Friday, October 31, 2014

Ten Gifts for Bloggers

If you have a blogger in your life, it may very well be that s/he (let's face it, mostly she) would actually like something blog related as a gift. Bloggers get pretty excited about blogging things. If you have a blogger in your life consider the following:

This post contains affiliate links--if you purchase some of the products through the links in this post, this blog will receive a small commission. 

gifts for bloggers



A Blog Consultation
This is an opportunity for the blogger to meet with someone who has a greater understanding of blogging, search engine optimization, social media, and more.
For consultation packages that have great reviews for a great price see here and here.

A Subscription
Monthly subscription boxes are so popular right now--especially with bloggers. They are fun and they give them something to blog about. Some different subscription boxes include:

Fashion 
Stitch Fix (you can pay the styling/shipping fee, but it isn't until the clothes arrive that the additional charges are made)
Le Tote  (this is a flat monthly fee, and the clothes are only on loan)

Beauty
Birch Box
Beauty Box 5

Baby
Bluum
Citrus Lane

Health
Bulu Box
KlutchClub

Books About Blogging
There is so much to learn about blogging--HTML, design, promotion, photo editing, writing, networking, monitizing, and more. Some books you may find worthwhile:

Blogging For Dummies

Blogging for Creatives: How designers, artists, crafters and writers can blog to make contacts, win business and build success

Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community

The Ultimate Guide to Blogging

How To Make Money Blogging

A New Blog Design/Layout
If the blogger in your life has recently started talking about improving the look or feel of the blog or "branding" the blog, this might be a perfect option.  Some great resources for excellent design on a budget are

Jana Tolman Design
Ready or Not Design 

A Blog Sponsorship
A blog sponsorship gives a blogger an opportunity to work with another blogger--typically in the same niche, with a larger reader/blog community. Sponsorships help give bloggers exposure and a chance to interact with new potential readers. I wrote about a wonderful sponsorship here. It's hard for me to give a recommended list of sponsorships when the blogging world and blog topics are so huge. Instead here are a few posts about what to look for in a blog sponsorship:

 8 Questions to Ask Before You Sponsor
Getting the Most Out of Blog Sponsorships

Business Cards/Things with the Blog Logo on them
If blogging is turning into more than a hobby, money is being made or products are being reviewed, or the blogger is looking to attend a conference in the near future--business cards would be a great option. If you don't feel comfortable having the cards made, buy a gift certificate. Some great business card design options include:

Grace and Vine Studios
Ready or Not Design

If you don't think business cards would be helpful, perhaps have a mug designed with the logo from the blog--as seen here or here.

A Camera
This is a big ticket item, but any blogger who is serious about blogging is eventually going to want a DSLR camera. Some great (more affordable options) are listed below:

Canon EOS Rebel T5
 
Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS

Other Blogging Equipment 
Bloggers use a lot of tools for blogging. They use planners, computers, phones, memory cards, and more. Think about your blogger--Is the computer running slow? Is the memory card always full? Is her phone too full to engage in social media? Does she constantly jot down ideas on napkins, paper, and her hand? She'd probably love the thoughtfulness and the usefullness of a gift to help with any of those things.

Here is a post with some additional camera equipment that might be useful for family photos or fashion posts. 

Here is a post with some great new day planner choices for the new year!

Something to Blog About
Bloggers blog for a number of reasons, but they all have one thing in common: something to talk about. They're here to tell a story--so help them write it. Think about the topics that are generally covered on her blog--relationships, motherhood, healthy, beauty, fashion, book reviews, etc...and try to find something that goes along with that. Maybe a special date night, new beauty products, new workout gear or equipment, etc.

Have you ever given or received a blogging gift? Do you have any other suggestions?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Go-To Recipes for New Moms

My age group and my church activity give me the opportunity to frequently prepare meals for others in need--whether a baby has just been born, a death in the family has taken place, a health problem/recovery is happening, or any other reason a person just might need a meal dropped off. I used to get anxiety over preparing meals. I would carefully search for meals. My choices would change based on the amount of time I had to prepare a meal and the amount of money I had. (Some meals, like lasagna, tend to run a bit more expensive especially when paired with other parts of a meal).

I finally got sick of searching for a meal that I couldn't screw up, could make in __ amount of time, and could afford or get the ingredients easily. I wanted a "Go To" meal. One that when I got a phone call that someone was in need of a dinner, I already knew what I'd be preparing. It helps keep things simple.

Today I'm sharing my two "go to" meals with you. Both are filled with whole, real food, they are family friendly, easy to adapt for larger or smaller portions, and easy to adapt for any allergies--as they are naturally dairy and wheat free.


One Pan Chicken Dinner

(This meal will easily serve two parents and two kids or less, adjust the recipe for larger families)


This recipe is so easy that I don't even measure it out!

-2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed
-1 1/2 Cups Fresh green beans washed and cut
-1 1/2 Cups Red potatoes washed and cubed
-Butter or Olive Oil
-Your Choice of Seasonings (Italian Seasoning, Ranch Seasoning, Rosemary/Thyme, salt/pepper, etc...)

Take a 9x13 pan and arrange the staple ingredients into thirds (one third of the pan for green beans, one third chicken, and the final third potatoes). Drizzle olive oil or place pats of butter on each section. Sprinkle seasonings of choice on top (Italian seasoning, Ranch dressing mix, rosemary/thyme, etc..). Cover and cook at 350 for one hour.

Crockpot Beef Stew

-Package 1 1/2 pounds of stew beef
-Vegetables (the quantity and kind may vary), I typically use 1 1/2 cups carrots, 1 cup potatoes, 1 cup green beans, 1 cup peas, and 1 cup corn.
-3 cups water
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
-1 TBSP Oregano
-1 TBSP Parsley
-1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

Directions
Place all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 or 6 hours--vegetables and meat should be tender.

**If I need to thicken the broth, I simply take a little cold water, mix in some corn starch, and pour and stir it into the stew until it reaches the desired thickness).**

Additions
Whenever I take a meal I usually include:

-Washed (and sliced if necessary) fruit---strawberries or grapes usually
-Dessert (usually a pan of brownies)
-Breakfast--New moms need breakfast most of all in my opinion.  I usually include a package of granola bars or frozen homemade breakfast burritos (if I have the time)

**I always prepare or package each food item in a container that can be thrown away or one that I purchased at the dollar store so there is no need to return it.

What is your "go to" meal when you need to take someone dinner?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Marriage After a Baby

Our childbirth educator worked hard during our classes to unite us as a couple. She wanted to help us build strength in preparing for our new addition, so that we would remain strong after. She repeatedly read off statistics about how 1/3 of couples report being less happy after the birth of a baby, 1/3 of couples report feeling the same, and 1/3 report being happier. She wanted us to be that happier third. She wanted a new baby to be a healthy addition to an already healthy marriage.

Just after JaiseAnn was born, Zach whispered into my ear, "I didn't know I could be this happy!"  That paired with seeing how much Zach loved JaiseAnn made me feel like, "Yes! We'll be the third that's happier! We're on our way! We're practically there!" Yes, I really did think those things. And then real life with a baby set in and I realized that even though we all loved each other so much more than I knew possible, things felt different.

Anytime there is a change in dynamics in a relationship, it's an adjustment. Children create a major change in dynamics. Especially babies. Having JaiseAnn affected me physically--from the recovery, to the weight gain, to the lack of sleep, nursing, emotionally, and even spiritually. Becoming a mother--becoming parents--has definitely changed out marriage.

The changes to my marriage haven't been "bad." I would not say that, but I would say that some changes have been awesome and some have been really difficult to adjust to. But like we always have, Zach and I keep pushing through until we find a place where we are happy--and then another change comes along and we start all over.

happy marriage with kids

Some of the good changes include:

*Love Multiplied
The love and joy in our home has exponentially increased and it continues to do so. We laugh and smile and say "I love you" in our home a whole lot. Our house is bursting with love. We are so enamoured with our little girl and the chance to experience life through her eyes.

There's just something really special about sharing our love for her. When we're watching her play or laughing at her squeals or telling her how cute she is--I look at Zach and I just know. I know that he is the only person that feels like I do about her. He's the only one that shares that kind of love. And I know he always will and that makes me feel that our family is safe and happy. 

*Seeing a New Side of Your Spouse
From the moment I met Zach I knew that he had a softer heart than he let on. I was privileged enough to see that softer side almost right away, but it gets even softer than I ever knew now that he's a dad. JaiseAnn can bring him to tears in a matter of seconds. He's so in love with her, he's goofy with her, he rushes to comfort her, and all of those things just make me swoon. I can't believe we're parents sometimes and sometimes I just have to tell JaiseAnn that she's so lucky to have her dad--their relationship is going to be special and I love that more than I could ever say.

*Partnership
 Zach and I have always worked opposite schedules. We have always done things our own way and now we have a whole shift. We need to work together to get everything done in a day from making the bed to grocery shopping to cleaning up dinner. We've had to really start communicating about what needs to be done and what we need as individuals. It's really made us focus on what the other person needs and how we can help. We were partners before, but this partnership is different and (hopefully) becoming stronger and more solid.

*Spirituality

 Zach and I have always been on the same page as far as what we believe. We have different strengths, however, in how we approach and live our beliefs. JaiseAnn's birth has helped us both develop strengths where we were weak and that has caused our testimonies to grow in their own way at the same time. We still have noticeable differences, and probably always will, but it has been nice to grow more similar. Additionally, we were never great about reading scriptures together but now we read our scriptures with JaiseAnn every night. (Yes, we already do this, we want to start the habit now. Before things get busier and crazier as she gets older.)

*An added bonus--when you see what Zach's seen--from the delivery room, to my high anxiety hospital stay, to my long road to recovery at home. Not to mention the breastfeeding, the weight gain, the breast pump--he's seen it all. I didn't want that. I always had hoped to keep some things private to "keep the mystery alive." It turns out that you really don't care all that much about mystery and romance when you are recovering from childbirth. And I've learned, that it isn't quite so bad. In fact, it has made me feel closer to Zach and improved our intimacy--emotionally and physically. I never thought I'd say that after having a baby, but it's the truth. 


Some of the more challenging changes include: 

 *Equality in Parenting is a Myth

This is probably the area that I've struggled the most in..and boy have I ever struggled. When we talked about having a baby I always wanted to be sure that Zach planned to help--he'd help in the middle of the night, change diapers, and let me sleep in in the morning. He'd help with bath time, and dinner, and play with our baby. People warned me that it wouldn't happen like I thought it would. They warned me he'd sleep and he'd take a backseat and I remember being adamant as I said, 'No! Zach's different. We've already got plans for sharing the load. He's going to let me sleep and he's going to help out. He's more excited than I am."  I guess I didn't believe them because a). People told me marriage was hard and I really hadn't felt that it was all that difficult...so here was yet another warning--people trying to rain on my parade. and b). Zach was different. I truly truly believed that.

But then JaiseAnn was born and Zach crashed HARD that night and slept until 10 the next morning. Yes, he was up for over 24 hours but so was I and I HAD A BABY!! I went the entire day waiting to be released from the hospital. We weren't released until 8 p.m. and when we got home I FINALLY got some sleep--aside from waking constantly to check on JaiseAnn and feed her. And Zach slept in AGAIN. This cycle repeated for longer than I even care to share. Long enough that I was truly  angry and upset and praying for guidance in how to approach this. It seemed so unfair. It seemed so unequal. It seemed so selfish.

I have had to really communicate with Zach about what I need and how he can help. Ultimately, Zach wasn't trying to be selfish, but he felt like I would speak up and let him know what I needed. If I needed to sleep, I would tell him I needed him to watch JaiseAnn so I could. I was waiting to be dotted on and have him tell me, "You're amazing and you just gave birth...and you keep going and going and going, go lay down. I'll watch her." Seriously, I have my expectations playing out like movies in my mind and when it doesn't happen the way that I think it should happen, it's hard. I need to let Zach know what I need. If he refuses to help, then we have a problem. I've had to articulate things that I really never felt I needed to articulate (I thought it was pretty obvious I needed some sleep). And while I don't feel it's perfect, we're getting there.

The fact is, though, in our home parenting will never be equal. I'm the mom and that's just different here--at least with JaiseAnn. She's a mama's girl and she exclusively breastfeeds so Zach is limited in how he can help already. I have to be very clear about what I need or want and sometimes that can be frustrating, but I'm learning to deal.

*Time

With me not working, we're home together more, but we have less time together. This has also been a hard adjustment. Sometimes I just want to curl up for the evening with Zach but JaiseAnn wakes up often, or I'm tired, or we didn't get finished with dinner until 9 p.m. Our alone time is very limited and that's why we've made an effort to spend our time together more intentionally. Throughout the week, we watch a show or a movie on the couch (putting electronic devices away) and occasionally we'll play a card game. Once a week, though, we do plan an "at home" date for the two of us. We've gotten better at coming up with activities.

As we adjust to this new approach to time together, I think we'll find that it's the new normal and it will be just fine. We're not lacking for time together, just getting used to the situation. 

*Finances

There are so many aspects to the financial situation. Our finances changed drastically when I decided not to return to work. In order to make up some of the difference I found a little bit of work from home (that I do when JaiseAnn naps) and Zach took on extra hours at work. This limited our time together even more and it put different kinds of stress on Zach and I. Zach became the main provider which must be a heavy weight to carry--especially when his job wasn't what he wanted it to be. I felt guilty at times for not returning to work and other times I felt worried that I'd have to go back to work (sometimes I still worry that I'll have to go back, but I pray daily that I'm never forced back to work). This stress can make the time that we do have together tense and hard--we both struggle, but very differently and it's completely new territory for both of us.

Ultimately, our goal to work hard to get out of debt is helping us buffer the financial stresses. We have a specific plan in mind to snowball our debt and we are starting SMALL...very small, but we're starting and we both know that it will get better. Zach continues to work hard in his field and hopes to continue earning more money and I hope to help us stick to a budget and live well within our means. We work on this together and it helps make things less tense and more productive or hopeful. 

Have you experienced any of these changes in your marriage after a baby?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Join Me {Health and Happiness}

In college I hit the gym pretty regularly and was pretty healthy. As soon as I started working, I really struggled with making time for exercise every day. I noticed my body changing and so I joined a 12 week challenge at the gym I went to. I figured that my competitive nature would motivate me to make big changes so that I would see a big difference. I even spent quite a big chunk of money on a personal trainer.


Long story short, I learned (very quickly) that I don't do personal trainers. I felt pushed into making changes, I felt judged, and I honestly do not like people telling me what to do. I didn't make or see many changes and I was resistant at every turn. Now, that I'm a bit older and still struggling to make some changes, I want support but I don't want authoritative support. I want friendship, support, and accountability. Every group I see that offers this is run on Facebook. Groups of women get together....they are sharing tips, recipes, workouts, and sharing their struggles as well. They help one another along a journey to being healthier. I don't have Facebook (and won't get Facebook) so I continually miss out on these opportunities.

I've decided to start my own group and I have some big plans in mind. This group will be a private group on Google+. Don't let Google+ scare you, it's really easy to navigate and use--and I can help you if you need it.

I'd love for you to join. I have some awesome ideas for recipe swaps, themes, positive discussions, and more! If you are interested please comment with your email address or send me an email at mynewlinesblog@gmail.com and I'll get this group started.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sleeping Beauty

Is JaiseAnn sleeping any better?

This is a question I get quite often...ever since I let the whole wide world know that we were having major sleep issues.

The answer is yes and no.

On our vacation in July. This is the last time JaiseAnn slept relatively well...just before she started rolling over
Yes. 
I am honestly grateful that I shared my struggle so openly on this blog and with people in my every day world. It helped me to see that we weren't alone. And while people with 14 month olds that still don't sleep didn't make me feel any more hopeful about the future, it did help me to see I wasn't alone--that I wasn't doing something wrong. Our situation looks and is very different than many people's but it's not wrong.

I kept thinking...I'm not an attachment parent. I'm not a cry it out parent. I don't fit anywhere and I'm doing it all wrong. After not feeling so "out there" or alone in our situation, I was able to step back and realize something. Nighttime parenting is still parenting. I still have to make choices as JaiseAnn's mom about her well being, my well being, and my family's well being. It helped me to realize that the way that I'm handling the sleep situation is the best way for me to parent JaiseAnn the way that I want to and for me to be as rested as possible.

I often fail at this even though I don't leave her to cry, we still have our fair share of struggles and many a cuss word has slipped through my lips in angry bouts of exhaustion. I'm not proud of those moments. At all. And I don't excuse them. But they happen. Overall, I've come to terms with our situation a little more and I embrace each evening just like each day...I'm parenting my child and I'm doing it in the way that works best for me. It's not ideal. And I don't love every bit of  it. But it's the way it works best. There are many different parts of each and every day that are hard and not ideal. I don't love every bit of my days...but the harder parts come with the package of parenting, morning or night.

As I've let go of some of the "this isn't how it's supposed to look/be" attitude go and just accept where we are, I've been able to tap into my intuition just a little more. This has resulted in putting JaiseAnn to bed differently at night. Now instead of taking 3 hours to get her to sleep, it takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. I was able to sort of able to come up with a plan for the future that sometimes makes me feel hopeful (but truthfully sometimes gives me anxiety).

She consistently takes 2  1 hour (sometimes 1 1/2) naps in her Ergo--even if they are interrupted. She used to take 30-45 minute naps consistently. We feel like we make progress in a 2 steps forward 3 steps back kind of way around here. I'm hopeful that this slow (and often painful) road will lead us to some sound sleep eventually...without too many tears.



No.
She still doesn't get drowsy and she still doesn't seem to understand the concept of sleep. She wakes at least every hour, if not more.

She doesn't nurse to sleep very often any more. I rock her in her Ergo for naps and I lay her down in our bed repeatedly until she falls asleep at night. (It sometimes takes an hour, but I'm there with her and I provide comfort as needed. I'm more comfortable with this than leaving her alone to cry).

Even though she falls asleep in the Ergo for naps, she still wakes up after a half an hour and needs to be rocked to fall back asleep. Occasionally she will take an entire nap in the Ergo without waking (again, progress in a 1 step forward 3 steps back kind of way).

On Sundays I lay down with her after church for a nap. I willingly nurse the entire time (since Sundays are rough on both of us). She still wakes up after a half an hour and will not go back to sleep. It's not being on me or near me or even nursing, something about the Ergo keeps her asleep. She will not take a long enough nap to be restorative otherwise.

At night, even though she essentially puts herself to sleep, she still wakes after 1-2 hours. We have had some three hour stretches but they are inconsistent. She's in our bed and nurses at least 7-8 times throughout the night. Sometimes she'll nurse, pull away and roll over, only to wake up after a few seconds/minutes and want to nurse all over again. I've started withholding from her when that happens. She throws a massive fit and we all lose at least a half an hour of sleep. Once she falls back to sleep that way, she usually wakes up shortly after anyway and I usually nurse her at that point...both out of exhaustion and sympathy.

Some people can nurse while sleeping and be fine. I cannot. I don't sleep well in the nursing position and I am very well aware that JaiseAnn is nursing so I am usually awake and waiting for her to unlatch. If I've gotten a good start on sleep, I usually can nurse and sleep more soundly throughout the night, but if I haven't gotten a good start, our night is usually rough to start.

*********************************************************************************
When she was a newborn I truly thought she was sleeping too much. I repeatedly did Google searches for how much sleeping she should be doing because she was never awake. Jokes on me. 
Overall, I am hopeful but still struggling to a degree. Most days are better than they used to be, by far. I don't fight the situation we're in as much anymore and amazingly, that has helped me to wake up each day more rested. I find it miraculous that I have the energy every day I need. I consider it a tender mercy.  And while I wish she didn't nurse constantly throughout the night, I do enjoy having her in our bed. For the short time that she was in a crib in her own room, I missed her. I do like having her near me.

I still welcome any advice but please note:

*At this point, the crib is no longer an option. She will be in our bed until she goes to a toddler bed (any suggestions for that are definitely welcome). I will not be purchasing a crib for our next baby. We will buy a co sleeper, but not a crib. I have come a full 360 on that and I want my baby in my room.

* We have tried scheduling and I do operate on a "schedule" with JaiseAnn because she doesn't ever seem tired or drowsy, I have her take naps and I do bedtime by the clock. However, I am convinced that a schedule is not our problem. She truly doesn't get the idea of sleep. She wakes up and is more than willing to go back to sleep OR stay awake and play. She doesn't wake up wanting to go back to sleep and she wakes up very easily and usually cheerfully.

*We have tried a sound machine, ceiling fan on, ceiling fan off, teething remedies, 100% cotton pajamas, bedtime routine every night, and she's eating solids. We have attempted a "lovey" but she just doesn't take to it. She doesn't take a pacifier either.

*I know that some people think refux, tummy troubles, temperature, teething, etc...? The thing is, JaiseAnn does not demonstrate enough sleeping consistency for me to even tell if she is having additional problems. She's been a poor sleeper for so long that I don't assume it's more. She did see the doctor to rule out any medical need for frequent waking and there was none that our doctor could find.

Monday, October 20, 2014

10 Dates Under $10

Believe it or not, this post was inspired by my brother. He took a girl on a date recently that I fell in love with (see below) it was fun, inexpensive, and allowed time to talk (oh and it involved ice cream, too) so it was a win in my book. I got to thinking about it and I realized that while big themed dates are fun, sometimes the simple, inexpensive dates are the ones that allow for the most memories. Maybe it's because we tend to spend more time focusing our energy on our partner than on executing the date as per the theme.

I picked my own brain and the brains of some other bloggers to bring you these 10 Dates Under $10.



*Amberly suggests making dinner together and watching a Redbox movie.
Here are some ideas for meals that are fun to make together:
     -Pizza
     -BBQ
     -Lasagna
     -Soups/Stews/Chilli
     -Breakfast for Dinner

*Tour your town--if you search for tourist attractions in your town or a nearby town, you'll likely find activities and attractions that you've never visited before. Choose one or two and play tourists for the day/evening.

* Go on a hike! This is a date I want to enjoy when the weather warms up again. I'd love to go on a hike with Zach and then enjoy a picnic dinner at the top!

*Madison loves grabbing ice cream from a favorite place and talking. If you want to have an intentional conversation, try some topics or conversation starters like this and this.

* Christmastime is just around the corner. One of my favorite winter dates is grabbing hot chocolate and walking around downtown while looking at Christmas lights and decorations.

*This dollar store date from The Dating Divas has been on my dating bucket list for a while now...

*Zach and I have enjoyed taking a few dollars to a local arcade. We usually use the money to play air hockey...it's even more fun when stakes are involved.

* Float the river or play at a nearby lake and grab snowcones or shakes to help you cool down after spending a day outside.

*Grab some ice cream at your nearest Walmart (or the ice cream place closest to your nearest Walmart), find a perfect parking place at Walmart and spend your evening people watching. This is the date my brother came up with and it just sounds so fun!

*Hitting the movie theatre is always a treat. Try your local dollar theatre for great deals. Many of ours in the Boise area offer great deals on food/movie snacks as well.

Do you have any inexpensive favorite dates to add? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, October 17, 2014

High Fives--Life with Amberly and Joe

Today I'm giving all of my fives to Amberly. She's the blogger behind Life with Amberly and Joe and not only is she awesome, but she runs an incredible sponsorship program. If you are looking for a blog to sponsor, here are five reasons you should give hers a shot:



1.Genuine Connections

I had a blog before this blog and I met Amberly back then. I connected with her then, but lost touch when I left the blogging world. When I started following back along and commenting, Amberly remembered me. When I told her that I was going to start blogging again, she responded with encouragement and excitement. Amberly cultivates true relationships with her readers and makes connections. It is what drew me to Amberly's blog in the first place after one or two visits and it is what made me want to sponsor her at the beginning of my blogging journey, especially since I was looking to cultivate relationships as well.

Because she cultivates genuine relationships with her readers, her readers trust her. Real dialogue takes place on Amberly's blog and her other forms of social media. She runs a successful monthly link up and a marriage and relationship book study. All of these forms of communication will help you get your name out there by a trusted source. 

2.Motivated by Her Topic

Amberly's blog is a Marriage and Relationship Blog. She has found a niche and she doesn't stray from it. This helps you as a sponsor know what kinds of post would best fit her blog if you are guest posting or sponsoring for promoted posts. Knowing a blogger's niche makes it easier to pick a topic and make connections with the readers from that blog as you already know what that group of readers is interested in. 




3.She Has Your Best Interest at Heart

When I sent Amberly a guest post for her blog, she originally asked me to change it. She wanted something that would better fit the interests of her readers and would give me the maximum time on her blog. I appreciated her bravery and honesty. She was willing to work with me as I sent a different post her way.

4. The Extra Mile

I have seen Amberly comment on other blogs a few times where she will leave a comment with another blogger's post URL in the comment. That takes extra effort and time and most of those bloggers probably do not even know that Amberly took the time to promote their posts. I admire Amberly so much for her willingness and desire to promote other bloggers and help others build connections. 

When I first wanted to start my Girl Talk posts, I emailed Amberly and explained the concept and asked if she would be interested. Not only did she agree to be a part of the series, but she sent several other bloggers my way. I started my Girl Talk series in June and was able to make it through to November  as a brand new blogger thanks to Amberly's help. I never asked her to do that (I had honestly not even thought about that) but she offered and I benefited very much from that offer.

5. Options

There are many different options available for Amberly's sponsorship program. You can find a fit that's best for you. Amberly will continuously check in on your throughout your sponsorship and will  constantly be seeking for the best way to help you promote your content. 



Have you tried sponsoring other blogs? What types of programs have you found successful?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Mom That Eats Birthday Cake

I know it's pretty typical to see a write up about body image after a mom has a baby. She embraces her new body. She has learned to love its new shape and all of her new mom curves. Her body just did something amazing and the stretch marks across her once fully belly now tell that story.

I know. I've read countless posts like that and I even felt that very same way after I delivered my daughter. I promised myself that I would never be mean about my body again. I had made it through nearly 40 weeks of preganancy without a stretch mark in sight, yet I got several during labor and delivery. I was actually grateful for them. I wanted them. I wanted my daughter to leave a permanent mark on her first home. My body did and continues to do something amazing. 

body after baby

The struggle I'm having has more to do with properly caring for my body as a new mom than dealing with the changes from pregnancy. Before JaiseAnn was born I was certain I would lose the weight--all by three months. I would breastfeed and exercise every day--I bought a jogging stroller with plans to take JaiseAnn running throughout the week. We would run a 5k in May.

I was super easy on myself and my body at first. Recovery for me took a long time. But then breastfeeding didn't help me lose any weight at all and JaiseAnn cried (screaming fits) every time I took her out in her stroller or even tried wearing her for a walk. My face was broken out more than usual, my body was weak, and my days were spent sitting on the couch in marathon nursing sessions and naps. I wasn't ready to move onto taking care of myself beyond surviving. By the time I was, it felt like it was almost too late...I felt like I was drowning. I didn't have time to work out alone with a husband working 55 hours every week. He leaves for work before 6 a.m. and all too often we don't eat dinner until 8, after we've put JaiseAnn down.

I've heard all the fit moms proclaim:  "You have to make time for you! You have to do this for you and your family. If you make time for yourself, you'll be a better mother."  But I've struggled to find where to grab that time from. We all have the same 24 hours every day and everyone has a different way of using theirs but I just can't seem to find that small half an hour of time. My daughter doesn't sleep, I'm exhausted, time to exercise is hard to find (if not impossible), and my sugar addiction is in full swing. I have most definitely not been taking the best care of my amazing and incredible body.



I had a friend once say to me, "You don't want to be a mom that never eats birthday cake." when I was talking about this struggle. That's true. We all know the woman at the picnic who laments after eating a whole cookie. I don't want to be that woman. I never have been. I've been a healthy person, but I was never super fit or thin. Pre-pregnancy I wore a size 10 jean and occasionaly a size 8 dress. My body was very average with plenty of curve. I ate treats and enjoyed dinners out. I also drank plenty of water, exercised regularly, and ate healthy whole foods throughout the week. I took care of myself.

I want to be a mom who eats birthday cake, but I don't want to be a mom that eats all the birthday cake (and if we're being honest right now I would definitely eat all the birthday cake, brownies, banana bread, muffins, etc...I'm not kidding, moderation has become lost on me.) I'm stuck trying to find a balance of taking care of my body in moderation. I want to take care of myself. I want to get back into my clothes and get my body back to a healthy weight.

As a result I've started following a number of fitness accounts on Instagram. I suppose I thought they would motivate and inspire me. To some degree they have, but I take issue with the before and after shots I see. I hate that these women describe themselves in their before shots as "unhappy, miserable, and with low self esteem." That's not an attitude I want to have. That's never an attitude I want my daughter to have. I never want her to think that self esteem is found in a number on the scale or the size of pants she wears. Yet that's the message that's constantly being sent.

I'm stuck between wanting to get healthy and wanting to love and accept my body even when it's not the way I want it to look or feel.  I'm most definitely not giving up.  My goal is to be in my pre-pregnancy pants by my next birthday. I'm giving myself time. I'm giving my body time. I'm giving my family time. During that time, though, I'm also trying to learn to get dressed up occasionally. Buying clothes bigger than I'd like because I will feel better in them. I'm trying to embrace the parts of Sharlee that have become hidden under the thirty extra pounds I'm carrying--the Sharlee that loves heels, boots, skirts, jewelry, and getting dressed up. I'm trying to embrace the Sharlee that loves to go out on dates with her husband and loves feeling sexy.

Finding a balance between healthy weight and healthy body image is hard. I can't hate my body and want to change it at the same time. I have to love it now and by loving it, I can care for it enough to change it.

Can you relate to this? Do you have any tips or advice?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Girl Talk--What Makes You Feel Beautiful

Meet Sierra


What does beauty mean to you?

To me, beauty means loving yourself in all facets. To me, the most beautiful women I know are the ones who are confident in themselves. A beautiful woman is someone who takes what they have--their body, whether its curvy or skinny or tall or short, they own their body and make it work. They find a style that works for them. They walk with purpose. Not only that, the most beautiful women I know are the ones who are charitable, loving, and kind to others. They are happy. They look outside themselves. Beauty is someone who is beautiful in every facet of their lives.

How do you help yourself feel beautiful from the inside?

Something that makes me feel beautiful on the inside is by complimenting myself. I am my hardest critic. I am the only person who sees the zit on my face. I am the only person who notices the little "problems" that I have, on the outside and on the inside. Make sure to tell yourself that you are wonderful. That you have amazing qualities. Look at the amazing qualities that you possess.

What makes you feel outwardly beautiful?

Same as above.

Do you have any advice for women or girls struggling to feel beautiful?

Write down something that you love about yourself physically every day. In your journal, write down something, even if it's small, that you like. Whether its your eyelashes or your hair or your feet, etc. Make sure to remind yourself of the good qualities that you possess.

Posts by Sierra on this topic: 
Ten Things I Like About Myself
Jennifer Lawrence Gets Her Own Post

Connect with Sierra: Bloglovin'~Facebook~Instagram~Pinterest~Twitter

Meet Lauren


Lot 48

What does beauty mean to you?

 Beauty means loving yourself. Beauty comes from the inside, not the out.

How do you help yourself feel beautiful from the inside?

Knowing I am smart, kind, giving, and above all, courageous and brave. Playing with children, I always feel most beautiful when I am playing with them. Complimenting myself. I love my hair. I love my eyes. Looking at myself in the mirror and saying "you look beautiful." or "your hair is so thick and gorgeous." I try to compliment myself everyday.

 What Makes You Feel Outwardly Beautiful?

 Taking a shower. Putting on lipstick. I always put powder foundation on, I can't stand to have a shiny nose.

Do you have any advice for women or girls struggling to feel beautiful?

Look inside yourself. Compliment yourself. Don't compare to other women, it is a complete and total waste of time and energy. You are a daughter of God, and that alone makes you beautiful.

Connect with Lauren: Bloglovin'~Instagram~Pinterest~Twitter

Monday, October 13, 2014

FAQ About Being the Second Wife

My husband was married once before. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (as a Mormon) this often surprises people. Anyone who knew me before I met Zach is also surprised--I don't share things and the territory of marriage is most definitely something I didn't want to share. Luckily I have never been raised to think that divorced people are "bad" or anything like that. Did I think I would marry someone who had been divorced? I honestly didn't give much thought about that. I always knew I would marry someone different...someone who didn't quite fit the mold in Mormon culture. I would have to, I don't fit the mold.

I get questions about this pretty often and some I thought I'd address some. Please note that Zach's story is not my story. It's not mine to share, so I can only address this from my perspective.

divorce remarried


Some basic facts: Zach was married for three years (yes in an LDS temple--if you want more information about that, I would be happy to answer--just send me an email or ask me in the comments section) and he did not have any children with his first wife.

What are your thoughts on marriage and divorce?


I believe that marriage is an eternal commitment and should not be taken lightly.

I believe that divorce happens all too often these days, but that sometimes it's what is  necessary/best for the individual, the couple, or the family. I know that some may disagree with me, but I stand by that. 

Does/did Zach's divorce bother you?


Initially Zach's divorce didn't bother me at all. I was honestly a little intrigued by it as strange as that sounds. I met Zach SOON after he separated from his wife. He was sort of "off limits" and I was attracted to that "unattainable" quality. I felt like even if I did start dating him, things would have to go slow and that kept me from freaking out (as was a common response for me with men).

I remember sitting in the car with Zach the very first time we were alone and I asked him why he was getting divorced. He answered very honestly and listed off a number of things I had said I would NEVER marry a man who had done/who was those things. But I very much respected his honesty and his openness. Even more, though, I admired that he did not speak poorly of his ex-wife. To this day you will never hear him talk badly about her. I still very much admire that.

Even though Zach had listed a number of things off that were "deal breakers" for me. I kept spending time with him (and therefore, kept falling in love with him) because I was never uncomfortable in his presence. For me, I usually at some time or another felt uncomfortable with men I would go on dates with even if there was nothing wrong with them. Zach never made me feel that way and that meant a lot to me. (It didn't hurt that I was intensely attracted to him.)


What is the hardest thing about being part of a second marriage?

After we were married I struggled the most. I struggled with sharing the territory of marriage. All of my firsts were not Zach's first and that was very difficult for me. I really wish I had more insight on how I dealt with it, but I just kept plugging along and tried to not think so hard about sharing aspects of marriage or being his "second."

Another thing that bothered me was worrying we would get divorced. The first year and a half of our marriage I am sure I drove Zach crazy with questions like, "Were you guys as good of friends as we are?" "Did you cuddle on the couch?" "Did you eat dinner together?" "Were you as happy as we are?" I asked these things because I wanted him to tell me no. I wanted him to tell me that they never did any of the things we did and they were never happy. I wanted him to tell me that he was basically miserable for three straight years. I wanted him to tell me those things so that I would feel like we were "better" or we would be "more successful."

But that wasn't logical. People don't start out unhappy in marriages usually. Of course they had good times and good memories. Eventually I fell into a place where I could focus on our marriage and everything that made us, us. I realized that all I could control was my commitment to our marriage and my willingness to keep our marriage healthy. I felt incredibly secure and no longer worried about our future.



What did Zach's family and friends think?

 This was something I worried a lot about. For the most part, Zach's friends took to me immediately. We became a little group and spent every night together for a good quarter of the first year of our relationship. I love Zach's friends and they love me. I was nervous. I am competitive and the thought of being compared to his first wife made me nervous. I wanted them to not only like me but I wanted them to like me more. They do...at least most of them. They have directly told me that. Not because I am a better person, but because I am a good fit for Zach. He was happier with me than they had seen him before and it felt good to hear that and to be so accepted.

As for whether or not Zach's family likes me, I would say most of them do. I think a lot of his family members were reluctant about me at first. I came into his life VERY QUICKLY and our relationship progressed quickly as well. He has family everywhere and for those that weren't there to really watch things unfold or see how things happened, I often worried what they thought of me. I've been told by many family members that Zach and I are a great fit and that I'm loved. I know that they see us as a strong partnership even if there are parts of our relationship they don't understand.

What did your family and friends think?

I come from a very accepting family. To my knowledge, nobody even batted an eye at the fact he had been married before. Of course people had a few questions here and there, but he was instantly accepted and well-liked by my family.

I have different pockets and groups of friends. The group of friends I was with the night I met Zach were on board immediately. They saw everything happen from the beginning. They were supportive and encouraging and excited for me. Other friends were surprised that I was dating someone that had been married before and others were concerned--especially considering the rate at which things evolved and got serious for us. While I certainly preferred the reactions of my friends that were happy for me, I understand those that were reluctant. Just like some of Zach's family, they didn't see things happen and so here comes this guy out of nowhere, dating a girl just after he'd been divorced.

What will you tell your kids?


We will most definitely tell our children about Zach's first marriage. We don't know when, we will honestly play that by ear and go by our gut. We will not keep it a secret. There won't be a whole lot to discuss with our kids, but we'll tell them about it and answer any questions they might have. (If our children are anything like me they will have lots of questions about it and they'll want to know a lot. If our children are anything like Zach they will shrug their shoulders, say, "Okay," and move on.)

Do you have any questions related to this topic?  I'm happy to answer them!Or if you're in a similar situation to mine, I'd love to see how your experience compares to mine.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My Thoughts on Body Image--Now that I Have a Daughter

Body image is one of my favorite things to reflect on. It was no surprise that when I had a daughter my reflection changed from thinking about myself to thinking about myself and her. Everything that affects my body image is something I think about when it comes to her...

Would I want her to feel that way ever?
Would I want her to do that?
Would I want her to say that?
Would I want her to see that?

I've tried to write this post a million times...and every time I get teary eyed just starting it. It's so hard. The only way to really communicate is to write my daughter a letter.


Dear JaiseAnn,

From the moment you were born, I have been amazed at your complete perfection. I had asked Misty to come up and take pictures of you and all of your tiny details (your little hands with ten fingers and feet with ten toes, your ears, your head, all of you) before you were even born. Once you arrived, I felt desperate to capture those little things. I felt this tug between "Look at her perfect body!" and "Look at what my body did!" I was truly amazed by your perfect little body. And honestly, I was also amazed by mine.

Some days I worry about this world I brought you into and other days I am excited to see you face it head on. You are strong and while that will certainly provide your dad and I with a number of challenges now, I will take those challenges any day if it gives you the ability to fight this world. There will be a lot of things for you to fight. You will have to fight for right in a world that has stopped believing in "right or wrong." But you will also have to fight for you and your body in a world that will constantly be telling you that you are not enough.

I pray you will have the wisdom to understand. The world's concept of a perfect body is ever-changing. Just like ever-changing technology. Just like Mac users buying a new iPhone every year, you'll constantly be finding things that need to change about yourself--if you buy into the world's concept of perfection.

The world is ever-changing and God is unchanging. And you, little girl, are God's creation. Don't you ever forget that.Your body was made with an exact purpose in mind. Everything and part of you was intentionally made. If you lose sight of this truth, you will go around chasing after numbers that don't matter and images that quickly lose popularity.

Everyone has a different body and everyone has a different story. People will look different than you and for different reasons. Sometimes bodies are a result of choices and sometimes they aren't...at least not entirely. We should always take care of our bodies, our minds, and our spirits.  I hope that you respect your own body and you respect others--no matter their size or shape. I pray that you continue to understand that everyone has a different story.

I wish I could give you all the love I have for you and all the amazement that I felt the moment I laid eyes on you so that you could feel it for yourself.  Since I cannot do that, I am instead going to teach you to marvel at all the things your body can do and does. I am going to teach you to look at what you have and be happy with it. I will teach you to love yourself.

This love, though, it cannot come from a pants size, a weight on the scale, or even a race that you ran. Instead, it has to come from somewhere else, a place that very few people actually manage to get. A place that very few even know exists. It will have to come from a knowledge of who you are and your purpose in this life. It will have to come from being grateful for every part of yourself. Even the parts that others criticize. Even the parts you are trying to change.

Again, you are God's creation. He gave you your body for a specific purpose and reason. If you remember that..and focus on that..you cannot go wrong. 

I loved you before I met you. When I first saw you, I fell into a love that I cannot explain. I want more than anything for you to know your worth and to know where it comes from.

You are enough. You are always enough.

Love,
Your Mom

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Strange Food Combinations

You know those people who cannot let their food touch? I am not one of them. Most of the time I choose side dishes in a hope to mix my food. I almost always mix my food.

I'm baring my soul in sharing these with you. Honestly. Zach is the only one who has seen me devour some of these things in times of desperation. He often thinks it's a bit gross, but usually recovers. He is almost always willing to try one of my weird food combinations.  I've found some pretty strange food combinations that I just love. Here are just a few

strange food combinations


*Chocolate and Chips
In high school I loved to combine a Hershey Kiss with a Nacho Cheese Dorrito. Then I fell in love with chocolate covered potato chips and that combination went out the door. I just love the sweet/salty melty/crunchy combo of chocolate and potato chip. They can be time consuming to make and pretty pricey to buy. If you're in the mood but low on time/money, just eat a few chocolate chips and a potato chip at the same time.

*A Wendy's Frosty and..Anything
I know a lot of people who dip their fries in their Frostys. It's that sweet/salty deliciousness mentioned above with different textures. I take it to the next step, though. I dip my chicken nuggets in my Frosty and love it even more. I have even dipped a cheeseburger in my Frosty..and I liked it.

*I LOVE Honey
I put honey on a lot of strange things...If I order chicken nuggets anywhere other than Wendy's or eat chicken strips at home (weird conditions I know) I dip them in honey. If I bake skinless chicken, I often pair it with honey. I also eat funeral potatoes with a mixture of honey and ranch dressing.

*Potato Chips on a Sandwich
I am not a big chip person, but if I'm at a pot luck or BBQ where chips are available, I will usually pile chips on my sandwich or hot dog. The softness of the bread combined with the crunchy chip is just to die for. I'm a texture person when it comes to food and I like the different textures when adding chips to a sandwich.

*Chicken and Rice Casserole with Jellied Cranberry Sauce
One of my very favorite meals is incredibly unhealthy and offers no nutritional value...it's this chicken and rice casserole that my grandma used to make. It's topped with cheese and potato chips. I have to eat that casserole with copious (and I mean copius) amounts of jellied cranberry sauce. It's a texture thing and a salty sweet thing.

Now...here's the thing...If you are like me, I want to know what strange food combination I must try! Give me something good. I've got great plans in store for this, so spread the word. Send me as many ideas as you can! I can't wait to read them (and try them!)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Enjoying My Marriage...NOW! {Marriage and Relationship Goals Link Up}

When we were first married, Zach was still in school and he was working in a job that helped us barely meet our financial needs. I remember occasionally thinking, "When he is home more we will do __ and ____and _____!" (I hoped for us to spend more time outdoors, on trips (big and small), getting out in the community, and working on projects together.)

After Zach graduated. he was promoted at his job. Unfortunately this resulted in him working the night shift as part of "paying his dues." He took it because it was better pay and a step in the right direction for him career wise. I remember still thinking, "When he's off the night shift..."

Just before JaiseAnn was born, Zach was taken off the night shift. We had her, I decided I didn't want to return to work, and Zach took on extra hours (usually clocking in an extra 10 to 15 hours every week) just to help make ends meet. Sleep deprived, poor-ish, and short on time together, I still find myself thinking, "When he makes more money..." "When JaiseAnn is older..." "When he doesn't have to work so much..."

 It seems as though no time has ever been "perfect" in our marriage. We've never had what feels like enough time, money, etc...in the entire time we've been married. 


Here are a few things I've noticed about this way of thinking:

*Looking back, we really had a good thing going
When I look back at our first year of marriage, I rarely recall how often Zach was busy with school or homework. Instead I remember discovering new shows on Netflix and ordering pizza while watching it. I remember throwing cold water on Zach while he was in the shower and planning fun things to do. I remember hosting game nights and having people over for dinner at our house.

 Things were simple, but good--really good. We made a lot of great memories which I'm able to totally see in hind sight. I hate to think how much time I spent waiting for things to get "better" because I couldn't see that our marriage was already enough--just as it was.

*The little things
I will not deny that I hated Zach's night shift. I can, however, recall fond memories of him crawling into bed about an hour before I had to crawl out. I revelled in that one hour of cuddling time. I looked forward to it and I enjoyed every minute of it, every single time. No matter what the circumstances, I can usually look back (or in the present) and find those little things/moments that make a big difference.

*I don't feel inspired or hopeful, but discouraged and frustrated
 Zach is a pretty laid back guy and often doesn't feel unhappy in our circumstances. When I spend time thinking that things are not really enough just as they are I get frustrated and I feel alone in that frustration. I spend more time thinking about the things we aren't doing or aren't able to do rather than focusing on what we are doing and what we can do, right here and now within our current circumstances.

My goal is to stop waiting for something better around the corner to put the right amount of effort, thought, or energy into my marriage. My goal  is to make an effort to enjoy my marriage (and make my marriage something to enjoy) right now--as it is--poor-ish, sleep deprived, with little time together.



This month you'll find me:

*Enjoying life with a baby in tow--
The time goes too fast and I've let the fact that we have a little baby interfere with a lot of things I would like to do. JaiseAnn is still too small to appreciate things like movies or the zoo and so those things feel like a waste if we were to go. I want to get out and I want to get out as a family, so we'll take her anyway and she'll love being out and she'll love seeing things and we'll love enjoying her outside of our living room. I'm going to enjoy our bedtime cuddles as we all three share a bed and be grateful for the fact that I'm getting more rest and that I have a husband who is more than okay with her sharing our bed.

*Planning
I'll plan an outing as a family once a week as well as a date night once a week. More than that, though, I'm going to communicate my desires to work on little goals or projects together with Zach. I'm going to talk with him and see if we can work on something together. We are currently working on getting out of debt, but that's a long road ahead, and I'd like to see if we could work on some little goals together. Those might be getting in shape, working on the house, or Christmas shopping, but I'd like us to start the habit of working on improving together and I'm not waiting for the "right time" anymore.

*Practicing Gratitude
Every night, at the end of the night, I stop and share all of the pictures from that day with Zach. We laugh and talk about our little girl. We are united in our love for her and in our pride--she's something else. I look so forward to that part of my day. How blessed I am to have someone to share the rigors of parenting with (even if they aren't "equal"), how blessed to have a comfortable couch and a safe home to sit with my husband, and how blessed am I to have this little family that I get to call mine?? I am beyond blessed and I need to stop periodically throughout the day and remember it more...especially on the hard days. Furthermore, I need to take a bit of time for myself every so often so that I have the energy to practice gratitude on the hard days.

Instead of adopting an attitude of making the most of less than ideal circumstances, I want to make the best of already blessed circumstances. I want to enjoy my days as a wife no matter my circumstances, present or future. Our circumstances are nowhere near bad or difficult, but I want to put these virtues into practice so that I can be prepared for trying or hard times. I want to be the wife and mother I know I can be and was made to be.

Marriage & Relationship Goals


New to the Marriage & Relationship Goals Link-up? Goals help our relationships grow stronger and get better with time as well as help us move forward and avoid the "ruts" of life. This link-up was created in hopes of inspiring your relationship with your significant other no matter your chapter in life and love. We would love for you to join us in making the things we do in our relationships intentional. 

If you would like more information, click here. If you would like to sign up for the newsletter, click here. If you are interested in cohosting, click here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

High Fives--Five Clean Eating Treats to Try

During my pregnancy I indulged a bit too much in processed foods and refined sugars--much more than I had grown accustomed to. The biggest culprits? Pop Tarts and Costco muffins. It was over the top and ridiculous. After JaiseAnn was born, I continued eating those treats, but much more frequently. I think sleep deprivation combined with stress and being home all day (hello, no students watching me binge eat treats)--well it's spiraled out of control. I have never (not even in high school) been so out of control with my sugar eating.

It's become a true addiction, I swear. I am working on slowly weaning myself off of the sugar a little at a time. I'm actually using some of these tips for breaking the soda habit to help break my sugar habit.

I have a major sweet tooth, though. So I've got to still have some treats...here are some cleaner treats that I cannot wait to try!



*These pumpkin cinnamon rolls from one of my favorite healthy bloggers--Chocolate Covered Katie, are perfect for welcoming fall.

*I'm not a banana fan, so I'm not a banana split fan BUUUUUUUUT, this vegan banana split recipe from Oh She Glows includes a chocolate sauce sweetened with dates that looks and sounds amazing. I'd love to try it.

*I don't eat candy bars often anymore, but my absolute favorite candy bar is a Snickers bar. Another favorite healthy blog of mine is Minimalist baker...and these 5 Ingredient Vegan Snickers Bars sound incredible.

*Zach loves no bake cookies. I always have as well. Since JaiseAnn is such a poor sleeper, they've become a favorite dessert to make after she goes to bed--they are a minimal noise treat to prepare and that's high priority at our house. These Melt in Your Mouth Clean No Bake Bars sound like something we need to try sooner than later.

*Larabars are one of my favorite healthy go-to snacks. I can't really keep them on hand because I eat them all at once. They can run kind of pricey, so I'd love to make a bunch of Homemade Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabars and see how long they last.

Do you have any favorite clean eating treats? I'd LOVE it if you shared the recipe. (If I get enough, I'll publish a Part 2 to this post and be sure to credit you!)






Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Girl Talk--Social Media and Comparison

Social media and I have a love/hate relationship. How about you? Aside from blogs and Pinterest, I ditched Facebook years ago and have honestly never looked back. Then I started blogging again AND I had pictures of my baby to share with the world...so I was welcomed to the world of Instagram and Twitter.

Social media definitely has its positives, but it also has its downfalls. I'm sharing two bloggers today who explain their thoughts on the good and bad of social media and how to fight the urge to compete.

Meet Brooke

 What are some ways that social media motivates you to be better?

 I am constantly being inspired and uplifted by quotes and videos that are posted on social media. I also love to read blog posts of others, and there have been times when I swear someone is writing their experience just for me, in a time when I desperately need that message. By relating to these men and women, I feel inspired by them and more motivated to be better.

 What are some ways that social media makes you doubt yourself?

Social media makes me doubt myself almost constantly! It's so easy to see the best moments people post on social media, and compare them to the worst moments of your life. If you let it, social media can make you feel poor, ugly, fat, unhappy, inferior, and not worthy of love in a matter of minutes.

 How do you combat the urge to compare yourself with images and messages on social media?

I like to think of the quote "Comparison is the thief of joy" that's attributed to Theodore Roosevelt. I'm not even close to being perfect at this, but when I find myself comparing myself to others on social media, I have to tell myself firmly to stop. Even when I come out better in the comparison, no comparing makes me feel happy. When I feel myself being jealous of someone's apparently perfect life on social media, I start making a list of things in my head that truly make me happy. That makes me realize that if I had that person's home or dress size or whatever, it would not make me truly happy.

Posts by Brooke on this topic: The Not So Sunny Side of Me~On Beauty and My Postpartum Body

Connect with Brooke: Bloglovin~Facebook~Instagram~Pinterest~Twitter

Meet Renae
 What are some ways that social media motivates you to be better?

Since most people only post the good things in their lives on social media, it makes me motivated to look at the good things in my life that I can post about. Sometimes I will plan something fun to do for myself or my son since I saw someone else do it on Facebook, like a trip to the apple farm or a fall themed pedicure. I can also ask for advice publicly on a wide variety of topics and learn through other people's trial and error.

 What are some ways that social media makes you doubt yourself?

Although everyone knows that life isn't fair, sometimes social media can turn into a game of comparison. I could scroll through a friend's photos and think " wow, I wish I had the money to go there" or "man their daughter is so lucky that her mom can stay home with her". In the end you just have to take a step back and realize that their life isn't your life and it never will be. I have things that they don't have but they are just different.

How do you combat the urge to compare yourself with images and messages on social media?

I like to think about how lucky I am to have the things I have. I may not be rich or drop-dead gorgeous but I do have it pretty good! Plus, people only will post the good things about their lives. You never know what is actually happening on the other side of the screen.

Posts Suggested by Renae on this topic: #FullDisclosureFriday

 Connect with Renae: Bloglovin~Facebook~Instagram~Pinterest~Twitter

What about you? What are your views on social media? How do you fight the urge to compete?