All The Answers: Staring at my Innards.

You guys have so many questions. Good questions. Piercing questions. Fun questions. Thank God not a single political question. Let’s continue where we left off yesterday, and be sure to hang around until the end of the post to see visual evidence of my shortcomings.

Aadrw (Darcy) asked,

Are blog conferences worth attending?

It totally depends on your personality and what you want out of it. I never got too much out of the sessions, so was really going for the relationships. I attended BlogHer for four years in a row and struggled to interact, but did gain a handful of new friends. I went to a local conference, Y’all Connect, for the next two years and highly enjoyed interacting. Turns out, I’m more outgoing when engaging with local people than I am with national people that I’m not connected to on an ongoing basis. At the national conference, there were just too many people, and of those people, very few that I was already connected to. At the local one, we all knew who each other were so it was like a big party.

But if you’re the rare unicorn that is an Extroverted Blogger, by all means go to a national conference – you’ll have the time of your life.

You’ve done wonderful work with your local ministry via photography – any updates on how all that’s going in Birmingham?

Thanks! It’s going well. Picture Birmingham has been able to donate over $8,000 to The WellHouse, along with another $1,200 to Mission Birmingham through our joint calendar project (2016 calendars are newly available, by the way.) I would LOVE to be able to donate more and am working on different angles and products so that I can raise more money to rescue victims of human trafficking.

The WellHouse is growing tremendously and can now house more women than ever. They have rescued over 40 young ladies this year, and have assisted law enforcement officials in arresting at least three of the traffickers. They have helped these women regain their identification, get health care, spiritual and emotional healing, GED and college educations, and job and life skills training. They also rescue women nationally – not just locally. They have a hotline 800 number that they spread far and wide, and have rescued as far away as Washington.

The trafficking industry is a 32 BILLION dollar industry, and is staggering in its reach and deceptiveness – especially to our children and teens. There is so much more fighting that needs to be done. But every woman that The WellHouse rescues is one person’s horror story that is finally over.

The current products I’m offering are Prints, Calendars, Note Cards, Postcards, curated collections, a black and white collection, and gallery wrap canvases. I can also do privately labeled note cards or postcards for businesses (or individuals), and am always willing to get by-request photographs of specific places, along with helping to create advertising products for corporations. My products are for sale online at my website, along with several stores in town – Naked Art Gallery, Urban Standard, Smith’s Variety, and Alabama Goods. I would also love to get my products into more stores to continue spreading the opportunities to provide hope for the women that The WellHouse rescues. As always, 100% of Picture Birmingham profits go to The WellHouse.

Jen asked,

What does your average day look like? Seriously, how do you get so much done? (Please don’t answer that parenting/wifing (I’m pretty sure that’s a word), running crazy mileage, blogging, photography, and homeschooling are so effortless for you, you wish you had more accounting clients to fill the gaps.)

Uh, NO. I typically exist in a panic because of all of the things I’m not getting done that desperately need to get done. I also ignore many things that shouldn’t be ignored, like cooking regularly and dishes and decluttering and not letting my children leave crap all over the house and the car and the front yard. My life is a mess. I promise. Sometimes I clean up that mess, sometimes I don’t. Most of the time I don’t.

But, my typical day, on a school day:

– Ali wakes me up at 8am, then wakes up her brother (I am blessed with children that sleep late and I never squander that blessing by rising early.)

– Ali helps me get breakfast together (maybe my secret is that Ali does all the work. SHE’S the efficient one. She typically has already read two books and written in her diary before she wakes me up.)

– At about 9am, we start school. And surprise, Ali is efficient and gets her school done very quickly. We’re usually done by noon. I do school with Noah intermittently while Ali is doing independent work.

– After lunch, we sometimes go on a hike or errands, depending on if we’re feeling like it and what we need to get done.We also have several neighbors that we’re close to and often play with.

– Historically, we’ve started nap and quiet time around 2pm, and it lasts till 4:30 or 5. Noah is newly no longer napping and isn’t great at quiet time (Ali adores her quiet time, being the truest introvert), so I’m looking into possibly restructuring this, but it hurts me to think about. Between 2-5 is my time to blog, answer emails (also terrible at that lately), get Chris’ company’s accounting done (there’s really not much), and update Picture Birmingham. I prefer these activities to be quiet and uninterrupted. Noah does not.

– Chris comes home around 5:30-6pm, and we eat at home or go out to eat. He also often sends me to run or catch a sunset before dinner.

– The kids go to bed around 8:30.

– Chris and I sit together like slugs, talking, watching TV, listening to podcasts, and looking at our phones until nearly midnight. Unless Chris has work to do, we rarely do anything industrious after the children are in bed.

(Notice there’s really just no time for chores.)

aroe02 asked,

What does your husband do for work? I need to send mine back to school, eventually, and it appears (through blog-land eyes) that it was a good career choice. Not his company/salary, but more like what was his degree in, and did he stay in that field kind of info. Thanks :)

He has a degree in Civil Engineering and does Structural Steel Detailing. But for the record, Birmingham is one of the top most affordable cities to live in (and most beautiful and wonderful all the way around), and we live in the county (outside of “good” school districts), so we’re able to be efficient with our resources.

Kyla asked,

How do you find the time to blog? I recently had my 3rd kid and can’t imagine a day when the laundry and dishes were all done and I had time to sit and write. I am not efficient apparently.

It has become much, much harder over the past couple of years. My brain doesn’t work as efficiently or creatively as it used to (thanks, Dysautonomia), and life is just busier. The best moments of blogging for me is when I have a great story to tell and it just flows. I am able to write and edit very quickly. But other times it’s like pulling glue out of my brain to type a single word. And also, as stated before, laundry and dishes get the boot so that I have time to write.

While I’m on the subject of my housekeeping failures, Sarah asked as a follow-up question on the first questions post for a house tour. After chuckling to myself how my house tour would look compared to most blogger’s house tours, I snapped a couple pictures for her – #nofilter, y’all.

Here’s my office. Epicenter of blogging, Picture Birmingham, random kid’s art projects, and voluminous amounts of crap.

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My kitchen table has the remains of some random craft project Ali embarked on and either didn’t finish or clean up after herself or both.

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The “catch-all” counter in my kitchen – a stack of magazines I’ll probably never read, a few butt-ends of bread loaves, apples, finger paints my kids have been begging me to let them use, and iPhone chargers – of course. Oh and a completely well-placed beach shovel. Because why not.

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And the dining room table is the school table. Sometimes I clean it off for the weekend. But definitely not during the week.

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So now you know from where I steal all my time. From being a responsible, neat adult.

I have one more day of questions left to answer, so if you want anything added to the last post of ever-unimportant opinions, ask quickly.