Blog Birthday, My Birthday

Eight years ago today I gave birth. No, not to a baby. A blog was born!

I kind of can’t believe I’ve been blogging here for eight whole years. When I started I knew nothing about the blogging world or social media. All I knew was that I missed writing. I kept journals off and on throughout my life. And this was a way to start that process again. I love to look back and read my thoughts. Some of it is painful. But that’s just life. If you’re gonna live, I mean really live, you’re gonna go through some pain.

I feel like I’ve come so far. I’ve learned so much about writing. And so much about myself.

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I never thought that blogging here could lead to a full-time career in writing and social media. But I’m convinced that the work I put in here and on other websites is what got me hired. With the job I have now I write, blog and manage social media for a living. It’s seriously amazing. I love LOVE LOVE my job! And I really feel like I have this blog to thank for starting it all.

I will say that with all the changes in my life over the last few years, I don’t write here as often as I’d like. If there’s one thing I wish it would be that I could plan ahead a little better. Be more strategic. Keep a working calendar. It’s really not my thing to be so organized. But I’d like to try. I don’t ever want to forget this little space that has brought about so many wonderful things in my life, including some amazing and supportive friends.

Because of this blog I have friends all over the world! You’ve supported my writing, my hopes and dreams and my family. You’ve encouraged me when life got hard. I really can’t ask for much more than that. Thank you, today and always.

Happy Birthday, Mollywood.

 

p.s. Tomorrow I turn 36-years-old. I’m half okay with it and half really scared to keep getting older. The wrinkles, guys. And the white hairs! Just being honest.

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Blogging when your babies aren’t babies anymore

Something has been bothering me for a long time. You see, two of my babies aren’t babies anymore. As we got closer to Landon starting Kindergarten everything in my being said, you can no longer write about him. I think there are many bloggers out there who feel that way as their babies grow up in the “spotlight” of a blog.

I have blogged ad nauseum about my kids on this blog. And yes, they could someday find what I’ve written about them. Friends and teachers could also find what I’ve written about them. Slowly I started to feel less comfortable with this.

But at the same time – this blog is my story. Not every story, of course, because ain’t no blogger got time for that. But I feel like I have always been open and honest about both the joys and challenges of parenting.

I’ve told you about Landon’s less than stellar reaction when he met his little brother for the first time. Oh, boy.

I’ve told you about the range of emotions we dealt with between the ages of three and four. Oooooh, boy.

I’ve told you about accidents resulting in less teeth and our first experience with a child needing stitches.

I have always thought of this blog as a virtual hope chest for my kids. I may not have kept up with baby books. But there is plenty of my love right here for them to see. My heart resides here in this online space.

So what’s a blogger to do? I want to continue telling my stories but I also want to protect my children’s stories.

What has really brought this to the forefront is I want to tell you how Landon is doing with school. It is a big deal, the first child starting school. Yet, I struggle with writing about him. I want to remember these experiences. But maybe he won’t want to remember some of them. And maybe he wouldn’t appreciate me putting it out there. But I feel like writing about it is how I get through things. It’s how I put all my feelings about there and then everything makes more sense somehow.

We had Landon’s first parent/teacher conference last week. He is doing wonderful. I didn’t really expect the teacher to say anything else. He is exceeding all expectations and his teacher thinks he is sure to be a leader at school. This makes me so proud. But at the same time I needed to be honest with her. Things at home haven’t been going so well. When I told her about his behavior at home she said, “Are you sure we’re talking about the same kid?!”

Exactly. He is like two different children! I would be upset if I weren’t so confused. I thought the behavior would get better as he settled into a new routine. Unfortunately, it has just gotten worse. And my heart hurts that he is struggling with these BIG emotions that I can’t seem to make smaller no matter what I do.

I have never been one of those parents who reads parenting books. But last night I found myself on Amazon researching book after book because I’m desperate to get my happy little guy back at home. I know his world has been turned upside down in the last year. We added a new person to our family who still requires a lot of my attention. And he’s going to school five days a week, which he has never done before. His life is so different than it was before. I’m not mad or upset with him. I’m not disappointed. I tell him I love him no matter what he says or does. That will never ever change.

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I guess this is just a tough phase. It makes it even tougher that he’s growing up and he has this entire part of his life that I’m not there for anymore.

So what’s a mom who blogs to do? If he has a life apart from me should my blog be a part of them?

I really don’t know how to write this . . .

I really don’t know how to write this post. To be completely honest – I’m probably gonna muck this up and make some people feel worse. But I really really need to try to say this.

I haven’t written in over a week. It’s mostly because I’m busy. But there is another reason. I recently wrote a post called Our Table is Full. Now, I’m not the best writer on the internet (shocking, I know). But I had been trying for three months to put into words what it was like to go from two kids to three kids and I was happy when I pressed publish because I finally felt like I nailed it. And I had even spell-checked, which at this juncture in life is a huge accomplishment. At one point I had a journalism degree on the wall and an AP Style Manual on my bookshelf. They are probably in the basement with the boxes we haven’t unpacked when we moved three years ago. Ahem.

Anyway, I shared the post on my blog’s Facebook page. And it was shared by a few other people. And before I knew it – it had become one of my most popular posts I’ve ever written. It didn’t go viral or anything. But I was proud. I felt like I had written something that many people could relate to and appreciate. To a smaller blogger I will liken this to a dessert buffet. I’ll have one of each, thank you very much.

So I spent the day feeling pretty awesome as the hits to my blog kept rising.

Then in the wee hours of the morning I received an email from a reader of my blog. She started out by telling me that she has always liked my blog, rarely ever comments (who does anymore?), but my post had rubbed her the wrong way. She wondered how I could have the nerve to write such an insensitive post when so many women out there would LOVE to have even one child but can’t. She told me that she got the general gist of what I was trying to say but that I needed to be more sensitive to others who will never have a “full table.”

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Maybe I deserved that? Believe me, I have now read over that post at least 100 times because overanalyzing is my thing. I’m really good at spending inordinate amounts of time on things I can’t change.

I have been blogging for more than seven years. And in that time I have read hundreds of heartbreaking posts from my blog friends who have endured things I can’t even imagine. Infertility, miscarriages, stillbirths, the deaths of their sick children, the deaths of their healthy children, the deaths of their husbands, friends, mothers, fathers, siblings, pets. Loss of sanity, loss of jobs, loss of homes, loss of limbs (no really), loss of finances, loss of businesses, loss of marriages. I’m not kidding when I say that I have literally wept so many tears for these friends, most of whom I have never even met. My heart drops into my stomach every time I open my reader and realize I’m reading, again, about someone else’s suffering. Oh, this world makes me hurt sometimes.

Is my sadness enough to take away your pain? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But I want you to know that I internalize the pain of others. I think of those who are hurting often. There happen to be people in my life who are hurting right now. It pains me to know that I can’t solve their problems. Knowing if I had the answers for them and the power to change their circumstances, I would do it in an instant. I really would.

I’m not trying to be defensive about receiving an email from a reader that didn’t care for how I worded something. It has happened before and I’m sure it will happen again. But I’m kind of stuck as to an answer. If I wrote so as not to offend a single person – then I wouldn’t be able to write about much of anything, you know?

I can’t write about politics because, whooooo boy, no one can agree about anything when it comes to the U.S. government, amiright?

I can’t write about my parenting philosophies because if there is one thing that brings out the internet snark it’s parenting. (seriously, if I see one more post about what I am/am not supposed to do as a mother I’m going to throw something).

I can’t write about God because there are a million different faiths, man. And I might offend someone if I write the word Jesus.

And I can’t write about transitioning from a family of two to three because someone out there doesn’t have what I have. And they think I’m not grateful enough to deserve it.

Wait, what?

Look, I’ll admit to being a little nervous whenever I post a photo of my kids on instagram. I know that many of the women who follow me have had miscarriages and/or lost a baby in the last year. My heart absolutely aches for them.

But can my heart not ache for them and celebrate my joys at the same time without being insensitive? I still love those friends and care about their sorrows.

The truth is I’m happy, guys. Really really happy. It hasn’t always been like this. Please accept my apology if I lay it on kinda thick right now. My guess is that we will all suffer terrible losses in our lives. We don’t know how or when. But if I live long enough, which I hope I do, I’ll surely lose people I love. Hell, I already have. Twice. It’s just math. And it scares the crap out of me.

On my commute home yesterday there was a terrible three-car accident. I saw a silver minivan mashed up in the grass on the side of the highway and cops standing all around. Don’t think for one second that I didn’t put myself in their place and lose my breath over the fact that my happiness could be ripped away at any moment. It’s a sobering thought and one I have to try really hard not to have all the time. Hooray, anxiety!

I think I just keep writing this post now because I’m trying to end it on a positive note. And a car accident isn’t exactly positive so keep going, Molly. Wrap it up.

Anyway, if you’re out there and my post hurt you, I’m so sorry. All I’ve ever tried to do on this blog was spread that “hey, we’re all in this together even when it’s crappy” message.

I’ve shared my joys, my sorrows and even some of my deepest secrets with the internet world. Smart? Probably not. Therapeutic? Yes, yes, yes. I shared that my table may be full now but it wasn’t always that way. And for anyone out there who wants a full table but doesn’t have one – I hope so much for you that all your dreams come true someday soon. It hurts my heart that you may be out there alone and aching. I wish I could take it away or hold your hand while you cry.

The email definitely made me think about how I will post things in the future. But I hope you’ll also give me the freedom to keep posting my joys and my sorrows just as I would give you that freedom in your own space.

Thoughts on blogging after seven years

I know, I know. I’m breaking the cardinal rule of blogging, which is don’t blog about blogging! Oops. But I have to get some thoughts out there.

In December I had my 7th blogging anniversary. That seems like a heck of a long time when I actually write it out. Even after all the years I’ve invested in this little space I still wouldn’t consider myself an expert. There are definitely things I could learn more about and improve upon. For instance – SEO. I know the basics. But there could be so much more to gain if I really delved into the meat of it. I just don’t have the time. I guess having three kids in the span of six years will do that to ya.

When I look back at my blog over the past year I feel disappointed. I know I shouldn’t as there was a lot going on. But I had so many plans. So many things I wanted to write about. I didn’t even write about my third and final pregnancy all that much. But I think I should probably give myself a break.

Although I had a healthy baby and a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy, I was still sick through a lot of it. Morning, noon and night sickness for the first four months. Then the boys got sick in October. Then I got sick in November and it just never stopped until I had the baby. There was really no way I could blog consistently because I honestly didn’t have the energy. But I feel like I missed a lot of opportunities to write.

When you don’t blog consistently you lose readership. I feel like I’ve lost a lot of my readers over the past couple of years. It’s difficult to keep up the constant pace of updating social media. If you want people to visit your blog you have to comment on other blogs, and post to Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. I used to be better at it all. I used to spend gobs of my free time doing all of this. But somewhere along the way I lost interest. Oh, I still try. But my blog stats are certainly not what they used to be. I know I shouldn’t care about that stuff because in the grand scheme who really cares, right? I’m trying really really hard not to care about how few comments my posts receive. But it’s nice to receive feedback when you write something. Comments help keep you motivated to continue.

I have thought numerous times about shutting this whole blog thing down. In fact, when one of my favorite bloggers recently left the blogging world, it made me seriously consider following her lead. I thought about how we were getting ready to add another child to the mix and how my time to blog would dwindle even further than it already has. It made sense that it might finally be time to say goodbye.

But here’s the thing . . .

When I think about not blogging the first emotion I feel is sadness. I feel really sad when I think about not coming here and writing. And I think I know why. There are very few things that I do for myself anymore. Actually, this may be the ONLY thing I do for myself. I don’t really go shopping for myself. I don’t get manicures and pedicures. I don’t travel that much or take classes. Blogging is MY THING. My one thing that I do for me. My one thing that I enjoy for myself.

Sure, it has changed over the years. I went from having about three readers to thousands and back down again. But if I’m going to keep going I have to learn to accept it and move on.

When I attended Influence Conference there was one main message I took from the speakers – we all have influence. Every single blogger out there has influence. Even if only one person reads what I write – maybe it was that one person who was meant to see it. And if that’s the case then I can keep going.

In the weeks to come I hope to simplify my blog a bit. It probably won’t be as fancy as my first “rebrand” but I’m over all that fussiness. I just want this space to be authentic. I want to take a couple weeks off when things get crazy and then come back and say, “Ugh, guys, what a week it’s been!” and you’ll all nod along because you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Stay tuned for the new Mollywood. I’m free to be me – no matter how many people are reading.

Walmart Family Mobile Cheap Wireless Plans

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I love my parents but man, do they need to upgrade their cell phones. They’ve been talking about it for over a year now. Right now they have very basic phones through their service provider. I’m not even sure they can take pictures with them, which is sad since they have five grandchildren (soon to be six!).  And they are old phone versions too that don’t work very well. So when I signed up for the Walmart Family Mobile campaign I knew exactly who would be getting a new smart phone for Christmas!

I’m going to start this little experiment by first giving a phone to my dad. Both of my parents are in their late sixties and they are not the most efficient at technology (sorry, mom and dad, but it’s true). I was pretty darn proud when my mom signed up for Facebook though. Hey, it’s a start! But now I want them to be able to access the internet with ease through their phones! And I want them to be able to save some money too. I feel like they are being overcharged for their current service. I want to provide them with an unlimited plan with talk, text and data but with no contract to lock them in.

For this shopping trip I knew I would be venturing into Walmart during prime shopping season right before Thanksgiving. Just the thought was making me panic and sweat a little bit. I loathe crowded stores and try to avoid them at all costs! I decided to be smart and go early on a Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. I made my way to the back of the store where the wireless section is located. I had never been to this section of Walmart. When I got there I found it to be bright and cheery. And then I realized there was no one there except me. I looked around and found this sign.

#familymobilesaves #shop

I suddenly realized I was an hour too early. Womp, womp. I was in a hurry to get to work and I was a little upset thinking about leaving without my product and having to come back at a much busier time. But then a Walmart employee approached the desk. I politely asked if she would be able to help me even though I was an hour too early. I expected a negative response but much to my surprise she told me she would ring me up anyway! I told her exactly what I needed. The Concord smartphone and $25 starter kit. It was fun looking at all the different phones and cheap wireless plan choices. I know how much my parents pay and I realized how much money they would be saving if I purchased this phone and plan for them.

#familymobilesaves #shop

As the nice employee was making some notes for me on how to connect the service to the phone, I was browsing around looking at the wireless section of the store. I was impressed by how well-lit, organized and clean it was. Now, I’m sure it won’t be like that in a few days what with Black Friday coming and all. But I enjoyed the quiet, organized store while I could.

#familymobilesaves #shop

Now I am so excited to give my dad his new smartphone for Christmas! And if it works out I plan to buy a matching phone for my mom! They can manage their account easily online and I know they will be so happy to receive this as a gift. Heck, I think I might be happier to give them an upgrade and save them money! ‘Tis the season for giving!

#familymobilesaves #shop