Meet My New Tribe: Bloggy Boot Camp Part 1

So I attended my very first blog conference over the weekend in St. Louis. I won't bore you all with the details of Bloggy Boot Camp except to say MIND = BLOWN. While I am not going to reiterate the contents of the conference, I am going to do a series of posts about it. #1 introducing you to my "tribe." #2 sharing a list of new blogs for you to follow (yes mom, other people do this too.) and #3 - 5 life lessons I took away.

What exactly is a TRIBE you ask? Well, it's that group of people you consult when you're a) indecisive as all get out like me b) down in the dumps about how much you suck at life and need a lift or c) want someone to make you cackle out loud or col.

I already have a"personal life" tribe. You ladies know who you are...the ones I call to help me listen to my heart and just listen in general. Thank you for always being there. But I've never had a "professional life" tribe before and now I am beyond grateful that I do. I feel like I'm bringing home a boyfriend to meet my family for the first time, but instead I'm introducing my four online girlfriends (play on playa) to you all, whoever you are (hi, dad!).

Because the tribe is all from the Omaha area, we decided to carpool down to the STL together. Some of these ladies knew each other before the trip. None of them knew me. I could have been a mass murderer except I'm the mother of two kids who can't stomach CSI or cut an onion without cutting myself. But they took me in anyway. And the bond we shared over 12+hours in the car, multiple glasses of Mirassou and one extremely long cab ride is now cemented. These ladies are my homies, my sistas, my TRIBE.

front row: the Nicoles; back row: Jen, Lisa, Julie
In no particular order, there's:

Jen Schneider from Liv, Laugh, Love Media
Jen blogs about her beautiful young daughter, knows her social media stuff and is a rockstar in general at making the most of opportunities that come her way. She's also a lifter. She knows the exact right words to say to lift others up and tell them that they're awesome, which I witnessed on numerous occasions. Jen is just plain fun.

Nicole McDonald from Mom Saves Money
As I got to know my friend with the best name ever, I learned she is a badass at life. She's former Navy, a mom of three and what else can I say, she's from Nebraska and she can ride a bull. For real, this woman is saving people tons of cash with her coupon classes and books. Her network is huge, but the thing I loved most about her was her unfiltered honesty about everything. That is one of my absolute fav qualities in a person and she has it in spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds.

Lisa Trudell or #lisafreakingtrudell from The Walking Tourists
For those of you who haven't heard of her (all two of you ;) Lisa is one of those people who gets it done. She's got a sweet voice but she drives a hard bargain and can get access to anyone and anything just by asking. Her travel blog is going places because it's great quality content and she's just going to make it happen, I have no doubt in my mind.

Julie of Family Fun in Omaha
What a woman! There is so much to be said for simply "being nice." Julie is nice to everyone. Her blog's purpose of getting the word out about family-friendly Omaha events just so families can have fun together is so genuine and selfless. I'm so proud to know Julie and proud of her for how hard she's worked and how far her blog has come.

So there's my tribe. We're all so different, yet we have one major thing in common: we're all in this together.

Raising a Threenager

I heard the expression "threenager" the other day for a 3-year-old going on 13 and have to say it's my new favorite. First of all, let me just put it out there that I LOVE my daughter Faith. So much. She is bright, funny, cute and just a fun kid to be around in general. Exhibits A-F:

But she is also 3. This means she is realizing that decisions are made for her (what's for dinner, where we're going and when, quiet time when Gabby's napping or sleeping, etc.) and she's realizing that it sucks. Sing it with me now: You Can't Always Get What You Wa-a-ant. To compensate for this, we have times when she gets to "be the boss." She loves telling people where to sit and how long to be quiet and so on and so forth. She even gives us a script. "How bout you say..." is a line we've heard over and over again. I get it. Being told what to do (brush your teeth) and when (NOW!) all the time can be hard. I sympathize. I wish I could wear sweatpants to work and have nap time in the afternoon, but alas, the real world.

Anyway, learning that you can't always control your environment and others takes its toll. Case in point the other day when I was singing a One Direction song to the girls while preparing lunch. (Story of My Life for those wondering). At the conclusion of my singing, Faith asked "Who do you pick?"

We've been watching "The Voice" here and there and she loves for everyone to point to themselves the way Blake does while she hems and haws over who to choose like the contestants do. She even hums the background music they play while the contestants decide who to pick. It's great.

In response to her question, I got a wild hair and decided to pick Howie the dog. Whoops. Wrong answer apparently. Her next move was to throw herself on the floor and cry. So yeah, threenager. Thankfully, I got it all on video.

Things you need to know
-In case you couldn't understand "cry talk" it was "Dogs don't belong on The Boice! Only people!"
-Two minutes later, she asked if she could see "my sad picture." Didn't realize it was a video.
-She's since replayed the video 10 plus times and smiled each time.
-Someday I will learn to sew and fix the hemline on that damn Jessie nightgown.
-Raising a threenager is hard work.

There's no place like HOME

Allow me to introduce you to our new roommates.

Also known as my mom and stepdad. They recently sold their house outside of MoTown (or Missouri Valley, Iowa for those not in the know ;) and needed a place to crash while their new one is being built. At least we hope they were serious when they showed us those blueprints. It should be an amazing exciting interesting 4-6 month (no more than 9 or we will all go insane) adventure.

All kidding aside, when they were moving out of the old house earlier this month, I found myself reminiscing the good times I had in Melody Oaks, the rural, gravel road subdivision I came to call home for the past 20 years (good God, I've gotten old).

When my mom and I became Iowegians in the 90s, I was a city girl in a foreign land. I even imported water from my dad's house because I couldn't stand the taste of well water. I was a Catholic schoolgirl going to public school for the first time, riding the bus, wearing street clothes and just attempting to make my way as a newbie to pretty much everything in general. (Doncha just want to hug that girl? I do.)

Though it was a rough start, I can say for certain that the move changed my life for the better.
2026/2027 Oak Drive (We moved across the street. It's kind of a long story, but not really) is where I:

-met my best friend to this day. Love you, Bub!

-spent many hours watching people make it (or more likely not make it) up this hill in the snow

-flipped out over a mouse in the house
-played HOURS of basketball in the driveway, while listening to Jock Jams if you must know
-took pictures with my prom dates
-got in two car accidents (one was mine, the other was Bub's -- yes, both occurred within our subdivision)
-opened a roller rink in the basement (CB's place Foreva!)
-got caught eating cheeseballs in the neighbor's hottub and was promptly sent home
-called my friend Cari for answers to math homework and to talk about boys
-stayed up late writing my graduation speech in this room:

-held my graduation party in the rain
-filmed our hilarious fake talk shows and died laughing in the process
-came home to do my laundry from college
-read the paper on the sun porch on Sunday mornings

-brought my future husband home to meet my family
-watch Rob break a chair and fall on his face in the pool room

-sent Faith Janna to spend the night many times
-witnessed the playroom underneath the steps bring her copious amounts of joy

Home wasn't just special to me, but to my daughter, who spent many overnights at Grammy and Papa's, going for wagon rides in the early mornings (damnit, now I'm crying) and taking baths in the jacuzzi tub at night.

No matter that I've aged and started a family and moved into a house of my own, this has always been home. The landline phone number has remained HOME in my phone since I moved away in 2001. It's crazy to think that I won't be going back there, making the 40 minute trek north from CB, driving up that Godblessit hill and rounding the corner into the driveway.

I struggled with this nostalgia when we moved from our first house into our current one and was able to get over it pretty quickly (having a baby was a nice distraction), but this is different. I feel like I'm leaving my childhood behind. I won't have those reminders of some of the best times in my life every time I visit anymore. Call me sentimental, but I'll really miss that. And the stars. The stars in the middle of the night when you live in the country are INDESCRIBABLE! So many! So bright! Howie especially enjoyed them, as evidenced by his multiple bathroom trips circa 3 a.m., but I digress.

On one of the last nights my mom and Steve lived there, we ordered a couple pizzas and my other parents, neighbors Tim and Cindy (Tim is the one who kicked me out of the hottub for those keeping score at home) brought over some beers.

It was good to say goodbye, and slightly depressing to see the house so empty. I have to remind myself it's not the house that's made of memories. Memories make the home and home is where your mom is. Guess I'm right at home after all...