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Hello!

When I started my blog months ago, I had no idea I would love it so much. I find writing to be another creative outlet that goes nicely with photography. I seem to be addicted to both.

I have been playing around with my blog and find the WordPress.com site to be restricting. I finally took the plunge and moved my blog to a self hosted platform. By moving my blog, I have lost all of my subscribers. You all technically follow oursmallmoments.wordpress.com. I would love it if you would please pop on over to Our Small Moments and subscribe by email. If you rely on Facebook to keep updated, I would still love it if you went to oursmallmoments.com and subscribed by email too. Facebook does not make my posts visible to many. I am not going to make you, but I am asking in my sweetest voice. ūüôā

Any time you read my thoughts, story, or random family moment, my heart feels warm. Thank you so much for your support.

Love,

Courtney

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“Why are you fat, Mommy?”

I have said this before and I will say it again, my son is honest, candid, and doesn’t intentionally mean to be hurtful. ¬†Keeping this in mind, it is still extremely hard when he asks such personal questions.

Two years ago, after my husband lost 50 pounds on his mail route, my son started asking me, “Why are you fat and the rest of us are thin?” ¬†I would look at my small plate, with the smallest portions in the family, and say, “I don’t know.”

Last year, when I found two exercise classes that I loved, and committed to, he asked, “If you exercise, and eat healthy, then why are you still fat?”

Once again, my response would be, “I don’t know.”

“Why should I exercise if I can still be fat?” ¬†He inquired.

“Because even if I don’t look the way I want, I want my body to be healthy. ¬†When I get tests done at the doctor, my blood says that I live a healthy lifestyle. ¬†I don’t know why I still look like this.” I said on my lips, but inside I cried.

Anyway, through my weight loss journey, my kids have watched me. ¬†They have seen me come home from the gym sweaty. ¬†They see what I eat, and they notice that they eat more than me. ¬†They noticed right away when I quit eating gluten (wheat products), and they ask lots of questions along the way. ¬†We are glad they ask questions, because we share genetics. ¬†Who is to say they won’t have their own fitness journey someday.

This week, I learned the importance of working out in front of my kids.  I love my spinning and Body Pump classes, but I needed more exercises in my week that worked with my new work schedule.  Scott and I bought Insanity, so we could get toned together.  We have completed one month of this program, sweating, crying (at times), and getting through each intense workout.

The other morning, Scott wasn’t feeling well, and 5 minutes into one of the most intensive workouts I have ever done, he left me to do the hour-long workout ALONE. ¬†I was sad and frustrated. ¬†I tried to make my body do things that it has never done.

About 55 minutes into the workout, I was spent.  Done. Tired.  READY to be done.  It was too much.  Sweat was pouring off of my forehead.  I ran out of water ages ago.  Every single muscle in my body ached.

My over critical son, who is famous for pointing out the obvious walked into the room to watch me complete my workout. ¬†I kept waiting for him to say something like, “You don’t do it as good as they do.”

INSTEAD he yelled, “YOU CAN DO IT, MOMMY!”

That’s all it took. ¬†My muscles started working again, and I completed the last exercise before the cool down. ¬†I finished the tape and have completed two more videos since that morning (with Scott).

My body might not be perfect.  I have MANY workouts before I am the size or the shape I want to be, but at least my kids KNOW how hard I am trying.  That is the lifelong lesson I want them to remember.

We don’t need Pinterest, We need Memories

I use Pinterest, but I don’t love it. I think it’s a great place for recipes, and ideas, but honestly, I bet I don’t ever make any of those homemade presents I pin. And if I did, they would be so horrible, I couldn’t actually give them away without saying that Ana made them. Half the time, I avoid it because face it, you all pin flour laden, sugar filled desserts, which I can’t eat ever again. Anyway, enough about my opinion about Pinterest, I know so many people love it, and I am not bashing something I use. Secretly I am jealous of those of you who live in the Pinterest reality.¬†

The other day, Ana made a tissue ghost out of a sucker at a fall festival. Saturday, Ana sighed, “Maybe someday I can make another ghost.”

Suddenly, I was transported to Halloween decoration-making memories from my youth. I remember sitting at our kitchen table, stuffing tissues to make ghost heads, lovingly making scary faces on each decoration. My mom showed me how to make them, and she says, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Before Pinterest, despite her non-creative mind, my mom taught me how to make ghosts.

“Ana, we don’t need suckers to make ghosts, all we need are tissues and string. We have those. Do you want to make some?”

“Uh huh.” We spent time making the ghosts together, just the two of us. It was so fun, we decided to make more crafts another day. I was tempted to go on Pinterest for ideas, but instead I went back to my memories. I remembered making witches in school, jack o’lanterns, and bats. I am sure there are a million better, more elaborate ideas on Pinterest, but why do those when the fun is I the creating, not the copying?

Today, we continued our craft time, my daughter had NO interest in my craft ideas. She spent the past few days coming up with her own ideas. I am so glad that I didn’t waste time pinning, and buying supplies for a craft my daughter didn’t actually want to do. She wanted art time with me, and I don’t need Pinterest to give her that. Our ideas might not “pinnable” special, but they are ours, and that is what makes them special to me.

Mug Swap

Oh WOW!  It is one of those weeks where I have not done any blogging, photographing or reading the things I want. Welcome to being back at work and adding on grad school.  I am loving my grad work, and it feels good to be back in the classroom teaching, however, I pray I find balance to keep me sane and loving life.

Anyway, I joined up with Dalayna Dillon’s mug swap on her blog, Pointing Up.

It was really fun to stalk Nicole from Treasure Tromp, and send her a mug too. ¬†I loved looking through Nicole’s photos, and reading over her blogs. I can tell she loves cute things, travel, and photography like I do. ¬†The hardest part of the swap was realizing that neither my town, nor the closest city have great places to buy mugs. ¬†I mean, I could have bought Nicole a mug with a BIG RED N on it, but I didn’t get a sense from her blog that she loves Husker football. ¬†After days of searching every store I came across, I finally copped out and ordered it from Amazon. ¬†I felt bad, but I would rather it be wrapped in a box than a mug she wouldn’t like. ¬†So anyway, click here if you want to see what I sent. ¬†I think it’s super cute!

It’s amazing how much you can find out about a person online through social media. ¬†It has also made me wonder if I should scale it back a bit. ¬†Why do we all put so much out there? ¬†I have been wondering this for months, and so I am thinking it’s time to take action.

Anyway, about a week ago, I received a pretty package from Dawn at LeRoy Lime. It was so sweet, literally and figuratively.  She sent me a mug with a cute flower, so I can grow my knowledge in grad school, along with a wonderful bookmark, and Smarties!  It was also wrapped in a matching cloth.  I was so excited and touched by the beautiful package and appalled at myself for sending a bland box from Amazon.

Thank you, Dawn for the wonderful mug, and Thank you to Dalayna for hosting this fun swap.  If I ever do one of these again, I will scout out a good place to buy a mug first, if one even exists.

Atomicreach.com

Last night, on Facebook, Steph from I’m Still Learning, posted about www.atomicreach.com¬†on her Facebook page. ¬†I did take a few minutes to visit the site, and I would like to share with you about what I found. ¬†Once again, this post is written from my head, and I blog for fun, not for cash, so all opinions and ideas are my own.

Atomic Reach is a blogging community, I think they service other areas, but I only checked out the “Blogging” tab. ¬†My first impression is it’s a great way to submit your blog to the World Wide Web and hopefully get some more like-minded bloggers reading your stories. ¬†It seems fairly new and under-utilized so if you are like me, and feel lost in places like BlogHer or SITS, this might be the place for you. ¬†The bigger communities, I hear can be great, I don’t have the time for the hours of engagement that they require. ¬†I do belong to those sites, but I feel like a needle in the haystack there. ¬†Plus, no one on those sites really care to visit my blog, and I understand that can happen once a blogger gets a big name.

Once you sign up for Atomic Reach, you can join tribes, which are topic communities. ¬†I asked to “Contribute” to Parent Club Bloggerhood and Blogging While Mom. ¬†(To ask to join the tribe, I clicked on Contribute and then entered http://oursmallmoments.com. ¬†That is all I had to do. ¬†The managers get to decide if my blog fits in with their topics. ¬†So far, I have been accepted as a contributor to Blogging While Mom.)

It’s not a secret that I LOVE reading about life. ¬†I love moments, and I love to connect with others. ¬†My dream is to spend a summer with a¬†renowned¬†person and write their biography someday, and I know that will happen. ¬†So, it makes sense that in the blogging world, I connect with bloggers who write about their lives, like I do. ¬†I follow TOO many blogs, and I often find myself following to win a contest – which is a BAD¬†habit¬†that I am trying to break. ¬†However, I only actually read blogs that are personal or that tell stories, or who share and inspire my photography. ¬†I have no interest in product reviews, or how tos, bloggers who hope to get ‘pinned,’ or sponsored blogs. ¬†There’s not enough time in the day to read everything, and I read for connection.

“Why are you telling me this?” I am sure you are wondering. ¬†Well, I made a tribe on www.atomicreach.com so I can connect with other Life Bloggers. ¬†I don’t know if anyone will find it, but I would love to connect with other people who blog about their lives. ¬†If you are a life blogger, and want to try a way to connect with others, and possibly get more traffic to your writing, why not sign up for atomic reach and join my Life Bloggers tribe?

I’m not getting paid to endorse this site, or will I get any kick-backs from my tribe. ¬†I truly would love to connect with other people who are telling their own autobiographies like me. ¬†Heck, I don’t even know if one person will visit my site because I am on Atomic Reach. ¬†However, it is a risk free and so far, small blogging community, so it is worth a try.

PS Sorry for a dry post, I just wanted to share.  I will resume to my original style next time, maybe even later today or possibly tomorrow.)

If I taught a Photography Class…

If I taught a photography class my first lesson wouldn’t be about the camera, settings, light, ISO, or anything technical. ¬†Instead I would ask the eager students: “Why do you want to learn about photography?”

I wouldn’t accept the obvious, surface answers. ¬†Instead, I would send them out of class to shoot for an hour or two. ¬†Upon their return, I would want to know the REAL reason¬†why photography is¬†important to them.

During our discussion, I would ask, “Do you want to learn photography so

you have artwork for your walls?”

you never have to hire a photographer again?”

others can tell you how amazing you are?”

you can capture your family?”

you can make extra money?”

you have an escape?”

you can be outside with nature?”

you can feel the quiet?”

you can enter a contest?”

you can remember the moment?”

Photography starts within, photographs aren’t made, they are captured. ¬†Before you press the shutter, the photographer needs to know WHY. ¬†In order to fully capture the moment, you have to find something within your soul. ¬†Otherwise, it’s just another picture.

Seriously, What’s My Hobby?

I am a firm believer in hobbies. ¬†My kids benefit from my hobbies, because without them, I am a mess. ¬†Hobbies give my mind something to think about, obsess, ¬†and learn. ¬†When I¬†succeed¬†in them or learn something new, I am happy, peaceful, and a good mom. ¬†My hobbies make me excited and they can make me glow. I think about them when I clean the house, fold clothes, or cook. ¬†I am a good person when I take time to engage with my hobbies. ¬†If you are a mom and don’t have a hobby, I suggest you find one. ¬†Take the time, it is worth it, trust me I know.

Lately I have been wondering, “What are my hobbies exactly?” ¬†I know what I¬†want to do, and I also know how I spend my time. ¬†Years ago, reading and crafting were my hobbies. ¬†However, I have dropped crafting, and instead I play with photography and digital processing for my artistic expression. ¬†I love to write and do so almost daily, either on this blog or in my old-fashioned writer’s notebook. ¬†I also LOVE to read. ¬†It’s something else that makes me feel good, and I just plain enjoy it.

At this point, you are wondering, “Well, Courtney, it seems like you have enough ‘you time’ each day, so what’s the problem? ¬†You are very clear about your hobbies.”

“Reader, you make a wonderful point, thank you for the great transition.”

Yes, I have been wondering¬†about my hobbies, because I don’t have a chance to do them ¬†any more. ¬†Here’s the deal, I love photography, and whenever I want to learn something new, we all I know I turn to the University of Google. ¬†That takes time, and eventually, my photography time runs out for the day. ¬†So, a month after our Maine vacation, I still have unprocessed photos. ¬†[Note to self: Make time to finish your vacation photos this week.]

I also have fallen in love with writing and blogging. ¬†I am getting so much satisfaction from telling our stories, my thoughts, and sharing randomness. ¬†I love my readers and those who take the time to check out my small piece of the Internet. ¬†Lately, I thought it’d be neat to get paid¬†to blog. ¬†I started¬†checking¬†out job boards, and I have applied for a blogging job. ¬†However, Scott pointed out that bloggers need a strong¬†online presence.¬† Of course, you know me, I Googled what that meant. ¬†In one afternoon, I joined Twitter, Stumble Upon, and Tumblr. ¬†I¬†joined which means I now have an account with these forms of social media. ¬†They added to my other social media collection: Facebook, Linkedin, Google Plus,¬†Pinterest, Flickr, 365 Project, and Instagram.¬† I seriously don’t even¬†know¬†what these social media communities do? ¬†I tweet, but why? ¬†Does anyone follow me, I don’t think so. ¬†Stumble Upon and Tumblr, I don’t get it, but hey, I am on it, and my blog gets posted to there too. ¬†I have been told that Pinterest is “must have” for the blogger, but I haven’t seen the benefits yet. ¬†I guess I am not ‘pin-able’ and that is OK with me. ¬†I don’t think my extremely shallow social media¬†presence¬†is going to get me any jobs.

Like social media, the best way to get followers on your blog is to follow and comment on other blogs. ¬†I have seen that tip on so many “How to make your blog¬†successful blah blah blah” blogs. ¬†I have spent time looking for, reading, and following blogs. ¬†I comment, link up, and try to engage. ¬†However, it’s not coming back to me. ¬†Which is fine, but I don’t have the time for this constant stream of email either. ¬†I could delete it, but I don’t want anyone to delete my blog emails, so I engage. ¬†I also signed up for Blogher, but once again, I don’t get it. ¬†I try to engage or comment, but it won’t let me, and I am a single person out thousands of writers who are certain they are better than me. I am signed in, but how am I supposed to connect with others? ¬†The¬†SITS¬†Girls¬†community is the same. ¬†I would love to be featured, but it’s so much work to be involved, and out of 40,000 blogs, will I really get noticed? ¬†The Mom Blogs tricked me into having their badge on my site, and they NEVER registered me. ¬†I tried over and over, but nothing. ¬†Well they are not getting any more free advertising from me!

I am assuming that bloggers are like photographers, we are artists, and possibly self-proclaimed¬†genius’. ¬†We want people to read our stuff, and we want it to come without much effort. ¬†We want to be the “Gold Needle in the Haystack” that our reader’s can’t live¬†without. ¬†I hear that happens for people and before they know it, their blog is making them money, getting offers for guest blogging, and I am sure their social media presence is valued. ¬†However, I don’t think it’s going to be me. ¬†As rewarding as I find writing, I actually¬†want¬†time to write.

If I am not careful, my hobby is going to turn into clicking a mouse on the Internet. ¬†That is why I stopped posting on the 365 Project, is because my hobby shifted from working on photography, to reading about it. It went from time to process to time to comment on other’s photos. ¬†While I loved that community, I just don’t have time to do it all. ¬†Blogging is turning into that too. ¬†Sometimes I want readers, I mean, that’s why I put it out there, but I can’t forget why I started. ¬†I started because it felt good to get my feelings out there. ¬†I love telling stories and have for years, and I want to make sure I have the time to do it.

Social media is not my hobby. ¬†I don’t find it rewarding, relaxing or engaging. ¬†In fact, quite the opposite. ¬†While there is a time and place for it, I don’t want to turn into a junkie, especially if I don’t get it. ¬†So you see, I find myself wondering, “What is¬†my¬†hobby?”

I am reclaiming my hobbies now, this instant.  I am a photographer, writer, and reader.  Everything else just keeps me away from my passions, and what fun is that?

What are your hobbies?  What do you love to do?

(Linking up with¬†Love Bug,¬†Mom’s Monday¬†Mingle¬†and Live, Love Travel today!)