Monthly Archives: April 2014

When your child is sort of sick

It’s a busy week for me here in our Saudi community. It’s the annual Library Week where I am recognized as a published English author. Most of the authors in attendance are Saudi with great books published in Arabic. Not only is it always a great feeling to be recognized for your work but it also is a wonderful thing to represent your country and primary language. So of course Little Miss Markey is sick this week.

She’s not really sick. Yesterday she had a slight fever and as she calls it a “broken nose.” I canceled my involvement in Library Week yesterday as she could not attend school and needed her mommy. Today she has no fever, all the energy in the world but still the nastiest runny nose you’ve ever seen. This is even when on medication!

I know that this is a big dilemma for many working moms, is it okay to send your child who’s sort of sick to school? Normally I’d say NO WAY! The biggest argument for me against sending her is that her resistance is down and she could get something else. The doctor says that she is not contagious. Still though, I hate to be that mom who takes their snotty nose kid off to school just so she can go to work. I’m very fortunate to work from home (unless I’m teaching a dance class) but sometimes writers are called on to actually interact with the public.

Oh what to do?!

I consider myself a picky mom and on any given day this would not be an internal debate. I’m the mom that is calling the doctor over the little things. I do the same thing with our dog, cat and two bunnies.

So what did I decide? She’s going to preschool so mommy won’t have to cancel out on her Library Week involvement for the second day in a row. She’s not contagious to her classmates and today she is begging to go to school and see her friends. Luckily we live in a small community so if I am needed I can be there within five minutes. As hard as it was for me to make this decision I am good with it. I wish her nose wasn’t “broken” but I also know that she will one day appreciate what I do for the family and me. My work does help my family and shows her that she can be a great mommy who spends time with her kids and still follows her vocation.

I’m sure some will agree and disagree with my decision. Have you ever been in my shoes?

No one wants to see a picture of a snotty-nosed kid so Miss Jedi says hello!

No one wants to see a picture of a snotty-nosed kid so Miss Jedi says hello!

Addition: Little Miss Markey did great in preschool and her nose continues to improve. I had a wonderful time discussing my book, “Caring for Your Special Needs Dog” and my writing career with other writers/authors. No matter what nationality we are, we all share the love for literature and the writing process.

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We shouldn’t need a reminder to be thankful

Today I worked through my daily goal list with a heavy heart. When we moved to Saudi we moved from Arkansas and several of the neighborhoods by our old home were devastated by a tornado and severe weather last night. We have some friends who lost their home, everything in it and their car. Luckily the family made it out of the devastation unharmed. However, having lived there and having several memories of taking shelter when we heard the sirens or worse a tornado itself made me sick when I heard this news. It made me feel thankful for what I have. Sadly, I shouldn’t have needed a reminder.
Be Thankful
I felt guilty because moments before learning what had happened I was starting my day here in Saudi and already stressed at all the things I had to do. Well, let’s be honest, seeing the horrible images of our friend’s home put things in perspective once again for me. Suddenly all those things I “had to do” took a back burner to things like extra playtime with my daughter. We’re planning some remodeling for our home and even though I look around and see the desire for change I do see the comfort of my home and I’m thankful for it.

Though I tend to get stressed and over-think things I am very thankful for what I have. Sadly, it’s moments like this that remind me to be more thankful. Tonight I’m working a little later because I spent that extra time with my daughter and I didn’t tell my dog no when he wanted to snuggle with me on my favorite leather sofa. It was a good day.

Even though it’s easy to think about stuff like this when disasters strike the fact is that we shouldn’t need a reminder to be thankful. That’s why I’ve added a new sticky note to my desk as a constant reminder. Be thankful!

I continue to send my thoughts and prayers to the people of Mayflower and Vilonia, Arkansas as they sort through their damage and begin to heal from the storm.

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Embracing those super days

Earlier this week I had a super day. You know what I’m talking about? It was one of those days where I felt like Super Mom. I woke up early and was productive in work, made a well-balanced breakfast for Little Miss Markey and me. She didn’t have school until after lunch that day so we worked on a fun coloring craft in her playroom for most of the morning. When she was hard at work coloring I cleaned the kitchen and folded clothes while planning out my writing plan for the afternoon. Once she was off at school I worked out for half an hour before writing 2k and planning out some freelance projects. I then made dinner and showered before picking Little Miss up from school and taking her to dance class. On top of this awesome day everyone behaved. Yes, my lovely daughter was a perfect angel. The furry babies were even perfect except for teasing me with their so tempting nap on the couch.

It was just one of those happy, perfect, wonderful days where I accomplished all that I wanted to do and more AND was happy doing every moment of it. Now, yesterday was a different story. Little Miss had a meltdown in music class, I burned lunch, Oscar’s skin allergies were bothering him and that constant licking sound nearly drove me mad and when I could have worked I followed my furry children to the couch and crashed. Oh and dinner…I gave up on that all together and we had pizza.

Not every day can be super. Not every day is bad. I find that the majority of my days fall somewhere in the middle. But even when you don’t have a super day you can still use them to propel you to greatness. This is a concept that I talk about in my lectures and workshops. Use the momentum of your super days and soak up that feeling when you’re down.

You know that amazing feeling that super days give you? Remember it! Breathe in those spectacular moments when you feel that you are perfect and you’re the definition of a super mom and professional success. Remember that feeling and recall it when you feel like screaming on a bad day. Not every day can be super but we can remember and strive for the next day of such greatness.


Remember to celebrate the super days and think if there is anything in particular that you did to set yourself up for such a day. Of course many factors such as family members and work play into how your day goes but did your attitude going into that super day make it all possible? For example, I do a series of stretches every morning before I do anything else. I then wash my face with cold water and drink a cup of warm lemon juice. This is my routine. It gets my day going on the right path for me. Now I have had mornings where something happens and I skip my little morning routine. I will tell you that none of those mornings have resulted in a super day. I know what my body needs to get going in the morning. When I miss those stretches I feel it throughout my body with everything I do all day long. So I make it a priority and try to not have my brief but important morning ritual interrupted.

What do you do to help set the stage for super days? Do you guard it and protect it knowing its value? How have you benefited from previous super days even when you have a bad day?

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I am Mommy Watch Me Dance

Okay, on some days “roaring” may seem more appropriate but lately I’ve turned to dance to let off some steam and recharge my much needed energy tank. Sure, I am a dance teacher but I promise you I’m not breaking out in pirouettes or fancy leaps in my living room while my daughter is in school. Rather I bounce, shuffle and sort of turn around the house dodging toys and trying to make sense of the clutter.

I don’t get the usual radio stations that I used to adore in the States living here in Saudi Arabia but I am a huge fan of the UK MTV, Pandora and iTunes Radio. Did you know that the UK MTV only shows music videos? That’s right! It’s just like the old MTV and how it should have remained in the U.S.A. Thanks to MTV and iTunes Radio I’m staying current on my music pop culture and getting a little workout.

How am I just learning about this? iTunes Radio keeps me current and adds a lot to my little dance sessions.

How am I just learning about this? iTunes Radio keeps me current and adds a lot to my little dance sessions.

Aside from the obvious health benefits of stepping away from my computer and dancing it really does help my energy. I feel great on days when I get up and move and feel prepared mentally and physically to pick my daughter up from school and tackle our evening agenda.

In addition to how dancing makes me feel it also helps my writing. That’s right! I may take some time away from developing that plot and fleshing out those characters but dancing makes me alert and happy. This helps my creativity far more than anything else I’ve tried.

So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed (and let’s be honest that is most of the time for us moms!) don’t be afraid to break out some dance moves. Dance like no one is watching or in my case put on a little show for your dog, cat or bunnies. Let your hair down and have some fun. I promise it can’t hurt and you just may find that it’s the energy booster you’ve been looking for!

Do you dance through your day to help your energy and mood? I’m a big fan of this and my daughter loves breaking out her dance moves as soon as she runs in the door from school.

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The importance of tradition


And so that towel was white prior to the egg dying activity...

And so that towel was white prior to the egg dying activity…

I love tradition, especially now that we live in Saudi Arabia. Since moving here I find it more important that ever to celebrate traditions for Christian and American holidays. It’s like I have this need to overcompensate for living here for our daughter’s sake. She doesn’t see the marketing, commercials and decorations that often accompany most holidays in the States.

Saudi Arabia follows a Friday, Saturday weekend schedule so my husband is taking a day of vacation for Easter Sunday. Our three-day weekend began with some Disney Princess Easter Egg dying. We must have pretty eggs to hide on Easter! We also have a jam-packed weekend of parties at various friends’ houses and an Easter party at the U.S. Consulate.

We also have assembled a scrumptious Easter food menu including brunch and a dinner buffet. Little Miss Markey is set to make Easter themed cookies and assist me in making a pie.

Our family is extremely fortunate because we live with two bunnies. Yes, if you follow this blog or @NatalieCMarkey on Twitter I’m sure you recall the amazing rescue of Diamond and Jedi (our bunnies) from a flood in our old Arkansas backyard. That’s right, we rescued, domesticated wild bunnies and then moved them with us to Saudi Arabia. They are family! They also are special agents for the Easter Bunny. It’s amazing how much more into the bunny girls Little Miss Markey is around the Easter holiday! Talking to them on “Easter Eve” is a fun tradition for us.

Happy Easter from Jedi!

Happy Easter from Jedi!

We’re also set to read the Easter Story to Little Miss Markey and discuss the real reason for the holiday. Though a three-year-olds comprehension of such events is always limited.

Everyone has traditions. May they be big or small we have them and make memories from them. If your family is spread out like ours is then you probably understand my focus on making such a big deal of traditions. This is something we can share with family and friends even if we can’t be with them. Traditions are what our daughter will remember when she looks back on holidays and looks forward to them throughout the year. Especially when our traditions define the holiday while the society we live in doesn’t celebrate them.

At the end of the day traditions are nothing more than the routines we follow for a certain holiday. I like routines too so it’s no wonder that I love traditions. Writers can especially relate to this as so many of us thrive best on routines. I know I love my early morning writing routine!

What Easter traditions do you follow? How important are they to your family.

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Who really needs a reason for a nap?

When I sat down to write today’s blog post I thought I would just write exactly what’s on my mind. I’m exhausted! Where we live Spring Break is two weeks, not one. These past two weeks have worn me out trying to entertain and keep up with my active preschooler. I’ve colored, completed puzzles, dressed dolls, sang songs, performed puppet shows, and hosted playgroups. I forgot how much I valued her half-day preschool program where mommy can manage our house and meet those piling deadlines.

So when school resumed this week I longed for my wonderful afternoons of playing catch up on projects and maybe actually chipping away at the mountain of laundry. Then my moment came; I sat down at my laptop with a quiet house. With my dog Oscar at my side I was ready to enter in some page edits before moving on with my novel and all I wanted to do was close my eyes and take a moment for rest.

I know we’ve all been there. Life is wonderful but busy. Rest is essential especially to keep those creative juices going. So in a sign from the heavens I came across an interesting article on Facebook. Yes, Facebook so I’m not too sure of its scientific validity (I need to confirm) but this makes me feel that my desire to take a small nap break isn’t a bad thing. believes the following when in comes to the coveted nap:

“Experts say a 10 to 20 minute “power nap” is best for refreshing your mind and increasing energy and alertness. The sleep isn’t as deep as longer naps, which allows you to get right back at your day upon waking.

A 30 minute nap can lead to 30 minutes of grogginess, as you are often waking just as your body enters the deeper stages of sleep. You’ll experience some of that same fogginess if you sleep for an hour, but 60 minute naps are good for memory boosting.

The longest naps—around 90 minutes—are good for those people who just don’t get enough sleep at night. It’s a complete sleep cycle and can improve emotional memory and creativity.

Naps are good for you—physically and mentally. But don’t sacrifice night time zzz’s for an afternoon snooze; take your nap in addition to a good night’s sleep.”

A 10 to 20 minutes can refresh my mind and increase my energy? Sign me up! Of course it’s important to not confuse a “power nap” with procrastination. However, when I’ve had a rough day and need to sneak in a quick nap break I’m going to try and do it. I’m sure it will improve my workflow and creativity and that is what I’m after professionally.

Do you take “power naps?” How do they help your energy level, creativity and productiveness?

Even Little Miss Markey and Beast take a moment to nap.

Even Little Miss Markey and Beast take a moment to nap.

Take a moment to embrace the uniqueness of where you live


Okay, yes today’s blog title sounds a little cheesy but it’s true. As a mom, a writer, a dance teacher, CEO of managing our home it’s so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life. I live on a compound in Saudi Arabia and some days I actually forget where I live. I mean life gets crazy that I forget to notice the jebels of the desert, uniqueness of the wild cats, the beautiful desert foxes. It’s easy to focus so much on what I’m doing that I forget to appreciate how awesome it is to live in such a foreign environment.

This is a jebel.

This is a jebel.

Now you don’t have to live overseas to get what I’m saying. When I lived in Arkansas I tried to make time each morning to watch the deer outside my office window. It was beautiful, peaceful and definitely something that I don’t get here. I believe that each place we live has a uniqueness, some more extreme than others. Though many of us are busy it’s important to ourselves and our creative mind to take a moment and appreciate that uniqueness.

Another jebel.

Another jebel.

What makes where you live unique? How can it inspire you? How can it calm you? Here are some pictures of the desert jebels just beyond our home in Saudi Arabia. They are unique, beautiful and a reminder of the adventure that I’m on. Almost two years ago I would have never dreamt I’d be living in a desert in the Middle East. Now I’m loving every minute of the experience and finding it to be a wonderful opportunity for our family.

My desert walking path.

My desert walking path.

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The case of the cracked iPad and how it’s helping my editing

This morning our house is not a happy house. In the words of Little Miss Markey it’s a “sad, sad, sad, house” because of a peculiar case of a cracked iPad (my iPad to be precise.) Lately my three-year-old is obsessed with watching toy reviews on Youtube. Specifically play doh reviews are her favorite. These reviews are typically short and a great tool to keep her occupied while I’m making breakfast.

Today when I was in the kitchen I heard a whiny voice followed by a scream and a crash. Naturally I rushed into the living room after the commotion and found my iPad laying face down on the floor, my lovely daughter sitting with hands folded on the couch and my dog sprawled out on the tile looking up at me with that “help me” look. It was not a pretty sight and only got uglier when I picked up my newish iPad to see distinct cracks on a corner of the screen. Luckily it still works but I was not a happy mommy in that moment. “What happened?” I asked. Little Miss Markey went into a huge, elaborate and dramatic story about how Oscar, our dog was sad that the video ended and he threw the iPad. Well that’s pretty amazing since Oscar was begging for food from me in the kitchen and ran into the living room when we heard the crash.

I love that Little Miss Markey tells stories but I don’t like these kind. Needless to say we had a big talk and some time out was involved. Someone also is learning what it means to be grounded. She will not get to watch/play any iPad games for a week.

“What am I going to do?” she asked. Well today we are painting a wind chime and I’m going to read to her my page edits. Yes, see how I’m combining valuable memory making time with edits ☺ So Little Miss Markey will still have fun. Her non-iPad playing week will not be torture but hopefully this will be the last time she’ll ever throw mommy’s technology!

Has your child done something like this? Do you include your child in your writing?

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Gaining writing momentum through other arts

Yes, I’m a writer but more than that I’m an artist. I love to create and bring something new to this world. I often find that people who are artists find artistic talent in other areas. Even if you don’t believe you have talent in another form of art you might be surprised to find a sense of creative energy from it.

For example, I am a writer but I’m also a dance teacher. I’ve danced since I was three years old. I went on to compete, perform professionally and teach. When I find that I may be in a writing slump I always turn to my dance. The simple act of putting together a routine for one of my classes always manages to unlock my creativity and in turn help my writing.

Lately I’ve taken up art. I paint and draw with my preschooler. Now I am by no means a Picasso and I will never show you my work! However, I find it therapeutic and relaxing. For me it goes back to my love to create. I don’t need to understand a formula or solve a problem I just need to let go and be an artist.

Embrace the artist you as Little Miss Markey demonstrates!

Embrace the artist you as Little Miss Markey demonstrates!

Thank goodness my husband is a scientist. It’s good to know that our daughter will be able to draw on academic help from her two totally different parents. But I stand true on my belief, whether you write, dance, paint, sing, etc. they all are connected. Artists are all alike. People think I’m crazy when I say writing is like dancing but it’s true. When I create a dance routine I tell a story through my movement just like an artist tells a story through the strokes of their brush.

Don’t laugh. Try it. Next time you’re writing (or lack there of) gets you down try your hand at a different kind of art. See how it feels and embrace the creativity!

Are you a multi-genre artist too? How do you feel it helps you as an artist?

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The Art of the Play-Date-Lunch

Have you ever felt bogged down, overwhelmed, you really may have too much on your plate yet you need to eat, feed your child all while praying for a conversation with higher vocabulary? Yes, it’s been one of those weeks where a run-on sentence perfectly exemplifies my life. But you can accomplish such a task and the answer is the play-date-lunch.

A play-date-lunch gives you fun memories while wearing your child out for writing time later.

A play-date-lunch gives you fun memories while wearing your child out for writing time later.

I held one of these for Little Miss Markey the other day. It’s been a week of heavy edits and lots of events around the community but the play-date-lunch is always the perfect solution for getting your child to eat, burn off some steam while allowing you the much needed adult time that you deserve.

What I do is make an easy cold lunch for the mom so if they get distracted with the little ones then the food won’t go cold. For kids I try to make a theme, like spaghetti while playing “The Lady and the Tramp” on the playroom television. I keep things super casual and keep the kids in the playroom surrounded by toys. The playroom is the ultimate kids hangout as it’s okay to get a little cluttered with all the toy playing.

Such lunches do take longer as they evolve into playtime but it normally guarantees a sleepy child afterwards therefore granting you the time you need to tackle those edits. If Little Miss Markey won’t take a nap after a play-date-lunch then she’s definitely tired enough to stay on the couch with a game or movie.

What fun events do you throw to accomplish fun time with your child while making them sleepy so you can work later?

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