me

Blogging Is Like Singing

Some time last year, I remember reading several interesting conversations about metaphors for blogging. I couldn’t think of anything at the time to write about (imagine that), but after a year and a half of thinking, I’ve finally realized what I think blogging is like. And I’m going to share it now – aren’t you giddy with excitement? I know I am. Without further ado…

Blogging is Like Singing.

It’s always best if you do some warm ups.

Breathe properly and your voice will be clearer.

You must learn your range, because singing in the wrong key can hurt your voice.

Sometimes you sing only for an audience of One.

People will love or hate you based on your sound character – don’t try to sound like someone else – just be you.

Singing is a skill that requires muscle memory.

It takes lots of practice before you sing well.

You must believe in yourself to sing in front of others.

Sometimes you sing off-pitch.

Sometimes you get laryngitis and can’t sing at all.

Other times you fake having laryngitis because you don’t feel like singing.

Sometimes you forget why you started singing in the first place.

And then you sing, the audience applauds, and a new resolve is born to sing again.

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Eight Days a Week has never had more meaning to me..

Okay, so I’m not working eight days a week…I’m actually trying to take weekends off now so I can spend time with my kids (not that I don’t see them every day…but there’s a definite distinction between mom and teacher).

I designed a memorial blog for a friend’s daughter (and I must tell you there was no charge – it was for personal use – that’s so the bad guys don’t come and try to take me away!), and since I won’t be showing it in my portfolio (it was a freebie and made with items that are for non-commercial use, plus she’s my friend), I wanted to show it here. So Jeanette, this is for you, sister. I know you miss your sweet Lezlee Ann and it brought me great joy to do something for you so you can write her story on its pages.

I also finished and installed another design today – for Christy at The Road to Home, and I’ll be profiling it over on my design blog in the next day or two, but here’s a preview of what her new design looks like:

Ooh…and I’ve also been busy doing a few button projects:


Plus, I’ve taken in two more orders today…my queue is hopping and so am I. How’s it going in YOUR neck of the woods?

****PHOTOSHOP CS3 Giveaway ends Oct 31st – Have you entered? ****

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A Homeschool Family

Enjoy this little video about homeschooling from one of my absolute favorite comedians, Tim Hawkins (next to Brian Regan, of course).

I haven’t had the time to respond personally to all of your comments on my last post, (and I may never be able to), but I DO want to tell each and every one of you how much I appreciate your sweet words and encouragement. Just knowing that there are folks out there who’ve been through what you’re going through makes everything seem so much more bearable. I am touched by your thoughtfulness and that you would actually take the time to listen to my whining. The streamlining has begun.

I know that this is just a season, but it seems as though it’s been a long one. One thing I have decided to give up is the Blog Talk Radio Show with Melanie. We discussed it and we both feel that we need to focus on other things right now…and though I’ll miss doing it and interacting with all of you in the chat, it’s just the best thing right now. (Plus, it’s a huge time commitment with no pay).

We have a major storm headed our way today, so my internet will be spotty at best. I’m hoping my house doesn’t float away or get caught up in a tornado. I hate hurricanes, but I’m one of the lucky ones, because my house isn’t on the coast and even if my house is damaged, I won’t lose everything like some folks will.

Praying today for the evacuees of Ike and heading out to Friday school with the kids this morning. (It’s part of our homeschool coop)I will be teaching the toddlers, starting with the letter “A”. It’s a very good place to start, I hear. (But you wouldn’t BELIEVE the time I’ve had coming up with things that start with the letter “a” in my house to show them!)

So y’all have a blessed day. Thanks for coming and reading my blog every week. I’m here, not going anywhere – I’m sure in the days to come, I’ll be back to my old self again…attempting my hand at humor and writing regularly. Love y’all. Mean it.

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Polishing the Dull Side has Never Been More Difficult

Lists. I am a keeper of lists. I have one on my fridge to track groceries, I have one for my bills, I keep an editorial calendar (which I obviously ignore, since I haven’t posted since last Friday), and I also have a design calendar and a homeschool calendar. I have a book wherein I keep my numerous internet logons and passwords, I have a daily to-do-list a weekly to-do list, and a monthly to-do list.

Yet none of them are helping. I’m caring for two frail and elderly parents, homeschooling three kids, working a part time at home job, trying to keep up with the laundry (seriously…yesterday? I did TEN loads. TEN!) With each passing day, I find myself more and more overwhelmed.

And I have an intense dislike for that word, “overwhelmed”.

o·ver·whelm (vr-hwlm, -wlm)
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.
2. a. To defeat completely and decisively: Our team overwhelmed the visitors by 40 points.
b. To affect deeply in mind or emotion: Despair overwhelmed me.
3. To present with an excessive amount: They overwhelmed us with expensive gifts.
4. To turn over; upset: The small craft was overwhelmed by the enormous waves.

2b and 3 pretty much sum up how I’m feeling tonight. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t a pity party. It’s a call to action. There’s going to have to be some changes made on my part. I can’t do it all and I’m not even going to pretend I want to.

It’s most definitely not burn out, because I can’t see myself giving up blogging, but I’ll call it streamlining. I’m going to be choosier about what I commit myself to in the future – I hate committing to things and then feeling like I’m not holding up my end of the bargain…have you ever felt that way? What do you do?

Y’all…I’m seriously having a hard time tonight seeing the bright side…for the first time in a long time. I don’t like letting folks down. It’s my nature to give and give and give….but what happens when I just don’t have anything left over?

What do you do when you feel like you’re losing the battle? Help a girl out…I need someone to polish the dull side for me…

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Life on the Farm…

I think I’m being assimilated.

I heard my mother’s voice come out of my mouth today.

I feel like I’m caught somewhere between the old 1956 movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and Star Trek’s “Enterprise”…where resistance is deemed futile. I turned my house upside down looking for any signs of an empty pod, but all I found were the following: 4 half-eaten very stale graham crackers, 32 lego blocks hidden in various and sundry places, one empty milk sippy cup strategically placed under the couch behind dad’s guitar so we wouldn’t find it in time to actually be able to make it useable again, and about half of my son’s socks that don’t have mates in the laundry basket. (At least that’s one mystery solved.)

Anyway…my mother’s voice? It said, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times…” (insert catchy phrase that you’ve actually repeated a hundred or more times here)…”stop running and yelling in the house! Go OUTSIDE!”. Okay, I have several problems with the beginning phrase, which is why I can’t believe I said it. First, if I’ve had to tell my kids something a hundred times, then I’m not doing my job as a parent – the limit should be a little lower, in my opinion. Secondly, if I’ve really told them a hundred times, why should I repeat myself? They should know by now. And if they know by now, it’s not that they forgot, it’s that they are willfully disobeying. And willfull disobedience is actually nothing more than sin. Which we all have…which goes back to #1 – I’m not doing my job as a parent. Sigh.

Things were so much simpler when I was a kid. If we got rambunctious in the house, my mom just told us to go outside. And we did. Ha. If only it were that simple with my kids. We lived on a farm that was about 363 acres. We had horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens and peacocks. We ate everything but the horses and peacocks, by the way. Not all at once…but I learned not to fall in love with the cute little piglets. Not so much because we were going to eat them, but because they were mean suckers, excuse me, fellas when they grew up.

I miss living on a farm. There are life lessons you learn that just can’t be taught in the city. Washing the dishes and taking out the trash is NOT the same thing as getting up at 4 am to milk the cows and slop the hogs. You can see how those would be two totally different worlds, right? How do I teach my kids the importance of teamwork and responsibility the way I was taught? On the farm, if you didn’t do your job, that meant someone else had to do it. It meant no free time for that person because their free time was spent pitching the hay you were supposed to be pitching, but because you came down with pneumonia, you didn’t have to do it and they did. (did that sound a little snooty? Sorry…just remembering..ahem). Mom and Dad didn’t pick up after us. They didn’t allow us to watch tv or have snacks or anything else until after the chores had been done, we had washed up and supper had been eaten.

I was never bored on the farm. My mom’s friend Mickey once told me as a kid that “only boring people are bored”. It stuck with me. I always had things to do, places to go, animals to see. There were trees to climb, ponds to fish in, and if all else failed…there was the barn.

I loved our barn. It was about a quarter mile from our house and it was a great place to escape to. It was similar to the barn in the above picture, which I stole off a Park’s website (can’t give credit, because I don’t remember where it came from)….except it was flat Texas prairie in the background instead of mountains. Well, flat except for the rows of corn in the fields. I can still smell the scent of the freshly cut hay, stacked up against all the walls, 6 high and 6 deep on each side, spilling out into the aisles. Of course, that was on the top half. The bottom was where the horses and cows came to feed…there were milking stalls and a couple of extra oneswhere we would put the cows at calving time if there were problems. Against one wall, we kept all the tack for the horses. Once of my favorite things to do was to brush the horses down after riding them.

One of the jobs I shared with my brother Don was to pitch hay to the cows out of the 2nd story barn doors every afternoon close to supper time. We would pass the time trying to scare the poo out of one another with ghost stories and alien abduction stories. It wasn’t uncommon to have the call of nature happen while we were out there and walking to the house was just out of the question. There was hay to be pitched and no time to waste, people! So we’d hang it out the barn doors and go. I know what you are thinking…”Ewww…how disGUSTING!”….or maybe “how uncivilized”….all true. But look, we were 7 and 12. Not exactly known for having the best manners. (Which is probably why our mom was always shushing us outside).

One afternoon Don told me to turn around because he had to go, so I went as usual to the opposite end of the barn and pitched some hay out that way. I had no sooner gotten to my end of the barn when I heard the barn doors make a funny creaking sound, followed by a whoosh! of air and then a loud thump. I had a sinking feeling in my gut. I had seen enough late night movies and heard enough of Don’s stories to know what had happened. Some sort of strange being had taken my brother!

I was terrified to turn around. I heard a low moan. Was that him? I stood, motionless, listening. It was only after hearing him whimper again that I was able to summon the courage to turn and face the monster that had dared to take my brother. I saw nothing. No alien. No Don. I walked tentatively to the end where he had been standing and looked out over the edge of the barn floor. There he was. Lying on the ground 20 feet below, motionless. Dead! I started screaming hysterically…then he said, “Karen, shut up and get down here.” It was only then that I was able to fully comprehend what had happened. He was not “peeing”…he was well…you get the idea. He had been holding the barn doors for balance (you should never hold onto 100 year old barn doors…they have rusty and faulty handles!) and had fallen 20 feet into his own poo.

Not to mention, he fell on his right arm and broke it. He was covered in poo and I wasn’t about to clean him up. I ran 1/4 mile faster than you can say “Marion Jones” and got my mom.
Man, I miss life on the farm…

(This post was originally written before I had three kids in homeschool and subsequently published January 18, 2007. Thanks so much for putting up with my leftovers this week while I am adjusting to being a homeschooling mom of three again!)

If my husband asks, you never saw me here…

Melanie (aka Chilihead – I just LOVE calling her that) and I had a great time yesterday on Behind the Blog – we had Rick Calvert (the founder of Blog World Expo) on – and I’ll be darned if he isn’t just the nicest and most personable man. (and I’m not just saying that because I want to score a sponsored trip to the BWE in Vegas, either…although that would be nice!)

We also had Kelly Curtis from Pass the Torch on to talk about going from Blog to Book. She recently published her first book and you can find it on her website – she’s a very engaging speaker and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her series on her blog about “Becoming an Author“. If you have any interest in writing, she’s got a great story.

I’ve updated the player on the sidebar – so you can listen to it. Or, you can download it and listen later. Either way works for me. I just want you to listen to my nasally, tin can voice. That’s all. I need to feel the loooove. (I have NO idea where that just came from…could it be the glass of tea and huge piece of fudge I ate?)

In other news, I’ve been working on those blog designs in between homeschooling and trying to keep up with the laundry. Everything’s coming along swimmingly except for the laundry. Any ideas for me on that front?

Here’s a couple I’ve done, along with a revision of one making it a three column from a two column that I originally designed:

Trust Teachers, a site designed for empowering teachers and contracted by a the woman who was my very FIRST paying client when I started my business(Thanks NN!):

Taking on the World (in 4-inch heels), a site devoted to the female entrepreneur – and whose photo is that on the front page, anyway?

The Miss Elaine-ous Life, also one of my first clients – she wanted a third column added to her layout.

I’ll be adding them over on my design site, along with the client profiles, but I haven’t had the time to do it yet, so I thought I’d show y’all here. You don’t mind, do you? 🙂 I’m still working out some crazy IE/FF issues on the 4-inch heels one, so you don’t have to email me and tell me it’s wonky, I know. On second thought, email me…I haven’t had much this week…

So if you’re waiting on a blog design, it’s coming. I’m a little inundated by the laundry situation around here. As soon as I dig my way out, I’ll be back. I hope.

I have missed seeing y’all in my inbox! What gives? Does no one visit any more? Don’t read leftovers? 🙂

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