05 November 2010

The Blog F.A.Q.

Lately people have been asking me about the blog. . .  So I decided to blog about the blog.  I suppose it's like meta-theatre for blogland.  Here goes:

Q: What does command central for your blog look like? 

A:  Command central looks like this...

In this instance, Cara's hard at work on the blog.  She also appears to be using her "phone-a-friend" lifeline.  The messy office is purely Tommy's doing.  If you know anyone else working on a PhD, you'll know that this is the office in its reasonably tidy state.

Q: When do you find time to blog?

A:  Sometimes we don't, but we attempt to update the blog every week or two.  We generally try to update the blog in the evenings after we're home from work but before Tommy settles into writing.  It also helps that we don't watch television... Aside from the occasional Antiques Roadshow.

Q: Why does your blog have ads on the side?  

A: Several reasons...  But mostly because of wee Zoe Mae:

  1. Every click on those ads generates cash that we're stashing away for wee Zoe Mae.  Maybe it'll pay for her college education.  Maybe it'll pay for her first car.  Maybe it'll pay for a book while she's at college.  Maybe it'll buy her a new spoon.  It all depends on how many clicks...  So far this blog has generated about $50 for Zoe, which is great.  So keep on clicking those ads, and watch wee Zoe's bank account grow! 
  2. Google is kind enough to host this blog for free, so we decided to allow their ads.  This is purely optional, but it's fun to see little Zoe's piggy bank grow - especially since she doesn't know what money is yet. (Though she'd love to eat it if given the chance!)  And with Google, sometimes those ads are actually useful.

Q: Why do you have a blog?  

A: Because it is a great way of keeping family and friends abreast of what we're up to.  Plus, everyone loves pictures of cute kids and cute fluffy puppies.  We've now got one of each.  We would love to mail you all physical pictures, but this way you can keep pace with us at your own leisure.  

Q: Who actually reads this blog?

A: We wonder this all the time.  Often it feels as though nobody reads it...  Yet even if that were true, the blog is still an excellent way for us to keep records and photos organized.  Think of it as a purposely public journal.  Which should become increasingly hilarious as the years pass and we can all look back through the archives!

That said, we often have people tell us that they've been keeping up with us via the blog, which is fun.  And Google has this amazing analytics service which shows up where people are reading the blog:

So to more specifically answer the question, people in 29 countries have been known to take a look at the blog.  We've got North America covered, have nearly taken Europe, and have a smattering elsewhere.  We seem to be strangely popular in Hong Kong (perhaps old TESOL friends?) and recently had someone reading the blog from Jordan.  Perhaps more interesting is that the 7th most active country/territory visiting our blog is listed as "unknown" - now that's what I'm talking about!

Google continues the breakdown by country, region, state, city, etc.  So we've made a decent inroads into the US: 37 states isn't too shabby.  Though I'm surprised that we don't have Montana yet.  Unsurprisingly, we have a LOT of hits from New York!

Getting creepy yet?  Underneath all the rubble, the interwebs are a well organized place.  Thankfully, this is as specific as Google's analytics get - and it's not quite 100% accurate.  It is, however, really fun to be able to get an idea where people are reading from.  And it encourages us to keep up the good work!

If you're still creeped out, we'll leave you with a cute picture of wee Zoe - the real reason we started this blog in the first place!

02 November 2010

All Hallow's Eve'n in Pittsburgh


Once a year, kids are allowed to indulge in the fine art of pretending to be someone (or thing) they're not.  (Parents, of course, partake in this all the time...)  For those too little to verbalize their costume wishes, it's up to the parents to either read their mind, interpret their cries, or just dress them up as parrots.

She's like Edward Scissorhands!  Felt be forewarned - CaraJane's in town...

We chose the latter.  In a fit of idealism, Tommy declared that wee Zoe Mae's costume had to be homemade.  A fine plan, but he had neither the means nor the spare time to take said rule seriously.  He did, however, manage to visit JoAnn's to buy felt.  Yards and yards of recycled multicolor felt.  Thankfully, Cara Jane stepped up to the design plate way ahead of the game.  Research was initiated, and before Tommy could say "prospectus" the dining room table was covered with Fiskars, felt, googly eyes, and wine.


SHIZZAM...  Baby Parrot Costume!  That's right folks, Cara knocked together what must be one of the finest parrot costumes in the history of parrot-costumedom.  In fact it was so good, Cara even tried to teach wee Zoe how to fly.  Unsurprisingly, Zoe decided that she'd rather work of crawling first...

And what goes better with a parrot then a pirate?  Using nothing but found materials and a healthy dose of genius, Cara raided Tommy's closet and emerged as a pirate.  The gauntlet was thrown down: What Would Tommy Do?

Wait a minute - who's ship is this anyway?

Mmmm... Bop.  A ship's captain.  With just minutes to spare before the party was to begin, Tommy desperately turned to the interwebs to come up with a costume idea to compliment Cara's pirate and Zoe's parrot.  A plan was hatched, felt was cut, an old baseball cap was destroyed, and a stapler was employed in various and sundry ways.  Greetings Captain Tommy: It seems that your ship was recently taken by a pirate with a parrot.  And then there was party:

This was, in fact, the first time that Cara and Tommy had ever thrown a party for children on purpose.  Lots of friends came together, but the kids owned the place.  There was a marvelous monkey; a ballerina dancing the night away; and a tiger (Tigger) with Kanga-roo and Poo Bear support.

There was also a firefighter lest the party get out of hand; a shark to keep Rocco on his toes; a pumpkin to keep the shark on its fins; and a Material Girl / ladybug transformer who rocked TWO costumes.  It was a fine, fine day -- we'll look forward to another next year.  Until then, we have piles of halloween candy to tide us over, because we only had one trick-or-treater this year.  (Down two from last year.)  Hmpf.  Perhaps the unruly pirate and her wee parrot scared off all the lesser landlubbers.