everything’s better with brownies.

Our little guy had a bit of a rough morning. He had his two-year shots, which was not fun. (For him, the three nurses holding him down, or his emotional mommy.)

Thankfully, it was over fast and we were on our way home with promises of lots of chocolate.

Lately, he’s been into watching a cake-baking video clip from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (Yes, that Daniel Tiger from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He’s baaaack! Though, this time he’s animated and much cuter than the puppet of yesteryear.)

So, we baked some totally not homemade still delicious brownies together.

Normally box brownies take about two minutes for me to prep. This took at least 20, and was much messier. (It definitely made me thankful I didn’t take the time following a recipe with him.)

It was fun.

We used the KitchenAid (speaking of KitchenAid, have you heard about this social media fiasco?) mixer to finish it up, but it was fun to see his wheels turning and he got a kick out of mixing the eggs into the mix.

He couldn’t taste the batter (Raw eggs. Jeez. I’m such a mom now.), but he was allowed to sneak a few butterscotch chips. Pure joy, my friends. Pure joy.

As I turned my back and stepped one foot away to the mixer, Joseph decided to take baking into his own hands and dumped the remaining butterscotch chips into the (already greased) pan. So that was fun!

It might have been messy, but it was totally worth it. Joseph and I (and let’s not forget Thomas the Train) had a pretty sweet time together. (See what I did there?)

I think he’s forgotten the pain of the shots.

And I’m totally excited to dig into those ultra-thick brownies.

what it’s like to be a work-at-home mom.

The mommy wars have me thinking about what it’s like to be a work-at-home mom (WAHM), an awesomely tiring combo of being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) and working mom (is there a mommmy blogger abbreviation for that?).

Before getting into this, I feel like I have to say that I give a giant standing ovation to all moms who love their kids and parent to the best of their abilities. I’m still learning that being a mom is beyond-words wonderful and difficult all at the same time, and I know that every family is different. OK, so no judging here.

At different times in my life, I’ll probably experience being a full-on stay-at-home mom and a work-in-an-office mom. Right now, on this day, in this moment, you could/can call me a work-at-home mom.

But what is a work-at-home mom?

That’s a good question.

Most conversations with acquaintances usually tend to follow one of two formats:

Conversation 1

Person: So, how do you like being a stay-at-home mom?

Me: Well, I actually work from home, too. It’s stressful but great!

Conversation 2

Person: Hi, Kayla! Good to see you!

Me: Hi, person!

Person: So, what are you doing?

Me, to myself: Well, this morning I was planning a content schedule, grocery shopping, writing an e-newsletter, visiting the pediatrician, wiping my son’s nose…

Me, to person: I work remotely and stay home with Joseph.

Honestly, neither of these conversations bother me. Unless you have experience being a parent and freelancing/working from home, it wouldn’t be fair to expect folks to understand.

I’m a weird mix of both, but it works. I get to experience life with my son, and I’m thankful to have a gig with a flexible schedule that I can do remotely.

Sometimes, I’m stressed. Really stressed. Sometimes I feel really guilty for being on my computer and plopping my son in front of Curious George. Sometimes I feel really guilty for taking my son to the park and not working on that newsletter. It’s a balance that is new every day.

I will now be slightly self-indulgent and let you know what being a work-from-home mom currently looks like for me:

What I do: Edit magazine print content for Web, plan and write e-newsletters, and tackle story assignments for various media outlets as they pop up. (I don’t know if this sounds fun to you, but it is! Now you know I’m a nerd.)

How often I do it: I work about 20 hours per week (give or take).

When I do it: My laptop is never far from me. I work during naptime, in the evening, and on weekends. Friends & fam fill in and watch the little one during in-office meetings. Sometimes I have conference calls while simultaneously cooking chicken nuggets and serving mac + cheese.

Working from home means that your office looks like this:

And you need lots of this:

And your afternoons get to look like this:

And it’s all worth it.

adventures in story time.

Joseph and I just got home from “Fun with One” story time at the library. It would rank high on the list of Stuff White People Like.

I felt like I was back in middle school, the new girl awkwardly trying to find the right room and blend in with the right people, all while everyone else already has friends because they all went to elementary school together.

We arrived at the library precisely at 10 a.m. (Those familiar with our usual morning routine should be super impressed, as we’re usually not showered until early afternoon.) We milled about the kids’ area to kill time, and at 10:12, we headed to the main atrium/reading room in the kids’ area.

No one was there.

Did I read the wrong time? Was reading hour canceled this week? 10:15 came and went. Still no other kids. No parents. No teacher.

I scooped up Joseph and sheepishly asked the overseers of the kids’ area, “Ummm, is there a story time today?” They both looked at me, half with sympathy and half with condescending librarian eyes, and said it was held on the other side of the library in the main conference room, obviously. The female librarian glanced at the clock and surmised that we could still make it, if we hustled, of course.

It was like being late for homeroom all over again.

After navigating the library with my curious 1.5-year-old in tow, we stood in front of the french doors to Conference Room 1. I took a deep breath and opened the door. Wrong one. Locked. Now everyone knew there was someone late, someone who was loudly attempting to break in. I clumsily tried the other door. Success. Whew.

My eyes fell on a giant circle of 30-something moms (and a few progressive dads, including a red-headed guy donning a shirt that boasted, RELIGIOUS LEFT), sitting cross-legged with babes perched on their laps. They were singing about washing faces in the morning or something. At least 50 people, each with their mini-me babies, singed and swayed.

I spotted an open space in the ring and joined with Joseph on my lap, cheeks warm with that all-eyes-on-you feeling. Was it because we were late, or because Joseph was the only dark-skinned kid? Was I just being paranoid? I bumbled through the ultra-cheesy verses about basic hygiene and Joseph kept looking at everyone and then glancing back at me. Really mom? Really?

My neighbor to the right sensed my trepidation (intimidation?).

"Hello. Your first time here?" An English accent whispered. Oooh, cool. I thought. She’s so Masterpiece Theater! I came back with a really talkative answer. “Yep.”

She asked me what my son’s name was, to which I replied with another lengthy answer: “Joseph.” What was wrong with me? Why was I being so awkward?!

"This is Elizabeth, and I’m Sarah.” Oooh, fail. She wanted to know my name. That was the moment I realized “Fun with One” might really be geared toward mommies interested in finding a friend. I went along with it and told her it was nice to meet her.

"How old is he?" She asked as Joseph clung to my lap, giving me confused looks as the tots were told to practice opening their mouths. (What?) "Oh, he’s about 19 months," I answered. "Wow! I thought he was 2 and a half!" She retorted. Yes, lady, I know my kid is big. Thank you for pointing out yet another reason we don’t fit in here, I thought to myself. Wait…story time was for kids 18-24 months…was she alluding that my kid was too big to be here? Oh no you didn’t! I smiled and nodded, trying to master the weird actions to go along with the song the chubby, over-enthusiastic librarian was now leading.

Activities changed approximately every 2.5 seconds (How amazing that we diagnose so many kids with ADHD!) and Joseph was skeptical about them all. He even made attempted a quick escape to the door, and I was tempted to run right out with him, picking up my purse after story hour was over.

We settled back into our spot and I feigned interest in the adventures of Maisy. We chased bubbles. We did a strange dance with scarves. We played with a felt board. (And read only one book?)

Joseph had brief moments of joy, but when story time came to a close and we began “structured free play” Joseph quickly grabbed his jacket, announced “Coooat!” and proceeded to attempt to put it on. As I helped him, I chatted a bit more with my English frenemy, and Joseph bolted for the door.

"See you next week?" She asked politely.

I think we both knew the answer.