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Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?

Blog U: Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?

I had the weirdest dream:

I’m sharing a couch in a hotel bar with “I Just Want to Pee Alone” NYT Bestselling Author, Jen Mann. Our conversation meanders from our mutual admiration for Hugh Howey to me giving her shit about the fact that her rental car has manual roll-down windows. We then somehow make the connection that I was in the PTA with a book blogger that she follows. The next thing I know, Kim Bongiorno (Let Me Start By Saying) is next to me dressed up as Urkel performing a “Dancing With the Stars” worthy number with Frugie from Frugalista Blog.

This dream is so much fun that I don’t want to wake up!

But this isn’t a dream.

This is Blog U.

When I signed up for the Blog U conference on a (wine inspired) whim a few months ago, there wasn’t even a schedule in place, let alone a list of presenters. All that was on the BlogU website was the registration form and this picture of Kim Bongiorno, Nicole Leigh Shaw and Kerry Rossow.

Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome

My fan-girl obsession with Kim Bongiorno seemed to be a good enough reason to fly half way across the country and miss my kids’ last day of school to attend the 3-day blogging conference so I put down my wine and filled out the registration.

As the months passed, and the details of the conference were revealed, it became clear that I should start making more of my career decisions after 2 ½ glasses of wine. In addition to Kim Bongiorno, the ‘faculty’ list now included Jen Mann (People I Want to Punch in the Throat, I Just Want to Pee Alone), Nicole Knepper (Moms Who Drink And Swear), Jill Smokler (Scary Mommy), Anna Luther (My Life and Kids) and Ilana Wiles (Mommy Shorts). And they were just a few of the amazing talents leading classes, (please see them all here.)

The excitement of the opportunity to learn from some of the most talented and successful women in the blogging world could only be matched by the thrill of finally getting to meet many of the bloggers that I have grown to admire and care for during my nine-months of blogging.

But there were still some doubts:

What would they be like in real life?

Would conversations still come naturally when there weren’t 1,000 miles and a computer monitor between us?

What if they didn’t like me?

Was this going to be awesome or was it going to be awkward?

Some of you, (okay, two of you), may remember one of my very first posts, “I’m a Facebook Girl Living in a Twitter World”. The post is about how terribly overwhelmed and nervous I was about trying to ‘break in’ to the world of blogging. (And oddly enough, just as he did with my dream-like conversation with Jen Mann, Hugh Howey played a prominent part in the story.)

Here’s a brief excerpt:

“The first thing I realized was, Holy shit, I think every mom in the world has a blog, (and some of them even have two!) The second thing I realized was “Holy shit, I think all of these mom bloggers are all besties who have been partying together for years” and immediately felt like the new girl at the party who keeps wandering around trying to squeeze my way into a bunch of circles of conversation only to look down and realize I’m not wearing any pants. Super awkward, super humbling. I have been fortunate to make it through all levels of school without a socially awkward phase and at age 42 I thought I was safe….guess not.”

Coincidentally, the theme of the dress-up party that Nickelodeon hosted on Saturday night was #MiddleSchoolAwkward. I hoped that this wasn’t some cruel foreshadowing that all my fears from that original post would materialize during the conference

In one sense, it turned out that part of my post from back in September was correct: Many of these bloggers are besties who have been partying together for years.

Fortunately, the part that I had wrong was the belief that I would need to “squeeze” into their tight-knit conversations. The reality was that no matter how tight the circles were, they opened right up to welcome me when I arrived. They were friendly, generous, smart, kind and so damn funny.

As for the part about looking down and realizing I wasn’t wearing pants….that was also accurate, but only because I went and removed my leggings from under my skirt half-way through the Nickelodeon party after almost having heat stroke on the dance floor.

Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
No fair. Melissa Mowry from One Mother to Another is 7 months pregnant and looks totally sexy and I look like I’m trying to poop and run at the same time.

I originally intended for this post to be more of a true recap of my weekend at Blog U, but every time I started writing, I felt like I was trying to describe a dream: It wasn’t so much the individual moments or the events, it was how they all tied together to create a feeling that I’m simply not able to describe except with the word grateful.

Grateful for the weird inspiration, while brushing my teeth one night last August, which led me to start a blog about beginning a job search after 10 years as a stay at home mom.

Grateful that one silly post about my super-anal Childcare Instructions that I left for my in-laws got noticed by someone at and took my blog in a new direction.

Grateful that this new direction has given me the opportunity to meet so many new friends who share my interests, weird sense of humor and unusual combination of extreme-emotional-introvert/extreme-sharing-extrovert.

Grateful that I have a family that supports me (both with their love with their cash-money) so that when I suggested going to Blog U so I could spend the weekend with these new friends the response was an enthusiastic “you should totally do it!” (Except for my 9 year old, who continues to remind me that you’re not supposed to meet up with strangers from the internet.)

Grateful that after all my fears that the Blog U might turn out #MiddleSchoolAwkward, instead it ended up being #MiddleAgeAwesome.

And since a picture speaks a thousand words, I’ll let these do the rest of the talking.

Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Getting ready for some Nickelodeon #MiddleSchoolAwkward fun.


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Robyn Passante (Holding the Strings) and Kim Bongiorno (Let Me Start By Saying) on the way to Open Mic Night.


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Oh, no biggie, it’s just friggin’ Jill Smokler from Scary Mommy.


I didn't think it would be possible but Jen Mann is even funnier in person.
I didn’t think it would be possible but Jen Mann is even funnier in person.


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
My original inspiration for going to Blog U, Kim Bongiorno from Let Me Start By Saying. I thought her writing was amazing, but nothing can hold a candle to her dancing skills!


Having fun with, and
Having fun with Sassy Pie Hole, Keeper Of The Fruit Loops and Foxy Wine Pocket


Channeling my teenage, Depeche Mode & The Cure loving self for Nickelodeon's #MiddleSchoolAwkward party.
Channeling my teenage, Depeche Mode & The Cure loving self for Nickelodeon’s #MiddleSchoolAwkward party.


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Kim Bongiorno (LetMeStartBySaying) and Lisa LeClair (Sassy Pie Hole). Dozens of people came to Kim’s “Office Hours” to ask intelligent questions about materials they had prepared for her review.  Lisa and I chose more of a ‘loiter at the table and eat all the cupcakes’ approach.


Estelle Erasmus
Nicole Leigh Shaw ( and Estelle Erasmus (Musings on Motherhood & Midlife). Words cannot do justice to how much I enjoyed learning from and getting to know these women this weekend.


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Kim Bongiorno is:
a: Practicing with her new Nickelodeon selfie-stick swag.
b: Taking photographic evidence for her restraining order against me due to all my past stalking jokes.


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Alison from Sparkly Shoes & Sweatdrops. Melissa Mowry (One Mother to Another) and I spent a good part of a week peer pressuring Alison to locate her passport so she could attend BlogU. She finally registered the very last day & I’m so glad she did!


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Jill (Ripped Jeans & Bifocals), Ashley Fuchs (The Malleable Mom), Jennifer Oradat (Mom Babble), Melissa Mowry (One Mother to Another), Ashley Alteman (SmashleyAshley), Me, Lisa LeClair (Sassy Pie Hole), Alison Tedford (Sparkly Shoes & Sweatdrops)


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Representing for the “Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?!” anthology gang.


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Lisa LeClair (SassyPieHole) & I had a little too much fun with the photo booths.


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Batman Photobomb with Lisa LeClair from Sassy Pie Hole!


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Totally stole this photo collage from Sassy Pie Hole


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
Me with Jenn Rian from Cool Family Blog, whose question about “Is anyone going to Blog U?” inspired my intensive 20 minute decision making process to register.


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
My favorite part of this photo is that we had spent the past 10 minutes looking for Sara (who apparently was sitting in the back row behind us the whole time.)  Me, Sassy Pie Hole, One Funny Motha, and of course Sara from WIRL Project


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
The big winner of a tiny Blog U tshirt (which I can either wear as a Hooters shirt or give to my 9 year old.)


Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?
After a long weekend, and a way-more-exciting-than-necessary cab ride to the airport, the people-mover driver at the airport must have sensed that Jenny Kanevsky (In Other Words) and I could use a lift.


Goodbye Blog U – I can’t wait to see you next year!

Blog U - Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?

Once upon a time, Susanne Kerns was a Senior Account Director at an advertising agency working for two of the top brands in the world. Nine years ago she traded in her corporate life for a life as a stay at home mom, raising two of the best kids in the world. She started her blog, The Dusty Parachute as a way to dust off her online advertising skills and begin her job search. Instead, she now uses it as a way to spend lots of time on the computer so her kids think that mommy has a job.

Susanne’s essays have been featured in Scary Mommy, BonBon Break and Redbook and she is also a contributor in the upcoming books, It’s Really 10 Months, Special Delivery and Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?! You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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19 thoughts to “Blog U: Middle School Awkward or Middle Age Awesome?”

  1. One of my missions at BlogU was to meet and hug you and I’m so glad I got to! What I wanted to tell you, but didn’t in all the hello and hugging excitement was how much I enjoy your writing. You always make me laugh and I love your blog so much.

    1. I know – There are about 10 people that I’m kicking myself I didn’t get photos with! It’s crazy because at home I take pictures of EVERYTHING but at Blog U I was having so much fun I forgot I even had a camera. Can’t wait til next year!

    1. I agree – although I think quarterly would be even better. I had a blast loitering at your ‘office hours’ table – and rest assured, wherever I go, I always bring cupcakes.

  2. What a great recap!!!! I adore all your pictures!!! I sadly got hardly any pictures this year. I don’t know where the time went but I came back with no voice so I was chatting the whole time. I wish I had gotten some time to spend with you, we will have to make it a priority for BlogU16!!

    1. I sure wish you could have gone too. You’re on my ‘dream list’ of people that I still need to meet!

    1. Oh man, if there was ever a week I wish I drank coffee, this is it. I feel like a zombie! Totally worth it though. 🙂

  3. This is perfect Susanne! I haven’t even attempted to recap the weekend because I can’t find the words to say how awesome it was. Glad you were able to do it total justice. I’m so so happy I finally got to meet you in real life!!!!

    1. Meeting you was definitely a highlight of the weekend! I did not include the CVS parking lot Benedryl photo since I thought you may want to feature it in your recap. 😉

    1. I just love how we had to go all the way to Baltimore to get to spend time together. So much fun & glad we got to hang out and chat!

  4. Susanne, I am sitting in the Austin airport and am laughing so hard people are concerned. “Run and poop at the same time”! Seriously – too funny!!! I said I was looking forward to ” hearing” about your trip rather than reading about it. I TAKE IT BACK, this is too much fun!
    Your not so funny, grammatically challenged neighbor. 🙂

    1. You’re so funny – Where are you going? I wanted you to come over and drink wine with me (later on, not at 2pm, of course). 😉

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