i hope i’m not screwing this up.

Addie was still crying as I tucked her in tonight, she didn’t do what I had asked and ended up missing out on 15 minutes of iPad time before bed.

Parenting this child is taking all I have.

Her heart is so huge and her spirit so loving that keeping her on the right track without breaking her is a daily challenge.

Addie's Bubble Zen

I could tell something was off yesterday, and after asking a few questions she broke down into heartbreaking sobs. She misses her daddy. She wishes we could all spend all of our time together as a family. She wants to be with Vivi more than she wants to be at summer camp swimming and playing with friends.

They were the kind of sobs that make you feel terrible as a parent, yet so glad that your child is willing to talk to you about what’s hurting them.

I’ve been praying overtime, asking for all the help I can get to raise this child into the best human she can be.

As I kissed her goodnight I whispered “Do you know what goes on in my head when I think about you? I think about how magnificent you are, how much you love us, how amazing you are as a big sister, how well you take care of others — I don’t ever dwell on the things you’ve done wrong. When I think about you my heart gets so big it feels like it may explode.

She smiled.

I am so proud of her.

Addie's Minnie Style

Tonight a little boy was trapped at the top of a big slide, too scared to go down alone. Without even being asked, Addie had him sit in her lap and rode down with him.

This, this is the heart of my child.

I hate that I sometimes have to do things that make me a bad mom in her eyes, if only to make sure I’m the right mom she needs to grow into a good kid.

We all feels this way, right?

 

donuts.

Every few months I decide to take a break from sugar.

I feel so much better, so much lighter, so much more energetic, so much more alert.

But you guys, donuts.

Last night I saw a picture of a donut in a magazine that make me swear under my breath. It also made my palms sweat and my pulse quicken.

A donut.

NATIONAL DONUT DAY. GOD BLESS 'MERICA.

Specifically a donut from Austin, Texas. While they don’t have a photo of the exact one online, they have this one. Which basically means my new end goal in life is to be paid to travel the country in search of the very best donuts.

I used to want to be a photographer for National Geographic.

Now I want donuts. I want my life filled with donuts, but only really good ones. Ain’t nobody got time for crappy donuts.

Did you see the Duck Dynasty about hot donuts?

A hot donut is one of life’s wonders. If they passed a law saying the only way you could continue to eat hot donuts is if you shave your beard? It’s good-bye beard.” -Jase Robertson

I’d grow a beard if that’s the only way I could have access to hot donuts.

A donut is one of the only cravings I had with Addie. I almost called Cody to get one for me, but the one I wanted was SO specific I knew he’d screw it up and I would cry and cry because I didn’t get the donut I wanted so I waited until I could get it myself.

banbury cross donuts. a Utah MUST.

One day I just want to sit down with two dozen warm donuts and eat until I can’t anymore. I’m convinced I could eat a dozen, minimum.

I love donuts so, so much. So much.

There’s a restaurant in Laurelville, Ohio called The Ridge Inn. They make fresh donuts on the weekend AND YOU GUYS. I dream about those donuts. DREAM. Thankfully there’s a donut place here in Indy (Long’s) that makes some of the best donuts I’ve ever had. But there’s so many donuts out there that need me to eat them. They need me to appreciate them.

It was homemade and still warm. From Ridge Inn in Laurelville, Ohio.

It would be the most perfect job for me ever. Casey Mullins: Donut Tester.

A girl can dream.

So here’s what I want to know, what’s your food? What’s the food you dream about? The one you’d grow (or shave) a beard to continue enjoying in life? Have you found the best ever? What are your rules about your specific food? (Donuts must never, EVER be dry.) Let your crazy out, because I got turned on by a donut last night. (It was a glazed donut topped with cream cheese icing, cake mix, blackberry filling, cinnamon, sugar and honey butter topped with ice cream. YOU GUYS I NEED TO GO TO AUSTIN.)

the 10 best things about NYC, according to addie.

This post is sponsored by Disney Story. To find out more about this brand-new story-creation app – and how it puts the power of storytelling in your hands – click here.

I’d like to think that my memory is good enough to remember all the marvelous bits of days with my kids.

But the truth is, if I don’t write it down within 48 hours it’s gone.

Which is part of the reason I love social so much, when I go back through my timelines and photos a thousand would-have-been-forgotten memories come back as clear as they were when I captured them in the first place.

And this concludes #AddieInNYC, thanks for traveling along with us. xo

If you were to ask me about trips with Addie over lunch I would be overcome with a feeling of extreme happiness, time spent with her is just plain good. Let me talk a little longer and the best moments would come back. Let me look back at photos and I could talk for hours (assuming you wanted to hear about it for hours.)

Thankfully I put together this list of Addie’s most favorite parts of NYC while it was fresh in my mind, because if you were to ask me now I would say “EVERYTHING” and Addie would say “CANDY!”

[Read more...]

wanderlust.

So I’ve been stationary for what, three weeks now?

Stationary meaning my suitcase has been completely unpacked with no immediate travel plans (unless you count our little romantic jaunt to St. Louis last weekend, which when compared to the kind of travel I had been doing since February, St. Louis was the equivalent of going to the grocery store. (I mean, if the grocery store had the most amazing Sunday brunch and thick pillowy beds to laze around in all day with my beloved then yes, totally the same.))

Wanderlust has hit me. “Crave for travel. Ache for distant places.

Swimming with Stingrays in Grand Cayman
Since I was little there has always been this part of me that has daydreamed about the world. Everything I’ve ever seen in a National Geographic or on the Discovery Channel is out there — waiting for me. I can remember standing outside in the mountains as a child, taking deep breaths thinking “the only thing between me and the Pyramids is air.” It’s kind of amazing to know that the night sky is the same for everyone everywhere. The only things separating me from the Swiss Alps at this very moment are my living room walls, air, and distance.

I also used to dream about floating above the ground, unaffected by gravity, watching the world turn underneath me. I’m sure some physics major is out there rolling their eyes at me, but when you’re a little kid you can be or do anything, and I wanted to see the world.

Seriously. I have fallen even more in love with her in the last few days.  #AddieInNYC
My mom did an amazing job of taking my sister and me to new places, by the time I was a teenager I had seen almost every mile of Interstate from British Columbia to Southern California as well as the West Coast to Mt. Rushmore. It wasn’t until I was in my 20′s that I made it East of Colorado, and it wasn’t until my 30′s that I made it out of the country. I’ve still never been to Europe. I’d love to see Asia. My biggest dream is Bali or maybe New Zealand. Someday I’ll walk hand and hand with Cody in Italy. Someday I’ll see zebras and elephants in Africa.

Addie has already seen and done more than I had ever done at her age. Travel suits this kid, I hope it’s a curiosity and desire that sticks with her forever.

Dragonfly Zipline
While I love being home, I love knowing there’s so much more out there. I love knowing that my lush green backyard I am so familiar with would be exotic and unimaginable to someone on the other side of the world. I love that just going from Indy to Kentucky feels like an entirely new world with charming accents and rolling hills. I love that places like New York exist, and in less than a day you could be surrounded by perfect peace and tranquility in Southeastern Ohio.

Next month I move from full time toddler blogger, to part time travel blogger on Babble. Some things have already been put into motion. Things that make my heart sing and my wanderlust twirl. I don’t know what’s in store for me in the future, but I am incredibly excited about it.

cruising.
 Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

depression: an update

So, that funk I am in, how’s that working out for me?

It’s okay.

As long as I remember to breathe deeply and keep moving forward.

At first all I wanted to do was sleep. SLEEEEP. Then I couldn’t sleep at all, which is TERRIBLE because you’re left thinking your own thoughts all alone in bed and oftentimes those thoughts aren’t the nicest ones you could be thinking.

Then there was the whole my period being a week late thing. Which, GRRARGFLBLE and also &*$%#. There are several people who are currently pregnant who were also pregnant when I was pregnant with Vivi, which BLESS YOUR HEARTS I AM NOT THERE YET. Perhaps I’m more susceptible to the mind numbing life force that is a toddler or perhaps I missed some maternal gene somewhere, but I cannot even FATHOM being pregnant right now. Wasn’t I just pregnant, like last month? Oy.

Needless to say my period being a week late didn’t help in the whole mental game of being me.

I guess you could say I’m in the thick of a depression hangover, there’s still an awful lot of anxiety and self loathing, but I am functioning at a much higher level than I was a week ago. I also haven’t cried as much, which is saying something. I’m also back to “Eh, it’s not that bad!” which may be the quickest I’ve ever rebounded from the depths, hooray for properly working medication.

I’ve had this overwhelming sense lately that the world is really, really good. That we’re slowly finding ways around judgment and hate, using beauty to spread messages rather than scare tactics or snide remarks. The latest Macklemore video is proof of that. I have so much hope in the generation we’re raising right now. A little toy just showed up at my door, a Princess Sofia amulet that said “A princess can do anything a prince can do.” A prince can also do anything a princess can do. (I mean, if you’re super cynical and want to get down to “A prince can’t give birth and a princess can’t pee as well standing up” clearly you’re on the wrong blog.)

This post by my friend Ami kind of sums up how I feel about everything right now, what if I’m not doing enough? What if I could be doing more? What if I’m screwing my children out of some promising future because of present circumstances? It’s a good one, I’ll tell you that.

"What do you mean you don't like tomatoes? Savage."

I know, I just became rambly, sorry Vivi. Quit with the judgmental stares.

Hope you’re all doing well out there.

xx

 

a dozen years of marriage.

I keep trying to think up some neat and tidy list to sum up the 12 most important events of the last 12 years.

The problem is I’m having a hard time putting words to them.

Last night as we pulled up to the Ritz Carlton and Cody scoffed at valet parking and veered off towards self parking. As he pulled into the garage he noticed that self parking was $22. “TWENTY-TWO BUCKS?” I could see his entire thought process, “Maybe there’s a free lot two or three blocks away. $22 bucks. What a racket.” Twelve years ago it would have turned into a fight. Fancy Casey wanting her fancy valet and cheap Cody wanting to park four blocks away for free —$22 self parking was a product of 12 years of learning to silently compromise.

cody and me

Last night at dinner (another silent compromise, I wanted the swanky place, Cody wanted piles of barbequed meat which means we had Italian) we watched a couple on their first date. The guy didn’t wash his hands after using the washroom — strike one, but we couldn’t tell her that. Then Cody said something kind of profound that he learned from Netflix about married couples at dinner. A pessimist would look at them and think “They’ve been together so long they’re absolutely bored with each other and are having a miserable time.” while an optimist would see two people who know each other so well that words don’t even need to be used to have a conversation.

Last night I learned Cody is a marriage optimist.

Turns out I am too, but I sometimes moonlight as a pessimist.

I just like being around him. I like having him in the same room or next to me even if we aren’t doing much of anything. He makes things better. He makes things comfier. He’s the one familiar thing in my life even when everything around me is spinning out of control.

Marriage seems to be treated like a gym membership by some people these days, you make this huge commitment and rearrange your life for it. In the beginning you’re pumped and excited for it — but when it gets boring, people just kind of stop showing up. “Eh, I tried. It’s not for me.”

Marriage gets boring. Marriage gets monotonous and infuriating and hard.

But it also gets really good. Like the kind of good you can’t even fathom in the early weeks and months of young twitterpated love. I could try and tell you how good it gets but until you’re there, in that silent conversation about $22 self parking, you can’t really know.

All I can really tell you is it’s worth it, but only if your person treasures you as much as you treasure them.

Here’s to marriage optimism.

Here’s to silent conversations and quoting Si Robertson in the spoken ones.

Here’s to us, and here’s to an eternity more.

fondue pot.

(And to Cody as a dad, because Father’s Day.)

how to make a blurb instagram book without losing your mind.

When I had the opportunity to give away Blurb books to anyone who wanted one, a lot of people left me comments about how frustrating it was make the stars align and make the darn book already. I hear you, I futzed with Bookify A LOT before having it finally make sense. And when I say ‘make sense’ I mean ‘make a book the way I make books both quickly and easily.’

Here’s what I do, every two to three months I make a little hardcover collection of my Instagram photos, I include all of them and lay them out in chronological order.

If you’re interested in doing such a thing (or a book of select photos from Instagram) HERE YOU GO. Follow step by step and you shouldn’t scream at your computer more than once (maybe twice.)

Start at the beginning, which is Blurb.com, from the main page go to ‘Make Your Book’ down to ‘Use Blurb Bookify™ Online.’ (If you already know your book is going to be over 200 pages you’ll have to use BookSmart™ and that’s an entirely different post.)

From the next page choose ‘Get Started.’

At this point you’ll see options for different layouts. Instagram, Facebook and Designer. The rest of this post will walk you through how to ‘Or do it your way in any size’ which can lessen a lot of the frustration if you’re super picky about how your book turns out.

All of my Instagram books are the 7×7 size, the pictures end up being about 5×5 and they are perfect.

Unless you want to add text to every photo, choose the clean and simple layout. It’s easier to add in a few text pages here and there if you want them then to start with text on every other page. I’ve never tried the bold black background. If black is your thing? Go for it.

Next it will ask you where you want to pull your pictures from, I always pull mine directly from Instagram by signing in from this screen:

This is an important step. DO NOT JUST CLICK ON THE FOLDER LABELED INSTAGRAM PHOTOS. As you can see I have 936 photos in my folder and if I tried to add them all to my book I would be lectured about using BookSmart™ for books over 200 pages. Instead, click ‘Open.’

Since I make my books on the last day of the month every two or three months I don’t really have to hunt and peck around for particular photos. I just start with the last photo from the month and go back to the first photo after the last photo I ended on in my last book. Shift+Click between photos to select a large group, then you can Command+Click to add or remove a few random shots you either do or don’t want to use. Selected photos will be highlighted in orange.

Once you’ve selected your photos choose ‘I’ll drag and drop my own photos.’ It will take a little longer but you’ll know they’re going in the order you want. For some reason ‘Place my photos for me’ has never quite worked out despite multiple attempts.

Keep the photos in ‘My Sorting’ if you want them in chronological order of newest to oldest.

Scroll to the far left end of the lightbox along to bottom to find your oldest photo, drag and drop it to the first page, working backwards through the lightbox stream as you add pages to your book. Once you fill the default 20 pages just keep adding more pages with the little ‘add page’ icon at the upper right corner of the book layout until you’ve added all of your photos. (My books are all between 140 and 180 pages.) In this layout option you’ll also have the option to create a title page. I usually include the dates, locations included in the book, as well as any special people who may appear as well.

The photos you drag into the layout will be full bleed, which can be a bit much for an Instagram photo as far as clarity when printed. You’ll have three basic size options for your photos if you choose not to go full bleed and these are smaller, bigger and biggest. I prefer the bigger (not biggest) size myself. The smaller is almost too small and the biggest is just a little too big. You can change the size of each photo as you upload it or go back through and change them all once you have all your photos in order (again, takes a longer time than using a template, but if you want consistent and specific sizing, it’s the only way I’ve found to do it.)

Now that your photos are all in place and sized right, it’s time to design your cover. I prefer the ImageWrap hardcover. I have two little kids looking at these things daily, a dust jacket is out of the question. Plus they just look nicer on my shelf with hardcovers. You can make your cover however you want. Just a title, just one photo or a collage like I do. I add the date and book number to each cover as well (I mean, *NOW* I do. Now that I have this whole process down to a science.)

You can also edit the spine of your book (if you chose hardcover) as well as the back. One of the things I liked least about the automatic Instagram layout was there was no option for adding a back cover image. MOAR PIKCHURS I SAY! I’ve noticed I’ll get a warning that my image is too low resolution to do a full bleed on the back, but I need to just ignore it because when I size them down I get funny, sometimes crooked, and inconsistent edges. Again, the back can have an image, all text, or an image and text (or blank, which boring.) You can also choose from a number of background colors for your cover, the ones I’ve used have all been the default options, I haven’t ventured into custom cover colors yet.

Once your cover, spine and back cover are designed click to preview your book. You’re so close to being done! Once you’ve previewed your book, choose the style of cover you want and get ready to order it!

From the time you complete your book you’ll have two weeks to order a copy or Blurb will delete it.  On the order screen you will have options to upgrade the endsheets (3), the paper (2), make a PDF version (5), order multiple copies (4) as well as different cover options (1). You’ll also have the option at the top to convert your book to an ebook for your iPad for $9.99, I’ve only done this once for a wedding album and it was a nice touch for my clients.) When you’re set, hit order (6.)

Now, about pricing. Upgrading the cover, paper and end sheets will all add up. (The paper is the biggest expense.) If I were to get the softcover and basic paper on 180 page book I would pay $36.99. However I choose to upgrade as these books are investments for me and there always seems to be a discount code available each month. The same 180 page book with premium paper and ImageWrap hardcover was $69.11 (before a 20% discount).

Endsheets? Total personal preference, I’ve ordered them all and don’t have a problem with the standard mid-grey end sheet.

Paper? The thickest and sturdiest (also the most expensive) is the ProLine Pearl Photo Paper. It’s nice, but it’s almost too thick for a book this size. Next in thickness is the ProLine Luster Paper, while the ProLine Matte and Uncoated are about equal. The biggest issue with the uncoated is if a sticky finger gets on it the smudge will stay there forever. Not the best paper for books that will be handled a lot by kids, but by far my favorite to look at and touch. The second best print quality is on the ProLine Lustre paper, but the image size (either small, big, biggest or full bleed) has more to do with image quality than the paper.

So there you have it.

Hope this helps at least one person.

I’ve loved making and having these books, the thought of going back through all 1,200+ of my Instagram photos now to do this? Overwhelming (but I’d still do it.) Keeping up on it every other month makes sure no moments are forgotten in some digital file somewhere.

Go forth! Make tiny books for you to enjoy!

Get 15% off your next book with the code BOOKSFORSUMMER or use the following link: (Code good through June 30th, 2013.)

(Also, this is not sponsored. If nothing else it will help me with making my own books going forward. All opinions are my own, links are affiliate, books paid for with my own money.)

callouses, by addie.

Two years ago I was sitting on the couch holding Addie’s hand when I felt a big rough spot on her little Addie hands.

“Dude, Addie? What are these calluses from?”

“The monkey bars.” had she known how to roll her eyes and properly use the term “Duh, mom.” she would have.

Addie moved up another level in gymnastics last week, which means her regular class is now a half hour longer and she attends an ‘intense gymnastic training’ class on Saturdays. Ten minutes into her Saturday workout I texted Cody and told him if I were doing what she was doing I’d be dead. The kid is crazy strong. I’m crazy proud of her and I love watching her.

I love it.

Seeing her learn such control over her body without even realizing how strong she’s becoming, makes me happy.

She decided to share with you a little essay about calluses, since she’s had them for the last two years. Again, this is exactly how she wrote it. I only helped her with spelling or grammar when asked. She’s pretty sure she’ll write about New York next.

*******************

My post is how you get callouses because I get them all the time from doing the monkey bars. My dad gets callouses and I don’t mind that because callouses can happen when you do the monkey bars to much and I do the monkey bars way to much but that doesn’t stop me from doing the monkey bars. At my school there are a bunch of monkey bars so  my family has a monkey bars season when I go to a new school year. The only people who don’t get callouses are my mom and vivi and the only pets who don’t get callouses are wink and percy. The callouses that I get happens almost all the time because I do monkey bars not only at school but I also do the monkey bars in the summer at the park to. It’s fun to do the monkey bars even when I get callouses.

*******************

monkey bar master.
One day I’ll show Addie a picture of my feet from when I did ballet. Ain’t no callus like a pointe shoe callus and a pointe shoe callus don’t stop.

Happy Monkey Bar Season y’all.