First impressions: 'Real Life' burst on to the screen with its intriguing title and lovely flower picture. As a mother of three children, real life is something I seem to experience a lot of, sometimes to excess. I'm also a music teacher, so I was also drawn by the author's nicely written personal profile which describes her as a voice and piano teacher.
Then I came across the first of many references to Jesus. As a committed agnostic, religious blogs aren't something I'm naturally drawn too. To cut it for me, and for any casual reader who doesn't share the beliefs of 'Real Life's' author, this blog was going to have to work extra hard. When I'm reading, I want entertainment, not a sermon, however well-intentioned. So I was a little apprehensive, wondering which of the two I was going to get.
Design: I liked this very much. A lot of thought had gone into delivering a blog that was easy on the eye and, crucially, easy for the new reader to follow. Pictures were plentiful and well laid-out, links were quick and well organised, the sidebar was nicely arranged and the posts easy to find. There was also plenty to do - music to listen to and a competition to enter. Again, it was struck a good balance: energetic without being over-crowded. I had just one thought: new readers like me need easy access to the back story, so having a few more posts on screen without pressing the 'older posts' button might help.
Content: It's a nicely written blog with a straightforward, unpretentious style that's easy to read. Sentences are short, points clearly made and the author is obviously blessed with a good sense of humour when it comes to recounting the lighter side of family life. There's a nice post – How to get great customer service that anybody with young children can relate to, about how using your offspring tactically can guarantee you good customer serivce.
I also enjoyed 'Playing with Fire' a laugh out loud account of man's desire to set a match to anything remotely flammable 'that's just sitting there waiting asking to be burned'.
These general, family-life posts were few and far between, though, and no wonder. The author notes that, 'I always want my readers to see Jesus first,' and it's therefore unsurprising that the bible features a lot, whether through direct quotes or commentaries on different passages used to offer a perspective on everyday life. You either like it, or you don't and with lots of awards from and links to like-minded groups and individuals, it's clear that Real Life is a popular and well-regarded read with a predominantly Christian audience.
Best and Worst: The design was excellent. The content, for me, could have done with more of the funny family anecdotes and less of the direct religion but, given the author's strong Christian faith, that's unlikely to happen, in which case I suspect that she'll mainly be preaching to the converted.
Blogroll worthy: For me, no, solely because of the religious content. For any Christian out there keen to leven a hard-core religious message with humour, I suspect it's a must-read.
Score: Because of the above, I found it a hard blog to rate. I'm going for a six, though, because the design and the nice writing style which kept me going long after I'd normally have given up.
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