A couple new things I wrote…

So, I may be crazy, but I took a little writing gig last month. I’ll be writing mom fashion for WhattoExpect.com. I’ve always liked to shop, you all know that, and I’ve always liked to write, so somehow this seems like a good fit. I think writing about fashion will be fun, and I’m not going to write if it isn’t fun.

That’s my spiel for the day. You can see my piece on three trends to rock with the little black dress for this holiday season here. I’d love to know if you have story ideas or thoughts.

Also my latest/ November column for Chicago Parent is live. I found a few fun toys local to Chicago suggested by some awesome experts you may want to check out. Sure beats the generic princess doll, IMHO.

What are you all up to?

I won’t pimp my blog out for just anyone, but I will for Sh*tty Mom

If you look at the past five months of my blogging you’ll see that, well, I don’t blog all that much. So if I’m to devote my not well-read blog to posting about something more than once in that short timeframe, well, consider it pathetic something I love very much.

I love the new Sh*tty Mom book. It’s just f’ing funny. Every not sh*tty word of it.

As I said before on Mother’s Day, this book is worth every penny. Even my mom liked it, and she’s a tough critic on funny. (She used to write dirty greeting cards for a living. More on that another time.) And since next week is the launch of their book, and September 12 has been declared “National Sh*tty Mom Day,” I told my friends over at Todays Moms I’d give them a little internet luvs. I even agreed to help co-host a twitter chat with The Motherhood on Monday, September 10 at 1 pm ET during the time I’m supposed to pick up my little guy from preschool. Isn’t that sh*tty? Of course this means I won’t be able to tweet and drive en route either way because that’s dangerous and, er, really sh*tty. But you should tweet along if you’re not picking up at preschool or driving, because it’ll be good fun. Hashtag #ShttyMom. Handle @ShttyMom.

And if now, you’re like, “Sara, enough of this promotional BS you don’t blog enough to warrant all this twitter talk,” then pay attention, because I’m going to give you some real content to read.

Herewith, a few of my favorite lines from the book. I can’t tell you all of it, because you should go and buy it. And because I keep re-reading my advance copy and you can’t borrow mine.

  • From Chapter 5: “How to React if You’ Think Your Child Might Be Gay (Hint: Celebrate): Don’t try to “straighten” your gay child. Not only will she remain gay, but one day she may write a scathing memoir about her childhood. When it’s turned into a movie, the “mom” will be played by someone who’s shorter, fatter, and more wrinkled than you are.
  • From Chapter 12: “Organized Sports Might Be Great for the Kids, but They Suck for You: Your kid is an average athlete. If this keeps up into her teenage years, you’ll be putting in the same hours and expenses as an Olympian’s mom, but with no scholarship to make it all worthwhile.
  • From Chapter 17: Someone Stole Your Baby Name! aka Ballad of the First Aidan Mom: How to tell when your friends are pretending they like your baby’s name. You went your own way with your baby’s name. You picked a name you’re pretty sure no one else will touch. You like it, your husband likes it, and that’s all that matters. Besides, if first names were destiny, Condoleeza Rice would have been a stripper.
That’s just a sample of the brilliance and hilarity that ensues throughout the book. We’ll all be sharing Sh*tty Mom moments on the Sh*tty Mom Facebook Page next week as well and you can win a prize pack by sharing your Sh*tty moments. Bring ’em.


My friends (their uncles) and my dad write books

Being in the blog world that I am, it’s not so uncommon that I would know folks who’ve published books. As hard as it is to get a book published, and, it’s HARD, I know it, there are so many talented women and men out there that I know who’ve made it happen.

Like my old blog friend Joanne, the unstoppable Pundit Mom, who’s taken some terrific guest blog posts from amazing women such as Veronica and Liz (and more) and turned it into a book called Mothers of Intention which discusses the influence of women in politics through social media. Love it. In fact, I’ve just purchased it myself. (Hint, hint, makes for good reading over that long holiday break coming up…)

Or Danielle, my new-ish blog friend, and dynamo, who’s not only an Extraordinary Mommy, but also author of the really smart new book, Mom, Incorporated, which is my new bible on how to keep up my new business. Seriously good tips, ladies, if you are thinking of going back to work after baby.

And my friend Melissa, who’s written THE book on what to do with your tweens and teens in the Chicago area. Pretty relevant for my little guys, as well. And you can’t beat the title – Chicken in the Car and the Car Won’t Go.

Have I also mentioned that my father writes books? He’s on medical murder mystery #3, or 4? This one is called The Police Surgeon, and, while I’m so proud of him, it’s still tough for me to read a novel where it’s basically my dad acting as an action hero. But, with a dedication in the front of the book to my boys, this one will be hard to pass up reading.

And, finally, my friend’s uncle just published a new book too, and I told her I’d help him spread the word. Consider it done, friend.

Don’t I have a lot of talented friends and family? This should keep y’all busy reading for awhile, I hope.

My food bubble

Hello, my name is Sara and I live in a food bubble.

I have access to and can afford pretty much any kind of food my family or I need. And if for some odd reason I cannot find what I need at the myriad of Whole Foods, Costcos, Jewels, Dominicks, Paulina Meat Market, Speedways, Specialty Grocers that surround me, I can typically pick up the phone and just order it.

The only food desert I have to worry about is when my corner Starbucks runs out of cinnamon scones.

I live in a food bubble.

The reason I’m talking about my food bubble is that recently, I was asked by The Center for Food Integrity to sit on a panel of mom bloggers and speak to an audience of agriculture and food manufacturers. Alongside me were my friends Vanessa, Emily and Michelle. We spoke and answered questions about how, as moms, we use technology, how we choose our food and how we track food issues. For a great wrap-up of the event and questions asked/ discussed, please refer to Vanessa and Emily’s respective posts.

Of all the many opportunities I’ve had as a blogger, this experience rates as one of the most interesting. It’s not often that I’m asked as a blogger to talk about my use of technology or what I think current trends are AND about how I feel about food. Because even though I don’t cook often, I do pay attention to what we eat or don’t eat. Swedish fish aside. We all have our vices.

But see, that’s the point. My vice is Swedish Fish. That’s a luxury to pretty much half the world who starve every day. Even in our own country. Did you know that the hunger level in the United States is at its highest in 15 years?

Swedish fish vs. Starving. Food bubble vs. Food desert.

I sort of wanted to crawl in a hole when one of the audience members, a really nice Midwestern farmer had a question just for me. It must have been sometime after I made the point that the Whole Foods “fishmonger” is my go-to resource for what fish is safe to purchase. Oy. (I was told that Seafood Watch, my what-seafood-is-ok-to-eat Bible is “fringe.” More on safe seafood in another post.)

In any case, he asked me point blank what I would think about his lifestyle of food choices. How where he lives only two cars pass by his house a day and one of them is his wife and one is the mailman. I’m not kidding.

I don’t judge others. I know I’m lucky. I live in a food bubble.

After more rousing discussion and myriad offers for Emily and I to visit pork farms (gotta love the visual of the Jewish girls and hogs), many of the audience members came up to us panelists to thank us for our time and opinions. I now have the contact information for a Fish Ph.d. from Greg at the Indiana Farm Bureau who I can ask all my questions about why I can’t eat tuna every damn day. I met a lovely dairy farmer Shelly, who wants to do an kid exchange – she WANTS her kids to see city food life. I think my son would just about pass out at the opportunity to get on a real tractor. I also met Leah Beyer. Just about the coolest woman married to a farmer that I’ve ever met. Ok, I have no one else to compare her too, but I wish we could have snuck away after the panel to walk the broad paths of the McDonald’s Campus where the panel was held and chit chat about working mom B.S. This woman rocks!

I now have a new appreciation for the food manufacturers who are using technology to make food manufacturing more efficient with technology. Food and tech always have a negative connotation, but not when you think about the fact that this technology helps to FEED THE WORLD.

And suddenly, I was out of my food bubble and into reality. Yes, I’m still going to watch what we eat. But I’m not going to be as cynical about it. I may never purchase a box of chicken nuggets again, but I’m also not going to cry if we don’t drink organic milk all the time. I’m just going to be thankful that we have that choice.

While I’m talking about choices, please use your ability to choose the Make Miracles Grow Foundation project the winner of the Edy’s Communities Take Root program. My friend Emily is in charge of the project on the south side to help eradicate just one of the many Chicagoland food deserts. So help her out.

It feels good to get out of that bubble.

Wrap-up report from Mom 2.0

I haven’t been to a blogging conference, or any “conference” for that matter for 2 years, which is  like 17.5 in blog years. Basically, it’s been a long time since I showed my face to anything blog.

But I picked the Mom 2.0 conference as one I wanted to attend for several reasons: 1) it’s smaller than some of the other ones out there, it had a great roster of speakers I could learn from with my new business venture, and well, it was a heck of a good reason to get out of my house to hang with Steph and other amazing friends.

Have I even mentioned that I’ve been hanging with Stephanie all weekend yet? I love that girl so much. She breathes a breath of tremendous positive energy wherever she goes, is such a fabulous person to talk to and be with and all around made my weekend that much more special and fun.

Ok, now that I’ve gushed about her, back to the conference. I’m always skeptical of conferences (who me?) because they tend to be too clique-y or too drunk-y or too loud or too overbearing. Mom 2.0 has a great vibe about it – it is metaphorically like the city of New Orleans itself – warm, breezy, happy… and slow. Mom 2.0 was great, not perfect.

Upfront, my only beef was that the actual sessions I attended weren’t quite beefy enough. It’s my fault that I didn’t attend every session listed on the schedule (uh, beignets with friends sort of got in the way.) But for the sessions I attended I was hoping for a little less girl talk and a little more girl advice. I think we’re moving beyond the point in the blog world where we are just about swapping private jokes and old blog posts – the stories are great, don’t get me wrong – but for me, personally, 5 years into the blog and 4 months into being back to work, I need to get a little more out of my conference ticket. I want to learn from the big gun bloggers about not only what makes them tick, but how they turn the ticking into a business. About how they learned to write or what they think makes for great blog writing. About how to find those out of the box opportunities. And, FWIW, I know that blogging is all laid back and such, but power point slides and presentations and note taking wouldn’t be a bad thing, necessarily…

… moving on… What I really enjoyed most, and what I typically do best is talking to people – all the random and funny ladies (and dads) I got to connect with and listen to. I may not be an extroverted blogger, but I’m an extroverted person and I truly enjoy meeting all the smart and unique kinds of people that a conference like this attracts. I also loved meeting someone like Ilana – a newish blogger who’s amazing and talented and already has like 52 zillion readers and is just looking for some more connections and information – she’s got that new blogger energy that I love but left me some years ago. Which is all good but it just makes me feel a little old and tired.

So I will wrap this up now with the following take it or leave it advice that I am going to remind myself the next time I go to another blog conference (which will probably not be until next year’s Mom 2.0):

1) You get what you put in – just like blogging, I think conferences are what you make of them. If you sit in your room, you’re not going to meet anyone. It’s ok to shake a hand and say hi to a stranger. I did it at least 42 times this weekend. And made a totally new BFF who’s totally opposite of me but we had one of those one-of-a-kind bonding moments that make leaving your family totally worthwhile. I love her!

2) Set your own goals and stick with them. You don’t have to be the most popular, or the most attractive or the best writer or the funniest or the best dressed or the most avant-garde or the [insert superlative here] anything. You just have to be you. If people don’t like it, well then, f’ em.

3) Don’t get too drunk. Just gonna leave it at that.

4) Don’t pack too much. Or else, you will end up like Janice. Which I mean lovingly. Sort-of. Wow that girl talks fast!!

5) Bring comfy shoes and practical ones at that. I almost ruined my gorgeous Stuart Weitzman heels on the cobblestone streets of NoLa.

I think I’ve run out of advice.

See you all next year wherever it may be, I hope!

I’m a Totsy Mom!

As if I haven’t committed myself to enough already (new business, new Chicago Parent blog ((details forthcoming)), I was asked this past Fall to be a “Totsy Mom.” If you don’t know, Totsy is one of the hottest deal sites on the web for clothing, products, goods for moms and kids. They have daily sales, much like Gilt Groupe and the brands they have deals on are ridiculous — Schoenhut, Melissa and Doug, Kidorable, American Apparel — just to name a few.

I usually don’t sign up for things like this. I rarely attach myself to a brand, product. I have done some branded posts lately, but those were mainly for WORK…

However, something about Totsy felt right to me. For one, I like to shop. A lot. And I like to shop bargains. Totsy is bargain shopping for your kids (and some for yourself) at it’s finest. Alright, it helps that I’m getting some Totsy credits to use each month for posting deals about their brands and deals. I might even have some specials for you, my fine readers!

So, I’m here to try being a Totsy Mom for awhile. I hope you’re all cool with that and come along for a fine, shopping ride.

Yes, I am being compensated in Totsy credit for posting on my site a couple times a month about Totsy + hang out with them on Twitter and Facebook.

Upcoming events Chicago mamas (and dads) might be interested in…

So meanwhile, aside from trying to find the perfect babysitter situation, I’m also working on and appearing at a few cool events in Chicago over the next few weeks.

This Sunday, I’ll be speaking on a panel with the area’s leading mom bloggers for Bump Club and Beyond. I’ve known Lindsay, the founder of BCB for almost a year now, and I’m excited to participate in one of her fabulous events!

Speaking of being fabulous, my pal Alison, a.k.a. Sassy Mom Chicago, is hosting an amazing moms night out on February 24 at Alhambra Palace. She’s got some incredible giveaways for the event, and the legendary Amy Tara Koch is going to be moderating a fashion show by Bloomingdales! Now, what to wear?…

And, something I’m really proud of – on February 26 from 10:30-12 at Flourish Studios (3020 N. Lincoln Ave.), I’ll be moderating a panel of experts on the topic of helicopter parenting at NPN’s Parent University. I wrote a story about “Hands Off Parenting” last Fall for Chicago Parent, and the topic resonated with so many of you, I just thought we had to bring it to life and get a live discussion going about it.

The experts on the panel are:

Dan Gill, MSMFT, LCPC from The Family Institute at Northwestern University is an expert on facilitating groups on life transitions, social skills enrichments and family matters.

Karen Jacobson, MA, LCPC, LMFT, founder of Parenting Perspectives, is committed to providing high-quality education to help parents and teachers nurture the healthy development and unique potential of every child.

Sheryl Stoller, PCI of Stoller Parent Coaching, helps parents integrate proven, research-based approaches and practical parenting tools with their own insights, values and dreams to nurture and empower their children.

Hope you can make it to one of these fabulous get-togethers!

Enter Fright

In retrospect, I should have known by the night’s agenda that the Chicago Wolves’ game was going to be rather loud.

My family and I were invited by the gracious host, Barbara Maldonado for a Social Media and Blogger Family night out. I decided to take the eldest guy, leave the baby (great call) and show my little man what a real hockey game was like.

Hailing from Detroit, it’s hard to show allegiance to a hockey club other than the Red Wings, but hockey is hockey and this seemed like the perfect entree into the world of fist fights, off sides, interference and silly intermission games. And of course, to see some of my bloggy friends who I don’t get to party with that often.

Or so I thought.

Little did I know that going to a Wolves’ game was like going to a Metallica concert, only louder. It was fine for me, but apparently my son has the ears of a bat or something, because he had zero tolerance for the noise.

So, we spent the night like this:

Sad but True: Eating the world’s most expensive hot dogs on the floor outside the rink. Yes, we are that classy.

Mama Said: There would be fireworks, and it would be loud, so he tried to prepare.

Broken, Beat and Scarred: We spent the remainder of our evening in the hallway outside the rink.

Needless to say we left shortly after. The promise of more fireworks after the 1st or 2nd Wolves’ goals was enough to put him over the edge. The Chicago Wolves’ games are plenty kid-friendly. Just not for my kid, apparently.

Maybe we’ll try Disney on Ice next time.

The project that “grew” on me. Growing the modern organic family.

It all started over the summer at the Not BlogHer event when Caitlin and I were discussing our current projects. Just so happened we had some crossover in meeting Deree Kobets, the owner of grow modern boutique in Wicker Park. The conversation was casual but purposeful, “wouldn’t you love to do something with her?” “Yeah.”

See what I mean?

After a nice meeting in early Fall, we proposed an online campaign plus an in-store event to try to increase grow’s awareness online with our blogger friends, but also within our social and community network. Our campaign, a culmination of tips from Deree and four amazing giveaway packages last week were a huge hit and the event on November 4 was a beautiful showcase of the power of community (thank you Wicker Park!) and good mommy fun.

But I can only write so much about how nice the evening was. I’ll let the photos tell the rest…

My messy closet floor is evidence I was in a huge rush to get to the event in time.

Did I mention it was really rainy hailing hurting snow pellets that night? Really hard to get somewhere in time in rain/ hail/ wind/ oh my!

So mad props to the moms who braved the Chicago weather to join us. (Cyn and Alma not pictured, because my camera deleted that one. But they deserve a shout-out.)

But I did get there. Ok, meet Deree (right). Isn’t she cute? I still can’t believe she grew up on a farm. She’s standing with Sarah from Olive.You.Nanny. Gosh, they just accentuate my brunette-ness.

Thank g-d wine from The Noble Grape, cupcakes from Tipsy Cake (pictured) tea from Honest Tea, pizza from Crust and appetizers from Real Naked Food (not pictured) were there waiting for me. Because of course I had no time to eat before.

Once Little Miss Ann started rockin’ we all forgot about the downpour and cold outside. She just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy!

I also think the kick-ass goodie bags and giveaways sponsored by Square One Organics, Little Miss Ann, Time Out Chicago Kids, Little Twig,  and Eco-Minders helped.

By the end of the night, I was one pooped lady, but one pooped lady with a whole lot of love after a fun night out and a great week of learning about how to live more organic, smart, and modern. It was worth the wait!

How to “grow” a modern organic family!

I sometimes do things outside this blog where I actually get to interact with people and chat about interesting things. (Really? YES!) And, wouldn’t you know, I’m working on an event next week with Caitlin (a.k.a the one and only Wee Windy City) that I wanted to let you know about…
Caitlin already posted about it on her site, but here’s an excerpt of her post that explains the event … if you’re interested in attending, please send me an email at: selfmademom(at)sbcglobal(dot)net. We might have a couple spots left!
Are you into non-toxic stuff for your family that is also stylish and durable?

On Thursday, November 4th, [Sara] and I are coordinating an event for Chicago-area moms at Grow (1943 W. Division).

Grow is an amazing resource for Chicago families — offering everything from cool kid’s decor to the best strollers and coolest kid’s clothes around.

Local mamas are going to be learning how to live organically (while also holding on to their hip quotient) while munching on organic treats and learning valuable tips from the city’s veritable green expert — Deree Kobets, the owner of Grow.

Guests will enjoy goodies from Crust, Tipsy Cake, and Real Naked Food (yum!).

We are also going to have plenty of giveaways (from The Kids’ Table, Glass Lilac and Grow), discounts — and live music from Little Miss Ann!

And everyone will be taking home even more goodies, courtesy of Square One Organics, Little Miss Ann, and EcoMinders!

If you can’t make the event, be sure to check in with Self-Made Mom and me (at my other blog A Hen and Two (now Three) Chicks) for 4 days of giveaways from Grow, starting on Monday, November 1st. We have some great items to giveaway to Chicago parents just like you. So take a minute to check it out — you’ll be glad you did!

Disclosure: I am being compensated for coordinating this awareness campaign and event at Grow.