Showing posts with label Old Fashioned Blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Old Fashioned Blogging. Show all posts

Why I'm Glad My Blog Didn't Grow

 


Well, another one bites the dust.

Yesterday I was browsing through my Bloglovin' feed, and I saw that another one of the bloggers that I follow has decided to call it quits.  I won't link to her post here, because it was a fairly new-to-me blog, and her site will be set to private in the next few days anyway.  Every time I see a blogger decide to step back from blogging, it makes me a little introspective.  It's a good thing to periodically reflect on my blog thus far and evaluate my priorities, I just wish the trigger wasn't always a negative one.

(It's still July, so that means I can still use sparkler pictures in this post, right?)

Regardless, I was thinking over this blogger's reasons for quitting, and thinking over my own reasons for continuing to blog over the years.  My reasons for blogging now are really the same as when I started it in the first place.  I like to write.  I like to create something pretty, either with words or photographs, and I like to share when I do.  I like to have this creative outlet for myself, this place to think things through, or stretch myself, or reflect some bit of my life that I don't want to forget.  I like to make friends with people who may be very different from me, but also kind of the same.

The blog has gone through stages, morphed a bit to fit whatever phase I was going through in my life, but it always comes back to these reasons.  I'm just very thankful that it remains a safe place for me to do those things, that it remains functional for my purposes.  I don't think every blogger can say that.



That Time I Tried To Grow My Blog

There was a period of time when I was actively trying to grow this blog and earn a little money from it - partly because the extra income was helpful at that time, partly because everyone was doing it.  And didn't I need to monetize and professionalize this blog to be taken seriously as a blogger?  When I realized that trying to make this into a job was making the whole thing a chore for me, I reevaluated then too and came back to my original purposes.

You know, the funny thing is, during that period of time, I wasn't quite sure what I was doing wrong.  Why wasn't my blog growing the way so many others were?  Why did it feel like I had to fight so hard for each new follower?  It honestly was a discouraging thing to me.

But now that I am successfully past that stage and fully over the desire to grow for growth's sake, I'm actually really glad that my blog didn't grow.  Ultimately it was God's grace to me to keep this space small.



Graces Of Staying Small

Grace #1: I've had limited nastiness to deal with.

I don't worry about a lot of the things bigger blogs have to deal with as a matter of course.  I haven't had the stress of nasty comments because I have only encountered a handful of trolls in my eleven (!) years of blogging.

My husband sometimes asks me not to write about a controversial topic that is weighing on me, because he knows that I am not built to handle alot of conflict.  While I have strong opinions that I am willing to share, and I never write anything that I am not willing to stick by, often handling the discussions, even when they are good discussions, is emotionally taxing on me.  I am blessed that I haven't had to deal with much meanness, and that even when we disagree, almost every discussion I've had with people on this blog has remained respectful.

I can't claim anything I did as a strategy for a positive blog environment, I fully credit it to the Lord keeping my blog mostly in a bubble, keeping it small, and only bringing the people who needed to read it.

 Grace #2: I am a terrible receiver of glory.

A couple of months ago I read something in a book that immediately made me realize anew that it was the grace of God that my blog didn't grow.  This is what I read:

"Being glorious is for God. Giving glory is a human task....We bring glory, we give glory, we reflect glory. But we are terrible receivers of it. We cannot hold glory because it was never meant for us. We are given glory to give it to our Maker. This is our task. This is our purpose. If a pipe has no outlet for the water, it is pointless and it will burst. When a person receives glory and has no place to give it, they will burst. When they have only a little glory that they don’t know what to do with, they go sadly stagnant...I only have a little, and I am doing nothing with it. Or, I have much, but it has destroyed me. These are not good options."  -Rachel Jankovic, You Who?

This passage resonated with me so much, because I know in my heart that if I received too much glory, I wouldn't give it all over to God.  I'd hoard some of it for myself, and in the end, I think it would ruin me, and it would ruin this blog.  I know myself well enough to say this one thing: I don't need any help being prideful, and I don't need something else to be prideful about.  The Lord knows that too, and I think He saved me from some rather serious humbling by keeping me from the opportunity to be puffed up by my blog in the first place.

Grace #3: I am still writing to friends.

I remember in my first year of blogging, I told my mom that I hoped I never got more than a certain number of followers, because then it would be hard for me to respond and keep up with everyone else's blogs.  And while more people read this blog now than my original (very small) desired number, somehow the spirit of that thought has held steady.  I haven't had a conversation with every person who reads this blog regularly, because some people never comment.  But I personally know (in an online, virtual sense) a good percentage of the people who are reading this right now, and I love that I can say that.

I am thankful for everyone who reads my rather unpolished, small-blogger thoughts, thankful for those who have stuck around through the years.  And if you're reading this, I am thankful for you.  I'm glad this blog is still small and cozy and perfect for me.  It is a beautiful thing to still feel as if I am writing to friends.

As long as I can say that, and as long as I still need to get my thoughts out into written words (which will probably be forever, let's be honest), I don't plan on going anywhere.



So there's another periodic blog evaluation in the books!

I guess you're all still stuck with me. *wink*

Any thoughts about writing, or blog size, or unexpected graces?  I'd love to hear what you think!

Summer So Far





For me, one of the beautiful things about writing has always been the ability to capture a slice of time with my words.  It's been a while since I sat down to write a post with that intent purpose - to stop time for a minute and look at what life looks like right now.  

New Growth

I'm sitting at the library, typing, looking out the window at a pine tree that has light green summer growth at the end of each branch.  I can look and see where the branch ended mere months ago, and I can see the new growth, bright and new, stretching the branches out past what they were.  Making them new with each passing day.  In my gut I feel like this summer will be a growing one for us.  Or maybe it's just that every summer is.  

With each summer, I'm one more year a wife and mother.  With each summer my kids are stretching and growing in every way, just like that branch.  We will tick each of their grades up as the summer sails past; second to third, kindergarten to first, nothing to kindergarten.  It puts me in the frame of mind to reflect and pray, and ask the Lord who I'm helping them to become.  

Derek is home with the kids right now, working on setting up a trampoline that could be christened "Callie's bane".  I'm starting to hate that trampoline, and I'm not sure you could understand why until you've tried to set one up on mountain ground.  We've discussed the best way to go about it for way longer than is necessary, and I think it's brought out some character things in myself that I'd rather not look at most of the time.  

Maybe I needed reminding that I don't need to be in control of everything.  Things don't need to be perfect.  My suggestions don't alway need to be taken or validated.  I need to be easier-going when things end up taking longer than I like.  When I look at that trampoline now, it's a reminder of so much sin still hiding away in me.  It's a reminder that no matter how old I get, I'll still need some growing too.  But long term, I think I'll choose to look at it and let it make me grateful for Jesus dying to save me from even these stupid "little" sins that no one else sees.  

(Actually, correction, Derek also sees.  I'm also grateful for a husband who loves me and puts up with me even when I'm being a pill.)




First Week

June this year went by in a flurry.  This is the first year I put the kids in Vacation Bible School.  All of the "big four" (Wyatt, Gwen, Clyde, Clarice) went each morning, and so it was just me and Georgie for a few hours each day.  The experience took me back to the days when it was just me and Wyatt, my first baby, and it reminded me how special that time was when one child got all my attention.  It also reminded me how slow (or boring, depending on your perspective) life used to be.  I have to really think to remember what I did with myself when it was only me and my one baby.  What did I do with all that time?  Then I remember that I also worked two days a week back then, so that accounts for some of it.

The kids loved VBS and came home with a music CD that they requested every day for about a week.  But I actually didn't mind, because the music was pretty fun, even for me.  The program they went to taught them a few jazzed-up hymns, which I love so much!  We've been learning hymns all year for school, so I'm happy they got a couple more to love over the summer.  Say what you want about church music and all that, but in my book you really can't beat hymns.  Occasionally a modern Christian song has lyrics that are similar in depth and impact to hymn lyrics, but it's rare.

Second Week

The next week we had the homeschool conference, which I talked about on Instagram, and I plan to write more about it in the next few weeks.  There are such varying opinions about homeschool conferences, and I know some people who are not impressed with them, or who think they are just an elaborate attempt to sell them something.  I can understand that perspective, but I don't share it.  In my experience, any product talk is usually a very small part of the sessions, and the rest is dedicated to homeschool and parenting encouragement.  I haven't had a year yet when I didn't leave with more inspiration and ideas than when I came.  

So this year was good, and I even brought Wyatt with me one day to listen to a talk about animals of the Amazon.  I loved having my boy there with me at the conference, and it made me realize that while I'm still a little bit of a homeschool mom newbie, we are in this now.  We are doing it.  It is no longer new, my oldest will be in third grade in the fall.  This is working, and he is thriving, and even though my homeschool plans never fully pan out, we are not actually messing this up.  That's exciting to me.



Since Then

Since those first very busy weeks of summer, we have mostly been staying around the house and relaxing.  I bake muffins (and listen to Wyatt declare that I make the best muffins ever - one of my major boy mom goals wrapped up in that statement).  I clean and dust and try to keep some order to things.  I snuggle Georgie before laying her down for a nap each afternoon.  

The kids play outside and make homemade bird feeders.  They rocket down the driveway on their bikes while I remind them to wear their helmets if they are going to do that.  They scheme about how to climb our most climb-able tree, and I have to nix using a rope in the attempt.  They come up with elaborate games with their stuffed animals, and I hear some of my words coming from the mouths of Komodo Dragon and Goose, for better or worse.  I've read ten books this month, which might be a record for me.    

On the weekends we go on hikes, or plan movie nights with the kids, or (most recently) do sparklers in the driveway. We've had some rough days, when I thought the lack of structure was going to drive us all crazy and I raise my voice (code for yell) and instantly regret it.  But mostly it's been everything I want from summer.  It has been calm, and restful, and beautiful.  Summer is a season of growing and changing and stretching in the quiet, and I'm hoping for the rest of the season I can open my eyes, pay attention, and really watch it happen.



How is your summer going so far, friends?

Stuff I Like | March (Yes, It's Late)



(Photo not necessarily related to this post, though I did enjoy the snow we got in March.  Now that it's April though, I'm ready for Spring.)


Well, I'm a little late with my March favorites post, so let's just get right into it, shall we?

This article on downgrading your blog. 

There was a time when I briefly considered setting up a fancy self-hosted website, before I cam to my senses and realized I didn't want to be roped into paying (pretty big) money forever to keep my blog up and running.  I thought this article about why it's not a bad idea to downgrade your blog was really interesting.  I can attest to the flexibility and low-pressure of keeping your blog on a free platform.


This amazing miracle sippy cup.  

We finally tried one of those spill-proof, spout-free, sippy cups, and they are so cool!  I couldn't figure out how it worked at first, but I handed it to Georgie and she started gulping away.



Hair training and Dove Dry Shampoo.

 I somehow stumbled across this Instagram account a couple months ago, and was inspired to start "training" my hair to go longer between washes.  The theory is that if you wash it less, your scalp will produce less oil, so...you can wash less.  Washing my hair is kind of a process, so cutting back on how much I wash it has actually freed up alot of my time!  I have just been using Dove Dry Shampoo from day 4 or 5 onward, and I have been really happy with it.  It is not an expensive dry shampoo, and it works really well.  I just spray it on my hairline and in different part-lines throughout my hair, fluff it up with my fingers, and it honestly looks like I just washed my hair.

(Mediocre phone selfie, but let's just look at my hair, okay?  This was five days post washing!)

This dress from Walmart. 

I grabbed this dress on a whim at Walmart the other day.  It's ten dollars guys, so I figured I couldn't go wrong, and when I tried it on at home I was pleased.  It is a nice length, has a nice swing to it, and the arm holes don't gap at all.  It'll be a great park day dress for the summer!

(Someday I will take a bathroom outfit picture and there will be no construction paraphernalia.)

This birth video. 

I have followed this couple off and on for a few years, and they finally had their baby after doing embryo adoption.  They have gone through alot.  It might have made me cry when I watched the video, in large part because her reaction reminded me of how I felt the moment Wyatt was born.  I cried just like that.  Something about that first baby (especially after having some trouble getting pregnant) is just so surreal.  I couldn't believe he was mine.  The nurse joked that if I didn't want him, she would take him, but I was crying because I wanted him so much.  Babies are just miracles.


This article on breaking social media addiction. 

As I've mentioned a couple times, I set up some limits for myself on Instagram lately.  It's been pretty freeing overall, and has really helped me to rein in some bad habits, as well as become a better blog reader again.  This article was like the last straw that broke my social media camel's back.  She has alot of good tips in here.

That's it!  I'll be back with more in April.

Just Chatting



I pour a little half and half in the bottom of a pink marble mug, and top it off with sub-par coffee because we are out of the good stuff.  The kids are eating breakfast and watching an episode of Little Bear.  There are some TV shows that wind kids up, and some that are calming to children, and thankfully Little Bear is of the calming variety in our household.

I go around the corner and settle into the homeschool room.  I set up this room so we'd have a quiet(ish) corner of the house to do work in, but I've also found it serves quite well in the morning when I am trying to sneak in some personal Bible study time.  I am working through Hebrews (again), and close my eyes to run through the first three chapters in my head.  I was hoping to have chapter four memorized by now, but I always am too optimistic on these things, no matter how hard I try to be realistic.

And now quiet time is over, the kids are starting to get bored with Little Bear, and I am still sitting down to attempt to write this chatty post.



On Being "So Busy" And Feeling Like Myself

Elizabeth wrote a similar post about hobbies recently, and she mentioned that although she would never want to poo-poo those who are single when they say they "are so busy" (because doesn't every stage feel so busy?), the difference when you have kids is that you're busy, and any time you start something there is always the possibility of being interrupted.  I fully concur with that.  There are so many things I don't try to do, or posts I don't start to write, because I know I'm going to get interrupted.  But this is me breaking the pattern and spilling out some words anyway, even though I will likely be interrupted in the next five minutes.  Something is better than nothing, right?

March is the first month this year where I've actually felt like myself again!  I don't know what it was about January and February, but I just felt somewhat lost both months, like I was running to catch up to my life.  I realized I probably had to let some things go, and cut some things out of my life that were discouraging me.  I quit Bible study because it was just too much right now, put myself on a social media diet because I was escaping to it too often, and planned a few spontaneous field trip days for me and the kids because I used to do that all the time and I miss it.  

(I didn't know what photo to put in this section, so here is me in January, before my non-burgundy roots started to grow out. Maybe I should get my hair re-done one of these days...a hair appointment has never hindered me from feeling like myself, just saying.)

On Not Hating Spring Anymore

Though I do actually enjoy the winter, seeing some signs of Spring has helped bring me out of the duldrums as well.  I took the kids to a park twice this week, and we could have been in short sleeves, it was so nice.  The grass is greening up in town, and I am keeping my eyes peeled for flowering trees to start budding so I can whip out my camera and get some spring-time pictures of the kids (the only thing I regret about living in the mountains is that we don't have flowering trees).






The kids like to bring me "flowers" from outside, even though it's really just handfuls of dead grass (don't try to tell them that though).  But I was pleased to see the other day that in the midst of the grass and dirt clods that were left on my counter, there was a small, green, fern-like plant as well.  So spring is coming, even in the mountains.  

I used to hate spring, hate it, because up here it's mostly just mud season.  Snow is melting, but nothing is growing yet, and your shoes are constantly muddy.  But somewhere in the last couple years I realized maybe my loathing of spring was based on a limited, immature view of it.  When I was young, I hated hiking too, but now I enjoy the exercise.  When I was young, I hated going on mountain drives because it seemed boring, but now I love to explore new roads in the car and find all the gorgeous views.  When I was young, I hated spring because it was muddy and dull...and it's still rather muddy and dull, but when you look closer, you can see the signs of life returning after a long winter, and there is something more refreshing about it now.  Everything starts new again.  There is a redemption to it that I never saw when I was young.

Of course, it also helps that I can now drive to places where there are flowering trees (I love flowering trees).

On Medieval Guilds, Juggling, And Music

We are on the countdown until the end of the school year, and I have been tracking the days on our calendar and the lessons left in our curriculum book daily to make sure they are lining up.  I am not one who thinks you must finish the book before the end of the year, but I also don't want to reach our last day and realize we only have a few more lessons left.  The Type-A side of me would not be able to rest.  We are mostly on track though, and I am thinking of tripling up on our math lessons for a couple weeks so we can finish math early and take the last month of school to just focus on "fun stuff" - history and science.  I think it might be a nice way to wind down the year.

Speaking of winding down the school year, and also speaking of history, our co-op is doing our big spring event next week, a medieval "guild".  Each family is supposed to pick a trade, make some goods, and dress up in medieval garb to come barter at the marketplace.  I cannot tell you how much mental anguish I have gone through trying to figure out what to make.  I had signed us up to be weavers, but then realized how ridiculous it was to think that I could "weave" (knit) enough...something...to trade at the guild, all by myself.  Because of course my little non-knitting kids would not be a help.  I was thinking about shifting to some other simple cloth-related craft, but couldn't come up with a tight enough idea.  So after much frustration I switched us to being the jugglers.  Juggling is kind of a trade, right?  Court jesters and all that?  Okay, no, none of us can actually juggle, but we can make some pretty neat little juggling balls, and it's a lot simpler than weaving something.

And speaking of co-op, we also did a field trip the other day to an "inside the orchestra" event, and it immediately made me regret not taking up the violin in my younger days.  It also made me want to break out my flute again.  It's really tricky to learn how to make the flute actually make noise, and I already have that part down from years ago, so I'm halfway to playing it, right?  In reality I am not a very musically talented person, but I so wish I was.  Enthusiasm counts for something, I think.



On Book Clubs And Reading Too Many Books At Once

Despite never thinking I could keep up with a book club, I have found myself in two book clubs over the last year.  I get excited about book clubs because it's so nice to read a book and have someone to talk to about it.  I love reading a book at the same time as friends or family so we can discuss it later.  But I will also admit that I get a smidge stressed about book clubs or buddy reads, because I am such an ADD reader.  I can't stick with just one book!

Recently I decided enough is enough and I would just read one book at a time, and read that book clear through before picking up another one.  That idea lasted for all of one book before I was back to reading a chapter here and there from five books again.  The problem is that I am a mood reader, and my moods change so often.  I also have a terrible time deciding what I am in the mood for and feel like I have to try five books before I can decide...and then I inevitably never decide and just continue piece-mealing five books at once.

(Who am I kidding, it's more like 10-15 books at once.)

I am going to try the one book thing again, maybe with my most recent bookclub book, Far From The Madding Crowd.  Have you read that one?  PSA: It's free on Kindle.

Chime in, do you play musical instruments, enjoy or hate spring, read too many books at once, or have experience with medieval guilds?  

Tips and tricks appreciated.

Tea On A Tuesday Vol. 1



I'm a coffee person.  I always brew a pot when we have company, but frequently I'm the only one drinking it.  I don't really understand why so many people don't drink coffee, but if you came over I might brew a pot to help shed the chill from outside, or I might just put the kettle on and offer you a cup of tea instead.

I'd pull out my little specialty tins from David's Tea that my dear friend Felicia sent me for a late Christmas present, and I'd probably mentioned that I first met her through letters we started exchanging as 12 year olds.  How we still have never met, but we still manage a letter every six months and cross our fingers that one of these days we'll meet for real.  How she's a longtime, dear friend of mine even though I've never seen her face in person.

Not many people have had pen-pals these days, so you might think it's cool or you might not quite get it, but I'd probably mention how I wish snail mail wasn't such a thing of the past, and how I wish I was better at it myself.  All these words that we pound out and send off into the space of the internet are so...intangible.  There is something about a letter that you can hold in your hand, how you can see what kind of pen and stationary the person chose, see what their handwriting looks like, hear the words that people won't put out there for any person to see but that feel safe to write in a letter.  There is something special about that.



I'd pause and listen to your thoughts on the subject, and who knows where the conversation would take us, but I'm sure it would come back to a couple other things I've been thinking about lately.  

I might tell you how I've put myself on a 15 minute a day "Instagram diet".  I'm serious about it, and I had my husband put a passcode that I don't know to enforce my 15 minute limit.  

You might care less about all this because you aren't on Instagram, or you might look at me askew and say "wow" because you don't see why I'd take such measures.  And I'd explain that I realized how often I was escaping a boring day with mindless scrolling, and how I could see it was distracting me from my kids.  Distracting me from consistency in my Bible study, from things that are eternal, and from the legacy I want to leave (it's never too early to start thinking about your legacy).  And well, something just had to be done.  If I died tomorrow, I wouldn't want my kids to remember my face glued to my iPhone.  

Then I'd probably ask you if you print up pictures of your kids, and it would seem like a change of subject, but it's really not.  Because with all of this talk about tangible things, I'd probably mention how I want my kids to have pictures they can hold in their hands.  I'd talk about how I can never seem to get my act together with creating photo books, and I take an excessive amount of pictures so it's always felt like an insurmountable task to sort through them and print them all up.  You'd probably commiserate with me, because its probably a huge project for you too.  Then I'd tell you how I decided to print up my one favorite photo of each kid from each month.  Just one.  And how I'd like to accompany each photo with a short letter with my favorite memory of them from the month.  I'd tell you how I grabbed a basic composition book and wrote the rough-drafts of my five little letters already.  

Because printing some pictures is better than printing none.  And it's harder to blink and miss a childhood when you are keeping an eye out for a memory to record.



Then maybe I'd get away from all this heavy talk, and I'd ask you what you thought about the Bachelor, or whether you've been able to get outside with all this snow.  I'd ask what you've been up to lately, if you've read anything good.  

And we'd sit, and enjoy our tea, and visit face to face instead of through a screen.  And it would be lovely.

I wish I could have you all over for tea on a Tuesday.

---

Shoutout to Amanda for making me want to write a "visiting over a hot beverage" post again with her coffee date posts.  And feel free to steal the term "Tea On A Tuesday" if you like it, and write your own.  I lifted the phrase from a long-ago blogger that is no longer writing.  I don't think she'd mind if we bring it back.

The Problem With Instagram



In case you live in a part of the country that lost power yesterday (not unlikely - we had a bomb cyclone here and many people lost power), let me fill you in - Instagram went down for about 8 hours yesterday.

I do actually go days without posting to Instagram, but I was in the middle of uploading a photo when Instagram went down.  Lots of people on the internet freaked out and didn't know what to do with themselves (I know this because I visited Twitter to confirm that it was actually down).  Some took the opportunity to perhaps ponder how dependent we have become on social media.  What if Instagram went down forever?  Lots of insta-celebrities would be nobodies once again, and many modern bloggers would lose their main source of income.  But for someone like me, who has enjoyed writing for so long and has spent the last couple years trying to bring old school blogging back, when I contemplated Instagram being lost forever, I was most saddened by the thought of all those lost words, lost stories - not lost Instagram stories, but lost stories from my life.

And that has made me rethink how much writing effort I am putting in on Instagram.

Yesterday reminded me that Instagram is not bulletproof, and it's not my website.  It could go belly-up tomorrow, and all that insta-effort that countless people have put in will have been for nothing.  And maybe that can be said of any online effort, even blogs, but blogs seem somehow more sturdy.   The time spent here seems more sturdy somehow, more real, more thoughtful, than anything I've done on Instagram.  The form of media does shape the content.  And I do wonder if the "instant" in Instagram means I'm spending too much time on a platform that in the end doesn't encourage depth in the first place.

And despite the best efforts of some of the accounts I follow, it really doesn't encourage depth.  I follow some who write long, well thought-out posts on Instagram, but if I'm honest I don't often take time to read them through on that platform.  I really appreciate a good quote, but I'd like to hear the quote with some more expansive personal thoughts even more.  And I can enjoy pictures just as well on a blog as on an app.

All that to say, I want my blog to get the best of my writing, and I want blogland to get the best of my browsing time.  I'll still pop on Instagram some, but I'd like to be on there less.  There is alot of noise on Instagram.  I'd like to take my effort back to an online space that encourages slow reading, that encourages more thoughtful posts, and more thoughtful reading. A platform that despite all the "blogging is dead" alarmism, still feels pretty sturdy to me.

 (The gorgeous, winter wonderland aftermath of our bomb cyclone!)

Did Instagram go down for you yesterday?  

(Also, I fully recognize there are many other problems with Instagram, and many good things too, so if you have other thoughts, please share!)


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