a blogger you know.  Worried they already have one?  Don’t be.   As I told Cristi, I want it in every style and would proudly wear this shirt daily.

You see, I am a blogger.  This is me.  This is what I do. And this Mother’s Day, I’m taking a moment to just be proud of that.  Proud of myself.  I know my mom is smiling down on this one too.

After all blogger is a pretty darn boss thing for a mom to be.

Blogger Tee Pride @meredithspidel

******************************************************************

In Cristi’s words:

In 2010, I lost a dear lifelong friend to suicide. It really rocked my world, particularly because I have mental illness myself and had been suicidal in the past. I started blogging that year to sort of write out my feelings and grieve, but very quickly it took on a life of its own. At that time I also started raising funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Back then I admit, I really didn’t know much about the foundation. It was yet again a way for me to “do something” with my grief.

But since then I’ve learned so much more. I started volunteering and this year I joined the Board of Directors for our local chapter. I can say without a doubt the AFSP is doing great things for suicide prevention and support for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

You can find out more here about what the AFSP does and why I’m raising funds for their national Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk. This amazing event is a 17-mile walk literally over night from dusk till dawn. I did it for the first time in 2013 in Washington DC and the event truly changed my life. When they announced that this year’s walk would be in my hometown of Seattle I was thrilled, but also nervous about raising the funds since I had just done it last year. So I got a little creative.

Yes, sometimes I just stare at the words in this graphic and feel validated.  TRUE STORY.

Yes, sometimes I just stare at the words in this graphic and feel validated. TRUE STORY.

I decided to reach out within my blogger community and sell shirts with original artwork by me about being a blogger. I call it the Butterfly Blogger t-shirt. If you look closely it says the word “Blogger” in the body and within the wings you’ll see words that represent the many “hats” we wear as bloggers and social media influencers. The art itself actually has nothing to do with suicide prevention, its just my way to raising funds for this important cause. Each year 38,000 people die by suicide and around a million make an attempt. Its the 10th leading cause of death in our country and that is unacceptable. If you and I can help bring suicide out of the darkness I truly believe we can stop suicide.

Please consider buying a t-shirt or tank top to support my suicide prevention fundraising. 40-50% of the sales are directly donated to the AFSP. If you can’t buy, please share this link. To me this is also about raising awareness. The more people know that its okay to talk about mental health and suicide, the more people will reach out for help. They’ll feel less alone. They’ll be less ashamed of their very real illness.

Cristi Comes is a mom, wife, mental health advocate and writer at Motherhood Unadorned. She’s also a member of the Board of Directors for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Washington State, and is on the editorial leadership team for Postpartum Progress. You can reach her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

****This post is not sponsored, I am just very proud of Cristi and her work with these tees! Though I may be actively trying to persuade her to send me the tank top version because that wasn’t an exaggeration, I really do want it in every style…****

May 012014
 
Source Bloom and grow!

Source
Bloom and grow!

So while the 1500-some monsoons of the past month have been adorable (unloading groceries with two toddlers in a downpour must be among the most effective birth control out there, no??), I’m ready to boot April to the curb.

Celebrate with me and let’s welcome in May with some freshness and growth–growth on your site that is!  I’m loving the success of the new ad spaces that were launched on the Mom of the Year a few weeks ago.  Promoting and sharing other cool sites has been a ton of fun, and I’d love to get to work on spreading the word about YOU!

To help you grow even more during this spring season, I’m offering a special for the month of May.  If you buy an ad space (any ad space!), you will be e-mailed a promo code for another month of the same level of ad space for free!  Snatch up this BOGO offer for yourself, or split the difference with a friend. That’s right, the free month can be used on a different site.

Grab a space, put me to work and let’s get your site(s) growing!

Offer expires 5/31/14, see Advertising and Sponsorship page for details.

Mar 242014
 
Source C'mon over; we'll get the word out!

Source
C’mon over; we’ll get the word out!

I have long wondered about doing more formal advertising here at The Mom of the Year.  Would it work?  Was it really my kind of thing? Would anyone think it was worth it to stick their name on my blog to get some lovin’? Was I insane?

I’m still not totally sure.  But friends, it’s been almost two and a half years since I kicked this puppy off.  And the thing is, it’s grown. While this is a tremendous blessing, I’d be lying if didn’t say the time investment wasn’t a stress and strain on my family.  Any blogger gets what I’m saying.  So to keep with it, it has become time to bite the bullet so I can pursue some fancy things like scoring a sitter for my kids–and maybe once in a while my blog too, so my husband doesn’t divorce me.  I have heard rumors about this crazy “unplugging” thing??

And since The Mom of Year has grown and continues to grow so much, through publication opportunities, readership, and social media reach, I’m now in a position where I able to help spread the word about some other nifty blogs out there.  Building a blog?  NOT EASY.  I remember when I first bought ad space. I remember how patient and supportive the blogger was with me, and how very cool it was to get new eyes on my site and connect with new readers.  I could now offer this same help for other bloggers?

Source We'll shout your awesomeness out together

Source
We’ll shout your awesomeness out together

See, I like The Mom of the Year.  I like it a lot.  I like the space that’s been created–not just here on the site, but on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.  I would love to share it with some other blogs who are looking to grow. So c’mon over, let’s hang out together and work to spread the word about what you are trying to do.

I have created a new page explaining the new advertising opportunities that are now available, so please head over and check it out!  And as a bonus for the first month of kicking this off, I am offering a special promo discount of 50% off!  Promo code: MOTY, expiring 4/24/14. That’s right, since you’re my first customers, I want to do a great job for you AND give you a super-awesome bargain.

Sign up and let’s make this happen together!

Source Can't promise to be Peggy Olson and I'm not backed by the Dream Team, but we'll get the job done.

Source
Can’t promise to be Peggy Olson and I’m not backed by the Dream Team, but we’ll get the job done!

Mar 212014
 
It's quotes like this that make me fantasize about changing the title of my essay to "I Just Want to Bee Alone" #iLOVEcorny

It’s quotes like this that make me fantasize about changing the title of my essay to “I Just Want to Bee Alone” #iLOVEcorny

Happy March 21st!  Have no doubt that you are squeeing along with anticipation on this epic day, the Launch Eve of the second book in the I Just Want to Pee Alone series, I Just Want to Be Alone!  I’m sure your calendars are circled in red and you are carefully setting aside your comfiest sweats for a cozy holing-up-to-read-the-book session, right?  Since you have nothing else going on in your lives or anything ;)

What does an author in the anthology do on a day like this?  Keepin’ it classy, friends.  You know, just some light yelling at my children to stop rolling around in the preschool parking lot and a little sweaty under-my-breath cursing over the massive laundry mountain in our basement.  So, really, the usual…

I am celebrating though; I gathered up all of my Pennsylanian homies (read: begged them to be my friends), and together, we are throwing a $25 Amazon giftcard and five signed* copies of the book your way!  The grand prize winner will score a book AND the Amazon gift-card.  Four other winners will win a signed copy of the book.  To enter, you must be 18 or older and live in the continental U.S.  Head down to the Rafflecopter below and go rack up some chances to win!

I love all my too-funny co-authors, but I think it’s really important we PA-ians stick together.  Mostly because we alone understand the importance of referring to our homeland exclusively as “PA”, and we’ve also all been ingrained with a deep respect for The Groundhog since birth.  We just get each other.  It’s a very serious situation on this side of the Mason-Dixon, people.

Together we are also going to be throwing a nifty book signing/Ladies Shopping Night Out your way (stay tuned!), but for now, just secure those sweats, cozy up and get set for some snort-worthy reading!  Here are a few teasers from my fellow PA gals to get you in the mood:

Stephanie Jankowski from When Crazy Meets Exhaustion

Stephanie Jankowski from When Crazy Meets Exhaustion

 

Christine Burke of Keeper of the Fruit Loops

Christine Burke of Keeper of the Fruit Loops

I know, too much good stuff!  Go get your fun on with I Just Want to Be Alone this weekend–we’ll meet you in the laughs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*We’re still working on the teleporting bit and the PA Turnpike isn’t that stellar-y efficient, so the books will be actually signed by one author, and may include notes from the rest.

Congrats winners Stephanie O., Amy M., Jennifer S.H., Nicole B., and Faelyn W.!

Mar 172014
 

I did it, friends.  I got The Founder of BlogU, Stephanie Giese, to sit down with me and chat about the upcoming conference.  I can’t promise you we’re funny, but I can promise that she is as adorable and put-together in person as she appears.  This girl is ON HER GAME.  I also made her answer the important questions, like, “Can I use this conference as an excuse to convince my husband I need a new dress?” and “How many suitcases do I really need?”.  C’mon, for blog conference newbies like me, you know this is the stuff that really matters…

We also got VERY inspired today and did a radio show.  So if you’re really wanting to get the scoop about BlogU, you are in luck today! Check out our chatter:

If you’ve got more questions, just ask us below.  We’ll get them answered and NOTHING is a dumb question, honest.  Unless you are asking why my voice perpetually sounds like that of a whiny 3 yr. old girl–I can’t explain that one and it annoys me too.

And then, just go sign up.  Trust me, stuff like meeting people in person wigs me out too, but this is an okay thing.  Really.  The people are nice, friendly, and want you there.  You will learn and it will be so worth the time and money you’re investing in going.

#getschooled #blogu14 @meredithspidel The BlogU

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