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I’ve been doing some thinking….let’s make a deal

{This is me…thinking}

Ever since I announced the other day that I was going to consolidate my posts into the “click to read more” fashion, I felt ill about it.  I heard back from a few of you that were sad about it (I mean, inconsolable…I had to talk them down from quitting all blog reading forever) and I started thinking about my reasoning behind it.

Really, the reason behind it is several fold:  I guess for ME, I don’t like reading blogs in google reader fashion, because I really enjoy the “ambiance” I get when seeing the personality and design in the blogs I love. But that’s just me, and I get the convenience of reading a blog in an email or with a bunch of other beloved blogs.  So just because I’m not like everyone else doesn’t mean I don’t need to think of those time saving needs.

When I got ads on my sidebar a year ago, it was a “why not” sort of deal. I’m already blogging, why not earn a few pennies while doing so?  Well, fact of the matter is…at this point, it isn’t THAT much. I am paid per clicks on my blog, and with my friends not actually coming to my blog, I felt consolidating the posts would prompt them to do so. But really, it is annoying. I don’t like opening a bunch of posts in new windows, so my inner core just didn’t want to do it. It was the green stuff driving me, I tell ya.

Then I got to thinking…I sell more with my books in a day than I get from a month in the ad space, and really what drives me to blog regularly (besides my undying adoration for my unmet peeps out there–especially those who comment) is spreading the word about my books. If I share a cool hair tutorial or home project or recipe that gets “pinned” or shared on facebook, then it drives new people to my site who will ultimately notice my books on, and their interest might be peaked.

So, here is the “deal” part where you come in.  If I hold off on the condensed post thing, and keep it as it is, will you help me by “pinning” and sharing in other ways every so often? Google readers–maybe come over once a week or so, say hello, and share something (and tell me about it so I’ll get that validation that my ego needs)?  Is that asking too much? Am I making too big of a deal of this?  Do I sound lame even asking?

Well, I am asking. It brings me joy that all of you care about what I have to say, and I don’t want to deprive you of any joy in life. Tell me you’ll make good on the deal…don’t make me feel all vulnerable (no comments makes one feel vulnerable–in case you didn’t know).

I’ll leave you with a silly pic: my youngest and I were making faces on my phone camera, when my son jumped in on the fun–it was cute…

 

 

I’m back!

 

What do you think about the new look around here?

 

Eeeek,  I’m so excited, I’ve been wanting to do some “tweaking” for a while, and I’ve had help from two great gals to make it happen!  Is it obvious that each frame is clickable to take you somewhere else?  Lindsay from Artsy Fartsy Mama helped me with the frame design that I had swirling around in my head, and Sarah from Blogger’s Help Desk  did some behind the scenes html work to overhaul the look on the back end (I’ve heard she got a handful of bloggers out of a website catastrophe). SO grateful for both of them!!!  Do you see how I also changed out the rotating pictures above?  They coordinate with the frame buttons, so people coming to my site for portraits won’t be confused and vice versa.

Did you love the Decorating with Portraits series as much as I did?  For a recap, click on the frame. What a fabulous month of ideas! I am so grateful for my guests sharing their family, their hearts, and their homes in the journey. I loved so many!  Did you have a favorite guest? Favorite project?  What will you plan to do in your home now? If you were inspired to do something new this month and blogged about it, please share the link in the comments so we can all come see. I’d also love if you “pin” your favorite project, or this “wrap up” post so others can be inspired as well.

Though I missed sharing my thoughts, I sorta enjoyed the little break from blog posting, refreshed and ready to come back (kinda like a mama anxious to leave on a trip alone, only to be super excited to come back to her kidlets).  I’ve been doing all sorts of things, that I will be sharing in the month or so ahead. I’m going on a big trip next week, I’ve done a special altered eating plan, and a few home projects while I’ve been away.  I’ve also join up with Blogher, SO… I may have some annoying news for you google reader-ers. I’m going to do that partial post thing where it says “click to read more” to entice you to come on over (when I remember–after today).  I know, I know.  I don’t love it either, but if I’m going to keep up this posting thing, it’s a no brainer on my end.

Also, did you know I’m on Pinterest!?!  Are you following me?

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Pinterest.  Do you love Pinterest, too? I’ve been plugging all of the guest bloggers pinterest accounts because I figure if you love their style, you’ll love what they pin.  I need more Pinterest friends, so come along and follow along over there as well. Recently, I’ve been pinning healtier meals under my Sounds Delicious board. And maybe some un-healthy treats to go along with those.

I also pinned about 25 “peter pan collar” shirts on my Just my Style board.  Do you know what that is?  I didn’t know the name, but knew I loved the look.  I LOVE to see what my friends have pinned, I am the queen of the re-pin! I’d also love if you will “pin” your favorite posts of mine from time to time–it really helps spread the word of what I have going on here.

Finally, I will leave you with a picture of my kids.  They were waiting for me in the car as I stepped a few feet away chatting with a friend…all hovered over Spanish Mickey Mouse on my phone. The Spanish part was an accident, but maybe they learned something?

*I asked a lot of questions…and I really want to know answers.  To make it easier for you, I highlighted the questions;)

What I believe

{I have really enjoyed sharing my heart on these personal posts, and have appreciated your feedback.  For a while, I’ve wanted to share with you something that is near and dear to my heart, and I hope this will be received kindly. To share something that encompasses who I really am, and the core basis to my joy in life….for the record…my hubby says this is too long, but I can’t shorten it!}

I grew up in a charmed, loving household back and forth between Houston and New Orleans.  I had parents who poured on the kind words and encouragement in whatever I wanted to pursue. They believed in me, trusted me, and even when my mom caught me sneaking out of my bedroom window to go to Denny’s in the middle of the night on a school night…she let me go. THAT is my one “naughty” in high school.  Can you believe that? They knew I had chosen good friends.  There were expectations, and I adhered to them.  In  younger years, if we disobeyed, we had to put our nose in a corner. I don’t remember too many punishments as a teenager, because I was a rule follower.  Except for the Denny’s incident….I digress.  I wanted to please them, I was fiercely independent and sassed I’m sure more than I should have, but they had instilled in me qualities that deep down, I chose because I knew they would make me the happiest. I assumed that all homes were such a happily painted picture.  As I’ve grown and seen the world, I realize this was not the case.  I am blessed. So many specific instances from before high school are a blur and intangible to me as an adult, but I always knew my parents loved me and most of all wanted me to be happy in life.

I was raised to never drink alcohol (not even after age 21).   I was raised to be morally clean, to keep the Sabbath day holy,  not use the Lord’s name in vain, to dress modestly, not watch R rated movies, to live a life of service to others, to raise a family with the same standards they taught me… I was raised to continually have a prayer in my heart, and to kneel in prayer on a daily basis….to partake of scripture reading each day, and I do my best, but often fall short.  I do know that when I do…my days go better.  I am calmer, slower to anger, and more at peace….a happier person (we all know when momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy).

Our Sabbath day consists of 3 hours of church and the rest of the day spent mostly at home as family time.  No shopping, no eating out, no swimming, no playing with friends. We stayed inside playing board games or writing in our journals or baking cookies or taking naps. Oh, the blessed Sunday nap. We’d sometimes invite a family over for dinner to get to know them better, and I often do that now.

Maybe some of you hear this list and think that I grew up in a super strict household, never had any fun.  But as I said above, I was surrounded by LOVE and JOY and Happiness.  I never saw that list as “rules” but as blessings and a guide to happiness.  Sure, it was difficult to tell my friend who had a birthday party on Sunday that I couldn’t go, but I’d suggest a play date on Monday instead and still brought a present. But Monday evenings were reserved for  Family Home Evening.  This is a time set aside each week for a topic and discussion. Mostly a study from the scriptures.  A time to bond, have fun, eat a treat, sing a hymn, & feel of the Spirit of God together as a family. Each evening, we’d pray as a family and read from the scriptures together.  In high school, I attended early morning seminary.  An hour long religious study starting at 6:10 a.m. Yes, you read that right–in HIGH school!   Below is a pic of my friends in my seminary class as well as the grade younger.  We hung out a lot on the weekends, too.  This was in my parents family room.  Can you find me in the cell phone snapshot from my scrapbook?  So many stories I could tell from this pic…;) (Seriously, for years I’ve thought about writing a book about my high school years).  

Now, 3 hours of church really isn’t as long as it seems.  It’s broken up into 3 parts, and as a teenager, I was taught in the 3rd hour by other adult women in our congregation.  There, they they reinforced to myself and the girls my age, how I had been taught by my parents.  It takes a village, to raise a child.  Those teachings all came from the same source. Our lessons varied from light-hearted “show kindness to one another” to  the heavier “wait for marriage” to the reverent “Follow the Savior.” I look back fondly on those women who led me, who I wanted to pattern my life after, who gave me an alternate perspective than that of my parents, but living the same way.  I babysat for them, I went to hang out at their homes, I cried about my boyfriend to them.  They were the village that helped raise me.

I think of that a lot, because now…I am that adult leader.  I have the wonderful opportunity to teach the 14 and 15 year old girls at church…and echo what their parents are teaching them at home. I remember what it meant to me to have a leader that was a friend…as well as a spiritual advisor and I strive to be both for my girls now. Here is my beautiful class—not only are they super cute on the outside, but it is their strength of character and goodness that shines through and gives them a glow.  My tears well up with joy as I think of them, and concern when I hear them speak about how tough high school is, and trying hard to make good choices when not so many others around them are doing so. They have the countenance of walking in the footsteps of the Savior, something I strive for daily as well (my co-leader has on the glasses).

Oh my goodness, I love that picture.  I could stare at it for hours. I’ve only had the assignment to teach them for about 7 months.    Soon, a handful of them will turn 16 and will move up to another class, another leader, and I will miss them.  Someday in the future, I will be given another assignment to do something else.  Maybe to teach the adult women, or the nursery age children, but THIS is my favorite. Our ecclesiastical leaders through inspiration give us varying assignments at varying times. We are encouraged to accept that assignment, even if we don’t feel up to the task.  It is something that stretches us and teaches us that we are always learning and growing. Sometimes I love what I do (now) and others, I try to have a good attitude. I’ve taught the young childrens class, helped with the women’s monthly activities, led the music in the women’s class, taught the 8 year old boys life skills (scouting).  Some assignments are more time consuming than others. But it ebbs and flows.

I state the above about how my parents raised me, because it is exactly the way I aim to raise my children. I realized this “charmed” life is few and far between–even for those in my faith.  I recognize it is rare. I’ve had difficulties, disappointments, & heartache just like everyone else. My faith anchors me during those tough times. My parents teachings didn’t come from their own minds, but from our faith in what we believe.

I believe I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and wants me to be happy, and to return to Him someday. I pray to Him. I cry to Him. He knows me. I believe that His son, Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world who suffered for not only our sins, but our sadness and pain. I believe that families can be together forever, and live as a family unit–even after this life.

I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Some people call us by our knickname, Mormon.  Yes, I’m a Mormon.  Which brings me such joy….

I love that I can share my life on this blog with people all over the world of every different faith. In college, I studied World Religion and traveled to Jerusalem and have so much respect for all faiths and how they live their lives.  All searching for the good. As an adult, and being surrounded predominantly by fellow Christians, I am searching to understand how varying Christian denominations are different, and I find that for the most part, we are more similar than we think.  All looking to The Savior for strength and comfort. I enjoy the conversations I have with friends of other faiths. I find that many people have “heard things” about Mormons but are afraid to ask me about it, fearing they would offend me.  I’m an open book and I would prefer to clear something up about my faith, than have someone be misguided.  It pains me to hear that there are other churches who preach to their congregations spreading untrue statements about us, or twist what we do believe into something unkind.We know we are different because of the way we live our life.  We delight in the fact that we are a “peculiar people.” We are different, we know. Though I was raised with my faith, I have many friends who converted as a teenager, adult, even after marriage and children. We base our faith on the teachings of the Bible as well as doctrine found in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. They are companion books. We believe in modern revelation and that we have a living prophet on the earth today.  There are congregations all over the world that run the exact same way as mine here at home.  When I travel and go to church, it is just the same structure.

There are quite a few Mormon bloggers out there. A few months ago, I read a very interesting read from Design Mom. It was mostly the conversation in the comments that interested me. I know lots of the readers that come to my blog are also of my faith. I also know that there are a good majority that are not.  Mormon.org could tell you all sorts of things, and if you’d like, you can read my profile there where I’ve answered a few questions.

At some point in life, each of us has to find out if what our parents believed is true.  I have asked in sincere prayer, and I had a confirmation unique to myself, that it is true.

So tell me…do you know a Mormon?  Have you heard something that you wonder if it’s true? Do you have a question that has never been answered?  I have never felt super academic in my life, but I actually enjoy answering questions about my faith–it’s the one thing (maybe besides photography) that I feel I can explain, understand, share with ease because I have studied it all my life.  I don’t plan to discuss my faith often on my blog, but I did want to share this, just once.

Ask a question, share a thought, tell a story, but please show kindness;) I realize religion is a hot button topic, and I hope you will respond knowing that this is dear to my heart.
{To read part II of what I believe with more thoughts on religion, CLICK HERE.}

Thoughtful Thursday~No such thing as Superwoman

Ok, I’ve been writing this post in my mind for MONTHS, but have always worried about the way it would be perceived, so have never actually sat down to try to type it out.  After reading a blog post the other day and having it fully resonate with me and the idea of this post, I owed it to myself to give it a try, so here goes!

In order for me to thrive, I have to be juggling a bunch of plates up in the air at once.  It’s how I’m hard wired. (My mom says un-diagnosed ADHD). My whole “can’t sit still/must be moving/must have 10 projects at once” mentality is how I operate.  I’m not saying it’s a good thing (remember that natural man comment).  I fight it at times.  Beg myself to sit still, make myself put aside a few projects to just focus on one.  Sometimes…one or two of those plates falls, and I disappoint myself.

I get lovely sweet comments from friends on this blog as well as friends in real life commenting on how they don’t know how  I do it all, and when I post something crazy exciting on my blog, I’ll hear the sentiments that I must be superwoman (I feel completely silly typing that out, but I have to add it in to get my point across). Honestly, I think people think they are giving me a complement when they say such things, but I cringe inside when I hear it. Because I am not superwoman.  In my own personal mind, I am far from it.  I fight every day against my “natural man” tendencies with that electromagnetic pull from my body to the computer. I also know that in making “supermom” comments, the person speaking might be feeling a lack in super human abilities…and that makes me sad. I don’t blog to toot my own horn and get accolades, but to share the things that work for me…in  hopes it can work for someone else (greeting my kids after school with cinnamon rolls in a can–not from scratch).

I love my computer.  So much so that I just don’t read books or watch tv anymore (ok sometimes I will bring my laptop and have a show going on at the side of me while I work on my desktop in front of me).   I miss those things, I do, but my spare time is here on this computer contributiong to my blog…as well as editing photography….and sometimes surfing pinterest and a handful of blogs.   I LOVE to do that. I set aside other things I like to do for this. This is what I do when my kids are at school/napping/tucked into bed at night. I want to be present for them. My number one goal in life is to nurture my family.  I am a homemaker, who happens to do some photography, and now blogging. With that, my goal is to be mostly off the computer when they aren’t at school/napping/tucked into bed at night, but sometimes if  I’m not done with a task (or I have 100 windows I need to pare down) then it trickles over.  Then I get mad at myself for not doing what I want be doing and closing it down. But really it’s my goal.

Something that has never come naturally to me is home organization. I’ve watched friends for years, asked tips, made charts for myself to get better in this area.  I do believe I’ve come a long way…it also helps a lot that I have kids that are old enough to help now! This is another thing that gets pushed aside when my spare time is doing computer stuff. Something that I am very passionate about is family dinner time and sharing our days with each other over a nice meal.  So I DO make that a priority–even though some days those meals include corn dogs.

Most important to me is face time with my kids, and I often have to schedule it into my brain because if I am left with too much down time where the kids are roaming, I find myself roaming to the computer.

I have to have something specific to go to, such as:

  •  Reading a chapter book aloud to my kids
  •  making aforementioned cinnamon rolls from a can
  •  work on homework with kids
  •  play outside on the driveway as they ride bikes
  •  prepare dinner in those after school hours with my children around chatting with me

And if there is an opportunity to capture anything on camera, I make an effort to do so.  Take the picture above for example. I walked with my girls to the mailbox the other day (around the corner) and we skipped along the way.  My youngest had never been taught to skip, and my older daughter and I laughed and laughed at her first try and she laughed and laughed at how fun it was. All the way back, we skipped again…then I ran in to get my camera and had my husband capture us doing it again.  Those moments, not only do I want to remember, but I want to have stories to tell my children as they grow up. Proof that I was there and played.  Maybe because I feel I lack in some areas, I capture the moments where I excel at times.  In reference to my post last week, I may not be completely satisfied with how I look, but that doesn’t stop me from being in pictures with my family as often as I can.  Hopefully if we have enough pictures of the happy moments, those will be the memories that will be preserved;) (Not crazy mom rushing about before school).

Recently, I’ve made it a personal goal to tuck my children into bed with a song or a book or a story.  It’s against my natural tendencies (my hubby would put them to bed while I followed that magnetic pull), but I want to change that in myself. I want more quiet/down time with open communication lines. But I’m not perfect, I fall short, I am no superwoman.

So, just because you see someone blogging about all the great  things they do with their families/home, remember that we all have our vices that we fight. Just because you aren’t throwing extravagent parties (I admit, I sorta love a crazy decorated party) doesn’t mean you can’t pat yourself on the back for the good things you are doing.  I watch people…a lot.  So many people are doing good things, that I wish I were better at.  These are the reminders I give myself when I don’t do as well as I did the day before. 

I will end with a quick blurb from a really great blog post I read the other day. It is from a blog called, Momastery.   In the post, Don’t Carpe Diem , she reviews the all too familiar scenario that when she is out with her young children, she will often hear from an older woman, “Oh, I loved when my children were young–ENJOY them now.”   She goes on to say (and I TOTALLY AGREE), ” This message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life – while I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to “enjoy them now” makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.”

Her thoughts from that statement resonated with me because it is the words I had felt when hearing that (from the nice old ladies in the stores), but didn’t know how to express. I ask myself, “How does one fully enjoy all the time so as to never regret a moment? How do I fully absorb it all?!?” I LOVE mothering, I LOVE my children, but we are moving from one thing to another, its rare that we sit still and just enjoy. In her post, Momastery mentions “regular time” and “God’s time.”

Continuing, “There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.

Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. It’s those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.

If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success.”

 

Seek out those moments. If you can…capture them…if not, capture them in your heart. Make a list for what a superwoman is to you, and be intentional about your daily activities….don’t just let them go by. Items on your list could be:  Read aloud to kids, sing at night, make dinner together, make cookies, play dollies, play catch.  And aim for something once a day.  None of us can do it all–all the time. It’s just not possible. But don’t stop trying to do your best. Tell me something you do, go ahead…brag!  I need all the ideas I can get.