Friday, December 27, 2019

Farewell for now


I started Frantic Mama back in 2011 when my first child, a little boy, was about 2.

Blogging was still somewhat new back then. It was almost 10 years ago. Creating Frantic Mama, and the brand around it, was one of the most life-changing decisions I've ever made. Not that I pictured it would be so monumental at the time.

What started as a small online journal to air out my thoughts and creativity while documenting life as a first-time mom turned into a recognizable brand. Not as huge as say, Scary Mommy, but definitely with more readers and followers than I ever imagined early on.


Here's a grainy photo from my son's first Christmas, almost 10 years ago.
How life has changed!
So many wonderful moments so many challenges.
I am grateful for all of it.


It meant a lot that so many mothers around the world reached out and connected with my words and my story. It was like having a group of friends who you could share the day's long journey with-- and laugh and cry and laugh/cry/snort-- without any kind of judgment or fake glorification of parenting.

I started the blog during a time when I found very few mothers out there willing to tell it how it really is-- how long the days with babies are-- and how the nights are even longer. That Motherhood with a capital M isn't what Pottery Barn Baby depicts in its glossy catalogs. That it can be lonely and exhausting. That you sometimes miss the days before you had kids, when you could do virtually whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted.

That babies aren't just cute little teddy bears all the time-- they cry a lot. And spit up. And there's endless diapers to change and so very little time to shower or blow dry your hair or put make-up on.

There's so much beauty in Motherhood and Babyhood, of course, too. More beauty than challenges. The 1,000's of photos on our phones are evidence of that. So are the picture-perfect Christmas cards, and all the big "firsts"-- that first gummy laugh, the first word, the first time walking...and then it all speeds up:

You get to the first day of preschool, and the first day of kindergarten, and the first basketball game...

It doesn't slow back down. I never thought I'd miss the days of putting little toddlers in shopping carts and fighting the good fight at the grocery store. Or the days of traveling with tiny children. And, no, I suppose I don't miss the constant colds. Or the sleepless nights feeding a new baby. I don't miss recovering from two c-sections. I don't miss suffering from postpartum anxiety that led to insomnia even when I had the chance to sleep. And I don't miss the long, lonely days of being alone with a baby and a toddler without any other adults around. I'm not so far gone as to forget the challenges. I know how hard it is for those moms with tiny ones right now. I assure you that.

But I do miss the innocence of that time, if I can call it that. I miss the giggles of babies. I miss the stumbling around walking of a toddler. I miss preschool days. I miss tucking my babies in their beautiful cribs each night. I miss having my son sit in my lap and holding my hand without thinking about it. I even miss feeling the kicks of active babies swirling in my stomach.

I will never ever be the one to tell a tired, overwhelmed mother "enjoy every second. It all goes by so fast." Because I know better. It is an impossible set-up to tell someone to 'enjoy every second' of anything. There are hard times with young kids. Stomach flus to live through. Spouse work trips to survive. Newborn phases to pass. Frantic Mama has always been the anti-Pollyanna.

But I will say this-- I'm grateful I had so many good times with my kids when they were little. Now my son-- who you can read about as a toddler in the first several posts-- is 9.5. He's in 4th grade. How can that be?! And my second baby, my daughter, is now...unbelievably SEVEN. I'm truly grateful to have the chance to be a mother and to watch and help my children grow. It's the greatest gift I've ever been given no matter how difficult it can be.

Which brings me to my next point:

I haven't found much time to blog for fun in the last couple of years. I miss it often, yes. I am a writer through and through and few things bring me as much joy as writing just for the fun of it.

I am grateful for the new writing opportunities that have come from this passion project. I am also grateful for the memories this blog will preserve for me, and for my husband and my children to read as they grow. I might print it all out and bind it for them someday.

I am not deleting anything, and I'll still be Frantic Mama on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Those are fun little people-connectors for me. I still feel like I do it differently and offer something quintessentially 'me' to the online Motherhood space-- it's light, it's fun, it's real, without the heavy snark and sarcasm. It's healthy and not swimming in alcohol or anger or ingratitude. But it is first and foremost Real.

But I am going to take a little break from the blog. The pressure of knowing it's out there, without time to add to it, is a stress for me. My kids are getting older, as I keep saying, and because of that and their activities, life is going by at warp-speed. I know it won't slow down, and I want to be there when I can, trying to lock the beauty of it into my memory the best I can.

Thank you so much to all of my readers over the years. I'm not really going anywhere. I'll be here in spirit. I'm with any of you who need someone in your corner who gets it. And who knows, I might dive into the blog again later this winter, or spring, or 3 years from now.

Look around carefully in a crowded room of kids and adults, and you'll see me and my kindred spirits-- I'll always be the Frantic Mama!


Here's a recent photo of my family: we're all grown up now.
Infinitely bittersweet.
All my best,

~Julia


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Books and Books


Sometimes I forget to talk about all the cool books I've had the fortunate opportunity to be a part of over the last few years. I can't really express in words (how ironic!) how meaningful each one of these projects has been for me.

So I'm breathing some new life into them here...with full credit where credit is due to the gutsy women who came up with the concepts, solicited manuscripts for them, had to fire off rejections and edits, and bam-- Made them happen!

Current deadlines always seem to cloud past accomplishments, so let's have some fun and take a trip down memory lane, shall we?...and sure, [cough, cough], feel free to grab one or two off Amazon! 



First things first. "Let's start at the very beginning...a very good place to start!"

Clash of the Couples was my first foray into the paperback world.

The [somewhat] racy cover and concept-- writing about our most ridiculous marital arguments-- brought out the prude in some people, but I don't really care: I still think the concept was totally fresh and creative. And if you can't handle the shirtless guy and a fully covered female's private parts, then, um, maybe you need to go make out with your spouse or something. It's really NOT that scandalous, folks.

It's funny. It's fresh. it'll make you chuckle tonight as you nudge your husband to get him to stop snoring.






Book Numero Dos:

Only Trollops Shave Above the Knee. This was another group effort by some of my ultimate favorite female writers.

This book has a quirky title that some of us (yes, okay, me too) might have had to Google {"what's a trollop?"} but I really like the concept: off-beat lessons-- some humorous, some serious-- we learned from our mothers and other women-who-are-older-than-us.





I wrote one called, "There's Nothing Attractive About a Drunk Girl," (yeah, let that sink in for a sec...), and I'll be hanging on to a copy of this book to share with my own little lady when she heads off to college some day. Enough said.


Book Number 3:

This one should be required reading for all new parents, published by the duo at Lose the Cape publishing: Never Will I Ever (and then I had kids!). It's written by those of us who Knew It ALL...until we had kids of our own. Yeah. Cringe. 

This anthology reveals all those "oh yeahhhhh" moments in excruciating, self-deprecating glory. With plenty of humor and solidarity to keep you going during a long night of "second/third/10th good nights"/ nursing marathons / epic tantrums.


Has a cover image ever been so ON POINT?

4th Book:

Next up is You Do You, published by the unstoppable  Jen Mann of the "People I Want to Punch in the Throat" fame.

This one was such a passion project for me and all the female writers (yes, all female!) who contributed to it. The concept was to write something that would empower the girls in our lives, whether it be funny, emotional, or both.

I truly hope I did that with my story, and I can't wait to share this one with my own daughter when she's just a little older. [She's a badass, so I know she'll love it.]

And I was even on t.v. for this one! Yes, real, LIVE t.v.! And no, I've never watched my section. Ha!


Last but certainly not least:

Will Work for Apples brought together my love of writing and my love of teaching, all in one diverse, forward-thinking anthology, again published by Jen Mann.

What an HONOR to be a part of this one!



I loved sharing the growth as a teacher I've experienced since I've become a parent, and I thoroughly enjoyed the other contributions from a diverse and interesting group of authors. I'd highly recommend this one to parents, soon-to-be-parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators...basically, everyone involved with schools and education.

That's 5 of 5, people. Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me.

I'm pretty humbled as I look at this unique list of books. I can't thank the publishers and readers enough for their support of me and of all the independent, freelance writers out there baring our souls, and sharing our words, our stories, and our lives and loves!

Thank you.

P.S. If you are interested in following along with more of my publishing feats, you can find that on my freelance website, JuliaStarrArnold.com.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

















Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My baby is turning 7, how can this be?


Hello? Anyone out there?

How was my last post in July? How is it now September?

I know you can relate. Fall is such a busy season. Though, I must admit, I am a little weary of everyone-- including myself-- always saying just how "busy" they are. I don't think that's changing anytime soon for most of us. Busy is family life.

Anyhoo... my little baby, the one who longtime readers have 'known' since she was born in 2012, will be SEVEN in the wee hours of the morning.

Seven feels big to me, perhaps because that's an age when I begin to remember a lot from my own childhood. Seven is, for whatever reason, an age where I can almost feel and touch the memories from my childhood. My favorite fluffy white stuffed animal. The feel of my soft pink-checked baby blanket I still slept with at the time. The family cat and dog who patiently let me carry her around, practically thrown over my shoulder. We can conjure it all up easier than those nebulous 4, 5, or 6 year old memories.

Being a mother has been more challenging than I could have ever predicted. But it's something I always wanted and will never regret.

So help me wish a happiest of birthdays to my little girl, the one who I couldn't have dreamed up in a million years.






Yes, that's us with our puppy. Hunting. HA!

~"Mom" (because, yes, bittersweetly, she insists on calling me that rather than Mommy or Mama, the baby names she once called me (though occasionally, as luck might have it, she'll call me Mommy, and I don't make a show of it so she'll keep doing it).


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Finding Inspiration Whenever We Can


What is it about the end of July?

In so many ways, I think it's the absolute best time of year, especially here in the midwest, where it's cold way too much of the year. Those of us living here know these warm summer days are far too limited and we will enjoy every single one of these hot and humid days, dammit! We'll suck the life out of them!

The days now are long and usually sunny. The occasional storms are kind of cool. You can wear shorts and t-shirts all day, which are probably my favorite-of-all clothes. In fact, I feel most at home in shorts and a loose t-shirt and tank top than in anything else. It must go back to my Indiana cross-country running roots. The looser and lighter the clothing, the better! Anyhoo...

The familiar smell of baby sunscreen fills the air. Pink cheeks and new freckles appear anyways.

You don't need to throw on that puffy down coat every time you go out to check the mail. It stays light past, say, 4:30 p.m.

There's a lot to love about July.

But as I like to say, I'm no Pollyanna. Nothing is ever 'perfect,' and July in Minnesota is no different. The mosquitos are livin' large, as well as the itchy buzzy flies. Your kids will get poison ivy and/or sunburned no matter how diligent you are, and yes, you will certainly hear about it. Swimmers itch might happen. Or maybe a yeast infection. Ha! 

Oh yeah, and need I remind parents of preschool and school-aged children everywhere? There's no school.

This means every minute of entertainment, socialization, education, and enrichment falls on us-- the parents. Camps are great and all, but by this time in the summer, I'm missing the lack of school day structure a bit. I like knowing what my day is going to look like, and in the summer months, just about every day looks different.

That's ok. It's okay....breathe... breathe... I tell myself.

I will tell you something good though, my friends: it appears that somehow, somewhere, in the midst of both kids being home, epic puppy-rearing, and a death in the family (we lost one of the kids' grandfathers in June. The loss was a big one), and all the expectations and activity that summer brings, I might have just broken through my epic writer's block.




Weeeee!!!!

(I'm actually scared to write this. I don't want my drive to vanish again, but if I can't share it with my readers, then who?)

It's been a rough few months for the writer in me. I simply haven't had the time or inspiration to sit down and write. Nothing has grabbed me and made me pass up, say, shaving my legs in the shower, or taking a solo trip to Target, or going to bed early (basically the things I might give up to write in the past) in order to sit for even a few minutes and type at my trusty keyboard.

A huge part of that is due to the new baby, er, puppy, we got in April. (Puppies aren't for wimps, people!), but I think it's been more than that. I simply haven't felt inspired. I was busy, yes. But who isn't? It seemed like I always had something I needed/wanted to do instead-- from basics like laundry and preparing meals for the family, to meeting with my tutoring clients, spending time with my family, driving to and from events... and did I mention a fantastic but very long little league baseball season? The list of reasons and excuses goes on.

But somehow, in the midst of the mosquitos who are ravenous for my O Negative blood, and the early morning wake-ups my kids enjoy ever so much no matter if it's Monday, Thursday, or Sunday, I've been a bit, yes, dare I say it? Inspired.

I wrote a poem.

No one in the world likely needs to see it, but I did it. It's about my daughter, and it felt cathartic and great. I'll at least print it and put it in a keepsake box for her to read eventually.

Then I surprised myself and wrote an article-- a whole actual article!-- and submitted it to a new publication. Again, will it see the light of day? I don't know. I would like it to, of course, but the fact that I actually wrote something and that I liked and sent it out felt so reassuring. Reassuring to who I am and who I've worked to be.

And now, here I am, sneaking away in the evening as the kids watch a show on the Food Network (yeah, it's a new thing for them and I kind of love it) to type out a quick blog post for my most favorite of passion projects, my original home, my dear, dear blog. And boy does it feel good! [takes celebratory swig of Mango Blue Moon beer and glances at sleeping puppy, wondering when she'll wake up and need to pee].

...

So that's me this late July evening. How goes it with all of you? Have you felt inspired to get in touch with your passions this summer? Or has it been an unfruitful season for whatever your joy and purpose typically is?

Take heart, sometimes you just need a break. If I'm any proof, maybe we just need to give ourselves a break, try to get some of that elusive sleep, eat some pizza, and trust in ourselves and our abilities, and hope and know it will come back. It may take a longer time than we want or expect, but it will.


~Julia @ Frantic Mama



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Meet Our Newest Addition


Hello friends!

It's been a while, yes? That's because of one thing and one thing only:


BOO!

(Or should I say, one pup and one pup only?)


It's true. A little over a month ago, we happened to acquire another addition here in the Frantic Mama household. 

Her name is Sunny. And it was allll my decision to get her and convince my family we couldn't live without her.


Let me introduce you to our newest handful, Sunny.


Before we got a puppy-- kind of like when you're pregnant or hoping to get pregnant-- everyone who has had puppies before me felt the need to inform me how much work the puppy would be. I even had people think it was their place to tell me not to get one. 

Aw, naw. Don't be telling a tough, hardworking grown woman what she can or can't do, people! Amiright?!

But I digress...

We got one, despite all the [annoying] naysayers, and has it been a ton of work? Has it been life-changing? Yes! 

Yes, indeed it has!

(But it's also been worth it, for the record.)

I might have scoffed if someone compared dog ownership to having a child before going through the ringer myself, but now that I've done both, I can say that yes ma'am, having a puppy at home keeps me almost as busy as having a baby or toddler! They are constant little tornadoes of energy... until they sleep...and those naps are most precious to us hoomans. (Just like those of us who savor/ed our baby/toddlers' naps. It's much the same. Naps are the best invention of all time in the whole wide world.).

In case you don't believe me, I came up with a handy dandy meme about it. (While the puppy napped. Because just like babies, there is no getting anything done when your puppy/baby is up.).




It's funny how the world turns, because back in the day (9 years ago), I was the first of most of my good friends to have a baby, and after I had one, I didn't feel like any of them really 'got' what it was like to be home with a baby 24/7. Life-altering doesn't feel strong enough.

And while a puppy may not be quite as life-altering as a baby, it's very clear that people who've never done it truly don't know what my day is currently like with a pup. (This gives me a brilliant idea: maybe they should borrow Sunny for a day. Ha! Please feel free to puppysit, folks.)

I'd love to hear from other busy mamas who decided to dive in and get a pet. We already have a much-loved cat and a bunny, and they also provide us with tons of joy and love. I feel like Sunny has a lot of joy to share with us in the years ahead. And for all the work it's been, it's also exciting to grow our family.

And...she's up! Quick, someone grab a Kong and fill it with peanut butter so I can finish my sentence...

Until next time, find more frantic motherhood fun (without the sarcasm & snark) on Facebook.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama