I have barely shared on this little place of the inter webs in MONTHS.  And I have to come clean with you.  

Oh how I've missed you!!!!

Tracy panase, winner of the big buddha award. lol love this lady!

Tracy panase, winner of the big buddha award. lol love this lady!

This year has been filled with a lot of changes. Good, Bad, and ugly I suppose.  Changes that really have taught me a lot about myself, life & what I really want to be when I grow up.  (We all think that about growing up, right?)  After 20 years of chasing a dream in radio, I was forced to SLOW DOWN and make Motherhood work for me when my oldest was born.  I had to come to terms with a lot of things.  One of them being that radio wasn't what it use to be.  And if I wanted to get back to it, I better be ready to work hard to keep myself up.  And I did.  I got hired to host Better Philly, did a couple stops in radio too with Real Mom Radio on Ben FM, afternoons at Now FM & even a fun weekend at WXTU.  But in the end, I knew that this little space on the web that I've carved out for myself was something special.  It was MINE.  And no one could take that away from me.  


So I hustled.  And I HUSTLED HARD.  I did tons of video, lots of social, events, meetings, and even picked up some amazing jobs along the way.  One of them was with Toy Insider.  I've been working with Toy Insider since about 2010 when I won a contest they had that required us to pin our favorite toys on Pinterest.  Myself along with 4 other women were picked.  One of them was Charlene DeLoach, the woman who hopped on board to create Blogger Bash with me.  Toy Insider puts on an event that I have heard in this space that was the GOTTA GET AN INVITE to event called Sweet Suite.  It was the ultimate toy event.  The Biggest Night of Play, we affectionately call it.

In 2013, Charlene & I were the only advisors still on board with Toy Insider and Laurie Schacht, the founder of TI & The Big Toy Book asked Charlene and I if we wanted to help her produce Sweet Suite that year.  It was the year Hudson was born.  And I was doing NickMom and lots of other things.  But I had been putting on events for years, it couldn't be THAT hard, right?  '


Well.... it was. For me at least.  But at that time, Charlene grabbed the bull by the horns and got it done until I was mentally able to hop in to help her in June, 4 months after Hudson was born. That year, as we were an outside event at Blogher in Chicago, we all decided we needed something different.  Blogging 101 was so 2012 & our peers needed MORE.  A place to REALLY mingle with brands & other bloggers. Past the swag swaps & random pitching.  We wanted to create something that is far more advanced than the new blogger.  But yet we also wanted to help craft and create those new bloggers in a way that helps them grow.  Bigger.  Better.  More advanced Bloggers.  And Blogger Bash was born.

When I got picked to be apart of the Parent Advisory Panel with Toy Insider, it was really a natural fit for me.  I have really loved getting to PLAY in the toy business.  I love my annual trip to Toy Fair in NYC in February.  I love seeing so many amazing people that I've met through this blog & my love of toys!  I have close PR friends now that I've met JUST from working with toys.  They send me products for tv segments, they give me ideas for my site, my life & even my family.  When I started working with Toy Insider - I was already connected with plenty of brands in the toy space so it was an obvious extension for me! 


My son Boston was about 2 years old when I REALLY dug my heels into my site with the goal of seeing what can happen with it.  Needless to say, about a year of loving the toys - I needed more than just toys.  (And my house was crazy packed with toys.)  It was exciting & rewarding to know that I was able to contribute to my kids play time.  Eventually, Boston got too spoiled that I stopped giving him any of the toys unless it was a special occasion.  Sometimes something came in that I knew he'd love & we made toys a teachable moment. Every year we'd purge and 'donate toys to boys and girls who don't have any'.  This was such an amazing opportunity for me to use my platform for something bigger than myself.  Giving back.  And that I did!  We started working with Kisses for Kyle 2 years ago and I've loved every second of helping these families at the holidays battling childhood cancers.  

I'd share those toys with you here.  From written reviews to video reviews, gift guides & more.  All born out of my LOVE of finding new products.  I even did it to support women entrepreneurs.  It was a really fun way for me to bond with my son, get through postpartum depression, and keep my mind activated with something creative.  I loved it.  It's been an amazing parlay in my life that has brought me & my family so much joy.  

erin bender, travel blogger pro

erin bender, travel blogger pro

But now that Boston is going into 2nd grade & my 2 1/2 year old, Hudson grows - I realized something that I wish I would have realized a long time ago.  I don't have to prove my worth to anyone.  I don't have to work if I really don't want to.  Yes, it is tight when I don't work...but my husband works hard enough for the both of us.  So why do I push myself to the utmost limits when the rewards were no where near the loss of sleep and sanity while doing it?  

And here we are.  The summer of 2015.   Two weeks after the 2nd Blogger Bash Event.  

amazing ambassadors with project gravitas

amazing ambassadors with project gravitas

Many people ask me about my experience with Blogger Bash and the number one thing I hear is 'I don't know how you do it all, Joey.'  But this year, I was asked to make a choice - either do Blogger Bash or all the other things I do.  I of course saw the opportunity to really change the digital space, and I of course chose Blogger Bash.  

I don't regret for one second that choice as it's given me great strength for other things.  It taught me a LOT.  In fact, Laurie taught me a lot.  She's a brilliant woman.  And as a woman in business, to meet and be around OTHER women who are killing it in the craft? A teachable moment for myself even.   Just.Plain.Awesome.  


Laurie has her own toy story to tell that I love.  Her dad started the business years ago and after raising her girls she hopped into the seat and took over.  What a cool job, right?  She really is amazing & someone who I will forever be grateful to.  Laurie genuinely wants to help other women succeed.  She's got an amazing outlook on everything.  And between her, Charlene & I - we really covered every base.  Charlene-the organized, put together one.  Laurie, the business brilliance & ME.  Eh?  The PERSONALITY? hahaha.  Well, I know people. Sort of. HA!  Laurie brought me on to bring in top bloggers for Sweet Suite and in turn for BBNYC.  I did just that for the past two years but I'm ready to move on to other things.  The blogging landscape is rapidly changing.  The 'old school' talent is moving out of the space, closing up their blogs and moving onto other things.  Because of lots of reasons.  I honestly think the biggest is that having a blog isn't what it use to be.  But having a PRESENCE is.  Microblogging has taken over tradional blogging with facebook, instagram, twitter and now even periscope.  


I've known that I was not going to return for a while now but I don't want to take away what amazing exposure this event has gotten.  (Ahem.  More images on Instagram than BLOGHER who just so happened to be at the same time as #BBNYC but in their 11th year?  Yeah.  That's a BIGGIE.  Plus all the amazing conversation about Blogger Bash that you can see online.

So, here I am.  Ready to share with my online friends - my retirement.  It's been a blast, but after 2 years where this conference seriously consumed me - I'm walking away gracefully.  It will be bitter sweet to watch it come to fruition in the future, but just like in show business - THE SHOW MUST GO ON.  

But the other part of me is THRILLED.  Honestly.  Laurie & Charlene are lovely.  VERY lovely.  But I miss my kids.  My BLOG.  My family.  My dog, husband & even my dirty house.  I have pushed all of these things aside for a couple years trying to get this conference up and going and I just don't want to do it anymore.  The rewards don't outweigh the amount of work that goes into something like that.  (Or the pay for that matter.)

Ok.  So, I have to now get moving cause I get to interview Meryl Streep & Rick Springfield now for the movie coming out called Ricki & the Flash!!  Have you heard about it?  How ironic.  The movie is a about a mom rockstar who follows her dreams after kids to be a musician, only to return when one of them get married.  The reviews, interviews & more coming soon!

This is where i spent the week after blogger bash.  my parents house where i grew up in illinois.  what life is all about. 

This is where i spent the week after blogger bash.  my parents house where i grew up in illinois.  what life is all about.