Yo Momma Monday: Karen LePage

yo momma mondayMeet Karen LePage, 42, a sewin’ mama from Michigan. I met her through Oh My! Handmade and I instantly swooned over all of her work. She not only sews up a storm, but she also creates patterns, sells custom-made garments and shares tutorials on her website at One Girl Circus! Oh, and she also co-wrote a sewing book for boys, appropriately named Sewing for Boys.

Before she started working for herself, she sang at weddings, sold cars, managed a coffee shop, taught German and worked in Strategic Planning. To say she is well-rounded would be an understatement.

Karen started a blog after she read and loved blogs from other people. Initially, it started as a means for documenting her children’s special moments.

“I guess it’s not surprising that I’m not very consistent with it, however, because I was never a child who could keep a journal beyond “dear diary” for more than a few weeks.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

After her mother bought a sewing machine when Karen was five, she started experimenting and made every project in the booklet that came with the machine. From there, she spent several years making wardrobes for all of her dolls. As a kid, she started watching Sewing with Nancy when it came on PBS, a show she still watches to this day.

I always say Nancy Zieman taught me to sew…I still watch it.  I still love it.”

Karen still remembers her first sewing project – a drawstring bag – and she says there have been plenty of disasters along the way. When she first got started, she would wear her disasters; now, she tucks them away until she’s ready to try again. Her latest creation was a Japanese double-gauze newborn outfit that was in a box for six years because she couldn’t stand to look at it.

“I’m so happy I could rescue it!”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

As a mom, Karen says that her children not only inspire her work, but also keep her balanced and admits that if she didn’t have her kids, she would probably just work all the time.

“I love making things, and having humans relying on me for comfort, food, and shelter ensures that I nourish myself with their companionship while meeting their needs, too.”

The creativity bug has definitely hit both of her kids, as her son likes to design the garments she makes for him, and her daughter is a quilter. Her son also shops at thrift and vintage stores, so he has become quite the master at button replacing, and he already has an eye for what can be fixed, and what cannot. Her daughter will often work up a patchwork when she’s in the sewing space.

“She has an amazing eye for color and pattern.”

Karen describes her workspace as chaotic yet comforting. While she is always moving things around in there, she still keeps an open space for her kids to visit while she’s working. She does like to take some time tidying up in between projects.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“But as soon as I have a clean space I’m inspired to start making again – immediately.

Although there’s no such thing as a normal day, there is one consistency in her morning routine – coffee (ain’t that the truth). Her daily activities are determined by deadlines, inspiration and commitments – and she does try to get some sewing in every day.

“I start to get twitchy when I’m away from my sewing machine for too long.”

Karen says that the best and scariest thing about running her own business is that everything – from what get made to what gets published – is all her.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Sometimes it’s wonderful and sometimes it’s terrifying and sometimes it’s wonderfully terrifying.”

She started teaching classes after someone asked her to do it, and that is one of her favorite things about what she does.

“There’s something super-satisfying about nudging my students toward sewing confidence.  I love that it’s a skill they can use forever. I love holding their hands through the tough part and saying “Look how awesome you are!” when they make it through and realize they can make something they didn’t think they could make.”

When Karen is not teaching classes and making clothes –  or thinking about new classes and new projects – she loves reading, hiking with her daughter, yoga and cooking.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Actually, strike that, I like reading cookbooks.”

And of course, she loves all forms of crafting. There isn’t a craft she hasn’t stopped, and thanks to Creative Bug and the craft section in her local bookstore, that won’t be ending anytime soon. She loves making anything from  baby clothes to formal gowns – all of it.

“If it goes on a body, someone will wear it and love it, and that’s something that makes me happy and keeps me going.  There’s always something new I want to try, whether it’s a technique or material I haven’t yet attempted; I incorporate my latest learning into each new project.”

She gets the majority of her fabric from local fabric stores and loves visiting new stores in any town she visits. When she cannot find a fabric she wants locally, she will shop online.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“I spend my dollars locally whenever possible.”

Karen loves being a part of the handmade community because she has always been just one of a handful of people she knows that love sewing. Of the four high schools she attended, she only found one friend who could sew. ONE! Now that she has a whole community of friends who also love the same kind of things, she counts it as a blessing.

“I feel so energized and inspired when working collaboratively; even when working on my own thing amongst fellow makers.  The handmade community is what has made my 30s and 40s the best years of my life.”

She currently has two patterns in the Stitch Magazine Spring issue and there will be another one in the Summer issue. She is also working on a handmade garment line and is hoping to hire some local people to help with the sewing and sales of her products.

“I’m really excited about it, but I’m also thrilled to have a steady stream of consultancy projects.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

Karen hopes to inspire people by being an advocate of all things handmade – whether its making, buying, spreading the word, or all of the above.

“I also hope I can inspire people to try something new every once in a while, and to really enjoy the process of making.”

Thank you to the lovely and wonderful Karen for participating in this series! You can find her blog here, buy her stuff here and read the book she co-wrote here.

If you enjoy this series and would like to be a part of it, or know someone who should, please leave a note in the comments or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram. Next month, I will be talking with Jane Skoch from Maiden Jane!

Finding my Style

Last week, it dawned on me. It was past 9 pm on any given night, and I was still in my PJ’s. No, I’m not depressed. I’m a happy stay-at-home mom who doesn’t get out and about as much I used to and sometimes I forget to change out of my PJ’s. And sometimes I shower and then put clean PJ’s back on.

And this is when it dawned on me. “Wow–I have really let go of myself,” I thought. But have I?

Me, my baby, and my PJ's

Me, my baby, and my PJ’s

I’ve never been a big fan of fashion. Style, yes. Fashion, no. Only recently did I discover there was a difference. I always just wore what I thought was cool – and sometimes other people dug it, and other times, random people would say “uhhh…what’s that on your head” “It’s a head wrap, people! I just don’t know how to wear it. Dang!”

During high school, we Catholic school girls had it pretty easy in the outfit department. We wore uniforms and sometimes I would paint my shoes with nail polish and wear argyle socks to be different. I’m a real rebel. I had a small group of friends and we cared more about music than anything else in the world.

After high school, I got a job at Picture People. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a photo studio chain that specializes in babies and dogs. I worked there for four years, and by the time I left, I could categorize the customers by what time of day it was. Weekday mornings – afternoon: stay-at-home moms and dog lovers, weekday afternoons – business moms who schlepped their kids from school to the mall for their annual photos, weekends – dads.

Again, the outfit choice was easy. We had a uniform (I’m seeing a theme here) and a spinny hat. Nothing else I could wear would ever distract anyone from the spinny hat. I would snicker at all of the stay-at-home moms, swearing that would never be me. As if I was doing any better.

Then, there was College. In Humboldt. I could honestly say I don’t even remember what I wore – it was Humboldt.

Then, there was my 20s. Oh, the 20s. Where I wore patterned tights with a patterned skirt and a tiger shirt. All different patterns. Because I wanted to, dammit. I would wear fedoras with jean shorts that I cut myself and were all jagged and rough. And I didn’t care.

Fake fishing near Lake Tahoe. I had a little boombox shaved into my head

Fake fishing near Lake Tahoe. I had a little boombox shaved into my head

And now, here I am. In my jammies, looking at my chipped nails and too overwhelmed by my closet to confidentially pick out an outfit. But look where I’ve come. I shower daily, I learned to cook and clean all in a little over a year, I’m going to the College of my dreams and I have an amazing kid and boyfriend. Not too shabby. But still, I miss that fearless abandonment I had every time I went through my closet. I miss wearing something truly unique instead of the same ol thing.

Kate Payne wrote in Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking that work-at-home-ians should shower and get ready like they’re going to work every morning. Make yourself look all business-casual and you will be more productive throughout your day, she says. Well, it can’t hurt.

I’m going to make it a point to go through my closet and stick with the clothes I truly feel speak to me. The rest, I can donate to our clothing recycling program we’re doing as part of our fundraiser for Vox. Then, I’m going to make it a point to get fancy during the week. To actually put on some adult clothes and maybe even brush my hair.

Because, as I tell Sam all the time – if it’s important to you, you will make time for it.

What is your style? If you’re a mom, do you feel like you lost any of it when you had your babe? How did you find it again? Let’s talk about it.

Fridays are for Favorites

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Today’s post is dedicated to my most favorite person in the entire world: my daughter, who happens to be celebrating her FIRST birthday today! We are having a circus-themed party at a local kids gym, where the little ones can run around like wild banshees for a couple hours – under the supervision of professionals (aka: not us!).

So, today I am sharing some of Cecilia’s favorite things:

BOOKS!

Photo from Good Reads

Photo from Good Reads

Cecilia loves books. She loves eating them, reading them, using them as protection against kisses. I blame it on the fact that she is surrounded by readers. Sometimes when I need to take a moment to myself – you know, to do something luxurious like bathe – I will put her in her crib with a book and she will sit there and point at the pictures and talk to the book in her adorable baby babble. I was just looking up cute baby books and saw Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. I’ve seen this book before but now I feel like I need to get it for her.

Jennifer Petro-Roy shares a collection of good books for one-year olds on Good Life Books, so if you happen to have one on your Christmas list – check it out!

VINTAGE DOLLS!

Photo from Polly's Vintage Bears

Photo from Polly’s Vintage Bears

So, I used to be totally creeped out by dolls. Especially when they would stare at you from afar. Then we took a trip to the Lodi Street Faire in October, and Cecilia’s crazy grandpa bought a vintage doll for her. Of course, this turned out to be one of her favorite toys, and she took this naked doll with her everywhere – striking fear in everyone who saw it. Unfortunately, Cecilia now believes that she can poke any little baby she sees in the eye, like her four-month-old cousin.

You can find beautiful vintage dolls and bears over at Polly’s Vintage Bears on Etsy.

WALKING!

Photo from Friendly Toys

Photo from Friendly Toys

Of all the things Cecilia loves, walking is her all-time ultimate favorite. I fear for the days she starts sleepwalking because she loves it so much. I fondly remember the days I would get super bored just sitting and cuddling all day, because that girl did not want to get put down – ever. Now, I can barely hold her for a few minutes before she’s screaming and wiggling away from me. As much as I would just love to cuddle with her all day, I enjoy watching her grow and develop into her own little person – walking and bossing me around.

I found this super cute walking toy from Friendly Toys on Etsy. All of the toys are eco-friendly, organic and safe for the mouths of our favorite little ones.

I sure hope you enjoyed this little look into Cecilia’s life. If you have a little one, what are his or her favorite things? Share with us in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Look for more little one inspiration on my Pinterest!

Giving Tuesday: My favorite nonprofits

Today marks the second annual Giving Tuesday – a national day of giving. Since I have worked with nonprofits before, and I know how hard it can be to raise money, I thought I would share some of my favorite nonprofits and different ways you can support them. All of these organizations are run by volunteers who are doing this because they truly believe in the cause and helping other people. That’s kind of an amazing thing, when you think about it.

Photo from Krochet Kids

Photo from Krochet Kids

Krochet KidsI wrote about this awesome nonprofit before, and I am doing it again just because I love them so much. Kohl Crecelius learned to crochet from his older brother, and soon taught his two friends, Travis and Stewart. Though they all went to different Colleges, they would volunteer together in developing countries. After one of the founders, Stewart, returned home from a Summer in Uganda, they were motivated to teach Ugandan women to crochet so they could rise out of poverty. The clothing and accessories are signed by the makers and all of the donations fund their efforts. They recently You can read more about their story here and you can donate here. They recently worked with twin sisters Jennifer and Amy Hood – who founded Hoodzpah – to sell limited edition screen printed posters, one of which is shown above.

Photo from Out of the Dark

Photo from Out of the Dark

Out of the DarkThe moment I read about this nonprofit, I immediately felt inspired. This organization was founded by two brothers who work with disadvantaged kids to restore old furniture. They also founded Street Dreams, which they have run for 13 years now, and started this charity as an outreach of that organization. Since I recently fell in love with the art of restoration, I instantly felt a connection with Out of the Dark. Their work is beautiful, and looks super professional. I could definitely see myself buying some pieces – once I have a place to put them. You can learn more about getting involved here and can donate here.

Photo from Musana

Photo from Musana

MusanaMuch like Krochet Kids teaches Ugandan women to crochet beans in order to make a living, Musana works with Ugandan artisans to sell their beautiful beaded jewelry. All of the sales, donations and grants they receive go back into their foundation and helping the Ugandan artisans grow through educational and vocational training. They source their material locally in Uganda, and work with local artisans, academics and professionals. You can find read more about their story and artisans here and you can get involved here. I’m thinking of holding a Musana Market, myself.

And for some local nonprofits…

Photo from Sol Collective

Photo from Sol Collective

Sol CollectiveFounded in 2003, Sol Collective is a center dedicated to art, culture and activism. I have been to several art shows there and I’ve seen all the work they do inside that building, and I’m always amazed by their passion and determination for their cause. They provide community programs like the Free-Sol Arts Academy – which provides in and out of school art workshops for kids – and the Sacramento Activist School – a gathering of all generations who are focused on social justice issues. You can sign up for a membership here.

Photo from Vox Sacramento

Photo from Vox Sacramento

Vox SacramentoEven though I only lived a few minutes from Vox when I lived in my dear Midtown, I actually found them through Twitter and decided I wanted to volunteer. When I went to meet with Eric (co-founder), he was in the midst of an art class for kids and was so excited to share his goals with me. I later co-hosted a fundraiser called Art Speaks with my good friend Candice and I have worked on and off with them since then. They are still very dear to my heart, and I hope to work with them more. You can find out more about them here and you can donate here.

We all know how tight money is, so even if you can’t donate, nonprofits love them some volunteers. And if you don’t live close to them, ask if you can help with social media and/or sending out newsletters. Trust me, they would love the help! Feel free to share your favorite nonprofits in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #givingtuesday. Check out more awesome people behind awesome causes on my Pinterest.

Yo Momma Monday: Stefanie Lin

yo momma monday

Meet Stefanie Lin, 30, from Sloughton WI, who has started her own Virtual Assistant business, called Crafty Helper. She keeps creative businesses in order with all of the services she offers online. This way, you can get an Assistant when you need one, and don’t need to worry about keeping one on the books during your slower seasons.

Before she started Crafty Helper, Stefanie worked a lot of Customer Service jobs and most recently, was running a small business for an owner who lived across the country. She got the idea to start her own business after working the indie craft fair circuit for several years and noticed that so many of her crafty friends were too busy keeping up with the business aspect that they didn’t have time for the creative side anymore.

“So many weren’t at a place to hire an employee on their payroll but needed some help and bonus would love to work with someone who “got it” (i.e: the handmade movement/community).  I saw a need that I could fill.”

While Stefanie has her personal blog called Artsy Momma, she also started a blog for Crafty Helper when the site went live. That blog is more business-driven, where she throws in her past experiences and shares her opinion on various small business related topics.

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

“If I help someone or give them motivation, my work is done. The bonus is that they keep me in mind when they are at a point that they need a set of capable hands to help them move their business forward and take that next step!”

A mother to four, her day is spent balancing work and family life. Her mornings are dedicated to getting her two oldest kids off to school and checking e-mails. Then she run errands with her little ones and does most of her work while they are napping. She also runs an antique booth with her best friend so she will stop in with her baby to check on that and then checks in with her clients at her weekly Skype meetings. She fits in some family time, then it’s back to work again once the kids are all in bed.

Her workspace is a desk in the family room, and she shares it with her kids for their homework and educational games. She does have a studio for her sewing and painting in the basement, but it usually ends up in the living room.

“I cant help it I love to be in the middle of the action!”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Since Stefanie’s husband works nights and sleeps during the day, she handles most of the parenting until the weekends, when they screw up his work schedule and he spends time with the family. They like going out to their favorite local restaurants, enjoying a good movie and doing projects together at home, although her husband isn’t a huge fan of the resulting mess.

“I always tell people though you pick what you are passionate about and what you make time for.  I love what I do so I work hard and I do all that I can with the time I have.  As for folding laundry, well that can wait 😀  (Maybe that will be my kids memory of their childhood, clean clothes in hampers, eek!)”

While it can be hard to manage everything, Stefanie refers to her husband as her biggest cheerleader as he always helps her with designing an art booth, cutting down frames for her paintings and watching the kids when she has craft fairs.

“This new adventure though gives me more time to be in the crafty world but get to keep my weekends free to spend with my family as a whole, and for that I am thankful!”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

As a small business owner and creative herself, Stefanie knows how time-consuming yet necessary all of the business aspects are, and that is why she believes that virtual assistants are so important to small/handmade business owners.

“So much now for businesses is done online and there are only so many hours in the day to do all the things to “stay relevant” and still be able to make the product you are selling…  A virtual assistant can do so much of the online work for an artist so that the artist can still have their name/brand out there but keep working on what they are passionate about, what they started out the business to begin with to make amazing/awesome/beautiful products”

Like so many business mamas, Stefanie’s favorite part about running her own business is the flexibility and the fact that she is always there for her kids. Since her business is still in the baby pages, she was a little scared about getting her first clients. Just a month in, she is already getting good feedback and referrals.

Since most of her clients are also mamas, they understand that weekends are dedicated to family time, and then Mondays she’s back on the grind. Even with this flexibility, she admits that she has become attached to her mobile devices (really though, who hasn’t) and that she forces herself to put the phone down and be completely present.

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

“When my kids look back on their childhood, I don’t want my phone to be the thing they remember, I want my smile and the projects we do together to be the first memories and the phone/computer just a minimal part of it!”

After all, it was a quilt hunt when she was pregnant with her first daughter that got her involved with craft shows in the first place. She wanted to make her baby a quilt, but hadn’t sewn a day in her life before then, so her husband bought her a sewing machine for Valentine’s Day. As it turns out, she was not so hot on quilting and finally decided to hire someone to make the dream quilt. In the meantime, she grew quite fond of sewing.

“I started with totes applied for my first show (didn’t sell a thing!) learned from it, got my first consignment store and hit the ground running! It wasn’t a straight path from sewing I started collecting vintage fabric which lead to vintage patterns. I wanted to paint my own faces which started out first very whimsical but have come full circle and I paint a bit more realistic but still with my own twist of using lots of texture and glazes to create paintings that have an old vintage vibe to them.”

She got involved with the Oh My Handmade! community after she followed the blog for a while and looked to it as an amazing resource for crafty businesses and a trusted voice on the online world. She finally decided to join the community and found “an amazing group of creatives I get to hang out with/ bounce ideas off of/ learn from/cheer on.”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Stefanie’s favorite thing about what she does is creating connections and working with happy and positive people. She loves being able to help them and cheer them on, and sharing knowledge about her past experiences while learning to work with new sites and applications.

“I am all about growing and learning, I like to stay busy so getting to learn new things makes me pretty happy!”

Her advice for new creative business owners is simple: just start doing it.

“I am all about information but if all you do is collect information and don’t take the first baby steps to where you want to go you will get overwhelmed and just sit there with tons of information, and what good is that?  Fake it till you make it baby!  And don’t let the gremlins in your head tell you aren’t worthy of your crafty dreams you are, you can do it.”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

As for the future of her own business, Stefanie hopes to start a YouTube channel, keep a consistent blogging schedule, look for some good advertising spaces and continue to help artists make their own creative business dreams come true. Her plan for the antique booth is to continue the antique hunt and hopefully expand her booth into two.

“I also would love to help artist/handmade businesses break out of the mentality that they have to do it all for a long time before they are successful, hiring someone may hit the pocketbook initially but having that free time to really build your business is worth its weight in gold (and your sanity)”

For now, Stefanie’s heart is happy being able to cheer on other small businesses and make achieving their creative business dreams just that much easier. She hopes others will get the same fulfillment from their work, regardless of which avenue they choose.

“We all have our special gifts and we love and are passionate about other things.  It is finding that passion that you want to do all the time and can make a living doing.  I am not wanting to become a millionaire that is never my intention I want to have a healthy happy life work balance and make sure my family is taken care of but for me that means living in our cozy home driving a not so new vehicle and one day having chickens in the backyard.  Everyone’s dream is different and that is absolutely OK that is what makes being a human being so freaking amazing!”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

To find out more about Stefanie Lin and Crafty Helper, you can check out her website here and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you have an idea for Yo Momma Monday, let me know by posting in the comments or using the hashtag #yomommamonday in your posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instgram. Visit my Pinterest to find more awesome mama inspiration!

Yo Momma Monday: Bethany Remsberg

yo momma monday

One of the first things I did when I found out I was pregnant was look at cute onesies to buy. I mean that’s the first thing on everyone’s mind when they find out they are responsible for another human being, right? So, while I was on the hunt for cute and unique clothes for my little one, I landed on this “No Hablo” shirt by TrulySanctuary on Etsy. Turns out, they also make clothing for big kids, like me!

Image belongs to Truly Sanctuary

Image belongs to TrulySanctuary

After I did some light, innocent internet stalking, I found out that they were Beth and Ron Remsberg, a husband and wife team who were raising their two children in Nashville, TN. Literally, they are a mom and pop shop. Instantly, I felt a connection with their style and their story and I wanted to learn more. I stalked them on every social media site I could, just to gain a little insight into their world. I was in awe of the fact that they could work together in such a small space and I loved that they included their children with everything they did.

Image belongs to Truly Sanctuary

Image belongs to TrulySanctuary

Beth, 34, was born and raised in Sacramento and left in 2005, when she was 25 years old. From there, she lived in Idaho, Germany, Florida and Costa Rica before she settled in Nashville last July, where she plans to stay and raise her kids. She was working at the Bavarian Alps when she found out she was pregnant with her first baby, Truly.

I was working at a ski resort in the Bavarian Alps having the absolute time of my life…I broke up with my fun YOUNGER boyfriend whom I was seeing over there and 3 days later I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Truly…EVERYTHING CHANGED!!! Up until that point I was perfectly content with little responsibility, no money and a carefree life in the alps…I was scared and felt so alone. I moved back to the States and actually met Ron (32) my current husband and Truly’s Adoptive father while I was pregnant. When Truly was tiny I became pregnant again (we jokingly blame our strict Christian upbringings for not understanding where babies come from)…Normandy was born just 13 months after Truly. Peter, Truly’s biological dad actually joined in on the fun and moved in with us when Truly was 2 and Normandy was 1…we have all been sharing parenting responsibilities since…the girls don’t remember a time before Peter was around…We strongly believe in the power of love and forgiveness and wish more kids were as lucky as ours!

Image belongs to Truly Sanctuary

Image belongs to TrulySanctuary

When Ron and Beth’s car broke down and they couldn’t afford to get it repaired, they decided to go a different route, and live without the car. Beth says that the kids aren’t bothered by the lack of a vehicle, but do request a taxi if they get tired. They are hoping to get a Nissan Leaf down the road so their kids can participate in more stuff and they can attend festivals and events in Nashville.

Beth and Ron don’t have any employees so they do all the work on their own – with the occasional help from Ron’s mom and their friends during the holiday season – and they are hoping to grab an intern from one of the local colleges. But for now, they are digging the flexibility.

I love making my own schedule, in ugly sweatpants I might add. I love that we don’t have to cram everything into the same crazy weekend as everyone else. We can make appointments whenever, go grocery shopping on Wednesday morning. I don’t have to feel guilty for calling in sick. We also lived in Costa Rica for 6 Months and were able to do everything remotely. Our daughter Normandy was born with kidney issues and there have been times we have had to basically live in the hospital…I love that she was never alone…I can always be with her.

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Image belongs to TrulySanctuary

While working from home can be flexible and super relaxing, it can be tricky to separate “mom time” from “business time” (trust me, I can attest to this). Beth agreed that this is the most challenging part of working from home. Doing both can teach you to accept that not everything will go they way you expected, and it can teach you how little sleep one can survive on.

It can be confusing to go from play to work…and there is a big reason most people are prohibited from bringing their 4 year olds to work. I am a perfectionist and stink at multitasking, so it is in my nature to put my full attention toward something until I get it just right…simultaneously running a business and raising children has stretched me as far as this goes. I have learned to accept less than perfect, accept mistakes, ask for help and ask for forgiveness from my family and customers when there just isn’t enough time in the day. There have been several occasions where we pull all nighters to meet a deadline because our kids needed us full-time.

Now if your reaction was the same as mine when you saw that they work together, you would understand what a crazy concept it would be to work with your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/whathaveyou. Anyone who has spent five minutes with me knows that I am beyond crazy for my boyfriend, but we both know that we could never work together. So, how do they do it?

We value our business because it has afforded us so much flexibility and family time and we know it requires both of us remaining on the same team, working toward a common goal to keep it going. Egos take a back seat. We aren’t stubborn just for the sake of being right when it comes to the business. Our working place is a safe place where we can bounce creative ideas off one another without feeling the least bit of shame or embarrassment. In marriage people tend to play devil’s advocate and are quick to criticize and immediately trouble shoot their spouses “great” idea. Within our business we listen to one another. We let wacky ideas flow. We allow time to tell if something is too big to come to fruition instead of immediately listing all the reasons a new idea will surely fail. Now when it comes to our relationship we tend to be a lot more selfish, we have big pointless fights just like the next couple…its a work in progress and ultimately love keeps us going!

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Image belongs to TrulySanctuary

And what about those adorable little girls?

Seriously they are the most amazing people I could possibly spend my time with. I won’t lie though, it is fun getting attention wherever we go…they are outgoing, vibrant and beautiful…If I indulge too much in this though, I start to feel a little like a pageant mom. I am just really really really really proud of my daughters.

Image belongs to TrulySanctuary

Image belongs to Truly Sanctuary

Besides getting a website (their only shop is on Etsy right now. Crazy, I know), Beth is hoping to start blogging and ultimately, she wants to open up a storefront in Nashville. In the immediate future, she is preparing for her kids to start school and as for their business, they are trying to keep up with all the busy work and all the orders coming in, while still keeping themselves open for new opportunities.

In our personal life we are working on laying down roots in Nashville and staying put. This has been very challenging as I tend to daydream most about not just traveling, but really living and experiencing other places. We also just moved to the best school district in our area as Truly prepares to start kindergarten, basically making us the poorest family in the richest part of town. I’m learning to feel ok with being me as I build relationships with neighbors who aren’t like me. In business a lot of days it feels like we can’t keep up and spend all of our time doing busy work while longing to do creative design work. We’re just inching in on the next level, but can’t quite afford help yet, so sometimes it feels like we never get a break. Still we try to not let opportunities pass us by even if it means pulling an all-nighter here and there…we were recently asked to design a tee exclusive to crew of Bill Murray’s new movie. We will also be donating our signature Rainbow Colored “Don’t Hate” tee to the HERE Arts Center In NYC to promote a Musical entitled “God Hates This Show” satirizing the Westboro Baptist Church. The projects aside from our Etsy shop seem endless and we intend to continue to ride this wave!

Image belongs to TrulySanctuary

Image belongs to TrulySanctuary

Through all the changes, there is one thing that remains important to the Remsberg family, it’s embracing the community.

Placing value on the people around you that you interact with face to face…meeting needs without strings attached. Basically LOVE.

You can find TrulySanctuary on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and of course, Etsy.

If you know of any cool moms (yourself included) who would be awesome for this, please feel free to leave a brief description and contact info in the comments. You can also email me at mamabecrafty@gmail.com. It has been so amazing getting to know all of these inspirational and rad mommas!

 

 

Yo Momma Monday: Miriam Deuel

yo momma monday

To say that Miriam Deuel is a busy stay-at-home mom would be a huge understatement. She is a mother of four and is currently in the process of adopting a two-year-old girl from China. Miriam works with Courage Worldwide, a nonprofit that fits sex trafficking of minors worldwide and has gone to Guana, Africa twice with her Church to educate the students about various topics.

Miriam grew up in Sacramento, CA and happened to go to the same high school as me: St. Francis. She married her high-school sweetheart Dan in 1999 and graduated from Sacramento State in 2001, when her first baby was only seven weeks old. Whew! When her third baby was three months old, they took a trip to Guatemala to learn Spanish and do mission work.

When Dan got his call to be the Senior Pastor of St. Andrew’s Lutheran in Stockton in 2005, they moved here and have been here ever since. In December of 2012, they started the process of adopting Ai Lan, who has Sturge-Weber Syndrome (SWS), a rare neurological disorder. She has a port wine stain on her face and some atrophy on her brain. The adoption process isn’t completed yet and they’re hoping she will be with them for Christmas.

“Whatever the future holds for Ai Lan,” says Miriam, “we will be there 100% for her, just as we would for our biological children.”

Miriam says that they decided to adopt because they believe in the value of life and they felt that their Christian faith demanded action, not just words. She says that they have spent a lot of time, energy, and financial resources helping bring awareness to the value of human life.

“We are advocates for the unborn, the poor, the mentally and physically impaired, and those who are sold as slaves, whether for sex or in other forms of human trafficking,” says Miriam.

According to Miriam, there are 210 million orphans in the world and 38,493 of them age out of the system at 18 years old. She wondered why most Christian families don’t have an orphan in their home and wondered where the orphan was that should be in her home.

“Our decision to adopt was planted in our hearts by God, and we are simply, after all these years, responding to the call,” she says.

She has been a member of Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) International for 11 years. MOPS is a support group for moms have kids under the age of five. There is also MOMSNext, which is a support groups for moms who have kids of any age. The meetings usually include guest speakers, crafts, discussions and of course…food! There are mentor moms to help out new moms and she assures that although MOPS is a Christian-based group, it is not “preachy.”

“In fact, many of the moms who attend MOPS are not Christians and really feel comfortable because MOPS is about supporting moms.  We are not trying to “convert” anyone.  I promise.”

For the past five years, she has run a Teen MOPS group at her Church that supports young moms and says that some of the moms have been there since the beginning. She says that she has seen dramatic growth in all of the moms that they mentor.

“Their lives are full of many trials and hardships,” she says. “But honestly, I’ve seen a resiliency in these moms that I’ve rarely seen in older moms.”

Since Miriam Deuel is a stay-at-home mom, she hasn’t received a paycheck since 2003 and everything she does is volunteer work. As a supporter of Courage Worldwide, she coordinated a “Courage” concert in Stockton a few years ago. Courage Worldwide is a nonprofit out of Rocklin, CA that brings awareness to the worldwide problem of sex trafficking of minors. They also operate a home called “Courage House” which offers shelter for girls rescued from sex trafficking.

“I had our church team up with another in Stockton to host a benefit concert to benefit Courage House and to help raise awareness that this happens in every city in our country, and in every country worldwide.”

She also went to Ghana, Africa twice to visit schools and villages and talk to students about different topics. She says that the most interesting topic to the students was sex, of course. In Africa, you have to have an education to rise up from poverty. Otherwise, you will be there for the rest of your life.

“This is not the poverty we see in the US…we’re talking real poverty like literally no food, rags for clothing, no clean water what so ever…it’s everywhere you look.  Getting an education is the only way to raise yourself out of this.”

During her stay in Ghana, she attended the opening ceremony of another MOPS group in the capital city of Accra and she says that MOPS has been spreading quickly since their last visit. She also taught in the church that hosted them and spoke to men, women and youth.

Miriam and Dan have held two fundraisers to help with the $30,000 cost for adopting Ai Lan. Their first fundraiser was a rummage sale that raised $2,300 and the last fundraiser was called “Love to the Rescue,” a prom for adults, where they raised $3.600.

“I can’t tell you how excited some people are because they never had the opportunity to go to their prom…so here is their chance,” she exclaims.

So how does she manage doing all of this while raising her children? She admits that she is way too busy and has a tendency of getting stressed out at times. I don’t blame her! She says that all of that will come to a stop when Ai Lan comes home from China.

“She needs to come home to a calm and quiet home in order to begin her adjustment process, so I’ll be forced to say “no” to people’s requests, says Miriam.  Can I even tell you how excited I am for this forced down-time?”

Miriam adds that she wasn’t always so busy. When she had her first son, David, she was finishing school online and could barely find the time to take a shower. I can relate!

“I swear I spent 6-8 hours a day bouncing a colicky baby on the yoga ball and watching Oprah and Seinfeld reruns.  Then, as time goes on, the kids get more independent, you learn how to mother more efficiently, and all of the sudden, you have 4 kids and you are thinking, ‘I can totally take on another.’  At least that’s how it happened for me!”

If this story leaves you feeling inspired, visit Miriam’s blog about the adoption process and more at www.deuelfamilyadoption.blogspot.com, where she is graciously accepting donations. So with all this going on, what’s next?

“My summer plans are to SLOW DOWN, enjoy my kids, and do whatever I have to do to get my baby home from China.”

Know a cool mom that would be perfect for Yo Momma Monday? Let me know in the comments!