Blog Revamp

trying to overcome my blog burnout


I haven’t posted here for nearing three months.

That’s not to say that I haven’t written. Oh, I’ve written. I’ve written blogs and blogs. Blogs upon blogs. At least, it feels like oodles of blogs. It’s content that may not entice you. Would you read an article on how VPNs protect you from DDoS or the 7 benefits of open-source software?

I’m experiencing blog burnout, it seems.

I spend my blogging energy on articles such as those mentioned above and neglect this poor blog.

I read an article on Harvard Business Review about bracing yourself to deal with burnout better. From that, I personalized their suggestions and made them apply to me and this here blog. I only snagged a few of them as half of it wasn’t applicable to me. Here you go:

  • Don’t make these blog posts more than they have to be. I often avoid posting or finalizing or even starting a post unless I have an idea of a doodle to go with it as well. Posts need images, right? I mean, every post I write for the above mentioned small businesses have stock photos to go right along with them and, come on, people: we’ve all seen Pinterest and it’s image-driven content. How will people ever share my superb writing if I don’t make a pinterestable graphic to accompany it?
  • Figure out where to go to ask for help. I spend a lot of time perusing Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and specific news sites to find ideas for content for paid blogs. I don’t spend time searching for content for this blog. I don’t know where to go to find it. In the past, it simply came from living my life. That doesn’t seem to inspire me lately. Where should I look?
  • Share other content. Sometimes, coming up with my own, individual spin on something feels too tiring after all of the hours spent writing marketable content. I want to write for ME but there usually isn’t time. I do come across cool stuff, though, that I often share on Twitter. (Look, if you don’t follow me there, I’m not gonna lie: you’re missing out on some good stuff. Seriously, yo.) Perhaps I should start sharing those here, too?

So this became a rambling, thinking-out-loud kind of post about how to breathe some life back into my blog. I haven’t figured it out yet. Any suggestions?

A vision statement for this working mom’s blog

I haven’t been a diligent blogger lately. I blame nausea. It’s the easiest thing to blame for every bad, lackadaisical, dumb, or silly decision I’ve made the last 14 weeks. It will be my reason for the next 20 weeks as well. I don’t DO pregnancy well.

But, I also blame lack of purpose. I’ve felt floundering with why I have this blog.

Once upon a time, I created this weekly format that I followed pretty religiously and therefore, blogged M-F and the occasionally Saturdays. Either I lost interest in the format or my readers did. Since I clearly know what my readers want, it must be the latter.

So I decided to do what I do every day at work: define and provide a purpose for my project team. In this case, it’s a team of one: just me. So I didn’t have much input. Well, I really didn’t have any input. So take a look, and throw some input my way. What do you think of my new, blog vision statement?

vision_statementFor moms—who work in the home, from home, in the office, on the road—who need enjoyment, tips, reality, and laughter—the Sciolist blog is a website that posts my thoughts and experiences along with my doodles and pictures; unlike other mommy blogs that may focus on perfectly organized pantries, splinter-free furniture made out of wood pallets, or genuine, not sarcastic children, the Sciolist focuses on what’s real about my life as a working mom because I am far from perfect as my bed is not made and my toddler often tells me, “I’m funny, mom” and then chases after the cat shouting, “Enough!”

Replacing Therapy Thursdays

I need YOUR help, internet. I’m disillusioned with Therapy Thursdays and would like to replace these blog entries, either with a new therapy theme or with an entirely new idea. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

You always wanted to help out with the direction of this awesome blog, right? GREAT. Now’s your chance. It’s a fun survey and ONLY one page so it’s not overly loquacious as might be expected from me.

Thanks in advance for your help, friends!

Day 30: Sciolist Blogging Stats

Hooray! We’re almost done with the “Build a Better Blog” tasks. I must admit that I didn’t really live up to my potential because life got busy and the blog was pushed to the side. So I missed a number of days, I didn’t network with other bloggers doing this, and the only boost to my blog traffic came from me paying my friends to read it.*

Today’s task is to analyze the stats of my precious little blog. I already do that, but let me report to you now, mmkay? Great.

So for the month of April, I was pretty much doing these precious blogging tasks. Surprisingly enough, the overall visits have gone up, but not by much—just an increase of 84 visits over the average visits per month: 1,337. Only a 6% increase, but THANKS FOR STOPPING BY AND BEING A PART OF THAT SIX PERCENT.

You can check out the other stats for this blog on your own. I like looking at the map of recent visitors… The Sciolist blog doesn’t seem to attract many internet folk from the southern hemisphere.

But what you won’t find on statcounter, but is one of my favorite stats that wordpress provides me with: the search terms. I like to make a list of my favorites and share them every so often. So here now, for your reading pleasure is the latest list of Larrie’s Favorite Sciolist Search Terms:

  • chronic throat clearer (others search for this too… I am not alone)
  • im a nerd with glasses and im hated (how sad… truly deeply heartbreaking)
  • adult wearing pull ups (how in the world did this link to MY blog?)
  • things I’m bad at doing (what makes you think Google can answer this for you?)
  • 100 reasons to sleep with a nerd (this was definitely NOT the title of my list)
  • weeping spells (perhaps this search was done by someone from my old IT group)
  • motorkitty meg (I have no clue what to say about this one)
  • small middle toe (must make for a strange footprint in the sand)
  • what do u do at walmart (somebody in Arkansas looking for dating ideas)
  • gourmet fish sticks (ALL fish sticks are the EPITOME of gourmet)
  • dung in scriptures (really? Somebody searched for this?)
  • tessa likes them young stream (I’m guessing this person doesn’t speak much English)
  • skanlyn throat clearer (skanlyn? What? Making up words? Skanlyn?)
  • hacky sack injuries (you should take this search to your doctor, definitely)
  • glenn beck is full of sciolism (somebody else out there uses the word, sciolism?!)
  • long toes – surgery (do they want their toes shortened or lengthened? You decide.)

*At this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m not paying YOU to be here. Well, I made that part up. I don’t pay anybody to come here. I pay my mortgage instead. So unless you are Chase, I don’t pay you. Too bad.

Day 29: Zermatt Resort Review

I’ve been MIA for a bit there. Were you worried? You probably haven’t even been by to check, either, so let’s not worry about it. I’m back now and I’m going to pick and choose which “Build a Better Blog” task to complete for today from those that I missed. Choices are:

The first and third sound boring so the winner is, a Review! How exciting.

I received a package in the mail the other day. It was sent to my parents’ house so my Mom gave it to me when we met at Smith’s Marketplace to purchase plants on Friday. It was in a nice silver bag with a large bow on it and a note, which said something to the tune of: “Here’s our new shampoo, conditioner and products. Let us know what you think!”

Have you ever checked out of a Hotel and taken home a few “free” souvenirs like the shower cap or the tiny bottle of shampoo? If you stay at the Zermatt Resort in Midway, they will MAIL you said souvenirs. All you have to do is send them a little note about how much you didn’t like the shampoo/conditioner bottles because you bruised your fingers squeezing so hard to get anything out.

Shortly after sending this email, you will receive a response from an executive sales administrator:

Thank you for your feedback, and wonderful comments on our associates and resort 🙂 We’re all very proud of Zermatt Resort – and are thrilled that enjoyed your stay.
Regarding the shampoo and conditioner – yes – we are keenly aware of the complication with those products, and agree that they are difficult to use. We apologize for this inconvenience, and again – appreciate the feedback. We will finally be ordering wonderful new products the first of May, as our current supply is finally dwindling!!
Thanks again, and I’ll be sure to pass on your good words to all. We look forward to seeing you again at Zermatt Resort in the future.

Despite the painful use of punctuation, you must agree with me that it was a great response. And then to receive the little package in the mail with the NEW products, which certainly are not difficult to use and smell so nice.

As far as the resort, I stayed up there a few weekends ago with James and Maren. This included staying in one of the posh penthouse suites where the bidet was clean, the tub was giant and the robes were neatly folded on the bed just waiting for us. I’ve never walked into a room before to find my own robe. However, there were only two so we made a phone call to request a third and someone ran it right up.

It was only a short, weekend vacation, but brief as it was, I almost felt like I was on a cruise, with the several buffets we went to, the late night hot tubbing and the gift shop filled with international chocolates.

It was a rainy weekend so we didn’t get a chance to see much of Midway except for one of the hot pots at the Homestead Resort across the street. So instead, we ate. A lot. We skipped the pasta buffet, but we didn’t miss out on the seafood or pancake buffets. If there was a contest between those two buffets over which was the best, the seafood buffet would easily take home first prize. The chef who made the fish tacos not only made tasty tacos, but also had a good laugh with us. James and I practiced some Spanish with him and then he ran to the kitchen to chop up a spicy pepper just for us. It wasn’t as hot as the peppers Thane brought home from Korea, but James and I watered our eyes a bit eating some. Also, the desserts were delectable and we filled up several plates with each option: little cheesecakes, tiny mousses and bites of tarts.

To sum it all up, if you’re looking for a little European getaway tucked away in the mountains of Midway, UT where the shampoo and conditioner are in easy to use containers, Zermatt is your place to be. Tell them I sent you. (They have no clue who I am except for Marcus at the front desk.)

Day 24: Learning from a Magazine

The “Build a Better Blog” task for today sent me to a magazine to get ideas. What I learned is that people want lots of different ways to do their hair, they want to lose weight but only on their midsection and nobody wants makeup tricks that DON’T work. Oh, and people will buy magazines for quizzes and for giveaways. I’m TOTALLY going to create a quiz for a future blog entry. AREN’T YOU EXCITED?

Also, I’m up for anyone sending me gear that they want me to giveaway to some lucky readers. Send away. (At this point, I really wish somebody with influence from some sweet company like Adidas, Chacos, or Hershey’s read my blog. Sigh.)

And with that, on to what you all came here for… the caption contest!

Enter the CAPTION CONTEST now!

The Sciolist Cell Phone Pic of the Weeknot-TM is published each week with the intent to entice readers to comment. This is accomplished with a CONTEST! The winner will receive a blog nod in the following week’s post-what a TREMENDOUS prize. Entering is easy. Just click on Comment below, fill in the identification information requested and enter your caption for the above picture as your comment. You have until Larrie posts the following Wednesday’s pic to enter.

Ready… GO!*


Last Week’s Winner: Tough choice, people. I even had to grab coworkers for this one to get some input and in the end, the precious blog nod goes to… (dramatic pauses really don’t work in writing because your eyes just jump ahead and you’re not likely to even read this part anyway)… Zedd. I think all zoos should have sweet trampoline cages like that. Zedd and I met back in our precious BYU days. I went over to his apartment all the time because there were a lot of single men living there and they knew how to have a good time. That’s where I first watched Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, where I would get a back massage in exchange for cookies, and where we played Risk. Also, that apartment had a website with funny flash videos that had top ten lists. Is that still around, Zedd? It was quality.


*And by GO!, I mean COMMENT!

Day 23: How to Make a Phone Call

I’m looking for some advice. And so I’m coming to you, internet. Please to help.

It fits the task for today’s “Build a Better Blog,” too.*

So what do I need help on? Making phone calls.

I hate doing it. Seriously. Even when it comes to calling my bestest buddy or a sibling. It’s excessively difficult to hit ‘Send.’

Here is how a phone call goes down for me yesterday:

I’m staring at my phone because I need to call Quinn about getting a professional out with a moisture meter to check for damage in my home from the flood. Clearly, this is an important phone call. It needs to be made now because the damage won’t wait around for a convenient time. I stare at my phone for a bit and then think, oh, I’ve got to send this email first. I’ll get back to the phone.

I send an email.
I go to lunch.
I write some test cases.
I chat with Stacki about a date with a cute guy this weekend.**
I use the middle stall in the bathroom.
I read the weather forecast on KSL.
I find a bug in an application and start recording the steps to reproduce.
I set up some automated testing.
I go to a meeting.
I log off my applications.
I leave work.

Remember how I was going to make a phone call? I finally pull out my phone while I’m walking through the parking lot. I scroll through my contacts to Quinn’s number and hit Send really-really-fast-before-I-can-realize-what-I’ve-done-and-before-I’ve-thought-about-what-to-say. Okay, here we go. Deep breath. I put the phone to my ear. Do I want to talk to him or to his voicemail? If I talk to him, what do I say? If I talk to his voicemail, I better make sense.


Um, he answered. Um, yeah. Okay, so, it’s Larrie. Oh right, say it, don’t think it.


Wow. Talk about being neurotic. It’s just a phone call.

And now, here’s the part where I ask for your help. Can somebody please tell me how to be normal about making phone calls? How to not get a little anxious about it and how to JUST DO IT?

I guess this is the Universe just balancing things out, because in the rest of my life, I’m probably TOO laid back so I have to be fretful about SOMETHING. Let it be phone calls. You should watch me when I call a hot boy.

*Are you getting sick of these yet? Truth be told, today I am, but perhaps tomorrow, I’ll feel differently.

**Oo, a dating teaser. That’s all you get, though.

Day 22: Famous Readers and the Flood that Came in the Night

Today’s “Build a Better Blog” task is to make a reader famous.

I already do that.

Every Wednesday.

If you haven’t been made famous yet it’s because you either don’t participate in the caption contest or because you just need to have faith that your caption will eventually make me laugh enough to take the top spot. Tune in this Wednesday when I make another reader FAMOUS.*

As for today’s post, let me tell you about some of my excitement for my weekend…

Friday night, I went to bed around 12:30 a.m. Nice work, right? Right.

It’s too bad, really, though, that I went to bed early (for me). Why did I go to bed so early? Because I had an 8:10 a.m. soccer game on Saturday. Clearly, I needed some decent sleep for that. What a mistake. A terrible, no good, very bad mistake.

Instead, I should have stayed up and watched TV or been on Facebook. But I didn’t. I actually attempted to sleep on the weekend. Sigh.

About 2:30 a.m. Beth was shaking me to wake up.


Remember how God sends rainbows because he promised Noah that he would never again flood the earth? Well, those rainbows don’t promise anything about kitchens never flooding. Also, it’s mighty difficult to think clearly about where to shut off water when you’re still trying to wake up. Duh. Turn it off under the sink where it’s spraying out. Good thing Beth was coherent.

Turns out, I own a LOT of towels. But it wasn’t enough for all the water and we spent part of the wee hours of the day wringing out towels in the rain outside. My feet were wet from the flood, my hair was wet from the rain, my hands were wet from the towels, and I have no clue what the condo below me looks like. Nobody lives there right now.

Thankfully, Griffin had borrowed a wet/dry vac from a friend a while back and left it at my parents where my mom could find it in the middle of the night, drive it over and suck up my shallow pool in the kitchen. Thank goodness I had my Mom and Beth to help in the middle of the night. The cats did nothing.

I took some pictures of the mini flood. I think I’ll have to photoshop some ‘No Diving’ signs in. It’s pretty shallow and I don’t want to be liable for injuries.

*If being mentioned in this rockin’ blog makes you famous, then I want some kick back for that. Mmkay?

Day 19: My Opinion on Cats and Dogs

Today’s “Build a Better Blog” task asked me for my opinion. Seriously. It said, “Hey Larrie, what do YOU think?” when I opened the link. Wow. How’d it know my name? They must be tracking IP addresses over at that there Problogger.

So what does it want my opinion on, you might ask?

Anything I feel like.


I thought about this for a while. Then I stopped thinking about it and worked for a while. Then I thought about it again. Then I went to lunch and didn’t think about anything except for willing my metabolism to speed up as I aged. When that failed, I turned my attention back to my opinion blog entry waiting for me to write it.

I even ran into the blog entry walking back to lunch and it got mad at me. “Hey, Larrie, when are you going to write me already?”

Fine, I said. Let me sit down real quick like and write an opinion on something that is not political.*

So here you have my opinion on owning cats. (Feel free to laugh here and now at the cat lady.) Here goes.

I grew up with pets. We had dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, fish**, a snake and a frog. In junior high, I even had a very close encounter with a big dog and his teeth that taught me not to allow a dog’s teeth to bite down on my face ever again. Good lesson.

I look forward to the day when I will have a yard and therefore, a dog again. I can teach him all the tricks that I taught our poodle, including hide and seek. Until that day, I have a cat who thinks he’s a dog. Here’s what happens when I get home.

I sit down to read mail, turn on the TV and realize that something is biting the remote and/or my hand. Oh, it’s just Pogi telling me, “Hi, you taste salty and this remote does a little, too.”

I pat him on his head even though he would really prefer that I pet him. He runs down the hallway into the bedroom and comes back with a toy. It’s a tiny, pink stuffed mouse that isn’t so much stuffed now because he decided to make a hole in it and pull out some of its stuffing. Like a dog. Dogs have toys that once-upon-a-time resembled objects like stuffed animals, tennis balls, or the neighbor’s cat.

Back to Pogi. He drops his little pink toy on my lap and sits back waiting. Usually, he’s waiting on the top of the couch, muscles twitching in anticipation and he’s purring like a Bugatti Veyron just waiting to race along the A81 from Gottmadingen to Weinsberg in Germany***. At this point, I’ve put down the mail and have my laptop on to address the homework needs for the night. It takes me a minute to realize the cat’s waiting for me to throw his toy again, but his purring gets louder and I can’t turn up the TV enough to drown him out. Fine. I throw the toy.

He back flips off of the couch.

This used to amaze me. It’s not so amazing anymore because he does it almost every time. It’s gotten old. He should come up with something new, like throwing in an extra flip and a double twist, plus some toe touches and a high five.

He brings the toy back and drops it. In this, he is not like a dog. He always drops his toy. None of that slimey-tennis-ball-tug-of-war. I appreciate this because I do not want to wash my hands every time I play fetch.

Also, when I fake a throw, Pogi NEVER falls for it. This always worked for our dogs growing up. And then you would laugh at them while they ran around the backyard looking for the tennis ball in the flowers, under the tramp, in the hot tub. They never think to check your hand.

Pogi just stares at me, though, when I fake a throw. I’m sure he’s thinking, “Come on. As if.” Sometimes, he just waits until I give up on the faking and throw it already. Other times, he chooses not to wait and bites the fist with the toy crushed up inside. Ouch.

Once, I didn’t want to play fetch so I took the toy and stuck it in the bathroom door just above the highest hinge. I thought that cat would be jumping for his toy for the next hour. He got it down in four jumps.

He won. I played fetch.

And that’s what life is like with a cat. The end.

*When my blog had the most hits, it was when I was writing lots of my political opinions all over the place. True, I was getting more and more traffic each week, but I was also getting more and more depressed. NATIONAL POLITICS IS A MAJOR DOWNER, DESPITE WHICH PARTY HAS THE POWER. Corruption does not equal happiness. Imagine that.

**We owned fish for about a week, maybe. It wasn’t long before they were belly up in their bowl, though, so I replaced real-life fish with a cartoon fish in 6th grade.

***No, I’ve never been there, but I hear it’s a 121 mile stretch of straight, well-engineered pavement with sporadic law enforcement – basically it’s a playground for the lead-footed.

Day 18: The Day My Blog SNEEZED… on Websense

Today’s “Build a Better Blog” task has something to do with sneezing and my blog. There’s a combination that I never would have come up with on my own.

Clearly, I need to think outside of the box more.*

Back to sneezing.

The instructions are to create a Sneeze Page. Seriously. Who named that one? And what is it? (It’s a page that shows off some of your best past blog entries from your archive.) There are, of course, reasons listed (on the Problogger page) as to why this is a good idea to do. In reading those reasons, I noticed that the Problogger dude said that he spent HOURS, even DAYS, creating blog posts. Um… right… my five minutes a post clearly does NOT compare. I’m so lazy.

I must admit, though, that while reading about this oddly named task, I thought of all of the changes that I ought to make to my sidebar. And then I remembered Websense.

Curs-ed Websense.

This is our company’s software that blocks internet access or locks us down to 15 minutes a day for browsing certain website categories. This is my quota time. This is not related to the dating quota the Bishop expects the men in my ward to meet. Just thought I’d clear that up.

Every time I go to my blog (to post an entry, to reply to comments, to just gaze on its superficial beauty), I must use quota time because my blog is in the quota category “Social Networking and Personal Sites.” See, I think it would be great to take my lunch break today and make some updates to my sidebar information here. However, it might could take more than 15 minutes. And then, I’d be ALL OUT OF TIME TO POST TODAY’S ENTRY OR TO REPLY TO A SINGLE COMMENT.


Sometimes, I wish I could tell Websense: “Hey, I’m on lunch so how about if you just give me 30 or 60 minutes of browsing “Sports,” “Shopping,” and MY BLOG? Mmmkay, thanks.”

I want you to know that I used FIVE MINUTES of my precious quota to make a few MINOR changes to my sidebar, including this blog’s VERY FIRST SNEEZE PAGE. How exciting!

*Once, I wrote a really strange poem about some college kid trying to think outside the box and the last line of the poem went something like: “I lay there, staring up at the stars in the sky and thought, ‘where the hell is the ceiling?'” (Pardon the language, grumma.)