It's been a while since any cans of worms were opened around here. Today seems like as good a time as any.
Sundays in Lent seem to be a genuine source of confusion among Catholics. Both the "I don't cheat on Sundays" people and the "Sundays don't count" people believe that Church teaching is on their side. Or perhaps they just think there isn't a formal Church teaching on it, so it is a matter on which good Catholics are allowed to disagree.
I have a blog. Maybe you do too. My blog happens to have recently had a Lent-related explosion of popularity. But don't worry, I'm not going to get too big for my britches. I'm not even going to talk about my blog today. Today, I'm going to tell you the things I love about YOUR blog.
1. It Has Content
Maybe some days your blog is about your field trip to the cracker factory or a bunch of pictures of a particularly crazy bug you saw, but it's not ALWAYS about that. Your blog isn't all mashed potatoes, it's also meat. You write content. You share your opinions.
I don't have to always agree with you. Sometimes it's even better if I don't. If I always agree with you, when I comment it has to be something like "Awesome, this is so great." When I don't agree with you, I get to try to craft the perfect comment that will change your whole worldview and entertain you while doing it. So fun.
Sometimes you share reviews and giveaways with your readers, but those aren't the majority of your posts. When I click over to your blog, I know I'm going to get to read something worth reading.
2. It Doesn't Hate Comments
Speaking of comments . . . Captcha. How I do hate thee. I'll carefully two-finger type out one of those finely crafted comments mentioned above, hit publish, then -- BAM. I have to prove I'm not a robot. I already wrote a WHOLE POST proving that I'm not a robot. I don't think I should have to squint at those dumb little numbers.
So then I have to decide, do I take a stand against captcha and just navigate away? Do I teach that blog a lesson it'll never know about? But what if I really LIKE my comment?
YOU don't do that to me. YOU understand that I don't need that kind of angst. You are willing to put up with the spam comments, because you are a BLOGGER and that's what bloggers do.
Pro tip (because I like you so much): ever since I disabled anonymous comments I get almost NO spam. It's an extra step for people once, to sign up for an account, but then it's all one step commenting after that.
I love that reading your blog makes me feel like I actually know you. I like that there's a picture of you on the sidebar so that I have a face to put with the stories. Also, your email address is there, just in case I'd like to get in touch. Even though I probably won't. It's just nice to know it's there.
I really, really, really (did I mention, really?) like that you don't have cutesy nicknames for your kids. If your children are named Pete, and Susie, and Peggy, I think it's really swell if you call them Pete, and Susie, and Peggy on your blog. I'm okay with you calling them Steve, and Clara, and Katie on your blog. I'm fine with you just not mentioning them, if that's not the kind of blog you write.
I'm just so very glad that you understand how awkward it is for your readers if you insist upon calling them The Conductor, and Smarty Pants, and Miss Wigglebottom. I just. I just can't write those "names" in a comment.
I'm so glad there are no walls between us.
4. It's Nice to Look At
I like that your blog is uncluttered. It has some some open space. Your sidebars aren't crammed full of pictures of other people's blogs and buttons for blog awards that are really just chain letters. You have some ads if you must. You grab a button or two for a favorite link-up. You display an award of which you are particularly proud (I do) but overall, you have a professional, uncluttered look.
You would never randomly center your text. You know that centered text is disconcerting and hard to read. Your posts have a readable font, short paragraphs, uniform formatting, and are illustrated with something. Your own photos, memes, whatever. Reading nothing but words seems like homework.
5. It Displays a Certain
Command of the Written Word
Proofreading. You do it. You ask someone else to read it. Maybe you even sit on it for a day before you hit publish. But you don't write posts full of errors. Because that would drive people nuts.
Blogging is fun and community and interaction, but first and foremost it is writing. It's more casual than some writing, certainly. Sometimes, we bloggers use funny made up words or sentence fragments so that our posts will read more like speech. More like talking to a friend. (See what I did there?)
But I know how hard you try to write well and to avoid spelling and punctuation errors. I appreciate your efforts.
By the way, I realize that typing this paragraph virtually guarantees that there are spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors in this post. It would be lovely if you would email me to point them out.
6. It Appears to be Written by a Lady
Some folks seem to feel the need to prove to the world that they're not just one of those lame Catholic Mom Bloggers by peppering their posts with . . .
You're not like that. Your sophisticated command of the English language means you have thousands, nay, tens of thousands of words at your disposal. I love reading all of them. Also, you almost never tell stories about poop.
7. It's Fun
This is probably what I love the most about your blog. Maybe it's laugh out loud funny, or maybe it's just sweet. But it never takes itself too seriously. You know how to discuss important topics without weighing them down. You know that just because practicing our faith and raising our families are the most important things we'll probably ever do doesn't mean we have to be big ol' downers about it.
So that's it. That's why I love your blog. Keep up the good work.
Pshew, we did it. It took a whole day, and we didn't get ANY schoolwork done (double day tomorrow!) but we went to Mass, got our ashes, decorated the house for Lent, and . . . Cleaned Out the Toys! Here's our day in pictures . . .
Don't look now, but Lent is nearly upon us. Here are a few ways to make sure we get to the end of these 40 days a bit holier than we were when we started.
1. Choose Lent Disciplines that Challenge You
It took me a while to understand that tendency folks seem to have of choosing mortifications that we kind of wanted to do anyway. Personally, I have to watch how I do fasting. I don't have a particular attachment to food and since childhood I've never cared much for meat.
So for me to put great focus on fasting or giving up meat for Lent wouldn't be very productive, especially if I allowed myself to feel awfully proud of what a terrific job I was doing. And especially if I focused on that instead of other disciplines that would help with areas of my own character which need more work.
Don't adjust your screens ladies and gentlemen (mostly ladies), you read that correctly. I am getting rid of our toys. WITH MY KIDS' BLESSING!
Last year's big toy closet organization scheme helped. But the playroom is still a major source of heartache and tears and shouting in our home. We had a family meeting and the kids agreed that it would be a good experiment to get rid of the toys and see how we like life without them. When my now big kids were all little, they were supposed to keep their toys cleaned up, but mostly I did it. We lived in a much smaller house, we had fewer people, and fewer toys. But now? I no longer have the time or the inclination to clean up the kids' toys and keep them organized. I have nine people to feed, and four people to educate, and thousands of people to regale with stories about horse baby food ('of' not 'for,' unfortunately). And books about confession
don't write themselves, people. And where we used to have one or two bins of toys, we now have . . . twelve. And that's AFTER the big Lent clean out last year AND a small Advent purge. The big kids resent having to clean up messes they didn't make, and the new little kids aren't any better at cleaning up after themselves than the old little kids were. Something's got to give.
It was time. It was really time. I have a purse I love, that I am so excited to pull out every fall. But it was full of junk. Full. of. junk. Time for a big purse dump. And since I have a blog, you get to share the fun . . .
Here is my purse:
At 11.2 lbs, it is the second heaviest thing I carry around all day.
Here are its contents:
Here is a closer look:
Here are the details: 1. Diapers: In sizes newborn, 1, 2, and 4 because apparently I'm never quite sure what size my baby is going to be that day. Also, no wipes. Yikes. 2. Random miscellaneous items: Embroidery floss, folding scissors, a magnetic rock with four safety pins stuck to it, a rubber band, and a nail made by a blacksmith at the LA County Fair in 2012. You just never know when something like that is going to come in handy. 3. Rosaries: A rosary is a good thing to have in your purse. I like to multitask, so I almost always say my rosary while driving, or running, or standing in line somewhere. I am also very distractable, so it's nearly impossible for me to say a rosary without holding a rosary. But perhaps I don't absolutely need to be carrying around seven rosaries at all times. 4. Trash: Including leaves, popcorn, receipts, shopping lists, coupons, and delicious looking wrappers. 5. Electronics: I carry my iPad around almost all the time in case I get a chance to read (I do almost all of my reading in iBooks now) or write (in notepad).
And that's my phone. It's all retro Paris Hilton circa 2006, so try not to be too jealous. 6. Money: My wallet, checkbook (also old school), and the $14.71 I found floating around in there. 7. Writing utensils: That's eleven pens and pencils. Eleven. In the event of a zombie apocalypse I will be able to take a lot of notes about the zombie apocalypse. 8. Paperwork: I carry all the kids' shot records everywhere I go because otherwise there is no chance I would ever have them with me when we went to the pediatrician's office. Plus Southwest accepts them as proof of age for lap babies. Two birds, one stone. Also in there, some old appointment reminder cards, used theme park tickets, and a very mangled examination of conscience. 9. Baby clothes: One set of jammies, two onsies, two hats, three pairs of socks, and one stowaway nursing pad. 10. Camera stuff: Spare battery and extra lens for my camera, and a spare memory card for a different camera that I haven't used in a year. Plus my camera was in there too, here is its selfie:
11. Food: I once read a story about a little old couple who got stuck in a snow bank and survived for weeks on catsup packets they found in the car. I wonder how long a family of nine could survive on two suckers, one squeezie applesauce, and three packages of fruit snacks. 12. Beauty products: Tissues, lip gloss, bandaids, hair band? Reasonable so far. Sunscreen, various creams and hand lotions? Okay, maybe. It IS Southern California.
Nail file and clippers? I'm a sometimes nail biter and those things will maybe MAYBE stop me from biting all of my nails off at the moment I notice one of them touching the side of my finger, so those should be in there. Vick's inhaler? Helps with the pregnancy nausea I had just last, um, seven months ago. Floss? Hmmm, not usually an on-the-go activity.
Two bars of soap? Free samples from the doctor's office. I am so not a bring-your-own-soap places kind of mom.
And then . . . there's the giant comb.
And I . . . I just don't know. Seriously. I have no idea. I wouldn't have thought there was a giant black comb in my whole house, let alone in my purse. It looks like it belongs in the mysterious blue liquid at a barber shop. 13. Dinosaurs. And a tiny sword: No explanation necessary I think. 14. Books: February Magnificat, good to have. January Magnificat, not so much. The Holy Spouses Rosary, recommended to me by my friend Micaela . . .
15. Project: In case the rosaries, iPad, pens and pencils, and dinosaurs aren't enough to keep me occupied, I also have this:
It's my favorite thing in here: The ice cream sandwich? But that's gone. I'll have to go with the baby quilt. I really like the colors.
Wow, I really have a lot of these: I have kind of a lot of lots of things I wasn't expecting. Bars of soap, diapers, safety pins, fruit snacks, pens and pencils, but I'm going to have to go with rosaries. That is a LOT of rosaries.
I've been looking for those: The $14.71? No, I didn't know that was missing. The nail I guess. I think I remember it being up on the shelf above where I keep my purse. But I couldn't say I'd really been looking for it.
Huh. THAT shouldn't be in there: Almost everything, but mostly that comb.
I switched purses to something a little more "late winter/early spring" and put only the least crazy stuff back in there (plus some wipes), and now it only weights 7.6 lbs.
Okay, YOUR turn. Dump out your purse and let me know your answers to the official categories, or categories of your own choosing. You can answer in the comments, or link up your blog.