Over the past 2 years, I’ve written over 40 articles for Austin Moms Blog. Each piece is extremely personal and important to me as it represents what I’m learning and experiencing as a mom to Niko (2004) and Julia (2007). I have used these posts for the basis of my book A Virtual Village: Sharing the Vulnerability of Parenting Teens and Tweens.
I’m a big believer in the importance of our villages, and creating a virtual one can be just as critical as a parent. Especially when we feel alone. I hope and pray my writing and experiences wrap you in a virtual village, knowing you’re not alone in your thoughts, worries, joys, experiences and lessons.
I am a writer and mother. Austin Moms Blog (8 million visitors per year) has a been a platform for me to process – through writing – my journey as a mother. I work part-time as an international marketer (digital marketing) at Gemalto, a French high tech company with the benefit of traveling to Paris at least twice a year. I’m a Brand Architect for female entrepreneurs to tell their stories. I’m the creator the the Virtual Village and am looking for an agent to publish my book, A Virtual Village: Sharing the Vulnerability of Parenting Teens and Tweens. I feel extremely blessed by, and an advocate for, work-life balance. In my spare time, I’m running, dj’ing, MC’ing, writing more and trying to learn and laugh as much as I can. I tell my story through Instagram @theoutdoormamalife.
Writing is a powerful catalyst that brings us together in sisterhood, something I strongly believe in. As the Preemptive Love Coalition says, “When we live like we all belong to each other, we answer much of the longing in the world.”
Although I wasn’t born in Texas, my two kids ( a teen and tween) are native Austinites. I revel in the beauty, depth and honesty of my relationship with my kids. I try to listen to them with my heart. Through them, I have transformed into a mother — the most beautiful name in the world.
When my children reflect on me, as their mother, I pray they always know they are needed, appreciated and loved unconditionally – and in turn love themselves, carry a deep joy, and know they are enough. I wish that for all of us, as well.
I recently read this quote on my friend Kimberly’s Instagram page, “magic goes where intention flows.” So in honor of manifesting our deepest aspirations and ambitions, my word for this year is BOUNTY.
I am creating a bounty of health for my family and myself, inner joy for my kids and myself, time together with kids and friends, faith, risks, laughter, meaningful writing, income, experiences, giving to the vulnerable, provide a platform to create a virtual village where no one is alone. I frame everything I say “yes” or “no” to within this lens.
Meaningful writing is a special focus as I create a platform for our virtual village. Here’s what I am doing: Find an agent and publish a successful book about motherhood with tweens and teens; soft launch a personal branding business. I’ve been pitching my book and have received six rejections so far. I hope to learn and expand my reach at #mom2summit.
Our equipment was loaded, our location confirmed, the weather was
beautiful – sunny and about 65 degrees – and we were both filled with absolute
excitement for our 1-night, 2-mile backpacking adventure.
As is the case with many of us, we fit a lot (too much) into our
weekend. So before we headed out, Niko, my almost 10-year old son, had a
basketball game. We didn’t start our one-hour drive to Pederanales Falls until
about 2pm. On our drive, I wanted to make sure Niko had plenty of protein
before our hike in, so we stopped at Sonic and both ate as if we were going to
be in the backcountry for a week.
We found the ranger station and checked-in without a problem, picked up
a map and a field guide to animal tracks (including a puma, to which Niko
swears he saw tracks along the way). As a side note, always bring cash, as in
addition to the $10 camping fee I paid online, there was a $3 park admission
I was getting nervous about our late start. I was frustrated because
nature and a first experience in it are things I don’t ever want to rush. We
parked, loaded our packs on our backs, hung our whistles around our necks, took
a peek at the trail head map and headed in. Literally a few seconds later,
Niko’s sternum strap snapped. He was
disappointed. I tried to tie the whistle string around the straps of the
sternum area, but that didn’t work. I am continually amazed and grateful for my
son’s flexibility and ability to go with the flow. He took it in stride
(literally) and off we went.
The hike was very well marked and wide, a combination of gravel and
dirt. A group of boy scouts passed us up, so we had a nice and quiet hike ahead
of us…until we both realized we had to go to the bathroom.
After our pit stop, we walked at a nice, leisurely pace, crossed 3
beautiful little streams, rested on a bench, snacked on our GORP and whittled, took
in the view and made it to the primitive camping area with plenty of daylight.
At exactly the 2-mile mark calculated by my watch, we found a great place to
make our outdoor home. Although a water source wasn’t immediately nearby, we
had packed enough in.
We immediately began setting up our tent. The Eureka!, with the Amari
Pass Two-Person tent (4 lbs, 9 oz., $140) was a cinch to set up, but the
compartment area is confusing and unnecessary. Niko stepped in coyote scat
(realizing our adventure is for real) and continued to roll out our sleeping
pads and sleeping bags. We brought Niko’s pillow; I used my sleeping bag
holder, with my extra clothes shoved in, as my pillow. We hung a lantern from
the tent ceiling. The ground around our tent was surrounded by rock and very
loose soil. Even though Niko grabbed a rock and pounded in the stakes, I was
happy that there were no winds to make secure staking necessary.
We set up a small kitchen area by our backpacks, secured our headlamps
on our heads and lit our MSR MICROROCKET backpacking stove. It worked like a
charm and we decided to make hot chocolate and tea. As the sun set, it began to
get chilly. With our warm drinks, we walked around the area briefly (and I must
admit, I was trying to get a cell phone signal).
We snuggled up in the tent and played a game of Rummy. Then, we went
outside, lit the stove again and with a cup of boiling water and 9 minutes of
waiting, turned our dried beef stroganoff into a delicious meal. After dinner,
we each ate a dried ice cream sandwich. With a limited amount of water, I used
the hand sanitizing wipes to clean out our aluminum cups (which we used for
both our drinks and dinner).
During the night, we both got cold. We put our hats on and switched
sleeping bags as I think my bag is warmer. We made it through the night, but
those sleeping pads are not comfortable! I felt like I was sleeping on the bare
We woke up with the sun and started our stove. This time, we had a
breakfast skillet with hot chocolate and tea. Niko took on the challenge of
setting up the hammock, which we didn’t have time to do the previous night. He
was an expert on figuring out the knots to hold the hammock in place. And, we
had the perfect trees for hanging a hammock! It is very compact and was easy to
fold up and pack.
With our water supply running low, we began breaking down our camp and
loading our packs. It was much easier to pack the second time around. On the
way in, Niko’s sleeping bag was outside of his backpack, but on the way out, I
shoved it inside and the balance was much better.
We said goodbye to our beautiful campsite, then begin the 2-mile hike
back to our car. It was a wonderful hike back and we were able to be completely
present, breath in the air and truly appreciate the way nature fills your soul,
transports you to stillness, gratitude and wellness.
We were happy to see our car, dropped our packs and Niko immediately
filled up our water bottles. Fantastic adventure with more to come!
When my almost 10-year old son asked to go backpacking to
celebrate his double-digit birthday, I was in heaven. Our location was decided
upon and reserved, and our checklist was defined and ready to tackle. Between
REI, Cabela’s and Walmart, we had many options and fulfilled our gear needs.
I first scouted Walmart to get an idea of their inventory and prices,
knowing that it would be the most cost effective. Then, with Cabela’s within a
relatively short driving distance, I set out to find the more specialty
items…namely a tent (critical) and backpacking stove (also critical).
I researched a few tents, but went with my dad’s favorite brand,
Eureka!, with the Amari Pass Two-Person tent (4 lbs, 9 oz., $140). There was a
helpful blog discussion on tents on www.backpacker.com and discount
prices (they referenced www.backcountry.com and www.steap&cheap.com).
I set up the tent in our living room and it’s easy to set-up and roomy. The
front part of the fly confused me (it’s supposed to be for equipment storage),
which we could do without.
In the Cabela’s bargain barn, I found a MSR MICROROCKET backpacking
stove for $38 (it normally runs around $65). It truly is light weight (2.6
oz.), so easy to set and fold up, extremely user friendly, compact, reliable,
sturdy, comes with a flameless igniter, connects easily and seamlessly to the
gas and is a CINCH to start. I paired it with an 8 oz. MSR ISOPRO fuel. Note:
My next stop was REI, who carries MSR, but also another brand of trail stove
called Primus, which is much cheaper at a nice $19.95. The camping expert there
told me it’s a great stove.
I splurged (space and weight wise) with a compact single person hammock
($20), which was really fun for Niko to set up the next day. Other items I
purchased at Cabela’s: 2 headlamps (Princeton Tec, on sale for $15 each, really
comfortable band, fantastic quality), carabineers, Mountain House brand freeze
dried beef stroganoff and breakfast skillet (around $9 each; one packet can
feed a mom and son perfectly; REI and Wal-Mart carry this also) and dried ice
cream sandwiches, lantern, 2 aluminum cups (they served as our cup and bowl)
and first aid kit. A note on food…on average, you need 2 pounds of food per day
per person (thank you, REI!).
My next stop was REI, where I was expertly advised on what type of
container to boil water on my MSR stove. Note: Wal-Mart has a minimal selection
of camp cookware and while I found a very practical small pot that carried two
small aluminum cups inside, it was impossible for me to fold down the handles
(cheap doesn’t mean better and always
try it out!). At REI, I also picked up a 32 oz. water bottle.
Other than the grocery store, my final stop was Wal-Mart where I
purchased two water bottles, a small dry box, two whistles, water bottle holder
(these are hard to find), a cheap backpack for Niko ($30, and the sternum strap
broke 2 minutes into our hike, although I didn’t regret the cheap purchase our
first time out), sleeping bag, hand wipes and bungee cords.
I grew up with GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) and suggested that
Niko pick up what ingredients he wanted to put in our updated version of GORP.
He chose M&Ms, dried pineapple, walnuts and cashews. We mixed all of our
ingredients together and put them into zip lock bags.
With all the gear purchased, we laid it all out and began to pack. I
found my old Coleman backpack that I used during my year junior year in college
studying abroad in Madrid. My sleeping bag didn’t fit in the sleeping bag
compartment in the bottom. We packed, re-packed, watched
a great resource from REI (video and text) on how to most efficiently
pack your backpack and walked around the house trying out the weight
and balance. Finally, we were ready!
So, in summary:
The good gear:
Niko’s backpack: Even though the sternum strap
broke, it carried all of his gear (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, food, clothing, shoes);
an REI Passage
was later recommended
Tent: Great quality, kept us dry from the
condensation; didn’t like the front fly set-up
Hand sanitizing wipes: With no extra water supply,
these served to clean our hands and clean out our cups
Garmin GPS watch: This is my running watch, but
was great to see how far we had walked (and how much longer we had to go)
Cooking pot: Multi-purpose, sturdy, light
The fun gear:
Hammock: Compact and really comfortable (we had
a perfect tree canopy to hang it!)
Freeze dried ice cream sandwiches
Tea and hot chocolate warmed us up when the
weather got cool after the sun went down (another recommendation is EmergenC
for a little taste + vitamins)
Playing cards: A game of rummy in the tent was a
Making GORP – a fun memory and it tastes so good
when you’re outdoors
The bad gear:
Sleeping pads: Super uncomfortable…heard there
are self-inflatable ones; used the same kind I used when I was camping with my
family as a little girl…there must be a better alternative!
Sleeping bags: Heavy and not warm enough…there
are some much warmer (15 degrees, but not necessary in the Austin area) and
lighter (2 pounds) available…but at a cost!
The critical gear:
MSR camp stove
Headlamps: Who needs a flashlight when you can
keep your hands free?
Extra water: Not a convenient water source
Aluminum cups: Used as a cup and bowl and light
Resources and next steps
Blog post on our 1-night back-country adventure
Blog post on preparing for first backpacking
trip with (almost) 10-year old
If you have an REI in your area, check out their
calendar of events! They held an extremely informative session called
“Lightweight Backpacking Basics” class that both of my kids really enjoyed
(although it’s not specifically geared for kids)
www.nols.edu (great resources from
National Outdoor Leadership School)
When my almost 10-year old son asked to go backpacking to celebrate his
double-digit birthday, I was ecstatic. I grew up in a camping, backpacking,
hiking, canoeing, fishing and hunting family (my dad was an outdoor
writer). I love to share this part of my childhood (and soul) with
my kids, Niko (9) and Julia (7).
We were ready to smell, hear and taste the backcountry around Austin,
As I was researching the best spots to take a first time backpacker (as
well as a child), finding gear and making my checklist, I was hit with an
overpowering feeling of gratitude – it was such an honor that my son requested
(and initiated) this adventure…and wanted to experience it with me.
The last time I went backpacking was in Wyoming with my dad and brother
when I was in college…a good 20 years ago. And while I wished I could call my
dad for a quick reminder on exactly where the sleeping bag should be placed in
my backpack, the best way to balance my load, or to borrow his single burner
stove (my dad died from complications of Alzheimer’s in 2008), this was
supposed to be an adventure that we navigated on our own…with help from a few great
The Texas Parks and Wildlife website guided me in finding primitive
camping areas around Austin. I narrowed my search to Pedernales
Falls due to its 40 mile proximity to Austin, camping near a water source and
the manageable 2-mile hike. A blog
discussion on www.backpackinglight.com
supported my decision.
was priceless for a gear checklist that included a whistle (which Niko and I
both carried on handmade lanyards around our necks). I was first introduced to
this idea after reading Wild.
Below is our gear list. Since fires were prohibited in the primitive camping
area of Pedernales Falls, we were most grateful for our headlamps and single
I am writing a nonfiction book covering topical aspects of motherhood,
specifically addressing tween and teen experiences. Parents now face extraordinary
challenges – like social media, devices, vaping, school shootings, and
legalized marijuana. However, many of the events we encounter aren’t new or fleeting.
They are universal and constant, regardless of generation or era – for example loneliness,
acceptance, self-worth, education, drugs and alcohol. This makes readers hungry
for information, especially when it is based on personal experience, paired
with research-based information.
This book brings accurately depicts and brings awareness to these
important topics. It encourages parents to keep the dialogue open with our
children. It highlights the importance of showing up and having the courage to
speak about difficult situations.
My book wraps the reader into a virtual village, engaging
and helping her by sharing personal thoughts, worries, joys, experiences and
lessons. According to Pew Research, after decades of declines, motherhood and
family size are trending up in the U.S.¹ The audience for this book keeps
growing – rich, poor, Generation X and millennials alike. My target group lies
in the 2 billion mothers in the world (85.4 million in the U.S.)² Therefore,
there is no practical limit to the number of prospective readers.
My suggested titles are the following: A
Virtual Village: Sharing the Vulnerability of Motherhood; A Virtual Village:
Parenting Teens and Tweens; or A
Virtual Village: Sharing the Vulnerability of Parenting Teens and Tweens. My
anticipated word count is 50,000, comprised of 40+ short pieces, arranged into these
(1) The Journey of Self-Care;
(2) Growing Alongside My Tween and
(3) The Joys, Surprises, Struggles
and Worries: Stories and Lessons Learned.
I plan to include the following topics: why I love to say
yes; the lies our children are told; talking about porn; seeking (and reinforcing)
imperfection in a world that expects perfection; how losing a parent has made
me a better mom; and something not many women talk about – the unexpected body
changes, not of kids, but our own bodies. This book isn’t only about kids but
about ourselves as well.
I am a writer and mother. I write for Austin Moms Blog,
which has eight million visits per year. I also work part-time as an
international marketer at Gemalto, a French high tech company with the benefit
of traveling to Paris at least twice a year. I feel extremely blessed by this
Writing is a powerful catalyst that brings us together in
sisterhood, something I strongly believe in. As the Preemptive Love Coalition
says, “When we live like we all belong to each other, we answer much of the
longing in the world.”
Although I wasn’t born in Texas, my two kids are native
Austinites. Niko is my 14-year-old
middle schooler; and Julia, my 11-year-old fifth grader. I revel in the beauty,
depth and honesty of my relationship with my kids. I try to listen to them with
my heart. Through them, I have transformed into a mother — the most beautiful
name in the world.
When my children reflect on me, as their mother, I pray they
always know they are needed, appreciated and loved unconditionally – and in
turn love themselves, carry a deep joy, and know they are enough. I wish that
for all of us, as well.
Thank you, and I am grateful, for your time and
consideration. I eagerly await your response.
My book, A Virtual Village: Sharing the Vulnerability of Parenting Teens and Tweens wraps the reader into a virtual village, engaging and helping her by sharing personal thoughts, worries, joys, experiences and lessons. This nonfiction book covers topical aspects of motherhood, specifically addressing tween and teen experiences, both new and old: social media, devices, vaping, school shootings, legalized marijuana, loneliness, acceptance, self-worth, education, drugs and alcohol. This makes readers hungry for information, especially when it is based on personal experience, paired with research-based information. Most of the content comes from my blog posts written for Austin Moms Blog, based in Austin, Texas, with over 8 million readers a year.
Evidence of need: Why
this book? Why does it matter? What need does it fulfill? Why will it sell?
The best validation for the need of this book, and why it
will sell, are direct quotes from my readers:
amazing article – perhaps your best yet. I am having both my tweens read!”
– Sarah (in response to “The Lies Our Children Are Told”).
Jedrzejewski thank you for a spot on post. Love this! ‘Juling and vaping are
dangerous; pot is an addictive drug; You are cool being YOU and showing up is
the bravest thing you can do; you are never alone; downtime is healthy and
together we can create a list of things you love to do for times you’re feeling
bored; Anger – and any emotion – is safe and normal.’” – Jen (in response
to “The Lies Our Children Are Told”).
comes at a perfect time! Thank you for your thoughts,” – Kelli (in response
to “The Lies Our Children Are Told”).
I know it’s an old a topic that number six is one that hit home in time –
especially being female and raising a daughter and a son. Females and anger do
not historically mix very well. We talk about the stuff a lot. Great article.”
– Paige (in response to “The Lies Our Children Are Told”).
glad you are helping bring more awareness & encourage parents to bring it
up with the kiddos! – Neesha (in response to “The Lies Our Children Are
accurately depicted. It is so important to keep the dialogue open with our
children. Brittany thank you for putting this to the forefront,” – Tania
(in response to “The Lies Our Children Are Told”).
written, and thank YOU for showing up and having the courage to speak to these
important topics. #6 especially, yes! More safe times and spaces to express
emotions, even ones that are often labeled “negative” or that we are
conditioned to believe we have to suppress or only feel/allow in private…
which can make for more of #4. Thanks for sharing!” – Kathleen S. (in
response to “The Lies Our Children Are Told”).
read! Thanks so much for helping us all find the direct approach on these
topics,” Holly (in response to “The Lies Our Children Are Told”).
Brittany. Thanks for sharing your story,” – Jess (in response to “Losing a
Parent Has Made Me a Better Mother”).
beautifully said!! Thank you for this article as it will inspire so many,”
– Kay (in response to “Losing a Parent Has Made Me a Better Mother”).
this article Brittany! My dad passed away last December and so much of what you
have beautifully written is so very true to my experience. Thank you!!” –
Kathleen H. (in response to “Losing a Parent Has Made Me a Better Mother”).
and thank you for opening your heart to us. Your words are powerful and awaken
a need in all of us to embrace the gift of time we have with those we cherish,”
– Tania (in response to “Losing a Parent Has Made Me a Better Mother”).
you for this! I don’t understand why porn is so accepted in our culture. It’s
so nice to see other parents think like I do. I agree that some things I
stumble across on places like Instagram seem like soft porn, and pretty young
kids use these apps. It’s alarming for sure. I wish more people would
understand how damaging and dangerous it is and try to protect our kids more,” –
Natalie (in response to “Let’s Talk about Porn”).
written from one yes Mom to another! My most recent have been wiffle ball
Wednesday’s for my boys, jump rope and reading with my girls…I find I grow with
every yes,” – Sarah (in response to “Why I Love to Say Yes”).
post was so thorough and helpful! It’s also nice to see posts that cater to
moms of children who are no longer ‘babies.’ Thank you Brittany!” – Vanessa
(in response to “Choosing, Preparing and Packing for Sleepaway Camp”).
is a great article!! We are touring middle and high school this year so I feel
you!!” – Kami (in response to “Choosing and Preparing for High School”).
I’ve compiled a comparison of seven other book titles,
available upon request.
In summary, unique to the market, my book focuses on the
challenges and experiences of being a mom to a tween and/or teen topic through
an open and honest dialogue, while also conscientiously researching to learn
more. I concisely share my approach and what knowledge I’ve acquired with
readers. My tone of voice is gentle, vulnerable, accepting and open.
This book addresses the issues tweens and teens face, and accurately
depicts and brings awareness to these important topics. It encourages parents
to keep talking with their children. It highlights the importance of showing up
and having the courage to learn and speak about difficult situations.
Many parenting books focus on a framework, rules, stages and
“how-to.” My book is a compilation of stories based on personal experiences. It
is intended to meet the reader where she is, with what she is experiencing.
Many of the pieces would be appropriate for a mom to read with her child.
The journey with our tweens and teens is a beautiful, yet
complicated one. In this book, I process, learn about and address these topics,
and share my experiences with others. I also discuss the journey of a mom
during the tween and teen years (who knew our bodies would change in our late
30s?!). The goal is to reassure moms we aren’t alone.
Target market: Who
will buy my book, and why will it sell?
The audience for this book keeps growing – rich, poor,
Generation X and millennials alike. My target group lies in the 2 billion
mothers in the world (85.4 million in the U.S.) Therefore, there is no
practical limit to the number of prospective readers. While the book focuses on
tweens and teens, the issues are universal…and everyone will be a mom to a
tween and teen at some point! It will sell because of its honest, vulnerable,
concise, practical and research-based approach to the universal stages and
issues of moms with 10-18 year olds.
The Journey of
10 Ways to Detox
Mom’s Guide to Finances
My First Experience with Plastic Surgery
Losing a Parent Make me a Better Mom
My Changing Body
Waging hope: What you need to know, and can do,
about pancreatic cancer
Skin Safety in the Summer
Tips for Traveling Moms
Everyday Heroes – We See you
my Tween and Teen
Preparing for First Backpacking Trip with Son
Backpacking Gear Checklist – the Good, the Fun
and the Critical
The Adventure – Backpacking with my Son
Birthday Party Service Project
Talking to Your Kids About Current Events
Talking to your kids about 9-11
Talking to your Teen About Sex
Choosing, Preparing and Packing for Sleep Away
The Joys, Surprises, Struggles and Worries: Stories and Lessons Learne
Why I love to say YES
The Lies our Children are Told
Choosing and Preparing for High School
5 Tips to Make your Parent-Teacher Relationship
A Mother’s Experience Navigating Kids and
Best Stocking Stuffers for Teens and Tweens
Favorite Books for Every Age
Favorite New Books
What’s with Teens and Their Front Lobes?
Seeking (and Reinforcing) Imperfection in a
World That Expects Perfection
Let’s Talk about Porn
The Gift of Adoption
What you Need to Know about Social Media
Why is my child so hard on herself?
Why the Future Scares Me
Parenting in today’s political environment (not
The Swiss Army Knife Tradition (written)
Reflections from a tree stand: A mom hunting
with her son (not written)
Why Recycling Isn’t Enough (not written)
Helping Kids Find Their Passion and Purpose (not