Friday, March 26, 2010

Rekindling That Spark

Hubby and I are approaching our 2 year wedding anniversary in May but have been together for 4 1/2 years. I know many of you have been married longer and I love hearing about couples who have been married 25 or even 50 years.

When hubby and I married in 2008, we both had kids from our previous marriages. We both married young the first time and while I loved my first husband I did not have the same connection with him that I have with hubby. The connection we have is something hard to describe, especially if you haven't experienced it. It is this electric type, deep emotional connection. It is not infatuation or just purely physical attraction, it is more. We are just totally in sync with each other and when our connection is there we can both feel it.

Hubby and my relationship has been an interesting ride. We were both pretty serious, pretty quick. We were exclusively dating within 2 weeks and in less than 6 weeks I knew I was in love. When we had been dating for 3 months we took a trip to Vegas together and from there on out I knew I was going to marry him. The first six months of our relationship was really something out of a storybook. We never fought, we never even bickered. We just genuinely enjoyed the time we got to spend together and longed for more.

We slowly began spending more time together with the kids and while we didn't live together, we had to deal with more day to day things such as schedules and discipline. It is probably safe to say our first fight was over a parenting issue although I don't recall the actual fight.

Fast forward to now. We live thousands of miles from our families and close friends and spend almost all our time together. Do we get along perfectly? No, of course not! Do we often get to go on dates? No, and it makes me sad. I long for that time we had at the beginning of our relationship where we could set aside the bills, and laundry, and discipline and just be us. Just enjoy each other's company outside the chaos of day to day life.

This past weekend my dad was in town from North Carolina on a last minute visit. Saturday afternoon he offered to watch the kids so we could go on a date. Needless to say, it was a welcome break. We had no set plans, no timeline, the weather was great, and we could just walk hand and hand and just be. Sometimes even our weekends away are filled with such stress, planning, and expense it is hard to enjoy them. This was different. We went to one place we had wanted to try and it was closed. So we drove to the next town over, with a cute historic district with independent restaurants and bars, and stopped at one with a patio that had been recommended. The patio was closed and we were somewhat under dressed for the dinning room but we stayed anyways and the food was delicious! We had a great time and when we got home we sat down to watch the Time Traveler's Wife, which I had been dying to see. It was such a good love story. Hubby even liked it and it again reminded me how lucky I am to have a such a great husband and partner in life.

All it took was a few hours to rekindle that spark. It is so easy to get busy and caught up in the day to day but for yourself and for the health of your marriage it is so important to take that time on a regular basis. It really reminded me that setting up weekly date nights, even if date nights at home, is an integral part of a healthy marriage and a happy life.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Look What I Got!

Angie at Seven Clown Circus set up this bloggy book exchange and I am so glad I decided to participate.

Thanks so much to Marla at Butts and Ashes for the great books she sent me!

My package arrived all bundled up nicely and with notes on each book. What thought and time Marla put into my package.

Top left, There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going To Hell by Laurie Notaro. I have never heard of Laurie Notaro but Marla says she is one of her favorite authors so I am excited to read this.

Top middle, The Most Scenic Drives In America by Readers Digest. I have already looked through this and checked out what scenic drives are in Colorado plus what scenic drives are in my area. I think we may try some in the Maryland/Virginia area this summer.

Top right, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. This has been on my list of books I want to read for awhile now so I am really excited I now own it.

Bottom left, Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamont. Another book and author I have never heard of but excited to check out.

Bottom middle, The Curious Incident of the Night Dog In the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. This is probably a book I would've never picked up but now that I have it I am interested to see if I like it.

Bottom right, A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. Another book I have been dying to read. Some people cannot handle these stories of real life suffering but for me it inspires me to do something, to be a better person, to make the changes I can.

Thanks again Marla! The book exchange was even better than I expected.

Have I mentioned how much I love blogging?

Friday, March 19, 2010

The World's Largest Nerf Party

Today our family had a Nerf party in honor of Mighty Mason. Mason is an adorable little boy who is celebrating finishing his oral chemotherapy by putting together The World's Largest Nerf Party. Kristen at We Are THAT Family was contacted by his mom to help coordinate this.

We love Nerf at our house and we love helping people so this was a great, easy thing we could do to brighten a boy with cancer's day. Even cooler is he lives in Aurora, Colorado, which is where we moved from last year. Mason literally could've been our neighbor back in Colorado.

Here are the highlights from our Epic Nerf Battle:

B really got into the Nerf laser tag.

Oh, wait! So did I! A Nerf party isn't complete if mom doesn't play too.

Here's my little pip squeak FiFi. She is good! She beat me at Nerf laser tag.

Wyn is my little strategist. She was sneaky and always found good places to hide.

Once the neighbor kids saw we were having a Nerf party they had to join in the fun with their Nerf dart guns.

The neighbor boys in action.

Here's a short video I took of the epic battle. I hope you all enjoy! And Mason we are so glad you NERFED cancer! Awesome!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Year Later

It's been a year and I still feel out of place more often than not.

It's been a year and I still miss the familiar sites, familiar people, the ones I love.

It's been a year and I've experienced more new things this year than I could've imagined.

It's been a year.

I can't believe how quickly the time has passed.

On March 14, 2009, we arrived here in Maryland after hubby accepted a job across the country, in a state we had never been, where we knew no one. The 4 day trip with a moving van and 3 kids was a little bumpy but we made it. I felt like there was a reason God wanted us in Maryland. I still am not 100% sure of what that exact reason is but I can say I have grown tremendously as a person and we have grown as a family and that may be enough of a reason. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone requires tremendous faith but can result in tremendous growth. As much as hubby wishes we were back in Colorado, I am content to be wherever life takes us as long as I have my husband and my kids by my side. Because when it comes down to it, being with the ones you love is truly what makes someplace home.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's My SITS Day!

If you're stopping by from SITS, welcome! I'm so glad you could stop by. I hope you enjoy what you read and come back often. I am also slightly addicted to Twitter so you can find me there a lot too @brennbug.

For those of you who don't know SITS is a group of women bloggers who support each other through comment support and recognition. I joined SITS about a year ago and I am so excited my day in the spotlight has arrived!

I'm a twenty-something mommy to two nine year olds and one seven year old, on a new adventure, now living on the east coast, thousands of miles from our family. Working as a full-time nanny to infant twins, still a full-time mommy. I'm always busy and there is always more laundry and dishes than this mommy of three can keep up with! Want to join me on the journey?

I write about being a mom, the joys, the struggles, life in general, and I try to post new, easy recipes a couple times a month. Here's a few of my favorite posts:

Bloggy Boot Camp - What I Learned.

How Close is Too Close?

If The World Was A Playground

Super Mashers With Chicken and Green Chili Hash

If you want to learn more about Me and My Crazy Family.

If you want to see a silly video of my kids Dancing With Your Doll.

Thanks again for stopping by! Have a great day!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bloggy Boot Camp - What I Learned

This past weekend I attended Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore hosted by SITS.

I had a blast and met tons of amazing ladies. The icing on the cake was Catherine from Evolving Mommy came all the way from Colorado for the conference and to visit.

The conference was small, less than 100 women, most of which were moms, all of which were bloggers. The atmosphere was very friendly and welcoming and we even had rotating assigned seats to encourage mingling.

There were several different sessions and I learned a ton. Here are some of the highlights:

1) I need to buy my URL. End of story. It is $10, what have I been waiting for?

2) How to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Tara from Feels Like Home gave an amazing presentation highlighting the top 10 things we can do to optimize our blog traffic from search engines. Being a hobby blogger this was my far the most informative, helpful session of the conference. I learned so much and she gave me so many easy things I can do. I am excited to begin to implement some of her recommendations.

3) The Wordpress vs. Blogger debate. There has been a lot of buzz in the last 6-9 months about moving your blog to WordPress from Blogger. Some of the reasons why WordPress is better were explained such as you own your own content, better SEO, more flexibility and customization, and variety of other reasons. I am still not personally ready to move to WordPress. There is a decent financial commitment as well as a time commitment to learn the new system. For now I am going to buy my URL and focus on some different improvements but plan to reevaluate in 3-6 months and see what I think.

4) Set goals for my blogging and keep it simple. Just try to do one new thing a week. Baby steps.

5) Keep my focus. Blogging shouldn't be stressful, blogging shouldn't make you feel guilty! This is me sometimes. I enjoy blogging so much. I enjoy writing, I enjoy reading other people's blogs, and I enjoy the sense of community. Time is at such a premium at this point in my life. I feel guilty and stressed when I can't post enough or can't read the blogs I follow at regular increments. This was an important message for me to keep my focus and chill. I blog because I enjoy it. If it becomes just another chore or another stressor I am doing something wrong.

6) PR, Amy from Resourceful Mommy also gave a great presentation about PR. She talked about putting together a PR kit, how to pitch, and knowing your boundaries. She reminded us we don't have to work for free and when we work with companies doing reviews and giveaways, if we aren't charging we are working for free. She also talked about the importance of networking online through forums and groups of other bloggers. She reminded us to be professional in all avenues, Twitter, Facebook, and our blogs.

7) I need a Facebook Fan page for my blog. I've seen others do this but purposefully kept Facebook for my IRL friends and Twitter for my bloggy friends but it looks like creating a separate, business Facebook Fan page is important.

8) Despite rumors, the FTC is not going to fine mommy bloggers for not properly disclosing reviews and giveaways. The FTC puts out guidelines and would have to start an enforcement action to do anything, and even then they are going to target advertisers and PR people. Disclosure doesn't have to be detailed or fancy. Simply saying, "Acme Co. provided this product for review" within the post is adequate disclosure.

9) Even though I am a social person and love meeting new people, 3/4 of the way through the day I was feeling overwhelmed. Instead of putting myself really out there and trying to meet a bunch of new people at the end of the day, I mainly stuck to people who I had already met earlier in the day or looked familiar to me. I feel like you can only put yourself out there so much before you get a little uncomfortable. Also it was such a whirlwind, everyone's names, blog names, Twitter names, and faces were swirling around in my head. By late afternoon it was becoming a jumbled mess.

10) I am not ready for a bigger conference, yet. I feel like I learned a ton and I am excited to put what I learned into action but I am glad I didn't jump the gun and sign up for BlogHer 2010 before having this experience.

This Saturday I have another bloggy event, Momz Share an event for local Baltimore, DC area bloggers. This time it should be a bit more laid back and about half the woman. With any luck I will meet a bunch more great local bloggers, can't wait.

The view from the Pier 5 Harbor Room

Tiffany from SITS

The view from the front of the conference room

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ready Or Not Here I Come

Baltimore Bloggy Bootcamp is here. I'm waiting at the airport to pick up Catherine and Jen, then on to meet up with everyone else for dinner. I can't wait to meet everyone, have some fun, and learn a thing or two.

I'll try to post more later tonight.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Birth Of A Runner

I know this may shock some of you who know me personally but I have really gotten into running these past few months. Before I could walk for miles upon end, no problem, but I hated running with a passion. Absolutely hated it!

Then a funny thing happened, I started running, starting pushing myself, and I really like it. I like how I feel while I am doing it. I like how I feel afterwards. I like meeting my goals, no matter how small they may be.

This weekend I made a big step in becoming a true runner. I bought my first pair of real running shoes. By real, I mean expensive, bought from a running store after a detailed fit and analysis of my feet, my stride, etc. And even a day later my feet are so happy. My old Nikes just weren't cutting it. Honestly, once I moved my intensity level up from walking to running they were killing my feet. This was my first hurdle to becoming a true runner.

The day before I bought my new running shoes I told hubby I was going to run a marathon. He laughed and me and said I won't do it. Now before you all think he is a big meanie, he is not, he just knows me. He knows how much I hate running and he knows how unathletic I am but I think he forget how determined I can be. He just strengthened my resolve to meet my goal.

Obviously there is no way I am going to go from hating running, to running 3/4 mile, to running a marathon overnight, but I have some intermediate goals in place. Baby steps, right?

The running store has a 5K training program that includes weekly coaching sessions culminating in running a 5K in July. Right now I can probably run about 1 1/2 miles total, with walking breaks in between. The longest I have run without walking is 3/4 mile. All this has been inside on a treadmill and I know running outside is a completely different ball game.

If this goes well, I can then train for a 10k in the fall and go from there. I am little concerned the training program might be easier than I am looking for since they said they run 1 minute, walk 1 minute. At least easy is a good way to guarantee I will complete the program and run my 5K. Plus the $125 race/training fee and scheduled training sessions will keep me on target.

I am very excited to start this chapter of my life and to really see what I can accomplish.

Michelle, the marathon runner, I really like the ring to that.