Posts Tagged ‘family’

Making work at home work (even with little ones)

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

I’m really excited to introduce you to Doña. We met while taking one of Meagan Francis’ writing classes and have been online friends since. She is a super smart and talented mom who knows what it’s like to juggle motherhood with writing while making it work. Doña was kind enough to share some tips with us on making it all work. 

make work at home work


Are you struggling to balance your writing and your family?  Your blog and your babies?

Trying to work at home when you have little ones certainly presents some special challenges.  But with some straightforward planning and boundary-setting, you can manage running a business and running a family without damaging or neglecting either.

Have Dedicated Work Hours

We all need schedules.  Babies need nap and bedtimes at regular times, and your brain needs to know when to turn off the parenting switches and turn on the working ones.

Find a schedule that fits your life (around school and activity schedules) and your rhythms (are you an early bird or a night owl?) and then do your best to stick to it.  Things will come up and kids will get sick, so sometimes you may find yourself squeezing work into unusual times when your schedule gets shaken up or you have a deadline approaching.

Be willing to be flexible, but get back to a regular routine as soon as you can.

Take Yourself – And Your Time – Seriously

Train your family that when you are working you are unavailable to solve problems, lend an ear, or provide a taxi ride. If you treat your work hours seriously, it will help your family learn to respect them, too.  Promise yourself you will focus during your work time and give yourself permission not to work outside of that.  It will be easier for your kids — and you, too! — to know that when you shut the office door (even if the office is your bedroom) you are unavailable to be mom for a while.

Get Help

From the outside it may look like successful work-at-home moms are managing to do it all, but the truth is they nearly always have help.  That help may be a work-at-home partner, a babysitter, a cleaner or a mother’s helper. Identify which areas of your life can be best delegated to someone else and get comfortable asking for what you need.

Know Your Goals

The best way to get where you want to go is to know where you want to go.  Brainstorm big goals for your business.  How much do you want to make this year? How many clients or readers do you want to gain?  Now break that into smaller goals to help you get there.  How many clients must you gain each month to get to your annual goal? What kind of marketing is needed to snag them?  How many guest posts should you write?

Break that list down further to what you can accomplish in a week, a day, an hour.  When you are ready to work, pull out your lists and you will know exactly what you need to do next without spinning your wheels and wasting your precious time. Being clear about your goals will also make it easy to say no to tasks and time-eaters that will not help you achieve them.

Lose the Distractions

Research shows our brains cannot focus on multiple tasks at once.  Multi-tasking just means doing more things, slower. When you have limited working hours, efficiency is critical. Strive for what Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, calls “single-tasking.” First, turn off all distractions like the internet, the phone’s ringer, and (if you can) turn over the baby monitor to someone else. Identify the next task you need to do toward your goals and do only that. When that is done, begin the next task.

make work at home work

You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you focus on one thing, and only one thing, at a time.




Doña Bumgarner traded in a career running huge projects at Apple with engineers who called her The Mom for a freelance writing business at home with the toddler who calls her Mama.  She blogs at Aubergine and lives in Santa Cruz, CA. 



Moving Week & What’s Happening

Monday, May 7th, 2012

It hasn’t been long but I’ve missed you guys! I guess blogging has finally become a serious habit because I feel…off. I haven’t written much lately since we are moving this week. Thursday morning at 4:00 a.m. my family and I will embark upon our longest road trip yet. Ten hours together in our SUV as we head from Ithaca, New York to Indianapolis, Indiana. We are all very excited.

The kids are used to long trips in the car and my husband and I hope that our super early departure will ensure that the kids stay asleep for at least half the trip. Cross your fingers for us and feel free to leave your road trip tricks in the comments below.

I’m documenting our trip for my blog, a super awesome photography project I’ll share later this month, and some cute travel journals I am starting for the kids. I’ll try to pop in here and there to check in but have some great guest posts lined up for this week.

There are a ton of things I want to share with you but since I *know* Cameron will be up soon I’ll be brief.

Time for some blog-cleaning and mind clearing:

  • Sign up for my monthly newsletter. I promise it will be awesome. I am working on a free e-book for subscribers (hint: it’s photography related and addresses many of the questions I receive from friend and readers). I hope to send the first newsletter in June and am working hard to make it sparkle. Just for you.
  • I bought some film for my Polaroid camera. The first two shots were overexposed since I didn’t shield them from the sunlight quickly enough. I was unable to take any more pictures. I have no idea what’s wrong and haven’t had the time to investigate. I really hope I am able to figure it out because the film and filter weren’t cheap but more importantly I was super excited. Grr.
  • We had another playdate with my photographer friend Amanda. It was a vintage theme stylized shoot and it was awesome. Preston loves Amanda’s son and wanted to say goodbye before our summer trip to Indiana. It was a great day.
  • I am back in the swing of things with my ice cream maker! I love that thing. Do you have one? Any favorite recipes?
  • My first photography session went well. My client was a classmate of my husband’s and his wife They bid on a session with me during the school’s annual auction. It was super flattering and I couldn’t wait to work with them. Our shoot took place ay Buttermilk Falls during the golden hour on Saturday. I learned a ton and will definitely have more to share.
  • My e-course obsession continues. Obviously I’m a filthy, awful liar who can’t keep promises to herself but whatever, at least I’m learning and not out spray painting buildings during my free time. Right? RIGHT!
  • I drank too much coffee today. Can you tell?
  • OH, we toured my husband’s professor’s vineyard on Sunday and WOW it was gorgeous. We sipped on a few wines, enjoyed lunch at the professor’s home, drove around the lake, and had crazy amounts of fun.
  • Thanks for all the comments and emails. I hope to get caught up during the car ride on Thursday. You guys are awesome xo
keuka lake vineyard

keuka lake vineyard

keuka lake vineyard

toddler girl smiling

toddler boy slide

Happy Monday.


I’m tired but it’s gorgeous outside so who cares?!?

Friday, May 4th, 2012

I’m tired. Newborn mom tired. Delirious tired. Old person at a rave tired. We are headed to Indiana in five days and I haven’t begun packing. I am excited but a bit in denial. Packing is so tedious and to be honest I have like no clothes so if I pack everything now I will be living in my froggie bathrobe for five days.


Well, it is finally spring here in Ithaca, NY and I couldn’t be happier. The weather is perfect and the kids and I spent a ton of time outside this week.

We’ve got a jam-packed weekend including my husband’s final presentation at school, my first photography session for adults, dinner at my husband’s professor’s house, packing, and I’m tired just thinking about it. I am looking forward to all of it.

When the weather is pretty there isn’t much that can damper my mood. : ) Don’t forget to link up at the Leap into Spring photo challenge. I love to see your work.

Happy Friday friends.

toddler tutu



Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge

Toddlertography. My son’s first camera.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

A few weeks ago my husband and I stepped into Best Buy to kill time while waiting for Target to open (we live on the edge). While we strolled around Preston picked up a camera* and tossed it into Cameron’s stroller. Alrighty then. We decided to buy it as an Easter gift. He is totally into photography now. I caught him setting up Byron
and taking shots from different angles and it was the cutest thing ever.

We go on lots of photography walks. He loves taking pictures of me taking pictures of him (like the photography matrix), of his sister whom he calls his “baby”, and his sneakers. So many pictures of his sneakers.

It’s fascinating to scroll through his pictures and look at what he deems photo worthy. One of the best things about being a mother is seeing the world through my children’s eyes. I love that I can share his little world and memories with friends and family online.


This is what is important to Preston, what he loves, and what he treasures.

It’s more beautiful to me than any shot I will ever take.

Does your child own a camera? Do you share their shots with the world?


*Post contains affiliate links*

MBA Life: Student Housing

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Hello and welcome to part III of my MBA Life blog series. Today I am addressing one of the B-School issues I am most passionate about: student housing. Oh, where do I start? I could honestly write a book on this topic alone but I’ll keep it as concise as I can in my perpetual sleep deprived zombie state.

Our experience:

As I mentioned in the admit weekend post, my husband and I had to skip out on several events because the kids were sick. Unfortunately, the housing tour was one of them. I remember driving through the community we would eventually move to during a brief bus tour but since the kids fell asleep we remained on the bus.

My husband and I loved the handful of parks within walking distance of the apartments, the graduate housing community center, and all the toys we saw strewn about the common areas. It looked perfect for our small family and once we found out how cheap it was (compared to our $1,500+ Vermont apartment) we were totally in.

Who cares what it looks like at that price! We saw a few grainy and dimly lit pictures of the apartments and braced ourselves. We moved in a year later. Next month is one year move in anniversary.

Here’s the skinny on our graduate student housing experience.

It’s small.

Obviously. I knew it was small but 600 +/- square feet just didn’t quite register to me until I was standing in our tiny bedroom with a king bed, dresser, and forty something inch TV. Small. My husband and I are very minimalist by nature. Our previous apartment was big and sparsely decorated just how we like it. We are so crammed in here one would think we are hoarders. We aren’t. There just isn’t any room and we have thrown/given/donated as much as possible.

Visit your future apartment if you can. Take measurements. Arrive with as little as possible in tow. You’ll be glad you did. Although it feels nice to have our small luxuries like a King sized bed and two obscenely large TVs there is a sacrifice of space and that can take a lot of getting used to.

We are managing it well. It took us a while to accept that the apartment will always be cluttered and never as clean as we would like it but this is temporary. I know a lot of you will be leaving your homes to move to school. I met one woman who was leaving a 3,000+ square foot house. Student housing might not be the option for you. Once you factor the cost and work associated with either storing or selling your furniture it might make more sense to invest in off campus housing.

Do what works for you. We are happy to be saving money on rent. We knew this would be a sacrifice but it isn’t so bad. There isn’t much space but the kids have room to play outside, a handful of parks within walking distance, and the community center across the street which often hosts fun activities for kids. We don’t regret our decision but can’t wait for some leg room.

Some of your neighbors might drive you crazy.

This could happen anywhere. It is definitely not specific to student housing BUT there are tons of people from all over the world and there will be culture clashes. Period. These include students barging into the study room of the community center with snacks, soda, and poker chips while you or your significant other tries to write a paper, people who cough in your face repeatedly and don’t understand a word you are saying when you ask them to stop, and people who refuse to evacuate the room you’ve booked for your daughter’s first birthday because they are playing a game of ping-pong. It happens. It’s annoying. There are worse things but be prepared.


Obviously experiences will vary from school to school but student housing is fairly standard. Cornell does an amazing job maintaining the property, addressing any issues, and keeping families entertained. Although we are looking forward to a (much larger) place of our own we are pretty happy here. It’s quiet, clean, and everything is within walking distance. The buses leave right across the street from our house which is fantastic because on campus parking is impossible. Definitely consider student housing if you don’t have a large family, can handle only one bathroom, and don’t mind doing your laundry at the community center (our basket got stolen once but in the thief’s defense it was a pretty nice basket).

Here are some pictures of our apartment. I kept it as real as possible and took these throughout the day. I used a 35mm lens thinking it would give me a wide enough angle to show you a lot of the apartment. I was wrong. It’s so small here I couldn’t back up enough to give a truly representative view of each room. I’ll try again in the future.


Next week: The Summer Internship

Clean Up Your Photos’ Background with In Camera Cropping

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

A few weeks ago the kids were outside blowing bubbles while I worked on my Souvenir Foto School photography assignment of the week. A portion of the assignment involved mastering in camera cropping. If you’ve never heard of ICC it isn’t a camera setting, it simply means eliminating distractions and elements that detract from your image by repositioning yourself in relation to your subject.

I’ve read more photography books than I care to admit and I have yet to see a super simple explanation of the benefits of in camera cropping as it relates to cleaning up your photograph’s background. I was pretty excited for the assignment because in camera cropping is a technique I’ve had to master due to our apartment’s cozy space constraints. I’ve had to get really creative with my positioning and ICC since if I’m not careful I’ll show you all a lot more mess than you care to see : )

Allow me to demonstrate.


This image is definitely cute but notice the horizontal line of the fence running through Cameron’s head and the distracting toy bokeh and minivan to her left.


I moved and got closer to the kids but there is a tree protruding from Cameron’s head and some cars in the distance to Preston’s right.


Getting closer but those cars to the right are a little annoying.


Ah! I got a keeper. I turned myself again, got closer, and made sure to use a high aperture. In a perfect world I would have moved the picnic table in the distance but I try not to be too obsessive.

Hopefully you can see the improvements to the images. Had I been standing further away from Preston you would have seen the parking lot to his right. I only shoot with prime lenses which means I zoom with my feet : ) my lenses are fixed and don’t move. It’s a personal preference but the same principles apply to zoom lenses as well.

This is an easy photography technique to master. Grab your camera, pick a subject, shoot from various angles and varying distances. Keep going until you get a shot free of distracting background elements. It’s easier than you think and will soon become second nature. Your pictures will improve drastically once you’ve trained your eye to seek and avoid elements that detract from your images.

*To see my best two shots from this series check out this post. Looks a lot better without the trees and random cars right?*

Know any in camera cropping tips? Share them in the comments.


Sunshine & Pretty Things

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Hopefully by now you’ve checked ou the Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge. I am loving the entries. It seems that spring has similar effects on all photographers. More inspiration, sunshine, and flowery subjects. It’s great. We have another cold stretch on the forecast for this weekend (of course, just has to be the weekend) but I am super hopeful that this is it. IT HAS TO BE! But I’ve said that before.

A fellow Cornell mom once complimented me on my ability to make student housing look pretty through my photography. It’s one of my favorite compliments to date (ya, that’s right I am a compliment hound. What of it?). It isn’t awful here. Not at all. It’s clean (except for those damn garbage scofflaws I’m on the lookout for), quiet (mostly. I’m pretty loud and you hear the occasional screaming child —>;my screaming child), and the landscaping is pretty.

There are a handful of playgrounds the kids and I can often be found hanging out at. While the kids chase each other and play soccer I usually take a few minutes to shoot the pretty trees. They’ve been bare so long I can hardly believe how lovely they are.





leap into spring 6