Oursmallmoments.com has moved

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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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.)

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!)

The University of Google

Well, it’s official, I have applied to grad school, that’s what I did last week when the kids were in school and I didn’t get to sub, at all. ¬†I also spent countless hours editing a wedding. ¬†Can you guess which one was fun? ¬†Yes, I LOVE editing! ¬†Anyway, as I was writing an essay, and the rewriting it, asking for letters, getting my transcript sent over, I wished that I could get my masters from the University of Google. ¬†I seriously could write a thesis on how much one can learn off of the internet. ¬†Over the years, I have learned plenty.

As a classroom teacher, I used the internet very little for my classroom.  I relied on books for information.  However, as a mom, especially when we were going through the diagnosis stage, so many of the books were outdated and I needed current information.  I spent HOURS searching the web for behavior plans, games, social stories, and any strategy you could think of to help make our lives better.  Of course, once I had the basic ideas, like a teacher, I changed them to fit our situation.

A typical photo before I learned about post processing. Plus, who knows how many photos I had to take to get this perfect moment?

I have admitted countless times that stay-at-home motherhood has been both a blessing and curse.  I mean, once our boxes were unpacked and the house was organized, I was EXTREMELY bored and unchallenged.  Luckily, I found the 365 Project and photography.  For over two years, I have been accessing the University of Google to learn all sorts of things.  I have learned how to shoot manually, I have learned numerous photo softwares, I have learned how to create fantasy photos, and how to make my photographs sparkle.  I have researched cameras, lens, speed lights, and any photography related product you could imagine.

Now, that I have studied photography, I only need to snap once, to get the moment. Sometimes, I snap more than once. I have learned so much in post processing.

Of course, one cannot stop at photography, because now I am in love with writing, and blogging.  This week alone I have learned how to make ad space, a grab my button widget, and today, I added new social icons (Thanks to Kira and plechi).  I am starting to fall in love with graphic design and I am learning a lot.

The drawbacks of the University of Google is the TIME it takes. ¬†I wish I could get paid for the hours I have spent researching, trying and failing. ¬†It’s more than I will admit to even myself. ¬†Little snippets of time really add up over the months and years. ¬†Plus, I can’t exactly put these skills on a resume. ¬†“Self taught, no lessons!” [Insert scene from The Wedding Singer with the drunk brother].

I certainly wish I could get credits, or a master’s from The University of Google. ¬†Instead, I am going to hopefully start a real master’s program in less than a month, but that is in God’s hands now. ¬†If not in a month, then soon, and it won’t be as free as The University that I have been attending, but at the end of my 36 credit hours, I will at least have a better degree and a piece of paper to put on my walls. ¬†I hope to at least have some direction once I have paid another few thousand dollars for my brain.

One of my first fantasy photos. It’s rough, and I had a lot to learn, but it’s another skill I have because of The University of Google.

 

Linked up with The Crumby Mummy with Fun Photo Fun:

“Grab My Button” Made SUPER simple and a Post of Thanks

I have been entering contests like crazy lately. ¬†I don’t know why, maybe because there’s a chance I can win? ¬†Maybe I am taking “Ask and ye shall¬†receive…” mentality literally? ¬†Maybe it’s because I keep asking God for signs about the next steps, He is encouraging me to keep writing and photographing? ¬†Or maybe because when I WIN, I get SUPER excited! ¬†Yes, since last Thursday, I have won two giveaways, and had my photo picked as a Travel Photo of the Year finalist for Bucket List Publications! ¬†It’s been quite a week, and the positive stuff keeps my mind off the junk of life:¬†my phone has not rung for more subbing jobs in week, or I might be able to start grad school within the month, but money might keep me away, or while Ana loves school she is getting really sad in the mornings because school is long and taking away her play time. ¬†Anyway, enough of the junk, on to the happiness. ¬†Oh yeah, I also want to remind you that NO ONE pays me to write this blog or advertise for them, so every vendor, business and software that I mention, are because they WORKED for me and THANK YOU!

Earlier this week, I found out that I won ad space on Love Bug’s blog! ¬†However that means that I needed to design and CODE a widget. ¬†Yeah, until I started blogging I had no idea that widgets even existed, except it was a word that Scott said here and there in conversation. ¬†Also, until I started a blog, I had no idea that lay people like me would ever need to know html code. ¬†I still don’t really get it, but the University of Google is keeping me up to date on a “need to know” basis.

Anyway, less than 30 minutes of searching, testing, and trying I made a widget that worked! ¬†Yay! ¬†However, it did not have the “Grab my button” code at the bottom. ¬†I could have stopped there anyway, because I don’t do hook-ups and honestly I would be shocked if another blogger just WANTED to promote my blog. ¬†I love my readers, but this is a baby site, and I am OK with that! ¬†However, I am one of those people who think, “If I am going to learn how to do something, I want to know it all.” ¬†Well, that was another hour of my life that was not well spent. ¬†Let’s face it, I am technically challenged and I have been FOOLING people since the day I was hired as a computer lab teacher 10 years ago. ¬†I really don’t know what I am doing, I fake it well.

I was about to just let it go, which is hard for me, but man, I have stuff to do. ¬†When all of a sudden, this awesome website found me! ¬†It’s called¬†Grab My Button Code Generator¬†and it’s FREE! ¬†Once I found this site, within 10 minutes I had two more buttons with the code on the button! ¬†Yay! ¬†I love tools that help me fake web knowledge.

As a THANK YOU, I wanted to share my knowledge with the Internet world and I am also going to quickly tell you how I made my buttons, so if you are hoping to find a SIMPLE way to make yours, you can learn from my mistakes.  However, I am going to assume you know a few things in my write up, so if you have questions, please ask.

1. First I designed my ad. ¬†I cropped and processed my image in Lightroom 4. ¬†At export, I choose 250×240 size because that was the size the add needed to be. ¬†Most buttons are 125×125 or 100×100. ¬†My small button is 100×100

2. Second, I put my image in Pixelmator, which is like Photoshop Elements. ¬†Here, I added “Our Small Moments, Life.Photography.Moments.” text. ¬†You can also use sites like PicMonkey, Photobucket, or Picasa to add the text. ¬†I exported from that program at full resolution because my add was already the size I wanted it to be.¬†

3. I uploaded my image into Photobucket. ¬†This is important because Photobucket gives you the CODE you need. ¬†Once it’s in an album on Photobucket, when you hover over the photo, it will show 4 boxes. ¬†Those boxes are full of info that will be useful for web coding.

4. When I made my widget without the code, I opened up a Text box in my WordPress¬†widget area. ¬†I then followed the instructions from Jessica Van Den’s blog. ¬†However, the ” didn’t work, so I typed in code, following her replacement instructions and saved it. ¬†It worked!

***This is also step 4. if you WANT the code box at the bottom. Go to Grab My Button Code Generator¬†Fill in the easy things like your blog name, address, when it asks for the “Image URL” go back to Photobucket and copy the IMG Code (just clicking in the space will copy it). ¬†Remember, hovering over your image you want on your button will bring up the 4 code boxes. ¬†Now that has and extra [IMG] on BOTH sides of the URL so you have delete them. ¬†I followed the directions on the rest of the site and BAM! ¬†I had my button with the neat box at the bottom! ¬†I did NOT need to WRITE any code, although I now know what some of them stand for!

You are probably wondering why I even wanted ad space. ¬†Well, I have a few ideas, and this giveaway from Amy at Love Bug is pushing me to actually follow through with one or two or… I have a feeling¬†September¬†is going to be a wonderful month for me. ¬†I just know it! ¬†I hope you found this blog helpful. ¬†If you did, please share it with others, you have my permission.

Have a wonderful day!

Liebster Award!

I am really new to the blogging world, and like all forms of social media, I am finding inspiration and motivation from other bloggers.  Needless to say, I was speechless when Amy at Love Bug nominated me for the Liebster Award.  You really should check out her beautiful blog.  She writes about photography, her life, dreams, and health goals.  She inspires me in so many ways.

Anyway, I am going to do my best to follow the rules of this award.

Its called the Liebster Award – Liebster means “dearest” in German and its an award given to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.

The Rules!
Each person must post 11 facts about themselves
..and answer the 11 questions that are tagged for them
…and list the 11 bloggers you nominate
…and make up your own 11 questions to ask your nominees
11 Facts about me:
* I thank God everyday for my amazing husband and our two miracles.
* I love to read!
* This summer Scott and I drove over 7,000 miles. We touched both oceans and in two trips drove coast to coast. It was life changing and amazing!
* My dream is to teach or help people in need.  I pray that I can take my kids on a few mission trips before they turn 18, and I believe God will make it happen.
* I am working on getting enough nerve to go back to college for my master’s degree. ¬†I really want to teach at the university level and learn more about writing.
* I am surprised whenever we don’t actually win the lottery.
* I have lost over 37 pounds this year and I thank God that I finally figured out what my body was not responding to.
* I am passionate about photography.  Photographs are memories and I want to remember everything.
* I have been to 35 states, and I am excited to visit the last 15!  Seeing all 50 states has been a goal since I was very young.  Road trip, anyone???
* On the day of our accident, I FELT God, and know that we lived because we WILL make a difference to others on Earth.
* My biggest dream job is to spend the summer with a former president or amazing person, photograph them and then write their authorized biography.  I believe with my heart and soul that it will happen.
Questions for me, from Amy:
1. What got you to start blogging?¬†¬†I started blogging as a way to show off my photography and once I started writing, I can’t stop. ¬†Even with our boring lives, I have millions of stories to tell. I love it!
2. Any pets?  Ana has a Beta named Flower.  He is strongest fish I have ever met.
3. What is your favorite holiday and why? ¬†I love Easter. ¬†It reminds me of God’s love, promise of new life, and new beginnings.
4. Favorite type of music?¬†I wish it was more interesting, but I LOVE pop music. ¬†There, I said it and it’s true. ¬†I do love the Beatles and classical music, but I always have the radio on, singing along to Adel, Bruno Mars, and the other big singers of the moment.
5.¬†Facebook or Twitter?¬† I am on both. ¬†Follow FotoCourtney on Twitter. ¬†I don’t really get Twitter, but I am there.
6. What are some of your hobbies? Photography and photo editing really get to my artistic side.  I love capturing the moment and then making it even better on my computer.  I also come alive when I write.  They are my favorites these days.
7. What is your favorite thing about the summer? I love the freedom of summer.
8. What do you love most about where you live?  We live where we live because our family is less than an hour away.
9. If you could jump on a plane today where would you go?¬†Where wouldn’t I go? ¬†I want to see it all! ¬†I have always wanted to live in England.
10. What is your dream job?  I would LOVE to get paid for photography and writing.  If I could say I was a photographer and writer and make a great living for my family, it would be amazing!  I believe it will happen, I am learning patience too!
11. Who do you look up to and why?  I admire my parents.  They are both dreamers and support finding life happiness. I also look up to Oprah and Julia Roberts.  They are strong women who stay out of the media, except when they are helping others.  I also look up to the activism of Paul McCartney and my son is named after him to encourage him to make a difference in this world. The list could go on, but I will stop with those.
Nominating 11 New Up and Coming Bloggers is hard because most of the blogs I follow have been nominated by Amy already and I don’t follow many others yet. ¬†There are so may blogs out there to read and follow, and I tend to follow those with a personal connection. ¬†Plus, many people don’t write often and I would not want to nominate someone who doesn’t really want¬†their¬†blog out there for the world. ¬†I will do my best.
Nominees:
1. Krista from The Austin Life
2. Melissa from Cat Naps in the Sunshine
3. Myra Katherine from Raising Magnolias
4. Abbie from All That Makes You
5. Alicia from Rocks in their Pockets
6. Brandie from Geeky and Twisted
Sorry, I know I am 5 short, but that is all I have.  I have chosen people who blog regularly about their lives and who inspire me to keep writing.  None of these people do it for followers, they just love sharing, like me! We all have a story to tell.
My Questions for my Nominees:
1. Where do you find inspiration?
2. Where is your happy place?
3. Describe your perfect day or moment.
4. What is the best book you have read in 2012?
5. Where is one place you want to visit before you die?
6. Who inspires you?
7. Tell me ONE thing that most people do NOT know about you.
8. What is your favorite treat?
9. What is your Secret Shame?
10. Best movie ever and why?
11. Favorite quote.
Thank you so much to everyone who reads my blog and follows along.  I am looking for courage to take the next step in life and so many of you are pushing me toward it, whether you know it or not.  I am truly blessed!
PS I don’t know why it won’t let me add spaces. ¬†I tried! ¬†Sorry!