Supermom? The “Art” of Balancing Life as a Work at Home Mom

Today I have a guest blogger. Caroline Andrus is the webmaster and artist  of Melange Books Publishing. I’m happy to be part of this great group of people. Caroline keeps everything running smoothly at Melange and Fire and Ice YA all the while being a busy wife and mother. I’ll let her tell you about it with the following post. Welcome, Caroline!eIMG_7833

“You continually impress me with your supermom like ways!”

I stared at my laptop in stunned silence.

This was the comment a friend had left on one of my Facebook status a couple of weeks ago. Me? Supermom? The post in question spoke of my completion of my Busy Mom’s Meal Swap meal for the month and contemplation of making “The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” to go with. To me, this was just a once a month event. For those who are not familiar with Meal Swap’s, it’s when a group of people meet up, each agreeing to make a bunch of the same meal and then meeting up again to exchange the meals so everyone gets something different. Sure takes some of the stress out of dinner!

But back to the matter at hand. I couldn’t help but wonder, did I give off the impression of being a supermom? I didn’t feel like it. Most days I feel like I’m barely keeping it together. I am a wife and mother to two little girls, ages 6 and almost 2.

I lost my full-time day job while I was pregnant with my second daughter and opted to just stay home for the most part. I hated missing out on my first daughter’s childhood because I worked from about 9:30 am and didn’t pick her up from Grandma’s until around 6 pm. Then she was in bed by about 7:30. It was rough. Now, being a work from home mom, I feel like I get less done around the house than before, but at least I get to see my kids!

A little background about my work. I am a Jack(ie?) of all Trades for Melange Books, LLC and it’s YA imprint Fire and Ice. I am the webmaster, head of the art department (aka book covers manager and artist), I run the blog, I load books to our website shopping cart, and I format and load books for Amazon Kindle and Smashwords.com…among other odd jobs that get thrown at me! On the weekends you can often find me working as a product demonstrator at Super Target. This is my one chance to get out of the house and interact with adults.

My typical day begins either with my 6 year old bursting into my room anywhere between 7 and 9 am, usually whining she can’t get the Wii to work OR on a good day, I wake between 8 and 9 when the little one wakes up in her crib. Regardless, unless there’s an emergency—which is rare—I don’t get up much earlier than around 9. Next up is breakfast for all three of us. Followed by dishes (I’m not an evening dishes person, I’d rather do them first thing in the morning.) Sometimes we’ll go outside and the girls will play and I’ll work in the garden, other times we’ll stay inside and I’ll get to work while the kids play. On an ideal day, my 6 year old gets to run down the road and play with our friends/neighbors. My biggest obstacle, believe it or not, is Facebook. Not only do I have my own personal Facebook account which sucks my life away, but I also have the Melange FB page to manage, the Fire and Ice FB page, my personal design FB page and I created a group to interact via FB with our authors and fellow staff members.

Somewhere during the day I try to find time to pick up the endless clutter that is overtaking my life. I try to get my 6 year old to do it, but she seems to think she’s getting a free ride and throws a conniption fit if I so much as ask her to pick up the granola bar wrapper that fell to the floor during her snack. You’d think I was asking her to clean the entire kitchen floor with a toothbrush the way she overreacts! We’re working on this, and as she gets older, I hope it gets easier. I also have to fit in laundry and figure out what the heck is for dinner. It’s an endless challenge.

In the evening, my husband comes home from work, we eat dinner and typically it’s about time for the girls to get to bed. We usually team up and each take one child. Regardless of which child I put to bed, once they’re tucked in and lights out, I spend the evening on the couch, working on my laptop (website, book covers, etc.) and listening to, “Mommmmmmyyyy! I need a drink of water!” or “Mommmmmyyyy! I need mommy snuggles!” or, my favorite, “Mommmmyyyy! I tried to fall asleep but it didn’t work.”

And so, when someone tells me I’m Supermom, I’m a little flabbergasted.

I struggle daily, balancing work and house and kids, but it’s a challenge that I enjoy.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

LINKS:

https://www.facebook.com/CarolineAndrusDesigns

https://www.facebook.com/MelangeBooksLLC

https://www.facebook.com/FireIceYA

Some of Caroline’s work:

WindShadowFinal2PhoenixElite1ImmortalConfessionsFINAL2

 

 

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All My Children

all-my-children

I’ve been asked if there’s a lot going on in my head and if it’s getting a little crowded in there. When you write books, people tend to ask things like that. They want to know where I got my ideas or how I can write an entire book.

The short answer is, “I don’t know!” That’s not the answer people want to hear so I will try my best to explain.

They are not books to me, they are my children. I send them out into the world and hope for the best, for everyone to like them and think I did a good job raising them. If I hear bad things about them, I get hurt feelings, but also look to how I can improve my skills as a parent. When I get compliments, I burst with pride.

These kids fight with me, sometimes I win and other times they get their way. I suggest a certain outcome and they insist on going in another direction. I may have plotted their course but they seem to have other plans. I hopefully will always know the beginning, middle and end but it’s the parts in between that make life interesting.

I say them when I talk about my books, even though I have an only child out there now. Soon more will join it, as recently as September and as late as next January. Am I nervous to send number two and three out there into the cold, cruel world? Absolutely. It’s just as nerve-wracking as the first time I sent my child out there on its own.

Will there be more beyond that, you ask? How can you fit any more into that brain of yours? Well, like any good parent, there’s always room for one more. I just hope everyone will keep enjoying all my children.

 

The Princess and the Pea

Do yprincess-and-the-peaou ever wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep? Your mind is going ninety miles a minute? I used to dread when it happened and called it The Princess and the Pea syndrome.

You know the old story. A wife is needed for a prince and his mother piles stacks of mattresses on top of each other. Under the bottom one, she places a pea. If the girl feels the pea during the night, she’s the next princess!

The one, true princess finally comes to town and spends the night on the mattress tower. She, of course, cannot sleep because the pea keeps her awake all night. I wouldn’t have slept for fear of falling off the bed, but that’s another story.

So now you can see why I’ve labeled sleepless nights as The Princess and the Pea syndrome. If I tell my husband that, he immediately knows I tossed and turned all night.

Since I’ve started writing my mind wakes me up more than when I taught. Instead of labeling it a curse, I’ve decided to look at it as a blessing. It’s when I do my best thinking.

My husband informed me I should keep a pad and pencil under my bed to write my thoughts down so I don’t forget. Easy for him to say as he snores away and I’m searching for my glasses in the dark. Ever try to write in the dark? It looks like a five-year-olds, who’s just learning to write. It’s crooked, overlaps and is much larger than your usual printing.

So when I have to really write something, I slip into the bathroom, flip on the light, sit on the edge of the tub or pull down the toilet seat and begin to jot down my thoughts. In the morning I admonish myself for writing like I was still in the dark.

Usually the mind calms down after writing. I also remind myself that I can sleep in now, no more alarm clocks. Sometimes it works. Other times, I think someone snuck in while I was in the bathroom writing and stuck a pea…just one tiny little one…under my mattress.

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer

Euclid Beach 1Whenever you’re writing a novel, I don’t care who you are, you rely on memories. There are stories tucked in the back of your mind itching to be set free. Characters might be based on people you know and scenes set on experiences you’ve had. Since it’s summer, I thought I’d share a memory that came to mind after reading about the long closed Euclid Beach Park in the paper.  It brought back old childhood memories.

 

Euclid Beach was a magical place to little kids back in the day. Why? That is a question my son asks. What’s so great about Euclid Beach? He, who has been exposed to every kind of park from Disney to Busch Gardens to Cedar Point.  Well, in those days, there weren’t a lot of places that catered to kids except Roller Rinks. We didn’t have all the choices kids have today. We only had three channels to choose from on one television set. Hard to believe, isn’t it, kids?GoldenTicket

 

On the last day of school, we would all get that golden ticket. Yeah, I stole that from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but give me a break. I’m a teacher and it’s one of my favorite books.  The ticket was actually yellow and it listed all the rides you could go on for free.

 

At the park, you usually bought tickets for each ride. Some rides were worth more tickets, like the Flying Turns, and were excluded on the golden ticket. If you wanted to ride, you had to pay.

I think we had to go on a certain day for the ticket to be valid, something like School Days. Euclid Beach wasn’t a far drive but to a kid it seemed far away.  We usually went with friends or cousins.

 

Once we entered the park, the first ride we ran to was The Bug.  It was great because you could fit a lot of kids in the circle of seats. Whoever was on the wrong end would get smashed by the rest of us. We always did our best to smash that person with a few extra pushes, too.  The Rocket Ships were usually next.  Two fit in a seat and the ships would leave the concrete pad and swing out and around in a circle. It was a thrill! And one of my favorites.

Bug         rocket1

Afterward, we’d head down the midway past Laughing Sal and the Fun House. Never seemed like much fun to me, just the opposite. It was pretty scary. Sal would be in one of the corners of the outside of the building, supposedly laughing, but to me it was a sign to stay far away. I don’t remember going in there until I was much older.

Laughing_Sal

 

over the falls

Laugh in the Dark was not to be missed. Those type of rides are now referred to as a  dark ride because, well, it was in the dark. You’d travel inside a dark building in cars on a track and things would light up to scare you. I think my all time favorite dark ride was Over the Falls. You sat in a four person boat; two in front and two in back, and weren’t even strapped in. The boat went through a tunnel and scenes lit up but were not scary. When you came out of the tunnel you started chugging up the hill and then dropped straight down into a pool of water…without ever falling out. To this day, I never understood why not. I know there’s a scientific explanation but still…

 
Euclid Beach had many coasters, too. The Racing Coasters were fun because they took off at the same time and everyone wanted to come back first and win. They were the tamest of the coasters. We talked my mom into going on it one year. She was afraid of coasters and most rides. Well, we never heard the end of it. She hated it and repeated the story many times how we made her go! The kids loved the fact she went on a coaster. We thought it was great and, of course, funny.

coaster I always remember coming to the back edge of the park. The last ride was the Flying Scooters. They looked like butterflies and you moved the wing back and forth to make the scooter go up in the air. There was a trailer park community beyond that and people were not allowed to walk through. I never remember going down to the lake although the park sat right by it. We’d stopped at the trailer park and felt we came to the end of the line.

 When it was time to go home, we’d stop for ice cream cones and buy popcorn balls and taffy to take home. What a great ending to a long day.

So, to answer my son’s question, what’s so great about Euclid Beach? Hard to put into words but I think my answer would be the same every time…the memories.

 

Finding a Title

TwitterbirdTitles don’t come easy to me, thus the unforgettable one today. They have to be catchy and still match the story…or blog. I should be better at it because we tend to make up names for lots of things in our family.

One I’ll share today is the dreaded Chirp-athon. My husband aptly named it because starting in the spring, right through summer; the birds begin a chorus of chirps kicking off around 5 a.m.

Now if you’re sleeping, you’re golden and never know it’s happening. But if you’re awake for any reason, you will not be serenaded back to sleep, you’ll just lie there and pray it ends…soon. I can tell you first-hand it lasts over an hour, is very loud and then suddenly everything falls silent. I guess the birds are done singing their anthem, “The early bird gets the worm”, by then and fly off to begin their day. I’m left staring at the bedroom ceiling.

fink-51425_1280

Our favorite Chirp-athon is when one bird decides to sit right outside our bedroom window. It sets up a mic stand and surround-sound speakers. We don’t know if it’s a special guest star or one-time appearance because it doesn’t happen too often, thank goodness. It’s like having our alarm clock set for 5 a.m. No sleeping through that.

I guess if we didn’t see the humor in it, it could drive us crazy, and families need that…both humor and a little crazy sometimes.

They also need buzz words, or fun sayings, in their lives…a phrase or word that can bring smiles to their faces or make them recall a certain memory. Something only the family knows the meaning of and the outside world has no clue.

So after coming up with these catchy words and sayings for years, I have the dreaded title block as I have come to call it. It’s like writer’s block only different. I keep telling myself it will come to me, keep writing, but it doesn’t. When I finally do get a brainstorm, I go to Amazon to check if there are any similar titles. If I see ten books with the same heading, I don’t want to use it anymore.

So what am I to do? Wrack my brain, read a thesaurus, Google words or pray for divine intervention? I don’t know what the answer is. Frustrating as it is, I know I’ll keep trying but there’s just a little piece of me that wants to throw up my hands and say, “Oh, this is for the birds.”

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!
— Dr. Seuss