Fort Worth moms Robin Bumstead, Jennifer Drez and Lisa Carrington Voight have nine children among them, but they spent the better part of last year writing (Robin and Jennifer), illustrating (Lisa) and publishing their first book, an homage to Goodnight Moon, called Goodnight Cowtown. A celebration of the city and its iconic places, the book is available at Fort Worth museums and numerous stores around town. For more information, visit goodnightcowtown.com.
Your book was inspired by Goodnight Moon. Why do a Cowtown version?
Robin: We were inspired by Goodnight Nola, which is about New Orleans, but there was, I think, a market for this book in Fort Worth – for kids to see what we love about this town and to become aware of the Botanic Garden or the ballet or just to increase their knowledge of our little precious city.
Jennifer: At the back there is a little bit about each place, a little history, so they can learn from that as well and be able to refer to and increase their knowledge about all of these different places. We’ve lived here for so long but didn’t realize just how amazing Fort Worth is: the leadership, the diversity.
So where is your favorite place to take your kids in Fort Worth?
Lisa: The zoo: Our zoo is amazing. From the giraffes to Texas Wild, what a great place to explore and learn! MOLA [Museum of Living Art – a herpetarium, i.e. snakes] just happens to be our son’s favorite place. In fact, friends of ours even adopted the Burmese Python on his behalf. But best of all, they love it, and it wears them out.
R: My kids are huge fans of museums, animals, sports and food. Any place that includes some or all of those elements is a hit with us.
How do you balance being a mom with your work as an artist/writer?
J: Balancing, just like it sounds, is an entertaining and difficult task, but a wonderful opportunity to prioritize and realize what is important. If things are OK with my friends and family and everyone is happy, it is a lot easier.
How did you find time to write the book?
R: We did it after hours. I would find time to go over to Jennifer’s house after 8, after the kids were asleep. And we would bat it back and forth.
J: There were a lot of phone calls, definitely after the kids went to sleep.
R: Much to my husband’s chagrin! [Laughs.]
L: And I realized how productive I could be from 8pm until 1 in the morning.
What do you hope to accomplish with the book?
J: To promote our city and to increase participation in all of these wonderful places we have. And I think the book creates a nostalgic feeling. It takes you on this journey, and it makes you so proud that we have a city that has all of this.
When you’re not writing, what keeps you busy?
L: I stay busy with my kids, visiting with family and friends and loving my job.
R: I love to cook, which is a good thing because I have a lot of mouths to feed.
J: When I’m not writing a book, I am driving my three boys to school and activities, serving as a room mother for kindergarten, volunteering, reading or running.
What’s your favorite thing about Fort Worth?
J: My favorite thing about Fort Worth is that there are so many layers and so much more to it than meets the eye. Fort Worth has such an amazing history and so many wonderful opportunities to help develop our children as well-rounded, open-minded individuals. I believe exposure to the arts helps develop critical thinking in children, and Fort Worth and its many and varied organizations provide us with ample opportunities to do this.
Favorite restaurant in Fort Worth?
R: We adore Fred’s and are weekly regulars. There is just nothing better than a salad burger with homemade blue cheese dressing and jalapeños.
J: We love to meet family and friends at Joe T.’s and dine on the patio. It’s a wonderful place to sit back and enjoy being with other families, and the fajitas and enchiladas are amazing.
What’s your motherhood philosophy?
J: It’s not always easy to teach or enforce, but it’s the 3 R’s. I try to stress to my children the importance of respect for themselves, respect for others and responsibility for their own actions and words.
What’s in your purse or diaper bag?
R: Band-Aids, a tape measure, a golf glove, tic tacs, earphones, Emergen-C, an umbrella, tiny shoes, diapers (of course), my son’s football roster and a flip book.
Do you guys have any plans to write another book?
J: We’re thinking about it. There’s always plans! [Big laughter.]
L: I love painting and drawing and I can’t imagine not doing it, so I’m giving them nudges.
J: This was just so much fun. So maybe we’ll do it together again – we’ll see.