Tell me a little about yourself. When did you start blogging and why?
I have six kids and an opinion. That may be the briefest definition of me possible. Over the last 12 years my husband and I have helped to raise 22 kids (2 we birthed, 4 we eventually adopted) and through that experience I’ve become passionate about encouraging moms and advocating for the needs of children. Some other facts about me: I’m a Nebraskan, the fourth of five kids, I’ve been married to my husband Brian for 12 years, I enjoy cooking but hate baking, and I secretly like politics and documentaries.
I started blogging when we had four kids and my youngest was almost one. I had two motivations:
1) I felt isolated and wanted a way to reach out.
2) I was coming to the realization that I would never be able to care for ALL the kids who need a family, so I wanted to encourage other people to get involved.
About a year before I started blogging I was asked by My Bridge Radio to create weekly 90 second radio spots to encourage moms. Through that work I realized I had things to say that didn’t fit in the 90 second format. There was a lot I had learned in parenting so many kids from so many different backgrounds and I wanted to share the things I wish I would have known when I was just starting out.
What are some of your favorite sites on the ‘net?
Having a lot of accident prone children who also get random illnesses and occasional weird bumps, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on mayoclinc.org. . . totally normal, right? I read about foster care at The Forgotten Initiative, and if I didn’t have a bunch of kids who needed me, I think I would just follow Karyn Purvis around all day and learn from her wisdom on childrearing. Jen Hatmaker makes me think and laugh about lots of topics. When I sit down to make my weekly grocery list, I check and see if Kevin and Amanda has anything new and if I need a fun dessert my go-to is In Katrina’s Kitchen. Honestly, I’m a compulsive researcher, so I read ALL the time but where I’m reading changes with whatever topic I’m currently interested in. Right now I’ve been fully submerged in the topic of addiction and how home environments impact development. Fascinating stuff.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A friend recently said, “A home game is easier than an away game” and I find that with 6 kids ages 8 and under, that is my current parenting philosophy. I am very much a STAY AT HOME mom because it’s simpler to handle things here than to take this show on the road. My typical day revolves around meeting the very basic needs of little people– feeding them, clothing them, diapering them, getting them down for naps, reading stories, bandaging wounds, talking through conflicts, and cleaning up the messes. Then I have this alternate reality where I’m writing for a couple different websites, advocating for the needs of foster kids, supporting foster moms, recording radio material, responding to emails from strangers who have questions about parenting and foster/adoption issues, writing for my own blog, handling social media for Christian Heritage and speaking at foster parent training events. It’s wonderfully bizarre and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to blog or share her/his story?
If you’re thinking about blogging, I would really encourage you to ask yourself two questions:
What is unique about my perspective?
Who am I talking to?
Those questions have helped me clarify what it is I’m doing with my blog and why I’m doing it. There are a lot of voices out there, so why add mine? I have to value the uniqueness of my experience and speak from it instead of trying to imitate somebody else or try to be the expert on every issue. I know there are lots of women like I was when I first started thinking about motherhood, especially motherhood via foster parenting and adoption. These are women who have fears but also an intense passion. Those are the people I’m talking to and when I’m writing I think about them with every post.
What story are you most proud of?
My gut response to this question was a post I wrote about having a baby via c-section. I remember when I wrote it it came out in one long stream of consciousness. It was fast and I hardly remember thinking as I wrote, but I do remember crying. I’m proud of that post because it was very honest and I know it resonated with other women who had a similar experience. There are a couple other posts I have that same feeling about. This letter to my past self about my infertility diagnosis. This post about why adoption is hard. This one about why we foster. And for a change of pace, I love this recent one where I tried to explain sex to my kids. I’m not sure “proud” is exactly the word I’d use for that one, but it makes me laugh.
How can people follow you?
I am on Facebook and Twitter as A Musing Maralee and I love for people to join me there. There’s a really fun community on my page where people share and engage. Those are my people. My blog is 90% serious and 10% fun, but my social media stuff is the reverse. I am the person behind the Christian Heritage Facebook page which is where I post relevant articles about foster parenting and parenting in general. I also run the Christian Heritage blog which is just getting off the ground. We’ll have foster parenting articles along with a calendar of training events and a huge list of resources for foster parents in Nebraska.