Write Me a Story

As I hopped on the computer this morning, hoping for a quiet morning full of blogging inspiration, I got exactly what I asked for. Google alerted me (via their search header image) that today “is” Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 148th birthday.

Source: Google.com

My love for writing started with reading. Sure, I asked my parents to read me a story many times in my young life, but I never really connected with a series so much as I did with the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. How a 10 year old in the 1990’s connects with a girl who would have been 10 in 1877, a much different place in time, is beyond me, but I did it. Perhaps it was living on the “Ohio Plains” of Wren, Ohio for three years, in the midst of farm country and back before the days of Apple TV and smart phones (which is how my kids know about the things they do). Perhaps it was her independent spirit, her love for describing her ordinary life, or her connection with her family that did it for me. Whatever the case, Wilder’s stories stuck with me and had a huge influence on me today.

It all started with bedtime stories. My mom and I would read a chapter (or more) a night, blasting through the whole Little House series and leaving me wanting more. And there were more. I swear we read books about Laura being a wife and mother in the Ozarks, navigating life as a farmer’s wife and all the things that the years leading up to the turn of the century brought (like the World’s Fair). (Try as I might, I can see the books in my head and probably even have them somewhere in this house, but I can’t find them on Google.) All of these books inspired me in ways I cannot adequately describe.

Sure, I knew I couldn’t just face 1990’s America as a pioneer kid. I loved my neon and roller skates and Boyz II Men, but that didn’t stop me from doing pioneer life inspired things. I dressed as Laura for Halloween one year (and if memory serves me right, the captured photo has me looking crazy miserable because that’s what pioneer photos looked like, “DUH”). There were pioneer treats that I HAD to have my mom help me make – like maple candy (which I think was snow candy after a conversation I had with a co-worker last week!) and gingerbread. A McDonald’s 101 Dalmatians toy puled the Conestoga wagon of  my third-grade diorama (because Jack would NOT let me borrow horses, dogs it was). It’s odd to think that a busy lady like me once craved a much simpler time. And then there was the writing.

My stories started off simple, recollections of the summer days spent on the blocks of Wren – biking, fishing, playing softball and basketball. As I grew into a teenager, the stories churned into fan fiction about my friends and cousins meeting the Spice Girls or my idea of what it would be like for one of the juniors or seniors on my bus to take me on a date (to the Golden Corral, I was that kid that knew no better). And then, the stories became my dreams, my aspirations – writing stories about having Wendy for longer, stories about moving my whole world to Myrtle Beach the day after High School graduation / becoming a lifeguard / everything being perfect. There were poems, oh, the poems written late at night on a word processor about crushes and unrequited love. And then my passion turned into classes at school – journalism and AP English. Writing changed for me, it had more of a focus and less of a fantasy, but it was still all about the stories of ordinary life.

As I went off to college, the stories were clearly child’s play and I turned to writing papers and research and didn’t really write for fun. Sometimes I’d write on a political blog some friends and I put together, other times editorials for the college or local paper (I got heated about people tearing down fliers in our elevator and the local community being outraged that Poison was headlining the fair concert series). But I forgot to document life on paper. I tried in pictures, many of which I’ve now thrown out  because of the pain around those times, and also because I didn’t think my ordinary life mattered that much.

But then, without thinking, I became a mom blogger, a title I am owning. A blogger who writes about her ordinary life with her ordinary kids and ordinary husband. We’re not special because we have space on the web, we’re just documenting what this life is like for us – exactly what Laura Ingalls Wilder, an ordinary girl with ordinary prairie life experiences did. And even if I never put solid, consistent thoughts in this space or in a published book, I am a writer who hopes that her kids will fall in love with the stories. Stories of us, stories of them, stories of others. And that these stories will inspire them to back away from the TV and camera and document the amazingly ordinary life that’s ahead for them so their kids can beg them to read them a story (like the one when Evan said BACON before Mama – his current favorite – or the one when Arianna  got excited about a bird). And then, my writing, my purpose, will be fulfilled.

Ok - I wasn't as miserable as I thought!
Ok – I wasn’t as miserable as I thought!

Personal Planner

Disclaimer: I received a customized Personal Planner in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

If you didn’t find just the right gift for that super organized person in your life, this Personal Planner from personal-planner.com might be just the right thing. Just act quick if you want to personalize a planner – the deadline for ordering them is December 3 (tomorrow) at 6 pm. You can still get a pdf gift certificate so your receiver can create their own through December 25. 

When I read the pitch for this product, I knew it was a great fit for my life:

The company has created a fill-in-the-blanks template just for the design obsessed. Ranging from $18.95 – $21.95, here are the details for this thoughtful gift:

*Outside:*

– upload pictures from desktop and Instagram

– design front & back covers, change images, font color and background

*Inside:*

– pick which month/yr you want the planner to begin with- no longer limits

you to the start of each calendar year

– design writing space details:i.e. “work”, “workout”, weather, etc…

include personal calendar dates throughout the year

– at check out you can choose discreet packaging if planner is a gift

I’ll be using mine to supplement my phone and email calendars. Sometimes even being technologically savvy means missed appointments and bills. I’ll be able to jot down quick thoughts and “see” what I’ve got happening each day.

My customized personal-planner has a front cover with a photo of Greg and the kids:

Front Cover

The back boasts my medals from runs in 2013, an incentive to keep my butt moving:

(So you can see both)

 

I was able to quickly upload these photos to the personal-planner site. Both are actually from Instagram, and the quality turned out fine. (Any weirdness in the photos here are due to the fact that my phone was dying when I took these, and I had to turn off the flash so they shininess wouldn’t come through.) The hardest part? Selecting which photos I’d be using.

Inside, there’s a message for anyone who finds my planner, should I lose it.

My info’s there below my name, but I left it out for photo purposes.

 

Each day has ample space for writing in the plans. I opted to have a training block on each so I can keep tabs on my exercise. There’s a to-do list and a “list of the week” section, too. Haven’t decided how I’ll use that list yet, but I might use it to start some top 10 blog post ideas.

The site even lets you put in special days. I added our birthdays and anniversaries, but I wish I’d taken more time to add in others’ birthdays, too.

Shh…don’t remind me that he’ll be four in a ‘lil over a year.

My favorite part, so far, is the overview section. There’s one for 2014 and 2015. I’ll be able to “big plan” my year, which is an excellent way to keep track of all.the.things.

Extras (included in the price) were a ruler/bookmark, a clear folder for keeping “stuff” – mine is housing business cards that I need to reach out to for blogging stuff, Arianna said I should use it for more pics, and extra “notes” pages at the end.

Shipping was quicker than I expected (about a week) and it came in an adorable box (which I forgot to photograph before trash day, sorry).

While I won’t be using this planner until the end of the month (my start date), I’m excited. It will be a great way to stay organized and keep a personal touch. Thank you, personal-planner.com, for making this possible.

Be sure to stop over to personal-planner to check them out.

The Day I Almost Stopped Blogging

Yesterday was the day I almost stopped blogging. I hate to admit that it’s happened, but it did. And maybe now it’s time to talk about it.

Last night was a bad night. Admittedly, I’ve been exhausted the past few weeks and have been hiding a few health issues that I think have attributed to the combination of month end reports and BlogHer “hangover”. It lead to me stacking up my mail for about two weeks and forgetting that it’s August. (Which means our AAA and car registrations expired, as well as several coupons I had for free items.)

This escalated into a conversation that Greg and I often have–is the Stay At Home Dad / Working Mom balance working? He brought up a good point–maybe the blog has been taking up too much of my time. Twice, I put my “blogging to do” basket to the trash. Twice, Greg put them back. I figured if I just set it all aside, it would be admitting that I have to learn to balance better. I even tried to delete the WordPress app from Greg’s iPad, but he didn’t realize that deleting that would only delete the app, not the blog.

My emotions were high, and I just needed to level set and come back to reality. His words hurt and made me think about the balance. I have to go back to why I started blogging–to chronicle our lives and get my feelings out. (Does anyone else have the issue of holding everything inside?) In the time since our argument, Greg brought up a good point, blogging for the reasons I love are worth it. Blogging for sponsored posts that help our finances and support things I believe in are worth it. Blogging 24/7 is not worth it.

But it went beyond that. You see, I hadn’t actually blogged in days. I spent some time over the weekend working on some scheduled posts and pulled some “oldie but goody” ones out of my pocket. Following a phone upgrade, I haven’t read other blogs for days (sorry, BlackBerry and Feedly don’t get along). I hadn’t actually blogged, but there we were, fighting about blogging’s impact on our lives (like me forgetting to pay those “bills”), and I hadn’t blogged. It was more than that. It was my ability to be present and balance it all, which includes ask the SAHD for HELP, something really hard for me to do. I tend to micromanage, and that never ends well.

After a good sleep and some sweet texts in the morning, we both came out of the fog. I started my day with yoga and am going to continue to find balance. Before settling into the couch to write this after supper, I asked him if it was okay that I did so. (He was fine–watching baseball and then kids were playing contently in the toy room, for once.)

Communication is going to be key, as it is in any relationship, including bloggers and readers. I hope my words either inspire you or connect you to my family. There are enough people reading this blog that I know some of you like my stuff, so I’ll keep blogging. But not just for you. For me. To be open and honest, to help me pursue some of my dreams. But I’m going to do it with a balance, and learn that I don’t have to do it all.

DSCN7084 (Copy)
So glad my Mister keeps me centered!

With that said, I invite you to check out the sponsored offer below for 2 free 8×10 prints. If writing isn’t your thing, maybe preserving memories via photos is. I know it’s a thing we love! Enjoy. 

Motivating Women

Good morning, readers! Last night I gave you a ‘lil spoiler to a HUGE (for me, anyhow!) blogging opportunity I was undertaking in my post about Leaning In and Jumping On. The opportunity was to spend time talking with two motivating women, and now (finally!) I get to share it with you.

In case you didn’t know, I am a busy mom and spend time working, mothering, daughtering, granddaughtering, friending, sharing, volunterring, advocating, and blogging. Because my friend Jen is so awesome, I get the chance to be a brand influencer over on her blog (Life With Levi), too. A new brand is coming out, and I got to talk with the creators of the brand, ladies you just might know, Tia and Tamera Mowry!

Since “Sister, Sister”, I have been inspired by them. Now, they are busy moms like me and working on careers, the spotlight, and being moms and wives (you MUST check out photos of their adorable ‘lil boys). But first, check out my blog about our chat. I promise you’ll enjoy it: Motherhood with the Mowry’s.

source: NeedBrands.com

Why I Write

There are days when I feel like this ‘lil blog gets more attention from me than others, some posts that are more meaty than others. Some days that I log in to check the stats/comments and see if you readers are here and interested in the things that are being posted. Some days, I just don’t care.

The reason why I write this blog is not to be popular, liked, or give you stuff (although I really love to do it, and you really seem to like the chance to get goodies). The reason why I blog is to have a memory of the things that are important to our daily lives. There may be stories of the kids, reviews of things we’ve tried, notes about our adulthood. This is a great place to jot it all down.

Kids, one day you may not want me to write (and admittedly, I will respect that), but I do hope that one day you will look back at this blog and see some of the fun we’ve had and memories we’ve made. I am glad that you are the real reason why I write.

Tonight’s post was prompted by the Bloggy Moms Blog Dare for today, “I Write For”…

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Speaking of “Why I Write”, it’s evident that you all really like Mr. Burgher’s couponing skills and his posts about couponing. He promised to start posting some deals here on the blog, but as a team, we decided that the deals would be best to be discovered in other ways. We blog to journal our family thoughts, so we trust you’ll understand. Let’s just say, a ‘lil Birdie told us you should head over to the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project‘s page and check out posts from BurghSaver! 😉