SAYING ‘GOODBYE’ TO A $250 GLASS OF WINE AND ‘HELLO’ TO #REFRESHYOURFUNNY

Two years ago, I got the bucket-list idea to begin a blog by the time I reached the ripe old age of 40. On December 25, 2013 – my 40th birthday – I held my breath and hit “publish” for the first time on Happily Ever Laughter. But “publish” didn’t come without preparation.

Coming from a marketing background, I understand the importance of a strong logo. I didn’t have enough graphic experience to come up with my own, so on the recommendation of a friend, I went with a website where you share your ideas/vision and designers compete to create the “winning logo.” The victorious designer earns the jackpot that, in my specific case, was $250 (paid by me). It was a lot of money to spend for something I wasn’t sure was going to be any more than a hobby, but I wanted a customized logo that represented me.

The key words I gave to inspire my logo design included: fun…mom…relaxed…blog…feel-good…the “every woman.” There were several awesome submissions from which to choose, but ultimately I found the [I thought at the time] perfect logo. Ripped jeans. Baseball cap. Computer. Glass of wine. Let me hear you say…Whoomp, there it is!

I was sure it was a great representation of my lifestyle. My mom “uniform” regularly includes ripped jeans and baseball caps. And in the evenings, I am usually on my computer – often with a glass of wine in hand. Also, many of the humor bloggers I follow feature some adult beverage reference in their logo or tagline. I thought mine should too. I wanted to be a part of that party – those ladies are fun!

And then, it was time to write. And I wrote.

I wrote about the blessings of family. I wrote about my daughter Maggie and her triumphs and struggles with autism. I wrote about friendships, mommy-son dates with my young boys, being part of a blended family with five children, and even being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I wrote about my meant-to-be second marriage that has brought me full circle on this amazing journey I am living.

Though I can swear like a sailor in real life, I don’t often curse on my blog in an effort not to offend my great grandmother (or anyone else I am related to) and I rarely write about drinking escapades that may ensue. Though anyone who knows me will tell you, I do like my cocktails. And, to be honest, I think I am pretty damn funny after having a few. But still, I don’t often post funny drinking stories or alcohol-inspired one-liners on my blog or social media channels.

Don’t get me wrong, I think most of the “mommy needs a cocktail” humor out there is funny. I click “like” and love reading hysterical tales of friends doing karaoke because they suddenly thought after a few glass of wine that they could sing like Taylor Swift. In real life, I bet the ladies in those stories and I would “cheers” to motherhood and have a kick-ass girls night full of drinks and laughs.

But my personal blog – my little teeny tiny bit of the blogosphere – wasn’t meant to be about that. Again, if for nothing else, I didn’t want my great grandmother seeing anything that would offend her (that is, if she ever learned how to turn on a computer) and more so, I didn’t want my children (who do know their way around a computer) thinking that alcohol and inebriation are something to joke about (even though, as adults, we often do find humor in a drunken evening).

In my mind, I hoped that Happily Ever Laughter would bring some kind of good or social change to the world. I didn’t know how, but I figured I would know it when I saw the opportunity. (Wow, that sounds so cliché.)

While I was at BlogU (a super awesome blogging conference) in June, one of the presenters we heard from was a woman with Responsibility.org. She showed us a video encouraging bloggers to #RefreshYourFunny and #TalkEarly. I encourage you to check out the video they presented. It’s short and informative and pertains to all parents – not just bloggers: Click HERE for the #RefreshYourFunny video.

The goal was simple: to empower parents to be confident about their decisions regarding alcohol, model healthy, balanced behaviors, and create a foundation for starting conversations with their kids from an early age.

As we all know, children are influenced by friends, teachers, celebrities, movies, music and, in my son’s case, Minecraft. But parents are the leading influence on their children’s decisions, including the use of alcohol.

Remember when I wrote about wanting Happily Ever Laughter to bring good or social change to the world? Well, my children ARE my world. Though I do not allow them to read my blog or go on Facebook, they see my logo on my business cards, coffee mug, pens, notebook, mousepad … everywhere they turn in our home. They see a character in my likeness with a computer on her lap with a glass of wine in her hand. It really doesn’t matter that they don’t read what I write or post online – they see my logo conveying the idea that mom always has a drink in her hand and that must be funny because mommy always tries to be funny (which, admittedly, I often fail at miserably). Do I drink all the time? Of course not, but my logo may imply otherwise to my children.

I want my children to associate Happily Ever Laughter with a woman following her dream of writing and being a published author, all-the-while raising her children, working a full-time job and being a loving wife. I do not want my children to associate Happily Even Laughter – to associate me – simply by a logo that does not send the message I want to communicate.

That said, I am using this post as a catalyst to #RefreshYourFunny and redesign my logo; redefine my brand; re-message my purpose. And this is not to say that I won’t occasionally write about a fun wine-infused night on my blog, but I have made the decision not to have the Happily Ever Laughter logo be highlighted with a glass of wine. Maybe I will simply have it switched to a Target bag or Starbucks cup…maybe it will have a whole new look. I will leave that to the graphic designer.

Yes, I am throwing hundreds of dollars out the window and will need to rebrand everything associated with Happily Ever Laughter, but I will also have a conversation with my children and help them understand why I am doing it.

“I didn’t know how, but I figured I would know it when I saw the opportunity.”

THIS. IS. MY. OPPORTUNITY.

By the way, if anyone has any logo design ideas feel free to pass them along. I can’t award $250 for the winning logo this time, but I will buy you a drink. #KiddingNotKidding

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Though these feelings are completely my own, this piece will be submitted for a writing contest sponsored by Responsibility.org. I am not being compensated for the post in any way. All the opinions are my own. Oh, and I am damn proud of them!


TODAY IS THE DAY! I’M ADDING TO MY BOOKSHELF: MARTINIS & MOTHERHOOD: TALES OF WONDER, WOE & WTF?!

I am honored to have an essay of mine about #MaggieSunshine in the brand new anthology, Martinis & Motherhood – Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?! which has been published and released today by Shannon Day (Martinis & Motherhood) and Tara Wilson (Don’t Lick the Deck) of Tipsy Squirrel Press.

I’m so excited to have my story included along with 37 other talented authors sharing their stories of the Wonder, Woe & WTF moments of motherhood – and custom martini recipes. (BTW – I highly recommend going directly to page 13…)

The book is filled with the kinds of tales that we like to share on a Mom’s Night Out (or in). They will make you laugh, cry, and realize that you’re in good company. The martinis are a fun way to celebrate the many toast-worthy moments of motherhood.

This story collection consists of thirty-seven tales of motherhood, each accompanied by an easy to-make martini. The custom martini recipes in the book are clearly aimed at women living in the thick of motherhood including such mixes as mine: The Wonderful.

The book features stories that inspire, entertain and make you laugh ’til you pee. These tales of Wonder, Woe and WTF?! share a little glimpse into the lives of other moms, who are a lot like you. Through their tales, we’re reminded to savor the little things (like capturing extra morning snuggles), to let go of the stresses (they won’t be in that unfortunate phase forever), and to be grateful for the laughs that the unexpected brings (because laughing is better than crying, and it may be the only workout our abs get!). So shake up an easy-to-make martini, put your feet up (quickly, before the kids find you) and join us on our journey as we toast to the many clink-worthy moments that motherhood brings.

Below is a list of all the book contributors and links to their blogs. Check these awesome ladies out!

Team Wonder

Leigh-Mary Barone Hoffmann happilyeverlaughterblog

Lynn Morrison nomadmomdiary

Angila Peters detachedfromlogic

Magnolia Ripkin magnoliaripkin

Louise Gleeson latenightplays

Jocelyn Pihlaja omightycrisis.com

Alison Huff crumbsdown

Shannon Drury theradicalhousewife

Patricia Mirchandani raising-humans

Lauren Stevens lo-wren

Cordelia Newlin de Rojas multilingualmama

Sarah Deveau doingallthethings

TEAM WOE

Shannon Day martinisandmotherhood.com

Tara Wilson dontlickthedeck.com

Vicki Lesage vickilesage

Abby the Writer Little Miss Perfect

Brooke Takhar missteenussr

Kate Parlin shakespearesmom

Christina Antus christinaantus

Jennifer Baird- Dean thechiofjen

Sara Park crcrsmommyblog

Tamara Schroeder thattamiam

Kristen Hansen Brakeman kristenbrakeman

Lori Lu Green LeRoy theinadequateconception

Carolyn Mackenzie

TEAM WTF

Susanne Kerns thedustyparachute

Sarah Halsall del Rio established1975

Lisa Webb canadianexpatmom

Jessica D’Andrea Kapp jesskapp

Kim McDonald Twobugsandablog

Lisa Carmody Doiron Momologues-Soliloquies

Olga Mecking europeanmama

Holly Rust Mothersguidetosanity

Kathryn Leehane foxywinepocket

Kirstenjill Hudkins Robbins rippedjeansandbifocals

Kristine Laco mumrevised

Andrea Mulder-Slater noreallyandrea

I would love for you to check out the book! Check it out on Amazon.And if you like it, it would be super-duper-fantastic if you could leave a review on Amazon.

As always, thank you for your continued support!!!

 


#BLOGU15…THE PLACE TO #GETSCHOOLED (AND BE AWKWARD!)

Day 1

I went back to Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore as a sophomore for #BlogU15 (June 5 – 7). While much of this blog post may only resonate with my sorority sisters (and a handful of sorority dudes), there is an overall message that we all can take away. And isn’t that what’s it all about…the takeaways?

We all planned.

We all Facebooked.

We all followed each other.

We all spent money.

We all arranged for the family to survive without us for 72 hours.

We all traveled.

We all arrived.

We all hugged.

We all got #swag. So. Much. Swag.

I was on campus in time to take the two of the four classes that afternoon (two classes ran concurrently for an hour each).

I took Writing & Editing Workshop with Nichole Lee Shaw and Robyn Welling and Mastering Pinterest with Anna Luther. So much talent. So many takeaways.

After dinner, we all made the cheerleading squad and waved pompoms at the Pep Rally (hosted by Responsibility.org @TalkEarly #‎RefreshYourFunny).

Then, we all clapped for the success of others at the Awards Ceremony (presented by HuffPost Parents @HuffPostParents).

And then, we all listened to the champion bloggers as they read their winning essays. And we all laughed. And we all cried.

At Open Mic Night (sponsored by That’s What She Said @SheSaidProject), blogger after blogger after blogger after blogger got up and read to a packed room of people who wanted to hear what was being read. They were funny. They were dirty. They were serious. They were sad. They were awesome. All takeaways.

Day 2

Following Nicole Leigh Shaw’s sing-a-long of “On Top of Spaghetti” and her effortless knee-slapping humor (she is a total natural), the keynote speakers [also known as blogging goddesses in my world) were amazing – hysterical, informative and real. SO. DAMN. REAL. Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy (yeah, she was there!); Anna Luther of My Life and Kids; and Nikki Knepper of Moms Who Drink and Swear, had the room in uniformed laughter.

There were so many takeaways from the keynote presentation. One that resonated with me big-time was said with causal brilliance by Nikki Knepper …. It went something like this: “If you didn’t want people to read your stuff, you’d write it in a book and hide it under your bed with your porn and your money.”

YES.

Then, we all learned. Learned in a way that you simply can’t from a book. And especially not the cliff notes. This was straight-up, hear-from-the-best, no-question-is-off-limits learning at its best.

No one was competing for the highest grade-point average. People shared notes. Friends texted one another with screen shots of the presentations. Strangers shared tips, tricks and little known know-how’s. Takeaways. So. Many. Takeaways.

All of the classes offered were awesome – and I wish I could have attended every single one of them. But since I cannot be in four places at once (though my family assumes/expects it!), I had to choose the one session during each time slot that I felt would help me the most. And I did. Here’s what I attended:

  • Building Online Communities that Benefit Your Audience & You with JD Baily and Jen Mann
  • Don’t Whine, Get a Byline with Estelle Erasmus

Break for lunch (with Nickelodeon @NickelodeonTV)

  • Beyond Blogging: How to Make (Real) Money as a Writer with Jessica Watson, JD Baily and Robyn Welling
  • Build Your Book with Jen Mann

I even got to sit down with Jen Kehl from Beyond Blog Design for quite possibly the most important 20 minutes of the conference. She evaluated my site, gave me important techie tips and prevented my site from getting hacked (note to self: UPDATE YOUR PLUG-INS!)

During “office hours,” we were able to hang out with the “faculty” and ask questions and profess our love for them. I mean, network. And eat cupcakes. And take pictures!!

After dinner and a brief rest, it was off to the “Middle School to the Max” ‪#‎MiddleSchoolAwkward party hosted by Nickelodeon @NickMom, where my fellow bloggers channeled their inner awkward middle school selves. Having trouble picturing it? Think Debbie Gibson, Mary Katherine Gallagher, teen angst, braces, scrunchies, fanny packs and friendship pins.

Let me tell you, when Nickelodeon throws a party they do not mess around. Awesome decorations, selfie sticks for all, great music, dancing, good drink, yummy snacks and photo booths. So many photo booths. Check out the awesome captured on my iPhone.

Day 3

I had to leave early to get to the airport, so I didn’t go to the closing ceremonies but I heard they were awesome.

All-in-all … awesome experience. Last year, I barely uttered two words to anyone (and it was still awesome). This year, I came out of my shell a little bit more. And me and my girl Laura Jo hung out the whole time and I even introduced myself to people. And, I was brave enough to take photos with many of my favorite bloggers.

I am so excited to implement all that I learned. Thank you to the entire BlogU team for making this conference – once again – an unforgettable experience.

So. Many. Takeways.