Why I Started Blogging

In September of 2006, I started blogging. Sort of.

I have a friend who moved to London from Canada, and kept people up to date on his doings through a LiveJournal account. (He’s still blogging, though not there. He’s Mr. Topp. I may have mentioned him before.) I found the link, somehow (probably through Facebook), and I started to leave comments on his posts, re-connecting with him after a few years absence. I had moved to California ten years earlier, and I was just getting back in touch with high school and university friends from the mid-90’s as Facebook and social networking started replacing Classmates.com as the tools of maudlin reminiscing.

I was annoyed at having to re-enter my credentials every time I wanted to leave a comment on one of his blog posts, though, and I saw that if I were to start my own LiveJournal account, I could leave non-anonymous comments on his entries. This made me happy, and cost me zero dollars. So I opened a LiveJournal account. Then I posted an entry of my own.

1st Post

  • Sep. 23rd, 2006 at 12:43 AM

I’ve joined LiveJournal.


  • Location:Home
  • Mood:awake
I had no idea what to do with it, really. I found another person from high school, and one of my favourite authors, on LiveJournal, and started following their blogs. Over the next year and a half I’d expand my circle of blogging contacts to, I think, four.
Erin was born about seven months after I started writing LiveJournal entries (basically for myself and the four people who also had LiveJournal accounts and who cared at all about what I was doing), and so my posts became more about what I was doing as a father than just what I was doing. I started exploring the online world of parents, and at home dads. I saw things I liked, and things I didn’t like, and I would write about them, all without ever really thinking that someday people might actually read what I was writing. I kept writing about my day-to-day interests, or things that annoyed me, or pleased me…I grew into a blogger.
When Erin was old enough, I finally started using the backpack we’d purchased for me to carry her around in. I walked everywhere with her. I would walk all over my town, and take the train to other towns and walk all over those places. It became a thing. I was this guy who went everywhere with a baby on his back. It was an all-day hike in San Francisco one fall day, though, that made me start thinking of myself as “Backpacking Dad”. I had been reading parenting blogs and forums for a little while, and when I finally decided to start participating, “Backpacking Dad” was the only pseudonym that felt right to me. So I renamed my LiveJournal, and started leaving comments as Backpacking Dad on sites outside of the LiveJournal community.
In March of 2008, I finally opened a Blogspot account, and called that blog “Backpacking Dad”.  I started with Blogspot (which was also, confusingly, Blogger) because I could do it through Gmail, and because there seemed to be a lot of parenting bloggers using that service. I had never heard of WordPress, or Typepad, or any other blogging service. Blogspot was easy.
It was only after I moved to Blogspot that I discovered there were people who actually wanted to read the things I was writing (apart from those four LiveJournal friends I’d been writing to for a year and a half). It was completely addictive. To find other people who said funny, interesting, insightful things and tell them how funny, interesting, insightful they were and then to have them come over and read things I’d said and leave comments and add me to their blogroll (blogroll? What the hell is a blogroll? I had to have one right away!) was intoxicating. I had been a stay-at-home dad for about six months, and here were people who could relate, could help, could appreciate…
I was hooked.
I’ve thought about quitting, but never seriously. I’ve thought about “re-branding”, since the Backpacking Dad persona came about because of my activities and not because of a mission. (I’m not here to sell backpacks, though if more dads used a backpack instead of a stroller I think the world would be a better place.) But it’s only recently that I’ve thought of myself as anything more than a dad with access to a keyboard: Now, sometimes, I think of myself as a writer. I imagine that a time will come when I don’t want to write as Backpacking Dad, but just as Shawn. I won’t want to worry that I’m writing outside of my niche. The time might come when I want to go back to writing the way I used to when I first opened my LiveJournal account. Not as unaware or unvarnished as that person was; but as unrestricted, perhaps.
That time is not now, though.
Welcome to my seventh year of blogging. This here is Backpacking Dad. It’s a dad blog.

I heard @TheBloggess’ Voice In My Head, and Could Not Stop Myself

An e-mail I just received:

Hi Shawn,

Celebrity parents Jennie Garth and Peter Facinelli just released (exclusively to online shopping guide ThisNext.com) their daughters’ favorite / must-have “Back to School” items.

Items include everything from a BMX bike, to LunchbotsConverse to Hello Kitty – fashionable and kid-friendly, colorful and fun sums up the list!

Jennie and Peter’s beautiful daughters, Fiona (13 years old) Lola (9) and their youngest Fiona (5), are represented throughout the “Back to School” list with commentary on each explaining exactly why they LOVE each and every toy/accessory/school fashion.  Specifically, ANYTHING Hello Kitty and/or glitter oriented can be found throughout their house not to mention fashion staples such as the go-to kicks “Sparka-licious” Pink Converse and Levis Denim Jacket (which each of their daughters wear on a regular basis).

Below is a picture of the entire family at Disneyland including a quick snapshot of these items and for a full list, please visit ThisNext.com (http://www.thisnext.com/by/JennieGarth/).  Please let me know if you would like any additional information!



And yep, sure enough, there below was a picture of Jennie Garth and her family at Disneyland.

I could not stop what happened next, even if I had a thousand other chances to do so. I replied to Dave:

Hi Dave,

Thank you for the picture of Jennie Garth and Peter Facinelli and their family at Disneyland. I love Disneyland. I have a friend named Jenny (ha ha, different spelling, but the same name, right? That can’t just be a coincidence) and in exchange for the picture of Jennie Garth, my friend Jenny has made the following available to you.

Let me know if you would like any more information about this.



P.S. Yes, I know I just gave whatever campaign Dave is part of a little space on my blog. I could have left the names blank or not linked to the links he linked. But I figured I owed Dave that much just for giving me a reason to think like The Bloggess for a second.

(Update: As has been noted in the comments, the e-mail suggests two of Jennie Garth’s three daughters are named “Fiona”. This is probably not true. I let Dave know.)

I’m Going to Change My Name to BusyDad, Because I’ve Been So Busy

I’ve done a crazy amount of writing this week. You probably didn’t read it, because I just kept posting, posting, posting. I was also linking, linking, linking. It was annoying, oying, oying.

In case you missed/ignored/disbelieved what I claimed to be up to, here is a list-style post about my online activities this week.

First, here on this blog where I blog things:

  1. I cleared my entire backlog of Backpacking Dad’s Overdue Reviews posts, finally reviewing a pillow, a face-washing thing, and a back massager. I have none left. My conscience is now cleanish.
  2. I finally wrote about a trip I took to Chicago, where I got to play with power tools. I also let a home improvement dude give you home improvement tips. Again…cleanish.
  3. I dad-blogged, and felt good about it.
  4. I tried to imagine what Buffy would have been like with an alternate cast.
  5. I got a very nerdy new backpack.

Second, I got a new job blogging at Babble, because I don’t have enough writing to do (*cough* dissertation *cough*). I call it “Parenting Off the Map, with Backpacking Dad”, and this week:

  1. I told you to make your kids feel stupid.
  2. I told you that front-carriers are totally un-sexy.

Third, I started Stumbling things on StumbleUpon.

  1. If you already follow me on Twitter, you have seen many of my Stumbly links. However, I’m going to try not to send every single one to Twitter, because that is super-annoying. If you want to follow me on StumbleUpon, I can be found here.
  2. I will be Stumbling my own posts there too, because that’s not lame. It’s not. It’s not. Dude, it’s not. (Now it just sounds like I’m saying “It’s snot” over and over.)

Fourth, I have new Internet addictions:

  1. Bandwagon, a web-series with Emma Caulfield (you may know her as “Anya” from Buffy).
  2. Kingdom Rush, a web-game that has you placing towers along paths to defend your territory against invaders. I can’t stop.
  3. Sword and Laser, a podcast with Veronica Belmont in which many science fiction and fantasy things are discussed, in obsessive depth.

I’ve also been out of the house on several occasions this week. I’ve been trying to install a sliding screen door, which has of course turned into three separate trips to the hardware store because a) They don’t have one b) They have one but it’s too tall for the opening c) They have another one that claims to be short enough for the opening but is a god damned liar.

We went to a park in Los Gatos that has a steam train you can ride, and a carousel. And we played frisbee in a field where the geese had just been. You could tell they had just been there because of all the green poo.

Today, I wore Adrian in the backpack while we went to the farmer’s/farmers/famers’ market. He’s not too heavy. He’s not too big. I’m not done yet.

We’ve been getting a lot of cucumbers and cherry tomatoes from the planters we have in the backyard (and we ate all the peaches and I made no peach jam this year). Cucumbers, we believe, are better on sandwiches than lettuce. Stop using lettuce. Switch to sliced cucumbers.

So…how’s you?