No Longer a BlogHer Virgin.

With my first ever BlogHer experience under my belt, I am realizing how addictive conferences like this can become.  I fail to see how a long weekend filled with inspiring women and a whole lot of drink tickets could ever be not fun.  If I call it “an amazing weekend, filled with meeting great people and attending fantastic workshops”, will you hate me simply for being so uncreative and echoing the impressions pretty much everyone else has shared?  Because it was all those things, and I can’t think of other ways to express it!  This trip rates approximately fourth on the list I call Great Trips of My Lifetime.  Preceding BlogHer ’11 on that list, we have my first trip to Disneyland when I was five years old, our English Premier League Soccer and Marbella Beach Extravaganza of 2003, and my solo vacation to one of my favorite cities in the world– Vancouver B.C.–where I met a great many of my favorite hockey Twitter friends last year.  But BlogHer ’11 is unique in one specific way for me—on none of those other trips was I given sex toy in a swag bag.  Holla, BlogHer ’11!

I’ll agree to spare you the minutiae of such a long, kick-ass girl’s weekend, but let it be known that there is no better road trip partner than one Kelly Loubet.  There is never a shortage of thoughtful and compelling conversation, giggle-inducing silliness, or 80’s arena rock ballad sing-offs when one is sharing vehicular space with Kelly.  Sure, at 5am when we left my driveway we were both a little quiet—but as soon as the coffee kicked in, one of the most enjoyable road trips I’ve ever experienced was underway.  I had forgotten what it was like to drive for more than fifteen minutes without bickering over DVD selection or 132 “are we there yet’s” before making it to Gila Bend.

We spent Thursday night at The Big Toy Book party.  I had my first opportunity to experience the Kinect on the Xbox 360 and was impressed (though this technology is fantastic, it does not involve a game controller and does require full use of the entire body).  I also got to test out some of the new Leap Frog products, including the not-yet-on-store-shelves $99 Leap Pad, which looks like it could be a great tech toy for my four year olds who are advanced cognitively but have limited hand/wrist dexterity and strength.  I would love for the twins to be able to test out this toy to see if it’s a worthwhile investment while we wait for the price of iPads to come down.  But the best part is that the Big Toy Book party gave us large swag bags full of toys for the kids!  The items that Kelly and I agreed our kids wouldn’t be interested in are resting in a “treasure chest” at our local children’s hospital.

Friday was the most fulfilling of the days I spent at BlogHer ’11. This day featured the extended workshop session for bloggers with special needs children.  The two hour time slot was both spent discussing topics around blogging about our unique special needs circumstances and bonding over our general feelings and frustrations that so many parents of special kids share.  If any of you blog about your special needs kids—even just in a private manner—I urge you to consider attending BlogHer ’12 next year in New York.  The connections made in the room during the Special Needs mini-con, and the camaraderie and resources it will expose you to, will make it worth your time.  I promise.  My favorite speaker was Robert Rummel-Hudson, whose book Schuyler’s Monster so far ranks as the most heartily funny yet tragic memoirs I’ve ever read.  My twins’ condition is nothing like what his daughter suffers from, but I identified so much with his perspective and his sense of humor and it will surely resonate with many of you.  I strongly recommend anyone to pick it up and read his story.  I have more thoughts to share regarding the special needs mini-session, which I’ll post in the next week or so.  If you’re interested in reading what people have to say about that special needs session and you’re on Twitter—or hell, if you just want to Google it—follow #bh11specialneeds.  Good people.  Good stuff.

Saturday was a bit of a lazy day for me.  It eventually ended with a perfect evening spent at the Aiming Low party and the CheeseburgHer event.  If anyone knows how to party, it’s 3,000 women bloggers hundreds of miles away from home in a ballroom filled beds and all-you-can-eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers and fries.  And—well, yeah–the booze is another story which I would share if I could remember it.

And next year?  You bloggers who don’t probably even know that I hang on your every word?   Please arrange yourselves as if you were in a receiving line at a wedding when I arrive, so that I may introduce myself and compliment you.  I’m often sarcastic in my writing, but I am sincere in person.  And I get all twitchy and bunny-boiling when I’m overwhelmed and I’m left to figure out who’s who on my own devices.

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Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at Byrds for a Cure.