December Goals

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I write these more for me, but also for accountability.  And maybe you can glean a bit of where I am by seeing where I want to go.

I caught puke in my hands this morning without freaking out.  So, I feel like I should lead with that.  Because whatever else I “accomplish” this month will forever be trumped by how December started.  I’ve already done So. Much.

December for me is the best month of the year.  But usually it goes by in such a fury and hustle that I miss much of it.  But not this month.  I’m determined.

So, hold me accountable to these things:

  1. No shopping.  I’m actually completely done with Christmas shopping for the year.  Partly because I love gift buying so much and am usually scouring the sales and the catalogues and researching the gift guides.  I love the possibilities and all the options of what I could possibly buy for the kids and our family.  It’s usually a huge letdown when the gifts are bought and no more searching can be done.  BUT, since I am done, I need to stop looking.  Our house doesn’t need anymore decorations, we don’t need any new clothes, and all the gifts are done.
  2. Social Media Break.  Especially after a conversation I had yesterday with a friend of mine who also works online, I’m even more determined to take a break from inhaling the Internet.  The more I scroll, the more I wish my house looked like so-and-so’s.  The more I see friendships flaunted online, the more I feel in a place of lack.  The more I spend time online, the less I spend in real life.  The more I see you showing off what amazing thing your husband did for you, the more I feel like my husband isn’t enough.  It’s a dangerous place, that Internet.  Consuming too much of it will make you sick.  I don’t even think I’ll post much for the month.  I don’t want to become that trigger for lack in someone else’s life.
  3. Write more regularly.  For me, this isn’t a contradiction of #2.  I may write online as I process my thoughts offline because this blog is a collection of essays and my time stamp for life as it stands now.  I process life through writing. I’ve started more journal writing, though – things in my actual real life journal with an ink pen.  Feels ancient, but oh so good.  What good can we do or post online when our actual lives are so void?  I hope to specifically blog about Advent and the waiting of our King to come back – what a weary world we live in.
  4. Drink 16 cups of water a day.  I’m being realistic here.  I’m not going to exercise much in the month of December.  I’m probably not even going to eat the best.  I mean, Christmas cookies are coming.  But I can force myself to chug 128 oz of water a day.  Cold ice water.  Because that will make my body work harder to bring it down to room temperature.  Right?  Dieting hack?   Maybe.
  5. Focus on Advent and Family.  I’m currently re-reading Ann Voskamp’s Advent books with my kids and for myself.  I just love the way she brings the Christmas story alive and with new meaning.  I want to quiet my soul so that I can hear His coming.  Because so often His coming comes in whispers and small voices and in the quiet falling of snow.

Much love to you this Christmas as you cozy up in your robe and slippers – maybe a new kitty on your lap – sitting by fires and under twinkle lights.  Let’s quiet ourselves and the noise and the hustle.  Let’s be ok with not knowing, not having, and not being there.  Because the Gift we have and have been given is so worth the pause.

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A Few of My Favorite Things – November 2016

The other night, I sat down with my friend for our bi-weekly chat.  She demanded that I bring my notebook and pen so we could brainstorm about blogging.  We both love writing, and we both can feel paralyzed by not knowing what to say.  That night we committed ourselves to taking “imperfect action” and we also brainstormed a few blog post ideas that we enjoy reading on other blogs.

Posts about “Favorite Things” was on my list.

I enjoy learning about what other people are loving, and I for SURE love to share the things I’m currently digging.

So, I gathered up some of my favs for a little photo shoot on our dining room table and am sitting down to write about them.

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  1. Propagating my succulents.  Did you know you can do this?  You just break off the succulent leaves, let them callous over, then set them on top of soil – spraying with a water bottle every few days.  They will eventually (hopefully) sprout a new baby succulent!  This is my very favorite Gardening Expert.  I’ve watched every video she has about gardening and basically wish I was her.
  2. Natural Red Essentials.  This stuff is hand-batched in Detroit.  The owner, Amy, stopped by the workshop last weekend and left us a bunch of product.  I immediately grabbed the Cracks in Whack hand cream.  It’s amazing.  I’ve never used anything better.  Honest to goodness truth.  It’s thick, it lasts a long time, and I can pronounce all the ingredients.  And her creativity with those titles.  Hilarious.
  3. Lipsense.  LIPSENSE.  You guys.  If you follow me on Instagram and you watch my InstaStories, you KNOW I’m obsessed.  It’s a long wearing lipstick product in so many shades.  I have about 12 different ones, but considering you can mix colors together to make new ones, I have probably 2,000 shades.  I wear it almost every single day – and my other lip glosses and lipsticks are pointless to me now.  My go-to color for everyday wear is Bombshell.  I can’t believe how long it lasts.  My mom was always right when she told me that I just look more alive with lipstick on.  And now I don’t have to fuss with reapplying every 17th minute of the day.  It’s a self care item that I’m happy to check off the list.  {Here’s my lip lady. And her IG account.}
  4. Famous in Heaven and at Home by Michelle Myers.  I’ve really been enjoying moving through this book on a daily basis.  It’s a devotional book taking you through the character of the Proverbs 31 woman.  But in a way that is challenging yet grace oriented.  I love that she talks a lot about online life because that is super prevalent and real to me and not many people are talking about the realities of it.
  5. Sudio Sweden headphones.  I was gifted this pair of wireless headphones back in the middle of the summer.  I use them every time I go to the gym.  I love the way they look and the cute leather case they come in.  And I especially love that I no longer accidentally get caught up in my headphone cord on the treadmill and send my phone flying across the gym.  I wish they were a little louder, though – I hate hearing myself pant while running.  And if I get running too fast (usually nothing to worry about – ha) or am doing jump rope rounds, they don’t stay in my ears.  I believe my code for 15% off anything on their site is still valid if you want to get a few Christmas gifts: rebecca16

What’s something YOU can’t stop talking about lately?

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A Letter to My Kids {November 9, 2016}

A letter to my dear, dear children on November 9th, 2016 –

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First of all, I’m giving up nap time to write this.  So you must know it’s of dire importance.  I’m explaining some really important things to remember and asking humbly for your forgiveness.  Not even a cup of coffee to keep me going.  It’s rough, but it must be done.

Even though we voted Third Party, I know you were rooting for Hillary Clinton.  Pronounced HiLLLary CaLinton in our house – emphasis on pronouncing those L sounds correctly.  Sweet Clara, you stayed up way past your bedtime because you wanted to see the first woman become President.  We kept telling you it may not happen, but your heart was set.

It killed us to tell you this morning what happened.  A man with less experience beat out a woman who has been in politics all her life.  I can’t explain it to you, darling.  But you keep fighting.  You keep your chin up and demand the respect that you deserve – the respect that your Daddy gives the women in his life.  We will see the first woman President in our lifetime together, peanut.  And it’ll be the right woman.  We don’t want just any woman to break through that glass ceiling.  We want the right one to lead through with honesty, humility, and strong grace.  So many eyes will be on her.

You need to know that Donald Trump is our President and we will honor and respect that despite our thoughts on his character.  In fact, your Daddy and I need to ask for your forgiveness about our attitude toward him during the past few months.  We have been disgusted with his behavior, annoyed with his hair, frustrated with his unprofessional mannerisms, and humored by his facial expressions.  April Fools Day came and went and Donald kept going – totally serious.  We started laughing less and less.  And we modeled all of this in front of you.  Let me be clear: Donald Trump is not actually Satan.  It’s true.  He is a human being who has made really bad choices.  But so are we, aren’t we?  That’s what we so desperately need Jesus.  And why we will pray every day that President Trump will find the person of Jesus absolutely undeniable.

Here’s what hurts in Mommy’s heart today:

We reassured our seamstresses at BLB and our immigrant friends that there was no way he would be elected.  His loose talk has communicated racism, bigotry, and hatred toward American people who don’t look like him – or us.  Look around at the kids in your school, guys.  Hamtramck is a flavorful city with diverse people of every nationality.  Lots of those people woke up today feeling unwelcome and unwanted in America.  This isn’t true, is it?  A large man may tell our friends and neighbors that they aren’t welcome, but we will fling open our doors even wider.  We will neighbor harder and better because of this.  We vote love – over and over again.

And if real threat and jurisdiction starts to pop up under his presidency, you can bet that we will make signs, hold hands, march, sing chants, and use our voice real loud, ok?  All of us.  Cubby, too!  To spread love.  To encourage peace.  To prove that people of different nationalities can get along.  That’s what makes America so wonderful.

We are sad.  We are confused.  But you need to know that we stand behind him as an American in the best way we know how – on our knees in prayer.  And we are hopeful of the good he now has the power to do.

Here is why I’m NOT afraid:

Elections are held every four years.  And every four years America is holding her breath and staying up really late to see who won.  And every year, half of the country is let down.  But our family has experienced a paradigm shift, ok?  Our vision of this world is seen through the light of the Gospel.  We don’t trust in government leaders or in people – we trust in the Lord our God.  God sits on the throne.  But that doesn’t mean that we sit idly by.  We vote for the America that expresses the most love, the most inclusivity, and the most opportunity for all.  And then we live that out in our daily interactions with people.  And we especially and intentionally surround ourselves with people who are different than us.  Life is sweeter that way.

If we lose – like this year – we are not shaken.  Because despite any President or any law that is passed, we adhere to these laws: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control.  Against these there is no law!  If our taxes are cut – we will still have the same attitude of giving to those who need.  Our money is meant to be shared.  If government welfare programs cease to exist, we will open up community centers and continue to create more jobs through Better Life Bags and any other enterprise God gives our little family to steward.  We will surround single mothers and become foster parents to help alleviate burden.  We will sit with the lonely at lunch and share our ball with the outcast.  It’s hard work, but it’s GOOD work.

And here’s why I’m hopeful:

Waking up to the news of this Presidency has driven our family deep back into the Word.  Into Truth.  And into peace because our outcome is sure.  We don’t place allegiance to the President – or even to our country despite the pledge you say at school.  Our allegiance is already given to our True King.  The One who makes all things new.  Who turns winter into spring.  Who settles the waves with His voice.  Who brings true peace and everlasting life.

Our trust has never been and will never be in the President – this particular one is just a little easier to keep off a pedestal of idolatry.  So, now let’s go start a new tradition of getting ice-cream on the day after Election Day – to celebrate the Real Leader of our lives!

{this is a personal letter to my kids, comments are turned off.  You can connect with me on Instagram.)

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Can I Get a Summer Do Over?

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School starts next week and I’m looking back toward summer as it falls behind the horizon creating a silhouette of bare feet, travel, and slow mornings.  I had such high expectations for how the summer would play out – which is usually how let downs start.  High expectations.  What goes up too high must come down with a crash.  Or something like that.

I was going to play with my kids, create wonderful memories, take weekend trips, be an awesome neighbor, do a ton of house projects, and lose a bunch of weight.  It felt like New Years with all my unattainable and perfect resolutions.

Honestly, though, we did create a summer bucket list and almost everything is crossed off.  So summer hasn’t been a total bust.  But the absolute one thing that I feel like I failed at was being a good mom.

You guys, summer is so hard.  Everyone is home and no one is happy.  I resorted to letting them watch so much crap on YouTube Kids because the only time they wouldn’t fight or whine or ask for more juice was when their butts were on the couch and their noses were in a screen.  And then I realized that the junk entering their minds was not even close to what I wanted my kids spending hours watching.  Plus, I can’t stand to listen to one more minute of Pat & Jen talk about Minecraft in their annoying cartoon voices.  Amen?

So, we took the iPads away.  And the screens.  And the iPods.  So much technology.  And you know what we found?

Our kids forgot how to play.  They literally don’t know what to do with themselves without an iPad in their hands.  They lay on the floor like injured animals.  Withering in pain and moaning gibberish about being bored and having nothing to do.  It was painful to watch.  Yet, I didn’t have any suggestions for them.  I sure wasn’t willing to entertain them.  I had books to read and Instagram Stories to catch up on.  You know?

Instead, I just got angry.  And impatient.  And my vocal chords reached levels that hadn’t previously been seen.  It was impressive, really.

At one point while a child grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled it down as far as he could, I grunted like a loud pig and looked at my husband with hurting eyes.  Somehow, I got out the only words I could.  “I neeeeed… the Holy Spirit”.  It was a truly spiritual moment, because what I meant to say was “break” instead of “Holy Spirit”.  What they say in Romans 8 about the Spirit praying for us in groans and mutterings must be true.  He overtook my mouth.  My poor, sweet husband just smiled and nodded before he walked out the door.

So this week, I sent my kids to camp.

And I suppose I should interrupt to tell you right now that this blog post isn’t going to have any suggestions of how to switch from the mom who sends her kids to Science Camp from 9-4 so that she doesn’t have to think of things to do to keep them off the iPad into the mom who creates lego towers, paper mache animals, and backyard summer camps.

I think we are all just ready for summer to end.  For them to put on their cute little school uniforms and march right out the door.

But, you know what I’ll be blogging about two weeks in the future?  It’ll be about how much I miss those two elementary age kiddos.

I’ll miss their morning bed head as they stumble down and ask to watch a cartoon.

I’ll miss their sweet voices laughing, fighting, and even yelling at me all day long.

I’ll miss making them lunch.  {Ok, let’s be honest – I won’t miss that at all.  I don’t even have to make them breakfast during the school year.  Benefit of low income neighborhood public schools.}  

I’ll miss those magical moments that happen after two hours of squirming on the floor in boredom.  Those moments when they find an empty cardboard box and ride it down the stairs with fits of glee coming from their mouths – and thankfully no injuries.

I’ll miss that absolute end of the barrel feeling when I can tell that mama is not only at the end of her rope and also at the end of her extra lifeline rope and demand that everyone put on their shoes and get in the car as we go on an adventure.  Fresh air can usually fix everything.  Unless it’s above 80 degrees.  Then we go to Target to buy Oreos.  An equally adventurous adventure.

And all of this future thinking makes me wish that I could head back to the beginning of the summer and start over.  Redeem the moments I stuffed an iPad in front of their face for the sake of peace and the nights I shuffled them off to bed without snuggling or reading to them.

I know we’ve heard it a million times, but there are limited summers left with our kids until they are gone into adulthood.  I have about 11 left with Jonah.  Eleven.  And really much less than that when I think about girlfriends and drivers licenses and teenage jobs crowding into our lives.

So, whether you’re the mom who already sent her babies off on their first day, the one who homeschools anyway so could care less, or the mama who is dreaming of the day when she doesn’t have to change a diaper and gets to pick out school shoes instead, let us stop for a minute and remember that our time with them is so short.

Breathe.  Turn on the iPad for 30 minutes to get a break – it’ll be ok.  Go outside on an adventure.  Lighten up on the house rules.  Buy some new lipstick next time you’re grocery shopping.  Sign the kids up for a monthly activity crate!  Go to the library.  Most importantly – eat some ice-cream.  Do those messy slime experiments.  Read all the books.  Go for that bike ride.  Push that little one high on the swing.

I want to stop living as though my kids are in the way of my life and start living as if they are one of the best aspects of my life.

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We’ve been back from Ireland for almost a week now.  And I’m surprisingly glad to be back.  I was worried that I would feel discontent being back in the concrete melting pot of Hamtramck.  But God was gracious.  I came home to HUGE blooms on all my flowers (thanks to my neighbor who took care of my babies while I was gone).  And our first Amazon purchase since being back was a flag pole to hang our Irish flag.  We can’t decide on placement of the flag quite yet, but it’s fun to see it waving in it’s temporary position alongside our American one.

Ireland was our first long distance trip with all five of us.  Actually, Neil and I don’t travel without the kids basically ever, so this was our first long distance trip together.  Period.

And after our 3 hour drive to Dublin, 8 hour flight to Chicago, and 4 hour drive back to Detroit, we had narrowed down some intentional and accidental travel hacks from our trip.  Things we were glad we brought, what we wished we hadn’t brought, and the holy grail answer of what to do for dinners when you get back home to your empty fridge.

What we were glad we brought:

  • Keens for the kids.  These shoes were an all around winner for travel.  They are great for hiking, walking, climbing on rocks, and even water wading.  We threw them in the washer toward the end of our trip, and they look brand new again.  We bought ours on eBay at half the price and I’m thrilled with how long they will last.  I cannot pull off the look of Keens, and spent most of my time in Ireland trading between my Saltwater sandals and a pair of comfortable leather ankle boots.
  • Everyone in our family likes to sleep with white noise.  It becomes a necessity after having kids – either I don’t want them to hear me while they sleep, or I don’t want to hear them while I sleep.  It goes both ways.  Naturally.  So, we packed two soundmakers that took batteries (remember: American plugs don’t fit into Irish outlets), and I ordered a miniature fan since I sleep better when the air is moving.  It’s been this way since college – just ask my roommate about the silent fights we’d get into all night long as she would turn the fan off, and I would turn it back on.
  • I tried to only take one suitcase.  We ended up taking two, but in order to help organize the packing and the unpacking at our Irish home, I ordered a bunch of eBags.  It was nice to roll up everyone’s clothes into a separate zippered bag instead of having everything roam free inside our large suitcase.
  • And finally, I took two Better Life Bags with me and was SO glad I had.  The Harper was my carry on/diaper/exploring/hiking/anything-with-the-kids bag.  I have one in all leather with the additional side pockets.  I don’t have the elastic inside pockets as I probably wouldn’t use them, but I do have the zipper pocket and a handful of nesting pouches that I use to organize myself and the kids.  I also took my all leather Alicia bag.  I used this more than I thought I would!  Anytime I was going out without the children, I downsized to Alicia.  She was the perfect companion to carry my BLB wallet, sunglasses, phone, and lotion.  I would probably argue that these two BLBs (plus the Clara tote) are the most essential ones that a person needs.
  • And while I’ve already alluded to these unmentionables and totally embarrassed my brother, I have to mention them again.  I was going to get a visit from my monthly friend while overseas.  All I brought was this and these.  (Click at your own risk, boys).  It was a risk since it was my first month using both products together without carrying anything that you normally throw away.  And I was out for HOURS exploring castles during one of the days.  Worked like a charm.

What we wish we had NOT brought:

  • Backpacks for the kids.  Our three children all carried Harper backpacks as their carry on.  They were full of goodies to keep them occupied on the flight.  Not only did they barely open it the entire 8 hours thanks to the personal movie and game screens on the back of each seat, but Neil and I ended up carrying all of them through the airport.  Never again.
  • I also brought blankets for each of the kids since our initial flight was a red eye and I was hoping they would sleep.  Those blankets were a pain to stuff into bags and I think they would have done equally as well with the provided pillow and blanket from the airline.
  • I didn’t touch my curling iron once.  Vacations need to be JUST THAT.  Leave your hair products at home and embrace the wild natural side of your God-given hair texture.  Even if I had curled it, the Irish rain would have messed it all up.
  • We didn’t even open the eBag that carried our swimsuits.  I knew we would visit a beach while we were in Ireland, but I had no idea how cold and windy it would be.  Clara did get into the water, but she just wore her clothes and she was fine with that.  So unless you have a pool in your Irish hotel, no need to pack swimsuits!

Our most genius travel hack ever:

  • Since were gone for two weeks, we used up or got rid of everything in our fridge.  I’ve never seen it that empty.  When we got back to Detroit, we realized that we didn’t have anything to cook for dinner.  A quick peek into our freezer and we realized we had an entire frozen meal PLUS a loaf of bread that we had stuck in the freezer before leaving.  Not only did we have a great dinner that night, the kids had toast and PB&J for lunch the next day until we could get back to the grocery store.  I wish we could say we did that on purpose, but we sure will from now on!

We can’t wait to take our next adventure.  While it may not be as far away or as long as this one, traveling is something that our family really enjoys.  And as we get more proficient on bringing just the right things, it will make picking up and adventuring that much easier!

 

 

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Bringing Pieces of Ireland Home

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We are upon our last days of Ireland.  Neil slips into the Irish accent when he’s feeling spunky and our hearts have found such rest here.  We keep talking about what we want to bring back from Ireland to implement into our home in America.  And in our most dreamy moments, we have spent a few hours on Zillow researching farm houses in Michigan.  The beautiful, quaint Irish towns have stolen our hearts and I’m not sure we will ever be the same.

Honestly, even admitting that I’m tired of city living feels wrong.  So much of who I am has been wrapped up in intentional city living.  And partly, that’s the problem.  My identity has been in where I live, who I help, and what I do.  Not in the One who created it all.  If my identity were in Him, as His daughter, it wouldn’t hurt to admit that I’m tired of concrete and seeing into all the backyards on my street.  That I’m craving privacy and a slower pace of life.

For various reasons, we can’t move right now.  But that doesn’t have to stop me from bringing parts of the country into my small lot in the city.

Here’s what I hope to add to our home when we get back to our street-side parking and concrete forest.

Flowers:
The flowers in Ireland are incredible.  Granted, it rains every day and never reaches 80 degrees, so it’s the perfect climate for gorgeous blooms, but I’m making it my aim to continue efforts in my gardening hobby. Hanging flowers on the porch, flower boxes on my railings, more potted flowers in every corner of my yard. Perennials, annuals, bicentennials.  Ok that last one doesn’t exist.  But, just all the flowers.  More.  And then even more.

Privacy:
This one is really hard to accomplish in the city.  Especially considering we don’t have a fence between our neighbors on either side.  We do love this aspect in that it expands our lot size for our children to run around in.  But I want to figure out some ways to create more privacy.  I think I should act as if I’m going to live in this house for decades, and planting a few more trees and bushes might be the way to go.  I’ve also played around in my mind with building a pergola and getting some vines to grow up on either side during the summer.

Country Living:
The easiest way to get the country living vibe is to hang my clothes on a clothesline during the Spring, Summer, and Fall.  Which means I need to find a clothesline.  And to send my kids out to play in the backyard every chance I can.  Baking also seems to be in line with country living, as well as continuing to create an urban farmhouse feel for the inside of my house.  When I’m sitting on my couch, I want it to feel as if I already am in our dream house in the country.  So that means more trips to antique shops and thrift stores.  Darn.

Exploring:
One of the best parts of Ireland has been the natural playgrounds it provides for my kids.  Fallen trees, rock gardens, stone walls, and open fields have all provided an amusement park of exploration.  When we get back to Michigan, we plan to put away the devices more and get out into the beautiful parks and nature centers that our state has to offer.  Even in the heat.

It can be tempting to feel unsatisfied with the place we are heading back to after being in such a picturesque country.  I don’t want travel to leave me in a state of discontentment.  Instead, I want travel to enrich my home life in the city.  I truly love the house that we live in.  Its white exterior, slanted grey roof with dormers on each side, and large windows makes it appear to be a farmhouse in the middle of the city, and if I could someday uproot it and move it to a spot with more land, I would in a heartbeat.

I am bringing pieces of Ireland home with us – including a flag that we plan to wave alongside the American one on our porch.  See you soon, America.

 

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{Those pictures are from our week in Ireland.  This post will have nothing to do with our trip.  Carry on.}

It’s Friday again.  And soon I will need to find a new way to start off these weekly blog posts.  It’s becoming redundant.

The problem is – it’s my third week logging into my blogging platform, and EACH WEEK I need to reset my password because I can’t remember what it is.  So, my blog is the most secure one on the Internet since there is a constant new password.  Safety first.

But back to what matters.  And probably the biggest news buzzing the mazes of the Internet this week.  Instagram copied Snapchat.  And while I am in Ireland and could be talking about what it’s like to travel with children or drive on the left side of the road (terrifying), I’ve promised myself that I will sit each Friday night and blog about whatever comes out.  And Instagram vs. Snapchat is bursting out my fingertips.

I have a lot of feelings about my beloved Insta plagiarizing Snapchat in a true Melina vs Michelle moment.  But, instead of taking sides, I’m going to share how I have decided use each platform along with some general “Dos and Don’ts” for each one.

SNAPCHAT:
I use Snapchat as our family video memory album.  At the end of each day, I download the whole ‘story’ and it becomes a 7min recap of what we did.  Each clip is only 10 seconds, so it prevents me from videoing TOO much.  Although, on this vacation, I think I’ve snapped about every minute.  Which in my opinion, is too much for Snapchat.  But, the platform is for me – not for the people I follow.  So, I don’t really care.  We use the fun filters as tools to beat boredom and have a good laugh, but I rarely post them as snaps.  Again, snapchat is for my family memories.  I’m not out to entertain or educate anyone watching.  Think: family movies.

INSTAGRAM STORIES:
This is why I’m so excited about Instagram stories.  I’m a pretty sassy person.  Instagram stories has become my platform to share funny things, encouragement, real life stressful mom moments, and more.  I had found on Snapchat that I wanted to share things like that, but I didn’t want them in the “family story” that I downloaded at the end of each day.  My kids don’t need to know that their mother is anything but meek and kind.  You know?  And since you CAN’T download an entire day’s worth of stories on Instagram, it’s become my perfect platform for unfiltered chatter that disappears in 24 hours.

I’ve also LOVED the community interaction from Instagram Stories.  You can message anyone you follow and I’ve “met” so many more of you who commented on something I said or a question I asked.  I respond to every single one.

SOME OTHER THOUGHTS:
Snapchat is HARD to find people on since you can’t search easily.  So if you are a brand or a business, I suggest moving over to Instagram Stories.  There seems to be a bigger reach there, too.  If you DO use Instagram Stories, keep them short, funny, and entertaining.  Maybe just 4-5 clips a day.  There are a LOT of stories to wade through on Instagram now – and while it’s fun to see the faces behind the ‘grams I follow, if you have too much to say or too many videos of your kids eating pizza, it gets boring and Imma skip right over.

Instagram will probably be adding a lot of new features to the Stories over the next few weeks, which may change how I decide to use each platform, but I’m landing here for now.   Snapchat = family movies.  Instagram = an extension of my personality.

And you can find me on both accounts here:
Snapchat  = search for “rebeccaisonline”
Instagram = @rebeccasmithonline

As far as the Better Life Bags account, we will use Instagram Stories when I’m at the office and something new and exciting is happening like new products, new fabrics, or a sale.  I’m thinking of Instagram Stories as mini/choppy Periscopes for our business.  BLB never got around to using Snapchat anyway and have built such an amazing community of fans and followers on Instagram that I’m thrilled to get to communicate with them in this way now.  (As soon as I get back from Ireland).

The night that Instagram launched their Stories was probably the best night on social media in awhile.  Seeing everyone’s first snaps was absolutely hilarious.  I wished that I could have downloaded them all and made a montage video of everyone staring at their phone in utter confusion.  And going back and forth between Snapchat and Insta to see everyone’s emotions was reminiscent of passing notes between fighting friends in Junior High.

So, I leave you with this.

Will you break up with Snapchat and go out with Insta Stories?  
Circle one:
Yes or No. 

 

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Birth Certificate LIES and Underwear.

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It’s Friday.  Already.  Again.  And I’ve committed to blog every Friday – about whatever comes to my mind.

I should start by telling you all that I have lived 33 years believing that I was born in St. Paul, MN.  I’ve written that for every application and “forgot password” security question that I could.  If I met you and found out that YOU were from St. Paul, I would have rejoiced about how much we had in common.

However, this week, as Neil was gathering documents he needed to re-enlist in the Army, he found my birth certificate.  In which it states Edina, MN as my birthplace.  You guys.  Edina is 45 minutes from St. Paul.

I have yet to confront my parents on this.  Mostly because they are 30,000 feet in the air on their way to Ireland and are unreachable by modern technology.

Maybe it’s similar to how everyone in a 1 hour radius of Chicago says that they are from Chicago.  And people who live in the suburbs of Detroit always say they live in Detroit.  But my BIRTHPLACE?  You would think someone would have been specific on that level of information.

Next, I’ll find out that I was adopted or have a twin sister who died at birth.  These things cannot be hidden.

In other news, I discovered the BEST underwear.  Seriously.  I think they are meant to only be worn during your period, but I’m wearing them everyday with magical results.  Anti-microbial, moisture-wicking, and everything great.  Probably too much information for my second consistent blog post, but since having kids, all of those things are so necessary in an underwear.  I know that they work because I’m NOT wearing one today (they are packed in my suitcase for Ireland) and I can smell tell.  And I actually bought lingerie laundry bags and have been hang drying them after their gentle cycle in the wash.  That’s what $30/pair will do to you.  It’ll help you GROW. UP. and do grown up things like take care of your delicates.  You should try them.  Here’s $10 and free shipping on your first order.  I promise you’ll be hooked.  I ordered one and then a week later ordered six more so I’d never have to go without.

I mentioned Ireland so casually above.  No big deal.  We leave on Sunday for IRELAND.  I can’t remember the last time I was out of the country.  Honestly.  I just took a two minute break from typing to think.  I can’t remember.  Which makes this trip nerve-wrecking and exhilarating all at the same time.  Do I bring peanut butter?  How can I make sure my phone will work?  They drive on the LEFT SIDE?  Craziness.  If all goes well, we may consider an out of country move after this next election.  No matter who wins.

We moved the BLB workshop this week and I keep pinching myself at how pretty it is.  White and natural wood and grey and the bright pops of color from our fabrics.  Mix that with the smell of leather and fresh paint, and I’m in heaven.  You can watch a quick tour before things got settled here.  But, keep an eye out on my Instagram for more sneak peeks that I grabbed today in photo form.

Ok.  I need to finish packing.  And wash and hang dry my underwear.  I’ll see you in Ireland.  Seriously.  I blog every Friday now and next Friday I’ll be in Ireland, lass.  And if that’s not enough of me, I Periscope on Wednesdays under the BetterLifeBags account.  I know, it’s a lot.

A bit of wisdom before I go.  Check your birth certificate.  You might find a lot of surprises lurking for you there.

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