Follow your blogging bliss: Do what feels good

April 24, 2014 by  
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Follow your blogging bliss: Do what feels good and don't worry about the rest

It’s so easy, in a sea of Pinteresting and Tweeting and Facebooking businesses and bloggers, to feel overwhelmed, uneducated and lost FAST. Statistics whizzing by your head as you try to recall the right photo sizes and hashtags for each platform. Remembering to add value to opt-ins and post constantly, but only when you’ve got high quality content. Be an individual and stand out while still keeping up with trends. Tracking down the latest infographics on what to post and when to post and how to post it…is your heart racing a little yet? Feeling a cold sweat coming on? Don’t worry – I’ve been around the blogging block over and over for 17 years and I still have moments of panic thinking I just can’t keep up.

And so I’m here to tell you what I always tell myself in a moment of information overload.

You don’t have to keep up.

I know I talk about building a better blog and making sure posts are in order and your sidebar is clean and you’re hashtagging and interacting and adding value and SEO this and responsive that…but you don’t have to do everything. I don’t – I’ve given up Facebook, I don’t do Tumblr or Linkedin, I’ve skipped out on ads and sponsors, link parties and five days a week posting, and I’m over here straight chillin’.

I make things to help you get un-stuck or to keep you from tearing your hair out over that one damn piece of code that WILL NOT WORK. I tweet and Instagram and pin and write to help you make sense of all this internet and blogging stuff.

And sometimes I can’t figure out what to write or tweet or Instagram and I just give myself the day off and don’t worry about it because I know at some point (like now) the inspiration will show up and I’ll have something worthwhile to share.

And today that worthwhile thing is this – chill out, blogging is supposed to be fun! It’s not a race or a competition. Be inspired, be entertained, be connected. Get something out of it other than a load of stress. Learn the basics, figure out how everything works, and then do what FEELS GOOD. Do what makes you smile, what gets you excited, what’s FUN and don’t worry about the rest!

Click to tweet: Be inspired, be entertained, be connected. Get something out of #blogging other than stress! via @xosarahmorgan

Week in the life…with my Sarah Wells "Maddy" Breast Pump Bag!

April 23, 2014 by  
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I recently started using this bag and I LOVE IT! It seriously has made life so much easier with trying to balance my return to work and continuation of breastfeeding while I'm away from Aiden. I've used this stylish bag not only for carrying my breast pump to and from work, but also girl's days, gym sessions, and while working from home. This stylish, discreet and functional bag is incredibly useful to be used as a diaper bag and there have been several occasions where I've switched to using it instead of my normal diaper bag. The Sarah Wells breast pump bag provides ample space for your pump and accessories, plus the side pockets are so convenient for putting pumped bottles of milk with a ice pack (instead of feeling awkward using the employee fridge to store them).  If used as a diaper bag there is plenty of space for diapers, blanket, cover, toys and change of clothes. There is even a zip pocket to put the smaller items that you want easily accessible (like your wallet, keys, pacifier, etc.).

Monday & Tuesday:

It was my first few days back to work after maternity leave and I was definitely having some reservations about leaving Aiden at home. It was nice to have the bag to be able to pack everything up in so I wasn't running around last minute trying to find a bag that could safely hold everything and then be able to store everything I pumped at work.
But first, let me take a selfie!
It was comforting to have a private, accommodating spot to pump at work. I'm so thankful to work at a company that is fully, supportive of breastfeeding and make it easy for their employees to pump while at work. The Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bag had plenty of room to hold my pump, all it's parts, 6 bottles, hands-free bra, baby onesie (for scent to help letdown), magazines, deodorant, makeup, and even a padded pocket to hold my iPad to prevent damage...and there was still plenty of room.
Pumping station at work for all the pumping mamas!


The morning was spent doing some quick work to help out my husband with his home business before running some errands and going to the gym. I knew that I was going to have to pump before starting my workout so this was perfect for taking my pump discreetly around town (used as purse too) and into the gym. The bag is convenient because it fits my pump and it's accessories in the side pockets when on the go so I can use the large middle compartment for extra clothes. My favorite thing is that I don't have to remove my pump to use it either (which is great when in a locker room to avoid germs). I can just pull out the flanges, attach and pump while keeping the pump inside the bag.
Little desk work to start the day!
Great looking, right?
Isn't it fabulous? The perfect size for breast pump and other essentials.
 Another day of work. :(  It's starting to get easier to be back at work, but I dread the days I have to go in. Working second shift makes it tough because I miss bedtime and the evening bath too. I'm sure that it'll get easier over time though and I'm determined to continue breastfeeding. 

This bag is really convenient for saving time. It's large enough that I can easily put my breast pump and all of it's parts in it already assembled so that when I need to use it at work I can pull it out and starting pumping ASAP, instead of spending time putting everything together. I love that it doesn't scream, "HEY, I have a breast pump in here!!", since I have to walk through the whole hospital going into work and to the pumping rooms. Haha! I had quite a few co-workers compliment me on it and they couldn't believe that it was a breast pump bag because they were used to the frumpy, obvious pump bags that they've seen and used before. 

Friday - Spent the morning catching up on some work and then GIRL'S Day! Spent the day out with friends shopping, dining and catching up! It felt so good to have a day to just relax with the girls since it hasn't happened in forever! Used the bag as purse and pump bag through the day so I wouldn't have to use two separate bags. Less bags = less to lug around and less to lose (sleep deprived mom equals scatter brained). 

Saturday - Spent the day visiting with parents so we were on the go a lot. On days when I have Aiden with me throughout the day I nurse him, so on the weekends I use the bag as a diaper bag. It has plenty of room for all your diaper bag needs with the separate compartments. If we're bringing bottles I just put them in the side pocket with a ice pack to keep them cool for 4+ hours and the water resistant exterior and interior lining is a life-saver when you have leaky bottles - which we did. :( Nothing hurts more than wasted breast milk, but at least clean up was easy with a simple wipe with a towel. The large interior is perfect for extra change of clothes, diapers, wipes and some toys to keep Aiden smiling. The zip pocket is perfect for throwing in my wallet, a pacifier and sanitizer for quick and easy access. 

Packed and ready for a day with family. 
Obligatory baby Aiden pic! ;) 

If you're a working mom or currently pregnant and planning on being a working & pumping mom, I highly recommend this bag! It's high function, discreet and fashionable as well. An added bonus is the versatility because not only is it useful for a breast pump bag, but also as a diaper bag, purse, and overnight bag in the future so it will serve to be useful for a long period of time, not just while breastfeeding and pumping.

For more information check out Sarah Wells Bag website or buy directly on Amazon.

P.S. Don't forget....Mother's Day is right around the corner! ;)

Movement? Not A Church?

April 23, 2014 by  
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It seems one of the questions I answer most often about the church planting movement we are launching in Ypsilanti is about the name. We call our community a movement and not a church. Why? The reason is simple, the Church is much broader than our local incarnation of the body of Christ and the Church, when it is truly being the Church, is a movement.

What is a movement you ask? A movement is organic, it’s alive, and it’s messy. It’s multiplying and replicating. A movement is not in stasis. It’s a community of people who gather around a mission and passionately pursue it together. Some movements last for a moment. Some movements last for a long time.

In its purest form the Jesus movement has been alive and well since Jesus’ ascension. There are those who have tried to institutionalized it. There are those who have tried to use it to consolidate power. In many ways when this happens the Church isn’t really the Church. It’s simply a gathering of people who are members of the Church. For the Church to be who it really is, you must have movement. You must have multiplication and sending.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20

You can’t live out this vision of Jesus as an institution. We can only live it out as a movement. An organic, living, breathing, community on mission together.


Skubick to speak to Calhoun GOP

April 23, 2014 by  
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This is kinda interesting.

The Calhoun County Republican Party will host a silent auction and dinner at its annual Lincoln Day Celebration next month.

Political commentator Tim Skubick, who hosts “Off the Record” on WKAR-TV, will be the event’s guest speaker. Donated items, including Michigan State University football tickets and a one-week stay on Marco Island, Fla., also will be auctioned.

I wouldn't necessarily read anything into this, because it's not terribly unusual for media people to speak to varioius private organizations (I once spoke to a local Rotary Club!) and what you can pull out of Skubick's work doesn't pose him as a rightwing bomb thrower or anything. It's kind of interesting that the Calhoun Republicans would ask him, however.

Reliving the Highs: A Stroll Through Michigan’s 2013-14 Basketball Season (Part One)

April 23, 2014 by  
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Wandering back through Michigan's 2013-14 basketball highlights because it is the offseason and Glenn Robinson alley-oop dunks do nothing but bring smiles to the world.

I set out this morning to write something on Chad Lindsay's decision to transfer to OSU over Michigan.  Of course, once I sat down to write that I realized that it was the blogging equivalent of putting cigarettes out on my arm, and that I should try to do something enjoyable for everyone involved.

So, I watched basketball highlights.  A lot of them.  Going all the way back to the start of the Big Ten season.  And as I was watching these highlights from every single game (granted that it was available; thankfully MGoVideo omitted a couple painful losses from the archives) I figured that reliving basketball season one more time wouldn't be all that bad.  Besides, it is the end of April and we haven't been getting a ton of good news lately.  I think we all need a nice pick-me-up.

Welcome to part one of what will likely be a five part series where I watch highlights of Michigan's games to remind myself of just how awesome that whole thing was.

Shall we...

(A quick shout out here to MGoVideo, who does God's work compiling all of these highlight packages so that we can have access to them.)

@ Minnesota - Remember when Zak Irvin went off?  He had put up a couple of clinics (6/10 vs. Coppin St., 4/8 vs. Stanford), but this was still in the early stages when we were all getting used to Irvin's rhythm on the court.  And by rhythm I mean that every time the ball comes to him outside the free throw line and he senses even an inch of space, his jump shot is soon to follow.  Michigan needed every bit of it as LeVert had a typically early season "bad Caris" game (4 points on seven shots, 4 turnovers) and GRIII missed most of the second half with an injury.  This game was just a taste of the impact Irvin would have this season.

Also, Horford had 14 and 9 in this one.  I guess this isn't going to be so happy of an exercise after all.

vs. Northwestern - For me, this one is all about Spike.  There are four perfect Spike plays in this one, the kind of smart, quick passes that few players are capable of making.  In the first play Spike gets a hand on a ball and tips it into the backcourt.  He gains control, takes it at the defender and knows that he has a dump-behind pass to the trailing Stauskas.  The second is a swing pass to the opposite sideline for an open Caris three.  The third, a pass from the top of the key between two defenders as Horford flashes to the low block from behind the defense.  Finally, left alone up top Spike knocks down a triple.  Michigan has gone a long way developing NBA talent the last few years, but man oh man, the program players that Beilein is turning out are simply incredible.  Exhibit A: Jordan Morgan's career.  Just think, we get two more years of Spike Albrecht.  How exciting is that?

Spike is also a big reason why the commitment of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and the recruitment of Aubrey Dawkins are exciting to me.  Beilein knows how to find guys that other coaches overlook, and if he keeps developing two NBA draft picks a year as well as picking up a solid four-year backup or two in every class, Michigan is going to be incredibly hard to beat in the near future.

@ Nebraska - Woah ho ho, Nebrasketball came out of nowhere, didn't it?  Michigan almost got flat out beat, and while there are a few other really nice highlights, the biggest one is Nebraska missing multiple opportunities before time expired.  At the time this game seemed like a bad omen.  Nebraska was still considered to be pretty bad and Michigan was still in the post-McGary malaise.  Fast forward to now and two things jump out at you.  First,, these teams were both much better than anyone gave them credit for at the time.  Second, it is somewhat astonishing to realize that for as important as this win felt during the thick of the Big Ten race, Michigan eventually proved to have plenty of cushion to win the Big Ten title..

Outside of the close win, Glenn Robinson III had himself a game.  Watching the way he performed in that one it is easy to see why he is entering the draft.  Just the highlight package includes a beautiful 18 foot pull up jumper, a monster alley-oop baseline slam, and a steal-into-transition-dunk late in the game when Michigan needed it.  He was 8/9 from inside the arc on the day and he looked every bit the first round pick doing it.

This was also one of the first sign of life games from Derrick Walton Jr.  He scored in  double digits and made one of the biggest baskets of the game, drawing a foul on a drive to give Michigan the lead.  Over the next couple months he would show a knack for initiating contact and still converting the basket on drives, and that ability should serve him well next year as he takes on more of an offensive role.

vs. Penn State - It would be interesting to go back through every game Glenn Robinson III played at Michigan and count up the number of alley-oop slams.  It has to average at least one alley-opp slams every other game, and I wouldn't be surprised if it is closer to one per game.  This one is an almost effortless transition jam thanks to a 25 foot pass from Caris LeVert.  It is almost like GRIII was playing a different game sometimes.  One that takes place in outer space and none of us are invited to ever.

@ Wisconsin - Could it be anything else?

This was Nik Stauskas at his most lethal.  Down the stretch with Michigan clinging to the last bits of its lead, Stauskas took over the game.  He scored Michigan's last 11 points over the final three and a half minutes of the game.  His shot above pushed the lead back out to two baskets, and he went 6/6 from the line after that to ice the game.

And that was the moment that it became clear, Nik Stauskas was not long for the college basketball world.  Good luck in the NBA, Nik, and thanks for the memories.

Taylor Lewan, Graham Glasgow have May arraignment date set

April 23, 2014 by  
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Taylor Lewan and Graham Glasgow are set to be arraigned on May 19 for their separate off the field incidents.

Taylor Lewan and Graham Glasgow were involved in separate off the field incidents and the Ann Arbor judicial system has set a date in May for arraignment for the two.

It also happens to be on the same day.

According to court records, both Glasgow and Lewan are expected in court on May 19.

Glasgow will be arraigned on operating while intoxicated charges stemming from a March 15 incident in Ann Arbor. The proceedings will be heard by Ann Arbor judge Joseph Burke.

Starting in nine games a season ago at center, Glasgow is expected to compete again for a starting position on the offensive line this season. He was suspended for part of spring practices and is suspended for the season opener against Appalachian State on Aug. 30.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who suspended Glasgow, released a statement at the time of his suspension. Stating that a violation of team standards was the reason for the suspension.

"Each of our young men understands the standard we expect of them," said Hoke in a statement during the time of the suspension. "It's one that represents this great program and university, as well as their family and teammates. When their actions don't reflect that standard, it's very disappointing, and we must hold them accountable for their decision while helping them learn a valuable life lesson."

Lewan, who has graduated and is no longer with the program, is expected to be arraigned on one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault and battery stemming from a December incident. The proceedings will be heard by Ann Arbor judge Elizabeth Hines.

Be sure to follow Maize N Brew's Joshua Henschke on Twitter, @JoshuaHenschke.

Writer’s Block Meet The Front Door

April 23, 2014 by  
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So, I was surfing the web via my emails last night, which turned out to be expensive, by the way. I ended up purchasing an Android tablet from NoMoreRack but it was only $62 including shipping. For my kid, not me. Because I believe in sparing the rod and spoiling the obnoxious. Apparently. Hm…the things I learn about myself when surfing.

Anyway. Digression. Back to the point.

In my perusing of the web via email links, I ended up downloading this PDF from Writer’s Digest. In it were prompts to kick that wicked block. So, I told myself…Self, you’re gonna do this. Get back in touch with your creative side which has been on hiatus for far too long. I’m trying to convince my Muse to pack up her luggage, drink a couple more of those frou-frou fruity drinks, get fanned a bit more by the cabana boy and come home to me. She’s thinking about it. In the meantime, I have to prove to her I’m ready to get busy.

So, I’m going to prove it to her. Muse, this is for you.

Dear Creativepation aka Blockage of the Writer’s kind,

It’s not time. You need to be gone. I have no more room for you in my life.

You see, once upon a time, I had ideas flowing to the point of insanity. I couldn’t keep up with all of them. Of course, I forgot to write half of them down but, that’s another story for another time.

Listen Pation…I can call you Pation, right? I am at this point in my life where  I have so many other things blocked and I really need  at least ONE thing flowing well. And since this creative writing thing is one way for me to relieve myself AND make a tiny bit of cash…you and I need to be through.

I wish I could say that it’s been lovely while it lasted. Truth is, it hasn’t. Any type of blockage is very uncomfortable, trust me. And that big lump in my throat and chest, the one caused by you stopping my ideas and words from flowing out easily? It just can’t happen anymore.

I’m going to ask nicely. Please…be gone with you. Find somewhere else to go. I’m afraid I’ve let you overstay your welcome, you’ve gotten far too comfortable sitting here like a lump of poop. I mean, sheesh…we haven’t even gotten to know each other. You just sit there, not speaking, glaring at me while drinking your drinks and smoking your smokes. That is NOT gracious houseguest behavior.

If you don’t leave quietly, I’m going to have to use brute force. I’m not sure what that means but I’m not afraid to figure it out.

So, not-so-dear Writer’s Block…

If you would be so kind as to be gone within the next 24 hours, I’d be exceptionally grateful.

And, no offense, of course. But, you are not welcome to come back. I just don’t see any reason to carry on our acquaintance, there was no benefit on either of our ends. Well, maybe yours…it gives you sick pleasure to cause this writestipation, doesn’t it?

Don’t answer that.

You know where the front door is.

Just leave.



Terri Lynn Land releases ad begging Gary Peters to define her

April 22, 2014 by  
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Terri Lynn Land has a new ad out. It's vacuous, trite, and insults the intelligence of everyone who watches it. But, it commits an even graver sin. It begs Gary Peters to define Terri Lynn Land.

She is practically begging Gary Peters to respond with an ad (again) highlighting her support for everything in the Republican War on Women, and framing her as an enemy from within.

What a dumb move.

Update! ... Dumb, just dumb.

LANSING - Timing is everything. The same day Former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land released her first ad, which contained more elevator music than substance, attempting to push back on her out of touch record on women's issues, she earned Rick Santorum's endorsement. Santorum would clearly like to turn the clock back on Michigan women.

Why on Earth would she even go public with this at all? The only people Rick Santorum carries any weight with are conservative Catholics, and he couldn't even win the 2012 Republican primary here. His endorsement carries no value in the general election, and undercuts her own first ad by tying herself to Santorums decidedly anti-woman ideas. Whoever is responsible for signing off on this ought to be fired, even if it's the candidate herself.

Most of the people who are running for office this year – the near-final list

April 22, 2014 by  
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It's 5:30 - do you know who your candidates are?

Here's the unofficial list of Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor, US Senate and House, state legislature, and judgeships. Keep in mind that candidates have until 4:00 on Friday to withdraw.

Gongwer had a piece today about some of the big surprises of filing deadlines past, including the Great Schmidt-storm of 2012 and a guy who tried to run for Governor against Posthumus and Schwarz but who didn't get enough valid signatures. 

No huge surprises of that sort today, but a few remarks below the fold.


Governor and US Senate

No surprise here. It does seem a little odd that, in a year in which the governorship is hotly contested and the US Senate seat is open, neither race has a competitive primary.


It will officially be a three-way battle with Barnett, Bishop, and McMillin in the 8th. Meanwhile, John Moolenaar's path to Congress is complicated by the candidacies of Paul Mitchell and Peter Konetchy (the latter of whom got in the race while Camp was still expected to run).

I'm surprised that Jeffrey Hank (D-8th) and Raymond Mullins (D-12th) ended up filing. Brian Ellis only turned in 1,200 signatures in the 3rd, while Douglas North only turned in 1,110 in the 7th. Given that 1,000 of them need to be valid, don't be surprised if Amash and Walberg supporters challenge these signatures. 

State Senate

District 2 features five Democrats, including incumbent Bert Johnson, John Olumba, Some Dude, and - get this - two people named Lemmons who live at the same address! I'd expect one of them to withdraw their name before this Friday's withdrawal deadline. 

After filing only 551 signatures (cutting it close, since 500 needed to be valid), Patrick Colbeck withdrew his candidacy and then re-filed with the $100 filing fee. 

In the open-seat 28th (a reliably Republican seat), current Rep. Peter MacGregor faces off against a guy named Kevin Green (who may or may not be this Kevin Green). Also in the race: Tommy Brann of Brann's steakhouse fame. More people are running for the right to Replace MacGRegor in the 73rd House seat.

Geoff Hansen (R-34th) has to face a primary challenge from Nick Sundquist for the right to lose to Cathy Forbes in the fall.

Democrats Chris LaMarche and Chris Germain filed to run against Tom Casperson in the 38th. LaMarche only filed 566 signatures (again, cutting it very close), while Germain went with the filing fee. I don't know much about LaMarche, but I do know Germain is kind of young. Oftentimes young candidates running in swing districts are met with skepticism in terms of their ability to win a tough race, but we'll see how it all plays out.

State House

Three candidates will vie for the right to lose to Winnie Brinks in the 76th: Keith Allard, who ran as an independent in 2012, as well as former GR city comptrollers Donijo DeJonge and Stan Milanowski.

One of the few other area in which Dems have to play defense is the 91st district - Holly Hughes, who was elected in 2010 but lost in 2012, has two primary opponents.

Report: Former Alabama OL Chad Lindsay to transfer to Ohio State

April 22, 2014 by  
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A report from CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler on Tuesday says that Chad Lindsay will transfer to Ohio State to spend his final year of eligibility.

When it was first announced that former Alabama offensive lineman Chad Lindsay was transferring away from the school, Michigan was an attractive destination due to the familiarity he had with current offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

Perhaps it wasn't so attractive after all, as it appears that Lindsay is heading elsewhere.

Ohio State to be exact.

According to CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler's report on Tuesday, Lindsay is expected to spend his final year of eligibility with the Buckeyes.

Lindsay, who has started four games at center in his career under former offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier at Alabama, chose to leave campus after graduation. He is eligible to play right away due to NCAA's graduate transfer rules.

Over the past few weeks, Lindsay has visited Michigan, Cal, Louisville, Oklahoma and ultimately decided that Columbus was the destination.

With Lindsay no longer an option, juniors Jack Miller and Graham Glasgow are expected to compete for the starting center position. However, Glasgow is suspended for the season opener due to punishment stemming from an incident earlier in the offseason.

Be sure to follow Maize n Brew's Joshua Henschke on Twitter, @JoshuaHenschke.

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