Blogging


Yesterday was a rare day with no kid activities after school or in the evening. My husband arrived home from a trip and offered to make dinner. All of the kids had homework and after a quick snack, everyone went to their rooms to work on it. What was I going to do with myself? The laundry was done and so were the dishes. I was caught up on my email and nothing was happening on Facebook. Sadly, I gave up Pinterest for Lent so that was not an option. And then I remembered – my blog.

I know I have neglected my blog. Having a free afternoon gave me the opportunity to look over some of the things I wrote over the past few years. Wow! I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I forgot about some of those crazy moments and enjoyed reading about them again. I used to write regularly, but then I just stopped. What happened to me?

I am still writing – just not blog posts. I write every morning before my day gets started, but this time I am getting paid to write. For those of you that don’t know, I have been writing for regional parenting publications. My work has been published 46 times in over two dozen magazines in the US and Canada since October. It has been a thrilling time as I am writing, submitting, networking and learning as I go!

But even with my exciting new adventure, I still miss my blog. I can’t tell you how many times I encountered something in my life in these past few months and thought, “That would make a great blog post.”

It was my blog that pushed me to submit some of my work. I got a lot of encouragement from my readers over the past couple of years. I remember one moment in particular. I was standing in the elementary school gym, talking with a few other moms. It was a school carnival and my son dashed back and forth from the games to bring me his prizes to hold. While I was talking, one of the moms said how much she enjoyed my blog post that day. The other mom chimed in that she read it too, and they discussed it for a couple of minutes. A third mom walked by and overheard us talking. She stopped and said, “Pam’s blog? I love reading it.” I was so touched to have these women say such nice things about my writing. I read the stats on my blog, but I never realized that so many people read my posts on a regular basis. The women went on to say that I should try to get some of my work published. At the time, I shrugged them off, thinking there was no way that was going to happen. But it was too late. The seed was already planted. (Thank you, Nina and Shannon. You may not remember that moment, but it is one that I will never forget.)

Sadly, after that, my blog(s) took a backseat to my article writing. (In addition to this blog, I have a food blog at wineanddinewithus.wordpress.com.) After reading my old posts yesterday, I made a decision. In the words of Elwood Blues, “I am putting the band back together.” As I said, I have so much fodder for this blog as a suburban working mom and I love to share the recipes on my food blog. I am going to make an effort to post at least once a week in each blog, so keep an eye out for it. If you don’t already do so, you can follow my blog(s) via email, Facebook or Twitter. Feel free to leave a comment. You never know how your words can change the course of someone’s life.

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. I never found it to be restful. Sunday is usually the day to play catch up – shopping, homework projects, laundry, yardwork, etc. Even though I told my family that I didn’t want to schedule kid activities on Sunday, somehow all three of my kids have things to do. Even with those activities and catch up time, I try to get us to church. We don’t go every week, but I try to make it a couple times a month at least.

I was raised Catholic. We attended the 10:30 mass every week unless my parents had plans. If that was the case, we went to 4:30 mass the night before. You could only miss mass if you were near death. We sat in the same pew every week. My dad always stood on the aisle with his arms crossed like a guard making sure we didn’t bolt before the priest walked down the aisle at the end of mass. We attended confession every month or so until I got married. To me, it was torture. In 8th grade, I made my Confirmation. It was supposed to be “my” decision to become an adult in the church. When I told my parents that I didn’t want to continue in the Catholic Church, they told me I didn’t have a choice. My mom told me I needed to make my Confirmation in order to get married in the church.

Flash forward seven years. I was engaged (to a non-Catholic) and called the church I grew up in to arrange the wedding. I was told that I could not be married in the church where I attended mass every week. It wasn’t because my fiancé wasn’t Catholic (although that was the case for my grandmothers who married non-Catholics). It was because I chose to get married on a Sunday and the church was too busy. That’s it. When I asked if one of the four priests at the church could come out to marry us in the mansion where we were holding the reception, I was told that the Bishop wouldn’t allow it. As a Catholic, you couldn’t just go to the next church down the road. You had to be a member. I asked my mom what I should do. Together we decided that I should do as my Catholic neighbor did. She was marrying an Atheist and he didn’t want to be married in the Catholic Church. She called the Presbyterians and they gladly married them – no questions asked. Thankfully, they did the same for us. Ironically, on the morning of our wedding, my very Catholic grandmother went to mass at the Catholic Church as if God was not going to be at the Presbyterian Church.

We talked about becoming Presbyterians, but my husband was working retail at the time and he worked on Sundays. After that, I only went to church at Christmas and Easter until my daughter was born. We had her baptized Catholic as that was all I knew. The other two kids were also baptized Catholic and the girls made their Holy Communions at the Catholic Church. I tried to get involved in the church in hopes of embracing the religion as an adult. I taught RE (CCD) for 5 years. I volunteered at VBS. I tried to find a place for myself.

The year that my son was supposed to make his communion, I pulled the plug on the church. I knew he would be whatever his future wife wanted him to be. My kids hated going and so did I. I didn’t feel comfortable, but instead always felt guilt. My family and I went down the street to the Lutheran church (often called “Catholic Lite”). The church has a great youth program. My kids enjoy going. I volunteer regularly. We have all made new friends. I never feel guilt. This church does not have crazy rules. They are very laid back.

This past Sunday, I tested that. We had to go to two services this week. My son was being presented with a bible at the 10:15 service and my oldest daughter was helping to serve at the 11:30 service. However, my kids’ activities all ran during that same time this week. My middle daughter and husband had softball practice on Sunday and they missed the first service. My son and oldest daughter went with me to the first service. As we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that my daughter wore her most “holey” jeans to church. Great! I just made my son change out of his dirty Monster Truck t-shirt before we left. We could only stay 45 minutes before we had to leave for soccer. My son changed into his soccer clothes (that I carried in my purse) and my oldest daughter stayed for the next service. After dropping him at soccer, I returned to the church. Ten minutes into the 11:30 service, my husband dropped off my middle daughter. She arrived in dirty softball cleats. When I shook my head at her, she took them off and wore her socks. Fifteen minutes before the service ended, my middle daughter and I ran back to soccer. After stopping at home to pick up a snack, I flew by the church on two wheels to pick up my oldest daughter and bring her to volunteer at the barn – already an hour late.

By blogging, I put myself out there to be judged, so I expect a few “tsk, tsks”. I am sure there are some of you who would have made the kids go to service regardless of their obligations. There are those of you that would have skipped church altogether because you were too busy. Instead, I chose to fit it all in. I don’t believe God was looking at my family and their choice of outfits and making a judgment. I did not feel any guilt. Guilt is man-made. I believe God was standing at the door like a greeter, watching us come and go. He was smiling and saying, “Thanks for coming today. Thanks for making me a part of your day.”

On Friday night, my husband and I went to a wine tasting sponsored by our church. The church has many “small groups” of people that share a common interest to promote fellowship among the members. We went there knowing a handful of people. By knowing, I mean, we had a conversation at church with them for a few minutes. I actually only knew one other person, but I hadn’t talked to her in a few months.

Although it sounds intimidating to enter a room of strangers for a party, we felt very welcomed. Already, we had a common bond – actually two, if you add the church – so starting conversations was pretty easy. As the night moved on, and the wine flowed, we learned a few things about the other members and everyone shared their best stories. We had a lot of laughs and left there talking about how much we enjoyed ourselves.

Two nights later, we spent the evening with friends and neighbors that we have known since we moved here. We walked into that house like Norm on Cheers. We know their stories, their families, and their kids, as they know ours. Our conversations seem to pick up from the last time we were together – How is your mom doing? How was your job interview? How is your daughter doing on the project at school? We have shared countless good times with these friends and can always count on them.

A year and a half ago, I started a new bunco in my neighborhood consisting of friends of mine that didn’t all know each other. These women were all willing to make new friends, listen to new stories and share some of their own. I am proud to say that these woman bonded and have formed friendships outside of bunco. They started with their common bonds – kids go to same school district, friend of mine – and built from there.

I continue to make new friends through my kids activities and my blogging and reconnect with old friends through Facebook. I have people from my life BC (before children) that I am still friends with today. Our common bonds have changed some, but now we share a history. When asked why I seek new friends all the time, I told them it is because people are interesting and have a story to tell.

So I ask, can you really have too many friends?

A couple weeks ago I was at the library killing time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the library, but this time I was waiting for my daughter’s cello lesson to end so we could go onto the next activity.

I was looking for something new to read so I wandered up and down the aisles. I came across this book that I picked up based on the title “These is my Words” by Nancy E. Turner. The grammar error interested me. I flipped through it and found that it was a historical fiction book written in diary form of a woman living in the Arizona Territories in the late 1800’s. The author based it loosely on her great-grandmother’s life. Bored with Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult, I decided to check it out.

The book sat on my counter for a full week before I even opened it. I hate starting new books. I love being in the middle of a book that is so great, you can’t put it down. This, it turned out, was one of those books.

The main character, Sarah, was a very strong woman, who was not afraid of Indians, men, or hard work. She was an entrepreneur in a world of men, mother, wife and a good shot with a rifle. She loved and lost and buried many family members. Even “living” a hundred years ago, she was very inspiring. After reading this book in less than a week, I was happy to learn that the author wrote two other books about Sarah and her family. Can’t wait to check them out.

For those of you that know me, you would probably agree that I am a passionate person. When I am happy or angry, I tend to get in a big hurry to express that. My blog has become an extension of that passion. I enjoy sharing things that I find interesting, frustrating, inspiring and funny. When I am writing about something I am passionate about, in my haste, I make errors in grammar and spelling.

My husband asked me, “Don’t you proofread?”. Yes, believe it or not, I do. I used to do it for a living. I worked in the printing industry for 18 years. I worked in what is called the Prepress Department. We did all the typesetting, design and plates for the presses. If it was wrong in our department, it was wrong on the press. It is a lot easier to read another person’s work and find errors. It is a whole different story to find your own.

Unfortunately, when you read your own work, you usually read over the errors. The trick when proofreading your own work is to come back with a fresh set of eyes. Come back to it? I am a working mom with three active kids. I have a limited amount of time for each project. I usually finish it and move on.

My errors usually occur when I rewrite part of a sentence and leave in words that should have been taken out. I have also been know to type a similar word (ie loose vs. lose). I could say it is a typo, but it is more like a disconnect in my brain. I know what I want to say. My fingers don’t always get it.

You can’t rely on modern technology. My iPad offers spelling suggestions as you are typing. If you hit the space button, sometimes it types in the word it suggested, whether you wanted it or not. Spell Checker is a great tool, but unfortunately, if you type something that is a real word, it doesn’t underline it. You can see the problem in this poem below:

Eye have a spelling chequer,
It came with my Pea Sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss Steaks I can knot sea.

Eye strike the quays and type a whirred
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am write oar wrong
It tells me straight a weigh.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your shore real glad two no.
Its vary polished in its weigh.
My chequer tolled me sew.

A chequer is a bless thing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right all stiles of righting,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The chequer pours o’er every word
Two cheque sum spelling rule.
(The original version of this poem was written by Jerrold H. Zar in 1992)

In my former life, I worked in the printing industry. I was both a graphic artist and a production coordinator. I worked on both Macs and PCs daily. I was proficient in several different programs – most of which I was self taught. I knew all the keyboard shortcuts and all the acronyms. I was the go-to person before they called in IT. I did all the software installation, back ups and wasn’t afraid to take the cover off the computer and poke around the hardware. I knew my stuff.

Then I burned out. I was done with graphics and everything that went along with it. When I quit my job, I sold my Mac and all the software. I shelved the laser printer, the scanner and several third party items. I kept my PC so my kids had something to use for school and I could check email. It has been four years.

A LOT changes in the tech world in four years. As I am learning more about blogging, I realized that I am no longer fluent in geek. I can probably ask for directions in geek, but I can’t have a conversation with a local. I have to look up acronyms. I am in uncharted waters. Technology has moved on without me.

I am not a complete moron, however. The kids still come to me when the computer, TV and Wii need troubleshooting. Technology is still a big part of our every day. We have five computers, three printers, too many iPods to count and my new iPad so I haven’t totally given up. I am just a little slower on each one.

So now I am back to studying geek again. I am reading books and websites and taking notes. I am posting on forums and learning from “the professionals” (who are probably half my age!). It’s just like riding a bike. Watch out blogosphere, I am back.