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Completion > Perfection {an honest video review of Chatbooks}

I’m aaaaaalive.  And by that I mean that I am finally taking the time to sit and write one of the many blog posts I’ve been composing in my head for, oh, several months now.  So here’s a quick review of the photo book company Chatbooks:

Since Hadden was born I’ve known that I needed to start collecting and printing our family photos.  I had this intense guilt over all the wonderful photos we had that were just hanging out in The Cloud.  I wanted to do something with them, but I was paralyzed by a need for them to be perfect.  As my reserve of pictures grew so did my guilt.

When I heard about Chatbooks I was skeptical as to whether I’d like it or not.  I still had the idea of an intricate scrapbook (a la Creative Memories) but with no desire or talent to actually MAKE that scrapbook.  So while I was waited for my first Chatbook to arrive, I had some serious reservations.

After several months of trying out their products I can now highly recommend Chatbooks.  The convenience and price simply cannot be beat.  And I’ve been happy with all the items I’ve received.

As I say in the video, I would NOT use Chatbooks for, say, your wedding album.  The quality just isn’t on par with other photo books I’ve made even on the pictures I’ve taken with my “good” camera.  I have liked the books I’ve received enough that I am working on six other books and plan to have all of them printed once I edit the captions and add Caleb’s photos.

I also love the fact that at any time I can go on and order another copy of a book.  If we ever lose them during a move or if we decided to print copies of our family albums for our kids, it will take me just a few clicks before a new album is on its way to our home.



A few additional things:

  1. Chatbooks contacted me in the spring and offered to send me a free book.  However there was no mention or obligation of writing a review in exchange for the product.  I had a frustrating experience at the beginning of working with them and the book that was offered never actually came.  Instead I was given a credit and with that I made my own book (again, .  Even after the rough start, I’ve since fallen in love with this company.  I chose to do a review on my own because I wanted to share it with people.  All opinions are my own.
  2. I am THE WORST on video.  And I know it.  So if it sounds awkward to you, don’t worry: I’m aware. But I wanted to actually show the products and knew that filming would be much faster than trying to describe each thing.
  3. What you can’t see in this picture is Adelaide sitting right next to me in her highchair trying to figure out what the heck I was doing!  I was waiting for her to make some noise, but she was perfectly quiet the whole time.

If you follow this link, you can get your first book FREE!  That is a referral link so if you follow it and make a Series book (rather than a Custom), I receive a small credit to my account.  If you’d prefer not to use the referral link, you can usually find other deals around the web!  Try it out!

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How much does it REALLY cost to have a baby on Tricare Standard?

One of the questions that is frequently asked among military families is about switching to Tricare Standard.

For those of you who don’t know, Tricare is our health insurance as military families.  When you first sign up, you are in Tricare Prime (and military members themselves MUST be on Prime).  With Prime, you see the medical professionals on base unless they refer you out somewhere else.  And with Prime, you probably won’t pay anything.  My husband has been in the military for five years now and our entire family was on Prime for the majority of that time.  Tricare Standard gives you the ability to go to off medical professionals.  However with Standard you will pay a co-pay.

When we moved to WPAFB and found out that Baby #2 was coming, I initially went to the Women’s Health Clinic on base where they had OBs and midwives and planned to deliver Adelaide at the base hospital.  Somewhere near the end of the second trimester, I decided that I would rather be seen off-base for my prenatal care and deliver the baby at the off-base hospital.  Caleb was on-board with whatever I wanted, but we were both interested (nervous?) to see how much we would end up paying out-of-pocket.

From the time I switched to Standard until the actual delivery, I had a few small bills.  $10, for instance, to run some blood work.  Near the end of my pregnancy when I got the flu I had an ER visit that ended up costing us about $140.  But as far as the actual birth goes, we paid $25.


My Hospital Bill


What I Paid

The $25 covered my entire delivery and recovery time: an induction, an epidural and a 24 hour stay post-delivery.  (I could have stayed for another day, but chose to go home).

If you are considering switching to Standard while pregnant and trying t to keep your out-of-pocket expenses low, here are a few suggestions.

  • While on Standard you can still get your prescriptions filled on base, but since the base pharmacy doesn’t charge a co-pay, you save money each time.  I did this during my pregnancy.  Instead of sending the presciption order to a local drug store, my doctor would print off a copy that I would take on base to be filled.
  • Talk with your doctor about letting you do any blood work or immunizations on base because, again, it’s free if it is on base.
  • Post-delivery the same is true.  If you need medication, birth control or even an IUD take a prescription on base to save money.
Have you had a baby while on Tricare Standard?  I would love to hear what city you were in and how much you paid.
If you delivered on Tricare Prime, how was your experience?


tricare standard

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I’m entering dicey territory today as I write about politics, something I thought I’d never do.  It’s uncomfortable.  No matter what side you’re on, assumptions are made about your character, your motives and your faith.  Writing this has the potential to piss off a lot of people, especially family and friends.  I certainly have people I love who think differently than me on some issues.  But sometimes pissing people off can’t be avoided even while we try to handle difficult conversations delicately.  Today’s post isn’t meant to start a huge debate over who you should vote for.  There are plenty of other articles that will lay out the arguments much better than I can.  It’s also not meant to be a wholehearted embrace of a single political candidate.  Like everyone, I’m choosing who I support from just a handful of options.  There is no single candidate who perfectly represents each of my views.  However, I see this as an important historic moment for our country and I am excited to be a part of it.  

Last week was a historic moment for the United States.  For the first time a woman won the presidential nomination for a major political party.  As millions of Americans stand behind Hillary Rodham Clinton, our dream of having a female president is that much closer to coming true.

As I vote this year, I’m thinking of my infant daughter.  Of the fact that having a female president will be an accepted part of her life.  Of the legacy that she’s inherited as an American woman.  I’m thinking of the suffragists, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who dreamed of this day and laid the groundwork for it to happen.

This November as I cast my ballot, I’m snapping a picture with my daughter.  It’s a monumental moment in our history and I want to show her that she was there with me.  There are many factors that go into the candidate who we support, but for me, this year, one reason that #ImWithHer (HRC) is for her (my daughter).  Just as my foremothers took bold strides to give me the privilege of voting, I want to pave the way for my daughter and the future generations.

If you’ll also be celebrating this historic moment and voting for our first female president, join me in taking a picture** with your daughter (or your sister, your niece, your wife, your mom, grandmother or a friend) and posting it with the hashtags #ImWithHerForHer and #ContinuingSusansLegacy.

Make the inconvenient choice to take your daughters (and sons!) with you to the polling station so that they can be part of this historic moment.  Or, if you’re an absentee voter like me, take a moment to explain to your children what you’re doing and why it is important.  Let’s flood the polls with women who are celebrating and exercising their right to vote and continuing the legacy left by our suffragette mothers.


**Please note that many states have laws against taking pictures of your ballot, taking pictures inside the voting booth or even taking pictures inside a polling place.  Check out the guidelines for your state here.

#ImWithHerForHer (1)


Vote, 5.0 w credits

Thanks to Gina Glorioso Rendall for coming up with the hashtags and to Lindsey Glorioso Hennis for creating the graphic with Susan B.  (Lindsey runs Clever Bird Designs which can be found on Facebook and on Etsy)

For some voting inspiration, check out these links:

The Mayor of Rochester, NY leaves a thank you note at Susan B.’s grave and encourages people to add their own note to her.

Ruline Steininger (103 years old) can’t wait to vote for the first female president.

Photograph of Lucy Burns after she was arrested for protesting on behalf of women’s voting rights


Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 1.25.58 PM


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