About Mama Smiles – Joyful Parenting
I started this site as a creative outlet eight years ago. It has grown into a wonderful place to share ideas of ways to build a better family life as I gain insights and inspiration from my readers. This blog features experiences, products, and activities that encourage joyful family bonding, create fun learning opportunities, inspire positive sibling relationships, and build happy, healthy, connected families.
I live in Silicon Valley (near San Francisco) and enjoy life as the mother of four young, playful, curious, craft-loving children, born in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2012. My passions include parenting, photography, hands-on learning, sewing, crochet, and anything that encourages learning and creativity throughout life.
My childhood was spread across five countries on three continents: here in the United States, then Guatemala, Bolivia, Austria, and France. Between the moving and my five sisters and four brothers, life was always very exciting! My early childhood was spent on my grandfather’s corn farm. It was a blissful place to live as a child, and a sharp contrast to Vienna, Austria, where I finished high school.
I have an undergraduate degree from Stanford University, where I studied organ and vocal performance. I also hold a Master’s degree in education, also from Stanford University, with a foreign language teacher’s credential. After graduating from Stanford, I taught high school French before returning to graduate school for a PhD in medicine (from the University of Edinburgh), where I looked at programs that use the arts as therapy for children and to rebuild communities in post-war regions.
All of those degrees now see unconventional daily use in my life as the mother of four children! Walk into my home on a random day and you will likely find me reading pictures books with my kids, crafting, playing with kids on the floor, or taking pictures. When the kids are otherwise occupied, I work from home as a freelance writer and photographer (event photography and family photography, with the occasional real estate photography gig thrown into the mix).
As a survivor of pediatric cancer (35 years!), I cherish each and every day of life.
Get to Know Me
Here are a few posts that will help you get to know me better.
- Ten Honest Things About Me
- 11 Things About Me
- 15 Things You Might Not Know About Me
- Marking Milestones
- Parenting Beyond Kairos
- Doing What We Do
- On Being a Third Culture Kid
- Where Are You From?
- 13 Years
Honors and Awards
- Named on The Edvocate’s List of 20 Must-Follow Parenting Twitter Feeds
- One of Hi Five Baby’s 100 Top Family Blogs
Do you have ideas for this blog, or are you looking to collaborate on a project? Is there something else you would like to know about Mama Smiles – Joyful Parenting? Check out my media kit, and read my disclosure and review policy here. You can reach me by email at maryanne at mamasmiles dot com.
Any patterns, templates, and recipes included on this site are my own original creations. Feel free to use them, but please give credit to this site – and share links to posts rather than copying instructions.