Andrea Updyke of Raleigh started blogging long before she became a mom, mainly as something to do as she procrastinated finishing a paper while she was a student at N.C. State. In desperate need of coffee to stretch an already late night later, but without any money on her, she had a whim to post a message on an online messageboard pleading for help. It wasn't long before a kind stranger -- also procrastinating in the same library -- gave her $2 to get her caffeine fix. It was perfect fodder for a blog post, so Andrea started one right then and there. Now, nearly 10 years later, Andrea is a work-from-home mom to two young boys, so her blog Lil-Kid-Things has a definite lil-kid focus. But you'll find plenty of grown-up topics as well, because we all need a little balance in our lives.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself, and about your family.
A. I am a Florida native who moved to N.C. in 1998 after a divorce at the age of 19. My parents had already moved north and I needed a fresh start. I spent the next 10 years working and putting myself through school, which took six years between Wake Tech and N.C. State. I graduated from State in 2005 and, later that summer, met my now-husband Jerry in the church band where we both attended. Two years later we were married and now we have two sons, Oscar, 3, and Calvin, 1!
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Q. When did you start Lil-Kid-Things, and why?
A. I started Lil-Kid-Things in college because I was already online a lot and it seemed like the logical thing to do after a complete stranger gave me $2 in D.H. Hill (library). A lot has happened since then, but I decided to merge all of my posts because it's like a living diary.
Q. "Lil-kid-things" are certainly a main focus of your blog, but you talk about plenty of grown-up-things, too. Do you think it's important for moms to keep a balance between focusing on their kids and focusing on their own lives and pursuits? How do you maintain that balance?
A. Well, I don't know that I maintain any sort of actual balance, actually! My blog is a lot like my mind, where any number of thoughts or interests are shouting for attention. Whatever thought shouts the loudest gets the post that day, I guess.
Q. You also write for other parenting websites, and you're in the midst of writing a book – "Klout for Dummies." How do you find time to do everything with two little boys in the mix?
A. This is an ongoing struggle. I love what I do, but I am a major procrastinator. I try to work during nap-time because thankfully they both still nap. With the book in full swing now, I am trying to carve out extra hours during the weekend or on the days my oldest is in preschool.
Q. As a stay-at-home mom, do you ever find yourself feeling isolated? How do you deal with that, if so?
A. I absolutely feel isolated a lot of the time. This is a huge part of why I continue to blog and use social media regularly. It's my connection to the outside world on days when caring for small children has me feeling like the only adult on planet Earth.
Q. What's your favorite thing to do with the whole family in the Triangle?
A. We absolutely love downtown Raleigh! The boys love the various fountains and I am a big fan of going out to eat, so dinner and a nice walk down Fayetteville Street is just about my favorite thing to do. A close second is playing at the RDU Observation Park. Its so pretty there and totally different from our usual routine.
Q. What's your favorite thing around here to do when you get a few hours to yourself?
A. I am always wanting to try new things, but I typically find myself wandering around Marshall's or Target. If I really want to get adventurous I might throw in a thrift store or two and a pedicure!
Q. What's the best parenting trick you've picked up?
A. Eye contact. I really believe that children need to feel respected, so I try to give my full attention when I am talking to the boys. I think it's working because Oscar is starting to use it on me! He'll say, "look at my eyes mommy!"
Q. What's the best advice someone has given you about being a mom?
A. To be gracious with myself. This is something that I don't know that I will ever learn, but it's the thing that I try to pass on to every other mother. We are all doing the best we can and honestly are our own worst critics.
Q. What's your least favorite part and most favorite part of mommyhood?
A. My least favorite part is not getting time off. I am really not adjusted to this whole 24-hour thing, and even when I go out of town, my heart is here. I don't truly WANT to disconnect, but there are days when I definitely miss eating takeout and watching an "America's Next Top Model" marathon. My most favorite part is the learning to love. I never knew how much love I was missing out on before I had kids. And I still don't believe how much it continues to grow. The heart is an amazing thing. Each night I sneak in on my sleeping boys and just stare in awe of these little humans that I made. It's truly breathtaking.
If you know a cool mom who you think deserves a little slice of spotlight (or if you are that cool mom), send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for an upcoming Meet! feature.