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Week 39 in the 52 Weeks Project

*gunnar: In this week’s episode of photos, we have a theme. The theme which is pretty much my life every single day 4pm-9pm, even on Saturdays and some Sundays. Gunnar’s school is pretty good about homework but he had a huge project due in history. 

*sawyer: Sawyer also has a huge project due in Language Arts that he’s been working on for several weeks. It’s never ending! I feel like I need to celebrate with cocktails at the end of each day.

*greta: Yep, her too. Big Language Arts project and the kicker is she has a partner for this assignment so now I get to wrangle TWO third graders to finish their work! Since I’m not the work full time mama, I get them some afternoons and we are knee deep in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Oh some days I imagine how nice it would be to put the project on another parent’s shoulders, but then I think about not seeing them each day at the dismissal bell and I realize I would take all the projects and partners to not miss those faces. 

Why How What - A blog defined...

Today let's get a little more personal than we usually do here on My Life at Playtime. I was nominated by my talented and amazing friend Jen of Classic Play to share in a blog hop focused on answering the question of why. So let's delve into the whys, hows, and whats of what I do here on My Life at Playtime, shall we? 

Why Do I Write?

I write for many reasons. I've always written. When I was younger, it used to be runaway letters to my parents explaining to them the injustices of a particular situation and my need to pack my bags and leave home. At 9. True story. Several times.

Or in high school being the editor of our school yearbook, for a school with over 2000 students. I kept journals all through my teenage years, documenting every friendship and relationship I had. Writing was my way of letting out what I no longer could just keep inside my head. I was quite dramatic too. I look over my scrapbooks and my journals and think cringeworthy thoughts about my melodramatic take on phone calls and conversations, boys and heartache. But I had to write about it. And somehow still to this day I have a little bit of that "have to write-ness" in me. Hopefully I write now with a little more perspective and maturity. It's great I don't feel like the world is going to end quite so frequently!

I also write because it's become a way for me to help support my family. I won't deny that's a great motivation to write. As much as it's an outlet for me it's also a business choice now. I keep content on my blog current so that when I apply for positions as a contributor elsewhere they see what my "voice" is like, my style of writing and what I can share or offer them. 

Why else do I write? I write because no matter how many blogs or books I read, websites or magazines, I've never come across someone who is me. And that's because there isn't anyone else just like someone else. My voice is my own and I don't ever feel the pressure that someone else is doing me, better. Bloggers often fall into a comparison trap, where they can get down on themselves about someone doing a post or a photo shoot or an essay better than they could.. But I'm a firm believer that no one can do you better. And no one can do me better. That's just it. The end. 

What Am I Working On?

I'm working on keeping up with my writing commitments at the moment. Being a contributor at Hello Natural began with a two post per month agreement and it's slowly migrated into a 4-6 post per month gig. I'm working on making sure that I balance my own blog content with my work elsewhere, such as on Classic Play as well as Hello Natural. I might not be able to post here quite as frequently as I used to, but I still feel like I'm here often. And often enough to keep myself happy and readers too.

I feel like writing about health and beauty is a true blend of my online and offline life. Being an esthetician and not really being able to share much about my knowledge on skincare outside of my daily work has finally blossomed into this awesome partnership. And being able to share this information with readers who really appreciate it, is simply pretty awesome. 

How Does It Differ From Others Of It's Genre?

That's a tough one to answer, and maybe it'd be better answered by all of you instead of me. I can answer more easily how I'm different as a person, so let's start there. 

I feel like I'm often a walking contradiction. A lot. I'm dedicated to my family, but not at the expense of anyone, including myself. I firmly believe my kids benefit from having a happy mom, but I'm balanced and realize that being a mother means sacrificing things I truly love.

Being a younger mom I have a unique relationship with my kids. I learn right alongside them. I openly tell them when I make mistakes. I openly share that I don't always know what to say or have the right answer. Sometimes if my kids are having an especially hard time, I just tell them it sucks, and give them a hug. There isn't always a resolution. And I try to avoid the need to "fix" everything in their lives.

I find I read a lot less blogs now than I used to. I enjoy them less. I am tired of seeing the same thing on so many blogs, week in and week out. The same sponsored articles, the same aesthetic, the same clothes, the same pretty photo of a drink stirrer. Maybe my taste has changed, or maybe the blogs I used to read have all evolved to be too similar, but I miss the days when blogs were extensions of people's lives. I like 'blog blogs', not 'magazine blogs'. 

I sure hope what I do here is still a 'blog blog'. Glimpses of my real life, my real kids, my real clothes, my real tips on keeping us healthy, and so on. Sure, I don't feel comfortable sharing all my kids' stories as they get older because I don't own those stories. But I also don't paint a picture that isn't real. We are a real family, my kids fight, my kids make me laugh, my kids keep me sane and cause my insanity. 

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How Does My Writing Process Work?

I'm not all that organized to be honest. I write as things happen in our lives. We get a great book haul from the library, and that motivates me to write a book post! We explore a new adventure, I write about it! When it's something more personal, or an essay, I occasionally have Aaron proofread it. But I usually like for him to read it along with everyone else who visits this blog. 

My favorite part of the writing process is the aftermath. For instance, my Nana reads this blog religiously and sends me the absolute best emails. She doesn't know how to comment on the blog, so I get these amazing emails instead. They are heartfelt and encouraging and just all around what my grandma is. I love you Nana!

I am definitely more organized when it comes to my other writing gigs. I usually get my Hello Natural theme topics 4-6 weeks in advance and like to work on them slowly. Research, write, edit, write, proofread, submit to editor. My art lesson or tween/teen articles for Classic Play are usually done the week before they go live. Jen and I talk about different topics and then when we decide on one, I get to work. I submit it to her about 4-6 days before it goes on the site and that way she has time to add her lovely artistic touches to the photographs. 

And there you have it! The ins and outs of how and why I blog! 

Now I’d like to nominate a blogger that just began her blog about a year ago. Remember when I expressed how I prefer blogs that are extensions of people, that’s what The Inspired Mommy is, an extension of life with four little ones. Stephanie shares ideas and tips that have worked for her family of three boys and a girl, and a dog, and a husband, and a house. I miss the days of finger painting playdates and fun toddler crafts strewn about my dining table. So I get my fix through Stephanie’s blog of life with babies and toddlers and kindergarten. And somehow she manages to plan fantastic kid parties, have themed learning weeks, and sneak in time for herself. 

Disneyland & Our Family Secret to Pin Trading

Pin Trading. Family Secrets. This is juicy stuff. Thursday the kids had off school for Rosh Hashanah. Oh do I love the days off that Los Angeles school district gives us. I know they aren't giving me those days off. But I still get to enjoy them. A random Thursday of no school, I'll take it!

For weeks we have been planning on going to Disneyland with my mom. We analyzed our ride strategy, we arranged and rearranged our trading pins. We stocked up on trading pins.

Ok, I'll let you in on a little secret about trading pins at Disneyland. We didn't know the ins and outs of trading pins when we began last year. In fact we would buy a pack at one of the stores at Disneyland and then trade those puppies. Not cheap! I did a little researching and ended up discovering lots(as in not a quantity, but a group of, that kind of 'lot') of trading pins on eBay. You can get 50 pins for $20. I ordered a lot(singular) a few weeks ago and then we got to taking turns picking one pin at a time. Some we loved, and others went straight to our trade pile. Now we were armed with pins purely for trading! 

Now when we go to Disneyland we have pins that we trade for ones we like. The dilemma? By the end of the day, you have traded all your trading pins for pins you love! So now what do you do for the next Disney trip? Another lot my friend! $20 is well worth the delight to watch your three kids trade with cast members in between waiting in line for rides. Our family rule now is each time we go to Disneyland each kid can pick out one new pin to buy. Of course it's not for trading, but to add to their collection. That way we don't have a ridiculous souvenir spending event like we have encountered in the past. One pin per trip, and stocking up on trading pins to trade before you go, that's our whole deal! Our family secret! And now it's yours my friend.

You'll have to do research on what to collect. It's completely a personal choice. And it's adorable to go through my kids collections and see which ones they gravitate toward. Gunnar is into a particular set of hidden Mickey cast costumes, anything Muppet, and most pirate or sports themes. Sawyer and Greta both have a love for Club Penguin pins, Greta loves these little Mickey hats pins in all different themes, and Sawyer likes to have a big variety at all times. So when we are looking at pins with cast members we are always looking out for one another. Like, Sawyer needs that one! Or Gunnar would love that! And it's all sorts of adorableness, I assure you. What do I like? That's a secret, you'll have to come to Disneyland with me one day to find out. 

Back to our day off now that I've spilled the beans on our Disneyland planning strategies. Thursday we were in the park for about 5.5 hours and we managed to ride our favorite rides, check out the Captain America exhibit, and trade to our hearts content! Not to mention eat lunch and of course enjoy some Dole Whip.

In line for Pirates of the Caribbean there was a real tough dude behind us. Tank top with muscly arms and tats all over. This is the part I love, the pin collecting thing affects everyone! This dude had a lanyard on, filled with the coolest Mickey pins I've ever seen. Gunnar was admiring it and bashfully asked him if he would like to trade for anything of his. Nicest guy, he told Gunnar you can trade for anything you want, just take your pick, and you give me whatever pin you want. Gunnar was equally kind and made sure to give him his coolest pin, and not choose one of the guy's nicer looking pins. It was super awesome. Pins! It's bonding!

I highly recommend the Innovations Exhibit that is going on right now. We've seen the Iron Man one before, but it's always worth another visit. This time we also did Captain America. Ummm, totally cool. Loved it. I'm a nerd. Move on. 

And to close out this Disney post, how happy is this bunch? Ah, love these smiles. Also, all photos from this post were taken with my new iPhone. Loving it. This last one was in almost complete darkness!