How to Blog For A Week in One Night

I don’t have unlimited time. I’m a busy, busy, lady. Way too busy. Unnecessarily busy. But somehow I still manage to find time to blog at least three times a week, but usually five days a week. And it’s actually pretty easy to do and it doesn’t take too much time. So here’s my process.

HOW TO BLOG FOR A WEEK

Whenever I get an idea for a post, I write it down immediately. Recently I’ve started just saving drafts of the title. That’s how this post started. I was working on a post one night and someone messaged me, “How the hec do you write so much??” I replied to her message and then thought, hmmm. I should write a post about this. So I opened up a new post tab, typed in the title and saved it as a draft to come back to when I was ready to pump out the post.

During the daytime, I don’t have a lot of time to write and honestly, I’m not focused enough to even try to write something coherent and worth reading. It’s at night, after the kids go to bed, that I’ll sit down and just start throwing word vomit all over the place. Sometimes I’ll look through my drafts and finish a post I’ve been working on, sometimes I’ll just write whatever’s on my heart. On a good night, I’ll get 3 blog posts completely finished, graphics done, and scheduled to share throughout the week. << That’s where Co-Schedule comes in.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but Co-Schedule is the jam. If you’re a blogger and you’re not using it, shame on you! You can schedule your pins, tweets, facebook page posts, group posts, personal page posts, anything and everything! It’s a thousand times better than Hoot Suite and a million times more efficient. It will simplify your life, free up your time, and increase your page views. For reals, yo. If you’re not using it, sign up NOW. It’s $10 a month, but if you write a review for them, you’ll get 50% off. Plus the free trial lasts forever if you just keep sharing about the program. So hey, sign up through my link so I can get some $$ off my subscription. I’d love you for it. k thanks!

Ok now here are a few of my other little tricks that I use to increase productivity and take back my time.

Rhonna Designs. I do probably 50% of my graphics for the blog right from phone. It’s my favorite app of all time. Easy to use, simple, and helps you create instantly pinnable images. I’m not the most creative of people, so this is perfect for me.

Egg Timer. I talked about this a little bit in my Super Secret Blogging Tips post, but really, this helps me so much. Once I start writing a post, I start the timer and I’m not allowed to click away from the tab until the timer goes off. It helps me focus and keep my mind on the content instead of switching back and forth from facebook or instagram or whatever.

Fat Mum Slim. Sometimes I don’t know what to write about, but I have the itch to write, so I’ll look through her blog prompts and sometimes even her photo challenges and it’ll get my creative juices flowing

Canva. This is my other go to design site. Picmonkey be darned. Canva has so many pre designed layouts and graphics and fonts. I love it. So many more options than picmonkey and so much easier to use, in my humble opinion.

So those are the things I use in a typical “Let’s Get Some Blogging Done” night. The thing that really helps me do all this, though, is that my blog is primarily mental content right now. I don’t do a lot of recipe posts or reviews, so it’s easy for me to just access my brain and spit fire type. When I was doing reviews, I’d take one day to photograph all of my products, upload the photos and then get to editing and writing the reviews later. I’d dedicate one night of the week to write reviews and one night a week to mental content. Now I do probably 2-3 nights of dedicated blog content writing and scheduling and the rest of the nights are either blog maintenance, social media things, or snuggling with the hubby watching a movie or New Girl or Walking Dead or Shark Tank. {we like shows}

And that’s how it’s done, people. I hope that helps you focus your time a little. Let me know if you have any questions. You know I love to talk blogging!

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Basement Dwellers : Your Questions Answered

We moved into my parents’ basement at the beginning of January. Life made a mess of things for us and we had no other options. We were hoping it would only be for a few weeks (which I guess is why I never really blogged about it), but here we are…7 months later…still here. By far, my most frequently asked question is, “How does it work?” I never really know how to answer that because there’s no rhyme and reason to it. It just is what it is. Also my mom reads my blog  so I can’t tell you what I really think. (Just kidding, mom. Or am I.)

So here’s how it works for all of the inquiring minds.

Basement Dwellers

We all sleep in the same room. Jonah has a little toddler mattress at the foot of our bed and Emery sleeps in a pack ‘n play next to my side of the bed. (His crib was lost in the hasty move. SAD.) The sleeping arrangements aren’t a problem most of the time, but when they are a problem, they’re a PROBLEM. If Jonah doesn’t want to take a nap, he yells soooo freaking loud and Emery wakes up and I want to punch a wall. If you don’t know Jonah, you’d think he’s just this shy and sweet little kid that never makes a sound (because he has a touch of social anxiety right now) but at home, he has two levels. Loud and loudest. It’s infuriating. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve grabbed him out of bed and ran out the back door in hopes of keeping Emery asleep. It’s kind of crazy. Fortunately, it doesn’t work the other way around. Once Jonah’s asleep, he’s asleep and nothing Emery does will wake him up. (Thank you Lord in heaven) Surprisingly, we don’t really mind all being in the same room and I think I’ll be a little sad when we move them into their own room. Maybe it’s because a lot of our mornings end up looking like this :

basement dwellers

We share a kitchen with the rest of the family. My mom works full time, my dad’s usually at the church (pastor), and they’re both taking online classes. Mom’s working on her Doctorate (she’s doing the dissertation thing now) and Dad’s almost finished with his M.Div, so they’re really not home for dinner that often. My siblings both work and have friends and rarely have time for a home cooked meal, so I’m the main person in the kitchen most days. Someone asked if we share meals and the answer is sometimes yes, but mostly no. My parents and siblings are rarely all home for dinner at the same time, but I’d say once or twice a week we’re all in the kitchen annoying my mom and yelling at my dad to turn the TV down. When we’re not upstairs eating, we’re down in our dwelling at my blogging “desk” that is also conveniently a table. (sorry for blurry photo. I was pushed.) This table really gets some use around here. We use it for everything. 

basement dwellers

 

Basement Dwelling

So…NO. My family does not watch my children for free all the time. However, it’s really nice to have an extra set of hands around when I need it. Especially when Emery was going through his I hate life stage and Zach was working double shifts all weekend and I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t walk, because the kid would just scream. My mom would come down and take him and work her grandma magic and I’d want to kiss her feet. Once a month, either my sister or brother will watch the boys so we can go on date night but we “pay” them. In quotations because currently their pay is being invisibly deposited into their “Go to Holland” funds. Yep, the whole family is trying to get to Holland. We really miss our big brother. But mostly his wife and their kids.

We do have an end goal in sight. We’re hoping to be out of here by November latest, but we’ll see. Unfortunately, we made a pretty big financial mess last year. Living in an apartment you can’t pay for proves to be quite annoying when you’re given the “Violate Your Lease or Get Evicted” card. We chose the violating the lease option, which means we have to backpay a pretty steep discount we were given, on top of the remainder of the rent money we owed. We had a few reasons for doing that, but the bottom line is that we signed a contract and we promised to pay something so we intend to pay it back in full. It’s just taking a lot longer than we wanted. We won’t move out until we have that debt paid off and then BACK TO THE SCHOOL LOANS YAY.

We are very blessed to be in the situation we’re in right now. My parents were amazing to take us in with such little notice (basically gave them a three day heads up) and they’ve generously put up with having their space invaded by the four of us. It’s nice to have my parents around so much. The boys are obsessed with them. It’s going to be a huge adjustment for everyone once we’re out of here.

And so that’s the glamorous basement life! We’re thankful, but SO ready to be on our own again. Any other questions?

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Jamberry Nails

When the Church Hurts You.

I was 10 years old the first time I saw the ugly side of the body of Christ. The first time I saw the hypocrisy, the deception, the selfishness, the ill intent, the back stabbing. It absolutely, 100% shaped who I am today. Honestly, it’s a miracle my older brother and I were able to understand that what we saw was not a reflection of Christ, but a reflection of the brokenness that exists even in those that follow Him.

When the Church Hurts You

There were several more times throughout my life when people in the church hurt us. Betrayed us. Stabbed us in the back. Sometimes it was directed towards my parents, sometimes it was directed towards me or Zach. Sometimes it was enough to let us know we were no longer welcome in that area. Sometimes it was just enough to cause a few sleepless nights and then it was over. Sometimes it was caused by people we hardly knew. Sometimes it was caused by our family.

There’s a unique kind of pain that comes with being hurt by a brother or sister in Christ. The trust that exists between believers is not easily broken, but when it is, it cuts deeper than I can ever understand or explain. Sometimes you stay to fight it out in hopes that some kind of reconciliation can be made. But sometimes those people want nothing of reconciliation and their only desire is to continue to hurt you, continue to teach you a lesson, correct you, or make sure you know how inferior you are to them spiritually. When that happens, you run…far…far…away. We’ve done it. Several times. Because some fights aren’t worth fighting. Sometimes your family’s hearts are more important than trying to be the bigger person.

I’m 27 years old and I have more stories of backstabbing Jesus lovers than I ever care to re-tell. I’ve been in the behind-the-scenes church world since the day I exited the womb and I’ve seen some stuff. Some ugly stuff. Some stuff that has made me question everything about my faith and my God. So sometimes…people in the church totally suck. But you know why that is? Because sometimes people as a species in general suck. It doesn’t matter if they’re followers of Jesus or not. People are human and broken and do stupid things. Sometimes you’re at the sharp end of the knife, sometimes you’re holding the handle. It’s unreasonable to think that because we all love Jesus, that we can’t hurt each other. Hurting people hurt people. That cliche’ doesn’t stop at the door of a church. If anything, it dwells there. Because where do hurting people go to be made whole? They run to the feet of Jesus. And sometimes it gets ugly there at His feet. (Somebody pass that water basin, eh?)

So when the church hurts you, take a deep breath. Realize that the problem isn’t God, and isn’t the Church, it’s people. Accept that you’ve done your share of hurting as well. Forgive. Reconcile. Do everything you can to make things right, but if you can’t, get out. Don’t try to be the better person and stick around to prove a point. I’ve seen that happen and it doesn’t work. It’s emotionally draining, physically exhausting, and your family and marriage might suffer. If you’ve done all you can do, move on. Don’t carry the weight of the pain with you, just forgiveness. Truly forgive whoever wronged you.

The last time I felt the familiar stab of betrayal from a fellow believer, the pain was deep. Raw. Excruciating. It left a big empty space in my soul where bitterness and anger soon made their home. But those emotions were just as familiar as the pain and I knew I didn’t want anything to do with them. I shed a few tears and quite literally said, “Screw this.” I refused to let that person have any more of my heart. Not even the angry parts. They weren’t worth my sleepless nights, my angry journaling, and my prayers of damnation. At some point, you just have to accept that a jerk is just a jerk and you have to let a jerk be a jerk and not let it affect you. Because your heart is worth more than whatever you think you might accomplish by harboring anger towards them. I could tell you all the ways I imagined their downfall. All the ways I cursed them and questioned their relationship with Christ to the point of believing that they were in cahoots with the Devil (if not actually him in the flesh). But I won’t tell you all of that.

I’ll just tell you that the next time I saw this person (years after the jerk was a jerky jerk face) , I looked into their eyes and had nothing for them but a smile and a hug. I HUGGED THEM. I walked away feeling so … free. That’s when I knew that I had truly forgiven and that the burden of the situation was no longer mine to carry. I have no anger or resentment or bitterness. As a seasoned grudge holder, this is kind of a big deal.

Forgive. Move on. The church is a broken reflection of the Savior and the measure to which you forgive will be the measure by which you are forgiven. Someday it could be you holding the handle of the knife, and you’ll want the grace and forgiveness that you may be presently withholding from somebody else. Don’t carry the weight of someone else’s mistakes. Find safety. Find healing. Tend to your wounds and the wounds of your family, but don’t dwell there.

 

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On Being Kind of Distant

I have to warn you guys. I’m tired and little burned out.

I have this problem with saying “yes” wayyy too often and now I’m feeling the weight of all my “yes”s and it’s wearing me out. On top of the taking on too much aspect of things, there are some major life changes happening in the LaValley house and I just can’t tell you about them yet.  So in the meantime, I’m just this vaguebooking, distant, blogger who feels like she has nothing inspiring to say. That’s the problem with being an honest, write as I feel it, kind of blogger. When it’s not time for me to tell the world exactly what’s going on in my life, I don’t have anything to say. But trust me when I say that when the time is right, I’ll be writing up a storm and you guys will have an all access pass to the craziness that’s about to go down.

Anyhoo. Here’s what I’ve been up to minus the details I can’t share yet.

The meet up in Atlanta was so much fun! I love meeting you guys. Even if it’s just one or two of you. I’m sad the rest of you couldn’t make it, but hey. Maybe next time?

Atlanta Meet Up

Yesterday, a photographer came over and took photos of me just doing my blogging thing with my kids around. I’ve never really been on the other side of the camera before, so it was a little awkward. Also, Jonah’s going through this theological stage and he asked me (in front of everyone) if the lovely photographer was going to Jesus’ house when she died. And then when I stuttered around and came out with something like, “Uh. Um. She. I. I don’t know.” He looked horrified and said, “But WHY?” UGH. Kids, man.

Currently

CurrentlyOther than all that, I’m … 

Listening to : Lights. I’ve loved her for years and her latest acoustic album is on point. I’ve been listening 24/7.

Reading : Blue by Kasey Jackson. Kasey found me on instagram a few weeks ago and sent me a copy of her book and I just started reading it this week. It’s reallllyyy good. If you’re into history, historical fiction, social issues, and good books, you should order a copy. (Kindle version is only $9!) I’ll be sharing a little more about the book as I get into it, but I can already tell that it’s tackling some tough stuff. So. Get yourself a copy, yo! Also Kasey is hilarious, so if nothing else, follow her on instagram.

Thinking about : Life. So much life change. This is where I vagueblog. Sorry.

Wishing : I’m wishing that I could really get a handle on my time management skills. I’m much better than I was 6 months ago, but sometimes I still let the day get away from me. I need to be more intentional about what I do with each hour of the day.

Watching : Shark Tank. I watch so much Shark Tank. <3 Daymond <3

Thankful For : Friends that let me feel every negative and ugly emotion I have without judgment or criticism. That’s hard to find in a female friend and I’m thankful that the women I talk to on a daily basis give me nothing but love and encouragement and allow me my moments of ugly. If your friends aren’t like that, get rid of them. Find people who let you be a human.

Where you can find me this week : I know you all are just itching to read my clever wit, so check out my post today on the Knoxville Moms Blog all about the things my child has “taught” me. Please read sarcastically. And yesterday I was featured on Courtney Lynn Harris’ blog with a little interview ditty.

And that’s my life these days. I’m linking up with one of those said awesome friends, A Mama Collective, for Currently this week. Hop on over to her page to see what she and all the other ladies are up to.

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A Little Superhero Party

I love first birthdays. I really do. Maybe it’s because they don’t have opinions yet so I can do whtever I want. Or maybe it’s because I’m just so thankful their first year of life is over and that’s cause enough for a celebration. Either way, I love me some first birthdays. We threw Emery a little super hero party at my parents’ subdivision pool and it was a blast. (Pun intended. Kind of.) Here are a few photos from the day. Sorry for potato quality! My mom had my fancy camera in Montana, so I made do with my phone.

Here’s my incredibly fancy table display with about half the cupcakes missing. Also. See that gallon of punch over there? That was the second batch. Jonah spilled the first batch on the kitchen floor about an hour before the party started. FUN.

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IMG_0231Can we just talk about my cupcake toppers? Because you might think I spent hours cutting them out, but NO. The amazing team at Silhouette sent everyone who attended Alt Summit a Silhouette Portrait and it did all of the cutting for me. It’s pretty much the best invention ever. It saved me so.much.time.

IMG_0232This cake topper pulled everything together and pretty much made me look like a fancy pants party planner pinterest extraordinaire. It’s from the etsy shop Lemon Row and I absolutely love it! Love love love it. It’s the perfect cake topper and the perfect keepsake for our littlest superhero. You must check out the shop and if you don’t see something you like, request a custom order! Kate is super talented and was thrilled when I threw her the idea of a superhero topper. I can’t wait till we’re in our place and I can use this to decorate their superhero room. (Yes, I’m already planning their future room in our house that we don’t even have yet.) 

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IMG_0243Did you die of cuteness overload just now? So sorry. Here’s a little superhero helping her mommy shoot down the bad guys. I put up photos of pixar bad guys and we shot them down with silly string. Have you ever noticed how absolutely horrifying comic book villains are?  They all look like evil nightmares. So I stuck with Disney. Had to keep it G rated. Plus, Jonah loved shooting down Emperor Zurg & Randall.

IMG_0241And here we have a series of photos accurately depicting how Emery felt about the whole cake smash thing.

party party2Bahaha. My poor tortured child. Right after we took the cake away, we gave him fruit and carrots and he was perfectly content. I’m pretty proud of myself for pulling off the party after being in Georgia all week and then getting home the night before, spending the morning at church, and rushing to throw everything together while feeling pret-ty lousy. I win. Pat myself in the back. No more birthday parties until he’s 5.

Family photo to prove we were all there :

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