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Mama Spotlight: Kaijah

Welcome back! This week will be the last Mama Spotlight of this season 😢. I have had the privilege of featuring some amazing moms over the last few weeks. I hope you have enjoyed their stories as much as I have. If you’ve missed any of my recent features you can find them here.

Today you get to hear from Kaijah! I’ve known this mama since she started dating my cousin in high school. Kaijah and my cousin are now married and raising a toddler in the Windy City. I know you’ll enjoy her perspective on motherhood and how she’s continuing to learn and grown as a parent.


Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have?

Hi there! I’m Kaijah, a 30-year-old mom to a rambunctious 2-year-old daughter, wife to my high school boyfriend, and a Chicago transplant adding to our family bucket list all the time. I have a background in public health, adore lists, planners, 90s TV, love to bake new chocolate chip cookie recipes, and I’m a Target lover (we’ve pronounced it Targé since I was a kid). I was laid off from a corporate administrative role due to COVID-19 this past summer. I’ve appreciated this forced time off while my little continues daycare as it’s finally led to a big breakthrough for me – I can be more than my professional aspirations. I’m currently restarting my job search – wish me luck!

How do you define motherhood?

This experience means so much, yet I’ve never thought to put it in words. Motherhood is the lifelong nurturing of a life that began in you, but is not your own. It is constantly nurturing, bettering, and evolving yourself, your children, and your relationship with them and your partner.

Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.

I’m boldly mothering in full-blown toddlerhood! It’s hard to believe I’m already in the midst of potty training, teaching new cup techniques – straws haven’t been easy – along with dinner table etiquette, cautiously and consciously never saying “terrible twos.”

What do you enjoy most about this stage?

The new phrases and word combinations. It’s incredible! More and more personality and loving nature seems to beam out each day. Whether with stuffies, the play kitchen, characters in books, I’m overwhelmed by how observant and emotionally aware our two-year-old continues to be.

What is most challenging about this stage?

There’s lots of questions at this stage. While they are not questions with difficult answers, I find myself narrating what’s happening right in front of us both. It can be exhausting, but I know it has helped word recognition tremendously so I will continue to answer.

What does self-care look like for you right now?

During the pandemic, self-care has looked like continuing daycare. As much as I’ve longed to get a mani/pedi in a posh salon, checking in with my therapist and other health professionals, donating to community bail funds, and listening to rom-com audiobooks has been my best self-care. 

What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?

I can’t be sure that one singular thing has had the greatest influence on my parenting thus far, however, I have always known that I wanted to take the good things from my own childhood, leave the not so good, and parent my children the way that best suits them as their personality emerges. I want to do what fosters them into well-rounded, happy, confident people.

Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your child(ren).

The most important thing I hope to pass on is to be self-assured and aware. I want to raise individuals that know themselves, can ask for help, have high self-esteem, strong core values, and courage.

Where do you find support as a mom?

My husband has been so supportive whenever I doubt myself as a mom. I have been much better at recognizing that I have outside support than I have been at utilizing that support since becoming a mom. I am grateful to those that became moms before and at the same time as me because I can ask the questions “what did you do for ____?” and “are you going through ____?” at the same time. I’ve also starting following a variety of conscious, positive, Black, and anti-racist parenting social media profiles to have more resources.

Are there any resources that you have found helpful? Do you mind sharing what you are hoping to gain by tapping into those resources?

I greatly enjoy the tips and resources I get from:

My hope in following more conscious parenting social media profiles is to actively and passively tap into the type of parent I want to be. I want to raise well-rounded children, so my parenting style and resources should probably be well-rounded too.

What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?

Only one thing? I would tell my pre-kid self you’re going to have to recognize and unlearn some things to become better mentally which will make you so much more confident as a parent and person. Imperfection makes us human, makes us whole and you are whole – try, fail, try, practice, hone, learn, barely make it – you’re still whole. Maybe in summation, I would tell myself that becoming a mom adds to you, it doesn’t negate you.

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?

Your title as ‘mom’ bears a heavy weight, but there is no such thing as perfect, if you’re doing it with love, giving love, showing love, you’re doing great.

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Mama Spotlight: Amber

Hey friends! I’m really excited about this Mama Spotlight. Today you get to hear from my neighbor, Amber.

After the murder of George Floyd, our church hosted an outdoor prayer gathering. I extended an invitation to my Facebook friends and Amber showed up with her daughter. Although we lived in the same neighborhood, that day was the first time we officially met in person, through masks. Since that day, we have had dinner together and several play dates. Amber has been through a lot in the last year, but in the midst of the challenges she has faced she continues to persevere and thrive in role as mom. I know you will be inspired by this mama!


Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have? 

My name is Amber Holmes, I am 29 years old and single mom to Kinsleigh, who just turned 1! Outside of being a mom, I am a mental health therapist. I work in a residential treatment facility with adolescent girls, aged 12-17. These girls are either in the DCS system or on juvenile probation. All of them come from some really rough and sad backgrounds and have experienced a lot of trauma. So it’s a tough job, but absolutely rewarding. 

How do you define motherhood?

Oh that’s a tough question! Motherhood is a journey. And the most sacred one at that. Motherhood is the journey of creating life, supporting the growth and development of a tiny human, and molding them into a person who will make the world a better place. Motherhood is beautiful yet gritty, rewarding yet exhausting. 

Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.

I am currently in the toddler stage, which is crazy to say! It feels like Kinsleigh was just born yesterday. Kinsleigh has always been a super active baby, even since she was still in my belly – I swear she was practicing her flips and tumbles. I can still remember watching in amazement as her body rolled across my belly. She started walking at 10 months old and has not slowed down since. She is so curious and silly and is always trying to figure things out. 

What do you enjoy most about this stage?

I love watching her little brain work! Sometimes she will become absorbed in a random item or toy and will spend 5-10 minutes sitting quietly, turning it over in her hands, feeling it, squinting at it, babbling away while she explores it. It’s so fun to watch her figure new things out. For example, one time I gave her some colorful puffs and an empty bottle, and within a few minutes she figured out how to put the puffs into the water bottle. She loved it and was so proud of herself when the bottle filled up! 

What is most challenging about this stage?

While I love how active she is, it is also exhausting! Especially as a single mom. She gets into everything. The funniest part is she has a whole playroom full of toys, yet she’ll beeline straight to the dog’s toys, or the dog’s food, or the bathroom to unroll a brand new roll of toilet paper. 

What does self-care look like for you right now?

Most evenings after bedtime you can find me curled up in a blanket on the couch scrolling through social media or mindlessly watching Netflix (sometimes with a glass of wine in hand). But I have also been super fortunate to have a tribe of friends surround me during this really difficult year. So sometimes self-care is an evening with friends or face-timing with friends/family who are far away. 

What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?

Definitely my dad! My parents divorced when I was 11 and we lived primarily with my dad, as my mom struggled with some mental health issues. My mom passed away when I was 16 and he took me and my two siblings on full-time by himself, while working and completing a PhD program. He wasn’t a perfect parent, but he got us through some really tough times and made sure that most importantly his kids knew that we were loved unconditionally. He also always encouraged us to use our voices to stand up for ourselves and those with less privilege than us. These are things I hope shine through in my own parenting. 

Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your child(ren).

As I’m writing this answer, I am realizing it’s hard to put into words what I hope to pass on to my daughter. There are so many things. The responsibility of raising a kind, smart, compassionate, strong, brave girl in today’s world can feel daunting. 

I hope that she always knows and believes that she is enough, she is worthy, and she is loved. That she deserves to surround herself with people who treat her with respect, and that when that doesn’t happen, she knows she can use her voice to stand up for herself and demand that respect. 

I hope to pass on the idea that there is a whole world of people out there who come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different lives, but that they all deserve equal rights and respect. I hope she uses her voice to stand up for others. 

Where do you find support as a mom?

Other moms. The first year of my motherhood journey has been incredibly difficult. My daughter’s father very unexpectedly filed for divorce in January when Kinsleigh was 3 months old, and then 2 months later the world shut down because of the pandemic. I felt like I was still figuring out motherhood when all of a sudden I had to figure out being a single mom in isolation. I am a part of several Facebook groups of local moms and have made some amazing connections with women, including some who have been through similar situations as my own. Sometimes I cry thinking about how wonderful and supportive these women have been, many of whom I have never met in real life. Many women have reached out to offer words of support and wisdom, some have offered more tangible support like offering to bring meals or help financially if I needed it. One woman reached out and offered to take professional photos of me and my daughter for free. I have been floored at the kindness and strength of my mama tribe. 

What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?

I have learned that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. I remember being pregnant and my biggest worry was how I would function on little sleep after Kinsleigh was born. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine surviving an ugly divorce and global pandemic while being a single mother to an infant and working full time. Whew. I would tell (really remind) my pre-kid self that I can do hard things!  

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?

My biggest piece of advice would be find your support group and don’t feel ashamed to ask for help! We all need it at times. I think our culture has ingrained this idea that moms always have it together and we’re these indestructible superheroes. And ya, we are superheroes! But it’s still ok for superheroes to ask for help and take some time away to take care of themselves. You can’t pour from an empty cup. 

Photograph included in this post is courtesy of Sarah Jean Hoke

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Mama Spotlight: Sandy

Hello, friends! I’m back again with another Mama Spotlight. Today you’ll hear from Sandy. I met Sandy and her husband when I was working with a campus ministry called The Impact Movement. I recently connected with Sandy on Instagram after she shared a post about her daughter being in the toddler stage. I am in a similar stage with my daughter. Raise your hand if you remember what that’s like! Sandy shares some great insight on motherhood and the importance of friendship as we navigate mom life.


Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have? 

  • Mom of Three – Two boys, 10 & 8, and a 20 month old girl
  • Wife to Moe, a Family Pastor at Cornerstone Church
  • Stay home mom and I work part-time as a Marketing Coordinator for two brands
  • A communicator at heart whether speaking, teaching a Bible study, or writing
  • I’ve written devotions published in “A Time to Breath” Devotional by (in)courage and a Women’s Devotional Bible also by (in)courage
  • I’m currently relaunching my personal writing on a weekly newsletter I send out called Life Across The Table.
  • I love to bake all the things and express my creativity through a plethora of unfinished arts and crafts and home decor projects.

How do you define motherhood?

My view of motherhood is one of stewardship. God has blessed me with three souls for a set time that I am unaware of. They are ultimately His, but he has allowed me to birth them, nurture them, train them, disciple them – pointing them back to Him. 

Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.

I had my third child at the age of 40 with a seven year gap between her and my second, so I’ve felt like I’ve been in this stage of starting over. I went from having two very independent boys who were both in school to caring for a baby again. Having our sweet baby girl was a surprise and a sweet blessing from the Lord. Though, especially in the beginning, I grieved the loss of my freedom to come and go and get work done during the day while my boys were at school. Since COVID though, we’ve all been at home balancing work and school. Sometimes those lines are blurred and we’re having to create better boundaries so that we can be all there with our kids during their lessons and during family time and not working.

What do you enjoy most about this stage?

I enjoy experiencing all the firsts with my daughter and watching my husband and boys love and protect her.

What is most challenging about this stage?

The most challenging aspect is balancing the different stages they are in. 

In what ways do you connect with your boys since they are older and more independent than your daughter?

Both my husband and I try to get individual time with them as much as possible. We’ll rotate taking one of them with us when we go run an errand. We use the time to casually talk with them and maybe grab food to have a more focused conversation. 

What does self-care look like for you right now?

Waking up early before my kids to have time to myself before the day starts. Also, staying connected and spending time with friends on porches or restaurant patios. I can be such a homebody, but I’m so much better when I make myself get out or friends pull me out lol.

What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?

It’s hard to pinpoint the greatest influence – my husband and I have gleaned from multiple experiences and people. Looking at our own parents and families who’ve influenced us. Learning both what we did not want to do and what we wanted to do with our children. But overall we aim for the gospel to be at the core of how we parent – sharing it with our children and even preaching it to ourselves.

Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your child(ren).

I hope to pass on Biblical truth and the principle of being a good steward of the things the Lord has blessed them with.

Where do you find support as a mom?

My husband and friends, both who are moms and who are not.

Can you share what you gain through your friendships with women who are not moms?

Wow, I could write a whole article on this lol. My friends who are not moms, whether because they’re single or married with no kids, remind me that life is not centered around motherhood, especially during the times when that role can feel all consuming. As much as I need my friends who are moms to talk about stuff, and we don’t even always talk about parenting, it can be refreshing to hang out with friends and know that topic isn’t going to come up. These friendships also encourage me in my parenting. You don’t have to be a mom to encourage or challenge a friend in parenting – just loving and Christ-centered. 

What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?

Not to get caught up in the false revolving door that my identity is lost and swept up in “just being a mom.” My identity is intact in Christ, being a mom is a gift from God who has also created me with other gifts and talents that he will, and has, allowed me to use in his timing – the season he has appointed.

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?

Listen when your child talks, seeking to understand asking good open-ended questions. It’s important to start at an early age to build a habit of dialogue and a foundation of trust.

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Mama Spotlight: Michele

Today I’m featuring another inspirational mom, Michele. I’ve known Michele and her family for a very long time, practically my entire life. She is someone I have always admired from a distance because of the joy and positive energy she radiates. As I was reading her interview responses, I could literally feel that positive energy in her words. I know you will be inspired by her thoughts on motherhood!


Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have? 

First, I’m a child of God. Next, a wife, then mother, daughter and friend. I am happy to say that I am self-employed! It took me 14 years to get here, but it allows me to be a “slay at home mom” (my version of a SAHM) because I make my own schedule. I am AFAA certified in group fitness and I teach dance fitness, Zumba and HIIT. I teach a minimum of 8 times a week. In between teaching and parenting I have been choreographing routines under a brand new exercise that just hit the virtual space called HIITZHOP.  Under its creator, Liz Davis based out of Ohio, I get the honor of rolling out the format here in Indianapolis. If you visit www.HIITZHOP.com you will catch a glimpse of me in a couple videos. I’m even more excited to be working with my husband to launch a blended family ministry to help bring resources and guidance to other blended families/stepfamilies.  

I have 3 children. I said above that we are creating a ministry for blended families and this is because we ARE a ‘blended family’. A blended family is a couple with children from a previous relationship. I have a 10 year old stepdaughter, Shalom, a 7 year old son, Eli, and a 4 year old daughter, Micah.  

How do you define motherhood?

I would define motherhood as “emotional tithing.” You give hugs, provide comfort, nurture, nourish, correct behaviors, answer why why why and more. If you think you’re going to get instantaneous gratitude you’re as wrong as two left feet. You may not see where all this leads for many many years – maybe not until your kids have their own kids. But you just keep on giving because you love those little stinkers! 

Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.

Well…I’m in a hybrid phase if you can call it that. Our 10 year old is able to handle more responsibility and a little independence, but I am still very hands on with our toddler. My husband and I are handling preschool work with her at home and she enjoys having us to herself when our son and daughter are at school. 

What do you enjoy most about this stage?

The best part – I’m still the cool mom that can make them laugh/smile. I’m not THAT embarrassing…yet. My husband is equally fun and funny in our household. At any moment there could be a ‘dance off’ in our kitchen, a family workout happening in our garage or even a rap battle before bedtime. There is never a dull moment! 

What is most challenging about this stage?

Our kids are in 3 completely different phases of development. One tween, one school age and then a preschooler. I remember being thankful that we never had two kids in diapers at the same time.  Nowadays, I’m starring in the Sopranos; I could be negotiating, bribing, investigating and plotting all in one day.  

What does self-care look like for you right now?

I’ve gotten so much better with self-care since the COVID stay home order occurred. I’m sure it’s because privacy was non-existent when we couldn’t go out. I learned to be more intentional and proactive with my self-care. Self-care could be letting my afro fly free, not wearing a bra (around the house), watching “The Holiday” in bed and/or painting my toes in my favorite bright colors. It can be taking a hot bath and listening to music. Lately, it’s taking 45 minute walks with my husband and making each other laugh.  

What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?

My marriage. My husband and I started attending our church marriage ministry a little over a year ago.  Prior to that our schedule never aligned with the meetings and events but we really wanted to go. When we started we were studying from Tony Evans’ Kingdom Marriage. Through those teachings I learned that healthy parenting comes from a healthy marriage.  

Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your child(ren).

“You’re never alone.” This was a hard lesson for me to learn for many years. I struggled with asking for help. I would keep things bottled up and hide my problems from the most important people in my life who loved me and wanted nothing but good things for me. It was because of fear, guilt and shame. My husband and I have very candid conversations with our kids about our past mistakes, lessons learned and struggles. My hope is that through our transparency they feel safe being open in their prayer life, with us as their parents and others who care about them.  

Where do you find support as a mom?

During the COVID Stay Home Order I started a group on Marco Polo called Closet Conversations. We even had a jingle. We would post videos from our closets which eventually changed to wherever we could find quiet (walking the neighborhood or while kids were napping). We laughed a lot together and we encouraged each other. We even had a dance party in the closet. Yes, I was the DJ. So I have my ‘mom squad’ I still talk to weekly. I’m very close with my mom and my mother-in-law. They’re both amazing women and both named Dorothy! Funny coincidence. I can even find support from other mom fitness instructors; Zumba instructors are like family and when we get together it’s always a good time.  

What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?

Learn to ask yourself first, “Is it a hill to die on?” 

In my first few years as a parent I would get up in arms about little things. When our son was 2 years old I didn’t want him to have drinks with added sugar; just natural/organic juice, milk or water. I wrote it on our preference paperwork at his preschool. No medical reason. One day I picked him up and his mouth was stained with bright red Kool-Aid. I was livid! I complained to my husband for what he would describe as “several days off and on.” I even wanted to pull him out of a preschool where he was happy and learning…all because of a single cup of Kool-Aid. I was kind of over the top. I think we all ease up as moms over time.  

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?

Celebrate as much as possible. And I don’t mean the usual birthdays and holidays or even little Annie’s student of the week award (although still important). We often get caught up in what’s happening in 5 days, “When can I find time to put away that laundry I folded 2 days ago?”, “Who is picking up Mikey from baseball practice?” and “WilI I have time to go grocery shopping this afternoon?” Just stop what you’re doing right now, thank God for today and then celebrate today with your family. Turn on that Baby Shark remix we all hate-love and dance it out in the living room with your kids just because you are alive. Have pancakes for dinner tonight-YES I’m giving you permission. Very simple, take time to celebrate. 

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DIY: Chalk Painted Cube Organizer

A few months ago, one of my neighbors posted a picture in our neighborhood Facebook group of an old table she wanted to refinish. Another neighbor commented with a picture of a table she refinished using Chalk Paint. The table looked gorgeous. I immediately turned to Google.

“What is chalk paint?”

I quickly learned that Chalk Paint® is a decorative paint created over 20 years ago by Annie Sloan. It’s known for it’s versatility and it’s easy to use–chalk paint can be used on almost any surface and without any preparation. That means no sanding and priming. While Annie Sloan is the original creator of this style of paint, there are many varieties on the market today.

After doing my research, I got the itch to try my hand at a little DIY. I looked at at several chalk style paints online and ultimately decided to try the original. I was lucky to find a decor shop less than 10 miles from my house that sells the brand.

My first project was a brown cube organizer that we’ve had for YEARS! It’s functional, but the color didn’t really match anything in our bedroom. I figured it would be the perfect piece to start with.

First, I wiped the entire piece down remove any dust and then I just started painting. The Annie Sloan line includes special round brushes for painting, but really any style brush can be used. I started with a regular paint brush, tried a round brush that I purchased at Lowe’s and eventually used a small paint roller to finish it off.

After one coat of paint, I realized this project wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. And while the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® can be used on most surfaces, the material of this cube organizer was a little hard to paint. I thought I was only going to have to do two coats of paint, but I ended up doing four! Perhaps it was beginner’s error, but I suspect the material of the organizer also played a role as well.

On my last two coats, I found that using a the paint roller and watering down the paint a bit helped a ton! I ended up with a much smoother and even finish.

The inside of the cube organizer was also difficult to paint, but I wasn’t too concerned with how the inside looked since it would be covered up.

The final step of this project was to seal the paint with wax. I used Annie Sloan Clear Wax, but there are different options, if you prefer to give your furniture a more distressed look. The clear wax, helped to deepen the color a bit, bringing out the graphite look I was hoping to achieve. I initially started applying the wax with an old t-shirt. That took forever! I eventually switched to using the round paint brush, which was much easier.

The Results

This project took longer than I anticipated. Between balancing work and family life, this piece sat in our garage for more weeks than I had hoped. In hindsight, I think I would have had a better first experience had I picked a smaller, wood piece to start with. And I probably could’ve watched a few more tutorials. Regardless, I am happy with the results and this project gave me something of my own to dedicate my time too.

Lessons Learned:

  • A paint rollers work best on larger, flat surfaces.
  • Water down the paint for a smoother finish.
  • Take your time.
  • Have fun!

I look forward to more adventures with chalk style paint!


Have you tried chalk style paint? What DIY projects have you done recently?