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?

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.

Busy Summer

It’s been a busy morning around here.  Actually, I lied.  It totally hasn’t.  The pace has been slow and leisurely, and we enjoyed some playtime on the porch this morning.  After last week’s soaking in all the gratitude for this new SAHM gig, I feel like I need to get busy and establish a routine for myself.  But, oh!  These are the days.  Sometimes I want to do nothing but play with this happy boy.

Memorial Day is sort of the unofficial beginning to summer around here, and Labor Day is the unofficial end to sweaty pool days and beginning to autumn.  As a teacher, I would begin each summer with absolute laziness and then panic some time around the Fourth of July when I realized that I had a to-do list a mile long and I had accomplished none of it.  While I don’t have the start of the academic year looming ahead this time, I do feel the need to get some A LOT of things done in the next 3 months.  Inspired by my friend Amanda’s list, I decided to write down my goals here so that I have to achieve them or else be shamed by my laziness.  So here they are.  Some big, some small.  I’ve tried to categorize them, but in that process I’ve realized that some of them are quite random.

    In the KitchenCook better food when Scott is out of town.  (I got this awesome book to help me.) – Overcome prior disappointment with dough that refuses to rise and successfully bake my own bread. – Master ten new dishes. – Make decent-tasting tofu dish. 

  • Craftiness – Get my Grandmother to reteach me how to sew. (I have a sewing machine and sewed often before graduate school and teaching, but I haven’t done anything on it at all since the fall of 2004 when I enrolled in Agnes Scott.) – Sew 3 fleece diaper covers for Jude’s cloth diapers. – Complete 25 pages in Jude’s digital scrapbook. I used to love paper crafts (scrapping included), but this AMAZING book made me want to do digital.  I’ve paid $30 for software and now need to get started. – Take more pictures.  Take better pictures. (I began a 365 project on Flickr that has me taking photos everyday and learning slowly but surely to use our camera to soak up those pretty little moments.) – Finish the jewelry organizer I started last weekend.  The window screening I’m using is being difficult, so I think I need to take another route and amend my original plans on that one.
  • Personal / Health – Drink more water. – Drink Kefir everyday. (This stuff does wonders for me; I just need to remember to drink it.) – Make time for reading again. – Start yoga again after not practicing for 7 months. – Partake in some form of physical activity for at least 20 minutes everyday, Monday-Friday.  (This makes me sound like an absolute lazy lard lump, but of course I am up and moving all the time – laundry, playing in the floor with Jude, wearing and carrying him all over town. etc.  What I haven’t done in about 7 months is deliberate physical exercise for the purpose of burning calories or toning myself.  This has to change.  My ass says so.)
  • Home / Organizational – Establish a housecleaning routine that gets the job done and works for me. – Organize our home office. (Y’all this is THE project around here.  The one that hangs over me and slaps me in the face every time I walk in there.  Scary, scary place right now.) – Clean out Jude’s drawers and closet, pack away outgrown clothes, get out new sizes. – Come up with at least 5 bags of junk to leave this house and take to Goodwill. – Pack up infant gear we have outgrown the need for. – Sell cloth diapers that didn’t work for us.  (Yes, people do this.  I have high-quality hemp BabyKicks brand prefolds and cute gDiapers that don’t work for me.  I need to make the money from them and get this out of this cluttered house.)
  • Miscellaneous Learn to can vegetables.  (My Grandmother is dying to teach me, and it’s a trade I’d like to know if I can get over my fear of the pressure cooker.) – Update this blog twice a week. – Visit the Alpharetta Farmer’s Market at least twice this summer. – Go on at least 5 real dates with my husband. (Real means make-up, sitter, dinner out, maybe even earrings.) – Pay off the Nissan so that we don’t have a car payment and can breathe a little easier with only one income. – Find 2 tutoring clients so that I have some spending money. – Keep my grocery bill at $75 a week and stay on our no-processed rule.  (This is HARD, y’all.  Why is unhealthy food so much cheaper?)

Whew.  It looks like so much when I write it all down.  Public acocuntability works for me though.  What’s on your list this summer?

Ten Reasons I Love Blogs

For more Top Ten Tuesdays, head to Oh Amanda!

I spent last Saturday evening at my supper club with some close college friends, and the subject of blogging came up.  We were talking about blogs we love to read and why we love them, and one of my friends just doesn’t get the blog thing.  Not that she was being patronizing; she definitely wasn’t.  But she just expressed an honest curiosity as to why people read blogs and what is it all about anyway.  On the way home, I was thinking about her questions, and they make sense.  I mean here we are writing about our [somewhat boring] lives and reading about each others similarly simple tasks.  So why blog and what is there to like?

  1. Gives Me Inspiration – Sometimes I get the blahs and look around my house or my life and feel pretty lackluster.  Then I pay a visit somewhere and suddenly I have a million ideas of things to improve my house and my daily life.  Feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, and disorganized?  I head to Small Notebook.  Wondering how to compile memories for Jude, I spent time looking at this fabulous photo book and left with a million ideas.
  2. Grants Me Validation – Parenting leaves you making lots of decisions, and God knows we all research and think and pray we do the right thing.  These choices are not the same for every family, and you have to do what’s right for you.  Sometimes our choices are uncommon.  From the big things (laboring unmedicated) to the little things (cloth diapering), I don’t always know a lot of people “in real life” who chose to do the same things as I do.  On the blogosphere, however, you are sure to find a person out there with a parallel view.  Deep down we know inside that these decisions, no matter how varied they are, are right for our particular families, but it sure is nice to hear someone else say, “I do that, too!”
  3. Presents A New Perspective – I tell my students at school all the time that the true value of literature is that it exposes us to perceptions we might not attain otherwise.  The world would be a lot better off with a little more empathy.  Blogging does this.  There are issues I have never experienced before, but thanks to blogs, I truly empathize and understand.  Dooce’s story of postpartum depression changed my understanding of the disease.  Kelle Hampton’s amazing birth story altered my perspective of birth and motherhood and special needs children forever.  Her blog actually expands my perspective all the time as she encourages me to be grateful for the things around me, and every single one of you should read it, but that’s another story!  The point is that there are a million different voices out there and a million different ways to look at life, and the internet is one huge shelf of autobiographies.
  4. Lets Me Chronicle Daily Life – Days become weeks.  Weeks become months.  Months become years, and life races past you so fast.  Even if it’s details of the seemingly mundane, blogging is a way to mark the way I felt and the things I encountered.  I know they are things I’ll miss one day, no matter how inconsequential they feel now.  I usually blog at night after Jude’s in bed and they day is quieting.  I look forward to this time as it allows me to write and reflect.
  5. Share Ideas and Advice – To say I don’t know everything is a ridiculous understatement, but I will say that I feel like I have learned A LOT since Jude came along last October.  When I was experiencing my own breastfeeding struggles, stories of women who succeeded despite similar challenges really encouraged me.  Now on the other end, it’s all I can do to hope that my breastfeeding story will do the same for someone else out there.  Sharing ideas and advice with other mothers is invaluable.  Blogs are like one HUGE parenting support group!
  6. Gives Me Product Reviews – If I am going to buy something, the best way to make a good decision is to hear reviews from other people.  Blogs are invaluable for this.  When I first decided to try cloth diapering, I was SO confused with too many choices.  The Cloth Diaper Report and The Cloth Diaper Whisperer gave me great ideas and shed light on all the options.  It’s not just diapers though.  There are honest reviews on everything you can think of.
  7. Enriches My Kitchen – You have not lived until you’ve spent a lazy weekend morning eating homemade sourdough pancakes with bananas foster sauce.  Would I ever have discovered this joy without blogs?  Nope! Scott and I are trying so hard to cut down on the processed foods and eat better.  Kitchen Stewardship and The Nourishing Gourmet are basically my online cookbooks I consult every single week when I plan my meals.  Passionate Homemaking’s advice for healthier living is simple and encouraging and allows me to feel like I can do it.
  8. Makes Me a Better Mom – I mean have you even seen the stuff at No Time for Flash Cards, Unplug Your Kids, or Impress Your Kids?  I can’t wait until Jude is old enough to do these things together.
  9. Provides a Sense of Community – This is where non-bloggers think bloggers are weirdos, but you really can find a community of people through the blogosphere.  The funny thing is that I’m finding that most of the blogs I read daily also read the other blogs that I read daily.  Does that even make sense?  You all seem to “know” each other and we read the same things.  Reading great blogs allows you to find other great blogs, too.  It’s a circle of women who all care and have some really great stories, ideas, and resources.  We can follow each other’s little happenings and everyday stories.   Andi and I met through book blogs, for instance, and we kept up via Twitter even after I quit blogging. I had a baby 6 months before she did and now we can commiserate through Twitter about our lack of time to take a shower or the funny things Greyson and Jude do.
  10. Lets Me Keep Up With Real Life Friends – I have a few real life (meaning before blogs) friends who blog regularly.  I love keeping up with Tami, Amanda, and Jenna among others.  Life gets busy, and when else would we see each other to share about that time we had to resuscitate a baby chicken?

So what about you?  What do you like best about blogging. If you don’t blog, you are obviously reading one.  Why do you like reading blogs?

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

For those of you who don’t know, the folks at 5 Minutes for Mom have put together an Ultimate Blog Party as a way for us to meet and greet fellow bloggers and even win prizes!  If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.  If you found me from the links on the UBP site, here’s a little about me and my blog.


I am a 29-year-old high school English teacher and mother to an adorable, laid-back, sweet little 6-month old boy named Jude.

Soon I can erase the first half of that sentence because I am turning the page to life as a SAHM in something like 43 42 days.  Not that I’m counting.  As I’ve said before, my days are certainly never boring and, for the most part, I’ve actually loved my job for the last 5 years, but I’m incredibly excited to give more of myself to Baby Jude in the coming months.  I find it really really difficult to balance 150 of other people’s children with just one of my own, and I think anyone who maintains sanity as both a teacher and a mother deserves serious praise.

I’m fascinated with natural living, and we do our best around here to be less wasteful, healthier, and more frugal whenever possible.  I’m not perfect on that one. (Where did all those Girl Scout cookies go?)  But I’m learning and enjoying the journey as I find new tips and ideas to better living.  We grow a little here and there, and I love using my own herbs and such in the kitchen

Let’s see, what else?  I love books (hence the title), but I won’t be posting reviews as often as I once did on my former book blog because I usually get, oh I don’t know, 14 pages in and someone decides to wake up from a nap or need a snuggle.  I’m working on making time for reading in my new life though, and he’s worth the interruption in my reading schedule for sure.

I began this blog as a way to chronicle my life with my son as I watch him grow and as I attempt to embrace the many challenges of motherhood.  I love that mommy blogs give us a sense of community to read anecdotes and hear experiences from a day in the life of what is, to me, both the hardest and most satisfying thing I’ve ever attempted.

Leave me a comment to let me know you stopped by and give me another place to visit!  I love “seeing” you from afar and learning about your families, challenges, tips, and ideas. I’ve only been at this for a few weeks, so there’s not much, but feel free to stay awhile and have a look around!


There are some great prizes over at 5 Minutes for Mom, but if I were to win any of them, I’d love:

  1. A Guy and Eva Jewelry Necklace
  2. 2 year-long magazine subscriptions…one to Taste of Home and one to Simple & Delicious.
  3. New Momma Prize Package from the Pampered Chef including the Must Have Quick-Stir Pitcher and Twixit! Clips

If my top three prizes were taken, I’d prefer prizes number 12, 27, 31, 32, 38, 42, 44, or 51.

Ultimate Blog Party 2010!

We’re all invited to a party, and the fun lasts for 7 days!  The ladies over at 5 Minutes For Mom are planning a great way for mommy bloggers (and other bloggers too) to mix and mingle. There’s nothing better than a party, so come join the fun!

During the week of April 9-16, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom and take a look around.  If you want to participate, link up with the rest of us and take a look around at everyone’s bloggy home.  The idea is to read and mingle and comment as much as you can between the 9th and the 16th.  Oh!  And there are prizes!

One of the best things about blogs is certainly the sense of community we get when we read and comment on one another’s posts, and The Ultimate Blog Party at 5 Minutes for Mom is a great way to do this.  For new bloggers like me, it’s a great way to meet folks.  Some come on over in a couple of weeks and join the party!