I'm back with another spotlight on a small (and local!) business. This small business is a bit different than you might expect, as Michelle Holly Recommends doesn't just sell things - she is actually an educator turned blogger turned mother turned children's book author! I mean, aren't most mothers a whole bunch of things rolled into one? I thought it would be really cool to highlight what Michelle Holly has been doing, as I felt it was unique and might be something some of you out there might be interested in learning about. So, before I give anything else away, here is her story:
Before we get started, can you introduce yourself and tell everyone a bit about your background?
Thanks for this opportunity to share my passion for writing. I’m Michelle Holly, a Mommy Blogger, applying 18 years of professional education expertise to raising my own one-year-old daughter! I’ve been an elementary and middle school teacher, a dean, testing coordinator, instructional coach and am currently on a leave of absence to stay home with my daughter. I started blogging about two years ago. My latest blog is called Michelle Holly Recommends and it’s based on activities, games and books I use with my daughter. With my background, I naturally include learning into what we are doing. I started this with my sister’s daughters seven years ago. She would always be in awe of the questions I would ask or things I would do and told me I should share this knowledge with others, so that’s the inspiration for sharing what I know on my latest blog, Michelle Holly Recommends. I know moms are busy, so I keep my blogs to the point, with some ideas to share, in the hopes that at least one idea can be applied to help our kids be the smartest on the block!
Your family life changed not that long ago, can you tell us a bit about this exciting change?
Yes, such an exciting change! My husband and I adopted our daughter about a year and a half ago. During our journey to parenthood, I started my first blog to share our story. I just had two miscarriages, three unsuccessful IUIs, and we were at a place of discouragement. There’s a very talented spoken word artist named Hosanna Wong who came to speak at our church, First Orlando. In her message, “I have a new name” I felt led to be a “messenger” and share my story and our journey to parenthood, whether it was going to be biological or through adoption. Once I did, I had about twenty women who privately shared their stories with me, of either miscarriage, infertility issues, or were also considering adoption. While I was experiencing heartache, my heart was also sparked because I was able to offer encouragement to others in my situation. I had an undeniable hope in God that He had the best plans for me and I sincerely wanted to share with others where my hope came from and that they too, could have the same hope. I started a Mommy Monday Prayer Wall, where I prayed for other women who wanted to be a mommy, and mommyhood came to fruition for about ten of us!
So now you have published TWO children’s books. Is your daughter the reason for this or was there another reason? Can you tell us about these books?
When my husband and I flew out to the city where our daughter was born, one of the first things we did was buy Jimmy Fallon’s Mama and Dada books. We read them to our daughter each day we were in the hospital together and she has had at least one book read to her every day since. I didn’t find too many picture books about adoption that were simple enough to read to my baby and that would express how much I love her.
So I wrote, “The Moment I Met You” which is a book about the reminders I have all day long of how much I have loved my daughter ever since that first moment I saw her in the little baby carrier in the hospital. It is a moment that floods me with so many happy emotions and memories. I wanted to capture it in a book that I could read to my daughter at any time, but also for other adoptive parents to have as well. My younger sister, Melanie, illustrated the pictures in such a way that represents the diversity of adoptive families.
My second book, “Counting Time with an Easter Rhyme” was inspired by my mom’s crocheted creations she makes for her three granddaughters. My other sister, Melissa, photographed the crocheted Easter eggs and bunny. I love reading rhyming books to my daughter because they are easy to sing and my daughter loves music. Being an educator at heart, I love adding a learning aspect to what we do, so this book can be used for counting 1-12, identifying colors, and I touch upon the meaning of Easter in a simple way for children. I even include five tips to help parents engage with their children as they read. Put this all together, and my second book came to life! It’s going to look perfect in my daughter’s Easter basket! (Blogger note - this interview was before Easter)
Do you have any plans for writing any more books?
Yes, I would love to get a book contract with a book publisher! I also hope to continue reaching others through my blog so that I can share what I know to help others. I noticed that you shared on Instagram that I was a “Local Author” and that really meant a lot to me. Until recently, I wouldn’t have really claimed that title! I was able to be part of a Bible study group focused on writing at my church and it was led by a (for real!) Local Author, Stacey Thacker. We all met weekly to talk about our writing, and she had us say out loud, “I am a writer!” She was extremely encouraging and through her leading, I felt that this is a path God has led me on and it was good to be reminded of that.
Do you have anything else to share with us?
About twenty years ago, I wanted to be a children’s book writer. I put the dream on the back burner for a while, or so I thought. What I didn’t realize was this whole time I was writing in various ways. When I think someone needs encouragement, I listen for what God might tell me that they need to hear and I write notes and thank you cards to others that make them cry happy tears. My social media posts and comments hopefully spread positivity. As an educator, I write emails, tutorials and presentations for students, teachers and parents. I started a professional Twitter account and blog because I truly enjoy sharing what I learn with others. I felt most impactful when I was able to share my journey to parenthood and see how it helped and encouraged others. I hope I can always use the writing talent God gave me to inspire hope in others and to help families engage together.
Where can we find your books for purchase?
Both books, The Moment I Met You and Counting Time with an Easter Rhyme are available on Amazon in paperback and kindle form.
The Moment I Met You: https://amzn.to/3mXliyo
Counting time with an Easter Rhyme: https://amzn.to/3aguKYD
If we want to follow you to see more that you have to offer in the future or things that you recommend, where can we do that?
Thanks for asking! I have been able to expand upon my adventures with my daughter and two nieces in my blog, www.MichelleHollyRecommends.blogspot.com.
In this blog, I share my recommendations for toys and books. I talk about various developmental stages of children’s learning and how to incorporate learning into the toys we play with and books we read. Recently, I started blogging about places we are visiting with ideas of things to do before, during and after your visit. My goal is to share with parents how we can spark learning and engagement in everyday things we do.
Follow me on Instagram @Michelle_Holly_Recommends
And I’d love for you to like my Facebook Page @MichelleHollyRecommends
YouTube: More Time to Gather
Personal message from The Orlando Millennial: Michelle here! Michelle Holly has been someone I have known on a personal level for 4 years now. She is someone I call a mentor, a friend, a neighbor, and just one of the most amazing women I am honestly blessed to have met in my life. I was so elated when I learned she was going to be adopting her daughter and I've been so happy to see all that has happened since. In a world where many are learning that not everyone fits into cookie cutter norms, I felt that her book telling an adopted child how much they are loved was something special that many others might want to learn about. I love that she shares her story about her pregnancy struggles pre-adoption, but also lifts up those that are going through similar struggles. I highly recommend following Michelle Holly Recommends, whether you have a child or not, because she is sure to show you some great new things to teach a child or some awesome places to visit around Central Florida! I hope that this story brought a smile to your face and that you will share with someone that you know. Thanks for reading!
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Hi all! I'm Michelle and I have been a lifestyle blogger since 2017. I used to host fun networking events around Orlando and now I've decided to take a step back and continue to focus on my favorite part - bringing you all the fun happenings around Central Florida, plus filling you in on my travels, life, and more! I'm a foodie, selfie-taking Millennial that loves spending time at the theme parks, traveling, and spending time with her dog, and trying new wine. I hope you enjoy reading my blog!