A to Z April

a-to-z HEADER [2014] - april

I’m thinking about participating in this Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. Basically, if you participate, you plan to blog every day in April, excluding Sundays. Each day corresponds to a letter of the alphabet beginning on April 1 with the letter A and ending on April 30 with the letter Z. I think it would be fun. And a bit of a challenge. But a fun challenge. Not the stressful kind. And I’m all about that.

But considering this challenge leaves me with a few concerns:

  1. Will I really be able to keep up with daily blogging?? Come April, I’ll have a newborn and be in my second to last month of grad school. That’s a lot. Not to mention I have 4 other kiddos. Whom I homeschool. Life is busy.
  2. What would my overarching theme be?? Now, just to be clear, you don’t have to have a theme to participate. All you have to do is write a blog that corresponds to the letter of the day. But I’m me. I need coherency. I want a theme. So what would mine be? What would I like to write about for an entire month? The things that immediately come to mind are those things that I know a lot about: Catholicism, parenting, homeschooling, etc. But that all seems kind of bland. I want a theme I’m really excited about. (I tremendously value all those aspects of my life; I just don’t know that I want to write about them…or that you’d want to read about them…for a month straight.)
  3. Will this really be fun?? I look at this opportunity as a fun escape. But with the chaos of life will it actually be fun? Or will it just be one more task on my to-do list?

I’m really thinking about just taking the plunge and signing up. I have plenty of time to come up with a theme. And I really do think it will be fun. I just don’t want to sign up and flake out. That would be really disappointing. And setting myself up for disappointment over a silly internet activity would be really pathetic.

There’s a big “theme reveal” link up on March 21. I guess I have until then to decide….

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Small Success Thursday Volume 1: Longing for Communion and the Baby List

I really like the idea of blog link ups.* I’ve always thought that I’d like to participate in them, but I’ve never found one that really suits me. One time, I attempted to jump on board with the 7 Quick Takes bandwagon, but the fact is I’m just too long winded for Quick Takes. (And no one wants to read what should be 7 individual blog posts all jumbled into one, which is what my posts inevitably would have become.)

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330

This week, I stumbled across a link up that is so perfect for me I might as well have designed it myself. CatholicMom.com hosts a link up called Small Success Thursdays. I love it! The concept is simple: share at least 3 of your small success from the previous week. This fits in so well with my attempt to write more about our daily life. It also provides me with a deadline and some slight semblance of accountability, both of which are great motivators for me. Obviously, it won’t really matter if I don’t link up on any given week, but knowing that the link up is out there will likely increase my motivation exponentially. Typically, once I’m in the habit of writing about anything, it becomes easier to write about everything, so it will also likely increase my blogging productivity overall.

Truthfully, I blog all the time. You just don’t know about it. Why? Because most of the blogging I do takes place in my head. Usually, it’s in the middle of the night. Or while I’m doing some incredibly tedious chore. I write, proofread, and edit all in my mind. It’s so unfortunate that WordPress doesn’t have an app for that. I’ve “written” some truly stupendous entries. Some of my favorites exist only in my mind. BUT, this is exactly why I’m excited about this link up. I think it will move me out of my current habit of blogging in my mind and into the world of actually blogging on the internet, where there’s a real publish button! So, without further ado, I give you this week’s small successes:

P10701791. I’m starting to feel like we really are integrated members in the community. This isn’t really a personal success, but it’s a big deal to me nonetheless. We live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. That means if you venture much further than your backyard, you instantly become an anonymous anyone, rather than an actual someone. On Saturday, we did a lot of running around in various areas, and we ran into some kind of acquaintance at every location. At Jack’s basketball game in Ft. Worth, we saw one of Josh’s former employees. His kid was playing on the opposing team. Next, we ran by Wal-Mart for some toiletries and whatnot, and ran into a lady from our church. Later, at Babies-R-Us in Southlake, we saw a guy that works in the same department as Josh. Lastly, at Costco, we saw one of Josh’s current employees. What was really cool is everyone we saw was also with their families. So, whether they noticed it or not, we got to see them as actual someones too. Not just the caricature that we normally see in the environments where we normally encounter them.

So why is this a success in my book? My heart was made for small town living.* I love the idea of tight-knit communities and knowing everyone’s name. I long for true experiences of community. We are very blessed to experience this feeling at our church, but I’d like to be able to experience it out in the world, too. It seems that our family is turning a corner. It seems we’ve finally lived here long enough and are making enough connections where we’re forming a real community around us. For me, this is very exciting!

2. We all went to Mass together on Sunday! This is my goal every week, and, usually, it’s our norm. Unfortunately, someone in our house has been sick every week since sometime in November. This means that I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been able to attend Mass as a family in the last three months. I hate being separated at Mass, despite our children’s often less than charming behavior, which often leaves me wondering why I didn’t just go by myself. I just feel like the Eucharist is more tangibly the source and summit of our week and our family life when we all get to sit in the pew together, and I love that.* This week, I got to experience it. Hurray!

2014-02-05 20.15.453. I made a pretty big dent in my “baby list.” Right around 34 weeks I started freaking out because it suddenly dawned on me that there was stuff to do to prepare for our little one’s arrival. For some reason I had it in my head that she would just move in and that we were ready for her. Luckily, my sweet husband started asking very practical questions like, “Aren’t we going to need another carseat?” (Currently, Leila is still riding in our infant seat.) That made me realize that, even though we did just go through this process 15 short months ago, there are still a few things to be done. So, I made a list. (Of course!) Then, I panicked because there were several things to do and/or purchase, and I generally need some time to wrap my head around these kind of things. I was convinced that the remaining 6 weeks of my pregnancy was not enough time. Finally, I got to work. In less than a week, the majority of the list has been knocked out, and the remaining items are fairly simple. Looks like I’ll have the next 4.5 weeks to dream about my little one’s arrival completely stress free. (Oh, hush. I’m allowed to fantasize about living stress free if I want.)    

To check out the small successes of other Catholic mamas, or to link up your own small successes, visit the Catholic Mom Blog.

                                                                                                             

*I could write a theological discourse about how each of these are really just a manifestation of my longing for communion, a God-given desire we all share, but I’ll spare you. Or maybe just save it for another day…

Here We Go!

Making brunch. Spring 2009.
Thank you, God, for giving us a bigger kitchen!

I have several friends who, for quite a while now, have been strongly encouraging me to spend more time with my blog, and to write more about daily life. I can’t possibly fathom why they think it would be so interesting to read. Granted, we aren’t exactly your every day, mainstream family. And we’re certainly juggling a lot right now. So maybe they just want a good laugh from the shenanigans that I lovingly refer to as my life. Who knows? But, somehow, they’ve talked me into it, and here I am.

I have to admit, I’m a little perplexed as how to approach this whole ordeal. I’ve mentioned before that, despite the enjoyment I find in my blog, I find the whole blogging concept to be a little strange. Especially for a fairly private person like me. Not to mention, I’m not really sure how to approach sharing our everyday life in such a forum. If I’m excited about something that’s going well, I suspect it will come off as if I’m bragging. And, if I share something we’re really struggling with, I fear it will only fuel my critics’ fire. I can already hear them saying, “Well if you just wouldn’t __________, then you wouldn’t have to deal with _______.” Sure, some of the choices we make bring us different problems than other families face, but I’m of the belief that there’s no such thing as an easy life. Regardless of your circumstance, there are challenges, and I believe we’re better people for it. If we made different choices, we’d just have different struggles. I don’t think that’s rocket science, but that won’t stop those who seem to get such endless pleasure out of wagging their fingers at me.

Anyway, I guess I wrote all that to say, I’m going to attempt to share more about our day-to-day life. I’m a little nervous about it, and I certainly can’t promise it will be worth reading, but nevertheless… Here we go! :)

Virtual Exhibitionism

It’s recently occurred to me how strange blogging really is. Especially for me. Believe it or not I’m actually a pretty private person. In fact, when Josh and I first got married, that was a frequent cause for “disagreement.” His family is very open and will share, and ask you to share, all kinds of information. In the beginning, I felt like Josh was sharing way too much of our personal business, and, as I said, there was “disagreement.” So how ridiculous is it that, now, I engage in this virtual exhibitionism we so lovingly refer to as blogging.

When I first started my blog, it was just a new way to journal. I’ve always loved journaling, so why not do it online? Less hand cramps, right? Then, as is the nature with blogs, people started reading it. For the most part it’s a bunch of anonymous someones and a few people I know. I was ok with that, even liked it. I thought it was a lot of fun to see how many people read my babblings on any given day and even more fun to get a comment or two. Now, I’m starting to feel a little embarrassed and insecure about it.

I think maybe it comes from the recent local “notoriety” I’ve stumbled into. When we are out and about running errands, people always see me. Sometimes they come up and say hi. Sometimes they just tell me after the fact that they saw me at whatever location on whatever day. (At which point I start frantically searching my mind, Was I yelling at my kids? Was I being snippy with my husband? Had I even showered that day? Just kidding…sort of…) Sometimes I don’t even know the person who is talking to me until they introduce themselves. I don’t mind any of that. I’m in ministry and can’t really do any ministry without someone to minister to. But I’m still getting used to the fact that people know me even when I don’t know them.

That’s kind of how it’s been all along here on my blog but (and I don’t at all mean this offensively) you are all just virtual anonymous someones, not my neighbors, people who go to my church, and parents of the kids entrusted to me. It kind of freaks me out that someone could see me at Target, identify me, and  “know” things about me based on what I publish on the internet. Obviously, I don’t publish things that I wouldn’t want people to know, but it just seems a little strange. It kind of makes me feel naked. Actually, it’s more like knowing that some people possess x-ray glasses that are disguised to look like regular glasses. You would never know if that person could see right through you or not. I don’t use that analogy to imply I put up a front for people. It’s just the best I could come up with. You know how people never talk to you about the things they hear about you? Well, yeah, I don’t want to fuel that fire.

I’m not saying I’m going to quit blogging or anything . I like my blog, even though I often neglect it. I just think people should say if their reading your blog, not just lurk in the shadows collecting information about you. That kind of creepy. But, then again, so is exhibitionism.

Changing Pace

So it’s time to break from the happy family updates for a few opinion pieces. Lately, I’ve been so overwhelmed with the blessings God has been pouring over us that I haven’t had much time or desire to reflect on the less than beautiful and often times heart wrenching things that are allowed and even encouraged in our world. Today, however, I think I have the perfect blend of hormonal crankiness, avoidance for all the housework that needs to be done, annoyance at the kids who just can’t seem to settle down after our minivacation, frustration at the lack of acceptable food in the pantry/refrigerator, exhaustion from being unable to catch up on sleep after our minivacation, and simply being so overwhelmed at all I have going on that I would employ any tactic necessary to procrastinate just five more minutes to be willing to devote several entries to the selfish morons in this world. If you plan to continue reading what I post today, I suggest you brace yourself. There will be no relativism found here. I realize that people have different opinions than me and I don’t care. I have no intention of being the tiniest bit sensitive to the “other side.” Today, I’m just fed up. Today, you’re just going to get the truth. Today, I plan to unload a thing or two.

WordPress Blog App!!

Much to my delight, I found a wordpress app on my android marketplace. I couldn’t have found it at a better time, since I haven’t gotten around to setting up internet service at our house. But because I’m not exactly “short winded” and typing long messages on my phone isn’t something I enjoy, I’ve got a long list of blogs waiting in the wings for when I do get the internet up and running. They include: “Our First DIY Project: How Not to Stain a Fence”, something about our experience at the country meat market, and a commentary on “the pill’s” 50th birthday. I know you’re as anxious to read said entries as I am to write them. In the meantime I’ll have to settle for quick little entries from my fabulous app on my phone. It’s a good thing too. I think I was starting to have withdrawals from blogging. Somehow it’s become one of my favorite indoor hobbies.

Reasons I Will Never “Make It” As a Blogger

As I was laying awake in bed last night, I found myself pondering the reasons I’ll never “make it” in the blogging world. I was amused by my little epiphany, so in case you’ve mistakenly overestimated my potential, let me fill you in.

1. My blog doesn’t have a general topic of interest. Two of my favorite blogs to visit are about something, Conversion Diary and Young House Love. While visiting these blogs, I’ve fallen in love with the writing or perhaps the writers and thus the blog. What are these topics that keep me coming back for more? Conversion Diary is the story of a former atheist who found herself searching for meaning in her life. The blog documents her journey and she continues updating it regularly. Young House Love is about a young newlywed couple and all of their amazing home renovation projects. In both instances what originally hooked me? The topic. I don’t have one of those. I write about whatever is on my mind in no particular order. Reason number one I’ll never find fame and fortune as a blogger: I don’t have a topic or even the slightest desire to commit to a single topic. I’m just more well-rounded than that. ;)

2. I’m nobody special. Well, of course I’m special, but I’m not someone who is well-known. Patrick Madrid’s blog comes to mind. His blog is random like mine, no general topic or theme. So why do people visit his blog? Because it’s his. People have read his books or heard him speak. They’re so sold on the guy that they’ll visit his blog to see what he has to say, regardless of  the topic. Reason number two I’m not destined to have a world-famous blog: because I’m just me. Despite being a hero to my kiddos, most people don’t revere me, let alone know who I am. Thus, at present, I can’t draw readers simply because I’m awesome.

3. My life isn’t extraordinary. Some moms have been known to start a blog just to keep friends and family updated on daily happenings. Mom reasons she can write story after story about her little gems, her misadventures as a mom, and whatever else is relevant to her family without boring people to tears or clogging up their inboxes. She writes until her heart’s content, but family and friends only have to read as much as they want and only when they’re interested.

Somehow, whether it’s because this mom’s life is a step above the majority’s or perhaps she just has a knack for writing about it like it is, she starts drawing more and more readers and eventually sponsors. Before she knows it, her little blogging hobby has become a career. So why can’t I stumble into success?  Well, I suppose I could, but these moms started writing to their family and friends. I doubt my family and friends even know I have a blog, much less read it. I write to no one or some days many anonymous someones. They come to read  a specific entry, but their love for me or my kids won’t bring them back for more. Reason number three advertisers won’t be begging to pay me to keep on doing what I’m doing: I don’t have a loyal (or guilt-ridden, as the case may be) fan base to launch me into notoriety.

The good news is I didn’t start my blog to make money or gain recognition. I write my little blog as a sounding board. When lacking other adults to share my prodigious insights with or simply feeling as if making my message public could make a difference, I have a venue to give voice to my thoughts. I find this invaluable. One can only call her girlfriends so many times before they start asking, “Is Josh working 16 hours again today?” Busted. “Well, yeah he is, but I really just wanted to see what you’re up to, Jenny.” She knows better. She knows I’m bored or have a thought that’s a little above my four-year-old’s comprehension level.

Joking aside, how does one determine success? By setting goals. My goal was to have a virtual sounding board, to have a spot where I could selfishly go on and on and not have to ask about little Adam’s potty training. That’s what I have here. A returning, captive audience was never my goal. Obtaining that would indeed be some kind of success in its own right, but lacking that definitely does not mean I’m lacking success. I’m successful in that I’ve achieved exactly what I set out to achieve, and I enjoy every keystroke.