Eye Doctor

This is one to file under “only in New York.”

I grew up wearing glasses and contacts. Eight years ago I had corrective laser surgery. This was a life changing moment. Suddenly I could see after the surgery I still went in for my yearly eye exam. Everything was great. Then I moved to New York, almost 1,000 miles away from my eye doctor who I had been seeing since I was 10. So I did what anyone in my situation would do –  I kept seeing him, scheduling appointments when I was home to visit my family. Then my parents moved out of the town I grew up in and I got married and it became a pain to go to appointments.

Because seeing a doctor in Indiana when you live in New York isn’t a pain at all – it’s only when your parents move… But at the last appointment in 2009 I asked my eye doctor if I really needed to get my eyes checked every year. He told me that every two years was fine, but to see someone sooner if I had any problems.

So I’ve been here in New York, missing my eye doctor in Indiana and last year when I was due for an appointment I had a new baby so I put it off. Then I put it off again. And now here we are three years out, and I just didn’t have the motivation to find a new eye doctor that was in our Insurance Network. Because oh yeah, we have vision insurance.

So yesterday I was at lunch with some people and they were blurry. Everything in the room was suddenly blurry. This was the second day in a row this had happened and I was a little concerned. I figured it was probably eye strain, damn the spreadsheets, but I wanted to get checked out. So I called the doctor listed in our neighborhood to make an appointment and they said I could just walk in, the doctor was there until 7. Great.

When I got there this is what I see.

[you will have to use your imagination because I forgot my camera when I went back today]

There is a sign out front advertising eye services. There are display racks of glasses on the walls. And in the window there is a sewing machine. And a pile of pants. And clearly, this is an eye doctor / tailor. So I went in. Had I been in Indiana I would have turned around and found a new doctor. But in New York, this just ins’t that odd, rents are high and you make do. It appears to be a family run business, Dad is the optometrist, mom a seamstress, and the son runs the office.

when google earth was taken it was just a tailor. interesting.

So I get my eyes checked.

For the first time since I was eight, I couldn’t read the bottom line on the chart. We do the rest of the exam. Then the doctor needs to use the air puff machine and tells me to lean forward. And I do, and he tells me to keep leaning, and I say I am falling off they chair, and he tells me well, yeah, you need to stand up. So I stand up leaning over at a very awkward angle because the table doesn’t swivel all the way to the chair. My eyes are fine. I need to wear reading glasses. I’m getting old.

The bedside manner leaves something to be desired, but it makes a good story, so I think I quite like my eye doctor / tailor. Next time I think I’ll bring in my clothes.

Beach Bum

I’m about a week behind on pictures. But here we go. Last week we rented a car, picked up some friends, and headed to Robert Moses Beach for Simon’s first trip to the ocean.

Lucky for us he exercised some caution.

He had a great time yelling into the wind.

And cracked up laughing when the surf crashed into his legs.

There were lots of rocks and shells.

And lots of learning not to eat them.

Cool weather made for a perfect family day.

Our friends wished it were a little warmer.

Nothing beats a giant sandbox.

Thanks Erika for inviting us!

Family Day #BlogHer12

Last recap. This one with a giveaway at the bottom! Read on! On Sunday, after BlogHer ended we attended Family Day, sponsored by Oogieloves. What I loved was getting to take Rob and Simon. We had a great afternoon.The event was in the field house at Chelsea Piers. This was so different than the Gala we attended in one of the ballrooms two years ago.

We had use of two astro-turf fields that had activities and the basketball courts. For the grown ups there was a picnic lunch, sandwiches and chips and things. For the big kids there was a bounce house. And for the little kiddos, everything else. We started the afternoon playing in the tunnels and tents that were set up and throwing beach balls. Then Mama got a glitter tattoo and we all played some basketball.

Finally we turned Simon loose on the soccer field where he got to kick some balls around. And the Chelsea Piers staff were great with the kids. These two guys spent an entire afternoon playing with toddlers and never seemed to tire. I can’t say that of myself most days and I only have 1 to chase around. Simon was the youngest kid there who tried to “participate”. They had some large spoons and egg shakers for egg races. Simon just liked running around holding the spoon and the egg.

There was also a parachute. The older (and by older I mean 2-5 years) kids understood how to run in and out of the parachute. Simon just liked running. He got stuck a couple of times, but had a blast.

I ended the day talking with some of the people from Oogieloves, including the creator. And Simon got a balloon. And a gift bag. And a tent / tunnel kit. Yay!

So, Oogieloves. It’s an interactive movie for young kids. The producer was behind Teletubbies and Thomas the Train. And the writer and director have a slew of credits under their belts as well. They know their kid stuff. Oogieloves is a feature film that is meant to be interactive, meaning kids should feel welcome to jump up and dance and sing along with the movie.

The website has your standard video and games and printables. There is also a parent guide. Without having seen the movie this is my take as a parent / developmental psychologist / children’s media researcher: The live cast are people I’ve heard of, I assume this is to make it more appealing to adults (as is done on other kids shows). Then there is this thing in animation we call “preschool slow” meaning the show is at a pace that is perfect if you are 4, but for an adult is OMG get there already. This movie (according to the parent guide) is preschool slow. Good for the kiddos.

I am concerned about the 80 minute running time. That is a really long – even if you are up dancing around – time for a kid to follow a storyline. Many preschool tv shows are two 11 or even 7 minute episodes in a 30 minute show block. Simon rarely pays attention to one thing for more than 5 minutes, and just isn’t all that interested in tv, believe me I’ve tried. It will be quite some time before he is ready for anything close to an hour – let alone more than that. When talking with the people on the film I was told that there are five (I think) segments that are episodes within the film. Each segment has a standalone story as well as being part of the larger arc. This makes me think it could be better in DVD form as 10 – 20 minutes of screen time is more realistic.

The parent guide, I found to be a bit annoying, feeling like it was more to sell me on the show than anything else. It has tips for how to prepare for and watch the film as well as follow up material. There isn’t a curriculum per se, rather some of the standard spark imagination, show friendship, etc… type things. I don’t think everything has to be explicitly educational all the time. It’s ok to watch a movie with your kids just for entertainment. And that’s how I see this movie. As adults we do things all the time for pure entertainment. But I also think the parent guide is trying to make the movie into more than it is. I also wish there were somewhere stated the actual ages this movie is targeted to – or the ages of the kids it was tested with. I’m at a loss if it is supposed to be fore toddlers or more for preschoolers.

Simon is a too young, but if Oogieloves is playing at a theater nearby, with a matinee price, we might try and see it. If he were older and could sit for longer (or had any interest in screens), I would go, just to check it out. Because I’m interested in this kind of thing. I can’t really make a judgement without seeing it first.

And now about that giveaway. On our way out we got some Oogieloves goodies including the tent and tunnel set seen above (three tunnels, two tents, one nifty carrying case), and I got an extra one to give away to one of you! This thing is actually pretty awesome. I set up one of the tents and a tunnel in our tiny kitchen and Simon had the best afternoon going in and out.

So, if you would like an Oogieloves tent and tunnel system, leave me a comment. On August 31 I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner.

**And the winner is number 1 – Laura!

*I was not required to post about this event or the movie. I was given a tunnel set for attending, and a second set to give away. All opinions are my own.

People & Parties & Swag Oh My! #BlogHer12

I wrote about the sessions and what I learned. But a huge part of any conference are the connections you make. This is hard for me because I’m not really all that great at talking to new people. I’m working on it. That is one reason I really wanted to do Pathfinder Day, aside from the fact that I knew I would learn a lot, I wanted to have the smaller group of people to interact with. That was a great decision. The people I ended up spending the most time with throughout the weekend came from this group.

Day 1 at my table 8 women. We found things in common, we spent a day together. This is 7 new blogs to follow. And I sat next to www.hannahbunker.com and we had the SAME BAG from Jo Totes. So we decided to meet up through out the weekend. We worked the expo hall, and even hit up a party together, it was nice to have a friend to check in with as there was just so much going on. I just wish she lived in NYC, we’d totally hang out.

I’m not a huge party person, but I went to a few. The first night I went mostly to get something to eat. It was a happy coincidence that I sat next to someone who has friends that live near me – so I might get a play date out of that. Night 2 was SparkleCorn. I have read so much about this party in recaps over the last couple of years that I really wanted to go. So I did. And I remembered that crowded + loud = not really my thing.

Yes, that is a giant unicorn cake behind me. Sadly, we did not get to eat said cake.

But while waiting for the party to start I joined D.J. of Thoughts From Paris (one of the **17 men at the conference), who met Kelly, who made balloon unicorn horns for us. And D.J. was the lucky one who got an entire balloonicorn to wear around. So that was fun.

At the party I ate some food (love that there were sliders and mini hot dogs at every party) and got a drink. The bartenders version of a rum and coke was a glass of rum and a bottle of coke. Seriously. So I was glad he gave me the whole bottle to use as a chaser after the tiny splash he actually mixed with the rum. I danced a bit, talked to some lovely ladies, waited for cake, and called it a night.

Day 3, Hannah and I decided to hit up the Come As You Are Party. It was early. There was food. And there was also a photo booth (or 2). We ate and drank and had a good time. Then took some photos and headed out. There were THREE other parties that night that I just couldn’t do. So tired. I really wanted to make it to CheeseburgHER, but it started at 11! Maybe next year…

the sign says “what happens at BlogHer stays on the internet. forever.”

It seems many people get all crazy about the Swag (free stuff from the sponsors) and I kind of get it. It is really good swag. Not your pins and pens and notepads that are common at these types of things. In addition to these common items I got 2 water bottles, 3 books, lotion, bath wash, band-aides, a handheld fan, a pair of pajama pants, 4 tote (to be used as grocery) bags, granola bars, ice cream (consumed on the premises), 2 massages, and a make-up touch-up. I was choosy about taking only things I would actually use. Rob brought Simon for a little visit and was a little jealous that we are wined and dined much more so than at conferences he goes to. Never fear though husband of mine – at academic conferences they don’t even serve us coffee.

Simon liked the balloon from Chuck E.

There was so much. The thing I found to be really different from when I went to BlogHer two years ago is that I felt like the sponsors wanted to talk to me. They were interested in MY BLOG. I mean, I know that is the reason they are there, to connect with bloggers, but I really didn’t feel that last time. It could be a testament to how much more confident I am now, but it was nice to engage. I have about 10 emails from different brands who took the time to look at my blog and follow up with me. There are a couple that I talked with for quite awhile, and may do a review or post about some those products in the near future. It was kind of exciting.

Oh, and there were s’mores. (also our wedding anniversary is on National S’mores Day, so I learned something too)

As I re-read this post it feels a bit rushed, as I am cramming so many thoughts into a single post, but I don’t know how to properly convey how much I truly appreciate the relationships and new friends I made. I have 60+ cards from the conference. 15 I would say I really connected with. Another 15 I can picture the person who gave it to me, which means we had an actual conversations. The other half were quicker interactions, and it will take some time for me to get to know them through their blogs. Actually it will take some time for me to get to know everyone a bit better through their blogs. This is what it’s all about. Real connections, with real people, to have online relationships with.

The President addressed us via Skype as part of the opening session. That was neat. The other keynotes were Martha Stewart and Katie Couric. Also neat.

Recap: New friends are awesome. Parties are fun if attended with said friends. It’s kind of fun for a brand to want you. S’mores are awesome. I can say I’ve Skyped with the President.

See you in Chicago? Maybe?

**This is not a precise number.

One more for fun. There is just no way a s’more isn’t going to be messy.

What I Learned at #BlogHer12

Last week I spent Thursday – Sunday at BlogHer. This week I’ve been recovering (from the whirlwind), getting caught up (on school work), and feeling a little overwhelmed in processing the notes and material and the number of new contacts. I’ve been reading blogs, oh, I’ve been reading the blogs, and the Twitter. I really need to figure out lists on Twitter because my feed has quadrupled and it is starting to stress me out.

The conference this year was HUGE, I feel fortunate that I missed the negative things I’ve been hearing in some recaps. I had a really great conference. I feel like I blossomed there. I learned things I wanted to learn. I actually talked to people and made a few new friends.

I spent Thursday at Pathfinder Day and chose the path My Blog as a Life Changer. (afternoon discussion) I have changed over the past FIVE years of blogging, and I want my blog to be able to change with me. We made maps of our blogs and I realized a few things about myself in this activity. I like my life to be organized, as noted in the city grid I made for my map. Many of the maps were islands and oceans and here I have this city streets grid and my little boxes. As I was setting up my blocks I also noted that there are things I blog about and things I mostly don’t blog about. I think it’s ok to have areas of my life that aren’t on the internet, but I also know that some of these things are a really big part of who I am as person, and would like them to at least flavor my blog. I know it’s time for some change to my blog. I want to do this without changing the essence of the blog. I’m not sure what the next steps are, but in the mean time I will keep writing. And reading, because reading a lot makes better writing.

{my blog map}

Friday was a long day, starting with breakfast. I felt like I had been up late partying the night before. I had been up late, but watching the Olympics, I left the Thursday party at 9:15. First thing I learned: sleep helps. I attended two panels “Blogging for the Love of It” and “Celebrate Your Small Blog“. I thought both were excellent and they really helped me to re-ground myself in WHY I blog. I blog because I enjoy it. I blog because it makes me a better writer. I am comfortable with my blog being “small” although I learned that perceived size is relative. I found it interesting to hear different takes on making money from blogging. There is nothing wrong with earning money for something you enjoy. I don’t have the time or energy to pursue growing my blog to be a real income, but I also am not going to turn down opportunities that may come my way.

I also had the opportunity to attend a small group session on WordPress plugins. I was lucky to be able to connect to WiFi the whole session, so I installed all of the recommended plugins, and took some notes on others to look into. I’m hoping the small changes these bring to the blog are useful. There will be more coming as I figure out exactly what they do and activate them.

Saturday I showed up at the end of breakfast, just in time to grab a muffin and some coffee. I slept in and the rest was so needed. I took a turn around the expo hall in the quiet of the morning, I think a lot of people needed to sleep in. There were a few sessions that I was interested enough in, but nothing grabbed me until I saw that Melissa Ford from Stirrup Queens and author of two books I enjoyed was teaching the writing lab on Writing from Prompts. Since one way to improve writing is writing a lot, I jumped on this opportunity. This was one of the highlights for me, meeting a blogger that I admire and not being spazzy about it. (Unfortunately the spaz came out a few times, to these bloggers, I am sorry). After this session I decided to spend the day in the Writing Lab learning from different bloggers, which was a great way for me to end the conference.

Each day was so different (a day of self reflection in a small group, a day of evaluation in panels, and day to learn some practical skills) and each day was valuable in it’s own way.

My takeaways: change can be good, I don’t know the exact for the change will take, there will be some technical things (plugins) on the blog readers may or may not notice, there may be some money made, I will just keep writing while I figure it all out because I love it.