Wordless Wednesday: Stringing Christmas Lights

stringing Christmas lights

Wordless Wednesday: I Am A Horrible Example To My Child

doctor's choice candy cigarettes

Saw a pack of “Doctor’s Choice” candy cigarettes in a candy novelty shop in Portland. Could not resist.

Wordless Wednesday: Rosie’s TARDIS Nook Tablet

nook tablet with tardis decal

Bullock Family Christmas Card 2012


One hundred Christmas cards are in the mail, but I couldn’t send them to everyone. So instead, I’m posting it online for all my readers to see. Don’t you feel lucky?

I failed to write a Christmas letter to go along with our cards, so I’ll give a little update on what our family has been up to this year.

20121211-095732.jpg

Our family moved from Midvale to Lehi, Utah, this year, which was a fairly easy move after the 4 cross-country moves we made between 2006-2009.

Taylor is in his 5th year as a first officer pilot for an east coast-based regional airline. He’s been based in Memphis this year, and commuting to and from Salt Lake City can be tough at times. There is a FedEx base in Memphis, and pilots are able to jumpseat on the FedEx planes, so he often “FedExes himself” to work. When he’s not in the air or waiting around an airport, he likes to keep tabs on all the recent movies, TV shows, and video games, and is trying to reteach himself how to play the guitar.

20121211-095814.jpgRosie has been growing up faster than we can keep up with. She is turning into an amazing and eclectic young lady in so many ways. Rosie is in 6th grade and turned 12 years old in September. She loves being a Beehive in Young Womens, and is enjoying the countdown to being an official teenager. This summer, she was in Murray Community Arts’ production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and has a strong interest in theater (just like her mom). She got to see stage productions of “Les Miserables” and “Wicked” this year, and has the soundtracks on heavy rotation on her iPod. Her number one obsession right now is Doctor Who, which her Pinterest account will attest to.

20121211-095745.jpgMy year has been focused on regaining my health. I opted to have weight loss surgery as a tool to get my weight under control. So far this year, I have lost over 120 pounds, and I intend to keep working hard to lose the rest of my excess weight. Professionally, I am working as the social media manager for DegreeSearch.org, and am on the board of Social Media Club of Salt Lake City. My leisure time often revolves around blogging and social media events, and my trips this year included Charlotte, NC for Type A Parent Conference, New York City for BlogHer, and Atlanta for the Obesity Help weight loss conference. I’ve had a lot of success with my blogs this year, including some appearances on TV and mentions in the newspaper.

20121211-095657.jpgThe highlight of our year as a family was our trip to England in October. The three of us met up with our friend Clint, and we had a fab adventure together. We spent 4 days in London, seeing the sights, sampling the culture, taking lots of pictures, and meeting up with old friends.

Next, we rented a car and drove north to spend some time out of the city. We spent a day in Liverpool, a day in the Lake District, and ended our time in England in Manchester. When standby flights were full out of Manchester, we found out that we could get back to the US in business class on standby the next day from Dublin, so we hopped an Aer Lingus flight to Ireland for a day. We only got to spend a few hours in the city of Dublin, but it was fun to experience a little of the land of my heritage.

We would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year in 2013. Cheers!

Wordless Wednesday: Santa’s Little Helper and Rosie the Red-Nosed Reindeer

nicole and rosie by Justin Hackworth

The Digital Divide – Teens And Online Safety

Rosie Bullock

There are so many opinions on the correct way to parent your children. The older your children get, the more dangers and temptations they will have to face. Never has the danger that my daughter faces been more on my mind than in the past year or so. Not only has she turned 12, but she’s had access to her own smartphone.

I know I’m more lax and liberal than some parents. I have a great deal of trust in Rosie, and she hasn’t done anything to break that trust to date.

This week, I was a featured parent on KSL Browser 5.0 and discussed teens and online safety. I was joined by another mom and her 14-year old daughter. We were asked questions about what guidelines we have in place with our kids and their online habits. Here is a clip from the show.

Because the TV segment was so short, I didn’t get a lot of time to talk about the details of what I allow Rosie to do online, and why I allow her to interact on social media. As I mentioned in the segment, I’ve allowed her to have accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The reason I’ve allowed her to be on social media at such a young age is because it makes her more a part of my world. She gets to see how I interact professionally online, and is acquainted with both my friends and colleagues. I’m getting to know her personality well, especially on Pinterest. She’s got a fun sense of humor and a great sense of style, and I wouldn’t know that side of her as well without Pinterest. It’s also a great platform for her Doctor Who geekiness.

@rosie_said_whatBecause she isn’t 13 yet, I have not allowed her to be on Facebook. It’s hard sticking to my Facebook decision lately because all of her friends have accounts, and I know she wants to be part of the social interaction with her friends. But with her other social media sites, I don’t feel like she’s lacking for an internet experience. When people tag her in pictures, they use my name to tag her so I know what she’s been up to. She’s eagerly counting down the 10 months until she turns 13 for her Facebook account.

Right now she’s using my old iPhone 4 without a SIM card, so it’s like an iPod touch and she can only use the apps when she’s connected to wifi. She also uses a laptop and a tablet at home, but most of her online activity is on her iPhone. Rosie also has a regular cell phone, which she’s very good at replying to my texts and answering my calls. It’s given her a lot of freedom in her communication with her friends. I give out her number to people who want her to babysit, and I am proud of how responsible she is.

I do random spot checks on her cell phone and iPhone. I see the contacts she has in her phone, the apps she’s downloaded, and read through her messages. We talk about what is appropriate to view and share, and I feel confident that she’s not using any sites or apps to mask her habits online. I know she might get more sneaky as she gets older, but she knows that I have a lot of trust in her, and breaking the rules will have consequences.

How do you monitor online activities of your children? Do you let them be active in social media? Do they have their own phones, smartphones and computers? How do you decide what the rules are?

Not a Mommy Blogger

Rosie Bullock and Nicole BullockSince I’ve been living in Utah again, I’ve had lots of opportunities to meet fellow bloggers. Combined with the blogging conferences I’ve attended over the last 2 years, I’ve made some amazing contacts. Some are photography bloggers, some are adoption advocates, some do professional blogging on behalf of businesses. Last week I attended a meetup of local Utah bloggers. As I introduced myself to people I was meeting for the first time, I was asked “What do you blog about?” and “What kind of blogger are you?” It’s often difficult for me to answer the second question, because I don’t consider myself a mommy blogger.

I’m a mom. I blog. But I hate the term “mommyblogger.”

The tagline of my blog used to read “The Culture Loving Pilot Wife Mom Blog.” I was in a very specialized niche of women, the pilot wife/girlfriend bloggers. A lot of people are interested in the unique experiences and struggles that a family in aviation experience. But after a few years of having my blog being focused on being a wife and a mom, I was forgetting to write for myself.

Now don’t get me wrong. I fiercely love my husband and daughter. They are the two most important people in my life. I devote an enormous amount of energy toward working and sacrificing for their happiness. However, I have realized through much trial and error that I don’t survive well without focusing on myself.

I have been blogging for 9 years now. I’ve blogged on a variety of platforms – Blogger, LiveJournal, Myspace, and now WordPress. My blog has evolved several times in each platform.

A few years ago, Mashable posted an article titled “Top 10 Misconceptions About Mommy Bloggers.” The list includes cliches, such as “Mommy bloggers just write to get free stuff,” “Mommy bloggers only write about baby-related topics,” and “Every mom that blogs loves being referred to as a Mommy Blogger.” For a long time, I didn’t mind when people called me a mommyblogger. And when I started adding MOM to my blog tagline, my traffic increased. But after reading and writing blogs for almost a decade, I’ve realized a key reason that I am not a traditional mommyblogger.

I embrace my imperfection.

There is a difference between chaos and imperfection. Everyone knows that being a mom can be chaotic. But many of the closest friends I’ve made through blogging are the ones that have been able to sympathize and commiserate on weight lossdepression and health problems. And those topics are the hardest for me to write about because I reveal my imperfections and insecurities. And I’ve also found a lot of strength.

When I began blogging in 2002, I didn’t know a lot of people who blogged. I would add everyone’s blog to my reading list, comment faithfully, and loyally read every post. By keeping up with all these blogs, I had the same problem as when I wrote more traditional “mommy blog” posts. I got sucked into everyone else’s life, and didn’t give myself enough time to focus on me. Six months ago, I made the difficult decision to give up Google Reader. As hard as it was to stop following the lives of so many friends I’ve come to know over the years, it was also very cathartic. I found myself comparing myself less to others. I spent my precious free time reading about topics that I wanted to know more about, rather than following the minute details of every friend’s child’s dance recital or potty-training success.

Do I feel like a jerk that I gave up every detail of my friends lives? Of course I do. But do I regret it? Not at all.

And I’m not embarrassed to say it…because this blog is about me. I’m a “self-centered” blogger. And it’s totally okay.

Wordless Wednesday: First Day of Fifth Grade

 

First day of 5th grade – 1990 and 2011 – Turquoise shirt and hot pink backpack

Like mother, like daughter?

 

Flashback Friday: “Losing My Religion” by REM


Sometimes I feel like I’m turning into an old crotchety parent. I’m 31, but I routinely listen to music from the last 5 decades. My daughter Rosie is growing up faster than I can deal with, and recently she told me that she doesn’t always want to listen to my usual radio station.

I stopped breathing for a moment. I thought I was a cool mom listening to cool music.

My parents stopped listening to most of the latest stuff when I was a kid, opting to ignore the pop/punk/new wave of the 80’s and stick with their mellow 70’s singer/songwriters. I love the 70’s singer/songwriters, don’t get me wrong. My parents always seemed to humor me with a few songs from my station before going back to their cassette tapes of James Taylor, America, Carole King, and Crosby Stills Nash and Young. But around the time I was 11, I definitely had acquired my own unique taste in music. It appears that with my daughter, this has come full circle.

Since my musical tastes evolved so much around the time I was Rosie’s age, I decided to share these songs and stories with her. And because I don’t want to forget my early memories of how these songs affected my life, I’ve decided to do a “Flashback” series of posts about music that made a profound impact on me.

After I got past my tweenage obsession with New Kids On The Block, I started to listen to more “alternative pop.” When I couldn’t sleep at night, I’d sneak downstairs to watch videos on VH1 and MTV (back when they focused on music videos, not reality tv.) There were two videos that made lasting impact on me – Tori Amos’ “Silent All These Years” and R.E.M.’s “Losing my Religion.”

R.E.M’s “Out of Time” album was released in 1991, and “Losing My Religion” was their top hit on the album. Previously, most of REM’s radio airplay was done on campus radio stations. “Losing My Religion” launched this alternative rock band into mainstream radio. It was critically acclaimed for their stark and somewhat sacrilegious imagery. However, the phrase “losing my religion” is slang in the southern United States for losing one’s temper or civility. When you get mad, you sometimes lose your religion.

The catchy E minor, A minor, D and G chord structure combined with a folksy mandolin riff and Michael Stipe’s distinct voice became REM’s most popular hit in the US. And it’s my favorite song off of “Out of Time.”

And it’s a song my daughter thinks is pretty cool, even though it came out when I was her age.

Wordless Wednesday: Fringe

Some call ’em “bangs,” some call ’em “fringe.” But Rosie and I both have them now.