Sunshine Blogger

I realized this month marks 8 (!!) years of this blog’s existence which is so crazy to me. I can hardly believe how much has changed and what this space has brought me. I haven’t been spending as much time here, but that is largely just because this time of the semester is crazy, and it’s also because I’m working on other projects taking up my creative energy right now.

So when Elizabeth forwarded this Sunshine Blogger recognition to me, I decided to play along. The “rules” are simply to choose a fellow blogger who inspires positivity and creativity in the online community. Then send them some questions and be sure to answer the ones sent to you. It’s a fun way to honor a fellow writer and to introduce readers to new spaces.


Here were Elizabeth’s questions for me. I had fun answering them!

  • Is it difficult to write about true stories from your life?

Sometimes, yes it is. It’s weird for me because sometimes things just pour out – almost without my permission. (In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert refers to it as feeling like you are on a moving sidewalk.) And other times, a little essay can be so slow going and really just downright difficult to get out. Right now I have an outline for a book, and I am plowing my way through chapter by chapter. Some of these stories fly right out, and others take a while to shape.

  • When writing, how much attention do you pay to your audience?

For blog posts, I think I imagine my audience as a good friend. I’ve interacted with readers here and there over the years, so it’s become this safe and soft space where I can sit down and spit something out without judgment like I would with a friend over coffee. I know there are naysayers or haters or whatever lurking somewhere, and I’ve received some spiky comments here and there, but they are few and far between, and I throw that audience way out of my head when I am writing. If I didn’t do that, then I’d never write at all.

  • What do you avoid writing about at all costs, if anything?

I guess in a practical sense, I am careful to never write about anyone else’s challenges or motivations for their actions. I might mention how someone’s actions (as a statement of fact) affect me, but I don’t tread on the ownership of their perspective. I’m actually not sure that I have a good answer for this question though. I am of Hemingway’s belief that you have to “write hard and clear about what hurts.” I’m writing harder and clearer for my book than I do for my blog. But I firmly believe that place where it gets uncomfortable for me is that place where the magic happens.

  • What’s your favorite post from your own blog?

Oh this is a hard one! I love re-reading the birthday letters I write my kids. I’ve stopped doing that publicly with my son, and I soon will with Norah as well. I still write them, but I don’t share as much here because of privacy as they grow older. The post where I came clean about my divorce is on my list of favorites because now when I read that, it has such a prophetic tone. I had no idea the beauty that was waiting, and I was writing that through tears and shaky hands, right in the middle of the searing pain.  This post when my grandmother passed is also on the list – no doubt. That one was a moving sidewalk for sure. It came from somewhere else, and I wrote it so quickly. Lastly, I’d say “Sinking the Ship” is up there. That one came out like a manifesto that I didn’t expect when I sat down to write.

  • Do you have a favorite post from someone else’s blog?

I don’t know that I have one favorite, most memorable post. There are certain writers that have been really influential for me for lots of reasons — Dooce’s honesty was my first introduction to the idea that blogs can be powerful. I was obsessed with her blog back in maybe 2007-2010 or so. I used to read Lecia Phinney pretty regularly too, but she stopped blogging as she began working on her book. Glennon Doyle circa 2012-2016 or so probably put out the most powerful and memorable posts that stand alone for me. Her do-I-stay-or-do-I-go post was written after I left, but I loved that one so much.  She speaks my language. Anne Lamott “blogs” through Facebook posts every now and then, and every single time, I am nodding in agreement. She is incredible.

  • Do you ever wish you could take back one of your posts that perhaps an earlier version of yourself had written?

Well, ahem, this blog chronicles a totally normal, totally happy little family from 2010 when I started writing here until 2015 when it blew up. That is super weird to look back on. I’ve considered removing those posts because this blog became something else… because I became something else. But that seems weird — to strike years from my record like that. So I’ve left it. I also think, in general, that my early posts are boring because I am not at all writing about what hurts. When I got real is when this blog got better, and that’s when my audience began to grow as well.

  • Do you write more for personal or professional reasons?

Personal for sure. Even when working on this book lately, I’ve really had to look at it that way for it to feel true. Maybe only 20 people will read it one day, but who cares? I write to explain things to my own self that I otherwise might never understand.

  • What’s the most amazing thing about you?

Oh, yikes. I get weird imposter syndrome about everything in my life, so this is hard to answer. I guess that I stay open and that I have softened instead of hardened when some really terrible and scary things have happened to me. I think my very best days are ahead, and I always keep the faith that a larger thread is pulling my life every minute. I am very good at finding the sacred in the mundane. It keeps me going.

  • What is your greatest aspiration as a writer?

To write a book that more than a handful of people will read. To leave my children with my story.

  • What do you wish you knew about blogging before you began?

That it doesn’t matter if 10 people read or 10,000. Just write. The readers meant to find you will find you, and sometimes cozy is better. I’ve had days where my stats soared to 15,000 or higher in response to something on Huffington Post or Scary Mommy, but those are not my best blogging experiences at all. The times I poured something out here and heard a small chorus of “me too” are far better moments than tons of page views. Just write what you know. It’s your journal.

  • Do you ever get tired of the whole thing and want to throw in the towel (speaking of your blog here)? 🙂

I do throw in the towel from time to time in that I will go a month or two without a peep. But I know that it’s always here waiting for me when I get to it. It’s my little corner of the internet (for 8 solid years now!) and my happy place.

I nominate For the Love of Wonderlust because she inspires for sure, and I also nominate Memory Box Mom whom I’m lucky enough to call a close friend.

Questions – if you want to give them a try:

  • Why did you start blogging?
  • Why do you keep doing it? Why you keep coming back to it with so many other social media forms?
  • How has blogging changed for you since you began? Has your site somehow taken a different shape than you expected?
  • Do you envision a certain audience when you write?
  • Do you have a favorite post of yours?
  • What’s your best writing advice?
  • Describe your ideal day? Is writing part of the equation?

springtime (and a present for you!)

It’s officially the spring equinox today. The sun is out, the grass is getting greener, and new things await for all of us.

The rhythm of changing seasons is such a comfort, isn’t it? No matter how cold and bleak something is looking in the present moment or what little annoyances are speaking loudly in your ear, it will come and go and eventually make way for something new. Nature mirrors everything else for us if we pay attention.

March brings my own birthday, and it also brings the “birthday” of this little journal – one I began late at night in a chair at my kitchen desk in a house that is now two houses past with a baby who is now a growing boy and a life that is now a million lifetimes ago. I never in a million years – never ever ever, I cannot stress that enough – saw this tiny space as becoming what is has been for me in my past year and a half. I chose a blog title somewhat hurriedly and randomly when I knew that I’d be writing mostly about motherhood and a little about books. I had no idea that it would become about so much more than that. A journal of pain and heartache but also one of light and gladness and immeasurable personal revelations born in moments I never foresaw.

And here we are, six years later, I’m still writing and still recording details of my days that may or may not be of interest to anyone but me. But sometimes they are, and sometimes they have led to moments of clarified purpose that propel me forward even now to some place new.

I think words have a way of healing us like nothing else can. They have a way of shedding light on confusion when nothing else makes sense. I often write about someone else’s words and how they changed me, and it is my very favorite thing to get emails from readers – during this past year they came from as nearby as Atlanta and as far away as Germany – telling me that my words have done the same for them. Personal purpose and a burning need to record my own experiences is why I sit down to write in the first place, but it’s the circle of influence and the ripples that result that keep me showing up again and again.

In celebration of the 6th birthday of this little journal, and in appreciation for every one of you who reads here, I put together a little giveaway with the help of some amazing Etsy artists to pass on to a lucky winner. I’m starting with a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough, which is a compilation of quotes from her earlier works. I got my hands on it last fall when it was initially published, and it’s hard to choose a favorite passage. It’s a handy little guidebook when I’m feeling overwhelmed or lost, and Strayed’s usual no-nonsense wisdom shines on every page. The title stems from her passage in an essay on The Rumpus when she tells a reader to “be brave enough to break your own heart,” and that concept echoes on every page. It astounds me how many times in the past year of my life someone has called me “brave” when anyone who knows me knows that I am, in many ways, the opposite of brave. I am scared and cautious and careful at almost every moment of every day, but I’m realizing real bravery stems from the insistence to stand in your own truth and show your real heart. There’s nothing that requires more courage, and there’s nothing that provides those same feelings of peace and power.

To add to my bookish gift, Brianna over at BBeadazzled is giving this beauty. It seemed like the perfect accompaniment to Strayed’s work and a reminder to be brave and show up in the truest way every single day.


And Lovewell Handlettering added this sweet little journal as well. Gratitude as a general concept and gratitude as a daily practice are two totally different things, and I cannot overestimate the ways my life has grown and changed by my persistence in recording the beauty of everyday moments in this space. It opens my eyes everyday to see the good in what’s around me. I’d love to pass on an encouragement to you to do the same.


I have passed on quote after quote and underlined paragraphs and scribbled marginalia in so many books in the past few years and then shared those words with you here. What I’d like for this bloggy birthday is for you to do the same thing in return. What quote sets you on fire? What line have you underlined or scribbled somewhere in hopes you wouldn’t forget it? It’s hard to choose just one favorite passage, but I’d love to hear one that rings true for you right now. Pass it on and share it with the rest of us.

You are welcome to leave a comment here, or if you are reading from your phone, click on over to Facebook and leave one there if that’s easier. (This post is pinned at the top.) This Friday, the 25th, I’ll number the comments, let a number generator choose the winner, and then check in with the winner to ship your goodies!

Sharing words is my very favorite thing to do, and I can’t wait to see what bits of wisdom you scatter here. I’ll go first with a passage that has guided me immeasurably in the past year and continues to do so when I read it again and again.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

So many times in recent months I have repeated live the questions now again and again in my head, and it still amazes me that words written in 1929 by someone I will never meet can do what they do in my own life. Pretty incredible, isn’t it?

So now it’s your turn. Tell us below or over on Facebook. What words shine like a light for you? I’ll choose a winner on Friday.

Happy birthday, little blog.

pause button

Today has been hard. Really hard. There is so much I want to say, but let it suffice that I’ve spent the better part of the past five hours crying. Parenting is hard. Parenting a sensitive six year old in the aftermath of his parents’ unexpected divorce is even harder.

I am exhausted and overwhelmed. I try so hard, and I just don’t know if I’m doing the right things. I left the pediatrician’s office in tears this afternoon and have hardly stopped crying since.

We walked in for a regular well-check, and I can’t even explain the bizarre behavior and tantrum that came from my child. Punching, hitting, and biting me. The nurses were completely shocked, as was I. I’ve been taking him to this same small office since his birth, and they’ve never seen this from him. They weren’t giving a shot. There was no threat. I asked him to pee in a cup, and next thing I knew, we were leaving the office without the exam because he was so beside himself, there was no way it would happen. He was delirious with fear and anger.

I walk a fine line here – and in my everyday conversations with those I’m close to – a fine line between being honest and trying to focus on the good around me. I’m trying so hard to follow the smallest sliver of light toward wherever it will lead. And I want to see that good emerge, so I look for it when I can.

But some days just suck. Sometimes it’s just hard. I get chided a lot from their father that everything I write is designed to make me look “like a martyr,” and I pray that is not true because I do not see myself that way at all. I am not a martyr. I am not persecuted and suffering. I am strong and resilient, and in most moments I am happy. But I refuse to gloss over the hard stuff all the time.

There are three people in this house who are all aching with growing pains, and some days it is really painful to feel and to watch.

I want every single person reading here to be honest and call me out if you see me as trying to appear like a persecuted saint. It is not my intention, but I fear it is what people might think sometimes.

I am not. I mess up everyday, and I take full responsibility for my actions. I’m trudging through some really messy territory right now, and it is not always pretty. There are days when I feel like nothing I could do will mend what has happened. My swollen eyes are evidence of that right now. It is hard – and that is not because I am a saint; that’s because it’s life. Life is messy and sometimes full of shit that I frankly don’t want to deal with, but I am expected to guide these two kids through this patch in front of us, so I have to deal with it whether I want to or not.

This space is really important to me. It is more than a website to me, and I want it to continue to feel sacred. I feel that I’ve written myself through some dark moments, and I can see the thread of my own expanding consciousness, my own growing character, as I read posts from the past few months.

And 99% of you offer so much support and a sense of community that I need badly. But sometimes I wonder if it is worth it when anything I write here is dissected by a few people, and some of you who leave encouraging comments or dare to click a “like” button even receive unsolicited personal messages educating you on all the million ways that I am a terrible person and the multitude of reasons you shouldn’t show me love or respect.

How do you do it, fellow bloggers? How do you feel free to write in spite of the nay-sayers? It’s the one in one hundred complex….  If 100 people in the room love you and one doesn’t, you focus on the one. It leaves me so frustrated with myself, but I can’t help it. Sometimes the one is so loud and so close to your own ear that it begins to steal the joy from the other 100.

I intend to take a break from this space for the rest of the year. Rest assured that I am still writing somewhere – in half-finished documents I hurriedly type or in scattered bedside notebooks. But I am taking a break from posting here until I can gain some strength and resolve to hear my own voice strong enough that others can’t drown it out.

I want this to be my space again, that small and quiet room where I can come to reflect and refresh. I don’t want to let a small few bully me into silence or steal it from me. But to be totally honest, right now it feels a little stolen. I just need to find a way to claim it back again without feeling like I am under a microscope. Especially at a time when I have fought so hard and for so long to sound my own voice.

It’s just a pause button. I’ll be back in 2016 to gain some strength again from all of you. Wishing you peace and gratitude in the last weeks of the year.



year in review, 2012

I’ve got some goals and ideas for the upcoming year, and I hope to get a minute to write about those sometime soon – if for no other reason than to clear my own head and hold myself a little more accountable.  Looking back on the past year has its merits too though, and I love to reminisce.

My favorite adventure: our trip to Paris in January.  I can’t believe it’s been a year.  I was 23 weeks pregnant and had a 2 year old in tow.  Plus a working husband for half the trip.  And freezing temperatures. Adventure doesn’t really do it justice.  But in the end, it was a really wonderful trip with some of my most favorite memories.
YIP January 2012

My favorite completed project:  the blanket I knit for Norah last spring.

My favorite moment:  this one.  hands down.

My favorite photo:  The one above is pretty awesome, but this one holds a special place for me as well.  (Thanks, Andrew Thomas Lee Photography.)

Favorite party:  I loved the black and white themed bridal shower I threw for my cousin, but this Mickey party was super fun, too.  (even though I did neglect to write a post on it!)

My favorite blog post:  This letter.  Of course.

I did not post here as often as I would have liked in 2012.  But I miss this space and the clarity that writing gives.  I hope to remedy that in 2013 as we settle in to a routine with two little ones, and I work to make time for all the things I love.

Cheers, friends!  Happy New Year.  Wishing you health and happiness for you and yours.

just writing

I’m trying to get back in the swing of this since posting has been slow lately.  I used to write even if I didn’t really have anything to say, and lately I feel like I have to have a real reason to sit here, so I’m just writing today.  There are no transitions here, reader.

I think Jude looked at a calendar and saw that he is turning two this week and decided to start the real tantrums  Because I thought I knew what a tantrum was, but as it turns out, I didn’t.  And yesterday he showed me what it really means when you pitch a fit over something like not wanting to get out of your car seat in the garage which is something we all could get passionate about, I suppose.  The terrible twos have really arrived, I think.  And I am telling myself that I want him to have an independent spirit and that all of this is perfectly developmentally appropriate.  But it’s still hard.

I think it’s the combination of so many new birthday toys and some stale things that need to change around here, but my house is driving me insane this week.  Everyday I have a to-do list of things that should be crossed off, and everyday I fall short.  I’m thinking I need to make a list with one thing on it, and then I can feel accomplished.

My kitchen is also a bit stale.  I’m realizing I make the same fifteen or so dishes over and over and over and that I am really bad at side dishes, as in 99% of what I make these days seems to be a one-pot meal.  So I signed up for Relish Relish with a Mamapedia deal this week.  I’m ready for it to bring something new here in my kitchen.  I think I’ll start today with some iced pumpkin cookies. 

Working on bringing my mojo back at home, in the kitchen, and on this blog.  If I say it aloud here, it will happen right?

Mother’s Day. And calling a truce.

I read a lot of blogs.  The internet is like one huge magazine I don’t have to pay for, and at night after Jude has gone to bed, it’s often the way I choose to wind down and relax.  I’ve received so many ideas I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise and some valuable inspiration in the kitchen and the home. So earlier this week, I was thinking about what I wanted to spend my monthly budgeted “me money” on, and I remembered a book that was recommended on a high-profile blog that I read often.  So I googled, and in the process of looking for an answer to my book question, I discovered a host of hater blogs out there devoted to certain bloggers.  These are women who write entries slamming other women and explaining why xyz blogger is terrible.   This was a new phenomenon to me as I usually just head straight to a site or find something through another site’s blogroll, etc.  But really.  They’re out there.  Women who spend time and energy posting about how much they hate other people they don’t even know who have web journals of their own lives that don’t even affect anyone else.  And among the things these women loathe and make fun of excessively is the mother who posts lots of photos and writes about how surprisingly fulfilling motherhood is and how much she loves and cherishes this role.


That pretty much describes this little journal.

I’m sappy at times.  I’m emotional at moments.  But I’m honest as well, and I like my job.  I really do.  I fully understand that this is a season of my life that doesn’t last forever, and that I will be moving on to other moments and other challenges sooner than I realize, but for now, I love my daily life.  And I sometimes write about it and take photos of it and share it with some of you, and you can read it or not read it.  I love the sense of community the internet offers which is why I’m not scribbling all of this in some handwritten journal somewhere, but I’m just not really interested in the pointless negativity.

And truth be told, this is just one more facet of The Mommy Wars.  She doesn’t do things they way I do?  Let me tell you why she sucks and I am so much better.  I don’t even have to go through the list of controversial motherhood topics because we all know what they are.  But just for today can we put all that aside?  (Hater bloggers and competitors in the Mommy Olympics, I’m talking to you.)

I think last Mother’s Day was the first time I really got it, the first time I really understood what the day was about.  For me, it’s a time to celebrate with my little family and feel grateful for the precious role I have and what I get to learn in that life.  But it’s also a time to say to other mamas, “I get it.”  It’s hard and it’s lovely and it’s lonely and it’s beautiful and it’s scary, and it’s all those things at the same time.  And every step of the way, you are just praying that you make the right decisions.  I get it, and we are the same.  Because whether you use breast or bottle, whether you co-sleep or sleep train, whether you spank or not, whether you openly gush about your personal fulfillment or count down the minutes to bedtime (who hasn’t done that one?), you love a little person with a crazy fierce, gut-pulling, bigger-than-anything kind of emotion, and that’s where we are all the same.

It’s not always fun.  It’s often messy.  And it’s never easy.  But when you look past the rough patches, it’s a good gig.  Am I right mamas?

365#idk:  Thirty.  And happy.

Happy Mother’s Day!  And to my own Mom and my sweet Grandmother, every time my heart swells with love for Jude, it swells with gratitude for you as well.  I get it now.  And I love it.

April Crafting

Another month come and gone, and it’s summer in Atlanta really soon.  I loved flipping the calendar to May when I was a teacher because that meant summer vacation was around the corner.  It’s still exciting because I look forward to flowers and swimming pools and outside grilling and all the other great things about this time of year.  This is a short post, but I’m checking in quickly about my crafting accomplishments for April before it slips from my mind.

It was a slow crafting month, as I knew it would be because it was a busy month otherwise, and Costa Rica kept us away as well.  All I really have to show for it is a few pages on Jude’s second year album.

I find that the most difficult thing about working on these albums for him is that I tend to want to write far too much, and I have to limit myself to make things interesting for him one day rather than just interesting to me – which typically means I need to ramble less.  These pages were especially challenging though because there was so much I could have said about our trip, but I tried to keep it pretty simple.  The yellow is also out of character for my usual choices on the book, but I wanted something different and sunny, so I decided to go for it.  Hopefully it will print looking bright and happy and not blinding.

I also threw an Easter page together as well.

Other than those quick projects, I don’t have much to show.  I am making some progress on a knitting feat, but I can’t reveal too much because its eventual recipient is a reader of this blog.  The yarn is so delicious though.

And that’s about it for April’s finished work.  In news unrelated to crafting, I did manage to set up a Facebook page for this blog.  I’d been really resistant to connecting the two despite advice from blogger friends.  I gave in this week though because I’m realizing that it’s another way to subscribe for those of you who use Facebook rather than a feed reader or email subscriptions.  Plus, to be honest, I am sure all of my personal contacts were not interested in what was happening on this site, so I would sometimes want to share a link to here or to an article related to things I talk about here, but I assume my friend from third grade or a former student might not be interested.  Creating a separate page seemed like the best thing to do.

So hop on over and join us (or “Like” us) because I just got this started so nobody really knows yet.  (If you are an RSS or email subscriber, I appreciate you dearly, but I’d also love for you to join us there.)

Happy weekending, everyone.  I plan to catch up with friends and babies and maybe plant an herb garden.  What are your sunny weekend plans?

On Gratitude {and another great Etsy giveaway}

So last week I marked one year of blogging with a little look back at my favorite posts and a few highlights.  I mentioned that I wrote one entry that totally changed blogging for me.

When I started this site, I had been immersed in a million different awesome mommy blogs that give you ideas and inspiration and little tips for fun things to do with your kids and ways to enhance your family.  I was itching for a space to write as I embarked on a new journey for my own life, and I envisioned that one day my blog would grow to be that handy-mommy-blog prototype.  I’d be so awesome sharing my oh-so-valuable recipes and tips about home and baby and whatnot. (Ha!)  I started participating in the occasional linky lists and gaining a few readers, but somehow I just wasn’t always feeling it.  I’d record what happened here or there, link to a new recipe, post a photo, and hit publish and only sometimes like what was on the screen in front of me.

Then one night last August, I got the baby in bed and sat down at the computer with an overwhelming urge to write down the details of the day, knowing they were probably only interesting to me but not caring so much about what made it publication-worthy.  I just wanted to write, and I did.  And this post felt so good to me that I continued a trend.  Soon came this one. And this one. And this one. And somehow gratitude kind of began to multiply and the funniest thing happened: I began to notice these tiny moments in my day that were aching to be recorded.  And although I still sometimes share a tip or recipe every now and then, it is these entries of thankfulness that feel the most real to me and leave me feeling like this little journal is worthwhile.  Sometimes it’s such a great day that I won’t let myself finish without recording the details, and sometimes it’s just that I write about gratitude so that I can remember the good over the bad, no matter how much the bad was screaming to be noticed.   Other times still, I honestly have no main idea to write about, but there are tiny details asking to be remembered.

Gratitude is valuable for lots of reasons.  The most significant of which is that it leaves you feeling more and more grace and finding a million things to be thankful for.  If it weren’t for this journal and what I write here, I know I would sometimes finish the day feeling exhausted and defeated, but by actually looking at this space as a log of my days, I ask myself,  what do I really want to remember?  Recognizing the beauty in the everyday is a spiritual exercise, and I think months ago, I didn’t fully predict how that would affect my perspective.  When I take out all the whining and complaining, the good always outweighs the bad. Always.

So in many ways, that’s what this space has become for me: a place to be thankful, to record the happy, however simple that might be. It makes the day take on a brighter hue and tomorrow seem a little more full of possibilities.

Speaking of bright and beautiful, how lovely is this?

It’s a gift sponsored by The Shady Hollow, and it could be yours if you do something simple.

Tell me what you are grateful for today. One thing.  No matter how small.  Just one little note of gratitude.

For an additional entry, you can do the following and leave me an additional comment saying you did:

  1. Visit The Shady Hollow and take a look around, tell me what your favorite item is.  There are so many beautiful choices; it’s hard to pick!  They have a number of different colors of the bird’s nest jewelry and some lovely natural glass earrings as well as wonderful sculptures.
  2. Spread the word about this giveaway through Facebook, Twitter, or blog, and leave me a comment telling me so.

So there you have it.  One moment of gratitude for your day and two more ways to get extra entries for a sweet little handcrafted sterling silver set.  Easy-peasy!  [And seriously lovely jewelry!  Thank you, Shady Hollow!]

** Winner will be chosen by comment number with this Friday (the 25th) at noon.


“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”- John Milton

Happy Birthday, little blog! {And an Etsy Giveaway}

{Giveaway Closed}  The winner is comment #2 from Kreative Karing.  Congrats!


As the calendar flips to March, I realize it’s been a year since I’ve started this little journal, and I didn’t want the anniversary to go by without something special to commemorate the occasion.  A few facts:

  1. I’ve written 87 posts so far, averaging 1.6 entries a week.
  2. My most commented-on post is What I Wish I’d Known About Breastfeeding .
  3. My most visited post is this simple one on inspiration for a carnival birthday party followed closely by this one on my freezer cooking extravaganza and this one on the things I don’t miss about my old job.
  4. The posts most landed on by random search engines are my posts on our circus birthday party last October.
  5. The weirdest searches that landed someone here were vagina in the potty and teacher won’t let me use the bathroom what should I do.  Those are so bizarre that I can’t believe I even admitted them to you. (I think I maybe mention “vaginal” in my birth story??)  I’ve got no idea how that gets someone here, but I’m guessing they didn’t find what they were searching for.   [As a side note, someone landed here once by searching for “boobs,” and I think that’s kind of hilarious considering a post on breastfeeding isn’t really what was expected, I assume.]
  6. The most common category for my posts is Gratitude with 23 entries.
  7. The one entry that changed blogging for me was this one, which I’ll expand on a little next week.  (With another Etsy giveaway!) I wrote it late one night on a whim, and I feel like my entire blog totally changed direction after that.
  8. My most favorite entry is this one; it still makes me happy to go back and read it.  My birthday letter to Jude is a close second.  His birth story is also close to my heart for obvious reasons, and I love these entries as well.  It’s funny how the posts that mean so much to the writer aren’t necessarily the most commented on or most viewed posts.
  9. My most favorite thing about this little blog? It makes me notice the things I would have missed otherwise and give thanks when I need to. My gratitude category has opened up a whole new practice for me that is really worthwhile, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it has honestly made a difference in my daily life and my perspective.
  10. My most unexpected happy thing about blogging?  All of you! I love hearing from you whether in a comment or an email, and I’ve been surprised at the sense of community and friendship that can happen in front of a computer screen.

So thank you, little blog for showing me how take notice of my own life.  And thank you, reader, for listening and talking.



And now for the fun part!  In honor of the first birthday of Mama the Reader, Bookish Charm Etsy Shop is kindly giving one of my readers this adorable necklace.

How sweet is that?  And let’s be honest that most of the time I end up rambling about a million different topics from food to crafts to parties to toddler tantrums, but a thirst for knowledge and a love of words are still the foundation of what drives me here at Mama the Reader, and I know my readers are bookish, too!

So this is how you enter:

Hop over to Bookish Charm.

Take a look around.

Leave me a comment about what your favorite item is.

It’s as easy as that!  Personally, I’d love to wear one of these.


A quote from Pride and Prejudice! Oh, Mr. Darcy!

or this

or this

Seriously cute stuff!  All comments should be completed by  Friday, March 18th at noon when I use to choose a random number to be our winner.

If you’re not a subscriber here, don’t forget to drop by next week for some words on the value of gratitude and another Etsy giveaway as well. [Or head to the side bar to click and subscribe. ]

Thanks for reading, y’all!  And happy birthday little blog!

**Linked to this week’s Top Ten Tuesday.

**Etsy jewelry, free or otherwise, is definitely a thing I love!  This post linked to Things I Love Thursday as well.

Virtual Life vs. Real Life

A few months ago, the New York Times ran a series called “Your Brain on Computers,” and I read a few of the articles and heard an interview on NPR with one of the writers.  As a teacher, I’d get so frustrated with kids’ lack of focus and inefficient attention span. I know every parent since the dawn of time has complained about this same issue, but it’s no doubt getting worse – in part because of our society’s obsession with technology.  The series in the NY Times spoke of this shift in America’s youth and also commented on a number of other tech-related issues, but the piece that I just couldn’t shake was this one on parenting without unplugging. It questions what effect your phone or computer can have on your family life and your parenting, and it’s hard to read without seeing at least a little of yourself reflected.  It leaves me wanting to set some boundaries.

It’s not just parenting though; I have to wonder how these devices interrupt our daily living so that we can keep up with our virtual living. Suddenly we can’t enjoy a delicious meal without telling hundreds of people about it instantly.  We can’t take a trip somewhere without uploading a  million photos as soon as we arrive home.  I’ve even read Facebook statuses of women updating while in labor, usually telling 400 of their closest friends about the measurement of their cervix or how lovely the epidural is.  The glories of handheld internet, I guess.  And before we think let’s put up the phone, it’s not just cell phones either.  We do these things at home as well, which to me is perhaps the more sacred arena.  We email.  We Facebook.  We Twitter.  We Flickr.  We Pinterest (which if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s awesome).  We blog.  We surf the net for some answer to a question and get lost on a recipe site or an online store for an hour before we realize how much time we’ve wasted.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has ever done this. I hope I’m not implicating only myself here.

The internet is one huge black hole, but it isn’t always negative. I get so many ideas from online sources, improving everything from my parenting to my cooking to my teaching skills and lesson ideas when I was in the classroom.  I primarily use Facebook now to update family with photos of a growing boy, and I occasionally use it to communicate with certain people I wouldn’t converse with much otherwise.  My Twitter “followers” consist of just a few friends, and I love our daily updates and ramblings, whether it’s an embarrassing story of what happened to someone this morning or a recommendation for books or music.  It makes me feel closer to friends and gives me a priceless lifeline to adult conversation as I wipe a snotty nose or play with barnyard animals for the hundredth time that day.  But still, though I remind myself of all the positivity that comes from the internet, I can’t shake the feeling that this area of my life needs some serious work. I don’t want to sacrifice living for real because I am putting too much emphasis on living virtually. I want to be here, really be here, in a way that feels kind of lost lately.

So last year’s Lent sacrifice was to eat no fast food, and I thought it would be pretty easy because I didn’t eat it that often anyhow.  It was HARD, like really hard.  Turns out I ate fast food on my lunch break at work only once or twice a week, but those couple of times were a difficult habit to break.  I did it though, and although I am back to the occasional Chick Fil-A now, those weeks without it drew a focus to my eating habits in a way that was needed.

This year I’ve tossed around a few ideas for what I would sacrifice this Lenten season. I am certainly not traditionally religious, but I’ve found that observing Lent is a really valuable thing for me to do every year for a million different reasons.  I know I want to focus on my online time, but I couldn’t decide exactly how to go about doing it and what rules to make for myself.

I could give up internet all together.  But WE ALL KNOW THAT WON’T HAPPEN.  And really, it’s totally impractical and unnecessary considering we pay bills online, communicate important things through email, etc.

I could give up blogging, but I won’t.  Because I love it and because it has so many positive implications in my life.

I could give up social networking, and I really considered that one.  My only reservations are that I love my tiny Twitter circle and the little details we discuss all day.  I’m also excited to say that there’s an Etsy giveaway on here in a couple of weeks, and I know Facebook will be useful to spread the word.

I could give up social networking on my phone, give up internet-ing on my phone all together.  When Jude is awake, I never get to a real computer to do anything of value, but I do surf online or respond to a tweet or “like” a Facebook photo or whatever when he’s playing and end up feeling guilty about it later.

So this year isn’t a straightforward Lent resolution where I just give something up altogether, but I am putting a lot of boundaries on myself with all of this.  My rules for the next few weeks?  I’m generally abstaining from Facebook with the exception of my birthday later this week when I’ll check in to read the gazillion birthday messages from the people I haven’t talked to since sixth grade, say a thank you, and sign off.  When the Etsy giveaway rolls around in a couple of weeks, I’ll most likely use Facebook to share a link – since the point of all this is to bring some attention to the featured Etsy shop, and Facebook is an easy way to do it.  Facebook has its merits actually, but then there’s also a slew of people with whom I haven’t really spoken in at least ten years or barely encountered as our lives crossed paths somehow, and I somehow know what they had for breakfast or what their new favorite YouTube video is.  I’m ready to shed that clutter from my brain and my life for a while.

The second stipulation I’m creating for myself is that I’m banning internet while Jude is awake, which really means I don’t use the internet on my phone since I never get real computer time while he’s awake and busy anyhow.  This will be my hardest habit to break, but I’m thinking the brain power required for those two-minute email or Twitter checks might be more of a drain on my day than I realize.  If I follow these rules and find online time overtaking my naptime and evening hours, then I’ll reassess and see about setting other limits, but this is a good place to start.

I’m a little scared about this since I thought getting rid of fast food wouldn’t be that bad last year, and it was so much more difficult than I thought.  With this challenge, I know it’s going to be hard not to reach for the phone when the email alert chimes, not to sneak a peak at a news feed when there’s something else I should be doing that I’m procrastinating on.  But I’m excited. I’m ready to see what it’s like to be completely involved in one task at a time.  So when I use Jude’s naptime to write a blog entry, I’ll be all here.  When I sit down after dinner to check in on my email and return a message or two, I’ll be all there.  And when I’m playing in the floor with my son, I’ll be all there as well,  not wondering what’s going on with any of the virtual communities we all tend to have these days or checking in on my email inbox.  I want to be all here all the time.