Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Dusting Off the Blog

When I first started blogging in the spring of 2011, I could hardly wait to sit at my laptop every day to write about favorite family memories, or about what was going on in our household at the time, or just to do a bit of mindless navel gazing.  It was a joy to me to exercise my writing muscles on a daily basis.

For a good number of years, those muscles were in pretty good shape.  Now...well, they might not have atrophied completely, but if I don't start using them more often, they will.

If you come here much, you know that the Pearl family has been growing by leaps and bounds in the last few years.  When I started this blog, I had only one married son and his wife was a few months away from giving birth to twin daughters.  Since then, 3 more daughters-in-law have joined the family, and the grandchild count currently stands at 14 (with the addition of a new grandson just last month).

I have had so many great topics to explore here--so, so many--but ever since we moved down to VA so that we could see our kids and grandkids on a regular basis, it seems like I've been too busy living life to write about it.  I mean, here are some of the things I've wanted to write about, from the deep and serious to the frivolous and mundane:

1. My dad's amazing last week on earth and his beautiful passing into eternal life, about which I have not been able to write in full (and the second anniversary of his death is fast approaching)

2. My mother's trials since losing her husband of 60 years, her frightening health decline, and the astounding (practically miraculous) way she has bounced back recently

3. My saintly baby sister and her husband, who lovingly took my mom into their home a year ago and are more responsible for the improvements in her health than any of the medical procedures she's had done 

4. Pearl family birthdays and anniversaries (there have been many which I have not gotten around to documenting)

5. The births of new Pearl grandbabies (we got a new grandson in June, named after my husband's dad, and another one in October, named after my husband!)

6. Family parties (including a fun shower I hosted for my daughter-in-law when she was about to have a boy after 4 girls in a row--and which I thought was practically Pinterest-worthy, but I might have been giving myself too much credit!)

7. Notre Dame football weekends this fall, with our boys

8. More installments of the house tour, wherein I show you some of the rooms of our new house in VA (which I am slowly but surely starting to consider HOME, after leaving a beloved Colonial on a quiet street in NH, where we'd lived for 26 years, about a year-and-a-half ago)

Those are just a few of the things I imagine blogging about...and then before I know it, it's time for a bone-tired Grammy to go to bed and another day has passed without a new blog post.

Sometimes, I really do wonder if the whole blogging phenomenon is about to die off and go the way of VHS tapes (and even DVD's).  I mean really, who needs those anymore, now that there are new-fangled smart TV's that allow you to stream just about anything you want to watch?  And who wants to bother to visit a blog, when so many former bloggers are on Instagram, offering much-easier-to-digest posts that don't take quite as much time out of our busy lives as a full-length blog post does?

For whatever reason, however, I'm not quite ready to leave the blogosphere, a place where I've "met" so many amazing people who seem like friends.  I've been blessed in countless ways since I set up shop here in 2011.  So instead of giving up, I think I'll just dust this blog off and spruce it up a bit, and maybe find the mojo to keep at it.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to give my site a whole new look (even though I've heard that it's best to have a mostly white background...and mine is, as you can see, very GREEN).  But there are a few improvements I can make.  After my most recent book club post, which was all about writing, I got to thinking that perhaps it was time to update my "author photo."  The one I've been using for a long time now--here at the blog, on Goodreads, on my Amazon author's page, etc.--is one that my husband took of me back in 2012, shortly after the publication of my first novel, Finding Grace.  We thought I should be sitting at my laptop, with my trusty cup of coffee at my side, looking very "writerly."  So, this was the pose I assumed.
That picture was taken 6 years (and at least as many pounds) ago.  I was only 54, and I'm not that young anymore.  (It's amazing how when you turn 60, 54 seems young to you!)

Also, I have a smaller laptop now and bigger glasses.  I have 14 grandchildren and back then I just had 2.  And I no longer live in NH, where the photo was taken, so I no longer have that spacious dining room with the red walls and outdated-but-I-still-love-it wallpaper border.

On Halloween, 11 of our 14 grandkids and their parents came over to go Trick-or-Treating in our new VA neighborhood (which is just about the most perfect neighborhood for that activity I have ever seen: it's flat and well-lit, with hundreds of houses situated very close together, wide sidewalks, and minimal outside traffic).
A cute pair of Trolls: G-Man as Branch and Princesa as Princess Poppy 
(these are the two oldest children of son #3 and his wife Preciosa).

Pumpkin as the Cowardly Lion, Paquita as Dorothy, and Peanut as the Scarecrow, along with 
the parents of those adorable triplets--son #4 as the Tin Man and his wife Braveheart 
as the Wicked Witch.

Before they got here in their killer costumes, I wanted to test out the expensive digital camera my husband gave me as a gift years ago.  I'd lost the battery charger for it, and for ages now I've just been snapping photos using my cell phone.  I'd finally gotten it up and running again, and I wanted to see how pictures turned out using the "smart portrait" mode.  So I took this picture of my favorite guy while he had a "Why are you doing this?" look on his face.

And I took this selfie.
Those are the new (kind of ridiculously large!) glasses.  Those are the stairs of the new VA house.  I like that you can see my Miraculous Medal, and that along with my orange and black Halloween ensemble, you can see part of the white apron I was wearing while I made the mac and cheese for the grandkids who would be arriving soon--and then never got around to taking off.  This is real life, folks; I have an apron tied around my waist about 75% of the time.  One of my boys insists that I even wear it when I sleep, but that's pure exaggeration.

Okay, maybe not.  Here is a photo of my apron collection.

And that doesn't include my newest apron, this buffalo plaid flannel number that I was wearing when I took the picture of the others!

I have gotten so used to the old picture up there at the top, which I associate with anything having to do with my writing activities.  And I really love the Irish-green color of the sweater I'm wearing in it.  But I feel like it's not really "me" anymore.

So what say you?  Should I use the selfie-on-the-stairs pic here at the blog--or perhaps get my husband to take an updated one for me?  Or should I just leave well enough alone and be forever 54?  Should I change my blog's background, get rid of the green?  Your thoughts?  (I realize your thoughts might be something along the lines of, "I don't care!"  But you guys are so nice, you probably won't say that!)

Dust blog: check.  Stretch blogging muscles: check.  Let's see if I can keep this streak going!


  1. Dont use a selfie!! Have your husband take a picture of you. And I'm going to the eye doctor next week and I'm looking forward to getting bigger frames!!!

    1. I know, selfies are a bit gauche I suppose! Maybe I'll have my husband take another picture. And maybe I'll just leave well enough alone and keep the one I already have, until a few more years pass.

      Have fun picking out new frames! It's so funny how all styles eventually do come back, if you wait long enough. My frames in the 80's were so HUGE; then my boys talked me into smaller wire ones when they were in style in the 2000's; then about 4 years ago my husband talked me into slighter bigger plastic frames, which I fought at first but got used to. And now here I am again, wearing glasses that look like ski goggles! It seems strange to be reverting to a style that's such a throw-back; but I do think I like them better.

  2. Your thoughts resonate with me, is blogging out and instagram in? Perhaps for some, but for those of us who are writers, and I hesitantly, boldly include myself in that frame..well we have to write, that simple. So here we are blogging away still. So accept it now, youu'll be at this for years to come, albeit just not as frequently before your influx of grandbabies :-) xx

    As for blog look, I think it's a good thing to give our blogs a fresh look, it inspires us to get in there and write more. I liken it to giving our houses a good spring clean and freshening with paint here and there. Yes time for a new look, maybe white with green accents or something totally new but still says you. I like your profile picture, I really can't see any change but a new one is nice too (need to update my own by years as well) but do get husband to take it. Have a play around and make some changes. And now you've spurred me on to do the same with mine.

    1. Erin, I hesitantly, boldly include myself as well! (What a perfect way to put it.) No one is really reading the books I wrote, and very few stop by here...but writing is something that I enjoy doing, just for the process itself. So I think I shall continue to blog, not as frequently as I did at the beginning, but as often as I can. Because as you say, I have to write, it's that simple. God makes us all different, and He gives some of us this need to express ourselves through the written word. So I think as long as that's so, I believe we are meant to do it.

      As for the blog, last night I spent some time playing around with changing backgrounds and layouts, and I couldn't bring myself to do anything new. Not yet, anyway. I'm not going to put any money into it, and the free options don't really do anything for me. But maybe I just haven't played around enough. For now, I think I'll just leave well enough alone, until I get inspired and find an updated look that I like.

      I realized last night when I visited some blogs I follow that the people who are successful at it don't necessarily have pages that I think are great to look at; but I love the way they write. So I guess I should focus on improving my writing instead of making my blog more visually appealing. But I do agree that a fresh look might inspire fresh writing, so I don't know...

      You are one of the reasons I'm glad I took up blogging! I'm glad to know friends like you are still out there, too! :)

  3. I love that you still blog. I just can't get into Instagram yet. I've hesitated because I consider it too much like Facebook - a fun social thing but not really something that edifies me. I feel that well curated blogs do that! And I feel that about yours. I read blogs to increase my faith or help strengthen the faith of my family. So thank you for still blogging whenever it works for you!

    I always like it when people have some sort of gorgeous photo as a banner, then their blog title underneath. I think your current profile pic is great.

    1. Maggie, you can't imagine how touching it is to hear that there are people out there like you (people I will probably never meet, who are not related to me by blood or marriage) who actually come here and feel edified by what they read. I so often think it might be time to put this old blog of mine out to pasture, because I'm not sure what its purpose is--that is, other than being an enjoyable writing outlet for me. But something keeps bringing me back to it; and if you find that anything I've written here increases your faith or the faith of your family, then I am more thrilled than you can imagine. I have always felt that the purpose of any writing I do should be for the greater glory of God and the good of my own soul and anyone else's who reads it. So I am grateful that you left this thoughtful comment. Thank you!

  4. You made me cry just reading the topics. Yes have your husband take a new pic (he is very good at it) and change the blog look if you want ... however, I still like the theme!
    (PS- notice the new email address)

    1. It's Rini and I don't know how to make my name show

    2. I have got to tackle some of those subjects! It's almost like I'm too overwhelmed by all the things I should be writing about, so I write nothing. Kind of like when your house is such a mess that you don't know which room to start with. (Bad analogy, probably; but you know what I mean.)

      It seems that so many things have happened since I started this blog; life has changed so dramatically, in so many ways, that I almost can't handle trying to write about it all. But I really want to try. Because there are lots of younger bloggers out there, moms raising babies, toddlers, and teens; but there aren't as many who are from my generation (at least not that I've noticed). And during this stage of life there are so many topics that I could get into that might prepare the younger generations of blog readers for what's in store as their kids grow up, leave home, get married, and become parents, and when their own parents become elderly.

      So I'm hoping I can get back in a writing groove one of these days, and finally write about some of the deeper things that I carry around in my heart every day.

  5. My opinions: Either keep the current blog post picture or set up a new one but not a selfie. The angle is rarely the most flattering in a selfie. As for blogging, I think you should blog as the mood hits you, and not worry about apologizing for not doing it more. It can be lighthearted or heartwarming, you write both well. I read something recently that said to say thank you instead of apologizing (as in "thank you for joining me today" instead of "sorry I have been away so long"). Thirdly, I love Instagram for the "instant" flash of a family member or friend's life. It is not meant to be an essay.....that is meant for the blog. I love the glimpses of your life that you share either way, my long-time friend.

    1. Thanks for your input! You're right--I need to keep it positive and stop apologizing! (I apologize a lot! When someone stubs their toe, I tend to reflexively say, "I'm sorry!") I think for now I'm just going to keep the blog page the way it is. Once that picture is 10 years old, I should probably think about changing it. But for now, I'll leave well enough alone. Also, it took me so long to get this page set up the way it is, I'm afraid to make changes right now. (And what can I say? I like green!)

      Thanks for coming by here. It's always so good to hear from you, my friend!

  6. Just like our driver's license picture, we can stay young!

  7. Very informative blog! Thank you so much for sharing such quality information. I hope you keep writing blogs like this.
    office for rent in Dubai