Year-end review: Our top 11 in 2011

Today’s the day for contemplation and reflection on the 364 that have preceded it.  While I’m not much of one for the champagne and hoo-hah of New Year’s Eve and rarely make resolutions and think this is a bit of an arbitrary marker from one unit of time to another, I do like to look back and reflect and think about how we might move forward.

In that spirit, I’d like to offer up our top 11 posts from the blog this year (which didn’t start until October).  These are the posts you readers have clicked on the most: (Click on the titles to go to the post.)

11.  Screen Time Manifesto

Grace and Ella on their computers

This is one of my favorite posts, in which we lay out our attempt to live in healthy ways with the electronic beast.  I’m happy to report that our approach here is mostly working.  The kids are still on screens more than we’d really like, but more of their time with them is on things we find productive.

10.  Glassy brassy lights be gone!

close-up of ceiling fixture from library

Our first vanquishing of the brassy glassy lights that fill our house!  We’ve since had another victory we’ve yet to blog about, and we now have a vision for the lighting in our main living area.  We still love this light.

9. What you don’t see is what you get

grace pushing rita on sledding tube

A recap of our Thanksgiving weekend, more about what we didn’t do than what we did (and the benefits of such).

8. Toilet paper roll art…

wall decoration made from cupcake holders


This isn’t our most polite post, but sometimes you gotta ruffle some feathers (or toilet paper rolls) when you take a stand.  In this one, Cane outlines his ideas about the difference between art and decoration.

7. Gingerpalooza!

ella making a gingerbread house out of graham crackers

A how-to post on throwing a gingerbread house making party for kids–and on making family where you don’t necessarily have one.

6. Going cork:  All you really need to know if you’re considering a cork floor

cork floor in living room

This was my take on our cork floor.  It’s the short/sweet, more philosophical take on the subject.

5. Why less is more when making a home:  A different case against decorating

grace in kitchen on skates

This was the companion post to Cane’s on toilet paper roll “art” (#8).  My ruminations on the compulsion to fix/change/fill up our homes–and an argument for why we should resist it.

4. Why clothing matters:  Guest-posting over on Project 333

80s cheerleader

How changing my wardrobe changed my life.  Sort of an exaggeration.  Sort of not.

3. Everything you ever wanted to know about cork flooring, and then some

kitchen with cork floors

This is Cane’s take on the topic of cork flooring–and as he claims in the first line, it’s the place to feast on the epic mealtime of all cork flooring posts.  If you’re thinking about going cork with your floors, you really should check this one out.  I tend to get philosophical, but Cane’s the one to go to for the practical, how to (and how not to) information.

2. Is the 70s split-level the new ranch? (Stop laughing, we’re serious.)

gresham fall street

A love letter to the 70s split-level and our suburban neighborhood.  Maybe it’s true that opposites attract?

1. On the 70s, teaching, and fame:  A tribute to Mrs. Smallwood

3rd grade class in the 70s

That this post is in the #1 spot has way more to do with Mrs. Smallwood than with our blog.  The day we posted this was our biggest day so far, and that was due to all of her friends, family, and former students who found it via Facebook.  A look back at what it was like to be a kid in the 70s in the classroom of a gifted teacher.

So what?

Sometimes I think our blog needs to be more focused.  We can be a bit all over the place, veering from parenting to house renovation to health to…

However, looking at our top 11 list, I can see that there’s no clear pattern in terms of what readers are responding to.  If there’s one strong lesson I can see emerging, it’s one about the power of social media and connecting with others.  Our most popular posts are definitely those that readers have found through other bloggers. We get a fair number of hits from search engines, but the overwhelming majority come from readers who find us through other blogs that we’ve interacted with. It’s not about the SEO.  It’s about connection and content.

Finding some sense of community is a big part of why we began blogging, as we first wrote here.  It’s been fun for me to find writers and readers who care about the same things I do.  I learn a lot from them and enjoy this kind of interaction. This is probably the biggest benefit I’ve gotten from writing our blog–and it’s why I’m interested in continuing to do it.

Now what?

When we began, we had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted our blog to be (outlined on our About page).  I think I’ve realized that we aren’t going to be a source of innovative ideas/information for others, or a comprehensive how-to site. There are others out there already doing a great job of that, who have a lot more time to devote to it than we do.  I think we’re going to keep doing pretty much what we’ve been doing–telling our story, and through it, offering up a mix of things.

I think our work as teachers informs much of what we’ve been doing here.  Sometimes we like to show you stuff and how to do stuff.  Sometimes we like to point you to resources to help you figure out how to do stuff.  And sometimes we like to share our perspective on why (and how) the stuff we’re doing matters.  I think we’ll probably continue to offer the same stew as we move into a new year.

We are going to try to do some filling in of the back story.  Now that we’re settled into our house, we’ve got a house tour planned, so that you can see the big picture and we’ve got a starting place for the renovations to come. Maybe we’ll add some other “tours” as well–of our health, family life, and finances.

We’ve also got some big-picture ideas for how we’re planning to tackle this continuing project of life renovation.  We’re working on putting those together in a concise form that we think others might find useful.

But…the best-laid plans of mice and men (and Cane and Rita) often go astray.  As you’ll see soon.  As in, our next post.  We’ve got a big, unplanned project on our hands, courtesy of a little water leak. This might disrupt some of our plans, but we’ve always been more interested in the journey than the destination.  Good thing, huh?


Happy new year!