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Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Amanda Simkin

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Amanda Simkin

On-the-go Chicagoan and mother of two boys, Amanda Simkin has a pretty full plate. When she’s not scouting the city for the latest kid-approved adventures, she’s sharing her family-friendly finds and then some on her blog Queen of the Land of Twigs ‘n Berries. So how does she keep her energy high (and her sanity in check)? Simkin gives us an inside peek.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

As the first of my friends to have a baby, I became the “go to” resource for many of my friends once they started to have families. Instead of answering the same question over and over, I wrote it down and somehow it spread like wildfire!

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Authentic, helpful, motherhood.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

My favorite post to write and research was “15 Mommy & Me Date Ideas.” With two little boys, I love to create special one on one time with them enjoying special activities we both enjoy. They loved having Mommy’s full attention without any sibling rivalry.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

I’m not sure if balance is attainable for me. But I have found that waking up before the kids do and peacefully working with a cup of coffee and then staying up late to write and enjoy a glass of wine lets me be present with my kids during the day.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

My beloved Nana always told me to enjoy the time I had with my boys. She lost a daughter at a very young age so she constantly reminded me not to take a second for granted, even when one of us was having a melt down.

What’s a typical day like for you?

It’s non-stop from the moment my eyes open until when they close. There is lots of writing, coffee drinking, and errand running in between…but the highlights are making messy and imperfect memories with my sweet boys.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Be you. Don’t try to be like some other parenting blogger just because they have a ton of page views or a pretty Instagram page. Embrace your messy, chaotic life and savor every second.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Ghada Karam

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Ghada Karam

When Ghada Karam decided she wanted to work from home to spend more time with her daughter, she realized she needed a way to make her dream a reality. The result? Confidential Mommy Talks, a blog and parenting resource that combines three of Karam’s passions: “Motherhood, storytelling and marketing.” So how did this mother of two and self-described “lifestyle mom” manage to build a full-scale operation that now boasts a healthy blog following, newsletters and thriving social platforms? She gives us the lowdown on how motherhood allowed her to create her dream ob.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I decided to launch my blog a few months after my first baby was born. At that time, I had a full time job, and I was completing my master’s program. My schedule was full, and I had very little time to spend with my daughter. I figured that if I had the chance to work from home, I would have the chance to be closer to her. That’s when I started educating myself about blogging, as I had absolutely no clue what to expect — this entire world was foreign to me. I had to start from scratch to find my topics, discover my voice and make sure this would be a good fit for me.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Motherhood, Milestones, Tantrums

What is your favorite blog post to date?

I enjoy writing most of my posts because they reflect my day-to-day life with my kids, and my life as a mom. It’s really hard to choose one favorite as they all reflect a different aspect of my life. One post I particularly like was written recently: “Why I Was Late This Morning (And Every Other Morning).” This post reflects my new life with two kids and the hard work it takes to get out of the house each morning.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Well, that’s a hard one… Until my second baby was born, I had some free time to focus on my blog when my daughter was in daycare. However, now that I have a baby at home, I’m still trying to figure out how to best make things work. I discovered recently that on the days I really want to focus on my work, I can sit in a coffee shop and work. This way I don’t get distracted with the housework, and I can quickly take a break to assist with the baby when he needs me.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

I’m a parenting blogger, so I constantly get exposed to relevant parenting tips and recommendations. The one I like best so far comes the famous philosopher Kahlil Gibran, who says that “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself […]And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” I like this statement because it will always be true, no matter how technologically advanced we get. It also reminds me that I need to look at the big picture, at the future, towards the time when my kids will get older and mature and will want to have an independent life away from me. Parenting is not about us, it’s about our kids, and that’s an important point to keep in mind.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My morning routine is explained in the post that I described above. In the morning, I try to get out of the house as quickly as I can to make sure I drop my daughter on time at her daycare. After that, I have about five hours to spend alone with the baby, so I try to juggle between the house chores, my work on the blog and a little fun time with him. Then, I pick up my daughter and we come back home, where we spend some time with her before we start to our night routine: shower, dinner and the endless negotiation to get to bed.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

I find it’s very important to prioritize the work or else things will just get postponed over and over, until nothing ever happens. I make sure to dedicate at least one hour of my day to the blog, and I prepare a checklist of the important things I need to focus on each day to avoid getting distracted. Of course, with my limited time, I can’t expect miracles, but I found that by having clear expectations I don’t get frustrated.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Melissa Bowers

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Melissa Bowers

You can take the girl out of the Midwest but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl — at least according to Melissa Bowers. The mother of two began her blog MichiforniaGirl as “a place for beachside chats about all sorts of things, like moving and teaching and motherhood and marriage.” Since then, she’s learned to embrace change and share her journey with parents everywhere. After all, it’s life’s surprises that make for the best stories. Bowers shares more.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I’ve kept a diary since I was in fifth grade — there are 52 (melodramatic) volumes stored somewhere in our garage — but blogging was always out of the question because its public nature didn’t seem to mix well with teaching high school. And then, two years ago, my husband got an un-turn-downable job in California, and we moved across the country when I was six months pregnant with my second child. Writing has always been my outlet, my coping mechanism, and it was the only thing I knew how to do in those times of transition.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Vulnerable. Hopeful. Wry.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

The Space Between Baby and Boy” is very special to me. It documents such a sweet, magical time in a child’s life, and as a parent, I always want to remember that feeling.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Oh, man. I write everything a paragraph at a time. If the Heavens part and both kids somehow take a simultaneous nap, I can write in slightly longer chunks; but generally it’s a stop-start-stop-start process. Not the best for creative flow, but that’s the only way anything gets accomplished these days!

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

I’m still learning, and most pieces of advice that worked with my kids yesterday do NOT work today, but here is one constant: Read to them. Start early and do it often. Books — and the conversations they encourage — teach compassion and human understanding more effectively than any smartphone or tablet.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My days look very different now than they did when I was teaching high school! At the moment, they involve a lot of cutting food into tiny bites, convincing small people that sleep is necessary, running fifteen-minute errands that somehow take all morning, and still trying to fit in some writing time. It’s chaotic, monotonous, and beautiful.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Do it because you love it — because you feel the words in your bones — and not because someone asked you to review a coffee mug or a baby carrier. It’s the real, authentic posts that introduce your blog to the most loyal readers.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Leah Moore

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Leah Moore

Sometimes parenting can bring unexpected challenges (more than dealing with 4am feedings and getting to work on time). For Leah Moore, it was her daughter’s rare diagnoses and the addition of twin boys that inspired her to share her journey with others on her blog The Cheese Bus. Navigating the ups and downs of parenting, the pain of dealing with tough days and the joy of exciting discoveries, Moore documents the road less traveled but in no way less relatable. As she explains, her site “is not for special needs parents or twin parents alone, but anyone who has been on a path and found themselves on a new journey.”

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I believe in the power of telling stories as an English teacher. I celebrate this work every day in my high school classroom. Six years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome, Cri Du Chat. I needed to learn to identify as a special needs mother and figure out what that looked like, without losing myself too. I also have twin two-year-old boys – so our house is anything but quiet. I have learned how to manage the joyful chaos that exists in our house and I wanted a place to share these experiences with other parents. The Cheese Bus is not for special needs parents or twin parents alone, but anyone who has been on a path and found themselves on a new journey. It is about finding the joy in the unexpected road and figuring out how to laugh along the way.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Honest, humorous, optimistic.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

My favorite post was the first one I wrote, “The Irony of Language.” I am a high school English teacher and my students were assigned to write their own belief statements, based on the concept of “This I Believe.” To help model the assignment, I wrote this piece for them. It has been about five years since I wrote it, and it always makes me cry. It is about the irony as a mother who uses words every day as a teacher and raising a child that was told she would never speak. However, when I look across the table at my now six-year-old who is able to talk to me, I remember how far we have come. It is my favorite piece for what it means for our family overall.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

It brings me joy to connect to other people, so I am make sure I maintain that work. I brainstorm ideas throughout my day and record them in a journal or my phone. After I complete the endless tasks on my to do list as a working mother, I replace the time I would have mindlessly watched tv with time to write. I never force myself to follow a deadline or put pressure on myself. Some weeks I write two entries, sometimes there are months in between. My goal isn’t about how many people can read it but rather to make sure I write honest stories. The best part of a parenting blog is that every day I gather material, it’s just about finding the time to write it down.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

The English teacher in me uses everything Atticus Finch ever said to Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird, but especially “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” I try to live my life with empathy and foster the same in my children. Most days, I just settle for the wisdom, as long as everyone made it through in one piece – it’s a success.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Even writing this one makes me tired. The alarm goes off at 4:50am. I join my neighbors at the gym because sadly my baby weight wants to follow me forever. I throw breakfast at my children while bribing them with as many episodes of “Peppa Pig” as humanly possible. I run out the door at 7am for a full day of teaching 9th graders powerful books. Most days I can make it home by 4pm for (choose one: dance class, speech therapy, grocery store catastrophes, or worse case scenario “Peppa Pig” and Popsicle on the couch). The twins go to sleep around 6:30pm and my daughter and I have a nightly ritual of watching “Say Yes To The Dress.” By 8pm, I am “alone” for the first time so I can joyfully pack lunches, make dinner, pay bills, grade papers, and sometimes say hello to my husband. And then I collapse.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Write from the heart. It doesn’t matter how many people read what you write. What matters is that you put something out in the world that will connect to someone else. Write your story. Someone will want to read it.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Mary Ware

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Mary Ware

Sometimes motherhood can be lonely. In search of advice and a little camaraderie, Mary Ware launched her blog The Mom Friend. The site offers a safe place for moms/parents to feel a little less overwhelmed (and isolated) by sharing in Ware’s own parenting experiences, challenges and gaining insight from her helpful words of wisdom.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

When I became a new mom, I spent hours while nursing and rocking my newborn trying to find answers and tips for life with a baby online. I was desperate to feel a connection with other new moms. It took almost a year before I was able to develop close mom friends who lived nearby. The encouragement I gained from those friendships; and the chance to not feel so alone in my struggles- made me want to help other new & first-time moms, and moms-to-be to feel a similar connection. Despite being an amazing and life-changing experience, motherhood can also be a lonely and frustrating time, and yet we all go through similar situations. I want to help other moms in their journey, and build a community of mom friends who are there to support, give tips on what has worked for them, and to laugh at life’s crazy moments with kids.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Friendly, helpful, genuine

What is your favorite blog post to date?

My favorite post (and my readers favorite) is “Tonight I Nursed You for the Last Time.” I wrote it the night I finally finished weaning my daughter from breastfeeding. At the time of writing, I was in an emotionally confusing state and felt the need to get the words out to try to make sense of how I felt about the end of our breastfeeding journey. I poured my heart into the page in a letter to my daughter and published it. The reaction I got from readers was incredible- so many moms came forward to tell me how they connected with it and shared how they felt regarding their own personal journey (some nursing, some not). It was my first experience of really connecting with moms all over the world, and it soon went sort of viral on Facebook. Hundreds of moms opened their hearts to me in comments and emails, and thousands shared it with their friends. That is truly the type of supportive community I am trying to build with my blog, and it just amazes me that it came from something I felt the need to write for personal reasons.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

It is tough for sure, especially in addition to working full-time as well. At the beginning, I struggled with feeling overwhelmed with information and felt the need to participate in everything that seemed like a good idea, and was spread too thin and it crept into my time with my daughter. I started waking up an hour before she gets up most days (even though I am so not a morning person), which gives me time to get organized and create a plan for the day and do a little blogging, but most of it is done after she goes to bed. I also schedule my week for when I will be most productive and try to be mindful of not getting sucked into social media constantly now. I select a few things that work well and will add others later on.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, just stop and take some time to breathe, evaluate and reset. Whether that be placing a crying baby in a crib for a few minutes where you can shut yourself in a bathroom, or giving yourself a break if you haven’t completed everything (or anything) on your to-do list because of a clingy toddler. It is important to have realistic expectations about what you can do and control, but those feelings of overwhelm will continue to grow and fester unless we slow down, evaluate what the root of our frustrations are, and see if we can make simple changes to adjust the situation or our attitude towards it. That always makes me feel better, even if it doesn’t immediately fix the problem.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I try (unsuccessfully at times!) to be up by 5:30 on weekdays to give myself about 45 minutes to have coffee and breakfast while sitting at my computer doing easy blogging stuff. I get ready quickly and pack my daughter’s lunch (while trying to keep my dogs quiet) before waking her up and getting her ready for daycare. We head out the door by 6:40 to get to school/daycare. I teach in Special Education (Adapted Physical Education) during the day, and then typically spend an hour running errands or working on my blog before picking her up at daycare (she loves to stay for snack time!). Other days I’ll pick her up earlier and we will do fun things or run errands together. That extra hour helps me tremendously though, so I am able to focus on just playing with her at home until dinner. She eats around 5:45pm, and then it is bath and bedtime routine of numerous hugs for the dogs and at least 5 books before bed around 7 or 7:30pm. After she goes to bed I eat dinner with my husband, work on the blog, or just hang out and watch tv. I have a hard time going to bed early because there is so much I want to do and feel I need to stay up late to get “me time” (the mother’s curse), so I often go to bed too late around 11pm. It’s a long day and by the weekend I am ready to crash!

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Find a few Facebook groups with like-minded bloggers that you can connect with, and spend most of your social media time there. I have learned so much conversing with and even just being a silent observer at times in those groups, and it is great to have a cheering squad for little success or to get questions answered. I was pleasantly surprised at how supportive other bloggers are, and how it is more of a community than a competition amongst bloggers. And if you are delaying starting a blog, just do it! I wish I had started a year earlier when I first took interest in blogging. I’d love to help anyone who needs it- it has become something I am really passionate about and enjoying doing!
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Heather McMaster

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Heather McMaster

Feeling anxious? Sadly, anxiety is an often common downside to parenting. Thankfully, Heather McMaster gets that. Her blog Very Anxious Mommy helps calm those very real mom fears while offering tips for living a budget-friendly, green-minded lifestyle. She shares more on how she helps parents find their inner zen.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

It was not until November of 2016 that I decided to start my parenting blog. Although I love talking with other people, it honestly never crossed my mind that other moms would want to read anything that I wrote. And then one day my husband convinced me to finally create my own digital footprint on the web and that is how Very Anxious Mommy was born. The best part is through my blog I have met so many wonderful women and made some lasting friendships with some amazing and influential moms.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Semi-Crunchy, Green, Motherhood.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

My favorite blog post that I have ever written is “7 Reasons Why I FAILED at Breastfeeding My 1st Baby.” I wrote this post about my breastfeeding experience with my daughter and every obstacle that ultimately defeated me. Another reason I love this post is because my readers have shown me that is it their favorite blog post as well. So far that is… By letting my readers into my world and showing them that I am human and that I stumble in parenthood also forms a unique bond and gives them something to relate to.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Balancing my blogging time and parenthood is the hardest juggling act I have ever attempted. I usually only have time to blog when my kids are asleep, which makes for a lot of late nights and some lost sleep here and there. However, I do always try to take some nights off and allow myself some me time as well.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

I have said it before and it is still the best advice I have ever received as a parent. When I had just given birth to my second child, I remember running around the house frantically trying to keep everything nice and tidy only to be wearing myself out in the process and also missing out on precious time with my children. A wonderful person said to me,”Do just what you need to survive. Sometimes you have to take a step back and just let all of the other stuff go.”

What’s a typical day like for you?

Currently, a typical day for me starts at 6:30 A.M. when I get up to take my daughter to preschool. We have to leave very early in the morning due to her school being 30 minutes from our home. After I have dropped her off, I come home and feed my son and me breakfast and after that, we play until nap time. After nap time, I leave to go pick up my daughter from school and then come home make dinner. And finally, we have bath and bedtime for the kids, which means mommy can get some blogging time in just before bed.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Take your time blogging. Don’t get sucked into blogging every free minute. It is completely addicting trying to perfect everything on your blog to make it profitable, but make sure you always love what you do.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Lindsey Martin

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Lindsey Martin

Telling a mom not to worry is like telling a person not to breathe, but Lindsey Martin of Worry Free Moms works to relieve some of the stress of parenting with her reassuring, humorous and always relatable blog posts. She shares more on how she manages to maximize the joy of motherhood by cutting down on the anxiety.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I wanted to try something new and help other moms at the same time. I read a lot of blogs, so I thought it would be fun to start one of my own. It was easy to chose what I wanted my blog to focus on because I have suffered from worry and anxiety my whole life, and becoming a mom made it much worse. Since my oldest is now seven, I have learned lots of ways to help manage some of my worries and anxiety over these years, so I wanted to share them to help other moms who are dealing with some of the same worries.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Inspirational, supportive and honest.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

My favorite blog post I’ve written is “How to Enjoy Your Pregnancy and Stop Worrying.” I wrote this because getting to experience pregnancy is such a gift, but for many it brings on so much worry that they don’t enjoy the experience. Having struggled to get pregnant myself, I quickly learned that it is not something to take for granted. There are many women out there that try for years to have a baby and are unsuccessful. Therefore, those that do get to experience the miracle of pregnancy should enjoy every moment.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Don’t stress out about trying to do it all and be sure to put parenthood first. When I first started my blog I wanted to get lots of post written because I had so many good ideas in my head that I wanted to share. I quickly realized, however, that it was taking a lot of time away from my kids, so I changed my mindset and told myself that I will just blog when I have time after the kids go to bed or are at school.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

Try to enjoy every moment because they are only little once. Some days are really hard, especially with my three year-old twins, but when I look back at the pictures of my oldest (who’s seven)when he was their age, I get sad to think how fast time has gone, and I wish he was that little again. This makes me realize I need to slow down and enjoy every moment because soon the twins will be seven, and I will wish I could go back to them being how little they are now.

What’s a typical day like for you?

It depends on the day. My oldest goes to school everyday, and the twins go two days a week to preschool, so on those days I get them all ready and off to school. Then I go to work half the day while they are at school. After work I try to get something done like cleaning, groceries, laundry, blogging, and then pick them all up at 3:30pm. On the days the twins don’t go to preschool, I do housework, take them to the park or a play date, or find something else to keep them occupied! The evenings are busy with dinner, karate, baseball, homework, baths and bed. Then we do it all over again the next day!

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Be real and write what comes naturally to you. I don’t have a degree in writing, and it has never been my favorite thing to do, but when I just write about my life stories and experiences I enjoy it and could write for hours!
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Joy Page Manuel

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Joy Page Manuel

A former academic, Joy Page Manuel takes an analytical approach to parenting, journaling all of her adventures in motherhood on her blog, Catharsis. As she puts it, blogging “continues to save my sanity.” Here’s a little more on how she manages to balance parental duties and still be active in the blogosphere.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

The short answer is that I needed to save money on therapy while pursuing my love for writing. In 2009, I had just stopped seeing a therapist who was helping me process the sudden life changes I’ve gone through. In 2004, I unexpectedly and permanently migrated from the Philippines to the United States, got engaged and married, went through assisted reproduction and then had a baby in 2007, all without the immediate support of my closest family and friends. (You can read more about this whirlwind process here). After a sensitive pregnancy and giving birth to my son, I ended up quitting my office job and became a SAHM. In an effort to try to stay in touch with the outside world, I created a Facebook account and there I saw some of my friends writing ‘notes’ on Facebook, which were really mini essays, and one of them even had their own website. I didn’t know that it was called a blog at the time but I thought, ‘I can do that!’ From all that, Catharsis was born and it continues to save my sanity.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Insightful, playful and certainly cathartic!

What is your favorite blog post to date?

This is a difficult one but I’d have to say it’s “Romance is Relative.” It combines two topics I’m most passionate about, namely love or relationships, and parenthood. It gives a snapshot of how it’s like to go through IVF and see it as a love-filled and even romantic experience.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Give up on perfection in both areas— it’s impossible—and learn to forgive yourself. In my earlier years of blogging, I tortured myself and refused to hit ‘publish’ on anything I’m completely and profoundly satisfied with. Then I realized creativity doesn’t work that way. You can’t always write your best piece week after week or every time you sit down and try. And on those days or weeks when you’re simply unable to, know that it’s okay to recycle evergreen pieces. You won’t feel as crappy, you’d still feel somewhat productive, and you can buy yourself more time to find inspiration for your next potentially awesome piece!

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

Start as you mean to go on.

What’s a typical day like for you?

You can pretty much break up my typical days into four main categories: Household chores/ errands; Writing and Social Media; Fitness; ‘Me Time.’ I get up ahead of my son and husband to prepare breakfast and then a quick school drop off by around 8 a.m. As soon as I get back, I hop on the treadmill for about 30 minutes straight, and then just hop back on intermittently throughout the day to get me as close as possible to my goal of 10k steps daily. Anytime between 10 and 4 pm, before my son returns from school, I make friends with my cleaning caddy, the kitchen and the laundry room. As a break, I sometimes watch those ‘Clean With Me’ videos on YouTube to inspire the domestic goddess in me. By 4 p.m., you will most likely find me and my son sitting side by side in my office as he does school work and I try to write. Family dinner is at 7 and my son’s bedtime at 9 signals ‘Me time.’ That’s when my husband and I talk, read books and watch our favorite t.v. shows. Every moment during the day is spent wondering where the next inspiration for an essay will come from. I can assure you it’s rarely from watching reality shows, but it’s a guilty pleasure my over-thinking brain needs in order to unwind.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Take long showers. I’m not telling you to waste water but take showers that are long enough to relax you. I do believe that people come up with the best ideas in the shower and science has backed this up. They say it’s because of the relaxed and solitary experience that allows for creative thought to occur and I can attest to this. Some of my most heartfelt and insightful posts started in the shower, mid-shampoo.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Darlene Dee

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Darlene Dee

Ever wonder how expensive it is to raise a baby? Darlene Dee decided to do the math with the birth of her daughter “Babystar.” Her blog Baby Costs Money keeps track of parenting costs and then some, offering readers fun updates on her daughter along with DIY projects and smart, budget-friendly tips.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

When I got pregnant with Babystar, the internet was a thing. The internet was NOT a thing when I had my first two babies. The internet is many things, including fun and scary. Google said it would cost me 245K to raise a baby. I thought it would be fun to keep track. (I was half right. Blogging is fun but watching those numbers go higher and higher is not really that fun at all!)

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Sarcastic, informative, terrifying.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

So far, my favorite post is the one called “One.” I like looking back at the house all decorated for her first birthday, and that picture of her standing up in her adorable first birthday jumper is so freaking cute that I almost — almost — can ignore the stupid amount of money we spent on that party.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Download all of the apps on all of your devices. Sync it all via some sort of cloud system. Cumulus, nimbus, stratus, whatever — I need to be able to take pictures and make notes on my phone at the park and pull them up on my iPad at 3am.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

Almost twenty years ago, my mother told me to pick my battles. That advice holds true from toddlerhood to the teenage years, and everything in between. (Including agonizing conversations with customer service reps and intentionally rude restaurant hostesses.)

What’s a typical day like for you?

If I am lucky, I wake up before the baby and drink coffee in bed while checking Instagram, Facebook, emails — you know, the essentials. If I am a different kind of lucky, I wake up to a toddler face squished into mine, impatient for milk. My husband and teenager have usually left for work and school by then, so the ToddlerMonster and I have brunch. (Yep, when breakfast takes over an hour, I consider it two meals.) We do some dishes or laundry (she’s getting very good at helping), and then get dressed for an adventure. We run some errands or go to a museum (rarely) or an indoor play place (usually) before picking up the teenager at school. I take pictures of our outings or purchases and make notes about what we buy during the week. Weekday afternoons are often spent taking a walk to the park (weather permitting) before everyone’s favorite dinner/bath/bedtime routines. I actually only really write blog posts on Sunday mornings when my husband takes the baby to church. I totally cheat (like most bloggers, I suspect) and schedule them to post throughout the week.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Be the boss of your blog, not the other way around.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Marie Ericson

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Marie Ericson

Mother of three and former immigration attorney Marie Ericson serves up tasty gluten-free recipes with a side of parental anecdotes on her blog Mamma’s Cooking. What started as a project for her family (particularly for her son who has celiac disease) has blossomed into a culinary space that just about anyone can enjoy. Ericson tells us more.

What made you want to start your own blog?

As someone who loves to cook, I am frequently asked by friends and family what to cook or for recipes for what I have made. I started blogging about what I cook for my family so I would have a place to write down recipes for friends and family. Now it is even more important to me to give people ideas on how to cook and entertain when dealing with celiac disease. My son has celiac, so I want him and others dealing with limitations when cooking, that the options are still endless for making good food all of your family and friends can enjoy.

What 3 words would you use to describe your blog?

Comforting, inviting and gluten-free.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

Best Recipes of 2016 is my favorite so far because it was the last in a series where I had challenged myself to post a recipe for 31 days straight! It really helped me see what readers are interested in, how far the blog had come and how much more I am excited to share.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Try to set specific times for blog related work (writing, reading other blogs, working on the technical part of your site, etc), so that you are not always sitting at your computer and mix up your location. I try to only work when the kids are in school or asleep, either at home or a local coffee shop. I have found that I get my best ideas when I’m doing something unrelated that is soothing and relaxing, like taking a hike on a beautiful day.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

When my first child was born, our pediatrician told us about the “Third Child Mentality” when we asked about whether we needed to sterilize pacifiers. He said, with the first child, you drop the pacifier and sterilize it before giving it back; with the second child, you rinse it off and give it back; and with the third, you wipe it on your pants and give it back to the child. All three survive. All three methods work, so just find what works best for you and your family. I really took this to heart in many aspects of our life, especially about cooking. With the first, you try/want to make all your own baby food from scratch; with the second, you buy the jarred food or use pouches and with the third, you mash up whatever you are feeding the rest of your family. All three survive.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My husband usually gets the kids started on breakfast while I’m in the shower, before he heads off to work. I try to eat a quick breakfast, usually leftovers from last night or a yogurt, while I help find clothes, tie shoes and try to get my three kids (9, 6 and 6) out the door. After drop off, depending on the day and the weather, I either go for a hike, go to the gym, go grocery shopping or head straight home and start writing. Occasionally I go to Starbucks or a local coffee shop to write and sometimes meet up with some friends for a quick chat. then I either continue writing and reading other blog posts in between running up and down stairs doing laundry or running around the kitchen cooking and testing recipes until I have to pick up the kids. Then it is a whirlwind of activities, homework and more cooking. I’m very fortunate that my husband usually is home in time for us all to sit down together for dinner. That will change as the kids get older and more activities get in the way, but I’m grateful for it now. After dinner its baths, bedtime, lunch prep for the next day, more reading and writing while my husband does the dishes and then climb into bed to watch Downton Abbey or the latest Top Chef with a cup of tea.

What’s the best insight you can offer other bloggers?

Write what you know and be concise. Write what comes naturally to you. Don’t try to be something you are not to please someone else. Pick one topic for each blog post. I have so many ideas in my head that when I first started writing I had a hard time not putting all of them in one post! Now I pick one topic and one recipe, which hopefully provides clarity for the readers and gives me more content for more posts.