Ask Away Friday With Beth From Structure In An Unstructured Life

It is Friday! Time for another round of Ask Away Friday!

This week I swapped with Beth from Structure in an Unstructured Life. Beth is a kindred spirit who writes about a lot of the same topics I do. She’s on the quest to encourage mothers in their day to day grind, which is basically my elevator pitch. I have more than once fallen down the rabbit hole at her blog, especially the ones on her organization tab.

Ask Away Friday Structure In An Unstructured Life

This link up is hosted by Amber from Bold Fab Mom, Stacy from This Momma’s Ramblings, Tiffany from Mrs. Tee, and Penny from the Real Housewife Of Caroline Country.  The idea is simple. 2 bloggers trade 10 questions, answer those questions on their blog, and link up.

1. Your kids are 4 and not quite 1 – what are your favorite and least favorite things about these ages?

Malone is 4.5 (he’ll be 5 in June). There is so much that I love about him at this age, but I think my favorite is his very sincere and backwards preschooler thinking. The other morning he said to me “Mom, mom, MOM! I’m making you a Valentine’s Day card for Mother’s Day. But I love Daddy more, so I’m going to give it to him.”

He’s also starting to get really strong opinions about food and entering an uber picky phase. Things that he loved before are now too squishy (melon) or too slimy (cucumbers). I know that he likes both things, but for some reason his brain has decided that the texture is no longer something he can handle. I don’t fight him on it though because I’ve gone through seasons in my life where I’ve felt the same way about certain textures. I keep telling myself that nothing is forever.

Lola is 7 months and a blast. She’s got a big personality (much like her mama) and it is really starting to come out. She laughs a lot and is very generous with her smiles. I love seeing her experience things for the first time. The other day I gave her strips of a grilled cheese for lunch (we feed our babies people food from the beginning instead of purees). She was completely dazzled by it.

At 7 months, she’s starting to get mobile. It’s a blessing because I love to see her move. But it’s a curse too. Gone are the days where she stayed on the blanket to play. She can’t crawl yet, but she can roll herself wherever she wants to go.

2. Your blog has posts about “breaking the parenting rules.” What is one rule you would never break?

Hmm.. this is a really good question. I’m pretty strict about using manners. I don’t think there will be a time in my life that I’ll ever let it slide. They are so important!

3. In your post last fall about seeing Santa at a funeral, you mentioned at the end about setting limits for yourself when it comes to social media. How has that gone? What advice can you give for reigning in the social media obsession?

It has gone really well. I’ve done a lot of work on myself this year with regard to my social media habits and I love the place that I’m at with it.

My advice about the social media obsession is this- don’t make it something that it’s not. If it is an idol in your life, you might want to take a step back and think about why you have placed such a high value on the instant feedback that social media gives.

You might even consider a 24 hour break from all social media. No one is going to die because you’re offline for a day. But you might gain some new found perspective.

4. I loved reading about you being a “correspondence hoarder” (me too)! What is your favorite email to go back to and why?

In the summer of 2009 (the summer Malone was born), I met a ton of really cool parents (including Tamara) through a program my hospital ran called Beyond Birth. We were each other support system back then and are still friends now. Our kids have grown up together, we’ve grown up together. My favorite emails to go back to are the ones we sent to each other that summer. They are about silly things like naps and poop textures but they represent the foundation of life long friendships.

This summer is the summer of FIVE and we’re chatting about throwing a big celebration.  A lot of us can’t believe that we kept tiny humans alive for so long.

5. What book are you currently reading? Would you recommend it?

I am currently reading Surprised By Motherhood by Lisa Jo Baker. I would absolutely recommend it. It came out this week and it is amazing.

Grab your tissues and watch.

6. I know we both love Instagram! Share a recent favorite Instagram photo and tell why you love it.

I adore this photo because it speaks so much about where our family is at in life. We re all taking risks and putting ourselves out there. And the things that are happening because of it? Mind blowing.

7. Would you rather have an Easter basket filled with chocolate eggs or jelly beans?

I like them both equally if they are quality products. I adore Starburst Jelly Beans and a good piece of chocolate goes a long way.

8. If you had to choose one cause you are most passionate about, what would it be?

Living an authentic life. I know that I probably should have picked a charity or social justice issue for this question, but I really believe that if you are living a life well lived, the things you are passionate about will bubble up to the top. You’ll find a way to help further the causes of the things that matter most to you and the world will be a better place because of it.

9. You’ve written that you are an extrovert and your husband is an introvert. My husband and I are the opposite. How do the two of you make these differences work?

We’ve been together for over ten years and have been married since 2007. We’ve walked a lot of life together and settled into a rhythm that works well for us. I would love to chat his ear off all night about ALL THE THINGS but I know that what he really needs is quiet time to recharge. As I write this (on Wednesday night), he’s in the living room listening to the Red Sox game and playing a computer game. He’s filling his tank because it has been tapped out after a long day at work with his coworkers and then with the kids and I tonight.

I get plenty of opportunities to socialize during the day. I chat with other parents at our co-operative play group or on the playground, I meet with a woman from my church once a week for a walk, and talk to my Nana on the telephone often. Mike is also really great about encouraging me to hang out with friends in the evenings when he gets home from work.

Mike and I use the mornings to connect. We typically sit at the table and have breakfast, read Jesus Calling together out loud, and talk about what is happening that day. Some mornings, we only have five minutes together, but we’re giving each other the best pieces of ourselves at that time.

10. If you could go back and give your pre-blogging self one piece of advice about blogging, what would it be?

Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. It is so easy to get caught up in comparison in the blog world and for a long time, I wasted a lot of time and energy bouncing from idea to idea trying to catch up. Set goals and work towards them. You don’t have to start out of the gate on a fast sprint. There is value in a slow and calculated growth plan for your blog.


  1. Tiffany says

    Hi NJ! Happy Friday! You guys had a really great swap this week…I love how your son has his own little way of thinking. So Cute! I went through the same phases with my older Kiddies and my Little Buddie is there now…some of the stuff he says just cracks me up! Have a great weekend!
    Tiffany recently posted..The Photo Ladies – Challenge No. 2 | Shutter SpeedMy Profile

  2. Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout says

    Awesome answers, NJ. Aren’t the preschooler-isms funny? And Lola… oh my word. What an absolute doll. She looks so happy and sweet. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted..April Goals, and March Goals in reviewMy Profile

  3. Tracie says

    I love your blogging advice. And honestly, it makes good life advice, too!

    Surprised By Motherhood is on my reading list. Glad to hear you are enjoying it.

    Starburst jelly beans are definitely the best!
    Tracie recently posted..I Fed A Giraffe And I Have A Book Inside MeMy Profile

  4. Lanaya | Raising Reagan says

    That first story about the Valentine’s Day card had me cracking up. Rey would absolutely say something like that too! Isn’t it funny how kids think? Your kiddos are just too cute!
    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Lanaya | Raising Reagan recently posted..Ask Away Friday – Round Twenty FiveMy Profile

  5. Rabia @TheLiebers says

    I have a folder of emails I saved from 13 years ago when my grandmother was dying. Different family members would go visit and give their reports on her mood, health, and temperament. Even though I know what’s coming in the last email, I still like to go back and re-read them.. They help me remember her.
    Rabia @TheLiebers recently posted..#AskAwayFriday with Megan from The Walker Fireside ChatsMy Profile

  6. Rea says

    Speaking of stepping away from social media, I have recently declared Tuesday as my No Social Media Day wherein I shouldn’t be online except for my email for business purposes. I loved how it turned out because I got enough sleep 😀 I just realized that I’ve been spending too much online in the office and at home.. :)

    Your advice to your pre-blogging self is spot on!

  7. Tamara says

    Ever since I got the puppy…there are a LOT of social media free days. It’s tough! I’m afraid more that I’m going to miss a pregnancy announcement. Hopefully that person would also tell me on their own!
    And grilled cheese was my first solid food, and one of Des’ too! He never liked purees. Scarlet loved them so I used that opportunity to pump her full of every vegetable ever. I hope it had lasting power because she is pickier these days.
    Tamara recently posted..All The Good Stuff Happens On Twitter.My Profile

  8. Beth at Structure in an Unstructured Life says

    Loved that Valentine card story! haha! That is such a preschooler statement! And I always love seeing your pics of Lola on Instagram because she has that kind of smile that just makes you feel happy. Almost like she smiles with her whole face, not just her mouth. I love it!
    Surprised by Motherhood is the next book on my list! I love Lisa Jo Baker’s blog and can’t wait to read her book!!
    And love the blogging advice – so true!! I am slowly learning to embrace what I love about my blog and stop the comparison game. It’s hard sometimes, but comparing never makes me feel good, and who wants to feel bad? :)
    Thanks so much for swapping! It was great!!
    Beth at Structure in an Unstructured Life recently posted..Ask Away Friday with NJ!My Profile

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