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Mom's writing on parenting gains national attention



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January 15, 2014 - Little did Ortonville resident Jessica Watson know that when she started writing a blog called "Four Plus an Angel" six years ago after the loss of a child, that it would lead to a career for the stay-at-home mom and that her writing would be published nationally and globally.

"I had triplets in 2007 and one of our daughters (Hadley) passed away while all of our kids were still in the NICU," Watson said. "I wrote through my grief and it really became a form of therapy for me. Now I can't imagine not doing it. It's great because I can stay home with the kids and then pick-up writing jobs as they come along and as time allows."

With a degree in marketing communications, Watson said she's always loved writing, but it became a professional pursuit for her in 2010-11 when her blog started taking off and gaining more of a national presence.

"That's when I started writing pickups from various sites," she said.

Watson has contributed to publications such as SheKnows.com, Huffington Post, Mamalode and Still Standing Magazine.

"Mamalode is a really cool artsy mom kind of magazine," she said. "I've also been (published) in a few books and one of these days when I have five extra minutes I am going to finish my own book and get it published."

With her oldest daughter having Autism, Watson said her writing focuses on autism, child loss and parenting in general.

"I write very, very honestly. I write about the good and the bad of parenting. There are a lot of people, especially in the social media world who try to present things through rose-colored glasses and I try to do more 'this is what it's really like,'" she added. "It's not perfect all the time, but we're making it through Autism and losing a child. We share the good, bad and ugly of all of it."

Watson's most recent piece, which was published in Parade Magazine came at the inspiration of her youngest son's, kindergarten teacher Kylee Ribrant at Daniel Axford Elementary.

"Mrs. Ribrant was doing a lot of things with the kids about focusing on random acts of kindness. All of my kids are at the age where they're fighting over everything, so Sawyer started coming home and using this random acts of kindness phrase all the time. 'It would be a random act of kindness if you would hand me this,'" she said.

"It was kind of becoming this new phrase in our house and they all started kind of getting into it a little bit and saying 'that was a very kind of you.'"

Thinking maybe she could work the "kindness angle" and get her kids to stop bickering with one another and be little bit nicer to each other, Watson created a project called "The Kindness Tree."

"I had the kids trace their hands on a piece of paper, (which looked like a tree)," she explained. "Then I cut out a bunch of hearts in each of their favorite colors and then when ever someone did an act of kindness, they would get to put a heart (in their color) on that person's tree."

Originally, Watson was just going to post the project on her blog, but after talking to an editor friend of hers, she was told that Parade was looking for new "feel good project ideas." Parade published the article in their Dec. 9 online issue and was on the front page as one their most read stories of the week.

"It was a huge honor. To see my name there and just thinking about the fact that I'm just a mom doing this in my living room, writing when my kids go to bed at night and before they wake up in the morning," she said. "I just kind got that 'I can do anything' feeling. If I can do this while toasting bread one handed, filling school bags and making lunches I think I can pull this off."

"I think the biggest thing for me is that I've always just written just to write, because I love to do it, just having anyone read (my work) feels like an honor," she added. "Thinking back a couple years where a few people would read (my blog) or I would get a similar article in somewhere was a huge deal. Now, seeing my words are somewhere nationally and globally, it's just humbling that many people would read something I (wrote)."

When she's not writing, Watson enjoys spending time with her husband of eight years, Mark, along with their children Ashlyn, 18, Parker and Mckenna, 6 and Sawyer, 4.

She describes herself as a "professional juggler of children, coffee and sanity."

For more information checkout her blog fourplusanangel.com, Facebook page or look her up on Twitter and Pinterest.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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