Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blog Valley: Women bloggers in Cache Valley are making themselves heard locally, and all the way to the White House

By Brendon Butler

Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 3:43 PM CDT

In her upcoming film “Motherhood” actress Uma Thurman plays a former fiction writer turned “mommyblogger” who struggles to stake out a creative identity while raising two kids. Her husband is loving, but he’s forgetful and a bit clueless about his wife’s struggles. Many of Utah’s mothers-turnedbloggers can probably relate to Thurman’s character. It’s tough to find time for selfexpression as a stay-at-home mom.

That’s why blogging is so satisfying, says Kim Borchert, a mother of three who lives in North Logan. She started her blog, Prairie-Mama.blogspot. com, as a way to share her experiences while in a vocation that can feel isolating and secluded at times.

“I liked having a way to express myself ... to have something that was just mine,” Borchert says.

Her blog started out as a personal journal about knitting, one of her favorite pastimes. But six years ago, Borchert went through the most difficult experience a mother could imagine; she lost her infant daughter. Writing about the ordeal and sharing it with others through her blog was a way to get through the pain, she says. And the healing would not have happened the same way without her online journal, because blogs allow a two-way conversation when readers post comments on her site.

“There’s not that many people who you’re going to meet in your life face to face who have lost a child,” Borchert says. “The Internet has given us an opportunity to help others and to share that journey with other people. Otherwise they would never get that (support) and know that they’re not alone. When it happened, I didn’t know anybody who had lost a child. But online when that happens ... people just really come together.”

More and more women are sharing their journeys using blogs. BlogHer, an online community of women bloggers, published a study in April 2009 that estimates 23 million women each week are writing, reading or posting to blogs. Though BlogHer held its first nationwide convention just four years ago, it now claims the largest online community of women bloggers, and holds powerful influence among the growing economic and political demographic.

Cache Valley’s women bloggers are making themselves heard — and read — in widening circles that extend from friends and family all the way to the White House. After attending the BlogHer national conference, Loralee Choate, a young mother of three, made waves this past summer when her blog,, attracted the attention of White House senior adviser on health care Valerie Jarrett. Choate was invited to a high-level health care reform discussion denied health coverage for her recent pregnancy after her husband changed jobs. Now Choate, a self-described moderate Republican, is looking forward to an upcoming trip along with her husband and family to the White House in November to further discuss the health care issue.

Choate’s experience shows how influential one woman can be when she publishes her viewpoints. She is extremely successful as a blogger; some of her posts generate thousands of views with her sometimes irreverent but always charming writing style. She’s able to make a little bit of money from advertising on her Web site and companies often send her free samples hoping to win her approval and recommendation. Because of this, Choate says she’s rarely had to purchase diapers since her baby son was born five months ago.

“The Internet outfitted my baby,” Choate says, laughing.

But as a member of the BlogHer community she has to adhere to strict guidelines about product endorsement, so she publishes her reviews on a separate site. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has ruled that beginning Dec. 1 bloggers must disclose any affiliation with companies if they endorse products in return for payment or free product samples.

Choate’s friend Borchert promotes her own products too. She sews baby-slings for mothers who want to wear their baby close to their body, and refers to herself as a “crunchy” mom because she gave birth to her kids at home, breastfeeds and uses cloth diapers. Both Borchert and Choate use their blogs to make a little bit of money, but it’s not much, they say. Not as much as some bloggers in Utah make, at least. Salt Lake City’s Heather Armstrong, blogging at, sells enough advertisements on her blog to bring in about $40,000 a month, says Choate.

There are also professional writers here in Cache Valley who publish their work to the Web and use their writing skills to showcase their books. Janet Kay Jensen and Shaunda Wenger are professional writers and mothers who co-wrote “The Book Lovers Cookbook,” a book of recipes from famous works of literature. They are only two of many who meet at a writer’s group in Cache Valley called The Writer’s Cache.

“It’s just a way to stay connected with people and meet people who have the same kinds of goals that you do,” Jensen says. She has a personal blog for her family life too, which she uses as a way to keep in touch with her three grown sons, including her second son BJ (Jensen refers to him as son #2), who teaches American style football in Finland. Jensen’s post from January 2009 about watching her son play football is hilarious, complete with his responses pasted inside the essay.

"It’s fun to post what my kids are doing, and of course I’ll get responses from them,” Jensen says.

Though both women are part-time writers and mothers, the term mommyblogger isn’t quite how Wenger would describe herself.

The term mommyblogger may conjure the stereotypical image of a harried, sleep-deprived mother typing at the computer in her pajamas, but that’s not the way it is, says Wenger, who blogs at www.shaundawenger.

“I write whenever I can or whenever I’m inspired, but I don’t write in my pajamas,” she says, laughing. “I prefer to look like a decent, you know, like a human being.”

To find out when and where the The Writers Cache meets and come out to meet fellow women bloggers, visit the group’s Web site at www. Or get started blogging on your own at either of the two most popular blogging Web sites:, or

Some local bloggers:

• Loralee Choate has a personal blog called About her blog’s name, she says, “I do have ‘blog name regret,’ but for the most part, Looney Tunes is pretty accurate.” She recommends

• Kim Borchert blogs at www.prairie-mama. “I write about my life, my family, my kids and just kind of the craziness that is,” Borchert says. She recommends

• Shaunda Wenger blogs about her life at www.shaundawenger.blogspot. com. She recommends fellow Cache Valley resident JoLynne Lyon’s blog, http:// www.mountainlyon.

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