One of the publicity firms I’ve been working with lately is Ariel Publicity. I love all the great new artists that they have. One of their wonderful reps, Christina asked if I’d like to do a duel interview with one of their singers, Holly Long. Here are our answers on what our lives as mommies really look like! Holly’s answers are in Red and my answers are in dark blue ūüôā I hope you enjoy!

1.) What is the toughest challenge balancing your work & home life?

Nicole ~ Since I work from home trying to separate one from the other is hard if not sometimes impossible. Keeping my priorities straight and not letting work take over all day long is sometimes tough! I have to remind myself to turn *off* the laptop and go color a page or play dress up with Amber, tickle Tyler, or to go snuggle with hubby. It’s such a temptation just to stick a movie on for Amber so I can get things done or to use the time after the kids are in bed to fit in a few more hours of work. Also making sure that I manage to squeeze in some down time is a big thing too. Some times I tend to just work work work from the time I get up till I go to bed, and it’s not until I’m exhausted that I realize I haven’t done anything just to relax for days. I have to step back and realize that even if I don’t get everything check off on my “to do” list, the word will keep on turning! I always promised myself and my hubby that him and the kids are my most important job, however, and I try my best to live like they are!

Holly ~ There are a few- that’s for sure. ¬†Though honestly, every mom I know, whether stay at home, full time, and/or artist/mommy like myself, is all about keeping those balls in the air at all times. ¬†(This is what they don’t really tell you about parenting.)¬†

Regarding schedule– I feel like I can usually handle that kind of day to day stuff. ¬†For instance, going away for a few days to Minneapolis to perform, while being the treasurer for Josephine’s Girl Scout troop and having to simultaneously handle cookie sales (a ridiculous amount of work, BTW, for anyone thinking about putting their kid into Girl Scouts!!) ¬†plus handling tracking of donations for the school’s annual fundraiser, plus making sure my kids are just covered while I’m away…who’s driving them to school, getting them to their playdates and afterschool activities…especially now that my husband is back running a TV show and not really avail at all during days and early eves. ¬†ACK! ¬†I am profoundly indebted to our amazing gracious nanny Rosa who continuously rolls with the punches and fills in all the gaps when I travel, or when I have gigs even here at home, or when I’m recording or deep in writing mode. ¬†Thank goodness for her- Jeff and I would not be able to do what we do without her.¬†And because of her addition to our family, really, most things run smoothly, or at least there are very few train wrecks.¬†

The stuff that really gets me is the internal struggle. ¬†I want so badly to be there for my kids every time they need me (which is an impossible goal) and make sure they are thriving in the world becoming who they are. ¬†Perhaps the better, overall ambition is just that- ¬†the “good enough” mommy. ¬†And yet, I also want that for myself and my music, and my marriage, and my house, etc etc. ¬†

Surrendering to the reality that everything just has to give a little at different times has really helped me manage it all better. ¬†Because not everything can work perfectly all the time. ¬†Something is always going to be sacrificed- whether it’s just showing up to two out of three scheduled in-school parent/child functions, or saying no to that little gig at the corner coffee shop next week because my kids need a bit of mom time that night. ¬†Or maybe it’s forgoing the shower and making all the beds in the morning so that I can go to that yoga class which will make me so much of a nicer person to be around after I’ve stayed out late the night before lugging my gear to and from a show that hardly anyone attended and made me feel almost invisible, and why am I doing all this again??? ¬†¬†

Breathing deep helps. ¬†And taking my vitamins. ¬†And saying no to that third glass of wine….which sometimes I manage to do.¬†
2.) What is your child’s favorite song?
Nicole ~ I’m not a huge fan of children’s music so most of the time we just simply don’t listen to it. I figure there’s nothing wrong with having the kiddos jam out to my music with me and Amber loves to dance around to it just the same! I have a lullabye called “Sleep Baby Sleep” that I sing to both of the kids before laying them down at night. It’s definitely Amber’s all time favorite song, and I sang it over and over to Tyler when he was in the hospital because it was one of the few things that seemed to calm him down–so I think it’s safe to say it’s a favorite of his as well! And, of course, the classics like Twinkle, twinkle, Little Star, the ABC song, and all those are sung over and over. ūüôā¬†
Holly ~ I refuse to let my children listen to crap. ¬†I don’t know how long that will last– and eventually when they do start to take a stand on their musical choices, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will have to support them making choices, even if I don’t like what they choose. ¬† But for now, they are 8 and 6 years old, and we have pretty much avoided all the Disney junk so far. ¬†(music- not movies.) ¬†We listen to jazz, classical, musicals, some world music, some kid music, and a lot of folk and pop and soul. ¬†So, I’d say out of all that stuff, my kids faves right now are Jim Croce‘s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” ¬†and Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal.” ¬†My son Truman loves Rufus Wainwright and my daughter digs Dylan. ¬†(more than I do, actually!) ¬†¬†
3.) What have you learned from your child?
Nicole ~ The biggest lesson that I’ve learned from both of my children is the all amazing fact that I could love so deeply and the awe that comes from seeing bits and pieces of me reflected in the face of a perfect little baby. I love Amber’s innocence, her sweetness, her passion, her acceptance of everyone and how friendly she is. It makes me realize how better off the world would be if we could all be like children in those aspects. From Tyler I learn how simple things can bring such joy, how even when we’re facing hard things we should just keep trying until we get it and not give up. Every day they teach me something new about myself and how I should be.
Holly ~ I learn different things from them all the time. ¬†Hard to put it down in a pithy way– but I will pick the first things that come to my head…from my 8 year old daughter, Josephine, I am amazed at her rock bottom self-esteem. ¬†She came into the world knowing it was just cool to be who she is, and that floors me, and fills me with humble pride for knowing that I may have had even a small piece in that. ¬†She is adorable, though not the prettiest girl in her class by far- she is brilliant, though not anywhere close to being the best student. She is funny and silly, and smelly sometimes, and dirty and adventurous, and weird, and clumsy and just perfect the way she is. ¬†She has tons of friends- kids just want to be around her. ¬†Maybe because she feels totally whole being herself. ¬†(I wish I could say that about me at her age….) ¬†I learn acceptance and happiness just for what is from her.

From my son Truman, I learn patience, and how to approach things from different angles. ¬†He is a totally different creature from my first born. ¬†He was blessed with incredible good looks (best looking in the whole family for sure– doesn’t really look like me or my husband at all ¬† ūüėČ ¬†just his own superstar self) ¬†and he was blessed with a very athletic body. ¬†However, not interested yet in athletics other than fencing (!?), ¬†my son is a deep thinker- a brooder like his mommy. ¬†He’s a builder of Legos and has always loved Darth Vader more than any other super hero. ¬†He can be the tortured soul already at age 6, and so I have had to learn how to hold him and make him feel safe. ¬†He can be infuriating when he digs in- enormously stubborn in his refusal to let anyone help him (god help me if he turns to drugs or something later in his teens….) ¬†So I learn patience from him too. ¬†Which sometimes, on occasion, I manage to pull off.
4.) How do you spend quality time with your kids? 
Nicole ~ Since my babies are virtually *always* with me I have to focus on really spending *quality* time with them, not just quantity time! My favorite time of day with Amber is before nap time and bedtimes, she has an elaborate routine we follow that includes 2 stories, prayers, and me singing a lullaby. It’s sweet and relaxing and gives us a chance to really focus on each other. For Tyler I love the moments I sneak in to smother him in kisses, tickle him till he does that delicious baby laugh, and of course nursing him creates that one of a kind special bonding time that can’t be beat!
Holly ~ We have recently acquired a house up in Ojai, CA, which is one of the most laid-back, spiritually healing, huge live-oak tree ridden places in southern Cal. ¬†This mountain property is such a gift for our family, and we go there as often as we can on weekends etc (it’s about a 90 minute drive from our house here in Venice.) ¬†We have no TV up there, and so we have forced the children to go back outside and explore the little stream that runs close to our house, and take hikes to feed the horses on adjoining properties. ¬†Last summer we even had this Kodak moment with them where we bought butterfly nets and captured butterflies in the front yard to study them for awhile before we let them go back to hovering around the lavender bushes. ¬†Plus, we just had a big treehouse built for them there too— (the location surely where they will both either lose their virginity, and/or try some kind of illegal substance at some point. ¬†Ack. ¬†The thought makes my stomach drop…) ¬†But for now- it’s a fun way to again unplug from busy busy city life and get back to nature. Which is real and ancient and primal. ¬†

(Side note- I have to admit the whole truth here too…. it must be understood that on the way to and from this idyllic location that we’re blessed to be able to enjoy, as well as many moments while we’re actually there- these children spend many hours fighting over the ipads and itouches and various other forms of video games and diversions. ¬†So much so that occasionally they have had to be sequestered in rooms of their own with no electronic gadgetry at all. Just to sit and refocus. ¬†Time outs- if you will. ¬†So, as every parent knows, it ain’t ever all wine and roses. ¬†Oh no no no….)


5.) What is the funniest quote your child has said?
Nicole ~ When we first got down here in Texas a lizard got inside of the house. My hubby saw it so he called Amber to come look at it. While she was “oohing” over it me and Bob chased it around so we could catch it and let it go outside. Unfortunately we chased it right into a glue trap meant for spiders–whoops!!!! I said, “Oh no! Poor lizard!” Amber got all concerned when she heard me say that and she saw my father-in-law picking up the trap. While we took Amber into the room so he could, uh, dispose of the poor stuck lizard she asked what was going on. We told her Poppa was taking care of the lizard. That was a few weeks ago and she still will randomly look at me and say, “Poor little wizard. Poppa saved him.” Bahahaha….it cracks us all up every single time! ¬†
Holly ~ Truman said to me a few weeks ago, without a trace of a smile– “Mom, if we work together really hard, we can make your butt look bigger.”¬†