2012 In Instagram Photos


So a lot of you may have heard about Instagram's new policies, where some vague language made it sound as if they are changing their terms of use to allow themselves to sell photos that are posted to Instagram.  They put out a statement saying that's not, in fact, what the new terms are meant to say, but it still makes me a bit jumpy about using it - so I figure the least I'll do is delete some of the photos I've uploaded to Instagram in the last year.

However, as I was looking through them, I realized how many memories I have tied to the photos I've posted there!  And I didn't want to completely lose them, so I'm going to share them on here instead.  Thankfully I wasn't an overly heavy Instagram user anyway, so there were only about 80 photos total -  I'll just split it up into a few posts and share over the next week or two, before New Year's!

 

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December 31, 2011 - Relaxing in my new pajamas on New Year's Eve!

 

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January 1, 2012 - Took down the Christmas decorations today - and that's Monk on the TV, in case you were wondering.

 

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January 1, 2012 - When Derek saw me wearing this shirt he stopped mid-sentence and said "Oh, that's pretty". #Wehaveawinner

 

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January 2, 2012 - W grabbed George out of the basket earlier and started having a conversation with him.  My baby is so cute.

 

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January 7, 2012 - Just finished celebrating Derek's birthday at this place, with our family and friends!

 

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January 8, 2012 - Love his little underpants (cloth diaper) peeking over his pants.  Only babies can pull that off!

 

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January 10, 2012 - New makeup is so exciting to me. :-)

 

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January 11, 2012 - Cute dogs, curled up together and napping on the couch. 

 

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January 12, 2012 - W and I are ready for bed - him in stripes, me in polka dots (you can barely see my PJ's in the bottom corner). :-)

 


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January 24, 2012 - My little man looks so grown up, standing like that!

 

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January 30, 2012 - Yes, that's my laptop on the toilet.  I'm watching my scary movie while I take a bath.  Probably not the best idea.

 

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February 22, 2012 - This is us today.  My poor boy.

 

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March 6, 2012 - Here's the messy before - with that painter's tape already falling down (grrr!).

 

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 March 7, 2012 - This closet seems so much bigger and more organized now (trust me, you should have seen it before).

 

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March 7, 2012 - Stored a little bit of old paint with the color infer in mason jars - works perfectly!

 

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April 10, 2012 - Pretty new nail polish!  "A Cut Above" from Essie.

 

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May 30, 2012 - Had to stop and get some mineral water and a Snickers, just because it sounded so good!

 

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June 5, 2012 - I infused my water with strawberry and mint, and it turned out so good . . .

 

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June 13, 2012 - To do today . . .

 

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June 13, 2012 - It turned out so pretty . . .

 

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June 13, 2012 - Cheesecake, mmmm.

 

More coming another day . . .


The Kid's Room Reveal

When we found out we were pregnant we decided that we were going to have Wyatt and the new baby share a room.  We have two bedrooms downstairs in our house - our bedroom and the nursery.  I feel like Wyatt is still pretty little to be upstairs by himself (I just don't want him that far away from me), so we tossed around different options and decided it would be best to just have the kiddos share a room until Wyatt is a little bigger.

Since we found out we're having a baby girl, we repainted and the room is basically split into Wyatt's side and her side.  I'm finally getting around to sharing a few pictures!  So here it is - the kid's room!

 

Little Sister's Side

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Big Brother's Side

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The Whole Room

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(Some sort of name art will probably go on that back wall above her crib once we know what her name is, along with a few more wall flowers maybe . . .)

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(Right now we just have Wyatt's name meaning hanging above the dresser, I'll add a frame with her name after she comes!)

 

And that's it!  I wasn't sure how I was going to do a room for both a boy and a girl, but I like the way it turned out.  It'll be nice to have both my babies close to me at night for a couple more years!


What I've Learned About Blogging (Part Two)

Welcome to the one thousandth and first post!  Yesterday, for my 1000th post (I know, it's a lot, right?), I shared a few of my best blogging tips, and today I'm going to share the rest of them.  Without further ado. . .

 

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Be Social

Link-ups and giveaways can be really good for building up a follower base quickly, but it's been my experience that even if you gain a lot of followers that way, if you want people to actually read what you have to say, you have to be social.  Meaning, you have to get out there and read what they have to say, and you have to comment, at least occasionally.  

This can get harder as your readership grows and as life gets busy, but blogging is all about community (unless you get to be really big, then you can slack on this and people will still read - but if you are reading my blog, you're probably not one of the big guys).  And the community is the fun of blogging anyway, right?  So don't neglect it.  If you want to have an engaged audience, you have to find a way to interact with them, and that's easiest to do through commenting/interacting on Twitter/responding via e-mail/writing posts that encourage feedback/etc.  Otherwise your posts could be in danger of that little "mark all as read" button in people's readers.

 At the same time. . . 

 

Know When To Take A Break/Cut Back

It's your blog and you can write when you want to, but anyone who has been blogging for a while has at some point felt that pressure to "get the blog updated" or "catch up in my reader".  When I start to feel that pressure I cut back on my posting frequency or take a week-long blog break.  Blogging can suck the life out of you and your family if you let it, and you know what?  Getting the blog updated or commenting on everyone else's posts is not the most important thing - spending time with your family is.  

 

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(Me and the fam on vacation.)


Trust me, it'll sit for a few days while you go out and live life - you won't lose readers because you didn't post anything for a week.  As a plus, I usually find that after taking an intentional blogging break, I come back with more ideas of things to write about - it's a great cure for writer's block!

 

Write Posts Ahead Of Time

You might be thinking "Callie, I have been reading a while, and I rarely remember you taking any week-long blogging breaks."  Ah, my friends, it's called scheduling posts!  

You know how sometimes you are just bursting with blogging ideas, and you don't know how you are going to have time to share all the posts you want to write?  Sit down and write them all at once - don't even worry about adding pictures and links, just get the bare bones down.   Then there they are, sitting there in the archives, waiting until you need them.  

I use those posts when I'm having a period of writer's block, when I'm on vacation, or just when I want a break for a while.  I have a couple sitting in the drafts right now that I'll probably utilize after Baby Girl gets here.  I actually do a mini version of this every week - I usually have an idea of which posts I want to write that week, so I'll sit down on Monday or Tuesday, write them all up, get them scheduled, and then I have the rest of the week off.  Writing things ahead of time is a wonderful thing.

 

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Set Some Limits.  

Like I said previously, your family is the most important thing, not your blog, but it's easy for your blog to suck away all your time.  You need to set some limits.  

My limits are (1) I don't blog in the evenings when Derek is done with work - that's strictly family time; (2) I try not to blog on the weekends, unless I clearly have some time on my hands and everyone else is doing other things, and (3) I try really hard to restrict my blogging to nap time, because Wyatt needs my attention when he's awake.  

Do I always succeed at keeping my rules?  No, but I think the majority of the time I do.  Just having them in place helps me to do so much better, and gives me guidelines for when I get off track.

 

Keep Things In Balance

Know when to say no.  At some point in your blogging life, if you continue long enough,  you'll get opportunities to participate in link-ups, reviews, giveaways, guest posts, features, etc, etc, etc. When it starts to seem like you never have time to write what you really want to write and these  "obligations" are sucking the fun out of blogging, it's time to cut back.

 

Don't Get All Hung Up On The Numbers

It's really easy to get obsessed with the numbers - how many followers do I have, how many pageviews did I get today, why didn't I get more comments on that post, why am I not getting more sponsorship or review offers?  But if you start to get too focused on the numbers, it's easy to quit when you aren't seeing them go up - you just aren't going to last.  

These things go in cycles - some months you might get a bunch of new followers, and some months you won't.  Some posts might get a lot of comments, and some might not.  Trust me, after four years and 1000+ posts, I know.

First of all, it doesn't mean people aren't reading.  I've noticed the number of comments going down in general more recently, and I think it's because people are reading more on smartphones and it's harder to comment on a smartphone - there can be all kinds of factors like that.  I love it when I hear from a reader who has never commented before, because it confirms my suspicion - sometimes people read regularly and they just don't comment!  The numbers can lie.

And secondly (and probably more importantly), what are you blogging for anyway?  Because blogging purely for the numbers will burn you out in no time, not to mention make your life miserable because the numbers do fluctuate.  This goes back to my very first tip - know why you are blogging.  Have a purpose.  Don't do it just for the numbers - write quality content and let the numbers take care of themselves.  You'll enjoy your whole blogging journey way more, and your readers will appreciate it too.

 

 And those are my top eleven blogging tips!  For those of you who have been blogging for a long time as well, anything you would add to my list?  Comment below!

 


What I've Learned About Blogging



 This is my 1000th post!

Yes, you read that right.  One. Thousand.  Ah!

I started really blogging about four years ago, and I had no idea I had that many different topics in me, or that I could keep this little space going for so long!  

I didn't want to just skip by  my 1000th post unrecognized, so I thought a lot about what I wanted to write for this milestone, and I kept coming back to writing a post about blogging itself.  So after four years at this, here are my top ten blogging tips.  Okay, eleven actually, because I didn't know how to leave some of it out.  So in no particular order . . .


(Note: I got the chalkboard background here, if anyone is interested - fun, right?) 


Know Why You Are Blogging

Blogging is all good and fun, but you'll never make it for the long run if you don't know why you are doing it.  Are you trying to make money? Are you recording family memories?   Are you blogging because you just need a place to write?  Are you using it as a platform to share your ideas or faith with others?  There needs to be a reason or it's not going to last.  The sooner you figure out your reason, the better.  

I started this blog originally because (1) I needed a space to write - writing is how I organize my thoughts and feelings, and blogging is more fun than a journal; and more importantly I started this blog (2) for the purpose of sharing what the Lord has been teaching me.  It morphed over the years into also (3) recording fun family events.  I'm pretty confident I can keep this blog going as long as I want to and as long as it still works with my family life because those three purposes are never going to run dry for me.


Carry A Notebook

I read once that if you are a blogger, you should consider yourself a writer, and writers carry notebooks.  Because sometimes post ideas come to you, and if you don't write them down when they do it's easy to forget them later!  I try to carry a notebook around with me everywhere so when inspiration strikes I can capture it before it disappears again.  Then I refer back later to the ideas I wrote down and it makes getting started on a post so much easier.



Content, Content, Content

You can have the prettiest blog design in the world, but if you don't produce good content no one is going to read.  Different people's ideas of "good" content are going to vary, but this is your blog, right?  What do you think is good content?  What kinds of things do you like to read on other blogs?  

Personally, I'm drawn to blogs that can come up with original, personalized content on a regular basis.   I get disappointed (and a bit bored) with blogs that constantly and only post link-ups, sponsor feature posts, guest posts from other bloggers, and giveaways.   I choose to read certain blogs because I'm interested in what the author has to say - who are they, what is important to them, what kinds of things they want to share with us (the readers).  That's the kind of thing I like to read the most.

Of course link-ups, memes, reviews/giveaways, sponsor features, and guest posts have their place - I post that kind of thing on here too occasionally, as you all know.  But it's everything in moderation.   My personal limit as a reader is a 50/50 ratio of all of those things vs. posts that are personally thought out and created by the blog author.  I try to keep my own blog at more of a 10/90 ratio, and I think 25/75 is a good goal to keep in mind for bloggers in general.  Anyway, that's my personal opinion on what is good blog content.

No One Cares What You Had For Lunch by Margaret Mason is one of my favorite resources for getting the creative juices flowing, so check that out if  you need more ideas for what to write about!




Get Your Blog Set Up On Social Media Websites

This never seemed as important in years past, but alas, the world is changing.  I'm still trying to figure out all the benefits, but it's a good idea to set yourself up with a Facebook page and Twitter account for your blog (and probably Google Plus, though I'm still trying to figure out the point of that one).  This is the direction it's all headed, people - readers want multiple ways to connect with you, the author of the blog, and they want multiple options for following your blog.  I'm not going to say a lot about it because this could be a whole post itself, and I'm still trying to determine the value of some of these social media sites.

But, quickly, I will say that if you set up a Twitter account, don't use it only for promoting your blog.  Twitter (unlike your Facebook page) is all about being social and interacting with readers, and if all your tweets are just for self-promotion it gets old really fast.


Learn The Technical Stuff  

If you're going to make a go of this whole blogging thing, you need to learn some basics of html, search engine optimization, and legalities.  

Do you know the different parts of the html for a text link?  

What are no-follow links, and why/when should they be used?  

Who is visiting your blog, from what sources (I like Sitemeter best for analytics, fyi)?

What is your Google page rank?

What is search engine optimization, and how do you make the most of your SEO potential?  Or do you want your blog showing up in search results at all?

How do you protect your pictures?  

Do you know your responsibilities if a giveaway sponsor does not follow through with a prize?  

Are you aware of your legal obligations when it comes to disclosure in blogging (for example, you must let your readers know if you are receiving anything in exchange for writing a post, including discounts)?  

What constitutes plagiarism (ex: is that recipe/picture you're posting really from somewhere else on the web)?

If you are planning on blogging for any length of time, you need to know the answers to all these questions.  There is no way I can cover all that in this post, so I'll just direct you to a couple good resources that I've found useful for these topics.



-Blogging In Pink by Michelle Mitchel.  Read this one first!  It has lots of good information and tips on blogging in general, and it's easy to read.  She also explains things really well for those who are just starting out.



-Mom Blogging For Dummies by Wendy Piersall.  This book covers a lot of legalities that I wasn't even aware of, and it's important for bloggers to know what their legal obligations are.  And if you want to get into sponsorships/reviews/giveaways you need to read this book - it's not just for mom bloggers, and it also gives tips on how to keep Google happy if you are concerned with that.  And you probably should be concerned with that if you want to do sponsorship/reviews/giveaways.

Now don't freak out and think you need to know all of this before you write another post - it took me a while to learn all this, and I'm pretty sure there's a bunch more that I have yet to learn.  Just be aware that there are a lot of aspects to blogging that you need to be aware of, depending on what your goals are, and don't just put anything out there without keeping this kind of stuff in the back of your mind.


I'm going to break this post down into two parts, so check back tomorrow to read the rest of my blogging tips!


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I had this post all ready to go for today, but I didn't want to let today pass without saying something about what happened last Friday.  Remembering to say a prayer for those families who lost someone in Connecticut.  I can't even imagine what those families are going through.  I'm just praying for God to give them comfort in the coming weeks.  Also, I really enjoyed Jenni's post pointing out a few of the heroes in the midst of this horrible tragedy, and I thought she offered a good perspective, so check that out too.

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