My BlogHer '13 Photo Album (Alternate Title: Why BlogHer Should Be Called HugHer)

Last week I only posted once and that was about how my husband is always saying "I live here" after I get scared of seeing him in unexpected places in our house. The rest of the week I was agonizing over whether or not I should go to the biggest blogging conference of the year, BlogHer, in Chicago. If you follow the Kelley's Break Room Facebook page, you knew this already. I was sort of all over the place. Should I go? Should I not go? I am so grateful for those that encouraged me to go, because I went and I loved it. Mostly, I loved meeting the bloggers and NickMom people I have "known" for so long face-to-face and having valuable conversations with them, but the free samples were my favorite. (Kidding. The people were my favorite, but the free samples are, like, right under the people. They're practically touching the people.)

Instead of telling you about it with my words, I thought I'd share my BlogHer photo album with you.

(If you are like up to here with hearing about BlogHer, I get it. I really do. I have felt this way in years past. "Enough about BlogHer! Get on with life!", I'd think. Can you give me a free pass on this one? I just *have* to show you the awesome people I met.)

(I also, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have put myself in all of these pictures. Goodness gracious.)

(I know there are a lot of pictures here, but I'd like to keep them all together. I don't know how to make an album of pictures on my Facebook page without a million pictures appearing by themselves. I tried once. I'm not as smart as you.)

So, here we go....

Here is the view outside of our hotel. We stayed on the (or near the) Magnificent Mile. It wasn't until I got back that someone told me Chicago was "The Murder Capital of the World". It's a good thing. I didn't have enough room in my carry-on to pack my nunchucks. Plus, TSA can be so pesky.
This is my roommate, Sue, from The Spin Cycle. She used to write Desperate Housemommy. She now works for Sverve, too. If it weren't for Sue, I doubt I would have gone to BlogHer at all. I would count Sue among my oldest blogging friends. I remembered that she lived in Chicago and so sent her an e-mail to ask if she was going to BlogHer. She replied back right away to say she was going and that she was willing to fork it over so we could be roommates. I was so excited! It was fun to actually meet her, hear her voice and laugh in person. She is even more awesome than I had imagined! (Also, we are totally wearing fake eyelashes.)

This is why I said BlogHer could also be called HugHer. I swear, I was hugging left and right. "Oh! It's so-and-so! Hug!" I didn't actually say "hug" out loud, but I did an awful lot of it. This is me with Nicole from Nicole Leigh Shaw... Tyop Aretist. Nicole is hilarious. She is very down-to-earth and is always making funny comments.

I flew into Chicago on Friday morning, when the conference had already started. That night was the Chicago book signing for I Just Want To Pee Alone that took place at Bongiorno's Italian Deli & Pizzeria, which is owned by Kim Bongiorno's family. Kim is behind Let Me Start By Saying, is a co-author in the book and helped organize the signing, which was a big success, in my opinion.

Kim is on the left. Stephanie from I'm Still Learning (formerly known as "Healthy Mom") is in the middle. I didn't get to see her nearly enough!

Here is the table of all of us (there 15 of the 32 co-authors there). The first one you can see is Karen Alpert from Baby Sideburns. Along with signing, she stood up to read something that she had written, which, of course, had the whole crowd laughing! I also have to state here that Kim Bongiorno's family was so incredibly kind and generous throughout this whole deal. Their typical night was turned upside down with all that was going on and they smiled through it all!

Pretty awesome, right? Rebecca from Frugalista Blog is reading to the group. It truly was so humbling to see people line up to get our signatures. Now, I know those people weren't there to see me, but it was still nice! We had a set number of tickets that can be sold and they were all sold. I loved talking to everyone that stood in line. People drove 2 1/2 hours in some cases to be there. It was just so awesome and I know we all appreciated it so very much.

Here are more pictures from the signing...

You guys, this is Anna from My Life and Kids. We have been collaborating with Finding The Funny for some time now. It was crazy meeting her in person! Unfortunately for her, she sat next to me at the long table and to hear my jokes all night. Seriously, though, Anna is so fun, honest and likeable. I wasn't surprised!

This is Johi from Confessions of a Cornfed Girl. She is a new blogging friend of mine. I love her straightforwardness and humor. You would have liked her, I just know it!

This is Kerry from HouseTalkn and Robyn from Hollow Tree Ventures. They are both funny ladies, but even funnier in person. Kerry has got the funny photobombing faces DOWN. They crack me up! Robyn is the one that helps me update my blog when it needs some cleaning up. She is awesome! They both are!

See Kerry? Ohhhh, that cracks me up. Kim also cracks me up here with her sideways stance. On the right side is Katy from Katy In A Corner, the vlogging queen! You have to go to her site and check out her videos. They will make you laugh out loud! So, in this picture are Kim, Kelley, Kerry and Katy In A Corner...Of An Elevator. (And, yes, you are right. I do look deranged.)

Annnnnnd, back to the book signing. Here I am with my Houston peeps!!! I swear, ain't nobody from the south at BlogHer. Goodness gracious! Where are my Southern ladies at? I was happy to see these old, old, old friends of mine (we met in the fall) in Chicago, of course! They regularly make me giggle and made great table buddies. At the every end of the table sat Rachael from RachRiot (in red), Patti from Insane In The Mom Brain (in the cute tanky number), me, Anna from My Life and Kids and then Karen from Baby Sideburns. The other end of the table was just a blur.

I was happy that Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler of  Science of Parenthood, a humor blog that uses fun illustrations, stopped by the book signing. They are very nice and talented people. You should check out one of their popular posts called Why Being A Parent Is Like Being A Scientist. So true!

Here I am with Keesha of Mom's New Stage. Keesha is not only a funny writer, she is also a professional dancer! My repeated attempts to get her to do a pirouette or shuffle-ball-change were not successful, however. I will not quit trying. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a YouTube video.

Once again I'm kicking it with the crazy RachRiot but this time we have Rebecca from Frugalista Blog joining in! Rebecca was the first familiar face I saw when I walked up into the very large McCormick Place convention center. She was like a mirage, only she was real. And she was nice. And she was funny. And she was sort of fancy. And I like her. A lot.

It was so great catching up with the genuine, lovely, witty Erin and Ellen from Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms! I think Erin was the second person I saw that I knew at BlogHer. I was situated in a chair at the BestBuy booth having a lady fix my hair. I know it's crazy. BestBuy was trying out their beauty tools. They asked me if I wanted them to use the curling iron or straightener. I said curling iron to try something different and I came out looking like Little Bo Peep. As I was getting my Little Bo Peep on, I saw Erin walk by and yelled out her name. Her first reaction was to cry, I'm sure, but she smiled. What a thoughtful girl to hold it in like that.

If you don't know Jen from People I Want To Punch In The Throat, I can't believe it! She has 100,000 fans on Facebook! I can't even fathom it. Jen was the brains behind I Just Want To Pee Alone. After meeting her, it's hard to believe that she'd want to punch anyone in the throat, but she can get fired up when needed. She let that Abercrombie & Fitch big wig have it! Seriously, Jen is awesome. We shared a shuttle ride together along with Ilana of Mommy Shorts and I think I learned more in those 20-30 minutes than I have in the last 6 months combined!

It was soooo nice to finally meet Kristin of Two Cannoli, too! She is from Austin, so there was at least one other Southern blogger there. Kristin describes herself as a writer, wife, mama, car fanatic, head banger and dessert addict. She was also in the Listen To Your Mother cast in 2013, which is awesome! I wish we could have talked more, Kristin!

While at BlogHer, I also ran into these awesome people in the Expo hall...

Right after I got fixed up as Little Bo Peep, I saw Mel from According To Mags and Michelle from Old Dog, New Tits. Oh, yeah! Michelle is another Southern blogger! She lives in New Orleans! Y'all, I was so excited when I saw these two. It was unexpected and then to have them dressed up as ketchup made it all so much more fun! These two kept me laughing a lot. They are so down-to-earth and friendly. I felt like I had known them forever. So happy I saw them more than once, too!

This is just one of Mel and me. Mel really cracks me up. We are a good team on Twitter. I say something silly, she comes back with something sillier and then the silliness gets out of control.

 Isn't Hillary from The HillJean: Because My Life Is Fascinating the cutest thing? Not only is she funny and nice and all the great things you would think, she's super fashionable, too. I wish I was fashionable...

I was excited when I got a message from Lea from Becoming Super Mommy that she was nearby and wanted to meet up. It confirms that people in avatars are actually human. She has three children under three AND she is working on a book. I can't wait to read it, Lea!

This is the lovely, funny, talented, Leslie Marinelli, formerly known as Iris Beard, the writer of The Bearded Iris. Meeting her was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. She is Editor-In-Chief over at In The Powder Room. We have known each other for a little while and it was great to talk in person. You know I love you, Leslie!!!

When I saw the Coca-Cola people, I got all giddy. I have the word "coke" in my tagline up there! I have the word "coke" on my business cards! After I made sure that they wouldn't put a knee in my back for using their word, I was able to chat them for a little bit. They got a kick out of my business card and treated me to a free Coke! (Well, they gave those to everybody, but still...)

At the LaZBoy booth (newsflash: they don't just make recliners!!), Kelly Edwards from HGTV was giving out and signing copies of her new book The Design Cookbook: Recipes For A Stylish Home. She hosted HGTV's show Design On A Dime and was very personable. We talked a little about how her dad encouraged her to write the book. I complimented her on the clever title and now we're practically BFFs. (Are BFFs supposed to remember you? I sort of doubt she remembers me...)

How could I talk about the Expo and not mention that I met the inventor of Boudreaux's Butt Paste? This is Boudreaux himself! He invented Butt Paste!! Insanity. (That red thing in the background is a big, nasty rash and the Butt Paste is coming to save the day. Good ol' Butt Paste.)

On Saturday night, I FINALLY got to meet the ladies from NickMom. This was my primary driving force to get me to BlogHer, I think. Well, that and the signing and meeting the awesome people. I really wanted to meet the NickMom ladies. I feel so grateful to NickMom and to Twitter (it's where it all started). NickMom gives me another outlet to be creative and silly. I remember the day I got the e-mail from Kristyn Pomranz asking me if I'd like to write for them. I did a somersault in my front yard. This was before anyone had every heard of NickMom. It wasn't even called NickMom back then. It had no name. It was just a brainstorming, creative session for a while until it all came together. Meeting the editors there and some co-writers was just a really, really awesome thing.

Brunettes unite!!!! From left to right is Nicole (the one I'm hugging up there!), me and then Kristyn Pomranz of NickMom. Kristyn impresses me so much. She is the editor that I send all of my pitches, too. She has done some pretty great things in her career, such as writing for Cheezburger's LOLcats. Along with editing funny stuff, she also writes humorous musicals. How cool is that? I loved, loved hanging out with her.
From left to right is Samantha Meiler, the editor over at NickMom, Leanne Shirtliffe, the author of Don't Lick The Minivan, and me. It is great connecting with people on-line but there is nothing like meeting them in person. I felt so privileged to be sitting at a table with such accomplished, creative women. Leanne is from Canada and was so. much. fun. to sit next to at Hub 51, the place where NickMom treated us. Leanne is behind the blog Ironic Mom and is also an English teacher.

Ilana from Mommy Shorts was also at the NickMom dinner. She is a partner site with NickMom. She is super creative and is behind fun contests like the "Evil Baby Glare Off" and baby mugging, which eventually made it's way to Jimmy Kimmel and basically all over the world. Shedabomb.

When we got back to the hotel on Saturday night, I saw Shell from Things I Can't Say in the lounge! I was so happy to finally see the real deal in person. Shell is an extremely generous blogger that writes heartfelt posts that touch so many. She hosts the link up called Pour Your Heart Out. When I was going through my Top Chef Seattle mania, she was especially fun to have around. She is a big fan of the show and was so supportive of me during all of it. It was a privilege to meet you, Shell! I wish we could have talked more!

Okay, I know that was a lot of pictures. I really do. I just didn't want to post about BlogHer in multiple posts but didn't want to miss out on sharing these great people with you, either. The bottom line is that I am grateful I was able to go to Chicago. It was more than I expected!