Blogging

I got a Facebook message this morning from a friend asking if/why I quit blogging. It looks like its now been two months since my last post.

In my mind, I haven’t really quit. I’m constantly thinking of posts in my head – when I tried a new recipe, or re-decorated my great room, or bought Guinevere a fur vest (!) – these are all things I’d normally want to document. I’m constantly thinking about pictures and funny intros and topics that may be something I’d want to write down for myself but others would find interesting. But in that same mind – I’m over it.

Blogging was pretty badass back in 2007-2009. Everyone that I “knew” back then became a true friend. I checked their blogs daily as I became immersed in their lives, and they in mine. We commented on every post. We tweeted thoughts and suggestions and words of support. It was a community. We lifted each other up. In my circles, it certainly wasn’t “elite” – only one person I really knew from back then went on to become a professional blogger – there were military wives and baseball players’ girlfriends and a whole lot of people that I had known from The Knot and The Nest forums back in the day. I’ve kept in touch with most of the originals – we’re Facebook friends and real-life friends and email pals. And we’ve all slowly stepped away from the keyboard.

You see, its changed. Blogging isn’t about sharing your life, and building relationships with like-minded women. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from people in the last few years about wanting to start a blog because they want to make money to quit their job and stay at home. It doesn’t work like that (it can, but really, it doesn’t). And these days, everyone has a blog. Blogging today is about followers. Its about sponsors. And its about money. Sometimes friendships forge – but I see more catty drama than meet ups and get togethers. I meet one person at a conference that is roomies and buddies with XYZ person, and later run into XYZ person who dishes and spills on the first. Um, what? Guys, I’m in my 30s. I have a kid. I have super awesome friends in real life. Ain’t nobody got time for internet drama.

I made the mistake of installing an app called Followers +. It tells me everyone that unfollows me on Instagram. I can also see all of the people that I follow that don’t follow me back. And I noticed that a big group dinner that I went to with like 20 bloggers at the LuckyFABB conference, where we took a picture and tagged everyone and all followed each other …all but one had then unfollowed me. I see constantly where people follow me, and then I guess if I don’t follow them back, then unfollow. Gotta have a higher  number of followers than those you follow! Or something. Doesn’t make much sense to me. I follow people any time they leave me a comment or interact with me. And I follow people I come across that are interesting. I unfollow accounts that are inactive, and thats about it. I’m pretty consistent on Instagram – pictures of the kid, pictures of shoes, the occasional selfie. If  you follow me, theoretically, its because you like those things. I don’t stray from that pattern – so how come in the last month 41 people have unfollowed? I can only assume because I didn’t return the follow back favor to bump their numbers, even though they never attempted to engage or interact. Only one was a person I actually knew or heard of.

I’m also REALLY tired of the sponsored posts. I loved my Google Reader because I could scan through and “catch up” with my friends. Now its promote this and advertise that. Kotex, Kleenex, Baby Butt Paste, cars, chapstick…you guys don’t really care. You all are applying for every promotion that Blogher or SITS girls or Clever Girls or whatever other ad network is offering, and just watching that PayPal balance shoot up. Or, you’re doing group giveaways. You could win this great prize, but you  must follow 25 people on Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin, leave a comment, and retweet – all mandatory entries!!

I’m sure for many of you, these paid opportunities are a blessing. And the money adds up – October 2013 was the last month I accepted sponsors or did paid promotions, and I made $800 that month. Thats a serious boost to household  bills and debts for some. For me, I always tried to only apply to programs that I actually used/believed in. I did the Invisalign promotion after already having Invisalign. I did the Vidal Sassoon event because I purchased their products. But I was getting to the point where I was grasping at straws to justify my relation with a product – to still be genuine and authentic and still get a payout. Like the time I did a social media thing on Facebook and Twitter for milk. I drink milk! I should get paid to talk about milk! And I did. It was dumb. So I did some soul-searching last year and decided that I wasn’t going to do any more sponsored/paid posts or promotions. I might still do some affiliate links, but disclosed at the top of each post per my preference. But blogging is NOT a profit game for me anymore. And I don’t like seeing the blogs I’ve loved so desperate for income that the soul of their site is gone.

The blogging bubble burst, just like we all knew it would. Readers can’t trust bloggers – they’d rush out to purchase a lipgloss their favorite beauty blogger mentioned in 2008. Now, anything sponsored makes them a sell out. You see bloggers like Pink Peonies recommending one skincare product then another, so quickly that your head spins. Pretty soon, you don’t believe anything they push. The conferences are dying – Blissdom, Blogher wasn’t selling out, and quite a few other conferences are gone. Even huge blog powerhouses like Young House Love are closing up shop. I assume many more will follow suit soon.

As for me? I haven’t quite washed my hands over here. But its certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

I took a few steps back for several reasons -

1. I’m busy. I work for myself as an independent contractor and my career keeps me busy. I also may start commuting daily to DC for a new project – thats 4 hours a day commuting, plus an 8-9 hour work day that I’m away from my home. So I’ll probably never return to 5 posts a week because I’m terrible at multi-tasking, and even worse at time management, so my kid will come first, then my husband, and then the DVR and Netflix. And if I’m feeling a little crazy, you might see a blog post.

2. It became difficult to be honest. There were certain people that read here that I knew in real life. They’d read through archives from several years ago, and twist my words and intentions and make something innocent into something crazy. I felt violated and exposed – the one thing about blogging was that it always felt semi-anonymous. I hated having people that knew me try to tear apart my words, and I also felt resentful about sharing parts of myself with those types of people. I spend 98% of my life saying “screw anyone who doesn’t matter” – I put my family and friends before everything else. But sometimes I let insecurity and doubt creep in. I hate when it happens, but I’m human and I tend to be overly sensitive. I’m trying to get better about not taking it personally.

3. It doesn’t feel appreciated. I know, stroke my ego will ya? But when average and boring blog posts used to get 30+ comments a day back 6 years ago and now truly thought posts get 1-2, you wonder why you bother writing and publishing – it makes me want to go back to a personal diary or journal. I had a pretty rad LiveJournal back in the day. You just wonder why you bother with the sharing part. Of course, here’s the flipside – I’m terrible at reading blogs. That is an even lower priority these days for me than writing my own. So its real dumb for me to get annoyed by the current blog/comment landscape when I’m not reciprocating. But maybe that is even more of a reason for me to go private or just shut it down.

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What HAVE I been up to? Life has been pretty dang amazing this year. I hired a personal trainer and am lifting weights 5x a week. I LOVE lifting and am getting so strong. Lets just say I can’t pass by a mirror without flexing. I’m also trying to eat better to start leaning out a bit. I’m getting better about time with friends. I spent a week at the beach with my best friend in September, went to Vegas for four days, have done a lot more happy hours lately and have an upcoming triple date with two couples at this place called Escape Room in DC. Apparently a zombie tries to eat you as you use logic to try to escape the room.

We also just convinced some fun new friends to join us in punting on a traditional Thanksgiving – we’re leaving Wednesday for Great Wolf Lodge with the kids and not coming home til Friday night. I can’t wait. I feel like I’m at a place now where everything is in a really good balance – motherhood, marriage, neighbors, friends, personal quality time. I’m happy.

Feel free to follow along on Instagram. I’m pretty active there. I mostly post pictures of Guinevere and I in matching shoes. You should probably NOT follow me if thats too adorable for you.

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I only tweet when Guinevere says something funny, and I never read my feed because its overwhelming (too many years of entering contests that I never won but had to follow 67 people). And I do still post sometimes on my blog’s Facebook page. And if we’ve interacted before, I do add some blog friends on my personal Facebook page.  So come say hi…I’m still around. Just maybe not here right now.

 

Trendy Tot Tuesday: Summer

Sorry so late today guys – I cut my hand badly last night, and this morning Guinevere was diagnosed with an ear infection, so its chaos as usual around here…

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Its the last week of summer here in Northern Virginia, where the kids return to school the day after Labor Day. Guinevere starts preschool this year (and I’m DYING over how cute she is in her uniform) and I’m starting to have major guilt about not doing enough fun things this summer.

We did get to go to Smith Mountain Lake for two days, but that trip was cut shorter than anticipated. We had a few afternoon trips to a water park and local zoos, but in general, nothing like the summers I grew up having – camping, multiple trips to amusement parks and the beach, etc. So on Friday I kept Guinevere home from her nanny and we had a hooky day. We went to a playground and lunch, and saw the movie Planes at University Mall Theatre – she was great through the whole thing!

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But apparently I wore her out. After we left the theatre, she suggested we go to the mall. “Okay!” I replied enthusiastically – I needed a few things. We didn’t even make it onto Braddock Road before she looked like this in the backseat:

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That kid NEVER sleeps in cars, so this was pretty amusing to me – guess we had too much fun! I tried to drive straight to the Splash Pad by our house, thinking some water fun would perk her up, but she was beat – just wanted to go home and “welax”. So we did.

On Sunday, we went to Chuck E Cheese for the first time. We were shocked at how clean, cheap, and fun it was. I assumed it was gross and germy and overpriced, but we were among the first customers there and you could smell the disinfectant on the rides and machines. Additionally, we spent under $30 for a pizza, two drinks, and 30 tokens, aka 30 rides and games. Tyler got to play Guitar Hero, I got to play SkeeBall, and Guinevere used up all the rest. SO much fun!

And then yesterday, we played hooky again. This time, we headed up to Great Country Farms to pick apples. This place was kid heaven – tons of playground and imaginary play areas, animals, pedal carts, water mazes, and a cow train:

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But my FAVORITE part was this giant, inflated orange blob bouncy thing. No clue what they call it, but I was so disappointed that A) adults weren’t allowed on it and B) I only had my 50mm lens and couldn’t show off the size and awesomeness of this thing. I’m also disappointed that I”m so terrible at editing photos, because the shiny orange surface reflected back on Guinevere and so the color is really weird on her in these. But I love the shots of her suspended in air!

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What does all of this have to do with Trendy Tot Tuesday? My amusement at Guinevere’s new “uniform” – every day, she now insists on wearing a tank top and a tutu. In fact, after getting back from Great Country Farms where she got very dirty, she ran upstairs and changed into this:

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At which point we went to Target, because she was so darn proud of dressing herself – who was I to say anything?!

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Won’t you please join us?!

tttuesday Our guest host this week is Amy from Baby Mama Juice. Amy is a mama and stepmama to three sweet girls – Pilar, Marin and Ivey. I just LOVE their names! Her “About Me” is the cutest I’ve ever seen, with such a great visual of snippets about her life – don’t you want to be BFFs with her right now?!

Baby Mama Juice
  • Trendy Tot Tuesday is a chance to talk about kid’s style, and pretty much anything goes.  Pictures of your cutie, talking about their style (that you buy and dress them in, ahem!), a Polyvore board, linking to the new kid’s line at the Gap – anything!  All ages welcome, from you sweet pregnant mamas stocking up a closet to the teenagers that probably pick all their own stuff out now ;)
  • This is a hop-style link up – please follow your hosts (myself, Megan and Amy – we are in spots 1-3.  Also, jump around to meet other bloggers!  We hope everyone gains some new followers from this link-up and finds some fabulous new blogs!
  • Please link back to (at least!) one of us, and feel free to steal our badge if you’d like. If you’re a tweeter or instagram-er, use #trendytot
  • Interested in guest hosting? Please email Megan to get added to the list!


Trendy Tot Tuesday: Three

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Its official – three is my most favorite age ever. She’s funny and smart and sweet and still a bit cuddly. She pushes her limits but is generally respectful and I wish I could bottle this age up right now.

Lately she seems to be very into things that used to be mine. We read all of my old Berenstain Bears books before bed, and I love seeing my mom’s handwriting scrawled on the inside cover “To Kelly, Christmas 1987, Love Mom”. She’s obsessed, and I had to pick up a few new ones when “Mama’s New Job” and “The Bad Habit” got old. She also loves my old toys, which have been moved into her room.

Every morning, we hear the click of her door and she comes into the hallway after waking up, and she chirps “Good morning! Guess what? Its a beautiful sunny day! The sun is awake now!” Granted, only on mornings we sleep in – typically I have to wake her up for school, in which case she will growl and hiss at me and burrow under the blankets. But this particular morning was a chipper morning, and she wandered in with my old Pound Puppy stuffed dog, Barkley. She thought he was “great!” and asked – ASKED! – if I could take pictures of them together.

While this girl loves to throw a “model pose” to any stranger that barely even glances in her direction, she often asks me to put my cell or camera away and to please not take pictures of her. So this was pretty huge. Of course, we were late for the nanny’s house, but I snapped some as quick as I could.

Yep, I love three :)

_MG_3738_MG_3740_MG_3745_MG_3751_MG_3754_MG_3758Dress | Purse (altered to fit a 3yo’s height!) | Boots: Kohls (sold out, similiar here) | Headband: H&M

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Won’t you please join us?!

tttuesday

Our guest host this week is Darby from Life with the Hawleys. Darby is a fellow June Bug mama (and he is PRECIOUS!) and has some beautiful and honest posts about the journey with infertility – a must-read for anyone that has struggled with similar issues.

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  • Trendy Tot Tuesday is a chance to talk about kid’s style, and pretty much anything goes.  Pictures of your cutie, talking about their style (that you buy and dress them in, ahem!), a Polyvore board, linking to the new kid’s line at the Gap – anything!  All ages welcome, from you sweet pregnant mamas stocking up a closet to the teenagers that probably pick all their own stuff out now ;)
  • This is a hop-style link up – please follow your hosts (myself, Megan and Darby – we are in spots 1-3.  Also, jump around to meet other bloggers!  We hope everyone gains some new followers from this link-up and finds some fabulous new blogs!
  • Please link back to (at least!) one of us, and feel free to steal our badge if you’d like. If you’re a tweeter or instagram-er, use #trendytot
  • Interested in guest hosting? Please email Megan to get added to the list!


Toddlers, Ferguson, and Rants

As Guinevere grew into toddlerhood, I thought about how she might process race. I naively thought she wouldn’t.

She watches cartoons about talking magical ponies and Care Bears. She sees creatures interact with humans, such as Ninja Turtles or Barney. There are muppets and puppets that are green and pink and all sorts of talking animals. Surely a friend with darker skin would merely be a fellow human – how normal, right? Absolutely nothing to bat an eye at, or even remotely worth noticing or commenting on?

Our street is pretty diverse – by my count, of 15 homes there are four black families, two Asian families, two Middle Eastern families, and a Latino family. The little girl to the left of us has flaming red hair, and the kids to the right have white-blond cornsilk hair – resulting in all of the kids on our street looking wonderfully, beautifully unique. At which point – isn’t that what all people are? You might look like your siblings, but what a blessing that we aren’t all the same. So yes, I really thought that my child would honestly view the people of the world as just people – not singling out people that look different than her, because everyone looks different than her. That different is normal.

Until two weeks ago at Target. A black gentleman was behind us as we waited to check out. He kindly carried on a conversation with Guinevere, and she started talking about how he was a doctor. He corrected her and said he wasn’t a doctor, but she was adamant – yes, he was.

It clicked a bit later – her doctor and the nurse she sees most often are black, and so is her dentist and the dental assistant. As well as Disney Jr’s Doc McStuffins. I’d never realized the connection, but in her mind, all doctors were black – they all had the same color skin.

It made me realize that even in the most perfect environment, children can start to mentally compartmentalize “same”, “similar”, and “different” – of course she can tell the difference between a boy and girl. So of course she’d start to compartmentalize similar people (or professions, in our case), according to how they look.

It also made me realize how essential it is that we continue to raise her in an environment that is genuinely respectful and promotes equality for all – whether it is an individual’s preference on whom they marry, how they vote, or their religious views. And never, ever making judgments about a person simply based on appearance.

All that, to say that the events happening in Ferguson, Missouri hurt my heart. Last night, I was glued to Twitter watching the events unfold, and couldn’t believe that this was happening in America. Land of the Free? It made me sick thinking that in 2014, there is still so much hate and fear and force out there. At one point, people in Gaza were tweeting supportive messages to those in Ferguson with advice for handling the tear gas. And that is the first time I’ve ever felt shame as an American. There is SO much going on here, its difficult to wrap my head around it all.

  1. Issue #1 is clearly, the murder of Michael Brown. I think its important to say his name, because everything is quickly spiraling about “Ferguson” – but when a child (and really, an 18 year old is still a child) is fatally shot while following police orders and holding his hands up, his name should be remembered. And my heart just breaks for his mother.
    1. EDIT: A commenter brought up a good point – we don’t have all the facts. Some reports are saying Michael was shot because he was reaching for the officer’s gun. I’ll leave my original text as-is, but want to note this for future readers that I acknowledge there may be another side to the story here.
  2. Issue #2 is the militarization of the police. Tanks? Snipers and assault rifles? Tear gas and rubber bullets AIMED AT PEOPLE? Full riot gear? This was a community that wanted answers and justice. All of the live footage that I watched last night showed community members singing and gathering in protest. Their intent was peaceful, and in my opinion, the police turned the incident into a war. This community has EVERY right to protest peacefully – and this police force that has turned into some sort of fascist military has been alienating rights left and right.
    1. EDIT: I want to clarify here that my issue is with this particular department – not the police in general. Some good conversations in the comments  below if you’re interested.
  3. Issue #3 is the treatment of the media. The way that the media was ordered out of the town, that journalists were arrested and weren’t even told reasons, being refused the names and police badge numbers of arresting officers, and were handled roughly terrifies me. The fact that everyone was ordered to shut off cameras is horrifying – the public has a right to film police activity. And the brute force of the department in this city is baffling – how has the governor or even federal entities not stepped in? They managed to make the area a no-fly zone, limiting as much media exposure as possible, and even fired tear gas near the Al Jazeera media crew, and TOOK THEIR GEAR after they fled from the gas. My blood boils just thinking about it.

Yesterday’s lack of news coverage was scary. Terrifying. Today, this is on the main page of all major news sources that I checked, but still not to the extent that I think it should be covered. Still, the Ferguson community and the social media community should be proud that they were finally able to get some information out. I have no ties to Missouri, the city of Ferguson, or the police in general. I’m an upper-middle class white woman who has never been racially discriminated against, and would never raise eyebrows of law enforcement officials. Guinevere will be the same, and how lucky we are – but shouldn’t all children be able to say that? It shouldn’t fucking matter what color someone’s skin is, and its infuriating that this is still an issue in 2014.

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Source

One report I found interesting in a “rip my heart out and smash it in the dirt” sort of way was this article about how the media treats black victims compared to white killers and suspects. 

Which then led me down the rabbit hole of the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. And I cried looking at some of these pictures – of course kids take goofy or tough images, I’ve got my fair share of pictures that will never see the light of the internet, but if I were born 10 years later – they’d be out there too. And I could tell looking at these comparisons that this is exactly what has been happening…and it isn’t fair.

This isn’t the world I wanted to bring my daughter into, and something needs to change.

I have always known people who “definitely aren’t racist!” and “have black friends!” but don’t feel bad telling a racist joke – after looking over their shoulder to make sure no one who is black is standing nearby, of course. Guess what – you’re still racist. 

The lady next to me at the nail salon last week was loudly talking to the tech about how much she loved Korean food, “Kimchi and all that other stuff.” The nail tech politely told the woman that she was Vietnamese, and the woman goes, “But all ya’lls food is basically the same. Damn good!” and went on to tell a story about a Vietnamese person she knew. Like that made it okay that she just stereotyped about an entire nationality. Guess what – you’re still racist.

If you’re telling a story about someone, and find it relevant to mention “that black lady” or “this Asian guy”, then I am deeply saddened that you can’t find a better way to describe a person if its necessary – but often, the race is completely irrelevant. And so I’m sad that it made so much of an impression on you. There are certainly times where it might be relevant information – for my story at the beginning of the blog post, you needed to know that the fellow shopper was black to understand how my daughter associated him with her black dentist and doctor. But in general? Sorry, but I think you’re racist.

I’ve started correcting people in front of Guinevere, and now that I’ve been aware of it, I realize how normal these are in my life, how commonplace by peers – particularly the “glance around to make sure xyz race/gender/sexual orientation isn’t near by” action. Just a suggestion, but if you’re saying something that would be offensive to some people if they were present – maybe you shouldn’t say it at all.

And think extra hard about how your words and actions will be adopted by your children. Let’s strive to make a more tolerant and respectful generation of adults by setting the best example possible. Its a shame those police officers in Ferguson didn’t have the same example set for them, and I grieve for Michael Brown’s family as I pray that these incidents start to become something for the history books – not tomorrow’s front page.

 

Trendy Tot Tuesday: Sunflowers

There is a local flower farm near us that has quickly become one of my favorite spots to visit. We went last May when the tulips were in bloom, and snuck out again two weeks ago when the sunflowers were starting to make an appearance. I thought Guinevere would adore these tall, happy flowers, but she and Tyler both deemed them “creepy” and she was far more interested marching along the rows in between until it was just too hot to stay out a moment longer. Shocker, that also meant she had no interest in posing for pictures, so I had to snag a few where I could. Unfortunately not as exciting as what I’d imagined – but thats a three year old for ya.

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Won’t you please join us?!

tttuesday

 

Our guest host this week is Hollie from What Lies Within Us. Hollie is a mama to a sweet girl named Ella and this kiddo is SERIOUSLY cute – curls and bows and the most adorable outfits! Swoon!

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Also, make sure to check out Megan’s blog today, as she gives a review of Alex and Ally with the cutest custom bibs and burp cloths, and has a coupon code – woohoo!

  • Trendy Tot Tuesday is a chance to talk about kid’s style, and pretty much anything goes.  Pictures of your cutie, talking about their style (that you buy and dress them in, ahem!), a Polyvore board, linking to the new kid’s line at the Gap – anything!  All ages welcome, from you sweet pregnant mamas stocking up a closet to the teenagers that probably pick all their own stuff out now ;)
  • This is a hop-style link up – please follow your hosts (myself, Megan and Hollie– we are in spots 1-3.  Also, jump around to meet other bloggers!  We hope everyone gains some new followers from this link-up and finds some fabulous new blogs!
  • Please link back to (at least!) one of us, and feel free to steal our badge if you’d like. If you’re a tweeter or instagram-er, use #trendytot
  • Interested in guest hosting? Please email Megan to get added to the list!

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