[Who, What, Where, When, Why] My 5 W's of Blogging.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I thought I'd post this on a Thursday as a sort of "confessions" post because truth is, I've been a little nervous to post it. It's actually been sitting in my drafts folder for MONTHS, pretty much done minus a little tweaking, but I've just been nervous to post it... mainly because of my "why". I finally decided that I've waited too long, so here it is...


Unrelated picture of my computer and the best apple loaf EVER from Starbucks. But slightly related because that's my computer and I like to have snacks while blogging. LOL.


The theme of this year was to do less, more often and I definitely feel like I've done that. I've done more where it counts (with my family) and I've done less where it counts (on this blog). This doesn't mean that I want to quit blogging (no how, no way!), but I do want to be more intentional and present in my "real life" vs my "online life", so to speak. Last year I was so focused on spending time reading blogs, commenting on blogs, and writing blog posts during every second of my spare time, that I think I missed out on a lot. I would stress myself out thinking about how I needed to post something everyday or how I had so many blogs to read and catch up on, that I would often fall asleep on the couch in front of my computer at night. And I don't want that for 2017. I DEFINITELY plan to continue blogging. I definitely plan to continue reading and commenting on my friend's blogs. But I'm just going to cut back a little. I don't really know what that means for me right now, but I do know that it means that if I feel like I want to go to bed at 8:01pm, right after Mason goes to bed at 8pm, then I will. I do know that it means that if I want to binge watch TGIT shows on Thursday nights instead of blog for Friday, then I will. I do know that if it means that I can spend extra time hanging out with my family and doing fun things on the weekend instead of creating a weekend recap for Monday, then I will. Basically, I don't want the blog to ever make me feel stressed and when it does, I need to take a step back and re-evaluate.

So, with that, I thought I'd do a little "My 5 W's of Blogging" today. A couple of blog friends did this a while back last year and I LOVED it and have actually been wanting to do one myself, so new year (can I still say that at the end of March? LOL), new post on who I blog about, what I blog about, where I blog, when I blog, and most importantly... WHY I blog.

Here we go!

WHO do I blog about?

Well this is an easy one! Mason, Seth, myself, and sometimes other family members depending on the situation. More generally -- my life.

WHAT do I blog about?

Mason. Our family life. Our weekends. Trips to Disneyland. Autism updates. Confessions. Stitch Fix.  A Day in the Life. Recipes. Random things I'm loving. Day to day stuff. My love of Target and Starbucks. You name it, I've probably touched on it.

WHERE do I blog?

Sitting at my dining room/kitchen table or on the couch. I wish I had a designated space for my computer and my stuff, but at this point, I don't, so I blog where I'm most comfortable.

WHEN do I blog?

Whenever I have time! Which these days is not very often...

For a while, I was dropping Mason off at school and Seth was picking him up. I'd get off work around 3pm-ish and I'd get home and be alone for a good 2+ hours. It was amazing how much I could get done. Sadly, that hasn't been happening as much any more since I pick Mason up at least 2 days a week after school for ABA and sometimes more if he has an appointment or if it's Seth's Friday off. I don't mind and I'll happily do what's best and what's needed for my family, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the "me time" in the afternoon.

So, these days? I haven't really been blogging much. I've been opting for TV time after Mason goes to bed or, to be completely honest, I fall asleep around 9pm on the couch. Total glamorous life going on over here! The other night I made myself sit up (laying down on the couch is my biggest downfall, it's like instant sleep) and I got out my computer and I went through tons of posts I was behind on reading and tried to work on some of the 20 drafts I have going on. If I could just invent a couple more hours in my day, I'd be set. Or so I think. Ha!

WHY do I blog?

I've struggled with how to answer this one for a while, mainly because I don't want to offend anyone. So first, let me say, this answer is why I (just ME) blog. Secondly, blogging looks different for each person and that's TOTALLY fine! In fact, it's more than fine, I love it! It would be boring if all of our blogs looked and sounded the same.

That being said... I do not blog for money. Never have, never will. I have, however, done a few sponsored posts in the past, as well as promoted products that I've gotten for free.  But, having said that, just doing the few posts that I've done, I don't really even like doing sponsored posts. I don't like the pressure of taking picture perfect photos and editing them and making sure you follow all the guidelines. I don't like the pressure of having to post on a specific day. I don't like how I feel fake when I do them. To me, the money wasn't worth it. And maybe it's because I just really don't have a lot of time to do all of that these days, but honestly, I'd much rather share my heart or what we've been up to than share something that someone else told me to do.

Blogging is not and never will be my source of income. Seth and I both have full time jobs and those are our sources of income. I never have and never will blog solely for money. If I'm being completely honest, this is when I stop reading most people's blogs and I do not want that for my blog.

Hear me out...

I created my blog way back in 2012 as a way for friends and family who live far away to be able to keep up with what my family is up to. My dad and step mom live in Northern California and don't get to see Mason nearly as often as Seth's parents. I wanted them to be able to see pictures of their grandson growing up and see what we're up to. I never in a MILLION years ever thought I'd blog or that I'd have anything to write about that people would want to read and really only expected them (family members) to read it. Slowly but surely my little blog began to grow and although it is still a very little blog, I have a good group of blogging friends that I enjoy reading their blogs and I think they enjoy mine. Slowly my blog began to grow and the things that I posted about slowly began to change. My voice always stayed the same, but the topics that I shared evolved.

And I LOVE it. The connections and relationships that I've made through blogging have been incredible.

THIS IS WHY I BLOG.

I blog to keep my friends and family informed on our life happenings and because of the relationships  and genuine friendships that I've formed. And this is why I just can't quit you, blogging!

Call me nosy, but I love reading what my friends have been up to. People who don't blog probably think I'm crazy that I have such good friends that I've met on the internet and most of whom I've never met in person, but people who blog get it. I love hearing about what my blog friends have been up to. I love getting good recipe recommendations. I've found countless products (much to Seth's dismay) that are now my favorites. And the list goes on. I don't blog for money. I won't promote just any product just because someone paid me to do so. I'm not actively seeking collaborations. For every one email that I accept, there are five to ten that I say no to. (And these days I'm saying no to everything that's been coming my way.) I won't go five days straight posting sponsored post after sponsored post because someone paid me XYZ to promote their products and I just had to except every single sponsorship that came my way. I won't share a product that I've never used in real life except for an hour or two before taking some pictures. I won't forget about sharing my real life with my friends but instead hope they click/beg they click my link so I can get paid. That's not me. That's not who I am. Yes, I have shared about my LuLaRoe online pop up sale but I did that because I have and love their product. I paid my own money for their products and I want to share them with you. Yes, I did post an app for the iPad (back in January) that Mason uses because I knew it was something he'd genuinely use and like. He actively seeks out that app on his own, without my prompting. Yes, I have hosted an online trunk show for Stella and Dot... when a portion of the proceeds goes towards finding a cure for breast cancer... a cause that I have direct connection with and would love to find a cure for so nobody else has to lose their mother too young to the terrible disease.

Yes, you can scroll back on my blog and see a few sponsored posts that I've done. Heck, scroll back a couple months when I shared my Christmas cards. There definitely are some perks to blogging, I won't deny that, but my sole purpose in blogging is not to get free stuff, it's not to make money. And again, these posts are sprinkled in with my regular posts, maybe once a month. Maybe.

I don't mean to dwell on this, but it's something that I've been thinking about for a long time now. I understand that blogging is an income for some people and that's great! Seriously, I genuinely applaud those women for being able to be stay at home moms and support their families, BUT that's not me and I don't relate to that. I did a "sponsored" (got an item for free) post a couple weeks ago and even though Mason honestly, truthfully did LOVE it, I still felt so fake writing the post. There have been so many blogs that I used to love that have become purely sponsored that I've stopped reading. Same goes for blogs that seem to be trying to "strike at rich" with Pinterest fame. And it sucks! Because I genuinely used to love them, but now I feel like we have nothing in common since they're promoting this one day, that the next, something else the next and they seem to conflict with not only each other but how I know they are in real life.  I just feel like I know nothing about the person anymore. I want real. I want real life. I want relatable. I want recipes you've really tried and loved. I want day in life posts. I want to hear about your weekend. I want to hear about products you bought on your own and truly love because you've used them more than once.

And that's what I try to portray here. My pictures aren't perfect. My house isn't the cleanest. I epically fail at most Pinterest projects that I try. But that's real life. And that's what you'll see here. I blog to blog. I blog because I like sharing my life with people. I blog because of the AMAZING relationships that I've formed. It's crazy. I never thought I could make such good friends by meeting them online and if you told me I would through blogging, maybe five or so years ago, I would have laughed. But it's true. And those of you who blog can probably relate. In fact, some of my best friends I met through blogging and we text DAILY. True story.

My #postofficeadventuresofmasonb photos on Instagram are some of my least "liked" photos. Will I stop posting them because I don't get as many "likes" on them as I do other pictures? NEVER. Because I love them and love the little project that I've started and love that special time that Mason and I get together. In fact, my updates on Mason on the blog are some of my lowest page views when I compare all my posts. Sad, but true. Will I stop posting updates about Mason? NEVER. This is my scrapbook. This is our family and I want these posts to look back on.

I might be a week behind on reading your posts. I might be 3 days behind on responding to emails. But when I do have a free minute to sit down and do it, I respond in a meaningful way because I really did read your post and I really do care that you took the time to comment on my post. I appreciate every single one of you who reads my blog. I wish more people would comment so we could make a connection. It just takes one comment and you never know what might happen.

At this point, I think I've started rambling on and I know everyone's time is precious and you're probably getting tired of hearing me talk, so I'll leave you with this...

I hope when you come to my blog and you read my posts, that you know that I really took the time and thought and effort into them. I care that you're here and I care that you read it. I love sharing our life and I love reading about yours. I love making new connections with people who can relate to what I'm sharing and I love keeping the old connections going. I will always blog to blog because I love the relationships that I've formed from it. I love the digital scrapbook that I'm making. I might not be the most popular or make any money or have the most page views, but to me, that doesn't matter.

For those of you that have made it this far, thank you! I truly appreciate you!


[Weekending] Wall Crawl: Venice + Other Weekend Happenings.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This past weekend, Seth went on his yearly boys trip to Arizona to watch the Angels play during Spring Training, which left me and Mason to have a special weekend to ourselves.

Mason's school was closed on Friday for a "teacher prep day" (coincidentally on St. Patrick's Day... I mean, I wouldn't blame them if they took a mental health day and were just drinking green beer all day! ha!) so I had planned to taking the day off anyway. I made plans with Desiree to do a little wall crawlin' and together we decided that we'd hit up Venice to see what their street art looked like.

Being the amazing researcher that she is, Desiree laid out a plan and we had seven walls that we were going to hit - five were up and down Abbot Kinney Blvd. and two were along the ocean front/beach area. Totally doable when you have enough snacks to bribe kids to pose for pictures!

I made amazing time getting to her house and then we piled all the kids in her car and headed up to Venice. We wanted to get there and back as soon as we could since it was St. Patrick's Day and we knew that people would be starting to drink at who-knows-what-time and that there would surely be an insane amount of traffic with the holiday being combined with being a Friday.

We actually made good time getting up to Venice and were on our way to the first wall destination when we came upon this wall.


So we made a pit stop. 


We then continued on our way, found a parking spot, and stumbled upon this wall, which was not part of the original seven. But we had to take a picture, obviously. Also, please note: the mailbox. Yep, I swear, mailboxes just find Mason!


Then we were finally on our way down the street to the first planned wall stop.


With this wall across the alley way as a bonus!


When in Venice...


The Love Wall! Quite possibly my favorite wall of the day. 

Fun fact: sometimes this wall is white and sometimes this wall is black. I have a feeling these walls get a lot of graffiti and so they have to re-paint often. In fact, there was some on this wall that I had to edit out. So sad.


Palm trees. So California!


Across the alley way from the palm trees and time for a snack break.


And this begins one of the best surprises of the day. We were just walking down the street, trying to find our next planned stop when we saw some color peaking over a fence. There were multiple entrances to where this wall was, but they were all locked. We seriously contemplated trying to find someone to let us in when I suggested we go around the other way and see if it was open. The boys walked ahead and then all of a sudden, they disappeared. I thought it was a construction site or something because all I could see was a dirt road so I started yelling to Mason to stop. But then Desiree and I rounded the corner and ALL THE PRAISE HANDS! It was just some sort of dirt lot or something and it had the most amazing walls! This butterfly one was definitely a favorite...


Followed by this wall, which is actually the lower part of the butterfly wall.


And this two-for-one wall where Julia made her one minute appearance!

I love this one because it looks like the boys are telling secrets and poor Julia is running off like "Mom! The boys are being mean to me!" but really who knows what the boys are doing and she was just running off for more snacks ;)


The left hand side of the two-for-one wall.

Photo by Desiree

And then what we thought was our last wall of the day before we headed off to find one special wall by the water front -- this awesome geometric wave wall. The boys are like "Woohoo! We made it! Mom won't ask for anymore pictures!" LOL.

Photo by Desiree

Yet apparently Mason actually doesn't mind? Ha!

PS check out those abs! My gosh, if I even had a one pack to his eight pack. #jealous

Photo by Desiree

And then our best surprise of the day -- the selfie wall! We seriously parked almost right next to it and never noticed it until we were leaving, so of course we HAD to get a picture. This is quite possibly my favorite picture of the day.

You may be wondering what those boys are looking at? Well, they were ACTUALLY taking selfies as we were taking pictures of them!

Photo by Mason

He's not half bad! I mean, minus the snot (sorry!), it's a pretty good picture! I mean, his whole face is in it AND he got the selfie sign! We may have a little photog in the making!



And then one of the most amazing, gorgeous walls we found -- the Van Gogh inspired wall. It was down by the water front and was a bit... sketchy... so we parked the car, threw the boys out, snapped a few pictures, and were on our way home to have lunch.

Yes, we knocked out FOURTEEN walls in a little over an hour. #winning

***

For more details on all these amazing walls and their locations, check out Desiree's post from yesterday.

***

The rest of the weekend wasn't nearly as exciting. On Saturday, Mason went to his ABA therapy, I ran some errands, and then I picked him up, we played, and then we went out to dinner with Nanny (Seth's mom).


Sunday started off with some morning yoga...


... was followed by a trip to the grocery store...


... and then was followed up by lunch and some laundry and some playing. Seth and his dad came home and shortly thereafter, we packed up some stuff and went back over to Nanny's house for Sunday night dinner. Mason and I went with Nanny to pick up Bubbe (Seth's grandma) to bring her over for dinner (with a pitstop to get some pants altered and a fun photo opportunity at a purple wall) and then we ate and it was back home for bed time.


Overall, it was a great weekend and I can't wait to do it all over again this coming weekend! We're halfway there!



[$10 at Target] March.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I'm excited to be back again today co-hosting this link up with Becky and some other fabulous ladies!  If you posted today as well, don't forget to link up with us below and then hop around and check out how the rest of my co-hosts (and everyone else!) spent their $10!




Per the usual, I went in to this month's shopping trip not knowing what I wanted to buy. I was with Mason so I knew I didn't have a ton of time to just browse, so I went with the tried and true and went to the Easter section. I figured I could find a few goodies there... and I was right!



This first thing I saw were these awesome Easter photo booth like props. I immediately knew that it would be fun for Mason and his cousins to play with on Easter. I bought these cute glasses last year and they had a blast wearing them, so I thought these would be a cute twist on that this year. Only problem is... Mason decided to open them as soon as we got home and play with them, so we'll see if they last until actual Easter. We have a month-ish to go... fingers crossed!







You might remember that last time I got some Mrs. Meyer's soap. We have the dish soap and love it, so I thought I'd get some hand soap. I call it a splurge because obviously there's cheaper soap out there, but we liked it so much that I thought I'd get more. Seth immediately said he liked foaming soap better than liquid soap, so I opted to try the foaming one this time. (It was actually on sale, buy one, get one 25% off, so I bought two, but for the purpose of this, I only counted one.)

For my last item, I got a small pack of the Cadbury eggs. They're my very favorite, and I know I could have had enough in my budget for a big bag, but I was trying to be good. That and saving my calories for those See's eggs that I love SO much ;)

So, how'd I do on my budget?
Since I bought these along with some other items, I don't have a receipt to show, but here's the breakdown.

Soap : $3.49
Easter photo booth props : $5.00
Cadbury : $0.79
Minus RED Card discount : ($0.46)
Tax (7.75%) : $0.68

Total : $9.50

Under again!


Becky at bybmg // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest
Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest
Elizabeth at Chasin' Mason // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest

Next month, we'll be sharing our hauls on Monday, April 17th. Mark your calendars, get your shopping on, and link up with us on the 17th and show us what you got!






[A Year of Color] Green + [Wall Crawl] Orange County Edition

Friday, March 17, 2017

Alternatively titled "If I wait long enough to post this, then it will still be applicable."
Yeah, I am a little behind.

These pictures were actually taken at least a month ago, if not more. I had planned to share a couple weeks ago when it was actually relevant and then again the week after and then... life got the best of me. I didn't want to just forget about the pictures though. So, thankfully I waited long enough, and can share one wall because today is the [A Year of Color: Green] link up and the rest of the walls because today is [St. Patrick's Day] and all my walls together make a bit of a rainbow! Perfect timing if I do say so myself. Maybe I actually planned it this way. (Spoiler alert: I didn't.)

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, some of these may look familiar (because #chatbooks), but there are plenty more where those came from so without further ado...

First, I'll start with this awesome green "wall" water feature. It's essentially all these oil drums painted green and put together into a waterfall/water feature. It was super serene and pretty awesome to see.



Moving on to our green inspired St. Patrick's Day gallery wall.


Annnnnd I guess that's where my green inspiration ends.

... now back to the rest of our wall crawl! 

Because St. Patrick's Day and rainbows go together... here are the other fun walls that we came across.

Technically a sign. In the parking lot. But it works.




Rainbow inspired painted building/garage in the parking lot.

Orange wall.

Hopscotch between the orange and purple walls.


Purple wall.


Ivy wall.

Cool greenery-ed archway.

And no trip would be complete without... finding a mail box. 

LOL! 

I swear, Mason doesn't find mail boxes and post offices, they find him!



All wall photos as well as the mail box photo were taken at "The Lab" in Costa Mesa, CA.

Everyone behaved so well (mainly Seth (being patient with all my picture requests) and Mason (posing and taking pictures) ... ha!) that I thought we all deserved some yummy donuts. Of course, donuts was the original plan and I added the extra stop, but what can I say, I'm generous?



We had so much fun finding these fun colored walls to take pictures with. I'm always so jealous of all the fun, colorful walls that Desiree finds, but there is definitely more of an abundance of them in LA than there are in Orange County.

Be on the look out for a possible LA wall crawl coming soon and also a Disneyland inspired wall crawl as well!


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