Friday, December 29, 2006

Working frustrations

Oh the aggravation! A very simple (so I thought) work-related task turned into a saga lasting several hours and resulting in quite a bit of frustration today!

Here's what happened: I created two newsletters for a couple of nonprofit organizations; I used Pagemaker but the nonprofits don't have this program so right now we aren't compatible. I'm getting Publisher for the next issues but right now we need to get the current issues printed. My job ends when the documents have been created and I normally just leave a copy of the document on CD with them. Because of the incompatability problem this time and me living close to a Kinkos, my newsletter people have asked me to drop off the print jobs.

Sounds easy enough.

That is, until I set out to find the print shop can't find either one that's close to me. (Really, how hard could it possibly be?) It starts raining and so I pull over to call the store. Between me not being familiar with the area and the young man not having the sense to say "We are at the corner of This Street and That Street" I still can't find the place. Driving around I eventually find it. I'm starting to get aggravated, and the rain starts falling harder just as we are getting out to go in.

I take my kids and my disks and my instructions that I have so painstakingly prepared for the printer and go in the shop. Turns out, that's not how they want it. They want it emailed in, in PDF format, along with the printing directions and payment information.

Oh goodness, that's an extremely aggravating trip for nothing. We drive the 20 minutes home in the rain with me thinking I can still do this without that much more of a headache. How wrong I was.

My PDF program on my computer doesn't do what I need it to do, so I get online and find a free trial for five online file conversions. After I finally got it to convert (lots of waiting), turns out all it coverted was the FIRST PAGE of a 10-page document. I thought it meant a free trial of five documents, not five pages. Perhaps document and page means the same thing to PDF!! Chalk that one up as a learning experience, and a highly frustrating one at that.

My husband found me a PDF converter to download on the hard drive but by this time I've wasted approximately five hours of my day (for which I'm not getting paid, by the way) trying to get this to work with no avail.

I've ended up emailing in Pagemaker format the documents to the printer and they can do the coverting.

What is more, by the time I finish up with all this it's past time for us to be leaving to go somewhere for the weekend.

So I just take a deep breath, eat some chocolate, smile at my children, and refuse to stress over anything the rest of the day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One thing leads to another

The past few weeks for me have been busy ones as I've kept up with my writing along with negotiating for a couple of new freelance positions. It seems that one thing has led to another in my work, and I'm grateful for the opportunity.

I am now in charge of publicity at a nonprofit organization in Eastern Arkansas, and a position as freelance writer and layout artist seems pretty sure at a new central Arkansas newspaper.

The publicity position, which includes putting out a quarterly newsletter and an annual report along with writing press releases and other materials, came about from doing some features on the nonprofit for a local newspaper for whom I've been freelancing weekly stories since I started working from home.

The director of the nonprofit and I had briefly discussed me taking on some freelance duties months before, and he contacted me a few weeks ago to ascertain my current interest in the project. I was, and over the course of the next couple of weeks we met and found out what each expected of the other, and we decided to go ahead with the partnership. I'm currently working on supplying text for the 2006 annual report — next year I will take over the production of the entire publication, save for the printing — and the winter newsletter.

The layout and writing position with the newspaper came about from my association as the editor (since the Summer 2006 issue) of yet another newsletter for a nonprofit organization in Eastern Arkansas. My design skills came highly recommended from the president of this nonprofit to the editor of the newspaper, who happen to be well familiar with each other as father and daughter. I received a call from the young lady and met with her and her editor last week.

A followup call later that week determined our continual mutual interest in the partnership, and I was also offered some freelance writing work with this newspaper. I accepted that as well and was given an assignment on the spot. I look forward to finding out the decision on the layout work.

This newspaper, a monthly publication that debuted in October, can be accessed online at

Now I am busy scheduling and completing interviews for my new projects, and have quite a bit of work to do within the next month. I have two newsletters and an annual report due the end of December and hopefully a newspaper to lay out for release the first of January, along with my weekly feature writing that I have been doing for the past few years.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Updated WAHP-writer resource page

My work-at-home-parent / freelance writer resource page on my writing website has just been updated!

It's a good list of sites that provide tips for moms and dads who want to work from home and people who want to earn money for their writing.

I hope you find it useful. Let me know!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Time for newsletter number two!

The time for the release of the second newsletter I've written and edited for an Eastern Arkansas nonprofit organization is upon us, and I've had to do more of the work over the phone this time than I did the summer issue. School's in now, and we are now an hour and a half (as opposed to about 30 minutes) from the office where the printing takes place.

That makes it a little harder to be at their office in person much, but now that the layout is established my presence is not required as much. I did go one day last week, though, for a meeting -- and a photography session for one of my newspapers there in that same town -- and everything worked out just perfectly time-wise. I got off the interstate and went straight to the school to pick the girls up, and was right on time.

It's exciting to see some of all the exciting things that this organization has in place to help people and communities, and besides the opportunity to write and edit the newsletter being a big help to my family, it's an honor to be associated with such a community-minded organization. I only wish I had started with the newsletter before we moved.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New resource for work at home dads

Work-at-home dads are doing a terrific job of taking care of the kids while getting the bills paid, too. Here's an article about a new resource for work-at-home dads: Offers a New Resource for Work at Home Dads

Morris County, NJ - June 12, 2006 - An increasing number of fathers are opting to work from home in order to provide parental care for their children. Although a variety of useful resources exist for work at home parents, few focus on the unique needs of work at home dads.

In honor of Fathers' Day, ( will officially launch on Sunday, June 18, 2006. This new web site is dedicated to the needs of work at home dads and includes articles and tools to help them manage their dual role as parent and business person. There's also a community of fellow dads in the discussion forums providing advice and sharing their experiences. was created by Justin Powell, who works from home as a web designer and cares for twin boys.

"When I first started out as a work at home dad, I found useful information was minimal and scattered," says Justin. "I was looking for a single location online that addressed the needs of work at home dads but found that such a place didn't existed. I felt a there was clearly a need for this type of resource, so I decided to create an online destination just for dads who work from home and care for their children."

To celebrate Father's Day, EntrepreneurDad is offering work at home dads a way to get free advertising for their business. For a limited time, dads can receive 100 free impressions in the site's banner ad rotation for each message they post in the discussion forums - up to a total of 5000 impressions. Dads must register and post at least one message by June 30, 2006.

For more information about this promotion, dads should visit:

For additional information, contact Justin Powell or visit

About Justin Powell: Justin Powell helps empower small- and medium-sized entrepreneurial firms by integrating the Internet as a business and marketing channel. He has 15 years of experience, including 11 years of corporate experience in sales and marketing of technology products. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Justin was Assistant Vice President at Pershing LLC and functioned as a product manager of Pershing's NetExchange Client online brokerage platform.

About The mission of is to provide a singular resource for fathers who work from home while caring for their children. The site provides articles, tips, links and a discussion forum specific to work at home dads.

Monday, June 19, 2006

It's down to the wire on the newsletter!

The quarterly newsletter that I'm doing for the nonprofit prints next week and I'm getting it all wrapped up!

I didn't have any of the templates or programs that had been previously used so I started from scratch with my Pagemaker program and created a whole new (and improved) look and layout style.

The rest of the week I'll be busy finishing up with the interviewing, researching, and/or writing for all the stories. I'll also meet with the man I'm working with on this, the vice-president of the organization, to show him the new layout. I think he's going to really like it. The president of the organization will also have to look it over first.

I really should have it ready to print right now but with the big move a few weeks ago, I think it's going as good as can be expected. It's going to be printed in their office. When I get finished with everything here I'll just load all the files and photos on CD and take them along with my Pagemaker program over to their office and get it all going on one of their computers. I think that should work. I hope it will!

This project has been very exciting for me since I've been writing about this organization nearly as long as I've been in the newspaper business. It's very much an honor to produce this newsletter for this organization and I certainly hope our partnership continues.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Making work fun

In an effort to try to get back into a somewhat normal routine after moving the end of last month, I've pretty much scheduled up the normal amount of writing work for myself these past three weeks since the move.

Of course, I failed to take into consideration that our first days and weeks at our new home would also be the first days and weeks of summer vacation for my children, but we've made the double transition quite well.

We've done all of my newspaper story interviews together as usual, with them coming home with all sorts of treats like buttons from an antique store and sets of rewriteable magnets from an office supply store. After one of those interviews we stopped and ate lunch and then went to the movie store. It was special to us because neither of those particular places are available where we used to live.

We've also stopped by their grandparents' house on our way back home from another interview. Everyone was surprised to see us so that was fun, too! We'll be able to make more of those impromptu stops this summer, I'm sure.

There'll be other fun things we can incorporate along with my work this summer as well. We have a whole big city to explore and I'm sure we can do a lot of it after work!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

That was not a good idea

Whew, I lived through a week without my computer and the Internet but I do not recommend it for any work at home mom! That was just terrible.

I did get to the Internet to send some work in and to check my email toward the end of the week. I went to a place in a town nearby our other house that has public access computers and was able to get a story in, but the floppy disk I used to store a photo wasn't formatted, so the computer said. Later that afternoon I went to a friend's house to send the photo, and of course I checked my email again.

The Internet, along with the phone and cable, was installed on Friday at the new house and I made haste trying it out. It worked, and all was again well with the world!

The next time I move, which I doubt won't be anytime soon, my computer and my Internet aren't going anywhere until I do! That was one lesson well learned.

Friday, May 19, 2006

How will I make it a whole week without the Internet?

It's bad enough to be without the Internet for an hour or even a whole morning, but how will I live without the Internet for a week?
The week in question will be next week, during which my family will be in transition from one house to the next. I'm dreading it.

I set the date for next Wednesday for the cable company to come hook up the Internet service. They want the computer physically there so they can leave the equipment — it's their policy. With us living an hour away from our new home, my husband and I both having to work, and the girls being in school through next week means we can't just take the computer over there right before hookup. It has to be moved this weekend, but I can't move with it because of the school thing.

Since I — or someone, preferably me with the more flexible schedule than my husband, who will be 10 minutes away from the new house but not able to break away — must be there at hookup to pay the activation fee, I figured I'd make it okay with being able to get on the Internet on Wednesday after the computer was moved the weekend before. I can pay the nice man, hook up the Internet service, and get on for a few minutes before I have to make the hour's drive to get the girls from school, that is, if I don't let them miss so they can come with me.

That plan rather fell apart yesterday when I got a note from school saying my daughter's behavior awards ceremony is next Wednesday! Now this award is very important; she's already collected three ribbons for good behavior and at this final assembly she gets another ribbon plus a gold medal for being good all year. This event is not to be missed.

I called the cable company back to see if I could get my Internet hookup moved up to Monday. No can do. The next available appointment is way on next Friday. Gasp, I can't hardly breathe! It's more than I can take.

Well, I guess I'll just have to live with that. If I feel myself losing control there should be a computer with Internet somewhere I can use. In the meantime, I guess I can use all the extra time to actually pack all our stuff up!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Making the switch to cable Internet

I'm switching from DSL Internet to cable Internet and I am told that I'll be completely delighted! I called the phone company, AT&T/SBC a couple of weeks ago to get our phone and Internet service transferred from our current home to our new residence. The phone switch arrangements went smoothly but I hit a brick wall when inquiring about DSL service. It seems that there is no DSL service available from AT&T/SBC at my new address.

WHAT??? Do you mean to tell me I've had DSL in a town of fewer than 4,000 people for two years — or is it three? — and it's not available somewhere within a city of 60,000 people? Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.

Talk about angry. I stomped around mumbling in frustration for a while and then decided to call the cable company. My husband had mentioned wanting to get cable TV and Internet service through the cable company although I wasn't paying attention since we don't have cable or satellite now and I intended to keep it that way. I could at least check to see how much the Internet service is through the cable company.

I called the local Comcast office and was greeted quickly and quite pleasantly by a real person with a smile on her face — I could just see it. She offered me a deal too good to pass up: basic cable — 78 channels, mind you — local and long distance phone service, and some kind of extremely speedy Internet service all for the low price of $99 a month; $113 with tax included. (With all taxes it'll probably end up being around $150 a month but that's still a good deal.) I snapped it up and told her why: it's inexcusable for the phone company to not have DSL at my new address in a city of 60,000 people.

I'm excited about trying out the new service and I think I'll really like it. What's not to like about having Internet, fast Internet at that?

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Monday, May 15, 2006

Getting the day started with a good cup of gas station coffee

There's not much better than a good cup of gas station coffee, and I decided to get my day started with one today.

After I got all the girls dropped off at school, I was possessed with a craving for a cup of gas station coffee. I fished around in my pockets and car cup holder for change, and to my delight I found enough! I mixed a 20-ounce cup of one-third French vanilla cappuccino, one-third extreme caffeine latte, and one-third regular coffee. Yummy!

I'm going to need this delicious pick-me-up today with all that I have to do. Three stories are due today and one of them hasn't even been interviewed yet. I've got about three loads and counting of clean laundry to fold, and of course there is the ever-present packing to move to do. At least I'll have the energy to knock a pretty good-sized dent in my to-do list!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Packing up my desk

In preparation for the big move in a couple of weeks, along with the need to find the scanner program CD — apparently I deleted a scanning program when I was cleaning off the computer files about a week ago — I cleaned my desk entirely off and packed everything away. Everyone else in the house loudly expressed their skepticism that I could fit everything in one box — "Do you think I can fit everything in this box?" I asked, to which three people loudly and quickly chimed in, "NO!" — but I did it.

I filled two large bags with trash from my desk — why do I have five catalogs from the same company? — and filed numerous other papers and notebooks away in other boxes containing work papers and notebooks, kids' schoolwork, drawings, and other keepsakes, and kids' books and activities. There was a tax return bundle and a needs-to-be-shredded pile to go along with that.

Alas, I didn't find the scanner program CD but I did pack away numerous other CDs, floppy disks, notepads, phone books, envelopes, a box of receipts and paid bills, and all manner of office supplies. My current files and notebooks were already in my new little file box so that really helped.

I did leave out a few important things I need now like pens and pencils, a sticky note pad, scissors, stapler and staple remover, and of course my planner, without which I cannot breathe much less get a single thing done. If I need anything else I can just flip the lid of the big desk box and get what I need.

Now all that's left to do is to unhook the phone, answering machine, pencil sharpener, scanner/printer/copier, fax machine, computer, and monitor. Actually I think my work is done here and I'll turn over all this equipment to my husband.

When I unload and hook it all up at our new home it will be at a smaller desk since the one I'm using now is too large for the spot that will be my office. Getting all my stuff on it should be very interesting.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Payday wasn't payday after all

Thursday is what I like to call payday, since I receive a check in the mail from one of my papers for the work published the previous week on that day, and I can go pick up another check from a different newspaper for the work printed the day before if I like.

Neither one of those worked out today, though. The check that comes in the mail didn't come, and the young lady who makes out the checks at the other newspaper wasn't working today. The mailed one will probably arrive tomorrow, and I will wait until another story is printed at the other paper before picking up a check from there. I normally wait until two or three have been printed anyway, but I was over there today and thought I'd grab one while I was there.

I'll add that one to a pretty nice one I'm expecting this coming week for some independent contract work I did last month, and we'll knock those utilities right out.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Thankful for my blessings

This past week I received three paychecks in the mail that were barely $75 altogether. I found it a little comical that putting all of them together didn't even equal $100 for several reasons. One was $45 for a story, another was $12 for mileage reimbursement, and another was $20 for an independent contractor assignment.

The good thing about this bunch of checks is that the $45 one was supposed to be $90 because the paper actually printed two stories, and the $20 one is supposed to be $30, but somehow they got the fee wrong. So everybody owes me more money.

The other good thing about it is I have another check for two stories sitting at one of my other papers, just waiting for me to pick it up. There'll probably be a checks for three stories over there before I get over there to pick them up.

The other OTHER good thing is that I bought groceries already this week and used someone else's money (well, it's mine too) to pay the utilities! The last good thing about this bunch of checks is that it is very rare that I get them that small anymore.

Isn't that great? I'm so thankful to be able to giggle about these three checks totalling $77. I remember a time in the not-too distant past where these three checks would be absolutely neccessary and every dime used to keep our lights on. I also remember a time in the very recent past when I busted my butt waiting tables for about $77 for one week. I did that for three weeks and my checks plus my tips plus some more paychecks I hoarded paid two mortgages all in one month.

It took me several months to have enough writing work and a few more months to be able to let the extra jobs I was doing on the side go. It was really tough for us then — we have always struggled financially, mostly because of the economics of the area we are in but also because we choose to live simply — but we felt very strongly about me working from home and taking care of the children. It just had to work since we didn't feel like there were too many other options. After that rough first year it seemed to work itself out and we are doing better.

This is not to say we're doing so well financially and I'm not bragging at all. I'm just thankful and blessed to be tickled at these little checks. It could all disappear tomorrow but I am most certainly thankful for my blessings today. I hope that everyone else who is determined to stay home with their children will just stick with it. It'll work out and you'll be glad you did.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Friday, April 21, 2006

Fueling a day's work

There's no better way to fuel a day's — or night's — work than with a great cup of coffee. I get my day started with one every day and have some at night too when I have an assignment I need to get submitted.

One of my fellow coffee lover-writers, Christina Spence up in Canada, has a new blog dedicated to coffee! It's Coffee Creations and has some good recipes for some coffee treats. Be sure to check it out and add it to your feed list.

That's not all there is to Christina. Coffee-powered as she is, she has another blog that I love, The Happy Slob's Guide to Housecleaning blog with simple cleaning tricks and natural cleaning solutions designed to get us back to doing what we love most, writing and drinking coffee! It goes with The Happy Slob's Guide to Housecleaning website. Yes, I'm a happy slob myself. Whatever Christina posts about in her blog every day is the thing that I clean that day. After I have my coffee, that is.

For recipes for just about anything else under the sun and all kinds of other ideas that are useful to work-at-home writer moms, take a look at her Kitchen Crafts 'n' More blog and her Kitchen Crafts 'n' More website. I'm not a big recipe gal but the blog and site are loaded with all kinds of useful information that even a slacker like me needs.

While you are there at the Kitchen Crafts website, be sure to check out the message board and see if there is anyone familiar there.

There's also her Freelancing for Beginners site with all kinds of good tips on getting started writing.

Wow, see how much you can get done when you load up on some good coffee?

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The spotlight is on working moms!

A fellow work-at-home mom and message board buddy at Mommy Jobs, Kira Sandoval, has started a new blog, The Spotlight on Working Mammas.

Today the spotlight shines on me. She said it better than I could, so hop on over and check out her new blog.

Be sure to add it to your feed list and of course you can always see who's in the working mom profile of the week through my link list.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mommy Circle blog posting free work at home ecourse

This note from The Mommy Circle just came to me via email:

I just wanted to let you know, in case you haven't visited The Mommy Circle blog lately that there is a F R E E Work at Home eCourse being posted. This free eCourse will run for 7 days and cover topics including an introduction to eBusiness, working from home, eBay Profits, planning your first web site, promoting your business on a budget and more. I'm sure you'll enjoy keeping up with the course and all the very helpful information included. It is not only informative, it's encouraging. I enjoyed it very much myself. Today is Day 1 Introduction to eBusiness. Follow along with the Work from Home eCourse at

The Mommy Circle is one of the fine work at home resources I have in my listing on my writing website. Be sure to check out the site and blog and even the ecourse!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Friday, April 14, 2006

An impromptu day off

There is so much work lined up for me to do on my schedule, plus quite a bit to do to get our house cleaned out and ready to sell, but this has turned out to be an impromptu day off.

It all started with the kids being off from school today. Since we didn't have to get up early to get ready for school, we pretty much didn't bother getting up at all. When I finally did get up it was 10 a.m. with half the morning and some good working hours gone. I spent the rest of the morning drinking coffee, making sure all the work-related messages in my email inbox were tended to, and even checking a message board or two. Around 1 p.m. I finally got dressed and had my breakfast shake.

The girls just went down for a nap (or at least a rest period) so this would be a good time to get started.

The problem is, there's so much to do I don't quite know where to start. I have several phone interviews that need to be done as well as some stories that need to be written. To prepare for selling our house and moving, we still have most of the house to go through and sort all our 10 years worth of accumulated junk. On top of that, there is the normal laundry, cleaning, and meal preparation to be done.

It's looking like the remainder of this day would better be spent like the first part of it!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Working at home with the kids around

Another book has been added to my growing library of all things work-at-home and writing-related. I have been reading "Writing for Quick Cash" by Loriann Hoff Oberlin and discovered that she also wrote "Working at Home While the Kids Are There, Too." Both are now in my working library.

The book "Writing for Quick Cash" contains so many practical tips that I just had to have "Working at Home While the Kids Are There, Too." I went to, my favorite place to buy and sell books and other media online and found a nearly new copy for 75 cents and bought it. It arrived today and I've only had a chance to flip through it, but I'm eager to read on helpful topics like:

  • Avoiding work-at-home scams
  • Setting working hours
  • Tax implications
  • Setting up an office
  • Advertising basics
  • Keeping up with the housework
  • Choosing childcare
  • Surviving the summer

There's lots of other great information and I can't wait to dig into it. I need all the help I can get with stuff like setting (and sticking to) regular working hours and keeping up with the mounds of dishes and laundry that need to be done!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Free ecourse on working from home

In one of my trips around the Internet today, I ran across a free ecourse on working from home. Take a look and see what you think:

I have downloaded it but haven't had the chance to read over it yet. Let me know what you think about it!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Friday, March 31, 2006

That's much better!

Wow, it really feels good to finally be organized. Earlier this week I got all my file folders changed out and added new ones for the work I've taken on in the last couple of weeks. After I got all that set up, I realized I needed the hanging folder file I'd seen at the store, so I went back after it.

What a difference that made! Now all of my folders plus most of my spiral notebooks that I use during interviews are all filed away in the box. No more piles of folders and notebooks on my desk and other working areas and most certainly not in the floor. I feel so much more efficient and hopefully I actually will be.

Now if I could just get the rest of my desk clean!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More work calls for more organization

My work has picked up recently and my organization is going to have to as well! In addition to the several weekly freelance assignments I have with two newspapers, another newspaper that I write for as needed has some work for me, and I have picked up a brand new job as the editor of a quarterly newsletter produced by a nonprofit group.

This additional work is very exciting for me and calls for me to get things in my office better situated. I keep up with everything through a system of spiral notebooks and manila folders. This system works for me quite well.

Interview notes for each newspaper go in a particular color notebook. For instance, I write one weekly human interest feature for a newspaper near where I live each week. Those notes go in a purple spiral notebook. Another newspaper gives me several assignments each week. The human interest pieces for that newspaper go in the blue notebook. Other assignments for that paper go in red and green notebooks. Since everything is color coded it's easy for me to grab a notebook.

I buy these notebooks by the box when the school supplies go on sale for ten cents each. I bought $10 worth (that's 100 70-sheet notebooks, plenty even for me) when they went on sale last year and still have three boxes left.

Loose papers and other notes are kept in Manila folders, one each for all the different types of assignments I have. My folders were getting really ratty, plus I needed some more for my additional work, so I bought a box of 100 last night at my local discount store. I like the open manila folders so I can easily flip through my notes as one would look through a book.

After coming home and getting everything put away in folders, I realize that I also need a small file box with hanging folders to keep everything neat. Later today I'll go back to the store and buy a file box and a case of hanging folders, set it up, and just put my manila folders down in those. That should keep my things in better order and make it easier for me to quickly locate a file.

As I go along I'll probably think of other ways to keep things in order. That's good because I just love buying office supplies!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Keeping kids busy while you work

This week has been spring break and my, has it been a challenge to get any work done with the kids being home from school plus all the company we've had. Here is an article about some good ways to keep your kids occupied while you attempt to get some work done:

Keeping Your Children Busy When You Work From Home
By: Aurelia Williams

Juggling children and work can be a challenge, whether you work outside the home or you are a work from home mom, but, in some ways, work from home moms face more challenges than moms who work outside the home. After all, when you’re in a traditional office, you don’t need to worry that a coworker will burst into the room and scream "Mommy, he took my doll," just as you are beginning an important conference call.

So how does a work from home mom manage to keep her children happy and busy while she is trying to get her job done?

First, you need to let your children know when you are not to be disturbed. Set up a schedule that includes playtime and work time and remind them that if they don’t disturb you while you are working, you will be able to give them your complete attention during playtime. As a reminder, use a do not disturb sign on your office door when you absolutely cannot be interrupted.

Of course, it is easy for your children to behave while you are working if they have something to do. Fill a box with games and toys that can only be used while mom is working. Make sure you add a new puzzle, coloring book, or small toy on a frequent basis, to keep your children interested.

If you don’t work on the phone, it is a bit easier to keep your children content when you are working. Set up an office space just for them, complete with a small table and chairs. Fill a lunch box with some of their favorite snacks and a few juice boxes each morning, so you aren’t inundated with requests for food and drinks. Add a children’s magazine, simple puzzles, coloring books, and art supplies. When your children are able to work along side you, the number of interruptions should decrease drastically.

For moms who really need peace and quiet, but have small children, a mother’s helper can be a great solution. Since you will still be in the house, you do not need a fully trained baby sitter to help out. Instead, look for a teen who has little babysitting experience, but likes kids. She will probably be happy to watch your children while you work for the cost of a few good after school snacks and a few dollars.

Finally, sometimes it’s just not possible to keep your children quiet and content while you are working. If your child is ill, you may just need to decide to take the day off. After all, the reason you are working from home is to have the flexibility to be there for your children when they need you!

Article by:
Aurelia Williams, certified Personal Life Coach and owner of Real Life Coaching and Real Life Solutions, a Family Resource site that help you lead an emotionally & physically healthier, more productive and less stressful life.

I can definitely identify with the whining and requests for food and other things as soon as I begin an important phone call! The food and activity box sounds like a good idea. I might just have to try it!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Thursday, March 23, 2006

So many distractions!

It has been so very difficult to work this week, though I have been trying! It's spring break and so of course my children are home, getting quite needy and demanding every time I start getting into my grove!

It's also my sister's spring break, and she and her husband have been here most of the week. We've had a grand time eating, shopping, napping, and movie watching in what we have dubbed their Grand Spring Break Eating and Sleeping Tour. (It started out as a vacation close to home where they were going to visit several museums and I dubbed it the Grand Spring Break Heritage Tour. Their plans changed so a name change was also in order.) Needless to say, between all this eating and shopping, I haven't gotten much work done.

It's also spring break for my nieces and they have been here pretty much all day. They painted, watched movies, played like sharks, and in general kept up a whole lot of racket, and all that was after an eating and shopping trip!

I guess it's time to stop worrying about getting work done and start really enjoying the fun. It's spring break, after all!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Good resources for WAHM writers

There are a ton of good Internet resources for work at home writer moms like myself. I have links to a good many of them on my writing website.

To access them, scroll down the right hand column until you get to the bottom. The links to the writing websites are separated from the work at home mom (WAHM) websites, but many of the WAHM sites have great hints for making freelance writing work.

My favorite part of all these websites is the message boards. I don't go to all of them regularly, but I am a registered user at all of them and really enjoy networking with fellow WAHM writers.

Check out my WAHM writer resource list and let me know if there are any sites I should add.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cool jobs

One of the neatest things about my job as a work at home writer mom is that I get to write about people with cool jobs! This is a new endeavor and right now I'm having a blast making a list of interesting occupations. Here are some I've come up with!

Library researcher
Museum director
Museum curator
Ball park manager
Tree farmer
Nursing home activity director
Cheerleader coach
Dog catcher
Thrift store manager/owner
Gently used book store owner
Tour guide
Humane society director
Animal shelter person
ESL teacher
Craft maker/vendor at festival
Antiques dealer
Guitar/musical instrument crafter
Art gallery director
Horse breeder
Wedding cake maker
Flower farm owner
Bed and breakfast owner
Resort owner
Wedding planner
Life coach
Person who tests toys/video games
Yoga teacher
Golf caddy
English-Spanish translator
Professional organizer
Landscape company owner
Coffee shop owner
Sign painter
Pawn shop owner
Person who has a sales business from home
Person who boards pets
Professional fisherman
Candle maker
Soap maker
Massage therapist
Personal chef
Pool cleaner
Petting farm owner
Scrapbooking teacher

Got any more ideas? Be sure to leave them here for me! If you're in Arkansas and would like me to consider you for a feature on one of these cool jobs or any other neat vocation, email me at smbwallace at sbcglobal dot net and we'll talk!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A new opportunity

A new opportunity in my freelance writing career has presented itself to me. A nonprofit organization with whom I have had a relationship throughout my years in the newspaper business has asked me to produce its newsletter.

I would write, take the photographs and do the layout for the entire 12-page quarterly production. The company would take care of the printing, which is good since they are getting ready to add some desktop publishing to their wide array of offerings.

I'm excited about this new opportunity and honored that this organization that I so highly esteem would ask me to take over the production of this important publication. I haven't officially accepted yet but it's now just down to a budget discussion, which I expect will go fairly smoothly. I've got plenty of ideas for stories and a few slight adjustments in layout, and I'm ready to get to work on it!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Disappointed again

Every time I look into doing some web content writing I am sorely disappointed. The first time was a few months ago, when I decided I'd like to try getting into some other types of media. I didn't know how good I had it in the print arena. The pay for web content writing is absolutely ridiculous, as in a few dollars for a few hundred words! I was horrified, to say the least, and I dropped the issue.

A few days ago, propelled by a need for a little extra money — it wouldn't be "extra" money, it'd be bill money — I decided I'd investigate further. This time I knew the pay was bad, but I have a few things already written and some things that would take very little time to put together. I had the names of a few web content sites that my Internet writer friends submit to, so what could go wrong this time?

This time I was quite dismayed at all the rules and instructions I was expected to wade through. I just figured I'd register and then slap a few things up there, but it does not work that way at all. There are lists of do's and don'ts probably longer than the articles I would submit, and I get pretty wordy when I start writing.

Disgusted again, I got up from the computer to go do something without all the long list of instructions and with a guarantee in pay — my print media work! Maybe I'll go back and read all the rules, and maybe I won't. I don't know how many disappointments I would have to go through to actually get the good news that someone had bought my work.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Branching out

Since the tax return money I was going to use for normal expenses this month is going toward something else, I'm looking into avenues for work that I haven't until now explored.

A writing friend of mine private messaged me about a writing assignment she thought would interest me on Rent-a-Coder, a site where writers bid for the projects. Indeed I am interested. There is a possibility that the writer who's bid is accepted will be used for other related articles. I have several up my sleeve but seriously doubt that the bid I'm going to make will be accepted.

There are a few other things I have up my sleeve. I'd like to turn a post in my blog Living the Mom Life into an article for one of those sites that pays for web content, perhaps Associated Content or Constant Content.

I have my eye on applying at a few other web content sites as well. The pay for web content writing is terribly low, especially compared to the newspaper writing I'm used to doing, but these pieces won't take long to prepare.

In addition, I have a couple of queries to submit to an online magazine that pays reasonably well. Submitting those is also on my list of things to do for work this weekend. Maybe a few of these things will work out. I'd love to get my foot in the door in this avenue of writing.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Friday, March 03, 2006

Speedy service

We completed the filing process for our tax return this past Tuesday and got a check from the state revenue department in the mail today. Talk about speedy service.

We filed at H&R Block with their local office right next door to our house, so there was some convenience involved, too. We also got our fee adjusted, which made it about half of what is normally charged. I am very pleased with our tax filing experience this year.

Now I was going to use this check that arrived today to pay the utilities and buy groceries this month, but I believe we're going to use it to make a few improvements around the house. That means I better get to scrambling for some more work this month!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Getting rid of distractions

This came to me by way of email this weekend and I thought it was not only funny but useful. Check it out:

Andy Rooney's Tips for Handling Telemarketers
Three Little Words That Work!

(1) The three little words are: "Hold On, Please..." Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt. Then when you eventually hear the phone company's "beep-beep-beep" tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task. These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting.

(2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end?This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone. This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a "real" sales person to call back and get someone at home.

What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer!

(3) Junk Mail Help:
When you get "ads" enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these "ads" with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away. When you get those "pre-approved" letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope.

Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 39 cents postage "IF" and when they receive them back. It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes.

One of Andy Rooney's (60 minutes) ideas —
Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back! If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them. You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them 39 cents.

The banks and credit card companies are currently getting a lot of their own junk back in the mail, but folks, we need to OVERWHELM them. Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it ... twice!

Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea! If enough people follow these tips, it will work. I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.

I don't know if these things accomplish anything but they do sound fun! We don't get many of the telemarketer calls anymore since I put our number in the National Do Not Call Registry but we get tons of credit card offers. My sister told me she sends scrap papers and other stuff back in the postage paid envelopes. I found some coupons for a fast food restaurant to put in the postage paid envelope back to a credit card company tomorrow. Maybe now I'll actually look forward to getting junk mail since I now have something fun to do with it!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tax figures that don't quite compute

We got that tax return filed yesterday — with the exception of me taking back the papers I had to bring home for my husband to sign after he got off work — and that is a big load out of the way. We are getting a nice refund, thanks to those deductions we get to take because I work for myself from home. We arranged to have it direct deposited into my husband's account.

Now here's what's funny about him getting all the loot: I keep up with all the little figures and slips of paper all year long. I spent nearly a whole day computing all those figures, and then I took all my folders with papers all clipped together neatly over to the tax office. His contribution to the whole tax refund effort was giving me his W-2 form. Now how is it that he gets all the money deposited in his account? Somehow that doesn't quite add up.

Oh yeah, he's the one with the good-paying job. He'd be the one that paid the taxes in the first place! Makes more sense now! We always put it toward something that benefits the whole family.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Monday, February 27, 2006

What to do with the income tax refund?

Since I'm on my way to the tax office this morning, anticipating some type of income tax refund, this article about what to do with the income tax refund struck my fancy.

Your income tax refund: sofa, pecs, or freedom?
By: Dar Arechederra

What will your tax refund 'buy' for you this year? A lovely sofa? Perfect Pecs? Freedom?I hate to admit it, but I almost bought the Pecs. I opened a colorful brochure that caught my eye and, there it was ... the perfect way to "invest" my refund: in myself — with my very own home gym! Who doesn't deserve those Abundant Abs, that perfectly Toned and Sculpted Body ... all for under $1,200, with payments under $35/month!

I was drooling. I had to have that gym! I deserved it! I'd wanted it for over a year now. Good things come to those who wait, right?

I found some even smaller print at the bottom — the APR was just under 22%! I exhaled. Slowly. It felt like someone had stopped Bob Seger's "Beautiful Loser," right at the best part of the song. The drooling stopped. The adrenaline retreated, waiting for the next spending rush.

My sanity returned.

Still dazed, I followed the efficient-looking tax lady back to her desk, all the while calculating how much interest I would have paid for those Perfect Pecs ... those Adorable, Abundant Abs. Just how tired would my bones be by the time I had this home gym paid off?

I didn't even have the refund in my hands yet. But I was holding a brochure that had the power to devour any refund I might have ... before it could chill in my bank account.

4 Tips to Keep the Drooling at Bay
1. Decide ahead of time not to spend it. If you later change your mind, ask yourself, "is my 'want' important enough to use this lump sum of money?"

2. Tuck it into savings immediately (preferably your emergency account). Or, if that sends you into a cold sweat, put up half of it. Avoid the money sponge. Don't be tempted to leave it in the checkbook!

3. Think of your tax return as "freedom money," not as "extra." Add bits of money to it for a 'Freedom-To-Be-My-Own-Boss' account. This is money you've managed to do without over the past year. You didn't miss it then -- no need to miss it once you've tucked it away.

4. Picture yourself debt free. All credit cards are paid off. You have a few thousand dollars in several money accounts. You are contributing to your retirement account on a regular basis. Bill-paying time is stress free. You can go out from time to time, paying cash as you go. Emergencies are covered. Your money is under control. Your control -- not that of the credit card companies or debt collectors.

Will this year's refund bring you a new sofa, Perfect Pecs, or the Feel of Freedom? You have the *power* in the palm of your hand -- to take a huge step forward in your financial life. Will you DO it?

Article by:
© 2004 Darlene Arechederra Darlene Arechederra leads the delightful series, "Coming Home: A Woman's Journey to One-Income Living." Women of two-income households who want to find their way back home from the workplace will enjoy this gentle, energizing jumpstart. Visit with Darlene at

This is our first year to file with me working completely for myself, so we're not sure how much the refund will be. I sure hope it's something!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Need to update tax figuring method

By the time I got all those tax numbers computed — mileage, extra income, expenses, major expenses, and utilities — yesterday the tax office next door was closed. That's just about right. Well, at least I got them all ready. I can take them next door in the morning so we can get this ball rolling.

Last year was my first year to be working solely for myself — I've been freelance writing for two years but the first year I also had a night/weekend job and was doing more independent contract work in yet another area — so I'm eager to see how much we get back.

My method of keeping up with actual pieces of paper and figuring it all up with a pencil, a calculator and a piece of paper seems rather archaic and I'm thinking of trying another method. I've been told Quicken and Turbo Tax are the way to go. I understand that I put the figures into Quicken throughout the year and then import them all into Turbo Tax when it's time to file tax returns. I'm leery of my ability to use these programs but my friends over at the Mommy Jobs message board assure me that I can do it!

I mentioned this updated method to my husband — whose contribution to filing tax returns is finding his W-2, walking next door with me, signing his name on the papers, and providing a check to pay for the service — who didn't seem to think it was the most brilliant idea in the world but he did admit he's thought of trying Turbo Tax. We shall see.

Right now there are more important matters to attend to — how to spend the tax return. Now he always has plenty of grand ideas for that!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Saturday, February 25, 2006

It's tax time at our house

Since I was so inspired by my beautiful handpainted coffee mug featuring none other than Eastern Arkansas' own ivory-billed woodpecker, I got up this morning excited about doing some more research on the majestic bird as I prepare to write my own personal masterpiece on the subject.

My excitement, however, was soon shattered with my husband's announcement that he wants to do our taxes today. Uhoh. It's not that we'll have to pay in; on the contrary, we usually get a fairly good sum back. The thing is, I don't have any figures ready, not one. I have to collect mileage, expenses, and income for which I have no 1099s. Here's my list of what I have to do:

* Calculate 2005 mileage. This entails flipping through my appointment calendar and penciling in mileage in my log for each trip. Of course I'm supposed to do this after each work-related trip, but it was only logged through May of last year.

* Figure extra income. I do a little contract work for a few companies through the Internet, but I didn't make $600 from any of them last year to qualify for a 1099. One company has the figure posted on my website through them. That'll help.

* Total major expenses. I can't remember what all the tax consultant said constitutes a major expense, but I'll separate the fax machine we bought on the last day of the year along with a computer desk purchased at the very beginning of the year.

* Compute other expenses. This is where the big headache comes in. I have stashed in a small cardboard box receipts for everything from printer cartridges totalling $75 all the way down to mailing envelopes for $1. I have to punch every last figure into the calculator to get this expense total.

* Determine what we paid for utilities last year. We can take a percentage of the utilities as a deduction since I work form home. That's another of the many advantages of being a work at home mom! The thing with that is that all my receipts are thrown in that cardboard box and I have to add it all up together. I'm sure I have to add up each one separately — phone, electricity, and water. I just can't remember from last year, which was our first year to file with me working for myself from home.

That's all I can think of for now. That's enough, isn't it? I'm sure it will get worse once I get into it. I'm sure there are computer programs that I can use that total all this up for me during the year, but I wasn't using one and don't even think I have one on the computer. Maybe that will be a good expense to invest in for tax deduction purposes next year!

Looks like I'll be spending the day with receipts and a calculator. At least I have my handpainted ivory-bill mug to keep full of coffee!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Friday, February 24, 2006

Getting ready for some work

Here I am getting ready to crank out my next masterpiece by drinking coffee from my new mug, handpainted by my neighbor and a spectacular artist, Rita Clements. It features an ivory-billed woodpecker pair making a nest. I got it at the Call of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Celebration today; the event is going on for three days in my hometown, where the continued existence of this beautiful bird was confirmed exactly two years ago.

That coffee was especially delicious in this handpainted mug, and it's helping me get in the mood to write my own work of art on the rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker. I live right where it was discovered and am just about the only journalist in the country who hasn't written about it.

Take a look at my writing blog to find out more about this grand bird and what's going on where it was first rediscovered two years ago.

My daughter the budding photographer took this photo.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Internet epic concludes

Not happy with the deals or treatment I've been getting from my DSL company, AT&T/SBC, the past week or so, I called again this morning to see if they could get me any closer to the wonderful $12.99 express DSL/$17.99 professional DSL deal they advertised in the newspaper yesterday.

My call in to the company yesterday afternoon only resulted in more frustration as I was informed that the $19.99 express DSL deal I signed up for last week — after I got a letter saying my DSL pro was going up to a staggering $39.99 from an already-too high $29.99 — was a 12-month contract that I couldn't get out of. No further explanation was offered as to why I couldn't get the low rate of $17.99 for the DSL pro I really wanted.

My call this morning was answered by a very friendly Becky, who with great understanding of my aggravation let me know that the deal I saw advertised in the paper was for new customers only. That little tidbit had not been included on the flyer from yesterday's paper or revealed by the brusque-mannered young man I talked to yesterday, but I had an idea that was so anyway.

As it turns out, the best deals with AT&T/SBC DSL are by one-year contract, Becky explained, and it is best to call the company every year to make sure you get the best deal. I pointed out that the sickly-sweet letter I got saying the company was going to hike my already steep monthly price up another $10 should have said that I could call in to the company to check for current deals and specials. She agreed, saying that many of the employees had suggested the same thing.

I asked her why they didn't just automatically give their returning customers the best deal available, but the company can't automatically enroll people in another contract for their best deal, she said. It is up to the customer to obligate themselves to a contract and thereby the best price for service.

The very best deals go to new customers, and although it looks like loyal customers should be the ones to get the good deals, it does make sense since they are trying to lure new customers in. The $19.99 DSL express/$24.99 DSL pro offer made available to me was the ongoing deal for returning customers. I had signed up for the express package the other day but it wasn't too late to go for the pro package, so I had that changed.

I had noticed on the newspaper flyer that the regular price for DSL pro is $34.99, when my letter from the company stated that mine was going up to $39.99. Becky explained to me that when I signed up for the $29.99 pro package discount last year the regular rate was $39.99; if I hadn't called the company for another contract my service would revert to the regular price. The regular price now, a year later, is $34.99, so people who sign up for the $17.99 deal will get an oh-so-thoughful letter next year thanking them for their patronage and informing them that their bill will double and no action is required by them!

I am still not completely satisfied with the deal I'm getting from this company but I am happier that I spoke to someone who seemed to care and emphathize with my plight. I suppose I will leave it at that and busy myself with using the Internet for the purpose I have it — working!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Internet saga continues

It was bad enough that my DSL company, AT&T/SBC, planned on increasing my DSL Pro price up to thank me for being such a loyal customer, but today when I opened the paper I found a flyer advertising DSL for $12.99, and the faster version they call DSL Pro for $17.99!

Smoke started coming out of my ears, since the nice letter I got last week said my price was going up to $39.99! I called as soon as the letter came, pointing out that I did not intend to pay this increased price. I got the cheapest version for $19.99, but today's flyer says the faster version can be had for two dollars less. I got online to see if I could take advantage of this offer, since it doesn't say it's for new customers only, but the computer told me I already have DSL service.

Not to be outdone, I picked up the phone and after a few minutes was connected with a brisk-mannered young man who listened to my tempered spiel and then hurried to inform me that the $19.99 deal I got the other day included a one-year commitment that I could not break. What? I don't recall being told that the $19.99 package was a one-year deal! I still don't know if existing customers can get in on the $12.99 or $17.99 packages or not.

What is more, this flyer says that the regular price for DSL Pro is $34.99, five dollars cheaper than what the thoughtful letter I received last week said my new DSL price would be. When I called the other day, I was told that I could get the Pro version for $24.99, an offer that extends through this month. I turned this down saying I hadn't seen any difference in the speed when I got the Pro version, but later that same day the change was made for the downgrade since there was a noticeable decrease in the speed.

Since these low prices can be offered, it would make sense that they should be made available to all customers, especially those who call to ask for them. I am aggravated that the company intended to raise my price to $39.99 while making an offer to the public for the same service for $17.99, a whopping $22 less! It is unfair and takes advantage of customers such as myself who must have the Internet or at least full intend to keep it.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Friday, February 17, 2006

Must have the Internet to work, must work to have the Internet

As a work at home mom, I have a bit of a vicious cycle going when it comes to the Internet. Because I am home-based, I must have the Internet to work. But because I am working from home to have time with my children, I don't want to spend all day working and so I have little if any extra money for expenses that are not absolutely necessary. One of those necessary expenses is the Internet, but sometimes it seems that I must work so that I can have it.

It didn't help any that the other day I got this annoying letter from my DSL company, which they also sent as an email today, congratulating me on my first anniversary with their fastest DSL and to thank me they are going to raise my rate by $10 and fortunately, no action is required on my part! I was already paying a steep $29.99 for their fastest version, but I figured it was all good since the regular version was $24.99 when I signed up and I live in such a small area that I ought to be happy to have the Internet at all. Here is the gist of the oh-so-thoughtful letter I received the other day:

It's your SBC Yahoo! DSL Pro anniversary!
Thank you for being our valued customer. This simple note is to let you know that your 12-month introductory pricing is scheduled to expire within the next 60 days.
Your SBC Yahoo DSL Pro will automatically continue for just $39.99 per month, with absolutely NO TERM commitment!
In celebration of your anniversary and to show our gratitude for your continued membership, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to keep enjoying all of the benefits of your SBC Yahoo! DSL Pro service. To keep your SBC Yahoo! DSL Pro service after your current term ends, absolutely NO ACTION is required on your part. Once your present term ends, we will automatically renew your service at the low monthly rate of $39.99 with no term commitment.

Wow, if that's how you thank people for their patronage, don't worry about showing me any gratitude. By the way, I'm not such an idiot that I won't realize you're hiking up my price if you send me a sweetly-worded letter.

I was rather upset with the letter, not only because my bill was going to be going up $10 but that it was all a favor to me and I was supposed to be thrilled. Needless to say, I wasn't. I called the company up, told them I thought the $29.99 was bad enough, that I certainly did not intend to pay $39.99 a month for it, and that I needed to go down to their cheapest DSL. I found out that can be had for $19.99, which is still rather steep but what I was paying for dial-up when I first got on the Internet, and that it would be about a week before I noticed a change in speed.

But get this! I could actually keep the DSL Pro for a mere $24.99, the nice lady on the phone tells me! What? You mean they were going to raise my rate by $10 when they could have actually lowered it by $5? Now that would have been a better way to thank me. Funny that they didn't put that in the lovely congratulatory letter. I went with the $19.99 package but was assured that I could call back before the end of the month to get in on their $24.99 promotion.

Now the worst part of it all is that I never saw much of an increase in speed after I went up to the DSL Pro last year but a couple of hours after I downgraded to the cheapest version, I noticed a marked decrease in speed. This is when I have to remember that it's a tax deduction and that I must have it to work.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Daycare not an option

The drive-through teller at the bank, a fellow young working mother, asked me the other day if my girls were in daycare since she noticed they weren't with me. Now, that might tell you that I live in a small town since she knows I have two small children who are sometimes with me, which is true, but it tells me something else. Actually it tells me two things.

Though I found her question quite odd — I thought she was going to ask me if they were both in school — I smiled and told her that they were both in school, the older one in first grade and the younger one in head start. But I just couldn't bite my tongue about the daycare bit. Ever since my husband and I got together and decided that we would become parents someday, we determined that our children would not go to daycare but that they would stay with us. I kept smiling and said un-smugly as possible since I didn't want to seem critical, "They never have been to daycare."

We've worked really hard to keep them with one of us at nearly all times; the ony exceptions being, of course, school and an occasional day with a grandmother. They go everywhere with us, and of course, spend the majority of their time with me when they aren't in school. (Some people might take issue with the fact that we send them to school, but that's another matter entirely that I'll be discussing here soon.) They come along with me when I interview people for my stories, and come right on back to the house with me when we're finished.

One thing her question tells me is that far too many young mothers don't realize that they can work from home with their children around, and maybe they don't want to. That's sad that they must spend their precious time at work away from their children, and even sadder that they either don't realize they can work from home or are too afraid to give it a try.

Another thing that question told me was that I am fortunate that I'm a work-at-home mother! Sometimes that's especially true between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Friday, February 10, 2006

Tickled pink

The Pink Panther cartoon compilation that's now a part of our extensive movie collection was a big hit! The girls watched it after school while I finished up some work and you should have heard all the giggles coming from the back of the house.

I had to make them turn it off after about an hour or they probably would have sat there the entire three hours and watched it. At least I know it'll hold their attention. I just have to keep away from it or the whole purpose of a movie collection — keeping kids occupied while Mom gets some work done — will be defeated!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Thursday, February 09, 2006


There's nothing like a good ole movie for the kids when Momma needs to get some work done. Yeah, I'm supposed to get my work done while they're gone to school, but supposed to and actually doing are two completely different things. Of course we're in the middle of February, but summer is coming along and we work at home moms will have to be pretty creative as we try to have some peace and quiet while we work.

Sometimes, though, you just run out of creativity, you run out of time, and you just plain run out of patience. That's when a movie can save the day, or at least your sanity for an hour or so. One that came through our door yesterday will not only get me some quiet time and will come in handy on a trip up to my sister's house, it took me back to the carefree days of my childhood. It's a three-plus hour collection of old Pink Panther cartoons from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Now, I don't advocate three hours straight worth of television watching for kids or anybody, but things do get desperate sometimes. Besides, I doubt the Silent Pink One will hold their interest for the entirety of the show. It might mine, though. Because the Pink Panther didn't talk and thus was unable to say ugly things or bad words, we were allowed to watch it as children. It was the only cartoon we were allowed to watch, for that matter. It came on after school and when we turned the television on, G.I. Joe was going off.

You'd think the mother of a house full of children as my mom was would love television and movies, but she figured that TV was evil and cartoons were particularly bad and thus we watched very little of it and no movies to my recollection. In fact, I don't remember having any VHS tapes or a VCR player when we were kids. My mom has since changed her philosophy and my parents have not only a nice VCR/DVD player, they have an impressive collection of kids' movies for the grandchildren.

We now have a pleasant childhood memory to add to our movie collection and another way for me to keep my girls occupied while I get some work done. You can't beat that.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Movie time!

Movies make both of the important jobs of a work at home mother much easier. While I don't recommend long stretches of unsupervised movie watching (I didn't say we didn't do it, I just said I don't suggest doing it!) there comes a time when a good ole cartoon saves the day.

Take yesterday for instance. I wasted two hours of precious working time while my children were at school that morning and was still working when they got home. A deadline loomed and I had to keep writing. When she got home, my younger daughter asked me, "Momma, can I watch a movie?" It didn't take but a second for me to give my reply: "Oh, yes!" She lined up four and said she was going to watch all of them, but I had her choose one. When she picked a cute little Beatrix Potter cartoon that doesn't last an hour, I started to object in favor of one that lasts longer, but decided against it.

It's a good thing, since when my other daughter came home the movie marathon got underway. I honestly don't know what all they watched. I know they saw "The Land Before Time" because I heard the end of it after I finally got finished with my work at 6 p.m. and meandered toward the back of the house. I hope that was all they watched.

We don't have movie marathons every day or even every week, but those things come in very handy when I must work with the kids around. Who wants to be in the middle of an important phone call when one child decides to waylay the other? A movie guarantees quiet for the duration of the show. I try to make all of my phone calls in the morning when they are at school, but of course when summer rolls around that formula doesn't always work. During that time we have days when I make phone calls in the morning and the girls watch a movie or two (or three ...) We have other days when all I'm going to do is write and they're free to roam the house and make noise if they like or even go outside and play.

Then we have those days like yesterday when I really must get something finished up and some peace and quiet afforded by a kids' movie sure does make life easier!

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A pick-me-up for a slow-moving day

When you're working at home you sometimes have those days where you just really don't want to work or do anything at all, for that matter. I have that problem a lot, especially on cold rainy days like today, but I've figured out a way to get revved up.

It's not very healthy, but it works. (I DO try to eat healthy, by the way. I've even been talking about it for the past few days over at my mom life blog.) It takes a couple of days in the making, too, but it's not how you think. Here's what you do:

First you need to stay up late one night before and then get up early the next morning, preferably because you are the world's biggest procrastinator and you are past deadline. Go to the gas station on your way home from a job and get a big coffee cup. Fill it with a combination of extra caffiene cappuccino, regular cappuccino, and coffee. Taste it on your way home and decide that it's really not sweet enough, but there isn't anything you can do about it since you're back on the road. Drink a little of it before you get home, and then put the cup in the fridge since you hate to throw it away after spending more than a dollar on it.

The next morning as you are preparing to write yet another story that is over 12 hours past deadline but not yet 24, get the cup of killer cappuccino out of the fridge while you prepare to make a pot of coffee. While fully intending to microwave the day-old treat to add to today's cup of coffee, go ahead and shake the cup up, take the lid off, and taste.

Surprise! Ooh, yummy! Drink it all up cold while you wait for the pot of coffee to perk, and then have a cup of that. There. You should be good and jumpy. You will be able to crank out a story in no time, do a couple of interviews, wash some clothes, load up the dishwasher, and start supper all before the preschooler gets home.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A heart attack in an envelope

Many work-at-home mothers wax emotional when they disclose their reasons for being work-at-home mothers. They were missing their child's first words, first steps, and all that mushy stuff. They wanted to be there to guide their children's daily lives, they didn't want to have to rush off to work every day, and it goes on and on. My reason came in the mail today — a heart attack in an envelope!

Make that two heart attacks in two envelopes — the electric bill and the phone bill. I got the water bill yesterday but it was about normal. How can the electric bill be so outrageous when the past two months have been more like spring than winter? How could the phone bill be so high when I have a fixed rate for long distance phone calls every month, no matter how many I make?

These bills are my reason for working at home — they've got to be paid! That and my kids aren't going to day care. I had them, I'm going to raise them. Now I'm starting to sound like the mushy mothers who don't want to miss out on any of the precious moments.

Actually, my children's most precious moments are when they are asleep, and I roust them up out of their beautiful slumber at 7 a.m. every morning so they can catch the bus to school at 7:30 a.m.! I've got to have some kind of time to do my work, now don't I? These bills are going to keep coming for sure. I can count on these heart attacks every single month.

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog

Monday, January 30, 2006

Clothes cleanout forced

Being a work-at-home mom who doesn't like housework — make that utterly detests housework and so therefore avoids it as much as possible — things around the house tend to get a little cluttery while I sit at my computer composing feature pieces or just sipping coffee and reading blogs.

The clutter that accumulates certainly includes my clothing drawers. I was rooting through a drawer for some knee-highs to wear to an interview yesterday and had just said that I needed to clean my drawers out and get rid of some stuff when the whole thing fell out, face down no less. A forced cleaning! That was probably the only way it would get done, anyway.

I threw some stuff away, put some in the donation pile, and even found some stuff, including not one but two pairs of black knee-highs! Now I just need to clean out the rest of the drawers along with my closet since I intend to go to the thrift store this week and make out with a nice haul of outfits for work.

While I'm at it I need to vaccum the floor, wash dishes, clean out the tub, start supper ...

My website
My writing blog
My mom life blog