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5 Things I've Learned about Bloggers from Blogger Meet Ups

Now some of the awesome bloggers that I know
come straight home from a blogger meet up and blog about it. 
I am always on a bit of a delay with each post 
as far as real time, 
but I wanted to share some things
that I've learned from the blogger meet ups that I've attended.
Also, feel free to laugh at the evolution of my hair 
and my pre baby, pregnant, and post baby body
in these meet up photos over the last two years.

So here they are,
5 things that I've learned about bloggers
from Blogger Meet Ups:

1. Bloggers love having fun!
I'm talking photo booth prop playing, 
gut-busting laughter,
dressing up, 
game winning,
dessert eating, 
party decorating
FUN!





Bloggers are loud and quiet, 
short and tall, 
colorful and classy, 
but they are ALL fun!
It's one of the things we thrive on!




2. Bloggers want to learn.
Given the opportunity, most bloggers will jump at the chance
to learn something new about almost anything -
cultures, talents, techniques...
We want to soak up as much as we can! 
There is so much beauty and creativity in this world
and we see it every time we get online to read each others' blogs, 
so if we get a chance to learn firsthand, 
we take it!


Not only do we want to learn, 
but we are happy to teach as well!
I'm sure I'm not the only one when I say,
"We've all been there."
We've been at the beginning trying to figure out blogging, 
our writing styles, 
our photography techniques, 
our HTML code skills, 
and wondering how to open up to share about ourselves.


More than one blogger has encouraged me
or showed me how something is done
and I have done the same for others. 
It's uplifting to crave knowledge 
and to share what you have. 



3. Bloggers are more "real" than you think.
There are many many sites and memes out there that poke fun at bloggers
for making their lives seem perfect, 
pristinely clean, 
and always joyful. 
Well, I have met them face to face, 
probably a hundred of those bloggers
whose blogs I admire so much. 

Guess what?
They're real people!
I'm a real person!
:)


We post pretty pictures and happy blog posts
because those are the moments that we love to celebrate!
A lot of bloggers are avid seekers of light, laughter, and joy!
Those are the things that inspire us! 
Dirty living rooms are a real thing, 
but they don't inspire us to post about them (most of the time).

A baby's laugh, 
a delicious pastry, 
a best friend at your kitchen table,
a snuggly pet,
a lively destination,
a husband who has reminded you how loved you are...
THESE are the things that inspire us!
We post the hard and the sad things too, 
but we are always being "real" when we post 
about the happiness in our lives, 
because we feel the need to remind ourselves in every single day
just how much we have to love
and be grateful for. 



4. Bloggers are loyal.
I'm talking fiercely loyal. 
I'm talking your-tiny-baby-just-split-her-lip-open-on-the-concrete-floor-
and-bled-all-over-you-during-a-blogger-meet-up- 
and-several-bloggers-offer-to-hold-her-and-calm-her-
so-that-you-can-at-least-listen-to-half-of-one-presentation loyal.
No upturned noses at the struggling new mom, 
no judgement, 
just honest, kind women looking out for one of their own.


I can't count the number of times that people have searched for a photographer
and a blogger friend has excitedly told them about me. 
I can't count the number of times that I've been too afraid to speak up
because there are people at a meet up who I don't know, 
and a blogger friend has pulled me right into the conversation 
and introduced me. 



Bloggers are loyal
because we understand what it's like. 
We blog about life
and we all know it very well, 
with its ups and its downs,
and so we can't help but reach out to the other
bloggers around us and 
do what we can to build them up.



5. Bloggers are passionate.
No doubt about it. 
It's why we do what we do. 
We love things so much
and find so much depth and meaningfulness
in the details of our lives 
that we have spill them all out into our blogs. 
Whether we blog about 
painting, 
cooking, 
motherhood, 
handmade products, 
sports, 
overcoming hardships, 
or one of so many other topics, 
we blog because we are so intensely passionate. 



I've found that I belong to a group of people
who are vastly diverse, 
and yet we all feel the same drive and love for what we do. 
We all blog differently
and we are different people entirely, 
yet we share a passion for reaching out into the world
to make it a little more lovely. 
We share a passion for reaching out to each other 
and reminding each other that we are not alone.
It's a beautiful
and amazing 
and reassuring thing.

And I, for one, and so so grateful that we have meet ups 
here in Arizona
to learn about each other
and grow closer together as bloggers
and as sisters.





Photo credit for all unwatermarked Photos to Lydia of Photography Hill, 
Ali Mills of Our Happily Ever After, 
and Chrissy of Let Me See You Sparkle. 
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When I Knew - A Poem About Motherhood

I glare at the body in the mirror.
She's not me. 
Never will be again, I think. 
It was worth it, I tell myself.
Those chubby little legs
and big bright eyes were worth it.
But still I sit there, 
judging myself. 
I can't see past the deep red lines that reach across my stomach, 
or the folds of skin that hang down further than they should. 
I can't stop wishing that my hips would melt back 
to the exact shape that they were before,
but then that's nonsense. 
I know they won't. 
I can keep working out,
but my body will never be exactly the same again, 
and a little voice inside of me whispers that I'm ugly. 
It was worth it, I think again. 
I know it was. 
At least I'm pretty sure. 
She's my whole world, 
she and her pappa. 
I love her with every crevice of my soul,


But, 
still that voice whispers that I'm ugly
because I see my every flaw. 

---

I sit on the bed in my mother's room. 
My sister brushes her hair. 
The TV is playing a show that we enjoy. 
My father walks in to ask my mother a question
about their plans for the night 
and she rolls over to face him, 
standing in the doorway. 
Her shirt shifts as she moves, 
it falls, 
and there around the perfect curve of her hip, 
I see them.
The deep, white stripes across her gently loose skin. 
I can't help myself. 
Impulsively I reach out and touch her.
She tugs her shirt down,
and I make an excuse about why I touched her,
but I lied. 
I touched her because the moment I saw those marks on her,
every cell in my body exploded on fire. 
The vault to every emotion in my brain was opened 
and I blinked to hold back tears.
Every light in my body had been turned on so that nothing could hide 
from that dazzling moment.

Five times she let those marks rip and spread across her skin
as she grew life inside of her. 
Five times she cradled within her a seed of life that drained her
and took so much from her body. 
Five times she gave up the world as she knew it
to give it to another being,
One that she was sworn to love and protect. 
Five times she brought life to take it's first tiny, crying breath. 
Five times. 
Five times. 
Five times,
And every single day afterward.

She is perfect to me.
Perfectly human,
and perfectly flawed, 
and perfectly beautiful, 
and perfectly brilliant,
and so perfectly my mother. 

Every small, seemingly insignificant detail about her,
took my breath away in that moment. 
The gray whisps in her dark brown hair,
the curve of her brow, 
the skin on her hands that cradled me so many times, 
every freckle that danced across her cheeks, 
and her legs...

Her legs that so many times had carried me, 
when I didn't know how to walk
and later when I simply couldn't find the strength
and I didn't even know I was being supported.

In that moment on her bed, 
I shut down that terrible whispering little voice.
I crushed it into oblivion,
because I would NEVER let that voice speak to my angel mother 
the way I let it speak to me. 
I would NEVER let that voice speak to my strong-willed daughter 
the way I let it speak to me. 
I love every line and every fold and every light and every piece of my mother. 

That's when I knew.
Right there, on her bed.
Twenty three years after I gave her that first deep red line,
I knew that it was worth it. 
That I was worth it, 
That my beautiful little girl was so worth it,
And that one day it would be worth it again
To give of my body for something so much more incredible.

---

Now I look into the mirror and I see the same body before me. 
And yet,
it's somehow different. 
Somehow, it's become more passionate
and I am compelled to write all of this so that I remember 
when I knew.
I need to remember so that I cherish every line
when the little voice attempts to come back. 

I am a mother.
I am born of a mother. 
And I am powerfully labeled with the markings of my calling
across my stomach and hips. 

I know.


Written For My Mother
By Me
I love you mommy.
Mother's Day 2015

First photo above taken by Mathea Johnson. 
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How To Do Disneyland with a Baby

We all know that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, 
but let's be real- 
It can be hard to do Disneyland. 
The hot days, the long lines, and the confusion of what to do when
are difficult things to deal with. 
Now add in the fact that you are bringing a baby with you?
Not so easy,
but can it be worth it?
Definitely!
You can definitely still have a wonderful Disneyland trip with your little one!
Here are some tips from our first Disneyland trip 
with our baby girl that made life so much easier!


1. Make a plan of the rides that you want to go on 
and which ones have Fastpasses.
This way you know where to head once you are in the park 
and you don't have to walk across the entire park for every other ride. 
You can go section by section and take better advantage of your time. 
Make a list on your phone of which rides you really want to make it onto
and then check the Disneyland site here to see which rides are closed for refurbishment 
so that you know which ones not to worry about. 
There are also lots of apps that you can download 
to check wait times on rides. 
When you enter the park, check the app
and grab a fastpass for the longest wait time ride that has them available. 
We grabbed them for Space Mountain and Splash Mountain, 
but keep in mind that you can only have one Fastpass per ticket until
each Fastpass time runs out. 


2. Decide who will watch the baby when you 
go on the different height requirement rides. 
I went with my best friend, her sister, and my husband 
so we took turns watching her
so that we all were able to go on the rides we wanted to make it onto. 
If your baby is old enough to walk, 
let him/her take play breaks and move around while waiting for others 
to go on height requirement rides. 
Get those wiggles out!


3. Go on the colorful and musical rides 
that your little one with love!
Some adults might make fun of the rides like 
It's a Small World and Tea Cups, 
but they were specifically designed with colors, music, and fun
that small children would love!
Let your little one enjoy all of the rides that they can go on
and if they won't get upset, 
go for all of the rides without height restrictions.
My little lady loved even Pirates of the Caribbean
and Haunted Mansion!

Here is a list of all of the Disneyland & California Adventure Rides 
without height requirements 
that you can take your baby on
(and I've organized it by park sections so it's easier for you to figure out):

Disneyland

Tomorrowland:

- Astro Orbitor
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Finding Nemo Submarines

Fantasyland:

- Alice in Wonderland
- Casey Jr. Circus Train
- Dumbo
- It's a Small World
- King Arthur Carousel 
- Mad Tea Party Tea Cups
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Pinocchio's Daring Journey
- Snow White's Scary Adventures
- Storyland Canal Boat Tour
- Peter Pan's Flight

Mickey's Toontown:

- Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

New Orleans Square:

- Pirates of the Caribbean
 - Haunted Mansion

Adventureland: 

- Jungle Cruise

Critter Country:

- Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

California Adventure

A Bug's Land:

- Flik's Flyers
- Francis' Ladybug Boogie
- Heimlich's Chew Chew Train

Hollywood Land:

- Monster's Inc.

Paradise Pier:

- Golden Zephyr
- King Triton's Carousel
- The Little Mermaid
- Mickey's Fun Wheel
- Toy Story Midway Mania

4. Pack essentials like sunscreens, hats, and personal fans
for the hot days, blankets and jackets for the cold evenings, and a comfortable carrier.  
Babies are extra sensitive to the heat, cold, and crowds
so pack the extra things that you'll need to help keep your baby comfortable. 
Pack a hat to cover your little one's head and
reapply suncreen multiple times to help with the excessive sun exposure. 
You can push your little one around in a stroller for the most part, 
but when it's time to stand in a line for a while 
it is extremely handy to have a carrier so your little one can nap 
and you can be more comfortable. 


5. Pack an empty bottle or sippy  cup that you can refill throughout the day to keep your little one hydrated. Take breaks to nurse or relax in the Mother's Lounge/Baby Care Center.  
There are lots of water fountains that you can use throughout the park
and there are also mother's lounges in both parks for nursing 
and taking a break with your baby.
The mother's lounge in Disneyland is on Main Street. 


Hope these ideas help you prepare for your tiny babe's 
first Disneyland excursion!
We did two days in the parks on 90+ degree days 
and still had a wonderful time!
Best of luck!
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