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Guest Posts

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview
Today, I’d like to welcome Jenni Chiu aka MommyNaniBooBoo to This Blogger’s Life. Jenni is one of my closest and dearest friends on the Internet and my BlogHer roomie. who just happens to be one amazing vlogger, blogger and writer Jenni and I found one another and the rest is history. If you have never read her, I recommend that you do that stat!
Her words have touched me (and many others) through sharing her stories with transparency and bravery. Jenni has a way of writing that is so raw and honest that if you are not feeling something when you are reading Jenni, you just might be dead. I can honestly say in the past 4 years she has made me laugh and cry more times than I can count. If she isn’t moving you with her written word, you can be sure that she is probably charming the pants off of you with her hilariously entertaining videos on youtube.
There are a million different wonderful things that I could say about Jenni ( and I’m not just saying that because she totally put up with my snoring;) but mostly I want to leave you with this, she was an actress and a beautiful model and now she is a mom, wife, a writer and a beautiful, talented soul who I am pretty sure can accomplish just about anything she sets her mind to. She is by far one of the kindest, truest women on the Internet and I could go on gushing for days. I know, I am biased because I’ve called dibs on her as my BlogHer roomie for infinity and beyond but believe me when I tell you, do yourself a favor and read her words. Get to know this brilliant woman through her blog. You will be wondering why the hell you hadn’t done it sooner.

I’m honored to call Jenni Chiu one of my dearest friends and it’s my privilege to have her on This Blogger’s Life today.

 

Jenni Chiu, This Blogger's Life, mommynanibooboo, the people behind the blogs

A blogger’s work is never done

This Blogger’s Life…Jenni Chiu (MommyNaniBooBoo)

Why did you start blogging?
I’ve always been a storyteller of some sort, which is why I spent so many years as an actor. After becoming a mother, I think I started blogging for the same reason a lot of mothers start blogging.  I needed some kind of creative outlet.  I also spent months holed up with a colicky baby and no support system after I gave birth. I was in desperate need of some kind of grown up conversation and commiseration.
 
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?
Write because it feeds your soul, or because it makes you happy to feed the souls of others. If you want to make money at it, have a plan on how to do it… and then be okay with NOT making money for quite a while.  Although, maybe that’s advice for writers… not all bloggers are writers.
I would say – Create a blog you can look at years from now and be proud of (whatever that means to you).
 
What are the three words that describe you best?
 empathetic, honest, undefinable
 
What is your favorite website?

The one that’s already built in my head – I just have yet to make it a reality.

 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?
Sleep… wait no – play with my kids…
Wait – shop!
Okay now I’m back to sleep again.
 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging?
That my words can hold more space than my physical body can. In some ways it’s been a relief for me to have my words, and not what I look like, be most people’s first introduction to me.
 
How do you balance life and blogging?
I don’t. I am almost at all times off balance one way or another.
 
How has blogging changed you or your life?
It’s given me a sense of community that I was lacking in my real life.  It’s kept my creative self from dying a slow death.  It’s allowed me to witness and celebrate a thousand aspects of humanity… and also, it’s renewed my faith in women as a community.
It’s also made me a lot less physically active than I used to be (or maybe it’s the kids – or both). Either way, I have to remind myself to back away from the computer and move around more.
 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?
I think that depends on how people define success. Some define it by impact… some by income… some by longevity.
For me, I feel more successful when my reach is great – when people read, and are moved to share my blog.  I think a successful blog is shared it’s because it has moved people in some way. There also blogs that are shared or have a large reach because they are inflammatory… they are the Star magazines of the blogging world, and not successes in my book.
I don’t think a successful blog and a great blog are one in the same.  For me, a great blog has well constructed or important content that’s updated fairly regularly… unfortunately, there are many great blogs out there that have no reach and are largely unsuccessful. The Internet is vast and murky.
 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

I would write books… or paint… or go back into acting… or find some other way to connect people through stories of humanity. I would also sleep more.

 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 
I talk about what happens to me.  If something happens to someone else, I write about how that event affected me.  I also don’t use the names of my husband or children. I’m quite open about myself in my blogging, but very protective of my family.  I’m sure it will be even more so as my kids get older.  Their online identities will not be built on my blog – that’s for them to do later on in life.

 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed?
I feel like five years ago the troll population was significantly lower. That may or may not be true however, because no one read my blog back then so trolls probably couldn’t find it.

One thing I love about blogging now is that we have so many different ways or sharing our words and engaging with one another.  Social media has exploded over the past five years.

 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

I simply go with what I feel motivated to write about… turns out I have lots to say about all kinds of things.  I also try to remember that they can’t all be gems.

 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?
Shakespeare and Tom Hanks because they are two of my favorite men. I would also then invite Nick, Brandon, Monte, and Gary.  The last four are people in my life that I feel died too young. I want them back… even if it’s just for a one-night dinner party.
 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I ate my twin in the womb.
Kidding.
Probably nothing if they read my blog or follow me on YouTube.
 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of?
Impossible. That’s like asking which kid I love more.
Some of the ones that have done well are:
 I’m Pretty Sure AT&T is Responsible for Many Deaths (I love that I got to read this one at BlogHer’11 for Voices of the Year.)
Thank you Jenni for taking the time to let me interview you. You are one of my favorite people. Keep using that big voice of yours to change the world. I suspect some day soon I’ll be reading your book. It needs to be written.  Love ya , roomie.
XOXO
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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview
Today’s guest on This Blogger’s Life, Ree Drummondis one of the kindest and sweetest bloggers that I know. Ree  aka The Pioneer Woman is everyone’s favorite foodie mom. She does it all. I’ve “known” Ree for a few years now but we only just met in person in 2013 and boy, was it a memorable experience.
In case you were wondering, yes, she is even nicer in person than you could imagine. But don’t be fooled by the gorgeous smile and the cute photos of dogs and cows, Ree’s not just another pretty face. She is a smart, powerful businesswoman who works her tail off to do it all. I don’t know how she does it.

Ree Drummond has been someone that I have respected in the blogging space for some time.

She has truly built an empire doing something she loves; documenting life with her children and husband while writing about and photographing the things she is passionate about. Isn’t that the dream? I know it’s mine; to do what I love and make a living while getting to spend time actually in the moment with my family. Go, Ree! Not to mention, while she is writing books, filming for her cooking show, raising children on a ranch, homeschooling and cooking all of that mouthwatering food she still makes the time for her friends…like filling out these interview questions from me right in the middle of taping a new season of The Pioneer Woman. I appreciate it, Ree. You are good people.
 
Anyways, I could go on all day saying nice things about Ree. The bottom line is that she is a sweet, generous, charismatic mama who puts her foot in some Dr. Pepper barbecue. I’m honored to call her my friend and it’s my privilege to have her on This Blogger’s Life today.

This Blogger’s Life…Ree Drummond

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview, the people behind the blogs

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging on a whim one day when my husband took all four of our kids to work cattle with him. I had no plan, no sense that it would last longer than a week. I just sat down, set up a free blog, and posted a couple of photos and stories.
 
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?
Blog! Blog often. Blog daily if you can. It’s difficult to get comfortable with blogging if you write one or two blog posts a week. When I started blogging, I fell in love instantly and blogged daily for a few months—even on the weekends. It made me a better writer, and made blogging easier and easier.
 
What are the three words that describe you best?
 Happy, Messy, and Weird.
 
What is your favorite website?
Impossible for me to choose!
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?
My favorite thing to do when I have a little free time is just plop down on the couch and watch Real Housewives or old episodes or 24 or, as is the case right now, the NBA Playoffs. TV time in the evenings is what my husband and I do together. It sounds spectacularly boring, but it’s my favorite time of day. It’s when I recharge.
 What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging?
I’ve learned that if I’m passionate about something, I’m much more creative, motivated, and efficient. I have loved blogging from the start, and since I blog about things I love—my family, the country, our dogs, the food I cook—I never get tired of it. That’s one of my biggest pieces of advice to anyone starting a new project of any kind: Make sure your passion shines through. It will show.
 How do you balance life and blogging?
It’s a continual balance. When I started blogging, my kids were all little. Now I have two teenagers, and one is about to be a senior in high school. When they were younger, I  was able to be more rigid and predictable with my blogging schedule. These days, I’ve loosened up a bit because life demands flexibility. While I still blog regularly, I’m not afraid to skip a couple of days here and there if the kids and I are busy. You have to have a little give.
 How has blogging changed you or your life?
Blogging has certainly opened doors for me. I wouldn’t have cookbooks or a TV show if I hadn’t started blogging. It’s all the blog’s fault! 🙂
 What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?
I think a successful blog is one that compels readers to return. One that becomes part of people’s daily reading schedules. That’s why I’ve always recommended that new bloggers commit to blogging regularly—daily, if possible. You won’t become a part of someone’s daily routine if you just blog a couple of times a week. When I first started blogging, I had lived in the country for ten years and must have had a lot to say, because I was prolific in my posting. Months later, after my readership had grown organically, people who visited my site started telling me that reading my site had become part of their day, like their morning cup of coffee. I realized that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t blogged as regularly as I had.
 If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?
Exercise more and learn to embroider.
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 
For me, it’s always been easy to strike that balance. I do blog about the people I love, but I don’t share their personal stories because they aren’t mine to share. I stick to our interactions together, fun anecdotes, and things about them that I appreciate and love.
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed?
I love that the blogging community has grown and is so strong today, so I like where blogging is now. If I had to say something I miss from my early days of blogging, it would be that my waist was much smaller. 🙂
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?
Again, I think if you remain passionate about your subject matter—in my case, family, home, food, etc.—you’ll never run out of things to share. And if your passion comes through, people will be drawn to read it. Also, I do try to change up my content so that it isn’t the same every day; I never want someone to come to my website and be bored!
 If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?
Al Pacino in 1972, Vivien Leigh in 1939, Russell Crowe, Meryl Streep, Mother Teresa, and my grandmother.
 What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I can put both my ankles behind my head.
What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

This sounds like an easy answer, but I would say whatever post I’ve written that day. Because my household is so busy and I’ve got different irons in the fire, if I am able to sit down and see a post through to the end, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. 

If you’d like to find out more about Ree Drummond ( The Pioneer Woman) you can check her out on her blog, twitter and my favorite Pinterest. If you want to learn about other great bloggers like Jill Smokler ( the Original Scary Mommy) , Jessica Gottlieb, Vera Sweeney and many more, please be sure to check out the rest of the interviews in the This Blogger’s Life series

Thank you, Ree Drummond, for being my guest today. Can’t wait to see you again in person, this time I promise not to body check you in the process. XOXO

 
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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

 

This week’s guest on This Blogger’s Life is my good friend, fellow blogger and mentor, Jessica GottliebI have known Jessica for a few years now. I believe our friendship was sealed over a conversation on Twitter about drinking good wine, in bed, or something like that and we have been friends since. The more I’ve gotten to know her, the more I admire her keen sense of business acumen, her sense of humor and her determination to always put her family first. It’s hard to find a balance doing what we do but she does it and that’s something I’m still working at.
Anyone who knows Jessica knows that she is a straight shooter, loves her family and likes fast cars and pretty things. I love her because she has a giant heart, can use the word f*ck in casual conversation and still sound like a complete lady and always says what’s on her mind, especially if it’s a cause she believes in. I am honored to have her as my friend and here today. So, without further ado…

This Blogger’s Life… Jessica Gottlieb

This Blogger's Life, Jessica Gottlieb, bloggers, blogging,

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging a number of years ago when my friend was dying of AIDS. I was raising my kids during the day and then spending my nights by his side at the hospital. I found that my friends would ask me how I was doing and then I’d burst into tears and start giving them the details of Steven’s demise. I needed an outlet and blogging became a good one for me. https://angrymom.blogspot.com Without that site I’d have lost many friends.

 
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Write honestly. If you don’t have a passion there’s no reason for your readers to care.

 
What are the three words that describe you best?

I’d be scared to think about that.

 
What is your favorite website?

Just one? Everyone loves Suri’s Burn Book right? No one’s supposed to admit to reading GOMI but I have to admit that it tickles me. Also I really enjoy suburbanmatron.blogspot.com

 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

If you can get my husband my kids and me all in the same room I don’t really care what we’re doing. I am happiest when the four of us are together. As for alone time? I like to be in motion. I love tennis, yoga and hiking.

 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging?

I learned that I can be respectful of people who I disagree with. Blogging reveals a lot about people that you might not otherwise learn and I’ve found that I can enjoy parts of people and they can occupy parts of my life without needing to agree with them.

 
How do you balance life and blogging?

I have a social media schedule. I am willing to spend up to three hours a day working on these things and no more. When the time is done, my work is done. No one wants to read about a blogger who sits in front of the computer all day. You have to get out and live. Most days it’s less than an hour but three is my absolute limit.

 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

I don’t know what a successful blog is. Is success a large audience? Maybe financial security? Perhaps success means a book deal? Blogs are like the new MLM and the moment someone tells me they have one I sort of cringe because I’m not sure I want to read it. I’m not sure anyone wants to. Hell, most of the time when people ask me what I do for a living I tell them I’m a housewife. There’s something so inherently narcissistic about blogging that I’m both drawn to it and repelled by it. I can’t define success. I can’t define greatness. I’m not sure anyone can.

 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

They same thing I do now. I’d just have to budget better.

 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 

This is where the work comes in. It’s difficult (and worth making the effort) to tell only my story. It’s entirely possible to talk about motherhood without talking about your kids. I’ve had a few slips and annoyed some folks along the way but for the most part no one knows much about my kids, my husband or my extended family. When my kids go to get their first jobs you will not be able to google their names. That’s the balancing act.

 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed?

I don’t know that I feel particularly wistful for anything. Change is good. I love that short content can live on other networks. I just don’t enjoy slideshows, I’d say that’s the only big bummer in blogging right now.

 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

I don’t. An awful lot of my content gets ignored.

 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

My family of four and Sasha and Malia Obama. I want the scoop from those two.

Thank you Jess for being my guest today and always being such a huge supporter of other women & bloggers, and on a more personal level, thanks for always being such an awesome friend and mentor to me. Your writing always makes me think and your fierce attitude has taught me that strong women can do what ever they set their minds to. XOXO

If Jessica  rocks your socks as much as she does mine, check her out at JessicaGottlieb.com and at Word of Mouth Women. but if you really want to have someone interesting to follow and engage with, Jessica Gottlieb is that person on Facebook and , of course, Twitter, where it all began.

 

 

 

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

In celebration of my 5th year of blogging, I have decided to start a weekly series called This Blogger’s life.. featuring one amazing blogger each Friday. I will always ask the same 15 questions to all the bloggers.For my inaugural post I am interviewing my amazing friend and fellow blogger, Jill Smokler ( the force behind ScaryMommy.com).

This is how it will work, every Friday ( same bat time, same bat blog) I will be interviewing one of the many amazing women ( or men) on the internet. Those who inspire me, mentor me and even some of those bright new up and coming bloggers. The blogging world feels so small sometimes because we share some of the most intimate moments with one another; marriage, pregnancy, birth, labor, raising children, divorce, sex, fashion, travel, food and everything in-between. It’s the greatest tribe I’ve ever had.

I love conferences because it’s a giant hug fest amongst some of the women that know me best but there just never seems like enough time to hang out; to talk. So, I decided why not interview some of these amazing people, who I am proud and lucky to call my friends. So without further ado, I give you the inaugural

This Blogger’s Life…Jill Smokler aka Scary Mommy.

Jill Smokler, This Blogger's Life, Interview, bloggers

Why did you start blogging? March of 2008, I was home with three little kids and desperate for a hobby of my own. A friend started a blog and, on whim, I figured I’d try one, too. Never, ever thought it would last past a month or two.

 

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger? To have fun; blogging starts as a hobby – very few people make decent money from it and those who do, certainly don’t immediately. If it’s feeling like a job or a burden, you’re missing the point. 
 
What are the three words that describe you bestStubborn, passionate, driven

What is your favorite website? My own. I mean, it better be, right?
 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging? Walking on the beach with my kids, looking for shells. That’s my happy place. 
 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging? That my path in life is really up to me.  
 
How do you balance life and blogging? Not very well, unfortunately. Since the time the site became my sole income, I’ve constantly been searching for that happy balance, but still don’t think I’ve found it. As a side hobby, it was easy, but as a job, never. I’m not sure you can ever truly balance life with work you’re passionate about, though – something always suffers. 
 
How has blogging changed you or your life? Pretty early on, I realized that blogging could be the vehicle that allowed me to do something I enjoyed from home and not have to go back to an office job. I’m thankful every single day that it has allowed me that. The lifestyle isn’t easy, and I’m always working, but I’m working for me, doing something I love and I can still be the one to pick the kids up from school every day. None of that would have been possible without the blog.
 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same? I think a great and successful blog is one that serves its purpose — if you set out to entertain your friends and family and do that, you’ve succeeded. If you want some fun freebies and perks and you get them, you’ve done it. If you want a record of your days with your kids, that’s a pretty awesome gift to give them. I think there are a million ways to have a successful blog, it just depends on how you define success. 
 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life? I can’t even imagine! Seriously. I’m stumped. 
 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? The older my kids have gotten, the less I write about them for that very reason — their stories aren’t mine to share. It’s a tough road to navigate, though, and I’ve definitely learned the hard way that most people don’t appreciate being blog fodder. 
 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed? I miss the intimacy, I miss having time to visit all the blogs I care about and I miss the focus being on quality content rather than virality; sites like BuzzFeed and ViralNova drive me crazy. I do love that there’s much more acceptance of less than perfect sites than there used to be. It’s no longer taboo to admit not loving every second of motherhood and that’s definitely a win.
 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content? I’m lucky to have people send me content, because I certainly couldn’t do it alone! 
 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite? Erma Bombeck, Hilary Clinton, Tina Fey, my grandmother, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. Hello, random dinner party.
 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? Years ago, I was offered a job to work at Martha Stewart Living – kind of the anti-Scary Mommy workplace. 
 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of? Probably this one – It was the most raw I’ve ever felt, and I still sometimes go back and read the comments when I need a pick me up. 

Thank you Jill for allowing me to interview you. You were one of the first blogs that I ever followed and you inspire me with your big heart and authentic voice. You always stay true to who you are. Thanks for always sharing your truth and being scary awesome.  XOXO

Hope that you all enjoyed my first This Blogger’s Life interview with Jill and if you liked her here, go check her out at ScaryMommy.com or better yet share her hilarious series of Scary Mommy books with the moms in your life.

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Today, I am turning 40. The Big O! I’m not 100% where I stand on the entire situation but I do know three things 1) I’m in a much better place than when I turned 30 and had a complete meltdown assessing all the things in life that I had not yet accomplished 2) I am completely content with who I am now. I am still striving to reach my goals and make my dreams come true but them coming true is only the icing on the cake. There is no longer that aching unfulfilled space in my heart. I am living my dreams and surrounded by love. 3) I wanted advice from a close friend who had gone before me into her 40’s. I am lucky enough to be blessed to be friends with one of my favorite people on the Internet and she agreed to give me a little sisterly advice about turning 40.

So, while I am off getting my driver’s license renewed (crossing my eyes in my old age that I can still pass the eye exam) and celebrating the anniversary of my 40th year on this earth, my great friend, Jessica Gottlieb has written me a little advice and I think it is great advice for any woman who is headed towards this milestone birthday.

Thank you Jessica! I’ve told you before, and I am sure I will again, your friendship and mentorship has meant so much to me over these past few years. You are one of the most genuinely real people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.You are like the sassy, feisty, foul-mouthed hooligan big sister that I always wished I’d had. Love you, Lady!

XOXO

 

Debi,

You’re turning 40 in like… well now. It’s weird that when we think about age and women we all too often think about opportunities that are behind us. Most forty-year-old women are done with their childbearing years, most women are done with their educations and many are happily partnered. I guess I thought that my 40’s wouldn’t be dynamic and interesting and full of change.

That’s what I get for thinking.

You’re a woman who knows herself, you take no shit and you take no prisoners. I’ve watched you be passionate and kind to the women around you. You understand womankind and why we need each other.

Moving into this next chapter, and delineating our lives into arbitrary chapters by decade is ridiculous but who am I to fight the tide, I look forward to watching you raise your girls. You’ll enter puberty and teenage years with them. I know you think that those treks belong to the kids, but they don’t, that particular trip is one the whole family takes. I look forward to watching you explore our relationships with each other and I can’t wait to watch you teach your girls to be above the fray though I suspect that you’ll also teach them to have a good right hook. Everyone should have that.

I hope for you that your 40’s bring freedom. I hope for you (and for every woman that I care about) that you run around naked and love your body for having taken you this far. I hope you nurture it with great food, exercise and rest. Yes, I said rest. Put your feet up and rest every so often, rather than feeling like it’s an indulgence. Understand that caring for yourself is a necessary part of being good to your family (ridiculous that we need permission to be selfish).

Social media has helped connect so many of us women who opted to stay home and raise our kids. Although we love being home with our kids who knew it was going to be so dull, the days would be so long and why on earth are there so many bodily fluids involved? What social media hasn’t permitted us to do is rest.

My gift to you this year is to challenge you to take a digital sabbath. Take one day a week and leave the phone home and turned off. Don’t go to the computer at all. It can wait. You don’t have to be a slave to social media, social media should be a slave to you.

I wish you continued health and wealth in this decade as well as love and joy.

Jessica

 

Thanks for the great advice Jessica. I plan to listen to every bit of it. In fact, I’m putting my feet up right now and plan on enjoying life and not rushing through it for the next 40 years. LOL Well, that is my intention. I plan to enjoy the journey.

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If you are here looking for Throat Punch Thursday, I am on vacation and Throat Punch Thursday will resume at it’s regularly scheduled time next week. I just coudn’t bring myself to throat punch someone while siting by the pool in the warm Florida sun. Of course, if some zombie like bastard high on bath salts tries to gnaw my baby girls’ faces off, I am fully prepared to Chuck Norris throat punch the hell out of someone. No one chews on my babies while I’m trying to catch a tan. But seriously, you are in for a treat today!

Today my guest post writer is Tracy of Sellabit Mum. She is another one of my fantastically gifted writer friends, I have a lot of those. We met least year when she was kind enough to purchase my BlogHer ’11 ticket when I found out at the last minute I could not go and let me tell you, am I glad we did. Not only did she totally save my ass, I got to meet a really awesome lady. She is a sweet, funny, smart, witty mom of three beautiful girls. So if you get the chance to meet her in person, hug that girl for me! She is near and dear to my heart because we share a lot of the same life experiences, she just writes about them a hell of a lot more eloquently than I do. Today,once again she is saving my ass. I tell you Tracy is like a superhero. While I am on vacation with my family in Florida and she is up to her eyeballs in end of school year activities herself, she STILL made the time to write an amazing guest post. How much do I love Tracy? You can find her tweeting witt, charm and funny on the Twitter @Sellabitmum and on Facebook. Do yourself a favor and follow this awesome lady!

Thank you so much Tracy. I know you are as busy as you are awesome and that is A LOT!! Love you! XOXO

I’m trying to change my image. I need to do this for my daughters. I grew-up in a very strict household. Not mean. Just strict. One of my biggest memories of growing up is of my step-dad just sitting in his chair greeting my friends. I use the word ‘greeting’ loosely. He never got up or really said hi – he would just stare at them.

Awkward.

Our house wasn’t a house that we could play in or make a lot of noise in or..just be kids in. We were sent outside(which I totally get and do the same), but mainly I just found myself at other people’s homes where we could make a little noise and with dads that played silly games with us.

Even as I got older(and quieter) it was rare that I had a friend over because I truly just never felt comfortable doing it and my friends never asked to come over(I wonder why?).

Growing up in a quiet household gave me a very low tolerance for noise. This is difficult when you have small children. I had no idea the noise that kids could make once you gave them a chance.

So my kids are unusually quiet and sometimes I see their friends be incredibly shy around me like they seem to be purposefully careful how they act. And now I know it’s all my fault. I don’t yell at kids or say unkind words but I know that my body language makes them feel uncomfortable. I haven’t encouraged play-dates at our home. I don’t make friends feel welcome.

And I now want to cry.

I don’t want this same life for my kids and now I’m doing something about it. I want to give my kids a place they want to be and just be kids and a place that they want to bring their friends. That doesn’t mean I can’t have rules, expect common sensibilities, or ask for good manners.

In as much as I was raised to basically just be a little adult when I really just needed to be a kid – I cannot do this to my children. And it’s never too late to change.

It has to change because soon I will have teenagers and I want them here.

I’m starting a new mothering truth in my home – one of more kindness, acceptance, love and fun. And maybe a little more noise. I’ve been encouraging my kids to invite their friends over and even include a friend when we have an outing. I’m opening up our yard for the neighbor kids to just drop by and play at anytime. I’m making lemonade and offering cookies to them. And I’m sitting in the backyard and actually smiling at the happy laughter that I hear(though I admit I cannot accept those loud girlie screams).

But mainly I’m watching my girls enjoy their childhood and hoping I can give them one of comfort, love, joy, friendships on a little bit higher decibel than I was ever allowed to have. Because living out loud is such a better way to be a kid.

And it’s never too late to change this old mom. Hey maybe I’ll even join in a few games of tag this Summer.

Baby steps.

Play-date our house this week!

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You are my sunshine

 

My guest writer today is the magnificent Erin Margolin. I say magnificent because getting to know her as a writer, a woman, a mother and a true, honest to goodness, friend, I know that this woman is one of a kind. Her soul is deep, her heart is kind and it all shows in her writing. It is truly my honor to share with you, my friend and talented writer, Erin Margolin. Do yourself a favor and check our her blog Erin L Margolin (ELM) , you will be so glad to have found her beautiful stories and wonderfully weaved words. She is a writer’s writer and I love reading her posts. I also highly suggest that you follow her on Twitter, this is how I really got to know her and, it sounds cheezy, but this lady makes my days brighter by seeing her gorgeous smile in my stream. Love, love, love her!

Thank you Erin for being such a wonderful presence on the Internet and an amazing friend. XOXO

P.S.  Please vote for her pitch at The Moth (click the stars to vote): Erin M.on 4/26/12: https://bit.ly/qoLpXE . She truly is an amazing writer and so deserves to win this!

The truth about motherhood is…

That being a mom to my singleton (now) is completely different than being a mom to my multiples (who were born in 2005). This time around, I get to snuggle and bond. Piper’s body curves, fitting into mine like a puzzle piece; sliding into this perfect spot, her head resting sideways on my right shoulder, her soft locks tickling my neck, her knees and legs hugging my torso. She loves to hum, and every sigh and breath touches a place in me that I’m incapable of putting into words.

She was a miracle, you know.

I didn’t have this kind of quality time with my twins. I’m wading through that guilt now, feeling as if I never got to cherish either of them alone, unless one or the other was sick. Raising Abby and Izzy was so stressful I can barely remember the first year of their lives, which saddens me. While they don’t remember what they missed out on, I certainly do. Which is enough melancholia for all three of us.

Somehow though, the waves of love and sheer bliss I feel these days crashes into the guilt– like a tumble of salty surf hitting the shore–and obliterates it. I can’t help myself, I’m gobbling her up every moment. Literally pretending to eat her feet and nibble her toes, and she loves it. The drool soaks her clothes and mine, her fist grabs hunks of my hair and we both shriek. I can’t stop kissing her chubby cheeks and my prescription for a bad day is to plunk her in the tub, where she kicks and splashes and delights in the warm water. If I need a smile, I watch her reach to grab her toes and make futile attempts to get them in her mouth. She’s so smart she’s already learned to share her graham crackers with the dog.

Every night before I put her to sleep, I sing You Are My Sunshine. I only know the first two verses:

You are my sunshine

My only sunshine.

You make me happy

When skies are grey.

You’ll never know, dear,

How much I love you.

Please don’t take my sunshine away

The other night, dear,

As I lay sleeping

I dreamed I held you in my arms.

When I awoke, dear,

I was mistaken

And I hung my head and cried.

I never sang to the twins. I have a terrible voice anyway. But I sing these two verses to Piper most nights just before putting her in her crib. My mom sang them to me.

But the truth about motherhood is….she’s my miracle, my red bean. The truth is that I’m allowed to have a different experience with her. The truth about motherhood is that it’s okay to feel guilty sometimes, but not ALL the time.

The truth about motherhood is that this is my destiny–being a mom to three gorgeous girls.

The truth about motherhood is it’s not all sunshine and roses. There are bumps in the road, things like depression and anxiety and family issues. Sometimes these things make motherhood difficult.

The truth about motherhood is that there’s no exact change, no magic formula, no right or wrong way. It’s just about love. Lots and lots of it to go around.

The truth about motherhood is that I’ve finally found my voice.

And I can sing.

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I am sitting by the pool in Florida, watching my girls frolic in the water under the warm Florida sun as I get a little too much sun exposure. It is heavenly and I miss you all very much but in my absence, I have some fabulous guest writers stopping by. I know that you will love them as much as I do.

Today’s guest writer is Jessica Watson, the amazing author of Four Plus an Angel.  She can also be found  @JessBWatson. If you are not familiar with Jessica or her blog, you are in for a real treat. She is a fantastic writer with a gift for the written word. She writes with a raw and honest heart and tells her story like only a Mom’s soul can do. Every time I read her blog, I walk away thinking, laughing and/or crying but always feeling like my day is better for having stopped by Four Plus an Angel.

Thank you Jess for sharing your TRUTH about Motherhood. XOXO

Full Hands

I am often told I have my hands full.

Persuading two four-year olds to stay close with a toddler on my hip and a teenager talking my other ear off as I weave through Target can bring out these sort of comments, I guess.

But they bug me. Maybe because I am already a little irritable when I’m stopped mid-crazy shopping trip or maybe because I will never feel like my hands are full or maybe because, aren’t all of our hands full?

If my kids have decided to be relatively quiet on a shopping trip but the mom one aisle over has an only child who has gone all “wet noodle” in front of the bouncy balls and is screaming like he just skinned his knees on concrete, aren’t her arms the full ones?

Whether you have one child or two children or 10, the truth about motherhood is that it is not easy for anyone, everyday, every moment.

No matter how elaborately your neighbor organized her daughter’s lemonade stand, no matter how perfectly manicured your sister-in-law’s nails are and no matter how many runny-nosed children your best friend manages to entertain in her minivan, there is no supermom.

She doesn’t exist.

There isn’t a mom on the planet who can do it all perfectly from sun up until whenever she manages to lay her head down every. single. day.

And the minute we all come to terms with this, put down our recycled or paper or plastic shopping bags, and just embrace the fact that we are all doing the best we can, motherhood will get a whole lot easier for everyone.

I think back to my early years of motherhood and the pressure I put on myself to read 4 inch thick parenting books, to get rid of the pacifier, to visit the popular park, to join developmentally stimulating playgroups, to send a fancy-schmancy snack, and I wish I could have just told myself to relax.

What makes us unique, what makes our kids unique, is the kind of parents we are, the way we decide to spend our time with them and how we handle the good days and the bad. So your kid has seen Mommy crack in the laundry room and my kid has seen me ugly cry over the dishwasher. Let’s just hope they forget that part and only remember how we pushed them on the swings until our arms were ready to fall off or how we helped them with homework until we had to prop our eyelids open with a pencil.

If you have one child I hope he remembers an afternoon spent on your lap and you remember that one teething, nap-deprived toddler can be just as tough as a household of five busied siblings.

And if you have five children I hope they remember filling up the couch for movie night and you remember those days you did made everyone’s favorite lunch snack or managed to get them all to soccer on time.

Because we are all supermoms, making media-approved or media-exploited choices, we love our children. And if your easiest day is my hardest then that’s just one more reason to lift each other up through this mom-gig and pour a universal glass of wine to clink glasses at bedtime.

We’ve parented our way through one more day and our kids are cute enough when they sleep that we are already poised to get up the next day and fill our arms with motherhood all over again.

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vintage shopping, crushworthy moms, fashionhunters, Alison Kleinert, Karina Lepiner, BRavo

Vintage shopping,Crushworthymoms,Alison Kleinert, Fashion Haul Friday, Fashion Friday, Fashionable drinks

Vintage Shopping

Vintage Shopping with the most Crushworthy moms ~Today, I am honored to have the very awesome and super fabulous Fashionistas, Alison  and Karina (She turned this into a job by working at Second Time Around and starring in Bravo’s “Fashion Hunters”) of CrushworthyMoms.com guest posting on Fashion Friday.  You are in for a treat if you aren’t already familiar with these ladies. Alison and Karina are super fashionable, totally crushworthy and just happen to be vintage shopping queens. This is something that I have been wanting to learn how to do, as I am obsessed with Zooey Deschanel’s wardrobe on the New Girl but ‘m not a time traveler, nor do I have the budget of Zooey Deschanel’s costume designer. I do, however, have a few pieces of vintage royalty of my mom’s that I have rescued ( on more than one occasion) from ending up at the Goodwill and I want more. Lot’s more. Luckily for me, I have a gal ( or two) who is an expert, Alison and Karina. This is a new way to shop. It’s green, it’s affordable and it’s a good way to have a unique look and a one of a kind style. I’ll let Alison  and Karina explain, they’re the experts. Go check them out at Crushworthymoms.com and for great conversation you can find Alison and Karina, tweeting @Crushworthymoms.

Vintage Shopping,Crushworthymoms.com, Alison Kleinert,Karina Lepiner, Fashion Hunters, Second time around

Crushworthy Moms take us Vintage Shopping

Let us introduce ourselves, we are Alison and Karina of Crushworthymoms and we have a confession.  We are addicted to shopping at consignment stores.  So addicted in fact that we both work at STA (Second Time Around) in Manhattan to support our habit and get first dibs at the merchandise.  Karina even starred in Bravo’s Fashion Hunters, a show that is about consignment shopping and the art of the hunt.  We get a rush combing the racks in the hopes of finding that perfect piece that our wardrobe is missing.

So when @Truthfulmommy asked us to do a fashion post (Oh all right, we asked to do a fashion post!) we wanted to make sure we had her style just right.  So when she showed her appreciation for the style of Jess (Zooey Deschanel) from Fox’s New Girl, we knew we could incorporate our love of consignment shopping to find the perfect Jess-inspired outfits for our post.

When you shop consignment you have to go into the store with an open mind and have the time to go through each piece of clothing.  It is all about patience and enjoying the hunt.  You might find a one of a kind piece that you might never have thought you would have liked.  Your clothes should make you stand out not blend in and look like everyone else.  Your clothes should be a reflection of your personality and that is why people are so enamored with Jess’s style beause she wears what she loves.  I guarantee you will find your favorite pieces in a consignment store because they will be conversation starters and not just clothes you bought in a department store.

Now on to the clothes (Disclaimer-We shopped at STA’s annual 50% off sale-Prices were extra LOW):

How can you dress like Jess or Zooey?

Just add a bow to your outfit!

vintage shopping, fashion hunters, second time around, Karina Lepiner, Alison Kleinert

Shoes by Marc Jacob $35

Shirt by Misty $25

Jess’s Day to Evening Look

vinatge shopping, fashion hunters, Karina Lepiner, Alison Kleinert, Crushworthy Moms

 Striped dress by Alice and Olivia $85

Marc Jacobs jacket $35

Trina Turk star dress $35

 Green Manolo Blahnik $100

Yellow Dolce and Gabbana $45

Jess’s Evening Look

vintage shopping, crushworthy moms, fashionhunters, Alison Kleinert, Karina Lepiner, BRavo

Jacket by DVF $125

Sparkly dress by Robert Rodriguez $100

Green bow dress by Zac Posen $375

Gold boots by United Nude $60

Silver heels by Sergio Rossi $110

Vintage Shopping at consignment shops is an art form, as shown by the finds Alison and Karina shared here. Thanks so much for guest posting and sharing your skills, ladies.  Lesson #1, you can’t be afraid to get a little dirty and invest a little time into your vintage shopping excursions. I can’t wait to hit my local vintage shop and see what gems in the rough I find from a time gone by. Seems like with a little effort, you can find a treasure trove of vintage shopping gold!

 Vintage Shopping at it’s Best

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