Friday, February 24, 2012

Mom in the Spotlight: Nicole Shaw

Nicole Leigh Shaw was a girl from Jersey with a fabulous mom, step-dad (not the wicked kind), and witty, supportive sister and brother. Now she's a mom from northern Indiana. 

 "Is there any chocolate in the house?"

There were a few stops along the way. She met her husband in New Jersey, but he whisked her off to North Carolina to the Raleigh 'burbs as soon as they were married in 2001. From there they landed in Boston, then the Boston 'burbs, then the Atlanta 'burbs, and now, by golly, the Fort Wayne, Indiana 'burbs. 

Nicole and her husband tried to procreate way back in North Carolina, but it didn't take until they moved into a teeny condo in Boston. That baby was Bee.* Bee showed up six weeks early and perfectly healthy, if a bit tiny (a good match for the size of her city "nursery"). 

When they moved to Georgia they got in a family way again with identical twins. Beans* and Zippy *were only four weeks early, and perfectly healthy, if a bit tiny. 

One can only guess they were very drunk when they decided to try one more time while still in Georgia. Baby number four is Roo, who was neither early nor tiny. 

Nicole writes about all of these people either because they let her or they aren't old enough to stop her.   

Nicole's been writing and editing for 15 years: news journalist, magazine columnist, academic journals editor (Oxford University Press), and humorist (Nickelodeon's However, she didn't really start relishing her writing until she began blogging in 2007. It started with a personal family blog and it lead to an outpouring of truth, mommy injustice, and the stay-at-home way on Ninja Mom Blog

How many children do you have? How old are they?  Boys? Girls?
I have four kids -- I cheated by having twins in the middle -- Bee (girl, 7), Beans and Zippy (girl twins, 4), and Roo (boy, 2).  Sure, my belly looks like a ForceFlex garbage bag, but at least I'm also sleep deprived!

Where were you in your career when your children were born?
I was floundering. I had been flirting with writing and publishing for over a decade. I was a news journalist, a business travel magazine columnist, and a production editor for academic journals.  Somewhere between earning a paycheck and following my husband (happily, I might add) around the country for his jobs, I forgot I wanted to be writing creatively.

When my first was born in 2005, I was doing freelance production editing for academic journals. Dry, dry stuff.

How did you plan to fit motherhood into your work life?  How did your plans square with the reality of raising a family?
I was actually pretty grateful to have been freelancing when I got pregnant. We'd recently relocated (again) to Boston at the time and I was trying to figure out my next move. Turns out my next move was gaining 42 pounds over the course of 34 weeks (my first came early). Cheese fries were a huge help in my goal to become wider than I was tall. That and the baby growing in my cheese-fries cavity.

They say that the more children you have the easier it is.  I have an almost two year old and a just over three year old, and using socially acceptable English, I’ll say that I strongly disagree. What’s your take on this?
Ha! That's good. Using socially acceptable English I'll say it's like all things, you give some, you get some. There are trades offs. I think you, momma, are in that ugly place I call "two much." Two kids are just enough to take up so much of your time and sanity that it's a miracle more mothers of young children aren't on death row. My solution was to skip two and go straight from one to three kids, and then pile a fourth on top. Sure, my house if filthy, my wardrobe is terrible, and I shower on a schedule that can roughly be called "monthly." But they really do play together. They take some of the attention off of me. Just enough for me to steal their holiday candy. I don't think it's easier, because children, one or a hundred, are the dictionary opposite of "easy."

In the name of time management/prioritization, what has completely fallen out of the picture?  In turn, what have you managed to keep up with in spite of it all?
Laundry is largely a lost cause, as is organizing anything that I can't keep on my person at all times. For example, I organize a drawer, a closet, a snack, and it's in tatters as soon as I turn my back. On the other hand, I write A LOT. And read a fair amount, too. I've managed to make room for those things because they improve me. Laundry just makes me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry and balling socks.

How Nicole handles life. The PB won't open?
Stab it with something sharp. 

What’s the last major thing you did for yourself?
About two years ago I went home to New Jersey by myself for a weekend. I saw family, old friends, and brought only pictures of the kids and the Hubster. I missed out last year, but do plan to make getting out for a weekend by myself a yearly ritual. The Hubster is in favor. I'm in favor. Now I just need to update my passport and take this thing to the next level.

Blogging, though extremely time consuming, fills a need for those of us who do it.  It is a priority.   What’s your writing/blog promotion schedule like?
It is a priority, but it's decidedly after my family and my sanity. I only hold myself to blogging at least once a week. I can't allow it to be a point of stress. Pouring the breakfast cereal some mornings is all the stress I can handle. So, I try to blog only when I have something to write about. I was on a more rigorous schedule, but it was interfering with that little high I get every time I publish a post I really want others to see. When I force it, I'm unhappy. When I allow myself to work out the ideas I'm jazzed about, it's better for everyone.

Do you check your stats like someone with an eating disorder gets on the scale?  I do. Just want to see if I have company…
Stats, me? Oh, no. I'm too much of an artist to be bothered by the pedestrian—hell yes, I check my stats! I stalk traffic sources. I wonder when the Russian spammers will give up trying to sell Cialis on my blog. It's tough sending a post out on the Internets. Gotta make sure it's making friends.

Why did you start blogging?  What would be blogging pay dirt for you? 
I was going crazy. It's that simple. I was nuts with diapers, and crying, and crying over diapers, and moving to new states (AGAIN). I needed to do something selfish that was about me and how I wanted to interact with the world outside my suburban walls. And while I was doing it, I remembered that I wanted to be a writer when I grow up.

I hit my first spoonful of pay dirt this year. I got a gig that pays. I blog for American dollars at, a Nickelodeon enterprise where moms can laugh and point. LOL, if you will. Next? More of the same. More gigs, more American money. And I do have visions for this novel-length memoir I'm dreaming of. . .

 I love your new feature “Character Assassination Carousel.”  How did you think of this?
Thanks! Actually, it started a year ago. I was visited by an old business colleague who told me I'd hear from three more ghosts over the course of the night. No, I kid, that was Scrooge. I was taken to a magical land full of little people, a talking tin man, a scaredy-cat lion, all on the wings of a hurricane.

It really started because I loathe that Shel Silverstein travesty, "The Giving Tree." Really hate it. It makes me foam at the mouth. I knew I wasn't alone and that other books rankled other parents. The "Character Assassination Carousel" was born.

Want to write a piece for the Carousel? It's open . . . just say the word.
They call me Thumbelina.

Advice to beginning blogging moms?
Decide who you are. Are you using your blog as an online scrapbook? Are you a diarist, noting each sniffle, each art project, each new milestone? A crafty mom blogger? A baking mom blogger? A giveaway maven? Or are you something else altogether? A blog is about the content, first and foremost. Makes yours exactly what you want it to be and you'll amass readers, not just followers.

Best this-should-be-in-a-movie mommy tale?
During my second pregnancy, in the way early weeks, I went in for an ultrasound because my cycles were irregular and they wanted to get a handle on just how pregnant I was. While I waited for my turn I sat next to a first timer who had just discovered—at 20 weeks—that she was having twins.

My ultrasound showed that I was indeed with fertilized egg, but it was too early to really tell how far along my pregnancy was. They asked to me come back in a few weeks.

On the drive home I called my mom. "Mom, that girl, she has no idea what she's in for. She was smiling and happy. You know what will cure her of all that joy? Twins! Poor fool."

Three weeks later I was far enough along for them to tell me my egg turned into twins. Poor fool.

(Note that in the movie version Matt Damon is my husband and I'll play myself. We will kiss. A lot.)

Your parenting style in 5 words or less.
Sometimes TV's the best babysitter.

Sometimes you get food stuck in your teeth. 


  1. Thanks for featuring me! I'm almost famous, now, right?

  2. I knew I liked Ninja Mom. Now I have confirmation on why. I like confirmation, being a former science type person and all that.

    What a great forum, Mom's New Stage!


  3. I love reading interviews with people who's writing you admire, and discovering they're mortals just like you (except maybe just a bit cooler).

  4. Ooo, ooo, I'm back. I have a question. How did Nicole get her Nickmom gig? Ellen

  5. Now THAT is what I call An Interview.

    Great questions, Miss Keesha.
    Hilarious answers, Miss NLS.

    And that Thumbelina picture frickin' slays me every time I look at it. *snorts*

  6. I enjoyed this immensely! Thanks for sharing! I even read the comments!

  7. Keesha, I'll be butting in a bit with some answers, m'kay?

    @SensibleEllen: Very glad our friendship can continue now that science is on our side. And as for NickMom, I just applied and sent in a spec piece and they took me on, published one of a dozen things of mine they've paid for and I really wonder if they are rethinking the gig because they figured me out for the hack I am.

    @WubBoo: *blushing* Wow, thank you!

    @Kim: I can't stop using it. It makes me laugh, too. Hope it doesn't wear off anytime soon.

    All, go back through Keesha's archives. She's good. And talk about cool? Go look at her picture on her About Me page.

  8. loved reading this! what i want to know is how to pull off this whole weekend-away-with-just-photos-of-the-family-and-not-the-family.

    sounds tricky.

  9. Great forum, great interview! Thanks for sharing your insider secrets. Now I can remove your phone tap and stop hanging out in the bushes outside your house. I know, I'm relieved, too!

  10. Loved this interview! Nicole is da bomb dot come and you must be too if you like her.

    1. Fucking autocorrect. I was trying to be all hip and cheeky with "da bomb dot COM." But clearly I'm just old and freaky.

  11. OMG. Nicole. You make me laugh laugh laugh. I love you. You're so full of awesome I can't stand it.


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