14 February 2017
178 of you took my recent survey, and I’m so grateful! I loved learning more about y’all, and especially hearing more about what you love about Em for Marvelous and why you read. In fact, I think you fired me up for at least another 8 years – so thank you, truly. Many of you asked about seeing survey results, and I agreed it would be fun to share a few. So here we go!
Love my four friends from the earliest days! Pretty sure that number includes my Mom and two sisters. The biggest lump of you have been reading for at least a few years, which is neat.
I was a bit surprised by just how many of you are married. Always, always happy to have my non-married folk in the mix, though, too.
I’m no statistician, but I believe we’d call this a bell curve! But really, not a statistician – I didn’t realize I gave my 30 and 35 year olds two choices until I was making these graphs. Oh well, you get the idea :)
I sorted the 22 people who chose “other” into one of my categories – nurses, teachers, counselors, journalists, etc. went into traditional, and stay at home moms went into “not currently employed” (no shame in that!). I love that most of you have a “traditional” job, and am glad you are finding some of what you are looking for here.
I was limited to ten questions, but if I had had an eleventh, I would have asked how many of you have kids! Still curious about that…
The favorite posts numbers roughly broke down into three categories. Personal finance, goals, travel, love and marriage, parenting, life updates, and deep thoughts were across-the-board popular. And the finance posts, wow! I was a bit surprised to see that they were the most beloved, but I suppose I shouldn’t be. It’s obviously something I’m passionate about, and I guess that’s a bit contagious. It’s also one of my more unique offerings. Regardless, I’m so glad you love them, and since you do, I’m going to do my best to make sure I write at least one a month going forward.
Bringing up the rear were spotlights, Triangle features, and wedding things. Not terribly surprising, and I’m also reminding myself that just because y’all didn’t mark them as favorites doesn’t mean you don’t like them – in fact, many people brought up the spotlights as being very helpful when answering my next question.
Which brings us to… open-ended feedback! To a number, every single person wrote something sweet here, and I truly treasured each comment. I was actually kind of like, where’s the constructive criticism?! But I’m not going to complain :) You guys are just the best. Here are a few selected quotes from what you love and don’t love to read:
— “We visited my aunt in Beaufort and rather than staying at a traditional hotel we stayed at the hotel you recommended. I would have never taken the chance if I didn’t read your review.” Some of my FAVORITE comments were when you told me you took action on something you learned through EFM, whether related to travel, finance, a wedding reading, or a purchase.
— “Your interviews with great moms were some of my favorites!!” Marvelous Mama came up over and over again! I do plan to continue this series off and on, and have a few more pending from the first batch that I’m hoping to get up soon.
— “I can’t wait to see those Triangle guides!” Bless this person’s heart. I just had to laugh when I came across this response. Whenever they get posted, the Triangle guides and our wills will go down as the most long-suffering posts in EFM history.
— “I think you have a real gift for simplifying complex topics like budgeting and marriage! I love your thoughtful posts on “why” or “how” you live your life – I think it elevates the idea of living by your values and helps me think about my own values.” I wanted to hug this person! At my best, I think my posts equip you and help you feel confident, and the best way I know how to do that is to walk you through my thought processes.
Next, a few things came up over and over again in response to “why do you read Em for Marvelous?” The most common:
— authentic, honest, and genuine
— real life and relatable
— cheerful and positive
— practical and helpful
— good writing and grammar (ha!)
— wide range of topics
— you care about me and like following my family’s story
And something SO many people said: “I feel like we would be friends in real life!” Yes, I wholeheartedly believe that we would. Probably because you’re all so nice!! Seriously.
Finally, y’all put me in some great blog company. Ladies that came up over and over: Call Me Callie, Cup of Jo, Emily Ley, Lara Casey, Nancy Ray, Something Pretty, Southern Weddings, and Victoria Strader. Also mentioned frequently: Mix and Match Mama, Love Taza, The Small Things, The College Prepster, Smidge of This, Sarah Tucker, Design Darling, Emily Henderson, and Sequins & Stripes.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you again for sharing your thoughts – it truly meant so much to me. I hope you found this interesting, and please always remember how glad I am you’re here!
3 February 2017
Howdy and happy Friday, friends! January was a really fun month for me on Em for Marvelous. We got to talk a lot about some of my favorite things, like goals, marriage, financial freedom, June, and our family’s adventures. Y’all seemed to enjoy these topics, too!
I truly believe that the guiding light for my posts should be what I find most marvelous, because if I’m not passionate about something, then why bother sharing it? That being said, I sincerely treasure every single person who stops by, reads, and joins the conversation, and I love checking in every so often to gather feedback. I have lots of posts planned for the year ahead, but I’d also love to know: What would you like to read about? What would you like to discuss?
If you have a moment, please consider taking the short survey below… I’m so curious, and would love to hear from you! Then, leave a comment below to be entered to win a $50 Airbnb gift card OR a $50 Amazon gift card – your choice. I’ll draw and email a winner next Friday, February 10!
Update! Taryn D. is our lovely winner and has been emailed! Thank you all SO much for sharing feedback with me!
Create your own user feedback survey
Thank you in advance, friends! xo
27 January 2017
It might just become your new favorite, too.
I’m not sure what made me think of Elvis one day, because I can’t say I’ve historically been a connoisseur of his music. But I did… and it was an instant hit with Miss June. To be fair, she gets very excited whenever we put on music, but she does seem to love Elvis even more than our Disney playlist, the Beach Boys, big band favorites, Cozy Fall, our cooking playlist, and Christian Folk, which comprise the other standard options at our house.
Click here to listen, if you like – I chose some of his most upbeat options for this highly-curated collection. And I challenge you to not have your own kitchen dance party when you do! :)
Happy weekend, friends!
11 January 2017
I’m so happy to share the first part of our family photo session with Nancy Ray today! You may recall that Nancy gifted me the session of my choice at my baby shower. I thought long and hard about how to use it, and eventually decided to save it until June was a little bit older. I am SO glad I did, because these photos, with all of June’s grandparents, could not be more precious. (They were visiting for her baptism!)
I’ve broken the session into three posts; today, I’m sharing a few favorites from the ones we took at home, day-in-the-life style. (This was our inspiration.) Enjoy!!
Please enjoy that John is wearing his crocs in almost every photo… he considers them the equivalent of slippers :)
And now let’s mix in some grandparents! I mean, how much are we all going to treasure these for the next 50 years???
June’s main goal in life is to get the cats to let her pet them, so this was a very exciting moment that Nancy captured.
This particular photo is very special to me… reading with my Dad is pretty much my number one memory from childhood, so seeing him do the same with June almost makes my heart explode. I am SO, so, so grateful our baby gets to have all four of these wonderful people in her life, as I know not all kiddos are so lucky.
Best Dada I know :)
I hope you love these photos as much as we do! I know I’m biased, but I think Nancy’s work here is just magical. Next up: more family photos outside!
P.S. In case you are wondering, my sweater and June’s dress are from Old Navy (I ordered it in a size large so it would be oversized!), and her headband is from Simple June. I did my own makeup (what?) and conveniently scheduled my regular hair appointment for the morning of our shoot so it looked better than usual :)
9 January 2017
This last year has felt slow, in the most wonderful way. From 4:15 to 8 every week day (and more on weekends, of course!), I was just with her. We were together. Sometimes we cooked, sometimes we folded laundry, sometimes I just sat on the floor and watched her explore. For the most part, I didn’t try to direct her activities. I didn’t share our moments on Snapchat or a Story. We smiled at each other and made each other laugh (and of course, sometimes there were tears!). We read books and stacked blocks. We hinged and unhinged the guitar case a million times. We listened to music and sang. We rolled around. We took lots of walks. We sat on the porch, quiet, and watched the tree in our front yard wave in the breeze. We tried to pet the cats. We took baths and ate dinner. Later, we climbed the stairs a million times, played with puzzles, danced, shook the tambourine.
Photo by Nancy Ray
Since my most important job was to be present, it was easy to succeed and to feel accomplished. I am her mama, and in that role I felt like exactly enough. I had everything I needed to give her exactly what she needed. I didn’t feel guilty, distracted, or frenzied. I left my phone in the kitchen, so I wasn’t tempted to look at it. I didn’t do everything right, but I felt purposeful and content BECAUSE I very specifically narrowed my focus to only this one thing while I was with her.
Did that mean I took and shared fewer pictures?
Did that mean I had to stay up later some nights to finish Etsy orders?
Did that mean I wrote fewer blog posts?
Did that mean I read fewer books?
Did that mean our house was often messy, and, let’s be real, a little bit dirty?
Did that mean it took weeks for me to get back to some emails?
Was it worth it?
Throughout this year, I constantly heard my grandmother in my head: “I just tried to enjoy them.” Well, I enjoyed every – and I do mean every – moment with my little Junebug. It was the best year of what has been a beautiful life, and I know John would say the same.
I didn’t spend too much time mourning how fast she was growing, and I firmly stopped myself from thinking too much about the future. I just sat in the present, with her, with John, and it was good. I am doing the same now.
Whenever I feel a wave of sadness about how she’s no longer a little baby, I remember something else a wise woman in my life recently told me: we are not called to keep our babies little, but to raise them well and help them grow. Yes, yes, yes, amen!
So to our sweet, cheerful, funny, smart, patient one-year-old June Chen Thomas: We love you. We are so grateful you are ours. And we are so excited to see what your next year holds!
P.S. Thank YOU for your encouragement, enthusiasm, ideas, and wisdom this past year! You made my first year as a mama even sweeter. Very thankful for this community and the ability to share! So much love to you all!!