Writing & Publishing

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

I was off today, so with Bill on Spring Break, we took advantage of family time.

A few weeks ago, The Cat in the Hat came to visit our local Barnes & Noble. Here was Talia’s reaction (notice she was excited as long as he was at a distance!):

Then because my sweet friend Caroline was working and knew it was Talia’s birthday that weekend, she had them sing to her!

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The Cat gave her a cupcake, which she quickly took!

When we got close, she hung onto me for dear life (while I balanced Liam in the carrier!):

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Today the Cat wasn’t there for story time, but we did read Green Eggs and Ham. Talia loved it. She also enjoyed pinning the tail on Horton, and coloring after!

Do you have kids? What did you do for Dr. Seuss’ Birthday? What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? I think mine has to be “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

The children are now in bed, so I’m off to work on my book proposal on the Old City Jail. Be sure to look back at the post from earlier this week for photographs!

 

Military Spouse Life

Happy Birthday, Talia

Today is our daughters 2nd birthday. I haven’t had time to do a true blog post, so I’ll post some pictures of the coolest kid ever….and a few celebrities. 




Brendon Ellis of the SC Stingrays during a benefit for Breast Cancer. 




Our favorite radio guy in Charleston, Mr. TJ Phillips. We were in line with my sweet friend Missy to meet…


Trisha Yearwood and her sweet sister!

Yes, it’s Paula Deen, her very lovely husband, and my sister from another mister, Beka! Paula Deen grabbed Talia right from my hands!

















The last three were today! Happy birthday, baby girl!

Life

Getting My (Cake) Groove Back

Last year was a crazy year. So much happened during those 365 days, yet one of the biggest things to happen was closing my little bakery. We did not have a store front, ( we baked out of a commissary kitchen) which made things easier to close down, but emotionally it was still hard. At the time, the decision was the right one. I was exhausted from being pregnant with Liam, had a hard time finding good help, and I still wasn’t taking a paycheck. I sometimes would work 36 or more hours straight. I was going in a million directions with events, restaurant orders, personal orders, etc. It was draining. After almost 5 years of pouring myself into this, I crashed and I crashed hard. I wanted it closed and to move to Illinois to be near Bill’s family, and I didn’t want to look back.

Even though our doors were technically closed, I continued making smash cakes for my photographer friend. Over the past few weeks we have had a LOT of cakes and it made me realize how much I love to bake.

IIWith the smash cakes, I’m usually given colors and a theme and can be free and creative. I love doing it and it made me realize I’m ready to get back to baking after the break I’ve had.

How talented is Selena? These pictures are amazing. You can check her work out at http://www.selenastoneyphotography.com/. It’s pretty amazing. She did both newborn sessions for our kids. I’ll share those in another post.

When I look at the work Selena does, I just want my cakes to measure up. I also admire how hard she works to make her business a success. Basically, I’m really lucky to have a BFF I also look up to as a mom and businesswoman. (Selena is my “IDK WTF I’m doing as a parent and need help,” go to person……like when Talia stuck a popcorn kernel up her nose!)

Back to cake….

Of course for Talia’s cake smash, we went all out on the cake theme.

No, the cakes in the background are not real. They are dummy cakes. I use Styrofoam to decorate! Only the smash cake is real.

So as the life plan keeps evolving, I’ve decided to go back to baking. (I’m still going to write as well…)

When we get to Illinois, I can legally bake out of my house. I’m only going to make cakes, and I’m only selling directly to customers. I’m not going to work with restaurants or try and do events. The money, time, and energy needed for those things drive me to shut it all down before. I needed this time to step back and reevaluate what worked in my business and what didn’t. I think I can make it work again this time, and do it from the comfort of my own (new) home. I also think just doing cakes instead of over 75 pies, 50 flavors of cake, 40 cookie flavors, etc, etc, will help my success.

I’m really excited for this new beginning with cakes again. Follow me on Instagram @TinaRussoKinney to see more cake. I would also really love it if you liked my FB page!

Life

Confessions of A Somewhat Okay Mom

I didn’t plan on another post before we left for Illinois, but in the past 24 hours I have had so much happen warranting another blog post, so here we go.

To start, I met a pregnant mother in a store and during casual conversation she confessed she wanted to breastfeed her son (due today) and had difficulty with it with her first. She said she would probably resort to “just pumping” because she feared what people would respond to her feeding in public.

I was heartbroken for her. Breastfeeding can be tough. I had to pump with Talia because of my own anatomy and it was a bitch to do, but I did it for my kid. This mama feels like she will be mom-shamed if she feeds in public!!!

Then today I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post from another Mama. I look up to her. She is an AMAZING woman! Her post revealed she felt like she was “failing at being a working mom.”

This woman actually helped bring Liam into the world. Again, heartbroken. (By the way, she’s NOT failing).

Finally, my father called. He had bad news. This was the one I cried over….. His girlfriend (who we all love) lost her son today to a drug overdose. I can’t imagine the pain she is in, but I promise she is wondering what else she could have done to prevent this…she probably will wonder for the rest of her life, if there was something she could have done.

So aside from the fact I constantly worry about the type of mom I am, I know mama’s need to lift each other up, not bring each other down. For this reason, I am posting a list of some of my more questionable mother moments. I want other mama’s to see this, get a good laugh, and hopefully not call social services on me! We need to remember we are all human, we make mistakes, and it will be okay!

So here it is, in black and white….my confessions as a somewhat okay mama:

  • I once feed Talia mashed potatoes for dinner because I just couldn’t deal with dinner that night. Mashed potatoes….for dinner.
  • I’ve pretended not to see my child lick the glass at a hockey game.
  • One time, I was grocery shopping and had to use the restroom. There was no place to put Talia and I did not want her crawling on the dirty floor. She was young and small….so I put her IN my tote bag and then hung that on the back of the stall door. It worked, and no, I’m not proud.
  • It took about 6 weeks before I realized the green line on the diapers meant Talia needed to be changed. Six weeks.
  • I was so exhausted recently while home with the kids by myself, I seriously considered leaving them with the dogs so I could go to Starbucks. In my defense, Diesel is about to be 18 years old….he should seriously start earning his keep! Also, they were FINALLY asleep and I REALLY needed the caffeine. I obviously did not leave my children home alone….but I REALLY thought about it!
  • Talia climbed up on a toy and it was quite dangerous. I knew I needed to pull her down to safety, but instead of grabbing her, I stopped and took a picture. As I was setting my phone down, she fell and nailed her head on the floor. I don’t know who cried more.
  • I let Talia feed the dogs from her plate when I’m exhausted and know she’s not going to eat it anyway.
  • One brand of gas relief for babies has a black/grey color to it. I used to take the leftover on the feeding syringe and paint a mustache on Talia.
  • Talia is learning to speak but doesn’t quite make whole sentences yet. I was exhausted from the nonsense questions at one point, I called my mother, handed the phone to Talia, and let my mother entertain her.
  • I’ve given my child candy to make her stop crying when daddy had to leave for school….as a meal. It worked.
  • Just this morning I traded Talia her toothbrush (she’s trying to do everything herself now) for a piece of candy. Again, it worked. Yes, I know candy undoes all the brushing.
  • When I need to write and can’t keep Talia’s attention on anything very long, I turn on the TV and use Curious George and The Cat in the Hat as a babysitter.
  • I once asked “for a friend” if I could tape the pacifier to Liam so he stops spitting it out. Apparently it’s a “NO.”
  • I sometimes use a blanket to prop up the bottle so Liam can drink on his own. Again, not all my fault…..Bill started it…
  • Both Bill and I have dipped pacifiers in things like bacon grease (his idea) and buttercream to help the soothing process along.
  • As long as it is used correctly, I usually laugh when my child says “Shit” instead of correcting her. This usually causes her to repeat the offense.
  • I always make sure to have a sippy cup for Talia with me. This way I know she is drinking from something BPA free and clean….then I let Bill give her Mountain Dew or Pepsi. Pick your battles mamas!

There are probably many more moments like this my tired brain is forgetting, but you get the point. Do you have any parenting stories like this or know someone with a good story? Tell us in the comments!

Military Spouse Life

Moving On Up…To Illinois

It’s really happening. We started packing recently and while it seems like I’ve spent enough time to pack an entire house on just packing one room, it’s ALL books and I’m not done with that one room!

This said, I hesitated several times when I was packing books on or by some of my favorite authors to be included in the book I am working on, Literary Crazy. If I find an agent to work with and can move forward on writing the rest of the book, I’ll need those materials. Knowing I have several other projects I can be working on, not to mention school, a newborn, a toddler, and the zoo of animals I live with, I packed all the books.

THEN BOOM!

Twitter hosted a pitching party where you use certain hashtags used by agents to find potential authors to work with. I found out about it last minute and sent my tweet anyway. Two tweets later, I had four interested agents!!!!!!!

I was beyond excited by which agents had requested more material, but now I must sit and wait. When I told Bill, he said I had better dig the books I packed back out because we rented a trailer to take the packed stuff back to Illinois over Thanksgiving! Now I’m not a superstitious person (well except for hockey…..and I’m pretty sure the Cubbies won the World Series because of my rituals…..in fact, I should call Theo Epstein and see where my ring is!) but I’m afraid to dig out the books/materials because if I do, the agents might not get back to me with good news. I know, I know……you’re rolling your eyes, I’m sure.

Instead of working on unpacking and repacking the mass amount of books to find what I need, I’m just working on other projects needing my attention. This consists mostly of article writing and trying to catch sleep when the kids let me!

I’m sure I will wait until the last minute (when Bill is loading the trailer to go to Illinois) to decide to pull out the books….which will be how the fight starts (just kidding).

Meanwhile, if you don’t hear from me, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! As I mentioned, we are headed to Illinois so little man can meet the family and we can start house hunting! Sadly, I don’t  care much about the house we buy, as long as it has a room for my writing and a space for my soap making. I’ll leave you with some pictures of what I’ve been working on in that department!

Life · Writing & Publishing

Settling In!

While adding a new member to the family always requires an adjustment period, I’m happy to report things are going well with our new family member.

Talia thinks Liam is hers!



We love how much she loves him. She’s not the only one….


This is Addison. Her mom is one of my BFF’s.


Addison’s brother, Ellison….


Their talented mom, Selena. Selena is a newborn photographer and we were so excited to do pictures of Liam.



So far, this is the only one we have back. She’s so busy with sessions, it will be a few weeks before we see them all. This picture is one of my favorite EVER!

Here Selena was editing AND holding Liam while I used her oven.


So why am I using her oven? Well, she had a session requiring a smash cake. Even though we closed the bakery and are moving next May, I still make her smash cakes. The problem? Our oven caught fire last week.

Thankfully no one was hurt, and it didn’t happen while we were evacuated, but there’s nothing like waking up to the smell of something burning INSIDE your house. 

When I woke Bill, he insisted someone was burning toast. Um, there’s no reason we should be smelling someone’s burnt toast in our house. Sure enough, he went into the kitchen and the INSIDE of the oven was bright red. The oven locked itself shut as if it was on a clean cycle, and the only thing Bill could do was unplug the unit.

It took the fine people at GE almost a week to call us back. Our model wasn’t recalled, but they wanted to come look at it anyway. By the time they tried to finally come out, the landlord had replaced the unit. Pretty sure I won’t be buying any GE appliances anytime soon!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Bill and I started the next semester of school and Liam went to his first hockey game.


He basically slept through it all, even when daddy (Bill) was recognized as the Hero of the Game for his service in the USMC.




So proud of him!!!

I feel as though I can really get back to writing and querying over the next few weeks. I’m still tired, but not like I was when I was pregnant with Liam. November is National Novel Writing Month and it’s time for me to put out another novel! I’ll be sure to put together a bit about the idea and share with you over the next few days. Hopefully I can get out 50,000 words again this November, even with a toddler, newborn, school, and everything else!

Life

It’s a Boy!!!

After evacuating for the hurricane, we spent the first few days this week trying to get home, then both Bill and I had exams for school to make up because of the hurricane.

We then ended the week with the birth of this little guy. At 3:31 am, EST, on October 15th, we welcomed Liam Amos into the world! He’s a peanut at just 5.1 pounds and 18.5″! Everything went great and I managed to give birth naturally in water. We were home a few hours later. Big sister thinks he’s her personal snuggle baby and just loves him. She LOVES snuggling him and telling him about hockey!




Life

We Will Survive!

After being gone for a whole week….and taking two of those days just to get home, we made it!

Our house was left alone by hurricane Matthew, and we are truly blessed! I know there are so many people less fortunate than us! Right now, I’m home with Talia and Bill is out with the (animal) rescue, helping those who are struggling with a broken levy upstate. It’s a small thing in the scheme of things, but we are really hoping he and the rescue get those animals out and safe!

In the end, we basically ended up with a trip to see family and Talia scored pumpkins! The kid LOVES pumpkins….. We also learned the proper way to sneak dogs in and out of hotels!

The day before we heard we had to leave, I started working on some soaping products for my business, Sugar Pie Spa Company. The idea was the products would be in a local magazine. I have no idea if they were able to get it put together before the storm. Here is what I was working on:

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Then we heard we had to go…..the Birth Center where we are due to have Liam had to close, so my father being the closest parent, won getting us all at his house in PA!

Bill and I are both from up north. Give us a blizzard or nor’easter any day of the week. When someone says “hurricane,” it’s time to go! My dad didn’t hesitate when I told him we were coming with 5 dogs, 4 cats, a toddler, 2 trucks, and me at 37-38 weeks pregnant to take over his house!

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Talia loves exploring at Grandpa and Ga-Ga’s house (she calls his girlfriend Ga-Ga!). Here daddy is showing her a woolly caterpillar.

The dogs love their GIANT fenced in lot:

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Pretty sure they could do without the sounds of the cows next door, but other than that, they enjoyed being outside in such a large, previously unexplored area.

Then it was off to a local farm for pumpkins. I have no idea why, but Talia LOVES pumpkins!

We then went to my mom and step-dad’s in CT. Another trip in the car, but again, worth it!

Talia was so excited to go to Stew Leonard’s. She LOVED seeing Stewie the Duck from one of her favorite books. She also loved the giant pumpkins and getting to push ALL of the buttons at the petting zoo.

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She also loves exploring Nene’s house. Nene is my grandmother, so Talia’s GREAT grandmother. Nene has lots of cool things in her house and so do Grandma and Grandpa, so she just spent two days exploring!

Then it was back to my dad’s to see the Hershey Bears! It was Talia and Bill’s first AHL game! In the middle of all this (the 6th) I also had a birthday……so we used this as our little birthday celebration! I mean, who doesn’t want to celebrate their birthday with HOCKEY?!!!!????

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Everyone had a GREAT time, even though the Bears lost. Thankfully, it was just pre-season! The best part was getting to see several of our Stingrays who moved up from here in Charleston, to Hershey!!!

Finally, we were given the all clear and were allowed to head back to Charleston. Sadly, there were parts of North Carolina just DESTROYED by rain and hurricane Matthew. Our 9 hour trip turned into two days. We sat on I-95 for 3 hours at one point, trying to go 2 miles.

Thankfully, even in 2 vehicles, all was well. The dogs pretty much slept, and Talia was just really well behaved. There was a lot of pushing and shoving in line trying to get where people had to go, most places didn’t have fuel, lots of places were just closed, and so much was under water. It was hard at the time, but I had to keep remembering we had a home to go to and we lost nothing. Not everyone was so lucky. It was hard at 1 am, trying to find a hotel to take dogs that was not already booked solid, not to lose my $h!+, but we managed. The tire Bill had a nail in also held up until we got back into Charleston. Talk about God watching our butts! Stopping on the side of the road with no spare tire (that’s a long story, but we had the OTHER tire have an issue right before we had to leave) with so much debris, water, trees down, both vehicles, dogs, Talia, etc, would have been a nightmare!

Hopefully with our upcoming move back north, we don’t have to deal with a hurricane again….and especially not at 38 weeks pregnant (I was seriously praying the whole time NOT to go into labor!!!!) So now it’s time to get reorganized, do all this crazy laundry, and get back to writing and making soap!

How did you make out in the hurricane? Did it come near you?

Life · Writing & Publishing

I’m Still Here!

Wow! It’s been a minute since I updated the blog…. So sorry!

It’s been a crazy month….and I’m exhausted. We are finally in the last trimester of pregnancy and I just have no energy. I HAVE to take a nap each day….which is making me look long and hard at my caffeine consumption from before getting pregnant. I really need to not drink so much caffeine when little Liam is out and it’s safe again.

So here’s the update!

 

Talia got to go on the ice for the first time:

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And took off as soon as she could the second go around…

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So when she turned 18 months, Daddy got her gloves and a stick:

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She’s obsessed!

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She loves being at the arena and was so excited to see Daddy play his first game.

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She loves swim class……yes, they finally took care of the kid who made himself sick so he didn’t have to get in the pool…

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She’s also enjoying her friend Wyatt being in town for summer vacation with his dad and step-mom!

When I’m not busy with Talia, I am working on my vegan sugar scrub business. It’s soap and sugar scrubs for the skin, made from sugar and essential oils (and other vegan products). I’m having a lot of fun with it. You can visit the new website here!

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I also was supposed to start school today. Even though I spent all of last Monday at the school making sure everything was in order, only to get to class today and get dropped. I’m furious and have been waiting all day to hear it’s been fixed. It was their error, so they should fix it, but I’m already worried about falling behind in math and now I’m missing class time.

Because I’ve been sick and really exhausted, I haven’t been reading much. I will hopefully get back to that soon. My mom got my novel back to me and the edits are all made. I’m working on sending out my query to agents! Hopefully one requests the full manuscript and then sends an offer of representation! It’s a bit more complicated than that, but I’m hopeful!

Phew, that’s a lot! What’s new with you?