Happy Friday – Hiatus Edition

While this week was difficult, there were little moments of joy sprinkled throughout. I realized that our wedding is no longer a vague ways away, but in a few weeks. Despite the stress dreams, I’ve been enjoying the last few bits of planning. Instead of rings, we’ve decided to exchange framed hand-written vows. My mom and I went shopping for accessories. Tomorrow I’m going for a bra fitting. Oh la la!

I’m a natural worrier. I worry about the weather, the violinist who hasn’t emailed me back, and if I’ll like the flowers. The one thing I haven’t worried about is the man I’m marrying. I think that’s the important part.

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

Reading

I’m loving An Unkindness of Ghosts despite having limited reading time. The world building is exquisite and Aster is unlike any other protagonist. Sadly I won’t be getting much extra time to read soon.

Online, I enjoyed Wired’s article about Microsoft’s parental leave requirement for subcontractors. When I had my son, I had to go back to work after about 8 weeks. It was hard enough for me, someone with the luxury of a job sitting at a desk to go back when I did. It’s even harder for people who work on their feet. This line in the article stuck out: “paid family leave was the most desired workplace benefit.” Shout it from the rooftops, people!

One of the hardest things about being a mother is the judgement. We live in a society where nearly every parenting action, particularly of mothers, is scrutinized by others. Kelly in the City’s thoughts on the subject closely mirror my own. I’m so grateful for the judgement-free online community parents I’ve found.

Playing

Battle for Azeroth has been the perfect stress relief this week, particularly getting absorbed in the Nazmir quest chain. I think the fiancé may want to play our Alliance mains with me again soon, but he’s been leveling a shaman.

Tonight we played some Pokemon Go and walked to a small event downtown. The ice cream sandwiches were delicious. I always forget about Pokemon Go as a game I play, as it’s just become a regular part of life. My interest in it has been waning lately. We need some new Pokemon to catch.

A few new games may be in my future. I’m pleased at the news of an upcoming Rusty Lake game. The No Man’s Sky community challenge sounds almost interesting enough for me to buy the game.

Writing

Today marks the end of Blaugust. I’m glad I participated. It was the catalyst for me to launch the blog and a way to connect me to a larger blogging community. However, I have felt pressured to post more, perhaps lower quality posts than I would like. Yesterday I was working on a post and trying to get it finished. Eventually I decided I really wanted to spend more time and thought on the topic and posted some photos of my cat instead. I don’t mind posting (literal, in my cat’s case) fluff and I love injecting some humor in my writing, but some of the topics I want to tackle require more thought. Those posts are going to take longer than a half hour at lunchtime or 45 minutes in the evening to explore.

At the same time I tend to try to be too perfectionist in my writing and sometimes I need to just let go and hit publish.  Perhaps the scales need some time to find the right balance.

Doing

That said: I’ve decided to go on hiatus until around the end of October. I have so many things coming up including my wedding, my honeymoon, a work trip, my son starting a new daycare, and some personal things. If I have extra time, I may spend it working on some of the more in-depth pieces I have brewing in my head so I can finish them when I start back up again.

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Image Source. I gotta bounce, but I’ll be back soon.

I hope you stay in touch! You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Mastodon, or Ravelry if you’re crafty.

If you want to chat, send me a note and we can find each other on Discord, Steam, Battle.net, or some other place. I’m always happy to make new friends.

Sprinkles of joy! Cover photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

 

 

 

Reading, Playing, Writing, Doing – Final Edition

This is going to be the last “Reading, Playing, Writing, Doing” update, but it’s not going away! I’m merging this feature in with Happy Friday. Instead of just a list of links, Happy Friday posts will now include this information about what I’ve been up to. I enjoy writing this more than the link lists. On Friday I look at my Happy Friday draft and see two links in there and then I have to scramble to find more so it feels like a full post.

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Yes, I feel like I’m in one of these things

Reading

I finished Song of Achilles and started An Unkindness of Ghosts. Since I bought a paper copy, I wanted to get my lamp setup for comfortable reading. The outlet was too far from the bed so I looked for an extension cord. My fiancé said there was one in the garage that was nine feet long. While nine feet was too much, he went and got it anyway. It was closer to 20 feet. Too long. I looked behind the bed headboard and, lo and behold, an outlet! The bed had to be moved a little, but now the lamp is in the perfect spot.

Playing

After a cultural victory in Civ 6, I’m finally done with Civ 6. This left more time to play World of Warcraft. Since my fiancé and I are leveling Alliance characters together, I’ve been playing my Horde character solo.  Here she is dressed up like a pirate:

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I love that her ears stick out of her hat!

I’ve been having more fun with the Horde side quests than the Alliance ones. Princess Talanji might be my new favorite character. Sylvanas, who? Forget the Horde, I want to defect and join the Zandalar. Even though I’m a Blood Elf and not a Troll. I’m saving how much fun I’m having in Vol’Dun for another post.

Writing

My main writing accomplishment this week was to complete the outline of the one short story idea I have. It’s about the apocalypse, psychological experimentation, and a strawberry.

Doing

The theme for the week was “meals with relatives.” We made dinner for my uncle who’s officiating our wedding and my aunt. I cooked these herb butter chicken thighs and they were as easy and amazing the second time as the first. We made waffles for breakfast for my parents. Tonight we’re having dinner with my fiancé’s mom and his aunt. For once we’re not cooking!

Yesterday we went to the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. There we picked up some deliciously tart rhubarb jam and smoked salmon. We had brunch at Social, which is one of our favorite places mainly because the first time we were there they gave us two free appetizers. I had the prettiest looking avocado toast ever.

Yes, I took a photo of it which cements me in the “basic millennial” category. It was so good though!

There’s just one strawberry in my story, but I’d probably eat all of these in real life. Cover photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash.

Why I’m [Still] Blogging

Three weeks ago I started this blog. I was flush with ideas. The blog concept had been slowly cooking inside my head for months before and Blaugust got me to take it out of the oven. It was finally ready to be shared. While my posting frequency has waned since the beginning, I’m still here. I have more to say. I’m not going anywhere.

The theme Blaugust this week is Staying Motivated, so I thought I’d explore my motivations for starting and continuing this blog. The main focus of this blog is parenting  in the digital age. I think other parents and I share some common fears about how different technology is now from when we were kids. I want to address some of those. I want to talk about how having an identity as a gamer can mesh with having an identity as a parent.

I want to thank everyone who has commented on and liked my posts so far. It says to me that people are here for what I’m saying, that it has value, and that I should keep doing this. Thank you!

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via Mochimochi Land

I also have more personal reasons for blogging. I can practice my writing in small doses. I’ve been working on a new novel and writing it always feels daunting. It’s just the beginning of something huge. There are emotions to process. Many times I want to write, but I’m not in the right headspace to work on the novel. Blog posts are a perfect bite-sized chunk of writing that I can finish and put out there in an instant.

Back when I blogged anonymously about my life, blogging was an excuse for me to go out and experience things. My motto was: “Bad decisions make great blog posts.”

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It’s true, though. Mug on Etsy.

Eventually I grew up a little and the internet became less anonymous and I started writing in a paper journal instead. Even though it made my hand cramp up, I continued it until just after my son was born. I’d been writing just before going to sleep and when I had a newborn, I just wanted to crash.

I wanted an outlet again, and I thought long and hard about what kind of blog to create. I’m too messy for a lifestyle blog, so eventually I settled on “nerdy parenting blog.” I think this should motivate me to get out, more, too, but in a different way. Such as, I’ve never been to a nerdy sort of con. I’ve been to hacker cons and programming conferences, but those are different. I’d like to go to one, and maybe bring my son. Perhaps he and I should check out Free Comic Book Day. There must be other nerdy events out there for kids! This might help get me out, when I’d rather just be an introvert and stay home.

My final motivation is also for my kid. I want him to know that there’s more to me than my job and being a mom. I’m also a writer, a gamer, and a nerd. Even if he ends up being more of a jock, I want him to know this side of me. And for that to happen, I need to embrace it myself.

I write in my paper journal every now and again that my son isn’t a newborn anymore. The hand cramping keeps me from doing it more. Cover photo by Easton Oliver on Unsplash.

Plans for Blaugust

Happy Blaugust! I’m so excited to be part of this terrific community of bloggers. If it wasn’t for this event, I’d still be overthinking the whole blogging thing. This blog would not exist. You wouldn’t be reading it. My fiancé and I wouldn’t have started playing World of Warcraft again. (Yeah, after more overthinking we decided to give it a go. We rolled a couple level 1 Goblins just for fun. Let me know if you want to play with us!)

The concept of the initial Blaugust was to write one post every day August. Blaugust Reborn has different goal tiers. I’m aiming for 15 posts. I could do more, but I’m a parent, and I have a full-time job. Sometimes writing a blog post during my lunch break isn’t what I want to spend it doing. I don’t particularly like doing thing-a-day style challenges. 15 gives me enough days off in case something comes up but I’ll still get the Silver award. If I write more, awesome. If a catastrophe happens and I end up writing less, oh well.

Lucky for us, I already have a plethora of post ideas bumbling around in my head. Stay tuned for thoughts on topics such as:

  • Nerding out when you’re in a relationship with a Jock
  • Why “nerd” is a way better term than “geek”
  • Protecting your data online
  • Kids and online bullying and harassment
  • Adventure game recommendations
  • Parents in video games
  • Learning to code
  • How parenting has changed since we were kids
  • Pictures of my cats
  • Screenshots of my adorable shoblin

If you have a suggestion of a topic that intersects parenting and technology, please send me a note. I’m also looking for stories and insights from parents of older kids. When do you give them a cell phone? How much should you monitor what they’re doing online? As a parent of a 2-year-old, these are things I’m thinking worrying about already.

August makes me think of sunflowers. Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash.

 

Where’s My Blogging Community?

Remember when blogs were fun? Remember LiveJournal? You and your friends were all on LiveJournal and it was mostly completely uninteresting to maybe one or two friends but you wrote in it anyway because it was fun. I met my first serious boyfriend through LiveJournal. I got my first programming job through LiveJournal. Somehow, the tight knit blogging communities like LiveJournal turned into people posting professional quality photographs of their perfectly curated minimalist homes.

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This is pretty to look at, but do you really want to live like this? It would get so dirty, so fast. This isn’t (as far as I know) some blogger’s home office, but a photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash. It could be, though.

Maybe blogging still has a community somewhere, and I’m hoping to find that again. I used to write on this blogging platform called Vox. I didn’t tell my real life family and friends about it, and it was an essential outlet for me to get through a difficult time in my life. The best part of Vox was the community, or as they termed it, your “neighborhood.” I’ve since met some of my Vox neighbors in person and I’m still friends with a few of my Vox neighbors today, even though the platform died years ago. Maybe some bloggers today, even the super minimalist ones, do have a tight community like that and I truly hope they all do.

I could wax nostalgic for hours about how amazing the Internet used to be before social media came along and “internet life” and “real life” joined at the hip and became inseparable. But the point of this post is to explain why I started blogging again. I knew I wanted to start another blog for a while now, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted it to be. I definitely didn’t want to go the whole “here’s a bunch of photos of my perfect home where everything is white except all my plants” route because for one, I have a toddler. And two, I kill plants. RIP, plants.

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I’m so sorry, plants!

Instead, I wanted to write about nerdy stuff, and what it’s like being a nerdy parent, and what if my kid doesn’t turn out to be a nerd, and how to deal with a partner who’s not as nerdy as you are. I wanted to write for new parents who wonder how the heck they’re going to find time to play video games now that they have kids, or for people who are wondering what the best adventure games are, or to crowdsource what MMO I should be playing, or just to talk about how great the Internet was back in my day.

This brings me to Blaugust. I’d been hemming and hawing about starting this blog when I heard about Blaugust. I was less interested in the blog-for-30-days challenge (I’m a Questioner and that sort of thing doesn’t work for me) and more interested in the community of gaming bloggers aspect.

Blaugust is about blogging in the month of August, but it’s also about the community. Blaugust has a Discord server where participants can get together, get advice, share posts, and game together. When I heard about it, I thought, this is just the thing I need to actually start this parenting/gaming blog I’ve had in my head, and hopefully keep at it, too. Click the link below (or here) if you want to sign up.
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Screenshot of the old LiveJournal home page via The Toast.

 

How Not To Start a Blog

Don’t start a billion blogs and then neglect them and hope that people will still be interested when you announce “I’m starting a new blog!”

They won’t. Except maybe your mom. Hi, mom! This is, maybe, the 59th blog I’ve started.

Don’t start a blog until you’ve mastered all the skills your blog requires, or can at least pay someone else to do them for you.

I always thought I’d be good at blogging. I’m moderately-decent-to-exceptional at all the skills required for blogging:

Writing: I have an English degree and I’m published in FastCompany, so I must not be half bad.
Making graphics: I can use Sketch.
Brainstorming: I can sit on Pinterest for hours.
Basic coding: I do quite a bit more advanced coding for a job and am paid money. I must be fairly good.
Photography: Well I have a nice camera, but I don’t see this blog requiring much photography. I’ll take screenshots and grab images from Unsplash. I think we can cross that one off.
Social media: We’ll put this in the “moderately decent” and “not really necessary” category.
Networking: Eh, okay, most of the skills.

Don’t insist you have to do everything yourself, just because you can.

I’m starting a blog and I feel super guilty because I don’t want to develop the WordPress theme from scratch by myself. I’m a programmer. I’ve used WordPress as long as its been around. Building my own theme should be a slice of peach pie.

But it would be a very time consuming slice of peach pie. Instead I can download a theme and tweak it until it’s perfect. It’s like buying the peach pie at a bakery. It might not be as lovingly crafted as if I made my own and I might have used some different ingredients, but it’s still delicious peach pie.

Don’t Use Comic Sans or Papyrus.

They are terrible fonts and should be avoided at all costs.

Don’t buy into all the “find your niche” advice.

This blog is about parenting, video games, and other nerdy stuff, and probably some feminism thrown in. Who knows what might end up in it. Instead of starting a blog in some super focused niche (because who is going to want to keep writing stain remover reviews or about fishing in video games after three weeks?) start a blog with a wide focus and then write different posts and see how much you enjoy writing about them.

Note that I didn’t say: see how well different post topics do on social media or see what gets more hits on search engines. Because if we all wrote for social media and search engines we’d all be writing the same stuff. (This is why so many blogs these days look and feel exactly the same.) Way back when, blogging was just a thing people did for fun. Let’s make blogging fun again!

Don’t get bummed out by the other blogs.

The internet is full of gorgeous, polished blogs completely free of grammar mistakes. It’s easy to feel inadequate. I think there’s some value in just starting something and figuring out what it is as you go along. Maybe you think you’re going to write about puppy training but end up getting really into making your own dog treats, and then suddenly you have a homemade, organic dog treat empire. You might start out on a WordPress dot com blog with a free theme and maybe that’s 100% perfect for you and you’ll never leave. Or maybe you’ll want to get your own domain and you’ll learn how to code your own theme. Just make sure you’re not using Comic Sans or Papyrus.

Don’t follow all the advice here.

Don’t follow all the rules. The best thing about rules is knowing when to break them.

Except the one about Comic Sans and Papyrus. That one’s really important.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash