Thursday, May 26, 2011

Armchair BEA - Fostering and Nurturing Relationships

Today's Armchair BEA topic is about Nurturing Relationships: "Blogging is about community, and community is about relationships. Post about a relationship you've formed with a particular publisher, author, blogger, or bookstore; share your thoughts and tips about connecting and building those relationships."

As a blogger I haven't really gone out of my way to fostor relationships with pulishers, authors, or bookstores. A few years ago I jumped on the ARC/Review copy bandwagon and received several books to review but have since decided it isn't really my thing. I wasn't reading enough fantastic books and I didn't like being on a schedule. Shame on me for still having ARCs and review copies that are two years old that I still haven't read and reviewed.

But blogger relationships? Yes, that I do know a thing or two about.

When I started blogging four years ago (bloggiversary in 12 days!) there were far less book bloggers. No twitter. No tumblr. No facebook pages to like. I'm not even sure if anyone really used Google Reader back then? It was much more intimate and easy to connect with other bloggers.

Now there are a bajillion book bloggers and so many different places to connect with others and promote your blog. I find it more difficult to nurture relationships now than I did four years ago but I feel blessed that many of my readers have been around for that long. I can't claim to be a big or popular blogger. I prefer to be intimate with a [large] handful of bloggers rather than just a face in the crowd with the masses, but I do love making new connections with bloggers!

It's always fun to meet new bloggers as well and there are so many ways to do that. These are the things that have worked well for me over the years...

Comment! But don't just comment to comment, try to leave a worthwhile comment. Let the person know that you actually read his/her post and have taken an interest. Sure leaving a million comments will probably lead people back to your blog, but if you take the time show the blogger that you care, you'll be rewarded strong with blogging relationships.

Get Involved! Some of my favorite ways to meet other bloggers is through events held during the year. Dewey's 24-hour readathon is one of my favorites and even though I've never been able to participate, Bloggiesta is another great community building event. There are also challenges and memes and other events.

Listen to your Audience! One of ways I've able to connect with readers and bloggers is by asking questions in my own posts. This gives my readers something to respond to in the comments. Obviously this isn't always applicable, but when possible I try to elicit conversation in the comments by asking for your opinion. Sunday Salon works really well for this!

Be Yourself! I know, cheeseball. But I've found that if you give a piece of yourself to your audience they respond positively. I realize I'm a bit on the extreme with my personal blogging (at least for a book blogger), but I find myself drawn to those who share a bit of themselves in their posts.

I know there's lots of other ways to nurture relationships but this post is already much longer than I anticipated (thank you sleeping baby!).

How do YOU nurture relationships within the blogosphere?

Oh...and lots of fun learning your favorite ice cream flavors in the comments on Monday's post. Lots of Mint Chocolate Chip!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Month Update - 5.25.2011

How?  How How How is my baby girl already one month old? Yesterday I was packing up Elle's newborn clothes and I might have cried a little. I wasn't really looking forward to the newborn stage--probably because I'm so used to being around my two year old niece who is a riot and full of personality--but I've really loved it. And looking back at these pictures, she really hasn't grown as much as I thought she has. Just getting a little chunk here and there and growing lengthwise.

The saddest part to me about Elle growing so quickly is how I know my memory is eventually going to fail me. My mom was over the other day and I asked her, "How do you remember everything?" and she said you don't.

When Elle is just falling asleep she sleeps with her eyes open. She smiles and then laughs and then frowns and then closes her eyes. Repeat.

She frequently puts her right hand up to her face (like in the picture with her and Scott) like she's saying "Talk to the hand."

She'll purse her lips when she's awake and make the smallest little O mouth.

She also grunts in her sleep and keeps me up half the night and often has an upset stomach during the day and sometimes evening. I'm not sure if she's colicky yet but it's kind of looking that way. Definitely full of gas! 

She cried her first two baths but has been calm during every one since then.

Her hair is insane. No matter how much I try to brush it down it sticks straight up on one side of her head.

Elle loves going for walks and usually passes out as soon as we leave the driveway. There have been a few times where I got to the halfway point and she screamed the entire way home. What can you do?

Afternoons are the toughest for her. Not sure if this is because of what I'm eating during the day or because she's colicky. Probably both.

Many nights, though, she sleeps for a five hour stretch. Definitely helps me as I'm finding I'm not a very good napper during the day. And I could kick the next person who says "sleep when your baby does." If your baby doesn't sleep that's not always possible. ;)

She's definitely more alert during the day and I've been trying to read to her and sing to her. Good thing she doesn't have a very discerning ear!

Mommyhood has certainly been very different than I expected. For some reason I thought that she'd sleep all the time and I'd be able to get X, Y, and Z done during the day while on my maternity leave. I'm beginning to realize that the best I can do is steal moments here and there. Just because she napped yesterday doesn't mean she will today.

The first two weeks were certainly the most difficult. The second and part of the third week I cried. A lot. I was tired and when Elle had a stomachache (which was a lot), I didn't know what to do with her or how to calm my own nerves when she was screaming. I'm hoping we're moving past that and her stomach is getting stronger, but what a world of difference a few hours of sleep in a row can do! Like a whole new person. don't care about all that...

So, of the thousand of pictures I've taken in the past 30 days...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA Intros - Trish the Sometimes Book Blogger

BEA? What the heck is that, you're asking? Well, BEA is Book Expo America--a HUGE bookish event taking place in New York City right now. Many many of my book blogging buddies have made their way up and if that little rosebud wasn't just a few weeks old (four today, if you're counting), I would have loved to attend as well.

Armchair BEA was set up for those who aren't able to make the trek to NYC but still want to be able to participate in the bookish events. I've been really on the fence the past couple of weeks on whether or not to sign up and join the festivities since I haven't been feeling very bookish lately. Of course the good people on twitter convinced me otherwise, so here I am!

So, I'm Trish...and I'm sometimes a book blogger.

I started blogging almost four years ago at Trish's Reading Nook where I exclusively talked about books. A little over a year ago, though, I decided to combine my personal blogging with my book blogging here on Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity. Life is sometimes busy and I don't always get to read as much as I'd like to, but I've always been a bibliophile and will always be a book blogger at heart--even if those reviews are sometimes a little sparser than I'd like.

I'm a pretty diverse reader, but I tend to gravitate more towards classics, literary fiction, a bit of YA fiction, and non-fiction--particularly memoirs. My Reviews by Title page will give you a good idea of the types of books I enjoy reading and when I do get around to writing about books what you'll expect to find here. My favorite bookish posts to write, however, are the Sunday Salon posts. Usually these posts spark great discussions among readers and I always look forward to the responses to the various topics of discussion.

What else will you see on Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity? I think the title says it all! Besides books I also love food, quilting, travel, and family time. And anything else random that strikes my fancy at the moment.

So, nice to meet you!!

I'll leave you with my favorite question:

What's your favorite ice cream flavor?

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Salon 45: One Book, Two Book, Three, Four, Five

Good morning everyone! I didn't think I was going to do a Sunday Salon post today, but I saw this fun little meme around when I was browsing my Google Reader and JoAnn's post prompted me to actually participate. I'm super duper late to the party but I only have a short window before that little baby wakes up so...  [Meme originated by Simon of Stuck in a Book]

1. The Book I'm Currently Reading:

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Slow going but I'm really enjoying it. Very reminiscent of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. [Dangerous shot while swing was in motion...knew I was playing with fire taking this picture but success!]

2. The Last Book I Finished:

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham. Beautifully Tragic book.

3. The Next Book I Want to Read:

The Stand by Stephen King. In reality this won't be the next book I read, but I'm not sure what will.

4. The Last Book I Bought:

Bossypants by Tina Fey. I've been watching all the episodes of 30Rock and loving it.

5. The Last Book I Was Given:

Beasts by Joyce Carol Oats from Trisha at Eclectic/Eccentric for her 30th Birthday giveaway

So, what books fit into these categories for you?

Hope you're all having a lovely Sunday! Anything special and fun on the agenda?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

5.19.2011 - Fifth Anniversary

Once upon a time, 10 years ago, there was a girl who lived next door to a boy. They only lived next door to one another for a few months but they became very good friends. The road of life took them on several different paths over the next few years, but their paths always managed to converge again.

Four years later, the boy next door proposed to the girl next door and she said yes.

On May 19, 2006 Scott and I said "I do."

Over the past five years we have had amazing adventures

And lots of silliness and laughter.

We've grown and matured into adults

And created our own path to travel down together.

We still occasionally walk on the wild side

And continually have moments of fun.

But I have a feeling the greatest adventure is just about to begin

As the couple has now turned into a family.

How lucky I am to have married my best friend and the love of my life. I can't imagine experiencing this journey with anyone else.

All my love,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Memity Meme Meme Meme

First, thank you all so much for your comments on Elle's announcement post a few weeks ago. Your kind words me so much to me. Life has pretty much turned upside down--some days I can't even seem to find time to make myself a quick sandwich for lunch and some days I'm able to steal away a couple minutes here and there while Elle naps. Mostly the former. 

It's been a lot harder than I anticipated, but I know life will even out in a few weeks--or several weeks--or several months.  That said, unless I can figure out how to blog more efficiently my appearances will probably be a bit hit or miss around the blogosphere. I do miss blogging--both writing and hopping. I'll get there.

So...I'm digging into my drafted posts for two memes I've saved for a rainy day.

Meme the First

In November 2010!!! Ms. Meredith at A Work in Progress tagged me for a meme she did

If you could be in any TV show when you were a kid, what would it be?
Age 5: You Can't Do that on Television (honestly, no idea what I watched when 5!)
Age 10: Heyyyyyyy Dude!

What was your favorite Christmas gift as a child?
Dear parents--unfortunately I don't remember many gifts from my childhood. Is there a lesson there somewhere? What I do remember is the My Little Pony Mansion.

What actress would you want to play you if your life was made into a movie?
Yes, yes, I know...but can I have Charlize Theron please? #onecandream

What decade fad do you wish would come back?
1950s. So gorgeous. Well, and the shoes, the gloves, the hats, the suited men.

What song describes your life?
Pass. Sorry. :-/ All the songs I deeply love seem to be deeply depressing!

What was your favorite subject in school?
Grade School or College? In high school I was in a class called Clinical Rotations where every six weeks I shadowed a different hospital department (Labor & Delivery and ER were most memorable). College? A humanities survey class I took my freshman year of college. Art, music, architecture, etc. Loved it.

If you could have a dream job for a day, what would it be?
Um, singer/dancer on Broadway!! Too bad I can't sing or dance...

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
Tiger. Because they'rrrrrrrrrrre grrrrrrrrrrreat!

Meme the Second

And the second meme--The 4 Things Meme brought to you by Jill at Fizzy Thoughts

Four jobs I’ve had in my life:
1. Old Navy Sales Associate
2. Sonic Drive-in Carhop
3. Fire Department Office Assistant
4. College Freshman English Teacher

Four books I would read over and over:
1. Wuthering Heights (haha!)
2. The Book Thief
3. Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man
4. Bridget Jones's Diary

Four places I have lived:
1. Markham, Ontario, Canada (burb of Toronto)
2. Rexburg, Idaho
3. College Station, Texas
4. Plano, Texas

Four books I would recommend:
1. The Complete Persepolis
2. The Eyre Affair
3. The Devil in the White City
4. The Help

Four places I have been:
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
2. Ketchikan, Alaska
3. Berlin, Germany
4. Oranjestad, Aruba (below)

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Chips and Salsa
2. Sweet Potato Fries
3. Creme Brulee
4. Vanilla Bean Blue Bell Ice Cream

Four of my favorite drinks:
1. Coffee
2. Water
3. Sonic Limeade (Sprite and lime)
4. Margarita - frozen with salt

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. On a cruise ship
2. On a motorcycle
3. In a hammock
4. Under the stars

Four things that are very special in my life:
1. My spectacular husband
2. My gorgeous daughter
3. My supportive family and friends
4. My quiet/"me" time

Four bloggers I hope will do this meme:
to steal from Jill...
1. You
2. You
3. You
4. You

Alright--stolen moment is over (actually, writing this post took several days worth of stolen moments #sigh)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Introducing Baby Girl - April 25th, 2011

I am utterly, 1000% in love. On Monday, April 25th at 4:31 pm, Scott and I welcomed Little Miss Baby Billy Sue into the world.

Elizabeth Claire, who we will call Elle, weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces and is 19.5 inches long.

The little rosebud is a dream and even though I know I'm biased, I just can't help but stare at her and die over her how beautiful and perfect she is.  And yes, that hair. Nine months of heartburn that was totally worth it in the end. I do fully expect it to turn light within a few months, though, as both Scott and I were born with tons of dark hair that eventually lightened up.

And Scott? Totally smitten. Every once in a while I'll look at him while he's holding her and he tells me "I have something in my eye." Uh huh. Sure. He's so sweet and gentle with her and I've loved watching him transform into the role of father.

Life has surely had to adjust over the past week. We were discharged from the hospital on Wednesday afternoon and since then we've had a few sleepless nights, some tears, but lots of laughs and lots of love. I just can't believe little Elle is here and how much joy she's already brought into our lives. You spend nine months preparing for the moment, but there's no way to prepare for such extreme love.

Birth Story...

Many of you know I was induced on Monday. I'm not really sure how much is too much detail, but I'll try to keep the story pretty neutral--obviously feel free to skip.

Scott and I checked into the hospital at 5:00 am on Monday. I was started on pitocin around 6:30 and while I started having more regular contractions, the dose of pitocin was low and the contractions weren't painful. I've since lost track of the timing of things, but around 10:30 my doctor came in and told me I looked entirely too happy so she broke my water. I immediately started having more powerful contractions and an hour later (11:30?) I opted for an epidural (always in the plan).

With the epidural in place I was able to get some rest but I wasn't really progressing (at a 3 around noonish--was 2.5 when I checked in that morning). Scott and I had several visitors during this time, but we finally kicked everyone out so that I could take a nap and get some rest. While I didn't ever fully sleep, my body entered into extreme relaxation until I started vomiting (2:30?). The nurse came to check because she noted that baby's heartrate would suddenly drop and then go back up and told me I was at an 8 or 9 and probably only had an hour left. The words "Holy Shit!" literally came out of my mouth.

At this point I was too excited, nervous, freaked out, emotional to rest so the visitors came back in. Around 3:30 I threw up again (total count for the day was 7 or 8 times both before and after labor), so the nurse checked and said I was ready to go. The doctor wasn't at the hospital yet, so she was paged and around 4:00 I started pushing with the help of Scott and the nurse. Baby finally came at 4:31.

I joked with someone that I laughed throughout the whole delivery and to some extent I did. The epidural was a blessing and really made the labor a joy (I know how strange that sounds and the labor was hard, but...). My delivery was fairly quick and certainly uncomplicated, but with the wonderful wonderful support of Scott and the nurse (also a midwife), it really was a spectacularly miraculous experience.

Well, my "free" hour is up so I'm off again to snuggle with that baby. Thank you so much for all of your love and support and thoughts and prayers both before and after Elle's arrival. It truly means the world.

With the fullest heart...
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