Friday, July 22, 2011

You're going where?

That's what my husband said when I expressed an interest in going to BlogHer. That was November.

I wanted to attend BlogHer in New York last year, but I could not fathom spending that much on myself. So when I found out this year's conference is in San Diego, a 2 hour drive for me, BlogHer was definitely doable. So by December, I had purchased my ticket to BlogHer '11. There was no turning back.

I was excited! I will finally be learning how to grow my blog from those who have paved the way. I will finally be meeting people I've been interacting with on Twitter. I was giddy.

Then came another question from my husband, the devil's advocate: "Do you even know what these people look like?"

And another: "You're going around by yourself?"

These questions brought out all of my high school insecurities. I wanted to crawl back into my protective shell. I was having second thoughts.

I managed to push those thoughts aside and forced myself to socialize. I joined several forums (the ladies at MomSparkMedia forums have been a lifesaver!), and started following anyone who tweeted with the #BlogHer11 hashtag. As I read through hundreds of tweets and posts, I realized I wasn't alone. I will not be the only first-timer at the conference.

I was relieved...until I saw tweets about "exclusive" party invites. It felt like high school all over again. I was a nerd, a bookworm, a wallflower. I didn't go to dances or parties. Once again, I was on the outside looking in. I followed bloggers who were excited about being invited to parties sponsored by brands that I love and have used for years. I read about those who were being sponsored to go to BlogHer. I saw several hashtags which turned out to be other blogging conferences they were flying to or have just attended.

I. WAS. JEALOUS. And then fear crept in. I was so intimidated, I actually disconnected myself from social media. It took me a few days to shake it off. Then my 4 year daughter said, "Mommy, you're going to have so much fun. You're going to be with your friends."

Out of the mouths of babes. She was right.

So, in two weeks, I will be in San Diego attending BlogHer for the first (and hopefully, not the last) time. And I have resolved to do the following:

1. I will attend the sessions I feel will help me improve my blog.

2. I will leave my wallflower self at home, and borrow my daughter's social butterfly personality for a few days. I can't do anything about the nerd in me. Once a nerd, always a nerd. And proud of it!

3. I will hand out my business cards to fellow bloggers and brand reps and put myself out there.

4. Although my blog is a work in progress, I will be proud of it.

5. I will attend the official BlogHer parties. By the way, I did receive a couple of those coveted "private invitations." And I have met a fellow party-hopper, so I won't be alone.

6. And last, but not least, I WILL HAVE FUN!

So if you see someone looking lost and overwhelmed, with a badge that says @SprMama, please come up to me and say hi. I'll say hi back!

See you in San Diego!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Higher Is Better!"

When I was pregnant with my first child 13 years ago, I kept putting off having a baby shower because I was busy with work. I kept telling myself I will have enough time to get everything ready for the new baby. Before I knew it, I was in labor 10 weeks early. I had NOTHING for him. No baby clothes, car seat, stroller, all the necessities for our little bundle of joy.

While my new baby was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at our local hospital, my husband and I spentthe next 2 months buying everything we needed for him. I felt absolutely rushed! I had no time to do my usual in-depth product research. I didn't have time to read product reviews and safety notices pertaining to the items we were purchasing. We didn't know when he would be released from NICU so we had tohave everything ready.

It seemed our choices were narrowed down to two of the most popular brands at the time. We bought the full size stroller and car seat combo. We were so happy with the stroller we bought another set when our second son was born 5 years later. This time, I didn't feel like I had to read any of the reviews because I already had a set and I liked it.

When we found out I was pregnant with our third child, I was secretly hoping for a girl. I could not wait for my baby to reveal to us if she was a girl or boy. When I found out we had a princess in the making, I was beyond ecstatic! I wanted something different and special to set her apart from all the other little girls we knew. She was, after all, my precious little princess.

I started doing my research. I came across an article about a stroller called Stokke Xplory. I went to our local Babies R Us shops and other little baby boutiques around us. They had never heard of it! So, I turned to the internet. I had found EXACTLY what I had been looking for. It was as if Stokke read my wishlist and constructed a stroller just for me. For years, I always wished the seats in my kids' strollers were higher. I wanted to be able to see them while I was pushing the stroller. Since I am vertically challenged (4'10''!), I wanted something that was adjustable and easier to push, something not too bulky.

The Stokke Xplory nailed every single wish! I couldn't believe it!! I love that the Xplory brings the child closer to the parent. Their tagline is right. "Higher is better!!!" This is something I looked for in a stroller because I wanted my child to be able to see me, not strangers' behinds while we were out and about. I like the fact that with the Xplory, parent and child develop a stronger bond. This, in turn, builds the child's self-esteem and sense of security.

We've owned our original red Xplory for over four years now. Since then, we've acquired a second Xplory, this time in green. It' even more striking with the Forest Olive accessories kit.

We absolutely love it! We take it everywhere we go. My daughter sits up high and has the same view of her surroundings as I do. It is very easy to maneuver. Despite its appearance, the Xplory is very stable. Perhaps my husband's favorite feature is the adjustable handlebar. He is a whole foot taller than I am, so he loves that he can raise the bar when he pushes the Xplory. And I love the fact that I can adjust the bar so that I am not resting my chin on it.

Not only is the Xplory seat height adjustable, it can also be turned so that is forward facing. This comes in handy when we eat at restaurants. I have never used restaurant high chairs because I am a germaphobe. With my first two children, I always carried a portable high chair, but that was very cumbersome! With the Stokke Xplory, all I have to do is turn the seat around and lower the seat itself so that my daughter can join us at the table.

Wherever we go, without fail, I hear complete strangers murmuring about how cool and different the stroller looks. They stop us and comment on the stroller. Some ask detailed questions about it. Oftentimes, people notice the Xplory before they notice my beautiful daughter. I love the Stokke Xplory so much, I stop and have conversations about this stroller. I even do a little demo if they ask nicely!

This stroller is an investment that grows with my child because the harnesses and footrests are adjustable. She is so happy and feels so secure in it. It is the only stroller my daughter will ever use. And when we have another baby, the Stokke Xplory will be the only stroller he or she will need! This stroller IS a head-turner. Be prepared to be the center of attention everywhere you go!