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What a great weekend we had! Penny and I had a marvelous time meeting you all, and are especially grateful for the wonderful speakers who gave us their time and energy. We look forward to seeing you next year for Happy Mama Conference & Retreat 2014!

Photos from Happy Mama 2013:

Slideshows from the event:


Happy Mama Conference & Retreat 2013
Embassy Suites Brier Creek
Raleigh, North Carolina
July 12-14, 2013

Location & Lodging

The Happy Mama 2013 was held at a a beautiful hotel whose location was convenient to shopping and restaurants, but also to the airport.

The Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham Airport/Brier Creek hotel is located just three miles from Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), in an ideal location for any travelers arriving or departing by plane. The shopping and dining venues of Brier Creek are just minutes from the hotel, as are the attractions of downtown Raleigh and Durham. Accommodations at this [hotel] include two-room suites and a selection of king non-suites. All accommodations are contemporary with bamboo hardwood floors. Stay connected with high-speed internet access and HDTVs. Relax in the space of a two-room suite with a separate bedroom and living room.

Plunge into the heated indoor swimming pool or stay active in the fitness center… Enjoy a stroll around the beautiful hotel atrium at the nightly Manager’s Reception* with complimentary drinks and snacks, and begin each day with a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast. The hotel’s Flying Spoons café offers Starbucks coffee and a bistro-style menu for lunch and dinner.

This hotel is beautiful and allowed us to have the conference, retreat and lodging all in one building. {can I get a Woot! for Starbucks coffee on site too?!} There was no need to have a car at the retreat this year. Visit the hotel’s full website for area attractions, including the large shopping center full of restaurants less than a mile away, Brier Creek Commons, and more details about the accommodations.


Conference & Retreat

2013 promised to be even bigger and better than our inaugural conference in 2012 and it didn’t disappoint. We planned more social time, a get-to-know you at the outset late Friday afternoon, some fabulous speakers on self-care for moms and special needs advocacy, and our annual Saturday night Happy Mama Social with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

Attendees received two full meals, beverages and snacks during the conference segments, three great speakers, opportunity to have mini {read shorter and less expensive} spa services close to the hotel, a lesson on mindfulness, yoga class Saturday morning, relaxing by the pool, and opportunity to socialize with 70+ moms who can relate to your special needs parenting journey.



 VikkiSpencer_027F_5x7WEBVikki Spencer The Mom Whisperer©For the past 10 years, Vikki, a.k.a. The Mom Whisperer, has inspired women from every stage in motherhood to be their best. Her emphasis is on creating lives and families that flow with passion and purpose. Through her own experience helping her child overcome OCD and Tourette’s, she understands the fight against guilt to care for oneself amidst crisis and care giving.In her articles and coaching, she calls women to utilize their emotional, mental, and spiritual resources to learn about themselves and their “wiring” – and then to care for and influence their families. Vikki has a master’s degree in Education and was professionally trained by the Institute for Life Coach Training. She is also a published writer for Woman’s Day, World Vision, and other publications and has contributed to numerous books for moms, including one on post-partum depression. You can find her online at and
MargitCrane1Margit Crane, M.A., M.S., M.Ed., Author, Trainer, and Executive-Functions CoachMargit Crane is passionately devoted to making growing up much easier for AD/HD kids and the stressed-out parents who love them! “You have power that you haven’t tapped into yet,” she says encouragingly. A former teacher and school counselor for 30 years, Margit is the author of the Mom’s Choice Award® winner, How to Train Your Parents in 6½ Days for tweens, teens & parents. Margit Crane is the owner of two businesses that celebrate the distracted family: “Gifted With ADD” and the newer “Good-Enough Parenting™.” You can find both on Facebook and Twitter and at & and you can also listen to the Good-Enough Parenting Radio Show – Mondays at 8 am Pacific Time, on Blog Talk Radio.
robtudiscoRobert M. Tudisco, Executive Director of the Edge FoundationRobert Tudisco and is the Executive Director of the Edge Foundation and a past member of the National Board of Directors of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD). He is a current member, and a past chair of CHADD’s Public Policy Committee. Robert is also a former Vice President of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA). Since his diagnosis with ADHD, he has researched and written extensively on the subject of practical coping mechanisms and systems for adults with ADHD. He is a frequent resource for the media about ADHD and disability advocacy and the over representation of individuals with ADHD and co-occurring conditions in the juvenile/criminal justice systems compared to that in the general population. He has been published in ATTENTION® Magazine and regularly contributes as a columnist on adult, parenting and legal issues in addition to sitting on its Editorial Advisory Board. He is also the expert legal columnist for ADDitude Magazine. He is also a practicing attorney and an adult diagnosed with ADHD.
 yogibiopicYOGA INSTRUCTOR AT THE CONFERENCEDr. Gabriella Johr is a licensed clinical psychologist and avid yoga practitioner, with 12 years experience practicing Hatha yoga.  Dr. Johr has extensive experience treating children and adolescents with ADHD, learning difficulties, depression and anxiety, trauma, and adjustment difficulties related to divorce and adoption.  She also works closely with parents to help them understand these issues from a developmental perspective, so that parents can best respond to their child’s individual needs.  In addition, she works with clients who may be struggling with parenting based on marital conflict or unresolved issues from their family of origin.  Part of this work involves using yoga and mindfulness to manage depression and anxiety, that are often secondary to parenting stressors.
bio-pic-Brad-Rappaport_web MINDFULNESS INSTRUCTOR AT THE CONFERENCEDr. Brad Rappaport is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in using mindfulness and meditation with clients to address various emotional issues.  Over the past ten years, Dr. Rappaport  has helped children, adolescents, families and adults incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives in order to improve their communication and relationships. Dr. Rappaport received his doctoral degree from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology in New York.  Prior to moving with his family to North Carolina, he was in private practice in New York. His areas of specialization include: children and adolescents, trauma and PTSD, mood disorders and substance abuse. 



2013 Agenda

Friday, July 12, 2013

3:00 pm- ? Arrival at hotel and room check-in
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm Gather together in the Lobby/Bar during the Embassy Suites’ Manager’s Reception
6:30 pm Break for dinner on your own with new friends

Saturday, July 13, 2013

2:30 pm – 3:30 p.m.Deep Relaxation Yoga with Dr. Gabriella Johr(FREE)

6:30 am – 8:45 am Free breakfast for those staying at Embassy Suites or breakfast on your own
8:30 am – 9:00 am Conference Registration outside Meeting Room C/D
9:00 am – 9:30 am Welcome Address and Get-to-Know-You Exercises
By Adrienne Bashista Owner, DRT Press & Co-Editor, Easy to Love But Hard to Raise
9:30 am – 9:40 am Break
9:40 am – 10:00 am The Language of Self-Care
By Vikki Spencer, The Mom Whisperer©
10:00 am – 10:20 am Break
10:20 am – 10:50 am Mindfulness Presentation by Dr. Brad Rappaport
10:50 am – 11:00 am Break
11:00 am – 11:20 am The Mama Tantrum as a Motivational Too: Motivating Your Unmotivated Self
by Margit Crane, M.A., M.S., M.Ed.
11:20 am – 12 pm Breakout Discussion Groups
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Buffet Lunch
1:00 pm – 1:40 pm Practical Strategies for Effective Student Advocacy
By Robert Tudisco, Esq., Executive Director of the Edge Foundation
1:40 pm – 1:50 pm Break
1:50 pm – 2:10 pm Taking the Crazy Out of Family Gatherings
by Margit Crane, M.A., M.S., M.Ed.
2:15 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Free time. Choose from the following options or simply relax!
2:30 pm — 5:30 pm Mini-Spa Services*We have arranged for 30-minute spa services at nearby Generations Spa. All services offered will be $25 (plus gratuity). The hotel will shuttle mamas to these services. Here’s the menu of mini-services offered just for us:
-Revitalizing Eye Treatment
-Ear Candling
-Make Up Application
-Shampoo & Blow dry (flat ironing additional)
-On demand facial
(See descriptions here:
Blog post on all spa options? Click here.
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm Dinner Social with Cash Bar

Sunday, July 14, 2013

6:30 am – 9:30 am Free breakfast for those staying at Embassy Suites or breakfast on your own
9:30 am – 9:45 am Welcome Back, Announcements, Etc.
9:45 am – 10:05 am Funding Your Self-Care
By Vikki Spencer, The Mom Whisperer©
10:05 am -10:15 am Break
10:15 am – 10:45 am Breakout Discussion Groups
10:45 am – 11:00 am Break
11:00 am – 11:30 am Wrap-Up, Door Prizes & Attendee Survey
Feel free to get together and hang out at the pool or go grab a delicious lunch or take advantage of full-service Spas in the area.

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