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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Shop & Support Moms - NikLin Designs - Nicole Lindsay

Thanks to Nicole Lindsay of NikLin Designs for being our next feature for the Shop & Support Moms series this month, where I'm featuring hard working, dedicated, super talented and creative moms who make great items that YOU can purchase for all your holiday needs and baby showers, too! I'm all about moms supporting moms, and this holiday season what better way to support a fellow mother than to purchase her handmade items for gifts for teachers, daycare providers, ETC.?!

NikLin Designs is AWESOME. I'm so glad I found this on Etsy- and she's right in PORTLAND, MAINE near where I live, this is so exciting! Tons of adorably fashionable and artistic true Maine items like bibs for babies or sweet onesies for baby gifts, and comfy pillows. I want everything!

Great discount too, see below the post.

Happy shopping, moms!


Images shared from Nicole Lindsay












How did you start your business? Why did you want your own business? When did you start your business? 
I was always into arts and crafts as a child and started selling at craft fairs when I was in college. I took a hiatus in my 20s and got back into it a few years ago. I decided to focus on taking the steps to make it a real (profitable) business. There are some really great resources in my local city for women entrepreneurs which has been super helpful. I am still working a traditional full-time job MondayFridays and work on NikLin in the evenings and on weekends, with the dream to someday be able to run my business fulltime!

What does your business specialize in? What's your favorite product? How'd you come up with the name? 
I specialize in custom designed home and personal accessories, like throw pillows, dishtowels, onesies, bibs and more.

While I originally got some feedback that it would be easier to produce many items of the same design, my favorite part of my business is to create new designs all the time. I say my items are made only “a few of a kind” to keep it creative and fun for me. 

My favorite products are the custom pillows- I have made so many great designs for people for wedding, baby shower, and birthday gifts. It’s always fun to work with someone to come up with the perfect design. The name NikLinDesigns actually came from one of my college roommates. We were throwing around ideas one day and it just stuck! My family’s nickname for me was always “Nik” and my last name starts with “Lin”, and it had a catchy ring to it.

What do you love best about working for yourself? 
Well, I still have a traditional full-time job working for someone else, but what I love most about this business is that it doesn’t feel like work. My dream is to someday only work for my business full-time!


Take me step by step through working with customers. Do you do anything special or unique, wrapping, specials, etc.? 
I love working with customers! Many of my designs are custom, so I love seeing what my costumers come up with- sometimes they have great ideas that I never would have thought of myself.

Why do you think people should shop in your store or buy your product that you create, and why should they support moms who work for themselves?
I am such a big believer in supporting small businesses now, and try to do it myself whenever possible. It is so empowering to know that even a small purchase can make a big impact for someone’s personal success. I hope people consider spending a little bit more on handmade items than products from chain stores!

What are your favorite or best items that you sell? 
The throw pillows are my favorite, but the onesies are definitely my best seller- people just can’t say no to the cuteness, and everyone seems to know someone who knows someone who is having or has a baby!


What is one of your favorite gifts to give someone for the holidays? 
I love giving surprising but personal gifts and try to support small businesses when I can. Last year I made everyone in my family custom throw pillows that were each unique for the family member: a hummingbird for my sister, Cape Cod for my Aunt and Uncle, Boston Red Sox logo for my cousin, state of ME for my uncle who now lives in England, and fish for my dad, the avid fisherman.

How many kids do you have? Give us one word to describe them. 
I am not technically a mother, but am a step-mom of sorts to my boyfriend Adam’s eight year old daughter Ava. While it hasn’t always been easy, it is fun and rewarding. She is super sweet (most of the time!) and very excited and supportive of NikLinDesigns. She and her friends are frequent helpers at local craft fairs and artisan shows!



etsy.com/shop/niklindesigns 
facebook.com/niklindesigns/ 
Instagram: NikLinDesigns 

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Shop & Support Moms - Picture Book Boutique - Christina Iverson

I am SO excited this November with another one of our Shop & Support Moms series - featuring hard working, crafty mothers who YOU can purchase gifts from! It's my favorite time of year on the blog - moms helping moms! 

Every year that I've run this series on the blog, I've focused on featuring local moms, from the state I live in - Maine - or at least New England. I've loved giving back in this way to dedicated mothers around me. But I'm making an exception to my pattern by featuring this AMAZING mother's adorable handmade blocks! Christina Iverson of Picture Book Boutique is from Maryland right now, and I just could NOT help myself! She is such a sweet person, and her work speaks for itself. How creative and cute are these block ornaments made with pictures from books?! I can't handle this cuteness.

Her job is my dream job in my next life I think. Searching for books at thrift stores, creating storybook tales on blocks for kids - how awesome is that?! These would make INCREDIBLE gifts. I love the idea behind them. GREAT idea for a Baby's 1st Christmas, too! 

Thank you, thank you, Christina, for being so sweet. I wish you all the best with the baby "surprise" coming soon! 

MOMS- please support this super sweet new mother and her talent- scroll to the bottom of the blog for a great discount. 


Images shared from Christina Iverson


1. How did you start your business? Why did you want your own business? When did you start your business? 
It actually started as a bit of an accident. My husband and I were living in Ohio just for a couple of months, for a temporary job my husband had in the summer of 2016. It wasn’t really enough time to get a “real job” and I started making some crafts with a friend, thinking we’d try to sell at a craft fair. She was pregnant at the time and ended up having her baby almost 3 months early. After that, she wasn’t able to help with the craft fair, and I decided to try putting up some listings on etsy, just to see what happened. It ended up really taking off! Until this September, I’ve also been working part time as a nanny. Now that I am pregnant with my first child, I have decided to focus all my time on my shop, hoping that I can continue to work from home after the baby arrives in January.

2. Why was owning a business a perfect situation for you and your family? 
It works well for us because we have to move fairly often for my husband’s job at this point. He has a post-doctoral position at the University of Maryland right now, and until he gets a tenure-track job at a university, we end up moving quite a bit for his work. It’s nice to have a flexible job that I can take with me! It’s also nice with having a baby on the way, that I won’t have to return to work outside the home.

3. What does your business specialize in? What's your favorite product? How'd you come up with the name?
My shop is called Picture Book Boutique, because I decided from the beginning that I wanted to focus on making things out of recycled children’s picture books. I started out making quite a few different products (onesies, nursery art, blocks) but have ended up focusing just on the blocks because they’ve sold better. I just started making picture book block Christmas ornaments, as well. My favorite blocks are maybe my Frog and Toad blocks, just because I think Frog and Toad are so cute!

4. What do you love best about working for yourself?
The flexibility in scheduling my hours.

5. When working, When do you work in the day/evening? What's your process for working? Things you do daily, a routine?
I work during the day. My shop is still pretty new, and sales are pretty up and down. Some weeks I have so many orders I’m scrambling to get them all done, and other weeks I don’t have very many and so I try to get ahead and make new sets of blocks. I also have to work into my schedule going to thrift stores to find books to use.

6. Take me step by step through working with customers. Do you do anything special or unique, wrapping, specials, etc.?
Customer service is really important to me. I try to accommodate any requests that they might have, like custom orders, as well as expediting orders if they have a time crunch. If my customers are not happy I always refund them. I also give my customers coupon codes when they order, hoping they come back! My first order for a set of personalized blocks came as a surprise, when someone ordered a set of blocks and asked if I could put her and her husband’s names on them for their anniversary. I wasn’t really set up for doing personalized orders at that point and was a little startled… but I decided to accommodate the request, and they turned out great! It made me decide to offer personalized blocks, which have been a big seller.

7. What is your success rate? What do you think customers would say about your work, shop?
So far my customers have seemed very satisfied, and I have a lot of 5 star reviews on my etsy shop. I focus a lot on customer service, so I think even my customers who were initially dissatisfied have had a positive experience with my shop. 

8. Why do you think people should shop in your store or buy your product that you create, and why should they support moms who work for themselves?
I think my blocks are one of a kind, and make great gifts for a shower or birthday present. 


It’s always fun to receive a gift that’s unique and feels more special. And, as a bonus, they are supporting me and my family instead of a big company! 

9. What are your favorite or best items that you sell?
I like making custom orders for customers because it is a little more challenging for me. It’s always fun when someone requests blocks made from a book I haven’t used before, because I like the creative process of making something new. I’m also really excited about my Christmas ornaments I just started making. They involve a little more work than my regular sets of blocks, but I think it’s a fun idea. I grew up getting a special Christmas ornament every year, and so I think it would be a fun present to get.

10. How does your business allow you to be a great mother?
Well, I’m not a mom just yet, but so far it’s been great to be working from home during the second half of my pregnancy. Working from home has taken a lot of stress out of my life and I think that’s probably healthy for my pregnancy! 

11. What do you think would surprise readers to know about you?
I don’t think most of my customers realize that I’m just a one woman show, and do everything from my 700 square foot apartment. I think when people buy things online they are often picturing a bigger operation! 

12. What is the coolest thing you've ever experienced as part of working with this business?

I’ve just been surprised that it’s taken off at all! I think it’s cool to be able to make money doing crafts, which I’ve loved doing since I was a kid. 

13. What is one of your favorite gifts to give someone for the holidays? 
I like knitting, and it’s always fun to give someone something I’ve knit. 

14. How many kids do you have? Give us one word to describe them.
Just one baby on the way, and we don’t know the sex! So maybe “surprise!” 






christina.m.iverson@gmail.com 


CODE HOLIDAYS2017 to get 30% off your order 
until December 31, 2017

Shop & Support Moms - Jeanna Marie's Made in ME - Jeanna Watts DeMerchant

I'm having so much fun getting to know all of these moms who are creating incredible goods - in addition to being fantastic mothers! This is all because of another year of our Shop & Support Moms series, where I'm encouraging you to purchase items from hard working mommas who are using their talents to support their families. It's a win-win! Please consider purchasing from these awesome moms this month as you look for holiday gifts, stocking stuffers, teacher gifts, and more.

I'm SO grateful I stumbled upon Jeanna Marie's Made in Maine's Etsy shop! She's right in mid-Maine, and I'm totally in awe of her creativity and hard work. She also is one STRONG MOTHER who has survived some health concerns, still with a smile on her face and dedication to her boys.

Jeanna Watts DeMerchant has AMAZING ITEMS for sale that she crochets! I am in love with these L.L. Bean look-a-like booties for little kids! And the finger-less gloves are GORGEOUS!

She's offering up a sweet discount this season, too, so please hurry over to her page!

Thank you, Jeanna!


 Images shared from Jeanna Watts DeMerchant 

How did you start your business?

Well, my mom taught me to knit when I was four and to crochet around the age of seven. In the prime of my life I was diagnosed with epilepsy and subsequently experienced brain surgery with two young boys. So after a failed career in teaching I decided to pick up the hook once again. So I guess you could say I sort of fell into it.

Why did you want your own business?
I wanted to start my own business because I wanted the work to represent me and my own creativity, and to be honest I really didn’t want to pay for consignment work.

When did you start your business? I started my business out of my living room in the fall of 2011 when I created my Etsy shop: Jeanna Marie’s Made in Maine.
Why was owning a business a perfect situation for you and your family? At the time my boys were still in elementary school and we were still walking to and from, I felt it was easier to be home working on items while at the same time being available for homework, doctor’s appointments or soccer practice.
What does your business specialize in? My business specializes in crochet items. Although my mom taught me how to knit I feel I am better with one tool ☺
What's your favorite product? My favorite item currently (it changes from time to time) would be my women’s crocodile scale fingerless gloves.

How'd you come up with the name?
I decided to brand my product with my own name, the made in Maine part shows my pride for my home state.
What do you love best about working for yourself? I really love that I can be a perfectionist without being rushed in a 9-5 job.
When working, When do you work in the day/evening? You could find me in my “creation station” at any point especially now during the holiday craft fair season.
What's your process for working? I usually take a look at what was really successful at my last craft fair and go from there, trying to fill in the gaps. On off seasons I usually am on Etsy hunting up patterns which I think will do well either on my page or at a craft fair.
Things you do daily, a routine? I wake up get the boys off to school, have a cup of coffee, watch the news and then start in on my project I left off the previous day.
Take me step by step through working with customers. I enjoy taking a made to order item. When the customer has a question about a color selection, I get right back to them with a photo of the yarn and/or description. Once we’ve decided together on how the item will look and/or function I finish it and send it out.

Do you do anything special or unique, wrapping, specials, etc.?
Yes, I do. All of my items are wrapped in paper and include a handwritten thank you note. Also, I have started to include a thank you discount of 25% on their next purchase.
What is your success rate?
I’m happy with my success rate and in fact I have reduced the number of craft fairs I take part in by quite a bit.
What do you think customers would say about your work, shop? My customers have said that I “do beautiful work,” and I “put my heart and soul into it.”
Why do you think people should shop in your store or buy your product that you create, and why should they support moms who work for themselves? I consider myself to be a very creative individual and pairing that with an incredible work ethic I guarantee you will receive a quality handmade product. Rather than looking endlessly online for patterns I would much more be likely to shop on Etsy for a pattern I know I will be able to receive help with if needed.
What are your favorite or best items that you sell? My newsboy and the aforementioned fingerless gloves are my two most popular items.


How does your business allow you to be a great mother? When the boys were little I could make them and their friends all kinds of goodies, which made me a cool mom. They’d also help me with listing descriptions. Now, in their teenage years I am just here for food, help and support ☺
What do you think would surprise readers to know about you? That I have epilepsy and have made it through two major brain surgeries.
What is the coolest thing you've ever experienced as part of working with this business?
The look on people’s faces when they come into contact with my items, their faces light up with a smile and they make comments such as “that’s so cute!” and “you do such beautiful work.”
What is one of your favorite gifts to give someone for the holidays?  I love to give customized gifts, in fact one year I bought a mug for my mother with customized grandson names on it, from a store on Etsy of course!
How many kids do you have? Give us one word to describe them. I have two boys, and they are polar opposites!



207-239-1063


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expires 12/31/17

Friday, November 17, 2017

Shop & Support Moms - Mama Hen Clothing - Natasha Nolan Parker

In part two of our Shop & Support series I am featuring someone I totally admire and think is incredibly talented! Mama Hen is a Maine momma, Natasha Nolan Parker, who creates gorgeous hand-sewn clothing for kids and adults. Her Fancy Pants are my favorite! When I had a hysterectomy surgery this summer, my friend sent me a care package including the lobster navy blue Fancy Pants. OH MY WORD - most comfortable ever! You have to try these- splurge and spoil yourself this holiday season, it's OK!

Lots of great gift ideas for those kids who have everything but maybe you are giving a gift card - and one of Mama Hen's beautiful dresses or pants.

A great discount listed below at the bottom of the blog. Thank you, Natasha!


Images shared from Mama Hen 


1) How did you start your business? Why did you want your own business? When did you start your business?

Mama Hen began, truly, when I became pregnant. I'd been sewing my whole life and used the "nesting" instinct in pregnancy to explore that skill a bit further. My son had blankets, bibs, stuffed animals, hats and clothing that was handmade by me. I found that friends and family kept asking if I would make stuff for them for their babes or for people in their life that were expecting. That is where Mama Hen began *officially*...my kiddo was around 8 months at the time I opened my FB shop. 

2) Why was owning a business a perfect situation for you and your family?
Owning my own business allowed me to stay home with my child! For the first year and a half that Mama Hen was in business I worked only during nap times. That time with my kiddo was priceless for all of us. Not only was I able to give direct care to my child but I was also able to bring in some income for my family AND we were saving money on child care costs. 

3) What does your business specialize in? What's your favorite product? How did you come up with the name?
Mama Hen is a clothing line with items for infants up to adults! Grow with Me pants, while I cannot take credit for the *idea* (pattern my Max and Meena), are a top seller and favorite product for sure. The cuffs at the ankles and belly can roll up or down making these pants fit for a lot longer than traditional sizes. Naturally, hard working families love them because they eliminate the heartbreak and hassle of kids constantly outgrowing clothing you've just bought for them!

My family fancies ourselves novice homesteaders. We live in a neighborhood but have chickens and rabbits and a big garden. I came up with the name Mama Hen because of my love for our little backyard flock and the classic connotation of the "Mama Hen" as a loving and caring mother who is always watching over her chicks. To me it is a warm and inviting image and it suits both me and my brand. 





4)What do you love best about working for yourself?
I love loving what I do! It's great to be able to work on my own schedule, craft what my work day will look like, have a say in every step of the process, and stay accountable to the work that I do. 

But truly and honestly, the best part about working for myself is LOVING what I do. If I don't love some aspect of my work I change it! Putting love into every piece I create is a big component to the success of Mama Hen. 

5) When do you work Day/evening? What's your process for working? Things you do daily, a routine?
These days I work three days a week from 8:30-4 while my kiddo is at preschool. I also work during nap times on home days and some evenings doing administrative work and other odd jobs such as tagging products or updating my website. 

I definitely have a routine on my long work days! Every morning, after dropping my son off to his school, I pull a card from my tarot deck. I use its message to help me focus, reflect and direct my work throughout my day. I always take an hour long break mid day and use it to eat lunch AND do a work out. Sitting at a sewing machine and/or cutting fabric all day can be taxing on the body so this break is necessary for my physical and mental well being! 

I organize my process in a very linear way. I have a list of products that I make (hoodies, leggings, rompers, and dresses to name a few) so I go through them one at a time and restock.

6)Take me step by step through working with customers. Do you do anything special or unique...wrapping, specials, etc?
Working with customers has been the biggest and most surprising gift of being a mom and a small business owner. In a window of time that can be isolating and difficult, Mama Hen helped keep me connected to other moms and parents who were going through the same postpartum stuff I was. I try to be really available to my customers, letting them know that I see their time as having just as much value as their money.

Mama Hen has several products that are available for custom order. This is something that is unique and special for my customers. They can look through the almost 100 different fabrics I have available in my custom Grow with Me pants listing, and select the perfect print and coordinating solid for them! I tend to have one day per week that I dedicate to working on custom and/or wholesale orders so my turn around time is quick!

7)What is your success rate? What do you think customers would say about your work and shop?
I hope that every customer is pleased with their Mama Hen purchases! I get a lot of positive feedback from customers and, the best indicator, a lot of return customers. I think people would say that I have a lively and vibrant style which is unique even among small business clothing makers. My customers attest to the durability of my craftsmanship and are *thrilled* that I also offer items in adult sizes! 




8)  Why do you think people should shop in your store or buy the product that you create or why should they support moms that work for themselves?
Shopping "small" is a win-win situation. The consumer receives a unique and handcrafted product with a connection back to an individual or small group of individuals that are accountable to that product. In turn the money spent on that product is helping to directly support a family and, more specifically, a mom who had a dream that she is realizing in her work. 

9)What are your favorite or best items that you sell?
My top seller is definitely grow with me pants but my *favorite* product that I offer is adult leggings. Lovingly referred to as "Fancy Pants", Mama Hen adult leggings are simply perfect. As a busy busy mom I am always looking for clothing that makes me feel comfortable but also put together and looking good! Fancy Pants check all of those boxes for me. My Fancy Pants take me through feeding the chickens, dropping my kiddo off at school, sewing, working out, vacuuming...you name it. 

10) How does your business allow you to be a great mother?
My work energizes me. Don't get me wrong...there are challenging and tiring days...but I love Mama Hen and I love sharing with my son that you can accomplish dreams, and that working hard can also be fun and rewarding when you're doing something you're passionate about. My kiddo has already told my husband that when he gets old enough he is going to "work for Mama Hen!" He said he "will do all the sewing but mama will do all the cutting." To me, that is success. 

11) What do you think would surprise readers to know about you?
I'm a pretty open book on social media but it might surprise readers to know that I was a punk rocker in High School! Played guitar and did vocals in a band and all!


12) What is the coolest thing you've ever experienced as part of working with this business?
It's always the customer feedback. Hands down. At the Yarmouth Clam Festival this past summer I had one kiddo deliberate over my dresses for a long while and eventually come over to me with her selection and some cash from her mom. As I folded and placed her dress in a bag for her she told me "this will be my first-day-of-school outfit!" My heart grew about 4 times its size at this statement. How special!!

13) What is one of your favorite gifts to give someone for the holidays?
I love to trade products with other makers to present a totally hand made gift selection to my family and friends. I also like to digress from clothing and make a nice lavender sugar scrub or edible gifts like cookies or homemade granola as gifts! 

14) How many kids do you have? Give us one word to describe them.
I have one child! He is: intuitive.

@mamahenspage (instagram)


Use coupon code MOMSTORIES to get FREE shipping 
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Shop & Support Moms - MaresEatOatsArt- Kathleen Grieg

I am SO excited that this new season of our annual Shop & Support Moms series is upon us on the blog! It's forcing me to get back in here and write- something I've not done a lot of since baby #3 took over our world but something I really miss! This series that I do every November is so important to me. My hope is to feature hard working mothers who are creating really cool things and encourage moms to purchase those items for holiday gifts, baby showers, etc. It's a win-win! Handmade items are the best - but knowing you are supporting a hard working mom is even better!

Kathleen Grieg is a one of a kind artist and mom! She's dedicated, sweet and super talented. Her artwork never ceases to amaze me. Every time she posts a new painting I'm in awe and wishing I could create a x1000 "like" button on Facebook! The fact that she does many of her paintings in her kitchen WITH kids all around her - boys at that! - is just astonishing. I am amazed for sure. Thus the reason I wanted to start with her in this new series by featuring her artwork MaresEatOatsArt. 

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting new features from hard working moms. Each one is offering a special discount just for Mommy Stories readers. Scroll to the bottom of the page to check out the Etsy site and the discount coupon.

Thank you, Kathleen! And thank you, Mommy Stories- SHOP ON and SUPPORT those MOMS!


Images shared from Kathleen Grieg


1. How did you start your business? Why did you want your own business? When did you start your business?
I started my business in October of 2016 at my very own kitchen table. The need to be creative and the encouragement of my family led me to open an Etsy shop and start selling my art. 
2. Why was owning a business a perfect situation for you and your family?
Owning my own business gives me a true sense of accomplishment. I have a degree in Fine Arts and after years of not flexing my creative muscles I feel like an Etsy shop was the perfect platform to start selling through. My husband and I have two little boys and I was a stay at home mom when I started so working from the kitchen table was really ideal. 




3. What does your business specialize in? What's your favorite product? How'd you come up with the name? My business specializes in watercolor and ink illustrations. My favorite size to work on is a 5x7 or 8x10. The story of how MaresEatOatsArt got its name always makes me smile. My grandmother would sing to my sisters and me when we were kids. One of my favorite nursery rhymes was one about mares eating oats. My older sister Courtney suggested due to my nursery like subject matter that it would make a pretty cute name, I agreed and the name stuck. 4. What do you love best about working for yourself? I love the flexibility of working for myself. I set the time frames and I never feel rushed into my art projects.  5. When working, When do you work in the day/evening? What's your process for working? Things you do daily, a routine?
I work from the kitchen table with my supplies stored in a sideboard behind the table. I recently started a new job during the week, so I'm only able to paint in the evening and on the weekends.

Being in the center of the house means I can only break out the art supplies after I have both of my little boys entertained. I also try to make sure I have no place to be for at least a couple hours or it's not even worth making another mess to clean up. 
6. Take me step by step through working with customers. Do you do anything special or unique, wrapping, specials, etc.?
One of my favorite things to paint is custom work. I love it when a customer has an idea of something they want painted but they aren't sure how to make it work. it gives me great joy to be able to make them happy with my art.  7. What is your success rate? What do you think customers would say about your work, shop? I do have a lot a repeat customers and friends of friends to contact me to paint for them. I not sure of what my actual success rate is, but I've yet to have a complaint. 



8. Why do you think people should shop in your store, and why should they support moms who work for themselves?
My art is whimsical and fun and I feel like supporting local artists makes the art that more special. Yes, you could go online a print a picture , frame it, and hang it, but it's not going to have the custom feel, and it certainly won't be original to you. 9. What are your items to sell? I sell original, one of a kind, watercolor and ink illustrations. Mostly juvenile in nature, perfect for a kids bedroom or playroom.  10. How does your business allow you to be a great mother? My business allows me to interact constantly with my kids. A lot of the time the boys are sitting directly on the table playing with toys while I paint.  11. What do you think would surprise readers to know about you? I live in a house full of boys. My husband, two sons, and two hundred pound German Shepherds, both male!

12. What is the coolest thing you've ever experienced as part of working with this business? One of the best experiences was when I was commissioned to paint a family of bunnies for a young family who had lost the father unexpectedly. I painted the father bunny with a halo around his ears. I later received a photo of the playroom where the painting is hung with a message that the daughter had told her mother that she knew daddy was with them still because she could see his bunny with a halo in my painting. I cried quite a bit, but it makes my heart smile to know the children find comfort through my art. 13. What is one of your favorite gifts to give someone for the holidays? I love to give personalized art. Something small that has a direct meaning to the recipient. Maybe a pet portrait or a set of animals in the number of family members they have. 14. How many kids do you have? Give us one word to describe them.
I have two boys Eric and Ronan. Eric in one word-Determined. Ronan in one word-Spunky.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaresEatOatsArt


20% discount using the coupon 
code MOMLOVE at checkout
expires 12/31/17


Sunday, October 8, 2017

the first year: weeping and jumping for joy

The first year as a new mother is the most challenging and gratifying thing I've ever gone through. I've now officially done it three times, so I'm feeling all the bittersweet feelings these days. I'm so proud of what we've accomplished- keeping a little teeny tiny being alive and well and happy.With every smile he shows me, I know I'm doing something right. Every time we got to the doctor's and his weight is up, I know it's from me, because of me, and I'm accomplished in ways I cannot describe even having received college degrees. It's different than studying for exams or passing a test or turning in that huge paper. This is raising a living being. It's monumental.


I'm happy. I can't wait to see where this little one is headed. I know there are many adventures ahead of us. I know there is running up ahead, jumping and skipping into preschool is down the road. I know that there will be terrible twos and potty training- things I dread the most, admittedly. But I know there are so many moments of laughter to look forward to so I'm trying to keep a smile on my face and realize how great this stage is, too. The baby stage is wonderful for many reasons, but the growing stage- there's nothing in comparison.

I'm proud that we kept this little one thriving and growing.
That we knew what to do, again. That we remembered all the things.
I'm proud that he seems happy go lucky, that we must be doing something to help that along.
I'm pleased to see him loving on other people and feeling like he's connected to his siblings.
It lights me up when I see him light up a room for others. They smile because of him and he is ours... it's incredible.

We've washed bottles every day and prepared breastmilk to the right temperature.
There's been pumping and pumping and pumping.
There have been moments of doubt, worries and fear.
We've second guessed ourselves.
I've wondered how I would possibly get through this or that phase.
We've been up all night. We've napped a lot during the days.
There have been diaper blow outs and car seat adjustments.
Baby bibs for drool, then big plastic bibs to catch the food dropping.

2 ounces of milk and then 4 ounces and then sippy cups of water to go along with pureed homemade baby food.
Then there were jars of food for on the go and just because we looked for something to be easier.
There are ziplock bags of ice cube sweet potatoes and peas and apples in my freezer.
The diaper bag is always fully stocked in the car.
Mum Mums are a staple on the grocery list now.

We have sleep sacks, cases of wipes we keep track of and teething rings.
There are tiny hand prints on our walls.
The Burt's Bees baby soap container is almost empty in the bathroom now. It's the same bottle we used when he came home from the hospital and was teeny tiny and we took all those pictures in the baby bath tub that he outgrew in a few weeks of using it.


There was anticipation, anxiety and stress planning for this third little one, entering the first year with a new baby.
Then there was excitement, joy like we'd never known, blissful state of being.
There was a completion of our family....
Now there is sadness. We are done, the baby-ness is over. It's sad and a relief at the same time. We made it, I want to scream from the rooftops! And, let's do it over... let's go back... I'm not ready... I want to whisper.

And so here we are. The end of the first year with our littlest love. And he's perfect and growing and has the best personality.
We are the luckiest.

To know that we'll never be here again, it's bittersweet.
To reminisce back the last 12 months on all that we've done, seen, grown and become.... it's astonishing, really.
Parenting is a journey. It's an adventure that starts with the beginning through the first year.

So I'll weep tonight, the eve of my son's first birthday. I'll cry because it's over, that first part, those milestones, those firsts, those big moments you look forward to with each little one, seeing who they become.
I'll get back to being excited in the days ahead. I'll smile because the adventures that await are worth growing older for.

But tonight I weep because I don't have a baby anymore, I have a growing big baby turning into a toddler quicker than I'm ready for. I'll be sad because that innocence is gone in a way.

What a year it's been.... I'm so proud of him, of us, of me, this strong Mom that I've become this year. I'm a new person, just as he was a year ago on the day of his birth. We're in this together, all of us... and oh the fun that's ahead. I can't wait... and yet I can, wait. Just wait....maybe a little longer, sweet one, maybe just slow down a little bit...