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Five Things I Learned at Chicago Toy and Game Fair

This past weekend I totally had a blast learning about what Chicago Toy & Game Fair was all about.  My friend Cindy Simmons joined me as we hit up the floor to PLAY PLAY PLAY!  

You can see all the Chitag videos here. But everyone asks me about the event and I have a hard time really describing it.  But if you've ever been to Toy Fair in NYC it's about 1/10th of that plus kids, consumers & lots of PLAYFUL fun!

Games are biggies in our house and we have about 20 deck of cards.  But when I saw the TAGIE AWARDS with these cards on the table, I knew there was something totally fun about them so I grabbed one and put it in my purse.  Then today when I was going through all my laundry and luggage I decided to see what was in that box.  SO COOL!  It's a card of actual inventors.  

From the inventor of Rainbow Loom to the inventor of the Crazy Kart - here are Five Things I Learned at Chitag:

A Fearless Ghost Zapping Mom

According to Boston:

On the train to nyc

On the train to nyc

My Mom is a Fearless Ghost-Zapping Mom

I struggle. Every single day. I wonder if I'm good enough, smart enough, fast enough, talented enough. I doubt myself ridiculously in everything I do. Especially this past year. I'm in this transition in my life that often has me questioning my worth. My value & even my sense of humor.

I have the tendency to internalize all my struggles. And when something goes wrong I immediately think it's all my fault. In fact, this past year a few things happened where I had to make pretty significant changes in my professional life. Business relationship didn’t turn out the way I thought it might. It can be difficult to mix business and friendship, and that’s a lesson I learned the hard way. In the end, though, we are all moms just trying to do the best we can for ourselves and our families. We’re all unstoppable in our own way, and there’s a sense of peace that comes in recognizing that.

When you work for yourself the ebbs and flow are all over the place. There are so many times when I'm unsure of what I'm doing. But every time I learn something new that I was approaching all wrong - I focus on what I learned from that moment. But boy, as a business owner - those face plants HURT when they happen! 

Every single day I have doubts. But there is one big thing that I will NEVER doubt. I may not be able to control the actions of others - but I am 100% in control of my own. 

So what do I do to keep myself up when I can easily crawl into a hibernated state of self doubt & misery?

I wake up. I put one foot in front of the other and I FAKE IT till I MAKE IT. I don't claim to have all the right answers. In fact, 99% of the time I GOOGLE it! I am the first to admit when I did something wrong. I'm always the first to apologize because conflict gives me anxiety. 

My friend Cindy Simmons lives by ‘just be kind’ mantra like I do. She's a smart mama for sure & she too has had significant struggles in life.  Hence, Surviving Mommy is her digital home.  There are so many GREAT women in this world like Cindy who thrive on building other women up. And I got the chance to experience that while in New York in September. Not only by the other women in the campaign but from Kelly Ripa AND her daughter!

Truth be told, the opportunity to take part in this campaign with Children's MOTRIN® couldn't have come at a better time in my own life. I am often asked how I get these amazing opportunities like meeting Kelly Ripa and watching my son light up the universe with his charm.  Know what I say? 

I have absolutely no idea. 

But ya know what I have to remind myself?

This opportunity was afforded because I AM unstoppable. 

Motherhood has given me this superhero strength that only God can really create.  And when I doubt myself I look at my boys and see what genuinely caring kids they are. When they see someone hurting? They both RUN to them to cheer them up. They got that from me, I suppose. A characteristic in a human being that isn't so bad after all. Compassion. Go figure.

I'm going to continue to use myself as a platform to help others. I have a story to tell. And an opportunity to shines some light in a very dark world.  Not to mention, I have four eyes watching my every move. Two very important people growing up in this world need me to be fully aware & engaged. They need to see the difference between right and wrong. They need to see me fall but they REALLY need to see how I get back up and go for it again. 

When I first told Boston about this fun getaway in September, I knew that I wanted him to LEARN something aside from how cool he was going to be after doing an ad campaign with Children's Motrin® & Kelly Ripa.  Did I know what kind of 'teachable moment' this whole experience was going to be? Not a clue. Boy am I grateful though for seeing those teachable moments for what they are.

This experience with Children's Motrin® happened for a reason. Everything happens for a reason. I am on a mission in 2016 to focus on the positive. The raw, unedited - yet polished - part of living. During this video shoot, Kelly Ripa was a shining example. Funny story... so she was shooting with Boston and her crew was sitting in seats watching the shoot and I leaned forward and asked an adorable woman to snap a pic of Boston's smile for me because I couldn't see She was all over it!  She smiled, was attentive to my questions and even commented on what an adorable boy he was. I didn’t know it at the time but guess who that girl turned out to be? KELLY RIPA'S DAUGHTER!! 

So if Kelly Ripa, one of the brightest stars in television can raise amazing kids that are kind, thoughtful and genuinely GREAT people? We ALL can do this. This world is giant. There is plenty of room in it for all of us to live. 

And ya know what else? 



Meet my amazing mom friends!  Becky, penelope, kristin, amanda, heather & kelly!!!

Meet my amazing mom friends!  Becky, penelope, kristin, amanda, heather & kelly!!!


I have been compensated by, and received information and materials from, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division, the makers of Children’s MOTRIN®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.

Visit to create your own My Unstoppable Mom book cover with your kids and celebrate your unstoppable power as a mom seen through the eyes of your kids! Also, visit #MyUnstoppableMom to learn more about how the makers of Children’s MOTRIN® are supporting literacy for those in need. 

Also, hop on over to Twitter, December 3 at noon ET for a twitter chat with #MyUnstoppableMom & the other awesome moms who experienced this journey with me. 

Selena Gomez Hotel Transylvania #HotelT2

Hotel Transylvania with Selena Gomez

I can't even really begin to tell you about this last week!

But I can SHOW YOU.  

Did you see that my boy saw the movie Hotel Transylvania? 

AND - what "FIRST TIME" did Selena Gomez experience with my 7 year old? 

Gotta check back to find out!  

In the meantime. how about this. 


OH - And YES.  I AM in love with a Monster. 


Selena Gomez Transylvania

#RealMomGiftGuide Back to School Mom Hacks

Well... here we are!  A few weeks into school and I don't know about you but I'm backtracking on my school stuff!  Sometimes I wonder if bribing my kids to be good & do good is really the right way to go!  I know that back to school time is pure hell for some. HA! Real Mom, right? This year was rather smooth in my house!  I couldn't believe it!  (Knock on wood.)  But I do have a few things up my trapper keeper sleeve ready for the when all hell breaks loose and need a "save me" product to put a smile on your kids faces.  All of them. Including the dog & hubby.  I mean face it... we DO take care of EVERYONE, don't we?  =)

#RealMomGiftGuide Back to School Mom Hacks


superhero backpack

Super Me Backpacks:

Do you have a Super Hero on your hands?  Are they headed to school/day care?  Do they need a little motivation?  Well, the is the bag for you,  This award-winning cape backpack allows each child to bring out the hero within & lets imagination fly high! There is even a secret sewn in cape & a mask to go with it!  Can you say SUPER FUN!  Even I want one!  The bags are made with naturally insulating EVA, are safe for kids & the environment, super durable and machine washable. You can even have your Super Hero's name personalized on the bag.  Now....which one to choose?

Dyson v6 Absolute

Kiddo headed off to college?  Want them to keep a clean dorm room?  Wait.....clean and dorm room in the same sentence?  Well, this can help!  The Dyson V6 absolutely amazing. This baby comes with two Dyson-engineered cleaner heads.  So it can handle both carpets and hard floors.  It has a HEPA filtration system....goodbye allergens!  This powerhouse is just the right size for the dorm rooms, but still does the job! They have extra tools if you want one for yourself and you have pets!  Grab one now and get $120 off...good until 9/12/2015.  Get cleaning!!! (PS, I've 'tested' a couple of these - and this one BLOWS any of the other Dyson products or vacuums for that matter out of the ball park!  I love to vacuuming with this thing!  WAIT.  Did I just say that? #HoldME

Land's End Backpacks

This is a no brainer.....think backpack....think Land's End.  Durable..durable and more durable.  These backpacks last and last.  No more need to grab a new backpack every year.  (I know because last year we got a new one and it barely made it 1/2 way through the season!)  Land's End has a size and style to fit every student.  The choices are amazing.  Land's End thinks of everything so you don't need to worry! Padded shoulder straps, reflective stitching ....they even thought of a loop to hold matching lunch boxes. Like I said, a no brainer!!!!  You can of course personalize each bag for your special student.  Kids LOVE personalized goodies!  


Brother P Label Maker

Speaking of personalization.... Stressing over whose folder is whose?  Johnny had the green one right?  Or was his blue.  Oh...and now a note from the teacher, "Parents  could you please help out the classroom and label your child's items?" WHAT?  Well.....Brother has a solution ...... more like an answer to your prayers.  Recognized as one of the “best tools of all time” by the The Good Housekeeping Institute, the Brother P-touch label maker. This secret weapon can help parents accomplish most back-to-school projects in just a few simple steps - from ensuring that important items don’t get lost at school to adding a personal touch to school  supplies to organizing family schedules. With a P-touch, parents can say goodbye to markers, scissors, tape, glue, and printing.



Water Week Kid's Kaleidoscope

Children now a days have been raised with the motto...Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  They have grown up in a world that is constantly searching for ways to help the environment.  Water Week Kid's Kaleidoscope helps them contribute to this journey.  These beauties are perfect.  Saves time and water.  Water bottles on hand ..... and best of all they are clean and ready for each day.  No more running around last minute looking for that darn missing cover!  Just open up the 'frig and away you go!


Yummy World

Kidrobot has created a new world of fun and excitement!  Yummy World!  Yummy world is set in the lovely town of Sprinkle Tree.  Sprinkle Tree is a magically yummy place where food is fun and fresh baked friendships begin!  There are adventures to be had and food to be loved!  Where else could a slice of pizza come alive and carry your most precious things. Come and travel to Sprinkle Tree and meet the softer, yummier side of Kidrobot.




EVERYONE knows my love for Just Between Friends Philly sale, right? Well how about an idea to help kids ALL YEAR too!  

Schoola started a fundraising idea that is easy, green, and doesn't require students to be salespeople. People can easily donate clothes by mailing them in with a pre-paid label, then Schoola cleans them up and sells them, giving back $2 for every $5 spent to the school of your choosing. That money provides new paints in art classes, new instruments to the orchestra and new books to the libraries while helping save the environment too. Almost 13-million tons of textile waste is generated in the U.S. each year. With Schoola quality clothes get a second life. Parents help parents. Schools help schools and everyone helps the environment.



*EcoLunchbox offsets the carbon footprint of school lunches with its non-toxic, reusable stainless steel containers and artisan-crafted bags. Students throw away 100 million pieces of trash each hour and the average family throws away 18-pieces per day at a cost of $450-year. Paper bags and ziplocs may seem insignificant but they add up to mountains of trash over time. Using Ecolunchboxes prevents 8-million pounds of trash from hitting the landfills each year and offsets the CO2 equivalent of driving 5.4 million miles. An added bonus? It also saves parents hundreds of dollars and is free of BPA and other toxic chemicals.



*Paper Culture has disrupted the stationery market with eco-friendly cards, gifts and wall decor made from 100% recycled paper or renewable resources. No trees are cut down to make their cards and the company has pledged to plant a tree for every order - more than 350,000 so far! Not only is Paper Culture offering custom, modern design for school supplies, the company is actually leaving the environment in a better place as a result.


Well.. what do you think? Cool stuff, right?