Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Solids, Organics & CSAs

Since having Isis & recently starting her on solid foods, we have really done some research on food. It's such a basic part of all of our lives & you'd think we'd be interested in it already, but it has really changed for us since we became responsible for another life. We feel like we have just a few years to really provide her with a great nutritional start in life & we want to do the best we can. This had led to several conclusions for us. We've done a lot of research & had a lot of discussion. This is something every parent has to do on their own & they may come to different conclusions than we have. I personally don't believe that the conclusions are the important part with this topic. I think it's the research & the interest in providing what you feel is best for your child. Here are our conclusions:

We want Isis to eat organic as much as is within our power to provide this for her.
We will not be feeding her red meat for several years & when we do, it will be organic, locally raised meat.
We want to teach her about supporting her local farmers.
We want to provide her with a variety of tastes & spices to hopefully help her develop a diverse palate.

I recently picked up the book Organically Raised by Anni Daulter & Shante Lanay. It has great advice related to fresh home-cooked, organic meals including homemade baby food recipes. I'm really excited about learning from this book! I already learned several new tips & ideas just from skimming through it.

We also have decided to become part of a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture is a system where local farmers offer "shares" to members of the community. When you purchase a share, you receive a box of produce or sometimes other items including meat, poultry and/or eggs weekly throughout the growing season. It provides benefits to the farmers through cashflow at the beginning of the season & connection with the people who eat their produce. It provides benefits to the CSA members by supplying them with fresh, locally grown foods & a pride in their local community farmers.

We just recently found out about CSAs from Maria at Ria's Rhetoric. (Check out her blog for some great gluten-free recipes!) We didn't get on board with this at the beginning of the season. Normally shares are sold beginning around January & payments are expected in full by the end of May. I've contacted several local farms to see if they will allow us to jump in at the middle of the season. Hopefully they will. If not, we will be starting next year!!

Do any of you participate in CSAs?
Do you have any tips on providing your children with organic foods?
Do you have any great baby food recipes?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Newsies Seize the Day & Bad Romance Mash-Up



Wow I got an email about this last night & I freaked out!! Apparently one of you lovely readers nominated me for a BlogLuxe award!


Now if you don't mind, please go VOTE for for Best Eye Candy!!

10 on Tuesday: 10 Things You Think Are Cool

I don't have nearly as much to say about any of the others, so that's why this one is first. I wrote about why I liked it one time & this is what I said (Feb. 14, 2008):
I love people. I love their hope, their pain, their strengths and weaknesses, their love and joy, their despair and sorrow. I think that the stronger the depth of emotion, the more vulnerable and open someone has allowed themselves to be to the world. I think there is no great love without great loss, or at least the possibility of it. I think there is no great achievement without a certain amount of failure. I think our turbulent past opens the door to a future that is bright and open because we have learned the lowest we can go and we've decided to keep moving forward. I think every loss is an opportunity to appreciate and grow. I think every joy is a blessing that you can carry with you through those moments when life is not a joy. I think we beat each other down for all kinds of different reasons and I think the world would be a better place if we weren't afraid to admit that we all are beautiful and funny and sad and lonely and capable and misunderstood and stronger than we think and more blessed than we know.
2. Movie Trailers
3. Skinny jeans
4. Big sunglasses
5. GroVia cloth diapers
6. Import cars
7. iPhones
8. New York City
9. Reading
10. Sincere conversation

Check out 10 on Tuesday for more ideas!
Also check out more of my 10 on Tuesdays!

Monday, June 28, 2010


I'm not sure if you've noticed lately, but I've been linking a lot to The Blogger's Concierge. It's a new blog started by the writers of Kludgy Mom & Miel et Lait. I love their blog tips!! They're a great resource for bloggers! They are currently on the hunt for A-listers! They've asked for bloggers to write a post sharing why they should be on the A-list! I apologize for all the posts today, but I wanted to jump in on this at The Blogger's Concierge & it closes today! So here goes:

I am unique & not afraid to admit that I'm super dorky. I have learned to be myself & have brought these aspects of my personality into my mothering & into my blogging. I value community & I value thoughtful, intelligent discussion. My blog is a place where I come to vent, to have an outlet, to be creative, to share & to learn. I believe this places me on an A-list because I believe there are plenty of moms - & bloggers in general - who find themselves searching for the same things as me. We are searching for community, discussion, inspiration or advice. I try to present this to my readers.

I post blog tips whenever I feel like I have something I could share. I have talked about sleep training & scheduling because it has worked for my family, but at the same time, I believe in parents choosing what is best for them. I do not believe that I am the final say or absolute truth on any topic. I am learning on a daily basis from everyone I talk to, everything I read & everything I do. My blog is a place where I can share & also discover.

I have built a pretty loyal group of readers. I constantly find the same group of people coming back to my blog & reading & leaving comments. I absolutely love it & make it a point to visit, read & comment on their blogs as well. Community is my goal. I am also proud to say that this group of followers seems to be getting larger & I am so excited to be making new blog friends!

As a blogger, I am very proud of having an organized design that I believe is easy & pleasing to read. When I write, I take care to write with intelligence, integrity & honesty. Even if I'm writing a simple story about my daughter, I always try to think about the stranger visiting & I make sure that I offer something they will be interested in or can benefit from. I try to make my blog reader-friendly.

All these things make me an A-lister by my own definition & I believe that in life, it is important that we hold ourselves to a high standard. I set high standards & high goals for myself & therefore I want to keep making my blog better as I continue. I hope that being a part of The Blogger's Concierge A-list will help me in this endeavor.

For the Newbie Bloggers...

I am a newbie to mom blogging, but I am not a newbie to blogging in general. I started blogging in January 2007, so right now I'm at about 3 1/2 years of blogging. The ins & outs of mom blogging does tend to be a little different than just general blogging. It's more of a specific niche kind of group - understandably. And I actually just started regularly posting & marketing this blog about a month ago when I got my new design! But when Adriel at The Mommyhood Memos posted this on her blog today, I got really excited because I actually do have advice or experience for all of her questions! She may not use all my advice (or any of it), but it's still my experience & what has worked for me! I thought it was at least worth a share - especially since she asked! So I started posting it as a comment, but I tend to be rather long-winded when I'm writing about something I am passionate about - & I am passionate about blogging! I decided it might be less overwhelming as a blog post. It's still pretty overwhelming because oh my gosh I can talk!!  
If you have answers to these same questions, post them on your blog & link back to Adriel! Maybe it could be like a mini-meme!
  • How do you read the blogs your subscribed to? - Google Reader! Check out How to Efficiently Read Blogs!
  • How do you keep them organized? - Folders! Check out How to Create/Add to Folders in Google Reader!
  • How many (on average) a day do you visit? - Probably 10 that I actually go to their site from my Google Reader. It all originates in the Reader.
  • How many (on average) a day do you read? - I probably read about 200 posts per day in my reader on a week day. On the weekend, I read more because I have more time.
  • When you read a post, do you always comment? - If I like it & read through the whole thing & have something to say. I'm not a comment-spammer. I comment if I have something to say or if I particularly liked the post for some reason. I try to be specific & thoughtful.
  • When you comment on someone else's blog, do you "expect" them to comment back on yours? - To a certain extent, yes. Not every time, but for example, there is one blog that I have been reading & it isn't that big - just a few more followers than mine - & I've left some comments (see above - thoughtful, sincere comments) about 7 or 8 times & she has yet to even acknowledge my comments, visit my blog or respond to me in any way. Since my blog philosophy includes building community & it appears she is not interested in community with me, I'm probably going to stop visiting & commenting on her blog. But at the same time, I don't expect a reply to every single comment, but I do try to reply to the majority of my comments that are thoughtful responses to what I have to say. If they're just "hey, I'm stopping by" then I reciprocate by stopping by their blog, following & probably leaving a comment!
  • When someone comments on your blog, do you always then visit theirs? - Yes, if I haven't visited it before. (see last answer) If I have visited before, then I'm already following theirs & will visit from time to time - or daily - anyway.
  • Can someone please tell me what the deal is with these Follow Me Fridays please? (And does it take up a lot of time? Is it worth it?) - Follow Me Friday, Twitterhop Thursday, Follow Me Back Tuesdays, etc are all just blog hops where you link up your blog & then are expected to visit a few of the blogs already linked. The idea is that you visit & follow them & they in return follow you. I participate in just a few of these, but I try to not make it a big spammy deal on my blog. I may mention that I'm doing it, I may not. I'm not trying to be rude to the people hosting, I just do think that it can be annoying for readers of my blog to see all these posts about the blog hops. As far as being worth it, for me, these do take a lot of time so my blog time Tuesdays & Fridays are pretty much dedicated just to these. I try to follow 20+ new blogs each day. They generally all follow me back & I probably get about 5 dedicated followers who regularly come back & visit. So just because you get 20 new followers doesn't mean you get 20 new regular readers. But I still find that it's worth it for those 5 new regular readers.
  • What sites do you feel are most helpful to register your blog with? - Mom Bloggers Club, Bloggy Moms, Lady Bloggers Society, BlogFrog, The Secret is in the Sauce, Theta Mom Community - these are the ones that I regularly get new followers from. People will mention them when they visit my blog.
  • Are you selective about what blogs you follow or will you follow anyone's? - You'd have to read my How to Efficiently Read Blogs to get this one. I Google Friend Connect follow everyone who comments, visits, follows my blog. But I have to actually like your last 5-10 posts in order for you to be added to my Google Reader.
  • How many hours on average a day (or week) do you spend blogging (reading and posting)? - I spend 2 nap times per day (if I'm home) doing blog stuff & then about an hour or so at night after Isis is in bed, depending on what my husband is doing. So on a good day, I'd get maybe 5 hours doing blog stuff, but that's really a long day. That means she took a 2 hour nap in the morning, a 1.5 hour nap around lunchtime, then I spent about 1.5 hours after she went to bed. This is not always possible.
  • I tend to write a bunch of posts in one day and then predate them for the week... is this normal? - YES. Probably the best thing you can do in order to manage your time. I do the same thing on Sundays usually & then if something just strikes me as really interesting to post about, I may post an extra one during the week.
  • How in the world do you manage your time online when you're busy being a mom?!!! - Well, first of all, my daughter is only 6 months old & we do scheduling. So she takes 3 naps per day for a total of about 3.5-4 hours. I also am not working right now, so if I want to be home all day, I can be. My husband & I also pick certain days that we are going to not do our own things at night & rather have mini date nights. So I seriously plan out my weeks. I have certain times of day I blog when Isis is asleep & certain times I do house stuff & certain times I hang out with Lewis, etc. We've found a good routine, but it will all have to be switched up in the fall when I start student teaching. At that point I'll probably have to do a purge of my Google Reader & get it down to the main ones I really want to read & I'll have to focus my blog time on weekends & maybe an hour at night. I also try to do certain things on certain days. Like Tuesdays & Fridays are blog hop days. Other days are post writing days. Other days are blog maintenance days. I'm working on the Problogger 31 days to a better blog thing. (That link is to the one for 2007. He also did one in 2009 & I have all the links for that if someone is interested in them rather than searching through archives on his blog for them.)
  • Do you prefer to read blogs where the subject matter is streamlined... or do you like a variety? - I like it all if it's written well & of interest to me.
  • What are the top three reasons you will read (and go back to) a particular blog? - I identify with the blogger; The posts are easy to read & organized well; The information is useful to me
  • What turns you off from going back to someone's blog? - Nothing but giveaways all the time. I like giveaways as much as the next guy, but I want some substance. Some of the stuff people give away is just plain crap & I feel like they're just giving it away to do a giveaway. I haven't done a giveaway on this blog yet, but when I do, it will be stuff I really WANT to give away. I also won't go back if for whatever reason we just don't mesh well. I also don't tend to like the blogs that are basically just journals for some mom to record the day to day activities of her kid. I think it's fine & wonderful to share information about what's going on with your kid, but make it useful & applicable to me as the reader. What have you learned about this experience with your kid? What could I learn from it?
  • Do you think good blogs post everyday? Or does posting every day annoy you? - I think good blogs post good content regardless of how often - but definitely several times a week. I try to post everyday, but only if I think what I'm posting is useful and/or interesting. If I have nothing to say, I don't post just to have a new post up there. But no, posting everyday doesn't annoy me. Not if it's good content.
  • What's the best way you've found to boost your readership (and, honestly, do you ever feel like a sell-out for self promotion?!)? - The blog networks, the blog hops & comments! Definitely. I do feel like sometimes self-promotion is just sucky, but at the same time, I feel like it's necessary. You have to put yourself out there & kinda market your blog if you want more readers. It's just the way the game works. The comments are huge, but you have to leave thoughtful, sincere comments. Nobody cares if you just go to their blog & say nothing but "Great post, check out my blog." I might check it out, but it's rare that you'll go on my Google Reader. Not that everyone is just dying to get on my Google Reader, but I bet you'd love to be on somebody's!
  • What's one thing you've learned that you wish you knew when you started? - Hmmmmm, probably that comments are a really big deal & that a good blog design really does make a difference. I also wish I'd started with Wordpress. I'm on Blogger right now & I'll move when I feel ok spending the money to have my blog design converted to Wordpress. I'm not there yet. Probably next summer. I loved this post on The Blogger's Concierge about this same question.
  • Do you have any blogging regrets? - Not so far. I mean, I think my blog has gotten better with time. I'm embarrassed by some of my really old posts, but I think growth over time is a great thing. If I didn't feel like I'm at a better place now than I was a year ago, then I think there would be something wrong.
  • What's your top tip for a rookie blogger? - Be consistent & comment thoughtfully on other blogs!!!

How to Create/Add to Folders in Google Reader

I am SO happy that my post on How to Efficiently Read Blogs was helpful to a lot of you!! I have gotten several questions & emails about how to actually do the folders. There is a post on The Blogger's Concierge about one way to do it, so definitely check that out! But I do it a different way, so I thought I would share. I hope this helps even more! Also, please stop over at The Mommyhood Memos if you have questions about blogging or have some answers for newbie bloggers! She has asked some great questions & could use some tips!!

First, you have to subscribe to the blog. Most of you probably know how to do this, but just in case I find their RSS button on their page or some subscription link. (If there isn't one of these, this video on YouTube is a great, short intro to Google Reader & will tell you how to manually add them just using the blog address.) When you click their RSS button, a page like this should show up (I'm going to add Rage Against the Minivan!):

You can see there are several options for how to subscribe, but I use Google, so I click the Google button. Clicking the Google button brings this page up:

So I click "Add to Google Reader." This puts the new feed at the bottom of my sidebar in my Google this:

From there, I put my cursor over the name of the feed & a small blue arrow shows up to the right of the feed title. Click this arrow & another menu bar will pull up:

I then either add the feed to an existing folder or I create a new folder using that option. Then my feeds are all organized! Here's my lovely homepage if you're interested! I have a ton of folders, but my 5 main ones are at the top & in all caps!!

I also wanted to point out that you can also just click the feed title in the sidebar & click & drag it into the folder you want it in if the folder is already created. You can bypass the whole thing above if you prefer the click & drag. Up to you!

Please email me or comment if you have any more questions!! Sorry if my pictures are a little hard to read!
And please SUBSCRIBE!! Add me to your Google Reader!!

A True, Authentic Mom

I’ve been following Heather over at Theta Mom for a while now. I love her willingness to share the ups & downs of motherhood & her sincere desire to build a community of moms who are sharing & learning from each other. Her blog is turning One this week & to share in that celebration, she asked her readers to draft a post about their experience as a mom - their reasoning behind why they are what she calls a “Theta” - the true, authentic mom. 

As I started diving back into my memories over the past year or so that I’ve known I was going to be & then became a mom, I found several reasons why I think I’m a true, authentic mom. For one, anyone who knows me in real life knows that I tend to make my own way. I’m not like anybody I know & it took  me years to realize that & be okay with it. I used to spend a lot of time trying to fit in with the crowd. In high school, I was lucky to finally find a group of friends who were very authentic & who accepted me for who I was & were okay with the fact that I would geek out over Buffy or Newsies or a smorgasbord of other fabulously nerdy obsessions. As the years passed, I had to be okay with the fact that I talk a lot & I get really excited about stupid things & I cry at great movies & I have a strange, sarcastic sense of humor. I’m not the girl that laughs hysterically at slapstick comedy. I’m the girl who can’t get enough of Michael Cera’s awkward nerdy humor. And that’s ok. I can’t get tan even if I try, so I’ve had to accept my practically see-through pale skin. I hate when I have blonde hair. I just don’t fit into anybody’s category of traditional or classic anything. I speak my mind when I have something to say & I sometimes say the wrong thing. I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth more times than I can count. I constantly find myself leaving some gathering of friends thinking, “should I have said that?” or “should I have talked about that?” But as I get older, I’ve just started to realize, that was me being myself & if I can’t be authentic around those people, then I don’t need to waste my time.

It’s been a liberating experience for me as I’ve grown into an adult. It’s been an even more liberating one as I’ve become a mom. Never before have I had such a strong need to buck up & be a real woman, a real wife, a real mother. I want my daughter to see strength & integrity in her mother. I may not be perfect, but I’m the same person in all circumstances. I am willing to admit my flaws & lay bare my insecurities because I know that I’m constantly on a path toward becoming the woman I know I need to be & the woman God wants me to be. That path is hard & full of potholes sometimes, but it’s the right path & I’m proud to be walking it. And I want my daughter to see that. I want her to know that it’s okay to not fit in the “popular” crowd. I want her to know that some of my favorite people & some of the most sincere & genuine people I know are also some of the strangest, most intense, out-of-the-box people in my life. They are also the people who have made mistakes, picked their head up & kept walking. They are people with strength because it takes real strength to be authentic in this world.

I find it interesting that Theta mom uses the word authentic in particular. I think this is probably why I was drawn to her blog in the first place. I am constantly telling people that one of the traits I value above others is authenticity. I talk about this a lot when it comes to Christianity. I don’t trust Christians who act like they have something to hide - Christians who act one way at church & a different way at home. It severely contradicts everything I have studied about Christ & makes me very uncomfortable. I value authenticity. If this means you admit your flaws & own up to your mistakes, then that’s what it means. Really, that’s what it should mean, because we all have those flaws & we all make those mistakes. In friends, I always look for authenticity; people who are true to themselves & true to me. I have friends who have nothing to hide, who admit their shortcomings & accept me with mine. 

So as a mother, being authentic has meant searching out the things that fit my family & the things that I believe are best for my daughter & then sticking with these things no matter what others may say. It means figuring out who I am & living that way so that my daughter sees a mother with character. It means making a commitment to her dad which is even stronger than the one we made when we got married - I will raise a child with him & accept the difficulties that brings in addition to the normal difficulties of marriage. It means being honest with her in the future & exhibiting authority, but also grace. It means constantly striving toward that goal of the woman, wife, mother that God wants me to be. It means holding myself to a high standard. It means evaluating every decision with integrity, conviction & love. It means being willing to say “this is me; take it or leave it” & then being okay if they leave it, because I cannot conform to someone else’s definition of a good mother or friend or Christian or wife or person. God made me a mother & I believe that by looking to Him & by partnering with my husband, we will be true, authentic parents. And I believe by doing this, we have a better chance of raising a true, authentic child.

More posts about me as a mom:
Also, subscribe to get updates of all my posts!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Blog With Substance

I received another award!! I really can’t believe it!! This one is really cool, in my opinion, and it’s called A Blog With Substance. This one was given to me by NYC Island Gal. Make sure to go check out her blog! She just started a new Blog Hop on Fridays that you can link up to & find some new blogging friends!!

For this award, you are supposed to write your blog philosophy. This is the first award I’ve gotten that I’ve really taken some serious time to sit down & think about how to accept it - how to write my blog philosophy & what bloggers to pass it to!

The simplest way to explain my blog philosophy is to say that I really have a desire for community. As soon as I became a mom, I found that I was surrounded by moms who had been right where I was & were willing to help when I had questions. Through blogging, I’ve even expanded this group of moms who are such a valuable source of conversation, advice & connection. There are several ways I plan on building this community through my blog, but I’m taking things one step at a time. Right now, I’m focusing on reading & commenting on the blogs I care about. I even exchange emails with several fellow bloggers! For me, I’d rather have a bunch of sincere, loyal followers - who I also follow (see, community) - who are interested in conversation than a ton of people who just stop by & read every once in a while, but don’t really care about engaging in community. I sincerely try to post things that I believe will be beneficial to others. Even if I’m posting a random story about my day or my daughter, before I post it I always ask myself 2 things: “Would I be interested in reading this if I was a stranger stumbling upon this blog?” and “Is this useful to the people reading my blog?” So my basic philosophy is to try to present interesting & engaging content that makes blog readers want to come back & engage in community with me! If you’re interested in the same thing, check out some of my best posts & subscribe!!

Now, I am passing this along to 8 blogs that I feel have real substance. (I don’t know how many I’m supposed to pass it to, so I chose 8.) This was something I really took some time to think about, so I gave a short description of why I think it would be worth your time to check out these blogs!

1. Greg, Sarah & Ivy
Sarah is an elementary school teacher, just like me! And you will absolutely love her daughter Ivy & her husband Greg! They’re just the sweetest family & every time I read her blog it makes me smile!

2. Dr. Mommy at Home
I love this blog because all her posts have had information that I really wanted to know about & that I can use!! She’s a part-time pediatrician, so her advice will be useful to all moms!!

3. Generation X Mom
My favorite thing about this blog is that her topics are such conversation-starters! I love that she’s raising questions that are important to the new generation of moms. I was reading on her blog & then bringing up these conversations with my husband because I think they’re great things to discuss!!

4. Happy, Healthy & Loved
I just really love keeping up with this blog. Her daughter is 8 months old & I just love seeing which milestones she has reached & then thinking ahead to Isis in a few months! The title just says it all, it just seems like a great, happy family!

5. Of Such Is the Kingdom
I found this blog through Mommy’s Piggy Tales & I’ve just kept reading all her posts! She’s really encouraging & posts on a variety of topics that I find interesting.

6. I’m Still Standing
This blog is written by Shelley who is the mother of 2 girls - one who has special needs. I have been so inspired reading her blog & seeing her dedication to creating the best possible environment for her daughters! I think all moms will be inspired by this blog!

7. Sellabit Mum
This blog by Tracy is just full of wonderful pictures!! I love looking at all her posts! Her girls are absolutely adorable!!

8. The Blogger’s Concierge
I have really enjoyed reading this blog so far! I love that they give great tips for bloggers & that they are working on creating a community of bloggers - including a star search for A list bloggers!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

How to Efficiently Read Blogs

Have you ever been just completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of blogs out there you can read? I have. Wow. So many fabulous people I'm interested in reading about! I love the stories, the humor, the pictures, the tips, the giveaways, the links, I just love it all! So I've found myself having to streamline my blog reading in order to better manage my time & make sure I hit the "must-reads" for me. Here's how I've done it:

First of all, if you leave a comment on my blog or if you follow my blog, I will go to your blog & at the very least I will follow you on Google Friend Connect. This way the blog shows up on my blogger dashboard when I log in. I always look over the new posts that are there when I log in each day, but if you've looked at my Google Friend Connect page lately, you'll see that I follow a lot of people's blogs! So I had to come up with a more specific approach in addition to the blogger dashboard.

This is where my Google Reader comes in. If you haven't been introduced to the wonder that is RSS readers, hop over & read Problogger's explanation, then hop right back here! I use my RSS reader to read the blogs I am really interested in! But again, as of right now, this list includes 274 subscriptions. So I have to streamline even more.

I use folders! I have several different folders, but I have 5 main folders & then smaller folders of blogs I've read for a long time broken into categories. My 5 main folders for new blogs I discover are titled as such: Giving it a Shot, Movin' On Up, Comment on These, Favorites, Learn From These

Basically if I go to your blog to leave a comment & follow you, I'll check things out for a minute while I'm there. If I like what I see (which is an entirely different post in and of itself - expect this at a later date), then I'll add you to my Google Reader & you'll start in my "Giving it a Shot" folder. These are read when I have time. They're low on the totem pole on my reader, but they do get read!

If you've been in my "Giving it a Shot" folder for a while & I find that I really like your posts, want to read more of them, identify with them, etc, you get moved up to..."Movin' On Up" (original name, huh?). These are the posts that I read about every other day. They still all get read, but they're a little higher priority.

From there, if I am still finding that we are just really clicking, you as the blogger, me as the blog-reader, then you get moved to my "Comment on These" folder. These are the people that I really want to build community & relationship with. These are my blog friends! Now, I comment frequently on blogs throughout my reading regardless of which folder they're in. The difference is, if I'm reading from say 40 different blogs, I may comment 5-10 times on 5-10 different blogs. If you're added to my "Comment on These" folder, you can expect a comment from me the majority of the times you post.

From there, the "Favorites" folder are the blogs that I absolutely must read every day. There aren't very many blogs in here, less than 10, but these are the ones that really knock my socks off with pretty much every post.

The "Learn from These" folder are the top blogs in their niches. These include the top 10 on Top Mommy or Top Baby blogs & the other top blogs in different groups or networks. I look at what they're doing, what they're adding to their blogs as something different, etc. I'm not interested in copying. I'm just interested in learning. Think of this group as my own personal blog conference. I just learn what works.

So there's my strategy! It's working for me so far! I read a lot of blogs & I love following new people & I love commenting! I'm thinking about sharing my favorite posts I read on my Google Reader, so if you have a Google Reader, feel free to subscribe to my shared items, although I haven't really started yet!

Please share your strategies - if you have any - for how you read blogs!

Who, Me?!?

I am so excited about this second blogger award - The Versatile Blogger! I'm also really excited to pass it along to 5 other bloggers who are new to my blog!

Lisa at 1 Wasabi Mommy awarded me this time! We met through the Mommy's Piggy Tales group we are in together! Stop by & check out her blog when you get a chance!!

First, I'm supposed to share 7 things about myself. I feel like I'm running out of things to share, so I'm going to share 7 of my favorite books! These are not in order & may not even be my top 7, just 7 of my many favorites!
1. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
2. Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer (all 4 of them)
3. Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling (all 7 of them)
4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
5. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
6. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
7. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

And the 5 new followers of my blog I'd like to pass this to are:

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Little Weekend Reading...

Did you experience any not-so-fun post-partum hormones? Adriel at The Mommyhood Memos would totally understand.
I REALLY need to read Life After Yes by Aidan at Ivy League Insecurities. Heather at Theta Mom is doing a giveaway of the book right now!
Hanan at Lilac City Momma posted some great summer snacks for on-the-go!!
I really want some baby Chuck Taylors for Isis! She has a pair for when she's a little older, but I want these baby ones like Everly at Dear Baby!
And since her blog is my absolute favorite, check out this beautiful letter to Everly from her mama Melissa at Dear Baby! I feel the exact same way, but she says it so much better!!
Looking for an awesome food blog?? Whitney has a Blogtastic Blog that you'll love!!
Interested in history or local landmarks? I love this blog by Peter at Kaintuckeean! He posts about different historical landmarks or important locations in Kentucky! I'd love to find more blogs like this for other states!

Go stop by these blogs & tell them I sent you!!

Friday Blog Hops!

I love these things because you can find great new blogs to follow & great new followers!!

If you're new here, check out my Best Posts!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Popeye Got Me In Trouble...Mommy's Piggy Tales #3

Age 6 or First Grade

My first grade teacher was Mrs. Crouch. She was a friend of my mom’s. My mom is also a teacher. She taught for 27 years & just retired a few weeks ago. The majority of that time, she taught Kindergarten. Mrs. Crouch’s daughter, Emily, actually babysat for me later in my life. Now Emily is also a teacher & has a daughter of her own. Mrs. Crouch also has a son named Layne & I remember thinking he was really cute. Too funny.

I remember liking first grade. I made several friends that year that I kept through the rest of elementary school. There were two in particular named Janie & Laura. Janie’s mom was a teacher’s assistant at the school and Laura’s dad was the county judge. I have a really clear memory of Janie & I getting in trouble for singing a Popeye the Sailor Man song. Do you remember this one?

Popeye the Sailor Man
He lived in a garbage can
He turned on the heater
And burned off his wiener
Popeye the Sailor Man

Classy, I know. But we were 6. Come on. Anyway, we got in BIG trouble & had to sit in the hall in time-out. This was unfortunate because both of our mothers worked in classrooms on the same hall. Looking back on it, I think Mrs. Crouch probably did this on purpose, because our mothers walked by several minutes later & we both burst into tears. 20 years later, I still remember that song & the fact that it got me in trouble!!

I started dance lessons this year. I did tap, jazz & ballet. This continued until I was in middle school. I was also in the wedding of a close family friend. This was at the very beginning of first grade, but it was the only wedding where I was the flower girl! My cousin was the ring bearer. Unfortunately my most distinct memory of that wedding is of me throwing up in the hotel the night before after eating cheese cubes at the rehearsal dinner.

I’m starting to see a pattern of me just remembering bad things!! Hopefully this changes as I continue with my Mommy’s Piggy Tales!

Mommy’s Piggy Tales - Week #1
Mommy’s Piggy Tales - Week #2

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Girls Night & A New Book!

Last night I got to go out with some of the girls from my Bible Study in high school. We get together a couple of times a year now that we've all moved various places & have gotten busy with families & jobs, etc. It's a wonderful group of women who I feel blessed to call my friends. We started the group when I was a sophomore in high school. Sara, our leader, is the woman in the picture above with the purple scarf. That's just a few of us at my baby shower last year. There were a lot more of us through the years. It's now been more than a decade since we started. These girls saw me through some of the hardest experiences of my life, but have also been there through the best ones. We've now had several marriages, a birth (yay Isis!), a current engagement (congrats to Angie above in the white shirt & scarf), a current pregnancy (congrats to Emily in the black dress) & we have even had to struggle through the death of one of our members a couple of years ago (we still miss Lesley). This group of girls-turned-women has defined a lot of my adolescence & have been such great confidants & encouraging friends. We have also had the courage to challenge each other to be better & to push forward when life gets tough. I hope & pray that one day Isis will have a similar group of friends & I was so happy yesterday when all my Bible Study friends got to meet her!

Sara brought me a book yesterday, too! She is the mother of 3 beautiful children & I have gone to her several times in the last few months for advice as a mom. She is such a source of encouragement & godly counsel. She is also an example to me of how to really pray for your children & to teach them how to be true & genuine in this life. So when she brought me the book How to Have Your Second Child First, I knew it was something I had to read! I've just started it, but already I think it's really interesting! It has 100 things that a second parent knows, but that the first-time parent would benefit from. So far, I recommend it, but I'll let you know my final verdict when I'm finished!!

Did you have a group of friends who made the difference for you in life?
Have you read How to Have Your Second Child First?
What other books have you read that you would recommend to a first-time (or second or third-time) parent?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

10 on Tuesday: 10 Pet Peeves

This is technically a 10 on Tuesday, but the idea is from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop!

10 of My Worst Pet Peeves

1. People who don't wash their hands - especially after going to the bathroom. Ewwwww
2.The smell of burps - or just being able to smell a burp.
3. People who interrupt when others are talking.
4. Scratching people with my bare fingernails
5. Gristle in chicken
6. When people sing the harmony part with a song on the radio
7. People who are trying to turn in a non-turn lane - or people who wait until the last second to get in the turn lane
8. People who speak excessively loud in normal conversation
9. Picky eaters
10. Drivers who change lanes every 4 seconds

What are your 10 Pet Peeves?
Read more of my 10 on Tuesdays

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Bloggy Friend

I have been reading the Mama's Losin' It blog & I love her Writer's Workshop! She has a huge list of writing prompts she's come up with & I keep them in mind for the days I just can't think of anything to say. Today is one of those days.

My first bloggy friend is named Jessica. She contacted me when she found another blog I used to write more on. It's sort-of a life blog about a bunch of different stuff. I also posted a lot about celebrities & movies & TV or various media that I thought was interesting. Jessica writes a lot about celebrities. We bonded over our love of Buffy! I even sent her a Buffy Valentine's card one year (because I do that) & she sent me a Christmas card! We still keep in touch because we are friends on Facebook. I actually talked to her about blog designs just the other day!

Jessica had been blogging for longer than me & was more familiar with all kinds of blog tips that I didn't know. She's actually the one who told me about BlogHer & let me know when they were accepting new bloggers for advertising. Bloggy friends can be so helpful! You should check out her blog! You should also take some time to thank your first bloggy friend!! I look forward to making new bloggy friends through this blog!!

Who was your first bloggy friend?

Recipe: Mexican Rice Casserole

I found this recipe on the $5 Dinners blog! I love that blog! I've found so many great recipes that are cheap! Lewis loves this one in particular. We add sour cream & salsa on top of it sometimes. It's yummy!!

**Note: go to the link for the $5 Dinners recipe. I've put my modified version below**
1 package ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 package taco seasoning
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups rice
1 cup frozen corn
1 can kidney beans
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook 2 cups rice with 4 3/4 cup water. Bring water to boil, add rice, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
2. Brown ground beef. Drain. Return to skillet, add 3/4 cup water, taco seasoning, tomato sauce, corn & beans. Stir through.
3. Add ground beef to rice. Put into 9×13 baking dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until cheese melts.

Check out more of my favorite recipes!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Isis sat on her own in a high chair for a little while yesterday!! It's the first time she's done that!! She started sitting a little bit earlier this week, but was for maybe 1 to 2 seconds at a time. Since then she's gotten a little better. It looks more like this & it lasts a little longer...
But when she didn't want to be in her carrier yesterday at the restaurant, I decided to try out the high chair & she did great - with the exception of some attempts to put her mouth all over the thing. Time to break down & purchase that shopping cart & high chair cover!! Either way, I prefer to believe this is a milestone reached. She's definitely sitting on her own for a little bit at a time now & that's definitely a milestone. Party!!!

Looks I Love!

To Isis on Her First Father's Day

Dear Isis,
Today is your first Father's Day. Technically you were with us last Father's Day, but you were held in my belly, not in my arms. So today I'd like to talk to you about your daddy because I can. The most important thing you need to know is that he loves you so perfectly and so unconditionally. One day you'll get to see the way his eyes light up when he sees you, but watching it these first few months has been an absolute joy. I hope you find joy knowing that you have brought it to him.

Your dad will teach you so many things throughout your life, whether through words or through actions. I could not have picked a more perfect man to introduce you to the world. He will protect you and affirm you and encourage you every step of your journey. I know from him you will learn courage because he is truly courageous. He will help you learn to live with integrity because he has learned to live with this conviction throughout his life. He will teach you to investigate, to think and to discern. His mind is one of the most attractive things about him. I hope you feel the same.

I believe he will challenge you. He will push you to be your best, but he will also hold you when you are not yet who you need to be. Don't be afraid to come to him with pain, loss or failure because he has experienced all of these and has still risen to the place of a leader. He will help you see that you can be strong in your broken places. I know he will love and accept you as you are. I cannot even begin to explain to you how sincerely he takes his responsibility as your father. I know that he will be gracious, kind, funny, unique, interesting & encouraging to you. He will model for you the love and life that God has for you. I know that he will daily be on his knees to lift you as high as he can toward the only One who can really provide for all your needs. 

I hope that one day you know how blessed you are to have him as a dad. Life is going to get rough and messy and there may be days that you don't understand our decisions as your parents, but I can promise you now that your dad is praying and preparing for your life. He has been doing so since before we even knew you were here. One day I hope you know and feel how very much we both love you.

Happy First Father's Day to your daddy!


If you wrote a Father's Day post, please link to it in the comments because I'd love to read it!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How my daughter makes me feel...

She is hope. She makes me feel like I’ve done something right. Like when you hear a song that just perfectly captures a moment. Or like a friend who always says the right thing. Or the day you never want to end. Like a fall breeze or a cold drink on a hot day. So cheesy when I read back through those descriptions, but that’s how she makes me feel. Her daddy makes me feel similarly, but it’s not the same. There is an intimacy there with Lewis that isn’t there with Isis. Together with our Creator, we created her. But she still has changed me - to the core. 

I sincerely hope to be able to give her beautiful moments, songs that fit life perfectly, friends that say the right thing, days she doesn’t want to end. I hope to provide an environment where she can grow, thrive, change, discover. I want her to be free to dream & hope; to make mistakes & learn; to cry hard & laugh harder. Life has so many mysteries & so many wonderful distractions. I want to give her freedom. I want to give her joy. She has absolutely given it to me.

Somehow, finishing Something Borrowed made me want to write this. I highly recommend you check it out.

How does your child make you feel?
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