Category Archives: Family

Parenting, Living, Family.

Make a Photo Book with Blurb

blurb photo-book
*Please note that affiliate links are included in this post to make it easier for you to find what is being referenced. A small commission is made should you purchase product using these links however, as always, any and all opinions are genuinely my own. See full disclosure.

It is about time that I unloaded my photos from my computer and put them into books I think!

I have about three years worth of pictures just sitting in files, and to be totally honest… My kids are like:

“Mommy- why is this book say 2015? Isn’t it 2017?”

blurb photo-book

I want to say:

“Yes. Yes it is my little love-buckets. It says on the photo-book, “2015” and since I had you, I have had no time to myself, let alone, to put pictures of you into cutesy little books. I only could do that for your sisters who were born first (Back when they couldn’t walk and just napped and napped) sigh.”

But I don’t say that. I just sigh again, and start trying to get these pics in order with Blurb!

How I Organized Before I Even Started

      1. I am trying to get all these pics in order first on my computer, so I put all my photos into files first, by year.
      2. After I have year folders made, I create month folders within each year. That way I have a little bit of a sense of what was happening in those folders (birthdays, vacations, or whatever).
      3. I decided what  book I wanted to make: On the website, select the area for making Photo Books- they have some other products. Then they prompt you for choosing the size. Do that. Then choose the cover- you can change this later, but know I did the hardcover with dust jacket, but the photo-wrap is nice too, since dust jackets can get torn or removed.
      4. Next you install BookWright, their software with templates and fonts and all kinds of design fun, to put the book in the order and way that makes it unique to you. I don’t get too fancy, as I have more pictures than space, so I sort of jam them all in there. I loved the various layouts that they offer here. Now I didn’t intend to put ALL the photos in there, but I sort of just decided to put a page (or two) per month. Birthday months and Christmas time had more pictures, so we needed more pages for those months. You upload what photos you want and will fit to your format.
      5. Once your pages are done, you are done and you can proof it and order your book!

I have used lots of other photo book makers before, and I like them a lot in general- I am constantly switching around the companies to get the best deal and the highest quality. Blurb is not very well known I don’t think, and until I started with them, I probably would still be making my same old option without all the customization. But I am not very up to date on photo-apps I guess, I just realized last week that the Blurb app is built into my husband’s phone and I didn’t even know it until I started working with them.

Here’s what I like:

      • The book quality is awesome
      • The options for upgrading are plentiful: hardcover, hardcover with jacket, nice paper or really nice paper. The Blurb concept rewards you for ordering in quantity too, so say you are getting married or having a baby and want to share a book with all your loved ones…that is an awesome idea by the way, and I wish I had done that(!), you can order a bunch, send them out and save some cash. Sweet!
      • They are constantly sending me coupons for great discounts (sometimes up to 50% off!)
      • There are really nice fonts, sizes, and ideas for making your most unique book ever. Mine was boring, but EASY with their online templates but you are more creative than me no doubt and will love the BookWright or InDesign features! My next book is going to rock it! LOL!

Blurb is actually a company for making books of all kinds, not just photo books. If you are a great photographer and say you want to showcase a whole book of pictures (maybe of your favorite island vacation), you can then create a travel photobook with lots of text options- not just a generic text box, and you have your new book ready to go- It might make a great present for a new baby visit or engagement party too! You can even sell your book on Amazon when you’re done. Just saying. Not that I did, but you could. You so could! Make your own book with Blurb!

Have you used Blurb before? What do you use for photo-books if you don’t use them? Are you as bad as I am at getting books made of your pictures?!

*Please note that affiliate links are included in this post to make it easier for you to find what is being referenced. A small commission is made should you purchase product using these links however, as always, any and all opinions are genuinely my own. See full disclosure.


Let’s Talk About Lice…

This is a re-post of a topic that is always great to know more about, so that you don’t really have to deal with it more than once, but also since the weather is getting cold, and we are all inside, in close-quarters, sharing our spaces. So I updated this old post, and am sharing it with you today.


So…Let’s talk about lice. Gross, you say? Why do we have to talk about it?

Let’s talk about the fact that I sort of live in fear of those little buggers. Let’s talk about how you can’t really – not even possibly talk about lice really…unless you’ve lived through it. No….it isn’t the worst thing. Yes, we can get rid of it. It isn’t permanent. But it stinks. Like, sucks the life right out of a sane person, stinks. And now, no matter how clean my kid is, I don’t want my kid to ever do any of the following:

• Share any hair accessories
• Try on hats
• Get her hair brushed by another person’s brush or comb
• Perform gymnastics on a carpet
• Use a friend’s or a school issued helmet

I get a bit crazy about it. There are so many chances that my kids can get lice, that I am almost crazy trying to avoid it! Back to school? Back to more opportunities for lice exchange. Free ropes course? I see this as a way my kid will probably share a helmet, and therefore possibly get lice. Renting ice-skates? Awesome. More helmets that I don’t own, and now I am going legitimate (to my kids’ opinions) crazy with the lice prevention and worry.

I wasn’t always like this. And I truly paid for it. Literally. It cost a ton of money.

Unbeknownst to myself or my husband ALL four of my kids had lice for over a month.

Yes, I said a month. Yes, I comb their hair. Yes, I wash their clothes and sheets. Yes we bathe every night! Before you judge me, and I sincerely wish you wouldn’t, let me explain some facts, not the least of which is that lice is extremely hard to see.

Know This: Lice, take two weeks to form from a microscopic egg, into a bug. They change color, these little eggs from black specks, to grey eggs, to white shells of a hatched egg, leaving behind the shell. After that they just multiply like crazy.

These 4 weeks of infestation, brought lots of tears to the kids… and myself. How could I have missed this? Am I not paying attention enough? Clean enough? So much guilt and shame ensued. But we got rid of it. We survived. And now I have some tips for anyone who has never dealt with the head-bugs, as we call them, and also for people who are dealing with it now.

  1. First, do a regular check on your kids every week. Yes, every week people. Like I said, the life cycle is 2 weeks, so if you comb their hair out once a week, you are cutting the cycle in half: grabbing the eggs before they hatch, and scanning for bugs at the same time.
  2. Second, shampoo on a regular basis with a shampoo that has a scent of tea-tree (Trader Joe’s) or is marketed for anti-lice (Fairytales). I personally am on the fence for this one, but I know people swear for its prevention ability.
  3. Third, and finally, follow these guidelines to avoid situation as mentioned above:

• No sharing combs, brushes
• No sharing towels,
• No sleeping on another’s pillow case
• No somersaults on carpet
• No using a joint helmet- but if they have to, tell me so I can comb through more often.

IF you do happen to get the bugs, I recommend looking up a Lice Removal Franchise. We did, and it was crazy expensive but it is also free of the chemicals that I didn’t want to put near my kids because they were so little (drugstore brands). If you are just doing a comb through, use coconut oil or just washed hair for the kids and comb it out on a regular basis. If you are in the midst of removing live bugs or lice, comb every day for the two weeks without fail, and no matter what you put in the hair for chemicals, you will remove the eggs, and the bugs.

This is key: The bedding, towels, clothes that the kids have worn have to be washed, but more importantly, dried at a high-heat setting for at least 50 minutes to kill the bugs. I put most anything that could go in the dryer, in for this amount of time. The bedding has to be dried only (not washed) nightly for the two weeks. Anything that cannot go in the dryer, bag up in a giant trash bag for the two week period. This means anything with fibers, such as stuffed animals, or dolls with hair (not hotwheels or hard-plastic items).

Now I know this is a pain in the neck for sure! I am not denying at all. You may think one week is fine, and you “think you got them all” but in this case I wouldn’t test it. You don’t want to chance your family getting it again. This 2 week process worked for us, so I am letting you know about the process. But you have to do it for the who time- especially combing, faithfully. That part you know, but you also don’t want to do, is to let the parents of the kids your lice-ridden kids have played with, or taken lessons with, or gone to school with know. The school may or may not have a policy of letting other kids in the classroom aware (anonymously of course) but best to let them know, so the lice can get treated and won’t revisit anytime soon!

I cannot tell you enough, how I still fear these critters, even two years ahead of them. I know how easy it is to miss them, and how awful we all felt for the two weeks until they were gone. If you have any questions, please let me know, and I can try to find an answer for you. Or if you have a suggestion that worked, let me know for sure! For now, I try to keep up my “once a week, take a peek” to at the very least take a good look at their heads and hair.

Emotional Life with Tweens & Teens: Inspiration for Moms

Tweens & Teens: Mom InspirationTweenagers.

If at any point today, you are staring at your little baby or toddler, thinking how “hard” it all is, remember that it will get easier…And then they will turn on you in about 8 years.

Sorry. If you haven’t had this experience, then I applaud you. And then I’d either call you a liar, or silently think that you will get your due in some fashion or another. Perhaps you had a baby that slept through the night after just 1 month too? So be it. You will get yours. The universe maintains its balance, my friends. This is my due, I guess. Now I am an expert in the emotions of young girls trying to assert themselves as independent and capable young ladies. It started at 8 year of age and has continued through until almost 12 years. I know that this will not end soon.

My best, best, best advice (not that you asked, but this is my forum, I guess, so I will go on….) is to remember the advice of the poet, W.H. Auden, who tells us

 ‘If equal affection cannot be, then let the more loving one be me.’

Words to heed. Yes. Yes, indeed.

Now don’t get me wrong- my beautiful, loving creatures still hold and love me dearly every now and again… but it can be fleeting. And the warm fuzzies are quickly forgotten after a short moment of good snuggles. The good and bad of it is that every day is a new one when you live with budding teenagers, and every other day they decide that loving anyone or anything around them is super hard. Liking anyone other than their friends is still harder. Dour moods and doom rule these dark days. If I am lucky, I manage to remember, how these moments must surely be harder for this precious child than for me…the object of their manifested feelings.

How hard it must be for the child, still figuring out their bodies, their minds, their emotions. Understanding comes with experience, and these kids wake up never having felt like this…their feelings high-jacked by hormones. I get it. I smell it too. The hormones are high during this time, my friends. But it is a sight to behold. You can see the dark moods coming if you are lucky or take care to pay attention, but beware the turn of the tide mid-day, when you think all is well…That’s when it comes in handy, these beautiful words:

‘If equal affection cannot be, then let the more loving one be me.’

Yes. My best self will say, “I am sorry that you feel that way. Do you want some time alone? Would you like some mom-time?”

These are three little things that a mom can do or say, which tackle it all:

  1. acknowledge the feeling: “I am sorry that you feel that way.”
  2. ask them if they want to go to their room and leave everyone else out of this thunderstorm of doom: “Do you want some time alone?”
  3. see if they just need a hug: “Would you like some mom-time? Let’s talk.” (WARNING! You aren’t supposed to really talk at all, as this creates more problems. Really, this means “You talk all you want and tell me how unfair and horrible it all is and I will just nod and reaffirm that your feelings are valid.”  It’s best to time this one to keep it from going on and on. Leave it to under 5 minutes or it can make your day dis.ap…e.a.r…into the vortex of tween-dom emoting.

All good things, and pretty easy right?

But it starts with me shutting my big mouth, and remembering how much this sensitive and emotional time hurts my child way more than it hurts me. Love first.

Easier said than done. So next time one of my Tweenagers decides that I am the Enemy #1 and so “UNFAIR!” I will try to breathe in and out slowly. Exhale again for good measure and shut my mouth. If either of them wants me to answer, I will remember these 3 little things: Acknowlege, Alone, Hug. (Acronym to remember: A.A.H. as in “Aah. Isn’t that better?”)

‘If equal affection cannot be, then let the more loving one be me.’

I am torn in this remembering the soft, fragile and chubby babies, who are now becoming hilarious, smart, and wonderfully independent kids. I am moving forward and trying my best to mother them into becoming kind, empathetic, and strong human beings in this world. Trying not to yell. The struggle is real. I fail all the time. Acknowlege, Alone, Hug.

‘If equal affection cannot be, then let the more loving one be me.’

Yes, Please.

You may now reward yourself with wine. Or chocolate. Either will do. You are doing awesome.