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When I first started this blog, I named it “Next Life Chapter” because I was starting the new chapter of motherhood. Plus, I liked that the blog could grow with me. There will always be a next chapter.

I started a new chapter in January with the birth of Juniper, our second daughter. However, that chapter will be titled “The fourth trimester,” and it will be superseded by another exciting new chapter that’s about to begin.

Philly LOVE necklace  |  nextlifechapter.com

I gifted myself this special “LOVE” necklace as we prepare to leave the City of Brotherly Love.

Tim and I have been thinking about moving to Tallahassee, Florida for a while now. Tim’s parents are there, and with the arrival of Juniper we’ve dreamed of being closer to family. It’s a huge decision, but we are officially moving! I have accepted a Communications Coordinator position at Florida State University, and Tim is interviewing as well.

We told Adelaide last week, and she seems excited. Since I’ve accepted a new position, things are happening fast! The idea of moving to Florida has always been just that, an idea. It’s all happening much more quickly than I imagined. I’ll be starting my new job on May 8, so we’ll be leaving Philly on May 2. I’ll still be returning from maternity leave next Monday and working for two weeks. My official last day at work is Friday, April 24. Then, we’ll have a final week at home before heading out. (I’m flying down with the girls this time. We drove down when we went to Tallahassee to interview, and I don’t want to make that road trip again anytime soon.)

There’s so much to do and sort and pack. I go back and forth between feeling excited and feeling overwhelmed and sad about leaving. I’m going to miss my Philly friends immensely, and I feel dumb/scared/crazy for quitting a job that’s been good to me for the last seven and a half years. I know part of it is just the fear of the unknown. I’m comfortable in my job here and at a time when I’m trying to navigate the waters of being a new mom of two, starting from scratch somewhere else is a lot to bite off all at once. I’ll miss being so close to NYC (although we don’t take advantage of it as much as I’d like), and I’ll miss all the culture and opportunity that comes with living in a large city. Tallahassee does have a better cost of living, but it’s not THAT much better.

It’s all so bittersweet. I have to remind myself why we’re doing all this, and there are a lot of factors. One being that Adelaide will start Kindergarten next year–what!?!–and the Philly public schools (at least in the neighborhoods we can afford) are struggling. Plus, putting two kids in daycare is ridiculous. Tim’s parents are going to watch June this summer and then there’s the possibility they will continue to watch her two days a week into the fall and winter. It’s also going to be nice to have a free babysitter once in a while when Tim and I just need a date night. I think this will be really good for our marriage as well as our girls growing up near some of their extended family. Hopefully not having to travel to Tallahassee will allow us to visit my side of the family in Illinois more often–or *gasp* dare I say, take a vacation that doesn’t involve visiting family.

Overall, I know it’s a good move for our new family of four to be closer to Tim’s parents (they’re newly retired and ready to help), and the sunshine won’t hurt either.

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instagramI just finished a fun “Bloggers Get Social” Instagram challenge. (Find me on Instagram @nextlifechapter.) It was a lot of fun trying to create or find a photo to represent the daily prompt. They’re doing another one for November, but I’ve decided to sit this one out. Instead, I’m going to try a blogging challenge.

The goal is to post every day this month, but I’m realistic enough to realize  that may be a little too ambitious. However, we have a new baby coming soon, Adelaide is now 3.25 years old and there are SO many things I’ve been meaning to write about–so many things I want to record before moving into our next life chapter. So, please consider subscribing to the blog, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter for new post updates. I’d like for this to be a place of conversation, so please feel free to comment, ask questions etc… I read every single comment and appreciate them all.

Happy November!

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Blogger Bash

I just got off the Megabus from Philly to NYC. Now, I’m treating myself to lunch (free wi-fi!) and hanging out until I can check into my hotel. Really, this whole trip is a special treat for me–two days off work, a trip to NYC, an overnight hotel stay by myself, and a day and half of learning about new toys and products with some of the most interesting bloggers from across the country.

It’s a little bit stressful to be away from work–it’s a busy time of year (isn’t it always?)–but I think it’s important to have “me” days every once in a while. (A special thank you to my husband who encouraged me to go and didn’t make me feel guilty for a second, even though he’ll have to be on kid duty by himself two nights and one morning.)

If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you’re sure to see an explosion of Blogger Bash hashtags (#BBNYC) and other brands over the next 30 hours. I’ve never attended an event quite like this, and I’m excited. I hope you’ll follow along.

 

Welcome to this Blogger Sponsored Giveaway for a Vera Bradley Small Kisslock Wallet and Make A Change Baby Bag!

 

On this Mother’s Day, I’ve teamed up with some Philly bloggers to present a fun giveaway! Hosted by Momma Lew’s Blog, with a very special thank you to all of the great bloggers who are participating in this event! Make sure to stop by and check out what Sisters to SonsCan’t Google EverythingMaking Our Life Matter, Mommy SnappedWine In Mom ChockababyTechmomogy and Travel Deals By Dana and I have to offer you!

 

A Vera Bradley diaper bag was passed down to me shortly after Adelaide was born. It was stylish and served us well, so I jumped at the chance to participate in the giveaway. Plus, I thought it would be a great opportunity for my readers to be introduced to some new blogs–many of whom are members of my Philadelphia Social Media Moms group.

New moms will love this Vera Bradley Make A Change Baby Bag! This bag:

  • Has an exterior zip-down pocket that reveals a roll-out detachable changing pad with two elastic slip pockets
  • Slightly longer straps that make it perfect for a mom holding her child and her bag
  • It is a duffle-style bag that is extra roomy with 6 pockets
  • The convenient large-zippered front pocket can store lots of things like your phone, wallet or pacifiers and it is has two side bottle pockets
  • It can be wiped down or machine washable!

 

The Small Kisslock Wallet is the perfect addition to your baby bag! It is a tri-fold wallet that is closed by a kisslock coin pouch. The magnetic snap closure opens up to three card slots, a bill pocket and an ID window. Spot clean with a damp cloth.


One lucky winner will receive both the Make A Change Baby Bag and the Small Kisslock Wallet in Indigo Pop!  

 

To enter, follow the entry form below.  Giveaway is open to US residents, 18+ and one entry per household. Giveaway ends on 5/25 at 11:59pm EST.

 





Momma Lew and participating bloggers have not been compensated for this post.  Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.  


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blogging life  |  nextlifechapter.com

It’s been a fun ride so far. Now what?

Now that 2014 has arrived, I’m trying to decide what to make of this little blog. Last semester I took a Social Media Overview course through the Continuing Education program at the University of the Arts. This was in part to help me in my day job, but also to help me in the work I do with the South Philly Parents Resource Center and of course, with this blog. As I learn more and more about social media marketing and best practices, I get more frustrated with my blog and the gap between what I want it to be and what it is currently.

Number one, I need to write more regularly. I know that one of the best ways to gain more readers is to post good content and to post often. I need an editorial calendar and I need to stick to it.

Last year around this time I paid $12 for the 2013 version of this Ultimate Blog Planner from Click it Up a Notch. I really like the blog and the pdf could have been totally worth it had I used it to keep me organized and help better my blog. It’s a year later and while I didn’t really use the pdf, it did help me discover a great community of women in the Philly Social Media Moms. (In fact, I’m excited to check out this 2014 organizing planner from Zoo Cutie Printables–she gave PSMM members a free download code.)

The PSMM group ranges from experts to hobbyists, with many variations in between. These women are great resources, but in many ways I don’t feel quite ready for them. I know a lot of what I should do, but don’t have the time or energy to make it a priority. I’ve considered letting my blog fade away. I’ve considered just keeping things status quo–writing when I can, trying to post once a week and more likely posting only every fee weeks. I’ve considered the other spectrum too–devoting more of my “free” time to the blog, buying a new WordPress theme so the blog would have a fresh look with a more trendy and professional feel, setting up a strict editorial calendar, turning off the tv when I feel like watching New Girl or The Voice and composing the blog posts that often sit half written in my draft folder or only the spark of an idea in my head.

Tim and I have been doing a lot of thinking and talking through what the future might hold for us. Whether that means a new job and new rental here in the Philly area or a big move to a new community in a new state, I feel change is in store for our family within the next couple of years. Part of this conversation has been to brainstorm entrepreneurial opportunities and business ideas. What do we want to do with ourselves and our professional lives? Where do we want to raise our kids?

Where does my blog fit into all this? Where does creative writing? And photography? Where does my interest in work-life balance and supoport for breastfeeding early parenting fit in?

I don’t know that I have an answer yet. I wish I were here as the second post of a new year to make an exciting announcement, but I’m not there yet. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be, and I guess this blog is too.

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Several weeks ago I was named one of the Top 100 Baby Related Blogs to Follow in 2013 by Coupon Audit. I mean, I’m listed as number 99, but at least I made the top 100. Haha!

Top 100 Baby Related Blogs

 

An infographic by the team at CouponAudit

 

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I’ve found myself asking this question a lot this week: How do they do it? I know mommy blogging can be a monster field to break into. I have no delusions of having thousands of readers, quitting my day job and getting a book deal. I’m just trying to carve a tiny corner, make interesting posts and do my best to update regularly. Even with these modest expectations, I find myself falling behind.

I have so many ideas for new posts – several already saved as started drafts. But how to make time to actually sit down and write them? I don’t want to produce crap for posting’s sake. As someone who spent three years of her life in a graduate writing program, I feel an obligation to at least try to produce stories that will make me proud. I’ve read that other bloggers write on the weekend, create several posts in advance and then schedule them to publish periodically through the week. I thought this sounded like a good game plan, but I’ve already found it to be too time consuming. I’m lucky if I can push out at least one post over the weekend.

I also can’t seem to keep up with the mommy blogs I want to read.  During the work week, how do I find the time to stay up-to-date on my blog reader and Twitter feeds, and make thoughtful comments to start making new friends and foster community? I seem to save my blog reading for the weekend, but then I feel unproductive if I’m sitting in front of the computer all Saturday morning instead of working on all the little projects that need to be done around the house. Or instead of writing a blog post of my own.

Ever since I got my smart phone back in March, Tim has been giving me a hard time about being “too connected.”  I admit I do check my email and Twitter on my phone at home now and again.  I don’t yet have a laptop or netbook, and I usually only bring my work laptop home over the weekends. If I do get a netbook (on my wishlist for the summer), I worry that Tim will think I’m using it too much.  I want to make blogging (and social networking for my blog) easier on myself, but I don’t want it to consume me.

And photography is another thing I just haven’t yet nailed down. How do bloggers find time to upload their photos and edit them for posts?  It’s easier if you’re just uploading them directly from your phone, but I have a nice digital SLR camera and I prefer to use it over the camera on my phone when possible. Right now I have a bunch of photos I’d like to use for posts I want to write, but they are still on my camera.  Or, they’re on the computer and not yet Photoshopped. Seriously? How do they do it? How do they post their photo series next day? Seriously.

The looming question is how I will possibly keep up with my writing, photo uploads, Twitter feeds and blog reading once our little Blueberry is born.  I can see that things will only get more complicated, not less.  Especially once I’m back at work full time. I don’t have the answers. All I know is I like this. I like keeping the blog, sharing my stories, documenting my life, and learning from the other moms I read. I enjoy the thrill of discovering a fantastic new blog, and having new readers comment on mine. I only hope I can start to make it a routine, and once I do, that it will continue to be something that fulfills me.  Right now, blogging is fun.  I don’t want it to become a burden, and I don’t want to feel guilty if I don’t post as often as said other blogger. I give myself permission to go at my own place and find what works for me.  But still, the question bears repeating, how do they do it?

Click To Vote For Us @ the Top Baby Blogs Directory! The most popular baby blogs

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It was about a month ago that I decided to start sharing this blog.  I figured, if the point was to have people read it, I should probably start telling people about it – ha!

I secured a unique URL at http://nextlifechapter.com, and moved the blog from newlifechapter at WordPress to here.  It’s still a WordPress themed blog, but with the help of my more computer savvy husband, I was able to have it hosted on his site. I actually began the blog over a year ago when Tim and I first started thinking seriously about having a baby. I’ve been posting a little more consistently the last couple months, and after getting inspired by other baby blogs (Dear Baby is a favorite), I decided to try and take my blog to the next level. One motivation for writing more consistently is to know I have readers. I hope to broaden my readership, so please subscribe and tell your friends.

I also set up a Twitter account in the last month, so you can follow my tweets @nextlifechapter.  I’m still trying to navigate Twitter and figure out how it works, how to connect with other mommy bloggers, and how to make it work in a way that is useful (and not overwhelming) to me.  Unlike many of the mom blogs I’ve discovered in the last few weeks, I do not have the luxury of working from home.  I just don’t see how some of these women find the time to tweet so much.  I guess they just have their iPhone’s attached at the hip.  Still, I’m having fun.  I’ve discovered several new and awesome blogs through Twitter.  Perhaps I will share some of them in upcoming posts.

Through Twitter, I also discovered the site Pinterest.  Do you know it?  It’s a site where you can pin your interests..get it?  Pin interests? Pinterest?  I keep wanting to call in Pine-terest.  For some reason, I see the word “pine” whenever it comes up.  So Pinterest is this new site where you can create boards and pin images you like.  I can see how this could be a really good resource for artists, crafty people, designers etc…  I’ve had fun “pinning” some of the nursery designs I’ve found online, some of the DIY projects I want to put on my to-do list etc…  Some people have categories of places they’d like to visit, tattoos they like, adorable baby animal images, photos that link to recipes….the options are endless.  Right now you have to go to the site and request an invite.  My invite came in just under a week, and I now have 5 or 6 invites to give out myself.  Let me know if you want one, and leave your email address as a comment to this post.  I already gave one invite to Tim.  I could see how this could be useful to him in pinning typography examples for inspiration, or maps, or other ephemera. I’m not yet sure the benefits of following other people on Pinterest, but I’ve only been a user for about a week. I’m still on the journey of discovery, but if you’re not wasting enough time on Facebook, this could be the new site for you.  You can find my boards and follow me at:  http://pinterest.com/nextlifechapter/

Also, I signed up at Circle of Moms.  Today, May 18, is the last date to vote for me in their “Top 25 Pregnancy Journals” contest.  Just click the yellow thumbs up button here: http://www.circleofmoms.com/blogger/next-life-chapter#. I registered at Top Baby Blogs too, and you can vote for me by clicking the brown button in the left column of my blog. When you click the button, you just have to click once more in the top section of the page. I don’t expect to be in the top rankings, but I’d like to at least show up on the site. I broke the 300 mark this week, so as of today I’m ranked at 283.

Since I do some social networking as part of day-job, I’m having a good time learning more about how all this works–Search Engine Optimization, Google Analytics, how blogs, Facebook and Twitter can all work together to help drive traffic to your site.  My blog is my site in this case, so if anyone has words of wisdom to share, or would like to direct me to articles or other interesting resources and sites, please do.  I admit that I’m still a novice, and I welcome the advice.

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Save Draft

Ugh.  This blogging thing isn’t as easy as it seems.  Apparently, a post I meant to save as a “draft” was actually “published” for the last 3 days.  The post didn’t say anything too off the wall or embarrassing, but I think it was pretty clearly cut and paste from an I email I had written.  Tim says he noticed it, but forgot to tell me.  I guess that means it didn’t make too big of an impression, but if you are one of my other four readers, I apologize.  I will formulate those thoughts into an actual blog post soon.

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