BlogHer 13: What a Difference a Year Makes!

I'm in Chicago for the BlogHer conference.  I brought my sweet daughter with me.  She also went with me to the New York City conference last year. 

 What a difference a year makes!  
She was 11 last year and still such a little girl.
She's always be my baby, of course, but at 12 with a year of middle school under her belt, she's gained quite a bit of maturity in the past year.  I got her the expo pass last year, so she could check out the exhibits with me.  She also made appearances at all of the parties.  However, I paid for childcare during the day because she wasn't ready to be left alone in the hotel room and I knew she wouldn't be able to sit still with me in sessions.
This year she's rocking her very own full conference student pass, though!  We networked our way around the expo hall with her shaking hands and passing out business cards like a pro.  (And, yes, collected lots of "swag" along the way!)  
She did sessions with me all day.  She brought her laptop and played Sims while I listened to presentations on writing.  
All. Day.  Long. 
She didn't whine, complain or get antsy.  
Ree Drummond, a.k.a. "The Pioneer Woman," kicked off the conference. 
My girl fell in love with Ree.  
In fact, she was so inspired by Ree's presentation that she asked to stay in the hotel room so she could get to work building her own blog while I went to a party.
And I felt fine leaving her in the hotel room.  
There's no way I would have done that a year ago.
It's been a huge year of growth for her.  
It's also been a big year of growth for me as a writer.
I was still trying to find my way last summer.  I was a year into it and had a horrible, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that quitting my job to pursue freelance writing had been a stupid idea.   I kept at it because I had no choice.  There were bills to pay!   I made progress little by little and now feel confident telling people I write for a living.

When people asked, "What do you write about?" at BlogHer last year I'd tell them I write an anonymous blog about older child adoption.  
When people ask me what I write about this year, I have lots more to share.  I have nine titles with  I write about health, nutrition, news, celebrities, television, food, child development and more there.  I have been a source for MSN and Huffington Post.  I have blogged for major websites including Scary Mommy, What to Expect, Colgate and Mamalode.  I've also recently launched a weight loss blog.
I've been very clear with anyone that asks that my passion is still writing about how older child adoption.  It's important to me to be a voice for what adopting from the foster care system can look like.  Yes, there are many challenges, but there's also so much joy.
So a lot has changed this past year, but I'm still blown away by that awesome child I get the privilege of claiming as mine.  
And despite growing up way too fast on me, her favorite thing to do at BlogHer is still go up and down the escalators.
escalator fun at BlogHer13