Oh What Do You Do In The Summertime?

This summer has been especially busy!  I was talking to the family about my upcoming blog conference {It’s called Haven, see button on sidebar.}  My son said, “you’re going to a blog conference for a blog you don’t write on anymore.”  Hmmmmm…it looks like my boy might be visiting here more than I thought.  This was my answer, “it’s because I put my family first in the summer time.”  For once there was silence from him.

It is difficult to spend time writing and editing photos during the summer while the kids are home.  As a matter of fact, my youngest is currently pouting because I asked her to please wear her headphones while she watches a show on her iPod.  It’s difficult for this ADD mom to have noise in the background while writing.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about.  In fact, I have so many things I would like to write about.  Sometimes that is just as overwhelming as having nothing to write about.

One reason I haven’t had time to write is because I’m running again.  Let me tell you, this is the first summer out of all of my adult years (about 10) I’ve been running I’ve actually RUN.  I usually take the summer off from running.  If you live in the south, then you understand why.  It’s SO STINKING HOT!  Problem is, I get out of shape and gain weight over the summer.  Then it’s that much harder to start running again in the fall.  I promised myself after all the effort I’ve put into losing 10 pounds I needed to bite the bullet and run this summer.  It’s the only way I will keep my weight in check.

My son goes to a training program every morning at 6:30am.  After I drop him off, I go to our local walking/jogging track.  I will admit, I only run the first mile without stopping to walk.  The next 2 miles are a run/walk combination interspersed with water breaks.  It’s still between the 80’s and 90’s early in the morning.  My kids told me recently they thought I had lost weight since the beginning of the summer.  I was surprised they noticed and said so.

friendship brings joy familybringsjoy.comSo in between taking the kids to their various camps, conferences and our vacation…I made a new friend this summer.  She and her family moved here from a major city in the west.  I’ve been trying to keep her from going stir crazy in this small little town of ours.  She’s been going through Target withdrawals.  {been there. done that.}  I remember her calling me and asking me if there was a craft store here.  Oh how I wish!  I shared with her how I buy my crafting supplies.  We have spent a lot of fun time together already.  I realized while putting this little collage together of iPhone photos, we have done a LOT of swimming together. {which is why I’m always in my swim suit in the photos.}  She brings her littles over to swim in our pool.  The first time they came over her 2 boys wouldn’t even get in the pool.  They played around the pool.  The second time they came over they stood on the steps of the pool.  Now, with their swim vests securely fastened, they swim around and do great!  It’s been wonderful to see their progress and the huge grins on their faces.  Fortunately, her sweet baby girl adores the water.  I’m pretty sure she will be swimming in no time!  I enjoy seeing my kids take her little ones under their wing and act as big sisters and brothers to them.  We have enjoyed having friends in our home again.  It’s been such a long time since we’ve had close friends.  If you’ve read my blog for a while, you might have seen me whine about not having good friends here.  So if you were one of my readers who has been praying for me, you’re prayers have been answered.  And I thank you so much for doing so.  Friends definitely bring JOY and make life happier.

One of the things I love about K is her infectious positive attitude.  She always has a smile on her face and is very complimentary.  And she does this despite the lack of sleep she receives from having a baby who isn’t sleeping through the night yet.  We share a lot of things in common.  We have fun talking about Instagram, crafts, blogging {she has a private blog}, mom stuff, books and our faith.  K likes to take photos as much as I do! 😉  I also want to tell her husband HAPPY BIRTHDAY today!

Summer is coming to a close.  Only 3 more weeks until school begins here.  7 more weeks until I take my oldest to college.  I leave to go to Atlanta for Haven Conference in a week!  Look for an introduction post to the lovely home bloggers who will be attending this conference in the next day or 2.  I can’t wait to get back to blogging on a more regular basis when the kids are back in school.  Next month I will celebrate Family Brings Joy’s 5 year anniversary!  I’m planning on some fun stuff to offer and share with you.

I truly hope your family’s summer has been filled with special times together.  Feel free to share what y’all have been doing on here in the comments section.  I love to hear what families are doing.  Thanks so much for reading Family Brings Joy.  YOU are AWESOME! 🙂

Oh and sweet C…thank you for motivating me to sit down and write another post.  It is a HUGE compliment for you to tell me you read my blog.  Love you.

Friends bring joy,

Making Friends…A Lost Art?

After attending BlissDom I am reevaluating who I am.

“Huh?” You might be thinking.

It’s interesting.  I’ve always thought of myself as an extrovert.  In job interviews I would confess I’m a people person.  It’s true.  I love people.

When I look back on my life, I recall a turning point.  Speech class in 8th grade opened up a new side of me.  I don’t remember if I chose to take the class or if it was required.  All I know is I was much more reserved before taking speech.  I learned I enjoyed speaking in front of a group of people.  I think this new found knowledge contributed to me gaining more confidence in who I am.  In a way, I think I was more of an introvert before taking Speech.  I didn’t have lots of friends but would have a handful of really close friends.  I was fine with this.  I can’t say after 8th grade I became the most popular girl in school.  That is definitely not what I’m saying.  I was just more open to talking to people and making friends.

Let me fast forward to present day.  On the first leg of my flight home from Nashville {where BlissDom is held} on Sunday I sat next to Melanie Nelson.  She was the speaker for the session I attended titled “3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Grow Your Facebook Fan Page.”  I was so excited to find out she lives in the same state as me {about 2 hours away.}  Melanie is very genuine and kind.  She has a book about Facebook coming soon.  We talked about so many different subjects.  One subject in particular has prompted this post.  Funny thing is it has nothing to do with Facebook, my blog, or anything relating to social media {even though we did discuss these topics.}  I was sharing with her how mentally drained I was from the conference.  She asked, “Are you an extrovert or an introvert?”  I was kind of surprised she asked me this question and paused before answering.  “I’ve always looked at myself as an extrovert,” I replied.  She explained to me the difference between extroverts and introverts.  I will summarize what she said: extroverts are people who become energized after being around lots of people.  When introverts are around a lot of people they are not energized.  Instead, introverts feel as though energy is taken away from them.

This made me think.  Am I an extrovert?  I do have instances when I feel energized after being around a lot of people.  Usually this happens when I’m around people I trust or I feel comfortable being with.

There were about 700 bloggers at BlissDom.  The friends I made last year at BlissDom did not attend this year.  So in a way, it was like I was new again.  There were a few girls I friended on Instagram I knew were attending and hoped to meet them.  There were a few other friends I made on Twitter I was hoping to meet as well, but again, I had not met them in real life.  Otherwise, I was going into a conference without truly knowing anyone. “That’s okay, I’m a people person.  I’ll make new friends, ” I thought.

I now need to add another aspect to this scenario of thoughts.  I have written about this before, but it is a very sensitive matter.  I don’t have a handful of close friends anymore.  I’ve lived in the same place now for 5 years and don’t have any real close friends.  There are 3 girls I really connected {consider good friends} with who have moved away.  However, living here has made me less confident in my friendship making skills.  Don’t get me wrong, I have friends/acquaintances who are kind and talk to me when I’m out and about.  It’s just not the same.  The upside of this has given me an opportunity to be closer to my kids and immediate family.

Back to the conference…I left feeling drained.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it tremendously.  There were many instances in which I felt uncomfortable, though.  It was usually in the evening and I would end up sitting by myself.  Fortunately, I would eventually find someone I had met and try to mingle.  I just don’t like social situations like this.  I never have.  So maybe I’m not an extrovert?  Or is it possible to be an extrovert and turn introvert?  Or in my case, introvert turned extrovert turned introvert…???  I don’t know, maybe I don’t have to label myself.  It’s just a little weird.  You know me, analytical Shan.  Hey, I come by it honestly being my parents are both Social Workers. {Love you Mom & Dad!}

I also began to think about how social media has impacted having real life friends versus virtual ones.  How often are you getting together with real friends and talking to them face to face?  Has Facebook and other sites like it cut down on our real life interactions with people?  Honestly, for me, because of my predicament and where I live, I don’t think I would be a very happy person without social media.  This blog, it’s Facebook page, my personal Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter help me to feel connected with people.  I could get really lonely living in this little town without hearing from you.  It is what it is.  My 3 kids are at school during the day.  At some point during that time period I would like to have interaction with another person who is not the checker at Wal-Mart.  But stop and think a minute…if you do have at least one good friend to confide in about whatever.  Please be grateful.  Friendship is so precious.  Get together with your friends, go to lunch, hang out, play a game.

Julie & Me

Speaking of friends, I did run into an elementary school friend who was there working at a vendor/sponsor booth.  It was fun to catch up with and see her again.  We had lost touch completely.  Good to see you again, Julie! 🙂

Me & Jenna

Bernice & Me

I am grateful for each and every one of the friends I made at BlissDom.  I finally met my Twitter friends Bernice of Living the Balanced Life & The Stressed Mom, Alicia of Confessions of a Snowflake {Wish we got a photo together, Alicia} and Jenna from Made More Beautiful.  All are beautiful women inside and out.

Me & Melissa

Melissa from Overwhelmed by His Blessings is my lovely fellow photographer/Instagram friend.  I wish she & I were able to spend more time together.  She was on the photo booth staff and had to work the whole conference.  I am very happy we met at the Photo Walk which was held first thing on Thursday.  {I’m really not taller than her.  I was on the step above her ;)}

Rachelle, Jean & Me

Friday Night I met two adorably creative girls at The Lorax Party: Jean from The Artful Parent and Rachelle from Tinkerlab.  They were kind enough to let me crash their photo after just meeting me since I was alone.  I am super excited to get to know them more on their blogs.  I am sure I can learn a lot of fun crafty stuff from them.  Love that!!

Saturday I met and had a wonderful conversation with Amy from Amy Volk.  She is darling and has a good listening ear.  We ended up talking about all kinds of stuff and have much in common.  She said she writes about simplifying our lives and organization…sounds pretty good to me!

I also met a girl who is living the life I once dreamed of in New York City.  Heather not only is an editor for Parents magazine, but has her own blog at High Chair Times where she writes about her adventures of feeding her Son.  I learned a lot talking to her and highly enjoyed her company at Girls Night In on Saturday night.  Heather & I also met Sara, talented technology guru of Technology for Moms.  Sara is a fun-loving character of a girl.  She and I laughed the night away {completely sober, btw ;)} while watching Paula Deen jump up and down on her trampoline on Oprah’s new show Oprah’s Next Chapter.

Last but not least, I met the awesome Megan Tietz from Sorta Crunchy.  I began ‘following’ her on Instagram not long before BlissDom.  We didn’t meet until after the conference was over on Sunday at the airport.  I was a little embarrassed because I was without makeup.  {had about 4 hours of sleep}  My flight left at 6:55 AM, so I was NOT putting on makeup.  Anyway, not the best first impression.  Fortunately, she seemed to like me alright despite the pale face. {Thank you, Megan ;)}  Megan & I sat next to each other on the 2nd leg of my flight.  Talking to both Melanie and Megan helped the flights buzz by.  Even better, they are from the state I live in!  I love that!  I look forward to possibly seeing both of them in the near future.

Even though I may not see all of these women in real life every day; I have the opportunity to visit them online.  Our BlissDom experience will be a special memory for me.

Hopefully the above mentioned women would say I haven’t lost my friend making skills. 😉  ???

Friends Bring JOY,