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BlogHer13: The Best Conference I’ve Never Been To

blogher sign

Thousands of bloggers from across the U.S. flocked to BlogHer13 in Chicago.

Last weekend, I went to my first BlogHer. Sort of.

I planned a last minute trip to Chicago with two of my Listen To Your Mother (LTYM) St. Louis cohorts, Naomi Francis (Master Events) and Laura Edward Ray (Brain Dead in the Burbs), and coincidentally we stayed at the same hotel as the word’s largest social media conference. It’s karma, says Laura.

Having been to these types of ginormous networking conventions before (Book Expo America in NY), I knew it would demand a lot of emotional and physical energy and stamina (not to mention many wardrobe changes). The truth is, since I was still jet lag from a recent 10-day trip to Israel, I wasn’t sure if I would be up to it. Besides, our goal was to do a little sightseeing in Chi-Town over the weekend and join the rest of the LTYM directors/producers for Sunday brunch at Yolk. At least we would finally get to meet Ann Imig, founder and national director of LTYM, and many of the other women we bonded with, virtually, this past year to create a national Mother’s Day movement. By the way, it made my heart swell with pride to see all LTYM names listed as VOTY speakers, panelists, and even fashionistas at BlogHer.

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“Me In A Tree” Brings Families Together Through Technology


Me-in-a-Tree homepage

The secret to a happy family is strong communication, and if you wait until  your kids are teenagers to make that connection, then, I’m sorry to say you have your work cut out for you. Maybe you’ll have better luck with your grandchildren. Kidding! Actually, luck has nothing to do with making lifelong bonds with your children. It takes a lot of work to create a happy family, just like a marriage, and the sooner you start the better.

One of the newest ways to build a strong family foundation is through technology.  (Even toddlers are potty-trained while using their IPads these days). The fact is, we spend so much time on  our computers, we might as well make it worthwhile, quality time together.

That’s the idea behind  “Me In A Tree,” an interactive, family friendly, online program designed to help busy families connect. The tree, for me, is symbolic because a tree has roots like a family. In the Jewish teachings, parents are responsible for planting the seed and growing the tree for the next generation.

So this computer program is easy to use and features lots of colorful, animated characters, apps, tools, and plenty of resources to make parenting easier, even though it’s the hardest job in the world. Families are encouraged to have regular “family huddles” or meeting times, even 30 minutes a week can make a difference.


me in a tree characters


A family that plays together, stays together, and “Me In A Tree” includes a variety of ways to get started, such as organize a calendar, plan fun activities, find places to volunteer in your community, create a motto, assign individual chores, keep a grateful journal, and even write your own blog. All of these strategies encourage important character traits, such as communication, organization, support, responsibility, gratitude, and family union.

So check out the website and take a family assessment to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are, and start climbing the tree together! A video tutorial is provided, so it’s a no brainer. In fact, your kids will navigate their way through the maze much quicker than you!



And as your family grows, you can change your goals and ideas.  Stay up to date on the latest developments and meet other fans on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe today for a 2 week free trial, and let me know how your family likes Me In A Tree!

My Favorite Funny Mom Books

An abbreviated version of this blog is posted on www.SkinnyScoop.com. 

I usually avoid anything that has the word “skinny” in it, but when I had an opportunity with SkinnyScoop.com to list my favorite funny parenting books by Jewish moms, I couldn’t resist.

These books all have to do with the oys and joys of raising children. They are collections of real-life, humorous essays that are quick to read and the perfect companion in carpool line. It doesn’t matter what religion you are because we all want the same thing, and that is for our children to grow up and be happy, independent adults who contribute to the betterment of society and don’t necessarily wind up in therapy and blame their mothers for all their problems.

Let’s put it this way: When it comes to divulging our innermost feelings about motherhood, we’re all open books.

Mishegas of Motherhood. Raising Children To Leave The Nest…As Long As They Come Home For Dinner

Ellie S. Grossman

And since this is my list, it woud be remiss NOT to start with my very own book called Mishegas of Motherhood. Raising Children to Leave the Nest…as Long as They Come Home for Dinner, which combines domestic satire with Jewish wisdom that applies to all modern families. I’ve been called the “Jewish Erma Bombeck,” which is like the ultimate compliment because this late, great humor writer could make anything sound funny, even leftover meatloaf. My momoir is nominated for the Shirley You Jest best humor book award, so I’m not the only one who thinks its’ funny.

The word “mishegas,” by the way, is a Yiddish expression that means “insanity” or “madness,” but is used in a playful way to describe how children drive their parents crazy (and vice versa, of course). Favorite chapters include “Answering The Big Question: Is There A God?”, “Everything I Need To Know I Learned From My Dog,” “Chocolate Makes Everyday Sweeter,” “Planning A Dream Bar Mitzvah Is A Nightmare,” “Teen Brain Baffles Parents,” and the award-winning “Jewish Girls Don’t Camp,” which inspired a webisode on the Internet-based sitcom “In The Motherhood,” starring Leah Remini.

The book also contains east-to-understand explanations of Jewish holidays, rituals, traditions, as well as recipes and anecdotes that are guaranteed to tickle your soul—or your money back!



Brain Dead in the Burbs and Cooking Your Way Back to Sanity

Laura Roodman-Edwards-Ray

When it comes to mishegas, this book is full of it. Brain Dead in the Burbs and Cooking Your Way Back to Sanity will make your crazy life seem sane. Warning: You’ll laugh; You’ll cook. You’ll cry. Laura Roodman-Edwards-Roodman-Edwards-Ray (not a typo, she married and divorced the same jerk not once but twice and is now happily married to love of her life) gives you the dish on not only her dysfunctional relationships but also her insanely delicious recipes that correspond with each chapter. By the time you get to Chapter 6 (“How To Divorce A Friend” with recipe on Grandma Betty’s Health Bar Cake), you’ll be her BFF, not to mention 10 pounds heavier. This irresistible memoir is both hilarious and fattening with mouthwatering recipes that include Helga’s Orgasmic Brownies, Grandma Joanie’s Beefy Meatballs, Aunt Gail’s Famous Brisket, Kimmie’s Creamy Cheese Ball, Sven’s Crabcakes, and that’s just an appetizer. Just like her chocolate martinis, this book is irresistible, and I can’t wait to take a bite out of Laura’s next installment “Still Brain Dead and Cooking.”




Confessions of a Scary Mommy

Jill Smokler

It seems like these days so many stay-at-home moms have nothing better to do with their time than chronicle their parenting sagas online, but “Scary Mommy” blogger Jill Smokler took her ramblings one giant leap further. She published her first compilation of hysterical child-rearing moments in Confessions of A Scary Mommy, which hit the The New York Times bestseller’s list its first week out. She also manages an award-winning website that averages more than two million page views a month and features The Scary Mommy Confessional , which offers a private and totally anonymous forum for moms and dads to spill their juicy secrets, their fears, their triumphs. It’s like therapy, only free.

Her website also offers plenty of Scary Mommy merchandise, including everything from coffee mugs and key chains to iphone cases and bumper stickers. Talk about branding. This nice Jewish girl even sells Christmas tree ornaments.

So what if this Baltimore mom is no balaboosta (a Yiddish term that means the perfect housewife, homemaker, wonderful mother, cook, and gracious hostess, etc). That’s exactly what makes Smokler so successful and her book a must read, even if she uses the F-bomb way too often.

Plus, in her spare time, this curly haired entrepreneur started Scary Mommy Nation, a non-profit entity that helps members of the Scary Mommy Community who are financially struggling, whether its kicking in money for a Thanksgiving feast, birthday presents for their kids, or summer camp.

Who has time to make a homemade meal every night when she’s too busy working on her next project, The Scary Mommy Handbook, which is due out in April 2013.

Besides, I doubt if her kids mind eating pizza for dinner.



Rebel Without A Minivan

Tracy Beckerman

Since when does a dog eating garbage out of the trash can and throwing up on the rug inspire the creative process? Since clever wit Tracy Beckerman wrote Rebel Without a Minivan, a collection of musings from a New York City girl who trades her subway pass for a more practical vehicle and everything else that goes along with a crazy normal life in the woodchuck-infested yards of suburban New Jersey. A former successful TV producer and stand-up comic, Beckerman shares the best of her nationally syndicated humor column, LOST IN SUBURBIA®, which includes funny observations about marriage, motherhood, the mall, McDonalds French fries, mildew, and, of course, a mutt named Riley.

The chapters are short and spikey, just like Beckerman’s signature hairdo (she’s a rebel alright), and in “Who Are These Children, and Why Are They Calling Me Mommy?” she writes about topics that all moms can relate to, including sleep deprivation, bad attitudes, her daughter’s favorite “blankie,” the S-E-X talk, geometry homework, and reality shows.

Her next book is due out Spring 2013. Can’t wait!


Hot Mamalah  

Lisa Alcalay Klug

Let me start by saying that Lisa Alcalay Klug is not a mom, but this author combines funny and Jewish better than any woman in the tribe, so I included her in my list. Besides, her book is called Hot Mamalah, which is a Yiddish word of endearment for all Jewish women, and God only knows us moms can use a little spice in our love lives. This book celebrates our strengths, challenges, and triumphs, from PMS to menopausal.

In her “ABC’s of She,” she dishes up a delicious smorgasbord of everything whole-y and holy feminine for having fun and having chutzpah, with humor essays, adorable illustrations, how-to’s, and more. From cocktails to cupcakes, Purim costumes to bar aliases, Hot Mamalah whets an appetite for getting the most out of life, love, and your closet.

As the follow up to her first pop culture phenomenon Cool Jew, which was a number one Amazon bestseller and National Jewish Book Award finalist, Hot Mamalah gives fans what they’ve come to expect from this award-winning journalist, popular public speaker, and daughter of an Ashkenazi Holocaust survivor.

It’s hard to resist this latest mensch of a book with a cover that states, “You don’t have to be Jewish! But it wouldn’t hurt.”

My favorite quote about the Jewish mother: As long as you keep laughing, you wont get an ulcer. Just a hernia.

Enter the Hot Mamalog giveaway, featuring jewelry, CD, cookware, and a gift certificate.



Best Friends, Occasional Enemies

Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

So here’s another read that doesn’t exactly fit into my Jewish mom book category, but New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline (pronounced Scot-oh-lee-nee) is one of my favorite writers and she grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. And she has dogs. That should count for something. Growing up, she says her friends would get Hanukkah “gelt”, and she thought it was Hanukkah “guilt”, so I liked her already. Not only that, she and her only daughter Francesca Serritella collaborated on a fabulously funny and heartwarming book, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies, which is a must-read for every mother and daughter.

Joined at the hip, the twosome share genes and jeans, if you know what I mean.  They’re number one on each other’s speed dial and they tell each other everything—well, almost everything. They share shoes and clothes—except one very special green jacket, which almost caused a cat fight. Inspired by their weekly column, “Chick Wit” for The Philadelphia Inquirer, this book is one you’ll have to put down—just to stop laughing.

Best known for her legal thrillers, Scottoline is sometimes called the female John Grisham because she is one of those successful big-time litigators turned best-selling novelists. She has 18 fiction and two non-fiction titles in her portfolio, averaging a book a year!

In the Introduction of Best Friends, Occasional Enemies Scottoline, a divorced mom, starts out, “Here’s what I’ve learned in my life:  Motherhood has no expiration date.
This means that even though Daughter Francesca has grown up and moved out of the house, I’m still busy being her mother. 
And, happily, her best friend…”

She writes about her own Mother Mary, who is 86-years-old old, and is still busy being her mother with an inner voice that warns her not to buy dented cans, not to leave her blow dryer near the sink, and not to put too much spaghetti on her fork or she’ll choke.

This book includes their hilarious and often quite touching takes on the joys and occasional frustrations of the mother-daughter bond, including sharing secrets, counting carbs, and aging gracefully, not.

Best of all, you’ll recognize yourself in their stories because we all struggle with the same things, like duvet covers, the preemptive pee, and toenail clippings.

Follow her video documentary on her puppies!

Got any favorite mom books to add to the list?



It’s Business Unusual for Working Moms

I’m an official blogger because my story on survival tips for the WAHM (Work-At-Home-Mom, not George Michael’s band from the 80s) appears on Hybrid Mom, a one-stop shop for mompreneurs who take their jobs of raising families seriously, whether they want to share practical business advice, kid-friendly recipes, beauty and health tips, opportunities to win free stuff, you name it. Read all about it here.

‘Mishegas’ Welcomes Mommybloggers. Better Late Than Never.

All these years I thought I had my act together as a mom. After all, my kids appear to be clean (so what’s a little ear wax?), nourished (ketchup is a vegetable, right?), educated (thank goodness for spell check), and appropriately dressed (except for my son’s plaid boxers hanging out of his baggy jeans.)

At age 15 (Jack) and 11 (Sari), neither one has yet to flunk a class, swallow bubblegum, beat up anybody, get a tattoo (at least not that I know of), or been arrested for ding dong ditching in the neighborhood.

Somehow I’ve managed to pull this off while I cook, clean (my husband Scott does the toilets), carpool, and get them to every sporting event, activity, and haircut appointment while in my spare time I try to sneak in a movie with my spouse and keep my career alive as a professional freelance writer. Add to my parenting portfolio—I clean their retainers weekly with Efferdent; I collect glue sticks, eraser tips, and sharpies in every color for last-minute school projects; I make banana bread from scratch; I recycle; I’ve been a room mom for the past 20 years.

Lately, however, I feel like I did when I was in first grade at Weber Elementary School and was one of the last kids to be picked for Red Rover in gym class. Never mind the fact that I created a parenting humor column called “Mishegas of Motherhood” (www.mishegasofmotherhood.com), and one of my stories appeared as a webisode in the online sitcom series “In The Motherhood,” starring Leah Remini. And never mind that the largest Jewish women’s volunteer organization Hadassah booked me as their guest speaker at an upcoming dinner banquet on June 5 at Hilton St. Louis Frontenac.

Where I fall short is keeping up with the tech savvy mommybloggers. When it comes to blogging, I don’t know the difference between a podcast and a peapod. Continue reading

‘Mishegas’ Meets Mommyblogging

The first rule about blogging is to keep entries short and concise.

I’m about to break that rule.