Road Trip: Heading to Scottsdale for #Mom2Summit

For the most part, I haven't been making the conference rounds over the last few years. I took a super quick road trip up to San Francisco for BlogHerPro in December and it was great to connect with people I hadn't seen in such a long time. It reminded me that conferences are about more than the latest digital trends and glad-handing brands.

They're about connecting.

I attended Mom 2.0 a couple of years ago when it was here in Southern California and it quickly became my favorite. The size, the workshops, the parties... all good stuff. So when the opportunity to buy someone's Mom 2.0 ticket in Scottsdale came up, I grabbed it. 

Scottsdale is one of my favorite road trip getaways. It boasts the famous "dry heat" that I love and the rugged landscape is an awesome and beautiful backdrop for the resorts that dot the landscape. The drive out from San Diego is about six hours, which isn't really too long. It's a quiet drive and the bonus is the incredible desert scenery you get to drive through. 

My plan was to rent a car as Mr. Jones will need the Land Cruiser to tote the kids around while I'm gone. But at the last minute, I saw another blogger and app creator post that she would be driving out from San Diego, so I messaged her to see if she would accept my offer of snacks and gas money for a ride out and back. She and her business partner agreed to let me be a third, so yay!

There's a LOT of chatter about what to wear. I'm not so worried about that as I just received two Stitch Fix boxes in the last couple of months. Plus, I plan on spending some quality time at the pool.

I mean...

But I can't float the WHOLE time, so I need to make sure to pack the essentials: a little black dress, a pair of white jeans and a pair of dark denim jeans, some tops, yoga and running clothes, comfy shoes for walking the grounds, and wedges for the rest of the time.

Plus a few items that I'm not even going to think about leaving home without.

Sunforgettable Mineral Sunscreen Brush by ColoreScience

I recently switched up my daily makeup routine and have been using ColoreScience products. (Write up coming soon.) One of the products stays neatly tucked in whatever bag I'm carrying for easy re-application. It's a mineral powder that is completely water resistant. I know this to be true because I tested it with my own hands. I'm not a big fan of powders, but this one is so light and has the added feature of being a broad-spectrum sunscreen. I love my pool time, but I don't head out into the sun without serious skin protection. 

Summer's just around the corner. Make sure to have this in your beach bag! Sunforgettable Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 50

Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus

The left side of this scarf was sprayed with Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus. I think I gave it maybe four to six sprays and then tugged a little at it, as per the instructions on the bottle. In less than a minute, the wrinkles were gone. I hate ironing when I travel, but especially when I'm at a resort in Spa Town. Nothing ruins the mood like a hot iron. The Wrinkle Releaser is also great for removing static and has a nice clean scent that is perfect for freshening up clothes that have been packed away in a suitcase or in the back of your closet waiting for another road trip. And bonus! It comes in a convenient 3oz. travel size, perfect for popping into the carry-on.

Don't go on the road without this stuff! Click over and grab a couple of bottles. Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus 3 Fl Oz. (Pack of 2)

RazorMax Multi Device Portable Charger

What's worse than no Wi-Fi? Running out of juice. And it ALWAYS seems to happen when you need it most, doesn't it? Most conferences have a charging station somewhere, as Mom 2.0 has set up, but it's not always convenient to get away from the keynotes and breakout sessions. A portable charger is a must for a blogging conference goer. but if you're like me, you've got more than one device going at a time, so not just any charger will do. That's why I carry the RazorMax from myCharge.com. It keeps multiple devices charged at the same time and packs 27 hours of recharge life. If you don't need both ports, you can make a new best friend at the conference and share with someone else that's running out of juice.

I'll be tweeting nuggets of wisdom from Scottsdale, as will all the other attendees. Make sure to follow along with me on Twitter! Are you going to be at Mom 2.0? Find me and say hi! If I'm not in one of the sessions, I'll be floating in the pool!

Yes, I Have Kids, but...

Dear Very Nice PR Person, 

I have kids. Four, in fact. One is an adult, blending in as a hipster in San Francisco. She went to Cordon Bleu baking school. I wish I would have sent myself, since I have to pay for it now. Unfortunately, I was busy homeschooling the youngest two of the four. They are what you guys might label "tweens" and you might have seen them in our Nintendo ad. They're cute, right?

I also have another daughter who works in a bank and recently married her baby daddy. I'd show you pictures of the wedding, but I wasn't invited. Kids... what are you gonna do, amiright???

ANYway... 

I received your very nice pitch for you product/service/app/article about/for kids and/or babies, but even though I could write an encyclopedia on what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to raising children, I don't actually write about parenting on this site. 

I DO blog about things I'm learning to cook, my adventures moving to Mexico, missing airplanes to food festivals in Portland, videos from the front of roller coasters, video games that my family and I like to play together, trips with my husband and/or family...

and booze. 

I DO NOT blog about kids and babies. My kids happen to be part of the stories just as the car I'm driving might be part of the story. If they are ever the focus of the story, it's how sad I am (ex: no wedding invite) or how excited I am (ex: Nintendo ad). So as much as I LOVE that you reached out to me to share your amazing product/service/app/article about/for kids and/or babies, it's not anything that would go on my blog.

If you have anything that falls under the things I DO blog about, I'd be happy to read all about it. Unless you're writing to send me on an awesome trip to a spa in Mexico or to race cars in Detroit, don't be surprised if I respond with a request that we take the information sharing to a professional level (that means money) or a sweet little proposal for a long-term relationship (also money). 

Thanks for thinking of me, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

Sugar

 

So... What do you DO?

Eventually, all conversations lead to the question, "What do you do?" It's not an easy question for a blogger to answer when among the uninitiated. I always want to put another title out there so that I don't get labeled in someone's mind before they get to really know me. I want them to think that I'm fabulous, not that I live in my mom's basement and wear sweats all day. Well... I do wear sweats mostly all day, but that's not the point!

It's always a relief to be among other bloggers that don't ask that question. But last week, when I attended a San Diego Blogger gathering where everyone in the group understands that we're not writing a bunch of crap from a basement, I still found myself answering that question but on a deeper level. Since there were plenty of new bloggers at the meet up that were not yet aware of my fabulosity (said with only the slightest touch of sarcasm), I had to answer THIS question a lot:

What do you blog about?

It's an awkward question for a lifestyle blogger to answer because we can blog about whatever we want. Sometimes, we'll throw in the names of companies we've done campaigns for just for street cred (and to elicit ooohs and aaaahhhs), but they still want to know what we actually do to merit such campaigns.

Since bloggers love to take lots of pretty pictures, I thought I'd answer the question visually.

We share our food... on Facebook. Sexy Roll - sushi

 

We go to awesome grocery store openings. Whole Foods Del Mar preview night

 

We get to play games. Nintendo WiiU

 

We show off our shopping finds. Turquoise Earrings

 

Some of us homeschool our kids at local cafes. Classroom at the Cafe

 

We share restaurants with fellow foodies. Soleil interior

 

We try to keep our kids entertained. Kids on Trampoline

 

We eat cupcakes. LOTS and LOTS of cupcakes. Pretty Vanilla Cupcake

 

And every now and then, we actually blog. Sugar Jones hand on keyboard

 So yeah. That's what a fabulous lifestyle blogger does.

;)

~~~

All images captured and shared with the new Samsung Galaxy Camera, connected on Verizon Wireless.

I received a complimentary Samsung Galaxy Camera as part of a Verizon Wireless campaign.

It's what I do.

This is a POST!

Sometimes, I think I'm taking crazy pills.

Like when everyone starts using the wrong word for something and I start to wonder if all this time, I was the one that was wrong. But I know I'm not, yet when I go to correct people (for the one millionth time), I stop myself because A) it doesn't seem to be making a dent in the misuse of the word, and B) I have that tiny little voice of doubt telling me that I might be the one that's wrong.

So yesterday, after months of this nagging doubt, I asked a bunch of people that would be experts in the correct use of the word in question:

BLOG.

Blog, if you didn't already know, is short for Weblog. This entire thing that you see (header, sidebar, posts, footer, etc.) is a weblog, aka, BLOG. The individual stories or articles are called POSTS. For some reason, this is a difficult concept for so many newbies to grasp. Maybe it's because the word "blog" can also be used as a verb, as in, "I blogged about that," or "I'm blogging that." That's a perfectly acceptable use of the abbreviated word, blog.

But this... this thing that you are currently reading ON my blog is a POST! A collection of posts makes up a blog. If you tell me to come read your blog, I'm going to assume that you mean to read all the articles on your weblog/site. It makes me crazy when people say, "I wrote a blog about that," or "This is a blog about the time I interviewed that one star," because I know they are referring to a post.

And although I KNOW this, I still questioned myself because of the rampant misuse of the word. My expert friends, immersed in the terminology as professional bloggers, confirmed that I was correct in being freaking annoyed and further, they thought it might just be a "West Coast" thing.

They may be right.

The only times I hear anyone referring to posts as blogs have been here in California, or as the rest of the country refers to us, The Land of Fruits and Nuts. The biggest offenders are journalists on a radio station here on the West Coast that I listen to. They have been pushing their blog POSTS for the last several months. I was initially just annoyed that they talked about the same post for weeks because blogging is more active than that, so I mentioned it to a friend that works at the station and a few days later, I heard new promos for newer posts... which they still referred to as BLOGS. Now, weeks later, the spots are once again stale, and my ire has deepened to the inclusion of their referring to individual posts as blogs. "Come read my blog about..." "The blog took me months to write..." and on and on.

I want to SCREAM!!!

I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it does. So please, for the love all things big and small, and for my personal sanity, STOP MISUSING THE WORD BLOG! And you of the blogalicious sort that are in the know, for the love of Pete, correct any and all offenders before this gets completely out of control!

There... I feel much better...

This has a been a Public Service POST by the blogaliciously annoyed.

Cocooning

It's not that I haven't had anything to say. Check Twitter. I've had plenty to say... just not as much as usual. It's just that I was allowing myself some time to cocoon for the last few weeks, keeping to some editorial promises, letting others slide for a moment.

The video that I posted a few posts ago has stuck with me. I haven't stopped seeing skulls everywhere I look. Like big reminders that I should keep going towards the wacky ideas. Blogging used to be a wacky idea, remember? Who in the world would write about their personal life on the internet? And who would even care to read?

Then the business opportunities came along and it was good. I got to pay some bills, travel to different cities with friends, have lunch with local celebs, and got my name and face on TV, magazines, radio... all because of blogging.

But blogging has changed.

Some changes good.

Others, not so much.

I often think about a woman named Pat. She was a crazy old hippie that I rented a floor from in the hills of Marin. She taught macrobiology to cancer patients, showing them how to cook whole foods to stay healthy during chemo and after. I learned so much from her, but the lesson that lasted the longest was one chat we had. I was shocked that I had been called conservative by a co-worker. Until that moment, I think I was in denial about it. I still had (and continue to have) many liberal leanings, but I was definitely a lot more conservative than most of my neighbors in one of the most liberal counties in the country.

Politics aside, our conversation turned to how to share our beliefs and influence others for the better. She said to me, "No matter what your beliefs, if you have a platform, it's your responsibility to use it."

Blogging = Awesome Platform

Years later, I was sitting at lunch with a PR friend who brought a copy of the San Diego Magazine that I was in. I thought about Pat when this woman asked me, "So what are you going to do now, Sugar?" I had so many ideas. I was going to do this and that and maybe a little of this and that. It all sounded good. People nodded and smiled and said, "Great idea!"

But it never felt quite right. And the more I proceeded in those directions, the more I felt the walls closing in. They walls looked oddly like cubicle walls. I hate cubicles and I've emphatically said that I'd never return to one. But that's just what these moves that looked like natural next steps, but felt so unnatural really were. Big gray virtual cubicle walls. I started to feel like a fraud. It's not that I didn't know what I was talking about. It's just that I don't think there's any eternal value in some of the things I was doing.

Puppy Mill Blogging

Granted, helping people find gems in the pile of crap on most store aisles or at strip malls has been a fun way to influence how people spend their time and money. I guard my time and money the way some people guard their cars from dings or skin from sunlight. The companies I work with are ones that I respect and use regularly and enjoy sharing with people in my small sphere of influence. I don't think working with brands is a bad thing, but for blogging in general, it's turned into something like a Chihuahua puppy mill.

What the ayych are you talking about, Sugar?

Apparently, there is a glut of Chihuahuas in the world right now. Jumping on the popularity of the yappy little tea cup sized pups, many backyard breeders now have more dogs than they know what to do with. In the rearview, it seems completely irresponsible and greedy, but I'm sure, at the time, everyone was nodding and smiling and saying, "Great idea!"

SIDEBAR: Adopt a Chihuahua. That is all.

I don't mean to minimize the inhumanity of the backyard Chihuahua breeders, but the Give-Me-Free-Shit bandwagon has long turned me sour on many bloggers. And the things some bloggers will resort to just to be part of a group is really scary. I've written posts about no free lunches, which might seem hypocritical since I've gone on quite a few. I've also turned down several more. I have filters and guidelines on things I accept. There are some programs that I wish I had been asked to be part of, but when I'm honest with myself, I know that it wasn't the right fit and couldn't commit to the demands even if I had been asked. But when I do get asked and I do say yes, it's a HELL YES! So it's kind of frustrating to see people sell and back stab, so I just turn away.

And then I don't blog.

And don't share my passion.

And don't use my platform for good.

Shame on me.

"If something goes wrong, go back to the beginning." ~ Vizzini

I once wrote a blog called "Living - In Theory." I came up with the name because I hated that I was getting up every day, doing my routine every day, not enjoying any of it. It took a long time to snap out of it and realize that I wasn't honoring who God created me to be. In fact, I was trying to be some crazy controlling woman that God definitely did NOT create me to be.

Ever been there? Not pretty, huh?

After years of hating myself, then healing myself, I finally admitted to myself that I have natural gifts and abilities that need to be used. I'm not special (well, sort of ;) ). We ALL have natural gifts. The trick is -- now I want you to lean in because this is really important -- to unwrap those gifts and enjoy them!

But not just enjoy them all to yourself.

You know how when you were little, you got a toy for your birthday, and it was just about the best gift you ever got, but it wasn't really awesome until you got to play with it with your friends? Yeah. That.

My top gift has always been communicating. Another gift was teaching. I can communicate and teach on just about anything. No, actually, that's a lie. I can communicate and teach on anything that I'm passionate about. One thing I loved about my job as a recruiter was going to local business and trade schools to teach prospective employees how to find the job, ace the interview, and negotiate a salary. It wasn't because I loved human resources. Quite the opposite, actually. I did, however, love -- and I mean LOVE -- helping people find a job that would allow them to use their talents and become the person they were created to be.

THAT is my eternal job!

I'm almost done...

Sometimes, jobs just pay the bills, and that's okay. It's necessary. And every place we are placed gets us that much closer to refining and defining where we want to eventually be. But that's the fun part! How do we define that? What resources do we have at our disposal to guide us? That's what I'm supposed to be doing.

I just needed a little time to remember that.

I'm still going to rant about a-holes that don't know where to put shopping carts. I'm still going to work with brands that I love. I'm still going to share my favorite stuff. And of course, I'll continue to post to my social sites with reckless abandon.

I'm getting back on track. Again. This time with a little lot of help from my friends, I'm building a really cool thing... maybe even a movement. I'm excited and nervous.

And I'm so glad I gave myself that time to cocoon.