Our favourite parent bloggers – Part 1

With the rise of the Internet and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, there are so many ways for parents everywhere to instantly connect, to share advice, “horror” stories, gossip and more.

One of the most popular forms of communication (self-promotion and networking, too) has been the growing trend of parenting and family-themed blogs.

All over the world, and especially here in Ottawa, many parents take to their blogs to voice their opinions (You can’t have a successful blog without strong opinions on, oh, everything) as well as share the funny, touching and often inspiring stories that come with parenthood.

What does it take to be a successful blogger? There are a few tips.

First, a good blog needs to be updated frequently. A strong, successful blog should also have a distinct “voice,” or viewpoint. It should touch on ideas that are relatable and will resonate with other parents.

Good blogs are often provocative, and spark discussion and/or debate. They can also be informational, and offer tips to help other parents in their daily lives.

Parent blogging has also become a powerful, influential industry, with the ability to affect purchasing, voting, health care and lifestyle choices of parents everywhere.

In an August 2012 article for the Globe and Mail, writer Aviva Rubin touched on the power and clout that parent bloggers, especially “mommy

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bloggers,” have recently achieved.

“There are an estimated four-million mommy bloggers in North America, writing about everything from chemicals in food and where to get cheap stuff to resolving fights with the hubby,” she wrote.

While women tend to dominate the field, there is a small and growing pocket of men who are blogging about their daily lives and the transformative experience of fatherhood.

In fact, we have included one of them, Chris Read, author of the blog, Canadian Dad, in this issue’s roundup of our favourite bloggers.

In this new and ongoing feature, Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine will publish pieces from our favourite Ottawa parenting bloggers on a range of topics. In this issue, three notable bloggers:

Kelli Catana, Julie Findlay, and dad blogger Chris Read, will explain why they started blogging and what they love about it. Each one has a different story, but all share the desire to connect with other parents and recount their experiences and viewpoints in an online forum.

Their sharp, insightful and distinctive voices will, I’m sure, leave you keen to follow their regular updates. It may even inspire you to start a blog of your own!

Why I blog: Julie Findlay

It’s always tricky to introduce yourself in an article, so I’ll start with this: I am Julie Findlay, and my blog is Mom in the Know. A woman, friend, mom, wife, educator and communicator, I am an active and energetic community-oriented person with a zest for life.

Today’s parents have to pack a lot into a day. We have our careers, interests and, on top of all, the journey of parenting. I like to find and share solutions, tips, tricks and resources to make life simple for parents and kids.

We know that active kids are happy kids. Whether it’s backyard Olympics, a place to read and imagine or helping out in the kitchen, kids like to be involved, challenged, and included. In most cases, you just need to provide the tools and they will build the experience.

February is a busy month for Ottawa families. There are only 28 days to pack in Winterlude, Valentine’s Day and Heart Health month. Here are a few ideas, from our family to yours.

Heart Healthy Activity. In lieu of making homemade Valentine’s cards or baked goods, gather old crayon stubs and melt them in the oven in heart-shaped cupcake pans. Instead of exchanging cards, the kids can give their friends multicoloured crayons with heart.

Celebrate Family Day at Winterlude. Ottawans are lucky to have the longest skating rink in the world!

On Feb. 18, families can also celebrate Winterlude at Snowflake Kingdom at Jacques Cartier Park. Not only are there amazing ice slides and a kiddie zone, they are offering a free introduction to downhill skiing for kids ages five to eight between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Other Winter Finds. Local community centres offer a variety of free programming throughout the month. For example, families can visit Dovercourt Recreation Centre in Ottawa’s west end, which offers many winter activities, including outdoor skating, hockey and a fun little tobogganing hill. When the kids get cold, head inside to Adam’s Apple Café to grab a quick hot chocolate. www.dovercourt.org

Heart Healthy Dinner. After spending the day in the great outdoors, return to a healthy, no-fuss meal. Foodland Ontario’s recipe for creamy carrot soup can be made in advance in a crockpot and served up to warm
hungry adventurers. www.foodland.gov.on.ca

As a parent you can’t know everything. The trick is to be interested, engaged and enjoy the journey!

Whether you are looking for ways to encourage your kids to get out and be active, searching quick tips for fun activities on a freezing day, or just want to stay in the know about local events, join me at www.mitk.ca

Julie Findlay is Mom in the Know, a spokesperson for all things related to raising a family and living a happy, healthy and balanced life. A wife and mother of two, Julie has turned her teaching career into a lifelong passion of sharing with others through traditional and online media.

Pinterest: www.Pinterest.com/MITK
Facebook: www.facebook.com/momintheknow
Twitter: www.twitter.com/momintheknow

Why I blog: Chris Read

Do you want to know what’s great about being a dad?

The short answer is, everything. It’s not always easy, and in fact, there are a lot of times that I have no

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earthly idea what I am doing, but that’s part of the fun of it.

Something the parenting books will tell you is that along with children come diapers, tantrums, lack of sleep, added financial responsibility and the challenge of finding places to hide vegetables in their food, just to
name a few.

Have I convinced you of how great it is yet? Let’s continue, shall we?

The things the parenting books don’t tell you about, however, are the things that make being a parent the amazing and rewarding experience it is. There are so many milestones that make your heart swell with an
equal mixture of pride, love and joy.

The first time they grab your finger, smile at you, walk, talk, say “I love you,” write out their name, go to school, sing the alphabet, use the potty – you get the point, right? There are a thousand more examples I could use to describe the moments where your heart grows in size, but it’s likely you already know them all.

If you had told me before the birth of my children that I would willingly host a princess party while wearing a tiara and serving tea to Rapunzel, Belle, Simba and my two-year-old daughter, I would have laughed and then done something manly, like flex my muscles.

The thing is, when your child looks at you with loving eyes and asks you to do something like that, the word “yes” comes out before you even realize what is happening. The other awesome thing is that it is not at all emasculating, and is surprisingly quite enjoyable.

The speed at which the milestones pass is the reason I started my blog, Canadian Dad. I realized very early on that there was no way I would remember all of the amazing things that were happening around me, and I wanted to make sure to have something to look back on.

The best part is that what started as a way for me to share my personal stories has since evolved into a place where I can talk about inspiring people, dreams and I also get to contribute to the conversation about the evolving role of fatherhood.

Chris Read is the voice behind the Canadian Dad blog. Chris writes about parenting for several sites including the PTPA, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Life of Dad. Chris is also the co-founder of the Gil Read Memorial Foundation.

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/CanadianDad
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CanadianDad
Twitter: www.twitter.com/CanadianDadBlog

Why I blog: Kelli Catana

I started blogging about 3 ½ years ago, after finding myself needing a creative outlet. I left my marketing job in Ottawa’s high tech sector to stay home and be with my four kids, but found that I was in desperate need for something to call my own.

I was introduced to a number of amazing bloggers thanks to the social networking site Twitter, and I was eager to write my own story. My first blog was a typical “Mommy blog” that I wrote focusing on my crazy life as a mother to four kids born within five years, but shortly after starting it, I discovered that wasn’t what I wanted to write about. After all, I spend all my free time with my kids; I didn’t want to write about them too!

I have always been fascinated with the culture of celebrity and entertainment news and gossip, and decided that was truly my passion and what I wanted to write about. So that’s what I did. Thanks again to Twitter, I made some great connections and became the featured pop culture blogger at the online magazine The Yummy Mummy Club, as well as contributing to some of the most popular websites in both Canada and the U.S.

While I enjoyed writing for others, my longstanding love affair with celebrity news and gossip made me want my own forum to spout out my opinions – of which I have many. Blogging was something that came to me naturally, so I decided it was time to start my own guilty pleasure, and www.kellidaisy.com was born.

Having my own blog affords me the opportunity to write about whatever I want, and while I mostly tend to write about entertainment news and celebrity gossip, I also use it to review my favourite books, movies and television shows.
I write as often as I want, normally posting at least once a day, if my children’s extracurricular activities allow. When I’m not writing on my own site, I can also be found weighing in on my favourite television shows and movies at The Huffington Post and as contributing writer over at celebrity gossip blog I’m Not Obsessed. I’m also lucky enough to be able to make guest appear-ances on Majic 100 and CTV Ottawa Morning Live as an entertainment authority.

Ultimately, I would like to see my blog grow and expand and end up on television – either as the next Mary Hart or host of my own show. For now though I’m thrilled that I have my own space where I get to share my love of pop culture and celebrity.

Kelli Catana is an Ottawa-area blogger, mom to four great kids and wife to one lucky man. When she’s not in front of her computer, you can typically ἀnd her bringing one of her kids to a rink.

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kellidaisy
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kellidaisydotcom
Twitter: www.twitter.com/kellidaisy