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Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Last week Tommy and I enjoyed a final holiday excursion: visiting the Milwaukee Public Museum for Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee. Arguably, the Streets of Old Milwaukee is the neatest permanent feature at the Milwaukee Public Museum (the butterfly garden is a nice runner up). Visiting the turn-of-the-century storefronts adorned with holiday Victorian-era touches is such a nice way to celebrate the Christmas season. The streets feature wreaths, garlands, holly, ribbons, bell pulls, vintage ethnic ornaments, and much more.

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Deck the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum | http://www.roseclearfield.com

The Streets of Old Milwaukee remain decorated through January 30, 2018. If you miss the 2017-2018 holiday festivities, put it on your calendar for next year! Typically, the display kicks off in mid-November. For more special happenings at the Milwaukee Public Museum, check out their special events and special exhibitions pages.

More Milwaukee happenings:

Mitchell Park Domes Naughty or Nice Holiday Floral Show | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Naughty or Nice Holiday Floral Show at the Domes

Body Worlds Animal Inside, Milwaukee County Zoo | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Body Worlds Animal Inside Out Exhibit

Polish Fest 2017 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Milwaukee Polish Fest 2017

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Six Months of Tommy

Tommy 6 Months | http://www.roseclearfield.com

This past week, Tommy turned six months old. When we went to his six-month doctor appointment Tommy weighed 16 pounds 8.9 oz and measured 27 1/4 inches long, putting him in the 29th percentile for weight and 74th percentile for height. His head circumference is 17 inches.

This past month, Tommy has been building on his mobility and interaction skills like crazy. He is moving whenever possible, bouncing like crazy in his bouncy seats, scooting all over his activity mat and kick ‘n play, and kicking his arms and legs when he’s laying on the floor or on the bed. Since the last update, Tommy has rolled over FOUR times during tummy time, which means he rolled from his stomach to his back. (No pictures or video yet.)

Tommy in the Baby Einstein Jumper | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Tommy is also obsessed with trying to sit up on his own. He tries to sit up from a flat on his back position and sits up independently in his bouncy seat all the time. Almost everyone who has spent time with Tommy this past month has seen him attempt one or both of these skills. He still isn’t steady enough to sit up completely on his own for very long without tipping forward or to the side, but he’s getting so close and loves to work on this skill whenever possible, too.

Tommy still enjoys his bouncy seats and activity gym. He’s become so mobile, scooting around and trying to sit up whenever possible, that we need to monitor him pretty closely during both of these activities. He got a new Baby Einstein jumper and Fisher Price kick ‘n play piano for Christmas, both of which he’s already been enjoying a lot. Having a variety of sensory stimulation keeps him more interested. Each month, he engages more and more with the toys. Lately, one of his favorite things is to twist and look at the mirror in the activity gym. He is also really into his rattles and reaches for them immediately, even grabbing them on his own independently when they’re on the floor next to him.

Tommy First Christmas Outfit 2017 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Obviously, one of the biggest highlights this past month was Tommy’s first Christmas. We were fortunate to get to celebrate with both of our immediate families and Tommy’s birth family, all of whom gifted Tommy a wealth of meaningful, age-appropriate gifts. We braved the late night mass on Christmas Eve, and Tommy was a champ. Our little night owl stayed awake for the entire mass. Tommy loved looking at the tree and checking out the presents as they stacked up during the weeks leading up to Christmas. He enjoyed ripping open and playing with the paper a bit with us and our families. The longer present opening sessions with our immediate families got overwhelming and he did better sitting on someone’s lap or hanging out in his bouncy chair than having to engage with the presents.

Mitchell Park Domes Naughty or Nice Holiday Floral Show | http://www.roseclearfield.com

This past month, Tommy and I visited the Mitchell Park Domes for the Naughty or Nice holiday floral show. We also went to the Milwaukee Public Museum because I wanted to see the Streets of Old Milwaukee decorated for the holidays (post coming).

Besides continuing to grow like crazy, Tommy’s biggest physical change this past month has been his hair growth. He has so much more hair than he did a couple of months ago, giving his face a lot of character. Once he’s able to sit up independently, his hair will fill in evenly. For now, the growth in the back and on the sides is pretty funky, with the best growth on the top of his head. It still seems to be dark blonde/light brown, varying in appearance depending on the current light conditions. He reaches up to feel his hair all the time. Tommy’s eyes have remained deep blue. At this point, it seems like deep blue is going to be his permanent eye color.

Tommy’s eating and sleeping routines remain largely unchanged from last month. Spoon feeding rice cereal and sitting in his high chair are both still pretty overwhelming, so we’re only doing these activities in moderation. We’ve also tried giving him a few different kinds of baby puffs (the type that dissolve in your mouth), which has also been fairly overwhelming. He has eaten a few completely but always reacts strongly to their texture and flavor.

Tommy in the Kick 'n Play | http://www.roseclearfield.com

As we move past the six month mark, we can start feeding Tommy purees as well. He’s still eating 6-7 ounces of formula every 3-4 hours during the day, totaling 4-5 daily feedings. As Tommy becomes more alert, he gets more distracted during his feedings. Even when he’s in his room (as opposed to in the living room with family visiting, in church during a mass, etc.), he still gets more distracted than he ever has before, looking at the cats wandering around, snow falling outside, etc.

Tommy continues to follow our 10:30/11:00 p.m. to 7:30/8:00 a.m. sleep schedule. Most nights, we get Tommy in his pajamas by 8:30/9:00 p.m. and keep our nighttime activities very low-key. He almost always falls asleep in our bed while we’re reading or watching TV, and then we move him to his crib. As he gets a little older, we’ll develop more of a bedtime routine with prayers, stories, etc.

Tommy 6 Months | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Occasionally, Tommy wakes up crying during the night and needs his pacifier to fall back asleep. Otherwise, he sleeps soundly through the night in his own room with virtually no issues. As Tommy has become more active, he’s napped more soundly than he ever did at 2-3 months, taking at least one, sometimes two, long naps during the day (for Tommy, a long nap right now is 1-1.5 hours). He has no consistent nap schedule. Toward the six-month mark, Tommy started going down for one nap in his crib per day. He still often naps wherever he falls asleep (in his bouncy seat, on his activity mat, etc.).

Tommy remains solidly in size 2 diapers and is wearing mostly 3-month (some 6-month) pants and a mix of 3-6 month and 6-month onesies, pajamas, and jackets. I put him in footed pants almost any time we go outside to avoid the stress of wearing (and potentially losing) socks, which Tommy still has no interest in wearing, regardless of the weather.

For both me and Jake, the three to six month time frame has been so much fun. We’re really looking forward to the next few months.

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2018 Goals

2018 Goals | http://www.roseclearfield.com

A new year means new goals! After an ambitious year of goal setting in 2017, I’m starting fresh with a new set of goals for 2018.

Reach five figure monthly blog page views.

I know there’s probably a lot of goal setting advice out there discouraging people from setting the exact same goal two years in a row after not accomplishing it the previous year. But I’m pushing ahead with the same goal for 2018 anyway. I’m starting to see the effects of publishing and promoting evergreen content for a year+ now and am optimistic about hitting the goal this year. I’m in this blog for the long haul and really want to have a crack at significant affiliate link earnings, competitive advertising network revenue, sponsored post opportunities, etc. 10K is pretty small potatoes in the blogging world today, but you have to start somewhere.

I shared my 2017 blog page view breakdown by month in my 2017 page views summary post. My December page views were 5,238 views, which averages to 169 views per day. To achieve 10,000 monthly views, I need to increase my average to 322 daily views, which is nearly double. It sounds overwhelming when you think about doubling that number, but it means increasing daily views by about 12 views. As long as I keep pulling ahead a little bit each month, I’ll make it.

There are two primary ways I’m hoping to achieve this goal.

  • Publish posts weekly with two evergreen posts per month. My publishing schedule is much less ambitious last year. Ideally, I’d like to publish at least one evergreen post per week, but that’s not realistic at this point in my life. And I don’t want to start out the year overwhelmed or burned out. I’m starting with two per month and playing it by ear from there. I’ll still be publishing more personal content weekly/bi-weekly as well.
  • Maintain consistent social media sharing, particularly for high traffic and seasonal posts. Like most bloggers, the majority of my traffic comes from a select number of high traffic posts and a handful of ever rotating seasonal/holiday content. Sharing these posts regularly is key for steady traffic. I set up a strong social sharing routine in 2017. I just need to maintain it and make any necessary adjustments as I go to keep it going strong.

Reach 4,000 Pinterest followers.

After reaching my 2017 Pinterest followers goal of 2,000 followers several months early, I’m pushing ahead to reach 4,000 followers by the end of 2018. I started 2018 with 2,337 Pinterest followers. To reach 4,000 followers, I need to gain 138 new followers monthly or 4-5 followers daily. It’s a big step up from my goal of gaining 70 new followers monthly or 2-3 followers daily in 2017. But I’m confident I’ll keep seeing steady growth the way I did for the entirety of 2017.

There are a few key strategies I’m using to achieve this goal.

  • Scheduling content from other bloggers via Boardbooster and Tailwind. I use both Boardbooster and Tailwind to schedule Pinterest content from other bloggers. I try to stay at least 3 weeks, ideally one month, ahead on Pinterest scheduling. I collect these pins through my Pinterest home page feed, favorite accounts I follow, and occasional searches.
  • Scheduling my own blog content via Tailwind. Following Amber’s advice in her Pintessential Planning Course, I created a social media spreadsheet for my evergreen blog content social shares. The spreadsheet helps me track my most recent shares, so I keep sharing my posts all year round or keep hitting peek periods (i.e. the four weeks before Valentine’s Day for holiday posts).
  • Managing my photography group board. I did not create my photography tips and tutorials group board with the intention of helping me grow my followers number. But it definitely played a role in my growth for 2017. At this point, I’m getting new daily followers and new weekly requests from potential contributers without much work of my own beyond weekly scheduling and periodic promotion on Facebook and Twitter. I will be continuing these efforts and making any adjustments as needed throughout the year.

I talk more about all of these strategies in my 2017 Pinterest followers summary post.

Publish one article per week on Constant Content.

Since Tommy was born, I have received a lot of unsolicited advice about whether or not I should be working, how much I should be working, etc. To be clear, I am not writing full-time in any capacity these days, either for this blog or for freelance clients. I do not have any plans to scale back to full-time in the foreseeable future. However, I love keeping part-time projects for my own personal sanity, sense of purpose, etc. Having a limited amount of extremely flexible work is perfect for me at this point.

I have talked about Constant Content before. It’s a platform I’ve contributed to off and on for the past three years or so.  I’ve never maintained a consistent publishing schedule there but would like to now. So I’m setting a goal to keep myself accountable. In the past, publishing on Constant Content has led to other work, and it may as I get back to publishing there again. It may not, too, which is okay.

Nursery #2 Paint Colors | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Paint and decorate nursery #2.

My single house goal for 2018 is to get our second kid’s bedroom painted and decorated, ideally in the first half of the year. I am still planning to finish up a few of my 2017 house project priorities and work on a couple of other things around the house. When I do finish up the nursery, I may talk more about these other priorities. Regardless, I won’t be taking on nearly as much with the house as I have the past few years.

I haven’t discussed on the blog that we’ll be re-entering the waiting pool with our adoption agency for baby #2 in July 2018. Tommy’s adoption happened very quickly. If we hadn’t done a lot of work on his nursery ahead of time, we would have been scrambling just to finish the basics. He would still have a nursery that’s not painted or decorated. It’s entirely possible that if we’re able to adopt another child, the adoption process will go very quickly again. So we want to be ready. Working on the nursery during months of more waiting and uncertainty also helps with my sanity.

We’ve already picked out and purchased paint, and I’ve already purchased a number of decor items. I’ll be sharing more about my plans for and progress with nursery #2 over the coming months.

Sagrada Familia Rainbow Lighting | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Finish editing my Europe photos, and keep up on current photo editing.

In 2017, I cleared out a ton of backlogged photos from 2015 and 2016. I ended 2017 with minimal backlog from the past year, of course, minus the Europe trip. I did not ever plan on finishing out my Europe photos by the end of the year, with or without kids. But I want to get it done this year. I have 2,620 trip photos, which means I need to get through about 220 photos each month. I intend to write a blog post for each major destination as I get through those pictures and put together a trip photo book when I’m all finished.

In addition to the Europe photo editing, I want to be intentional about keeping up with my new editing throughout the year. I did well in 2017 and would like to end this year in a similar position.

Books Stack | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Read 36 books.

I’m sure after reading two lengthy posts about reading, some of you may not want to hear any more about my reading goals or progress right now. I promise that this is going to be the last time I talk about reading for a bit. I’ve kept my reading goal conservative this year because I’m not trying to set any records, beating my totals from previous years, and I don’t want to read short books or books I don’t really want to read just to bump up my total. Based on my totals from the past two years, I think I’ll exceed 36 titles. But the goal is simply to maintain a minimum three book per month pace.

Also, my sub reading goal for 2018 is to re-read a handful of my favorite books. I will be counting re-reads toward the total for the year. After reading over 100 titles in 2016 and 2017 combined, I’ve knocked off a ton of titles that have been on my “to-read” list forever. While I’ll always have a “to-read” list, I’m not feeling such a pressing need to keep checking off titles. There are a number of books I read ages ago that I want to re-read and a handful of audio books I’ve listened to the past couple of years that I want to read.

My re-read list includes, but is not limited to: the entire Harry Potter series, State of Fear by Michael Crichton, and basically everything by Emily Giffin, at the very least, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and Where We Belong. I also want to read my two favorite audio books from 2016: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I may add more books to my re-read list at some point, but the current list will keep me going through most, if not all, of this year.

[Disclaimer: There are a few affiliate links in this post. Thanks for your support!]

What are your goals for 2018?
I love reading goals posts! Feel free to leave your links in the comments.

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2017 Reading List + Tips for Reading More Books | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I’m so excited to be sharing my 2017 reading list with you today. The past couple of years now, I’ve set reading goals on Goodreads and kept track of all of the books I’ve read through the site. After crushing my 2016 goal of 24 books, reading 42 books total, I was confident I could read even more books in 2017. I set my 2017 goal for 30 books because I wasn’t trying to top my 2016 total and didn’t want to cram in lots of short books just to meet my goal. Nonetheless, I ended up reading 77 books in 2017.

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My Final Reads for 2017!

What I Read: October/November/December 2017 | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Before I wrap up my 2017 reading goal, I want to share my final reads for the year. I’ve written a post for every other book and didn’t want these final reads to get lost in the shuffle. I’ll be back next week, sharing my entire list of 2017 reads with my favorite recommendations and a few tips for reading more books. For now, here’s what I read the last few months of 2017.

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