Name: Ryan Marshall
Location: The Central Shaft (Central Florida)
Kids: Tessa Tangerine & The Littlest Buddy
If you're a regular Ohdeedoh reader, the name Ryan Marshall probably isn't a new name to you. We've ooohed and ahhhed over the fabulous photos he took of his wife during pregnancy and then later came the Walk to 40 Weeks. There was also his daughter Tessa's Handmade Hand Me Down Haven nursery tour and his wonderful backyard tee-pee. So why do we love Ryan's blog Pacing the Panic Room so much? Because as far as we're concerned it's the best thing to read on the internet — well other than Ohdeedoh of course! Quite often, parenting blogs can feel a little flighty or last minute. Even though you might have a large spread of pictures or a tutorial set out before you, they don't often feel as though there's a great deal of heart and soul in the crafting of the sentences. It's easy in our busy lives for blog posts to feel like extended Facebook status updates, but when you venture over to Pacing the Panic Room, you're always in for a treat. You'll find a blog where words are thought through, opinions are asked and honesty is always found. You leave feeling communicated with — instead of being talked to. Plus, it doesn't hurt that his family is just as cute as can be. See for yourself and check out our interview with Ryan below!
How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
Long ago, when I was a surly bartender downtown, I used to come home and write these insane blog posts on Myspace, where nobody could ever figure out who or what I was talking about at 4AM-- from time to time I would actually write a line or two that was discernable. So it tricked me into thinking I had “things” to say. After I met my wife, (we were married weeks later) one of the “grown-up” things I did after I got married was to get rid of my Myspace account, and I opted out of the Facebook frenzy (they’re the devil), and so I decided I would just start a blogger blog so my friends could keep track of me.
The main reason was that I disappeared pretty quickly out of the “scene” when I got married and became step dad to my wife Cole’s little boy: “The Littlest Buddy.” and so I wanted to write my story. I was kind of the first of the friend circle to jump into the next phase of life, and I was at the point where I should have decided to put away my pipe dreams and get a “real” job-- and instead I took it as my last chance to make my life exactly how I wanted it. So the blog became a journal for the “building of a family” and I was writing about everything from trying to make a baby, to trying to make a living as a paid photog and writer. So the first thing I wrote was my “about me” section where I declared: “I have decided that I am going to make my living writing stories, and as a working photographer, so I'm going to.” So as much as I started Pacing the Panic Room to show off to my friends that is was super cool to be married and want babies, I also knew it would be a great platform to show off my work.
Tell us about Pacing The Panic Room and how the name came about?
When I was thinking of names I noticed that just about every guy blogging had the name “dad” in their blog title, and it was really confusing to me. I mean there are hundreds of them.
I picked Pacing the Panic Room because I was so nervous about the pursuit of this career path I was going down, but at the same time I had never in my life felt as complete and calm as I do when I am around my wife, my new little family. They were my safety from all of the rejection, and the disbelief in what I wanted to do for a living. So I thought up “Pacing the Panic Room” being scared shitless in the one place you should be calm. In addition to being in jitters about my career, we had also decided we were going to try and have a baby. I was so excited to write all of these hilarious posts about having sex to make a baby, and only managed one before we had achieved that goal. So very quickly the blog was centered around Cole’s pregnancy, and so unless you were reading from the beginning people forgot this was about the whole pursuit of leaving my boyhood behind, and building this new family. When I started documenting Cole’s pregnancy in a weekly series, the blog really took off, largely because of Joanna Goddard who writes “Cup of Jo” she blogged about me on her personal site, and in her Glamour mag blog called “Smitten” she gave me an audience. It was really bizarre to all of the sudden have “readers” and then when Ohdeedoh blogged about the series, it was really insane when I realized how many people were looking.
You've chosen to retire LB's appearances on your blog soon, can you tell us how you came to that decision?
When I first started the blog I had no idea how humongous the personal blogger community was. I had no idea there was a Dooce, or a Sweet Juniper, and when I took a good hard look around at what was going on, when I saw how big it could all get, I knew very quickly that I never wanted the blog to become about the kids’ stories. They are absolutely essential to my breathing every day, and so of course I am going to have things to say about them, but I didn’t want the blog to be centered solely around the kids’ day to day goof ups and silly happenings. So Cole and I talked, and we decided that anything that happens after the age of 5 is usually unforgiveable in kid world, I mean, that’s when the mean shit really starts, and so I didn’t want to ever put anything out there that his little friends might find someday, and use to make fun of him. I thought it was awful to have him upset about something that I shared. They are his stories. Tessa will retire at 5 as well. They will always show up in pictures, and thoughts, I am just not telling their stories.
Where do you go in the blogosphere for inspiration?
I actually don’t read a lot of personal blogs anymore, but for writing inspiration I always turn to the same 3 blogs.
“Sweet Salty Kate” I personally think is the best female voice out there writing her guts out.
“Sweet Juniper” If I could sit down and have drinks with anyone writing a blog, it would be Jim.
“BHJ” This man writes with more guts than anyone I know, he gets a ton of shit for it to, and it just makes him better.
For food gluttony: “Honest Fare” Gabi is definitely the best kept secret in the food blogging world. She is going to have a huge blog someday I know it.
Now, what I do spend time looking at is a ton of inspiration and fashion blogs. I mean I love photography, and that is where all the great photography is online, stuffed into photo collages constructed by these opinionated teenage girls. I was a really early reader of The Style Rookie and from there just started digging around and settled on some that always have great fashion photos up, Cole looks with me for great hair inspiration. So it is win, there are too many to name, but we love all of these daily outfit kind of blogs, and then there are just the ones that moan on about how terrible everyone else dresses.
For great eye candy and photography--
We look at “Daydream Lily” quite a bit, and this designer Mary Catherine Moody who writes “MCM” and “Senseless Acts of Beauty” it is all eye candy. And my good friend Jason who started Makr, he puts up really incredible design inspirations, and gorgeous photos that he finds.
Oh, and there is this great blog called “lemmemakeit” written by a girl who works in the art dept on Martha Stewarts show.
Oh, and “Aura-Joon” she has a dreamy life and puts it on display with these really gorgeous photos.
How do you find time to balance being a Dad and running a successful blog, business and family?
I have not figured this out yet. I take a lot of blogging breaks, weeks at a time, and it always ruins my readership. I spend most of my time trying to figure out how to get the next project up and running. I also made a rule that if I am home with the kids and Cole is at work, than I am just “dad” I am not going to go crazy trying to work while the kids are home.
What do you wish you had more time for? Makeouts.
If you could tell parents one thing when it came to the photography of their own children, what would it be?
When your kids say, I don’t want you to take my picture, don’t take their picture. Even if you think they are being stubborn or jackass don’t do it. Don’t make it a battle. It will be a battle that lasts for years and years. Kids realize really quickly how much power they have when you want a picture of them, and all they have to do is move, or make a face, and you get all: “Now stop it, hold still, don’t make that face, come back here, turn around, please, PLEASE, why are you doing this? You’re ruining Christmas!!!! AHHHHHHHHH!” They will never relinquish that power. Ever. Respect their wish from the start and they will soon start asking you to be in pictures on their own when they feel left out. If you want good pictures, you gotta keep hand in that relationship.
Finally, what is one great piece of parenting advice someone has shared with you?
Someone told me once, “When your kids say, I don’t want you to take my picture, don’t take their picture.” I’m just kidding, I don’t actually accept advice from anyone about parenting. I’m just kidding again, I guess it would have to be when my MIL said: “spank often, spank hard.” Is that advice? I’m kidding, geez! Can you tell I am struggling with this one? The one thing I have noticed with the parent blogger community is that it is a tinderbox, and often times “advice” is the spark. Someone could say something totally great about crying it out, and then someone else will come in and rip you to shreds for being a cruel abusive monster. People are just terrible to one another when the advice starts flowing.
Read more about Ryan, his family and life's adventures over at Pacing The Panic Room.
Since our inception, we have loved hearing from all of our readers as well as reaching out to several in the blog community. You are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands all writing about your families, style and what makes you tick. To continue fostering this great blogging community, we'll now begin featuring close-ups of our favorite family and design blogs as part of our "Big Blog Family".
Image: Ryan Marshall