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Friday, February 18, 2011

These Are My Confessions

I'm a hot mess today so I'm linking up to both The Friday Confessional & Show Us Your Life in one post. First off is The Friday Confessional, hosted by Mamarazzi & Glamazon.


I confess:

I'm not myself lately. I finally talked to someone about how I was feeling instead of ignoring it and hoping it would all go away. I feel ten pounds lighter just because I took that small little step.

I confess:

I get super duper irritated when fast food restaurants hand me my drink, and the beverage is dripping all down the side. It drives me insane. I really want to tell them to "wipe the dang mess up!" but instead I just take it, tear my car apart looking for a napkin, and huff and puff all the way to work about it.

Like, literally, I huff and puff. When I get mad, I sigh really loudly, multiple times, until whoever is with me asks what is wrong.

I'm mature like that.

I confess:

I made a spectacle of myself at a restaurant last weekend. We were visiting my brother, who lives about 1.5 hours away. We all went out to eat (9 of us) and were originally told the wait would be 20 minutes. After 30 minutes, a screaming baby, and countless people who came after us being seated, I marched myself up to the hostess stand and demanded to know when we would be seated. The hostess pointed to a table and said "we're cleaning that up for you." It took them 15 more minutes to clean it, and another five while we waited for the hostess to notice and seat us. I went to confront the hostess again, and I heard a large party that had come in after us say "just give us that table!" while pointing to my (yes, my) table. I marched myself right back to that table at sat down, ignoring my brother's comments of "Andrea, you can't just take tables!" Well, I did. And you know what? They served us.

I confess: 

I pee my pants often. I should be embarrassed about this, but I view it as a mark of war, so to speak. I birthed a baby, dang it. If that means I can't sneeze without tinkling my panties, so be it.

I hate the word panties. It skives me out. 

What do you want to get off your chest today?

I'm also linking up to Show Us Your Life, hosted by Kelly of Kelly's Korner. Today's topic is our alma mater.


I attended Winthrop University, which is located in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Winthrop was founded in 1886, and was originally a female only college whose goal was to train teachers. Winthrop is a small school with a total of about 6,000 students.

Growing up, I always wanted to attend a private Nazarene college in Nashville - Trevecca Nazarene University. My parents were not on board with that plan because of the prohibitive cost of that university. I (in my mind, anyway) humored them by visiting several colleges, never intending to like any of them. However, the minute I stepped on to Winthrop's campus I knew it was the right place for me. I loved everything about Winthrop - the enclosed campus, the small student body, the historic buildings, the residence halls, and the opportunities to get involved.

You know how some people say that high school was the best years of their life? Well, it wasn't for me, but I certainly found myself in college. I started at Winthrop University in 1997 and graduated in 2001. I was extremely involved: I worked three jobs and was involved in many different clubs and organizations. I was a Resident Assistant, a Peer Mentor (I taught a class to new students about adjusting to college life), a Nightcaller (I recruited new students by phone), and an Ambassador (I took prospective students on campus tours). I joined a sorority, Chi Omega. I was so incredibly busy but I absolutely loved every second of the college experience.

I originally majored in elementary education. I changed my major my sophomore year to social work. I actually did not like social work once I started my classes but I decided not to change my major again because I knew I wouldn't graduate on time. I'm glad I stuck with it, because my internship was life changing and absolutely solidified my decision to become a social worker. I worked at a hospital in Charlotte that had an outpatient addictions treatment program. I assisted in running the small groups, and I swear I learned more about myself in that time period than I helped anyone else.

How about you? Did you go to college? If so, where? What was your major? If you didn't go to college, do you regret that decision? Would you like to change that some day?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An Emo Post

This is a really raw and emotional post. I'm warning you before you read it so you can X out if you like. This is a definite "keepin' it real" post. I'm not looking for sympathy and I'm not asking for help. I'm just sharing with you the real and ugly parts of my life. 

This morning was super frustrating, and I'm feeling like the worst mom in the world. Jason has to be at work at 6:45 every morning, so getting myself and Cooper ready falls to me in the mornings. Cooper is at a stage where he (please God, let it be a stage) doesn't want to do anything that he doesn't want to do. In other words, he doesn't want to do anything I want or need him to do. Like change his diaper. Or wipe his boogies. Or God forbid, change his clothes.

Anyway.... this morning was no different than any other morning lately. Cooper screamed and threw tantrums because I wouldn't let him to go daycare with a crusty nose and stained pajamas. The chihuahuas did their patented "let's sulk, hide under the table, and then pee all over the floor when Mom demands we go into our crates" routine. Jason borrowed my keys last night and didn't replace them, so I spent 15 minutes tearing the house apart this morning before I found them. As a result, I was 30 minutes late to work and had a massive meltdown before I even got into the car. 

It was a superior parenting moment to the doggies and Cooper. I swear I don't understand why I do the things I do. Screaming at my 1 year old to behave? Not cool. It doesn't solve anything and just makes me feel bad about myself. It's times like these that make me question my ability to raise my son the way I want him to be raised.

I've been questioning myself a lot lately. Am I a good mother? Am I a good wife? Am I even a good person? I'm my own worst critic, and y'all... I'm so hard on myself. I criticize myself because of the way I look. I criticize myself because of the way I act. I never make the right decisions. I feel like I make mistakes all the time. My house is a mess. My marriage needs some work.

Sometimes I feel like I live in a world with super talented, beautiful people... and I'm the one who came up short. 

I feel like things that come really easy to other people don't come easy to me. I feel like sometimes its a struggle to get through the day. Things that other people would shrug off and say "oh well" to cause me to completely break down. My temper flairs often, and I feel like I spend most of my day vibrating like a string, waiting to break.

I'm ashamed to admit... but sometimes I ask God "where did you go wrong with me?"

Y'all, this isn't normal. I know this isn't normal. There is a part of me that says "you need to ask for help!" and there is another part that says "I'm a mom! I have to do it all/be it all/handle it all!" I feel like a lot of what is happening to me is my own damn fault. I won't let things go. I don't ask for help. I'm on 24/7 and it is just wearing me to the bone. I'm so tired. It's more than being physically exhausted. I feel spent.

My life is wonderful; I know that. I have a beautiful child, a wonderful husband, family that supports me, health, financial stability, a job. I'm grateful to God for all I have and I know that others have it much worse than me. So why can't I get it together? Why am I so sad and upset all the time? Shouldn't I be happy and content? It's eating at me... the fact that I can't just let go and be happy. Why am I not happy? I don't understand.

I do have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow. I plan to talk to him about my feelings.


Thanks for listening.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Top 2 Tuesday: Red Carpet Looks

Click on the picture above to participate in Top 2 Tuesday, hosted by Taylor at The Undomestic Momma!

Today’s topic is Top 2 Favorite Grammy Dresses.

**In typical Andrea fashion, I’ll be talking about more than just my two favorite dresses. I just can’t help myself.

The Grammys were crazy Sunday night! I love watching the shows just to see what everyone is wearing, but I usually fast forward through the awards because I think the speeches are boring. Well, that wasn’t really a problem with the Grammys because they didn’t really give out any awards! It was just one performance after another.

I absolutely loved Cee Lo & Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance of “Forget You.” First of all, Cee Lo was a cross between the NBC Peacock (witty remark by Jules) and whatever hatched out of GaGa’s egg. And Muppets? Genius. It was over the top and I loved it.

I also loved Eminem’s performance, the Dolly tribute, and whoever those guys with beards were. (Mumford & Sons? I had never heard of them before Sunday night but I LOVED their performance.)

I did not care for the Biebs performance, and the Aretha tribute was horrible in my opinion. Tell me, how is it that Christina can remember the words to Aretha’s music but not the National Anthem?

Now on to the fashion!

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My absolute favorite dress of the night was JLo. Ahh, bling. I love you so. Check out her shoes! Her hair looks a bit of a hot mess, but who is looking at her hair with legs like those?

Did you see her present with Marc (her husband)? I swear, she looked so annoyed! I had to laugh – that’s what I would look like if Jason and I were to go on television.

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I don’t think this dress looks as good in pictures as it did on the television, but Jennifer Hudson was another one of my favorites. If Weight Watchers can do this for me, sign me up.

Now for the undecided….

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I think this is a gorgeous dress, and Selena Gomez looks beautiful. But is this too much for a Disney star? It’s very form fitting. I originally thought she was 16, but a quick Google search reveals she’s 18. I guess it is ok for an 18 year old, and at least she isn’t pulling a Miley and wearing Julia Robert’s Pretty Woman skirt.

And onto the bad.

I actually didn’t mind some of the out there outfits, like Nicki Minaj or Lady GaGa. (GaGa did freak me out. The horns & pointy things on her shoulders? Gross. It’s like Madonna’s boob cones, but on her shoulders and forehead.) I think you know what to expect with certain performers, and you’d be disappointed if they didn’t bring their crazy.

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A lot was said on Twitter last night about Miley gaining weight. It’s obvious she has gained weight but I don’t think it looks bad on her. Her makeup & hair are gorgeous, but the dress wasn’t flattering to her new curves. The television showed a side shot & her breast was almost entirely out of her dress. I just don’t care for this dress – there is a time & place for animal print, which I love, but this looks a little bit like something you’d find at Rave in the mall for $24.99.

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When Ricky came out of the closet, he just jumped out waving his jazz hands, didn’t he? I mean, these are crazy pants. I made the comment on Twitter last night that he looks like his top came from Armani and his bottom came from Justice. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw those leggings at Target in the little girl’s section.

Did you watch the Grammys? What did you think? Who was best and worst dressed, in your opinion?

Randomosity

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you are having an amazing day with your loved ones. I’m so glad to have two valentines this year!

Randomosity refers to a bunch of random things I’d like to share or get off my chest… won’t you join in?

Jason just came downstairs and asked what I was doing.  I told him I was writing a blog post and he said “Is it entitled “Why My Husband Isn’t a Douche”? Someone apparently read what I wrote last week

Speaking of…. he did read the blog about birthdays I posted last week, and today he came home from work with a Valentine’s Day card. In the card he had written: “I don’t really care much about this holiday but I know these things are important to you so I am making an effort.” Sweet!

Natalie suggested that I write Jason a list of small things he could do for me for special occasions/just because/birthdays. At first I was really opposed to this (Why should I have to write him a list? Shouldn't he just know by now?) but the more I think about it, the more I think it is a good idea. The truth is that some men just don’t know, and why not make it easier for him?

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I pimped out my iPhone4 case last Friday night. This Southern girl will slap a monogram on anything. 

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Various family members have been making comments to me about how I need to cut Cooper’s hair. I did not want to cut his hair but the constant comments were starting to get to me. His hair isn’t that long overall, but he does have one long chunk that hangs in his eyes when you brush his hair forward. I decided to just trim that one chunk, and the results were disastrous. He pulled away just as I was cutting. He looks a little bit like Jim Carrey’s son from Dumb & Dumber, no? Oh well. I’m leaving it as is until it grows out again, and then I’ll have a professional cut it. You don’t really notice it if you brush it to the side. 

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Don’t ask me what I'm doing in this picture. I picked up some new foundation this weekend, and Sunday was the first time I wore it. I wanted to take a picture to see how it looked because Jason said I looked like I had my makeup caked on. I look possessed, right? Where are my lips?

Y’all know I love me some Bare Escentuals, but that makeup just isn’t practical for me to wear everyday. It takes me awhile to apply it correctly, and I am short on time when I’m trying to get myself and Cooper ready for work and daycare. I have been wearing MAC Studio Fix (which I love for its coverage and ease of application) but my skin has changed since I had a baby and it doesn’t look good anymore. I just feel like I look very dry and cakey. I went to the MAC counter on Saturday and the MA recommended Studio Sculpt for foundation and Mineralize Skin Finish in Light for my powder. I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet, but I do love that it covers more than the Studio Fix. 

MAC just came out with the Wonder Woman collection – the MSF (Mineralized Skin Finish) in the left picture is Pink Power. The packaging is adorable and it makes a great bronzer. I snatched up the last one in the store!

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Check out my crazy dramatic little boy. He’s such a cheeser! He’s started to make funny faces, and he cracks Jason and me up on a daily basis. 

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I love that we’re standing in front of the Bud Light sign. Classic. I don’t love this picture of me, but aren’t my boys handsome?

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When did he become such a big boy?!

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Who was your valentine?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Show Us Your Life: Beauty Secrets

Two posts from me today! I'm also linking up to Show Us Your Life at Kelly's Korner. Today's topic is:

BEAUTY SECRETS

Preggo, in November 2009. I like my hair & makeup in this picture. 


I don't claim to be a beauty. Far from it! However, like any good Southern girl, I've learned to work with what Jesus gave me. Thank you, Lord, for beauty products. They make me happy & easier to look at.

Here's my top ten beauty products.


Freeze It! hairspray. I've found it at Target and Walmart. Y'all, this hairspray is $4 and works better than any $20 hairspray I've ever tried. I use it to set my poof. LOVE.


A lot of y'all have asked how I get my hair to be so shiny. Some of it is healthy hair, but 60% of it is this miracle product. I use it after I blow my hair dry and flat iron, but before I tease. It leaves your hair soft, shiny, and free of frizz.

I've used this eyeliner for at least 7 years, and I'll use it until they discontinue it. It's amazing. It's super creamy and easy to apply, and it wears likes iron. I apply it on my upper and lower lash lines, and then use a smudge brush & shadow to blend. It creates the perfect smoky eye.


Bobbi Brown peony is my go-to blush. Yes, it's expensive. However, I've been using the same compact for 3 years and I'm not showing pan yet. I've heard E.L.F (Target or drugstores) makes a dupe.



When it comes to skincare, I believe simple is best. I don't believe in putting a ton of potions and products on my skin. There was a time, in my late 20s, when I applied every expensive anti-wrinkle product known to man. & you know what? My skin looked horrible. I switched to a very inexpensive skincare routine consisting of Cetaphil bar soap, Eucerin Protective Lotion SPF 30, and Merlot Night Cream and my skin looks better than it has in years.



There is one place I do think you should splurge, and that is on an exfoliating product. I used to use St. Ives, but that is very abrasive and studies have shown it actually leaves microscopic tears in your skin. I purchased my Clarisonic 3 years ago and it is still going strong. It's really helped to lighten the pigmentation (brown spots) on my skin.


Every girl should have jojobo oil in her medicine cabinet. There's so many ways to use it! Try it as an eye makeup remover. Add a little to your conditioner to boost the health of your hair. Use it as a deep conditioner for shiny hair. Add a drop to your night cream for super soft skin. Apply it to your face before washing as a makeup remover. Seriously.... I use this for everything. I even use it on Cooper's face.

I use waterproof mascara, so a good eye makeup remover is a must. This one is my favorite. If you use waterproof mascara, you need an oil based remover to completely remove it. This leaves my lashes super soft and healthy.



I've shared my love of Moroccanoil on this blog before. I'm convinced the Moroccanoil shampoo, conditioner, and treatment oil are the reason my hair is so healthy. I abuse my hair: color every 6 weeks, daily blow drying, and flat ironing at least three times a week. I was using the entire Moroccanoil line, but when I ran out the price was just too prohibitive to repurchase. However, I've found a dupe! Argan Oil, found at Sally's, is the exact same thing. Argan Oil is the base of Moroccanoil. Try it out - I promise you will love it and its price tag! This is mainly for girls with thicker hair. Fine haired girls, it will make you look greasy and weigh your hair down. Just use a tiny bit each day before blow drying your hair. I also use it once a week, slathered on, as a deep conditioner.


It doesn't matter how pretty you are, if your teeth are yellow, that is all people will see. I recently invested in an electric toothbrush, and I can already see a difference in the whiteness of my teeth. It also dramatically improves the health of your teeth and gums. Win win, girls!

How about you? What are your beauty secrets? Please share at least one product you love in the comments.

Friday's Confessions

Today I'm doing something new and linking up to Mamarazzi & Glamazon for Friday Confessional. Won't you join me? You know you have something you want to get off your chest.


I confess:

I am a boob tuck-er. You girls with small (or God forbid, perky) breasts have no idea what I'm talking about. But if you have large, saggy, droopy, or wayward breasts then chances are you know exactly what I'm talking about. Have you ever been lying in bed, without a bra on, and felt..... uncomfortable by the feeling of your boobs touching your skin? (or each other. or your belly button. or your armpits. You choose.) Well, you do what all big breasted, enterprising girls do. You boob tuck! Simply tuck your t-shirt up under those puppies and give a sigh of relief. There will be no boob sweat for this smart girl.

Boob tuck. Try it. I promise you'll like it. And girls, don't be ashamed. I know you do it. I don't judge.

I confess:

I have a bit of a rage issue. Last night I had my husband sit down and read yesterday's post. His response was "its just the way I am." I sort of wanted to punch him in the face.

I didn't, obviously. But I really wanted to.

I also kind of thought about pushing him off the bed last night when he started snoring for the millionth time. Mainly because he's fallen off the bed before & seeing him pop up like a jack in the box made me laugh so hard I peed my pants. Ultimately, I decided to let him sleep. I'm saving my push for a night when he really irritates me.

I confess: 

I heart Glee. & Modern Family. & The Big Bang Theory. & How I Met Your Mother. I want to mash all of them together somehow. Because who doesn't want to see Barney sing & Sheldon dance? Exactly.

I confess: 

I haven't done laundry in about 2 weeks. I keep running out of underwear, and when I do I run of load of just underwear. I got rid of my guest bed (otherwise known as the clean laundry dumping ground) so that means if I do laundry I have to fold it. Not going to happen.

What are your confessions today?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Birthday Conundrum

My birthday was January 29th, and I turned 32. It was not a good birthday. I had been battling a sinus infection that week, and during the day on the 28th I had a asthma attack. I used my inhaler, but it never really helped. Even after using it, my chest still hurt and I felt like I couldn't take a deep breath. I ended up in the ER that night, where I received a breathing treatment and was diagnosed with bronchitis. Awesome sauce! I was supposed to meet up with some of my Twitter friends on Saturday. They were in town for a girls weekend, but because I was sick I wasn't able to met them. Anyway, it was a very disappointing birthday for a girl who thinks birthdays should be an event.

I'm not saying this so y'all will shower me with birthday wishes... but I just really want to vent. I know birthdays are different when you grow up and become an adult. We don't really have parties with streamers and balloons. Sometimes we don't get gifts. There isn't always a cake. But I think there should be. Why not? Birthdays are a special day. Why not take that one day to tell your loved one they are special? I think the best gift you can give someone is your attention, time, and love.

Here's something you should know about me. I'm a little high maintenance. Even if you are new to my blog, you probably have deduced this from my comments about wanting comments in yesterday's post. I like to feel special. I like to feel like people like me. I like get to attention. I realize that makes me a wee bit pathetic and needy, but whatever. At least I own up to it.

Growing up, birthdays were an occasion in my family. You had a party. You had a cake. You had friends over. It was one day a year that was completely yours, and you knew you were special. Jason grew up differently. I'm not saying his family didn't celebrate birthdays, but they didn't celebrate in the same way my family celebrated. As a result, he has this lackadaisical attitude about birthdays. It just isn't a big deal for him. He doesn't care about presents. He doesn't have to have a cake. He really isn't interested in a party. It's just another day.

This drives me mad. Crazy! I can respect the fact that he feels that way for himself, but it drives me bonkers that he brings that attitude over to my & Cooper's birthday. It IS a big deal, to me. Those are my feelings and it is something that is important to me. So because it is important to me, shouldn't he make an effort?

Let me explain. Jason isn't the romantic type. (He was when we were dating, but we all know what happens with that, right?) He doesn't buy me flowers just because. He doesn't leave sweet little notes. I don't think he'd even buy me cards for holidays if he thought he could get away with it. We really don't even do gifts for holidays anymore because he just never got into it. If there's something I want for Christmas or my birthday, I usually just tell him I'm buying it for myself because I know he won't take the time to go and get it. Case in point: for my 30th birthday, he said a few weeks prior: "I want to get you something big because it is your 30th." Who ended up ordering her Kindle? Me. Because somehow him getting me something turned into me ordering it for myself. This birthday I didn't even bother telling him what I wanted - I just informed him I planned to get the iPhone4 as a birthday present to myself.

This is an issue every single year. Every single year I tell him that it is important to me, it's something I need him to do, blah blah blah. & every year he just doesn't do it. At Christmas, the absolutely minimum that I'd like him to do for me is fill up my stocking and buy me a Christmas ornament (things that are supposed to be our Christmas traditions). Yet what happened this Christmas, and last? No stocking, and I bought my ornament myself. Y'all, these are simple, inexpensive things! Still he can't find the time/motivation/interest/money/whatever excuse you want to input here.

Anyway, this birthday was a perfect example. On Friday he strolled into the house with my card and tossed it onto the kitchen island. "Do you want to open it?" Um, never present me with a gift and expect me to wait to open it because I never will. To his credit, it was a sweet card. But my "gift" was "order yourself the iPhone and get some apps." Seriously? Way to put some thought and effort into making me feel special, babe.

Let me be clear: I don't need gifts. Gifts are awesome. But I don't need you to spend hundreds of dollars on me. You could buy me something really small, and the fact that you took the time to go to the store and think about what I wanted would mean the world to me. I didn't need Jason to come strolling into the house with a big package. What I did need was proof that he had thought longer than the two seconds it took to pick out a card about what might be special to me. I would have been blown away if my "gift" had been a home cooked meal & a cake.

Dear husband, at minimum on my birthday I expect you to buy/make me a cake. Everyone deserves a cake on their birthday. It's absolutely lazy and thoughtless not to have a cake. Seriously. 

Bottom line: I feel like I do a lot for our family throughout the year. I guess I feel a little unappreciated for those things, and I feel like birthdays/holidays are a good opportunity to say "Hey, I notice you. I think you're rad. Thanks for all you do." When I don't get that on minimum at least once a year, I feel deflated, unappreciated, and unnoticed. 

I feel like I'm rambling, and I apologize. I guess the greater problem, more than birthdays and holidays, is that I feel like my husband and I aren't appreciating each other in our marriage anymore. I feel like maybe we've burnt out a little - not on each other, but just on the effort it takes to really show love to one another. I need to be honest and say that I certainly am guilty of this as well. I don't do my part to do the little things that are important to him that say I love you.

Disclaimer: I love my husband. I'm committed to our marriage. I think we have a strong marriage, and just because I'm venting about this one little thing, it doesn't mean I don't love him or we are headed to divorce court. I feel the need to clarify that least someone take a normal marital bump & turn it into something more. 

What do you think? Have you experienced anything similar?


I absolutely can't go another day without some sort of picture, so check out this picture of my little man. He's become such a cheeser! This is the look he makes when he is being silly.


Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What I've Learned About Blogging, Take 2

Hey y'all! Happy Wednesday! It's actually not a very happy day for me. I got to work this morning and I locked my keys in my car - along with my purse, phone, and piping hot breakfast from Burger King. Oh, well. I didn't need the calories anyway.

I had some great comments on yesterday's post. If you haven't read it yet, be sure to click here to check it out. I wanted to answer a few of your questions, and I have a few others tips to share as well.

Jennifer, Cole, Sprinkles asked how to check your follower numbers through Google Reader. First you'll need to pull up the Google Reader homepage. In the search bar at the top of the screen, enter the name of your blog. It will pull up a list of different posts from different people. Scroll until you find a blog post from yourself. Click on your blog name (from My Chihuahua Bites, for example). It will pull up your stats and number of followers, giving you the option to follow your own blog. If this doesn't work for you, email me and I'll check for you.

Lindsay mentioned how important it is to make sure that you offer a full read version of your blog in Google Reader. Lindsay, I totally agree! This is one of my pet peeves. I read all the blogs I follow through Google Reader. If you don't allow me to read the full post from my reader, I don't follow your blog. The whole purpose of using a site like Google Reader is to make it easier and quicker for me to read blogs. I understand why people do this - they want the stats that come from people actually visiting their blog. However, I think you're shooting yourself in the foot.

Update: Check this in your dashboard. Click on settings --> site feed --> allow blog feeds --> full. 

Speaking of, if you aren't using Google Reader, please check it out. Blogger Dashboard is just not user friendly. Google Reader satisfies my need for organization and efficiency when reading blogs.

Mandy, while discussing her dislike of word verification, mentioned that there is nothing worse than leaving a comment & then seeing word verification. Mandy, you are right. If there is something worse than word verification, it is surprise word verification. I hate when I leave a long comment and click submit only to see that dang box of Satan pop up. I usually don't even see it until I x out of the screen, so that comment is lost. Seriously, y'all, try to leave a comment on your own blog and see how how feel. If you're annoyed by the steps you have to take, so are your readers.

Yesterday I mentioned the importance of having a email connected to your blog. I've heard several people say that the reason they don't do this is because they want to stay anonymous. I understand this. However, you could easily create a Yahoo! or Gmail email for your blog. It's free and it would be completely anonymous.

Another thing I thought of after I wrote that post yesterday is the importance of spelling and grammar while writing your posts. I don't mean you have to get an A++ in blogging. I'm not the spelling police. I frequently find typos in my posts when I read them after posting. I just think you should obey the basic rules of grammar - use paragraphs, use periods and commas, and run spell check before you publish. If there is one thing guaranteed to give me a headache, it is a long blog post with no breaks. Please use paragraphs! Paragraphs are our friends!

(Here's where I'm going to say something that's probably unpopular. Don't hate me. I do not like it when bloggers center text in their blog posts. Like the whole entire post is written this way. Why? It's unnatural. It's hard to read. Use this sparingly. Text starts from the left, not the center. It makes my eyeballs bleed. Please stop.)

One very important piece of advice I would give new bloggers is not to write negatively about your job or your family. I just don't think this is a good idea. Blogs are not private, even if you make them so. All it takes is one person to read your blog, copy what you say, and send it on to someone else. I'm not saying you can't talk about your family, but don't say things you wouldn't want to say to that person's face. I've seen things written about family members that make me cringe. Ask yourself - would it ruin my relationship if my MIL/best friend/co-worker read this later? If it would, edit yourself.

Be mindful of the fact that a lot of employers are now Googling potential employers before they are hired. What does your blog/Twitter/Facebook say about you? Can it be linked back to you? Google yourself and see what comes up.

I know I'm harping a lot on comments, and a lot of people would say that comments aren't the be all and end all of the blog world. No, they aren't. I can look at my stats and see people are visiting my blog. However, I like comments! They make me feel good! Don't they make you feel good? Maybe that makes me shallow and needy, but I am a person who needs people to comment on my blog in order to keep writing. If I spend hours on a post only to get 3 comments, I wonder what the point was in me writing at all. Towards the end of last year, I started the Ask a Mom series. I was really proud of those blog posts and I spent a lot of time writing them. However, I did not get a lot of comments. A lot of people mentioned on Twitter they liked reading them.... but they didn't comment. So I put that series on hold. Like everything else in life, everyone wants validation and praise. I'll be honest and admit that's a big reason I blog. I want people to like me and talk to me. If all I wanted was to document my life, I'd scrapbook. Blogging, to me, is all about the relationships I've made along the way.

Last thing - ignore everything I've said. :) Seriously - I'm no expert. Your blog is your blog, and if you feel passionately about word verification or centering text, go for it! My opinion is my own, and you should take it with a grain of salt. What I've written isn't meant to attack you or offend you. If it helps you, great! and if not, that's ok as well. The #1 rule of blogging is to blog for yourself. Who cares what I think?

Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chic wrote this great post on her blogging tips. Check it out!

I also broke my own rule - there were no pictures in this post. :) There are also several typos, I am sure. Ha!

Oh - last thing for real! If you have a PC, check out Windows Live Writer. (Google it.) It's a program you can download and use to write your blog posts. It will change your life! It is a bazillionty times better that using Blogger to write your post, and uploading pictures is a dream. Check check check it out!

Love you guys! xoxo!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top 2 Tuesday: What I've Learned About Blogging

Today I'm linking up with Taylor at The Undomestic Momma. Click on the picture above to participate!

Today's topic is:

What I've Learned About Blogging

Listen y'all, I don't claim to be a "pro" blogging. I don't claim to be a "big" blogger either (like Thrify Decor Chic, Kelly's Korner, or Tatertots & Jello - all awesome, successful bloggers in my opinion). I've found my little niche in the blogosphere, and at the moment I'm really happy where I am. Last time I checked my stats, I had around 450 followers through Google Friend Connect and 380 followers through Google Reader. I'm so very happy and proud to have that many people who care to read what I say. Thank you, readers, for stopping by my blog.

I've been blogging for three years now, and I'm had times of plenty and of few. There are times when I post a ton and times when I go months without posting. I like to think in those 3 years I've learned a thing or two, and hopefully what I've learned will help you out a little bit along the way.

I define success in blogging as making friendships and establishing relationships through your blog. My goal has never been (not at this time, anyway) to make money or win awards. I'd like to entertain people, share tutorials, give people creative ideas, and make friendships. If I have people who read my blog, then I feel like I've done something right.

With that said, here's my tips for becoming a "successful" blogger:

Have a pleasing blog design. Look at your blog like a stranger would, and see what they would see. Make sure your text is easy to read, there aren't any blinking buttons or pictures, and for the love of pete, do not have a music player on your blog. I highly recommend having your blog professionally designed. If you plan to blog for at least a year, the money will be well spent. My blog design was done by the lovely and talented Danielle.

Comment. Comment, comment, and then comment some more. This is the number one way to get readers. When I started blogging, I would find a blogger that I liked, and I'd visit all the blogs on her blogroll, leaving comments. I'd do this over and over, and eventually I not only found a lot of cool blogs I loved, but I got traffic to my blog from people I had visited. Here's the catch - actually leave comments of substance on the blogs you visit. Don't say "Hi! Come follow me!" because that person will almost certainly not follow you. Read their post, leave a thoughtful comment, and wait for them to reciprocate by stopping by your blog.

Join SITS. SITS is a community of women whose goal is to encourage bloggers through commenting. Every day they feature a blogger. You roll call by commenting on the post of the day, and then you visit a couple of other bloggers who have also commented. In turn, you'll get comments to your blog. It's a win-win for everyone involved!

Blog about what you're interested in, not what you think others will be interested in. This is something I myself worry about too much. I want to write posts I think people will want to read, and it stresses me out so much I end up not writing posts at all. Instead, focus on what you love. Is it your children? Cooking? Crafts? Post about what you're passionate about and there will be someone else out there who you find common ground with.

Join a linky party! If you're new to blogging, linky parties are great ways to meet other bloggers. If you craft, share your craft in a linky party such a Weekend Wrap Up at Tatertots and Jello. I personally have participated in Friend Makin' Monday, Tuesday at the Table, and Top 2 Tuesday.

Pictures are awesome. I love blogs that use pictures. I love seeing pictures of bloggers. I personally prefer not to read "faceless" blogs. I like knowing who I'm "talking" to, and I enjoy seeing snapshots of your life. Just don't go overboard with pictures - 50 pictures in one post is a tiny bit overwhelming.

Most importantly, be consistent. Find a pattern of blogging that works for you, and stick to it. I'll admit that I need to work on this myself. I'm very up and down with blogging lately, and I need to work on that. In a perfect world, I'd blog one post per day, Monday-Friday.

And of course, there's always things you should avoid:

If there is one thing you could do for me, ONE THING, that would make me happy beyond measure - it is turning off word verification on your comment settings. In fact, if you're reading this, go to your blog and try to leave yourself a comment. Check your settings, and see how hard you make it for your readers to leave you love. I know I'm not alone in saying I do not care to leave comments on blogs with word verification. If it is someone I love or something I really need to say, of course I do. But honestly, most of the time I click off that blog without commenting. I, like lots of others, are really busy & word verification just sucks up extra time I could be using to read/comment on other blogs.

A lot of people tell me the reason they use word verification is to cut down on spam. I've been blogging three years, and I have had less than 10 spam comments. I do not use word verification and never have. If you really need to, you can have your comments sent to you and approve them before posting. But seriously - TURN OFF WORD VERIFICATION.

I know a lot of people will ignore me on this, but I promise you that the amount of comments you receive will increase if you turn this off. Pinky swear.

While you're checking your comments, also make sure you have your email linked to your blog. When you leave comments, this allows bloggers to email you back with answers to your questions or comments. Ever received notice of a comment that says "no reply blogger" in the from field? That's because the blogger doesn't have an email address linked to their blog account. Click here for a great tutorial on how to fix this.

My last bit of advice is not to get too caught up in stats. Don't check your followers daily and get depressed when you lose someone. Unless you are blogging for money, your stats aren't really the be-all, end-all of the blogging world. It's ok if someone unfollows your blog - it happens to me a lot. It just means that person perhaps isn't interested in what you're blogging about. I might follow someone initially because it seems like we have a lot in common, but then unfollow when I realize they post mostly about sewing. It doesn't mean I don't like that person. It just means I can't sew. Keep in mind your stats aren't a reflection of you. Don't let them get you down.

Readers, please weigh in! What tips do you have for blogging? What should new bloggers do and what should they not do? What attracts you or turns you off blogs? I want to hear from you!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

iPhone 4

Well, it’s ordered. I set my alarm and got my happy butt up at 2:45 a.m. to preorder this baby.

Happy birthday to me.

So, iPhone users, what accessories do I need? Do you have any tips or tricks? Tell me your favorite apps.

I am so excited. But also tired. Mama hasn’t been up this early since the Bear was itty bitty.

Goodnight lovies!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cooper’s First Birthday Party!

Hey all! Thanks for all the comments on Cooper’s birthday post. I know – I can’t believe he’s one either! Where has the year gone? Moms, will time always move this quickly?

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 Auntie Angel, Mommy, & Cooper

 Mommy, Daddy, & Cooper                                                                                     Cooper, Ana, & Papa

We decided to have his first birthday party at my mother & father’s house, which is 3 hours away. My brother’s entire family ended up getting the flu the week before the party, so they missed the celebration. We missed them, but we had a great time! 

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I decided to go really simple for his first birthday party. It was at 2:00, so I served pepperoni pizza dip with warm bread, queso and tortilla chips, and olives. We also had cake and ice cream. I did a few balloons for decorations and had goody bags for the kids, and that was it.

The theme of the party was based on a shirt made by SheSheMade. Cooper’s been my little monkey since he was born, so it was fitting that we have a sock monkey party!

IMG_3256 Bad picture but it is the only one I have

My mom was in charge of the cake, and she found a local lady to make a sheet cake and a smash cake for $25.00. $25.00! You can’t beat that. She made it to match his shirt; too cute!

IMG_3228 Chilling before the party – look at his converse sneaks!

I was very worried when Cooper did not take a morning or afternoon nap. He normally naps from 10:00-11:30 a.m. and 2:00-4:00 p.m. on the weekends. That morning, he would not lay down. Jason and I ended up putting him the car around 11:45 and driving him around. He fell asleep and Jason ended up sitting in the car with him until the party started. Luckily, that cat nap was just what he needed! He was in a great mood for the party.

Now… onto the pics!

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All in all, it was a great first birthday!

Cooper’s First Birthday!

Dear Cooper,

On January 14th, 2010 you turned 1 year old! Your dad and I have been planning for your birthday all year. We knew we wanted it to be special, just like you! Your birthday party took place the weekend after your birthday, so your dad & I wanted to make your actual birthday a special day. Your dad and I took your birthday off work so that we could spend the whole day for you.

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Your dad and I set our alarm so that we could wake up before you and greet you with the “Happy Birthday” song when you woke up. I don’t think you knew what we were singing, but you sure were excited to see both of our faces that morning!

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Next we headed downstairs to see your presents. You got a mega blocks table and a Radio Flyer wagon!

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After you spent some time checking out your gifts, I made a special birthday breakfast just for you – pancakes! You gobbled them up. I’ve decided to start a special tradition of making you pancakes every birthday morning. As much as you loved your pancake breakfast, I think you loved your Mickey balloon just as much. This was a special balloon – when you hit Mickey’s face, he sang “Happy Birthday” to you. You made us play that again and again.

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After nap time and lunch, we headed to the South Carolina aquarium. You loved seeing the fish! I can’t wait to take you back once you are walking and can explore a little more.

Later that afternoon, we ate an early dinner at Yo Burrito and then headed home for the most exciting part of the day…. cupcakes!

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You were really hesitant at first, but once you got that first taste of frosting you didn’t waste any time. You demolished that cupcake in just a few minutes!

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I tried to get you to share your cupcake, but you were not in a sharing mood. You wanted that sugar all to yourself!  

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After we got you all cleaned up, you burned off some energy by wrestling with Daddy. You were on a sugar high for about an hour, but eventually you settled down and drifted off to sleep.

We had so much fun celebrating your first birthday! Your dad & I are looking forward to celebrating many more. We love you, Bear!

Love,

Mommy



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