Thank You & 15 Moments of Parenting Shame

Five years ago today, Rub Some Dirt On It came into existence as it is now known, for consumption outside of my family circle.

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It’s been an amazing learning curve, a wonderfully supportive community, a platform for photography, and an online baby book for three incredible humans.  Thank you for joining me on this journey, and for all your support, whether it’s following along here, on social media, commenting, sharing, or just reading.  I appreciate each and every one of you! 400,000 page views is not something I could have done alone!

In celebration, here are ten hilarious stories of motherhood: bumps, bruises and all!  Please revel in my shame and know that you, too, are not alone!

  1. Full Disclosure: Pooping On The Slide & I Almost Fled To Canada
  2. The Tale of Shopping at Walmart Before a Snowstorm
  3. Why Sometimes Cocktails At 8:29 a.m. Are Valid
  4. The Time Em Was Super Ungrateful
  5. I Can’t Hack Working Outside The Home
  6. Potty Talk and a Drive-By
  7. Mothers Don’t Get Sick Days
  8. The Time Jax Pooped On The Floor at the Library
  9. Bitchy Other Moms Suck
  10. Side Effects of Growing Up Rural
  11. The Time Someone Let My Kid Play In Pee
  12. If Only…
  13. The Time I Threw Part of Em’s Body Down a Manhole
  14. The Day I Became A Local At Friendly’s
  15. When I Realize I’m Doing Okay
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The Anatomy Of A Wave

I have a mental image of sitting in a classroom at some stage of my education and learning about the ocean, specifically about waves and these things called crests and troughs, the heights and depths.  The words always stuck with me as being highly descriptive, not something that I usually associate with science, and thus I have always remembered them.  When I sat down to write a blog post today–something I felt compelled to do because of some inner clock that forces me to post as often as possible–I was reminded of the anatomy of a wave–crest and trough, crest and trough–and thought to myself, Isn’t life just like that?  Sometimes sets of waves come crashing to the shore seemingly one after another, and other times the seas are gentle.  Sometimes there are super highs and despairing lows, but more often that not, there’s an in between.  I think this blog right now is somewhere in the in between, and I’m coming to accept that tranquility.

This blog began in 2008 right before Jax was born, mostly as a way to share photos of him with my family who lives far away.  Little did I know that it would take on a life of its own and friends would say to me, seemingly out of nowhere, “Oh, I love your blog!”  Really? I didn’t even know you read it.  Then people started saying, “I love your pictures! Have you ever thought of doing photos professionally?”  Compound that sudden interest with the social media revolution, and suddenly, the blog was going live in early 2011, more for public consumption than had ever been intended before.  The blog became a platform for my photography, and the world of Pinterest drove my posts.  Surprisingly, my little blog that was supposed to be just for me and my family had people introducing themselves to me in music class and gymnastics, knowing my kids’ faces and pseudonyms without me even knowing their names because they enjoyed reading it.  Looking back, it was a strange and surreal time in my life, when the blog was keeping me from losing my sanity in a world filled with preschool toys and dirty diapers.  To write something, convey something, produce something: that is how I grew to appreciate this quiet, beautiful town in Vermont.  Because I spent days writing about life here, somehow I grew to love it.

Those days were a flurry of early childhood survival, photography technique and oh-so-many crafts.  These days are much slower, and simpler.  The big kids go off to school, Little H and I play all day, visit friends, take a class or a walk, and then she naps.  My afternoons, which gape with time to be filled however I choose, are full of photography (and Christmas shopping!) but not so much blog-worthy moments.  Little H fought me to buckle her carseat today #thestruggleisreal would be Twitter-worthy, but this space has never been one for me to vent.  Sometimes a tragic Mom fail story does make the cut, but usually I try to keep this a positive, appreciative place to write down my memories of my children’s early years.  Because, as every middle-aged woman I have ever met will tell me, it goes so fast.  And with three kids, I know one day it will all blend together in a warm, happy blur, and I’ll be grateful I got it all down, the highs as well as the lows.  The crests and the troughs.

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Speaking of crests and troughs, what does this post have to do with waves anyway?  Well, any forced metaphor serves to tie a bigger idea to a smaller one, and my smaller idea is this–my days with Little H are joyous, but not terribly momentous, and I think the forced feeling of I should take a photo of this for the blog is having a two-fold reaction.  One, it is disingenuous and makes me feel like I’m being less present with her, and two, that feeling of forced pressure is making me rebel and say, Screw it, I’m not doing it at all.  I think it’s Bloggy Mom Burnout.  I’m missing the forest for the trees–I will have nothing to write about because I don’t want to do anything because I feel forced to document it.  Disingenuous indeed.

In addition to this feeling is a desire to separate this space from my photography, as you may have noticed from fewer professional photography posts.  The new year is going to see a new and improved photography website for me, complete with its own social media, so I won’t have a random photo shoot between posts about Jax losing his first tooth and Little H’s first haircut.  Separation of church and state will be good for my soul.  Back to basics.  More cresting, less troughing.

 Our afternoons with the big kids are action-packed, but not always worth documenting.  I don’t lug my camera with me everywhere I go anymore, and I don’t want to have to feel the pressure–which no one is giving me but myself–to increase the frequency of my posts simply to fill space.  Let me take photos of my kids doing uninteresting things because I need something to write about! Not the same as simply appreciating the small things, which I do with a completely full heart.  Sometimes it is just a calm sea, and lately that’s where we are.  The lows are not so low, but the highs are simple and quiet pleasures that don’t necessarily translate to posts or photographs.  Even my 365 project, which I have enjoyed immensely, is starting to feel like a task.

So my confession is that I think my posts here will be less frequent and I’m giving myself permission to allow that to happen.  It’s been happening anyway, but now I feel okay about it.  I know my life’s ambition is not to be a blogger, and maybe it’s time for the blog to come full circle and to be more about our life and less about public consumption.  I will still craft, and still Pin, and still share photos, but it will be because I think it is something worth sharing, not doing something with Little H simply because I need something to post.  I’m going to let our lives drive the posts, not the other way around, and I hope you will still come along for the ride with me.  Maybe this is just a trough, but what I know is that when our lives start to exist more outside the home as they are starting to, there will less for me to share.  And that’s an okay thing to accept, because just because there may be fewer crests, it doesn’t mean they won’t be as high as ever.  I just want to have my head on straight to appreciate them as they are happening, not looking at it all evolve through a lens.  Thanks for taking this journey with me.

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Technical Difficulties

Hello Rub Some Dirt On It friends and family!  My laptop is experiencing serious technical difficulties and the next post that should have taken me ten minutes to post has taken me two days.  I’m trying my best to get back on track very soon!  Hopefully a new post will be up tonight or tomorrow!  Sorry for the inconvenience!

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Disclaimer

Disclaimer: We’re heading into busy photography season here at Rub Some Dirt On It and Rebecca Whitney Photography, so my posts may be a bit more spread apart than usual.  Just this past week I had four photo shoots in 8 days, and I was just hired to take some photos for Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center’s flu shot campaign (ironically, since the kids and I don’t get our flu shots, much to our doctors at DHMC’s annoyance).  I have to do four shoots and have the photos back to them by the 23rd, and have an unrelated responsibility to write an article with photos for my local newspaper at the same time.  Basically, I am a bit behind the blogging 8 ball, but I will be back to my more punctual self as soon as I can!  Luckily, most of my families have given me permission to share their photos here, so at least you’ll understand what I’m up to.  I love having this photographic side job and try so hard to keep the blog up-to-date, but with these glorious sunshiney days, I have a hard time staying inside to work.  Thanks for your patience and for continuing to enjoy this space; I love creating it for you.

And as a reward, here are some photos to keep you smiling!

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Happy summer!

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Purging

Today was a milestone that I had seen coming for a while now, and maybe you have, too.  The day I take my blog back from the money-making pipe dream and instead go back to my roots.  Back to just me, writing, sharing my stories and photos, passing on great crafts and activities that will make you happy and make your days easier, and just being about us.  No agendas, no blog hops, no sponsors, no pressure.  I am here as often as my schedule allows, and as often as I have something worthwhile to say.  No more posting for the sake of posting, no more apologizing if something–ahem, life–gets in the way.  There was a time when I needed this blog to be bigger than it was to give myself purpose and a sense of accomplishment, and I did that.  I feel good about where Rub Some Dirt On It went, and where it’s going.  But with baby #3 on the way, it’s just silly to think that blogging five times a week or spending hours commenting and linking and hopping is a reasonable expectation for myself.  So I am letting that go, and with it, the guilt of cheating on the blog with my photography, my friends, gasp–my family!  Instead it will be a happy place where we can all go to find good things.  Not always rainbows and unicorns and that I-make-parenting-look-easy nonsense; lots of real emotion and stories.  Still here often.  But all the extra stuff?  The buttons and the blog rolls and the fear that I’m not doing enough?  Gone by the wayside.  Well, not my Pin It button–Lord knows I love my Pinterest!  For now, we’re back to a blog about being a mom in the middle of nowhere, Vermont, surviving and loving life.  That’s what you came for, anyway, right?  Oh that and the ideas on how to survive the winter trapped inside with two children, a fetus, and a dog–don’t worry, I’ll keep it coming.  I’m still as much of a spectacle as ever–just without the distractions.

Thanks for being here, as always.  Thanks for supporting me, and enjoying this space.  I’m looking forward to enjoying it just as much, too, and seeing where this new journey takes us.  Probably somewhere covered in paint and dog hair, but it’ll be fun all the same.

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Bloggy Advice

Hello, friends.  I hope 2012 is treating you well and that you’ve been able to stick with whatever resolutions you’ve made so far.  As you can imagine, I’m doing a great job sticking to mine!

I was recently approached by a bloggy friend, Hannah Tyler of Insomniac Mom (well worth a visit, I assure you!), about how to take her blog to the next level.  I was flattered and pleased; I never considered myself an expert on this, but since it seems to just keep getting better over here, I guess I can share what I know.  As I wrote yesterday, I highly recommend you advertising here at Rub Some Dirt On It, but besides that, there are several ways that I’ve been able to increase my readership and take this blog from a digital baby book of my kids’ lives to an outlet for me to celebrate my journey as a mother and photographer.  I made this decision almost exactly a year ago, but it took some preparation to get RSDOI’s game face on.  Things to consider:

Boundaries:

Do you have any?  Are you prepared to share it all, regardless of how it may make people in your life feel?  Is your family on board with this new transition or would they prefer to be kept out of it?  Are you going to use real names and places, or aliases?  My original blog was like a treasure map for kidnappers to come and snag my beautiful children:  here are our full names, the town where we live, and the places we hang out on a regular basis.  Please come by and introduce yourself while you are secretly plotting your kidnapping.  Not something everyone has to worry about, but definitely something to consider.  If you are taking your blog public and promoting the hell out of it, your personal information will be everywhere.  Are you prepared for that?

Okay, now that you’ve committed to sharing all your deep, dark secrets and innermost thoughts, you may begin your wild ride to bloggy fame.  The number one way to do that is through being as completely honest as possible, so that people feel like they can connect with you and that you can understand where they’re coming from.  My posts with the most feedback are the ones when I say things like, I can’t do it all and I feel like a terrible wife/friend/mother/blogger because those are the ones when people respond and say, You’re not alone!  Thank you for saying that because I thought I was the only one!  And once you realize all that, then the rest will come naturally.  Exhaustingly, but naturally.

So without further ado, here are some ways to rock 2012 in all your bloggy glory:

1.  You have to try to post as often as possible (as close to every day as you can).  People must come and stay for as long as possible, not arrive and see you haven’t written anything new and then bounce.  Having people come and leave immediately isn’t great for your stats.  Also, if they come often and you don’t have new material, they may not come back.  So post at least 5x per week but try to do daily (which sucks because sometimes, there’s just not much to say!) but that way people will be more likely to bookmark you or follow you in some way to be sure they don’t miss out on the next brilliant thing you may share!

2.  You have to make connections and not assume that other people are going to come find you.  The best way to do that is to blog hop.  If you go to my links and hops tab  you’ll find a zillion places that I link up on a regular basis.  Once I started really hopping I made a spreadsheet of where I try to go every day.  You have to put yourself out there and link link link link.  Then you have to comment like crazy.  Don’t just link and run.   The thing about blogs is that even though you may never meet these people, in a few weeks you can feel like best friends.  Comment on other’s people’s links, follow who you like, then try to get back there a few times, comment, and establish a relationship.  Also, if people comment on your blog, you should go back to their site and comment back.  This becomes exhausting when your blog is bigger, but it’s a great way to start relationships.  You’ll see that on a lot of “bigger” blogs, they’ll have a “blog roll” or “blogs I love” or “links” etc. so you can just start going to those, finding the ones that have link parties or blog hops, and start joining!  I have one on Thursdays about what makes you happy; just start linking up there, commenting on those around you, and hopefully establish some new friendships!

3.  Join blogging communities.  My favorites are I Blog For Me (formerly For the Love of Blogs) and BlogHer, but there is many others like Bloggy Moms and Mom Bloggers Club.  You have to do a lot of work posting there as well as your own sites, but it’s worth it.  I would post, cut and paste it on those sites or join up to their hops.  I have been featured on a few of them as well, and that was such a confidence booster.  It makes you feel a little less like a teeny tiny tadpole in a humongous sea of bloggers.  Recognition is food for the bloggy soul, so put yourself out there to be recognized!

4.  Guest post.  Anywhere you see someone ask, take them up on it.  I have done two guest posts at A Taste of T (also fabulous and I highly recommend it!), and she had way more followers than me.  She put my button up on her sidebar and people were paying her quite a bit to do so!  I felt like I was being asked to sit at the cool table at lunch!  Guest posting is like taking out free ad space; there is absolutely nothing to lose and so much to gain!

5.  Social Media.  Need I say more?  I read somewhere that the first few years of blogging feel like “post, tweet, repeat,” and that really is a true statement.  You can’t assume people are going to remember to come to your blog every day, so remind them!  Google+, Facebook fan pages, Twitter, and Networked blogs are all a great avenue to share your updated information, not to mention all the other social media I haven’t had time to investigate (yet).  My husband and I both syndicate my blog posts on our personal Facebook walls as well as my Facebook fan page, so people get a heck of a lot of reminders from me (if they haven’t hidden me yet!).

6.  Like I said above, you can also advertise/sponsor another blog, like mine.  You pay someone a small fee, and they put your button in their sidebar, post/tweet/facebook about you, and encourage people to head over to your site.  Some people charge as much as $20/month or more.  I charge $7.  Something to consider if you want to get exposure to a lot of people quickly.  Something doubly worth considering if you have an etsy shop and want to drive people that way.

That’s all I can think of right now, but I’m sure there are ways to drive traffic to your site that I haven’t even considered.  If you know of some noteworthy methods, please feel free to comment!  If not, realize that you have a long journey ahead of you, with many MANY long nights in your future, but once your blog has its sea legs, it’s smooth sailing from here.  Maybe at this time next year you’ll be the one showing bloggy newbies the ropes!  Cheers to that!

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So Overwhelmed…But Hopeful?

Final Update:  I still can only get photos to upload to my posts half of the time.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason as far as size or location.  But I DID find a work-around to upload my pictures!  I can upload them and save them through picnik.com.  I don’t understand why–sometimes the new picnik version is even larger than the original, but it worked 100% of the time.  In my next post, some of the picnik photos have frames, some don’t.  I was just trying to see if any variable made a difference.  So far, no pattern.  Sorry for the inconsitency; next post I’ll be more consistent!  But at least it’s working!  Thank you thank you thank you for your patience!  Business as usual, from now on, I hope!!

New Update:  I tried to upload four photos to my post on my husband’s work computer and on my in-laws’ computer.  My husband’s was 4 for 4, and I could do 3 of 4 on my in-laws’.  My laptop is by far newer and faster than either of those two, and yet, I can’t upload a single photo.  Is there something going on that is making my photos even BIGGER than they already are?  They range from about 400 KB to 1.3 MB in size.  Yet I can upload them on other computers, but not here.  Could there be something that is happening to them based on their location (like the folder where they are stored on the desktop?).  Tomorrow my husband is going to double check their size on his computer and I am going to try to compress the images and see if that helps.  What’s the point in shooting in RAW then?  Sigh…still no new post.  I am so sorry, blog friends.  Thank you for your continued patience and support.

At least I am going to bed at a reasonable time. 

Update:  I have a plan.

I just spent an hour on the phone with my 3rd Hostgator rep.  This guy completed agreed with you and me, and agreed that the other guy had no clue what he was talking about!!  Ah, the frustration of potentially wasting money because I am out of my field here.  This last guy, Billy (I think), logged in as me and had me email him my actual photos and was able to upload them fine on his end.  Therefore, WP is fine, Hostgator is fine, his computer is fine, my photos are fine; that just leaves MY computer as the variable.  I am off to my husband’s work and my in-laws’ to use their computers and hopefully determine if it’s this piece of crap laptop (oops, did I say that out loud?).  Fingers crossed it is!  Then at least we’ll know WHAT the problem is, if not how to deal with it.  Yet. 

There’s hope!

Also, thanks to all of you and your kind words of support here and on twitter.  Thank you, Dwija, for your help especially!  I meant it when I said I love and miss this  blogging community!!  You’re all the best.

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Hi everyone, I just need to vent and figure this whole f-ing WordPress deal out.  I hope somebody can say, “No!  That’s not right!” or “Yes, dumbass, what did you think?”  Maybe I’m a complete idiot, but this whole thing is making me so overwhelmed.  I don’t know what I’m doing.

Okay, so I hired someone to transfer all my Blogger posts/images/followers, etc. to WordPress. She did a great job and I was ready to start blogging here at WP.  I wrote that quick first post, and last night I began my first “real” post–with all my photos and happiness oozing out of every sentence.  Then I tried to upload photos.  Uploaded two, and then I got an error.  Out of memory.  What?  According to the guy at Hostgator, it means that the most I can upload is 64 MB.  For my whole blog.  What?  Some of my photos are over 1 MB large–how is it possible that ALL THE PHOTOS for the past 500 posts equal less than 64 MB?  When I go to upload a photo it says, Maximum Upload File Size: 64 MB.  Doesn’t that mean the most each individual file can be is 64 MB?  Not that I can have 64 MB of data in my entire freaking blog??  I know I have way more than that already.  What the hell?

So I talked to Hostgator, where I have a hatchling plan.  I don’t know how much it cost me per month, but it’s less than $10 per month, and maybe less than $5 if I signed up for a lengthy plan (which I did but I forget for how long).   I’ve paid Hostgator $82 already, so I’m sure it’s the 2 or 3 year plan.  He says that I’ve used up all my memory for my entire blog and that I have to upgrade to VPS hosting, which is $40 per month!!!  I don’t make nearly enough  on here to justify spending that kind of money.  I’m feeling so overwhelmed and out of my league.  I don’t understand a lick about computers, coding, technology.  How do I know this is legit?  It doesn’t sound legit to me.  I’ve spent so many hours on this transition already, staying up until 1 in the morning the past two nights, trying to get back to the business of just being me.  I can’t go back to Blogger.  I’ve already invested way too much time, energy, and money.  So I’m trapped here, and I’m in bed with Hostgator for a lengthy period of time.  I’m such a novice at this that I could easily be taken advantage of.  How do I know if this is right?

All I want to do is WRITE.  I miss blogging.  I miss musing and editing and photo challenges and blog hops and interacting with my bloggy community.  I am trapped in a technological hellhole and I don’t know a damn thing about it.  I’m trusting my baby, this blog, to the expertise of strangers and customer service on the phone and help forums online, and all I want to do is sit next to someone and say, “Fix this.  It is very important to me.  I know I’m just one of millions of people to you, but you are all I have.  Help me like you know me and care about me.”  But is that even possible in this world?

I just want my blog back.  My boring, stupid, easy-to-understand, frustrating, basic blog.  It feels like I’ve lost a friend, and I want it back.  What do I do?

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