Legally Brunette {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

October has been a wild month. And it’s become more and more evident that this needs to be a non-blogging mirco-season for me. In my temporary writing hiatus, I am so thankful to have amazing women continue to fill this space on the web with their wisdom, humor, and encouragement. I am thankful to receive from them in a season where I don’t have much to give. If you’ve missed any of these Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing posts, check out the archives!

Today’s installment comes from Sarah Kerner, an attorney, pastor’s wife, and runner. We connected over similar interests (faith, food, fitness) and I love keeping up with her adventures.

Motherhood and Writing Sarah

Why do you write/blog?

I enjoy blogging as a creative outlet, as well as a way to document my life in the here and now — what’s going on with my kids, what my interests are, and projects I’m working on. I also enjoy the connections I’ve made with other bloggers.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I started my first (very short-lived) blog while I was in law school in 2004, but I’ve been writing at my current blog off and on since August 2005.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

My current season of life is small church pastor’s wife, mom of a 4 yr old and 1 yr old, and full time attorney. Needless to say, my writing time is very scarce! I squeeze it in when I can, but this summer (we’ve been moving into the parsonage at my husband’s new church and helping him get started there, as well as finish his last semester of seminary) I finally had to admit that something had to give, and I’ve scaled way back on my blogging and computer time in general.

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

I am finding it really hard to fit writing into my days right now. Sometimes I wake up early and write before getting ready for my workdays (and before anyone else is awake) but I’m not really a morning person so that doesn’t work very well for me. More often, I write in the evenings after the kids are in bed, but these days I generally want to go to sleep myself as soon as I get them both settled for the night. This explains why I haven’t been writing much lately!

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

The focus of my blog is family, faith, food, and fitness – basically I write about my interests, and try to encourage others in the thick of young adulthood and young motherhood to maintain their identities and keep taking care of themselves, during a season of life when so many other people are demanding so much of them.

Perspectives Sarah

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

I feel like motherhood informs my faith and faith informs my motherhood on a daily basis — experiencing my own love for my children gives me a small glimpse into how deeply God loves me, forgives me, gives me second chances, and wants the best for me. Knowing this, I do my best to mirror this love towards my children, even (especially?!) when they are trying my patience. I fail more than I succeed, but it’s something I think about all the time and pray to be more like Jesus in my interactions with my children.

Sarah KernerSarah is an attorney by day; and spends the rest of her time as a pastor’s wife, boy-mom, friend, sister, runner, newbie weightlifter, knitter, reader, United Methodist, Project Life scrapbooker, black-thumb gardener, terrible but enthusiastic dancer, and healthy/hippie cook and baker.

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When you feel like a lazy, unmotivated writer. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

It’s Tuesday, which means I’m welcoming another wonderful Momma Writer to the blog. Marie Osborne isn’t a stranger around here and I’m always happy to host her words.

Have you missed a post in this ongoing Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing Series? Pop over to the archives page to catch up!

Motherhood and Writing Marie

Why do you write/blog?

I started and stopped blogging several times. Way back in 2006, my husband and I took a big trip to London. I wrote a series of e-mails to family and friends about our adventures. I have always loved writing, but this was the first time I had really written about my life for a larger group of people to read. The reception was quite positive, and many people mentioned that I should write or that my style sounded like an author they enjoyed. Shortly after that trip, we moved to a new city, which is when I started my first blog. I wrote for a few months about some of our adventures, but didn’t keep it up.

A few years later, we moved again and again I started blogging. I wrote a bit longer and just as I felt my well of interesting tales to tell was starting to dwindle, we had a baby! I began writing about him and the adventures of motherhood, which morphed into the blog I have now. What started out as just wanting to tell funny, silly stories about living somewhere interesting or visiting somewhere new has now become a way to capture the everyday adventures in life and reflect on how my faith plays into that. Writing and blogging have become some of the best ways I connect with God and how He inspires transformation and introspection. It’s also an outlet for encouraging and uplifting others not only in what I choose to write, but also the content I choose to share.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

Technically, since 2007. But in it’s current form, my blog has existed since 2012.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

Being a mom to three under 3, I feel the need to write more as a way of processing my life, providing some variety to my day, and allowing me an outlet for my creativity. But being a mom also keeps me accountable. Motherhood forces me to re-prioritize. I praise myself for playing with my son and rolling around with my twins rather than posting to my blog several times a week. I sometimes feel like a lazy unmotivated writer, but in 10 years, I’d rather have memories of playing and splashing and singing with my kids then have a ton of page views. Though I still wish I had more page views. It’s a difficult balance. Motherhood has also had a huge impact on my subject matter, but I guess that’s to be expected.

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

NAP TIME!!! I write when my kids are asleep. I praise Jesus every day when they are safe in their cribs and I get to sit at my laptop! HOORAY!

Marie OsborneWhat is your writing/blogging battle cry?

To encourage, challenge, and laugh… from under a pile of diapers. I want people to be encouraged. That they are understood, they are not alone, their is hope, they are beautiful and loved and worthy and talented and powerful. I want to challenge myself and others to be better, more like Christ, less like our old selves, less like the negative voices tell us we are or have to be. I want to laugh at all of it all the time every where very loudly because it’s all pretty funny.

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

In a crazy jumble in my head. I spend most of the day just a head down regular mom, feeding kids, playing with playdough, changing diapers. I pray and talk about God and Jesus with my son very organically, whenever he’s reading his Toddler Bible or he wants to sing “Jesus Loves Me” or we are snuggling before nap time. We don’t do organized study or devotion time. I steal an hour or so during nap time to write and reflect on my own.

Honestly, one of the best times where it all intersects is while nursing (not during the first 3-5 months because I was too tired to use my brain, but once they were sleeping through the night, life changed). I read my Bible or christian books on my phone while I’m nursing my twins. I pray during that time. I come up with blog or article ideas and type them into Evernote. And, of course, I’m cuddling and bonding with my girls.

Marie OsborneMarie Osborne is a wife, mama, and blogger who loves Jesus and large non-fat lattes. When she isn’t laughing (loudly) with her 30-something husband, chatting (loudly) with her girlfriends, singing (loudly) with her 3-year-old son, or feeding (quietly… for the time being) her 9-month-old twins, she’s probably pumping and binge watching Netflix. You can find her on her blog encouraging, challenging, and laughing from under a pile of diapers.

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Don’t forget the chips and salsa. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

I‘d seen Briana Meade here and there on social media, but it wasn’t until she graciously agreed to share her perspective for this series that I really got to know her and her writing. I’m so glad that I did. We are both in the throws of figuring out what it means to be a mom, an adult, a writer, and a Christ-follower. I hope you enjoy her thoughts as much as I did!

Don’t forget to check out all the past posts from this ongoing series on the Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing archives page.

Motherhood and Writing Briana

Why do you write/blog?

I first started writing and blogging because I wanted to have a voice and I was inspired by other bloggers who consistently posted about their messy lives. Reading Glennon Melton (of Momastery fame) helped me to realize that I could be honest and true in a blog post, while simultaneously exploring the ways I hadn’t “arrived” yet. The reason I blog has changed over the course of this first year though.

I no longer feel like my worth “hinges” as much on the blogging world. I don’t track Facebook like a fiend, or crumble when a post falls flat (or nobody reads it). I have bad days with blogging, but I’ve realized that blogging is more about community and conversation than anything else. That is to say, for me it’s more like an intimate party with chips and salsa than it is a place for me to have my “say.” That has started to free me from my own high expectations of what constitutes success. There is no “success” when I’m in a conversation–a conversation is all about listening and responding, giving and receiving.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I’ve been blogging (regularly) for about a year, about twice a week. I took a break this July because I realized that I couldn’t do everything–something had to go. I felt like I was losing myself in what I was going to write next. In addition to my blog, I also work part-time as a resume writer (I get to write and make money doing it?!). In between all of this, I take care of a 3 year old and a 1 year old. Needless to say, I have about one breakdown a day (my husband can attest to this). I’m not proud of it, but I wish I could find a way to give myself grace and slow down. I don’t think there’s anything to laud in being ‘over-busy.’

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

To be honest, being a mother has been the source of so much writing material! There is an epic amount of drama in parenting, and I feel blessed to be able to ‘exploit’ that. That being said, I often feel like I have taken on too much and I struggle daily with my priorities.

In addition to the blog, I’m working on a book with my agent about millennial life that is tentatively called “Love In Fast Cars.”

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

I try to strike a balance by maximizing my use of the YMCA–which offers childcare for a ridiculous $15/month for both of my kids for 2 hours (another reason I love North Carolina!). Sometimes I seriously wonder if I am dreaming. Every single day we pack up the diapers and wipes and drive to the Y around 9am. I work for 2 hours in a corner of the YMCA, read a few blogs, drink a cup of coffee, and call the plumber, or order those curtains off of Target. I also call clients during this time and write resumes.

When I pick up my kids, we drive home for a lunch of PB&J and chips. Then it is off to bed (if I’m lucky) for both of them. This gives me an additional hour of work and cleaning. Then the rest of the day involves 15-minute increments of crying, playdough, paint, crayons, screaming, etc. Both my kids follow me around while I try to wipe down the kitchen counter or do one of the five loads of laundry that are pending.

Sometimes we drag out the kiddie pool or go visit a friend. Mostly we stay home and go crazy together!

Around four, I’m about ready to call it a day. Zoe will watch TV for an hour while I alternate between catching up on email and rescuing Kaiden from climbing up the stairs.

If I’m lucky, I’ll start cooking dinner around 4:30, but most days dinner is a scramble of randomness. If I have a main dish, it’s a good day. If I have a salad complete with croutons, it’s a miracle.

When my husband comes home, we’ve usually already eaten dinner and (very often) I’ll pass the kids off to him for an hour. This is probably the only time where I mindlessly lay around or browse the internet. Generally I end up pitching in with all of the bedtime affairs. Sometimes I work on resumes after the kids go to bed. My husband and I will work together on the couch or in our bedroom. Some nights we watch a TV show. In general, we stay up far too late and have to drag ourselves out of bed the next morning.

Briana Meade

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

The main focus of my blog is the messy aspects of faith from a millennial perspective. I write about growing up, botching motherhood (occasionally), and young marriage. What I most hope to communicate is the vast narrative drama that is life. I’m super amazed, as a new-found adult, at how complicated this whole grown-up thing is. I’m having to rearrange my thoughts and values to make sense of it all, and I think a lot of people my age feel that same dissonance–between what we thought our lives would look like, and what they actually look like, between what we thought it meant to be a grown-up and what it actually looks like. I thought I would have it all together by now, and I often tell my husband that I feel more confused than ever. The stakes are higher.

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

Gosh. Those three are 100% of my life. Faith, writing, and motherhood are all so crucial to my identity. I find that I consistently feel overwhelmed by all three, am passionate about all three, and am simultaneously running ‘away’ and ‘towards’ all of them at once. Its like that three-stranded cord metaphor that is constantly used for marriage + God. Faith, writing, and motherhood are a three-stranded cord for me. They are so entangled that its hard to tell where one starts and the other begins. I’m hoping that’s a good thing!

Briana MeadeBriana Meade is a writer and blogger who has been published at Christianity Today’s Her.meneutic’s blog, The Christian Post, Forbes, Mamalode, Scary Momma, and elsewhere. She is learning to rely on other people, drinks coffee like a fiend, and can’t wait to attend her first Lorde concert with her husband in September.

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When spare moments become stare moments. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

When Jessiqua Wittman first joined the Kindred Grace contributor team, I would have never guessed she wrote self-proclaimed gritty fiction novels. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her better through her writing and I think you will enjoy getting to know her better too! She’s jumping into the Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing series this week.

If you missed a week, check out the series’ archives.

Motherhood and Writing JessiquaWhy do you write/blog?

I write because certain topics and stories burn inside me. I blog because most people like bite-size pieces of writing more than the 1,000 page novels that come naturally to me.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I’ve been writing for nearly ten years. I’ve been blogging for about three and a half years.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

Considering that I have a nearly five-year-old, a newly three-year-old, and a baby due any day… (Jessiqua had her sweet baby between writing this and it going live!) I don’t write or blog near as much as I used to. It takes time and focus to write something special, and lately it’s been hard to find both time and focus in the same breath!

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

When I was a teenager, I used to sit with my notepad and write during every spare moment. Nowadays, I find myself just sitting and enjoying time with my little ones. Spare moments have become stare moments, where I just stare off into space and dream. After the kids go to bed though, I gather up all those dreamy visions and start typing them on my laptop. My personal bedtime is at eleven-o-clock, so I have until then to record as much as possible.

Perspectives Jessiqua

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

My message usually revolves around the imperfections of humanity and the gritty love of God. Christians oftentimes don’t feel free to express the struggles that they have during the winter seasons of their faith. I like encouraging honesty in those areas so that freedom, grace and strength can be found.

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

Well, for one thing, it’s not unusual for my laptop keyboard to be a wee bit sticky from kiddo fingerprints. :) Also, my kids simultaneously push me to my patience limit and teach me about the gloriously simple beauties of everyday life. Their innocence is inspiring to me, and their moods reflect my own and convict me. I may not be able to write as much as I used to, but I’m thankful for the deeply thoughtful moments that I’m able to have in between potty training and ginormous hugs.

JessiquaJessiqua Wittman is a child of God, a happy wife and mother, and a dedicated author of gritty fiction novels.

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A Month of Sugar-Free Meals: What we ate during No Sugar September

A month of sugar-free meals

As you’re reading this, I’m probably eating blueberry pancakes in all their refined sugar, white flour glory, enjoying the view of the lake from my parent’s kitchen island. Not how you pictured me starting the month after our No Sugar September adventure? Balance. It’s all about balance. And when you have the opportunity to fly across the country to see your family, you take it! And you enjoy every sugary morsel along the way.

But this post is about all the non sugary morsels we ate last month. So, let’s get to it. We survived No Sugar September and we enjoyed, too. Our month with no refined sugar, no fake sugar, and no white flour wasn’t perfect. We had three sugar surprises and a couple intentional indulgences.

Sugar Surprises

  • Vanilla extract – It wasn’t until I had to buy a new bottle at Costco that I realized store bought vanilla extract was made with sugar. I’d been using it in fudge and a couple baked goods, but the trace amounts didn’t bother me, so I kept using it.
  • Italian Sausage – I didn’t even think to look at the ingredients list when I picked up a tube to use on pizza and in spaghetti. Sugar was definitely a prominent feature. This was at the tail end of our month and I had already cooked the sausage. I chocked it up to reintroducing sugar to our system.
  • Molasses – I had searched for whole wheat quick breads on Pinterest and found a couple I wanted to try. Both had molasses and I didn’t give its source another thought. I made one of the recipes and it was delicious. It wasn’t until Tim wondered what molasses actually was that I Googled it and discovered it was made from sugarcane. Oops. Technically it’s not refined, so I’m okay with it.

Intentional Indulgences

Like I said in the half-way update, it’s difficult to separate food from community, so when we restricted food, we restricted community a bit. Engaging in community was the source of most of our intentional sugar indulgences. (Not always the case as witnessed by the baby shower I went to where I was able to fill a plate with NSS approved food. I have great friends who also happen to eat sugar free!)

  • Our Home Community group from church had a kick-off dinner last week and while I brought a NSS approved salad, I also ate the bbq pulled pork on a white bun and the delicious sugary desserts.
  • We had a last minute visit from out of town family which necessitated a trip to Fire Artisan Pizza (which naturally necessitated a Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookie with Sea Salt, al a mode of course).

And then there’s traveling. I knew I’d be flying across the country the day No Sugar September ended and there’s only so much you can do to be sugar free during a 12 hour travel day, while traveling alone with an 8-month old. I didn’t think the shock-and-awe approach would go over well, so Tim and I made the decision to reintroduce a little bit of sugar gradually during the last week of NSS.

The Sugar-Free Life

The last thing I’ll say before the food… If you’re intrigued by this No Sugar September thing, I created a special little corner of this blog dedicated to Sugar Free Living. It’s the place to go for recipes, resources (like my Costco shopping list), and inspiration for a lifestyle with less sugar.

Now, drumroll please…

Our No Sugar September Menus! 

Where possible, I have linked to the recipe. If a food item has a number after it, check out the footnotes to see what cookbook the recipe came from. 

BREAKFAST

Our mornings start with coffee: half-caf with half and half. Repeat.

sugar-free breakfastsLUNCH AND SNACKS

The majority of our noonday meals were either leftovers, any of the aforementioned breakfast options, or a combination of these snacky items:

  • quinoa and fried egg
  • Wasa crispbread (Which I originally just tolerated but came to enjoy. I think it tastes like crunchy popcorn.) One package lasted the whole month.
  • cottage cheese (Darigold from Costco is really high quality) with honey or apple butter
  • moist soaked cornbread¹ with melted cheese and apple butter
  • deli turkey meat
  • glass of milk
  • greens with leftover meat and berry vinaigrette¹
  • oat bars with peanut butter, cheese, or apple butter
  • chips and salsa
  • hot dog + fried cheese (yes, we went there)

sugar free lunch and snacksDINNER

After trolling Pinterest and some cookbooks, I came up with 18 ideas for our No Sugar September dinner rotation. We enjoy leftovers and Wednesdays are usually PBJ nights because Tim eats on the go before youth group, so I knew we didn’t need a full four weeks of dinners. I think I made 8 of the original 18…

We ate breakfast for dinner multiple times and found other recipes that turned into dinner staples, like mac and cheese. The last week of NSS turned into “how to use the 6lbs of mozzarella I felt compelled to buy at Costco and a gigantic batch of crockpot marinara.” No Sugar September didn’t have as positive an impact on our food budget as I thought it would. I’d like to work on that as we move forward in our real food journey.

Here’s what we ate for dinner from September 3rd – September 30th:

  1. whole wheat macaroni and cheese + dill pickles
  2. roasted chicken (freeze leftover meat for later) + greens with berry vinaigrette¹ + balsamic carrots
  3. sloppy Joe¹ (freeze leftover) with sour cream and cheddar + moist soaked cornbread¹ with honey
  4. crockpot black bean soup (half in freezer) + moist soaked cornbread¹ (leftover, rest in freezer)
  5. cinnamon power pancakes + fruit sauce (boil frozen berries, honey, and water until thickened, stir often)
  6.  quinoa burrito bowls (quinoa + diced tomatoes + leftover roasted chicken + avocado + sour cream + cheese + black beans)
  7. caprese omelete roll (similar) + greens with berry vinaigrette¹
  8. PB&J on homemade bread with natural peanut butter + plum jam
  9. sloppy Joe¹ (leftover) over baked sweet potato + sour cream + cheese
  10. whole wheat waffles + natural PB + apple butter + maple syrup
  11. slow cooker balsamic chicken + quinoa with basil
  12. whole wheat pizza crust + pesto² + mozzarella + leftover balsamic chicken
  13. whole wheat macaroni and cheese + roasted carrots
  14. sweet corn and zucchini pie (baked in an 11 x 7 inch pan)
  15. leftover macaroni and cheese (Tim), toast with PB (Emily)
  16. crockpot black bean soup (pulled from freezer) + frozen corn roasted in cast iron skillet + moist soaked cornbread¹ (pulled from freezer)
  17. nachos (corn chips + mozzarella + shredded chicken + black beans + fresh salsa + sour cream)
  18. moist soaked cornbread¹ + melted cheddar cheese + apple butter
  19. cinnamon power pancakes + natural PB + apple butter + maple syrup
  20. whole wheat pizza crust + homemade marinara + leftover shredded chicken + italian sausage)
  21. spaghetti casserole (whole wheat noodles + homemade marinara + sauteed zucchini and green peppers + italian sausage topped with mozzarella – bake until bubbly at 350)
  22. leftover spaghetti casserole
  23. dinner with our home community (see my note about intentional indulgences above)
  24. grilled cheese (whole wheat honey quick bread + mozzarella + cheddar) + homemade marinara
  25. scrambled eggs with cheese and basil + whole wheat honey quick bread toast with maple cream
  26. the honey badger pizza (mozzarella + parmesan + salami + honey) and bittersweet chocolate chip cookie + ice cream from Fire Artisan Pizza
  27. brown rice macaroni and cheese + roasted carrots

Sugar-Free Dinners

SWEETS

I have an intense sweet tooth and was worried it might sabotage my ability to complete No Sugar September. However, we ended up eating more sweets during NSS than we do on a regular basis. This may have been the reason neither of us lost a significant amount of weight… I must say, though, despite the quantity of sweets, I never felt icky after eating dessert since all the ingredients were nourishing. I’m not about to give up chocolate chip cookies, but we definitely found some winners.

sugar gree sweetsRECIPE SOURCES