February 23, 2015

What a BFF is to Me

Ivy and her BFF at my baby shower in 2011
Ivy and her BFF at baby shower in 2011
What is a BFF to you?  I struggle with friendships and I sometimes feel even more clueless as to what a BFF is.  As children, we have our BFFs and maintaining our friendships is pretty easy, aside from learning about real friends.  As adults, maintaining our friendships is so much more work because we have to balance work, husband, children, home, pets, and our own hobbies or interests.  Life with a kid, hubby, monthly racing hobby, and an autoimmune disorder that kicks my butt takes a lot of time and energy, making it very difficult for me to connect with anyone, much less long term.  I have a hard time understanding my own life with this autoimmune disorder, and I can't blame anyone for not sticking around to figure it out with me if they hardly know me.  But, when I really sit down to think about it, I realize a best friend isn't the same for everyone.  Our individual personalities each require something different to fulfill our needs and make us happy.  We may have several BFFs during our lifetimes, while others have a BFF for life.  For me, a best friend is someone that I share a long history with.  She knows who I was and who I am today.

February 16, 2015

Blogging & Social Media: January Income with IZEA

January IZEA income from twitter #ivysvariety

I'm only just starting to get used to making any sort of "income" from my blogging efforts.  Generally, I don't get paid much, if anything from sponsored posts (I'm usually happy simply receiving free items to review) and I rarely get people to click affiliate links and make purchases.  I'm okay with that, but I do like to generate some sort of income, even if it's just to help us pay for some hobbies or buy a couple presents throughout the year.

I found IZEA offered a bit of extra income while using my blog and well-set social media channels to make bids on available projects.  Mostly, I've been bidding on paid tweets, but Izea offers so much more!

To make the most of Izea, you need to link as many social media (and blog) outlets as you have.  Once you're set up, you'll notice a list of available projects open for bidding in the "Sponsorship" area.  You place bids on open items and occasionally you may receive a direct offer, which doesn't count against your 3 bids for the month.  A basic (free) membership allows you to bid on 3 projects per month, but you have two paid options which give you unlimited bids every month.  Initially, I remained on the free plan, but once I accrued more than $12 in my account, I switched to the $1 per month plan.  This gives me unlimited bids, and lowers the payout threshold to $50 (versus $100 threshold on the free plan).

Let me show you my January earnings, because I think seeing concrete numbers puts things into perspective, quickly.

February 09, 2015

Spend Less Time at the Dinner Table Without Sacrificing Quality Family Time

quality family time at dinner table with rules
Photo Courtesy: coolclips.com

The thing about parenting is that you're always navigating your way around life like it's an endless adventure.  Adventure?  Crap, that sounds almost nice.  I guess we can call it an adventure, like a choose your own adventure book, blended with a bit of gaming terminology.  We are always going from one quest to another.  It's not always fun or entertaining, but I suppose there's always the reward for defeating each level, right?  So, we have different levels and each stage of our kid's life is like beating a different boss.

I know most kids spend too much time playing at the table at some point or another, and I feel for you if you're in one of those moments.

Most recently, we were working on the stage where we get the tiny cranky boss to feed herself independently.  For weeks on end, we've been planted at the table for what seems like hours unless we help the kid-boss by feeding her ourselves.  She starts out strong, feeding herself, then becomes needy and depends on us to finish the job.  She would stop, then look at me and ask "can you feed me?" in a super-sweet tone, following up with "I'm not a baby."  I fell for it one too many times and found myself enslaved to her and her utter laziness.  It's tiresome (and annoying) being stuck at the table long after you've finished your meal.  The dishes sit in the sink and could be cleaned off, but instead, I'm spending the next 20 minutes feeding a kid that's completely capable of doing it herself.

Even more recently, when I asked her why she needed me to feed her, she responded with "because I love you."


February 02, 2015

There ARE Winners and Losers: Competition is Healthy

competition is healthy vs we're just here for fun img #ivysvariety

My husband relayed a recent article to me about a girl's basketball coach who was suspended temporarily after his team ran up the score.  On the way home from a doctor's appointment the other day, my daughter began to whine that she didn't win her game on the iPad.  Twice, as a matter of fact, she responded equally disappointed that she didn't win.  I explained to her that it was okay that she didn't win and that it just meant she had to try harder next time.  She happily set off trying again.

After those words, I began to think about the kids these days who are being taught to play sports in gym without a ball.  Or where teams aren't expected to win, but to just have fun.  Until now, I'd never had reason to think too hard about it as it applied to my own child.  But in her recent upset, I'm pretty sure I conveyed a message I believe ALL children should learn.  Real life doesn't adhere to "there are no winners or losers."  My thoughts:

1) You may never win at everything.
2) Losing simply means trying again and striving to do better.

January 26, 2015

Hurtful Words: When My Daughter Says "I Don't Love You"

hurtful words #ivysvariety When My Daughter says "I Don't Love You"

I struggle with my mother-daughter relationship.  When I first found out I was having a girl, I worried.  I'm not a girlie-girl and I don't really know what to do with one of those.  Even more so, I had a strained relationship with my own mother for as long as I could remember.  Finding out I was having a girl brought back so many negative memories.  How could I raise a daughter when I never felt right about how I was raised?

Well, we do what we must right?  Here we are, approaching 4 years and my daughter tells me "I don't love you, I love Daddy."

I'm heart-broken.

I struggle to be a good mom.  I try hard to foster her interests and to do things for her, even when I don't feel like it.  I try to hug her, kiss her, and tell her I love her often.  And, despite all I experienced as a young girl, I force myself to tell my daughter "I'm sorry" when I realize I'm wrong or behaved inappropriately.

January 19, 2015

Another New Years Resolution: Clean and Organize the House

new years resolution clean and organize pantry

It's never too late to work on New Years resolutions (though maybe they aren't called New Years Resolutions at this point).  I've been considering this for a while, but just started following through so I thought I'd mention my progress.  I've been needing to get my house more cleaned and organized.  Living here for over a year, we still have things unpacked and shoved into corners of the house.  It's rather embarrassing.  And, it's even worse that we generally just keep adding more stuff.

January 12, 2015

On Almond Milk and Homemaking

You know, I'm completely fed up with articles on how all these foods and drinks in the stores are bad for you, and you can just simply go home and make your own replacement.  I admit, most of my  disdain for these articles isn't directly related to the article and the idea that they're probably genuinely trying to help, rather I'm frustrated by the fact that I already spend so much time in the kitchen making all sorts of foods because I can't purchase most of what's in the grocery store for my own consumption.
silk almond milk unsweetened picture
Photo credit: Silk.com product list

January 05, 2015

The Elf on the Shelf and Failed Parenting Tactics

Elf on the Shelf pulling ceiling fan chain

I was sitting working on my blog and registering for sweepstakes one day during my daughter's quiet time.  It's time I get to use to be productive or have a break from the insanity.  One particular day, just a few days before Christmas, I was thinking of all the presents I still have left to wrap, and then I began to think about our Elf on the Shelf tradition.

The idea behind Elf on the Shelf is that she's supposed to report the kiddo's behavior back to Santa every night.  We've told our daughter numerous times that Doodle (our elf's name when we started the tradition with S at 2 years) is watching her and she's going to report back to Santa.  More often than not, because my daughter at 3 has entered the terrible two's, we remind her that Doodle will be telling Santa she's being a bad girl and he doesn't give presents to bad children.

December 29, 2014

Making a New Year's Resolution for 2015

I rarely make New Year's resolutions.  I know that a) I won't stick to it and b) I never know what I most want to improve.  The last couple years I've been working on my health, but that's come with necessity as it has failed me miserably and I knew I HAD to get better for the sake of my husband and daughter.

#ivysvariety giraffe at Animal Kingdom New Year's Resolution 2015

Recently, I began to realize that I wasn't able to find much joy in my day.  Struggling with my health, constantly in the kitchen cooking Paleo, and trudging through the day listening to my kid whine and argue with me has taken a toll on my ability to see the beauty in life.  It wasn't until a recent, & almost completely horrible day at Animal Kingdom with the crankiest kid in the park, that I found a moment of beauty in spite of it all.  In this moment, I captured a wonderful shot (above) of a giraffe during our safari ride and completely forgot about the arguing, crying and screaming I'd listened to all day.

December 23, 2014

After by Anna Todd from Wattpad to Published Novel #AfterSaga

After by Anna Todd One 2 One Network #Aftersaga

I participated in the After by Anna Todd blog program as a member of One 2 One Network.  I received a free copy of the book and will receive monetary compensation for sharing information about the book and writer, however, all opinions expressed here are my own.  I feel I should clarify, ahead of time, that this is not a book review.

So, here's the cool thing about After by Anna Todd.  She began writing stories on Wattpad as Imaginator1D.  Wattpad is a free mobile social reading and writing app that can be used on your phone, tablet or computer.  It connects readers and writers socially and is a great inexpensive hobby.  Anna began After on Wattpad and gained more than 1 billion reads and over 6 million comments.