2020 may be the year of tutorials! Though the videos are pretty painstaking to make, I really like giving you a glimpse “behind the scenes” and helping other people better reach their creative potentials.
What software do I use? What equipment do we own? How do you start (and grow) a YouTube channel? How do we collaborate with companies and receive free products? These are all videos I look forward to sharing with you all, so please let me know if you have any specific requests!
And of course, follow this blog by signing up for email notifications so you don’t miss a post… 😉
Here is a clip from our most recent YouTube review video for a company called Linklike. The overseas distributor reached out to us for a free product in exchange for an Amazon review, and so we agreed.
I was pleasantly surprised, and you can see the video below (though it’s mostly product-specific and not our usual vlog style, these type of $20 gifts are still a great idea for the 2020 holiday season):
Okay, I jokingly “gotcha” with click-bait titles in weeks past. But today it’s true: my wife just left her job of 15 years.
We made the decision together, and after a tremendous amount of soul searching and yes, even praying about it. There was no bright shining light beaming down, no pottery falling off the shelf when we asked for a sign, no…anything, really. No swelling music, no symbols, no premonitions or dreams. Not even really a “for sure” feeling.
I was on her side, ready to take on whatever the occasion called for. If she felt comfortable staying with a secure job, sure. If she made a change and the new job fell through, I could go back to work while she stayed home. We could both work at new jobs. Or, she could take on a new challenge and excel, getting the job title and the salary she felt she was ready for, when the opportunity presented itself.
Change is always uncertain; sometimes, so is the certain.
And then, it actually happened. A perfect position lined itself up and she decided she had found something worth taking the jump, she felt.
The day she called me after her official resignation papers had been typed up and printed and handed to her superior. That’s when “the feeling” came. Of knowing it’s the right thing to do (even though it was scary).
Instead of being as terrified as I am every single time I leave a job, she was shining and eager. I could see her virtually glowing in a sunlit photo she sent me on her long drive home (from an out of town meeting). She was feeling strange and excited at the same time, she told me.
While this remains her story to tell, it ultimately may upset our apple cart for a bit while we work out the moving parts that come along with making a big new transition. So I figured I’d mention it.
She sent a video to me on that drive home from her very last day of work, something she normally doesn’t do (record herself without my cajoling – ha!). She asked me if I’d gotten it when she arrived home and I said yes, and she said she wanted it to be posted because it’s how she feels and she wanted to keep you all updated.
“Are you sure? I mean, literally anyone can see it as they eat their popcorn.”
She nodded. “It’s not like I said anything I wouldn’t tell anyone who asked.”
It will be a couple of tough months as the growing pains settle in as Amy looks forward to joining a new team and the pain of leaving good people behind her (future editorial me confirms that yes, she had a couple of rough days in the days between transitions where she just “felt tired for no reason” and literally had to be reassured that there was in fact a reason. She just ran a mental marathon!).
I am confident that she will be amazing and that our family we will make it work no matter what.
For now, I’ll continue to stay at home with the kids – one of whom is nearly an official pre-schooler! It’s been one of my life’s greatest joys and biggest challenges to be away from the work force yet juggling a household full time and seemingly working on side hustles non-stop.
Like we always say: “Stay Positive and Good Things Will Happen.” We will remind ourselves that as we look forward to new challenges and adventures ahead.
It’s been fun sharing our story and we look forward to seeing where 2020 takes us!
Here’s a clip from the preview video for our newest Teacher’s Pay Teachers product: REPTILES UNIT Teachers Bundle Pack
(Lizard Boy loved our week of activities!)
That being said…CHRISTMAS TIME is here!
Well… vlogmas, that is. The time of year when vloggers… vlog. Every day, consecutively posting for the 25 days of December leading up to the big day (Christmas, that is).
Don’t worry, I won’t be posting any jingle bell soundtracks for awhile, I just wanted to mention that vloggers and other digital media creators and sellers are most likely thinking about December already (time moves faster in the social media world, I am finding. I refuse to be “behind” this year)! It’s crazy, but many vloggers I have reached out to admit that they too are thinking about content for the Christmas 2019 season.
So, when you watch your favorite episodes this season, consider that they probably filmed their intros and bought special gear and started collaborating with other YouTubers and businesses in months prior.
That is to ask kindly, that if you even marginally enjoy a creator’s content, throw a thumbs-up! It’s whatever the opposite of rude is. And it really helps them with those pesky analytics and helping YouTube become better for it’s partners and viewers.
But I digress.
Amy and I had not been over-the-top fans of the holiday until recent years (her, begrudgingly sharing her birth month; me, getting stressed out about all the gift buying). Yet when our first child came along, we decided to go all in.
We do the whole shebang: family cards, swapping Christmas holiday celebrations each year (her hometown on even years, mine on odd), vlogmas (this will be our third year) and hosting an annual family bowling tournament. I mean, we go hard now.
Our decor spilled outside our house for the first time ever in 2017 (save for the occasional colored bulbs we had been known to screw into the porch fixtures in days leading to the extra ‘time off work’).
Amy even had a Griswold moment of falling off the ladder last year. We kept the light clips up this year to limit time spent up on the ladder. My time spent on the ladder, that is. Now that I’m not pregnant or nursing a newborn, I will be the one resuming those responsibilities. Whew!
Anyways, in preparation for all of my teaching resources that need to be created and listed in my online stores before November plus finding time to catch my YouTube channel up (new intros, new editing software to learn, etc) I am finding that my days look a lot like working from home.
I also am thinking about volunteering with the YMCA again for basketball – I tried tried tried to talk Amy into it (basketball is her thing! I hardly even like it!), but she says she’s not interested but wants me to do it. Admittedly, it was fun to coach. I am considering it (but why, after the I-am-so-busy rant?).
I must organize and sell and donate and pack away and re-hang clothes that I have taken out of every drawer and dresser in sister’s room in a fit of organizing (before she made it painfully aware that she needed her bedroom for sleep at that instant, and I had to abandon the project. It’s waiting for me at home).
But before all that…I must sew a Winnie-the-Pooh costume tonight or tomorrow (the pajamas I ordered for the base of it just arrived on the day of the writing of this blog, 10/25. By the times you read this post, Halloween has come and gone, and I am editing this from the future – neat!).
While life is crazy and chaotic and showing no signs of slowing any time soon with two young children sharing the same bubble as me at most all times, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I remember the days I wished for these days. Really. It’s not lost on me how lucky I am.
Still, it’s nice when I get the luxury of stepping out for a coffee all by myself on a Friday, when my spouse’s week ends early. The fact that it’s a luxury is by no means lost on me, and while I catch up on saying hello to you guys and having a quick snack, I struggle with the mom guilt of not being at home for a moment. For spending a few dollars. You know, all the things.
Trying to film it all, opening our house and home to criticism but really truly loving the art of vlogging. I even recently found a mom bashing site that is dedicated to singling out YouTube moms and family vloggers and just picking them apart. A bullying community, basically. While I don’t have the honor of being popular to be mentioned on it, a few of my friends channels are mentioned and it makes me sick to think of how mean people can be.
It’s a struggle that will one day force me to segway my channel to protect my children as they ‘opt out’ of filming (and likely, before then. I’m torn between keeping their lives 100 percent private and sharing them with the general public, which can be a scary place. But being in public can be scary, too. Do I save them from it? And in many cases, our kids sign release waivers for social media appearances as they do sports or special events. Do we opt out of those, too? Where’s the line? For now, I will try to find a healthy balance.)…
If you have any favorite video, please throw a ‘LIKE’ so I know what kind of content to make as our family vlogs face an uncertain future. It’s hard to envision the work that goes into vlogging each week, but it’s a true labor of love – so I’ll find a way to make it happen!
As far as vlogmas goes, we look forward to posting a short video update every day. It’s a great way for you to get to see more of the real ‘uncensored’ us. No “Cinematic B Roll”, just good old vlog-style vlogging. Just us, talking to you.
We will also have our normal product reviews thrown in, with some favorites, guest appearances, Christmas card swaps, challenges and tags, travel vlogs and MORE!
Until then, it’s business as usual.
THANKS FOR SUPPORTING OUR CHANNEL
Happy Christmas in October (…Remember to check out REPTILES Unit before you go)!
Click bait title! No hangovers for us, not this year – sugar nor otherwise.
I made a joke to my wife in the middle of costume struggles and trying to get out the door that “this is the last year I’m doing this, next year we will get Halloween themed drinks and call it a day!” Then in seemingly the next instant we were laughing at the somewhat-managed chaos and taking family photos and I remember that some day, I’ll be looking at these pictures and glad I have them. I mean, I already forgot what my one year old was for Halloween last year! (I kid. Sort of.)
(She was a bear.)
We were all in bed by 10 this year, after trekking through the Hundred Acre Wood as a rag tag Winnie-the-Pooh themed entourage. Okay, not the forest per se…but at least The Avenue (our downtown collection of small businesses and restaurants worth a darn).
We exhausted the kids and even had a moment to ourselves to catch up after a very busy week. We decided our time was best spent calling it an early evening.
I woke up feeling ready to tackle the weekend (a time when I get a lot of my social and digital media projects done).
It was another successful year!
Canyon walked through our town as if he were in a dream land, too stunned this year to utter the magic words until the very last few candy volunteers near our parked car stopped to talk to him for a moment.
“Happy Halloween.” Barely a whisper. What a whisper wants to be when it grows up some day.
To be fair, what we had just experienced was almost a feeding frenzy of candy goers that would shock anyone – especially a two year old (at one point I heard people shouting at their children to hurry, or in some cases even run, and in other unrelated incidents I heard the words “go” and “faster” intentionally strung together).
Tiny, bucket wielding characters such as unicorns and uni-kitties (a modern twist on the classic cat costume) as well as pint sized dinosaurs (some costumes inflated with air yet, somehow, remaining delightfully small) and terrifying Pennywise imitators – all rushed along by their parents, many of whom were trying to avoid clipping the heels of strangers who were also walking briskly (and within the nearest six inches from our wheels at any given moment).
We were hurried, single file, from business to business. I mean, there was no official beginning and end to the thing, you just kind of timed the flow of the crowd and…went for it!
Despite being 3 P.M., there had been a chill in the air, the tall buildings blocking most of the sun, and we made quick work of it: Tigger, Pooh, a tiny bumblebee — and me (a blue pot of ‘hunny’).
Next, it was off to Nan and Papa’s, where we can always count on a special treat. This year it was a hot slice from Amy’s favorite Wenatchee pizzaria Abby’s Pizza N’ More (where we hosted a baby shower and celebrate all our family birthdays – we do combined celebrations every few months for the older “kids”, ahem, among us. Complete with beer!).
By then, the Trick Or Treat seal had been broken. It was on! A rice cereal and marshmallow treat was quickly devoured, followed by a piece or three of chocolate, and then the poor child was forced to eat something substantial. A few bites of pizza, which he thoroughly resisted.
If you would have seen the look in his eye, you would have let him go for it, too – despite the risk of a huge meltdown and sugar induced fit and bedtime chaos.
But – so far, so good. When I told him he was done with candy for the night, he took a half-sucked sucker out of his mouth and PUT IT BACK IN THE WRAPPER AND HANDED IT OVER.
Maybe I got majorly lucky this year or perhaps he was simply tired out from the wonder of SPOOKY HALLOWEEN to bother with a bedtime negotiation. Either way, I’ll take it!
Poor Dakota caught the crud during our travels (Sick babies are so hard to watch, you just feel so helpless as a parent!).
After a couple days of consistently high fevers and rattling cough, we decided to take her in to the local doctors office, where the doctor determined a virus was running it’s course.
After discharge, Sis and I hung out back at our room, with Mama and a bottle of Tylenol (she ended up cutting four new teeth during our travel. Oh girl, you sure give us a run for our money!).
Canyon toured the local aquarium and enjoyed lunch with Mom and grandparents while Sis and I rested.
When one is in a foreign place with a sick child, one has to start thinking of possibilities – and it can easily turn to panic. I admittedly called my son’s day with his grandparents a bit short after sister woke up from a nap and struggled to breathe a little bit. I knew they were at least twenty minutes or more away, and they had the carseat in their possession.
As I watched her fuss and try to get comfortable with over a hundred degree fever, I tried not to overreact: practicing breathing techniques while walking with her on the covered patio (the lanai) for some fresh air. When she started coughing and struggling to catch a deep breath for a minute, I called my wife and asked her to start thinking about heading back towards us, juuust incase.
After a few more moments of wet and weak crying, she worked up whatever phlegm was bothering her. I guess. She seemed to calm down remarkably within moments, and then resumed her teething status of gnawing on her knuckles and refusing her bottle. She had to be hungry, by now. I sat her in her high chair and sat on the couch next to her in the shared kitchen-living space. After a few calm moments I decided to give her a snack.
I cut up a few sliced olives into even smaller pieces, thinking a bite of her favorite special treat (yeah, weird, I know) might help her aching gums. Of course midway through a bite she has another coughing fit, inhaling the olive segment. As I unbuckled her and began to pull her from her highchair, the particle unlodged itself, flying past my cheek and landing on the couch behind us. That’s when I finally lost it, and started crying, myself.
I think it was lack of sleep, a bit of a stressful travel, and dealing all day with a sick baby that just had me extra on edge. I just held her and quietly cried (as she sobbed) for a minute. Then, just like that, the storm was over.
Everything calmed. The ocean could be heard once more, it’s unwavering presence temporarily dulled by the drama in moments before. This feeling, this emotional release, was imminent. I had been burning the candle at both ends lately, trying to keep up with life and the pursuit of not forgetting anything while planning and doing all the things. My sick children seemed to be an embodiment of the stress I had been dealing with, leading up to this vacation. We were supposed to relax and leave it all at home while we enjoyed the beach, but the truth is you can’t run away from it all.
Even though we try to portray happiness and success in our social lives, everyone has struggles they go through and internal challenges they face. This good cry was unintentional, unexpected and exactly what I needed.
It felt good, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I didn’t feel weak for not ‘being strong’ for my children. I had been strong all day. All week. Most of the month. But sometimes, being strong means taking care of yourself. And a good cry helped me release my own frustration so I could be a better parent.
AND THAT’S OKAY.
I was so relieved to see my family walk through the door at just as I pulled myself together. What a sweet moment of relief!
Of course, the second they arrived home the stinker was able to put on a smile and drink a bottle.
Then, it was to off the pool for me! I was happy to start (and finish!) a good book, a rarity these days that used to be a weekly part of my life. I still felt a bit anxious, on edge. Not feeling the typical vacation vibe, but still just embracing this season of my life and thankful for it. After all, I could be at the E.R. right now, with sick babies. Instead, I am able to sit with a hot cup of soup and a cold drink, next to a pool with strangers that I don’t have to try to impress or small talk with. Just my sunnies and a hat and a book.
I could finally just take a few deep breaths and recharge my batteries. No vlogging, no editing. Just immersing myself in a book and shutting out the rest of the world. Letting the blood settle back into my tight extremities, the buzzing in my head calmed with each chapter.
Then, suddenly, I felt pulled back. As if a light switch flipped on. My head was telling me “Just stay here and finish the book. There’s nothing you can really do at home, the doctor says ride it out. She’s with competent adults, three of them.”
My heart said, simply: go.
Being a mom is very strange and wonderful and not at all what I expected. It’s better. And harder. Just as I walked back, I met my wife at our glass door, and she was happy to see me. Setting down a sick child to mix a bottle is never fun, and some of us are skilled at one-handed bottle making. Some of us aren’t so much, but have plenty of other life skills to offer the world. 😉 Anyway, she was glad I was there! My mommy-sense was right (that sounds so god awful cheesy, the Spidey Sense pun, but it’s true!). I was able to help with bedtime… and the poop my toddler had just as I was arriving.
Have I mentioned my family has impeccable timing in almost all that we do?
Being an introvert can be very taxing, it’s strange but true. I felt like I needed a vacation after this trip, but also realize every single moment how truly VERY amazingly WONDERFULLY blessed I am to be living this life.
It’s nice to reconnect with yourself and loved ones on a vacation away from everyday life – even when everyday troubles find you in paradise, you’re still in paradise!
Glad to report everyone is better now, but it was a humbling experience. I’ll always have the information of a local clinic, and even though we are now in a fight with our insurance over the out-of-network bill (after two hours of phone conversations before even going to the clinic), it was worth it for piece of mind. I can’t imagine getting on a plane two days later, had she still been struggling like that.
Canyon came down with whatever sister had, just as we were leaving the island. You can see him without a shirt in the video below, during our dinner at Cheeseburger in Paradise. Poor guy was so hot and uncomfortable, but I am glad we are all over ‘the crud’ now!
Watch the video to ‘hang out with us’ on our last few days in Maui:
Mahalo, Hawaii! We have unfinished business (we’ll be back)!
If you watched our last video, you know we had a long day getting our children to Maui. Still, this boy’s smile the first time he stuck his toes in the warm surf was worth ten more flights.
(Okay, maybe just the five plane rides there and back were enough this time. But every second worth it.)
We arrived to our hotel just as the sun was setting, and did a quick tour of our lodging. Gramma and Grampa Hightower were posing as our guides this time, as they have been to this island twenty or so times, and “have done just about ” (except for the aquarium, which they were finally able to check off their list)!
Canyon loved the bunk beds – and after we played for a good twenty minutes and discussed ladder safety and “only with Moms’ help”, I promptly placed a rug next to the bed and removed said heavy wooden ladder, tucking it on it’s side behind the wooden bed frame.
Amy set up the pack-and-play for sister, along with our noise maker / night light machine, as I placed a just-incase piddle pad under the sheets of the bottom bunk, moving the mattress onto the rug at ground level (after the boy fell from the bottom bunk, crying as his head hit the rug I had literally JUST MOVED THERE, the dull thunking sound of the tile below still turning my stomach). I was amazed that they both were able to get a bit of sleep in their shared room for naps (not all) and nights (just the first one).
His head is just fine, by the way. Kid’s got a concrete noggin.
Canyon and I woke up early on the first day, him at exactly eight o’clock Wenatchee time (just as Mr. Goldy Sun rises), or about 5 a.m. island time –just after I had sucked down half a cup of hot coffee and mixed a bottle for the baby, filling sippy cups of water and milk before two tiny feet were heard padding down the hall.
We snuck down to the beach before the household started stirring, wading with pajamaed legs into the rolling tide.
I will cherish moments like these for always. I hope you always find a bit of magic and a reminder of family whenever you hear the ocean, Canyon James.
Dakota, thanks for being there, though you probably won’t remember a dang thing!We decided you get a re-do since you were sick 😉
I always thought earpieces were synonymous with Blackberries – and I neither had nor needed either of those things. So when an amazon reviewer reached out to us with a usb earpiece I agreed, thinking I could probably get my wife to test it out during conference calls.
Well, when the product arrived she reminded me that her actual prescribed hearing aids were designed to pair with her smartphone: she didn’t need the extra hardware to keep track of and charge.
Begrudgingly, I waited until the last few days of our review period to test it out. I let the thing charge for a full hour and then decided to try it out while editing the vlog footage of the device charging, etc. I paired it easily, for it into my ear, and began playing music from my SoundCloud app on my iOS device. I switched into my editing app and the music stopped, switching automatically to the new app.
Cool, I thought, editing my intro and switching to an older vlog that needed finishing touches. I decided to export the finished clip, and is is usually where I remove my headphone and walk away from my phone (closing the app means stopping the painfully slow file transfer). I gave the main button on the earpiece a tap, and was surprised to hear my SoundCloud playlist resume.
Crap! I must have closed the app…
No, the headpiece just picked up the secondary audio for me. Ha! Amazing! I decided to push my luck. “Hey, Siri: text my wife.”
I immediately heard her in my ear canal: “What would you like to say to Amy [Rainbow Pictorial] Hightower?”
This earpiece exceeded my expectations. It’s a poor mans one-legged version of the AirPods that I can’t afford. It keeps my children from tanking cords from my ears, allows me to podcast while cooking, without my telephone swinging from my apron pocket (yes, I cook with an apron. I take this housewife thing very seriously). I can enjoy my audiobook at night without disturbing my wife’s sleep, or completely blocking I’m the sound of the baby monitor (I actually like having one alert ear)!
Thank you to lcreat for donating this earpiece for our review. This is a great gift idea for the audiophiles in our life!
Find this item and more in our YouTube Favorites list:
This post is not sponsored – we may earn a small commission from affiliate links. Thank you!
I always wondered how difficult it is flying with small children and now I know!
We had three flights to get from Washington state to Hawaii – there was a little fussing, a couple diaper blowouts, spilled coffee, five hour layovers and various other wildcards…including new friends walking my fussy infant up and down the aisles (thanks Mara)!
I remember the days of traveling with just a backpack, headphones and a nine-hundred-degree coffee. Those days aren’t necessarily long gone, but traveling with hot anything is out of the question for another few years!
Our family managed to spill (iced) coffee in the airport and water sippy cups on the plane. Dakota was going through some major teething (four new ones in six days!!!) so it was a bigger challenge than we planned for…but we did it, and nothing compares to the beauty of our final destination – Maui!
We flew Alaska Airlines, which treats us well. It didn’t hurt that my in-laws are elite members with access to all the fancy board rooms and private bathrooms. I don’t know how we would have survived the five hour layover otherwise!
We packed a lot of snacks and plane toys. And we were so glad that we were seated with other families on our longest flight (five hours).
HITS: a mini etch-a-sketch, story books and sticker books from the Dollar Tree, Crayola Wonder markers, Melissa and Doug Paint With Water activity book with refillable brush, volume-control headphones and noise reducing headphones for the kids. (Find these and more on our amazon store: amazon.com/shop/mommaamommab (we earn a small commission through all items purchased through our shop – thank you!).
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