18 May 2015

Mommas Makin Moola #5: Mother and Writer

Mommas Making Moola is a new guest-blogger series about the non-traditional ways  moms can bring income into their home (outside of the 9-5 job). In this series, I will be joining forces with Swag On, Momma to feature the experiences of our guest bloggers. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please contact me for more information.
By Breanna Olaveson

I’m 27 years old and have been building two different careers since college. But I still don’t really know what I am.

I usually say I’m a stay-at-home mom. I stay home all day, where I snuggle babies and change diapers and clean bathrooms and make dinner and fold laundry like any other mommy. I have the stretchy pants. The SUV. The works.

But I still don’t completely fit in with many of my mommy friends, because I also write articles, meet deadlines, edit photos, send emails and answer to bosses. I am frequently published online and in magazines and I recently published my very first book.

I anticipate there will be more to come. More babies. More books. More laundry. More deadlines. More time spent balancing priorities, more early mornings and late nights spent working and more afternoon play dates.

I am two halves of a whole. I am a stay-at-home mother. I am a writer.

I am both.

Becoming a writer

I've tried to identify exactly when I chose this life, but I can’t. All I know is that I always wanted to be a writer and always wanted be a mother. Fortunately for me, the two are not mutually exclusive. (This work/home balance would be impossible if I were, say, an astronaut.)

I played “Publisher” as a child while my friends were playing “School,” but I also played “House” sometimes. I read voraciously and also loved to bake cookies. I practiced my signature for the inevitable book signings in my future. I also wrote down names for my future children.

So I naturally looked toward both as I built my foundation in college. At the end of every internship, I discussed working remotely in the future and learned how to submit my pieces as a freelancer.

When I met my husband, I shared my dreams with him. As the son of a mother/business owner, he was completely on board.

I closed no doors and burned no bridges. Every door and window was left wide open.  

Becoming a mother

Some girls are born nurturers. They love babysitting and usually grow up to own day cares or teach in elementary schools. I was never one of those girls.

Never, that is, until November 13, 2011.

My Lyla was born when I was 23 years old. I’d had five different writing jobs, been married for three years and endured one heartbreaking miscarriage. I wanted that baby, loved her, prayed for her and adored her. I became a baby person when I met mine.

As it turns out, babies sleep a lot. When Lyla was born, I had no job other than caring for her and our tiny apartment. She was a dream baby who took good naps and slept well at night. Vacuuming our entire place took about 15 minutes. Even with shopping and cooking and everything else, I had a lot of time on my hands. Even though I loved my new job as a homemaker, I found myself cranky and bored more often than I liked. I needed something more to do.

Becoming both

That’s when I dusted off my childhood dreams and got started on my first book. In between research sessions at the library, I wrote little blog pieces or news stories for people who hired freelancers. I sent emails to old contacts and took any writing job that paid. The extra couple hundred dollars every month or two helped with groceries and brought the thrill of the deadline back into my life. I became myself again—only better this time, because I was a mother as well. As both mommy and writer, I became a fuller, more complete, happier version of myself.

Every year since 2012, my freelance business has grown. Word of mouth and happy clients led to more jobs, which led to even more jobs. I spend a vast majority of my time caring for my two small children, my husband and our home. I also work on the side.

Admittedly, it isn't always an ideal situation. Every day I wonder if I spent enough time with my kids or enough time on my writing. Some days my husband plays with the girls at the park while I finish up a piece on a deadline. Sometimes I don’t touch my laptop for days, just because I need more mommy time.

True to his word, my husband has been my biggest support and best friend. He helps me care for the children some nights, and I help him supplement the family income. We both have our primary jobs, and we help each other in between.

I still don’t know what to say when people ask me if I stay at home or if I have a job. I guess I’ll just tell them the truth: I do both. 
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12 May 2015

Mommas Makin Moola #4: Abby the Mary Kay Queen

Mommas Making Moola is a new guest-blogger series about the non-traditional ways  moms can bring income into their home (outside of the 9-5 job). In this series, I am joining forces with Swag On, Momma to feature the experiences of our guest bloggers. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please contact me for more information.
Swag On, Momma has this week's post. Read this inspiring Q & A  about how Abby found a job that worked around being with her kids during the day. Along the way, she has earned a free car through Mary Kay and tripled her income. Amazing, right?

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04 May 2015

Mommas Making Moola #3: Opera Singer

Mommas Making Moola is a new guest-blogger series about the non-traditional ways  moms can bring income into their home (outside of the 9-5 job). In this series, I will be joining forces with Swag On, Momma to feature the experiences of our guest bloggers. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please contact me for more information.
By Marlise Ahuna

I guess on a continuum of “working” mothers, I’m just a hair above unemployed. I don’t have a set part-time job; rather I've developed a love of performing into something that earns enough to sustain itself.

I grew up doing children’s theater, choir, and instrumental music.  In fact, those were my main after-school activities all the way up to high school graduation. I continued to take voice lessons while in college, but I didn't study seriously at that time; it was mostly for fun.

Fast forward a decade, a husband and two kids later, and I was a stay-at-home mom living with my family in a tiny apartment a few blocks away from Waikiki.  Even though being at home was important to me, I also felt I needed something of my own to work on and to progress in. I checked out some community theater, but the rehearsal schedule was too intense for that time in my life.  I met another mom at church who was in the Hawaii Opera Theater chorus and she convinced me that it was manageable schedule, even with a young family.

So I auditioned for the chorus and got in. The opera theater was celebrating their 50th anniversary with a concert by the chorus and they threw me into that.  Suddenly I was singing in Italian and French (luckily no German) and wondering what the heck I got myself into. Several months later I was in my first opera, La Boheme, and I was hooked. I had never even seen an opera before and here I was, onstage with a small army of performers, all of us singing at the top of our lungs, in front of a huge set, no microphones, and a symphony orchestra accompanying us. There was a maestro leading us in a concert hall with over 2,000 seats. There were people in the dressing room specifically there to put on our make-up, our wigs, and our costumes.  It was huge and lavish and crazy all rolled into one. And I LOVED it.

I continued to do one to two operas a year with the Hawaii Opera Theater, but I also branched out and did some community theater.  I was in a local production of Phantom of the Opera when the costume designer gave my name to a local singer/songwriter who was producing his first children’s musical.  I met with him and ended up auditioning for his show.  Up until that point, all the performing I had been doing was unpaid, even the opera chorus. But this new show, Honu By The Sea, was a paid gig AND it was an opportunity to do something few performers in musical theater get to do: originate a role.

That was several years ago.  I've continued to work with Honu By The Sea and the Hawaii Opera Theater, both in their chorus, their Studio program, and in their Opera Express educational program. I've also sung in numerous concerts as a soloist and in more community theater. I don’t always get paid to sing, but increasingly, I do.  I wish I could say I’m earning enough money to significantly help my family, but in reality, developing as a performer can be expensive. Almost all the money I earn goes to pay for voice lessons, music, promotional material, etc. I also depend on (and am forever indebted to) my parents and in-laws for helping with my kids while I am performing (two kids in school, two still at home).

Although my family and friends are very supportive of me (hubby is my biggest fan), at times I worry about taking time away from my husband and kids to do something that is not contributing significantly to our budget. But I suppose everyone has time he or she spends in recreational activities; binge-watching Netflix shows, playing video games, participating in adult sports leagues, watching football, doing scrapbooking, or crafting. Me? I perform.

Sometimes I think about all the money parents spend on their kids for music lessons, dance lessons, sports organizations, etc. Why do we spend years chauffeuring our kids around from one activity to another?! Do parents really expect their children to grow up to be a professional dancers or pro athletes?  If their children don’t, is that money wasted?

As a parent, I want to provide my children with enriching experiences that will help shape their character.  So why don’t we parents do the same for ourselves? What better way to teach your children that learning doesn't stop at a certain age or with a certain degree? Everybody needs that one thing that is their own and that keeps them learning and growing.  Everyone needs a balanced life.

I love being a mom and I love being able to stay at home with my kids. I love that I have the time, the support, and the ability to earn enough to continue singing and performing for others.

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27 April 2015

Mommas Making Moola #2: Amber's Childcare Business

Mommas Making Moola is a new guest-blogger series about the non-traditional ways  moms can bring income into their home (outside of the 9-5 job). In this series, I will be joining forces with Swag On, Momma to feature the experiences of our guest bloggers. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please contact me for more information.
We are back for our second post in the Mommas Making Moola Series! Take a peek into Amber's experience with running her own childcare business. She gives some great insight on what it takes to run this type of business. You can read Amber's post on Swag On, Momma. Click HERE to read her post.
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20 April 2015

Mommas Making Moola #1: Use it, Gift it, Sell it

Mommas Making Moola is a new guest-blogger series about the non-traditional ways  moms can bring income into their home (outside of the 9-5 job). In this series, I will be joining forces with Swag On, Momma to feature the experiences of our guest bloggers. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please contact me for more information.
By Jenni Martz
Visit her Website

My creative outlet both saves and makes this mom money.

Yard sales are like treasure hunts, sometimes items lay for years in the dusty, dirty crevasses of attics, garages and storage units.

Grandmother's childhood trinkets and Grandpa’s old tool box sit waiting to be rediscovered and enjoyed after years of silent stillness. Yard sales are a wonderful place for finding the lightly used and brand new. Here are my secret best bargain tips for finding your treasures.

Top 10 Best Yard Sale Tips

1. FIND YOUR SALES: You have to find out what is out there first. Here are the top three Websites I like to reference the day before: Craigslist, Facebook & Yard Sale Search, and don’t forget the local paper.

2. THE GAME PLAN: Note your sale start times and plan a good route. This is important to save gas and to hit the most important areas first. More affluent areas may be your best bet for newer & lightly used finds, the older more established areas for more of your vintage gems. Hint: Block sales are a great time saver too.

3. WANTS & NEEDS LIST: Yard sales are great places to find school clothes, home decor, sporting equipment, games, kitchen supplies etc. My youngest child has been impeccably dressed in the best designer clothing from garage sales for the past 8 years. It’s a teaching moment for kids in not only stretching dollars, but the importance of reusing, recycling and repurposing to save our planet. If my family can’t use a great find but I know Ebay or a sales Facebook site may be able to help me reap a profit from it, I snatch it up. It’s important to keep up to date on trends when doing this step. I look at window fronts when at the mall, flip through magazines. Finding the “hot” stuff will get you more money and a faster sale if you pay attention. Also educate yourself in vintage and antique items if that is your thing. You never know when that tiny trinket bobble could be worth a pretty penny.

My Website has been steadily providing a monthly income and at the same time provided a very flexible home schedule to pick up kids, run errands and conduct everyday tasks. If it’s too large or fragile to ship I search out local Facebook sale sites that allow me to sell items in an arranged location. I love this option since it does not include the fees and shipping that I deal with on Ebay. Just remember to meet in a safe public place for the transaction. I like Starbucks or, as other have recommended to me, the lobby of the local police station.

4. APPEARANCE: You want to be able to negotiate right? Then don’t show up with your designer jeans carrying a coach purse, driving up in your BMW. If your outer appearance screams, “I CAN PAY IT, ” chances are you will and even your best negotiating skills will render useless.

5. CHECKLIST: Your map and sale start times, pencil and notepad (never know when you have to take a name/number down to put up an item later), GPS, phone, money holder (suggest a small item to wrap around wrist or fanny pack), hat/sunglasses and plenty of cash in small denominations. Also make sure your car is filled with gas the day before and grab a couple of snacks and water so you do not have to stop.

6. BUYING: I always ask myself three things when I pick up an item. Can I use it, can I gift it or can I sell it? If I can say a definite yes to one of these then I go to my next step…the negotiation.

7. NEGOTIATING: Yes this does take a bit of practice, but after a few times you’ll be a pro. Especially after you get to know the going rate of certain items. My big advantage is listening to the seller with other buyers prior to my offer. This gives me the edge and lets me know if the seller is firm on prices. I also try to smile and strike up a conversation with the seller, maybe find a common ground of interest. The instant “like” factor often helps me get a much better deal. I also try to be very fair with my seller. I never low ball too much but offer a lower fair price, leaving room for a bit of haggling. If a buyer outright tells me a price before my offer I often respond, “what is the lowest offer you would accept?” 90% of the time the priced is dropped again, sometimes much lower than I would have expected!

8. KEEP A SMILE: Yes, it can get crazy out there! I have been blocked into parking spots, yelled at, pushed, insulted, and the list goes on! Keep your chin up, be polite, and don’t let anything or anyone ruin your experience.

9. BE SAFE: It's early and you’re tired. Wake up with that coffee and watch for crazy drivers. They will be out there flying through the neighborhoods trying to get the best deal before you.  Also, never ever hit your brakes hard while trying to get a glimpse of that sale across the street, You will get hit by the guy driving too close behind! Carry your phone for emergencies.

10. FUN: Have fun and remember that it’s a hit and miss. If you don’t find what you are looking today, you may find it next weekend!  Happy hunting!

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16 April 2015

Nightmare Children Video

This video had Lorin and I crying from laughing so hard. I'm sure lots of parents can relate to this in some way.

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01 April 2015

Father Forgets

Lorin introduced me to this poem a while back when I was having a particularity hard day with Miranda. I was getting on her case about every little thing. When I read this poem, I just broke down crying because I realized I was expecting her to do things as an adult when she is still just a little girl and is trying to learn the ropes of life. This poem is one that I pull out and read every once in a while as a reminder to show more love to my daughter rather than nitpick at the things I think she is doing wrong. I tear up every time I read it!

Father Forgets by W. Livingston Larned

Listen Son, I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little hand crumpled under your cheek and blonde curls sticky over your wet forehead. I have broken into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guilty, I came to your bedside.

There are things which I am thinking, son; I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face a mere dab with the towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. As you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, "Goodbye, Daddy!" I frowned, and said in reply, "Hold your shoulders back!"

Then it began all over again late this afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your socks. I humiliated you before your friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Socks were expensive, and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that son, from a father.

Do you remember later, when I was reading in the library, how you came timidly, with sort of a hurt look in your eyes? I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption; you hesitated at the door. "What is it that you want?" I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, your small arms tightened with affection that God had set blooming in your heart, which even neglect could not wither. Then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, Son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, or reprimanding; this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you: it was that I expected too much of you. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

There is so much that was good, fine and true in your character. The little heart of yours was as big as the dawn itself over the hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else mattered tonight. Son, I have come to your beside in the darkness, I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know that you would not understand these things which I have told you in the waking hours. Tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: "He is nothing but a boy--a little boy."

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, Son, crumpled and weary in your bed. I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother's arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much! 

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