Elsewhere : Gaming Safety Tips, Homeschooling, and Local Photography Spotlight

Sometimes it may seem like this here blog is a little quiet, but that’s just because I’m writing elsewhere. As a freelance writer, I sometimes feel like I’m go-go-going all the time, but I love being able to write about topics that may not fit in here at Crazy Bananas, but are still super-interesting. Here’s a bit of what I’ve been working on lately:


I’m over at Pixelkin.org talking about gaming safety for kids and parents.

“…there is a prevalent fear among parents and caregivers that gaming is a negative or scary medium for our children. Many of these concerns deal with fear of the unknown. Parents who are not familiar with gaming are unsure of how to navigate this foreign world. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a relatively new trend among child predators is to find children through online gaming. This news could shock parents, or make them want to cut off all gaming activity. However, the benefits of gaming are powerful, and removing games completely is not necessarily a wise option. So how can we ensure our kids are protected, while still allowing them to enjoy the fun and benefits of social gaming?”

Head on over to my post at Pixelkin.org to read my top tips for protecting our kids online, and why I believe it’s worth the risk!


kc moms blog

In my first guest post for the Kansas City Moms Blog, I’m talking about homeschooling an a technological era.

However, the tide is changing on the homeschooling front. What was once seen as an option primarily for those with religious or other objections to a public education, is now becoming more mainstream, especially among parents with a technology or creative background. Between 1999 and 2012, the number of children being homeschooled in the U.S. doubled. My husband is a tech entrepreneur and I’m a writer and photographer. Both of us did well in school, but we struggled with the conformed way of learning that is practiced by most teaching institutions, including standardized testing. What we learned in school has not necessarily led to our success as entrepreneurs. Instead, real world training and problem solving has been much more beneficial to our careers.

You can read more about homeschooling, and learn about some great resources both online and in the Kansas City area at the Kansas City Moms Blog.


hive logo

I was lucky enough to interview amazing local photographer Jason Domingues for the {Hive-Workshops} blog. My conversation with Jason was so inspiring, and I found his advice and openness to be really refreshing. In a world of creative posturing, Jason is the real deal.

Domingues says that photographers have to be willing to look at their work critically and break out of their own mold. When photographers get stuck in their particular style, and refuse to change, they can become outdated. “They are wondering 10 or 12 years down the road why they aren’t getting any business. But photography as a business is changing. If you can push a button, make an image, slap a bunch of filters on it, and create a website… then you’re a wedding photographer! What makes the difference is everything in between.”

You can read more about Jason and why he believes the best growth can happen by accident at the {Hive-Workshops} blog.

Freelance Life : An Update

Megan Freelance Life web text

It’s been a little over two months since I left my corporate world to join the freelance universe, and I figured it might be a good time for a little update. The transition to full-time freelancer has been fairly smooth, all things considered. I think I’d been freelancing on the side for such a long time, it was actually a relief to be able to take it on more seriously. I know I am lucky, because we have my husband’s good salary to support us, but at the same time, he has been able to build his business because I spent years supporting us while he was starting up, so it’s not all luck. I’d say going for it included a mix of good fortune, hard work, sweat and laughter, because this life is so silly, you have to laugh sometimes.

My biggest struggle has been balancing work and my kids, which is obviously very unique and has never been discussed on the internet before! (I hope the sarcasm was inherent in that statement, but if not, here’s a clue…) Lucy is in third grade, so she’s in school five days a week from 8:10 until 3:10. Tate is in preschool, and goes three days a week from 9:00 until 2:30. This means I have 15 hours per week kid-free. Squeezing everything in during those 15 hours is so very challenging. And that’s not taking in to account my other obligations, like volunteering at school, running our household, service work and watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix! Also, there have been many (many) weeks where there are government holidays or in-service days so the kids don’t have school. Yesterday was Tate’s last day of school for two weeks due to Spring Break, and today is Lucy’s last day for 10 days. Deadlines don’t seem to realize that it’s Spring Break, the party poopers, so that is something I have to deal with and work to overcome.

Now, I’m going to be real about this…it’s hard. But it’s temporary. And really, it’s not that big of a deal. One thing I’ve learned is I like working as a freelancer because I control the amount of drama in my own head. When I was in an office, I had a hard time staying out of the fracas when there was drama or issues, and I found myself constantly stressed out. I think since I’m working alone in my own space, even if it’s on a project with a team of people, I’m better able to keep that drama at bay. So the stress levels are lower, even though I’m probably working harder than ever. Also, I’m doing work I love! The work fulfills me creatively, so when I look at my to-do list and feel overwhelmed, I look again and actually READ the items on said list. And you know what? I have a really fun job! I immediately feel better when I look at things from that perspective.


So, that’s where I am, 60 days into this crazy new adventure. Yes, there are days when I work at IKEA (see photo on the right) because they have child care and free wifi. Yes, I am that lady at the gym who drops the kids off in the play area and then sets up my laptop in the cafe to work. Sure, I have to trust the Power Rangers to distract my kids long enough so I can send an email or jump on a quick conference call. But for the most part, it’s amazing. I’m learning new tricks every day. My biggest one? From 3:00 p.m. to 8 p.m., I do my best not to work. That’s family time, and the whole reason I am doing this is so I can be there more for my kids. So from when I pick them up from school to when they are tucked in bed, I am all theirs. Sure, I hire a babysitter once or twice a week for evening photoshoots, but if I’m with my kids, I don’t want to be on my phone or obsessively checking emails. Am I perfect at this? Hahahahaha. No. But I’m trying my best and I’m aware, which is a huge part of the battle. And I think, at least for now, I’m on the winning team.

Elsewhere : Mothering Gamers, From Opponent to Advocate

In 2002 I met a gamer boy who was super cute and he asked me on a date. I had fake red hair and listened to way to much emo rock, and he wore lots of puka shell necklaces. It was adorable.


Today I’m over at Pixelkin.org talking about how I started out as a gamer’s girlfriend who was VERY confused about the appeal of gaming and how my opinions have changed as my kids have become more interested in video games.

Now, as the “mother” I pride myself on being in tune with my kids’ wants and needs, but this was something I didn’t understand. I admit, at first, I was jealous. This was something my kids and husband could do together and I had no idea how to participate. Excepting a one-month binge of The Sims in college (when I locked myself in a closet with the game for a few weeks and then realized I needed sunlight and never played again) I certainly wasn’t a gamer by any definition of the word. All of a sudden my husband and kids were connecting on a level I couldn’t relate to, and I felt lost.

You can read more at Pixelkin.org.



I feel like we’ve entered a new stage of parenting, the one where the kids fight constantly and treat each other like crap much of the time. It’s a frustrating thing as a parent, because I want my kids to be friends, but I also realize this is just part of growing up. I remember so clearly just despising my younger brother and not wanting him anywhere near me. So, I mean, I get it. But damn, it hurts! When they are cruel to each other, I want to sit them down and shake them and remind them that they are the only two people in the whole world that will ever understand growing up in our weird little family. I want them to have each others backs and know that they are each others teammate. I want them to think twice before saying “I hate you!”

They will learn, I know that. And there are moments when I realize the lessons I’m trying to teach are getting through somehow. Lately it’s right before bed. That’s the one time of day it seems like they realize they are stronger as a unit. My calls of “5 minutes until lights out” are met with giggles from homemade tents. Lucy offers to read Tate a book and he shows her how he can dive off his bed into his blanket fort. Snuggles and laughter and silliness permeate the house, until I have to get stern and demand that everyone get into bed. It’s me against them, in this bedtime battle, but at least they are together. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. Them against the world.

Before bed they usually ask for a song, and it’s almost always “Moon River.”

Two drifters, off to the see world. There’s such a lot of world to see…

“That’s us!” Lucy says to her little brother.







On Messing Up and Finding Joy


Yesterday I messed up.

Every other Tuesday, Tate and I pack ourselves up after we take Lucy to school and we head to what Tate calls “playgroup.” Actually, it’s a moms group that I joined this year, which meets twice monthly to learn from each other and from experts on this strange phenomenon called parenting. We’ve had speakers ranging from brain scientists to school superintendents, and I truly value these meetings, not only for the learning that occurs, but the fellowship. There is something awesome about getting a bunch of moms together in one room and admitting we are all just trying to figure this thing out. While I’m in class, Tate goes to a fun playroom for an hour or two, and he loves it. “Playgroup” days are some of his favorite days.

Anyway, with the holidays and whatnot, our schedule is a bit off and we haven’t had “playgroup” in over a month. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that this Tuesday was our first meeting of 2015, so after Lulu was at school, I got us all packed and pumped up for a fun morning at “playgroup.”

I signed Tate in using the computer at the childcare entrance, and that’s when I noticed things were off. We saw his teacher from school, who was meeting with her group that day, and we both remarked how funny it was that we had never seen each other there before (ahem, because she goes to a different group on a different day…). When I checked Tate in, the childcare people couldn’t find him on the roster, but I assumed it was because he had a birthday and would now be in a different room. The leader kindly said, “Are you sure you have the right day? Sometimes the schedules get mixed up after the holidays.” Of course I had the right day! Right? Hmmm.

After I dropped Tate off I started to question myself. And sure enough, when I checked my calendar, I had the wrong day. I was off by a week. So I had to embarrassingly go back to childcare and admit my mistake, then make my super-confused 4-year-old leave the “playgroup” where he was having a blast. “Mama! Why? We just got here! I want to go to playgroup!!!” He cried and pleaded, and the teachers kindly told me this happens all the time, but I was beating myself up. How could I not check my calendar? God, I’m an idiot! What must Tate’s teacher think? This is the same one that had to deal with him when I “forgot” about the Halloween party and he was the only kid not in a costume, crying about missing out on the fun. She must think I’m such a dope.

We left and were headed home, when I saw the beautiful, colored glass of the new natural history museum on the side of the road. I pulled a u-turn and headed into the empty parking lot. We’d been meaning to visit, but since it’s a new facility, it’s been pretty crowded, and I had been warned it wasn’t worth the wait in line. But on this day, a random, cold Tuesday morning in January, the parking lot was empty. I asked Tate if he wanted to go in and he wiped his tears. For $15, we had the entire museum to ourselves. I watched my son learn and grow, delighted with the exhibits and the discovery center. The sweet ladies working there catered to his every need, letting him hold animals and helping him create constellations in the astronomy room. It was an unforgettable morning.

When I first started staying at home more with my kids, I made time for these kinds of experiences. I still do, but lately I’ve found myself a slave to my overscheduling. Starting my new business venture means many times when I’m home with the kids, I’d rather let them watch some cartoons while I get some work done. I have errands to run and calls to make, and sometimes my kids end up an afterthought. I haven’t been practicing my greatest role, being a teacher and a mother to them. That’s the whole reason for all of this madness in the first place. Sure, I want to have a fulfilling career, but I also want to be able to spend more time with my kids.


Had I checked my calendar that morning, and realized we had nothing planned, I’m sorry to say Tate probably would’ve ended up watching the iPad and then going to the grocery store or on another errand with me. The day would’ve quickly gone by without much time for fun. But instead, I made a mistake, and we ended up spending the morning as paleontologists, astronomers and biologists. Mistakes breed wonder, especially when we’re not expecting it. So instead of beating myself up, I’m forgiving myself for my mistake and finding joy in the journey we end up taking when we don’t realize where we are going.

{All images taken with the iPhone 6 and edited in the Afterlight app}

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