It's Tuesday, and as promised I'm back to some good old-fashioned blogging today! I have to tell you, I have been itching to sit down and write this post all week. It was so refreshing last Tuesday to write something and publish it without making a fuss. I thought of so much that I wanted to say, both about the old days of blogging and life in general, so I'm warning you now, this is going to be a long one. I've included convenient section titles, so you may read whatever sections are of interest to you (you are welcome).
Christmas Baking And How The Good Stuff Sticks
Yesterday we finally did some Christmas baking. I couldn't believe it took us this long to get around to it, because I planned my Christmas season out way ahead of time so I would have very little on my to-do list in December - and still, I barely find time to bake with the kids. Why is it that no matter how hard I try, December is still nuts? I am glad that I had most of my Christmas prep done, because it would be panic time right about now if I didn't.
Our Christmas baking was supposed to happen last Thursday, but I woke up and within about a half hour I figured out it was not going to be a wise day to try to bake. Things went awry right from the beginning, and I shudder to think of the disaster our baking attempt would have been, so I left the sugar cookie mix in the package. I did think we could handle chocolate-covered pretzels, so we did that instead. I may have caught Clyde licking chocolate off his pretzel-dipping spoon. The pretzels are staying within the family now.
You know the funny thing is, last Thursday I was itching to sit down and type out all the ways Thursday was not ideal, because admit it, it's fun to read about disastrous days (when it's someone else's day). And it really was one thing on top of another that day (it was a good call to stick with pretzels). But now that I am sitting down on Tuesday to give you the play-by-play, I can't remember all the little things that went wrong.
What I remember is calling Derek at about five o'clock, crossing my fingers that he would say he was almost home. I remember having a tiff with him on the phone because he was going to be later than I wanted, and then hanging up because I heard Wyatt howling down the hall with his fingers stuck in a slammed door. He cried for ten minutes as I gently washed the bloody skin flap with water and put a bandaid on it, and he finally stopped when I squeezed the injured digits in my palm and started an episode of The Lion Guard, all four kids gathered around me as we watched the termites take over the pridelands (don't worry, the Lion Guard got the pridelands back).
Then Derek walked in the door, and he gave me that look, and I gave him that look, and I walked over to him to give him an "I'm sorry" hug, and I buried my face in his shoulder. His coat was warm, and he had that smell, that good husband smell, like home (if you are married I imagine you know what I'm talking about). And the day just didn't seem so bad anymore.
I called making dinner a lost cause for the day and ordered Chinese food, and we sat on the couch with our Kung Pao chicken after tucking the kids in bed and watched the season finale of Survivor. And now when I think about Thursday, I really can't remember all the things that went wrong anymore. Sometimes the daily frustrations seem like such a big deal, but really it's the good stuff that sticks.
Wood Floors Are Not Invincible.
I take it back, I do remember one thing that went wrong on Thursday.
As part of our house renovation this year, we put (vinyl) wood floors upstairs - Aquaguard (which means water resistant) and scratch resistant. These floors are durable. This was also a good decision if we are to judge by the amount of crumbs that end up end under the table after each meal, because all of that used to end up in our carpet! When I think about how seldom I used to vacuum, I'm a little grossed out. Now when I see the crumbs I can only tolerate them for precisely 10.2 minutes before I have to sweep them up, which you would think would be a bad thing, but it's not. It's quick and easy to sweep, and then I feel at peace and confident in the cleanliness of everything. I don't have OCD tendencies at all.
So here I am, patting myself on the back for the last six months for the fact that I no longer have to deal with nail polish and grease stains on my carpet because I was shrewd enough to upgrade to wood floors...and then Clarice, our little firecracker, sufficiently burst my bubble by drawing on the floor. With a permanent marker, and I am still scratching my head about where she even got it. I guess our wood floors aren't as invincible as I thought they were.
(Thankfully my handy dandy Norwex cleaning paste got it right up, so all is well.)
(Thankfully my handy dandy Norwex cleaning paste got it right up, so all is well.)
(She also was not wearing this dress when the aforementioned Sharpie incident occurred. I just took this picture when I was taking our family Christmas pictures the other day, and I thought it was pretty. And now you get a sneak peek of our Christmas attire.)
Some Thoughts On What Really Happened To Old-Fashioned Blogging.
I've been putting a lot of thought into this old-fashioned blogging thing since my post last week, trying to decide how to move this forward. I don't feel like I ever went into full-blown impersonal blogging on here (at least I hope you all didn't feel that way), but my blog has been in a weird in-between place for the past three (?) years. The more I think about it, the more I'm grateful that you all have stuck with me for so long.
For a quick blogging history review, the year it all started to blow up was 2013. The blogosphere was flooded with fresh new bloggers, and the focus became marketing your blog, pushing it on social media, networking for blog business purposes, and gaining sponsors (sidebar ads or paid posts). For me personally, it started to get hard in 2014. I just had Clyde, and I struggled to balance life with three kids. Reading blogs was the first thing to go, and the more I think about it, the more I think that's what led to the downfall of old-fashioned blogging, at least for me.
I think many in my little circle of the old-school blogosphere had the second or third kid around that time, and we all maybe handled the balancing of life and babies and the metamorphosis of blogging in different ways. Some kept on faithfully, some slowed down in blogging or shifted focus, and some quit all together. For me, when I stopped investing my time in reading and commenting on other blogs, it became easier to quit putting myself out there on my own blog.
Which leads me in a roundabout way to my point, which is that the thing that made blogging go 'round in the old days was the fact that if you were a blogger, you read blogs. You read, and you commented (remember all the commenting joy before blogland got so self-centered?). And when someone commented on your blog, you reciprocated not just by replying to their comment via email, but by going and reading something on their blog and commenting. There was something so unspoken and natural about all this. If you wanted people to read your blog (or keep reading your blog), you read theirs. Nothing written, either in the posts or comments, had to be particularly important, it was just all a part of getting to know each other and sharing our lives and having a conversation. It was outward-focused, and generous, and beautiful in the simplicity of it.
The secret is, there are still corners of the blogosphere out there like this. I know because I spent all my breakfast reading time on blog surfing last week, and I think I found them. And some of them never left (check my comments from last week's post). If it's anything like the blogging community of old, they will still welcome us with open arms if we go in not focused on what we can get from it, but what we can give.
Bottom line: I think if we want to bring old-fashioned blogging back, we're going to have to be generous, and do unto others as we would have them do unto us (yes, the Bible applies even to blogging). So I'd encourage you (as I'm encouraging myself) - if someone comments on your blog, dig back and remember the good old blogging etiquette. Don't just reply on your own blog, but go visit on their blog and comment on something they wrote. I think that's the first step in this little old school revival, as well as the first step in making friends, to make conversation. That's what we are all missing most I think, is the friendships.
Well, sheesh, that was a longer point than I intended.
An Old School Blogger Shoutout.
To wrap this up, how about a little shoutout? We've all kind of lost touch with each other, haven't we? I thought about a linkup for those of us who want to find this community again, but there is something so market-y about linkups (especially in this day) that it rubs me wrong. Linkups are also easy to hijack, and I don't want to lose focus here. Instead, I'm going to point you to two old-school bloggers each week along with these stream of consciousness posts (because yes, I will be back at it again next Tuesday), and I'd encourage you to go visit their blogs and comment! Comment below each week if you are also interested in a shoutout, and I'll make it around to everyone eventually.
Old School Blogger 1: First, Natalie from She Builds Her Home! For those of you who aren't aware, Natalie's first blog was Extraordinary Love. Remember The Blessing Box? Now that was a good linkup. Natalie wrote an old school post last week after I wrote about it here, so I wanted to give her the first slot!
Old School Blogger 2: Next, Laurie from From The Koala Tree (which is just a cute blog name, right?), who also gets the first slot because she also wrote about old school blogging last week after my post! See, we are not alone! Laurie is a friend of one of my blog friends from the old days, and she also helps to run Airmail Christmas (it's too late to sign up this year, but bookmark it for next year.)
I wanted to share these two ladies first, because remember how we used to all link to each other like that? Someone would read something that resonated with them, and if it resonated enough they'd write their own thoughts about it on their blog and link back to the original post. I don't know about you, but when someone linked back to me like that, it made my day, and these ladies revived that feeling for me last week. I wanted to return the favor (generosity, remember?).
See you all back here (and maybe on your blog too if you want to join in) next Tuesday! Next week may be short though. It is the Tuesday after Christmas, after all.
What I'm Drinking: Nutcracker Sweet from Celestial Seasonings, which is THE tea of the Christmas season to me. I like it best with a Hershey bar. When I was a kid I used to retire to my room each night with my Nutcracker Sweet tea and my Hershey bar, and stay up way too late in the glow of my Christmas lights reading The Lord Of The Rings.