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


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Let's Give Marie Kondo a Break



I get it. The Japanese tidying method invented and popularized by entrepreneur Marie Kondo is an easy target. Making fun of her premise to only keep things that "spark joy" is easy to make fun of because, let's ask ourselves: do these Rubbermaid containers spark joy? Does my favorite pair of old sweatpants spark joy? No, not exactly. The containers are simply a necessity. And, well, so are the pants. Ha!

What bugs me when people hate on the actual person-- like Kondo-- is that it reflects that tendency to forget that public figures are actually people with feelings. It's easy to think that comments making fun of her-- and I've seen even some vicious ones-- will never reach a real person. Why would she care anyway, right? She's probably made millions from her book and her t.v. show. And maybe she won't ever see them. But still. Do we want to put more negativity out there? Especially towards other women?




Have you watched Marie Kondo on her Netflix show or read the book from cover to cover? She is the most humble, down to earth, sweet person. She doesn't judge people. She truly seems to be there to help them live better lives. And yes, she's been highly successful at it.

Also, as a woman and a mother, how is it ever a good thing to knock down a successful woman who has created an entire brand (and yes, she has two young children to boot)? She's one of many women who have been successful with class, kindness, and intelligence. We should be building them up!

I know I wouldn't want my daughter to see me belittle another woman, especially one like Marie Kondo who embodies qualities many of us value-- non-judgmental, kindness, enthusiasm, smarts. You name it.

We need to think before we pull the punches and remember our sons and daughters are watching us. Maybe it's just Twitter to you, but if she happens to be reading the comments that day-- or your kids saw them-- will you feel good about what you wrote?

It's about to go up a notch in here...wait for it...

Can we extend this to other strong women? How about our current First Lady? That's another situation that irks me. Whether or not you voted for her husband, why do so many insist on making fun of her and "hating" her? She's a mother (and I'm always trying to support other moms), and she has given back to many charities and philanthropies (the American Cross, Love Our Children USA, the Police Athletic League, Wounded Warrior Project, and Paralyzed Veterans of America, to name a few). She visits children in hospitals and schools constantly. 






Making cruel remarks about her just because you don't like her husband or her political views is thoughtless behavior I would never ever want my daughter see me show towards other women.

Can we keep judgments to ourselves and not bash other successful woman who are working hard to create careers and basically just live their lives? I know so many awesome ladies, and I know together we can find a more positive way to support each other, even if our priorities and causes differ from each other.

That is all.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

5 Friday Faves: February Edition


Well, did you survive January?

I did, but just barely. Boy oh boy am I glad to move on to February. Yes, it's still cold. It's still snowy. It still gets dark early...but it's also just a little less cold (or hinting at less cold), and it's a little less dark. February has always been a comforting reminder for me that yes, winter will end eventually, and spring will arrive.

Here are a few of my current faves to help us eek out as much enjoyment from February as we can. Enjoy!


1. Kuhl brand clothes. I'm always on the hunt for warm clothes that won't make me feel frumpy.  (Ever noticed how those two usually go hand in hand?) I stumbled upon this outdoorsy brand recently, and I am now the proud owner of a couple of their fleece tops-- a half-zip pullover and a zip-up vest. No buyer's remorse here! I already wear them constantly and feel no frumpiness about it.




2. Too Cute! (Animal Planet). Did you experience any weather-related school closings in January? Here in Minnesota, we did. We had 4 days in a row cancelled due to severely cold weather. By the final day of being trapped inside with young kids, I gave up and found a show OnDemand that I seriously had to watch and told the kids to just sit there and watch it with me (ha!).






What's not to love? It's a fluffy documentary series about puppies and kittens of various breeds that follows the wee ones from birth until they go to new homes. I'm 100% addicted! I'm pretty sure I sit with a big goofy grin on my face the entire episode. If you love animals, you'll love it too.


3.  Beauty Sleep Tea. Remember how I wrote that I'm trying to drink decaf tea in the evenings to unwind before bed? One company came up with an elixir that is just beyond clever with their marketing ("beautify while you sleep") and gorgeous packaging that I was a total sucker and bought it on the spot: Republic of Tea's Beauty Sleep Tea.



I can make my my skin all bright and glowy with a cup of tea infused with all kinds of "beautifying botanicals"? Sold! It tastes really nice and mild. I sometimes have it in the afternoon because it doesn't really make me sleepy-- it's more relaxing.


4. Sea Salt Caramels (Von Maur). It is the month of love (and chocolate) after all! My husband proposed 12 (I think?) years ago on Valentine's Day, so the Day of Love will always hold a special place in my heart (Get it? Heart? Valentine's Day?).

Anyway, no February Faves list would be complete without a treat or two, and here's something I've been munching on and hiding from my kids: the chocolate-covered sea salt caramels from Von Maur. 

Delish!




5. Warriors book series. I always try to put one kid-friendly product in my faves-- something that's actually tried and true in our house. To go with the "too cute" theme, I have a young adult book series recommendation for anyone with a cat lover in their house. 






Warriors is a pretty advanced youth series with challenging vocabulary and length (they're super long!), so for families with younger cat lovers, I'd recommend reading it aloud to your kids. They're very dramatic, but you'll crack up at how the author calls people "two legs," and often mentions the cats' "fresh kill piles." It's all from the cat's respective, and well, I could go on an on, but I'll sound like a crazy cat lady...

That's all she wrote, folks! And don't be strangers. I'd love to hear about your faves this time of year. I'm posting this before Friday as a little extra treat for all you hardworking mamas out there ;).

Happy Valentine's Day!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama