Ooooh, pretty shiny silver!

I’ve always been fond of silver. The first ring that I wore on a daily basis was a silver and turquoise ring my parents gave me for Christmas circa 1983. My wedding rings and my other favourite ring are white gold, which is basically silver for spoiled girls. Even my teeth are filled with shiny silver fillings.

And now, blog has a beautiful siler maple leaf to wear with pride, thanks to our second place finish in the Canadian Blog Awards best family blog category.

(insert pretty silver maple leaf here, when Blogger deigns to let me post an image)

The finish was a real nail-biter, and we placed a mere 982 votes behind the winner. (I don’t even want to think about what kind of day I would have had to have last week to pull in that many votes!) Congratulations to Kristin and Ali and Carly and MetroMama and Catherine, and all the other bloggers who were nominated. I really thought I knew my way around the Canadian blogosphere, but I found a lot of great new blogs to read this past couple of weeks thanks to the CBAs.

And of course, thank to you all of you for your votes, and for your patience with this whole blog award silliness, and for your ongoing love and support. You know I’m fond of words, and I simply can’t find enough of them to tell you how honoured I am that you voted for me, and how touched I have been by your recent kindness.

I had a much longer, sappier post in mind, but I’m having trouble pulling the words together without sounding maudlin or saccharine. Plus, there’s a guy stage left with a big hook, and Chuck Barris just rolled the gong out stage right, so maybe I’ll leave it with a simple thank you.

Thank you. Really, and sincerely. Thank you!

Canadian Blog Awards – the finals!

As I said the other day, I’m truly honoured that you’ve voted me to the final round of the Canadian Blog Awards. Did you notice that there were less than 15 votes separating the top five blogs in the Best Family Blog category? I’m so pleased to be in the company of such excellent bloggers.

If you’re interested in a great analysis of the finalists in each category, take a look at James Bow’s blog – and I’m not just saying that because he said nice things about me. (Thanks, James!) If you’re looking for a few new blogs, the list of nominees and finalists is a great place to start. You can vote each day through Friday, and the results will be announced next Sunday, December 3.

And if you’re here visiting for the first time, scroll past this last week. It hasn’t been my best. We usually have a lot of fun around here, and I’ve got to credit the people who come here to comment, to chat, and to encourage me for a large part of that.

I’m not nearly focused enough to mount a campaign like the one to take down Rick Mercer last year. (That was fun, though, wasn’t it?) And while it’s been suggested that I shouldn’t ask you to vote for me, I think I’ll do it anyway. What can I say, I’m an irrepressible attention junkie, and I’m honoured by every vote! Vote already! Vote!!!

Oh wow – Oh WOW!

I learned from yesterday’s lesson and decided to post early in the day today, when I’m still feeling the promise of a new day. And I was just scrolling down to read your comments from yesterday when I caught the Canadian Blog Awards icon in the sidebar and I realized that I completely forgot to check the results. (And you know it would take something fairly catastrophic to distract me.)

Holy crap!! Holy CRAP!! We came in FIRST in the first round of voting!

(Yes, I realize that I’ve completely anthropomorphosized blog into its own being. That’s been a long time in coming, wouldn’t you say?)

First! Wow! I’m speechless. I’m proud, and honoured, and tickled pink. And frankly, the timing is pretty sweet, too. Thank you so much to all of you who voted!

And look at the other four great blogs who made it to the final round of voting in the Best Family Blog category: Her Bad Mother, Debaucherous and Dishevelled, Metro Mama, and Life With Lucy. I’m in some pretty impressive company, wouldn’t you say?

You realize that you’ll only encourage me, right? Since they probably won’t let me quit while I’m ahead and call off the second round of voting, now you can continue to vote for me all next week too. You’ve got nobody to blame but yourselves!

(Really, thanks!)

Because this blog is my happy place

Did you know that it’s World Kindness Week?

Sometimes, things come together with a sense of cosmic good timing that gives me shivers. Or at least good blog fodder.

First, I wanted to tell you that Andrea and Kim, the hard-working and oh-so-clever editors behind the online ‘zine The Whole Mom, have a new issue up. In addition to the usual great writing and funny comics, you will also find complete and annotated versions of our entire Motherlode presentation – the whole panel, all five of us!

Over on her newly rechristened blog, Andrea has also made public a conversation we started having when the five of us were collaborating on our presentations. She sums it up nicely:

“…as we were talking, we thought about the idea of a Mom Blogger’s Manifesto: A document that would encapsulate what blogging could be for mothers, where the pitfalls are lurking, and how they can be avoided. This document would be posted online so that people could link to it (maybe with a pretty button), both to spread awareness and to publically declare to readers a code of ethics.”

We called it the Momifesto, and if you’re interested in hearing more, and especially if you’re interested in talking about it, do join the conversation in the forum section of The Whole Mom.

Just as I was getting ready to tell you about all that, Bub and Pie had a link today to a wonderful idea from Chookooloonks.

She has created this lovely little button, and if you follow the link back to her blog, you’ll find the following declaration:

By posting this badge, I’m declaring that in addition to humour, intelligence, wit, sadness, snarkiness, passion, exuberance, peace, stillness, excitability, anger or any other emotion you may witness on my site:

1) I will never intentionally hurt other people, whether I know them or not, whether they blog or not, whether they’re celebrities or not, either through my words or my images. It’s just not my style; and,

2) I hope that by the time you’ve clicked away from my site, I’ve helped in some way to make your day just a little bit better.


So simple, and yet just what I wanted to say. Because the world needs more kindness. I promise that I will always try to be kind, and I will only ask the same of you.

P.S. Voting for your favourite blogger(s) is another way to be kind! *wink*

The one where I shamelessly beg for votes

I’m torn.

On one hand, it’s quite clear. In the Canadian National Identity Handbook, it clearly states that we are to be a self-effacing, unassuming, toe-twisting-in-the-carpet, “aw-shucks” brand of modest.

On the other hand, I am a known attention-whore. I admit it. I am needy for a steady stream of external validation. I am a praise junkie. What to do?

This: I hurl myself, submissively and Golden-Retriever-like, onto my back with my feet in the air, tail wagging wildly, and implore you to scratch my belly. You see, you’ve honoured me again this year with a nomination for a Canadian Blog Award, in the “Best Family Blog” category.

I could be subtle and just casually mention here that I’ve been nominated. I could show my true neediness, and mention that you can cast your vote for me starting today. Ahem, I could even be so brazen as to suggest that you can vote for me every single day for an entire week, should you so choose. And if I were truly audacious and irredeemably uncool, I just might remind you every couple of days to remember to cast your vote for me. You know, if you felt like it.

There will be two rounds of voting. Round one will run until November 21, and the top five blogs in each category will be announced November 23. Round two will run until December 1, with the winners announced December 3.

Last year, I had a lot of fun with my “campaign to take down Rick Mercer“, but this year I’m up against some of my favourie bloggers, so it’s truly a little bit difficult to promote myself. Heck, even I’m having a hard time deciding for whom to vote!

But if you do feel so inclined, click through to the Canadian Blog Awards page and scroll down, waaaaaaaaay down, to the Best Family Blog category and pick – well, you know, pick whichever blog you like best – then scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit the submit button. (These instructions might seem a bit overly explicit, but I have to make sure I get at least two votes by ensuring my Mom and Dad know how to vote!)

So what are you waiting for? VOTE already!

Welcome to my sandbox: My Motherlode presentation

I’m tucking this into Blogger’s capable hands the day before the Motherlode conference in Toronto. This is the presentation as I originally wrote it, but then I cut it down to just the key words and key points in my own speaking notes, so who knows how it will actually turn out. When I’m back from Toronto and have finished smothering my left-behind men with kisses, I’ll post links to the rest of the presentations, too. And of course, through the next week you’ll be subjected to a painfully detailed blow-by-blow analysis of the presentations in particular and the weekend in general.

But for now, here’s what I intended to say:

  • Hello, and on behalf of my friends up here with me – welcome! My name is Dani, and I write a blog called Postcards from the Mothership. I’ve been blogging for almost two years, which almost qualifies me as old skool. I’m also the mom of two boys, ages two and a half and four and a half.
  • Before we get started, I’d like to ask how many of you have ever heard of a blog before today?And how many of you have read a blog?And how many of you have blogs of your own, or have ever kept a blog?
  • So the first thing I’d like to do is beg your indulgence while I take a minute to give you all a little “Blog 101” lesson. What is a blog? I recently found this definition on the Web site “Wired” and found it sums it up nicely. (slide with this quote on it) “Blog” itself is short for “weblog,” which is short for “we blog because we weren’t very popular in high school and we’re trying to gain respect and admiration without actually having to be around people.”
  • You laugh, but I find it almost embarrassingly true. Ahem, at least in my case.
  • A blog is, for our purposes here at least, is a little bit like an online journal, or a diary. It’s on the Internet, so it’s usually public. Individual blog entries are called posts, and the most recent one usually appears first, so when you read down a page you’re reading backwards in time.
  • Most blogs have a few features in common. First of all, there’s usually a comment feature. Most bloggers love to get comments, and the feedback you get on something you write can be very validating. Most blogs also feature a blogroll, which is a list of blogs that particular blogger likes or respects or visits often. And for the truly obsessive, you can install a hit counter that lets you know how many people are visiting your blog, and where they are coming from.
  • People who aren’t familiar with the idea of blogging always ask me what I write about, and my answer is always along the lines of “everything.” I write to tell the stories of my two young sons, of being pregnant with a third, and my thoughts and opinions on being a working Canadian mom in the early part of the 21st century.
  • Blogging to me is often like reading the best bits of the Saturday paper out loud at the breakfast table. It’s my way of saying, “Hey, did you see this? Did you hear about that? Isn’t it wonderful / outrageous / hilarious? What do you think?”
  • When I blog, I put my thoughts and experiences up on the Internet, and other people who are inclined to read them can do so – and then they can add their own thoughts via the comment box. Or maybe they get inspired, and write about a similar topic on their own blog. And so the community begets a conversation, and that conversation is public and just about anyone can join in.
  • So what does blogging have to do with mothering?
  • Let me tell you about why I think blogging is such a perfect medium for mothers.
  • A friend of mine who is an amazing scrap-booker once said she sees herself as the ‘family historian’, and I immediately loved this idea. In blogging, I’m able to chronicle the minutia that is the fabric of our lives at this point in time. It’s a huge part of blogging for me, sharing in words and pictures and even video clips the little moments that might otherwise be lost… and I don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy paper and funky scissors to do it! Marla will talk a little bit more about blogging as art, and the telling of stories.
  • That’s on a very personal level. But blogging can be a very public act. Blogging, and especially mommy blogging, is about community, and about conversation. And those are two things that mothers, especially mothers of very young children, are often desperate for.
  • We don’t live in a society where mom or an older sister grandma or Auntie Agnes is right there in the house, on site to offer advice and guidance in the scary business of raising a child. We’re largely on our own, often quietly terrified and sure we’re the only ones who feel lost, afraid and alone. We’re desperate for some sort of support system, some kind of external validation, and someone to say, “oh yes, that happened to me, too. Here’s what I did. And we survived.”
  • As I said, I’m a working mom to two small boys. Often, the only time I see parents of kids my age is at the park after dinner. I’m on a ‘hey, howareya’ nodding acquaintance with a lot of them, but I can’t say I’ve ever swapped potty training tips with any of them, let alone admit to having a particularly hard time of it. Even when my nipples were cracked and bleeding and I thought I was going to die from the stress of breastfeeding my newborn, I couldn’t actually tell anyone that face-to-face. Someone would ask me how I was doing, and I would grit my teeth and say “fine” and suffer in silence.
  • There’s something about the Internet that makes it easy to bare your soul. When your friend asks, “how are you?” and you’re having a terrible day, it’s very difficult to unload your heavy heart on someone you’re meeting at the coffee shop, or over playgroup. Part of it is stoicism, and part of it is simply that it’s not socially acceptable to say you feel like death from the sleep deprivation and you’re afraid you’re going to hurt your baby if she doesn’t sleep more than two hours in a row. Mothering doesn’t lend itself to the long, far-reaching and soul-searching conversations I remember from the pubs in my less encumbered years.
  • I’m fundamentally shy. I’m not so great at making new friends. But the Internet facilitates that relationship-building by taking a lot of the pressure off. The online interface gives you courage, so you are braver about exposing yourself and your foibles and your deepest secrets than you might be sitting on a bench at the park. The face that you present through your blog is maybe a little bit more brave than the you at the park. You have a moment to organize your thoughts, so you can almost sound like a rational person, and on a really good day, even string a few deep thoughts together in a row.
  • As a blogger, you can choose to be completely anonymous and use pseudonyms for yourself and your kids, or you can do like my friend Ann here and use your name in the domain title, or you can choose some combination that you’re comfortable with.
  • Blogging is about connecting with other people, but in a way I never could while pushing our kids on the swings side-by-side at the park.
  • It lets you forge connections with like-minded souls whom you might not otherwise meet in other circumstances, given cultural or geographic or even temporal distances. Blogging crosses boundaries, both social and geographic.
  • So a blog is a kind of an online diary, crossed with a forum, which becomes a community. As a matter of fact, blogging is a natural evolution from the communities created by and for mothers on bulletin boards like babycentre and iVillage. For years now, web-savvy moms have been congregating online in these virtual communities to share information and advice when traditional media like the glossy parenting magazines have either failed them or alienated them or simply failed to address the reality of their lives.
  • Myself, I was a long-time junkie on a board called IVF Connections, because my first son was conceived through in vitro fertilization, and through that bulletin board I met a bunch of moms virtually who became in-real-life friends – and many of them have blogs of their own now, too.
  • So blogging is like a continuation of that virtual community, but it’s centred around a particular person, and as the blogger you can control the conversation and how the story is told. It lends itself to a much more in-depth examination of issues and experiences, with an archive of all the conversations that have gone on before.
  • Now, anybody who has ever tried to have a conversation with a preschooler in the room knows you never really get more than three words strung together in a row, let alone have a meaningful conversation.
  • Having kids in your life makes time an incredibly valuable commodity, and when you finally manage to string together fifteen minutes for yourself, it might just be at the crack of dawn when you’re up anyway, even though nobody else in the house is awake. You can’t call your best friend at that time – at least, I can’t! – but you can boot up the laptop and surf around the blogosphere for a while.
  • Blogging is a perfect medium for the multi-tasking mother with a short attention span. You can write up a post in 15 minutes, maybe even at three in the morning while the baby is nursing and you’re typing with one hand, or you can read a few blogs and leave a comment or two. But it’s on your time, and your terms.
  • That’s one of the first things I loved – one of the things I continue to love – about blogging: that it could be “all about me.” Keeping it has been an indulgence, something I make time for without apology. It’s my “me time”, and I value for that. A chance to connect with others, but also to exercise my mental muscles. A chance to keep up my writing chops, but also to have a discourse at a higher level than, “And how exactly did the spaghetti get inside your brother’s pillow case?”
  • There’s a lot of cynicism in the blogosphere about “mommy blogs”. Personally, I don’t get that. Blogs give women like me, women who are maybe shy or maybe geographically isolated or maybe stuck in the house or in an office, a lifeline that they might not otherwise have.
  • You’ll hear a little bit more now from my friends here on some issues that we’re facing in the “momosphere”. But if you only remember one thing about what I’ve said here today, remember that blogging can be a great source of comfort, and of information, for mothers.
    Bloggers, blogging mothers, are having conversations, forging connections, and building communities.
  • When we blog, and by that I mean the writing and the reading and the commenting on blogs – when we blog, we are not alone.

Edited to ever so briefly add: it was amazing. I do not have enough superlatives to tell you how perfect the last two days have been. Expect much gushing and boasting and heaping of affection on my co-panelists, the cool bloggers I finally met in person, the outstanding hospitality, the adorable toddlers, the surprise guests, the shopping…. AMAZING!!!!!!!

Mommy blogging

I’m supposed to have a coherent, polished presentation ready to show my Motherlode conference co-presenters by the end of the day today. I have spent many, many hours thinking about this, but only about two hours actually committing any of those thoughts to paper or pixels.

I really should have done this about a month ago, but if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done around here. And my life has been ever so slightly out of control this past six weeks or so, for reasons which you are well aware. (Ah, you think, she has no shame. She will play that pregnancy card to death by the time she enters the second trimester. And you are right.)

So here’s what I want to ask you. I need your ideas and experiences to flesh out my themes. One of the subjects I want to discuss in my part of the conversation is why blogs are a communication tool to which mothers in particular are drawn. What is it about blogging that we find so addictive and so compelling? Is it in the reading, or the writing? More specifically, would you be willing to share (either in the comment box, or more privately, via e-mail to danicanada at gmail dot com) an anecdote about how blogging helped you as a mother? Was there a time when you were at the end of your rope, and blogging helped you find another inch to hang on to? Did reading someone else’s experience help you realize you were not alone, not the only person struggling with something?

Myself, I always think back to my epic “is this my life” whine last year. I was so tired, so frustrated, so overwhelmed by everything, and just sending it out into the blogosphere helped me get it off my chest. Then so many people responded, either with a ‘there, there’ virtual pat on my shoulder, or a “me too”, and I felt so relieved. It was okay to be overwhelmed, and having you all acknowledge it helped me be okay with it too.

There have been other more practical things I’ve gotten from the community of blogging. I learned about cheap OPKs online, got great gift ideas for Simon’s birthday, and got some great tips on potty training, to name just a few.

And the fact that I’ve blogged so much of the minutia of our lives means that I have it here, recorded in cyberspace. I love it when I happen to be flipping through my own archives looking for something and I stumble across an anecdote or set of photos I had completely forgotten about.

So that’s three things I love about blogging: the sense of community, the connection with other people, and the chance to tell my stories to a receptive audience.

It’s your turn, because I’m just too lazy to do this whole thing on my own. What about you? Why blogging? What is it about the medium that makes it so popular with mothers? What has blogging done for you lately?

Edited to add: In reading your comments, you made me realize that my own questions were very leading. Maybe there is a darker aspect to blogging that I didn’t consider. What are the detriments to blogging? What do you think about the idea of blogging as a popularity contest, of the accusations of clique-ishness, of blogging as exclusionary instead of community-building. Thoughts?