Monday, January 31, 2011

What I hate about blogging

My blog was born just over a year ago. It began as an outlet through which I might extract the feelings from my heart and release them into the world. And shortly thereafter, I let ego and ambition get the best of me. I had a vision of making my blog something marketable, something through which I could get money and products.

That is where I went wrong.

In a recent post, "the age of me", I described blogging as a narcissist's dream. Most of us like to write about ourselves, our kids, our lives. Many of us think that our stories are amusing and worth a quick read. Myself included - I love writing about my life as a part-time worker and full-time mom. I love interacting with people who share my perspective as well as those who can open my eyes to a totally new one.

But what I hate most about blogging? The shameless self-promotion. There are so many blogs that reek of desperation. Have you ever seen one of the top successful bloggers post 23 "follow me and I'll follow you back" comments through a blog hop? Um, I don't think so.

One of the big-time bloggers, someone I truly admire, recently asked a question on Facebook. She asked, "What are your favorite parenting blogs? I need some good examples. (feel free to pimp yourself!)". Clearly, many commenters read only those last five words. Many of the comments were simply links to their own blogs.

I don't see how that helped answer the question at hand.

What makes a good blog? Confidence. A true voice. Writing in such a way that readers can physically feel your emotion. Being a real person. Someone to identify with. Quality writing. Entertainment.

Sure, I can click the follow button and become a Google follower to a hundred blogs. Do I ever have to actually read those blogs? Nah. I can click that button and never come back again. I can follow you on Twitter in an attempt to win a prize, just to un-follow you later because I don't really care about six giveaways and four fabulous product reviews every week. Companies lean on these numbers to decide which bloggers are "worthy" of their free samples. But personally, I think those numbers are easily skewed and tell nothing about the quality of a blog (and I buy media for a living!). I don't care how great your blog is, I will stop coming back if it is a never-ending commercial.

On the flip side, I know there is a market for giveaways and reviews. I'm sure thousands of people like to click follow buttons and win prizes. I won a few prizes myself, and it's very exciting. There is a big audience for this kind of blog. And if you get enjoyment out of that, then more power to you.

MY blog?
Isn't about that. My blog is about whatever I want it to be. Whatever I feel, think, or want to show the world. I am not a professional writer. I was never an English major. I do not agonize for hours to perfect a blog post. I just like to write.  I simply regurgitate the words swirling in my brain and the feelings in my heart.

Will I never do a review again? I didn't say that... but I will limit this aspect of blogging. I don't want to do it just to receive something for free or to boost some numbers that really don't mean anything.
I am not going to do this for numbers.

I am not going to do it for free products.

I will do it for the love of expression. For the chance to interact with some fabulous people. As something my own mother can read and be proud of. As stress relief.

So, follow me if you want. But if you don't? That is okay too.

There - I said it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Zoo-riffic Adventure!

After more than a month of cold temperatures and gray skies, the SUN CAME OUT!

The forecast predicted a high temperature of 64. They were wrong... it ended up reaching 70 degrees! What a wonderful, gorgeous day.

The Atlanta area doesn't get much bad winter weather (our January snowpocalypse was shocking!), but our months are very gray. Clearly, the sun has a winter home in south Florida. After weeks of depression-inducing weather blahs, when that first sunny day hits Atlanta, the people head outdoors. The nearby parks were so crowded, it looked like ants pouring out of an anthill.

We knew we had to relish the incredible day as well. We took Amelia on her very first trip to the zoo! This was a huge event for such an animal lover. And she was at a perfect age. She kept her eyes wide with wonder and a spring in her step as we discovered meerkats and lemurs, snakes and gila monsters, panda bears and lions.

In true Amelia fashion (and with typical loud preschooler volume), she kept the commentary running the entire time.

"Woah, those are the biggest I've ever seen!"

"He was scratching his bum! What's his name? Oh, Ivan! Hi Ivan! You have an itch on your bum!?!"
"Panda bear! Snacktime for panda bear! Hey, Mommy! She said he is three! When it's my birthday party, I will be three! Hey bear... Amelia is three too!!!"

"He's so funny! It's a tired sleepy day! Hey kangaroo... WAKE UP!!!!"

"It's OK baby elephant... your daddy isn't here? Oh, he's at work. He will be home soon! Shhh, baby elephant. It's OK. You'll be fine. Shhhh, shhhh."

And a silent Amelia in the middle of the path. She did not want to go home.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Animal Lovers

As a kid, I loved my stuffed animals. The shelves in my bedroom were loaded with a menagerie of furry little creatures. Somewhere in the late 1980s, I got my very own camera. A skinny pink camera with 110-size film. I loved taking photos. And what better subject matter than my very own animals?

I posed them in my bedroom,

Photobucket  Photobucket

and in the backyard.


I even created photo shoots for my real animals. My living and breathing dwarf rabbits, 


and Nibbles:

Many people declare that Amelia is a little mini-me. She has my cheeks. She has my spunk. And she most definitely shares my love for animals.

She used to hug the cat (whether he liked it or not).


Even with the stuffed ones, she has so much love to give.


She has animal tea parties,


and preschool "circle time".


Animals of every kind - stuffed with fluff, on the television, or alive on a farm - are both a wonder and a delight.

 Photobucket  PhotobucketPhotobucket

This weekend, we may go to the ZOO!

Friends 2 Follow Friday: Ballerina Babies

Welcome back to another Friends 2 Follow Friday! Can you believe it is already the last Friday in January? The year 2011 is already one month down.

I'm mixing it up a little bit today. I'm not featuring a semi-famous mommy/parenting blogger. I'm featuring an entrepreneurial crafty mom and her adorable Ballerina Babies Boutique.

Please LIKE the Ballerina Babies Boutique Facebook page to support a crafty mom. 

Describe your store/products.

Ballerina Babies Boutique sells handmade tutus and hair bows. My tutus are made of yards and yards of soft, fluffy tulle that is hand tied onto your choice of elastic or ribbon. They can be made in any size and color combination of your choice. My hair bows are boutique style, and are hand sewn together to ensure stability. They also come in your choice of color and style.

How did you get started making or selling these products?

I decided to sell tutus because when I was little I had a tutu that I wore ALL the time. It made me happy and I wanted to pass that happiness onto my daughter. The look of joy on a little girl's face when she's twirling around without a care in the world is priceless, and knowing that I was able to help create that joy makes it even better. I decided to sell hair bows because I just love them! They are a great addition to any outfit and they also look great with tutus!

(Photos from Christopher Scott Photography)

And by the way...  Eden is one of my online mommy friends, sharing in the joys and drama of raising an almost-three-year-old girl. Learn more about my online mommy group from a past post: Did I Just Say That?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Throughout my life, I’ve had many friends. I fit into several different groups. The “good girls”, whom I joined for church functions and bible study groups. The “nerds”, who may not always have been the trendiest kids in school, but whom are now living successful lives thanks to their brains and work ethic. I went on a date (or two) with an adorable football player. For a time, I was even with the “hippie kids”, with whom I sported countless Beatles shirts and long bead necklaces. As I struggled to discover my own identity, I managed to find a way to identify with almost everybody.

While this sounds like a happy little plan for acquiring many friends, I often felt left out. In the pre-teen and teen years, the clique is key. I never took the steps to fully ingrain myself into one singular group. I was in the circle here and there, but never quite on the bull’s-eye. More like the outer wedge of the number four on the dartboard. I was there, but not crucial to the game. While the core of each group could call themselves best friends, I just existed.

Did my friends feel this way about me? I have no idea. I remember countless days where I wished I could be closer to the center. Somewhere… anywhere. But I also liked the people in clique #2 and that group over there. I felt I would have to choose one over the other, and that was impossible.

In the age of Facebook, most of these friends have returned. I enjoy chatting with all of them. I occasionally meet up with one or two if we’re in the same town at the same time. It is a lot of fun, and I am blessed to have some fantastic acquaintances and old friends in my life.

Do I need to be in the center these days?

I already am.

I am in the center of my little household of three. I am the wife and the mother. I am the CEO of this house. I am my husband’s best friend. And, while she’s young at least, I am the sun in Amelia’s universe.

It’s a good place to be.

Writer's Workshop:
Describe a time when you felt left out

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Expression

"The expression a woman wears on her face is far more important
than the clothes she wears on her back."
                                                                                     --Dale Carnegie

Monday, January 24, 2011


This January 25th marks my eight-year wedding anniversary with my phenomenal husband. He is a trustworthy friend with a contagious love of silliness and fun. He is also brilliant and responsible, keeping us safe and secure. He is everything I could ask for, and much more. I would not trade this man for the world.

Marriage is not simple. It's not easy to always consider someone else in your plans, thoughts, and dreams. Sometimes it's easier to be grumpy than to put on a smile for the sake of a happy household. With a child in the mix, mariage must absorb fatigue, stress, and occasional monotony. We have plenty of family time. Lots of "mommy and daddy" events. But intentional effort is required to find that elusive but oh-so-important "you and me" time. I can't say we're perfect with this, but we try our best. We never forget that we are a team. We are best friends. And we could never ask for a more blessed life together.

Happy anniversary to YOU, Steve! Thanks for always supporting us. And for loving me no matter what.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Before child...

Before I had a preschooler, I never realized:
  • All the sugar packets at restaurants have been played with (possibly licked) by a small child.
  • Preschoolers will completely ignore their friends during a playdate, then later tell you "I had such a great day with (friend)!".
  • Choo-choo trains are exciting and fascinating by day, completely terrifying in dreams.
  • Food can be made out of anything: woodchip pizzas, play-doh cupcakes, sand pies, mud puddle soup... (warning: do not let them get their hands on dog poo).
  • Stuffed animals have feelings. They cry, hit each other, miss their mommies, and often need timeout.
  • Stuffed animals also need frequent diaper changes (and many, many baby wipes).
  • It is nearly impossible to outsmart an almost-three year old. Don't try to be sneaky, they are all on to us.
  • Fairies get sucked down the bathtub drain and end up swimming in the ocean. That's why you see so many at the beach.
  • Ceiling fans are terrifying.
  • Preschoolers could care less who is on the other end of the phone. But if Mommy is talking on it, they transform into noisy, clingy octopus-like creatures.
  • Mommy's day off only works if Mommy is in another state. Or another country.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I have a stalker. Several, actually.

They sneak up on me, seemingly during the night. I am startled to find them so close when I wake. I have gone through great lengths to make them stay away. I've told them to leave. I've tried to hide from them. I have even forcibly removed them from my life.

But still they return. I am being stalked - by gray hairs!

I have plucked, and colored, and hidden these little pests, but they are resilient. In my brown hair, they manage to shine like diamonds and poke out like chicken wire. Each gray hair has a mind of its own.
Despite my best efforts to fight these nuisances, I always manage to miss a few. I have been astounded by a 5-inch long gray hair on more than one occasion.

My father has had gray hair for as long as I can remember. I definitely have his genes; my appearance mirrors his side of the family. And, (yikes!) I am probably not too far from the age when the total gray descended upon him. For a man, gray is no big deal. It looks distinguished. It's completely acceptable. For me, however? I'm not so sure.

My name, Julie, means "youthful one". For the most part, I live up to that in personality. However, I suspect no one informed my hair. It is anything but youthful these days.

What are you doing this weekend? I'm browsing the hair color aisle... again.

F2F Friday: Kludgy Mom

Many thanks to Gigi for stepping in for today's Friends 2 Follow Friday! And thanks to Gigi for introducing me to a fantastic new word:

A kludgy mom (clue-gee mom) is a mom who uses clumsy or inelegant, yet effective, solutions to problems, typically using items that are cobbled together. In other words, a mom who makes things up as they go.

Blog Name? KludgyMom

Find Kludgy Mom on TWITTER and FACEBOOK

Five adjectives that describe you?
Snarky, Honest, Silly, Hungry and sometimes Sappy!
Something that recently made you laugh?
My son, Boy Wonder, told me that I had a "badonkadonk."

A favorite photo?
This is a picture of my kids at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas from Thanksgiving 2010. I just think it's gorgeous and reminds me of California...which is home, and I miss it.

If you could spend a weekend by yourself anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
If I could spend a weekend anywhere by myself, I'd probably jet off to Florence, Italy. it's a place I've always wanted to visit, and I'd get to just slow down a little bit, eat delicious food and surround myself with historical beauty.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Never friends...

10 reasons I could never be friends with a massage therapist:


1)  I would repeatedly ask for a back massage

2)  I would repeatedly ask for a neck massage

3)  I would repeatedly ask for a leg massage

4)  I would repeatedly ask for a foot massage

5)  I would repeatedly ask for a face and head massage

6)  I may even ask for a butt massage

7)  I might become obsessed with my talented friend and turn into a stalker

8)  Husband would get jealous of all the massages and ask for some too

9)  If massage therapist friend was a male, husband would get even more jealous - but would not ask for a massage

10)  My poor friend would get fed up and break up with me

But oh my gosh…. Just the thought of free (and frequent!) massages makes me happy. I’m a mama who needs to relax. And I love to be pampered.

So, massage therapists, is anyone raising their hand to be MY friend?

Prompt #4:
10 Reasons Why I Could Never Be Friends With…(fill in the blank)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Random

Some random sightings from our travel adventures:

L.L. Bean boot in Maine

Doctor Dinosaur (Carnegie Mellon University)

Largest slug we've ever seen (Washington State)

A national park picnic lunch

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Good night

Moms love sleep. We obsess over our child's sleeping patterns. Naps are sent directly from Heaven to make us happy. We look forward to our own transition into cozy nighttime sleep.

Moms work hard. Grandmas are awesome. Caregivers of every kind are truly valuable in our lives. They deserve to be spoiled! And what better way to spoil a hard-working loved one than by a gift of comfortable sleep?

I am lucky enough to know the creator of Nite Sweatz, moisture-wicking women's sleepwear. And I received a couple items to try.

I tried an adorable ruffle chemise and an incredibly soft boxer-tee set. I am always warm at night. I'm the type who frequently flips to the cool side of the pillow. So I was thrilled to test these products.
I love them!  Cute, incredibly soft, breatheable and cool.

Any hard-working woman who craves a good sleep will love them too.

Visit Nite Sweatz via their website, And don't forget the Super Specials page! Several items available for 30% off (through 3/1).

To experience the feel of this amazing fabric in person, take a trip to one of their retailers. Locations can be found HERE.

Nite Sweatz... totally worth the splurge!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Tomorrow, I may have to bust out some dance moves and hang out with this guy:

"Snowmageddon 2011" hit us hard. Snowed in for two full days. No school for an entire week. Too cold to play outdoors. Parking lots so slippery that we'd have to risk bodily  harm just to run an errand or two. So after eight straight days of very close indoor togetherness, it is finally time for Amelia to go back to school!

I remember how thrilled I was when she first said "mommy".

Today, I can barely handle one more "hey Mommy".

"Hey Mommy - I need a snack."
"Hey Mommy - I need help."
"Hey Mommy - I want some Play-Doh."
"Hey Mommy - I have poo-poo."
"Hey Mommy - I want a different snack."
"Hey Mommy - I want to watch a show."
"Hey Mommy - I want some lemonade."

Every 5-9 minutes, it's another "hey Mommy." Even when Daddy or other people are around, it's still "hey Mommy." Apparently I have some kind of magical power over the fridge, pantry, and television. And the toilet too.

Don't get me wrong, I love my girl. She makes me laugh and keeps me on my toes. But I am getting desperate for alone time. And it's bad. It is the pull-my-hair-out, silently-screaming-inside-my-own-brain kind of desperate.

It's time for us to have some space!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Weekend relaxing and blog-hopping! Thanks for coming by to say hi.

Shibley Smiles Sunday Blog Hop

Check out what I've been up to this week:

Monday's child is fair of face...
The age of ME. Talkin' about social media in our lives.

Tuesday's child is full of grace...
Sniffle Sniffle. A GIVEAWAY! Enter by Sunday evening for a chance to win.

Wednesday's child is full of woe (not really!)...
Wordless Wednesday - white stuff!

Thursday's child has far to go...
A time I felt truly relieved. Inspired by Mama Kat's weekly writing prompts.

Friday's child is loving and giving...
Another F2F Friday! Featuring Creative Liar. Want to be featured? EMAIL ME!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friends 2 Follow Friday: Creative Liar

New year, same F2F Friday feature - but with a couple new questions. And today, with some really funny answers.

Welcome, Ericka! Thanks for making me laugh.

Blog name? Creative Liar

When was your blog born - and why?
Creative Liar was born on December 6, 2010 strictly to save my sanity. Previously, I had a blog called Alabaster Cow where I frequently talked about my backside and my chihuahuas' tendency to leave little gifts all over my tile floor. For some reason, my little stories went over big and I had quite a few followers but I got swept up into the whole advertising/writing posts to sell people's products scene and I realized it wasn't for me. I just wanted to write your run of the mill snarky humor/writing/vegan blog. Isn't that everyone's dream in life??

Find Erika on TWITTER
Creative Liar on FACEBOOK
The writer behind the words - list 5 adjectives that describe you.

I totally just went on to look those up. But in all seriousness I'd say I'm funny (at least I try to be), open-minded, irreverent, kind, and stubborn.

Something that recently made you laugh?
My daughter pooped on my husband today. He did not find this to be as amusing as I did but I have to applaud his patience. I would have started a small fire in a waste basket, burned my clothing and commenced a crying session while standing naked in the kitchen. He did none of these things.

A favorite photo?

This photo was my blog button for my old blog, Alabaster Cow. It's a photo of my daughter pleasantly trapped underneath our red couch. Someone asked me once if I put her under there for the photo. That person didn't have children so I allowed it.
And no, she sought the comfort of our dust bunnies all on her own.

If you could spend a weekend by yourself anywhere in the world, where would you go & why?
Hmmm...somewhere to write. Maybe a bed and breakfast with a nice view somewhere in Ireland. Or a shack in the middle of the woods. Doesn't matter. It's the "by myself" part that's incredibly intriguing...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A very long day

In less than three months, my little girl will turn three years old.

Upon the announcement of our soon-to-be bundle of joy, the experienced mamas in my life dispersed ongoing wishes and words of advice. Many of them said, "Enjoy it - they grow up so quickly!"

No kidding.

Amelia's life may be moving quickly these days, but do you know what didn't? Her birth. The longest hours of my life. As my parents roamed the hospital and sat anxiously in the waiting area, they saw several other families arrive - and leave - while I still had no baby.
The books tell you to have a birth plan. The books tell you to know what you do and don't want on delivery day. For me, thinking ahead turned out to be a waste of time and brain power. I had absolutely no control over that day.

I went to the hospital the night before. We were inducing because of increasing blood pressure and other minor issues. Steve watched the NCAA basketball championship game while I tried to fall asleep, knowing I was to experience a pretty dramatic event the next morning.
(about to check in)

I will spare all the labor and delivery details, but my body did not cooperate with the pitocin drug. Labor took forever. In fact, Amelia wasn't born until 11:57 p.m. that night, about 30 hours after our arrival at the hospital.

Many things happened that day. Ongoing vomiting, fatigue, thirst, and impatience to name a few. But the most frightening part came when I heard these words...

"We're going to call a NICU team in here for delivery."

Apparently, when my water was broken, thick meconium was present in the fluid (meconium, if aspirated by the baby, can cause irritation, infection, or airway blockage). My newborn baby girl was going to be handed to someone else within seconds of her birth. And to top it off, the medical team wanted the tiny head electrode on her throughout labor, to monitor her stress level. (This electrode is one of the things I had a big NO next to on my birth plan... but when it came down to it, I had zero say in the matter. It was for her safety.)

I was devastated. I was probably too tired and nauseous to properly express my concern in words, but my heart sank. And it stayed heavy throughout the day with the "what ifs".

The "pushing" phase of my labor lasted over 2 hours. Amelia was turned a bit sideways, my contractions were not coming in a helpful, timed pattern, and - surprise - Amelia was enormous. When she was finally born, the NICU team scooped her out of the midwife's hands and began to check her out.

"Lungs look clear. She's breathing fine. She looks great!"

Those were the best words I had heard all day. Finally, relief.

Mama's Losin' It 
Prompt #3) A moment you truly felt relieved.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: White Stuff

This is all the snow left when we returned from Christmas travel...

And this is what we got on Sunday night!

(note the southern snow boots...)

(no sled? try a laundry basket!)

***GIVEAWAY!*** Visit yesterday's post, sniffle sniffle, for your chance to win an Achooz prize pack! Easy entry. Winner selected Sunday night. partner:

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