typeacon14 This will be my first time attending the Type A Parent conference in Atlanta, GA.  I have heard such wonderful things about this conference.

I have attended a few blogging conferences in the past like BlogHer, BloggyCon, Type-A Bootcamp in Walt Disney World to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration “On The Road”.

So Why Do I Attend Blogging Conferences?

Each one of them seem to provide a different perspective on blogging and running a business as a blogger.  I am really excited about attending the presentation from Denene Millner entitled “Refining Your Voice – How To Write That People Can’t Stop Reading” and “How To Make Your Small Blog A Big Deal”.  Seeing I did a #DisneySide party, I can’t wait to attend the #DisneySide Welcome Reception

During this three day event, you have the opportunity to meet new bloggers, share ideas, partner on new ventures and reconnect with some or your blogging friends you have connected with at other conferences.  Blogging conferences also allow you the ability to connect with brands during expo hours, if you are looking to partner with brands to work with them in the future.  So I definitely advise bringing a lot of business cards, as these events are truly a great networking opportunity.

However, some of the best time is during the social hours like the reception, Taste and Share Party, lunches and dinners.  You can really have a lot of fun getting to meet new people, so I would strongly suggest attending them.  I only wished I was able to attend the Frozen party they had at the Type-A Bootcamp in Walt Disney World it looked awesome.

Blogging conferences have opened up so many doors for me from a blogging perspective.  I have the wonderful opportunity to partner with amazing bloggers on projects, but also works with some awesome brands.

So Want To Be A Part Of The Fun?

Mark your calendars for September 18-20th and join me in Atlanta for Type-A Conference! You can use the discount code BLOGPARTNER (affiliate link) and save 25% off your ticket if you register in the next 24 hours.

indy car at ndsc

Welcome to the 42nd National Down Syndrome Congress Convention Recap!

This was the first time that a convention like this was so close to home for me, and I was excited that my family was going to be able to take part in it with me.  Sure we went to Bloggy Con last year at Cedar Point which was fun, but that was geared towards bloggers.  The NDSC Convention boasts the largest annual gathering in the world of self advocates, parents, siblings and professionals associated with Down syndrome.  This convention is designed for parents, other family members, caregivers and professionals alike to network, inform, educate and share experiences about caring for and living with a loved one with Down syndrome and I was excited to be able share it with my 8 year old son with Down syndrome and my husband.

After our 1 1/2 hour drive to Indianapolis we pulled up in our hotel the Residence Inn on the Canal.  We have stayed here before and enjoyed it.  The hotel sits right on a man made canal that is perfect for walks, boat rides and feeding the ducks.

residence inn on the canal

Since my son is an experienced traveler, he knows the process of unpacking his clothes as you can see, he’s making himself at home.  unpacking at NDSC
After we unpacked we got dressed to head out to a wonderful dinner at the Oceanaire.   It was a fabulous dinner, but pricey.  There was a lot going on in the city.  We noticed another large group that was also in town for a convention.

When dinner was done, we walked over to the Convention Center, where unfortunately I thought the convention was going to be.  My husband and son walked back to the hotel as I was going to take advantage of the pre-conference, register and start visiting with some vendors.  But as I walked the very large convention center I realized that I was in the wrong place.

After I got to the right location, I noticed  the place was bustling with thousands of families, registration was clicking and families were excited to see old friends.

As this was my first time attending this conference I was eager to get my registration material and head up to visit some of the vendor booths.

My first stop was The TV Teacher.  My son is struggling with writing and The TV Teacher, LLC produces award-winning programs that teach children how to write the alphabet, numbers, shapes & more! It’s visual, It’s fun. It’s effective!  Excited by the material I purchased some of her dvds and white board.

Then I moved on to the exhibit hall.  Boy there were so many wonderful exhibitors.  There was something for everyone.  Book vendors, non profit organizations, colleges, athletic exhibitors, authors and more.

I got the wonderful privileged to meet Sean McElwee and his mom, the author of the book “Who’s The Slow Learner?” A Chronicle of Inclusion & Exclusion

 Photo: Sean's autographing Both My Name Is Sean and I Have Something to Share ad Who's The Slow Learner? A Chronicle of Inclusion and Exclusion at the NDSC Conference!

The first book chronicling a student with special educational needs from preschool through high school graduation.  I couldn’t wait to get this book.  I haven’t started reading it yet but look forward to learning a lot from it.  Although my son is only in 2nd grade I hear there are some really insightful information in the book.

Then I came upon Natalie Hale, award winning author, reading educator and founder of Special Reads for Special Needs.  I was intrigued about her literacy program, so I purchased her Pre-Primer Bundle, which is combines a two pronged approach with Pre-Primer Dolch list books and visuals.

linda from IDSC After walking around and gathering information from other vendors, I finally had the wonderful opportunity to meet a colleague of mine Linda Paulson Nargi from the International Down Syndrome Coalition 

Feeling overwhelmed and tired, I decided to head back to the hotel, to get some rest and get ready for the next couple of days of presentations, mingling and visiting more vendor booths.

Looking at the schedule it was so hard to decide which presentations to attend because there were so many presentations that looked interesting.  But after narrowing it down I had a plan of action for the next few days.

Some of the presentations I chose were “Sight Word Reading vs Phonics: What is the Priority” with Margo Courter from Courter Communications a Speech Language Pathologist.

sight word presentation

 

presentation INCLUSION: 5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know with Paula Kluth, Ph.D.

While I attended these presentations my son and husband were fortunate to be able to go over to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  I want to personally thank Lori Philips, the Blog & Social Media Manager at the museum for providing them with complimentary tickets to experience the museum.  They had a wonderful time, check out for yourself:

 

dinosaurs at the museum doing the slide at the museum

mulan learning about astronauts

It was really nice that my family was able to enjoy this convention with me. They got to meet vendors, try out some of the products and make new friends.
riding amtryke

 

Here is my son trying out one of the AmTrykes from Ambucs dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities.

Buddy Up Tennis

Jacob testing out his tennis skills at the Buddy Up Tennis booth.

buddy up tennis 2
Dad joining in on talking about this wonderful program.

Then it was off to visit more vendors:

ellies heart
Jacob visiting with Eli’s Heart, a non profit dedicated to help families pay for travel expenses associated with heart surgeries for children.

eruption athletics

Jacob joining the men from Eruption Athletics a group that provides personal training services for individuals with developmental disabilities in both group and individual settings. He had an awesome time.

gigis playhouse

Then it was a stop at Gigi’s Playhouse. Where Jacob had a wonderful conversation from a worker from Hugs & Mugs.

Hugs & Mugs is a brand new retail and online store run by adults with Down syndrome from GiGi University!


university of north carolina greensboro

While my son and husband went off to look at some more booths, I stopped off to chat with Eric Marshburn, Director of Admissions from University of North Caroline Greensboro, I was very interested in getting some more information about their 4 year certificate course of study for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their partner Beyond Academics.  Even though Jacob is only 8 years old it’s so encouraging to see the options that are available for him with secondary education.

love the frienships at NDSC

Even though we had a busy afternoon, there was always time to make friends. That’s what was so nice about this conference is that it really was for the families and a time to connect and building friendships.

dinner at buca dibepi

 

Well it was time to head off to dinner and we felt that a good Italian meal was in store, so we headed off to Buca di Beppo.  We fortunately beat the crowd because when we left there was a line.  But the food was great!

feeding the ducks

When we got back to our hotel we figured we would relax with a nice walk down by the canal and we were given some bread from the front desk to go feed the ducks. It’s a really nice area if you make a reservation (well in advance) you can take a quiet gondola ride.  It’s a little expensive riding the paddle boat probably not something you want to do with your family, but they have paddle boats which my son and husband did earlier in the day.

 

evening gondola ride on canal

Before we left Indianapolis, we took a ride around the city and passed the famous Lucas Oil Stadium to complete our trip to Indy!

lucas oil stadium

It was a fantastic weekend.  I learned so much, got to meet new friends (I was so excited to meet Keith Harris, Tim’s dad from Tim’s Place and Tim’s Big Heart Foundation) and network with new businesses and contacts in the Down syndrome community.

The nice thing about this convention was there was something for everyone, every age.  They had a separate track for youth and adults with Down syndrome to be able to take part in their own presentations like: “The Sweet Taste of Success: Finding Your Passion and Starting Your Own Business”, “A Healthy Lifestyle: Diet, Exercise & Well-Being” to a Talent Show, and so much more.

There was also a different track for Brothers & Sisters of Individuals of Down syndrome to engage in healthy conversations with their peers about such topics as Inclusion, Family Dynamics, Bullying and the R-Word.

Unfortunately I didn’t take part because of the timing but the dances appeared to be the “best” part of this convention. A true moment to have fun and enjoy your family and friends in a non-judgmental environment.

I also want to say thank you to Maria from Specs4Us for giving my son a free pair of frames.  After explaining to her the issues we had with my ophthalmologist and ordering him the wrong size Specs4Us frame, she graciously tried a few sizes on him and gave us the right pair.

So in closing I would just like say a very “big” thank you to Muriel Cross from BohlsenGroup.com for giving me wonderful opportunity to experience my first National Down Syndrome Congress convention, and to let me bring my family.

As a special needs mom blogger this was such a wonderful experience and strongly suggest any parents, individuals with a child or loved one with Down syndrome needs to attend this convention.  You won’t be sorry!  You will only walk away with more knowledge, a wider network of physicians, therapists, businesses and more to tap into.

So I encourage all families of a child with Down syndrome to mark their calendars for June 25-28, 2015, the 43rd Annual NDSC Convention will be held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona.

It’s on my calendar and I hope to meet you there!

blogging tips for beginners  When you decide to start a website, you not only have to think about how you want to design it, but also how are you going to market it.  Marketing is the key in all business, online or offline, and will be a foundation to your success.  Taking the necessary steps to get your website noticed on the search engines is not a complex process, but it does take some time and effort.

The very first thing you can do is to start a blog.  Blogging is an excellent way to start bringing traffic into your website.  Let people know why you started a site, and what you intend to do with it.  How are you going to help people and be any different than the next guy?  Blog posts that contain keyword-rich content will help your site rank higher in the search engines,

although it may take some time for this to happen.  Get your voice out there and be consistent.

  • Write with your audience in mind – What is it that your target market wants to read about?  How are you able to solve their problems with your site or product?
  • Engage your reader by asking them questions – The simple way to know what your readers want is to ask them.  Make them want to leave comments and suggestions regarding your content.  Once your audience feels like they can engage with you, trust begins to form and a solid relationship can be created.
  • Clear, concise headlines – Make sure your readers know what your content is all about.  Having a headline that centers on an issue the reader wants to know about will draw them in and make them want to know more from you. 
  • Call to action – Once you’ve wrote your epic content, make sure there is a call to action following the blog post.   You can offer them something in return for signing up on your email list.  This can be a free report, e-book, or set of articles that help them solve a problem.
  • Social networking –Social media is such a big part of online marketing in today’s world.  If you want your website to get noticed you must become a part of a social community.  You will be able to expand your readership, and gain a larger following.  The reach that social media has is vast.  This is not something you want to pass up when trying to build your business.
  • SEO – Optimize your website with keyword rich content.  This can allow your ranking to be higher within the search engines.  SEO is not something that can be learned overnight.   It will take some time, effort, and patience on your part but it can be a helpful technique in getting your website noticed.

No matter what way you choose to market your site, just make sure put your audience at the forefront of everything you do. They have chosen you as a valuable source of information by even coming to your site and reading your content.   Your audience definitely plays a factor in how you should market yourself and your site.  Be transparent and unique in your delivery and you will be sure to build lifelong relationships with people that like and trust you.