Category Archives: motherhood

Teaching Care

Teaching Care

I get stopped often while out with my boys. Especially if I am running an errand… waiting in line somewhere… or trying on clothes (yes I have taken all four of my boys into a dressing room area – now that they are older they wait outside my dressing room, but you get the idea). When people ask me “Are all these yours?” :) I often wonder if they think I am their nanny or sister… but when I respond “Yup, all 4.” Their response more times than not is “Bless your heart.

For years my boys never really said anything when people would say this.

They were oblivious to the words of most strangers… and would just go on doing whatever boys do while out in public. :) Now that my older two are 8 and 10, they notice a lot more.

Caleb who is 10 often ask me “Why do people always say that?

I then have to explain to him that people think 4 kids is a lot… which I guess it is… but even more so they believe that having four boys especially is unusually hard and crazy to deal with.

Boys are crazy.

… and a tad foolish at times (then again so are girls).

They are loud.

Love to wrestle.

Run, jump, climb.

… but one thing that my boys are as well, is very caring.

Teaching boys CareI never believed you had to teach boys to love or care… but I am learning as I grow and my children grow, that caring… is far more than just loving each other. Caring is something we teach our boys to do as well.

Teaching them to care for those around them.

To care for their friends.

To care for their home.

Their things.

Their bodies.

To care for and respect authority.

To care about what they say to each other and how that may affect the other person.

Having boys is so much more than reigning in the hyper activity and rowdy play.

I have seen first hand how amazingly caring boys can be… but I have also seen how disrespectful and uncaring children can be when not taught to care. When I became a mother I never realized the responsibility that was being set for me in raising children. I knew the obvious responsibility. Clothing, loving, feeding, education a child… but its far more.

Thankful for wisdom.

Scripture.

From elders/adults I look up to.

All of which have helped me to raise four boys who are growing up to be amazing young men.

They are young… and while society seems to expect so little from children at the age my kids are… and really on into the teen years. I expect a lot and I believe we don’t give our kids enough credit for how amazing they can be, even at age 8 and 10.

They have their fights.

Their spats over stupidness.

The uncontrollable silliness on a night off.

… but while the world may see “Bless her Heart as they see me with a line of boys behind me in a store… I’m thinking “They Bless my Heart” and I am so thankful I can actually go out to a store and enjoy them.

Do I want to grocery shop with them every week? Not really haha. They are children… and children can be distracting while shopping, even while well behaved. It is far easier to grocery shop without them… but if I had to go to the store weekly with all four of my boys, it would be absolutely doable.

Enjoy motherhood.

Let them be children.

… but instill in them a desire to care.

Being Boys

Being Boys

Life as a Boy MomThere have been very few people in my life, that I have come across, who just very much dislike me and my family. I don’t say that in any way to brag… I think over all we are fairly likable people. I try to be kind and generous as much as I can with those I meet. There was a time and place in our journey moving around, that one of our neighbors from the get go was negative and cold to our family. She spoke to us maybe twice… One of those times she was asking us to move our trampoline over a foot… because it was “on her yard.” As if that foot mattered? and as if we knew (After all we had only been there a day or two…). There were not many pleasant encounters sadly and it really puzzled me as to why.

She had two children and we never saw them.

The drama surrounding this particular family is a bit in-depth but not worth really getting into much more than what I just shared. I am always hesitant to write about people who don’t know me well and I don’t know them well… I think there is wisdom in keeping our mouth shut… but I also find wisdom in speaking truth too… and talking about things I believe firmly in. So this is in no way to hate on a woman I don’t know. I truly felt for her… and I know we each have our own brokenness… and if she was still my neighbor, I would have tried to make things better… One thing I remember thinking though, when I observed this woman’s children, was that she never allowed them to play outdoors much. Maybe it was because she didn’t like us.. That very well could have been it. I remember thinking how I would have loved to have her son come out to play with our boys… and use our trampoline or play set… I think children being allowed to play outside is so important… Allowing boys to play. Create. Explore. Is so good for them.

To be boys.

Without every moment worrying about how dirty they may get or “if” they may possibly encounter a bug… or a snake.

Life to me is so much more than rules and perfectly kept children.

Life as a Boy Mom

Life as a Boy MomI wanted so badly for her to realize the freedom in just being… and enjoying the childhood we get to watch our kids live.

Yesterday,

…while my boys played happily and carefree in our creek.


Life as a Boy Mom

Getting messy.

Wet.

Life as a Boy Mom

Dirt and grit under their nails.

Exploring on their own, without me holding their hand every step of the way.

Life as a Boy Mom

I just couldn’t help but feel blessed.

Sounds crazy. In some moments like that you’d think the mom would automatically go to the “oh man… such a mess!” While there are days I can go towards that tendency… I am finding such freedom these days in letting that part of me go a bit more.

They are so much fun to watch and I love even more how “boyish” they are together as brothers…

… it blesses me greatly.

So to the mom who enjoys the monogrammed shirts (no hate, it is cute.). With cuties decked out in perfectly laced shoes, with no dirt on them. Leather jackets or name brand button ups. Let those dudes be dudes… and learn to love it. :-) There is plenty of time for perfecting a look. I don’t believe childhood should consist of perfection in the least.

From one grown up child who grew up digging into a creek with her older brother. I can honestly say my mom allowing me to explore and “be” a kid… did nothing but shape me into one cool dude mom, haha… and I am so thankful for that freedom she gave us.

Life as a Boy Mom

Must Have Things – for Pregnancy, Newborn & Up

Must Have Things – for Pregnancy, Newborn & Up

Can I admit something to you? I kinda sorta… some what, just a little bit… miss the newborn/baby stage. My husband would be like “you do!?” :) – haha… but really, you do miss it once its gone. To a degree. I will say I enjoy my full nights sleep now that Reed sleeps amazingly at night. Still, I hate how fast they grow.

I see often baby items advertised on facebook… or web ads… and when I see them, I would just think, “Mom’s really don’t need that….

Well, I am here to finally put together a list of MUST HAVES for pregnancy and beyond :)

I’m calling this list….

musthaves

SO lets get started :)

A list of Pregnancy Must HavesPregnancy Must

Bellabands ~ I swear by these. They extended my wardrobe many months and made it possible to wear my regular jeans and pants throughout majority of my pregnancy. I have had the same Bellabands since my first born Caleb. Those same bands lasted me 4 pregnancies! I tried other off brand ones along the way and none of them were as good as the Bellaband. These also make for great use after baby is born. Helps hide the mum tum while you nurse… or helps you fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans sooner. I cant speak highly enough about these. Love them! My favorite color ones were white/black/gray. :) I also liked the ones without the lace.

A Birth Plan ~ While you can’t really PURCHASE this item :) – I felt it worth mentioning. Don’t go into birth blindly. One thing I regret greatly with my 1st two babies was going into the birth experience with them, without any plan. Be informed with the drugs they intend to use during pregnancy… the risk, procedures and options you have as a mother. Also be informed on what they intend to do to you and your newborn after baby is born. One movie I really enjoyed watching was on netflix called “The Business of being Born” – while parts of it are a bit “eh…” a lot of the information they shared during that documentary really opened my eyes to a lot of things. While ultimately the “important” piece to the end of any childbirth, is a healthy baby and safe mom… how baby “gets out” doesn’t really matter in the end… but I will say, from experiencing both medicated and unmediated births throughout my 4 babies… I am thankful to have experienced both ends of the spectrum… and thankful for knowing more going into my last two birth experiences. It was good to know and helped me a lot.

Maternity Portraits ~ I know money is tight for many….(so there) but some way, some how, get maternity portraits taken. You will cherish those images as will your children. Its worth putting yourself out there and getting in front of the camera. Promise :)

Tunic Tops ~ Buy larger tops or tunic style tops to extend your wardrobe a bit. No need to buy super expensive maternity tops. I always just purchased a size or two up from my normal size and it worked just fine. Some got a little short towards the end of my pregnancies… but almost always I was able to stay in regular style clothes for majority of all my pregnancies. I did invest in some maternity jeans during the “larger” months :)

A list of Newborn Must Haves

Newborn/Infant Must

Miracle Blanket ~ Some babies like to be swaddled. Some do not. 3 out of my 4 loved it! I tried swaddling with normal swaddling blankets… I tried velcro ones… and nothing comes close to the awesome swaddle magic of the Miracle Blanket. By far the best swaddling blanket around.

A Baby Swing ~ A lot of moms are against things like this… because they feel “you should hold the baby” or give baby full attention, more often than not. Well, you know… thats all fine and dandy if you have just “1” kid :) – times those kiddos a few times and you’ll greatly appreciate a good baby swing… I loved having a baby swing with all of my boys. I had the type that swung both side to side and front to front. Mine was a Fisher Price. I borrowed one from a friend with baby Reed… I had sold the one I used with baby Owen/Taite and Caleb prior to us moving to Georgia, but it was the same brand, just different print.

Bouncy Seat ~ Im not sure the proper term for this item… but mine was one of those papasan bouncy seat things you get from Babie’s R’ Us or even Walmart I believe carries them now. Its a soft seat that vibrates. I used this thing constantly for the 1st 6 months or so with my babies. It was great to use outdoors… indoors… and my favorite use, setting it in the bathroom while I took a shower. Kept baby close and cozy while mom got 5 minutes of “shower” time. :)

A list of baby must have items - from a mother of 4

Wubbanub ~ This amazing little invention is a God send at 3am. Tired of the pacifier bouncing out of your little ones mouth? Buy up one of these, you’ll love it! I have used wubbanubs for 3 of my boys. Can’t speak highly enough of them.

Aden + Anais Blankets ~ The most awesome blankets. While I still believe the Miracle Blanket is the one to have for swaddling. The Aden + Anais is also great for swaddling but more so just a great blanket for every day use… For the carseat. For the crib… I also used this some to cover up while nursing. I wasn’t able to nurse long but when I did nurse, having a light weight blanket like this was a must. These blankets hold up to a ton of abuse too. Reed who is over age 2 now uses these to sleep. He calls them his Binket and he adores them. I have 4 and use every single one to this day. (Note: Good book suggestion that talks about blanket’s… which are a great tool to use to transition baby from a pacifier – worked with all my boys. This book is a favorite of mine and has been for all four of my boys)

Pack-n-Play ~ I have had the same Graco Pack-n-Play since 2004!! :) Having one of these has been a must for us. In fact one of our boys, our 2nd, never even slept in a crib. He used a pack-n-play his entire newborn-baby stage. We moved 2 times between the time he was born and 6 mo old… so we just never set him up a crib. We use this packnplay a lot for travel as well. It has survived air plane travel, many hotels, lots of visits to grandparents… and so on.

Baby Monitor ~ Currently I am using one by Levana. Its a video monitor. Although, I have used others without video and they worked just as well. Find one that has a good range and clear sound. I am not brand specific on this one. The Levana does have amazing customer support though and the monitor does have great features. So that is one to look into if you are considering video monitoring.

Homedics Sound Machine ~ Buy a sound machine or invest in a good sleep white noise app. This homedics sound machine (I actually got mine from walmart, not amazon), It had a white noise sound that helped my last baby sleep like nothing else. I would even take it with me when we traveled. Another option would be a box fan. Only problem with this is they are rather large, so traveling with a box fan isnt as easy. Also they can blow cold air into the room which isnt always ideal either.

A list of baby must have items written by a mom of four- A Baby Carrier ~ I am going to list off 3 below… I suggest all 3 :) – but if I had to choose “only one” – I would choose the 1st one I list.

>> Boba 4G ~ I could go on and on about baby carriers I like. There are SO MANY to choose from. I have tried Mei Tais, countless structured carriers, including ERGO, Bjorn, Snugi, etc… and out of all the carriers I have tried the Boba 4G takes the prize as the best. So easy to use. So comfortable. Super simple to adjust. Fits mom and dad… or even your 10 year old ;) – it can fit a newborn – age 3 easily. It can go on the back and front. It is machine washable. It also holds up so well and can be used for countless children, year after year. Feel free to use “andreawood10″ over at www.bobafamily.com for 10% off.

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>> Ring Sling ~ I love the Boba 4G above but also really love having a ring sling. I use a few brands… Sakura Bloom is a popular one and one I do own… however it is expensive. When I purchased mine it was 50% off. That is the ONLY reason I purchased it. IMO humble opinion it is not worth $100+ dollars… One of my favorite ring slings was actually one from a work at home mom named Kim. It cost me $25 bucks. She sadly doesn’t make them any more. Feel free to check out etsy.com for ring slings. There are so many great ones out there. Just look for one with linen or muslin fabric… or a thin soft batik. No double layer slings!! trust me, its to thick of a fabric and hard to adjust. Ring slings are the carrier for quick trips in and out… or for those times you have to carry baby and need some extra support, without putting on a full on backpack style carrier.

Baby Must Haves

>> Boba Wrap ~ I know everyone getting to this bullet is going to think im some sort of affiliate for Boba. Note to all those reading. I’m not :) – although I would be if they had an affiliate program. I do Boba’s photography though and therefore I am even more so fond of this company. I have used Boba’s since before I did their photography. That is how they found me, because of my love for babywearing… and so I don’t think my being their photography really sways my opinion much. Their carriers really are great.

Luna Lullaby ~ Ditch the BOPPY and get a Luna Lullaby. I used a Boppy with my 1st 3 babies and never really liked it. The Luna Lullaby I got with my 4th born and I just love it! The most AMAZING Boppy style pillow. You can actually nurse with it, without having to prop 4 other pillows under it. It also makes for a great sleeping pillow during your pregnancy.

Newborn Mitts ~ Before you go to the hospital make sure you have some mitts for your newborn. They are great at preventing cuts on your sweet newborns face. Another great option would be Jammies with the glove built in or onesies with the glove built in. Either one is great to have for the 1st few weeks at least.

Wood High Chair ~ I have had the same high chair since we had our first born Caleb. Its an Eddie Bauer High Chair, solid oak. I LOVE IT, although at times I hated how heavy it was. Still, to this day, that thing has held up so well. So I highly recommend WOODEN high chairs over plastic any day.

Good Stroller ~ I have tried so many strollers… and always found myself back to a Bob. These cost an arm and a leg but are the best of the best. They glide so easily and fold up very well. I purchased my Bob off of yardsale page on facebook. It was half what you pay new. My friend has one and has had 7 kids. She has used the same bob stroller with all 7 of her babies! This thing is built to last! So if you want to invest in a great all around stroller plus jogger, this is it.

Good Diaper Bag ~ This is all a matter of personal preference. I’ve tried many bags… but the skiphop Studio Tote is my favorite. I love it so much I actually purchased 2… although recently I gave one of those to a friend :) – I found one of my skiphops at TJMaxx for $30.00 – and another one I found on craigslist. Buying it new is high… but I got to say, its one amazing bag. Id probably pay full price now that I know how great it is.

Cloth Diapers ~ This is totally up to the individual… I have cloth diapered 2 of my boys almost 100%. My 4th baby though I only cloth diapered a few months… then life got real with 4 boys… and I could not keep up with it… and all the other laundry I had to do. For the two boys I did use cloth diapers with, I loved it. It without a doubt saved us money. I used Bum Genius One Size Pocket Diapers with them. They work great and held up really well. Mine came from Cottonbabies.com – another alternative that Ive heard lots of praise about would be the Kawaii Diapers. I have not tried those personally but have friends who love them.

Baby Must Haves

Baltic Amber Necklace~ I swear by these. I used them with my last 3 kids and all 3 of them have been great teethers. There is lots to chat about in regards to this item but feel free to check out Hazelaid to learn more about baltic amber and its benefits.

Carseat ~ This is an obvious. :) You have to have a carseat. I used two brands in the infant carrier style carseat (the kind that snaps into most strollers) I used a graco with my 1st two and then a Chicco keyfit with my last two. BOTH IMO were comparable. If I had to choose, I would choose the Graco though because the price is much less. Once baby is to big for that seat, Im a huge fan of the Diono Radian seats. Very expensive but well worth it. They allow for rear facing longer and just over all work very well. Also they have a lot longer life than most carseats (yes carseats expire). They are also very narrow, so if you plan to have lots of kids close together… this seat will save you some room.

Baby Must Haves

Infant Gym ~ I don’t buy many toys for my babies… but an infant gym is something I had with all 4 of my boys. They are great and travel well.

Natural Wash ~ Be sure to always read the ingredients on the back of a baby shampoo bottle. There are lots of great natural alternatives you can use over the popular Johnson and Johnson brand. :)

Baby Must Haves

1 year+ – Toddler Years

I wasn’t sure how to set this category apart from the “infant” one… but I had a few items to list that really didn’t apply to infants… so I thought I would separate these items from the above list. The image to the right btw is for laughs. Reed was not harmed in the taking of that photo :) – but I found it summed up life with four boys wells in a humored way.

Good 1st Walker Shoes ~ I personally love Stride Rite Shoes or Pediped. Any SOFTER SOLE shoe is great for new walkers. Baby/Toddlers have chubby feet… I just find it very uncomfortable to shove those chubby feet into a thick soled hard shoe. Thankfully for me, Ive passed on my Pedipeds to 4 children :) – if you do not have the money for a Pediped new, check out ebay. There are lots listed there. I also have found 4 pairs of my striderite shoes used at Thrift shops for under $2.00 each. Theres no reason to spend a fortune on baby shoes… but I do highly recommend these two brands.

Myself Belt ~ Once you potty train, belts are nice to have. Seems like once your tot leaves the diaper world, their butt gets dramatically smaller :) – which results in the need for a belt. The Myself Belt is my favorite. A little pricey, but works great and holds up very well. Anything that can help assist my child in putting their own pants on and give me ease as well, is worth a few extra dollars. This company also recently got featured on the shark tank. I found them probably 8 years ago tho! I’ve loved them since.

Washable Bib ~ I got some washable bibs years ago from Walmart that were food catcher bibs. I have yet to see these there since. I found them on ebay tho! These bibs are butt ugly, well not butt, but pretty tacky… I am willing to look pass the tacky bright designs because of how well they function. In fact I ordered 2 last night after writing this post. :)

baby must haves

Toilet Seat Topper ~ Ok, not sure what you call this… but when it comes time to train those cute babies to use the potty. Invest in a toilet topper for your toilet. While the infant toilets you can buy with all the bells and whistles seems like the right thing to buy for tiny hineys.. trust me, its a waste of money. All 3 of my older boys who are now all potty trained (thank the Lord), used this sort of toilet seat to train with… and it works so well. No more DUMPING poop from one toilet to another… no more washing out little bowls of urine. This type of seat also begins to help train your child to use a “big person” toilet faster… and makes the transition much easier. (The image of my little one on the toilet was taken about 6 years ago. That is my 2nd born Taite, who is now 8! I am sure he very must dislikes me for posting that now haha)

Waterproof Mattress Covers ~ This was an addition I added on after posting this originally. My friend Lis mentioned it in the comments and I couldn’t believe I left this out. THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST!!! We have waterproof covers for all of our boys beds. From Crib on up. Even if a kid is potty trained, they still have accidents. So buy up a water proof cover from the start for all your infant/children’s beds. You can find them anywhere.

Now… I think that is it :)

I think :)

I tell you, it took me FOREVER to finish this list.
I wanted to make sure I steered everyone in the right direction :)

To end… here is one more list :)



The “not so” must list for Pregnancy-Toddlerhood

Wipe Warmer ~ Unless you have no heat in your home, you don’t need this. Ive had 4 babies and not once did I need my wipes warm. :)

Bottle Warmer ~ There is a very real and easy solution to this need. From the very start… don’t warm your bottles. None of my boys ever had to have a warm bottle. Never. If you nurse, you will bypass this problem automatically… but if you can’t nurse or choose not to, you can make a choice here :) – to warm… or not to warm, that is the question :) – and my answer, don’t warm. My boys chugged their milk just fine at room temp. :)

Palmer Cocoa Butter ~ Stretch marks happen. No amount of cocoa butter will prevent them if you were genetically designed to develope them. I hate when I hear women say “I got no stretch marks, it was because of the cocoa butter.” Lie lie lie… I used palmers cocoa butter MULTIPLE times a day with my 1st pregnancy and I am evidence that does not guarantee no stretch marks. While it did soothe an itchy belly, it did not prevent me from developing them. I am a firm believer that genetics play a key role in this dept… and as unfortunate as it can be, some people are just prone to stretch marks… its life. Now if you want to put lotion on your belly, by all means :) – do it. I did, even after I got stretch marks. My choice of butter, the whipped body butter I make. Nothing feels better and its much more natural than Palmers.

Name Brand Clothing ~ Save your pennies. Babies grow so fast… there’s no need to fork out a fortune in name brand baby clothes. Thrift those high end items and put those pennies to use elsewhere :)

Diaper Crib Caddy ~ That thing that hangs on the side of your crib to hold diapers. Dont bother :) – just buy a cute diaper caddy you can carry with you from room to room, its way better.

Changing Table ~ After 4 children I can admit I have never ever owned a Changing Table. Never. Not once. We used the floor. Or a bed. Or a sofa. Or a table. :) With proper “sanitary towel placement” of course haha.. or not. It was one more piece of furniture we did not have the money or space for… so therefore we never bought one. I am not anti-changing table, but I am perfect proof it is not a must. My babies butts got cleaned just fine without one.

Baby Tubs ~ Don’t bother with those plastic baby tubs. They are a pain to clean and use… I had one with my 1st that leaked constantly and caused more harm than good. Invest in a sink hammock of some sort, or place a thick towel in your tub for baby to lay on (this was what I went for most times). It works just as well and there is less clean up.

Fancy Crib Bedding and Bumpers ~ The image above of my 3rd born Owen sleeping in the crib with the bumpers and cute bedding. Well. I splurged on that lil man because I had yet to do so with any of my other children. While I did love having cute bedding, it really is not needed. Bumpers too bring up some concerns on safety… and it is just one more thing to wash. After Owen grew and was no longer in a crib and I had my 4th… I used the same crib set with Reed but it didn’t take me long to ditch the bumpers and matching set. Reed who is 2 and still in a crib uses whatever sheets I have clean, no bumpers, no frill :) – and hes cozy as can be. Some of the crib sheets I use were given to us with Baby number 1. They sport Classic pooh (ughhh, so not my style now), but they are soft and broken in. So I use them. Use what works and know baby will be just fine, with or without.

I hope those reading found this post informative and helpful :)

Becoming a mom for me 10 years ago was so overwhelming. So many things to choose from…. so many methods of parenting…mothering… I was 21 when I became a mom. In fact I turned 21 the same month I had my 1st born son. I was clueless to so much… Over the course of 10 years I have really grown and am so thankful for how much my boys have taught me.

Motherhood is so much more than the products we buy… or the things we use on our babies.

It is not about how long you co-sleep.

If you co-sleep.

It doesn’t matter if you can nurse, choose not to nurse, or bottle feed. Although to many it is the very ground in which they swear motherhood is measured.

Its not, I promise. Although I believe if you can nurse, you are blessed.

It wont matter in the end if you birth a baby via c-section or with out any epidural at all.

A baby and its mother cannot be defined by the fancy clothes that baby may sport for 6 mo.

Or the trendy little diapers he or she wears.

These are just a few things that can make the journey just a wee bit easier :) – and can be fun to use at the same time. Feel free to comment with any questions. I will try my best to get back with you.

You can view most of the above items over on my amazon estore. I save things I like on there… Many of what I listed above can be found at a local walmart or babies r us, or target. Amazon has most of the items I listed above as well.

Hope you enjoyed :)

Disclosure: I am not being paid by any of the above companies to post or represent them in this post.

Boy Veg

Boy Veg

kindleSometimes… on cloudy days.

It is truly nice, to just veg.

Take off the timers.

Take off the “you only get an hour” rule.

… and to let the boy’s just veg.

I have found freedom in those days [clearly]… and while the “my kids will not play video games all day” mom-mindset is always lingering on those veg days. I have really come to grips with the importance of letting things go sometimes.

So Cheers to Veg Days. Knowing we all need them.

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Oh and for those curious about the FAVORITE APP post. Im working on that!

I want to FILM a video to do this and im just waiting for a time that I can have “quiet” away from the kids to film it. Travis is off wed/thur this week, so im hoping I can film it one of those days. I have lots of favorite APPS for the iPad and Kindle to share :)

How to start a Mom Blog

How to start a Mom Blog

I get asked OFTEN how I got started blogging. Back in 2005 my husband and I moved to Northern Ohio… 12 hours from my family and his… to serve at a church in a small town called Bellevue. Now while I wish I could say that adventure was filled with nothing but great memories, I will be honest in saying it was very hard for me… and not a time I look back on with the best of memories… although the memories we had with our students are bittersweet to think back on. I miss many of them still dearly… so thankful for facebook to keep up with them and watch them grow and begin to start families of their own.

While in Ohio though I was a NEW Mom. NEW Pastor’s Wife. NEW homemaker… and still very much a baby myself. I was only 21 years old when we moved there… and so starting a blog for me was my way of being able to stay in touch with my family and friends back home. It was an outlet for me to express my thoughts and share my woes… although at the time I thought I knew it all …. and regret A LOT of what I say. I was like pretty much any 21 year old and thought I had it all together and could do it all alone. So wrong haha… I have grown and learned a lot since then (now 10 years later).

While in Ohio my blog was through a company called Blogger. It is kind of the go-to I think for most new bloggers and for that time being it worked. So, if you plan to dabble in the world of “blogs” – try out blogger first. Its free… easy to use… and has some fun and easy options to make it your own. I know a few big name bloggers to this day who use blogger… so this post def. is not to bash blogger at all. :) The cool thing with blogger is that you can TRANSFER your entire blog to another provider when you feel it is time to take things to the next level.

For me, that came when I had my 2nd born son Taite (also in Ohio)… and once we moved back to NC, I decided to start my photography business. With that business came the adventure of learning how to market myself… build a website… build a brand… etc..etc… It was A LOT to learn but I am thankful for the ability to learn quick and some how manage to figure it out over time. It took a while though :) and I was thankful for tech savvy friendships along the way that helped me when I got stumped. Some of those tech savvy friends btw were bloggers as well. ;-)

When it came time to choose my business name… it was a toss up. I had debated using DREA WOOD, as my business name… it was catchy and to me easier for people to remember than Andrea Wood… however, I dreaded having to deal with checks written out to Drea Wood and my bank declining them because my name is really Andrea. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I just needed to name my business after my real name and go with that. Still, when I started this journey I purchased the domain www.dreawood.com as well as www.andrea-wood.com, just incase I changed my mind. I wanted to guarantee both names stayed available for me. Once I figured out what business name I wanted to use for my photography, I then began setting up www.andrea-wood.com with all my photo jazz…. and eventually even made www.andrea-wood.com/blog, so that clients could view blog post for photography through my business site.

Because I had also purchased www.dreawood.com and ended up not needing it for my photography business, I figured, may as well transfer my “mommy blog” over to that domain, so that the $10 cost for the domain didn’t go to waste. So that is when my blog you are reading today became what it is now. It went from blogger to a self hosted wordpress site.

In other words. I paid for my hosting for my business… and business blog. I then used that same hosting to host my personal blog. Make sense? Hopefully it will begin to as you read below :)

Okay…

How to start a Mom Blog

To start a website OR a self hosted blog… the first step is to buy your web space… through a host. When I began my business I looked and looked for the cheapest possible deal I could find. I stumbled across a site that was called “SUPER GREEN HOSTING” at the time and was able to get my hosting so cheap! The way I got it really cheap though was a bit sneaky and totally by accident.

What I did was I went to their website (now called JUST HOST) – and began the sign up process for my website.

Here is what you will see when you go to their website:

How to start a Mom Blog

Now when there I would click to sign up and it would then take me to this page:

How to start a Mom Blog

Once on that page I then chose the domain I wanted. In my case it was www.dreawood.com. You may or may not be able to get the domain of your choice. It just depends on what the name is and how common that name is. Apparently there were no other dreawood’s in the world though and so my domain was available (yay!). So I typed in my domain and then went onto this page:

How to start a Mom Blog

Once to this page you can select what payment plan you want. They will give you many options and you just choose what works best for you. I think when I started I selected the 2 year plan. OH and DO SELECT DOMAIN PRIVACY as an add on. (The Domain Privacy shields your personal address and phone number from being displayed to the public.)

Here is the secret to saving more though….

Go ahead and begin the check out process. Enter in your name… your address, your email, etc.etc… you may even can begin to add in your credit card info. However, DO NOT CHECK OUT just yet. Once you fill in your info in click next. Before you confirm ANY ORDER, go ahead and back out of the site by trying to leave… I know that sounds super weird, but do it. You will then be prompted with JUST HOST agent asking if you would like to save an additional percentage off your domain/hosting. Decline it and leave the website all together. Wait about 24 hours and they will then email you with a special coupon discount to apply to your order. Now I will say, it has been YEARS since I signed up to do this, so this may not be the case any more… but back when I signed up, this is exactly what happened for me and I ended up saving an additional 50% off my order!! I got my hosting so dirt cheap I couldn’t believe it.

Because I don’t know for sure if that will happen now or not, just try it and if it does, great, if it doesnt, their pricing is still among the cheapest I have found, ever. So its a good deal either way. Also they do have great customer service. I have been with them for many years now and have never had a problem.

Here are a few things you get with Just Host:

How to start a Mom Blog

How to start a Mom Blog

I know… lots of techie talk. Some of that may make sense, some may not.

So how do I use my professional photography site to host my personal blog?

I pay for my hosting. Every 2 years. It is a set rate and fee… Varies depending on the sale you get in on, so I cant quote a price, but lets just say its $100.00 a year for your hosting (that is on the high end btw). You then have your domain. So my domain is www.dreawood.com – IF I want to use my hosting account that I am paying for to host ANOTHER domain (aka website/blog), you can then add on additional domains. Some times they just give them to you free with your hosting, sometimes it cost an extra fee. The fee is minimal though, like $3.99-10.00 a year per domain.

So I pay my set hosting rate.
I got my domain with that.
I then added on an additional domain for my personal blog.
For my photo blog I was able to install wordpress to that at no extra cost and just direct it to the domain www.andrea-wood.com/blog.

I know… I know, ITS LIKE CHINESE YALL! Its so confusing for me to even type this out for you… I feel like I am making no sense… and truly you may not be able to make sense of any of this, until you actually try to start the process for yourself.

Once you set up your hosting account from the c-panel Just Host gives you, you can then turn your domain link into a SELF HOSTED wordpress blog. Here is what the screen would look like from the c-panel….

justhost1

The host will take care of installing wordpress for you once you follow the steps it gives you on that page. It is very easy to do once in there… even though it looks a bit overwhelming on screen. Its not.

Once you install wordpress, it will then give you a log in screen to go to. From that screen you would then access your wordpress blog.
So for me, my log in screen is www.dreawood.com/wp-admin – if your blog was www.mykidseatalotofcheese.com, your log in page for wordpress would be www.mykidseatalotofcheese.com/wp-admin. It will look like this once there:

wordpress

Once in your wordpress account you can then post blogs… upload images… set up the “look” of the blog and so forth. That in and of itself does take time to get use too… but dont give up right away, it gets easier the longer you blog. Trust me…. there came a time when I hated wordpress and missed blogger. Blogger is WAY EASIER imo for newbies… so even for someone like me who catches on fast, there was a transitional time period where I had to get use to wordpress and learn my way around.

To those wanting to make your blog pretty… there are lots of FREE templates you can use on wordpress. You can even go to google and type in “Free Pretty WordPress Templates” – and tons will come up. For me, I wanted the ability to customize my layout easier than free templates offered… so I purchased my template through a company called HEADWAY. There is a link to their site on my side bar… or you can CLICK HERE to check them out. I love their templates and they are very easy to use and make your own.

Headway Themes — The Drag & Drop WordPress Theme

Another great source btw to learn more about setting up a first time blog is this FREE EBOOK. I loved it and learned a lot from it.

Also for personal photo’s on my blog. I do use FLICKR instead of my webspace. The reason being is I like ordering snapfish photobooks yearly for my family. I try to print at least 1 a year from either a family vacation or the year kinda combined into one book. Flickr sync’s with snapfish’s website and their organizational options are amazing on flickr. I LOVE IT to much not to use it. I have been a FLICKR user since 2005! Great website and well worth the $25 a year I pay for unlimited storage space and uploads.

I hope some of this made sense…

Blogging is something I love to do… and while I do make some money with it now (many years later after starting), it for me, is more than just some income. I have met amazing people through my blog!

I have made friendships on it that as silly as this may sound, got me through some dark times. Some people I had never even met were able to encourage me in ways no one had ever done. I love the relationships its brought into my life and for that reason, I think it gave me the extra push to press on, even during harder times where the public criticized me and my family. While I know I made mistakes in areas of my blog over the years, some of the emails and remarks I got from people who read and disagree’d with my choices, broke me at times. I often didn’t feel it was worth the fuss… and there have been times I had to step away and take a break. To me that is okay and at times needed.

I get asked how I got a lot of readers.

Honestly. I have no idea.

I just wrote… used social media to promote here and there… and just stayed true to who I was.

Thats it.

If you do start a blog let me know in the comments!! I would love to follow you. I btw use FEEDLY to keep up with all my blogs I read. Love it!