Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene Aftermath

So, we had a bit of excitement over the past few days thanks to Hurricane Irene.

We lost power for almost 48 hours, had 3 leaks, two portions of our fence were blown in, and a small portion of our roof is gone (plus various shingles).  All in all, we got off pretty easy with Hurricane Irene.  We didn't have to deal with flooding  & there isn't any structural damage to our house.  We also didn't have to leave our house, all the while hoping we'd have a house to come home to.  I'd say we are dealing with minor inconveniences, in the big picture.

As of today, we've contacted USAA about the wind & water damage, Dish Network is out here fixing our satellite, and our refrigerator has been thoroughly cleaned & sanitized.  We've had two absolutely perfect days since Hurricane Irene passed through Hampton Roads.

So many people have been deeply and permanently affected by Hurricane Irene.  Although, by hurricane standards, she may have seemed like a "joke" and "boring" to some, she has proved to be quite formidable.

Please keep the families, states, and regions still picking up the pieces in your thoughts and/or prayers.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Remembering Hurricane Hugo

It was September of 1989, just days before I turned 14.

Hurricane Hugo was fast approaching the Georgia Coast.

We watched and waited; waited and watched.  Almost all storm trackers predicted a dead hit on Jacksonville, FL just south of where I grew up, which would put my very low hometown in the worst part of the storm surge. Right at the last moment, Hugo veered to the North and slammed the South Carolina coast.

This was the first and only hurricane that caused us to evacuate as a family.  We lived between a tidal river and the ocean.  It wouldn't take much of a storm surge to inundate my entire hometown.  Category Fours are no joke, people.

Unless you are almost 14 and have a taste for the macabre.

I wrote a song about it.

Hugo the Class 4 Hurricane
(sung to the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)
Written by Dana

Hugo the class 4 Hurricane
Had very strong winds
and if you ever saw them
you would never see again.

All of the other Southern States,
Used to laugh and not worry
Till [sic] poor Hugo Hit
Charleston Dead on

The one stormy early morning
Hugo came to say
"Southern States with all your pride,
I'm surprised you have not died"

All of the people feared him
as they shouted out with glee
"Hugo the class 4 Hurricane
you'll go down in History"

I don't think I'll write a song about Hurricane Irene.  My singer/songwriter days are long behind me.

If you don't hear from me, we probably don't have power.


Come on Eileen Irene,
I swear (well he means)

At this moment you mean
With you in that dress

my thoughts I confess
verge on dirty
Ah come on Eileen Irene. 

Hmmmm...there's potential in there somewhere...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top 5 Reasons Bacon Makes Me Cry

Look, I realize this is a risky post for some of my blog readers.  I hope you'll continue to read this, even though it's anti-bacon.

I'll also show you this lovely picture of crispy bacon to distract you and dull your senses.

{image source: Kimtaro}

As far as my diet is concerned, I am closer to a vegetarian than a carnivore. I was a pescetarian for several years until we discovered that I am carnitine deficient (this is related to my VLCADD carrier status).  The easiest way to add carnitine to your diet is to eat meat, so I eat poultry again.

Anyways, I digress.  I don't eat pork (or beef).  I actually stopped eating most pork, with the exception of bacon, long before bacon made me cry.

So, without further ado,

The Top 5 Reasons Bacon Makes Me Cry

5 - I'll be brief about this, but let's just say that pork causes some gastrointestinal issues for me. I won't go into detail and I highly suggest you don't use your imagination.

4 - We live en route to Smithfield, VA, so I see (and smell) this a lot:

{image source: elbragon

Pig trucks make me cry for a variety of reasons.  Cute little piggies.

3 - Okay, I can admit that I love the taste of bacon.  Sometimes I cry when I think about how good it tastes and how I don't eat it anymore.  I might, one day, forget how bacon tastes and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

2 - Um, yeah...

{image source: miss karen}

and finally...

The Number One Reason Bacon Makes Me Cry

1 - This is what I see when I look at bacon.  I can't eat that! I can throw live crabs in boiling water but all I see is a smiling piglet when I see bacon.  Do you understand why this is a problem for me?

Smiling piglet

{image source: Meneer Zjeroen}

Bonus info:
The pork processing plants are located on Virgina State Route 666.
No lie.

This post was inspired by:
2.) Top Ten Reasons Bacon is Awesome prompt.

Let's BEE Friends

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wine Tasting in the OBX -- #VlogTalk is #SummerSmashed

Yes, I'm a day late posting this & linking it up with #VlogTalk & #SummerSmashed...I have no excuses.  I just wanted to read a book.

Anyways, Carri at Mommy's Little Monster Blake and Jessica at My Time as Mom have a bonus blogging meme this week to celebrate the end of summer by sharing our favorite summer drink recipes (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and describing how we'd entertain our friends, you know, if anyone ever visited us.

For starters, here's my Summer Drink Recipe:

Have you heard of an "Arnie Palmer" (or Arnold Palmer)?  It's a delightful beverage consisting of 1/2 Iced Tea and 1/2 Lemonade.  My favorite summer drink is a distinctly Southern version of this refreshing classic.

Fill a tumbler with a few cubes of ice.
Add an ounce or four (I have no clue, I just pour) of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.
Fill the rest of the glass with Simply Lemonade (I usually use their Raspberry Lemonade).
Mix well (you can shake or stir, it makes no difference to me).
This recipe is Mother-in-Law approved!

If you come to visit us, here's a peek at some of the excitement awaiting you:

*Bonus Drinking Game ::: Take a shot every time I say "so."
**We didn't taste many wines & Chris was pouring his out like a good driver.
***We really don't like Chardonnay that's been aged in American Oak.  Blech.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Eli Rose Social Media Blog Assessment

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was getting a blog assessment & personal strategy done by Eli Rose Social Media.  That has been completed and I am no working with 2711 Designs on a new, personalized blog design.

You may be wondering what a blog assessment is and why I (or you) need one, so I'm going to share my experience with Eli Rose Social Media and what I learned from them.

{image source: futureshape}

My blog design has been getting on my nerves for a little while and I've been lacking the inspiration and motivation to blog regularly.  I knew I needed something to change because I really enjoy blogging...but I felt like I had the worst case of writer's block.  I started hearing about Eli Rose Social Media and their blog assessments, so I began doing my research.

First of all, I do tend to look at cost before deciding whether or not to go through with anything.  The benefit has to either be obvious enough to justify an expense or the cost needs to be low enough to mitigate risk.  I'm not kidding and sometimes I'm embarrassed by how cheap I am. So be it.

The blog assessment from Eli Rose Social Media is ONLY $10.  Yes. You read that correctly.  If you purchase the personal strategy along with it, your whopping total amount invested is $25.  The price was right, so after reading a few positive reviews & comments regarding Eli Rose's services, I jumped on board.

The Blog Assessment

The 25+ Point Assessment basically looks at your blog as a whole experience and brand. It covers design, user (reader) friendliness, and branding throughout different social media sites, like Twitter & Facebook.

Eli Rose does an excellent job at highlighting what you are doing "right" and pointing out areas where you could improve.  They give clear reasoning to back up their assertions, giving you the information you need to decide whether or not to act on their recommendations.

In addition to tips directly related to your blog, they also include general information about tools you may want to use while blogging.

The Blog Assessment is an excellent use of $10 and I highly recommend it.

The Personal Strategy

For the personal strategy, Eli Rose sent me a list of questions to help determine my blogging goals & the areas where I'd like to improve and need tips.  From that information, they outlined the personal strategy to address key points that will (hopefully) assist me in reaching my blogging goals.

The tips I was given were very helpful.  An entire section was included on monetization of my blog, which is something I am not interested in at this point, but it's very good information to have should I change my mind in the future.  I could have used more information regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Blogger blogs, if that even exists. I realize Wordpress.Org is much better for SEO, but that is a financial commitment I am not ready to make at this point.

One of my biggest goals, in addition to just having fun while blogging, is to help promote information regarding VLCAD Deficiency and other related mitochondrial disorders.  Eli Rose gave me several helpful tips to achieve this goal through social media.  These tips prompted me to go ahead and take the leap into starting a Facebook Fan Page for Really, What Were We Thinking.

It did take slightly longer than I expected to receive the questionnaire & strategy based on the timeline I had been given via email and I would have liked more communication regarding delays with the Personal Strategy.  However, all emails I sent were promptly answered, including all follow up questions.  Additionally, Eli Rose made it clear that I was welcome to send them more questions in the future, should I have any.

I recommend the Personal Strategy from Eli Rose Social Media if you have hit a road block with your blogging and need some help taking your social media presence to the next level.


I think this is an excellent deal and is probably worth way more than Eli Rose charges for these services. I definitely have a greater understanding of what I want & need to do to get my blog where I want it to be and I now have the tools to reach my goals.

Additionally, Eli Rose Social Media maintains an incredibly helpful blog with tips on using social media in a way that is easy to understand. They are also quick to respond via email or twitter when you have questions. I think Eli Rose Social Media is an incredibly good resource for bloggers of all levels.

Even if you don't want to commit to the blog assessment or personal strategy right now, you need to follow Eli Rose on Twitter and keep bookmarked!  The information they regularly share is invaluable.

Have you ever had a blog assessment done?  What did you think?  Are you considering having it done for the first time?  Do you have any questions about the blog assessment process?


This review was not solicited by Eli Rose Social Media nor did I receive any goods or services to provide this review. For more information, please read my full Disclosure.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'm Punching Thursday in the Throat

Yeah, Thursday, August 18, 2011, you can suck it.

Last night we got little to no sleep because Samson was obviously uncomfortable and unhappy.

This morning, the smoke from the Dismal Swamp fires was back in full force after a 2 day hiatus.

Chris left for work in a completely pissy mood.

I was in a completely pissy mood.

Klaw has been teething for weeks, so he joined us in our pissy moods. This kid needs a break, please!  Today was the worst day we've had.  He's literally been screaming most of the day.  He doesn't chew on teething rings, so I was giving him smashed, cold blueberries. He was screaming and crying while eating them because he's in so much pain. (Don't worry, I busted out the ibuprofen and he's feeling a bit better now)

Samson was refused to eat this morning and has been restless and depressed all day.  The sedative dosage is wearing off, so we have to increase it (which did help some).  He did finally eat a little bit around mid-day.

Oh, because of all the stupid smoke, I can't let Klaw play outside.  My asthma has been acting up & I definitely don't want him to be exposed to this much smoke, if it can be avoided.  Also, because of all the stuff with Samson, we haven't exactly been getting out to the Children's Museum or the Living Museum, so that has definitely not helped Klaw's outlook or attitude lately.  (or mine, to be quite honest)

Boomer is being a complete butthole to Samson.  Boomer has a bad habit of starting fights he can't finish, so he's taking advantage of the fact that Samson is lame right now.  Nothing like kicking a dog when he's down.  He almost deserves his own throat punch because of the way he's acting.

Roscoe has taken his incessant barking to a brand new level.  I love him but SHUT UP, please.

Oh, the kicker?  Samson needed to have his bandages removed today.  I walked out to move my car so that I could help Samson get into it more easily and it won't frickin' start. WON'T FRICKIN' START!!!

Well, that's not entirely true - it would start & then slowly die off like a toy that needs new batteries. I was in absolute shock. It was seriously the last thing I needed to deal with today.  Of course, it also happened while Chris was taking an exam at work so he was completely unaware of my day's total breakdown.

Yes, I called his work phone & cell phone, I sent him a tweet, and I emailed him just to make sure he got all of my crazy messages.  I'm nothing, if not thorough.

Finally, Chris got home and, I swear, the clouds parted.  All my car needed was a jump (ok, I had left an interior light on for a couple of days...), which Chris took care of easily.  Klaw finally napped.  Chris unclogged the toilet that Klaw had managed to clog (which I think is awfully, disgustingly impressive for a 16 month old).  Chris also took Samson to get his bandages off.

The world is still spinning, the sun will still set, and the moon will still rise.

I am now enjoying a cider.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

worth every penny

What do used cars & dog surgery have in common?

Cost.  No, really.

We could buy a used car for the cost of Samson's recent Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery.  Lovely.

Lovely just like Samson!

He's totally worth it, don't get me wrong.  It's just a punch in the gut when you have to spend that kind of money on anything.

We only spent $80 when we adopted him from the Kitsap Humane Society.

Samson has really good timing, though.  Chris finally signed his contract with the Navy & had just received his bonus when Samson blew out his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his knee.  We were able to pay for his surgery without having to use credit cards, which is a blessing (since we haven't used credit cards in years!).

The good part of this is that the surgery has an excellent success rate.  Also, this particular surgeon does these surgeries all the time, so he definitely knows what he's doing.

This was his freehand drawing of what the surgery would entail:

The bad much worse than the the SIX WEEKS OF RESTRICTED ACTIVITY!

Um, Samson is a crazy big dog.  He could probably tow a truck if he wanted to.

He can definitely tow me.

So, for now, Samson is confined in the house to prevent him from moving too much.

As you can see, he is heavily sedated really happy about this arrangement.

Dearest Lord,
Please give us the strength & ample amounts of medication to keep this beast of a dog relaxed and calm so that he does not ruin the very expensive surgical procedure he was blessed to receive.
In the name of all that is Holy, Amen.

So, have you ever had a pet threaten to put you in the poor house?  Did it make you want to vomit when you paid the bill?

Let's BEE Friends

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tomorrow is Another Day!

Hey, y'all, I'm guest posting about Charleston, SC for Angela Noelle over at Tomorrow is Another Day.  Take a few minutes and travel over her way to see what I had to say about one of America's friendliest cities!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

An Accidental Stalking

 This week's list of prompts from Mama Kat were really all wonderful...but this one stuck out to me like a sore thumb:

1.) The Police said it best when they said, “Every breath you take/And every move you make/Every bond you break, every step you take/I’ll be watching you”. Write about a time you believed someone was watching you.

I don't tell this story often, but I once had a stalker.

I was a lifeguard in my early twenties and in easily the best shape of my life.  I worked outdoors in a swimsuit and swam at least half a mile every day.

 Thinking back, I was way more stalker-worthy than I am right now in my mid-thirties with added baby-weight.  (If Chris were here, he would dutifully & lovingly point out that I have two significantly larger assets that I lacked when I was lifeguarding)

Back to the story...

One day, I was leaving work & headed out to my car when I noticed a note on my windshield.

There was no signature.

The message was fairly vague, just letting me know that someone was watching me & that they'd like to get together soon.

My friends & I have unusual senses of humor, so I assumed it was a friend pulling a prank.  Everybody knew where I worked & I'd often have people come by & visit during the day.  I put the note in my glove box & called it a day.

A day or two later, I got a phone call from one of my friends.  She wanted to let me know that a guy who had once stalked her was out of JAIL and trying to contact her again.  He mentioned that he saw her working WHERE I WORKED and she wanted to let me know (I was the only female that even remotely looked similar to her).

She had already contacted the police and I told her about the note.

So, my one & only stalker wasn't even stalking me.

I never got another note on windshield.


the end

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

choices NOT chains; raising our daughters

A blog post was brought to my attention through Twitter. It was very short but the message in it was very clear...and it thoroughly pissed me off.

I admit that I am passionate about the things I believe in but, for the most part, I have a live & let live philosophy.  Chris & I parent a certain way but, again, for the most part, if you do things differently it's not going to cause a rift between us.  I enjoy debating & discussing almost anything...not for the purpose of changing someone else's mind but for the purpose of understanding why other people feel & believe differently about things.

However, I do have my limits.  One of those limits is limiting the choices of women.  Even worse?  Limiting those choices before the girl even becomes a woman.

I am a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).  I love it. I love that I am in a position that I could make this choice in my life, in Klaw's life.  I have spent most of my career taking care of other people's children as a nanny, through daycare, or as an educator.  For me, being able to stay home with Klaw is of the utmost importance to me and I am in a position to do it.  Not all women are fulfilled staying at home and not all women are financially able to do it even if they want to.

An involved & loving parent is an involved & loving parent whether they are at home all day, at work all day, or deployed.

You are probably wondering what pissed me off by now, aren't you?

Well, I've decided to not quote or link to the blog post in question.  Trust me, I'd like to.  I am really not that nice of a person but I do think it would be treading a delicate line of just being an ass on my part, at best.  At worst, it would direct more traffic to his site.

However, if you follow me on Twitter, I tweeted the link twice.

To summarize a very short post to begin with:  A dad stated that he was raising his daughters to be stay-at-home-moms.  In fact, he seems to believe that we should "groom" our women to be women.

First of all, I don't need to be "groomed" to do anything.  That's a terrible choice of a verb to use in this situation.  It's loaded because it often means the child is being groomed to be abused in one way or another. (I do not in any way, shape, or form believe this is the intent of the original author)

Second of all, forcing your daughter to be what you want her to be (in this case, a SAHM) is no better than the parents who pressure their children to join the family business, become doctors, become lawyers, etc.

What happened to raising our daughters to know their strength?  To know that they can be successful and choose what they want to do in life?

Are we failing our children if we teach them to find their own way in this world?

Chris & I may joke about Klaw becoming a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, but it's a joke.  Would we love it? Yes.  Chances are about one in a million it will happen but it would be AWESOME!

Are we going to be disappointed if he decides to become a teacher?  No.  A sailor? Absolutely not.  A stay-at-home-dad?  Definitely not.

Blame it on my women's college educated brain, I don't care.  I see no reason to limit our daughters' (or our sons') choices.  Raise them to value the roles of the SAHM, SAHD, working mom, & working dad and, more importantly, raise them to value themselves.

I want my child to face the world with strength, respect for self & for others, and the courage to forge his own path.

If Chris & I can do that, we will have succeeded as parents.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

finding hope through blogging

 The Summer Blog Social continues...

I might get a little touchy-feely and there may be some triggers in this post.  I apologize in advance.

Blogging and, eventually, Twitter have been a small blessing in my life.  When Klaw was first diagnosed with VLCAD deficiency, I made the very dumb mistake of using Dr. Google to find out more about  VLCADD.

D. U. M. B.

I read lots of stuff.  Lots of clinical stuff that didn't mean a whole lot to me but there was one key point that stuck out to me.  In fact, all my postpartum brain could comprehend from everything I read was that Klaw would not live past 6 months.  Sounds pretty severe, huh?  Well, the reason for this is that the information about VLCADD (especially online!)  is so incredibly limited that a lot of the published studies are centered around the post-mortem studies that led to the "finding" of fatty-acid oxidation disorders.

My postpartum brain got stuck on the worst possible scenario.

There was, however, one tiny shining light online amidst the clinical negativity.

I finally found one blog...ONE BLOG...about a toddler with VLCAD deficiency who was doing just fine (Landon's Place).  That gave me hope and hope is an incredibly powerful thing when you are facing a life long disorder with your child.  That one blog gave me the courage to look for more blogs. I needed to see babies, toddlers, children, adults living with VLCAD deficiency and doing fine.

I found what I was looking for and more, but it took a lot of effort.  Once things got settled with Klaw and his health, I knew I wanted to make it easier for other parents.  This helped me develop a side-road for my blog.  A secondary purpose that's, in my opinion, even more important than chronicling the various thoughts & ideas that come into my head.

I found more blogs about fatty-acid oxidation disorders. I found blogs about mitochondrial disorders. I found real people living with these disorders daily. Yes, there is plenty of sadness to go around in this group but there is so much hope.  These parents openly share their struggles, their findings, and their joys with the rest of us...if we are lucky enough to find them.  There's rarely a set way to treat these various disorders, so parents are often the first line in sharing new information, new trials, and new treatments with others.  Finding these families is like finally seeing a lighthouse when you are lost at sea.  Hope.

Finding hope through blogging & Twitter connections is the single greatest thing about social media.

How have you used social media like Twitter, Facebook, or blogging to connect with people?

Waxing philosophical & other stuff

Prompt 13: What 1 aspect of blogging and social media is your favorite? Least favorite?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Operation: Garage Declutter

Chris half-way accepted my Declutter Challenge from last week.  He wasn't willing to blog about it...but we DID finally declutter the garage.  It was about 100,000 degrees outside, bright & sunny.  Perfect weather for cleaning out a garage.

OMG it was so worth it.

Half of our two-car garage contains our pop-up camper, so I feel confident that our garage could have been a lot worse.  However, it was pretty dang bad with only half the garage being filled with pure crap.

Yeah.  That's pretty disgusting, eh?  Don't I know it.  The sad part is that we had cleaned it out once before so that I could get my SUV in the garage enough to get Klaw out in inclement weather.  (The camper makes it difficult without all of the junk!)

Well, we got started and got sweaty.  Nasty sweaty.  Chris broke out in his random hives. It was disgusting.

We organized everything on the driveway: Keep; donate; and trash.

My suv contained the "donate" items.  Chris's truck contained the "trash."

At the end of the day, all that was left was a small stool that had too many stains for the Goodwill to accept.

This is what our garage looks like now:

I'm pretty pleased.

The hardest part will be keeping the garage like this.

Bonus:  We found an old army first aid kit tucked away.  The paperwork we found with it was dated 1967, but no name attached.

 Have you ever filled two trucks full of junk after a declutter?  What's your biggest hurdle when it comes to decluttering your house?  Do you actually use your garage for your vehicles?  Does anyone?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

#VlogTalk party at our house

This week's VlogTalk email included the following prompt:

1) Get your song on. Karaoke, rap, country, rock, whatever you want as long as you are performing in front of the camera.

Chris & I have a rather extensive karaoke collection. We are currently on our 2nd karaoke machine.  We bought our 1st when it became apparent that purchasing our own machine would be financially prudent.  Previously, we had been renting professional karaoke equipment for parties at our (rented) house in the boondocks of Poulsbo, WA.  Yes, we were party central.

Now that we are older and have a child and aren't renting, we are a bit more settled.  Most of our karaoke nights are just the two of us singing our little hearts out.  Here's a sampling of some of our greatest hits.


Be sure to check out the other great VlogTalk vlogs!


Oh, do you want to see our VlogTalk Karaoke Bloopers?

Monday, August 1, 2011

10 tips for starting a blog

So you want to start your own blog, eh?  Well, I love gathering information to share with the masses, so I'm going to share my extremely limited knowledge and numerous pet peeves with all of you.

1 - Have a general goal in mind. - Do you want to blog about your family life? work life? pets?  Do you have a special skill? medical issue? really cute pet?  Are you a technical writer? humorous writer? photographer?  Do you want to make money? influence people? post beautiful photos?  Your goal may change once you get started, but having an idea of what "kind" of blog you want to write will help you with the next step.

2 - Think of a name/URL for your blog. - For what it's worth, I recommend coming up with something creative, yet generic enough to not pigeon-hole you into a niche that may limit your options should your blogging goals change over time.  A few of my bloggy friends have commented that it became problematic that their original blog names/URLs contained their children's names when they had their next child.  Some have expressed that they feel locked into the "mommy blogger" niche because their blog names contain some form of "mom," "mommy," "mother," etc.  Some bloggers have different blogs for different aspects of their lives.  This is one of the biggest decisions because once your blog gets better known, it's harder to change your name/URL.

3 - Create an email account that corresponds with your blog name/URL. - It's easy as pie to set up a free gmail account.  If you use Blogger for your blog, Google Friend Connect, or Google+, having a gmail address will make this nearly seamless.  You can then use this email whenever you have blog specific accounts with things like Twitter, StumbleUpon, YouTube, Facebook, etc.  This keeps your personal email account uncluttered and gives you a somewhat "anonymous" way to contact people, especially if you don't use your full identity on your blog.

4 - Experiment with different blog formats. - Blogger, Wordpress, & Tumblr are three blogging formats with free options but there are many others.  All three are popular and easy to use.   All three have pros & cons.

My breakdown:
Blogger - free, easy, fine for a "hobby" blogger (this is what I still happily use), inexpensive option to purchase your domain
Wordpress - free, easy, fine for a "hobby" blogger, is a self-hosted (i.e. paid) version that is good for "professional" bloggers & businesses
Tumblr - free, easy, really seems good for photography blogs, easy to reblog interesting posts, articles, or pictures
If I had to do it over again, I would have opened three blogs with the same name with each host, played around for a few weeks with each one, & then decided which one I liked best.  As it is, I'm still with Blogger and fine with that decision.

5 - Design your blog. - If you have been reading other blogs and have a pretty clear idea of what you do and don't like in blog design, go nuts!  Get out there and hit the blogging world with a bang!  If you are more like me, start with a basic (read: free) blog template that you can easily personalize and change as you learn what you like and don't like about your blog design.  For instance, you may love the color orange but after looking at an orange blog with purple accents, you may decide you want something a little more tame.  There are plenty of free, aesthetically pleasing templates with each blogging host.

6 - Make commenting on your blog easy. - Please, please, please, PLEASE turn off CAPTCHA requirements for people to leave comments.  If you are just starting your blog, I promise you are not going to get hit by so much spam that you need CAPTCHA verification in order to prevent it from clogging up your blog.  I PROMISE!  If you feel like you need some sort of spam prevention or comment editing, require your approval for posting.  However, both CAPTCHA and owner approval for comments will stagnate the amount of comments your receive on your blog.  Additionally, CAPTCHA can be super frustrating when you view a lot of blogs from your phone, like I do.

7 - WRITE! - Introduce yourself.  Make sure you have an About Me page where people can learn about you and your blog when they visit for the first time.

8 - Join Twitter. - I'm not kidding. I used to make fun of people on Twitter and now I love it.  I have found some awesome bloggers, military spouses, and just plain hilarious people to chat with and bounce ideas off of regularly.  In addition to people, I have found organizations connected to Klaw's VLCADD that I didn't know existed. I am able to stay on top of the news, world events, and genetics research thanks to Twitter.  I also promote my blog and have gained a lot of blog followers through Twitter. However, keep in mind that Twitter is a conversation. If you merely want to post links to your blog and not actually converse with Tweeps, you are just a spammer.  Cease & desist, please.

9 - Visit & comment on other blogs you enjoy. - This is one of the best ways to get to know other bloggers and get people to visit your blog.  I often find other blogs I've never heard of by randomly visiting a blog of a commenter from sites I am visiting.  In fact, there is absolutely no down side to visiting other blogs and leaving a comment. Oh, "Visiting your blog, please visit mine back" does not count as a comment.  That's just comment vomit.

10 - Respond to comments on your blog. - If you want to keep your readers and have an active, engaged community on your blog, respond to your readers.  There are different ways to do this and you just have to figure out what works best for you.  Some people prefer to respond directly to comments via email.  I use a comment platform called Disqus, where I can read & reply to comments via email.  My replies are automatically posted to my blog.  IntenseDebate is another widely used comment platform.  Both Disqus and IntenseDebate allow for threaded comments, which makes having a discussion or debate on your blog much easier.  From what I can tell, the basic Wordpress comment system is far superior to Blogger's basic comment system.  In fact, Blogger's comment system sucks.  If you are using Blogger, get Disqus or IntenseDebate (or SOMETHING) immediately.  Please.

***Edited for an update: Blogger upgraded the comment system and is significantly better. Upgrading is no longer necessary, but still an option.

Bonus Tips:
Disable auto-play music or videos. It's not cute probably going to wake the baby.
White font on a black background is ugly can be really tough to read.
Take everything every expert says except for me with a grain of salt. It's your blog.

What advice would you have for a new blogger?  If you are a new blogger, what questions do you still have?
Do you still have music autoplaying on your blog? Why?
Did you even read this post?

Advice for Others, Prompt 2: 
If a real life friend approached you and said, 
“I want to start a blog. Can you give me a list of helpful tips?“,
what 10 (or more) things would you tell your friend?

Mama’s Losin’ It

5.) If you were to go back to the moment you decided to start a blog, what ten blogging tips would you share with yourself?
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