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To New Beginnings and Happy Endings

Today is a big day. Today my youngest two children start kindergarten and my oldest child begins second grade. This is a day that seemed forever away on the horizon. It was the major milestone that I kept in sight on the hardest days of parenting. If I could just make it to the twins’ first day of kindergarten, at the very least I can start blaming all their shortcomings on their teachers (just kidding teacher friends! Love you and what you do and BLESS YOU a million times).

There were days when I never believed I would make it here. It seemed forever away. There were days when I had to leave the grocery story because I had two crying babies and a screaming toddler and I was about to burst into tears. There were days when I thought if I had to clean up one more spilled cup I was going to scream. There were trips to the doctor for ear infections and sleepless nights due to stomach viruses. There were days.

They weren’t all bad. There were days when they were so adorable when just a look from either of them would melt my heart. There were toys shared and pictures drawn that were beyond sweet.

I started this blog almost three years ago exactly. The twins had just begun preschool. This is a picture from their very first day of preschool.

Who are these babies? Has it really only been three years since they were this small? They have changed so much since then. I remember when they were starting preschool, I wondered how they would do. I could not imagine that either of them would be able to follow directions. I imagined the teacher leader circle time and my kids standing up in the middle of it and walking over to a toy that caught their attention. I could not for the life of me picture them sitting still while their teach handed out the snack. And yet, they stepped up to every challenge and did amazing in preschool.

I took this next picture this past weekend.

Seriously, who are these big kids? I wish I could tell the mom taking the picture of the preschool kids that the next three years will go by so fast. Even if I could, I wouldn’t have believed me. I’d heard it a million times and brushed it off as an over used cliché. Because when you are living live with three preschoolers, nothing goes by fast.

Except it does.

I’m thankful for this blog because it helped me capture some of the memories I know I would have forgotten if I hadn’t written them down. Like how hard it used to be to ride escalators with my children. Or the fun we had playing games. For three years this blog helped me while I struggled to find meaning in a chaotic daily life. Hard days became blog posts with a redeeming lesson at the end. Many times it took writing it down to realize just how special the moment had been. Other times if I didn’t sit in front of a computer screen for an hour to let it out, I would have just sat alone and cried. This blog helped me during an important phase of parenting. I mostly wrote it for myself and it was a bonus that others enjoyed reading it.

But for the past year or so, the posts have become fewer. This is due partly to the fact that I blogg over at todayisawgod.org and partly to the fact that I started working full-time.

I believe in beginnings and I believe in endings. I’m so glad that I started this blog because it helped me discover my love for writing. It gave me an outlet that I desperately needed. But it is time for the ending. This is not the end of Susan blogging forever. As I said, I’m still writing at todayisawgod.org. But for now, this blog is ending. I’m closing this chapter so that I can move on to different things. Maybe I’ll be back with a different type of blog or maybe I’ll write again about parenting observations. I just don’t know.

Thank you to my loyal readers. You are great. Your support and encouragement helped convince me that I didn’t need to throw in the towel after only a few posts. Thank you to my amazing husband who shared his wife with a computer screen on countless occasions and who read through almost every post for typos no matter how late it became.

But most of all, thank you to my wonderful kids. Thank you for unknowingly sharing your life in this blog. After I capture these posts and save them, hopefully you will read them some day and realize that yes, mommy was stressed a lot, but she was mostly just trying to be a good mom. Being a good mom shouldn’t have to be so stressful and though it may not have seemed like it at the time, I was constantly doing my best to chill out. The three of you are the delights of my day and you will always bring me joy!

Happy first day of kindergarten and second grade!

It’s Just the Beginning.

I’ve been working on a project at work this past week that’s been very time consuming. It’s a very exciting project but it’s very labor intensive. It’s also the very beginning of a pretty big undertaking. While it’s a lot of hard work, it’s actually a lot of fun as well. There are moments when I catch myself thinking “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.” I have big dreams for this endeavor. But right now, I’m at mile one of a marathon. I might even still be at the starting gate waiting for the gun to go off. Do they use guns at marathons? I’ve never actually run a marathon so I’m not really sure how it goes. Which brings me back to my project. I’m in new territory for this project. I like challenges. I like the excitement and the thrill of figuring something out for the first time. So this past week has been a great week at work, but at times I’ve caught myself second guessing my efforts, wondering if all this work will be good enough. I have this perfect plan in my head of how it will turn out and a voice inside of me tells me that there’s no way I can pull it off.

And then I remembered a quote that I heard from an author and blogger whom I admire greatly.

That’s when I realized it was going to be okay. I’m just at the beginning of my project. There are still some rough edges to be smoothed out. I’m in for some bumps and bruises along the way. But I’m not at my middle yet. I have to work to get my project to its middle. If I give up now, it will remain stranded at the starting line, with no real effort given behind it to improve it and modify it to its middle. When I remember this, the anxiety about the project lessons and the joy that comes from the work returns.

It’s only the beginning.

So I Redesigned My Blog

So if you have ever been in my house more than once, you’ll notice that I don’t like to keep things the same for too long (and I wonder why my son is constantly rearranging the toy room. The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it now?). For this reason, it’s pretty amazing that my last blog design lasted for more than a year. I blame the fact that my kids no longer take naps. Also, the fact that my husband and I discovering the show Breaking Bad didn’t help. If either of those two things had not happened, there is no way we would be this far into 2013 with the same design as last year.

I’m really excited about this new design. You’ll notice there is a lot more going on the landing page. I’ve spotlighted some of my favorite posts. These will change periodically. The rotating images at the top will also change. I’m still living into this design and what’s great about it is that I can change things up in a few months to keep things fresh. There are a lot of possibilities with this new design and I am very excited. If you ever get nostalgic for the old style, you can scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click on “Go to Blog” which is very similar to the old style.

Once again I could not have done this without the help of my brother-in-law, Brian Patterson. Brian is a founding partner at Go Fish Digital and is incredibly knowledgable in the world of websites and blogs. He made this transition seamless and very easy (at least on my end!).

That’s all I have to say about that. So feel free to browse around and check out the new site. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Getting Back on the Horse

A few months ago I submitted a piece of writing to be considered for a guest post on another blog. I had been blogging for a total of five weeks and when I saw this opportunity I felt that it was the perfect launching pad toward a successful blogging career. I carefully crafted the piece making sure every word choice was perfect. I made my husband read it for errors. When he didn’t find any, I made him read it again until he found one. When he finished, I took one last look at it and submitted it.

For the next few days I caught myself daydreaming about my guest post. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends and family that I had landed my first guest post. I couldn’t wait to see how the guest post would increase the traffic to my blog.

About a week later I received an email from the blogger. From the preview screen on my phone I saw that the opening sentence began with the words “Thank you for submitting…” I didn’t need to keep reading. My gut told me what the rest of the email was going to say. Just to make sure, I opened the email and continued reading. It went something like this:

Thank you for submitting your work to be considered for a guest post on my blog. Unfortunately, it was not selected. I appreciate the effort you have put into this piece but it is just not quite the right fit for my blog. I encourage you to submit again the next time I put out a call for guest bloggers.

I don’t like to admit it but I immediately started to dislike this blogger. Two weeks before, I considered her a great writer and respected her work. Suddenly I considered her a writing snob and an elitist. I almost stopped following her on Twitter. I couldn’t stand to read her tweets. I blamed her for killing my dream. She became the reason my blog was not going viral.

I set the submission aside unable to bring myself to posting it. The piece that I had put so much effort into no longer seemed good enough even for my blog. I never wanted to read it again.

It took me a few days to post on my blog again. Self-doubt had taken over and I began to believe that this blogging thing wasn’t for me. All because of one lousy rejection letter.

Eventually I ended the pity party for myself. I began to write again. I no longer was sick to my stomach every time I saw a tweet from this blogger. I told myself that I would submit another post the next time she put out a call for guest writers.

Do you want to know a secret?

I haven’t submitted anymore guest posts. I want to; I really do. But every time I go to write one, I think about that first rejection letter. I remember how awful I felt. I tell myself that I don’t want to feel that way again.

But then I imagine the joy I will feel someday when someone accepts my writing. The excitement on my face as I tell my husband that I got it. The warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart knowing that someone read my writing and was touched by it.

I know that I have more rejection letters in my future. Likely, there will be more rejection letters than acceptance letters. But I think one solid acceptance letter is probably worth one hundred rejection letters. It might take weeks, or months, or possibly even years to get that letter but I think it will be worth it. But the only way to get a letter is to submit something. The only way to get more letters is to submit more. A person rarely throws a bullseye on the first try. So that means I need to keep writing.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, I eventually posted the rejected piece. It was one of my most popular posts that month.

My Identity Crisis

I’d be lying if I said that recently I haven’t been thinking about writing a book.  I’ll be honest, I’m considering it. Naturally, the thought of writing a book has created a lot of questions in my mind.

How does one go about writing a book?

What should it be about?

Will anyone read it?

But the question that has me stumped the most is: How should I display my name on the book? Keep Reading…

What does your dream look like at 5:30 AM?

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I retweet @jonacuff tweets about every 5 minutes.  You will also know that Jon and I had a short twitter conversation about this and he said (and I quote) “Ha! you’re not a stalker. I love that you RT my stuff!”  So if you start to think that I’m a stalker, you can rest assured that I have permission from the man himself to retweet his 140 characters of genius.

Jon Acuff is not only the hilarious creator of the Stuff Christians Like blog, but he also runs another blog with motivational posts about following your dreams.  Except when he writes about following your dreams it doesn’t sound cheesy like that just did. Keep Reading…

New Year, New Blog!

It might seem like it’s been a quiet blogging week for me, but rest assured I’ve been busy working on a brand new look and feel for my blog.  Without getting into a bunch of details, and because I don’t really know enough to explain the details, I’ve moved my site from wordpress.com to wordpress.org.  I’m told this is the right choice, even though it’s been a lot of work to get it going.

You might also notice the new name.  I love “Things Longer Then 140 Characters” but it’s a mouthful so I’ve chosen to make my original URL “Susan’s 140 Plus” the main title of the blog. I’m still pretty new at this blogging thing but I find that it’s a great stress relief from everything else. I hope to continue blogging about motherhood, current events, Christianity and whatever else comes to mind. I’m looking forward to blogging in 2012 and I hope you’ll join me.  Keep in mind you can subscribe to receive new posts by email by filling out your email address in the subscribe section to the right.

If you discover a bad link or something that isn’t working like it should, please email me at susans140plus@gmail.com.