Looking Back on 4 Years of Blogging

Wow, I just renewed my Go Mama O. domain today for another year, making it 4 years of blogging!

I am not an exceptional or wildly popular blogger by any means. I know there are many things I SHOULD do (writing more is one of them), but many of these things are in a mental list of “how to be a better blogger.” I’ve even changed my Twitter bio to “occasional blogger.”

But still, this Mama O. goes on.

I have seen bloggers in my reader or blogging community come and go, and my little site is still here.

I have found so much enjoyment from meeting fellow bloggers in my Fly on the Wall challenge group. These posts have kept my blog going and have become not only a fun outlet for me to record what my kids say, but also a wonderful way to connect with some other awesome bloggers! I’m so glad to have come across and get to know you all through your blogs. A special shout out goes to Karen at Baking in a Tornado, the mastermind behind this and other challenges.

And wow, my kids have grown so much in four years!

waking up big sister from her nap

little brother waking up big sister from her nap

Hmm…remember when they would nap?! I see a correlation between nap time and number of blog posts published on Go Mama O. Now I squeeze in a post when they are occupied with a show!

getting ready to fish

This summer – My two little fishers – ready to go! Only Big Sister caught one.

In the past four years, a lot has happened,  I’ve worked full time as a SAHM, part-time as a marketing manager; we ventured to Arizona as a family, celebrated our 10 year anniversary, did a LOT of spring cleaning, and moved to a new house this year, enjoyed camping & many adventures with our kids. Soon little brother will be off at 4 year old kindergarten, and I may be job hunting.

It has been a treat to look back on my blog and read old posts, which brings me back to the reason why I still blog – for me. It’s my own little smidgen of the Internet, where I take some time to reflect and create posts pertaining to what’s going on in my world. The format is perfect – more than just a status update or a Tweet to share what’s on my mind.

Thank you for following and reading!

Can you relate to my blogging experience?  Has you blogging varied through the years?

 

I Never Thought I’d ____

I never thought I’d ____

What a loaded opening to a big statement, right?!

I have been thinking about this statement recently, as there are things that I never thought I’d do, but I have. Life can surprise us sometimes, right?! In the spirit of sharing, I will be creating a series of posts that reveal things that I’ve done that were somewhat unexpected.

Want to join me in doing these “I never thought I’d” posts?  Let me know by commenting on my blog or emailing me at gomamao (at) gmail (dot) com.

Without further ado, here’s my first post:

I never thought I’d be an Art Teacher, but I am for Kindergartners.

The backstory – there is a program that shares art prints monthly with each class in my daughter’s school. When a child attends from kindergarten through fifth grade, they will be exposed to a different art print for each month of their academic career at this school. Along with discussing the work of art, the volunteer “art teacher” leads an art project.

I saw it listed with the PTA volunteer opportunities and kind of dismissed it, thinking, “Hmmm…that’s not for me.” A few weeks into the school year, the 5K teachers spoke at an Open House event, and this same art volunteer opportunity was mentioned again. They didn’t have a volunteer.

I was hesitant, but after asking a few questions, I was becoming convinced that it COULD be for me. My daughter’s teacher and the coordinator of the overall program were so helpful in explaining how it works. I was shown the art supply cabinet and the folder of info with each painting. I like art, right? I’m sort of creative, right? I can do this!

I am happy to report after four months that all is going well as an “Art Teacher” volunteer. I never thought I would volunteer in this way, but I knew I wanted to be involved in my daughter’s class, so it has been a surprisingly good fit. Each month we’ve looked at a variety of paintings, and I’ve managed to come up with a fun art project. Many of these paintings are ones that I’ve never come across before, so I’m learning right along with the kindergartners.

New Works of Art I’ve Discovered

Here are some of the paintings that we’ve discussed:

where_the_southern_cross_the_yellow_dog_6517

Carroll Cloar, Where The Southern Cross the Yellow Dog, 1965, Copyright Estate of Carroll Cloar

I really liked Cloar’s work – such beautiful landscapes that tell a story. His biography can be found here.

The Cornell Farm Edward Hicks

The Cornell Farm by Edward Hicks, 1848

More about this painting can be found at the National Gallery of Art.

Henry_Ossawa_Tanner_-_The_Banjo_Lesson

The Banjo Lesson by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1893

Source: Wikipedia, “Henry Ossawa Tanner – painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner, via http://www.artchive.com/artchive/T/tanner.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Lessons Learned

While I’m not an art expert nor teacher, I’ve certainly gained insight (and a lot of respect for teachers) in a kindergarten classroom.  It has been fun seeing them react to each work of art and tell me what they notice. I am able to share a few art concepts each time that we then try to incorporate into our art projects that day. The excitement and enthusiasm of the kids is contagious. We have fun learning and creating. And it is so neat to see my daughter and get to know her class a bit more.

As one staff member at the school said, kids remember their parents volunteering.  With each hug that my daughter gives me when I’m in her class, I know that this is true. It means a lot to her, and I’m happy to learn and share this time with her!

Comment below and let me know what you’ve never thought you’d do!  Let me know if you want to do a group post on this topic too.

 

 

3 Years of Blogging: Memories and Lessons Learned

My 3 year blog-iversary came and went during the busyness of August. I saw the little trophy icon in my WordPress notifications and then moved on to packing / unpacking / running around with my kids, making a mental note to write something somewhat moving and reflective at another time.

With a long weekend and some downtime, I take some time to look back at my little blog and share a few favorite posts and some lessons learned along the way.

2015 Recap

This past year I started off by getting organized! When you live in the frozen tundra that was hit by the polar vortex, you spend a LOT of time cooped up, so it’s a great time to tidy up. I also talked about getting outside & snowshoeing in winter, which has turned into a fun hobby for me & Daddy O.

In spring we ventured to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago for some family fun. Everyone had a blast, but this is what my daughter remembered most from Spring Break. It’s a good reminder to sometimes just keep it simple!

In June my daughter finished 4K and seems so grown up AT TIMES. I only write this because she and her little brother specifically requested to drink from sippy cups this summer. If I’ve learned anything from my kids, it is to be a bit more easy-going, so I am still letting them use their insulated sippy cups today if they so desire. A few more posts about parenting and lessons learned are below.Kids on a bike ride

The sweet stuff / Parenting Lessons

Thoughts on growing older

These posts have made me feel my age a bit with the exception of the aunt-related post. It is those moments in which you have to stop yourself and think, “Wow, this would NOT have been me xx years ago” and lmom bobaugh!

Fly on the Wall

I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Fly on the Wall group posts.  It’s a glimpse at the crazy things my family says. Check my “fly posts” out here. Some “greatest hits” from Fly on the Wall this year include:

From my nephew explaining that to his dad…beer is only a treat.

Big sister: Mom, I have a big brain like you. I have all sorts of things in my brain this morning.

A random man told us that we “looked like one of those couples from reality tv!” (read more about that here)

Big sister: Naked people don’t like company.

Little brother: Not eating your boogers is the golden rule.

Be sure to visit my site on Sept. 18th for my next installment of Fly on the Wall!

Kids Parties

A few of my posts about my kids’ birthday parties seem to be well-liked, so here they are:

My All-Time Worst Potty Training Experience Ever

I really didn’t over-share this post when I first wrote it, but looking back, it IS pretty hilarious now that potty training is a distant memory.

The FUTURE of Go Mama O.

Looking ahead at this coming year of my blog, I see more time for writing and hopefully more posts. I’ve noticed some of my past blogging friends have seemingly disappeared from the blogosphere or have taken the leap away from WordPress. While it’s sad to see them go or not hear from them, I appreciate the blog friends that follow me whenever they can! I’ll continue to participate in Fly on the Wall and investigate some other opportunities. I have simply learned that I need to blog more frequently, and it’s more fun when you also follow and connect with other bloggers too.

This blog is a my own little slice of the internet for sharing my life experience and random thoughts – a place where I look forward to reading, commenting, and connecting in the year to come. Thanks for your support, dear readers & friends!

Comment below on your favorite post, ask any questions, or tell me what you’d like to see more of on Go Mama O.

Social Media, You Confound Me!

Is anyone else a little frustrated by social media?

In the age of social media, we’re supposed to be more connected to acquaintances, friends, family, and other virtual friends, not to mention projects, recipes, brands, and companies.  A simple LIKE, PIN, or TWEET can easily be shared across your network and bring people together, right?

My most frequent social media notification on my phone is from Pinterest.  More often than not, I am notified that someone has repinned my pin pictured below:

Most re-pinned pin of mine

Most re-pinned pin of mine

It’s from a site I found when I first joined Pinterest (see my boards here).  I pinned it to my board called: Cool, but not sure when I will do this.  Based on this board, it’s no surprise that I HAVEN’T DONE THIS PROJECT.  I have not taken the time to save tin cans, cover them in cute scrapbook paper, and build a game for ANY party or just a rainy day.  Sorry pinners, I cannot attest to the ease or functionality of this project.

As for other social media networks, the Facebook newsfeed changes have affected what we see and how businesses are seen.  I came across the April 10th article Facebook Frustration by Katie McKissick shared by a friend on Facebook.  She writes:

“Facebook will start to roll out a new algorithm that will stifle Pages’ organic reach to a mere 1-2% of its established audience unless, of course, you pay to reach the rest of them.”

Since I also have responsibility for social media at my part-time job, I also notice limited engagement from our business posts.  We currently do not “pay to play,” thus limiting our reach to only a small percentage of our followers.  As a result, with such small numbers, it’s difficult to tell with any confidence what content is more effective than others. Certainly pictures perform better than just text only updates; this much I know is true. However, it brings me back to my original image of tin cans. HOW is that so popular? Was I just an early adopter of Pinterest who originated that pin? What makes one post so popular and others just so-so?

Whether professionally or personally, you want SOME response from the content you share. It is a form of validation. I don’t want to feel like I’m shouting to followers or having a one-way conversation.

Like, comment if you so desire…anything…Bueller? Bueller?  Anyone?

Times When You Can’t Find the Right Words

I’ve been blogging a little less (which isn’t saying a lot, as I’m far from a daily blogger), because I just can’t find the right words.

This isn’t anything terribly unique for a blogger, as you all are probably nodding your heads in agreement as you read this.

I can’t find the right words as I am learning about the journey that friends of mine are going through as I write – a major medical diagnosis for their beautiful two year old son that has been followed by multiple surgeries. My heart aches for them as it is one of parenting’s worst nightmares come true. I also am in awe of their amazing strength, faith, and love as they honestly share their story and celebrate the little victories with their son. Even in some of their most difficult days, they seem to be able to notice some good moments the keep them uplifted. It is inspiring.

On their own Caring Bridge journal, they say the comments and support from their virtual community is helping to look to the light. I feel a little helpless, thinking are my prayers, thoughts, and comments enough? How else can I give them a long-distance hug across several states?

This isn’t the first time someone I’ve cared about has faced a major medical condition with a child before. My nephew was diagnosed with a heart defect on the day he was born. It was a huge shock to us all then, and I can clearly remember being in the room when the doctor delivered the news. Horrible. Unexpected. Fear. Uncertainty. Prayers. At the time, I didn’t feel equipped with the right words, just as I feel now.

Fortunately, my sister and brother-in-law were supported by an incredible medical team and a local support group for parents of children with heart defects.  These parents understood all too well what my sister and brother in law were going through.  I was happy she had that outlet, knowing they would provide words of support and comfort that I could not based on my own life experience.

There’s no handbook for parents for handling such things. Being a parent is a scary business.

Before and after my nephew’s heart surgery (which now seems like a distant memory, as he is now a healthy, goofy, and energetic almost 3 year old), I did what I could to show my love and support in the most basic ways – making or bringing meals, watching my three-year old nephew, just listening, and fervently praying.

In times of crisis it all seems to come back to the basics of love. Doing our best to act out of love and  simply “be present” in whatever way we can be.

I’m inclined to believe that the right words don’t matter so much because God senses our innermost thoughts and hears our prayers.

In the spirit of not being able to find the right words, I’m going to close this post with a petition for prayer or kind thoughts (whatever your beliefs may be) for my friend’s son and for all families and individuals battling an illness.  Let us also pray for all caregivers, medical professionals, and supporters who care for the sick and their families. May our actions, thoughts, and prayers help wrap patients and their families up in one huge, comforting hug.