The Real Thing

January 29, 2014

I spent a couple of days last week in Salt Lake City for Alt Summit.

It was a fantastic trip, and I loved basically every minute of it (and I plan to bore you to tears next week with more details).

But one of the main things I kept thinking about was, “None of this is as important as my family.”

I really love my blog – I love coming up with things to write about, I love you guys that read it, I love getting emails that say “What should I give my 2nd grade son to read?” I like making recipes easier, figuring out the simplest way to throw a fun party, and having a place to talk about books I really love.

I am more grateful than I can express that I can help support my family financially while Bart goes to school.

But at the end of the day, I don’t want my blog or my job to be the most important part of my life.

It’s tough because blogging is so FUN. I love what I do, and I could easily spend pretty much 24 hours a day doing it. And parenting little children is hard. My blog projects don’t complain about what I made for breakfast or ask “Are you done yet? You’re taking too lonnnnnnnnng.” This blog doesn’t wake me up the middle of the night because it threw its pacifier out of the crib.

But being a mom is more important to me, even if it’s sometimes hard to remember that in the moment when I’d WAY rather go take some pictures of food than play more games of Memory. I don’t want my children to remember me as always gunning to get back to my computer, or spending all our outings checking my email or Instagram.

Last night, Bart thought he heard a knock at at the door and went down to check it out. A minute later, I heard him come up and tell Ella to look out the window (we’d put her to bed over an hour earlier, but she was still awake thanks to the time-change fun).

I went to look too and it was snowing outside.

Ella’s been asking for months if it was going to snow (I told her when we moved here, that it usually snowed two or three times per winter in North Carolina), and I was starting to think she wasn’t going to see any this year.

Despite the fact it was long past her bedtime, we all pulled on our boots, coats and mittens, and went out into the snow.

The streetlights were on and the neighborhood was quiet.

I snapped a few photos, then put the camera away and we spent about half an hour building a tiny snowman, making tracks up and down the sidewalk, and writing Ella’s name in the snow. We threw snowballs, and made smiley faces on the driveway.

Ella could hardly contain her excitement, crying “I KNEW it would snow!” and insisting it wasn’t too cold to stay out longer (Bart and I were freeeeeeezing).

I thought, “This is what I want my life to be like.” (Well, minus the cold. But you know what I mean).

Eventually we came in and warmed up by the fire, before tucking Ella back into bed (lest you think this was all too magical a night, it ended with her sobbing that she was still hungry – which was probably legitimate thanks to the time-change – and then complaining when I offered her some of what we had for dinner).

I want my girls (and Bart) to know they are the highlight of my life. That I love them more than my computer and my camera and Twitter.

Blogging is only a part of my life. They are my life.

Now, if I can only remember that next time both my children are sobbing at the same time for no apparent reason.

(And yes, I recognize the irony of writing a post about our evening in the snow as an example of living life instead of blogging about it. You win some, you lose some).

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  • Reply Elaine January 29, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Was this Ella's first snow? Having seen Frozen must have made it even more exciting!
    We have about four inches today of the loveliest fluffiest snow, huge flakes. It is only 17.5 degrees, however!

  • Reply Rachel January 29, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    This it's a great post. I also find it hard to step away from the computer, and often need to remind myself that my real life is far more important than blogging, however fun it may be.

  • Reply april January 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    You have such a beautiful family!

  • Reply Ash January 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    I love this. You're awesome! (And what a sweet family to have as your life!)

  • Reply RA January 29, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I really appreciate this because all of the posts and pictures from Alt kind of wear me out. It makes me feel like I don't know the bloggers any more, just the brands and hashtags, and that saddens me. This is a nice change of tone.

    • Reply Lady Susan February 1, 2014 at 12:53 am

      Yes! I agree. Thank you for trying to achieve a balance, Janssen!

  • Reply Morris January 29, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I love this post. I have been unfollowing a lot of blogs because I just feel like they are advertisements now. I love to read about a little family time, a recipe (that isn't sponsored), and just about life in general. What a lovely evening you had.

  • Reply Landen January 29, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I lurve this so much! It almost made me tear up a little and wish that we still lived down the street so we could enjoy it with you !

  • Reply Celeste January 29, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    *Tear* So sweet!

  • Reply Feisty Harriet January 29, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I have never been to Alt, even though it's in my backyard. I am not a fashion blogger or a style blogger, and the only thing I've ever really heard Alt is that it caters and is for those types of bloggers. I hear a lot about what happens at Alt, the parties and what you wear and all that jazz, but very little about the content.

    I really appreciate this post and your priorities. I have no problem with a few sponsored posts or whatever, and if you can make money blogging more power to you, but I really appreciate when a fancy money-making conference-attending blogger is still down to earth. I feel you are in that category. 🙂


  • Reply Cami and Juan January 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I love this post. And the pictures are breath-taking. I think it's awesome that you have a job you love because we all need a break from mom stuff. But these small kids of ours, they're pretty awesome, no matter how difficult. You definitely have your priorities right.

  • Reply Little Light January 29, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Thank you. Now I am going to go out in the Atlanta Snowpoclypse and take photos for posterity. My dogs won't mind.

  • Reply Erica January 29, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    simply lovely

  • Reply Anna January 30, 2014 at 12:49 am

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Sometimes I get stifled by the blogging world… especially fashion bloggers who make their image and the clothes they wear so prominent. After perusing a couple of those blogs, I walk away feeling like less just because I can't afford the brand names they are wearing and the perfect pictures they are taking. This was most definitely a breathe of fresh air!

  • Reply Michelle January 30, 2014 at 2:02 am

    What a good reminder. It's so easy to get caught up in the things of life instead of enjoying life while it's happening.

  • Reply Stephanie January 30, 2014 at 3:25 am

    This was delightful!

    Also, it's funny that I love several states above you & we only got a dusting of snow last night. It makes it seem like it was especially for Ella! 🙂

  • Reply Sherry January 30, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Last night was my no-husband night. I picked up the boys and made pancakes and eggs for dinner. And then we played for like an hour and a half. I didn't check my phone or turn on my computer until after they were bathed and in bed. It was a long hour and a half, but I don't think the electronics or the Internet missed me, and my kids would have.

  • Reply CoolGreenDays January 30, 2014 at 4:38 am

    Honey, its called balance, and just like standing astride a seesaw, sometimes you lean one way, and then have the lean the other, just to catch yourself from falling. And you are doing just fine.
    I hope you make a million trillion dollars from blogging, and I don't care if your posts are sponsored – I like you, reading about you and feeling a tiny little bit part of your sweet sweet family – in a totally non-creepy way.
    Just a side note – I am always interested when people say they get discouraged and such by blogs with pretty clothes that are too expensive etc – I guess my philosophy is that we see lots of things every day – great things, and awful things, that we can't relate to, but we can still see them, and it doesnt define us at all? The homeless man and the expensive lady that lunches – worlds apart, but neither impacts on my life – except for prayer for the homeless man and some spare cash perhaps?

  • Reply Elizabeth Anne January 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    lol I am glad you wrote the post and I am even happier that you put your family first! I think all bloggers feel the same temptation, we just have to remember to live and to blog! But live first! 🙂

  • Reply Haeley Giambalvo January 31, 2014 at 4:08 am

    Great post Janssen! While I loved Alt Summit (3 day solo getaway!!), I share so many of your same sentiments. I have a list a mile long of things I'd like to do with my blog – but I frequently remind myself that they aren't the priority now. I may never be a mega-blogger, but staying home with my girls is what allowed me to have the time to explore what I'm passionate about and for that I'm thankful!

  • Reply Hohmann Family January 31, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    That was true sacrifice! Bedtime is sacred around here, but I have to admit that there have been times in which spending time with them and feeling the joy they emit far outweighs the repercussions the next day. Bravo! She will remember that for a long time.

  • Reply Dan R Morris February 1, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I tell my bloggers all the time that we have to get more efficient, more structured and more systematic so we can give back to our shareholders. . .our families.

    Great message. We preach it at Blogging Concentrated everyday.

  • Reply Becca February 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Probably my favorite post you've ever written.

  • Reply r o y a l February 13, 2014 at 5:25 am

    For reals though. You hit it spot on. I love having kids but it's SO FUN to not read the same book all day or play trains AGAIN and instead do something like blog or write or read or create. But family is my life… and you worded it exactly like it is.
    And I love your little tidbit at the end about how your magical night was still real life. 😉 Been there too. Like every day.

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