My Life as a Work-At-Home Mommy

This guest post is from my friend Bethany, mom of 2 adorable kids and fellow blogger. Check out her blog to see the latest and greatest kitchen gear, recipes, kitchen tips and more! 

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6:15am, I open my eyes. Both sets of those big blue eyes are right in front of me. My daughter wants to know where we are going today. We are going to a dollar movie this morning, but before we go that blog post needs another read-through before publishing. Breakfast needs cooking, teeth need brushing and my son needs help getting dressed.

But I don’t need to look good, right?

It’s a huge blessing to be able to take the kids to a weekday movie, (or whatever we have planned on any given day) and still get to work on earning money from home.

In the past I have earned money by working outside the home. Dropping the kids off at a daycare or mother’s day out, fitting in as many massage clients as I can in those few short hours. Working all day Saturday while my husband and kids go to weekend get-togethers without me.

This work at home thing gives more freedom, but it’s new for all of us.

Balance, discipline, and focus. Have I mastered these traits? Hardly! I still end up on time-sucking social media and have gone a weekend without even looking at my site.

Do I sit and watch a show with my husband some nights instead of writing about the next small appliance? Absolutely! This is definitely a learning process and the above traits are something I need work on. God is helping me, and I want my children to see in me the drive to work, to learn, to focus on what interests them and make that their career. That drive can be invaluable!

So, when I have worked till 1:00am to finish a post I will enjoy the feeling of accomplishment as I fall asleep. I will have a grateful heart when I wake to see those big eyes bright and ready for a new day. I will enjoy the time working next to my husband in the study after the kids have gone to bed while he gets ready for his next test. Even though we are busy, we can be busy together.

This is a new way of life for all of us. It is a great new life, giving way to more freedom and flexibility and hopefully, in time, a decent second income. Cheers to doing something that I enjoy from anywhere, getting out of debt, a REAL vacation, or a new (to us) car someday!

To all the other work at home moms, power on and love on those sweet babies as much as possible!

bethany

I am a Fort Worth, TX  work-at-home mom of two fun-loving and very busy kiddos. I am a wife to a loving, driven man that works full time while in school for his masters. I love kitchen gadgets, appliances, and great food and love sharing about them in my blog, The Kitchen Host.  In another life I practiced massage and still do for a few lucky clients!  -Bethany Chance
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Becoming Mom

I decided to share the story of my daughter’s birth I wrote when she was a few weeks old. After all, this is a mom blog and this is about how I became a mom. Plus, she is turning 2 in 2 days and I am feeling extra sentimental. It’s also a nice reminder after the drama of her screaming “I DON’T WANT IT” in Walmart and kicking me while trying on shoes. (Not that that happened today…) Plus, to be honest, it’s been a little crazy lately and I haven’t taken the time to write a new blog post. So here you go. Grab some tissues.


It’s close to four in the morning and I am awakened by the sound of my daughter crying. I slowly emerge out of a sleepy haze, rolling over to get out of bed. I pick my baby up out of her bassinet and try to comfort her. Her cry is loud now, reverberating across a silent house, her pink mouth wide open, waiting for me to feed her. For a moment I just want to drift back to sleep. Sweet, blissful sleep. I am then reminded of how just two weeks ago I longed so badly to hear her cry, and I would have traded every night of sound sleep just to hear her voice.

1.

It’s the sound we all hold our own breaths to hear, as a new baby enters our world and takes their first breath. My daughter struggled with hers, even after she let out her first glorious cry. For some reason we still don’t understand, her lungs never fully expelled the fluid inside them. She was born gasping for breath and we didn’t realize it at first. Everything about her looked alert and perfect, I couldn’t believe how flawless she was, not a wrinkle or imperfection.

I caught her myself after 10 hours of labor, 30 hours of water being broken, and 48 hours of no sleep. I pushed her out with a strength I didn’t think I had left, while on my hands and knees. I had already tried the relaxing birthing tub and every other position in the book, but her head was stuck, until that final, raw and real moment.  My midwife and birth team rushed to cover the beautiful wood floors with towels as Aurelia slipped into this world and into my arms.

I held her for an earth-shattering 20 minutes or so, the last time I would hold her until a week later.

The events after her birth were a gut-wrenching blur. Pure joy followed by overwhelming panic. She wouldn’t nurse, and showed signs of distress. She was given oxygen and a phone call was made. I got stitches. I rested in bed in the next room while medics wheeled in with the proper equipment to give my daughter the breath that she needed. It was storming hard outside, dark and foreboding. I couldn’t go with the ambulance, I wasn’t strong enough yet, I could barely stand. So my husband went. They rolled her into my room to say goodbye. I stood on shaky legs, holding onto the bed post, my vision blurring and blacking. I saw my precious baby hooked up like a science experiment, a pure, precious child inside of a machine with wires and tubes everywhere. I collapsed back on the bed sobbing.

No. This wasn’t our story.

I had just birthed a nearly nine pound baby with nothing to slow down the pain but my breathing. I have avoided hospitals my whole life, always gone “the natural way,” always assuming my body was fine and that it would fix itself. I believe very deeply God heals and protects. I rejected medical advise when I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and opted to keep it in check myself through diet and exercise, which worked brilliantly. There were no complications and I was once again considered low-risk.

The NICU, this wasn’t our story.

I felt like I was in a bad dream when I finally arrived at the hospital. My father-in-law pushed my wheelchair through the endless maze of hospital corridors. I watched several cops run by us to a group of people standing at the end of a hall watching a man who was broken to pieces, yelling through his tears, “They told me he was alive!”

No. We didn’t belong here.

I was supposed to be enjoying the suite-like relaxing birth center, taking an herbal bath with Aurelia, eating a pancake breakfast in bed with my new, complete family.

We arrived to the hospital room with Louvier on the door, and there she was, hooked up to so many machines, sedated and far away from me like she never left my womb in the first place.

(I wrote this at one of my miserable 2 am moments in the hospital)

the constant mechanical beeping reminds us

of these fragile lives

who came to earth to soon

hanging in the balance

a few numbers

determining survival

but the will to live is strong

it echoes through halls

if you tune out the dark

and choose to hear it

Everyone we met in the hospital had far worse stories than ours. Most couples had preemies who had been there for months. They had been traveling a long, hard road, and there seemed like no end to it. My heart broke every time I walked down the hall and heard the cries of those tiny infants, who often had no one to hold them besides busy nurses and an occasional emotionally frail parent who drove from a long distance away and could barely keep up with their lives back home.

I was humbled, every time I began to feel bad for myself. I know you can’t really downgrade your own pain by comparing your circumstances to others, it is still the most difficult thing I’ve ever been though. But I quickly saw the stark black and white difference my attitude and perspective made in my mood and my overall sanity.

Gratefulness became my lifeline, and as days passed there was more and more to be thankful for.

My baby got better every day. Every single thing they tested her for came back negative. There was no bigger issue, no abnormal development or defect. She was indeed perfect, she just had a rough start.

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The nurses changed every 12 hours. Most were excellent, a few were mediocre. One in particular, a cheery, round woman who had been working in the NICU for 25 years, was our own Mary Poppins, our angel. She came right in the middle of our stay and saw Aurelia as healthy and whole, and treated her so. She pushed the doctor to eliminate machines and slow down sedation drips. She even bent the rules so that I could hold my baby, even though I wasn’t supposed to because she still had an IV in.

2.

I walked into the room after one of my long, painful bathroom trips, and Mary Poppins was standing over Aurelia’s bed grinning. She had produced a festive red bow from her magic bag, and placed it on my baby’s sweet head. I stopped, choked up, staring at my baby who finally looked like a little girl, not just a sick child. I got situated in the oversized hospital recliner and the nurse placed Aurelia in my arms. That day was my “due date” and even though she came into the world the week before, I felt like she was being born all over again.

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Soon they removed the ventilator which had been keeping Aurelia silent. I waited for her cry, thinking it would happen immediately, but her poor voice box was all scratched from the tubes. A faint, hoarse noise slowly turned to a strong proclamation of life over the next 24 hours.

3.

Her “third birthday” happened a week later when the doctor finally declared her well and signed our discharge papers. We went home, exhausted and overwhelmed with emotion, knowing Aurelia had no medication, condition or even a diagnosis.

“Some babies just have a hard time transitioning,” our pediatrician who I nicknamed “the baby whisperer” explained when we went to our follow-up appointment. Aurelia screamed her lungs out to prove they worked, then calmed down immediately when he put her in a different position.

At home, we quickly fell into a routine and relaxed knowing that whatever normal, hard things we went through with adjusting to having a newborn, at least it wasn’t magnified in the hospital.

We were finally home.

———————————-

Hallelujah 

Every breath is a second chance

(Switchfoot)

———————————–

I don’t claim to know why things happen. I can’t justify the fact innocent babies suffer, and that while we have our happy ending, some in the NICU do not.

I do know that life is so unpredictable, no matter how well you plan and prepare you just never know what road you’ll have to walk down.

I know that you never know how strong you are until you are brought to your very weakest point.

I know that there is a transition that happens in that moment of utter brokeness:

His strength is made perfect in your weakness. 

I know that Grace and Comfort are there in that moment, and He is more real and tangible than the tears in your eyes and the pain in your heart.

I know that sometimes the smallest, more fragile looking things in life often carry the most strength.

And I know my girl has found her voice, and one day, the world will hear it.

 

 

Jean-Thomas wrote Aurelia this song when I was pregnant and sang it for her in the hospital. This was our Fourth of July celebration.

 

Beautiful girl in a beautiful world

Do you know just how much your worth?

Your dreams are already changing this earth

There is so much more you’re destined for 

There are those who’ll tell you you’re wrong

They will try to silence your song

But right here is where you belong

Take your dreams, sail away

 

You’re the dawn of a new day that’s breaking

A masterpiece still in the making

Blue in the ocean of grey

The birth of a star that sends darkness away

Be the hoper of hope far out of reach

Be the dreamer of dreams and impossible things

 

Though this world may try to define you

They can’t take the light that’s inside you

So don’t you dare try to hide

Let your fears fade away

 

You’re the dawn of a new day that’s breaking

A masterpiece still in the making

Blue in the ocean of grey

The birth of a star that sends darkness away

Be the hoper of hope far out of reach

Be the dreamer of dreams and impossible things

and impossible things


Here she is singing a few weeks ago. I’d say she found her voice!

How I Get Free (Or Super Cheap) Health & Beauty Products

I have recently delved into the world of Amazon reviews. I started it when I saw a Facebook ad offering a huge discount on some probiotics. I had been randomly breaking out in hives, and I was desperate for a natural solution. I clicked the link and gave my email address and soon I was receiving my $20 bottle of vitamins in the mail for $1. They worked great and helped me detox and heal.IMG_6261

There are ample opportunities to receive FREE and cheap products simply by leaving a quick, unbiased review of a product on Amazon. You don’t need to be a blogger with a huge following, anyone can do it!

So far the company I’ve seen the best results with is Elite Deal Club. I’ve gotten mostly discount vitamins and a few beauty products all for either $1 or free. I already have Prime so it’s free 2-day shipping too. I’ve been using this great $30 argan oil shampoo that I paid $1 for. Plus I got a HUGE bottle of peppermint essential oils for free, which I use to make toothpaste.

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A few things I got either for free or for $1!

As soon as I have used the product, I make sure I leave a review. The review can be a sentence or more, and it just needs to be honest.

Oh, you also have to add this addendum:

“I received this product at a discount in exchange for my unbiased review.”

The products are random and go really fast. If you don’t login right when they “go live” they run out of coupons for the hot items. I’ve seen a lot of healthy and beauty supplies, pet supplies and phone accessories. But they have other things too, like electronics and kitchenware. I recently saw an $100 drone helicopter for $11! It was sold out of course.

I am excited to get more into this. I know there are other review  clubs, I just haven’t had the chance to look into them.

Hopefully this will help someone out there save some money and stay healthy!

Peace & Creativity,

The Stay-at-Home Something

Saying No to a Full-Time Job

It’s only Tuesday and I am already tired.  Mostly from a billion thoughts I can’t get out of my head. I am a little scatter-brained right now.

As much as I love writing freelance, sometimes it’s hard for me to keep track of what is what. Technically, I am working contract for 5 different companies, possibly a 6th soon. Plus I have 2 blogs I am trying to run, as well as projects for my church.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I’ll be the first to admit I am not the most organized person. Sometimes I look at the whole thing and it’s overwhelming.

Sometimes I wonder if I made the right career choice.

About a month ago, I applied for a full-time job. I have applied for many jobs, so I was surprised when I got a call back right away. I knew it was in an office, but my husband encouraged me to go interview anyways. I was kind of hoping they would be more flexible with the schedule, maybe allow me to do some of the work at home.

It was a big deal for me to face my fear. The morning of the interview, I woke up feeling sick with anxiety. I don’t do well with these kind of things. I like to hide behind my computer. But somehow I found something “professional” to wear, and got out the door. (It’s been a long time. My attire consists of uncomfortable jeans I don’t wear and yoga pants.)

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Gosh I miss this show.

I guess I did well, because they pretty much told me I had the job on the spot. 45 hours a week in an office. No possibility of remote work. It was a cool office building, I’ll give it that. Everyone looked young and hipster and I felt out of place. My interviewer looked just like Jim from The Office. The content I’d be writing was pretty boring, but the pay was decent,  and it was consistent. It was a tough call.

The day I had to make my decision, I met with 2 other SAHMs and we got to talking why we love to be with our kids and how we couldn’t imagine life any other way.

I knew what I had to do.

I said no because for the millionth time in my life I was reminded I don’t want to throw away my dreams for security.

Because I believe God has something better.

Because  I know that right before the real thing comes, we are tested with a fake thing that may be tempting, but it’s not the best.

It’s such a hard lesson to learn, but so necessary. (Don’t. Ever. Settle.)

I said no because the 9-5 life makes me a little crazy inside.

I love interrupting my day with a trip to the park. I love going to the gym or the grocery store in the morning, working during nap time and after my daughter goes to bed. I love that I can space out my day, work for a bit then play dress-up or go puddle stomping. I don’t just love it, but I think I work better that way.

I want to be there for my daughter. I can’t imagine missing the little moments in her day.

I know that I need to pour my heart into this blog and that’s what I am going to do.

Since I said no, I’ve had a few more opportunities come up. I am currently studying to take a test for a great work-at-home company that pays well and hoping that will work out.

I am trusting God for more. I am trusting Him for favor for myself and for my husband. For provision.

Please don’t think I am putting down moms who work outside the home. Ya’ll are incredible, and I know God gives people the grace for wherever they are.  Everyone has a different path. I just know it’s not for me, for this season.

Even though I’ve had moments of doubt, I believe deep down I made the right decision. I don’t regret pursuing it or doing the interview. It was also kind of a wake-up call. I am a writer. I can can actually do what I love and get paid.

I determine my success and my worth.

I can succeed. I can take a breath and tackle one thing at a time.

My toddler has been screaming in nap avoidance for over an hour and she is finally quiet.

I sit. I breathe. I write.

Peace and Creativity,

The Stay-at-Home Something

How I make $24 an Hour Photographing Houses

As a freelance writer and WAHM, I am always looking for extra gigs, especially easy, creative ones that allow me to take my kiddo with me.

I recently found this ad on Craigslist looking for people to take real estate photos. I am not a photographer, but they said no experience was needed. I did some research to make sure it was a legit company, and it checked out

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No Experience Required 

Velocity REO’s is a company that contracts people to take photos for BPO’s (Broker Price Opinions) to find out the worth of a house. Most of the jobs are exterior only and don’t require any special permission because you take them from the street which is public property.

The application process was super easy. You basically just have to prove you can follow simple directions and take a “set” of photos of any house. I picked a house close by that was already vacant and took the set of 7 pictures with my iPhone. The upload process was quick and easy. Soon I was accepted and they started sending me work.

The work can be slow, depending on your area. According to their website, some people can make up to $980 a week, but I can’t imagine it being that busy. So far I have done about 6 house at $8 each. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ll tell you how easy it is.

How It Works

I input my zip code and the local areas I want to work in. They suggest only working within 10 miles, but I went out a little further to some areas I already go to a lot.

When an order comes in via text or email, I get to accept or reject it. If I accept, it I have 30 hours to complete it. I go about my day, running errands etc, and stop by the house while I am out. It takes about 2 minutes to take the pictures from the street. I can leave my daughter in the car with it running while I step out and take pic with my phone right next to the car.

I upload the pictures, which I can do from my phone. It takes about 2 minutes. They approve it,  and I get paid weekly through paypal. Simple, and I don’t have to deal with people which my introvert self loves. 😉

Great Side Job for a Stay-at-Home Mama! 

All in all, the most 1 house takes is 15 minutes. On a good day, I had 3 in a row, so I spent about an hour total including driving time and got paid $24. Not bad!

Obviously, being a contract job there is no guarantee of anything. But, like mystery shopping it is a nice side gig. I can do it while I am already out, and best of all my toddler can come with me!

I know they service places all over the US, so hopefully this will help some mama out there make a little extra cash.

Peace and Creativity,

The Stay at Home Something

I’m Not Famous and That’s Ok

Today I am 31.

It’s a place I’ve never been before, obviously. I’ve mostly stopped having all these high expectations about where my life will be at a certain age, but a few of them I still cling on to.

Like, I honestly thought I would be a successful writer by now.

What is successful? Is it rich and famous? Is it having a loyal fan base? Is it being able to do what I love without working another job? Is it waking up every morning feeling like I am still in love with this whole writing thing? I guess 2 out of 4 isn’t bad.

I am grateful every time I get paid for something I’ve written. I never want to take that for granted. I am grateful every time someone likes a post on WordPress or Facebook. I am thrilled by every comment. I know we are all busy and the fact you are taking time out of your day to read this means a lot. So, thank you.

I think I have given up on the whole fame thing. It’s honestly exhausting even thinking about it. Especially when it means people arguing with you, leaving terrible reviews and saying nasty things in the comments. I know I shouldn’t care about that but I do. It makes me sick to think about. I think my personality just can’t handle it. I got crushed once by an editor and it sucked. I know I just need to get over that.

So yeah, I am 31. I’ve had the same blog for 8 years now. I just started this one hoping to make more traction, more connection.

I am a mom, and I am somehow managing to not screw that up too bad, although there are days when I am not so sure.

It’s beautiful, confusing, heart-breaking, exhausting and wonderful all rolled into one.

My birthday morning started with my 2-year-old putting a tiny plastic ball in her mouth like it was candy. I yelled “No!” and she burst into tears and started crying so hard she couldn’t catch her breath and started gagging. She’s only done this a few times and every time it was because my husband our I raised our voice at her. I felt so bad. I couldn’t console her. She didn’t want to hug me and ended up spitting up all over my shirt.

The only thing that finally calmed her down was a Cookie Monster video on my phone. The day got better, and delicious birthday cinnamon rolls helped.

birthday
My Favorites

Sometimes that stuff doesn’t phase me, sometimes it does.

Sometimes I think I am doing a great job at mom-ing and sometimes I know I have no clue what I am doing.

Sometimes I just want to sit in a field of flowers alone and write poetry.

Motherhood is messy and unpredictable. But so is writing.

You never know what’s gonna happen next, and I guess that’s part of the excitement.

It’s vulnerable. You’re always on display.

You have to let your heart break, and that always hurts.

So, I will continue to do what I love. I will keep writing, whether I get any recognition or not.

I will love my daughter patiently, day after day, watching her grow and watching my heart expand.

I won’t give up on my dreams, but I will let them take time.

I will let my influence unfold naturally, as God gives me favor,

Not by manipulating people into clicking on my blogs or trying to force fame.

I will stop giving my life deadlines and be prepared to be surprised. 

So bring it, 30’s. Because I am only gonna get better with age. 😉

Peace and Creativity,

The Stay-at-Home Something

How To Avoid Scams When Looking for Work at Home

“Oh my God, he’s like, into weird fetishes!”  I said out loud as I re-read the email and realized what I had almost walked into.

No, this isn’t an online dating story gone wrong. This is me attempting to find an innocent special needs care job on Craigslist.

I have worked with people of different abilities and absolutely love it, so when I saw this Craigslist Ad, I didn’t think anything of it.

(This isn’t word for word, but you get the drift)

Baby Sitter Needed for Adult

Feed, sing, put him to bed, etc.

Will need to be ok with changing diapers.

$20 an hour.

Me, in my nativity, thought they must have special needs. I had taken care of a 20-something-year-old male with extreme disabilities full-time for several years, so the diaper part didn’t bother me. The pay was good, I just needed more information.

What followed was me asking normal questions in an email and him responding with some not so normal answers. Then it hit me. The man I was corresponding with did not, in fact, have a disabled loved one he needed care for. He was talking about himself… and there was nothing wrong with him… at least not physically.

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That wasn’t the only time I almost got duped on Craigslist. Once upon a time when I was living in the ghetto and working for a ministry, when I used to ride my bike to give plasma to have money to buy food, I decided to delve into the world of Mystery Shopping. I ended up answering an ad that sounded a little too good to be true, but I thought I’d test the waters anyways.

After getting a large check delivered in the mail which I was supposed to deposit and use some of the money to send a Western Union, I made the smart move of ripping it into shreds.

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Being a freelance writer (and someone with a random assortment of jobs in the past) I have become somewhat of an expert on weeding through sketchy jobs on Craigslist. I’ll admit, I am still sucked into those pesky click bait ads that love to target SAHMs. Mostly just to laugh at.

Here are some simple tips on how to avoid getting duped while looking for legit work.

1. If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, Run

I know. We all want to make thousands a day in our pajamas without any experience or skill, but not all of us can be the Kardashians.

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2.Don’t Trust Anyone With A Bad Website 

Bad could mean it looked like Geocities in 1998, or that pop-up ads threw up all over it. It could also mean there is no contact information anywhere.

3. Google (Company Name) Scam

It doesn’t always work if it’s new or they change the name all the time but it might save you some trouble.

4. Only Go with BBB Verified Companies 

It’s super easy to google. People love to post complaints. Look for them.

5. Avoid If It’s Super Vague

Correct me if I am wrong, but most legitimate companies will give some kind of description about what you’ll actually be doing.

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Ok, Kevin.

6. Please, please, PLEASE Meet In a Safe Area

So you find something that looks legit and you send them your resume and land an interview. If you are being hired by an individual and not a company, they won’t have an office space. Starbucks is your friend. Don’t ever agree to meet at their home or in a hotel. This seems like common sense, but sometimes if the money is good and we are desperate to land a gig, that goes out the window.

Don’t Give Up Your Search

There are a lot of scams out there, but there are also a lot of legitimate work-from-home jobs too if you know where to look. When I tell people I mystery shop, half the time people respond that they thought that was all a scam. Don’t let a few con men ruin the opportunity to do what you love and set your own schedule. I’ve found some great gigs online and I still visit Craiglist daily.

Soon I’ll be posting about how to find great, creative jobs you can do from home. But for now, stay safe and avoid the creepers.

Peace & Creativity to you,

The Stay-at-Home-Something