Showing posts with label What Do You Think?. Show all posts
Showing posts with label What Do You Think?. Show all posts

On Using A Blog Writing Program


For several years now I have used a writing program to write my blog posts, instead of composing posts directly in Blogger - and I have to say, I love it!  I've never been able to go back to writing in Blogger since I started using a program, so today I thought I'd talk about a few reasons why I like it.


1. It allows me to compose posts offline.  This was especially useful when we had a more finicky internet service, but when you are working with a writer, your post drafts are saved to your computer.  So if you are not in a place where you can access the internet, you can still prepare blog posts, format them, and get everything ready to hit "publish".

2. It is easier to add and position photos.  Maybe it's just my computer, but I always have a hard time moving photos around when I try to add them into a post in Blogger.  With a writer, you can just drag photos into the post you are composing, and it's easy to move photos around in a post. 

3. Photos are resized for you and uploaded in one batch.  When you add photos to your post, you can either choose the exact dimensions you want it to be, or in some writers you can even drag the corners of a photo to size it a precise way.  Then when you upload your post, everything is uploaded in one batch, and the sizes of the photos are exactly how you sized them in the writer.  This makes the uploading much faster because the photos are not being uploaded at full size, and it saves me work and space in my Picasa albums by re-sizing photos for me.

Those are the main things I like about using a writer, though I'm sure others could list more benefits that I haven't really utilized.  So what writer do I use?


Windows Live Writer For PC

I first started using a writer when I had a PC, and the program I used was Windows Live Writer.  If you are a PC person, you are in luck!  I loved Live Writer, and I've never been able to find another program that is quite the same after I switched to Mac. 

I was pretty sad to not be able to use Live Writer anymore when we switched - I've adapted a lot since then, so I don't remember all of the things I could do with Live Writer that I lost.  But I do remember the photo-sizing options being more smooth and easy to use because you can drag the corners of photos to size them a certain way.  Live Writer also formats the program so that it looks like the format of your blog - so you can really see how the post is going to look before uploading it.  

I think it also allows you to edit posts that have already been published, and I seem to remember being able to back up my posts from Live Writer (correct me if I'm wrong - it's been a long time).  I think you can also choose to have your photos uploaded to a website other than Picasa, which is nice if your Picasa albums fill up.  All perks of Live Writer.  And the best part is that you can get it for free! You can download Live Writer for free here.


MarsEdit For Mac

I did a lot of research after switching to Mac, and I finally decided on getting MarsEdit.  It's similar to Live Writer, and it looks like they've even improved a lot of things since I downloaded my current version - you can now edit the HTML of a post in MarsEdit, and they've also added a preview feature and an option to format a template to match your blog.  

With the version I have, you can only compose drafts in MarsEdit, you can't update posts that have already been published.  You also can't resize images by dragging the corners (you have to pick the size you want when you add them to your post).  I'm not sure if those things are different in the new version or not.

Live Writer is definitely the best out there, but I've actually come to really like MarsEdit too. It still allows me to compose posts offline and save drafts until I'm ready to publish them, and it still is way nicer for dealing with photos.  I wouldn't trade MarsEdit for composing in Blogger.

Unfortunately you actually have to pay for MarsEdit - I think it's $40 from the app store?  We got a free gift card to use for apps when we bought our Mac, so it didn't really cost me anything extra at the time.  You can try a free 30 day trial of MarsEdit here.


Do any of you use a writing program for your blog posts?  What is your favorite program?  What are some of the reasons you like your writer?  I can only speak about the two that I've used, so I'm curious to hear what you all think!

Big Boy Room Ramblings


How was everyone's Labor Day weekend?  We didn't go on any trips or anything, but Derek had a long weekend too, so we pretty much just hung out and goofed off as a family.  It was lovely.

I'm having a hard time catching back up on blog posts since my little break two weeks ago, and the long weekend did not help, so today I'm just going to ramble.  Okay?  Okay.

This week I started looking at bedding for Wyatt's "big boy room".  We obviously aren't going to need the toddler bed for Gwen for a while, but I think Wyatt is ready to move to a big bed, and I want to get started on it.  So I went to my favorite place to shop - Amazon! - and looked for some bedding ideas.

At first I was thinking I might just do the duvet thing for Wyatt when we move him to the big bed, but then I spotted this quilt:

I love the idea of doing a car theme for Wyatt's room, because Wyatt loves cars right now.  I also think this bedding will grow with him nicely. I even found these other items that I think would look so fun in his room:
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Cute, right?

But then I saw this bedding.  Wyatt also likes trucks, but what I really like is how colorful this bedding is.  I could pretty much put it in any color room and it would look great.  This would be good since we may end up moving Wyatt upstairs into the current spare bedroom - which is yellow.  And I think this construction site bedding would look great with the yellow walls, and still look really boyish.

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I also really like this next bedding, because I have a soft spot for dinosaurs for little boys.  Unfortunately it only comes in a twin size, and the bed we have for Wyatt is a full size bed.
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So really, it's between the first two bedding sets.  I'm leaning toward the construction site one because I feel like the colors will work better and be more versatile, but looking at the car bedding and decorations again has me torn because that would be really cute too!  I don't know.  I'll have to ask Derek what he thinks.

I'm trying to think about what to do for a nightstand, because the bed we have for Wyatt is also a really tall bed . . . I might have to go hunting in some Goodwills and see if I can find something that I can paint.  I like the idea of painting a nightstand or dresser dark blue for his room.

And then I want to get one of these cubby-style bookshelves from Ikea (like this one only turned on it's side).  Wyatt has way too many books to fit on that little ledge in his room anymore, and this would give me a place to store books, a place to display his piggy bank and other decorations, and I could also add colorful baskets to store little toys.
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And of course I'll need these too, or some variation thereof.  

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Maybe Derek can make Wyatt a step stool, because they are expensive!  This was one of the most reasonably priced ones I found and it was still forty bucks.

Also, I'm not really sure which color of wood I'm going with for the furniture yet, so I'm just showing the natural wood color for now - don't get hung up on that.

Those are my thoughts about Wyatt's room.  And it took so long to ramble about that, I'm about rambled out.  

Oh!  One more thing!  I took an Influence Network class about being a worship leader in your family, and the teacher was basically saying to just be intentional about sharing with your kids about Jesus and God's love. It really got my creative juices flowing on how to infuse more about Jesus into Wyatt's daily life.  

One of the things I was thinking of is that I want to find more Bible-based movies, and I ran across "Auto-B-Good" movies.  They have a faith-based series, and I totally want to order one for Wyatt!  I haven't watched them yet, but they look like they might be good.  Maybe a Christmas present?

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When did you/are you planning on moving your toddler to a "big" bed?  Anything I'm not thinking of for a "big boy room"?  Biblical movie suggestions for kids?  I'm all ears.  Or eyes.  Whatever.

Vacation Plans

 So we finally got our vacation plans finalized, and in early July we are going camping!

I'm honestly pretty nervous - camping with a two year old and 6 month old will probably be an adventure.  Here's the plan so far:

-We are going to be tent camping, which believe it or not, I've never done before.  We always had an RV growing up.  I was slightly worried about how Wyatt would like it, but then I remembered that he loves the play tent that my mom and dad set up for him at their house.  We set up our tent in front of our house so that Wyatt can get used to it before our trip, and he was pretty excited when he saw it.

 

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-We're taking an air mattress and the pack-and-play for Gwen.  I'm not quite sure yet if Wyatt will be sleeping with Derek and me on the air mattress, or if we might bring a little cot for him.  I need to pack everything into the tent and see what looks like the best plan.

-I think Wyatt will *probably* be okay sleeping in the tent since Derek and I will be right there, but I am pretty worried about Gwen.  She hasn't been the best sleeper for the last month anyway, and my biggest worry is that she won't sleep at all in the tent!  I think maybe we need to do a couple nights in the pack-and-play so that she can practice sleeping somewhere other than her crib before we go.

-We are going to try to pack a lot of our food so we don't have to spend so much money buying food on the way.  But we probably won't be able to have a campfire.  It's been pretty dry around these parts this year, and we've had several fires already.

 

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(Wyatt in the tent, though when I took this he was more interested in going back inside for another piece of toast.)

 

-I told Derek that we must camp somewhere where there is a bathroom and a shower.  I'm not one of these get-really-dirty-and-answer-the-call-of-nature-in-the-woods camping types.

-We will be attempting to pack the tent, cooler, sleeping bags, lawn chairs, pack-and-play, suitcases, and other paraphernalia in our tiny little SUV.  Someone suggested we bring Harvey for protection, and though I know he would be a good guard dog, I'm pretty sure there is no way we can fit him in too.

-I'm thinking through my clothes right now and trying to decide what things I wouldn't mind getting dirty.  I'm also trying to be strategic and bring as few clothes as possible, while still hoping to look cute.  Is that even possible, to look cute (and maybe even a little stylish) while camping?  We shall see.

 

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-I think it was Natalie who suggested packing kid's outfits in zip-lock bags, complete with shirt/pants/socks/shoes so you don't have to go searching through everything while on vacation.  I think this is brilliant.  I am slightly worried about making sure to bring enough clothes for the kids while not over-packing though.  I just never know when one of them is going to make a big mess all over their clothes!  I think we might be camping at a couple KOA's though, and they have washing machines, so I guess that's an option.

Bottom line:  I'm going to be doing a lot of testing things out and preparing over the next couple weeks, but I think it should be a fun trip!

 Have any of you been camping with a baby or toddler?  Any advice for me?

Old Wives' Tales

Okay, for all of you who are curious as to how this pregnancy compares to my last pregnancy, according to all the old wive's tales on gender?  Read on.


Craving salty/sour things or sweet things?

With Wyatt: I craved salty/sour things.
With this Baby: I've have been craving both.
Hands dry or soft?
With Wyatt: Didn’t notice.
With this Baby: No difference.
Sick or eating more?
I wasn't very sick with either of my pregnancies, maybe slightly more sick with Wyatt than with this baby.
Can people tell you are pregnant from the back?
With Wyatt: No.
With this Baby: ? I'm not sure.  I don't think so.  Not yet anyway.
Carrying High or Low?
I carried pretty low with Wyatt, and I feel like I'm carrying slightly higher with this pregnancy.  But if you want to see a side-by-side comparison, here you go:
This is me at 20 weeks with both pregnancies, Wyatt on the left, this Baby on the right:
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I'll let you be the judge.  Though it feels just a little higher to me even if it doesn't look it.  I was already in maternity pants with Wyatt in that picture on the left.  This time I can still mostly make my regular pants work, like in the picture on the right.
Baby's heart rate over 140 bpm?
With Wyatt: It was in the 40-50's range throughout the pregnancy.
With this Baby: Started out much higher than Wyatt's (in the 60's-80's), but it seems to have evened out the last couple times we went in and was more in the 40-60's range.
Right or left side while resting?
Both sides with both pregnancies.
Clumsy or Graceful during pregnancy?
With Wyatt: Didn’t notice.
With this Baby: Clumsy.
Palms up or palms down (when asked to show your hands)?
With Wyatt: I can't remember for sure, but I feel like it was palms up.
With this Baby: Palms up.
Has the husband put on weight?
Derek hasn’t put on weight with either pregnancy.
Picking up a single key by the round side or skinny side?
With Wyatt: ? Can't remember for sure. Probably round side, because that’s the side I always grab first.
With this Baby: Round side.
Are the age and year of conception both odd/even or one odd, one even?
With Wyatt: One odd, one even.
With this Baby:  One odd, one even.
Chinese Gender Chart?
With Wyatt: One chart I tried said boy, and another said girl, so I'm not sure which one was the true gender chart.
With this Baby: Once again, one chart says boy, another says girl!  I think that definitely proves it in my mind that internet Chinese gender charts cannot be trusted.

And that about wraps it up!  If you haven't voted in the gender poll yet, you now have all the information, so vote to the left!

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Maintenance (Of Friendship)

 

First of all, thank you to everyone for all your congratulations on my little announcement last week!  We are so thrilled to be expecting this baby!  Now you know why I put a little break for this series in there!  We’re going back to “regularly scheduled programming” this week - thanks for bearing with my overload of pregnancy stuff last week, but I had to get you (and the blog) all caught up!



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This week I’m sharing my thoughts.tips on friendship maintenance . . . what it takes to keep a friend.  I’d be really interested to see what you all think on this, so write a post and link-up at the end!

 

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via*


This quote reminds me of the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Luke 6:31) - which is a pretty good golden rule for maintaining friendships too, don't you think? But here are my specific tips anyway . . .


8.  Don’t let only one person be the initiator.

Don’t always let the other person be the one to call. Your friend needs to know you have a desire to develop the friendship too, so try to make sure you are the one calling/writing at least half the time. On the other hand, if you are the one who always calls, it’s not a bad thing to step back and wait for the other person to initiate lunch/coffee once in a while. You shouldn’t be the only one doing the work if it’s going to be a healthy friendship.  Speaking from experience, friendships with give-and-take people are so much better and last longer than friendships with take-take-take people, so try to belong to the former group and not the latter.


9.  Don’t assume the worst.

If your friend isn’t calling you back, don’t assume they don’t want to be friends with you or that they are mad at you. Maybe they are very busy, maybe they accidentally deleted your voicemail . . . things happen. Give them a break and call again – don’t give up too easily. Most times when something like this happens to me, I finally do get a hold of my friend and they feel terrible for being such a friendship slacker (I’m teasing – there are times when I’m a friendship slacker too, so I can say that). Then everything is fine again. 

Though on the flip side, if a friend calls you, don’t take weeks to call them back if you can help it, because that’s plain rude.  Just because one of my tips is not to assume the worst doesn’t mean that you should expect your friends to give you a pass if you ignore them for long periods of time.  Just to clarify.


10.  Don’t let too much time go by.

I am guilty, guilty, guilty of this many times (I know, Felicia, Hazel, I know!). But when I start to realize that it’s been a few months since I talked to someone? I call or write. Even if it’s a little embarrassing to admit how long it’s been, and even if I have to apologize for not reaching out sooner, it’s better than letting a friendship go down the tubes.


11.  Do give people the benefit of a doubt.

I’ve said this before, but I give everyone the benefit of a doubt. All the time. It’s a gift and a curse sometimes, but I think it has served me well more times than not. If someone said something that seemed a little rude to me? I try to remind myself that they probably didn’t mean it that way. If I feel a little left out by someone at a party? I try to remember that they probably weren’t even aware of what they were doing. People sometimes just have bad days, and sometimes they are just clueless - keep that in mind and give people a little grace. It’s good not to be too sensitive, and to try to think the best of your friends. It can save a friendship, and it definitely cuts down on drama (which I think most of us could live without).

Note: There’s always a place to draw the line, but that’s a different post.


And this next one isn’t a maintenance requirement so much as a bonus points tip . . .

12.  Do try to do little things every now and then to let your friends know you are thinking of them.

For me, this takes the form of mail.  I’m not always the best at this, but I try to occasionally send friends something through snail mail.  Sometimes it’s a chocolate bar or some other inexpensive gift, sometimes it’s just a note.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be through snail mail either – an occasional e-mail of encouragement can be a sure day-brightener too (though in my humble opinion, there’s nothing quite like getting some good, old-fashioned post mail).   Like I said, I’m not always the best at this (and if you are a friend of mine, and I haven’t surprised you with mail yet, I’m working on it!), it’s just a nice thing to do occasionally when you can, to let the other person know they are on your mind (especially if it’s been a while since you’ve seen them).

Now, if we’re talking pen-pal friendships, I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate that “little something”.  Because my fall-back is mail, and if we’re talking pen-pals, your whole relationship is mail.  Felicia, friend, any thoughts?

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Basic friendship maintenance is one of those things that could be different for every person, but these are the things that are important to me and that I try to make sure I keep up on.  And obviously it takes a bit of time to figure out what each individual friend’s basic maintenance requirements are, but that’s what brings you closer, no? 

I'd love to hear what some of your friendship maintenance “do’s and don’ts” are!  What is important for your friends to do/not to do, in your book?  What are some things you try to do to makes sure your friendships stay healthy?  Write a post and link-up (the link-up is open until the end of July), or comment below! 

 



Other posts (of mine) in this series:

On Friendships That End

Starting A Friendship

Making Conversation





*I found this image and quote on Pinterest but could not find the original source (that is so frustrating to me).  So if by chance anyone ever reads this post who does know where it came from, please send me an e-mail and let me know!





Mascara Crisis

 

I’m having a mascara crisis!

Okay, that’s putting it rather dramatically, but really, I’m about done with my current brand of mascara.

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I could swear they have done something to it to make it dry out quicker over the last half a year.  Either that or I’m slathering it on way thicker than before, but I don’t think so.  Usually I can make a tube of mascara last a while, but I have to buy a new one every couple of months lately because it’s either running out or drying out.

That combined with the fact that I’ve been getting mascara flakes under my eyes for the last week and a half (which usually doesn’t happen), and I’m ready to try a new brand.

So.  What mascara do you use?  I’m buying some new stuff today and I need recommendations!


First Birthday Parties

 

Alright, first let’s wrap up last week’s poll, shall we?

Do you have a Twitter account/ How do you feel about Twitter?

-I do have an account and I love it! - 6 (26%)

-I have an account, don't use it that much - 4 (17%)

-I have an account, but I don't really "get" Twitter - 7 (30%)

-Don't have an account, prefer other social media - 0 (0%)

-Don't have an account, don't understand the point of Twitter - 6 (26%)

Votes: 23

Wow, I was a bit surprised at the results this time!  I guess I’m surprised at how many people don’t really get Twitter.  But I shouldn’t be, because it took me about two years (?) to understand it. And I’m still not an expert.

Twitter can actually be pretty helpful to bloggers (more so than for the general public, I think), but it is way easier to get into if you have a smart phone.  If you have a smart phone and you’re a blogger, you definitely need to give it a good try. No excuses for you!

Any bloggers out there who consider themselves adept at Twitter?  Because I think the results of this poll call for a post on understanding Twitter, but I’m not sure I’m the person to write it.  But I would love to have you write a guest post for me on the subject.  I’m serious.  E-mail me at throughcloudedglass@gmail.com if you are interested!

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Okay, on to today’s topic, and the subject of the next poll – first birthday parties.

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(From Wyatt’s first birthday party. I just realized that one of the lights in our chandelier was out.  Ignore that.)

I’ve been thinking about first birthday parties a lot lately.  Maybe because I’m only four months removed from Wyatt’s first birthday party.  Maybe because it seems like lots of babyies in the mom-blog world are hitting “One-derland”!  Maybe it’s because I still find cute ideas for parties that I pin to my party Pinterest board.

There are some amazing party ideas out there.  Seriously.  Just search “first birthday party” on Pinterest and take a look at what comes up.  It’s hard not to want your own child’s first birthday to be just as fabulous as all that.

The cute themes.  The birthday banners.  The artfully decorated smash cakes.  The highchairs.  The party hats/outfits. The food tables.  The favors.  The guestbooks.  The presents.

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(Wyatt’s birthday guestbook.)

Anything that can be done for first birthday parties seems to be done these days.

I’m not necessarily saying it’s a bad thing.  You all have seen Wyatt’s first birthday party post.  You know the effort I put into it, and I had such fun doing it.

But what I’m getting at more than effort is the money that goes into all of this.  Or at least the pressure for all the money to go into this.

A few months before Wyatt’s first birthday, I got the catalog in the mail.  The first birthday catalog.  Filled with tons of decorations, accessories, and pretty much anything you could think of wanting for a party.

I’m sure you all got the same catalog.  How do these people get our names, anyway?

Sure, they had a ton of cute stuff in it.  But I sat down and added up all the things that you could buy for one party, based on what they were selling in the catalog.  And it was a lot of money.  At least it was a lot to me, but maybe I have unrealistic expectations about what it takes to throw a first birthday party.

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(Cupcakes.)

After I threw Wyatt’s first birthday party I sat down and added up how much I spent on everything, including outfit, decorations, presents, and food.  At first I thought what I spent was a lot, but not after looking at the catalog.

And it made me wonder, what is the average amount that is spent on first birthday parties these days?  I really want to know.

Because let’s be honest, people, the kids aren’t going to remember any of it.  First birthday parties are often more for the parents and family than for the kids, just because of the fact that they won’t remember.

Wyatt won’t remember his first birthday party.  I will.  But he won’t.

I don’t remember my first birthday party.  I like looking at the pictures.  It was a circus theme, and I had a cake shaped like a circus train.  But that was the extent of it – no elaborate decorations or any of that.

And I looked perfectly happy, thrilled even, with my little party.

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(Wyatt at his first birthday party.)

And yet it seems like there is all this pressure to have an amazing first birthday party for our kiddos.  Probably more so for us blogging/pinning people.  And aside from the outside pressure we also put the pressure on ourselves, because who doesn’t want everyone to “ooh and aah” over our creativity? 

I know I’m not immune.  And I really don’t think it’s bad to spend a bit of money and effort making your child’s first birthday party special.

I just think there should be a balance.

So, in light of that, what do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on a first birthday party?  How much would you/did you spend on your child’s first birthday party (including decorations, presents, outfits, and food)?

Tell me below if you feel comfortable, otherwise you can be anonymous and vote to the left!  I’m going to leave this poll open a little longer to last through next week, and I'm allowing multiple answers for those of you who have multiple kiddos.

I’ll tell you how much I spent on Wyatt’s party when I do the wrap-up of this poll in a couple weeks!


Blog Makeover

So, what do you think of the new blog design?

I stayed up late working on it, so it's all I have to talk about today.

Notice the nice social media buttons on the left? Notice my nice little intro blurbs on the right? Notice how I finally went to a three-column template?

I have to admit the three-column thing is going to take a little getting used to. It feels a bit crowded to me right now.

Note: The color scheme was inspired by an outfit I wore the other day. True story. I was just really liking the whole peach-mint-gray trend going into spring and summer, so I decided to incorporate it in my blog.

Maybe one of these days I'll hit on a blog design that I'll actually like enough to keep for an extended period of time, but this . . . I'll probably at least stick with it through the summer. It's feeling very spring-timey to me, and I'm liking that.

What do you think? Like? Dislike? Too crowded?

Be honest, is it too crowded? Because that's what I'm most concerned about right now.

Share your feedback below, por favor? Gracias!


Return To Sender

 

You have to sing that title . . . just saying.

Every year I go to a lot of effort to order my Christmas cards, address 25-50 envelopes, and mail them off to my family and friends.  Why do I go through all that effort?  (1) To show off my handsome husband and baby (just being honest here), and (2) because doesn’t everyone love mail?

But the last couple of years I’ve started to wonder if the recipients of my Christmas cards send out cards themselves or not.  Because even though I send out the aforementioned 25-50 cards, I only ever get about 5-10 cards back.

I always used to think that maybe people these days just aren’t doing good old fashioned Christmas cards anymore, and I think that’s a pity.  Who doesn’t appreciate a Christmas card, I ask you?  People should send them out more.

But this year I keep reading comments from bloggers about how they love coming in with a Christmas card when they get the mail every day during the second half of December – and I’m wondering, maybe it’s not that people don’t send out cards, maybe it’s just that my people don’t?  Either that, or they are ignoring me, but I don’t think they would do that when I send them a card every year.

I’m talking about the people on my Christmas card list in general, not anyone in particular.  You would think I’d get a better percentage back than 20%.  There’s that line about “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”  But in my book that should say “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is sending Christmas cards for all to read(?)”.  I know, not as catchy, but true.

And you should know that if you have sent me a Christmas card in the past, I get excited over every one.  I seriously do.  In fact, I have yet to throw one out, and this is my fourth Christmas as a married lady.  I’m not sure if there is a person who appreciates Christmas cards more than I do (well, there probably is, but I don’t know them).

My grand total for this year is up to 2 cards at the time of this writing.  How sad.  I’m sure more are in the mail as I type, right?

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has a major card sending/card receiving discrepancy.

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I joke and make it sound worse than it is, and it’s true that I’m slightly bummed about not getting more cards, but also please note that I really enjoy sending them out every year, and I’ll continue to do so even if I don’t get a single card back!  I’d be disappointed if that happened, but After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive!

And I will remind myself of that if this year’s numbers continue on their current projection . . .





P.S.  Also note that I would have sent you each a card, but budget and Shutterfly’s card promotion numbers did not allow it this year . . . I know you guys would probably at least send me one back if I were able to send you one!

Also, thank you Melanie for sending me your card, because I wasn't expecting it and it totally made my day!

Ugly And/Or Crazy Sweaters

Note: Friends, if you were at the party and I cut off your head in some of these pictures, it’s just because I wasn’t sure if you wanted a picture of yourself on my blog.   If you don’t mind, just let me know and I’ll include your lovely faces.  Thanks!

Last Friday Derek and I threw a Crazy Sweater Party!  We had never been to an ugly/crazy sweater party before, and we thought it would be fun to do one this year.  Here is a picture of us with our sweaters:

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Shockingly, neither of us actually won the prize for the worst sweater.

We had dinner and cookies for everyone, and we started out sharing “random facts” about ourselves while we waited for everyone to get here – a lot of the random facts ended up being horrible injury stories or weird medical things, but it made for interesting conversation!

We played a few different games and I think they turned out pretty well.

In the first game, I attached a paper with a Christmas character written on it to each person’s back, and the goal was to figure out who you were by asking others yes or no questions.  The characters I used were:


-Frosty the Snowman (Me)
-Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Derek)
-Santa Claus
-Mrs. Claus
-Mary
-Joseph
-The Abominable Snowman
-The Little Drummer Boy
-The Grinch
-Ebenezer Scrooge
-Tiny Tim
-Buddy the Elf


Everyone figured theirs out!

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Scott and Danae and their sweaters – and yes, that’s our Ralphie in the picture too.  We dressed our dogs up in sweaters for the occasion.

We also played Pictionary with the titles of Christmas songs.  I should have taken pictures of some of the drawings!  The songs ranged from really easy to pretty hard.  These are the ones I used:


-The Chipmunk Song
-I Saw Three Ships
-12 Days Of Christmas
-Hard Candy Christmas
-Deck The Halls
-Jingle Bell Rock
-The Little Drummer Boy
-Silver Bells
-Carol of the Bells
-Sleigh Ride
-Winter Wonderland
-Baby, It’s Cold Outside
-Grown-up Christmas List
-Let It Snow
-I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day
-Away In A Manger
-Santa Baby
-Rockin’ around The Christmas Tree
-Frosty the Snowman
-Santa Claus is Coming To Town
-I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas


I was really impressed with everyone’s drawings!  I wouldn’t even know where to begin with most of those.  Anyway, with a combination of raw talent and pure luck, the girl’s team won!

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Our friends and their cute baby.  Sorry for the pixelating, but I wasn’t sure they wanted a picture of their baby on my site.  Just look at the sweaters.

We also played a game that is kind of like musical chairs, but with no music and more strategy.  Basically everyone draws someone else’s name from a hat (someone else at the party), and the goal is to get four people from your team on the couch.  The person to the left of the empty spot has to call out a name, so you have to figure out everyone’s fake names and remember them to try to get your team members on the couch.  It’s hard to explain, but it was fun.

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My friend, Laura, brought a sweater to the party to announce the gender of their baby (they found out the day before the party) – it’s a boy!  I thought it was a really cute way to announce it to all of us!
Then we voted on the guy and girl with the worst sweaters!  We each gave a little speech to campaign for our sweater. Here are the winning sweaters:

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Jed, Ashley’s husband, won for the worst guy’s sweater! It was pretty ill-fitting, and he sold it well in the speech!

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And my sis won for the worst girl’s sweater!  Really, I don’t think words were even needed to sell that one.

I thought the party turned out pretty well, and it was fun to see everyone and their sweaters!  And I have an ugly sweater just waiting in my closet in case I ever get invited to another sweater party.
Though some people told me it wasn’t that bad – I suppose the ‘80’s are coming back in style.

What sweater would you have voted for?



Time Management After Baby Question

I'm going to work on answering the questions I received on that survey I put up a couple weeks ago - here is the first installment! I'm going to leave the survey up at least through the end of the week, so if you have any questions for me you can submit them here (and you can be totally anonymous if you want to).

On to the first question, which ended up being a post in itself!


What is time management like with a baby? One of my biggest fears in having a baby someday is that I won't be able to keep up with everything! Any tips or advice about that?

To be honest, in some areas I’m still trying to figure out the answer to this question! But I think figuring out time management with a baby is just like figuring out time management with any life change – when I think back to the days in school with all the assignments and studying, I wonder how I managed that! Somehow you make it all work.

As far as practical tips, I think the Lord knew that parents needed time to do things when their babies are little and helpless, because babies sleep a lot in the beginning. By the time they start to sleep less they are better at entertaining themselves, so it all seems to work out.

A lot of things get done during naptime right now – anything that I can’t do very well when Wyatt is awake I save until naptime, and I work in the rest during the day around playing with Wyatt. I really try not to blog or do stuff on the computer while Wyatt is awake or when Derek is home (still working on getting better at this), so a lot of times I do that sort of thing during naptime, or I vacuum, or take a shower.

Making dinner, or cleaning and all that I can do when Wyatt is awake, while he practices his crawling, or plays in his activity center, or whatever. I try to make sure I spend a decent amount of time down on the floor playing with him. Then there are his feedings, but I do that between everything else, and everything somehow gets done. In the evenings after Wyatt goes to bed (we put him to bed around 7:00), Derek and I get our husband/wife time in together.

I will say that things are more challenging on the days that I work – I leave in the morning before Wyatt wakes up, so when I get home in the evening I hang out with Wyatt as much as possible in the short time I have before his bedtime. Then Derek and I spend time together – I try to get all my cleaning and stuff done on my days off, and usually I don’t do much blogging on the days that I work because I make up for it the rest of the week. I’m blessed that I get more days off than a lot of women do – I think it would be harder to do everything without those extra days, but I’d probably just adjust things again and figure it out.

I suspect this is all going to change again as Wyatt gets more and more mobile.

It seems complicated when you first think about it, but it’s really not! Like I said, it’s like any other life change, really. The schedule adjusts a bit, but I’ve found that I’ve just become a bit more efficient with my time, and everything still ends up getting done. I’m sure you’ll find that everything works out when you have a baby as well! Many, many women find a way to make it all work, and I know you will too. The adjustments came pretty naturally for me – you might not even have to think about it too much.

So, I guess if I had to sum it up, my practical tips would be (1) approach naptime with a strategy and use it for things that are harder to do when baby is awake, (2) remember that you can let your baby play alone while you work if needed - alot of times they are just happy to have you nearby, and (3) don't worry too much, because it all seems to work out!

If you have any specific questions about how I work in certain tasks, let me know, but hopefully this answered your question!


I’d actually like to open this question up to other moms too – do you have any specific tips on time management after baby, or did it come fairly naturally for you too?




The Hype


I may inadvertently start an uprising with this post. You have been warned.

I've been seeing alot about Erin Condren planners lately in bog world. If you are a blogger and you haven't heard of them, you must not read other blogs (but here you are, hearing about it on here now, so you must read blogs).

With all the buzz about them, I thought they must be some major breakthrough in the world of planners or something, because everyone is talking about them. And alot of people are willing to pay $50 for them, so they must be cool, right?

I checked out the website though, and I must say I don't understand the hype.

Sure, they are really cute and they are personalized . . . but is that it? Is everyone really willing to pay $50 just for cute?

I'm sorry, but I just don't think they are worth that much, cute as they are. Do you know what I could buy for $50?

Will someone please explain this to me?





P.S. I know there's been deals going on where you can get them for $20-25 dollars, which is a vast improvement over $50, but it's still debatable to me whether it's even worth that.

Cloth Diapering Question


So I’m considering venturing in to the wonderful terrifying world of cloth diapering.

I’m just starting to think all the money I would save would be worth all the hassle.  Disposable diapers are expensive. I also hear babies potty-train easier when using cloth diapers.

Plus, I have to admit, they’re pretty cute.

Cloth diaper

Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap pictured here.

I’m not jumping in with both feet. I’m going to get one cloth diaper, and give it a try. If it’s not too scary, I’ll gradually add to my stash until we have enough to go full time.

Now, I know a lot of you have written posts on cloth diapering, and trust me, I have them starred and ready to refer to. But I wanted to ask a couple questions here, so I can get a consensus.

1. What is your favorite brand of cloth diapers, and why?

2. Do the one-size-fits-all ones work well, or would you suggest getting specific sizes? If I’m going to buy some, I’d like to be able to use them with the next kid too – would I need to buy them in bigger and smaller sizes?


And any other tips you could give me would be appreciated. I think I’m going to order one from Amazon (after I get some input from you all) and see how it goes.

Freaky People

Do you ever run into someone who just freaks you out?

Apparently someone came into the office this week and was acting really weird, like he was casing the place. Now all the girls are a little freaked out - worried that he may come back and hold us hostage or something.

I intend to buy some pepper spray, keep my phone and the spray on me at all times, and make sure we walk out to our cars in a group, especially after dark.

Any other self-defense tips? Prayers for the Lord to put His hand of protection over us and our place of work are appreciated.


Housekeeping With A New Baby



Let's face it - even the most expert housekeeper must reevaluate when a baby enters the picture. And I'm not an expert housekeeper in the first place.

But I'm also a perfectionist, and it's hard for me to deal with a house that's not perfectly in order. I started to get better at being more laid-back with this, and then Wyatt was born.

If I hadn't completely come to grips with the fact that my house wouldn't always be perfect before, I have now. Not without some all-out emotional breakdowns (thank you postpartum hormones), but that's beside the point.

I mean, let's face it, when you're trying to recover from having a baby and other injuries, taking care of a newborn around the clock, sneaking in some sleep, and otherwise attempting to take care of yourself and your newly expanded family while maintaining some kind of order in the household, you have to know what to prioritize or you'll go insane.

Here are some things that have helped me to cope.


Focus on the critical areas.

For me, this is my kitchen and bathroom. If my kitchen and bathroom are dirty, I feel like the house is dirty. On the other hand, there can be two weeks worth of laundry piling up, clutter in the living room, mail on the table, and shoes scattered on the floor, but if the kitchen and bathroom are clean, I feel so much better about the house in general. Figure out which areas are most important to you, and make sure those places are kept clean.

Embrace the baby mess.

If you have a new baby, there are going to be swings, bouncer seats, play mats, blankets, and toys scattered around your house. It's just the way it is. In fact, I'd be a bit worried if that wasn't the case. This is a short phase in your life - there won't always be such obvious evidence of the presence of children in your house, and your babies won't be little forever. Try to enjoy it and not freak out because your house no longer looks like a show home - this is a special time in life. Enjoy all the baby paraphernalia.

De-clutter.

There may be baby stuff around, but that doesn't mean it can't be organized. A swing, bouncer seat, and activity mat have been permanently inhabiting our common living space since Wyatt was born, but each of these items has a particular place that it resides in our house. Keep the blankets folded and the toys stored in the designated spot when not in use.

When I was stuck on the couch for six weeks after my knee injury, I couldn't really de-clutter, because I couldn't carry things and walk at the same time. I had alot anxiety and started feeling out of control during that time, and I think those feelings were mostly related to the clutter. Once I could walk again, Derek and I straightened up the house together, and I instantly felt better about life again.

Clutter equals chaos. You don't need more chaos right now. So rein in the clutter.

Invest in new cleaning products that will make your life easier.

My blogging friend Anna, mentioned Clorox disinfecting wipes to me in a comment over a year ago, but I didn't try them until after I had Wyatt. I wish I had bought some of these sooner! Sure, you may have to spend a little more, but it's so much easier to keep my critical areas clean if I can just pull out a wipe and give everything a once over. It takes about 30 seconds, and it keeps things manageable between deep cleanings.

Products I want to try? The Swiffer Sweeper (maybe it'll work on that old linoleum in the bathroom?), and a feather duster. I think these items would also simplify the cleaning process for me.


Things I haven't figured out:

-How to keep junk from accumulating in the car. When you've got a purse, a diaper bag, a car seat, and other miscellaneous items to bring into the house when you arrive home, picking up the trash is the last thing on your mind.

-The weekly meal plan. Most times we end up having easy (aka: boring) dinners or eating out right now. I would love to get better at planning meals out for the week and making better meals for my hubby, but between everything else that has to be juggled so far, I haven't figured out how to balance this out.


How about you? Any housekeeping tips to add or advice to give?





What I'm Up To

1. Today is April Fool's Day. Growing up, my brother and sister and I would think of all kinds of "pranks" to play on each other. They were all just harmless little pranks. Like taping the handle of the sprayer down on the sink, so that when someone turned the water on they would get sprayed, or putting fake spiders in the cereal, or stuffing each other's shoes, or putting beans in each other's beds. Ah, good times. Maybe I need to think of a little, harmless joke to play on Derek today . . .



2. Wyatt was fussy all day yesterday. He usually has one period during the day when he's a little fussy - I think he gets the occasional stomach ache. But yesterday he just cried all day - I think he has a touch of colic. Yuck. He's doing better today, but I was wondering if any of you had any advice on what to do to help with colic?



My boy and me - he wasn't feeling good yesterday.




3. I wanted to take Wyatt on a walk yesterday, but it was very windy, so I thought we'd better not go after all. Then I was hoping to take him today. But the wind keeps kicking up and dying down on and off, so I don't know whether to chance it today or not. Hopefully we'll actually have a nice day soon so we can have our first trip outside.



4. I still didn't do that great with my diet this week - my sugar intake is still too much, I think. Though I only made fudge once this week - that's something, right?



So, I have this really cool diet analysis program on my computer - I had to get it for my nutrition class in college, and I still have it on my laptop, so I've been recording my diet in it this week. I think actually having to write down everything I eat helps me not to eat quite as much junk - though sometimes I still throw caution to the wind and eat what I want. According to the program, I haven't gone over my calorie allotments once this week - but I'm getting extra calories right now.



Here are my average intake stats this week, according to the program:



Calories: 72%

Protein: 115% (Wow, I didn't realize I ate so much protein.)

Carbs: 72%

Fats: I could have more Omega-6 fatty acids in my diet, apparently.

Vitamins and Minerals: I'm doing pretty good on my intake of all the vitamins and minerals, except for folate - but this isn't taking into consideration that I'm still taking my prenatal vitamins, and they contain a good amount of folate. Still, I'd like to get more from actual food sources.



General stats for the week:



Inches around my waist (at it's widest point): 32 1/2 inches. Slightly better - I'll take it.

Diet: Still way too much simple sugar, but I guess I'm doing okay on calories. Could be better.

Workouts: 4 (counting the one I'm planning to do today.)



5. I broke out the sewing machine, and I decided to work on a project - making burp cloths for some of my friends who are having babies soon. My dear blogging friends, Anne and Amanda, sent me some beautiful hand-made gifts when I was pregnant with Wyatt, and I was so touched, so I thought I'd try my hand at making some hand-made gifts as well. Funny how I used to hate sewing, until I had a baby . . . it's so much more fun when you're sewing for your own baby, and that was just enough to get me started, I guess! I'm having fun with it now.



Oh, there's Wyatt crying again - poor boy. I hope this isn't a repeat of yesterday . . .



Ciao!



Serious Posts Vs. Easy Reads

Do you ever notice that light, easy-read type posts generate alot more comments than the posts that are more thought-provoking or professional pieces?

I recently read a post by another blogger about how serious posts are far less popular than light posts on her blog, if you are judging popularity by the amount of comments received.

I've noticed the same thing on my blog. If you've been blogging for any length of time, and have written both serious and light-hearted posts, I'm sure you have noticed the same thing.

Why is that, do you think?

The writer of the post I read suggested that it's much easier to "skim" those light, easy-to-read posts. You can't quickly skim through a really in-depth post and make an intelligent comment.

I agree with that - it's all about time. It takes much less time to comment on a "fluffy" post than a "heavy" post.

But then I wonder, why don't we take the time to really read the posts that might change our view point, or encourage us, or make us think? Why don't we take the time to think of an intelligent response to challenge or encourage the person who wrote the post?

Sometimes it's easier not to think. Sometimes it's easier just to "skim" those easy-read posts and be entertained, rather than to read and evaluate deeper posts and possibly be challenged.

I'm guilty of reading posts that way. It's so much easier to choose the entertainment route when reading blogs. And when writing them.

Honestly though, the posts that really matter and make a difference are not the ones about how amazing my dessert was, or what I bought at the mall this week, or what I'm wearing for Easter (though I will still be writing those posts - because they are fun to read and write!).

But the posts that really make a difference in my little corner of the blog world are the ones that took thought and effort and time for me to write.

The posts that I read on other blogs that really make a difference to me are the ones that take thought and effort and time to read.

And it's worth the thought and effort, if we'll just take the time.


Read Anything Good Lately?

I just finished Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

It was a good book - I can see why so many girls have recommended it to me! I enjoyed it.

But now I'm in need of a new book. I have pretty wide reading tastes - I like mysteries, historical fiction, suspense, Christian romance and chick-lit, classics (and of course non-fiction too, but I'm just referring to fiction at the moment). It just depends on what I'm in the mood for.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm in the mood for right now though. I think I'd like a light read, just as a change of pace, but I don't really have any possibilities in my possession at the moment. I think a trip to the library is in order.

Does anyone have any suggestions? What are you all reading these days?


Christmas Shopping For Men


The weather has finally turned cold. And when I say cold, I mean bitterly cold. It's as if we went from summer weather to winter weather in the span of one week.

The colder weather has definitely put me in the mood for Christmas shopping. I'm trying to be proactive this year and get my shopping done early - you'll remember how I went Christmas shopping in June with my sister.

It feels good to get people crossed off the list so early. But as I find my mind turning more in that direction, I find myself in a dilemna.

I have no idea what to get the men in my family. It's so easy to find gifts for the ladies - bath stuff, good books, candles, clothes, shoes, accessories. Piece of cake.

Men, on the other hand, are not so simple. There are so many things that some men may like and other men may not, so it's not like you can just buy one blanket item and have every man like it.

And of course, they never tell you what they would like for Christmas. I've been bugging Derek to make me a list for months now, and I asked my dad the other day what he wanted, and he couldn't give me many ideas off the top of his head either.

I know there's got to be something they want. Maybe they just don't recognize it until they see it unwrapped on Christmas morning.

Like I said, I'm stuck. Anyone have any good suggestions as I head out in the cold today?

Men are so hard to shop for.



P.S. Incidentally, I got the image for this post from GiftIdeaPros.com, - a website dedicated to gift ideas! I may have to research this further . . .

Sagey And Behr Paint And Primer In One

You all are going to think I'm a flake.

I changed my mind on the bedroom paint color. Remember how I decided on that Herbal Garden Behr paint color?

After spending the money on the the Herbal Garden paint color, painting the bedroom, and then living with it for a whole month, I finally decided that it's not the right color.

I wanted something cheerful and warm, without being too bright. I thought the Herbal Garden color fit that criteria. But unfortunately the color actually ended up looking alot brighter once I had the whole wall painted.

It was hard to decide if it was too much though, because it would look so different during certain times of the day. Sometimes it would look nice and mellow, and exactly what I wanted. Then other times of the day, the light would hit it just right, and it would vaguely remind me of a color you might see on a wall in a kindergarten. Yeah, not so good.

I finally decided that if I'm going to live with a color, I better like it in all lights. So I found a color that was more subdued and went with that.

It's incredibly hard to find the right shade of green for what I'm going for. The color I ended up picking the second time is actually not quite as warm as I was wanting. But it's pretty close, and I'm sticking with it.

I finally decided on a color called Sagey from Behr Paint. We bought the paint-and-primer-in-one and I decided to repaint the room this week.

It seemed like such a big project at first. I thought my mom might have to come over and help me so I could get it all done. But it was actually surprisingly easy.

I painted taped and painted that whole big room all by myself. In one day. About six hours of work, probably. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

Let me just say that Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint And Primer In One is pretty much amazing. It covered that too bright green completely with one coat. That's right, I didn't even have to do a second coat! I was quite impressed. I'd definitely recommend spending the extra six bucks to get this stuff if you're ever attempting to paint over another color.

The paint has dried, and Derek and I are very happy with the Sagey color. Like I said, not quite as warm as I was going for, but it'll do. It's a nice calming green color, and it goes fabulously with our wood trim. So if you're looking for a nice green, here it is:



It looks kind of gray on my monitor, but it comes across as a nice, subdued green in person.

So, what do you think? Did I do good?

I'm afraid I don't have a good picture of the room at the moment, but the basement is coming along nicely, and I'll do a video tour when we get the carpet in. It shouldn't be too much longer, and then you can see it in the room itself!




Sample image from MyPerfectColor.com.
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