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Howard County moms open up with personal blogs to share tips, information and support

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The timing was perfect.

A day after journalist Sarah Kelber launched her family blog “Homefront,” a major news story hit that was the ultimate fodder for a parenting-themed discussion.

The story on the cover of Time was about attachment parenting, and it caused a wave of controversy not only because of its content, but because of the photograph attached to it: a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son.

“I was like — I have to write about this, but what am I going to say?” recalls Kelber, a resident of Columbia. “I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and think, so my post was stream-of-consciousness. It was my visceral reaction to the story.”

In the end, Kelber’s well-timed post quickly went viral, amassing nearly 3,000 shares in a matter of days — a blogging success. 

As The Baltimore Sun’s parenting and family blogger, Kelber knew her post had hit a nerve and, of greater import, it had continued a dialogue on the issue with mothers nationwide.  

Kelber is one of a growing handful of Howard County moms taking to the blogosphere to express their thoughts on everything from potty training to sibling rivalry, with local blog posts running the gamut from pictures of kids in costumes to detailed analyses of local education issues. 

These Howard County moms, most of whom have only been blogging for a few years, are a fiery, cranky, acerbic, funny and unapologetically candid bunch. And while a few are trained professionals, meaning their writing is tied to their careers, many of these local bloggers write as a hobby and as a means to connect.

Blogger and full-time mother-of-three Lisa Schlossnagle has a powerful hold on the local blogging scene. Schlossnagle, a Fulton resident, blogs at lisabmrss.blogspot.com. Her posts are more analytical than they are breezy. A post about a Howard County Board of Education candidate forum generated buzz from residents interested in the topic. Her posts on civic engagement and kindness were also highly favored by her readers.

The former teacher says the one thing all her posts have in common is that they come from the heart.

“I do not plan my posts. That’s just my style,” she says. “If it feels like I have something brewing inside of me, and if it bubbles up to the point of coming out, it comes out on the blog.”

Schlossnagle is among those bloggers who choose to keep personal life private. She doesn’t post pictures of her children on her site, nor will she post her kids’ real names. Instead, she uses Italian numbers as identifiers, a nod to her heritage.

 “I’d like for them to track themselves and not have this track record that their mother put out there for them,” Schlossnagle explains. “That’s just my comfort level.”

When it comes to writing about local education issues, she says she sees herself as filling a journalistic void — although she does not consider herself a journalist.

“I think people are hungry for information about this stuff, so that’s why I’ve gotten good responses to those posts,” she says. “I view my blog in some ways as a teaching tool or a way to start a conversation. I like to put information out there to see what happens.”

Another Howard County mom blogger who enjoys putting her thoughts to the screen is Katherine Copanic, a Columbia resident who blogs at zmombie.com. 

Unlike Schlossnagle, who has a more academic approach to blogging, Copanic blogs as a way to pass on free advice — everything from getting rid of household clutter to constructing homemade cloth wipes.

Copanic says she started her blog as a New Year’s resolution, and so far it’s been a good experience. She says she tries to keep her posts upbeat and judgment-free.

 “I try not to post anything that might stir up a mommy war. You don’t want to write a post about how great it is to be a stay-at-home mom, because people might react to that,” Copanic says. “The goal of my blog is to be an outlet for myself since I don’t have work to give me that.”

Ellicott City mom Heather Sobieralski, of mymamamojo.blogspot.com, knows about needing an outlet. In fact, her personal business is tied to that very concept. Sobieralski runs a life-coaching practice that focuses specifically on moms; her blog is tied into her business model. 

“I was intimidated by writing at first, so I started guest blogging for other sites,” Sobieralski says. “I quickly learned it was an extremely effective way to work out all of my own maternal guilt, insecurities and feelings of being overwhelmed.”

Sobieralski writes as if she were talking to a close friend, detailing sometimes painful topics.

“I would have a particularly bad day, and the words would fly out of my head fast and furiously. It was free therapy,” Sobieralski explains.

When asked if she ever finds a danger in over-sharing, or writing some less-than-perfect truths about herself and her family, she says that her role as a blogger is to be as truthful as possible. For instance, one of her more memorable posts detailed her difficulty breast-feeding. In other posts, she writes about the often-confusing state of motherhood.

“So many women grin through it. It is socially unacceptable to say, ‘This sucks — I don’t know who I am or what I want.’ My mission is to say, ‘It’s OK not to enjoy your children sometimes or to have the desire to run away,’ ” she explains. “It makes you a very real mother to feel these things.”

Baltimore Sun blogger Sarah Kelber has similar sentiments about the power of honesty in writing.

“To me, parenting blogs don’t really work if you aren’t really honest with what’s going on in your life,” Kelber says. “When there is not a voice to it, people don’t connect to it as much.”

From the privacy of her family basement, surrounded by the clutter of children’s toys, Kelber often types away late into the evening when everyone else in her household is asleep. Like the other Howard County mom bloggers in the mix, with the click-and-clack of her keyboard Kelber finds herself on a mission to connect, whether it be about the latest breast-feeding trend or about something as mundane as laundry.

The blog comments — the back-and-forth conversation on the topics — are what help drive her toward her next post.

“Blogging can help you get through the valleys. As a mom, some days are really hard,” Kelber says. “As a parent you’re so not in control of your own time. It helps to know you’re not the only one.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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