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Archives for February 2011

5 Reasons to put back on the “bug”


A few weeks ago I was all gung ho about getting my butt back to the gym and went ahead and purchased a body bugg to monitor my calories in and out. That was going fine and dandy; well not the calories out part because I have been having a little “dry spell” lately with my exercise routine. However, in the past week I took the little sucker off for a “brake” so now I have not been entering my calories in either.. This has to stop! I need to get bitten by the bug again and start to exercise, these are the top 5 reasons to put the bug back on and exercise!

1. When I am exercising I feel better about myself; the little endorphins start to kick in and I feel “happier.” Who likes to be around Miss Grumpy Gills?

2. I have more energy to take care of Hadley.

3. I sleep much better when I am exercising. I don’t know why, maybe I am just plain exhausted when my head hits the pillow but I know I am “out” for some good sleep.

4. My heart; I know that exercise is good for my heart. I have been taking blood pressure meds since my pregnancies and I really would like to get off of them… Yes we are talking 19 years…

5. My calories out exceed my calories and yes by golly, I lose weight-that is kind of a little goal here. And inevitable then I like what I see in the mirror.

Inspire me… What are your reasons for exercising?

*I’d love to have you join in the journey to healthy living with me. For healthy tips and musings from me as I reach my goal of healthy living within a special needs household.

Day 16: Solve a Problem: 7 Ways to Identify Readers’ Problems

Good Morning to all of my Sista’s here! Here we are Monday morning of Day 16! Yup, this really is the mid-point. After 16 days of daily forum and reading all of your comments and tweets I feel like it’s been forever and can’t remember my life without all of you. LOL. I have loved meeting so many new great women with wonderful stories and lots of things to say.

I am hoping you all feel similar and use all this fantastic mojo to not only improve your blog, but to network with other bloggers. It’s wonderful to see all of the friendships forming! I’m pretty sure that after the challenge, your online support group is going to keep you on track to following your blogging bliss, so get out there and mingle. Which brings me to my next question; are any of you going to blogher this year? Today is the last day for the early bird special. Or are any of you going to a Bloggy Boot Camp? Which one? I went to Philadelphia in the fall and it was wonderful! It was great to meet the “beautiful” Tiffany and her “niche” group there. I think I will be going to another this year for sure, I met some great ladies; one whom is on here, shout out to Jen@southofsheridan. I’m glad to know all of you, and hope you are making some great “bloggy buddies” too!

And now onto today’s work… enough chit chat…

Key Concepts: If you’re solving problems for people, they’re more likely to come back to your blog and tell others about your blog.

How to Identify Problems to Solve:

1. Solve your own problems

2. Look for questions in search referrals

3. Analyze internal searches

4. Ask readers for questions

5. Look for problems on other sites

6. Use social media to gather questions

7. Ask friends and family

For problems of a more advanced level, find an expert that can solve the problem in a guest post, interview, or one question answer.

Questions:

1. Which of the seven ways to identify a problem to solve has worked best for you in the past? Which is a new method that you’ve never tried before?

2. In the past, have posts that solved problems received more comments or created more buzz for you?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 43 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Can I get you a Mocha Java?

starbucks coffee cup
photo credit: Paddy’s D

Here we are at Day 15! Can I get a “Woo Hoo?” We are half way through our ProBlogger 31 day challenge. This has been a great experience for me; participating as well as leading. I have learned so much from both.

This week we worked on expanding our ideas for posts, talked about Editorial Calendars, updated pages some of us even got out and took an inspirational trip to the mall and finished up the week looking for blog buddies. Below are some of the notes of interest that stood out to me from this weeks daily tasks.

1. How was the task of 10 Post Ideas useful to you?
Jenn @SouthofSheridan: I found this process to be incredibly useful -a lot of times there are so many things I could add to a post but don’t want to make my blogs long and boring. I’m hoping to implement this trick into my blogging on a monthly basis, like Darren suggested. I’ve got a running list of blog post ideas saved to my computer, and it was exciting to realize a list of two or three quickly escalated to twenty.

2. Some of ladies came up with a “new series” for their sites, here are a few…
• Miranda: what’s in season
• Poppy: What’s in my food
• Jinny: “Artist of the month”
• Childpsychmom: “Ask Polly”
• Caren with a C: weekly post on a new fabric
• MamaMuro: single parenting to a teen
• Freshmom: nursery décor
• Carla: “What’s under my sink?” (Who was inspired by Poppy’s series. I love that!)
• Lin: Tightrope Moms, all about balancing momhood and the rest of life
• Kelly: Meatless Mondays
• The regal renegade: “mind over mayhem mondays”
• Alison: A Letter To My Kids
• Jill: Postcards from the Effinghamptons

3. Words of encouragement:
Amber: I am very excited to be joining back up…I started the SITS 31dbbb back in July but didn’t even make it this far…but after reading everyone’s tweets I was inspired to get started again. Thanks to everyone that encouraged me!

4. A look at ourselves:
Michele: What both the “create ten topics” and “create an editorial calendar” exercise has shown me is that I really am random when it comes to how I work on my blog…which, of course, results in random results.

I enjoy blogging, and have always thought of it as a hobby I do “when I have time.” I think that, by keeping my lists of my blog ideas, and then scheduling BOTH a time to write them and a time to publish them, I’ll not only see improvements on my blog stats, but, more importantly, I’ll enjoy the process of blogging and writing more.

Krissy: What I have been loving about these challenges is that the tasks we have been asked to do are all things that I have either been wanting to incorporate into my schedule, or things that I have already been doing but needed to catch up on.

Mrs. JenB: I am loving all of the inspiring ideas everyone’s sharing here. Branding is SO important – I know my “look” is something I’m still working out and trying to stay consistent with.

Christie: Ladies! I have loved participating in this challenge and I’ve been so inspired that I’m doing a total renovation.

5. Tools that were shared:
WordPress Editorial Calendar

Evernote You can copy/clip anything from the web, then tag it and save it. It’s a great tool.

6. A few posts from this week inspired by the challenge
Beth: And here’s a post I just wrote. I never would have thought to do this had I not been doing 31DBBB. So, thank you Darren, Shelly, and SITS! 7 Tips for Completely Thoughtless Gift Giving

Jillian: Theme Page

Shelley: Redone About Me page

Jenn: About Me

Alex: About me page

Great Tweets from the week:
@MrsJenBardall There are SO MANY amazing ideas flying around the #sitsgirls31dbbb thread today. I’m seriously taking notes here.

@ haglerhappening Bring it on! =) RT @msbibib: @haglerhappening @alisonjgolden @freshmomblog @MaryMKonce Good Morning. ready to start Day 13? #sitsgirls31DBBB

And now for my weekly “party favor” giveaway… I know in participating in this challenge we have all read and read and have done it with the help from a lot of caffeine… Sooooo, I thought it fitting that this week’s favor is a $25 Gift Card to Starbucks!

In order to qualify, simply leave a comment about the most helpful thing you learned this week in the 31dbbb challenge. Please make sure to leave your email address with your comment!

For extra entries:
• Follow I’m Still Standing if you are not already
• Follow @shelleyellen on Twitter.
• “Like” Shelley’s Wellness Makeover on Facebook and leave a message on the wall
• Tweet the following message:
RT Join @shelleyellen and the #sitsgirls31dbbb party to build a better blog http://tinyurl.com/4qusfyx
• Retweet this post on Twitter or share on Facebook

The Fine Print: Contest ends at midnight on February 27th EST. Winner will be drawn using a random.org and notified by email. Make sure your email is in the comment, no email no enterance, sorry. This giveaway is open to only U.S. residents.

Update: The winner of the $25 Starbucks Giftcard is…

1st keralita13@gmail.com

Congratulations on the drawing! It was completed on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 10:03:01 US/Eastern Time The winner was drawn from a list of 26 entrants using true randomness, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs. You will find the permanent record of the drawing here:

http://www.random.org/draws/details/?draw=5229

Day 15: Find a Blog Buddy

Wow! Here we are at Day 15, and Friday, which means we’re now halfway through the 31 days of our challenge. I think we all need to take a moment to stop and give a big cheer for one and other! Woot Woot! Here we are 15 days in 16 left.. I feel like we are at the half time of the Super bowl; so, where are the great million dollar commercials and pop musicians and nachos and cheese… Ok, enough I’m getting hungry…

Today’s task is to find a blog buddy. Darren points out in the ebook that bloggers who work together often have more success in building their blogs. You can find one blogger to work with, or a small group and commit to work together.

Key Concepts:

• Some of the benefits of working with another blogger include gaining feedback before publishing, sharing link love and communities, and sharing guest posts with each other.

• It is a good idea to find a blogger at a similar level and in your niche. Here’s a link to an article on the Problogger blog about How to Find a Blog Buddy.

• Forums like BlogFrog can be a great place to team up!

Questions:

1) Have you ever collaborated or worked with another blogger to mutually grow or improve your blog?

2) How have you reached out to other bloggers in your niche? What has worked best for you to make connections with other bloggers?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 54 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Day 14: Update a Key Page on Your Blog

Ladies, we are almost half way through the challenge, can you believe it! Woot Woot!

Today’s task is one I love and I can’t wait to get started on it! We all have key pages on our blog; it isn’t all about the entries! So today we are to take some time to identify what pages we have on our blog and how might they be updated. An obvious start is your About page, but we also don’t want to neglect our front page, contact page or any high traffic posts or pages. If people are entering our site on these pages, we can we do to make their experience better and help them stick around longer?

Key Concepts:

• Some pages on your site are more powerful than others so these should be updated.

Questions:

1) What’s the primary page or post you’re going to concentrate on updating for this task? What do you want to change or update on it?

2) When you visit someone else’s site, what are some key elements you look for in their primary pages? What are some of the biggest mistakes you see being made?

3) Can you identify 10 or more pages that for one reason or another are more important than others?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 51 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Day 13: Take a Trip to the Mall

We are nearly half way through our challenge. I just want to say that everyone is doing an amazing job so far. The comments have been so thoughtful and helpful. Keep them coming! Let’s try and keep everyone encouraged and “together” here, I don’t want to have any party poopers! I know we are all busy but let’s all try and keep it together.

Key Concepts:

This exercise is designed to both get you out of your own head and observe how brick and mortar businesses are going about marketing. Taking a break from the computer helps recharge the batteries. Noticing how retailers operate and grab consumers’ attention may inspire you to make some innovative changes to your blog.

Questions:

1) Other than a mall, are there places where you have found ideas or inspiration for your blog?

2) Have you made any changes or come up with any interesting posts from such a trip?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 53 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

It’s my party can someone pass me a crown?

crown
photo credit: robyn lou 8

Today is my SITS Day! The day is finally here! I’m so excited… I think even a little more excited than when I began hosting the 31dbbb on the SITS Community Forum.

First, I’d like to welcome any of my “sista’s” who I have yet had the chance to meet! And for my daily readers who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about…

SITS is an awesome community of over 8,000female bloggers who support one and other daily and offer assistance on all kinds of topics related to blogging and daily life. Recently they kicked off Bloggy Boot Camp; which is a one day blog and social media conference for women hosted in major cities all around the U.S. I was fortunate enough to join them in Philadelphia.

If this is your first time visiting “I’m Still Standing” let me give you a little house tour:

“I’m Still Standing” is a place to find comfort and support like home. Stop by to be inspired by stories about overcoming adversity, realizing that we’re all “able”, and to find healthy recipes.

Hello, my name is Shelley known to many as a “Playground Fairy,” Special Needs Advocate, Speaker, Blogger, Entrepreneur, Wife and Mom to three wonderful people who have helped change the world.

I am a creative person by nature and ready to jump into things with both feet, sometimes not really sure what I am getting myself into but always with an open heart. In 1996 I had the dream to create the first fully inclusive playground in the state of Maryland. Only having my design background, and my love for children, and passion to bring this project to fruition I jumped in full force. Not only did we (I formed a nonprofit organization) raise the needed one million dollars to create this playground, which is known throughout the region as “Hadley’s Park.” Our organization went on to build many more in the area, and helped hundreds of more in the country. If you’d like to find out more about me check, stop over here.

And..

while I was doing this my husband Kenny founded a company to enhance the lives of children by taking the “yuck” out of their medicine… Yes, it’s the stuff that the pharmacist asks you “do you want to add flavoring in that” for your children’s medicine.

And..

while we were both doing that my oldest daughter Sarah took being a disability advocate into her own hands after winning Miss Maryland Teen America 2005 and then the title of Miss Continental Teen America and raising awareness that we are all “ABLE”.

And we all did this as a way to give back; to change the world in honor of, our daughter/sister, Hadley who was brought into the world a beautiful little bundle of joy and whose life drastically altered on her 10th day when she suffered a grade 2 bilateral intracranial bleed. It is through Hadley’s life that so many other children’s lives have been changed…

In 2010 I realized I am an “Emotional Eater” and stared a Wellness Makeover. I love to cook and entertain; I can be found a lot of times reading my many cookbooks or magazines on cooking. Shout out to my two favorite ladies Ina Garten and Ellie Krieger! I also love to scrapbook from wonderful pictures I have taken and read a little here and there, and hopefully someday I will get to Italy.

Thanks for stopping by! Please take a look around and hopefully you’ll find something interesting today that makes you want to come back and visit again!

I invite you to subscribe to “I’m Still Standing” RSS feed.

If you tweet, follow me on twitter or if you are interested in learning about my “wellness makeover” on facebook check out this page or you can always contact me!

Day 12: Develop An Editorial Calendar For Your Blog

Good Morning Ladies, happy Tuesday. Did anyone get any great feedback yesterday that you’d like to share with the group? Today’s topic is about maintaining a calendar and list of topics for your blog in order to provide a minimum of a week’s worth of posts at your fingertips.

Key Concepts:

• Developing an editorial calendar is useful in helping a blog remain balanced:

1. Topic-helps become more dimensional about covering a variety of topics

2. Style of writing-mix it up!

Questions:

1. How do you keep track of ideas for blog topics or do you just brainstorm on the fly?

2. Have you considered a schedule like the one Darren describes, for your blog before? Will you try it?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 65 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Day 11: Come Up with 10 Post Ideas

Good Morning Ladies! I hope you all had a restful weekend or a weekend of catch-up, either way I hope it was good! I hope you’re having as much fun as I am doing the 31DBBB challenge as a group. I’m becoming a better blogger not only by completing the daily tasks, but by learning from my new bloggy friends and stalking their blogs, I have been trying to get to everyone’s. Please stop by and let me know if I haven’t hit yours up yet! It’s not because I don’t want to believe me, I am trying and doing the challenge with all of you at the same time! Oh, where is that glass of wine when I need it?

Again, I want to encourage the newer bloggers to ask questions on the forum and on Twitter during the challenge. Don’t be shy! There’re so many knowledgeable and talented bloggers doing the challenge, that someone can help you, we have a few ladies who are doing this for their second and even third time so just ask away!

Key Concepts:

• Mind mapping taps into what you’ve recently written on your blog and helps you to identify ways to extend those ideas.

• On at least a monthly basis, spend a few minutes brainstorming ways that several previous posts can be extended. These ideas are logical next steps for readers wanting to explore this topic, some of them based upon actual questions from readers.

• Be as creative and outside-the-box as you want. Any idea is allowed at this point.

• In the end, though, be ruthless in culling ideas that add nothing to your blog.

• Keep an “ideas” document to keep track.

• Here is a list of mind mapping applications you can try.

Questions:

1. How was this process useful to you?

2. Did you come up with ideas you didn’t think of before?

3. What was your favorite idea to come out of this process?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 71 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Some kids dream about flying while other kids just dream about playing at a park

 

sarah and hadley Some say “necessity is the mother of all inventions,” that became evident to me one spring day in early 1996 when I brought my then 4 year old and 7 year old daughters to play at a local park. We were very excited to finally get out of the house from the winter doldrums and get some fresh air at the playground. My older daughter was thrilled to have a place to run around and I was just thrilled to get outside after winter.

When we got to the playground it was the usual ritual of letting my older daughter out of the car and having her bolt like lightening to the playground area, and for me, not so fast. I had to lift the wheelchair out of the back of the station wagon and then put my 4 year old daughter into it. When that 5 minute ordeal was over, we were off but almost immediately we were stopped by a timber barricade which seemed to be placed there to keep in mulch but very obviously was a problem for us. So, as usual supermom that I am, picked up both the wheelchair and my daughter over the timbers and then thought we were off. But again, not so easy to push a wheelchair over mulch, think of trying to drive over sand; it’s not so easy, is it?

We then caught up with my older daughter who was running from each piece of equipment to the next. When I finally told her to “hold up.” She exclaimed she wanted us to “come up” on the equipment. Come up? Now how exactly was that supposed to happen? Oh, I know the wheelchair was supposed to sprout wings. Well, that is what it would have taken to get her up on the equipment. And let’s say that actually could have happened, then what? Sit up there and watch from the tower while her sister ran around and around. This was no fun!

So my younger daughter and I went over to a seating area where I sat and we both watched my older daughter run around. At one point my older daughter came over to us a little frustrated but then realized when she came over to us that my younger daughter had a tear dripping down her face. That was it! That was the moment I went from a stay at home mom to a mom on a mission! Why was there not anything my children could do together? Why was there not anything I could do with my younger daughter while my older daughter played? This was going to change, it had to!

I went home and started drawing (coming from a design background, drawing was second nature to me) and visualizing what a perfect playground would look like. When my husband came home I told him about that days adventures and how I was now out to change the world. I had a dream; a goal- “to build a unique park where all children could play together with or without disabilities.” A park where through playing, the concepts would help all children socially, and cognitively, as well as physically. Equally as important, a place for children with disabilities to play with their own siblings and peers.

The ideas and visions of this playground resulted in the development of a theme-play park. Often a playground is considered strictly physical. Although, when the physical play is mastered, the appeal of the playground can lead to boredom. Theme-play offers a challenge to the child’s imagination and encourages children to play for extended periods of time.

My dream playground encompassed a Transportation Area, Pirate Ship, Frontier Village, Castle, Dinosaurs, and Main Street themes. In the design, accessibility was ensured through the implementation of the ADA requirements, CPSC and ASTM guidelines; those are playground rules.

By combining all of these elements in the design and equipment, my dream would create the best playground for all children to play!

That was the day I put on my “big girl pants” and “hard hat” and formed a non profit organization which would come to be known through out the country as Hadley’s Park. In 1999 after three years of lobbying and fundraising I raised the needed one million dollars to build my dream park which has gained much national recognition for its creativity and play-ability for ALL children.

Do you have any “fully” inclusive playgrounds near you? I’d love to hear about them!

Join me in my families journey and subscribe to I’m Still Standing to keep updated! I’m here to now share with you how you can build on your dreams of building a project like Hadley’s Park.