Posted in Personal, Slice of LIfe

Slice of Life: Memory Lane

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Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back with another Slice of Life Post, and today I’m talking about my kids. You see, my oldest will graduate fifth grade this year and it’s a tradition for the parents to organize a big party for them.

One of the parents volunteered to put together a slide presentation of the kids with snapshots from previous years, and she also wanted a baby picture of each graduate. I thought this was an awesome idea.

So, this weekend I went through our pictures. It was a walk down memory lane. It was so precious. I had so many pictures. I think I got almost every toothless smile my firstborn gave. I got his first graham cracker, his first tooth, and his first lost tooth. He grew and changed before my eyes, and I remember he had the sweetest disposition. He still does.

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Isn’t that just the sweetest face?

I remember how my firstborn wouldn’t eat baby food. He wanted to eat what we were eating. It brought back those memories of making mashed potatoes, mushing up bananas, and grinding up carrots.

Looking at those pictures, I realized how much my little guy has grown. He’s almost as tall as me. He has my eyes and a wacky sense of humor, and he’s kind. Both of my boys are. I love that about them.

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Another sweet pic of my oldest!

I’m so glad I took so many pictures. There were photos of my two boys playing together, already developing that sibling bond. They’re very close now. In fact, when one of my firstborn’s friends invites him to spend the night they almost always include my youngest, too.

I love that about my son’s friends. That’s such an awesome testament to their parents and the kids themselves. I’m looking forward to this summer when we can make more memories and take more pictures. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and reading my Slice of Life Post! To read other Slice of Lifers you can click here.

****Just an FYI, I’ll be doing a post about my youngest next year when he’s a fifth grader. I’m not playing favorites! 😉

 

Posted in Family, Literacy, Parenting, raising kids, Reading

Inspiring Kids to Read

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about inspiring kids to read.

One of the greatest life skills you can instill in your child is a love of reading. As kids progress through the school system, each grade becomes more challenging, and the need for reading comprehension becomes even more critical.

These kids need to read so they can understand test questions and be able to answer them correctly. When they get older, they’ll need to be able to fill out a job application and read the requirements for medication. Do you know one in seven adults can’t read above the fifth grade level? Isn’t that scary?

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So, how do we instill a love of reading to turn this statistic around? Well, I started when my boys were babies. I read to them and rocked them every night. This did backfire a bit because my oldest wanted to be rocked to sleep EVERY night. You might not want to do the rocking. Some nights it took him FOREVER to fall asleep! But on a positive note there was a lot of bonding! 😉

I continued to read to them as they grew and their grandparents read to them as well. So it became a part of their environment and they didn’t know any other way. It was just one of the things we did.

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          Then when my boys started reading on their own, they’d read to us. My youngest who loves reading could sit and read for a couple of hours. I know all there is to know about Transformers, he’s read the book to me so many times. The thing is, we as parents have to be patient and let our littles choose what they want to read, and even if we’ve heard the story fifty million times we need to be enthusiastic and pretend it’s the most awesome story in the world. Because to your child it is.

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          We also keep a steady supply of books around the house and our kids read at least twenty minutes a night. My youngest has become a big reader. What books lit that fire? The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. My little guy wants to get all the books in the series. So, I owe a huge thank you to Rick for writing such a compelling stories.

This is the book that started it all 🙂

My oldest who reads only because he has to is now interested in the series. My youngest has introduced him to these books. It does my heart good to hear them talking about books almost as much as they talk about Minecraft.

Another thing that helps is the fact that I write books. 🙂 ( You knew I was going to slip that in, didn’t you?) My oldest has read all three books in the Super Spies series and really enjoyed them. He’s also very proud of his mom.  My youngest read the first one, I believe just to please me, but he’s more interested in Greek Mythology right now and that’s okay, as long as he’s reading.

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I also read. My boys see me reading for pleasure, and I’m hoping they’ll model this behavior and become lifelong readers as well.

So, that’s how I’ve tried to instill a love of reading with my kids? Do you have any other tips? Please share! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Literacy, Parenting

Improving Literacy starts at Home

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m back today and I’m talking about literacy in the United States. Did you know one in seven adults would find it difficult to read anything more challenging than a picture book? This is scary.

I find this quite alarming. How can these adults teach their children about the joy of reading, if they can’t read themselves? I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Parents who can’t read are limited to what they can teach their children. In my opinion, reading is one of the most important skills we can pass on to our kids.

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What’s going to happen to our country if we raise a generation of illiterate adults? What happens when all they can do is read text messages? The ability to read and write correctly is going to be a skill that will be in short supply in the future. In my opinion, there’s going to be a great divide between the kids who can read and write and those who get through life typing and reading short text messages. We as parents need to turn the tide on this problem. But what can we do?

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We can make reading a priority. In our house it’s part of homework. My boys read twenty minutes every night. I talk about the books they’re reading and ask them their opinions. My oldest is in the process of reading my second Super Spies book. I know this story by heart and we discuss the actions of the characters. Could they have handled a situation differently? What would you do differently if you were in that situation? These are good talks and I treasure them. I’m hoping by having these discussions, I’m developing critical thinkers, too.

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What else can we do? We can improve the selection of books available for our kids to read. The more books they have to choose from, the more likely they’ll find something that interests them. This means supporting the libraries in our schools and our public libraries. It also means having a lot of books in our homes.

I also believe we need to accept what our kids want to read. If they want to read graphic novels, so be it. It’s better than not reading. That goes for comic books, too.  If these types of books are what interests your child, show them you support their choices. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo via Visual Hunt

When you think about it, reading helps strengthen the family bond. Imagine as your child grows he develops an affinity for a certain genre of books. Wouldn’t it be awesome to sit with your child and talk about the books he’s read? It would boost his self-esteem if you showed genuine interest in what he’s doing. If you showed you valued his opinion.

A Mom who read my first Super Spies book with her daughter, sent me an e-mail stating that my book opened up a family discussion about what her daughter would do if she were in the same situation as my characters. It was a great bonding moment between them. Isn’t that an awesome feeling? Knowing your book sparked a family bonding moment? It was for me!

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Reading is also a great stress reliever. Helping your child develop a love of reading early will help him deal with the pressures of being a teenager. I always lost myself in a book during my teen years and it helped me.

For more information on how reading benefits you and your child, check out this post.

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-benefits-reading-why-you-should-read-everyday.html

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any ideas on how to improve literacy, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Slice of LIfe

Pennies from Heaven: A Slice of Life Post

 

 

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Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post. Today, I want to talk about the significance of finding coins, specifically pennies and dimes.

Recently, I went to the mall with my youngest. There was a game for the Xbox 360 he wanted to get and he couldn’t wait one more day to get it. Sigh. So we ventured out on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

I parked my car in the parking lot and stepped out. I happened to look down on the ground and there sitting right by my foot was a dime. I picked it up and put it in my pocket. I didn’t think much about it, just proceeded into the store.

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After my son picked out his game, we stood in the long line waiting to check out. Ahead of me in the aisle was a bright shiny penny. I had seen it earlier, before I stepped in line, but I figured someone would pick it up. I was surprised to see it still on the floor. I picked it up and handed it to the cashier. I thought it was odd, all those people milling around and no one picked up that coin. I shrugged it off, after all, it was busy. The chances of finding loose change will increase dramatically when you have more people milling around.

Antique Slot Machine, Indian Head Pennies
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We left the store and headed toward our car. As we travelled across the parking lot, something shiny caught my eye. When I stepped closer, I realized it was a coin, another dime. Now I believe in synchronistic events and I find it strange that I would find three coins in a busy mall out in plain site where anyone passing by could pick them up.

So when I returned home. I did an internet search and I found there is a spiritual connection to finding pennies and dimes.

Some people believe that finding these two types of coins in odd places or frequently is a message from someone who has passed to the other side.

Click this link to read more here:

http://www.ask-angels.com/spiritual-guidance/finding-dimes-pennies-from-heaven/

If this is true, what does finding these coins mean? What message are they trying to convey?

Well, according to the above article, pennies signify the number one. Which carries the vibration of new beginnings, new ideas, achievement, success, and progress.

Dimes, on the other hand, signify that you should pay attention to your intuition and trust your instincts as you move forward in life.

Is this true? I don’t know, but I do know that I’ve had a rush of new ideas recently in regards to my writing. 🙂 So I’m going to be paying attention that’s for sure.

How about you? Has anything like this happened to you before? What did you make of it? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Click the link below to see more Slice of Life Posts:

Slice of Life Posts

 

Posted in Parenting, Uncategorized

Technology and Its Effects on our Lives

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I’m back today and I’m excited because I’ve finished my latest WIP. 🙂 Now the editing begins. My favorite part of writing. I love making my story stronger and better. I’ll share more details as I go through the process.

Today, I want to talk about technology. What an amazing thing it is. When I compare my childhood to that of my children, things are totally different, and I must say, I’m not that old! 😉

It’s incredible the changes that have occurred in the last thirty years (cough). Back in the day, we only had a landline phone, cell phones didn’t exist. Now, we’ve got phones that we can send texts, take pictures, and search the web with. It is truly amazing how far we’ve come.

And let’s not forget Social Media. Today, we can chat with someone from another country via the internet for the cost of an internet connection. I remember my days in college when we had to wait until after eleven pm to make long distance calls because the rates were lower, and I wasn’t even chatting with someone from another country. Those phone calls were expensive!

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Photo courtesy of Flicker Creative Commons and

https://mkhmarketing.wordpress.com/

It’s remarkable how far we’ve come and it makes me wonder how far we’ll go. What new technology awaits us over the horizon? What will social media evolve into and what effect will it have on our kids?

These are the questions I think about as I watch my children interact with their friends. I wonder how relationships will evolve. Will most of them be carried out over the internet? Will text messaging/instant messaging be the way our kids communicate with their friends and families? After all this type of communication is on the rise. Just take a look at these statistics. http://attentiv.com/we-dont-speak/

The reality is that our texting may be a detriment to face to face communication. According to this article, http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/texting-teens-adults-communication-0726126

Text messaging/instant messaging is a form of instant gratification, cultivating impatience in our teens which could lead to aggression. When I think of this, I think of road rage and the fact that it’s on the rise. To me, road rage is a person’s frustration when they can’t get to their destination fast enough or they’re frustrated by another driver. Could the instant gratification of text messaging be a contributing factor to road rage? In my opinion yes.

This is one of the negatives of our technological advancement. Just like everything in life, moderation is the key. I believe we need to set limits on cell phone usage especially while driving. Did you know that texting while driving is now a worse public hazard than drunk driving? Check out this article, http://www.alertdriving.com/home/fleet-alert-magazine/north-america/Texting-while-driving-now-a-worse-public-hazard-than-drunk-drivers

Right now, the responsibility resides with the individuals to monitor their own cell phone usage while driving. I believe, we’ll soon have laws that prohibit the use of cell phones while on the road, but how do we police it? As a parent, I say absolutely no texting while driving for teens. They’ve just learned how to drive, they don’t need the distraction of trying to text at the same time.

Our technological advancements have created some problems for our society. In my opinion, moderation is key. We’ll have to monitor and set limits for social media interaction and text messaging for our kids. After all, we don’t want them to lose the ability to communicate face to face. They’d lose the art of reading body language and emotional intelligence will decrease. These are vital skills they’ll need as adults, wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today, I appreciate it! Leave a comment, I’d love to read your thoughts! 🙂

 

 

Posted in Slice of LIfe, Uncategorized

A Slice of Life

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m participating in “A Slice of Life” today. I’m excited and a little nervous because this is my first time. I hope you find what I want to share interesting.  It’s a story about my oldest son.

I had gone out to breakfast and then church with a couple of friends. We were talking about making the New York Times Bestsellers List and what it takes to make it. My friend told me the story about another author who made the list by taking out a loan and buying the required number of copies to do this.

Now, it’s been one of my goals to do make this list. I just think it’d be a great accomplishment and I’m working on improving my writing to get there, but what an easy way to do it. However, would I feel the same sense of accomplishment if I made the list the easy way as opposed to having my book make it all on its own?

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So, I was talking with my hubby and my son happened to be in the room listening as I explained the story my friend had told me. Just as I said, “I don’t think I’d feel a sense of accomplishment if I made it that way.”

My oldest wrinkled his nose and responded. “Mom, that’s cheating.”

“You’re right,” I said and he rose from the couch and went in the other room.

I was so proud of him. He knows the difference between accomplishing something on your own and buying it. I don’t know where or when he learned that lesson, but I’m so glad he did. I hope I had a part in teaching him that.

It’s funny, when you’re a parent, you think of yourself as the moral compass in your child’s life, you never think that they’re going to be your moral compass. 🙂 It just goes to show you, you never stop learning and we can learn from everyone can’t we?

 

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my “Slice of Life” post. I’d love it if you’d take a look at the other posts and if you want to leave a short snippet of your own slice of life in the comment section, feel free! I’d love to read it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized

Inspiration

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. I know I did. This year was certainly better than last year, that’s for sure. Now it is officially Christmas Season. My favorite holiday, but enough about that, this isn’t a Christmas post…not yet anyway. 🙂

 

I want to talk about Inspiration.

 

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What inspires me to write? There are many things but here are a couple that I’d thought I’d share with you.

The first is a note from a fellow author, who purchased my first book “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer.” She bought it in hopes her reluctant reader would be inspired to read. This is a direct quote:

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“Lisa Orchard is like the best writer EVER” ~according to my daughter, who until recently, never read a book voluntarily. Her next statement was, “You’d better get the rest of the series.”

Yes, ma’am. Going to buy them now! 

Here’s the review they left on Amazon:

My 12 year old daughter says:

I loved this book so much because it was so exciting. All the cool moments in the house were really creepy. It made it feel like the girls were going to come to the end of their road. It was super suspenseful. Please keep writing more books like this!

I say:

My reluctant-reader daughter inhaled this book–twice! She came rushing into the room at least three times an hour with breathless updates on the adventure. Definitely an engaging read for kids who like a little mystery.

This made my week. It just felt so good to inspire someone to read. I immediately began thinking of ideas for the next book in the series, even though I’m in the middle of a new one with new characters. I’ve got a couple of ideas brewing so we’ll see where they go.

My kids also inspire me to write. They’re so proud of my accomplishments. My oldest has read two of the books in the series and he told me they were awesome. I’m hoping by sticking with my writing, they’ll see how the hard work pays off and they’ll learn to follow their own dreams and aspirations.

My boys are learning so many valuable lessons with my writing. Just the other day, I was talking with a friend and she told me about another author who bought enough copies of her own book to get on the New York Times Bestsellers list. She told me this as an idea for marketing.

I relayed this information to my husband and told him that I didn’t think I’d get a big sense of accomplishment if I made it to the list that way. My son was present during the conversation and this was his response.

“Mom, that’s cheating.” He wrinkled his nose and shook his head.

I was cheering inside, while on the outside, I just smiled. My son has an excellent moral compass and it’s so nice to see it. My hubby and I did at least one thing right. 🙂

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So there you have it. Two things that inspire my writing. How about you what inspires you? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Family

The Comparison Game

Hello everyone!  I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week, working hard on my next project and spending time with the family. 🙂 We went to the movie Pixels on Friday and the boys loved it. Me, I’m more of a Baymax fan, so if you haven’t seen Big Hero Six yet. It’s a must!

I’ve been working hard with my boys and trying to instill in them a sense of individuality. Whenever I catch them comparing themselves to each other or someone else, I immediately tell them everyone is different. We all learn things at our own pace. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.

I tell them their focus should be on being the best individuals they can be. Instead of competing with each other or their friends, they should compete with themselves and try to be better than they were the day before.

My youngest wants to be a Ninja. He runs around our yard, climbing trees and jumping over rocks. This summer he wanted to go to Ninja Camp. I asked him the night before camp if he was nervous and he admitted he was a little apprehensive. So I told him, “Be the best Ninja you can be. Don’t worry about all the other Ninjas out there. We’re proud of you no matter what.” He smiled and I could see the relief shining in his eyes. Sometimes we parents forget in our efforts to motivate our kids, we inadvertently communicate that we have high expectations. Sometimes they need to be reminded that they’re loved unconditionally.

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Turning our focus on our own goals and aspirations is important not only for my boys, but for everyone. In my opinion, it forces us to focus only on ourselves. I don’t mean we need to be selfish. I mean we need to be internally oriented.

I believe all of us need to be internally oriented.It’s less stressful and better for our health. I wonder if we all practiced this, if there would be a decline in stress related illnesses. I’m willing to bet there would be! 🙂

Where did I get this wonderful insight? You guessed it! I read a book. 🙂 The book is titled “Love” by Leo Buscaglia. I read it when I was in college and it really had an effect on me. It’s a great book. Check it out if you’ve lost your way or even if you haven’t. It’s a great read.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today! Please leave a comment if you have anything you’d like to share!

Here are some links to related posts:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniela-tempesta-lcsw/comparing-yourself_b_4441288.html

https://lisaorchard.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/lets-raise-internally-oriented-kids-another-tool-to-help-beat-peer-pressure/

Posted in Family, Health, raising kids

What Cancer has Taught Me

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! It has been a while since I’ve posted on my blog. Sorry about that, but I’ve been busy with surgery, vacations, and the kidlets! I’ve also had trouble finding a topic. It seems that I’ve written either a guest post or a post for my own blog on just about everything. 🙂 (I know that’s not true, but it feels that way.)

Then it hit me. I could write about what cancer has taught me. I know. Another post about cancer, but it’s a good one. I promise. (Insert sincere smile here.) When I was younger and working in the competitive environment of insurance sales and something or someone would bother me. I used to ask myself this question. “If I found out I had cancer, would this particular incident upset me?” Surprisingly, the answer was always. “No.” In that instance, I would put the episode behind me and focus on what I needed to accomplish for that day. I tried hard not to wallow in negative emotions. Although, sometimes I did. 🙂 I am a work in progress, after all.

It’s quite ironic I was diagnosed twenty years later with cancer. Does that make me psychic? 😉

Anyway, it’s funny what cancer teaches you. That’s right. There’s a positive side to having cancer. It wakes you up. It gives you clarity. For example, I struggled with being a stay at home mom. Working has always given me a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. For moms who work hard for those teachable moments with their kids while battling the mountain of laundry that seems to come with them, there’s no crowd cheering you on. There’s no award at the end of the day. There’s no real recognition from your peers, which means the sense of accomplishment gets a bit muddled sometimes. Especially when you’re trying to teach your child patience and they choose to scream their little heads off instead of learning it. 🙂  Cancer has taught me that I don’t need any special recognition from my peers. I just need and appreciate the bond I have with my kids.

Cancer has opened my eyes to the little things in everyday life that I may not have appreciated fully or may have even take for granted. Things I would have missed if I had been working full time. For example, those little conversations I have with my boys at odd hours of the day. Are transformers fiction or non-fiction? Is Texas bigger than Michigan? Is a Tyrannosaurus Rex bigger than our house?

Tyrannosaurus Rex Drawing - Tyrannosaurus Rex Fine Art Print

Another example is a hug. Something as simple as a hug can have a huge impact on someone’s day. When I drop my boys off to school, I hug them and tell them I love them. In fact, I do this every time I leave the house and they don’t come with me. I’ve practiced this ever since they were babies. I know this sounds weird or even a little fatalistic, but I always thought, “What if I get in a car accident on the way home?” I want my boys’ last memory of me to be a hug and my last words to be “I love you.” Surviving cancer has taught me that I’m on the right track. Now, I hug more often and tell my boys I’m proud of them and that I’m glad they’re in my life. I believe kids need to hear that sometimes.

Believe it or not, conventional business theory states that there are ...

I always tried to live my life as if each day was my last, so it would be a worthwhile day. I practiced this as much as I could, but now after cancer I’m even better at it. Now, I don’t oscillate between the two pillars of I should be working and I should be home with the kids. I know where I’m supposed to be.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Please leave a comment or ask a question! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting

What I’ve learned Juggling Motherhood and the Writing Life

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I’m back today and I’m talking about  what I’ve learned juggling motherhood and the writing life. Those are my two main goals, to become an awesome writer and to be an awesome mother.

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These goals are sometimes at odds with each other, because writing takes a lot of time and so does mothering. It’s a little bit easier now because the boys are in school and I get time during the day to write, but I still find myself stealing moments during the evening to write a smidge here and there.

In addition, there’s more to writing than meets the eye. There’s also editing, writing query letters, and finding an agent or publisher. After that, there’s more editing and then you have the unending job of promoting your work once it’s published. Sometimes I have a hard time balancing between promoting my work and actually creating it. Throw my hubby and my kids into the mix and that’s when I need about ten more hours in my day.

I try very hard to carve out some time for the family. I think it’s important. I want my kids growing up feeling valued and loved. It’s kind of a trial and error thing because our kids don’t come with instruction booklets do they? Moreover, with two distinct personalities; the needs of one child are different from the needs of the other child and as a parent; I have to figure out what those needs are. I’m fortunate because I have a hubby who helps!

There are times when I’m in the middle of a great scene and I’m going gang-busters that I’m interrupted because one of my little guys needs some attention. This can be frustrating, but then I think about how I want to be remembered. When I do this, when I imagine the result that I want, it’s much easier to keep my frustration under wraps so my kids feel like their emotional needs are being met. I don’t want to be remembered as the mom who was always saying, “Just a minute.”

Although, there are times when I have to say those words and it’s not always when I’m writing. It may be one of those times when I just need to sit down and take a breath. I tell myself that’s okay too, because if I get drained from always giving, then I can get a little grumpy. 🙂

Taking a break is good for me. Therefore, it would make sense that if it’s good for me, then it’s also good for my kids, so it’s one of those win-win situations. Mom’s less stressed if she takes a little time for herself and that means she’s more fun.

We all want to be one of those “fun” moms, right?

Having kids is a great way to set priorities. The things that seemed so important when I was single just aren’t important any more. When my kids were babies, everyone told me that my life would become busier and more complicated.

So not true. The complicated part anyways. Sure, I’m busier because I want my kids to have all kinds of positive experiences so I’m busy trying to introduce them to new things, but complicated? No way.

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Zoo Trip with my Kidlets! They’re looking at a bear. You can’t tell from the picture. LOL!

Having kids strips away all the meaningless crap you were doing because you just didn’t know any better. My children have simplified my life. I make sure I only spend time on the things that are important to me. That in a nutshell is what I’ve learned juggling Motherhood and The Writing Life.

If you have any thoughts on juggling motherhood and your other endeavors please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!