Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Salon: Women Cannot Survive on Husbands Alone

Good morning weblings! Unfortunately, I cannot squawk to you about writing this post while looking at the ocean this week. It has been one of those weeks where my patience has been tested. Let me whine a little to you, in hopes that I will feel better.

My husband was (is) out of town on a business trip to Poland, so I am flying solo. It was finals week for the kids, and while my 12-year-old is pretty self-sufficient, my 10-year-old is not. He had two finals that were comprehensive, which required hours of studying every evening with my assistance, additionally aggravated by his inability to sit still and focus for more than 5 minutes at a time. Dear Jesus give me strength. I've also still been dealing with critter damage control at my parents house, with a parade of various professionals traipsing through that need to be managed. Two kids' doctors appointments. Pool maintenance, air conditioner maintenance, and glazed my kitchen floors (where I slipped and fell in the glaze and sent it flying everywhere!). Field trip with the 4th graders to the Arabian Nights tourist attraction, where there was a performance supporting their full-immersion experience with the book The Black Stallion. (It would have made a great post topic...missed opportunity on my part!)

The good news is that because 80% of the book blogging world was in New York this week at the BEA conference, it didn't take much effort to stay up-to-date on everyone's posts. So with all that extra time, I used it to mope and feel sorry for myself that I wasn't in New York too.

Back in my first year as a blogger, I used to look at my Google Analytics every day to study my stats, but I hadn't looked at it recently. Thursday night I was messing with it, and a few depressing things dawned on me. First, even though my number of followers seems to slowly but consistently rise, I'm not seeing any increase in the number of daily hits. Also, if I benchmark myself against other similar blogs, I totally suck. My stats told me that people, on average, stay on my site 38 seconds per visit. Are you kidding me? I wound up feeling very negative that evening, and swore I wouldn't ever look at those figures again!

So as I plodded through my week feeling like a big Negative Nelly, I received bursts of happiness as I listened to the audio "Belong To Me" by Marisa de los Santos. I was thrilled to get back to Cornelia and her husband, and Claire, and some new characters, after having finished its prequel, "Love Walked In", a couple of weeks ago. The story, the author, the characters...everything is precious. One of the quotes from the book really hit me while I was out walking and listening - "Women cannot survive on husbands alone". The point being that despite having a wonderful husband, you really need girlfriends to make your life whole. With this in mind, on Friday night, four of us moms (three of us with out-of-town husbands) gathered at one of our houses, with our little ducklings in tow, to celebrate the end of a tortuous week. The girls went upstairs to watch movies. The boys were like a wild pack of testosterone-filled wolves running crazy. And the moms sat down around the kitchen table with salsa, hummus and wine, and let it all out. My soul was cured. I think Santos is onto something.

So besides wallowing in the perfectness of "Belong To Me", I also finished the audio "The Solitude of Prime Numbers", which I really did not like at all. Thank goodness it was only six discs long. It was depressing. It had no point, the characters were unlikable, and had very little plot. Blah. I'm also making my way through a review copy called "Ashes to Water", a mystery thriller. The author had run out of actual books, so was I surprised when I received 400 pages of copy paper! Ack! Not real portable, but definitely a page-turner. I hope to finish that today. The kids and I are closing in on Harry Potter 7, but may not finish it before we leave for vacation next Thursday.

We embark on our vacation next Thursday, leaving our house-sitter behind with our menagerie of pets. Our first destination is the Grand Canyon, where we will stay for a couple of days, and hopefully fitting in a helicopter ride. Then we are on to Yosemite, where we have rented a house for the week. Our final stop will be San Francisco, for a day or two of kid-friendly fun (no wineries unfortunately). I will have my Kindle in hand and your recommendations in mind!

Praise the Lord that next week is a very short, last week of school and the beginning of summer. Freedom! Sleeping in! No homework! Fighting siblings! Can I have an Amen?


caite said...

Google Analytics...I used to look at it all the time but I gave up long ago. If it went up, I was happy and if it did not, I was not...and that was silly.
Now, I just don't care if anyone is reading my wee blog...well, not much.

Marg said...

I think we all have moments where we feel a little discouraged about something or another, no matter how long we do this blogging thing!

We are at the beginning of winter, and I have guests coming to stay at the end of this week so we are almost at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Have a good week.

Anonymous said...

Sandy, first of all, big hugs to you. I've had weeks like that. Wasn't BELONG TO ME a great book? I loved it. Have a great end to school and I hope your vacation prep goes well.

Don't worry too much about the stats. People are reading your blog and enjoying your sharing. And that is all good right? :-)

Julie P. said...

Amen! I'm so not looking forward to all of the fighting.

I know what you mean about feeling kind of cruddy after looking at the analytics. I tend to feel the same way anytime I do that too! I think we all have our ups and downs. I, for one, really enjoy your blog!

Marianne Murphy said...

Amen! Funny how once it all passes, and the week is done, you can think it wasn't too bad after all!

Molly said...

Ok --- well I know I spend far longer than 38 seconds on your blog, and it is one of the first blogs I read in the morning. I would say don't give damn about the stats, but then I would be asking you to do as I say and not as I do. I am always comparing myself to others (and not just in the blogging world) and I never measure up. So I am trying very, very hard NOT to compare anymore.

The vacation sounds absolutely heavenly! A week in Yosemite is like a dream come true for me (although I might pick Yellowstone).

We will miss your posts - but look forward to more great vacation photos.

Amy said...

Sounds like some good books, and a very hectic week. One thing I would point out is I (and probably many others) read your blog in an RSS reader like Google Reader. I only actually visit a blog to leave a comment, which only takes a couple of seconds to a minute or two :)

Andreea said...

You always have busy weeks. And we all have bad weeks. Don't look at your stats too much, they don't really say that much. What really counts is that you have people who like you very much and who visit your site and leave comments (a lot of comments in my opinion) because they think you are great and because you mean a lot to them. I know that you mean a lot to me and I remember that when I started blogging last year, you were so great in supporting me and I can't thank you enough for that. It means a lot to me, Sandy! Take care and I hope you'll have a better week!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I stopped looking at stats (and blessedly, non-selfhosted doesn't really give you stats that are all that detailed). Anyway, maybe 38 secs is an average, and factors in days like Wordless Wednesdays. In the end, I think you have to be doing it for yourself and perhaps your friends (real and virtual) or your content won't be you anymore! The real question is, would you want to do it even if NOBODY came? (which is what I often feel like with my blog!) But really, that's what I think the critical thing is.

Literary Feline said...

What a week, Sandy! I am glad you were able to find comfort with your friends and in your reading. Hang in there, the school year is almost over!

Trisha said...

The title of this post is absolutely hilarious!

As for stats, stay away from them! I get depressed by mine too. When I see other people with hundreds of followers and like 30 comments per post, I sometimes get down on my poor pitiful blog with its 5 or so comments per post. I decided I needed to stop looking at Feedburner and Analytics. The trick is to fool yourself into thinking you have a ton of lurkers. :)

Florinda said...

My stats are similar, actually - slow but steady growth in subscribers/followers, fairly constant numbers of actual visitors. I'd like to take that as more people are seeing my posts in feed readers, but not many are clicking though - that's fairly consistent with the comments I get, and I'm mostly OK with that. The two stats programs I use (Google Analytics and PMetrics) give me very different numbers for time on site and bounce rate, though, so I'm not sure where the truth lies.

Stats can make you crazy :-). But vacations can help remedy that!

Beth F said...

Dandy -- say it ain't so! I loved Solitude of Prime Numbers and listened to it. Sob!!!!!!!

Sorry we were all gone when you needed us.

Beth F said...

Hummm -- you are dandy, but that's not your name! LOL.

Unknown said...

First of all, I just want to say that given final exams to fourth graders is so wrong. I don't they should even take tests longer than ten or fifteen questions. I'll be so happy when America finally begins to turn away from test, test, test. Two finals!

I left Google Analytics for sitemeter because it gave me higher stats. I think the RSS feeders do lower the average time on site as well. I've gotten to where I now check my stats weekly instead of daily and pay much more attention to how many comments each post gets. I think one should look at page views instead of visits, too. If you're getting more page views than visits you know people are sticking around to read more than one post. Those are the visits that count in my book.

That said, I don't think you've anything to worry about. You're blog is doing great.

And summer is almost here.

Zibilee said...

Oh Sandy! It does indeed sound like you had a tough week. I know what that feels like. We have been doing a lot of study time here as well, and the kids just abhor it!! I also don't look too much at the analytics pages because it just depresses me sometimes, so I know what you mean. It sounds like you have a great vacation planned, and that you are going to have an amazing time with your family. I hope that you have an awesome vacation, and please take a lot of pictures to share with us!!

Darlene said...

I don't look at stats either anymore Sandy. There's usually the loyal few who are actually stopping to read I've found.

Sounds like you've had an absolutely crazy time. I get tired just reading it all. I hope you can use your vacation as a nice relaxing time to regroup and feel much better!

Ana S. said...

Last time I checked, the average length of my visits was under one minute too. At first glance it looks depressing, but we have to remember this includes all the people who come from google looking for something else and immediately leave. Also, maybe many of our faithful readers read the posts on a feed reader and only click over to comment, thus only staying on our actual blogs for the amount of time it takes to type a comment? That's what I'm doing right now, but I did read every word before clicking over!

Cathy said...

Stats shouldn't mean a thing. Look at how successful you are at getting all of your many blog readers/commenters/fans to absolutely adore you, and your posts!

It definitely takes me more than 38 seconds to read your posts. Like most of your other commentors, I usually do it via Google Reader.

Hugs, Sandy!

Jenners said...

Pish posh on stats. I don't really look at mine. You can get all caught up in that and what will it get you? Just a headache and a bad feeling. We're not professionals here so I don't think we should judge ourselves like that. Frankly, I'm amazed ANYONE reads my blog ... let alone comments. You are doing great so don't beat yourself up. (And stay away from the stats!!!)

Sounds like a rough week ... but I love the quote from the de los Santos book ... isn't it so wonderful? I can't wait to read "Love Walked In."

And your vacation sounds fantabulous! Now you will stop torturing us with Maui and torture us with these photos!!! HAHA.

Carrie K. said...

I agree with Nymeth - I often read through Google Reader, but I read almost every word of almost every post you write - except for those crazy weeks when nothing will suffice but clicking "Mark all read" on my reader. :)

And I highly agree that women need girlfriends! I am always so refreshed and rejuvenated after an evening of visiting with my best friend - and I'm blessed to have a husband who gets that and supports it. :)

Hang in there - summer's almost here!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I was thinking along the lines of Amy - that I read most posts in my Google Reader, which means I'm spending more time reading your blog than actually visiting it. (does that make sense?)

Yay for your husband being home from his trip (but, bigger YAY for the girlfriends who helped you get thru the week!).

Enjoy your vacation, Sandy; it sounds like a wonderful itinerary!

Melody said...

Sounds like you had a busy week, Sandy!

I rarely look at my Google Analytics so I've no idea how many peeps visit my blog. I think most of us read via Google Reader so maybe that explains about the hits.

Your trip sounds fun! I hope you all have a great time!!

Unknown said...

I have to agree with all the other commenters above - I read your posts via my feed and so will often only stay on your blog for long enough to leave a comment - although since I'm late in coming to this post I spen an extra length of time reading all the previous comments today :-) You have built a wonderful group of faithful followers to your friendly blog so please don't feel sad about your stats. said...

I like your site very much, and always stay longer than 38 seconds. Am looking forward to reading Belong Tom Me, it has been on my TBR pile for a year. Didn't realize Love Walked In came first, so of course I have to read things in order. Your right girl friends are important when you have hubby's who travel. Mine is always out of town.

Your vacation sounds great!

Stephanie said...

I used to totally check my stats all the time too! Now I'm not all that concerned about who is reading my blog. I tend to focus on the content I am posting and hope that people will enjoy it too!!

Ti said...

You've had a rough week!! You are going to have a blast visiting all of those wonderful places though. The good time will make up for the crappy week. Trust me.

My kids do not get out of school until June 11th. I am counting the days. My son promotes to 7th so there is a lot of hoopla over that coming up and even the little one seems to have a lot of "end of the year stuff" going on. I don't remember all these parties when I was in 1st grade.

Iliana said...

Well, first of all we know your blog totally does not suck! I agree with everyone, I'm sure a lot of the numbers have to do with RSS readers. I have to read blogs that way otherwise I'd never get anything done. There was a time when I did look at my stats more often but I really don't check anymore. I don't think I need any added stress! haha... Hope you have a good week Sandy!

The Bumbles said...

Hello my dear. I am late to the party as usual. Would it help you to know that your most important stat is the interaction you have? That is the goal, right? To write things that make people talk with us?

Stats are helpful especially to those who for whatever reason are not getting much direct engagement via comments - it can show that people actually are stopping by, even when they don't leave words behind.

You have terrific interaction every day on your comments. That is the goal of every blogger. And your comments are long and interesting proving that you are making connections with people. Your base is growing, reading and connecting.

Check in on your stats once a month. Use them to find out where people are coming from and which posts they visited most - don't get lost in the numbers.

And by the way - no one can compare to you - so why do you feel the need to measure your blog against anyone else's?

Alice said...

Hi Sandy, you've got lots going on there!

I removed my Google analytics some time ago and never looked back. I adore all the friends I have in the blogging world right now and I really don't care about the numbers.

Enjoy your Kindle during the vacation!

Jessica said...

Hi! I am not much of a commenter (mostly because I don't blog myself), but I read your blog all the time! I usually read it in my bloglines previewer, so I don't think I get counted in any sats - sorry! Just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your blog.