So you decided one fine December that it would be super swell to make photo books as holiday gifts for the grandparents, siblings, and aunts. And it was . . . but it was so much work. So. Much. Work.
But they loved them, and they fawned over you, and now it’s your thing. Your stressful, time-sucking thing. But you know in your heart it doesn’t have to be that hard. If you just knocked them out earlier in the year it wouldn’t be so bad. Right? RIGHT?! New Year’s resolution time: jump on Shutterfly in January and BOOM, Christmas shopping will be done before the calendar even flips a page.
But things come up, time gets away from you, and then suddenly . . .
It’s dawn on December 5th when you realize the 50% discount–THE BEST OFFER OF THE YEAR–ends at midnight.
Procrastination be damned and with Shutterfly as your witness, you will get the photo books done today!
But first Facebook.
NO! FOCUS! Must start culling through 30 bajillion photos. Because digital.
Declare Part B of your new New Year’s resolution is to delete bad photos as you go along.
(No, you won’t.)
Figure out that NOT ONE of the 50 pictures you shot on burst for the family portrait has everyone looking good (or at least looking at the camera) at the same time.
Spend an hour on PicMonkey frankensteining a photo that is album cover worthy.
Hell, while you’re at it, touch up your roots and whiten your teeth in that one fab picture of yourself in front of the tree.
Crap, you need to get the kids to school.
Okay, focus. Just pick some pictures so a book can actually happen.
Start upload of 331 photos.
Celebrate with your 4th cup of coffee before 10:00 AM because now you can begin the fun stuff of designing your book.
Come back with your 5th mug of coffee and realize not all of the photos are on the site because your internet connection glitched in the middle of your upload.
Go through the tiny thumbnails and figure out what’s missing.
Schedule an appointment with the eye doctor to see if you need glasses.
Start another upload.
Swear you’ll upload your pictures immediately after Christmas this year.
(No you won’t.)
While upload is completing (you won’t dare walk away this time because your broken spirit is too heavy to drag along), pick out the perfect theme.
Treat yourself to a 6th cup of coffee because you picked out the perfect theme in three minutes.
Oh nardbolts, it is one that costs extra.
Go back and settle on a different theme. Convince yourself that your basic family will like the basic theme.
Check on the upload.
Accidentally pause upload because your hands are shaking.
Make yourself a sandwich to soak up the caffeine.
Start the book.
Forty minutes later panic–because while they are PERFECTLY placed–you only have three pictures in your album and it’s now time to pick the kids up from school.
Grind on the homework/dinner/practice/bedtime hamster wheel.
Grab a latte to get you through.
Four hours later get back on Shutterfly.
Add a shot of Bailey’s to your coffee because you realize you only have 45% of one page created.
Pass out on the keyboard because you are EXHAUSTED.
Wake up at 4:00 AM. Succumb to gnashing of teeth and rending of garments BECAUSE YOU MISSED THE DEADLINE!
Start Google search to see how much you could get for a kidney to pay for full price photo books.
Check email and see–can it be true??–the 50% deal has been extended by ONE DAY.
Fall to your knees weeping the praises of Shutterfly and promising to use this second chance to end your procrastinating ways once and for all.
(No you won’t.)
Get the kids to school and crank up that Keurig because momma’s got a photo book to complete.
Bust through 30 pages like a woman possessed by ignoring your family and squashing all semblances of holiday cheer. Hit submit at 11:52 PM.
Revel in those eight minutes to spare.
Be stricken with complete amnesia when those glorious orange boxes show up on your doorstep.
Erin: That one put a whole different spin on mean girls. I found the dynamics of group psychology . . .
Ellen: Wait! That’s not what I wanted to talk about! I know you are Queen of the Tangents, but I’m going to borrow your scepter for a moment. I want to talk about an article Megan recommended to me.
Erin:Whoa. Clearly you are excluding me from a group of friends I REALLY want to be a part of. Hook. Me. Up.
Ellen: Well, she recommended it to me and 8,000 of her closest friends on Twitter. I saw her handle in her bio and jumped over to check her out. There I saw a link to this article that has been bouncing around in my head ever since: Shutterbug Parents and Overexposed Lives.
Erin:Those are some interesting points to ponder brought up in that article!
Like: “Are shutterbug parents wiping away their mental databases of experiences with their offspring while bulking up their digital ones?”
Ellen: And this one: “When children grow up reviewing thousands of pictures and hours of video of their young lives, will these images supersede their memories?”
Erin: So many questions, so much to say. This feels like the perfect time for a podcast.
Ellen: True that! Listen to what we have to say and tell us what you think in the comments. My husband and I are going on a trip of a lifetime to Paris with our kids and I’m wondering if I will have enough nerve to limit my shutterbug impulses.
So, what level of shutterbug are you?
Would you be able, or even willing , to limit your picture taking??
The good ol’ summertime is a fantastic time to slow it down and really smell the roses. So to speak.
Erin:It’s also a perfect time to have it smack you in the face just how fast your babies are growing up. We just had our LAST first lost tooth over here. I know. Sniff. Sniff.
Ellen: Wow. Try saying “last first lost tooth” three times fast. But even with five kids, you’ll eventually get to the end of firsts, it just takes longer. So get over yourself. My youngest is thirteen, so if your youngest is what, seven? That makes it about how many years ago since our last first lost tooth?
Erin:That would be six years ago. You’re doing some mighty powerful math over there. But really, you’re making my point. You forget things as the years go by. I feel like I should toss this golden nugget on top of the mound of memories I already have started but, truth be told, with five kids that mound’s starting to look more like a mountain of crap than a pile of precious memories.
Ellen: Here’s my dirty little secret. I have two kids and never filled a baby book past the second month. Stop judging because this was way before Instagram, Facebook, and, for my first child, digital cameras.
Erin:Gasp! Just kidding. The same is true for me.
Ellen: You should see our boxes of old photos, bins of artwork, and meaningful scraps of paper that look more like guinea pig litter than mementos.
I cannot bear to disassemble this corner. There is stuff dating back to second grade and my girls are going into 11th and 8th grades. I need help.
Erin: I have those bins too, except multiplied exponentially because, you know, I multiplied exponentially.
Then, of course, there are also the Facebook updates and blog posts that we have been using ever since surfing the net became a thing. That stuff all counts in recording the story of our families.
Ellen: We hope. If only the Internet had been around in the beginning or was designed for finding things in the future. How on earth are my kids ever gonna find all my witty status updates or see all the photos I uploaded to my profile in five years, let alone twenty?
Erin:But there’s hope and a way to sort through the multimedia mass. Those scraps of paper with those funny quotes can be liberated from the drawers. Those beautiful photos (even those hanging out on Instagram and Facebook) can be pulled out from the boxes under the bed. Even those handprints plastered on paper plates and all the other artwork can resurface and find a place in the light again.
Ellen: Stop locking their childhoods in a closet! Set them free! We have discovered an easy way to collect, preserve, organize, share, and print out those memories for all eternity or, at the very least, Grandma.
Blinkbuggy to the Rescue!
Blinkbuggy is a new online website dedicated to solving our memory mess and yours. Blinkbuggy offers simple yet powerful tools to tell your family’s story from first step to last first tooth to prom to graduation (It’s a’ comin, people! Insert another loud and snuffly sniff sniff here).
It’s just as important to get the funny shot as the money shot.
In addition, Blinkbuggy’s easy-to understand controls for privacy and sharing offer assurances that Aunt Tillie and Grandma have plenty of access to “The Story of You All” but college recruiters will not.
Furthermore, it’s so easy that these self-proclaimed Lazy Girls can get on board. With a Blinkbuggy app for iPhone already available and an Android app available by year’s end, it couldn’t be easier to get the funny quote or picture right where it belongs right away. We love that there’s room for funny quotes and sweet notes to nestle beside our ubiquitous but wonderful pictures.
We wouldn’t want to forget the ten year old’s obsession with big band music that made us wake up every morning ready to ration sugar and donate our hose to the war effort.
Blinkbuggy’s memory pages are easy on the eyes too. They mimic the look and feel of an Instagram feed and offer multiple ways to view the memories you have stored.
They really put our old boxes and bins to shame. We like all the viewing options really, but they are still, you know, on the computer. While this has solved our big issue of gathering all the scraps and bits together into one nice neat little story, that story’s only as good as our internet connection. Sometimes you just want to hand your old roommate or your grandfather a lovely book to look through and Blinkbuggy has some great options there too.
Partnering with MILK books, Blinkbuggy offers three options for printing from your memory feed: an archive-ready album, individual framed prints, and cards. We are of course excited about these pretty things, because we love all things graphic and creative. However, the real reason you should hustle over and start your own memory feed today is that finally all the pictures you take, your kids take, and heck, your husband takes can all be collected in one place. This is truly a feat because sometimes you find gems like this one on your husband’s phone.
The Mom Stays in the Picture . . . For Once
But what we love even more is the way Blinkbuggy works for our families now. We are so beyond anything baby that we can barely even stand the word “potty-training”, but we are still sentimental and sweet on our kids.
We are also real. With five teens between us, we have a healthy relationship with technology. Everybody has Instagram accounts and most of them have Facebook accounts as well. They all take their own photos on their phones and iPods.
What Blinkbuggy makes so easy with their upload from Instagram and Facebook feature is that our kids and their photos can become part of our story-telling as well. These photos are the adolescent equivalent of all those macaroni necklaces and construction paper projects we have stuffed in the drawers.
We will look back someday and be grateful for these literal snapshots of their lives. For now, we’ll just be grateful that Blinkbuggy is proving that nobody is really beyond a baby book. Because as we all know, they’ll always be our babies.
This is a sponsored post but we are true believers in this product or we wouldn’t tell you about it.
Erin:You never know what kids are going to come up with at any given moment. This moment actually began as an obnoxiously olfactory one. Abercrombie and Fitch punched me in the face as I stood in the bedroom door. I was choking on a tsunami of Axe molecules as I managed to croak out, “What’s goin’ on in here?” to the tiny nearly naked boy STILL spraying himself head to toe with the stuff.
“Ace said this makes you grow hair. I want to be a bear.”
Ellen: Ha! That’s adorable and I admire his commitment to his dream.
Quite frankly, I can’t remember wanting to be anything, but a doctor at any age, and, gee, I’m really glad I picked that.
Erin:I know I wanted to be an astronaut. My family actually nicknamed me Space Puppy, and that was BEFORE the movie Space Camp too, so you KNOW I was serious.
Ellen: Well, aren’t we just a couple of cute clichés. But here’s the thing, I got the degree, but I’m not practicing. You’re not an astronaut, you space out sometimes, but you’re not an astronaut. But really, you made the right choice since there is essentially no space program now. Were there any other dream “bullets” you dodged?
Erin: I couldn’t have dreamt up the life I have now when I was 5 or 10 or even 20. Once I left the daily grind to stay home with my kids, that’s when the possibilities really opened up.
Ellen: I couldn’t agree more, so without further ado. . .
Ten Things We Never Dreamed of Doing When We Were Kids
I’m a DIY sort of person — not on the scale of building decks or patching roofs, but let’s just say one Christmas my husband gave me a sapphire bracelet and a compound miter saw. When the toilet needs to be fixed or the cabinets need to be moved so the new refrigerator can fit in the old opening, I’m the gal for the job. And woe to the unprepared repairman who asks my husband to borrow a tool. He will just be redirected back to the “little lady” he strode past to get to the man of the house.
Unfortunately, my hot dish of competence comes with a heaping side of procrastination and a big dollop of perfectionism dripping off the plate onto Grandma’s heirloom tablecloth. It’s a double whammy, Folks. Getting started on a project is as easy for me as getting the cat to cut our grass on the Fourth of July.
“But the perfectionism is a good thing, Ellen! A perfect project is what you want, right?” you say.
Well, thanks for being my enabler, but no. My meticulousness does not spring from a bottomless well. I waste so much energy in the beginning with precision that I often fail to cross the finish line. Seriously, it’s like I’m inches from breaking the tape and I’m liked, “Meh, I ran 12.9 miles. Good enough. I think I’ll go have a margarita. And start another race.”
This towel hangs in my bathroom next to the tub with the surround I built and installed . . . with the nail holes still unfilled.
But the project I’m sharing with you today is epic and finished (well, it will be by the time I post this — fingers crossed). And epic is not hyperbole. This project spanned two centuries.
A Gazillion Steps to Finishing Two Lingerie Chests
Now don’t get all hot and bothered. I don’t have enough lingerie to fill two pieces of furniture. It’s just what they’re called and these are the drawers that would fit on either side of the TV armoire . . . a piece of furniture that is now obsolete and needs to go because we want a bigger flat screen. But the easiest way to get it out would be to take an ax to it and I don’t have that kind of violence simmering within me right now.
Anyway, back to my project that begins at the turn of the century in 1999 . . .
1. Buy two unfinished pieces of furniture because you want to be creative and do something special with them.
2. Realize that your time would be wasted doing something special with them because there is no Facebook or Pinterest on which to show them off. Incidentally, you discover you are pregnant with your second child and think huffing hydrocarbons would not be the responsible thing to do.
3. Put chests in storage for 13 years. Wait for social media to take the world by storm.
4. Rejoice that there is Pinterest and remember that you have a project to complete. Remembering is not hard since you have to climb over these drawers every year to excavate the Christmas decorations.
5. Pin all the things to make these chests ever-loving fabulous!
6. Decide to haul drawers out of the basement to the garage in May 2012. This is not only the end of the school year, but the end of two milestone school years — my oldest graduating from 8th grade and my youngest graduating from 5th grade. My calendar looked like this.
Believe me, even when it wasn’t blurred to protect the innocent, it was hard to follow.
7. Fail to get drawers completed — and by completed, I mean started — before school ends.
8. Spend summer having fun and not parking in the garage. Beat down anxiety as junk slowly creeps into the space where the car use to be.
9. Kids are back in school! Clear out garage to get to the drawers. This only takes a day or 15.
The creep is strong in this house it is.
10. Search through stash to see if you have anything with which to complete this project. After all, DIY is supposed to be economical!
11. Find some pretty cream colored glazing stain. Remember that yes, this is what you wanted to do with the chests. But alas the jar is tiny and the company that made it went out of business. Mourn the loss because you’re sure it would have worked really well. Since they were good enough to stay in business and all.
12. Say, “Patooey! This project has been over a decade in the making, but I don’t have time for that whole staining process. To the Home Depot for spray paint!”
13. Buy a case of spray paint because you are NOT going to get burned with that whole “going out of business” thing again. No siree. Spend a mortgage payment on drawer pulls while you’re there.
14. It is time to start sanding. Whoopee! Nothing is more fun than scraping your knuckles and breathing in sawdust. Pull out the first drawer and find the knobs you bought a lifetime ago — my youngest daughter’s lifetime that is. They are perfect, but this leads you to the next chore . . .
15. Return the recently purchased knobs to Home Depot. Celebrate your new found fortune . . . until you write your mortgage check.
16. Put on a super cute outfit and commence sanding. Make sure you do it well and go with the grain. My furniture was bare so I started with a fine grit sanding sponge. Sanding is the foundation to a great finish. (REAL TIP ALERT!)
17. Search for a tack cloth to remove the dust, the next step to a smooth finish. For some reason you can’t find one on your work bench.
It’s so puzzling why I can’t find anything.
18. Declare, “I am NOT going back to Home Depot.” Wipe chests with a damp cloth and raise the grain of the wood. Anyone who knows the term “raising the grain” should not be stupid enough to do it. (REAL TIP ALERT: Raising the grain means to make the wood fibers swell up. It can be a good idea to do this if you are staining a piece because you swell the fibers and can sand them down BEFORE you start to stain. If you’re using spray paint, this step just sucks away your time and patience.)
19. Begin sanding process again. Skulk to Home Depot to buy a $1.79 tack cloth. Spend $20 on pansies while you’re there because, you know, you need another project.
20. REAL TIP ALERT: Prime the chests using a color close to your final color. I used a red brown since my final color was a metallic copper.
Smoothing with a paper bag
21. Start spraying your layers of final color. REAL TIP ALERT: Follow the directions on the can exactly. You can do a couple of light coats within ONE HOUR, but not too many or your paint will start to sag. After that one hour passes you have to wait 48 hours for the next coat. Really. The key to a good spray paint finish is for the finish to cure and harden rather than remain gummy. In between dry coats, buff the surface lightly with a paper bag to smooth it before you start spray painting again.
22. Pretend you’re a quirky pop star with your new metallic fingertip.
23. Repeat steps 21 and 22 until your piece is evenly finished. You may want to find something to pass the time while you are waiting for the paint to cure. I chose an emergency appendectomy, but use your own judgement.
24. Panic that Superstorm Sandy is coming and might flood your garage. Move drawers into living room.
Hit me up if you want some Feng Shui tips
25. Decide that this project has not dragged on long enough and you need to up the wow factor by upholstering the sides. Give yourself a hard deadline by scheduling a sleepover party with 14 tween girls for your daughter’s birthday.
26. Pattern match, measure, and cut the fabric and batting for the sides.
27. Allow yourself a moment to freak the hell out when you turn the furniture over and discover a bevvy of spider eggs cases. Resist setting the drawers on fire. You’ve come too far.
28. Staple! But first relocate your cat to another room so that she does not wrap herself around your head at the first <Whamp>.
29. Take a break until 2 days before the party. Make sure to include the stapler in your cleaning routine.
30. Get your butt in gear because you have a cake to bake! Finish the edges of the fabric panels with ribbon and brass tacks. Smash your fingers and destroy the “brass” finish on the tack with the first whack of the hammer.
31. REAL TIP ALERT: Remember the trick of holding the tack with a fork or comb and search for your tack hammer. For some reason, you still can’t find anything on your work bench. Pilfer the mouse pad that was included in your awesome prize basket that you won in the twisted crafting contest sponsored by The Bearded Iris and The Suniverse and wrap it around the only hammer out of five that you can find.
Thanksgiving has us thinking of circles — circles of love, circles of family, circles of friendship, circles of life . . . and now you’ve got The Lion King song blaring through your head. You’re welcome.
What Thanksgiving didn’t leave us with was a lot of spare time for blogging. Erin and her brood spent the better part of the week with her family only to drive back for two and a half hours to drop her girl child off at Ellen’s house for Jellybean’s (12) rockin’ sleepover. This sleepover went much smoother than some in the past and for that Ellen is grateful. With 14 girls there was the potential for much to go wrong.
So we’re thankful that Monday Listicles only required us to share 10 photos from our cell phones. THAT we can handle.
1. Circling Above
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
2. Dupont Circle Studs
Renaissance Hotel Lobby Dupont Circle Washington DC
Erin’s Aunt makes each kid their own pie for Thanksgiving dinner Yummy AND sweet!
9. Psychedelic Circles
Cloud Gate aka “The Bean” Chicago, IL
10. Grammatically Questionable Circle
Found on the Christmas Bazaar Baked Goods Table
So in the end, we are thankful for being able to find the funny in every day. We are also grateful to Jessica Betke at Jesse’s Spot for making blogging fun and easy this week. We love ecards too and her funny Thanksgiving post made us giggle. Finally, this week and every week, we are also appreciative of Stasha for providing such a fun place to land every Monday.