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Moving on

When your boss tells you to take a day off work as a “mental health day,” you know it’s been a tough week. It’s actually been a tough couple of weeks. As I mentioned in my previous post, Adelaide’s birthday week was exhausting – first Shingles, then what was supposed to be a fun weekend with my parents turned stressful when I got into a car accident and totaled my car. Adelaide’s birthday was fun, but a lot of work, and the following day Tim participated in a craft fair that also made for a long day.

What followed was a short work week for me since I attended the BlogHer ’12 conference in New York City last weekend – was that really only a week ago? It was two days packed with workshop after workshop, celebrity keynote speakers, a sponsor expo, panels and parties. There was very little down time. I stayed in a Manhattan hotel, and it was my first night away from my baby girl. It was a great experience – I’m very glad I went – and it was also an escape from the real world.

When I returned to work last Monday, I was confronted full-force with the real world and all its flavor. I knew I had to figure out how to deal with my car that had been racking up storage fees since the accident over a week earlier. So, while I wanted to blog about BlogHer and Adelaide’s birthday party, I spent Monday evening on the phone with the Philadelphia Parking Authority and then Googling “wrecked cars for cash.” There was definitely a smattering of tears in there too.

Tuesday, I thought I had found someone to buy my car. I had an offer for $220, another for $250 and then one for $300. Of course I wanted the highest bid, but by the time I actually got in touch with the local towing company affiliated with the offer, it was too late for them to do the pick up that day. Another day of $30-a-day storage fees. Wednesday, I had a co-worker drop me off at the parking authority (Have you ever seen the show Parking Wars? It’s filmed there. I swear it’s one of the realms of hell, like the DMV.) I of course had to wait in line to pay my $535 in fees, and then I turned over my title to the tow company in exchange for $300 cash.

The week left me a bundle of emotions. Everything made me feel like crying. There were times when I spoke to someone about my car while at work (parking authority, insurance claim rep etc…) and just closed my office door and cried (I usually reserved the tears for post-phone call, but not always – sorry insurance guy). The summer heat didn’t help any. Our house doesn’t have central air, and I don’t do well in the heat. I was a big grouch all week, and I felt sad for myself. I felt defeated.

So, that’s why I’ve been absent on the interweb this week – a week after a blogging conference where I’ve handed out dozens of business cards for my blog and my blog is receiving more traffic than usual, a time when I should be posting more regularly and be even more present in this space.

The insurance runaround is far from resolved. I still have no confirmation on what type of insurance coverage the woman who hit me actually had. Her insurance company (one I’ve never heard of) is moving very slowly, and they don’t want to do anything until they’ve received the official police report. Monday morning I will be following up on that one; yet another fun phone call. Also, yesterday Adelaide and I received letters from the fire department’s EMTs asking for our insurance information – hopefully the medical side of the accident can be resolved more easily than the auto damages. Either way, at least I no longer have a junked car sitting in a city parking lot racking up fees.

Tonight is the last night of the summer Olympics before the closing ceremony. I’d like to watch the US women’s volleyball team play Brazil for the Gold. I’d like to see Bolt and his Jamaican teammates set a new world record in their relay. However, I decided to carve out some time for myself and spend this Saturday night at the coffee shop. I’ve spent the last two hours writing, and while this may be my only blog post this week, at least it’s something. I always feel better when I write, and after a week like this, “good enough” is the best I can do. That’s all I can ask of myself.

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I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted. I’m not doing a very good job of being a Mommy Blogger. This working outside the home thing in combination with being a new mom doesn’t leave me a lot of “free” time. I knew it would be hard, but it’s all I can do to bathe myself regularly and do at least some of the dishes every couple of days. Emailing, blogging, cleaning, among many other things, have taken a back seat.

I’ve been wanting to write a Halloween post since, well, Halloween. So finally, here it is. At least I posted it before Thanksgiving and I’m not behind by yet another major holiday.

Funny, I started this post in a Word document and when I went to save it, Word automatically populated the first few letters I’d written as the document’s name. “I can,” is what it said, ignoring the apostrophe and “t” that followed. Although it’s not the name I would have chosen, it somehow seems appropriate. I can.

For Adelaide’s first Halloween, we had the luxury of dressing her in whatever we wanted. We can hopefully postpone the Disney princess outfits for at least a few years. When I saw an adorable banana baby costume online several weeks before Halloween, I knew we would be set. Then, I stumbled upon a banana dog costume at Target. While we already had a perfectly good costume for our dog Hugo that was leftover from a couple of years ago, I couldn’t resist.  For a mere $12.99 we could have matching dog and baby bananas. Just think of the photo potential! Here are the results:

My banana baby!

On the streets of Philadelphia

Tim and Adelaide at my work Halloween party

On Skype with Tim's parents

Hugo is not amused.

The whole family before our dog park's Halloween parade at the nursing home.

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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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This is an interesting (yet by the title and opening paragraphs, quite negative) article about Baby Blogs.  I have officially shared my blog with three people, so I don’t suppose I have anything to worry about at this point.

New York Times article by Jennifer Mendelsohn – March 14, 2010

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