Tag Archives: sahm

Away From Home

Hello, followers and friends!

Thoughtfully Sought has been neglected these past few months, as I started a full-time position outside of the home.  Being a full-time mom doesn’t change when you become a full-time employee.

This has been an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

SAHD

Although I am quite sad to miss out on my babies’ activities for much of the week, I am blessed with a wonderful husband who is trying quite hard to “fill my shoes” as a stay-at-home dad.

I keep telling him (and have to remind myself) that neither of us should be expecting him to do as I did when home with the children.  We are different people; we are going to pursue common goals differently.

Plus, his workload while home with the kids isn’t what mine was.

I worked on the house.  I was a mother as much as I was a cook and housekeeper and teacher.

The BHE just isn’t.  He is the driving force behind all the work that needs done on all of our properties.  Getting two houses ready for the market while doing upkeep on the third so it won’t be so much work when we go to move into it is much different than what was on my plate when the kids weren’t demanding 100% of me.

Still, this has been bumpy.  That’s parenthood.

And marriage.

Goals

The Murphy Momentum is the same.  We still want to get the little house done and on the market to be sold, so we can use the proceeds from that sale to fix the house at the farm.  When the farm house is ready for us to move in, we can finish the work on the big house to sell it.  And those proceeds will go into creating the farm itself.

The property is there; soon we must prepare it for animals and gardens and more.

My long-term goals have not changed since I began my job.  The steps I’m taking to get down this path are to be thought out differently, though.  Let’s not neglect the idea, either, that some of my loftier goals may need moved to the Dreams column on one of my ever-present spreadsheets.

Blogging

Sadly, this blog has been moved further down my priority list.  Spending time with my children, catching up on the housework that’s been neglected, and sleeping are really my top three just now.  I feel like I’ve fallen behind with my friends, too.  There’s just so much and it feels like it is all at once.  Even though I’m constantly thinking, “Hey, that would make a great blog topic,” I know that blogging is on my back burner.

Speaking of back burners, I’m losing my touch with creating new menu items.  I feel like it is more of a rush to get food on the table than before.  I have two new recipes to share with you, though, so stay tuned to Thoughtfully Sought to learn how I make a super-fast Italian dinner for a weeknight and our family favorite Asian-inspired dish that changes every time I fix it.

Bear with me

I want to grow this blog.  I want my readership to grow.  I want to reach more people to help them discover their own paths through life and how to thoughtfully seek out the best steps to take towards their goals, be it with family, diet and weight, marriage and children, household, or faith.

Stick around.  I will do what I can when I can.

Make sure you’ve liked Thoughtfully Sought on Facebook and are following my path on Instagram.  You’ll find me on eBay and Etsy and Bloglovin’ and Twitter and Goodreads… and there’s more to come.

Thanks for your support.  God bless.

Reviewing 4 Top Coupon Apps for Android Phones

Two months ago, I began an experiment with couponing apps for my smartphone.  I downloaded IbottaCheckout 51MobiSaveCoupons.com, and Receipt Hog specifically for their offers and pay-outs.  I also have downloaded store-specific apps (like Walmart’s Savings Catcher and Target’s Cartwheel) that I’ll review at a later date. 

Disclaimer: I am not being paid in any way, shape, or form to review or endorse these apps. I mean, I’m getting deals and offers and such from them like any other user, but the companies behind these services haven’t given me anything special to talk about them. The apps are free to download. 

Sadly, Receipt Hog notified me via email that they do not have any spots currently available and their wait list is long.  Therefore, without further ado, I present to you FOUR of the Top Coupon Apps for Androids.

App Name:  Ibotta

Google Play Rating: 4.25 Stars (209k+ ratings)

Earned in First Month:  $12.65

My Thoughts:

The set-up was very simple and similar to other savings apps’ opening procedures.  I recommend looking over what’s offered before going shopping to match the rebates with other coupons and sales.  I just discovered that you can link your store loyalty cards to “unlock” rewards before you shop; my most frequently shopped store with a loyalty card is not on their list of Preferred Partners.

When you’ve done your shopping and maybe selected other rebates, you select the “Verify Purchases” button.  This leads you through two steps:  Scan Product Barcodes and Take a photo of your Store receipt.  On some items, you will not scan a barcode, like certain produce.  But since most items need to be scanned, this isn’t something you can do from the comfort of your bed or even your desk at work.  Depending on how your kitchen and pantry are set up, it may be easier to get this app going while you’re putting your groceries away.  After you’ve scanned your product barcodes, you’ll use the app to take photos of your receipt.  I have super long receipts all the time since I do bulk shopping and use shopper cards and coupons; this has to be my least favorite part of Ibotta, which has nothing to do with Ibotta and everything to do with lining up the edges and where I left off from the previous photo.

The amount you’ve aggregated in rebates goes into My Balance with which you can transfer cash to a linked PayPal or Venmo account or you can buy gift cards to places like Target, Olive Garden, JoAnn Fabrics, and more.  Of all of these options, your balance must be $20.00 minimum.

Ibotta is all about teamwork.  The social media accounts you link will be checked for “friends” that also use Ibotta, and without you lifting an extra finger, your teammates “work” together to save and earn towards Teamwork levels.  You also are rewarded for inviting friends; currently, if a friend joins Ibotta with your referral code, they receive a $10 welcome bonus and you receive $5.

There are more ways to save, like with Bonus Rebates and completing little challenges that differ each month.  These help you move along towards reaching that $20 threshold.  Without the sign-on bonus and these extras, it looks like it would take me a long time to reach that cash out amount.

Screenshot from my Ibotta account

Pros:  Easy to use; can select frequently visited stores to make finding rebates easier

Cons:  Required to scan product barcodes; like most coupons, these rebates are mainly for name brand or new products, both of which I tend to avoid

Verdict:  KEEP USING

 

App Name:  Checkout 51

Google Play Rating:  4 Stars (47k reviews)

Earned in First Month:  $1.00

My Thoughts:

The set-up was very simple and similar to other savings apps’ opening procedures.  I recommend looking over what’s offered before going shopping to match the rebates with other coupons and sales.

There is a very long list of offers each week that can be refined by selecting categories or stores.  There is not, however, a search bar.  This makes scrolling necessary and tedious.  Frequently, I do not find any offers that suit me.  The offers you “star” are listed, you select the option to take the photo(s) of your receipt, then once you click “finish”, you wait while it uploads.  And wait.  Then you get a congratulatory screen telling you how much you’ve saved.

It says, “You can request a check when your account balance reaches $20.”  This could take a very long time, considering most offers are like coupons and for only 10 or 40 cents. Once you claim a starred offer, you most likely won’t be able to claim it again.  You don’t have to scan the individual items. The receipt-photo-taking process is similar to other rebate and savings apps.

Screenshot from my Checkout 51 account

Pros:  Many options; get a real check

Cons:  Rarely are there offers I’ll use; terminal scrolling to view all offers

Verdict:  DELETE

 

App Name:  MobiSave

Google Play Rating:  3 Stars (2,393 reviews)

Earned in First Month:  $1.55

My Thoughts:

I don’t recall how I even heard of this one, but I liked the idea that I received the benefits of selected offers right away, like if I were using a paper coupon at the checkout.  The set-up was quick and simple.  There is a short list of offers.  After photographing your receipt, you’ll “paperclip” which offers actually apply to that receipt.  Once they’re confirmed, the money saved is sent directly to your PayPal account.

I do bulk shopping so the last time I used MobiSave, I had 6 receipts that were all quite long.  The way this app is set up to capture images of your receipts makes it difficult to know where your last picture ended and your next needs to begin.  In the end, there were 4 offers that applied to me.  There were 4 deposits made to PayPal within an hour.  My first payment from MobiSave was only $.40, but I got it right away without waiting and saving up to a $20 threshold.

Screenshot from my MobiSave account

Pros:  Immediate deposit into PayPal; frequently offered “any type, any size” deals

Cons:  Not many offers; can’t see previous pictures in series when photographing long receipts

Verdict:  KEEP USING

 

App Name:  Coupons.com

Google Play Rating:  4 Stars (18,800 reviews)

Earned in First Month:  $0.00, but I may have saved some by loading deals to my Pay-Less card

My Thoughts:

I have used Coupons.com in the past to select deals and print coupons to present at checkout.  This app allows that as well as linking to your store shopper cards for automatic digital coupons.

You *must* visit the app prior to shopping, not after.  They don’t want to capture your receipt if you have a store loyalty card; they want to provide coupons directly to the card.  Part of the set-up for this app is typing in the numbers on your loyalty cards.  If you are like me, you don’t even have these because you provide your phone number to the cashier.  I use my Kroger Plus card and I frequently use their digital coupons option, so I logged into that account to access my card number to copy-and-paste into this app.

For stores you frequent that do not use loyalty cards, you will submit your receipt after shopping.  When you’ve submitted receipts and they’re accepted, you receive cash back via PayPal.

Coupons.com has a whole slew of other money saving options, like printable coupons and online coupon codes for sites like Overstock and Guitar Center.  I’ve used their printable coupons in the past, from their website and not this app, and can attest to the safety of the printing software they need you to use.  If you use the app to select coupons, you have the option to print or email them.  I do not have a WiFi compatible printer but have emailed myself the link to print directly from my computer.  Check your library for wireless printing if you’d like to use this option.

Although I downloaded and accessed this app the same as the other savings apps, I have yet to use anything off of it.  I don’t use the products they have presented in the time I’ve been doing this little experiment (seven weeks at the writing of this review).

Screenshot from my Coupons.com account, showing what I could redeem with either loading to my loyalty cards or submitting receipts.

Screenshot from my Coupons.com account

Pros:  Many ways to save

Cons:  Lots of offers to scroll through only to discover I won’t use any of them

Verdict:  DELETE but keep visiting the website on my laptop for paper coupons

Murphy Momentum: Plans and Thoughts

So much change in so little time…

We are still reeling from the changes of the past year.  Our path has been altered so much, yet we are still able to see how we must and can move forward.

After the deaths of three of the most beloved people in our lives, we became inundated with grief…and their stuff.  We accepted furniture and dishes, we inherited a house and property, we have had to reimagine our dreams and redesign our goals, and we now feel confident about this new path we’ve been set upon.

Forward Thinking

All our hopes and dreams seem within grasp now.  It will not be easy.  The steps we see laid out in front of us, the process we’ve created to handle what comes our way, the plans we have developed to see us from this point to the fruition point are all thoughtfully sought and spiritually guided as we rely on our Maker once again.

We have been through hard times, and we have always been surrounded by bountiful blessings.  Now that we recognize them, we see where we have been blessed, we know how to be thankful and less fearful of the future.

Where We are Now

Yesterday morning was greeted with a lot of excitement and a little trepidation as I phoned my new boss to inform her that I would accept her offer of a position.  I will be the Communications Specialist for the local diocesan office.  My “vast skill set” and “impressive education” have landed me my dream job!

We worked hard to get to this point, but this is merely one step.  Much work will still need to be done.

The BHE will be stepping up around the home as he steps out of the traditional role of breadwinner.  Shortly after I got off the phone, he called his boss to deliver his two-weeks’ notice.  The BHE is now a SAHD!

That’s right, folks:  my bearded, hardworking, dedicated, driven, intelligent husband will be caring for our children day in and day out.

But what about the projects?!  We have so many projects between the three properties we now own that, yes, the BHE is going to need some help.

We discussed at length how we must set aside our control-freak natures and accept the assistance of others.  We must tamp down our pride and stubbornness to get ahead by asking our friends, family, and neighbors for help.

Assistance and Accountability

I’ve been working diligently on 1-year, 2-year, and 5-year plans to show us each step of the way to our goals.  I have been plugging projects into a spreadsheet and constantly jotting down ideas that I toss at the BHE and he tosses back at me.  I am researching ballpark figures for what we want to do, where, and when.  We even had a realtor come out to give us some advice.  Yes, folks, we are moving forward like a steam engine, chugging along but aware we need to slow well before the curves.

The first thing I believe we will ask for is help with the children.  When I enter this 8-5 M-F office job, the BHE is going to need someone to rely on a few days a week to care for our babes.  He can’t get work done with two toddlers!  We figured with the Angel starting PreK in the Fall on MWF, it would be best if he was SAHD those days but a friend or neighbor watched the kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Evenings and weekends will see me back in my Mommy role when he can get even more work done.

What is that work, you ask.  Well, that’s where the Accountability comes it.

As much as we would like physical help, like people to paint or build or mow or roof or watch the kids or whatever, we also need to be reminded where we are on our path.  It is all well and good if I print up a pretty checklist or create a spreadsheet that we look at from time-to-time, but we need to be reminded to check things off and follow the steps we have laid out.

When I complete my projects list, when I finish those long-term plan sheets, I will post them here for you to see where we are and where we are going.  I keep thinking something cheesy like Friday Facts to share what we’ve completed and learned then Momentum Monday to explain where we hope to go next.

For instance, this week, I’ve built up our inventory on the eBay site and accepted a new job; next week, I will complete my father-in-law’s taxes so we can be (almost) all caught up on the clean-up of his estate and take a day to myself to prepare my body and wardrobe for the return to the workforce.  This week, the BHE made serious progress on finishing the final bedroom upstairs at the big house and made some dough taking a truckload of cans to the recycling center; next week, he will complete that bedroom and order the replacement windows for the little house.

See?  I’ve told you what we are doing.  Now I feel like I’ll be letting you down if we don’t do it.  That’s how this accountability thing works on my end.  On your end, you get to share in our triumphs and pick us up when we falter.  Thank you, dear reader, for agreeing to be part of our village.

That’s What Friends are For

I look forward to not only getting stuff done but getting connected to my village as we complete projects, move forward, and stay on our thoughtfully sought path towards our dream goals.  In return, I will learn more about you so I can find opportunities to assist you where you need it.  Networking is a powerful tool.  Apply it correctly and we all see our goals come to fruition.

Where are you on your path?  Do you need some help getting up and moving forward?  Do you know how you can help others in your village to do so?

Embarking on a New Path

One beautiful aspect of this life is that there are no constants. 

Now, for a control freak like me, that concept is always first handled with trepidation.

But when I remember that life isn’t stagnant, that change is necessary for growth and to reach goals, I feel emboldened and blessed as I take the first tentative steps on the new path I see before me.

Independence

The BHE and I are both very intelligent and fiercely independent people.  We both would love nothing more than to live off the grid and thrive on our own efforts and ingenuity.

However, living in this time and place, and having been raised the way we were, we both cling to a few ideas of the modern, connected world.  Like health insurance, adult conversation, and the Internet.  I for one would like to know I have a steady income that includes benefits from a company, at least until my children are a bit more mature.  And our farm is functioning independently.

With independence comes greater responsibility, especially for oneself.  When you are beholden to none, you are more so beholden to yourself and your God.  I care not for the judgement of my peers but rather His view on the quality of my stewardship of His earth and gifts.

So the BHE and I have been talking about our options and alternatives.  I am a SAHM who would love to be a WAHM so, by golly, I gotta be independent and forge a new way.

Please, Lord, show me the next path I must thoughtfully walk upon.

Financial Independence

The goal here is to provide for ourselves, our children, our families, and our friends without depending too much on other people.  Reciprocity is the name of the game, rather than being borrowers to lenders, as that never ends well.*

For now, though, we do have a mortgage(s) and car loan (please don’t get me started on my student loans) and two small children.  We must be smart about our steps towards our end goals.  Which is why the BHE returns to work each day.  Which is why I have begun searching out ways to both save and earn.

If I do not have a steady income as a stay-at-home mom, the least I can do is be a good steward of the money we have been blessed with and use the considerable brain power God gave me to come up with new ways to work towards financial independence.

Saving

I’m known for my budgeting and my coupon-clipping and my bill pay spreadsheets… and my penny-pinching.  I will be the first to raise my hand and admit that I am a tight wad.  For all the hosting I’ve done, I can tell you I have upset a few guests in the past with how tight I hold my fist.

I found some new ways to save, and I plan on writing up my reviews of the apps that are helping me do so.  In fact, a couple of the apps are more than Saving; they cross the line into Making.  It is pretty cool.

If you want to get started on your own, I am using:

Checkout 51
Flipp
Coupons
Ibotta
Every Dollar
MobiSave
Walmart’s Savings Catcher
Target’s Cartwheel
And Payless’s (Kroger) digital coupons

Making

I decided to take it one step further.  Part of my approach to minimalism has been selling as well as donating and trashing the things we don’t need or want.  Now, after the passing of my beloved father-in-law and the subsequent inheritance of all of his shit crap garbage hoarded stuff belongings, we have a major inventory with which to work.  Antiques and collectibles, unopened boxes of supplies and tools, decorative items that have no place in our home, clothing and accessories that fit no one we know… the list goes on.

Thank God for the Internet!**  I have opened both an eBay shop and an Etsy shop as well as have posted items on all Craigslist sites that cover areas within an hour drive of me.  Also, if you didn’t know this, go take a peek at what’s around you in terms of Facebook pages labeled “yard sale” or “ rummage” or “swap”.

Here are some items I have up for sale:

blade.jpgashtraycoke-case

 

Here is the link to my eBay store, DeichMileFeirme, and my Etsy shop, Thoughtfully Sought.

Branding

While you’re online, reading this post and checking out my shops and the various apps I mentioned above, go ahead and check me out in the other corners from which I shine.  See the fun, colorful, crazy, thoughtfully sought path we are treading on my Instagram account.my Instagram account.  Find out what inspires me and what my big project ideas are on my Pinterest account.  Go crazy and LIKE my Facebook page.

If you’re trying to make a little extra on the side (and I do mean a little), start stretching your touch to various parts on the Internet.  There’s so much out there, and what goes around comes around. ***

How have you earned a little extra lately? 

What was the big-ticket item you last saved a ton on? 

If you were going to brag about how little you spent at the grocery, how would you explain how you did it?

 

*Proverbs 22:7 – The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

**Seriously, I think I say that twenty times a day, if not more.

***Hebrews 13:15&16 – Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

The 5 Best Pieces of Parenting Advice I Can Give

My last blog post was a couple months ago and on the negative side.  This will be my first blog post of the New Year; I’m going to write something positive.

In the last post, I listed off the 5 Worst Pieces of Parenting Advice I have ever received.  Now I’m going to share with you the 5 Best Pieces of Parenting Advice that I have received as well as what I’ve discovered along the way.

Take these with a grain of salt.  Or as gospel.  This whole parenting thing is different for all of us.  So here goes…

#1.  There is no such thing as the “right time” when it comes to having kids.

The BHE and I were asked when we were going to start our family before we were even married.  I know, I know: this is an acceptable thing in our society.  But for us it was not part of the plan.  We had a Grand Master Plan.  We had our goals and our priorities and we just knew when the right time would be for us to get pregnant.

Oh, boy.

First off, folks, I can tell you from experience that just because you decided you wanted to get pregnant/have a child by such-n-such a date DOES NOT MEAN your bodies will cooperate.  Seriously.  This is out of your hands.

We tried for a couple years after deciding it was the “right time” and my heart broke month after month.  We have friends who tried for much longer, some without any success, and others with the kind of success that led to great loss.

There isn’t a “perfect” time to have children.  Your house, your career, your finances, your car, your whatever will never be perfectly aligned in reality the way you think you want them to be before you have children.

1044838_10102575525353478_1902484919_n

Just a few weeks before the Angel was born, here I am working in the empty nursery, painted yet not ready for a baby!

If you know you want kids, take comfort in knowing that no matter when or how they come, you’ll handle it like a champ.  No matter if your car isn’t a brand-new minivan or if the nursery never got a fresh coat of paint or you’re still at that job you hate.  Parenthood is a whole new ballgame; roll with it.

#2.  But it is all about the timing.

No, seriously, watch the clock and the calendar.  Timing is everything.

During pregnancy, you’ll be seeing an OB or midwife monthly then weekly.  You’ll be asked about when you had your last period, when you last peed, when you first felt movement, what frequency you felt movement, and on and on.

During labor, you’ll be timing contractions and counting breaths.  Make sure there is a clock in the room where you deliver your baby.  The wall clock in the delivery room during the birth of my son was broken, so I had no idea what time of day or night it was, no concept of how long I had truly been going at it, no idea until after the fact that I had been laboring for 29 ½ hours with over 3 hours of pushing.  No idea.  None.

TWENTY-NINE AND A HALF HOURS!

During early infancy, you’ll be tracking the times spent feeding, how many ounces or minutes, when was the last bowel movement, and more.

During the early days of solid foods, you will have to count the ounces as well as days since you introduced a new food.  And you’ll be counting more dirty diapers.

During toddlerhood, you will need to watch the clock to keep track of when your tot got out of bed, when was breakfast, how soon is snack, when you need to feed them lunch so you can get them into a timely nap, how long was the nap, how long after the nap until bedtime, how long between dinner and bedtime…

And you think I’m kidding.  I’m not.  Watch the clock.  It is the best way to avoid meltdowns induced by lack of food or sleep.  Because, really, the wee beasties need copious amount of both if you expect them to be angels.

A schedule helps them as well as you.  There’s advice all over the place, from your pediatrician to this lifestyle blog, about how children need a regimen to maintain equilibrium and how parents need their children to have a regimen to maintain sanity.

#3.  When in doubt, present food.

If your child is crying, check for these things:

  • Is he/she hurt?
  • Is the diaper dirty?
  • Is he/she tired?
  • Is he/she hungry?

If your darling angel isn’t hurt, has a dry diaper, just woke from a nap, and just ate, feed him or her again.  For real.  Present more food or another bottle or your breast.  Feed them.

My son cried way more than my daughter did during his first year.  It feels like he was constantly wailing about something.  He also was the size of a two year old at his 9 month check-up.  He’s a beast.  What I didn’t understand in the first 6 months or so was that he was screaming like he was hungry even when he just ate because he was already hungry again.  He never wanted to stop eating.

 

Now that he’s one, my son wants a snack cup in his hand as soon as he exits his high chair after breakfast.  For real.  Feed him.  And then feed him again.  When all else fails, feed him.

#4.  Have a canned response that you have practiced delivering without emotion to anyone who dispenses unsolicited advice.

I learned this one from a good friend who chose a very non-traditional route for becoming a mother.  We had a lunch date where I asked her the questions I felt she would receive throughout her child’s life; she told me she had a response ready to cover most of them.  For the ones she wasn’t prepared for, she just wouldn’t answer.

Boom.  Done.  Response is ready, no matter the circumstance.

So I thought this should apply to all new parents.  We all know we will hear things in our lives that upset us or irk us or get under our skin and fester.  What better way to save yourself some strife than to have a reply ready!  It doesn’t have to be snarky; in fact, it shouldn’t be.  It should be an unemotional, canned response.

Try this:  That’s interesting.  Thanks for sharing.

Or:  Great!  I bet that works for a lot of people.

Even:  You are very considerate to share that with me.

I highly suggest avoiding anything that is open-ended or could lead to further discussion.  Unless you really, really want to know/be upset/upset the other person.  Just have a one-liner ready to roll out and then walk away or change the subject.

There are a million other topics you can get into an argument about.  Try politics.  Or religion.  Walk away from parenting advice that makes you shudder.

#5:  You need a village.  If you don’t have one, start building one.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a network of people you trust and can count on for anything in your parenting adventure.  You will need a shoulder to cry on, someone to watch the kids in an emergency, a person you can count on to come over with wine but without judgement, a mother-figure for you, grandparent figures for your kids, someone whose advice you can count on, other mothers and fathers at the same stage of parenting, other mothers and fathers further along or even further behind… you need people who get you as well as get this whole parenting gig.

I don’t feel like I had a village for most of these first years of my journey as a mother.  Too many people have come and gone, for one.  Also, I live in the middle of nowhere, a good hour from any member of my family, more than a half hour from most of my friends and former coworkers, forty-odd minutes from any major place for groceries or shopping… seriously, if it weren’t for two libraries within twenty minutes of us, my weeks would crawl by.  I have church on Sundays and three story times a week to look forward to.

People need a community in which to thrive.  We cannot go it alone.  Life isn’t designed that way.  We are commune creatures, to a point.  If you want to fight off baby blues or the more sinister postpartum depression, keep your dears very near.

My advice here, to tag onto this most important piece, is to start with the free things and go from there.  Your family and friends, right now, are free.  Call them, invite them over, make plans, whatever:  keep them in the loop and keep them close.  Then look up other free things to make new friends, to meet other parents, to be around those with kids the same ages as yours; try local libraries and parks, your church, a zoo, a mall playground.  Go to places you would normally go, though, instead of forcing yourself into awkward situations that may repel you from great people.  Someday I’ll write a post about being the odd one out at a mommy group full of women who could not believe I had driven almost 3 hours to be present.

Having children will isolate you from people you never expected to lose.  It will also introduce you to people you once never noticed or maybe even looked sideways at.  Be open-minded and recognize that it takes a village not just to raise a child but to support the parents.  We are human; we are not meant to go it alone.

Parenthood is amazing and eye-opening. Your heart will be full to bursting with love and pride.  Parenthood is really freaking hard.  Your body will be drained, your eyes will be burning, you will lose your mind from time to time, and you will need support.  It can be so isolating and exhausting as well as exhilarating and network-building, what with all the story times and preschool functions.

A village gift

You really do need a village.

Won’t you be part of mine?

The 5 Worst Pieces of Parenting Advice I’ve Received

I have read a couple different blog posts recently about good and bad parenting advice.  Coupled with knowing a handful of lovely ladies with newborns or expecting, I decided to share some of the gems I have received over the past couple years.  It is hard to call it well-meaning advice when it sounds mean… or just plain stupid.

#1.

“You shouldn’t cloth diaper because you’ll never know when the diaper is wet.”

cloth-diaper-clare

The Angel, 2 weeks old, rocking a cloth nappy and matching socks

When I asked for an explanation, she said that only disposable diapers have that blue line to let me know when the baby has peed.  She insisted I would be harming my child with cloth diapers because of the higher likelihood of diaper rash.

Don’t worry; I hear the argument that just ran through your head.  Almost every time I use a disposable diaper that doesn’t have a blue line, I shake my head as I replay her words in my mind.

See, not everything said to a new parent is good or bad or misleading.  Sometimes, it is downright ridiculous.  This gem is my go-to bit of “advice” when I’m illustrating to other new parents how they’ll be inundated with well-meaning people and ought to come up with a canned response to their so-called wisdom.

#2.

“You carry your baby so much that she won’t learn how to walk.  She is too big for that baby carrier anyway.”

The baby carrier in question was designed for babies weighing between 8 and 25 pounds, and the baby being discussed weighed about 10 pounds at the time.

I love baby carriers.  I have a couple of them.  There are different designs for different activities, for all sizes and shapes, and you can easily find support groups or meet-and-swap groups on Facebook.

Also, I love holding my kids.  I wish I could always carry them always.  I like having them on me, I like hugging them, I like smelling them, I like feeling their weight in my arms, and I wish I could have them with me always.  Ok, not always:  the Angel recently grasped the concept of “privacy” and now revels in the chance to stand outside the bathroom door while I’m using the toilet and tell her little brother to leave me alone.

Our struggles to conceive, the joy I had about these new lives while they were in my womb, and the drastically different ways my children came into the world are all the more reasons why I want to hold them.  After everything, I don’t need someone telling me to put my babies down.

Believe me, they will learn to walk.  The Handsome Boy was walking independently and extensively before 10 months, and the Angel took her first steps the day before her first birthday party.

#3.

“You should hold your infant over the toilet right after she eats, starting around 6 months.  This will potty-train her by 12 months.”

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She figured it out and he will someday, too.

I cannot imagine how on earth a child who cannot walk could be potty-trained that early.  Not to mention Science Says the brain and body aren’t wired that early for that sort of knowledge.  Suspending an infant over that “swirling vortex of terror” just sounds like a terrible idea.

Kids do as they want, really, when it comes to potty training.  My experience says that while you can guide your child, she will figure it out before it actually becomes a priority for her.  Then it will be no big deal.

No matter how early or how quickly your tot learns to use the toilet, you’ll still be wiping butts for some time afterwards.

And just because the Angel proudly uses her potty Every Single Time today, including wiping herself and washing her hands, does not mean that tomorrow she won’t leak a bit in her panties or throw a fit when you outrageously demand she wipe herself.

#4.

“You should take a switch to her.  She’ll mind you then.”

Wow.  Seriously?  You want me to not just physically reprimand my daughter, not give her a quick spank on her bum, but actually whip her….

I think I’m going to be ill.

Granted, the individual who suggested this was a much older man who had never raised children.  Sadly, his generation was whipped (not using a colloquialism here, folks, but was actually whipped with a thin reed of a stick that could leave vicious welts or even split skin).  He was just spouting what he knew, from 7 or 8 decades earlier.

People, don’t ever suggest someone lay a hand on their child.  If a parent so believes that physical punishment is part of disciplining a child, let’s all hope they keep that to themselves.  It has become taboo to discuss spanking.  We talk about it behind closed doors with close friends and family.  Even then, we know we are subject to criticism no matter which way we say is best or worst.

I am not perfect, I do not always adhere to the guidelines of Positive Discipline, and I have lost my shit a time or two.  No matter how you feel about reprimanding, punishing, disciplining, or the like, I think we can all agree that a switch is just out of the question.

#5.

“Because he’s so big,” she says while holding my 9-month-sized 4 month old, “you should tell people he’s a developmentally disabled 9 month old instead of an overweight 6 month old.”

Wait.

What.

You mean to tell me it is better to lie that he is older but behind in cognitive and motor skills development than it is to have a complete stranger possibly judge me for him being fat?

Challenged is better than fat?!? 

That’s what you’re saying?

Dear me, that is what you’re saying.

He isn’t challenged any more than he is fat.  He is a big baby who actually is ahead of all the mile-markers. But that isn’t what upsets me about this.

It is that you would dare not only to THINK this about a child BUT TO SAY IT TO HIS MOTHER!!

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Like, I said, folks:  there are some people who cannot grasp the fact that what they believe is well-meant advice is actually just mean.  Wrong.  Unacceptable.  Or stupid.

If you can’t say something nice (or constructive), don’t say anything at all.  Do not assume you can parent other parents.  I may be new at this, but I really don’t need random advice.  I will come to you if I need some guidance.  Otherwise, everyone, butt out.

Believe me, even after more than 3 years as a stay-at-home mom, I feel there are days where I am still a newbie, still learning the ropes, still bungling through.  I also have the days where I feel like I should have a cape and tights because I’m such a bad-ass mother.

What’s the worst that has been said to you?

100 Blog Post Ideas!

This is my 100th blog post!

Thank you for following along on my Thoughtfully Sought path through life.  Sometimes the way is clear, other times the road is bumpy, and there are days where the path is washed out.  Thanks for sticking by me, reading and learning and maybe even growing with me.

 

So, for your pleasure, particularly if you are also a blogger, here are 100 ideas for blog posts (mainly based on what I’ve already done or have planned to do):

  1. RECIPES! Start snapping photos of what you’re up to in the kitchen.  Even the easiest stuff helps someone out there.  (Seriously, I once forgot to drain the water off the noodles when making macaroni and cheese.)  Here are some of  my top-visited recipes:  PancakesHoosier Caprese Salad, Beer Bread, and Chicken Pot Pie.
  2. Photo posts. Took a series of pictures while walking in the woods, playing with your kids, trying on clothes at the mall?  Share ‘em!
  3. Top 5 lists. Best Instagram accounts, worst parenting advice, favorite kids’ movies, date night ideas, and anything else you get excited about.
  4. Blogging tips. LOOK!  RIGHT HERE! THIS POST!  Hahahaha!
  5. Other bloggers. When in doubt, see what your friends are doing.  Most bloggers follow other blogs so make a list of your five favorite blogs then see what their last five posts were about.  You’ll get inspired AND you’ll have a Top 5 List for a blog post.
  6. Personal blurb. The “About Me” and “About Us” sections on a lot of blogs are very short and to the point.  Round out another point for your readers.
  7. FREE STUFF! Everyone loves a deal so explore something free in your area and blog away.  Make sure you take pictures.
  8. Cheap stuff! Again, everyone loves a deal.  Tell us about your coupon experiences or that deals website you found.
  9. Review products. What do you use in the bathroom?  The laundry room?  Why?
  10. Review services. Convince me why I should or shouldn’t pay for Amazon Prime or Grove Collaborative or that automatic diaper delivery.  I wrote one here about Kroger’s ClickList.
  11. Book review. Or movie or restaurant or whatever it is you really like to do.  I love to read so have linked my Goodreads account to my blog, so I can share what I’ve been spending my “free time” on as well as how I liked the books.
  12. Social Media. Tell your readers about your other accounts.
  13. Review social media you use. Write a whole post about what you do and do not like about Facebook or Instagram.
  14. Review social media you don’t use. Why is that LinkedIn account so hard to remember?  Does that networking really help people land jobs?
  15. Try a new one! My foray into SnapChat was a disaster.  I should’ve told my readers about it.
  16. Share your goals. You’ll not only motivate your readers but also feel like there’s someone holding you accountable.
  17. Technology.  We’re surrounded by it, we’re using it every day, and we are all looking for the “perfect” computer or phone or ereader.  If you are blogging, you obviously are using some THING to get your words out there.  Tell us about your laptop, your Internet provider, your local library’s wifi…
  18. Life lesson. You did something recently that you may think is mundane but is really a life lesson for all of us.  Check out my cleaning challenge post or my approach to Minimalism to get inspired.
  19. Vacation!  You finally got some time off and away so tell us about where you went, what you did, who you saw, and what you spent.  Really, we want pictures and to know what hidden gems you found in that town no one has heard of.  Or we can live vicariously through your beach pictures.
  20. Location.  Where do you blog from?  What’s going on around you as you talk to us?  How comfy is your chair or how loud is your barista or what do you do to keep your 10 month old from slapping the keys as you type?  No, really, I need to know.  He keeps trying to make the clackity noise with me.
  21. Pose a question. If you do this on Twitter, you can blog about the feedback.  Or blog about how you’ll get feedback next time.
  22. Quotes.  Tell me some words you live by or are inspired by.  Let your readers know who inspires you or what Biblical message fills you or why you lean on the words of your grandmother.
  23. Embarrass yourself. Seriously, we have all been there and done that.  If you want to connect with someone, tell them how human you are.
  24. Memory lane. It may be cathartic for you but it will also show your readership you are human.
  25. Positive from negative. Take a negative comment you’ve received on social media and flip it around; give the haters a taste of their own medicine but also show how you can put a positive spin on anything.  Or at least explain how taking the higher ground is so hard but ultimately more satisfying.
  26. Gratitude.  Write a thank you note to your readers.
  27. Oldies.  Revisit an old post.  You can rewrite it, add your current perspective, take newer and better photos, or trash it completely and tell your readers why it had to go.
  28. Seasons.  Write a post celebrating whatever season it is in your hemisphere.
  29. Weather.  Tell us what is has been like where you live and how you’ve been coping, whether it is super-hot and sunny but you don’t have a pool or it is super rainy but at least the hurricane went around you.
  30. Why.  Tell your readers why you started blogging and why you keep blogging.
  31. Future.  Write a letter to your future self.
  32. Past.  Write a letter to your past self.
  33. OOTD.  We want to see the face behind the words, and we want to see what you’re wearing.  I’m a SAHM who wears roughly the same thing every day.  I should show you my skirts, my breastfeeding tops, my stains and fingerprints, my love of cardigans… that shows a lot about me!
  34. Debate.  Pick a controversial topic and explain why you think and feel as you do.  Or take the route I did and explain why you don’t debate.
  35. Best posts. Compile a list of your most popular posts.
  36. Unpopular posts. Compile a list of your least popular posts and see if you can up your numbers.  Or if you need to do some housekeeping and delete those posts.
  37. Anthem.  What song gets you going?  What music inspires you?  What do you listen to when you need to calm your mind?  What is on your Pandora station?
  38. Hobbies.  You do more than blog so tell us about your other hobbies.  Here’s a little something I did about reenacting.
  39. Network.  There are people out there like you that are making money doing what they love.  Are you making bank?  Could you use a little extra?  Maybe you could use the help of your readers to land the perfect job.
  40. Presents.  There was a gift-giving occasion recently in your life, I just know it, so tell us what you bought or made and who you gave it to.  People like me really need help on this.
  41. Survey.  Conduct a poll or survey to better guide you on what to write next.  My posts are all over the place, from recipes and reenacting to child rearing and crafting.  Ask your readers what they want to see more of.
  42. Apps.  What do you use every day?  What apps are on your first home screen?  What apps got deleted within days?
  43. Profile.  You told us about yourself; now tell us about someone you care about or someone who inspires you or who you are voting for next election.
  44. Rant.  Get it out there!
  45. Diet.  What do you eat?  Why?
  46. Shopping.  Where do you buy what you eat, wear, decorate with?  Why?
  47. Open letter. Write something personal from you to a personal hero or new mothers or late show producers.
  48. Blogiversary.  Look here!  A post commemorating 100 blog posts.  Or do a post commemorating the age of your blog.  Or the number of “Likes” or “Followers” you have when you hit a milestone.
  49. Crafts.  Everyone is looking for a DIY they can do for cheap or fun or a gift or for recognition.  What did you create?
  50. Honor.  Write a post in honor of a holiday or Pi Day or Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  51. FAQ.  Pay attention to who asks you what and how often you get asked the same question.  I had so many people ask about how we handle our finances that I wrote a post about it and shared a spreadsheet.  But I bet I could come up with a post of FAQ regarding cloth diapers, rural life, and living so close to ALL of my in-laws.
  52. Printables.  Everyone loves free items they can download and use to make their lives easier.  Check out my grocery shopping helpers here and here.
  53. Interview.  You know someone influential, whether in your family, your community, your niche, or even more famous.  Write up your Q and A to spread their knowledge and influence.
  54. Pros and Cons. Pick a topic and do some research. Make a list of the pros and one of the cons, and you can generate interaction by asking your readers for their input.
  55. Before-and-After. This can be funny (your child before the first day of school and then after), a tutorial (your face before make-up and after), or inspiring (your pantry before you clean and organize then after).
  56. News.  Pay attention to multiple news sources and viewpoints, and research and write your own news article about something that matters to your blog’s readers.
  57. Case study. Switch internet providers, unplug everything when not in use, line dry your laundry, or go without television for a month, then share with your readers what differences you saw in your lifestyle, mental and physical health, monthly bills, etc.
  58. Stream-of-consciousness. This was a writing prompt idea that I did in various classes throughout junior high and high school.  Just write.  Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, points, plots, or any of that.  Just write whatever comes to you.  Set a timer or give yourself a word/length limit. For your blog, just click “post” when you’re done.  Or add a selfie from while you were writing.  It gives readers a view inside your mind at the same time it will help you generate new blog ideas!
  59. Comfort zone. Make yourself uncomfortable by doing something no one would ever think you’d do:  try a different church, eat at a Thai/Indian/Russian restaurant, shop exclusively at the mission store, or strike up conversation with a random stranger every single time you enter a coffee shop or use public transit.  This could make for some really good stuff.
  60. Call them out. If you’ve got something going on in your life that is dragging you down or driving you crazy, call out the people who are involved.  Maybe don’t name them or point the finger, but at least share what you’re going through and how anyone who may think they are part of the problem can now see you’ve tossed the ball into their court.  This post did that in my life…and I didn’t mean for it to!
  61. Coloring book. Draw something fun and then take a picture to post on your blog.  Invite adults to release some stress by printing and coloring the image you drew.  If that means a cross with the sun’s rays or a flowery swear word, have at it.
  62. Recap.  Write a post about the posts you did the month before or during this month last year. Revive your old posts for new followers.
  63. Experiment.  Try something new, like go vegan for a week or shop at a grocery you’ve never been to, and tell us about your experience. Heck, drink 10 glasses of water a day for 10 days and blog about it.
  64. Hometown.  Give a shout out to the village that raised you, the place you grew up, the neighborhood where you learned to ride a bike.  Country music stars make millions off of this idea.
  65. Video.  Break out from behind the keyboard and get behind the camera to record yourself.
  66. Collaborate.  Contact other bloggers in your niche to learn what you can do together to generate more readers. Then blog about it.
  67. Host a giveaway. Note that you’ve contacted other bloggers, determine what each of you can contribute to give to your readers, the ones who will follow each blog for a chance to win something.
  68. Repeat.  Grab any of these items and do it again.  And again!
  69. Advice.  There’s something you want your audience to hear and think on, something you think all of us are falling short of, so throw caution to the wind and tell us how we ought to live our lives. Controversy will spark conversation.
  70. Implore.  Tell us why we need to get out and vote. Convince me the Paleo Diet is necessary for my health and that of the planet. Get readers to donate to a worthy cause…or their local libraries.
  71. Guests.  Invite your readers to submit guest posts, or share about a blog where you’ve posted as a guest.
  72. Share.  Ask your readers to share your blog, whether your tweets, photos, FB posts, whatever. If they like you, chances are, they know others who would like you, too.
  73. Bucket list. Think about accountability here: the more people who know what you really want to do before you die means the more people that can not only remind you of your goals but maybe help you see them come true.
  74. Birthday.  Wish yourself a happy birthday, and tell your audience what your boyfriend/kids/parents did or got for you. Or what you did for you.  You could include your dream birthday experience, too.
  75. Compile answers. Think of a question often asked in your industry or niche, and look up memes or quotes by famous people who have answered that question.
  76. Bad habits. Sure, I post about eating organic and using Seventh Generation cleaning products, but I should be more honest and open about my vices. Your readership would like something juicy about how you sneak in watching trashy television, how you only go to story time for the snacks, how you binged on the kids’ Halloween candy…
  77. Opposition.  Research an opposing viewpoint, some stance that contradicts how you think or live, and let your readers know what the differences are and where you can agree.
  78. Reply.  Go through all the comments you’ve ever received on your blog.  Copy them and reply to them in one big post.  Show your readers that you care, you’re listening, your blog is interactive.
  79. Plug-Ins. Share what you think are the best plug-ins for your blog.  You’ll help other bloggers or inspire newbies.
  80. Meme.  Create a meme about your current situation at work or home and share it with a short blurb.
  81. In memorial. Write a short bio of someone you’ve lost and what about them was so special to you.
  82. Hypothetical travel. Use the fantastic online world to discover more about a place you’ve always wanted to visit.  Then share with your readers a mock itinerary and ask if anyone has actually been there and can add to your post.
  83. Celebrities.  Who do you like to follow?  Who makes you roll your eyes?  Who do you think should have won an Oscar?  Share your views, tabloid style!
  84. A day in the life. From when you wake to when you lay your head down, walk us through your typical day.  Tell us what you want to change and what you hope to do every day of your life.
  85. TV.  You’re busy; we all are.  With everything you’ve got going on, you still make that one show a priority.  Why do you watch it?  What makes it worth the time you give it?
  86. Lotto winner. Go beyond your bucket list or your date night ideas.  Write the post about where in the world you would travel.  Now write a post about how it your life would be, where you would go, what you’d do with your time if you won the lotto.
  87. Go-to piece. There’s something in your wardrobe you always have, no matter the season or the occasion, no matter the cost, that you just have to have and know you can grab it whenever.  Tell your readers about that flashy scarf that dresses up any outfit or those jeans from college or that pair of earrings you haven’t taken off since you put them in.
  88. Local festival.  Attend a festival or fair near you and tell us about it.
  89. Get free stuff. Sign up for one of the hundreds of websites that want to give you stuff, like BzzAgent, or a survey site, like Inbox Dollars.  Write about your experience.
  90. Finding time. Tell us how you find time to write and edit your blog.
  91. Other writings. Let your readers in on what else you plan to share with them.
  92. Job vs Passion. So many people identify with their jobs just to turn around and say they don’t like what they do for a paycheck.  Imagine you meet someone at a party who asks, not what you do for a living, but what are you passionate about.  This idea is shared by the Minimalists.
  93. More coverage. What do you think there should be more mainstream coverage of:  influential teachers, sporting events with your favorite animal, the layout changes at your local supermarket?
  94. Downtime.  Let us know what you do to recharge.  Everyone is so overworked and we’re all looking for a calming outlet, so share what you do when you’re not blogging, not at work, not functioning as your kids’ short-order cook.
  95. Cleaning hacks. Housework is a necessity (unless you’re ok with hoarding and filth); you know you cut corners somewhere so admit it to your readers.  Maybe it isn’t even a cleaning hack!  My kitchen floors always look clean and shiny because of the type of ceramic tile we chose.
  96. Buyers’ remorse. This goes beyond the common review of an item you purchased.  Really let us know why you keep kicking yourself over that one buy.
  97. Worth the cost. Again, go beyond a review and share what amazing thing you’ve found that is so worth the price.  Free isn’t always better!
  98. Finding blogging ideas. This post was a struggle after about 74 items.  I should tell you where I found these last items.
  99. Build upon your village. There is some part of your life that you geek about, like a show, a clothing line, a character, a scent.  There are others around the world that geek the same thing, trust me, no matter how strange or uncommon you think it is.  Tell us your closet passion and gather the together the other freaks like you.
  100. 100 blog post ideas. Share your triumphs and pains after wracking your brain for 100 different ideas on what to blog about.