Throw Back Thursday: Facebook Flashback

I mentioned recently how much I was enjoying the look-back feature on Facebook that shows all your posts from that day in years past. It’s interesting to see how much I used to post compared to now. And how much of it I now consider drivel. Yet how much of it makes me laugh all over again.

Take August 21st, 2012. We were visiting my mother-in-law in Colorado. I hadn’t started blogging yet so Facebook was my only outlet. My husband must have been teasing our daughter about her appearance because early in the evening I posted a quote from her to him:

“I didn’t choose this face. You chose it for me.”

Then, almost two hours later, this:

Standing in the bathroom, I notice that Jane’s toothbrush is missing. “Hal, where is Sissy’s toothbrush?” He silently runs out of the room, straight to the futon, where he drops to his knees and crawls under. He emerges with the missing toothbrush and says very matter-of-factly, “Mommy, I found it under the bed. Somebody put it there. It wasn’t me.”

Not only had I forgotten that wonderfully amusing story, I had started to forget how often he said things like that. “Somebody did this thing that no one else could have done or even known about, but trust me, it wasn’t me.”

And then an hour after that:

Watching the PBS fundraiser Celtic Women concert with Jane and my husband. One of the women comments on being in America, which prompts Jane to ask, “Wait. Where are they from?”

 

Her daddy replies, “Um. Ireland. Hence all the green and the use of the word ‘Celtic’ in their name.”

 

“And the accents,” I add.

 

Then Jane explains her confusion: “But they look American.”

 

My husband: “Why, yes. They are human, just like us.”

That day, three years ago, would prove to be a formative day in my crawl toward blogging. I didn’t know it then – I was freakin’ on vacation! But my blog would come to life just eight days later. It’s grown to include other things. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. But it was originally intended to be a vehicle for this – funny stories about me and my kids.

 

Advertisements

On This Day Five Years Ago

I recently enabled the “On This Day” feature in Facebook. This feature sends you a notification and then shows you all your previous posts from years past that you posted on this particular day of that year. I’m in love. And I’ve got all this fodder for looking-back blog posts!

Of course, we haven’t had internet service since the big thunderstorm a week ago. Our ISP has promised to come on Tuesday. They weren’t real good at returning calls when they promised that though, so I’m not holding my breath.

Anyway, it’s hard to write blog posts without an internet connection. I refuse to use the WordPress Android app to compose blogs. And it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that we bought a wireless adapter for our (approaching ancient) desktop computer so we could hotspot one of our phones and connect to the net from the computer.

Still – it was a long and emotionally draining weekend so I wasn’t interested in writing anything even though I now had the ability. Until I got the “On This Day” notification, that is. My husband and I had just finished watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix. As we sat on the couch trying to decide whether to retire to bed, I read my posts from years past.

Eventually, I got to the “5 years ago” section and saw this:

Screenshot_2015-08-30-21-34-05

The next memory was from an hour and a half earlier and went something like this:

So I sit down to write my first ever blog post. After a brief pause, I find a good starting point. Just as I’m getting into the groove…

“Mom? Where are those capri pants we bought at the mall?”

“I don’t know. Everything I found in the shopping bags, I ran through the washer and dryer and they were in the green hamper. Don’t you have some other dress code to wear tomorrow?”

“No. Just those pants from Claire that are too tight and then those others that are too short.”

 

With a sigh, I get up from the computer and head down the hall. As I’m digging through the laundry, the boys’ door opens and out walks the youngest…

“I need to go poop.”

“Ok. But make it quick. I’ll be in to wipe you soon.”

 

I gather up all the khaki laundry and head to the laundry room. As I’m loading it, I hear crying from the bathroom. It gets louder and more intense. I see Jane so I ask her, “what’s going on?”

“He asked me to hug him so I did and then he asked for it again so I did and then…”

The rest of it is drowned out by the crying. I open the bathroom door. He’s screaming incoherently about wanting something more from sister. I recognize the cry. It’s the impossible-to-satisfy-I’m-too-tired cry. Nothing his sister does will satisfy him.

 

After some threats and cajoling and sweet talking and a trip back to the washing machine, I finally get him shuffled off to bed. All is quiet. Only a 20 minute interruption. I suspect I better get used to them.

The friends who had been encouraging me to start a blog had asked for the web address. I smiled when I read my response to them:

Not handing out the address until I’ve replaced the picture of the chess board and figured out how to remove the tagline that says “4 out of 5 dentists like this blog” and a few other important housekeeping tasks! 🙂 But the first post is done and I hope to get the address out very soon.

I was outright laughing when I saw the response from a high school friend… who actually happens to be a dentist:

I want to be one of the four out of five!

Two hours before that post (about 7:15 in the evening), I had posted that I’d done the research, picked a site, decided on a name, and figured out aliases for my children’s names. I declared that I would be creating my blog and was posting that intent so I could be accountable.

I expressed concern that my name was likely already taken. It was. This was originally just going to be “Bright Spots.” The name wasn’t available. I panicked. But that was the perfect name! Then I thought to add “my” to the front and “mybrightspots” was born.

I looked over at my husband tonight and said, “Wow. Today is the 5th anniversary of my blog. Guess I should have written a post or something. Oh, well.”

“You still can. There’s time.”

It may seem melodramatic but I felt in that moment, that I was at a fork in the road. To shrug “nah!” and head to bed with Two Dots and Words With Friends would be the first nail in my blogging coffin. Was this thing important or not? It was. I had been too tired just moments before, but now I wanted nothing more than to write.

So here I am. Perhaps boring you with long-winded Facebook posts from five years ago. But still writing. And BrightSpots? Well, I went to see what they were up to. This is what I saw:

brightspots

Heh. So I outlasted them – whoever they were. That’s ok. I think I like expressing clear ownership of the bright spots after all.

Five years ago, I was attending a different church. I was working in a different building for a different supervisor. I hadn’t learned to enjoy wine. I hadn’t invested in a regular and vigorous workout routine. My husband hadn’t either and was growing a massively long beard. My children were about to turn 10, 7, and 2. My oldest child was still in elementary school.

Now I have a child marching in the High School band. And another starting bassoon in sixth grade. In fact, our three children are at three different campuses. Our first grader has learned to sass and employ sarcasm – even if he uses it at odd times. Our sixth grader is growing armpit hair and might have the faint shadow of a mustache if you hold him under the light just right. Our high schooler thinks she might want to go away to a special academy in two years. I enjoy a glass of wine after work some nights and work out with my cleanly shaved husband almost every morning.

Our life has changed so much. But the spots are still bright. And still mine.

Feel The Music

Well, surprise, surprise! Still not getting around to posting my Texas post. Maybe tomorrow. We shall see. Got distracted by something cute on Facebook.

I’m not all fluff – honest, I’m not! I also read a very long back-and-forth about the Confederacy’s reasons for seceding. And an article about why it’s so hard for white people to see racism and white privilege. And another article about why “color blindness” shouldn’t be our goal. Oh, and Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Interesting stuff. Deep stuff. Valuable stuff. You should go look for it.

But for whatever reason, I find myself reluctant to be the purveyor of such material. Part of it is that I don’t want to start a fight or have any conflicts. Part of it is that I’m not confident I can articulate my thoughts well. Part of it is because that’s not the flavor of this blog. How much of that is just cover for the other, I don’t know. But here we are. On to the cute stuff.

I shared an article on Facebook that I came across a few weeks ago. It argued that we shouldn’t “defend” music education by claiming it will help test scores and performance in other subjects because music has intrinsic value and doesn’t need to be justified by other benefits. That share of mine then had more of my friends turn around and share it than any other I’ve put out there. I had struck a chord.

(See what I did there?)

And then I stumbled onto this adorable bit of cuteness last night.

{I’m not sure this whole embedded video thing works consistently so I’ve provided both the embedded video and the link. One or the other should work. And I’ll include a couple of screen shots below. One is of the baby crying before the music started and the other shows the excited surprise after. You should watch the video though. It’ll make your day.}

As soon as my face lit up with laughter at what I was watching, the sensible, intellectual part of my brain that wasn’t busy saying “Oh, goo-goo-goo-goo-goo-goo! Aren’t you just a precious sweetheart?! Oh, yes, you are! Oh, yes, you are!”… was thinking that this video was proving the point of that article.

Proof.

Right there.

Music is part of who we are. It speaks to a part of our being that we don’t have words for. We respond to it in ways that we can’t understand. I’m not saying that nothing else can inspire us like music can. I know that words can – both on the page and spoken by a powerful orator. I know that beautiful scenes in nature can too. But still. There’s a reason movies have soundtracks. The music completes the deal.

So why, why would we neglect music education in our schools? I’m an engineer but there are plenty of other, more normal people out there that aren’t using a lick of Algebra or Geometry in their day-to-day life. Read any online forum to get a sense of just how many people have forgotten their history lessons. Or geography. Or science. For that matter, look at just how many people fail to use basic English properly.

But I bet you nearly every single one of them listens to music. Feels music. Why not give them the tools to appreciate it even more. To perhaps be able to create it themselves. Give them tools they’ll use.

Why not?

baby_dance

I Am A Beautiful Person

My sister-in-law recently posted one of those “do this silly thing and post what you get” pictures on Facebook. I initially rolled my eyes and scrolled on by. But something – might have just been an unwillingness to turn off the phone and go to sleep – something made me scroll back up and read the comments.

They were mostly nonsensical, almost-funny statements. They all had some sort of grammar issue but almost, just almost made sense. And that intrigued me.

The “silly” thing you were to do was to put your phone in edit mode, you know, where the keyboard shows up. For most people (although not, it turns out, my husband), that results in three default words you can select without typing anything. The instruction was to tap the center word 20 times and post what you got.

So I did it and this is what I got:

I am a beautiful person. I am a beautiful person. I am a beautiful person. I am

If I had kept tapping that center word, I would have continued to announce to the world that I was a beautiful person.

A friend informed me that my phone was a narcissist. That would be one take, but it wasn’t my initial response to the phone’s mantra. My phone obviously knows me very well. I suppose it makes sense seeing as how so much of my life takes place through it: WordPress, Facebook, email, text messages, my calendar, my workout regiment, what games entertain me, where I want to go. Shoot, it even knows when I wake up each morning and when I want to be asleep. And how often my children need to be entertained by my phone. Even when our internet at home is down and I resort to my mobile hotspot to finish watching Netflix.

It obviously knew me well enough to know that correct grammar was important to me and so didn’t embarrass me with sticking oddball words in the middle of my random sentence, as if I were someone trying to write English assembly instructions despite English being my second (or third) language.

And it would appear that it knows how hard I am on myself. No, I don’t think my phone is a narcissist. I think it was trying to encourage me to practice positive self-talk. Just tell yourself this, it was saying to me. Just tell yourself this over and over and over and over again until you believe it. Truly, deeply believe it – not just an academic acceptance, but in your soul.

That must be what it was doing because it never would say anything else, no matter how many times I tried.

Missed Me?

I’ve been silent for the last week and I’m not quite sure why. I have a lot of stories floating around in my head. Some of them are about the kids (what I am supposed to be writing about) and others are commentaries on stuff around me or current events (what I find myself writing about more and more).

Those ideas are composed and recomposed over and over again as I walk or drive from place to place. I would gladly write them instead of working but… well… I’d like to keep my job. I keep doing the mental composing throughout my day. Then I get home and take care of the myriad obligations there. Eventually the kids go to bed and that’s my usual blog time.

Except I haven’t felt it.

When I list the things I need to do and I hit “write a blog post”, I think Man. I really don’t feel like doing that right now. When that’s happened before, it’s usually been because either a) I don’t have anything to write about and don’t have the energy to come up with something or b) I’m angry about something and don’t feel that’s the right state of mind to be in when writing for a blog entitled “My Bright Spots.” But that hasn’t been the case lately. I just haven’t felt like it.

So… nothing.

It’s been an interesting shift. Used to be, I consistently wrote my posts because I wanted to. But lately, I’ve been writing because I felt I had to. I needed to be predictable. A post every day Monday-Friday, with a “Throwback Thursday” post on Thursday. When it was getting late and I realized I hadn’t written one, I felt obligated to sit down and churn one out.

I’ve been having a similar reaction to reading blog posts. I’ve been feeling like we are all chattering magpies yapping away at the wind. What’s the point? Are we all just producing this stuff for each other? Why? Has my blog just become a more refined version of a “share every thought that comes into my head” Facebook life?

I’m not sure.

But the interesting thing is that as I write this, more topics are coming into my head. Everything from baking cookies with my mom last week to my thoughts on Ferguson, MO. So I don’t think I’m coming to feel there’s no point. I think I’m just tired. Really, really tired.

It’s not easy to be a full time engineer, mother to three kids (from a Kindergartener to a teenager), church elder, Sunday School teacher, club volunteer, DIY home rennovator, regular (almost obsessive) exercise practioner, and a blogger. Sometimes I get tired. Ok, not sometimes. I’m always tired. And I have to let something go. I’ve chosen not to let up on the exercise. I committed to the church for a three year term. The club needs me. The projects at the house still have to get done. And I can’t really drop my work and parenting obligations. That leaves the blog.

I don’t want to quit though, and I’m not going to. I’m just going to try telling myself that I don’t have to publish on a schedule. I don’t have to do it if I don’t feel like it. I can skip for a week or two or longer if I want to. And it’ll all be ok.

Now, don’t be surprised if I end up publishing something every day this week. Now that I’ve primed the pump, so to speak, I may find I “feel” like writing and easily fill my week with posts. But if I do fall silent for a bit (again), just say a little prayer or send kind thoughts my way. Something simple like “I hope she gets some sleep” will do. Thanks. 🙂

How about you? Do you keep a schedule or have a guideline of how often you want to blog? Do you fall into slumps? Does it bother you? Do you ever feel obligated or is it always an act of joy?

Why I Share Where I Do

So yesterday’s post was almost a Facebook status update. I took that picture, hit the share button on my phone, selected Facebook, and was typing the status update about my son using the word “plinth”, when my husband pointed out to me that I shouldn’t be climbing mindlessly into the passenger seat of his car… since my car was in the parking lot as well.

I stopped the post and began my drive home. As I did so, I thought about the story for awhile and thought, “Hey, that could be a blog post.” And that’s when I realized that my story sharing has taken a sharp change in direction of late. I am much more likely to share my little vignettes of life on WordPress than I am on Facebook.

Used to be, I had to throttle my Facebook status updates so I didn’t annoy my friends. Now, if I look at my timeline, it is composed almost entirely of shares from WordPress. That night on the drive home, I felt like I was making a choice of who to share with.

See, there are many people who read my blog that I don’t know in real life, thus, they are not my Facebook friends. Likewise, there are people that are my Facebook friends who don’t follow the link to my blog posts. Many do, but as many or more don’t. So when I’m faced with that choice to share a brief synopsis of my son’s funny behavior on Facebook or a more lengthy telling on WordPress, I feel like I’m making the choice between sharing with friends or strangers. And more and more, I’m making the choice to share with strangers.

I struggled with that but by the time I had reached home, I had decided that, yes, I wanted to blog about it. It was a cute story. If I blog it, I have it forever. I can search my history, I can bundle it up in a book later in life, I can give it to my child when he’s an adult. If I post it on Facebook… *sigh* I gave up trying to save off my Facebook statuses a long time ago. It was just too much work. If I share it on Facebook, it’s a flash in the pan and then it’s gone.

And… And… anyone can read the blog. Anyone. Even all those Facebook friends who don’t. And who knows? Maybe more of them read it than I think. I’m frequently surprised by someone referencing a post when I didn’t know they paid my blog any attention at all.

I read someone’s blog recently about why they write. They talked about all the words in their head and needing to get them out. That’s not me. What I do have is a driving interest to tell stories. I don’t make them up. I’m not (yet) a writer of fiction. But I do thoroughly enjoy telling the stories of what’s happening around me in what is (hopefully) an entertaining and engaging way.

As I said in my first ever blog post, people on Facebook were enjoying my stories. They encouraged me to share them with a wider audience. Ironically, they aren’t around encouraging me much anymore but I trust that their sentiment was genuine. I came across a letter from a long-lost friend recently; he too told me that I needed to share my stories.

And so here I am. Trusting that it’s far better to fully flesh out my story and save it for posterity than to throw a quick quip out there on Facebook. And judging by how much my daughter laughed when she read about her brother’s “Inner Dragon” last night, I think I’m taking the right path. Because now, she’ll be able to laugh about it again and again. And some day, his kids can laugh about it too.

Stone Age

A coworker today told me that I’m living in the Stone Age. He said this when he found out we don’t have cable. Actually any TV reception at all.

We watch our TV from Netflix and Amazon Prime via our Roku box. I hear that’s how the cavemen did it too. My coworker, on the other hand, recently upgraded from taping his shows to using a DVR.

I depend heavily on my smart phone. It serves as my alarm clock, cooking timer, stopwatch, address book, calendar and day planner, email portal, to-do list, notebook, map, GPS, dictionary, camera, video camera, newspaper, reference book, casual gaming device, and more. I even use it to make phone calls from time to time.

My coworker, the Renaissance Man that he is, doesn’t have a smart phone. Actually, he doesn’t have a cell phone at all. Or a computer. No internet at home. What separates sophisticates like him from stone-agers like me is apparently not technology at all but merely whether you have access to catch the Super Bowl this weekend.

As much as I love watching big beefy guys crash into each other, I think I’ll just stay in my cave. Besides, I can get a pretty good idea how the game is going by watching my Facebook newsfeed. On my phone. While watching Dr. Who on my Roku. And all the commercials will likely be on YouTube by Monday.