I'm not really sure how to write this post without sounding like a massive tool

Close to a month ago Sony flew me and about a dozen other bloggers out to southern California for a digital imaging ho-down. They put us up in a fabulous hotel, treated us to free food, spa treats, and best of all: free camera gear and great training.

To assuage my guilt over being given so much free stuff by The Man I would love nothing more than to tell you what a horrible trip it was, or how they completely don’t “get” mom bloggers, or how it was like a time-share hard-sell. Or really anything other than what it was: fantastic.

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time you’ll know I’m not a Squee Girl for companies. I don’t give anything away for free to corporate giants. I’m not a corporate tool, massive or otherwise. However.

The only negative things I can think of about this event are 1) I wish everyone had had nametags because I’m terrible with names and 2) I wish you all had been able to be there. That’s it. (Does this dilemma make my ass look fat?) Other than not blogging about it at all, my only choice is to give it to you straight. So here goes.

bartender

After an uneventful and quick flight, I rode in from the airport with Amy whom I’d never met before. It was a treat in itself to have a few minutes to chat with someone whose blog I really enjoy. I checked in to the hotel and was pleasantly surprised by how nice, small, and peaceful it was. I ate in the funky hotel bar restaurant that night, got a massage, and went to bed at an almost reasonable hour.

The next morning we gathered in a lovely conference room with a view of the ocean and met the other participants and folks from Sony. Piled in front of everyone’s spot at the table were The Free Cameras, and amazingly no one just ripped the boxes open. I was secretly hoping someone would do that so I’d have an excuse to follow their lead, but no such luck.

I’m sure you’re not interested in a minute-by-minute detailed cataloging of the events, so the short version is that patient and informed specialists on each camera were on hand to teach us how to get started using them. PLUS, the fabulous Me Ra Koh was there to get us going on the DSLR (aka big-fancy camera). Have you ever been intimidated by all the buttons and controls on a camera? Then get some of Me Ra’s instructional DVDs… I’m just saying… She’s sweet as pie, funny, smart, and able to teach you things like ‘aperture’ and ‘shutter speed’ without making your eyes glaze over.

We headed down to the beach for more experiments with our cameras, and then that night we all had dinner together — and in the process I lost my voice! Great food, much fun company, and all organized with ease by Sony and a great PR outfit called RocketXL.

I’m planning on reviewing the cameras themselves over on my review blog, but they are the Sony Alpha 300 DSLR, the HDR-SR10 video camera, and the DSC-T2 which is a cute little point-and-shoot that now lives in my purse. I haven’t had a decent camera in years, which is surprising since I studied photography and I really enjoy it. But with 3 kids I just haven’t had the time or money to invest in getting up to speed digitally, and lately most of my pictures have been from my iPhone!

What has mattered the most to me is that owning these new cameras has changed the way I blog. I don’t use the point-and-shoot so much, but the DSLR goes just about everywhere with me, and I’ve started posting videos on my site too. It is a blast! Having these great tools gave me the final push to do something I’ve been considering for almost a year. I now post photos of my kids which include their face.

I have to tell you that when I get ANYthing from a corporation or business in my inbox, my initial reaction is skepticism. 95% of the time it is either spam or something stupid, so even though I knew I liked the folks at RocketXL I was still suspicious of this event. But even with my snark ready to roll at full-speed, I was disarmed by how genuine everyone involved was. It was truly a great surprise.

So, why did Sony bring us to Southern California? Easy: they wanted to show us how hard they have been working on making high-performance cameras which women will want to use. On the Alpha 300 for example, Sony doesn’t hide common controls under seven layers of menus, instead they make them easy to find and activate. Think I’m saying women are too stupid to read a camera manual? No way, we’re just too flipping busy. And Sony gets that. Want to know why I believe that Sony cares about what women want? Because these cameras really are all that and a bag of chips. I have been able to take some great shots of my kids, and guess what: it was not hard to do, and I still haven’t read the manual.

Go Read It Today, Friday, May 9, 2008

What a beautiful letter. You’re right WTM, this does make me feel better. “(By the way–Sony? You make a mean butthole camera monitor. Apparently my colon was viewed in high-def.)” I can’t stop laughing. Frakking toddlers. (Wait, at what age do they stop being toddlers?) Sigh, I love brothers.

HBM still hasn’t had her baby yet, but even during weeks of crappy pre-labor she can write a great post about her online circle of friends. BlogHer is going into the pay per post business?? I don’t get it. [UPDATE: No, I don't know why this post has been taken down, I only have guesses. You can all stop asking me now :) UPDATE TWO: Suebob answers in the comments below. ]

You’re not invisible. I see you.

Kindergarten visit: smashing success

When we first got to the school, Eddie was pretty nervous. It turns out that on Wednesdays the 5th graders get to eat lunch in the Kindergarten yard while the Kinders are elsewhere. Eddie took one look at what he thought was a group of his gargantuan future classmates and almost swallowed his tongue! By the time the classroom tour started he was fine, but it was touch and go at the beginning.

He also got a kick out of me interviewing him on his school visit, and I hope you enjoy the video as well:

Slow down. You're only five one time.

Oh Eddie, I know… You’re the one who has always said you can’t wait to be a grownup. You, my most kid-like kid. You crack me up! You’ll get there soon enough, but for now please just try to enjoy the things that will never come again, like losing a tooth and being the center of your brothers’ attention.

This afternoon we’re going to visit where you’ll go to Kindergarten, and I know it will make you feel like such a big kid, but honey, you’re five. Please live that up :)