SpouseBUZZ Live ALL the Details!!

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I’m home from the incredible and whirlwind experience of SpouseBUZZ Live 2 in San Diego.  There were so many conversations, funny stories within funny stories, and new faces.  I met many Marine, CG and Army wives AND of course a huge number of  Navy wives who were eager to share their stories and thoughts on SB and the event.  I’ll do my best to recap my one of a kind experience here in this post. 

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Day 1

Since my flight was so early, I had to plan for what to do with LilK.  I am so grateful and blessed to have wonderful neighbors.  She was able to take Lil K to school.  He went over to her house about 7am and she also picked him up after school (he would stay there until BigK arrived).  My flight left Friday at 830am.  After a layover at DFW, I arrived in San Diego.  My flight experience was pretty much uneventful, no movies and quiet seat neighbors. I eavesdropped on a conversation between a Navy Submariner and a mil-wife of a retired Navy Capt.  They talked surfing, duty stations and what its like to be separated from your loved one for long periods of time.  After wandering out of baggage claim, I looked for AWTM as we were supposed to meet up but I couldn’t find her.  I called for the hotel shuttle and they arrived within 15min.  very nice!  My first impressions of San Diego were “Gosh, it is beautiful here.”  You fly right over the bay and are able see Navy ships and sail boats.  The weather was of course perfect.  Sea breezes, palm trees and no bugs.  When I was checking in, here comes AWTM we must of just missed each other.  Andi had already called her and said “please hurry we need help”, so we quickly dropped our bags, ordered lunch to go from the restaurant and sat inside the shuttle expecting a ride down to the convention center.  I’m sure the driver thought we were crazy, but he probably figured he would take us vs. disappoint us by making us get out of his van.  We ate in the van and then arrived at the San Diego convention center.  There was a HUGE Health Expo put on my Rite Aid that we couldn’t help but notice on our way up to our space on second floor.  It was already a long day and it was only 2pm!

Upon arriving upstairs we saw USAA folks about 15 or so busily putting displays together, signage and tables up.  We found the “staging” room which was filled with boxes and boxes and bags and bags that needed to be filled.  These bags were awesome….even without anything in them!  No plastic Walmart type bags for these military spouses!  These bags were canvas (with a zipper) and had pockets for your bottled water and even your cell phone.  Some definite thought went into the bags.  Like Oprah says, “Love is in the details!”  We spent about the next 3 hours filling the the bags with cool stuff like:

USAA Deployment Packs
USAA Notepads
SpouseBUZZ Pens
Military.com hats
Chocolate
Military.com brochures
Red-ken Hair Products
and more….

It was great to put the names to faces when I finally met in person, Melinda (Guard Wife) and hubby, Ryan (who booked my travel) and Vince (who I had chatted w/ via email) from Military.com, and finally Andi.  I also met Loree Hirschman the Military.com POC for the event.  We had a little assembly line going and were making quick work of the bags.  I also met several USAA folks that filtered in and out.  We toured the meeting spaces and it was pretty amazing all the work that went into the event.

Carren (JoanDArc) arrived next and it was great to meet her too.  Sarah and Ruthie, I would later meet at dinner.

We then broke and decided to meet back at the hotel lobby for dinner at 730.  On our way out of the convention center I dragged AWTM to the Health Expo so I could snap a photo of Billy Blanks.  Im sure she thought I was crazy, but she went with me anyway…..even if it was for free mascara and hair spray. 

I made a quick live blog when I returned to my room and decided not to lay down for fear I wouldn’t get back up.  The time change was a bear.  I wandered around the downtown streets of San Diego and found an ATM, bought some water and chex mix.  I also took a photo of the gas prices sign, wow!

We all met in the lobby, and wandered down to Little Italy.  Ryan, Vince and Loree, the head Military.com honcho took us out to dinner.  We ate a Mimmos, a wonderful Italian Restaurant.  Here I finally met Ruthie (airforcewife) and her hubby, Sarah and Brit (CaliValleyGirl).  It was so much fun, we laughed and got to know each other better.  Ruthie told us all about her airplane story of a broken bathroom and she was just as funny in person as she is online.  I have determined they are all funnier than me…..I think maybe Im just soaking it all in.  Information / personality overload……in a good way.

We are well behaved and head to our hotel after dinner so we will be well rested for tomorrows event.  We decide to meet at 8am in the lobby.

When I went to my room, I did a small live blog entry, made a phone call to the hubby who had arrived home after being gone for the past two weeks.  I had tried to call earlier with not to much luck since he was in the air, I left a message with directions to where I had parked the car at the airport.  I forgot to mention earlier that as I was checking in for my flight I noticed I had Big K’s keys in my purse…..why??? who knows??  Needless to say that was a mess.  I left them for him at the AA baggage services.  He was able to retrieve them (Thank You Jesus) and found the car without issue.  🙂

———-

Day 2

Saturday started out early, I was excited to wake up and actually feel like I had a good night sleep.  It must have been the sleep number bed.

We took a cab ride over and arrived about 820am.  Lots of hustle and bustle as last minute arrangements were being made.  Ladies were trickling in and getting signed in receiving their goody bags we had so diligently filled the day prior.  I recognized Kathy Hightower and Holly Sherer the two giving the Keynote and introduced myself.  They were very excited to be there.  I wandered around a bit and found my breakout room for the afternoon, it now had the projector it was missing the day before.  I met Keri, the rep from Vox, she was making sure her computer was ready for the afternoon writing/blogging breakout.  Next I ran into Tara from AWTR and walked with her as we got her little girl checked into the Kiddy DayCare.  Which was awesome, they took a Polaroid of mom and little one to keep track of who belongs to who.  Wrena did very good at the check-in process and when we entered the room was wide eyed at the size.  Thank you Military.com for providing day care.  I was watching moms and children go through the quick process of getting their little ones signed in…..what a relief to know everything was running like a well oiled machine.  I showed Tara the meeting space and we chatted just briefly about the day.   Soon it was time to start so we all filtered into the main room.

A Marine Color Guard was there in full dress uniform, they looked so sharp.  Makes your heart just swell at the sight.  They paraded the colors, as I was sitting in the front row.  The room fell silent, we all stood and said the Pledge of Allegiance.  I had thoughts of all the husbands that were deployed that very moment whose wives were in the room, those who had lost their lives protecting our freedoms….the rush of emotion just hit me and I tried to look away and think of anything else I could imagine.  At the same time not wanting to think of anything else, but wanting to experience the moment to the fullest, raw emotions and all.

Next came the opening remarks by Marine Mom and CBS correspondent Hattie Kaufmann, I live blogged on that here.

I was on the first panel, the Military Spouse Experience.  I had the oh so funny, Airforcewife on my left and who I think might be the smartest/brightest of us all (no offense anyone) Sarah.  Not to mention she is such a natural beauty.  Our group was moderated by the soon to be lawyer, Melinda aka Guard Wife.  If the ladies who came up to me after the panel were any indication, then I think it went very well…..even though I was bit nervous when I looked out into the audience and saw all those faces! 

After the panel, I stepped out for a quick breath of fresh air and was immediately approached by a lady who was representing a Blog Conference in Las Vegas this Nov..  She was also a Marine wife.  Very cool, Im thinking I might go…..I’ll have to set up one of those donation buttons on my site that I saw other bloggers do to raise funds for the milblogging conference.

I walked back in after the second panel had already begun.  I lived blogged about this too earlier….you can read that here.  That panel was very inspiring.  Mrs. Kaufmann had suggested we need questions to get the flow of communication going so I headed to the microphone….just then someone finally approached a microphone.  It only takes one.  I asked a question about TAPS and IA’s.  I also asked if we had any spouses with service members on IA.  No one spoke up, so I don’t think we did.  You can read more about that on the SBLive blog

After that it was time for lunch.

———

Lunch was amazing, Military.com went all out for these military spouses once again.  The service was equally wonderful at our table.  Our server placed the napkin on my lap, poured my drink and was so pleasant.  Wow.  I hope all the spouses received the same four star treatment!

Before long it was time to start with the speakers.  Tara gave an introduction to Kathie and Holly the Keynote speakers.  She mentioned highlights from the morning sessions and also getting emotional a lot ….during the Colors and during the second panel.  I think we all did.  The keynote speakers took the stage and had everyone exercising to get loosened up.  After about 10 min. there was a rustling in the room, Billy Blanks had come from downstairs to meet all these women once he learned Military Spouses were in the building.  He gave an impromptu 5 min. heartfelt message to all the women.  It was very encouraging and inspiring.  He said many things that included he was on his way back to Iraq for a 4th time as part of a visit to the troops.  That he loves going and loves the military.  He also said, “It was a honor to be in the room”.  How cool!  He also said, Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and everything I have is because of Him.  Again…how cool!  He sure didn’t have to make time to come and visit with us, I am so glad he did.  As you might expect it turned into a mini Billy Blanks infomercial “Billy Blanks! (a girl raising her hand up high), I have your tapes and I lost 20 lbs since my husband has been deployed.  I just love you!”  He was so gracious and as he walked towards the back of the room a swarm of women followed him.  He was there until every last person who wanted a photo got one, shook hands, signed pieces of paper…..listened to these women and really seemed to have a genuine connection with them.  There was the group of very young Submarine wives that I met / cornered me earlier in the day getting their picture with him.  I told them to email me the photo, I sure hope they don’t forget.  The keynote speakers were continuing with their presentation and really rolled with this unexpected surprise.  The lunch was very good and near the end I had to excuse myself to head over to my breakout room.  When I got there my two partners in crime were already there getting computers hooked up and preparing.  We got a game plan, I had my list of blogs to highlight and feedback we would highlight.  We also got the power point ready.  

Before long the session started and we had a pretty good turn out.  Melinda is very funny and had everyone relaxed and ready to learn.  The VOX rep, Keri was also very good and had a cool little power point we used.   We had lots of questions about keeping a blog secure.  We talked about MySpace, other blogging software, OPSEC, types of blogs, benefits of blogging/writing…..the works.  The second session had a few less people, but was still fun.  Sarah and CaliValleyGirl/Brit were there and so was AWTM.  Andi also dropped in on the sessions.  I had the feeling everything went smoothly and before long the session was over, we weren’t struggling to fill the time.  “Oh gosh, it’s over already?” 🙂

After a mini break it was time for the closing remarks.  USAA thanked everyone for coming and gave away all the flower arrangements, $500 ($50 x 10 winners)  Wow! Sears also gave away a deep freeze.   Vince from Military.com, a former MCPOCG, also gave some closing remarks and presented Andi with a gift from AttaGirlgifts.com.  Ruthie had showed it to me just before, it was amazing.  When I first stumbled on their site, it had really made an impression.  So…when we were tossing around ideas on what to get Andi to show just how much she is appreciated, I threw out that site as something I thought would be awesome, substantial and meaningful.  I was happy they agreed.  The hubs on the trip picked out the card we all signed.  I haven’t known Andi that long, and the more I learned I realized SpouseBUZZ was just the tip of the iceberg that she was involved in….there are so many things she has her hand in volunteering, being advocate for….etc.    She seemed genuinely surprised and touched. 

Afterwards, I still had women coming up to me with “Thank You’s” and questions and feedback, it was a wonderful experience to connect with so many military spouses.  There were lots of women who came alone and met people in their same command.  Small groups, like the young submarine wives, who came together.  Pairs of women seemed common too.  I also met a mom of small children who stopped me in the hall to say “Thank You”, and was so excited to have a day like this and for a break from the mommy duties while her husband was at sea.  Military.com did a great thing to take another chance on bringing SpouseBUZZ offline and allowing these wives to connect and have a personal experience. 

—–

The Dinner – let the hair come down!  If you think airforcewife is funny online, then Rachelle AWTM has got to be the funniest live and in person.  If I could describe her to you, I would say, the one who looks the most glamorous and has the best facial expressions like Jim from the Office.  Seriously!

She has the ability to tell a story that is hilarious.  She made our whole table laugh so hard we had other patrons giving us “the look”.  The best part is, her funny story has like 6 other funny stories rolled into it.  You just don’t know how to take it all in.  Amazing.

We ordered appetizers, dinner, dessert….the works.  We were relaxed since the conference “was in the books” and we had fun.  Angel Brit / CaliValleyGirl snuck the check and actually paid the bill before anyone including me realized just what exactly was going on.  “Make a donation to Soldiers Angels”, she said.  Wow, what a sweetheart.  Thanks Brit and I will.  I had asked her where she was registered (she is getting married in the fall), but she looked at me like I was from another planet.  The second I said it, I knew I shouldn’t have said “registered”.  You can’t tell from the photo I took of her and Sarah, but she is extremely animated, funny and also knows how to tell a story.

We wandered back to our hotel and said our good-byes in the elevator.  Carren (JoanDArc) gave me the best hug when we said bye in the hall…..you know one of those good, long hugs you normally get from your kids.  I was like “wow, that is a hug”….she is so sweet.  Thanks Carren for the great hug, I needed it!  After a late night chat in the hall with Ruthie (AF Wife) and her husband, who made us all think our husbands don’t touch us enough.  (Seriously, he was always rubbing her arm, her back, her neck…..talk about public display of affection!)  They were just soo cute.  …..and AWTM talking about mil-life and watching the UNM track coaches get after a young runner for being out past curfew we finally said our good-byes.  Yawn!

—-

Day 3 

I woke up at 520 and by 612 I was sitting on my airplane.  I know, impossible right??  I thought for sure I’d miss my flight.  Thank the Lord above I made it!  Just one more example of reasons why not to check baggage!

I was home by 3ish and was ready for a nap.  After visiting with the family for a bit, I was able to take one for about 1.5 hours and it was amazing…..the best mothers day gift!

Actually, Big K did really good this year and even without any hints from me.  While he was in Providence he went on a shopping trip to Boston and found me a Brighton wallet/purse.  It is beautiful!  Plus, it has a built in photo sleeve with 4 slots in the shape of hearts of course.  I can’t wait to fill them with photos!

The rest of the day was spent catching up on his trip and mine and spending time with LilK.

It was an amazing weekend to meet sooo many military spouses, Im thankful for the experience!!  What an honor to be part of the conference.  From the feedback I’ve received so far, mil-spouses were informed with the USAA Financial Breakout, motivated to follow their dreams courtesy of Holly and Kathie and inspired to start their own blogs via the blogging breakout.  Not to mention the perspective, inspiration and appreciation of the little things that came from the two morning panels.  Thanks military.com and USAA for an amazing experience!!

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5 Responses to “SpouseBUZZ Live ALL the Details!!”


  1. 1 Kristin Evans 15 May, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Hi – Sounds like you had an incredible time! And that you did awesome on the panels. What a great opportunity! I love your blog. I know I’m not a military wife, but I still love to hear your perspective. I so admire military families and what you do for our country. You guys are my heros!
    See you at church!
    Love,
    Kristin

  2. 2 Wendy 15 May, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for the Love Kristin!
    I still get surprised when readers leave me a comment! Im glad you like the blog and thanks for the encouraging words! 🙂

  3. 3 Wendy 17 May, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    I received this comment via our MySpace Page:

    Mayra writes:

    I loved everything about the convention. It was such a good experience. I loved everything from the goody bags, which are so practical, im using mine for the gym, to the day planner and calendar. The chocolate fondue was so yummy! and the free startbucks was amazing. The panels were so inspirational and informative. I laughed and related so much, and i cried too.

    The food was really good. I was not expecting so much detail and attention. Im vegetarian so i couldnt eat the chicken but everything was great. Meeting Billy Blanks was such an inspiration. I send my husband the picture and he’s so jealous. Sucks about Mario Lopez but it was his loss. We dont need him!

    I appreciate your honesty and sincerity about Military lives. It was good to see that I am not the only one going through all these emotions.

    Thanks for everything.

  4. 4 Loree 9 June, 2007 at 12:49 am

    Wendy,
    Thank you so much for such a descriptive post about SpouseBUZZ Live and for your participation in the event. It was such a pleasure to meet you and the other spouses and I am looking forward to our next event!
    Best,
    Loree

  5. 5 Wendy 9 June, 2007 at 11:03 am

    Loree,
    SBL2 was an amazing experience, thank you for letting me be apart of such a great event!

    I’m looking forward to the next event too! I hope it is near Jacksonville, FL. I think that would be the perfect place, you have Kings Bay, Ft. Stewart and Hunter AAF near by…..not to mention Charleston just up the road. Sign me up for the planning committee as a Navy expert!!

    I’m happy you found my blog, I invite you to come back often! 🙂


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