Go With the Flow: Take Your Mom (and everyone else) to BlogHer

BlogHer Original Post

"Go with the flow, Laurie. Go with the flow. It works every time."

So said my new friend Frances Ellen as we walked along Fisherman's Wharf, in the middle of a day where I was distinctly not following this directive for a variety of reasons, and she was nudging her daughter and my friend, BlogHer Health and Wellness contributing editor Catherine Morgan, to buy a tote bag in which to...er, tote the conference swag back to Florida.

I randomly ran into them as we were checking out of the hotel, and spent a lovely day with them in San Francisco. Virginia deBolt has already mentioned this mother-daughter power duo in a post about the BlogHer Open Space, but because this year's conference had me thinking a lot about family, here they are again.

I learned many things from Catherine and Frances during our day at the wharf among them: what a Webkinz actually IS, that Frances writes fiction at Story of Nadia, and that blogging in this family is a three-generational affair. Catherine's 14-year-old daughter Nicole has her own spots. She's Princess Nicole, where she blogs about the things she loves, which currently include the aforementioned Webkinz and Miley Cyrus, and waxes political at PunditGirl. You go, Nicole (and update PunditGirl! I want to know what you think!)

The multiple-blog thing must be genetic, because if you ask Catherine where she writes, she'll probably laugh and direct you - rightfully - to her home page, which links to all of her sites. Women4Hope focuses on women's issues, chronic illness is addressed at Living With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and there's a little bit of everything at Be the Change You Want to See In Yourself. But all I - and perhaps you - really need to know about Catherine is that she is one of the kindest people I've ever met, that last year at BlogHer when I was having an attack of the "oh my God will they really like mes" at the contributing editor meet-up, that she came over to me, hugged me, and told me that meeting me in person was one of the main reasons she was so glad to be there.

I know, right? And she doesn't even drink.

Hanging out with her and her mother made me a little bit sad that my own mother and sister weren't there, because this community has become such a part of my daily life and I like to share those sorts of things with my closest people. And Frances herself makes the whole "where are the elder bloggers?" as moot of a question as the "where are the women bloggers" that was the reason for all of this BlogHer action in the first place. In fact, when a woman in the Westin bar made a crack about not getting the attention in hotel bars that she used to, Frances said, "Wait until you're my age. Then you'll know what invisible feels like." As much as I can't imagine anyone would respond to her in this way, I know the ways of the world enough not to disagree, and admire people like her who are showing up and proving that you ignore any smart woman, of any age, at your peril.

So yeah, she's very wise, so if you see her online or in person, I'd suggest you go sit by her.

There were lots of family groups of two or more at BlogHer this year. It was nice. Many of them involved moms and babies, for
sure. Catherine from Her Bad Mother and baby Jasper were in the house, and
if anyone has a photo of Catherine breast-feeding at the Online
Activism panel, please share a link so I can pass it on to her.

Antonia of Yet Another Bloomin' Blog came from London to read (hilariously) at the Community Keynote. Ian and baby Esme joined her. Gena Haskett posted this video of her keynote reading.

Skye Kilaen was there with Boy Detective, whose late-night/early morning desire to party had her pacing the hotel lobby with him when I was coming in from breakfast for much less responsible reasons. Becky from Miss Priss was there with her beautiful boy. Here's photographic evidence from Kirk Brooks. Now home, Becky writes on the good and bad of conferencing with a baby. Here's a snip of the good.

I loved being able to go to my sessions without towing him and the
stroller and diaper bag (in addition to my camera and other junk). But
I also loved being able to run upstairs and see what he was up to. I’ve
never seen such a family-friendly conference in all of my years. Where
else can you find a lactation room at a con? Not any of the other
conferences I’ve been to.

I ran into a few pairs of sisters, and have promptly forgotten their names. Sisters and soon-to-be PBS Super Sisters Kristen Hammond and Jen Lemen sat side-by-side as vendors in the BlogHer Swap Meet. Jen brought along Soul Sister Odette Umurerwa, who co-wrote her beautiful zine "Let's Learn to Help Ourselves and Others." I'll state from personal experience that it'is an excellent pay-it-forward gift, and I'm so glad she lives up the street from me so I can save her the shipping for more. Buy a copy here. And even if the famous "Mommy Needs a Cocktail" shirts don't apply to you, best believe I picked up Kristen's awesome "Bartend...I mean, Barista" coffee travel mug.

And the BlogHer founders and staff showed up with the partner power!
Chris Carfi has Lisa Stone's - and BlogHer's - back on Twitter and elsewhere with
humor and information 24/7, and also has the best t-shirts. BlogHer Community Manager Denise Tanton and partner TW were there, and although I shamefully did not meet TW, I didn't follow Denise around too codependently. BlogHer co-founder Jory des Jardins wrote much more eloquently about this aspect of the conference:

What kinda brings tears to my eyes is not only the dedication of our
team, who stayed and smiled throughout the event and made it their
mission to make others smile, but also their SPOUSES and SIGNIFICANT
OTHERS who did the same...Kristy's better half, Pete (dude, did you actually help
all the sponsors pack up their stuff at the end of the day???)...And, of course, Chris Carfi (who just sort of reduces stress when he's in the room and endured being called Mr. Stone) and my Sweetie, Jesse,
who always claims he's not going to do very much and then fixes things.
He even let me know when my thong was visible--you just don't get that
kind of help normally.

For some things you just need family, which is why immediately after the conference I took a lovely but harrowing bus and train trip down the California coast to see my sister in San Diego. Which also means that I can see the ocean as I type this. How cool is that? I'm going to help her set up a blog while I'm here, because we've been talking about it forever and France and Catherine - and all the others - inspired me to get it in gear. Now, if I can get my mom past the question she asked again on the phone today - "How do I get into your blog again? - we'll be doing something. Because whereas my mom is totally ready for a party like BlogHer '09, I'm not sure y'all are ready for her.

Did you bring your family? Did you know it was cool if you did? Do you blog with yours? Does your sister or your mother or your brother or your aunt blog? Please tell me about it - because I really want to know.

Finally, a big thank you to Catherine and Fran for saving me at a time
when I really needed it, for being happy to see me when almost a
thousand friendly faces had left and I felt really weird in a strange
city. You two have the mom and daughter (plus blogger) thing down, and it made me feel very much at home. Which - oddly - becomes ever more important when you're far away.

Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites.

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