Here at LiveMom, we love meeting new moms (and dads) doing interesting things around town. Our monthly feature series give us an excuse to learn more about these hard-working Austinites! This month, we’re featuring Susanne Kerns, Writer and Social Media Consultant, living in the burb-iest of Austin suburbs. Pre-motherhood, she was a Senior Account Director at an ad agency working on clients like Apple and Disney, but traded it in ten years ago to become a stay-at-home mom. When her youngest started full-time school, she started her blog, The Dusty Parachute, to get back up to speed on social media and begin a job search in advertising, but instead discovered that she loved writing.
I met Susanne when she reached out to me to get some blogging advice and we met at Lola Savannah (my favorite coffee place in town). I fell for her quirky, fun, whip-smart personality immediately, and I think you will too. This year, she will also be Co-Producing the Austin Listen to Your Mother Show with me, in my four and final year. Learn more at this link.
Thanks to Howdy Honda for supporting local mamas by sponsoring our monthly Local Mama Feature series.
LiveMom: How long have you lived in Austin, and what brought you here?
Susanne: We moved to Austin in August of 2010, so just over six years. My husband received a job offer, and after fifteen years in Seattle, we were ready for a change. I had never been to Texas, but had heard wonderful things about Austin, and it did not disappoint, (except when it was 108 degrees the day we moved in.)
LiveMom: How many kids do you have, and what are their ages?
Susanne: I have two kids. My oldest, is my eleven year old daughter who is an amazing artist, guitar player and a caring & empathetic soul. My seven year old son is a Lego & puzzle master who can make you laugh just with a lift of his expressive eyebrows (or one of his many fart jokes.) I don’t share their photos or names to share their privacy due to my blog, but trust me, they’re pretty darn adorable.
LiveMom: What is your idea of a perfect day with the family in Austin?
Susanne: We would pick up some Torchy’s breakfast tacos to-go and eat them on our way to Pedernales Falls, where we would climb and explore until it got too hot. Then we would magically transport ourselves to our friend’s boat on Lake Austin and take a spin around the lake before heading to Maudie’s Hacienda for a grande margarita on the rocks, with salt. There’s a reason I gained five pounds after moving to Austin.
LiveMom: If you had 24 hours to yourself in Austin, how would you spend it?
Susanne: I have to asterisk my answer with the fact that I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard amazing things about Travaasa. So, I would start the day running the ten-mile loop around Town Lake and then head straight to Travaasa for a long, decadent shower and spend a few hours alternating between reading in bed and power napping. I would then eat a healthy spa lunch followed by a Gourdough Cinna-Bomb donut (which I had stashed in my purse, obviously,) and spend the rest of the day receiving one of every spa service they offer.
LiveMom: What do you like best about Austin? What would you change, if you could?
Susanne: From previous answers, it’s obvious that I love the food, but what I really love are the warm & friendly people. The first trip we took to Austin for my husband’s job interview, we had a waitress pull up a seat at our table to chat with us about what we should do while we were in town. Within my first month of living here, I had made more friends than I did in 15 years in Seattle. Without a doubt, the thing I would change are fire ants. I’ve discovered that I’m allergic, and they’re awful, and serve no purpose and even the giant mounds they create are intimidating and gross. My whole story in “I Just Want to Be Perfect” is about fire ants and what happens when you accidentally take out their home with a lawnmower. <shudder>
LiveMom: What’s one piece of unsolicited advice you’d give to a new mom?
Susanne: By “One” I’m sure you meant “Six”: Before the baby comes, WD40 all of the doorknobs and door hinges and install dimmers for the lights in the bedrooms and hallways. Also, I know the Nose Frida sounds gross, but totally get one & USE it. In the middle of the night, newborns often do a creepy “eyes rolled back in their head” thing – don’t panic, it’s supposedly normal. Accept help when people offer it – Ask for help when they don’t.
LiveMom: What is the best thing one mom can do for another?
Susanne: Listen without judgement and honor that friendship by keeping that ‘circle of trust.’ Plus, sharing their hand-me-downs and offering to trade rides to school or playdates are lifesavers.
LiveMom: What kind of music do you like? Any local musicians? Kids musicians?
Susanne: I like most everything, but my appreciation for Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett increased 100 fold after moving to Austin. Hearing Lyle Lovett live is what finally made me understand why people sometimes refer to a singer’s voice as an ‘instrument’. My all time favorites are Ray Lamontagne, The Avett Brothers, Prince, Norah Jones, Queen, Depeche Mode, and any of the Christmas classics.
LiveMom: What’s the best way to keep up with what you are up to next?
Susanne: Kristin and I are busy with the submission period for the Austin Listen to Your Mother Show. You can keep up with that information at http://listentoyourmothershow.com/austin/ and sign up for email updates here.
You can always find me, (and pictures of Owlie, our resident Screech Owl) on my The Dusty Parachute Facebook Page.
LiveMom: What might we be surprised to learn about you?
Susanne: I’m pretty much an open book on my blog, so there aren’t too many more surprises, but my most recent confession to the world was about my ongoing issues managing my anxiety disorder. A year ago this week, I started taking medication to help get my life back and can honestly say this has been the most wonderful, present and clear year of my life.
LiveMom: What is your job, what is your title, and what do you love about your job?
Susanne: I have a few jobs. The one that pays me money is “Social Media Consultant” which I have been doing for the past two years for an agency in Seattle called Lazar Marketing. The one that occasionally pays me money is “Writer”. The one that pays me no money is “Mom”. I love that I have found the perfect mix of all three that works for me and my family. My husband travels a lot….(and I mean, A LOT) so working from home part-time gives me the flexibility to not have to miss work every time that my kids are sick. Working also helps keep my job skills and brain fresh for when I am ready to go back to work full time, plus I love helping my clients become smarter about marketing their businesses. My blog and writing have opened up my world to an entire community of friends and fellow writers from all over the world. I love the writing, but even more, I love all the other writers I’ve met.
LiveMom: Do you have any charitable organizations you like to work with/ donate to/ volunteer for locally?
Susanne: I volunteer a lot of my time at my kids’ schools. In addition to the regular room parenting & chaperoning, I work on our school Beautification Committee, completing one or two large-scale landscaping projects on the school campus each year.
We donate all of our outgrown clothes and toys to SafePlace, which provides housing, healing, and support for individuals and families affected by domestic violence.
LiveMom: What is your secret talent?
Susanne: I am amazing at MacGyver’ing home repairs and finding the exact vintage piece of furniture we need on Craigslist for insanely cheap prices.
Any social media links or sites you want to promote?
Susanne: I spend entirely too much time on Facebook and you can always find me at https://www.facebook.com/thedustyparachute/
I’ve got some new stuff lined up for my blog at http://thedustyparachute.com/
If you’re more of the photo-loving sort, I’m on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/thedustyparachute/
You can find my stories in three anthologies: “I Just Want to Be Perfect”, “It’s Really 10 Months” and “Martinis & Motherhood” as well as sites such as Redbook.com, Scary Mommy and Today Parent’s Funniest Parents on Facebook.
I would also love to pimp out my husband’s page at chris-kerns.com . In addition to being the funniest & most amazing dad (and husband) I know, he’s a talented writer and has a couple of must-read thrillers about a female protagonist (from Austin) solving mysteries using her tech and hacking skills.
Thanks again to Howdy Honda, Austin’s top rated Honda store according to Yelp.com, for sponsoring this month’s Local Mama Feature. Stop by to speak with one of their trained Honda experts in sales and service to help answer your questions and make you feel at ease with your vehicle purchase experience. They have been our neighbor of over 30 years and sell new, used and certified pre-owned Hondas. Go see them!