Internet friends

I have been computer literate for years, so when I had my children, each learned early how to use one and the rules of using the computer. First and most importantly, they were not allowed on the internet unless mom or dad were in the room. When the kids joined Facebook, there were new rules to follow and it all worked out well. Most importantly they were not allowed to ever chat with strangers online or meet anyone they spoke with online.

Years went by, and Twitter came about, which of course I joined (geek). The kids were older and were now lecturing me about chatting with strangers online. When I said I was going to a Tweet-up, they freaked on me. I explained I would be in a local restaurant thus a public place, and I would have my cell on me, they weren’t particularly pleased but finally gave their approval (I was 50 years old by the way, in their mind though age did not matter). All went well at the get-together, I met other moms in my city and basically we chatted about boring things. My next big step was attending a Blogging conference, where I met other bloggers from all over Canada.

So when I heard Sarah (the blogger behind Journeys of the Zoo) and her family would be in my area, I invited them to our house for a barbecue, my children were not very impressed. Middle child went so far as to post this on her Facebook page: mama bird is having some internet friends over for dinner….. I feel like this is turning into an episode of how to catch a predator. Now I had been chatting with Sarah on Twitter before I met her at the Blissdom Canada Social Media/Blogging Conference. We hit it off immediately, continued our relationship online,  I added her to my snail mail Christmas list, and her lovely children mailed me a postcard from Mexico (it only took about two months for it to arrive). Basically Sarah was no longer a stranger to me, though she was to my family.

This past Sunday, Sarah and her family arrived for dinner, and we all immediately got along. Her children were amazingly adorable and well-behaved, her husband and brother were exceptionally polite guests but also humorous. It was a lovely visit all round, and I look forward to them dropping by again.

Sarah and I

Note: You have to be very careful who you chat with on the internet, though that person may say they are the same age as you are, you cannot take this as true. Always meet in a public place, if possible bring a friend along with you. If you are underage, DO NOT meet up with people you chatted with and always talk to your parents please.

Parents: it is important that you know what your children are doing online; when our kids were young we had the computer in our living room, that way, we could easily monitor their activity. If you are not computer literate, look into taking a course, most libraries or community centres will offer free courses for adults.

Remember the online world can be fun but it can also be dangerous, so just be informed.

My weekend at BlissDom Canada 2012

Under the lights in TorontoThis past weekend I had the opportunity to attend BlissDom Canada 2012. I was very excited about the event but also scared because I would be meeting other bloggers and people I have chatted with on Twitter. What I found was that BlissDom is not for a person who is shy or lacks confidence in large groups.

When I arrived on Friday and registered, I was greeted by the BlissDom team and Sleep Country Canada, who were giving out awesome pillows. After registering I had a few hours to myself before the opening kick-off, so I settled in my hotel room. Later on I got together with a tweeter I had spoken to a lot over the past few months and we had coffee. As we chatted about this and that, she was continually texting trying to make plans with another person she hadn’t seen for a long time. She did apologize, but was then off to meet her friend.

Since I knew absolutely no one, I tweeted a shout out to other BlissDom attendees to join me for dinner, and then go to the kick-off party. Sadly, I was unsuccessful. I later decided not to attend the Friday night party because I had no idea of how to get there. Yes I could have easily taken a taxi but when you are not an out going person, attending an event where you know no one, is difficult.

The next morning, I went to the Newcomer’s Welcome/Meet up and breakfast, where we sat at tables and introduced ourselves. As we listened to Dove Canada speak, Community Leaders walked around putting numbers on tables for the microsessions, which were to take place immediately after. I was lucky enough to get a seat for the first session hosted by Tanis Miller aka The Redneck Mommy and it was superb. I was not so lucky for the second microsession which was on the other side of the room, I did have a back-up plan but again, on the other side of the room and by that time all seats were taken for both. The Community Leader I approached about this was unable to suggest a solution and basically just shrugged her shoulders. One of the problems was there was supposed to be a fifteen minute break between each session, but people were so happy to get a seat at the table they wanted, sessions just went on without a break. Plus I found that tables were very close together and it was difficult to manoeuvre around everyone. I did get a seat for the third microsession, and thoroughly enjoyed listening to Haley Overland talk.

Once the morning was over, we were left to get lunch on our own. I had met a few very lovely bloggers in the morning but they were already busy for lunch, so I once again tweeted to find a lunch mate or two. Sadly, no luck. I started to get the impression that BlissDom was clicky and after speaking with other newbies later on, they too had felt the same. The afternoon consisted of a few more speakers, then it was dinner, which I had in my hotel room. I realize I am sounding quite pathetic, but I find it difficult in these new situations and there wasn’t any sort of plan for newbies to get together with anyone. Luckily my evening was saved with a surprise visit from my husband, (I had already decided against going to the costume and Karaoke party planned for later that night). The evening was wonderful, hubby and I had a fantastic dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf and a nice walk before retiring for the night.

The finale of the weekend was the Sunday excursions. I was signed up for the Wine Tour but decided to bow out since with the exception of a few moments during the weekend, I had never felt so lonely as I did at BlissDom Canada.


Off to the big city for dinner and a tea tweetup

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a Tea Tweetup hosted by the Yummy Mummy Club and Metropolitan Tea at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Ontario. It was a wonderful and fun event, where I was able to meet other bloggers I have chatted with online.

Before attending, I met my sister for dinner (I had talked her into attending the Tea Tweetup with me). The restaurant she chose was Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill. We shared an appetizer of Beef Carpaccio (wild & tame mushrooms, arugula, capers, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano & truffle oil). I wasn’t that thrilled with the beef until I squirted some lemon on it, what a difference, it was delicious! For my main, I chose the beer battered Atlantic haddock, Yukon Gold fries & creamy coleslaw, while my sister had the oven roasted free-range chicken breast with truffle potato gnocchi, sautéed mushrooms and roasted garlic jus. Both of our meals were absolutely wonderful. Then I went to the lady’s room! Ugh! The condition of the lady’s room was well, quite untidy. Now I did e-mail the restaurant with my concerns and they nicely said they would pass the information on to their staff.

After dinner we walked the few steps over to the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Oh my goodness, when you enter the Hotel you are taken aback by its absolute beauty! This is the 5-star hotel my husband dreams of going to, but currently is not in our budget. I started snapping pictures with my camera phone, but apparently I was looking to much like a tourist and my sister politely asked me to stop.  Anyways, we go up to the 19th floor to join the Yummy Mummy Club Tea Tweetup. Before the discussion of tea starts, we are each given the opportunity to choose a couple of tea’s that we would like to try. We are all given name tags, with both our real and twitter names. We sit at the lovely table, with delicate tea cups, martini glasses full of strawberries, boysenberries and other fruits, there are scones, and other delicious treats. Oh and I can’t forget the honey! The Fairmont has bee hives and a garden on the rooftop of the hotel, and their honey is to die for! Once the informative tea lesson was over, we mingle for the last hour, drink more tea and snack. All around it was a lovely evening hosted by the Yummy Mummy Club and Fairmont Royal York.

I was able to bring home a few samples, but not having a teacup on hand, I had to choose from the following two mugs. You can see which mug I chose by the tea bag: