Sucker Punch

I did something unwise as we were going to bed last night. I fired up Safari on my iPhone to catch up on a couple blogs while Kile tucked the boys in and got into bed himself. This was a poor idea because I read something that brought me to my knees. That sucked the air from my lungs. That made me feel like I was going to throw up. That caused me to cry and ache and alarm my poor husband.

Maddie died last night.

If you haven’t been reading Mamasphor, you may not know Maddie. But I’ve been reading about her and her family for quite a while now. And while I knew that her prematurity gave her a lot of health issues, she was still a vibrant, happy little girl. Not too much older than Evie. I would get nervous whenever Maddie was sick, particularly this last fall when she was hospitalized. But she recovered.

And now? Now…

I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, think of this beautiful little girl and her poor parents. Kile tried to distract me, and it sorta worked. Instead I found myself all upset and enraged about this kid who has been stealing food out of Harry’s lunch at school.  That’s productive, huh?

And when I heard Evie cry and moan over the monitor? Instead of willing her to fall back to sleep like I normally would, I leapt out of bed to retrieve her. I held her tight, reveling in her weight. In her health.  I kissed her head and stroked her hair and cried for a poor baby girl and a mama who won’t get to do that with her daughter ever again.

It’s not fair.  It’s not right.

There isn’t much I or anyone else can do.  But what I can do is donate the paltry amount currently residing in my PayPal account to her March of Dimes campaign and join the walk.  And I shall do both.   How about you?

UPDATE: Heather’s (aka mamaspohr) blog has been down for the better part of the day.  To hear why and what has been done about it, read this.

I continue to be just heartsick about this.  I cannot concentrate on anything.  I weep for a child I never knew.

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Delusions of Lurkdom

I’m a fantastic lurker.  All the blogs I follow, plus the forum I’m a member of… I lurk these all with STYLE, yo.  The thing is… sometimes I forget that I’m lurking. 

See, I don’t lurk on PURPOSE.  But often my inner editor takes control and I don’t think I have enough to contribute to comment on a post.  Or I don’t reply to a thread on a forum because I don’t want to bust in on the conversation.  Still, I sometimes forget that I’m not commenting or replying.  And the more I read about the people on their blogs and in the forums, the more I feel like I know them and their issues and their families.  I feel a kinship that, quite frankly, isn’t even THERE. 

It’s all rather silly, really.  

I feel invested in these lives and these people have NO idea who I am.  So then I feel even stupider when I actually do comment or reply or whatever.  Because i realize the people look at it and think, “Who the heck is this fruitcake?”  

This is the inherent issue with watching from the sidelines.  I’m very good at watching from the sidelines.  It’s clean, you don’t get messy when you don’t participate.  But the problem is being so isolated.  You watch everyone living their lives and if you don’t throw yourself in there from time to time, well, then your legacy only lives on in your head, doesn’t it?  

Woah.  That’s a little deep for a Wednesday morning, isn’t it?

How to get me to read your blog post

I subscribe to a lot of blogs.   A LOT.  And, to be honest, I simply don’t have the time (or patience) to read everything.  I don’t know who would, without spending 100% of their life on the computer.  So there are some posts that I skip.  And some that I don’t.  I thought I would share some things that I look for when scanning through my reader and what generally catches my eye, versus what I generally mark as read and move past.  WIthout further ado, here’s how to get me to read your blog post:

  • Publish full feeds.  I cannot stress this enough.  When I’m crunched for time, the blogs that publish partial feeds are the first ones I skip (and that’s if I’ve even subscribed to them in the first place).  If you don’t care enough to put up the full feed, I don’t care enough to click through to read the post.  Simple enough.
  • Avoid long chunks of text.  This means long paragraphs that aren’t broken up.  I’ve been known to do this myself, so I apologize.  But when flipping through reader, trying to get things read, I tend to skip over the posts that are just large blocks of text because, quite frankly, they take the longest time to read.
  • Don’t post about sports.  Or music.  I don’t care.  I’m not a sports fan.  And I’m not a music fan.  So post your fantasy football picks and your favorite You Tube videos all you want, but I’m gonna pass.  It’s just not my cup of tea.
  • Don’t start off a post by warning me that this is a long post.  Because I will glance at the clock and say to myself, “Oy, I don’t have time for a long post.”  And I will skip it.  And then I’ll go back a week later and mark it as read because I still don’t have and now the post is hopelessly outdated.
  • Include pictures.  I love to read posts that have lots of pictures.  The pictures are not only interesting to look at but break up the monotony of the text.
  • Post little snippets.  Not every post has to be a super-long narrative.  A small conversation from the day, a picture you took, a thought that made you stop and think again… I love these.  They’re interesting, quick to read and then I can move on to the next post.  I often don’t follow this one.  I’m sorry.
  • Vary the tone of your posts.  You may be going through a rough time, but if EVERY post is depressing then I’m going to want to skip over them.  I’ve tried to be particularly mindful of this and that’s why after a couple of “woe is me” posts, I’ll try to post something light.  If I see the fifth whiny post in a row from someone I subscribe to, that post gets put on the chopping block.  And if it keeps up, I unsubscribe altogether.
  • Don’t post a lot about an issue that I am opposed to.  This is particularly true during election season.  Now, this isn’t something that a lot of people can (or should) help.  But the fact of the matter is, if I subscribe to a blog and then they start ranting about liberals or how McCain is the Second Coming?  I’m not going to read it.  NOPE.  I guess this is why I’ve TRIED (not always successfully) to tone down my own political posts.  Because I know half of everyone wouldn’t want to read that.
  • Don’t just put out posts full of links to your other blog gigs.  If I open up a blog and see that the latest post is full of links to their paying gigs and nothing else?  I skip it.  If I want to read their other blogs, I’m already subscribed to them and hence already know about the posts over there.  A better way to promote your other gigs is to throw a line or two in at the bottom of a regular post with a link.  I’m far more likely to actually read that.
  • Keep review posts to a review blog.  Even if you aren’t a member of BlogHerAds and don’t need to separate the two.  Because when a blog I subscribe to publishes a review for something I don’t care about (or worse, that smacks of “pay per post” type deals), I skip the post.  Again, like I said above, put a link in a regular post to your review blog.  If it’s something I’m interested in learning about or if there’s an associated giveaway, I’ll go check it out.   I do subscribe to some review blogs and some of the posts I read and some I don’t.  But I like to know, going in, that that’s what I’m going to find.

That pretty much covers it for me.  So I want to turn the question on you guys.  What posts do you generally skip when you’re trying to burn through your readers?  What makes you more likely to read a blog post?  Do you have any hot-button issues (like the full feeds thing is for me)?

You Need to Read – October 18

Nope, you’re not seeing things.  My YNTR list is back this week!  And, bonus for you, it includes two weeks of linky goodness. I still maintain that I may not be doing this list every week.  But I will when I can and when it’s not going to cause me an undue amount of grief to put it together.   And, as it would happen, this week the grief has not been caused.  It’s a mellow Saturday morning around these parts, Liam is watching “Ratatouille” on cable and Kile is snoring in his recliner.  All is right with the world.

This first post is something I could relate to.  Should I go Mac and never come back? from Mandajuice is much like a similar post I wrote not that long ago.  And, just like myself, she finds herself wooed by the seductive iPhone and repelled by a crappy PC.  I’ll be interested to see what she picks, especially since I’m 99.9% sure I’m going to get a MacBook when the time comes.

And in the “Long-Awaited” category, we have Ezra from amalah . com.   I literally felt my heart swell when I saw this sweet picture and the details on the birth.  She is officially the mom of two boys!  I can’t wait to see how the weeks and months ahead are for her and her family.  Congratulations, Storchs!

I can DEFINITELY relate to The Hot Fuss™* and Me from temporarily me.  In fact, I may have thought these very words myself on more than one occasion in the last week or so.  Or the last month or so.  Or the last six months or so.  Sometimes, a bad mood just gets ahold of you and you can’t shake it.  And sometimes, your kid wants to be superglued to your side.  And when the two meet?  Well… that’s when you get a post like this.

And I know you’re probably sick of me talking about it already, but Her New Hobby from Confessions of a Pioneer Woman made me cackle a little bit because The Power of the iPhone can grip ANYBODY, even housewives who live out in the country. And the text messages from her daughter were just too darned funny. I think someone likes “Napoleon Dynamite”!

On the flip side, we have My Grandpa: October 5, 1921- October 14, 2008 from Joy Unexpected. This was a touching and sad post about her grandfather who passed away this last week. It’s been a long time since all of my grandparents passed, but I could keenly feel her loss through her words. I hope she finds peace, now that her grandfather has found his. My sympathies to her and her family.

Being a Reno citizen as well, I can appreciate Fall Where? from EmilyPie. I love her summation of the season here in our town, and how schizophrenic they often tend to be. However, I do disagree with her assessment of summer and the need for air conditioning (I am sure I would perish without it). I love winter, always have, always will. But yes. Fall is like a week long around here. I could do with some more fall, to be honest.

This post gets filed under the “ZOMG” category. ZOMG! Twilight Soundtrack Playlist Just Released! from MamaPop shares with us the fantabulous news of the new “Twilight” movie soundtrack. Can you believe I already have some of these songs on my iTunes? BEFORE this list was released? Oh, I’m a hardcore fan, ya’ll. And you can bet I’ll have the rest of these songs when the soundtrack is released. I cannot WAIT to hear the one recorded by Robert Pattinson.

Enough is Enough from Queen of Spain Blog is a post about the turn in tone the political race has taken lately. And I wish I could say in the intervening days since she first posted this that the voices of hate have toned down but I really don’t think they have. I think they may have gotten worse. But I definitely share her feelings and hope that people settle the heck down. And lets find some decency in all of this, please? Aren’t we better than this? Please tell me that we are.

Lastly, we have My Husband is Not My Keeper, also from temporarily me. This spoke to me because I have often had these very same feelings. Being a stay at home mom, and not having any of my own income, I often feel like my voice is dimmed somewhat. I think that’s pretty common. And it’s as much my fault as any one else’s. But all the time, this is an impassioned, important post. You should all read it.

So there we go.  Another week’s list in the hopper.  This should be enough to keep you out of trouble this weekend.  As for me, we have a baby costume to find and a pumpkin to pick out (nope, we don’t have that yet either).  Should be fun!  Happy Weekend, ya’ll.

You Need to Read – October 4

Yep, I’m doing the list this week.  But I do want to put out the warning that there might be weeks here and there where I don’t do the list.  The last couple of days, for instance, it’s been difficult keeping up with my reader.  It’s always like that when we have company or anything remotely interesting going on.  (Which isn’t that often because we redefine what it means to be hermits.)  Anyhow, without further ado… I present to you this week’s fabulous list…

First, you’ve gotta check out Advice from Mom, Part I from Mighty Girl.  The advice in this list was SPOT ON.  I may print it out, laminate it, and give it to Evie when she turns 18.  Hey.  That’s not a half bad idea.

After last week’s sob-fest, it’s nice to see something GOOD from Loralee.  “And now for something COMPLETELY different…” from loraleeslooneytunes.com was a breath of fresh air and I found myself pumping my fist for her.  I will be cheering her on through this, you can count on that.  She is very deserving of a happy ending (or beginning?), don’t you think?

I Am Perfect, You Are Not – A Failure Of The Green… from The Good Human is a perfect example of how environmentalists can turn regular people off of going green.  And I’d say it goes for other facets of our lives as well.  I’m thinking, in particular, of politics.  I think a lot of Democrats turn off people who feel that they’re being talked down to, made fun of, whatever.  And when it comes to saving the planet, it doesn’t matter if you don’t do EVERYTHING, just as long as you do SOMETHING.  Wouldn’t you agree?

I think the “Best Post of the Week” award (shut up, it just made it up) should go to Maybe This Isn’t My Place to Say… from karensugarpants.com.  This post had me from start to finish, brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.  I’m a gulible sort, and I didn’t see where she was going with this until the end of the post, which I felt made it that much more powerful.  This post was nothing short of amazing.  READ IT.

Oh Molly, I know (sorta) how you feel.  In How to fall apart with all (some) of the world watching from LOST A SOCK,  she talks about the quagmire she’s sunk into since her baby daughter was born several weeks ago.  It’s not easy.  And I want to club anyone who would dare even make it look like it is.  It’s a day to day struggle.  I want to send her supportive thoughts.  You’re not alone.

Also, if you’re in the mood for some giggles and blogging introspection, read Stats and Man Ponytails from The Bean.  I know what she means when she agonizes over strange and unexplainable differences in stats.  In feeling sometimes tied to the blog because of those stats.  Stats will ruin blogging, I’m positively sure of it.  I hate trying to decifer those maddening dips!

Maybe I’m obsessed with my iPhone, but My Top Ten iPhone Apps from Greeblemonkey is the sort of post I just GOBBLE up these days.  I feel so new to the technology and there are so many “apps” to choose from that I never know which one is going to be the BEST one.  So having a “cheat sheet” to refer to helps like you wouldn’t believe.  And if you don’t have an iPhone, reading this list will make you want to cut off your arm to get one! (Okay, maybe not.  But it sure sounded good, didn’t it?)

And that’s it for this week’s installment.  I hope everyone has fine and productive weekends.  I will be back at some point with pictures and stories from yesterday’s day trip.  Despite appearances, it did NOT involve alcohol (too bad!).  Has anyone guessed where we went?  (I didn’t really make it a secret, for the record.)

You Need to Read – September 28

Better a day late than a dollar short, right? (Though, come to think of it, I’m a dollar short too.  Damnit.)  I had to post this week’s list because there really were some good posts on it and I felt guilty for not giving them their due.  And I know I shouldn’t feel guilty anyhow and that’s what I was trying to avoid by taking the break and all, but… what can ya do?  I’m going to try to tackle this list a little differently than I normally would too.  So bear with me.  And thanks for your patience too.  You guys are faboo.

First off, I have Let Flickr Take You On A Picnik! from Blissfully Domestic by Kayla Meow.  Have you heard about Picnik yet?  I played with it a little this weekend and I think it’s love.  Best of all?  Most of it’s features are FREE, you just need to sign up.  This picture below is a good testament of what can be done with Picnik:

Eyelashes
BEFORE and AFTER

Convinced yet?  Go read that post if you aren’t and you will be!

Also on this week’s list is Trauma from loraleeslooneytunes.com by Loralee.  This isn’t an easy post to read.  Chances are, you’re going to need a box of tissues to get through it.  I know I did.  Her pain is so palpable in this post that you want desperately to be able to reach through the computer screen and hug her, bake her a lasagna, SOMETHING.  I know enough of her pain to know how soul-shattering it is, but in the end, I have no idea the trauma she has experienced.  She’s in my heart.

Next is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Boys Will Be Boys? from Dutch Blitz by Angella.  I take (and always have taken) large exception to the notion that all boys are rough, wild and obnoxious.  If anything, I think what makes boys that way is their parents expecting that’s how they’ll be.  And I hate it when people excuse rude/poor behavior by saying “boys will be boys”.  That’s no reason not to have manners.  Whether you’re a boy or a girl, you should be able to say you’re sorry.

This next post is just as awesome and is about a very important issue. Guest Poster: Bugfrog from Greeblemonkey by Aimee’s husband Bryan.  He talks about how and why some people say they don’t or won’t vote and how exactly that line of thinking is flawed.  We should ALL vote if we even remotely care about this country.  Republican or Democrat.  We need to make our voices heard.

I always love to see a new post from Y up.  File this one under “afraid to hit publish.” from Joy Unexpected by Yvonne was yet another post from here where she lays it on the line.  And this time, she lays it on the line about her thyroid, her weight and how it’s affecting her.  And she basically says she refuses to let it affect her any longer.  She wants to get healthy, darnit, and I want to get healthy right along with her.  I just love her honesty.  I wish we could all be as honest in our writing.

This next post is actually something I’m worried about.  In the Voting Booth, No One Knows You’re a Dog from MOMocrats by Cynematic discusses the possibility of people getting to the voting booth and, though intending to vote for Obama, will not be able to for one reason or another.  Mostly?   Because he’s black.  I am scared to death of this happening, people.  That we would turn away from the best hope our country has right now simply because of the color of his skin.  Prove me wrong, people!

And while I’m feeling all aggravated, here’s something that’s been making my brain bleed: High Fructose Corn Syrup Is Your Friend! from MamaPop. Have you seen these ads?  They drive me CRAZY.  I’m sorry, Corn Refiners of America (or whoever you are), but your campaign is stupid, insulting and DANGEROUS.  I guess that’s my way of saying that I’m not convinced and I will still be looking for ways to cut HFCS from our diet.  Because, seriously, I don’t need this stuff in EVERYTHING I eat.  Do you?

And that, my friends, is the list.  If you’ve seen my previous post today, we’ve had some strange happenings here at Casa de Porter.  This morning, we heard a loud BANG followed by the sound of ice crackling in a glass of water.  And lo and behold, our sliding glass door in the kitchen SHATTERED.  Just like that.  Why?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Some of the glass has already started falling out of it and I’m at a loss as to what to do.  FIGURES.  Sometimes, I really, really  hate this house.

You Need to Read – September 20

My wee baby girl turns 6 months old today.  SOB.  I guess she’s not so wee anymore, is she?  Nothing special planned for today.  I don’t even know if we’ll leave the house, though I imagine we will if just to prowl the local grocery store.  It’s no fun to just stay inside all day long, not when the weather is so nice.  Anyhow.  My point is: This week’s links list.  Yet again, it’s rather short and I’ve done some necessesary purging of my subscriptions too.  I just can’t handle TOO many blogs.  So yet again, I entreat you (my loyal readers) for help.  If I have you on Google Chat, lets hook it up so I can see your shared items in Google Reader.  OR: post your suggestions here or email me.  I’d love to find more awesome blog posts outside of what I’m regularly reading.  And in the meantime, enjoy these little gems:

  • How To Be A Cool Twilight Mom from Guide to Everything.  There’s several things that make this post so awesome.  1) A new blog from Alpha Mom!  And you and I and anyone else can contribute to it.  Awesome! 2) Miss Zoot wrote the first post.  I adore her!  Awesome!  3) It’s about Twilight.  Do I need to say it?  AWESOME.  However, I already am a Cool Twilight Mom, so problem solved.
  • He Still Has Green Paint All Over His Hands from amalah . com.  This was one of those posts that warmed my heart to no end.  The post before it was so discouraged and sad, that reading Noah’s (and Amy’s!) small triumph made me want to stand up and cheer.  Here’s to more fingerpainting in the weeks to come!
  • Because I’m Pretty Bad at Being on Hiatus Anyway from Fluent Brittish.  Her faith is not my faith but I think we have similar ideals.  Why can’t more people realize that?  Why can’t we all just get along (to steal an overused phrase)?  It’s a larger issue than people on blogs and I worry what will become of our world because of it.
  • The hits kept on coming from moosh in indy.  I can only guess at the pain that her dear friend has been through.  Lesser people would have crumbled under such heartache.  I hope that her fortune turns (as mine did) and that much better times are ahead.  It sounds as if she definitely deserves it.
  • Why is there a light in the refrigerator, but not in the freezer? from Rancid Raves.  She posts about a lot of things that are on my mind as well (well, except for maybe the impatient asshole and the McDonald’s Happy Meal toys).  Her reflections on the election particularly relfect issues weighing on my mind lately.  Oh, and I love “Fringe” too.
  • Web 101: Fixed a hacked site and prevent it from happening again from Swank Web Style Blog.  This is very good information to know.  And I feel like I should be protecting my site but I keep putting it off.  Whoops!  Don’t be like me, people.  Protect your site.
  • A Little Fun for LOST Fans from ChickChat Blog.  Heh.  If you’ve got a few minutes to kill and are a “Lost” fan, you have to check this out.  For the record?  Mine is “Sugarpop”.  Of course it is.
  • How To Fix Something That May Be Driving You Crazy from misszoot.com.  Actually, it WAS driving me crazy.  And I thought it was only my blog that it was happening on.  I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone and also glad to know that there was an easy way to fix it!  So yeah, I’m passing along the wisdom.

And that is that.  I hope you all have great plans (or at least relaxing ones) for the weekend.  And if you have a second, go vote in my goofy little poll.  Much obliged!

WordPress Bootcamp: Week Three

First off, thank you to everyone for your patience.  I took two weeks off of the bootcamp.  One week due to lack of perceived interest on my part and another because I… erm… forgot.  Whoops!  But I’m back this week with talk of that most mystical feature of WordPress, the one that more often than not draws people over from their safe cocoons on Blogspot… PLUGINS.

They’re at the same time scary and exciting.  Exciting because they allow you to do all sorts of fun things from displaying blog post titles in fancy custom fonts to inserting pictures right from your flickr account without ever having to leave your “Write Post” screen to beating down nasty spam comments so you never even have to look at them.  Plainly put?  Plugins can do virtually ANYTHING.  (Well, maybe not wash your dishes for you, but that might feature in an upcoming WordPress version.)

First… the basics.  You need to have an ability to upload files to your blog directory on your server.  This means plugins aren’t a part of WordPress.com.  Whether you use FTP or your host’s file manager upload utility, it doesn’t matter.  Just as long as you can upload files.

Next, you need to find plugins that will work best for you and your blog.  You can find a lot of awesome ones at the WordPress Plugin Directory.  The bonus to this site (other than it being “official”) is that when the developer releases an update for the plugins you downloaded from here, you’ll have the ability to “automatically” upgrade your plugin.  But I’ll get into that later.  Another good place to look for plugins is googling “best wordpress plugins”.  You’ll get tons of results for blog posts that discuss favorite plugins.  After a while, you’ll see the same 10 or so plugins discussed and you’ll know those are ones you probably want to have.  Just beware: some of these posts may be several years old and may discuss plugins that don’t exist anymore or don’t work for the most recent version of WordPress.

Once you have a plugin you’d like to add to your blog, download it to your desktop and then (since most plugins come in .zip format), unzip the file using your favorite zip utility.  You’ll most often have a folder so if you use FTP, chances are you can just upload that entire folder as is to your “wp-content/plugins” folder on your blog server.  This article over on WordPress.org explains far better than I ever could the basics of installing plugins, so check it out if you need more assistance (or feel free to contact me, if I’m not busy I could lend a hand).

Once your plugin is uploaded, go to your “Plugins” page in the admin interface (hint: it’s next to “Settings” on the righthand side in the latest version).  You’ll see a page that looks something like this:

Down at the bottom of the page, you’ll see your new plugin listed and there’ll be an “Activate” link to the right of the plugin title.

Click it and voila!  Sometimes plugins will have their own settings that need to be tweaked, so just look under “Settings” in your admin panel and the plugin should be listed there.  As always, refer to the plugin’s webpage (often the name of the plugin on the Plugins page links to the plugin webpage) for support if you need help with anything.

All that said, I have an even EASIER way to install plugins (which is probably I have so many of them on this blog).  I use a plugin called the One Click Plugin Updater.  It requires some fiddling with folder permissions as well as the standard upload I detailed above, but it is WORTH IT in the end.  What it does is makes it so you don’t have to FTP or upload another file again in order to add plugins to your blog (themes too, but we’ll cover that in another Bootcamp).

Once installed, you just go to your “Plugins” page (like you see above) and select “Install a Plugin” from the submenu.  On the page you’ll have the option to “Install From URL” or “Install from File”.

For the first option, you just need to copy the link to the zipfile you wish to to install in the “URL” field and click “Install” (obviously, this is a plugin not a theme so you can ignore the “Type” field).  That is all.  You will then see a message like this:

You can either click the “Activate the plugin” link there or go activate it fron the Plugins page like I showed above.

The other option on the “Install a Plugin” page is to install from a file.  It looks like this:

In this case, you can take a plugin zipfile that you have downloaded to your computer and browse to it.  Once selected, click install and voila!  After that, it’s the same process as above to activate the plugin and you’re on your way.

BUT, it can be even EASIER.  If you use Firefox, there is an add-on that goes along with this plugin called the “One-Click Installer for WP“.  it allows you to right click on a plugin download link and install directly to your blog, avoiding even the “Install a Plugin” page.

After you click on that, a window open in your browser displaying the “Install a Plugin” page and this message:

Once you select “Yes, Install It”, the rest of the activation process is the same as above.  COULD IT BE ANY EASIER?  I really don’t think so.  So run, do not walk, and get this plugin for yourself.  If you need another reason?  It gives you messages when a plugin has an update available a la WordPress’s annoying update reminder with one important difference:  there is a link to automatically download and install and activate the updated plugin all in one click.  NICE.

Do you still need somewhere to start?  Then I’m going to list out the Plugins I Cannot Live Without.  These are plugins that I always make sure will work with new versions of WordPress before I upgrade because I cannot fathom having my blog without them.

And these plugins are new (and some old) favorites of mine that are quickly becoming some of my favorites:

And there you have it.  Plugins!  God bless them.  They’re just fabulous.

Next week I’ll probably cover Designing WordPress, unless you all would rather I cover another topic first.  So tell me: 1) What’s your favorite plugin? (or if you don’t have a WordPress blog, what kind of plugin would you like to have?) and 2) What would you like to see me cover next time?

Class dismissed!

You Need to Read – September 13

I have to apologize for this week’s short list.  For some reason, I’ve had a very hard time keeping up with the blogs in my reader.  What this says about me, I’m not sure.  Probably that I am a slacker.  But why this would be news to anyone, I have no idea (dudes, it’s in my blog title).  So if I missed some awesome reads, I apologize in advance.  If you came across any great reads this week that I have left off this list, please feel free to list them in the comments.  Come to think of it, feel free to do that any week.  I would love for my YNTR lists to become collaborative, community efforts.

  • Those batty old wives can suck it from Parental Discretion Advised.  Oh happy day!  Even though my childbearing years are behind me, I still get excited when I see someone go through the joys of pregnancy and finding out the gender of your little bundle is one of the best joys there is. Congrats, Bree!
  • How To Take Photos With A Blurry Background from Dutch Blitz.  I wonder if these tips work as well for a point-and-shoot as they do for a DSLR?  What she says makes amazing sense, moreso than anything I’ve read before about the “blurry background” phenomenon.  I’m going to have to try her tips!
  • Thanks from loraleeslooneytunes.com.  It is so good to hear from Loralee.  I was starting to worry about her when she vanished this last week.  I hope this month starts taking it easy on her soon, because it sounds like she’s having some hard times.  Go send her some virtual hugs.
  • Top 10 Most Useless Baby Items from Baby Cheapskate.  While I can’t agree with the entire list (a Boppy pillow has been essential for us!), I have to agree with most of it.  The point that’s most important is that you really don’t need a lot of gadgets when you have a baby. 
  • Seven from Ask Moxie.  Moxie gave a great 9/11 anniversary post this week.  If you haven’t already, you really should go read it.  Her “been there” perspective really hit home for me.
  • Under The Blanket from Her Bad Mother.  I’m outraged for Catherine and I’m outraged for me.  Nursing mothers shouldn’t be made to feel this way.  I’m not sure how to fix it, what the answer is.  But something has to change because we can’t keep going this way, as a society.  Nursing is not “dirty”.  Shame on this airline.
  • Liz Goodman Logelin Memorial 5k Walk/Run from matt, liz and madeline.  Whether you are a runner or even if you aren’t, consider taking part in this 5k on the 21st at 1pm in your time zone.   Take some pictures, post them to flickr, and consider making a donation that will benefit a VERY good cause.

And that, as they say, is that.  I’m SO glad it is a Saturday.  I wish more days could be Saturday.  This week really kicked my hiney and I’m more than ready for a few mellow days.  Are you just as ready for the weekend as I am?

You Need to Read – September 6

Oh how I love Saturday.  I live for Saturday all week long.  And another nice thing about Saturday is that I always know what I’m going to post on the blog.  Sometimes I wake up and think, “Ugh, I have to get another links post out.”  But those feelings are few and far between.  Because at the heart of it, I really enjoy putting these lists together.  I like sharing what spoke to me during the week and spreading some linky love around the blogosphere while I’m at it.  So lets get to the spreading, shall we?

  • The wake-up call from Absolutely Bananas.  There’s not much I can say about this post other than GO READ IT.  And sending lots of supportive hugs her way.
  • Marin Update #2 – with pictures! from LOST A SOCK.  Yay!  Congrats to Molly and family and welcome to the world to baby Marin!  She’s gorgeous, of course, and I hope she continues to improve and thrive despite her rough beginnings (the pictures from the nursery did bring a tear to my eye).
  • Mad Lauer from The Spohrs Are Multiplying.  I had to laugh at loud at Heather’s little cutie Maddy having a crush on Matt Lauer.  The tramp stamp pushed this post over the edge of awesome.
  • Politics Hangover from Sizzle Says.  Oh my goodness, I felt exactly the same way having watched the RNC this week.  A crushing disappointment that there are SO many people who think differently from me and how broken this country really is.  But like Sizzle, I still have hope too.
  • What Should Wii Do? Video Games and Rule Setting from Parentopia.  I love her list of rules for the Wii.  I’m seriously considering printing it out and posting it on our own Wii (except ours isn’t called The Herd) (and how awesome of a nickname for a Wii is “The Herd”?).
  • I don’t have a title, okay? from Playgroups are No Place For Children.  Oh my stars, how many times have I written this very post in my head?  I’m starting to suspect that I’m not alone in feeling this way too.  And isn’t that just the best part of blogs, that we can see other moms who feel the same way and maybe think, “It’s okay”?
  • Video: Daily Show Clip Underscores GOP Punditry Hypocrisy from blurbomat.com.  This video has made the rounds this week.  It’s fabulous, mostly because it’s from the Daily Show which is in itself fabulous.  And no one is better at pointing out hypocrisy than Jon Stewart.  You’ve gotta watch this if you haven’t already.
  • We Can’t Have it Both Ways. Neither Can Republicans from MOMocratsTM.  This post wonderfuly calls out the double standard that has been applied to Sarah Palin from both parties.  No matter your political affiliation, you’ve got to agree with that.
  • Not Perfect from amalah . com.  Amy’s post brought back to me the way it felt when we were only the three of us, and those last precious days before we became four.  And to her I would suggest that maybe there just isn’t such thing as perfect.  We just do what we do and our kids won’t remember half of it anyhow.
  • The Bloggy Chiropractor, Step 2: Controlled blogging from Seattle Mom Blogs.  This is part two in the fabulous series that promises to turn my internet life around (once I actually take two minutes and commit to it, that is).  If you think you need to step back, you need to be reading this.
  • American Pie from Jonniker.  She sums up pregnancy during the summer pretty accurately.  Actually, that’s pretty much pregnancy at any time of year as far as I’m concerned.  Especially the pie part.  Except maybe I feel that way about pie all the time.  I also 100% agree with what she said about Sarah Palin.
  • When you find yourself caught “between a rock and a hard place”, is the rock still not hard? from Rancid Raves.  Kelli is rarely ever anything other than tactful and I love how she summed up her own poltiical feelings this election year.  That she can LIKE John McCain but still want to vote for Obama. Very well said.
  • Can’t we all just get along? Maybe in ’09? from Mom-101.  I definitely know the feeling here.  And this is why I am calling for my own personal political hiatus when it comes to blogging.  I don’t want to feel this way about my Republican blogging friends.  I don’t want them to feel this way about me.
  • Wait, it gets worse: Bossy actually has two sons from i am bossy.  Since my oldest is only in the third grade, I can’t even imagine Bossy’s perspective here.  Still, it brought a tear to my eye.  When did I start seeing such stories through the eyes of the parents rather than the children?

And that is that.  Hopefully in the weeks ahead there will be less political posts features.  But I will continue to put forward posts that speak to my heart.  Still, I hope to see things settle down some.  And I hope everyone has a nice weekend (even if it’s not a three day weekend like last weekend, boo!).  What are your plans?