Category Archives: blogging

On Becoming a Mommy Blogger and Sharing My Kids

The term “mommy blogger” sits uneasily on me.

From the early days of this blog, I promised myself that I would never become one of those moms, shilling their kids on social media for the sake of free stuff and paid sponsorships.* I would never expect them to live their life online and would always respect their individuality and right to privacy. I swore up and down that I would never be a mommy blogger.

* (I am still not receiving any free stuff or paid sponsorships, but this post isn’t about that.)

I was kind of like one of those people who knows all about raising children while having none of their own. Before I had children, I was the perfect blogger with children.

And then I had children. What actually happened is that my blog died a slow, dragged-out death. Or, at least, a very prolonged illness. Rather than becoming a mommy blogger, a title that makes me feel so uncomfortable, I just stopped writing. (There are other reasons I stopped writing. Any parent can tell you that it’s a crazy, sleepless, difficult time. Women who can maintain a blog while keeping brand new humans alive have all my love and respect.) My blog descended into the banality of monthly updates; posts became even fewer and further between as Isabel got busier and Eden’s arrival loomed imminent.

These days, as I attempt to relaunch something on this platform that I loved for so many years before I had children, I’ve discovered that I’m a new person. Sure, I’ve got all sorts of things to write about. But those girls? They’re my life. They’re my every waking moment, whether I’m with them or not. They’re my purpose – or at least the largest part of it. If I am going to create a blog space that is true to me and my voice, I can’t exclude them.

Last week, an old blogging friend of mine, Jen from Rambling Renovators, and Erin from DIY Passion Blog took to their blogging podcast, In The Storyhouse to talk about the issue of parents over-sharing their children’s lives on social media and the question of how those children will react to their well-developed social media presence as they get older and enter adulthood.Will they be embarrassed by every moment of their growing up being easily accessible online? Do we share too much?

Jen says, “At some point those kids grow up. And you think, hey maybe I haven’t taken into account their need for privacy, right? Do they want to have their life exposed on the internet? There’s the chance that you might feel you’ve exploited them in many ways.” These worries resonate with me: can I write about my family, about my children, and still honour their needs as humans growing up in a social media world? Or do I really just need to put this blog to bed and take a gigantic step back from social media myself for their sake?

If you follow me on any platform, you know I share my girls. About 90% of the pictures I post on Instagram are Isabel and Eden. Almost everything I’ve written on this blog in the past 4 years has been pregnancy, baby, toddler, and motherhood related. I share share share and I have to admit, I really don’t want to stop. So many good things come from sharing our day-to-days: connection, community, creativity. I’ve met people on social media, I’ve gotten advice about how to handle situations with the girls, I’ve developed a few photography skills and found an outlet for my writing and creativity. I’ve chased away feelings of isolation with honesty and authenticity. Despite its problems, I like social media.

But, I do believe we have to be careful. We don’t know how our children are going to feel about their social media presence as they grow up. Will they be embarrassed by their mom and her preference for uncomfortable honesty about her experience with motherhood? I hope not. Will they be angry that their early years were put out into the world for random strangers to follow? I don’t know. But I do have to think about it.

So, I’ve thought about it, I still want to share because I enjoy so much of participating in social media, and I’m hopeful that there’s some sort of balance that I can find to make sure I don’t ruin my kids lives – or at least their reputations and online presence. A few ideas:

  • Seek consent. I ask Isabel every time I pull out my camera if I can take some pictures. If she says no? I honour that. This teaches her that she has a right to her photograph, a right to step out from in front of the camera. At 3.5, she’s started saying yes more often than she says no, and loves to check out the shots with me after I’ve taken them. A year or so ago, I wasn’t so good at being consistent about this, and it quickly became clear that she hated it when I pulled out the camera, purely because I didn’t give her a choice in the matter. And what about Eden, at 15 months? Even at that age, it’s easy to tell when she’s not in the mood for pictures. And even at that age, it’s important to honour her wishes.
  • Seek consent times two. It’s important to ask permission for the picture, but what about posting it on social media? This is something I’ve just started to do with Isabel – and, admittedly, am not very good at yet. When I take a particularly cute picture, I try to ask her if I can post it and share it with “mommy’s internet friends”. More often than not, it’s a yes. Occasionally, she has disagreed that it’s a cute picture and has said no. Once again, it’s important to honour that request.
  • Treat them like people. If they were an adult, what would you post? Obviously, this sounds simple, but can be a little bit more difficult to navigate than you might expect. Should we not share things about diapering, and potty training, and temper tantrums because, from an adult perspective, these things could be embarrassing? No! Sometimes, parents just really need help with some of these things and sharing can be an avenue towards not feeling so alone in the struggles of motherhood. But, if we think about our kids as individual people – and not merely an extension of ourselves – maybe we can find a way to talk about these things in a more respectful way.
  • Focus on yourself. My story might feel so entangled in my children’s stories: that’s the nature of parenthood. But, if I focus on my story rather than theirs, turn the spotlight onto me, rather than on them, maybe I can find the allusive balance between sharing and oversharing, honouring and dishonouring my children.

I recently read an article about providing children the opportunity to erase themselves from the Internet, to edit the online reputation that their parents created for them. It is my hope that what my children see here won’t embarrass them, that they won’t have a desire to delete my social media presence from theirs.

But if they do? They won’t need to hire a lawyer to make it happen: We’ll do it together, me and them, scrubbing my accounts clean from what they don’t want the world to see.

~*~

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Future Of The Blog

Tomorrow is my last day of classes for the year. It seems that maybe I’ve managed to come out on the other side of my first year of library school with my sanity, dignity, and GPA more or less intact. Now, five months of time with Isabel stretches before me before I begin my second and final year of the program.

It is my hope that in this five months, I can revive this space a little, inject some more life into this blog, and rediscover the pleasure of writing in doing so. But, I’m a little lost on how to do it.

The conundrum:

I hesitate to embrace the world of mommy blogging. I struggle with the line between sharing my story and myself with the world while respecting Isabel’s story. How much of her life is mine to share? Right now, it’s so hard to tell. Just 9 months ago, she was me and I was her. Now that she is on the outside of me, that is changing so rapidly and every day she settles more into herself and who she is becoming. So, where do I draw the line between our stories? It’s a struggle that has kept me away from any serious blogging for the past 6 months.

And I want to come back; I really do. But when my days are spent with this adorable giggly kid and all the struggles that go along with first-time motherhood, what do I have left to write about? I don’t care enough about having a well-curated home to find myself back in the home blogger circuit in any real capacity. It’s a good day if I manage to get a chicken breast or two in the oven for dinner, so really, food blogging is out. I do hope to read plenty over the summer, and keep up knitting as much as I can, but will writing about those things satisfy the itch to string words together in a beautiful way?

Perhaps I need to stop over-thinking it all. Perhaps I need to set aside my worry and fear and just say all the things I want to say. Perhaps I need a reminder that this space is a space for me and my words and all that goes along with them.

I’m not sure yet. I’m still figuring it all out.

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What I’ve been telling people about my blog these days

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll already know that last night, I attended one of the most awesome, worthwhile events I’ve ever been invited to last night. Blurb.ca, my favourite photobook people (even though I’ve never actually gotten around to making my own book), hosted a ‘Photo Safari’ in the Distillery District with Toronto with photographer Dan Milnor (and blogger Elycia, whom I was thrilled to see there and meet for the first time!). The event pushed me out of my comfort zone, into the cold and damp of the Distillery District in the fall, into conversation with photographers more accomplished than me. I came away inspired, intimidated, excited, and maybe a little over-stimulated.

This post isn’t about the photography. I’m saving that for my Photo Friday post. This post is about the conversations I had as the afternoon moved into evening and we all began to share who we are and what we do. This post is about where this blog is going. This post may also be about how happy this blog makes me.

You may have noticed. I’ve come to a crossroads with this blog. The original intent is no longer applicable. A year and a half ago, I had so much to say about this little house. There were so many projects to do, so much pretty to inject into these run-down four walls. There was a basement apartment to talk about, a bathroom renovation, and a new, gorgeous kitchen. There were furniture acquisitions and make-overs to attempt, new skills to teach myself, and a myriad of plans to share.

That hasn’t necessarily changed. There are still projects to do, and big renovations to plan, and I’m not going to stop sharing relentlessly about my inspiration, plans, and projects. But my little house doesn’t always hold my unswaying attention, and these days, my ability to focus on what is contained and what could be contained in these four walls is being challenged. I’ve struggled against it for a while. Over the past month or so, I’ve reached a realization:

It’s ok to change.
It’s ok to let this blog change.
It’s ok to let my voice and my purpose change.

Finally, I’ve begun to admit that This Dusty House needs to change, whether I like it or not. I need to pull it out of a category and focus it instead of the things I love. I need to talk about books more, and afghans, and shoes, and food, and Toronto, and the country, and my dogs, and Pekoe. And photography. And the church. And – why not; let’s got political – women’s issues.

This chair has played so many roles in my house. It’s lived in the living room, the bedroom, the garden, and now, finally, the dining room. Perhaps it’s a little cheesy, but it’s time to allow my writing to become like this chair – a little all over the place.

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Three Things for Thursday: On Blogging

This week’s Three Things are about blogging because it’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. I know that this is completely uninteresting for those of you who don’t blog, but please bear with me! I have a few questions about blogs and Facebook for you at the bottom of the post!


One: Blog Design

Over the past week or two, I’ve been slowly chipping away at my blog, trying to bring it out of the basic-Blogger-template world and into something I can call my own, something that is a little more ‘me’, a little more ‘us’.

As I’ve slowly been teaching myself to play around with a little HTML, I’ve begun to develop a new appreciation for those of you who design these things. The whole process makes my head spin just a little. But, I’ve proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish, of the work-arounds I’ve figured out, whether it’s legitimate design or not. I’m no web designer and I will never claim to be, but I’m feeling far more satisfied with the look of this space than before.

Two: Social Media Icons


These are what I’m the most proud of, I think. Here’s a hint for any bloggers who may want their own social media icons: they’re simply a circle cut out of one of my favourite photographs, with a letter stuck in them, slightly offset from the flower. 


Three: Facebook


This Dusty House is on Facebook! Obviously. I wouldn’t have created a social media icon for it if I wasn’t. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to add more content there, trying to make it something worthwhile to go with this blog. In some ways, I’m not entirely convinced. So, I have a few questions for you: 

Do you follow blogs through Facebook? Do you feel like it allows for a greater level of interaction? And, for my blogging readers; do you have a Facebook page for your blog? Why? How do you view the purpose of your Facebook page? 

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Swaaag!

(Yesterday, my bathroom was featured on Curbly next to 9 other gorgeous small bathrooms. So honoured! Check the post out here!)

Why, yes, I did mention a swag bag! Amazing sponsors meant an amazing swag bag. This thing was full of so many goodies.

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There were the green goodies from Aya Kitchens and Bath: the swag bag itself, a beautiful green travel mug, and a design book, full of custom-kitchen eye candy.

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The little pile from IKEA included a super deep muffin tin, cupcake liners, and a blanket, which I unrolled and snuggled under all Sunday afternoon.

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From Cottonelle, there was the adorable toilet paper container with a roll of Cottonelle toilet paper. The Jonathan Adler book is also from them, considering their designs for the containers came from him.

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There’s a copy of House and Home magazine. Can you believe that I don’t have a single subscription to any magazine or newspaper? I was kind of excited to get this, and definitely wish I’d won the subscription itself.

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There was an assortment of coupons and postcards from the meetup’s various other sponsors such as Kravat, Gluckstein Home, and CB2.

(Hilarious moment: Andrea from Ikea won the throw pillow from CB2 in the giveaway! And such a cute pillow it was, too!)

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The husband’s favourite item from the swag bag? The paint chips from CIL and Gluckstein Home/Benjamin Moore. I’ve already started planning what colour to paint our living room, now that I can do it all from the comfort of my own home.

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Sometimes, I’m still a little blown away by how seriously brands take bloggers. A huge thank you to all the sponsors and, of course, the organizers of the even, Vie and Daniella!

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Canadian Design Bloggers Meetup

Saturday afternoon, I sat on the 510 King street car feeling a little bit like I was going to puke. I was headed here:

For this:

And I was terrified.

I had never been to a blogging event. And, while you might not know it if you met me, I’m not the most naturally outgoing person in the world. I have a history of forcing myself into the middle of a group of strangers (just ask my husband about that one), but while I think meeting new people is important, I don’t find it easy.

The meetup wasn’t easy.

But it was wonderful.

After I collected my name tag and dropped a scrap of paper with my name on it into the draw basket (yup, I was one of those without a business card. Definitely something to remedy for the next one!) I bee-lined it to the bar and grabbed a glass of wine. Just something to keep my hands busy. To calm my nerves. To give me purpose. I stepped away from the bar and made my way through the crowd of women, the crowd that was chattering so happily away, so easily, so naturally. For a moment, I stood by myself on the edge of the crowd and breathed.

This is crazy. I can’t do this. 


But I can’t just stand here either. That’s even worse. 


So, I stepped forward, wiggled my way into the nearest group, introduced myself, asked questions, met a new blogger or two, gathered a business card or two, drank a glass of wine or two (or three), ate a mini burger and an oyster or two, had a fudge stick thing, listened to some speakers or four, waited for my name to be drawn for a prize (it wasn’t), shifted from foot to foot in my brand new super-high heels, forced myself to step into a circle or two, introduced myself to some of my favourite fellow Canadian bloggers, met some superbly talented women (and a few men), grabbed a swag bag and left feeling much more relaxed, much more confident.

With Amanda and Justyna from Aya Kitchens and Kim from Restoration House

Did I enjoy it?

That’s a hard question to answer. It’s like asking me if I enjoy going to the gym that first time after not being to the gym in 6 months. It’s hard. But I know that, while I’m there, I’ll remember or learn why I enjoy it and I know that every time I go to another event, it will get easier as I get to know more and more of my blogging friends. I love that I got to meet each of the bloggers I came across there. I love the new conversations that the face-to-face nature of the meetup allowed us to start.

I’ll certainly be at the next one with a little more confidence and the perfect business card.

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