Category Archives: mommy life

I’ll Show You My Vacation

This summer has been a busy one around here. While we haven’t been out or travelling much with three kids from toddler to teenager, everyone has their own schedules and ideas of summer fun. On top of the kid schedules and summer ideals AJ has been keeping himself busy with travel for work and the National Guard. The poor guy needs some down time to unwind and relax. It seems even family vacations can be not as much fun for him, or me for that matter.

Our most recent family vacation was this summer just this month. I had a work convention in New Orleans with Younique and since none of our family had ever been there before we opted to make it a family trip. I think this sounded easier and better in theory. Don’t get me wrong, we had a good time but traveling with all the kids and exploring a city is not easy for one parent alone. Like I said, the man needs a vacation.

Our vacation started with our flight down to NoLa (New Orleans, Louisiana), read all about there here.  Once we arrived it was late at night and the 5 of us needed transportation. We hailed our first Uber! More on our Uber experiences later. Let’s get to why you’re here… our vacation!

We did a lot of walking around the city, our hotel was close to where I needed to be and downtown. My personal to do list while we were there frankly consisted mostly of trying the local food. Hey I know my priorities! Besides I was in classes most of the time during the day or had events at night.

AJ and the kids explored more than I did and they had a great time doing so. They walked around the city, visited the French Quarter, an insectarium and aquarium. (AJ has those photos on his phone, I forgot to snag them from him. I will edit the post with his photos later.)  The kids weren’t terribly interested in trying the local cuisine. They preferred McDs to local fried southern chicken. I still don’t understand that one, but hey no money or food wasted there I suppose.

There was a lot of rain, one day there was even a flash flood! We tried to keep inside during the downpour. We stayed safe but not dry. Later that night the power went out in our hotel, while we were trying to pack up for our flight home. No power, no water and no AC. I can officially check that off my list of things I want to do… ever.

Delicious food was what we had the most time for as a family and walking around Riverwalk near the convention center. I would definitely enjoy visiting NoLa again with AJ to explore the city more.  Enjoy some photos I have.

Brunch time at Ruby Slipper
Eating his yummy shrimp and grits for brunch.
Dawn hanging out
Art in an elevator
Jester statue
Dinner out with this guy (an a bunch of my gal pals).
Had to try fried green tomatoes with shrimp and grits
Delicious Beignets from Café du Monde
Waiting out the flash flood
Off to a ball
Homeward bound

Usually our vacations are near or with extended family, this was a nice getaway, even tho it was mostly a work trip for me. Where did you go this summer? Do you have a normal vacation spot each year?

What are your plans next year?  I’d like to go camping next summer and explore more of the woods and area where we live. A vacation doesn’t always need to be somewhere away from home. Post about your vacation? Link up with us below!

Join us next month for our Back to School post!

Mamas on Planes

We are out numbered 3-2. The kids haven’t formed a coo against us yet but I fear if they choose to. We will lose. 


On what should have been a 3 hour flight, we were delayed multiple times. From leaving the house to landing at our destination we traveled… hours. 

Left the house at 10 am and after check in and security arrived at our gate with time to spare. Our flight was to board at 1:45 and be in the air for 2 hours 45 minutes. We boarded the plane and were ready to go when a storm warning came in. We would be sitting in the plane for an hour due to the delay. An hour later we were deplaned. Our original take off time and our actual take off were FIVE hours apart. FIVE. Don’t misunderstand I am incredibly grateful our flight wasn’t canceled and we arrived on our originally planned day. But have you ever traveled with little children? We have a teenager, a high spirited 7 year old and a lap infant/toddler. Like I said, we are out numbered. 

I’ve read cute blogs from other moms about flying with kids and giving cute little care packages to the neighboring flyers. Yep not me. I don’t have the capacity for that. I have already thought of five things I forgot to pack. 

We do our best to bring distractions in many forms for our kids. But asking them to sit in an airport as our flight was delayed every 30 minutes is torture, for us and everyone else. 


Enter my saving grace, Vanessa. From our original boarding she was pure joy and kindness. She introduced herself to us and the kids, quickly mentioning she has three of her own little boys and knows what it is like to fly with little ones. Flying alone on this particular trip (turns out she’s a Younique presenter as well and is making her way down to New Orleans for convention as well) she assured us we are not to worry about fussing children. What a relief. A slightly older couple sat beside her and weren’t quite as happy with being in front of our little family but we’re keeping comments to themselves. Let’s be real here, I can see your head turns and corner of the eye glares while my child is throwing a needless tantrum. Sigh. 

Upon deboarding the plane, still in Newark, we stay near the gate as our departure time was only 30 minutes away. Time came and went, departure times changed; 2:30, 3:45, 4:10, 4:45, 5:10, 5:45, 6:10 and finally 6:30. Time to board! Yes! Quick check and adjustment of the fuel tanks and away from the gate we go!! Slight delay on the tarmac as there is a back up of all west bound flights as well as a possible new storm. Waiting 10 minutes for clearance, then an additional 15 minutes. Finally our turn to hit the runway, 7:30 take off time!! Our delays are longer than our flight time, but thank you Jesus our flight is still leaving. 

You may be wondering why Vanessa is my saving grace. Remember the 30 minute increment delays? AJ walked Baby K around our terminal, changed his diaper multiple times, he and the girls ate the snacks we packed for the flight. Four hours is a long time to wait for what I am sure seems like nothing to a child. Multiple times Vanessa was down on the ground playing with Baby K and Little Red (really should find a new nickname for Baby K). She took them to the windows, chatted with them and entertained them. Even while we were waiting on the tarmac she put a movie on her phone for the littles to watch and keep them occupied. Who does that for a stranger? While waiting we were free to move about, she took Baby K for a walk up and down the aisle waiving and saying hi to everyone. Then he wanted to be held and he let her hold him. She swayed with him while he tried everything he could to keep his eyes open. Time to take our seats, so close to sleeping. As soon as the plane was off the ground Baby K was out! Little Red still entertained by the movie, Baby K asleep in my lap, all is well. I thanked her profusely and many times. All she said was I hope someone does the same for me when I fly with my kids. Talk about paying it forward with kindness! 


So here I sit on our flight, writing about our family’s flight angel with tears in my eyes and drops slowly rolling down my cheeks. Hopefully we all will be a little more kind to those we interact with on a daily basis. This is how we show Christ’s love and compassion, being kind to each other. 

Love those who spitefully use you. Treat others as you wish to be treated. 

Help others on their way. 

Love your neighbor. 

Be the Good Samaritan. 

Real Talk… Time Saving Mom Hacks

Mom Hacks
Hacks. From shining your stainless steel with baby oil to the million uses for paper towel tubes – there’s a hack for almost everything. All of them have the same goal – to save TIME! So, let’s learn how to save some!

I’m a working Mom of twins who is essentially single (my husband works 12 hour shifts). I am also a tad obsessed when it comes to efficiency. It is a dichotomy of sorts; raising twins and being efficient. But…it can be done! So, let me share some of my favorite tips:

Time Analysis
First and foremost, you need to understand where you are wasting/ spending most of your time. Always looking for your keys? Invest in a key hook. Re-washing funky loads of laundry? Make laundry switches a part of your morning/ nightly routine (or, even better…enlist your husband to take over laundry 100%). But, the most important thing is to look for any patterns that result in time wasted – find just one and tackle it!
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The “On the Way” Principle
This one is easy and just entails a mind-set change. You’d be surprised at how much ground you cover in your home throughout the day/evening. I’d be willing to bet that you walk by your bathroom or laundry room at least 10 times a day. Why not make the trip worthwhile? Here’s what you do: keep your eyes open, observe what is in your surroundings. An old sock lingering in the hallway? Next time you walk down the hall, pick it up on your way to the laundry basket. That lone Lego under your foot…ouch! Put it in your pocket for the next time you pass the toy box. You’d be surprised how much the “On the Way” principle can limit or fully eliminate the amount of clutter in your house!

Bath Time
Your kids are young, it’s not safe to leave them in the tub unsupervised. As I sit and “watch” them, I feel like I am wasting so much time. Then it hit me! I could be cleaning the bathroom right now! I clean the toilet, floor, sink and mirrors all while my kids have a blast in the tub. Win-win-win!

For You Pumping Mamas
All the gear associated with pumping is unbelievable. Cords, flanges, membranes, tubes and bottles oh my! I pumped exclusively for my twins for 11 months. It was such a challenge! I’m going to give you two time-savers here…The first: only wash your pumping parts once a day. After you pump, put them in a big Ziploc bag and put that in the fridge. Then, at the end of the day – wash them. Next, buy a good hands free pumping bra. While you pump you can do many things with both hands! I chose to work and read. I even got into doing small crafts while pumping like a mo fo! Or, set an alarm on your phone and catch some zzzzz’s while you pump (but, don’t lay down)!

Potty Training
Oh the dreaded potty training phases! With my twins, it was double trouble! My son trained easily. My daughter…not so much. I was set on training them at the same time – regardless if they were both ready or not. Big mistake. I should have just gone with training him (since he was ready) and then training her at a later time. But, what’s done is done. I’ve spent loads of time cleaning underwear before throwing them in the washer. I couldn’t imagine throwing poopy pants into my sparkling washer. No way! There are three solutions to this poopy problem: 1) Keep a bucket of bleach water and dawn soap filled up. Throw them in (as soon as you can) and deal with them at the end of the day. 2) Get the soiled pants into water as soon as possible. It wipes off pretty easily if you catch it early. 3) Throw the underwear away. Sometimes it isn’t worth the effort. Also, stick a panty liner or pad in their underwear – this will help with small leaks/ accidents.

Take Advantage of the Dawn
Wake up 15-20 minutes before everyone else each day. Before you sleep the night before, have a plan for what you want to accomplish. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in just a few minutes. Or, take that time to meditate to prepare for the chaos that is about to ensue! I did opposite of this when my twins were babies. I stayed up 15-20 minutes longer and wrapped things up for the day. Saved my sanity!

Lost Souls
Kids and their shoes…they are constantly getting lost. I was spending WAY too much time going on shoe searches. Then I came up with a very simple practice: Shoes go on in the car and they come off before we exit the car. I put a small basket on the floorboard of my car and I fill it with a few types of shoes per kid. Then, when we arrive at our destination – we put their shoes on. When we arrive back home – we take their shoes off. Never a lost “soul” again! Remember to keep a few types/ styles – that way you always have choices. I do keep one pair of crocs per kid inside the house; just so we have the option for impromptu walks or backyard jaunts.

Showers
If your kids are old enough, opt for a shower instead of a bath. It will afford you a bit of time to get some things done while they shower. But, only if they are old enough to not drown. My kids are 3 ½ and this works fine for us.

Phone Time
Do most of your calls in the car. Remember, always hands free and safe!

Instant Pot
Just get one.

Tablecloth On the Floor?
Yep, you read that right. Get a vinyl tablecloth and put it underneath their highchair. Then, roll it up and add it to your compost pile.

Pastry Cloths
Instead of using bibs, try out pastry cloths. I’m a fan of the IKEA sleeve bibs – but when they grow out of those, the pastry cloths work wonders! They are long enough to tie behind their heads and cover their knees. Then, throw them in the washer. They’ll be stained, but don’t fret!

Dishes Galore!
This one is non-negotiable…run and empty your dishwasher every night. Every. Single. Night. Then, instead of putting your dishes in the sink – just do a quick rinse and put them in the dishwasher. It is way less effort!!

Indoor Movie Theater!
When things get way out of control…and it will, I promise you. Put the kids in their car seats on the floor in front of a movie/ show. Strap them in and give them a snack and soothing toy. Car seats don’t have to just be for the car! But, remember to avoid neglecting them for too long – especially if they have a short attention span.

Color Assignment
If you have more than one kid and they are constantly losing things or fighting over things – just assign them a color. I assigned “green” to Gwen and “orange” to Owen (note the “G” and “O”). They naturally choose the items that are associated with “their” color and they are happy about it! It also saves time when trying to organize their personal items.

Bibs for the Babes!
You’ll save “loads” of time on laundry and outfit changes by using bibs. Switching out a bib instead of switching out an ENTIRE outfit is so much faster and easier!

Set up Multiple Changing Stations
This works well if you have a large house. You’ll spend way less time commuting through your house if you just put a changing station on each floor; or just add one more if that is too overwhelming.

Magic Erasers
Enough said.

Eat Outside
We try to eat outside as much as possible. It will save tons of time on cleaning and the frustrations with mess!

Paper Plates
Don’t fret about the waste, you can recycle them if you scrape off the food. Dishes…yuck.

Don’t Let it Dry!
Stuck on mess takes way longer to clean than to just clean it before it dries. I keep a separate rag for their eating surfaces and I only use non-chemical cleaners for those areas. Then, when your kids get older you can have them help you clean up!

Laundry
Just do it every day. Avoid laundry piles and don’t worry about folding the kids’ clothes – just throw them in bins for organization. I have a bin for pants, underwear, and pajamas – never fold those. I do hang up shirts, but that isn’t the most efficient. If you want to get really obsessed – go and buy a giant pack (or two) of white socks – all the same. Then you never have to pick out socks or find their match!

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Online Grocery Ordering
Clicklist has saved me so much time! Order your groceries online (you could do it while they bathe) and they’ll bring it to your car at the store. GENIUS!

Outing Bag
Keep a bag fully stocked in the car. Never waste time packing a bag. My favorite supplies are diapers, wipes, empty Ziploc bags (for garbage or soiled clothes), sunscreen, clothing changes, water bottles, hand sanitizer, blankets (muslin…they are small), and snacks that last. I loved my roll-up diaper caddy for when they were little. Now, we just have a backpack.

Potty Stops
I rarely take my kids into public restrooms. Instead, I bought a fold up potty that I keep in the car. Pull over on the side of the road, bust that out and use hand sanitizer. Done and done! If you have boys, even easier – they can pee in the gutter or grass. Dogs do it!

Childproof
Never spend time chasing the kids down in an unsafe environment. If you childproof everything, you can get things done while your little ones roam safely in your castle!

One of my favorite mom memes just because.

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This guest post is written by Leslie Killinger, full-time mom, wife, employee, artist and friend. She has twin toddlers and makes life look like a breeze.

I’ll Show You My… Hometown

“Home is where your heart is.” If this is true my home is all over the country! When we first decided to write about our hometown this month I knew what I’d be writing about, the place I grew up and spent most of my childhood and teenage years, even part of my young adult life. Then I thought on this quote and all the other places I’ve lived, including where I currently live. How am I to write about my “hometown” when I have more than one? I thought maybe a quick internet search would help me decide. NOPE! Even Google says a hometown is “the town where one was born or grew up, or the town of one’s present fixed residence.”  Not helpful Google!

I narrowed it down to two (ok three) places I’d call my hometown. Let’s start at the beginning… where I began. Mission Viejo, California. I was born and raised in Southern California. Beaches, palm trees, delicious food, 6 lanes of freeway traffic, less than an hour from Disneyland. Yep this is my hometown and where some of my family still live. I love and miss them dearly. Let me show you…

Backyard in Mission Viejo
Nothing beats a gorgeous sunset over the ocean.
Going shooting with my Papa
Angels baseball games!
Watching my baby grow up here
Many hours spent at Disneyland
One of many delicious meal options.
Did I mention the beach?

Summer days and nights spent at the beach, I graduated high school and college living here. Would I ever move back? Probably not, the cost of living is ridiculously high now, ok it always has been. But part of me will always be a SoCal girl. Occasionally we visit and I am able to step foot on the glorious sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean and grab a double-double.

Part of my youth was also spent living in Utah. The place has grown and changed much since I’ve lived there. As I’ve said before, home is where the heart is and I have much family in Utah still. While I lived in American Fork, UT, most of the Utah Valley and parts of Salt Lake Valley are my “home”.

Mountains are unbeatable
My Utah family

 

So many siblings, in laws, nieces and nephews living in Utah. Going back to visit is easy, leaving is harder every time.My current hometown is Milford, PA. I went from city life to rural life. I’ve never seen so many trees before living here. Just like each of my previous hometowns, there is beauty and excitement to be found here as well. We’ve lived in our home for 5 years now and I’m still finding the places for my heart.

PA roads and skies
Family friendly hiking trails along rivers and waterfalls
Sharing outdoor living space with deer
Milford, my hometown
Colorful sunsets over the lake
White winter views
Kids enjoying the outdoors

All in all I consider myself lucky to be able to have more than one hometown. Milford is my home and I’m learning more each day about myself, my family and this area. I look forward to finding where my next hometown will be, many years from now. Where is your hometown?

Share your hometown and link up with us here.

 

I died…

Last week my life changed forever, I died.

Ok I didn’t completely and literally die, but after this last weekend I will never be the same. It all started a little over a year ago I began my healthy life crusade. Working out was a regular part of my schedule, I even found a tribe of women working out and supporting each other. We hiked and I shared part of my journey here.  I was preparing and planning for my very first Spartan race; hiking and weight lifting to prepare myself physically, especially hiking around with Baby K on my back. I could handle a little 3-5 mile obstacle course, no big deal! Ugh if I only knew then what I know now… I could not imagine what a life changing event I was in store for.

The original plan was to go with a group from Tribe, but this summer has thrown all of our schedules off and no one else was able to attend. AJ had previously volunteered with me at a race so we both had a free race coupon to use. His original plan was for a Beast or Super Spartan. Knowing I would be alone, I registered for my very first Spartan.

I knew going into the race there would be obstacles I was not ready to overcome, the rope climb is my ultimate nemesis. Even knowing this and knowing the 30 burpee penalty per failed obstacle, I was going to finish! My goal was to come in under 5 hours.  I know, 5 hours for 4 miles? Yes, 4 miles of up a ski resort mountain and back trails, cleared specifically for the race. Oh yes and 20 obstacles and doing 30 burpees per failed obstacle, this was going to take some time.

Race Map

To my surprise (and complete gratitude after the fact) AJ registered Friday night to race with me. He wasn’t doing it for him but for me! In reality, going into it I was not certain how nice I would be able to be. This might make or break our marriage. We would come out of this more in love or I’d be so raging angry and cranky I would say not nice things to him causing a rift in our relationship. 

Pre-race face

Morning of the race we were running late but arrived with time to spare. 8:30 am we climbed over the Spartan starting wall to begin our very first Spartan Sprint. Up the mountain we started, over 5 foot hurdles, yes while still going up the slope of the mountain, further up we went still. The first mile was the longest drudge to the peak. It was not a straight up climb nor was it a well worn path. There were some more walls to climb over but these I did on my own since they were on level ground. Although I did smack my ribs pretty hard on either these walls or the hurdles when I broke the mouth piece off of the camelpak I was wearing ugh! Bruised ribs SUCK! Over another wall, under another and through a third, yep through it, there were holes.

Miles 2 and 3 blurred together for me.  Hiking up and down hilly, rock covered, sprain your ankle terrain, intermixed with obstacles designed to push you to your physical, emotional and mental limits, you bet I lost track of what mile and obstacle we were at. Obstacles such as crawling under a cargo net in swamp mud fit for any wallowing pig. Then make it thru the crawl and slush thru a few more mucks of water to a dunk wall. Down into a pit of water, scramble up, back down into another and up again until the third time you’re down in deeper water facing a wall you now have to go under, the dunk wall. After the mud it was actually refreshing.

Back up the mountain we went to the slip wall. You’d think having a knotted rope to climb up a slippery wall (remember all the mud and water we just went thru?) would make it easy. Sure I did. I got right on up there, grabbed the rope and scrambled up the wall. I was about to pull myself up to the top when someone next to me lost his footing and slipped. I lost my concentration and footing as well. Then I felt the ribs, again. I was going to fall, until someone behind me stopped me. Someone was below me helping me to stay up, AJ up top reached his hand out to help me over the top and I made it! Dang slippery wall. There were more variations of walls and other obscene obstacles. Some were a cake walk for me, others… not so much. There was a sandbag carry, just like it sounds. Grab a heavy bag filled with sand, lug it up and around the mountain a bit and drop it back off. The Hercules hoist, using a rope and pulley system hoist a heavy bag up to the top of the rigging and back down again. Don’t let the bag free fall to the ground… not cool, or part of the challenge. The plate drag. This was cleverly designed on the side of the mountain with little holes dug into the path. All in all those were the easy ones for me, and the ones I enjoyed. Oh yes and lets not forget the bucket brigade. Fill up a 10 gallon bucket to the designated fill line (probably about 2/3 for the women) with small pebbles and carry it in front of you up and down the mountain. The biggest burpee maker of them all was the spear throw. You get one chance to throw a spear at a hay bale Spartan target. The spear has to stick. ONE. CHANCE.  Yep I came close but you know the saying… horse shoes and hand granades…

I learned very early in the race, this is not a place for “every man for himself” mentality. This is a place for first timers and experienced Spartans to come together, uplifting, supporting, cheering and helping each other all along the way. I cried so many times and for different reasons, heck sitting here thinking about it I still get a little teary. There were people who had finished their own race come back over and help AJ finish my burpees for the rope climb! I was so beat down I didn’t have the capacity to do more than 5 burpees without feeling like I was going to pass out. They knocked em out like it was nothing. Strangers boosted me up and pushed me over obstacles. Some held out a hand to help me up. Others gave me a conversational distraction from my fear of heights atop the A-frame cargo net. Another kind soul named Katie stopped and helped encourage me thru the barbed wire. Most people were rolling thru, we were crawling; that rolling crap for that long makes me dizzy.

My EVERYTHING was challenged and I came out on top! I still can’t believe it myself. I have officially conquered the mountain and finished a Spartan Sprint!

Let’s recap the obstacles:

starting wall: CLEARED with assistance
hurdles: CLEARED with assistance
walls: CLEARED
OUT: CLEARED
Mud Crawl: CLEARED
Rolling mud/Dunk wall: CLEARED
Slippery Wall: CLEARED with help
Barbed wire: CLEARED
Spear Throw: failed
Rope Climb: failed
Sand Bag: CLEARED
Plate Drag: CLEARED
Herc Hoist: CLEARED
Olympus: CLEARED with help
7 foot wall: failed
Inverted Wall: CLEARED with help
A-frame: CLEARED
Twister: failed
Bucket Brigade: CLEARED
Multi Rig: failed


Fire Jump: CLEARED

I died. I have been reborn over the fire and now…
I AM A SPARTAN! AROO!!

I’m not quite ready for a beast or super but there are other venues this summer for Spartan Sprints…. maybe! I said never again when I finished this one and I’m already looking at the schedule for this year! Oh man I’m in trouble!

Part of me will never be the same and I am glad for that. If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you right? I have been changed. The Spartan community is a unique creature in itself as well. I ended up finding out the names of most the Spartans who helped me on the mountain. Part of me will never forget them. They and that mountain were part of an experience I do not wish to soon forget. 

What is something you’ve done and conquered? Did it scare you? Would you do a Spartan?

Check 3 and 4 off of my 40 by 40 list!

Momisms

Growing up I was always telling myself I would NEVER say the things my mom would say to my kids. Some of these are things I never thought I would need to say to my kids.  Over the last decade and a half I have heard my mother’s voice coming from my own mouth!

You’re not the mom
Worry about yourself
Get that out of your mouth
Shut the door
Did you wash your hands?
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Shut the door
Flush the toilet
Money doesn’t grow on trees
Eat your vegetables
As long as you live here, you’ll live by my rules
Shut the door (Did I mention this one?)
Are your legs broken? Go get it yourself!
Don’t make me come in there!

These are a few of my ever repeating statements to my kids. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall over here!  What are some things you find yourself saying and looking around the house to see your mother?

I’ll Show You My Fellow Blogger!

This month we wanted to mix it up a bit and introduce you to some other bloggers out there.  There are a lot of blogs out there in the far reaches of the internet. How do you find someone you can relate with? How do you know if a blog is a good one to follow? How do you choose to start a blog, let alone what you write about? Hopefully our fellow bloggers will be able to give you a guide in the right direction. At the least you’ll find a new blog to follow and expand your own blogger friend universe. Without further ado let me introduce you to my fellow blogger, Ashley Meir from The Rad Mommy (head on over and give her a like or follow on these other social media platforms:

Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest


Can you tell our readers about yourself and your blog?

My name is Ashley Meier and I am a blogger at The Rad Mommy as well as a wedding and portrait photographer. My blog is essentially a mommy blog that focused on empowering and inspiring entrepreneur and working moms.

Describe how did you first get into blogging.
I really like to write and was looking for a creative outlet. I love business and I love being a parent, so why not combine the two :0).

Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in blogging?
I have experience with website design and maintenance, and also do a lot of blogging with my photography stuff so I think that helped. Also, just knowing how to find a following on social media has been huge, although I am still growing and finding my exact niche.

How would you describe your blogging style?
I am a conversational and informative blogger. I want my readers to get something out of what I am writing and delivering. I am also exploring podcasts and videos to help with that.

What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog?
I think Facebook Groups are huge, and then just connecting with like-minded people who do what you do, and want what you have to offer.

What do you think is the best service a blogger can provide to his readers?
I think it depends. Whether that’s light reading, education, products or services; it really depends on what the blog is trying to achieve. There is a need for it all.

What would be your ideal working environment? On the beach in Costa Rica 🙂 . I just love working on a computer with a big monitor and a cup of coffee or glass of wine close by.

How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?
Scheduling posts and not biting off more than I can chew. I am still getting in my rhythm but those two things have helped tremendously. Also just staying focused!

What do you think is the best strategy that worked well for you to get more traffic to your blog?
Writing about viral topics has yielded the biggest results for me thus far. And then having other people become my cheerleaders and share my content.

How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
I want to truly define my niche, whether that will be working on getting high amounts of traffic or developing resources like webinars and courses for readers.

What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
Not sure yet 🙂 . I think blogging can just get tedious and discouraging because it doesn’t happen overnight. But, I do see the reward in sticking with it, like anything in life.

Tell me about your proudest achievement.
When I had a post go viral! It was SO fun to see my numbers go up while looking at my “live” analytics.

Who has impacted you most in blogging and how?
Everyone and everything. Being a parent and being a business owner.

What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?
I am a mom to two little girls and I run a super successful wedding and portrait business. I am on to my next dream of creating the life I want by working my way into the blogging worlds.

How do you think I rate your blog as an interviewer?
I think you will like it and hopefully find some good resources from it.

What do you do in your spare time?
I drink wine, travel, ride my bike to breweries, exercise and hang out with friends – all while mommin’ of course.

Where would you like to be in blogging five years from now?
I would like to have bloggers blog for me, so I can sip cocktails on the beach and focus my efforts on the content, instead of the marketing aspect.

What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far?
Just seeing how slow growth is, and working really hard on content that doesn’t always get high traffic.

Can you name some of your favorite bloggers and explain why they are your favorites?
My favorite right now is Melyssa Griffin. That girl is on her game and I learn something from her every time I read her stuff. There is no fluff there.

What inspired you to start your blog?
I wanted an outlet and wanted to start designing even more freedom into my life.

How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
I am still pretty new to the blogging life, but I think just focusing on consistency and then letting myself rest if I am not feeling it. Having expectations but not ones that make me feel like I am chained to it.

Can you tell me about few sources from where you get products for review on your site?
Just things I use. This is not really my blogging focus but might be at some point.

What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
The tedious work of formatting posts, designing graphics, scheduling social media posts, etc.

In the future where do you hope your blog will take you?
I really hope it can turn into my full-time job so I can officially step away from photography. I love photography, but long term I see more of myself in the inspiration realm of things.

Have you met anyone interesting/famous on your blogging journey?
Not yet :0). But I did run into David Spade one time at the Cheesecake Factory (but that was like 12 years ago, lol).

Do you have any specific goals for the rest of this year?
Create some content, define my niche and start making more money on the blogging side of things.

What is the biggest difference in your life post-blogging?
I have a lot more to do!

Did you have any professional help or did you created the blog yourself?
I created everything myself. I am into this DIY thing.

How active are you on a weekly basis? How often do you communicate with your followers?
I have about two posts a week, and am constantly posting on social media several times a day usually. Most of it is scheduled though.

How much time do you spend blogging?
Yikes! Not sure yet. Probably about 10 hours a week right now.

What do you think is the best social media strategy for getting more visitors to a blog?
I think it depends on where you want to focus your time. Long term I am thinking Pinterest might be the way to go though, because Facebook and Instagram are limiting the audience reach.

Would you encourage other people to make their blog?
Absolutely! It is a great outlet. But know a direction you want to head before investing too much time, and don’t expect to be an overnight success.

Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
It is both my profession and my hobby. I am building a business here 🙂 .

A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money online. Do you have some tips for those people who are interested in making money from the blog?
It is NOT easy, but it is doable. I think you just have to be focused on what you want to do, and head there. You will constantly be evolving though, so don’t expect to have all the answers right away.

 

Thanks so much Ashley for letting me interview you. It is a pleasure getting to know you behind the scenes of your blog.
I have learned a few things from this interview and hope all of you have as well. Do you have a fellow blogger you’d like to introduce us to? Link up with us below!

 

Monthly link up every third Wednesday!

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is here again! This week I have another Target find. It is in the dollar section. Ya know the stuff right inside the doors ranging from $1-$5 in price. 

There are four rubber prongs divided thickly and thinly to fit over your vehicle’s vents.  

Stick it on and your phone can slide in and out from the adjustable brackets. 

For $3 this tool has been useful in keeping my phone in place so I can see it. 

Please don’t drive and text. Use your speech to text option if needed. I don’t have a built in blue tooth in my car so this makes it easier to answer calls on the speaker phone. 

What did you find this week?

Real Talk Part 1…. Pregnancy

The world is full of advice and helpful hints, on and off line. The trouble is figuring out what is helpful and what is utter nonsense. In this mini series I have asked some fellow moms in virtual reality and some of my own close friends for their experiences and tips. Together we are talking about and helping you tackle parenthood and giving it to you straight up. Follow along for the Real Talk as we dish out to you here on my blog.

Settle in and let’s get started with part one… pregnancy. My first little tidbit applies to all of topics in this series and is this; EVERYONE has an opinion. <insert eye roll>  Seriously! Complete strangers will stop you and give you advice ALL.THE.TIME. Learn the smile and nod method quickly, it will be used for many years to come.

PREGNANCY

Congratulations! You’ll hear this for the next 9-10 months. Yep, depending on how you count your pregnancy it will last from 9-10 months.
Let me break this down for you… There are 30 days in the average month, the rest have 30, except that one with 28. How many weeks are in a month? You don’t know? There’s no straight answer? When you are tracking your pregnancy it is by the week, 0-13 weeks is the first trimester, 14-26 weeks is the second trimester, and 27-40+ is your third trimester. Yes nine months and ten months become interchangeable in pregnancy. Save yourself the headache and start counting the pregnancy by weeks, much easier. If you must break it down into months, make each month 4 weeks long, hence the ten months. Let’s face it, when people ask how far along you are, the majority will not be calculating your pregnancy. You’ll know this because the next question is usually “When are you due?”

Around the middle of the 2nd trimester is when these questions begin because you have most likely begun to show your pregnancy. Yay! Baby bumps are cute and adorable, the miracle of life right there for all to see. Somehow this equates to your body suddenly becoming public property. There is something about the pregnant belly bump  which says, “please rub me” in our culture… hmmm is that something to do with a Buddha belly? It is completely acceptable for you to say please don’t touch my belly. Become comfortable with speaking your mind, blame the rudeness on the hormones… it is really ok.

Baby belly with Baby K

You will experience a plethora of emotions. I’m being serious here. I cried watching The Little Mermaid…. dead serious. I also was easily upset by the small things, like a single dish being left in the sink instead of put in the dishwasher. Yep, I admit it.

If watching sappy movies doesn’t make you cry morning sickness might.  Such a deceptive name… MORNING sickness implies you will feel ill in the morning… lies! There is no defined time it will hit you… middle of the night while you’re sleeping, cleaning the house, walking around the store… it does not and can not tell time.  From about the middle of my first trimester thru the rest of my pregnancy I had morning sickness. For all three of my pregnancies, especially my redheads. It didn’t matter what I did or did not eat, I was nauseous. Even taking a shower made me gag, acid reflux and stomach acid were no friend of mine.

Thankfully by the time I was pregnant with Little Man I had found a few tricks to help ease my stomach.  If you find yourself having all day sickness try snacking throughout the day instead of having three big meals. Ginger, in all it’s forms, helped me immensely. Particularly ginger ale and candied ginger. You may not like the taste but it may help.

Even with morning sickness I had pregnancy cravings. They would vary pregnancy to pregnancy as well as day to day. Generally with Dawn I wanted chicken, especially fried chicken.  With Little Red I craved pasta, and usually scampi or alfredo style.  AJ still says I asked him to buy pickles and ice cream so I could eat them together but I don’t remember that. I did like my pickles during that pregnancy tho. This last time with Little Man it started off as sushi (I didn’t eat it, except a crunch roll here or there) and then faded away to Italian cold cut subs. With each craving I managed to sneak in healthy foods here and there like a salad or a fruit smoothie. Most importantly I drank a ton of water.  Of course drinking that much water with a baby pressing on your organs means frequent trips to the bathroom…

Be prepared to lose control over your bladder. Sneezing… coughing… you’ll get a little bit of bladder leak. Kegel exercises will help strengthen those muscles, but let’s be real… buy some liners.

The last little bit of advice from me is you will lose your mind. I mean this literally. Once you are pregnant you slowly begin to lose your memory, it’s called mama brain. I misplaced an entire month one time, yep completely forgot all about March. You are your child’s life support, everything he/she gets is from you. It makes sense they will take part of your brain along with your blood and nutrients. It’s completely worth it!

Here’s a bit of advice from my gal pal Leslie, who had twins by the way!

Leslie’s cute pregnancy announcement.

I didn’t realize how swollen I could get! I had to wear flip flops in winter just to get through the last few months of pregnancy.

I also wasn’t expecting that I’d have my milk come in before delivery. It was just a bit of leaking, but I was very surprised.

Let’s talk Maxi dresses and skirts! Those were perfect for wearing throughout my entire pregnancy! I felt stylish, but oh so comfortable! Throw on a maxi dress and flip flops and you’re all set!

It was amazing to see the babies move in my tummy! It was an “alien” experience — but oh so wonderful! I remember worrying about the lack of movement toward the end, but that is normal as the baby (in my case, 2) run out of space.

I felt wonderful during pregnancy! My hair was more shiny, my skin was superb and I felt emotionally so very happy! Getting to the point of motherhood was a big hill to climb, so I think I was more forgiving of all the aches and pains.

Stretch marks…none of mine showed up until the 8th month. Then they just seemed to show up overnight. I was super careful about lotions — didn’t want any toxins; so just be aware.
Food! I ate whatever I wanted. I didn’t gain much weight, so I decided to just eat what felt right. Your body will have cravings, just balance them out with good food choices. I ate something raw with every meal and then ate that brownie if I wanted it!
I felt exponentially better when I stayed hydrated; very important.
Twins growing in mama’s belly very nicely.
My baby sister Elizabeth is the most recent first time mama I know and she has some great advice to share already!
  1. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep
  2. Forgive your husband because he just doesn’t get it. He does his best. Be patient with him. And really when he says something stupid…. just forgive him.
  3. Save your money! Don’t buy expensive stretch mark cream. Use coconut oil ALLLLL over your belly every single day. I did and I didn’t get any stretch marks.
  4. Enjoy every second. It goes by quick. You feel like you have been pregnant for years, but once it’s over, it feels like it just flew by.
  5. Take pictures.
Isn’t she a beautiful mama to be!?

Pregnancy advice quick view

  • full term pregnancy is 9-10 months, 40 weeks = 10 months, 4 weeks each
  • EVERYONE has an opinion
  • “How far along are you?” and “When are you due?” are interchangeable, sometimes used together, questions.
  • Your baby bump will somehow become “public property”.
  • Hormones will mess you up, emotionally and physically.
  • Stretch marks can be prevented
  • Drink lots of water
  • Find comfy clothes, maxi skirts and dresses are great
  • Take care of yourself
  • Cravings are normal and your body’s way of communicating
  • Pregnancy brain is real and will turn into mama brain.
  • Pregnancy is a life and body changing wonderful experience
  • Sleep is important
  • Trust your body
  • Your bladder will leak… no matter how often you use the bathroom
  • Love your significant other… and yourself!

 

I hope you’ve learned a few things, laughed a little (oops… hope you have a liner on), and found some helpful advice in our real talk. Do you have any tips or advice you’d like to add? Share with us. This is part 1 of the mini series. Part 2 will be about labor and delivery.  If you’d like to contribute your tips for any part of this mini series, let’s talk!

I’ll Show You My… Resolutions!

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, we are doing a New Year Resolutions post! Follow along in our series as we show you bits and pieces of our lives and who we are in our Mommy & Lifestyle Blog Collab. This month Katie, Tracy and I are joined by Dara and Jamie.

Each New Year seems to bring with it hope of revitalization and renewal of ourselves whether it be mentally, spiritually, physically or all of these aspects. Some of the more common “goals” seem to be to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier, quit sugar, read more, spend more time with the family, etc. Usually by the end of January most people have quit their New Year’s resolutions.

I am no exception! For the last few years we have sat down as a family to write out our personal and family resolutions. Each year a few of our goals are met but for the most part we have forgotten or lacked in one way or another. This year I have chosen a different approach. First AJ and I sat down and discussed things we want to improve upon as a couple and as parents.

  • planning out Family Home Evening (FHE) for each quarter
  • consistently saying prayers and reading scriptures as a family each night
  • say yes more often
  • slower to anger
  • focus more on the whos than the whats

Some of my personal resolutions are linked to my 40 by 40 goals.

  • continue working out to get into better shape and a healthier weight (my ultimate goal is currently 175 lbs but I will see how my body shapes out as I get closer)
  • participate in and finish my first Spartan race
  • read scriptures daily in my personal study
  • find and make more “me” time
  • make memories instead of stressing about cleaning
  • including more whole foods with meals (yep means more meal planning)
  • get pregnant – yes I said it, now hopefully it will manifest!
  • read more! in addition to spiritual enlightenment I want to read one self-improvement and one novel per month… realistically it’ll probably be once a quarter…
  • be able to interpret for ASL

I really am looking forward to finishing a Spartan race this year. Most of the time I am elated and can hardly wait… other times the thought terrifies me. I look back over the last year and realize I have become stronger and may be able to handle it. This incoming year shows much promise and room for growth. Whatever 2017 might hold I am waiting with open arms to embrace my future!

Tell me some of your resolutions or goals for 2017. What are you focusing on this year? Do you make New Year’s goals?