Fighting Feelings of Failure

I’ve been a slacker at blogging. I was talking to my friend at church the other day, and I told her it’s hard to blog because I feel like a hypocrite. The whole point of this blog is to encourage others on their journey to work from home with small kids, and lately I feel like I am failing at it. I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Life has been crazy, and it doesn’t help that I am pregnant.

Yes, I am 11 weeks now, which means I can see the light of the second trimester at the end of the tunnel. It was a bit of a shock at first, not really feeling “ready” for two, but I am excited for this baby and so thankful. Pregnancy brain sure has zapped me of motivation and creativity though. And of course, I just want to sleep when I don’t have “real work” to do. This pregnancy has been harder than my last one, but I know it could be so much worse.

Anyways, sometimes I feel like what’s the point? Like, I am never going to be one of those “successful bloggers.” Maybe I should just stick to poetry and writing web content for others. I don’t know. It could be the pregnancy hormones talking. I know I tend to give up on things too easily.

I know no one is going to believe in my writing and this blog like I am.

No one will make my dreams come true except for me. And the reality is, no matter what obstacles I face, I am truly the only one getting in my own way.

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I know this is a short post and it’s definitely not perfect, but I am writing it to say, I am sticking around. I will be sharing more of my own personal journey with you as a mom and wanna-be  writer.  I am going to stop trying to be like other mom blogs, stop beating myself over the head trying to follow the “formula to success” and just be myself.

So, please excuse my short and sweet and rather pointless rant. I am hungry and nauseous and anxious and my self-esteem has seen better days, but I am going to keep writing.

Thanks for being here with me on this journey while I attempt to follow my dreams, blog and parent. When you feel like a failure, remember:

  1. You are probably being way too hard on yourself.
  2. Tomorrow is a brand new day.

Take it easy. Breathe. Celebrate the little things. Tell yourself something good. I am gonna go try to follow my own advice now.

Peace & Creativity,

The Stay-at-Home Something

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The Best Indoor Play-Place In Fort Worth

Texas natives know we have to enjoy the weather when we can: mainly March-June and September-November. When the days are too freezing or too sweltering, there are plenty of indoor things to keep the kids amused. Unfortunately, many of them are over-priced or involve constantly purchasing fries and ice cream.

There was another cheap play-place we went to, but they kind of went downhill. The toys were beat up and dirty and kids could easily run out the front door which is disconcerting when you have a lightening-bolt fast toddler. So I was super excited when I found out a new play-place was opening nearby. If you live anywhere near north Fort Worth, you need to check it out!

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InnnerActive Playhouse

My husband and I came in with Aurelia and were immediately greeted by a friendly staff. The owners made sure to introduce themselves and explain how it works. We all took our shoes off (they sell cute slip-free socks for the kids, grown-ups have to wear their own) and went inside.

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The Toddler Area

InnerActive Playhouse is so colorful and exciting! Kids ages 1-10 ran around happily, but it wasn’t super chaotic like some places. I like that they have a baby gate separating the entrance from the play area to discourage run-aways.

They have a separate area for kids under 2, which is great. It has a ball pit, tunnels, some of those fun rubber animals you can ride and more. Aurelia spent about half the time in there, and half the time in the “big kid” part.

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Climbing!

There is a lot packed into the rest of the room! It is basically a giant playscape, reminiscent of the long-forgotten Discovery Zone. It’s “obstacle course” style with things to run through and climb, slides and more. There is a giant swing with ball seating that kids can push themselves and plastic push-cars for the younger kids.

There is also a separate room to eat your snacks (no food allowed in the play area which keeps it sanity) and they had complimentary donuts and coffee that day.

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Crossing the Rainbow Bridge

One thing I appreciate: absolutely NO technology! There are no video games or screens to entertain the kids, or annoying tickets to win junkie prizes. They just get to use their imaginations and really play. Aurelia screamed for joy the entire time.

Another plus: tons of seating for the adults. I love the colorful swivel chairs and tall counters where we could sit and watch Aurelia play. And free Wifi. I am planning on coming back with my laptop so I can work while she plays.

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Aurelia’s New Favorite Place

I am very impressed with the creativity, cleanliness, and customer service at InnerActive Playhouse. It is also pretty affordable, especially if you go during Toddler Time during the week. They also have party packages available. We will definitely be frequenting there this winter!

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Make sure to like their Facebook page to get information about special events.

Peace & Creativity,

The Stay-at-Home Something

On Writing and Mothering

This guest post is by the talented and lovely Brittany Knott. Read more of her beautiful writing on her blog Knee Deep in Lovely.

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Nothing motivated me to finish the first draft of my book more than my due date.

Because, really, I could have kept dragging it out. I didn’t have a publisher giving me deadlines or demands (or a paycheck, darn it).

But I knew. I had people warn me that when I had kids my margin for things like writing novels would be non-existent. I knew mom life would be different and I couldn’t loiter over a macchiato in a coffee shop.

So I anticipated August 2nd with so much longing to be a mother and so much apprehension about not being able to write when it had taken me thirty years to shed some of my mounds of uncertainty and finally do it consistently.

They were right, you know. It wasn’t the same after she was born. I did put things on hold. In those early days, I could have done more. She slept a lot. But it was inconsistent and I felt I needed long stretches of time. Also, everything about being a mother consumed me whole. For better, for worse.

My sweet doorman would ask almost every day, “How’s the book coming?” And I would duck my messy head and blush and say, “No progress.”

Meanwhile, motherhood began to give me so many things to write about on my blog. I was being broken apart in a way I never saw coming, and it was beautiful. It is beautiful.

If God can use motherhood to refine me, He can absolutely use it to make me a better writer.

He can show me my surroundings, my relationships, my world through a new set of brown eyes. Having someone to care for can’t keep me from writing, but not observing, not breaking apart and not stirring certainly will.

Of course, on a practical level, it is a bit more complicated than before. She is one now and I can’t write when she’s awake.  I can’t wake up before she does and write because she wakes up too early.

She takes two glorious naps a day. I’m trying to force myself to do “chores” while she’s awake (even though she tries to eat the Swiffer and climb inside the dishwasher), so that I don’t feel the pressure to do those while she’s sleeping.

Sometimes I catch myself prepping breakfast food or whatever and I have to stop and say, “This can be done when she’s awake.” And then I’m brought back to the things that cannot be done while she is awake. (Unfortunately that includes watching Undercover Boss). This morning during her nap, I sat out on the terrace and wrote a blog post so I wouldn’t be tempted to fold the laundry (read: pin 100 pictures of clothes I will never own on Pinterest. Real life.)

I will never be the poster child for productivity. In life or in writing. Motivation is hard especially because I don’t actually earn money writing. I know the years ahead (God willing) include more child-rearing, more chaos and less alone time. I’m praying for the grace to still have writing be a part of my life, bending and twisting along with us.

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Brittany Knott lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. Her book, Viv: The Story of a Stray is in the crazy process of getting published. She hopes to use any profits to help fund an adoption.

 

When Motherhood Doesn’t Feel Magical

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It’s bedtime and I am dreading it, but like everything in life I just have to deal with it and get it done. I didn’t always dread bedtime. My girl used to be the best sleeper. Every since Aurelia realized how easy it was to climb out of her crib and we decided to remove the railing and turn into a big girl bed, it’s not so easy.

I know, I know. It’s never easy. I know lots of you reading have newborns and multiple kids. Many of you are single moms, or may as well be. Many of you are just exhausted, emotionally done, anxious and depressed. Some of you fight to get up every morning because you want children so badly and you can’t have them. Some of you have gone through the unspeakable grief of losing a child. It’s easy to compare my situation and scold myself,

You shouldn’t feel this way. Count your blessings! 

On the flip side, I know sometimes I just need to stop filling my head with other people’s magical motherhood moments on social media. It’s too easy to think that’s real life and internalize it and somehow think I come up short.

I rub my fingers through her 2-year-old cherub-like blonde curls and feel a surge of intense love.

I don’t always FEEL that way. Lately, I am just numb. I have this beautiful, intense and intelligent child coming more and more alive to the word around her every day, and most days I am just getting by.  For that I also feel guilty and judge myself and the cycle continues.

I want to have this magical feeling of being in love with my kid 24/7. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? To feel overwhelmed with joy and rapture constantly. Some days I feel like I don’t even deserve her and I take her for granted. Some days I am not even sure if I can handle another child even though I want one so badly. Most days I just feel inexperienced and unprepared.

“You’re a good mom,” a friend will tell me.

But it’s hard to accept it sometimes. It feels a little like being in junior high and a boy told me I am pretty for the first time. I am not sure I believe it, because I don’t believe in myself enough.

Most days I wonder if I got too frustrated, if I was too strict, not fun enough. I feel my patience running out so much. I honestly didn’t think it would be like this. I used to be so care-free, so patient and laid-back. (Or so I thought.)

She’s sleeping finally. I am sitting on her floor next to her big girl bed because that’s what I do now. Her baby sixth-sense will know the second I get up to leave and she will bolt out of her bed to bang on her locked door. The only way to prevent this is by making sure she is in a deep sleep, like REM, and that’s not as easy as it used to be for her.

My back aches from the position I am in and I still have to take care of the dog and make dinner and do laundry. I know I am selfish. I’ve always done what I wanted when I wanted. I’ve always treasured being alone, having quiet time with my thoughts time to write.

I feel like that’s how I survive and lately I am just barely getting by.

Lately, there is a constant feeble, half-whispered prayer in the back of my throat.

I know, it worth it. I know, it’s over so fast. I know, the grass is always greener.

I stroke her hair again, whisper the words I’ve been telling her since she was born:

“Never forget. You are beautiful, brilliant and brave. Mama and daddy love you more than there are stars in the universe. Jesus has amazing things in store for your life.”

I take a moment and let my own words be real, not just a repeated phrase.

I get to be her mom.

It’s the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a privilege to care for this amazing human being. I know it’s probably never going to get easier, but that’s what grace is for.

I know many days will feel too hard, many will feel mundane, speckled with a few patches of joy and magic.

As a super sensitive person, I have to constantly remind myself life isn’t about feelings either. They are too fickle.

There is a Truth beyond what I feel or don’t feel, and when I purposefully put my eyes there, true peace will follow.

I start another lullaby, and feel the words.

I sing over my daughter and the room became sacred.

I almost hear God echoing the song, singing over me.

When you walk through the river, I will be with you

When you pass through the waters, the waves they will not overtake you

When you walk through the fire, the flames they will not touch you, 

You are mine. You are mine.

Must-Haves for Road Trips with Toddlers

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We recently took a little trip up to Colorado to visit my best friend and her family. The 11 hour drive turned into 14 as changed routes to avoid tornados forming over open plain in the middle of nowhere.

My 2-year-old did surprisingly well, thanks to a couple must-haves to make the trip a little shorter. My husband and I were set on only using movies as a last resort and we ended up playing some for her around 5 pm during the last 4 hours of the drive which I think was an accomplishment!

(This post includes affiliate links, I will get a small compensation if you order anything through the links.)

1. Water Wow
Whoever invented this is my hero. Not only is it mess-free “painting” but it dries so it’s reusable. This kept Aurelia amused for hours! The paint brush is refillable with water and is completely spill-free! She loved the pretty colors that came to life as we drove for miles.

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2. Travel Magna-doodle
This was another life-saver. My daughter practiced her “letters” on it and drew funny faces. I like this one because it’s tiny but big enough to see and it has a clip to attach to her car seat.

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3. Travel Lap Tray
I have mixed feelings about this one. It was hard to find a good lap tray that is flexible. I ended up getting this one because it got good reviews and it has the fun road map which my daughter loves. It doesn’t really fit over her car seat well, but I set it on her lap which lasted a little bit. Aurelia had a toy car to drive on the colorful road. I didn’t really use it to give her snacks or coloring because it didn’t stay on, but she still got plenty of use out of it.car1

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4. Amazon Fire Tablet
This is by far the best purchase I’ve made. We’re definitely an apple family, but I didn’t want to spend the money on an iPad. Since we got Prime this year I’ve been more and more impressed by Amazon’s products and customer service, so I decided to check out their tablet for media. So far I’ve been impressed! At $50 (cheaper if you order on a sale day) it won’t break the bank. Since we already have Prime it was easy to download a few good movies that will play without WIFI for long car trips. It’s got a lot of toddler-friendly features, free apps and I also use it as a kindle to store some books.

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5. Osprey Moki Hydration Pack

I wasn’t gonna add this, because it’s not specifically for the car, but then I remembered how much we used it and how awesome it’s beem! We started using this hydration pack as a diaper bag and I love it. Even when it’s filled to the max with water, it can fit a pack of wipes, 2 diapers and a couple snacks in the front pocket.

It was great for our trip because there were no stupid, leaky sippy-cups involved. Aurelia could have water anytime she wants, and when we filled it with ice water it stayed cold for hours. We rigged it so she could reach the nozzle in the car and we were good to go! It is great to take on walks as well. It’s small enough for her to carry but the straps adjust so I can carry it too. I also love that it’s 1.5 liters because that’s plenty for both of us to drink and I don’t have to lug around a water bottle.

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There you have it, some must-haves that helped our trip go faster. Obviously, we also packed lots of snacks too! Fruit/veggies puree pouches are still a favorite, and graham crackers.  What are some things you make sure to take on long road trip for your toddler?

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Busy Graphic Design Mom

This week’s Stay-At-Home-Something Story comes from my old friend Angie Pope. Angie and I attended bible college together way back in the day. She is a super-talented designer and the mom of two gorgeous kids. Angie shares some great tips on how to balance life/work load at home. 


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I founded my business, LaLuna Designs in 2012. After graduating from the Art Institute, I realized design jobs were hard to fin, but I did still have the pesky chore of repaying my student loans. That same year, I also got pregnant and I knew I wanted to stay home full-time with my son.

I was fiddling around with designing my own baby shower invitations, and figured, why not do this for other people? And so LLD was born. It started out with just a few orders trickling in every week, and then once I was able to really dedicate more time to adding to my design inventory and getting my work ‘seen’, it turned into a full-time job.

My business has given me the opportunity to do what I love and make an income for my family, all while having a fairly flexible work schedule. When I say flexible, I mean, scramble to get a few emails in and a teensy bit of design work managed while the kids tear the house apart!

My daughter was born this past September, and adding a second child to the mix has provided challenging, to say the least! The ‘to-do’ list is never (ever, ever) complete.

Every time I read a blog post or  article on ‘working moms’ and ‘stay-at-home moms,’ I never really know where I fit it, because I kind of do both.

My business has been steady enough that I have work tasks every day that I absolutely HAVE to get done. Client deadlines, emails, website maintenance, bookkeeping, etc., and then as any stay-at-home mom knows, days are rarely predictable with young kiddos at home, but I’ll talk about what a typical day is for us. It’s always changing, and my ‘ideal’ day really doesn’t happen very often, but when you’ve got kids, you learn that you just have to go with the flow and BE FLEXIBLE!

A Typical Day 

Here’s our situation: My son is nearly 4 and he did a bit of daycare for a while, but he’s currently home full-time. My daughter is 9 months old (at home full-time as well,) My husband works a full-time job, with often times crazy, 12 hour shifts, and his days off change every week. We don’t live anywhere near family, so having grandparents, aunts, etc., watch the kids isn’t an option right now.

My typical ‘work from home’ day goes something like this:
I like to have some type of structure / routine, for all of our sanity— so we eat breakfast at the table together most days (Just the kids and myself, hubby is usually working).

After breakfast, we head to the gym. I get 2 free hours of childcare a day, per child, so the gym is my saving grace! Now, please don’t get the impression that I’m all into fitness or something. Did you read the part about the childcare? 2 blissful, kid-free hours are often the only motivation I have to drag myself into the gym!

I try to get in an hour workout, aka, ride the stationary bike or elliptical while I watch Netflix, and then I shower at the gym. This has been a lifesaver, as my daughter is extremely clingy, and on days I miss the gym, it’s hard to even be able to put her down long enough to get out of PJs. Truly, my time at the gym is good for my morale and really starts my day off ‘right’. I do feel better once I’ve gotten some exercise, and any SAHM will tell ya the wonders a shower and some makeup will do for your mood!

I try to get my daughter down for a morning nap after the gym. If I’m *super duper lucky* she’ll sleep for about an hour. My son is fairly good at independent play, so he’ll either play solo or watch some iPad for a bit while I try to start answering some emails, and getting any other pressing business taken care of. If my gal doesn’t nap.. as often she doesn’t, I just try my best to spend 30 min to an hour getting done what I need to get done. Many times, I hold her in my lap while I work on my computer. It’s not the easiest, but it gets the job done!

At least a couple of days a week, I try to get the kids out of the house to do something. Story time at the library, the splash pad or beach, just something for an hour or two. Helps keep us all from going insane.

Next comes lunch. If we’re out, I’ll grab drive-thru. Otherwise, I try to sit down with the kids and eat lunch with them— sometimes I bring my laptop to the table and get some work done if I’m really behind. In the afternoons, my son goes into his room for rest time even if he doesn’t nap, he has to play quietly and calmly for at least an hour. Again, if I’m super lucky, my daughter will nap at the same time, and I can get another hour or so of work in.

My husband’s work schedule is a bit odd— sometimes, he’ll have weekdays off, and when he does, he will take the kiddos out of the house for me for a few hours. When that happens, it’s AMAZING, because I can get so much done. I can scramble and get the bulk of my work done for a few days in a row, so that I don’t have to stress and don’t feel stretched so thin.

Evenings are insane and always seem a bit chaotic, with dinner, baths, etc. so any other work I need to get done, I’ve usually got to do after the kiddos are in bed. My daughter goes to bed at 6:30 and my son around 8, so for that hour and a half, I do some housework, clean up from dinner, spend some time with him, and sometimes get a couple of work orders / emails crammed in.

After he’s down, I spend typically about an hour on work— more if I need to. It’s important to me to have some ‘me’ time at the end of the night, so ideally I like to have at least an hour to read or watch a TV show— something to relax.

Weekends, I’m OFF work. It’s my goal not to even open my computer or my email on my phone. We all need a break! We live in such a work-minded culture, I think it’s very important to show my kids that taking a break and having down time are necessary. I like to take at least 2 days completely off from work.

Here are some of my biggest tip to other work-from-home mammas:

1.Have a routine, but be flexible!

It’s all about balance, a happy medium, if you will; kids need structure, and I’ve learned from experience that we all have a better day if we know what to expect. However, unexpected things do happen— kids get sick, friends need favors, the dog pukes on your rug, etc., and you’ve just got to roll with the punches.

2.Have small, realistic goals.

I always have a long ‘to-do’ list. Always. Things are constantly getting put on the back burner… but when I’m overwhelmed, I think of one thing I can accomplish for the day. One attainable goal. Maybe it’s returning an email I’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s finally making that Doctor’s appointment. Maybe it’s putting away the laundry from last week. Getting one thing checked off the list always makes me feel better!

3. TAKE A BREAK!

Don’t work your life away. I am a firm believer that taking a break from the busy-ness of life is just as important…err scratch that, MORE important, than the work itself. If you don’t take a break, you will quickly and easily feel overwhelmed, overworked, and potentially even begin to resent the work that you do.


angieI’m Angie, owner of LaLuna Designs, LLC, an online creative stationery boutique. I specialize in event invitations, largely for showers and birthdays, but I have fun doing stationery items of all sorts.  I’m originally from Colorado, but I married into the military, so I’ve journeyed from CO to Hawaii, to North Carolina, and now reside in sunny Florida. I’m a total beach bum, and one of my absolute favorite things to do is paddle board.

The World Is Still Beautiful

This morning I woke up with a heart that felt raw and exposed.

I, like so many others, feel the weight of grief from watching our nation being torn apart.

I, like all of us, am part of conglomerate of voices with feelings, opinions, anger, sadness and disbelief about events across the country and right next door.

I know, everyone is trying to grasp at answers and solutions, we want to blame someone or something.

Evil.


I took my daughter to the park this morning. I watched her fearlessly climb a rope ladder several times taller than she was.

“I climb up to the sky, mama!”

I cheered her on as she kept going upward.

The sun beat down on us through a bright blue sky and I thought of the families whose lives are being torn apart by loss and grief.

I wondered what kind of world my daughter would grow up in.


It’s crazy, thinking of the world I grew up in compared to now. Now, we are daily blasted with opinion, news, videos, live coverage, instantly. There is no time to discuss with our spouses or neighbors, or pray about anything. Often that breeds instant emotional reaction. It’s only human. I think our hearts and  brains literally get overwhelmed with all the information and bad news and we just get depressed and shut down.

We begin to live in constant fear. Nothing feels safe. How can we continue, day after day?

It’s too much.


I watch her climb higher and higher, with no fear. I am trying to raise her right. She’s only 2 and yesterday I let her get a sunburn and I spent the evening feeling guilty. Being in charge of a human being is hard. I want her to be kind and compassionate and brave and confident and that starts right now.

I want to tell her to look for the good, to find beauty in everything,  but I have a feeling she already does.

I watch the other kids play on the playground, lost in the pretend, adventure, the joy of being young.

Innocence. The whole world is open to them. Everything is new and beautiful.

I want to give my daughter that sort of world. No matter what the media is telling me. No matter how heart-breaking and scary my newsfeed becomes.

I know with every day that passes she is seeing more, understanding more. I know one day boo-boos will be bigger and heart-break inevitable, and I can’t protect her forever.

I want to tell her, The World Is Still Beautiful


The older I get, the more black and white my beliefs feel. Ok, maybe “black and white” is the wrong phrase. I guess it’s more like every color in the rainbow. What I mean to say is, some things may be complicated, but the things that really matter are simple.

The gospel is simple. My faith can be simple. It really has to be. It’s the only way to survive in a society that feels so complex.

Yes, there is evil, and it is scary and bad. People will hurt people.

But we have the privilege of knowing how the story ends:

Evil doesn’t win.

Love does.

We can look at the good guys, the heroes and protectors fighting for all things pure and good and innocent.

We can look at the helpers, working and serving, giving everything they have.

We can look at the artists, creating a more beautiful world through expressions of passion.

And we can look at the children, bbelieving in fun and giggles and beauty and light, in the power of a friend, of dreams and imagination.

Believing that at the end of the day, good will triumph and monsters will be vanquished.

Believing that Love will win and joy will be restored.


I watch my daughter grin as she kneels to hug a statue of a bunny rabbit and give it a kiss. I smile and look upward, past the tree branches into a pure sky.

I know what I have to focus on, what I have to write about, what I have to remind myself and others every day:

There is Hope. 

There is redemption. 

The world is still beautiful.

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