Chatbooks {This Photog's FAV From-Your-Phone Photo Albums}

   I cannot stand commercials! I simultaneously watch two TV shows at a time so I can flip back and forth. In fact, I consider myself somewhat of an expert of this art form...

   I’ll be watching a show with my husband, and he’ll get so irritated with me – “Turn it back, we’re missing our show!” he’ll request.  “Nah…we’ve got another 30 seconds – at least…” I'll argue.

   And when I’m on YouTube my finger hovers over the Skip Ad button in the bottom right corner of the screen just anticipating the countdown…5, 4, 3 – and I’m already tapping the button. How annoying are the ads you can’t skip????

   So it is VERY rare that I find an advertisement I enjoy – and even more rare when said ad will convince me to purchase a product. So Congrats to Chatbooks for having the BEST, most effective commercial I’ve seen…possibly ever!

   Chatbooks is an App that keeps track of your Facebook, Instagram or Favorited photos on your phone and once you have 60 they create a photo album for you to tangibly hold and cherish.

   The commercial is so perfect because it might as well be a video of my life! I’m a busy mom who has a 100 percent success rate of FAILING at every Pinterest project I’ve ever attempted. I have out-of-control children (I’ve actually had to rescue one of my kids from the ledge of a window before.) And I NEVER print photos off my phone, which is where 99% of my pictures live these days.

   As much as I loved the commercial, and the concept and the price – as a professional photographer myself, I was a little leery of the quality. But I figured, at the price, even if they weren’t any good it wouldn’t be a huge loss. You guys, these books at GREAT! I opted for the hard covers for some added protection from my kids, and they have held up. The photos transferred to the paper well, and are vibrant and crystal clear.

 

Chapbooks takes your Favorited images off your Camera, Facebook or Instagram account - and creates beautiful albums to cherish forever! If you don't want a personal photo cover, they have adorable seasonal and themed covers to choose from! As you can tell next to my phone above, these books aren't huge (the softcovers are 6x6-inch squares and the hardcovers are 6.25x6.25-inch squares) but they aren't too small. They are the perfect size for coffee tables or bookcases.

Chapbooks takes your Favorited images off your Camera, Facebook or Instagram account - and creates beautiful albums to cherish forever! If you don't want a personal photo cover, they have adorable seasonal and themed covers to choose from! As you can tell next to my phone above, these books aren't huge (the softcovers are 6x6-inch squares and the hardcovers are 6.25x6.25-inch squares) but they aren't too small. They are the perfect size for coffee tables or bookcases.

You have the option of a hardcover book, which is a MUST with my kiddos...And you can personalize the spins :)

You have the option of a hardcover book, which is a MUST with my kiddos...And you can personalize the spins :)

   As a professional, I’d kindda wished I could have formatted some of the pages – even though I too want to beat a hammer against my computer sometimes – but I ended up loving the clean design of one image per page. And the App gives you the option of editing your books before they’re ordered!

   So, check them out at chatbooks.com or find them in the App Store

 

I love the clean design of one image per page! You can add captions below the image / utilize the descriptions from social media. I wish I could have reorganized the order of my images (I wanted to have books for each season and seemed to have a Spring photo that wanted to sneak into my Winter album), but you can add or delete photos.

I love the clean design of one image per page! You can add captions below the image / utilize the descriptions from social media. I wish I could have reorganized the order of my images (I wanted to have books for each season and seemed to have a Spring photo that wanted to sneak into my Winter album), but you can add or delete photos.

Ash Wednesday... Worship on the Throne

I’m not sure why, but some of our most memorable family outings are in the restroom…Hey, don’t judge! When you have three small girls it is all about divide and conquer; so we have a standing reservation in the Family Restroom!

            I have VIVID memories of the five of us in the family restroom at our niece’s cheerleading competition…I was in the stall with one of the twins trying to assist her after she dropped half of her coat in the toilet, while Chuck was helping the other twin at the sink – as she sprayed water all over his face. Meanwhile, Bianca had gotten a hold of our umbrella and was using it as a weapon, whacking Chuck in the shin… All of this happening at once, but seeming to be occurring in slow motion. Chuck was trying to hold it together, while holding a child, and reprimanding another; and he looked over at me to see what I was doing to help the situation…and I was sitting in the bathroom floor laughing uncontrollably – wishing I had a camera crew with me to document this MESS that I call my life.

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Happy New Year!!!!!

Happy New Year!!!.............What?...............

It’s MARCH?!!?............... How the hell did that happen?

     As cliché as they are, I usually really do enjoy writing-out my New Year’s Resolutions (usually before the year is a fourth of the way over.) I actually have a ritual – even a designated notebook – where I write out my three personal and three professional goals for the year – and then I write three steps I’m going to take to make those goals a reality. (Some of my past goals have been running a marathon and pursuing work as a commercial model, so they usually have a fairly high success rate – much more optimistic than saying my New Year’s Resolution is to give-up bread or coffee…which would fail within the first week.)

     But this year, I was in a really weird place as the New Year rolled around – almost an emotional/spiritual purgatory. You see 2014 has begun with me experiencing some of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows…all at the same time.

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Pillow Fight

How many of you can honestly admit that you fight with your child?

Well, you should be ashamed of yourself!

Now, I can completely understand fighting with your kids about bedtimes & boyfriends, vegetables & video games; but what I’m about to admit is pretty embarrassing. You see I’ve stooped so low as to fight with my daughter over a pillow.

Yes, you read that correctly – a pillow. And not even a fancy pillow. No, it’s pink and small and filled with some sort of unidentified, granular object that could be anything from cornhusks (or kernels…. or seeds…whatever you call those un-popped, popcorn looking things that fill the bags people play corn hole with) to BB pellets. Actually, this pillow’s ‘filling’ is too light for either of those objects, so it’s probably filled with some sort of man-made, plastic product that I’ll soon learn leads to cancer – just like most everything else I enjoy in life like fried food and the sun.

Fast food…BB guns…Pillow! (Man, am I scatterbrained! I hope it’s not whatever’s in my pillow:)

So there’s this pink pillow that floats around our house. It usually lives in my room, where I intentionally hide it behind all my other pillows when I make the bed, but every-once-in-a-while it will escape my clutches and wind-up in Bianca’s room. Why? Probably because she’s under the impression that the pillow belongs to her. And why is she under this impression? Well, probably because my mom gave it to her. And when I say gave I mean let borrow.

Yes, I am fighting with my four-year-old over a pillow that doesn’t even belong to us.

Here’s what happened:

Bianca goes to daycare three days a week after preschool – where she has naptime after lunch. All the little boys and girls bring in their pillows, blankets and stuffed animals for this ritual. And becoming trendy at the ripe old age of three, Bianca just had to have a Pillow Pet when she moved up to the Three & Four-Year-Old room. You know that annoying commercial, It’s a Pillow…It’s a Pet…It’s a Pillow Pet?

Anyway, every Friday the pillows and blankets come home to be washed. And it never fails; every Monday I usually forget to take the darn things back to school.

On this particular Monday I was working at my mom’s house, which is closer to daycare, when I realized I’d left my child with no snuggling devices; so she suggested I just borrow a blanket and pillow from her house. ENTER THE PINK PILLOW!

About the same time, I was coming to grips with the fact that I was going to have to part ways with a loyal, dear friend of mine…the Blue Pillow. This pillow had been with me almost four years. He (I assume he was a He…. I mean, he was blue after all) was there for me every night, he went on every vacation with me… But after years of trips through the washing machine, he was beginning to get tired. I mended him several times, but I knew it was time to let him go when his stuffing – his were white, little, round things that looked almost like Vanilla Dippin’ Dots – began to fall out. So it was only fitting that a new pillow had come in to take his place. She (duh, she’s pink) was new and pretty and despite it taking a few evenings to get used to her, she was the perfect armrest for a peaceful night of sleep…. Until that child came along and STOLE her away from me! 

Ya’ll, obviously I have a slight flair for the dramatics…but I’m serious as a heart attack with what I’m about to say next.

Over the next few months, I got by with hiding the pillow at the base of my headboard. (Lord, at this point I think the darn thing needs a name….) And if Bianca ever did ask about her, I would usually get by with shrugging it off with comments like, ‘Gee, I don’t know’ or ‘Maybe you left it at school.’ Really? I’ve stooped so low as to lie to my child?

On the occasional night that she would watch TV in my bed and find the pillow, of course she would want to take it to bed with her. I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t wait until she was asleep, sneak into her room, and steal the pillow right from her own two hands! Awesome! Now I’m a liar and a thief!

And here is the real kicker of all of this…. I could go to any Wal-Mart, CVS… heck, even a truck stop and buy a pillow of my very own! I could even buy two & then return the one to my mother that doesn’t even belong to me. I could buy a whole rainbow of colors, one for every night of the week. After all, they cost about ten dollars.

But NO! I want MINE! Mine, Mine, Mine!!!! (Let’s face it – there’s a little toddler left in all of us.)

Last night I realized I need an intervention. Bianca came and climbed in bed with us around 5 a.m. I asked her to go try to potty so she wouldn’t have an accident in our bed (Isn’t potty training overnight SO much fun?) and while she was gone…I hid the pillow down under the covers so she wouldn’t see it when she got in bed. (Honest to God) Oh, it gets better!

She stumbles back into our room, half asleep, and climbs into bed to cuddle up next to me. In her soft little voice she asks, “Mommy, where’s my pillow?”

I LIED to my sleeping baby and said, “Oh, I don’t know.”

She rolled her little no-pillow head over on the bed to go back to sleep and the guilt washed over me!

“I found it!” I LIED again to cover-up my first lie and pulled the pillow out from under the covers.

“Thanks, Mommy! You’re the greatest, bestest mommy in the whole world.”

 

I’m taking the pillow back to my mom’s today.

Standing in the Refrigerator

There are certain things we, as women, should NEVER have to hear.

For starters…and this is a major spoiler alert for Downtown Abbey fans like me…We should never have to hear that Matthew will be killed off at the end of season three so actor Dan Stevens can go off and have a Broadway career. Who does he think he is leaving Mary and me like this? (Thank you TV Guide for RUINING season three for me before it even gets started. I really appreciate it!)

We should never have had to hear that salads were NOT healthy when drowned in dressing. Who wants to eat dry lettuce…rabbits?

        And no OB/GYN should EVER say, “No Sarah, your stomach will NEVER look the same…unless you want to consider plastic surgery.” (Two years later and I’m STILL trying to prove you wrong Dr. Jackson!) 

But these days the things I, as a woman & a mom, should never hear have taken on a life of their own. It really is true that kids say the darnedest things. And when their my kids and their living in our house of cards where we’re all a moment away from disaster…well, things can get pretty interesting. 

Here are just a few of the horribly terrifying, hysterical, nerve-wracking things I’ve heard over the last few weeks…. 

We were getting ready to eat stir-fry for dinner one night (it’s still one of my favorite meals even though I almost burned my house down once while fixing stir fry… and this is the conversation that occurred.

Me (standing with the refrigerator door open talking to anyone within ear shot): “Do we have any soy sauce left?”

Bianca (running past me like the Road Runner): “Yes, I’ll have to get it. It’s under the couch.”

 

        I should have learned from the soy sauce incident that my twins are Houdini’s while the refrigerator door is open. If I’m searching the top shelves, they can sneak in like Santa and steal condiment bottles from the door.

One day I was fixing lunch in the kitchen.

Bianca (overheard from the living room): “Hey, who left the ranch dressing in the floor again?”

 

I really appreciate the fact that Bianca is uber comfortable at the doctor’s office, (on a recent visit she had a total meltdown when she found out that she DIDN’T get a shot) but there are times when you don’t want your child to throw around medical jargon.

We’re standing in the lobby of dance class, surrounded by tiny, tutu-clad dancers and their dance moms, when Bianca decides it’s a perfect time to enlighten everyone about her most recent diagnosis.

Bianca (to one of her little friends in a big enough voice to be heard across the room): “No! I cannot kiss you goodbye! I have Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease... Do you want to see my bumps?”

Medical Note: The doctor assured me she was not contagious as long as she didn’t have a fever and didn’t share saliva with anyone. That didn’t seem to ease every mom in the room as they pulled their daughters about three feet away from mine as discretely as possible.

 

Here lately, Bianca has had a thing about wanting to say Hi to people at the drive-thru…the fact that she is on a first-name basis with my baristas at the coffee shop should be a clear indication that I spend entirely too much time there…. But alas, I’d never thought much about obliging Bianca by rolling her window down until a few weeks ago.

We were in the Wendy’s drive-thru. I’m pretty sure the babies were crying, my phone was ringing and Bianca was pleading with me to roll her window down.

Bianca (as she first sees the woman working the register): “Oh my, Look at that fat lady!”

I PRAY the woman didn’t hear her!!!!

 

Let’s face it; our kids are genetically designed to embarrass us – usually at the most inopportune times. But it’s not because they mean to embarrass us, it’s because they are the most honest creatures on Earth. Bianca hasn’t yet learned that the most sure-fire way to clear a room is to announce that you have a disease. She doesn’t know that we don’t point-out people’s physical characteristics & if she says things like, ‘My mommy’s Bible has a layer of dust on it’ OR ‘My mommy’s clothes don’t go in her dresser, they just sit in a pile on her floor.’ Well, I can’t very well blame her, because she’s just pointing-out things she’s observed.

In my defense, my entire room is covered in a layer of dust, not just my Bible…and my clothes are in piles because, well, I have too many clothes!

So what’s the lesson to be learned? Nothing good happens when you stand with the refrigerator door open!