Thursday, July 29, 2010

Not Just Any Name

I've recently told a few people that they should start their own blogs. I love it when people I've become friends with start their own blogs, and I love discovering new blogs. I like to follow what's going on in people's lives, hear about what they are going through, be able to share with them in their experiences by commenting.

But let me offer this bit of advice for those about to start a blog: Check the name you are going to use to make sure that someone else isn't already using it.

Blog names are different than email addresses, domain names or even handles you may use when commenting somewhere. Blog names are an integral part of a person's branding, a distinctive name that a person uses to identify themselves and represent their product/service. Whether or not you think branding is/will be important to you or should be important to anyone else, it does become important.

I gave a lot of thought to what name I wanted to use when I first started commenting on other blogs three years ago. I wanted something that reflected me and was at least somewhat unique. I came up with the handle caramama. When I started my own blog a few months later, it was natural for me to use that name and call my blog "Cara Mama." I did a cursory search around to make sure no one else was using that name, because I did want it to be unique. So I started using it; I made Cara Mama my online home.

Less than three months after I started blogging, I read a post on Girl's Gone Child's site that really got me thinking. Wow. Did I check the variations on the name Cara Mama? Was I thorough enough in my research to be sure I wasn't using someone else's name? I knew that if there was another out there with a similar name who'd been around longer, I would change my name. I felt it would be the right thing to do. So I quickly googled and searched and did true due diligence to make sure that I was in clear. Fortunately, I was.

In the years that followed, there have been a lot of new blogs that have come onto the mommyblog scene. Also, the laws, regulations and general etiquette surrounding the online world and blogosphere has evolved. I have paid cursory attention to it, mostly to be sure I stayed on top of the new FCC laws and make sure I wasn't stepping on anyone else's toes.

Recently, I happened upon another blog using an extremely similiar name to mine. One letter off, similar. She is another parenting blogger also in the DC area who had started her blog last fall. As Rebecca put it, I'm sure it was a case of "great minds think alike." But I still felt a little put out.

I have spent almost three years building my reputation, my branding, using this name. People know me by this name, know that I do get togethers in this area. This name of mine, this blog title, it is my trademark, my brand. As her name had become tied to her reputation and brand. Unfortunately, I realized that I had been getting traffic intended for her blog (those hits weren't from typos after all!), and even had some Twitter traffic that was meant for her. I think it's logical that other people must have been getting her instead of me.

I reached out to other bloggers who know way more about this stuff than I do, who have been through this issue themselves. They gave me great advice, advice that they have used themselves. It became clear to me that this is no longer just an issue of being respectful of other bloggers, as it was when Rebecca wrote her post. It is now an actual legal issue. So I discussed this issue with a lawyer who has specific knowledge in this area of law.

I emailed the woman, and after some back and forth, she has changed her name. I appreciate the fact that she did, knowing the effort it must have been. Although we seem to have different audiences, this will help clear up any future confusion that might have been.

This was truly an unfortunate situation. I am blogging about it in the hopes that it saves other people from going through similar situations, as Rebecca's post had got me thinking about this issue back when it could have been me who was using someone's online identity.

The blogsphere is a big world, and it has plenty of room for all those want to join in. Every old and new parenting blog can have a place, an audience, and room to grow. Just please be sure to check your name thoroughly, learn the laws (trademark, copyright, etc.), learn the regulations (FCC and any others) and be sure you are respectful and courteous with the others in the blogosphere, just as you do/are in the world around you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Question of the Week - Kids Styles AND Shirt Giveaway

This week, I'm not just doing a Question of the Week. I'm having a giveaway! Thanks to Karen, at The Rocking Pony Etsy store, I am able to offer one commenter a free, handmade Rocking Pony t-shirt!

Wait, you don't know about The Rocking Pony Store? Check out the review I wrote up on my review site to read about how awesome the store is and see some pictures of shirts I own (on my daughter, although they are cropped pics).

Here are the giveaway details:
-Leave a comment answering this week's Question of the Week by August 1, 2010, at 5:00 PM.
-I will have a random drawing for the winner (only one entry per person, not per comment).
-I will announce the winner next Monday on my blog.
-The winner gets to pick a shirt from The Rocking Pony Store for her/his kid.
-If you are the winner, I will ask you to contact me, and I will give your contact information to Karen so she can get your order and mailing information.

This week's Question of the Week is:
How do you encourage your child's development of style?

This summer when we were on vacation at the beach, we stopped by the outlets as we do every year. But this is the first time at the outlets (and the second shopping trip of all) where my daughter was actually able to give opinions on clothes and even pick some out herself. I am extremely excited that she will be able to contribute more as we shop together. But I admit, I'm also a little wary.

You see, I LOVE to pick out her clothes, and my son's too. I love to shop for those cute little outfits that go together, with animals on them and in a variety of colors. Growing up, I spent years learning about style and what goes together and how to coordinate. (I really had to learn, because I think if left to my own natural inclinations, I'd be a bit gaudy. I just love animal print and bright colors. I learned over the years how to tone it down quite a lot, and I actually became really in the know of fashion for a while.)

But it's so much fun to see what the Pumpkin chooses for herself. The pink fluffy ballerina skirt I thought she'd love right off? She took some time adjusting to (of course I bought it anyway). Instead, she immediately picked out a yellow skirt with some ruffles. When I thought she'd love the animals on t-shirts, she instead totally coveted the rainbow on a blue t-shirt.

Almost every morning, I ask her what she wants to wear. She doesn't always pick. But on days when she does, she definitely knows what shirt she wants or if she wants to wear a play dress. Out of all the shirts in her closet that I, Londo and others have bought for her, her favorites are the tie dye Washington DC t-shirt, the Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt, the Scooby-Doo t-shirt and the Petting Farm t-shirt. Not the ballet shoes or flowers or Hello Kitty t-shirts or ruffly shirts with flowers. (She's totally her father's daughter!) At least she loves dresses and skirts, too.

How about you? What do you do to encourage your child(ren)'s style? Do you take him shopping and buy what he picks out? Do you let her pick out what she wants to wear in the morning? And aren't those shirts at The Rocking Pony totally adorable? Leave a comment and you are entered into the random drawing for a free shirt!

Disclaimer: When discussing doing this giveaway with Karen, she offered me a free shirt from her store for each of my kids. Because I love her stuff so much, I am taking her up on the offer. Karen did not know I was planning a review of her store now that I've started writing reviews on my review site again. When I told her, she didn't offer me anything in exchange for the review. My review was in no way influenced by the offer of free shirts in conjunction with this giveaway. I would not be doing this giveaway if I didn't love her and her store so much. I think that covers everything.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Caro Figlio – Serious Talking

Mio carino figlio,

My darling little boy, you are growing so much. You are over 13 months and just as adorable as can be. You have your own personality and your own way and time table for doing things. I love to watch you develop and learn. I’m constantly amazed and delighted by the things you do.

One of my favorite things lately is how you talk to me, especially in the mornings after you are done nursing. You look up at me, your head still in the crook of my arm, and with your round eyes wide, you say, “ah do an doh na dah.” I respond, “Oh, is that right? What else?”

You continue to babble with the most earnest expression on your face! I continue to chat back with you until, inevitably, one of us breaks out into a smiling, causing the other one to smile and laugh back. Then, we usually start right back into the conversation.

Your teachers tell me that you talk with them and with the other kids, too. Your face serious and intent, your language (other than a few words) not yet understandable, you work hard to express yourself to those around you. We all love it when you talk to us, and we can’t wait to hear more.

Ti amo,