And the Liebster Blog Award goes to…

Leibster Blog Award

OK, so this award doesn’t quite work like that. But still, I am tremendously honoured to be nominated.

About a week ago, I was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award. I’d seen a few blogs with this award in the past, but hadn’t really taken the time to find out what the award was for. Having been nominated, I decided to do a bit of research. I found a blog post on Sopphey Says, in which the writer thinks she may have found the origins. The post she refers to is in German. My German is not so good, so, out of sheer laziness (another of my personality traits) I’m going to blindly accept the explanation she is offering.

Originally – or as far back as I or Sopphey can tell – the rules were:

1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
2. Nominate 3 to 5 blogs with less than 3,000 followers.
3. Let the nominees know by leaving a comment at their sites.
4. Add the award image to your site.

More recently, I’ve seen rules nominating 5 bloggers with less than 200 readers and my own nomination came with a rule to nominate 11 bloggers and pose them 11 questions to answer. As Sopphey points out in her post, it’s kind of like a chain letter. [I hate chain letters and never pass them on – please don’t be offended Anna! read on :-)].

In this case, though, I will make an exception. Because, actually, this award is about being recognised by your peers. Kind of like a “Man of the Match”. And that, to me, is the highest form of recognition one could hope to receive. And I really like the fact that the name of the award translates to “Love Blog” (I’m a Marketeers dream – another trait, I am slowly coming to accept).

The fact that someone actually reads my blog amazes me. The fact that someone likes what I write makes me ecstatic. And the fact that someone likes my blog enough to nominate me for an award, telling others to check it out … well, I’m just on top of the world right now.

I have answered the 11 questions Anna has set me, in a separate post – you can read them here – it would be rude of me not to do so, when she has asked in such magnificent fashion 🙂 But I won’t set any questions for my nominees. And I’m going to change Anna’s rules slightly… well, I’m going to revert to the rules above (as original and I can ascertain).

So, I’d like to thank Anna at pinkjumpers , with all my heart, for nominating me. She’s a far better writer and blogger than I, at half my age! Had someone else nominated me, she would definitely be on the list below. Check out her website – you will not be disappointed, I promise.

And here are 5 more blogs that I would like to nominate for the Liebster Blog Award (in no particular order), and why:

1. Thoughts of a Lunatic – Having suffered from depression myself in the past, mental illness (and challenging the stigma of mental illness) is something that is close to my heart. The honesty with which Erica writes is inspiring. I can relate to almost every post on her blog. She is a brave, she is smart and she is funny.

2. Momamorphosis – I love Jill’s posts. They make me laugh, out loud! I’ve found myself in so many similar situations with my babies and Jill writes without pretension, with humour and with love. She reminds me that when parenting feels insane, that’s actually quite normal, and inspires me to see the humour in the madness.

3. Hot Pink Underwear – Meagan writes about her life. She doesn’t always have the answer, but writing it down puts things in perspective for her. I totally get that. Her writing is from the heart, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s angry, sometimes it’s sad. It’s always true. Or at least it reads that way to me.

4. Yoga + Writing +Life – Ellyn is a yoga instructor. But not the perfectly serene variety that you see in movies. Like everyone else, she sometimes struggles with the ‘path to enlightenment’. But when she finds herself challenged, she takes a deep breath and keeps trying. Her posts comfort me, help me to accept my imperfections and remind me of the path I seek to travel. And when it all gets too much, Ellyn has given me a mantra I use regularly; “I breathe in, I breathe out”. Try it for yourself – it works wonders 🙂

5. I also want to nominate Raising My Rainbow – although technically with more than 4,500 followers, the rules don’t allow it. However, reading stories about the life of C.J. (a gorgeous, gender non conforming child) and his Mom, reminds me that we are all equal in this world. Our colour, religion, gender and sexuality don’t define us. Our compassion, kindness and respect for others does.

So, there you have it. My contribution to spreading the love. My expression of gratitude to those who unknowingly contribute to my life on a daily basis. A salute to my blogging Heroes. Or Heroine’s, I should say, as they are all women. I’m sure that tells us something about me. Maybe that’s a subject for my next post.

*Post publish note – I will not be offended in the slightest, if any of my nominees do not want to pass the award on (see my usual stance on chain letters above) 🙂

 

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11 Questions, 11 Answers

I was recently nominated for the Liebster Blog Award, you can read about that in full here.

As part of the nomination, the lovely Anna at pinkjumpers, set me the following 11 questions to answer. 11 is a big number – so, I thought I would give it the respect that it deserves and give them a post all to themselves.

There are some really good questions here. And by good, I mean I really had to think hard to answer them.

Are you sitting comfortably? OK, let’s get started…

1. What advice would you give to any aspiring blogger?

Write from your heart.

2. What happened on the best day of your life?

I have two… the days my babies were born.

3. (Inspired by my very own hug-list!) If you could hug anyone, who would you choose?

My babies, all the time. Boring Mummy answer – I know – but, they are THE BEST hugs in the world.

4. Are you a morning or a night person?

I used to be a night person. But with 2 kids under 3, I’m pretty much neither at the moment.

5. If you became the ruler of the world, what would you do first?

Start practising yoga! And get the world to practise with me 🙂

6. What is the most impulsive/spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

I’m not sure I’ve ever been truly spontaneous. Maybe I should add it to my bucket list?

7. If you had to chance to meet a single character in history, who would you choose and why?

I’d want to meet Mitochondrial Eve, the woman in Africa whom we can pretty much all be genetically traced back to. The original Mum. And then I’d bring her back to the here and now, to tell us that we are all brothers and sisters and to ground the ones who won’t stop fighting with each other.

8. What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

Chocolate. (Chocolate is pretty much my favourite flavour of anything)

9. What is your most prized possession?

The last 12 months have taught me that possessions are not important, people are. Saying that, I am permanently attached to my iPhone 😉

10. If you could only listen to a single song for the rest of your life, which song would you choose?

Oh my goodness! I can’t choose. I just can’t. Music is integral to life. It cheers us up when we are down, it empowers us when we need motivation and it provides us with solace when we are sad. And it’s bloody great for dancing!! It is a universal common ground. I couldn’t possibly pick one single song. It would be like saying I was going to be happy or I was going to be sad, forever.

11. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
Learning. I have learned so much about myself, and grown so much as a person, through writing my blog and reading other blogs. It’s pretty high up on my list of achievements to date 🙂

Babies cry, Marie!

You know, I thought it would be a breeze this time. I mean, I’m practically an expert now, right?

Wrong!

The last few days have been a bit of a challenge on the Mother ship. My baby boy has not been himself. Usually, a laid back happy little soul, he’s done nothing but cry. And, try as I might to comfort him, nothing can ease his sorrow.

Roll back 2 years and we were very used to pacing the floor with a screaming baby, whom we could not comfort and could not for the life of us understand. “Have you done the checklist?“, “Yes, twice. I just don’t know what’s bothering her“. Cue Grandma; “aww, she’s just not herself today” or worse “this is just her grizzly time, they all have it“. What??!! That’s not good enough, I NEED AN ANSWER!! We were tearing our hair out.

Granted, this time around we are significantly less stressed about the inexplicable sobbing. But, that doesn’t stop the despair when you can’t make it all better. My BFF, yogaswerve, in an attempt to make me feel better, once told me “Babies cry, Marie!” It’s true, at the time (with rivers of tears and probably a dribble of snot rolling down my face – hey, I was distraught, I had the Baby Blues) I hadn’t really appreciated just how much a baby cries. Or, probably more accurately, how helpless and useless the crying makes you feel.

So, here we are again, feeling helpless and useless. Thinking, we should have our license by now and wondering if we’ll ever “pass”. And then it hits me. We will NEVER get our full license. We will forevermore bear the L plates we were handed in January 2010. Because, every day is a first. We’ve never raised a 2 year old, we’ve never raised a kid at school, we’ve never had to worry about teenage angst. And every day brings something new.

And we don’t really get the bonus of experience with our baby boy. Because, he’s so different to his sister. The only thing we do have is a better understanding of that phrase that rings in my ears; “Babies cry, Marie!” And if I ever write the book of my blog, that is what it will be called!

Finally! I'm blogging for a living

Well sort of…

I’ve managed to convince my boss that an Intranet would be hugely beneficial for the Company because it would a) be informative b) be fun and c) would encourage improved communication. And, per the norm here, if you stick your neck out – you’re it. RESULT! It’s my baby and after weeks of chasing the developer, the structure is ready for population.

The ‘look and feel’ presently leaves a lot to be desired, but I’m not complaining. For the last 6 working days I have been like the proverbial pig, or if you prefer, the cheshire cat. Head down, iPod on, typing away. HR procedures, project processes and hours on end spent writing blogs about this and that. And even more hours trawling the internet for fun stuff to “enthuse” my colleagues and boost morale.

It takes me back to when I was a graduate trainee and my 3rd placement was with the IT Intranet department. I learned basic HTML and spent weeks ‘being creative’ buidling pages upon pages of Intranet info for our Graduate Team and jazzing them up with animated GIFs.

In reality, I was avoiding what I was supposed to be doing as this was far more fun.

And here I am, 10 years later, doing it all over again!

Not that I care. It is a good initiative and just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it’s not work. This must be what it’s like to do a job you love. (Actually, I already know what that’s like, thanks to my baby girl – yes, I’m a sap, I know).

I’m genuinely excited about this little venture… I just hope everyone else gets excited by it too. Because if it falls on it’s face I may just have to face the fact that I was not born to blog and I may even have to give up blogging for good!

Progress?

Easter Sunday is upon us and Lent is drawing to a close. So, I’ve been thinking about the promise that I made almost 40 days ago to refocus on positivity by “looking for small ways each day in which I can help others through the power of positivity”. I also remember writing that I’d keep you posted with updates on Twitter and possibly even a blog. Well, this would be that blog.

As is the norm in my apathetic life, I was extremely enthusiastic about and committed to my latest venture for the first 2 or (at a push) 3 days and then it kind of dwindled…

And so, moving swiftly on, I thought I’d also take a look at how I was doing on my longer term objectives, my New Year’s Resolutions, to see if I am faring any better.

Resolution: 1. Lose 2 stone
Current Status: I’ve lost 1 stone (nearly). So that’s a pretty positive start!

Resolution: 2. Attend a Zumba or a Dance class (something energetic to assist with #1)
Current Status:  I went to two classes. Yey! and then soon after I started back at work and now I’m too tired to go (OK, I just can’t be bothered, BUT I’m trying to find a new rythm which includes working full time AND spending time with Strawbug and my Beloved – a girl can’t do it all!! If you need any more excuses, I have a list as long as my arm. I’ve been practising this for years…)

Resolution: 3. Re-start Yoga (again)
Current Status: Hmmmm, I looked at a timetable. (For excuses, see above)

Resolution: 4. Write retrospective “diary” of pregnancy and mummyhood
Current Status: Now this one, I have been doing…. Sometimes… I’ve written approx. 4,000 words. Yey! What? That’s not a lot?

Resolution: 5. Save up for a mac (for documenting #4)
Current Status: Having recently reviewed my budget, this item has had to plummet down the priority list… On the positive side, I was given a pre-loved mac as my work machine when I returned after maternity leave. So, I’ve kind of achieved this goal, just in a way I hadn’t expected.

Resolution: 6. Try, really try, to post regular, meaningful, interesting and humorous ditty’s on my blog.
Current Status: 4 blogs in 4 months. No idea if anyone finds them meaningful, interesting or vaguely humorous… Hmmm. Could do better!

Resolution: 7. Spend as much time with my baby girl as possible (she’s growing so fast and she is so much fun to be around!)
Current Status: Well, now, this is a tricky one. If you follow my Twitter feed, you’ll know that I spend Monday to Friday distraught at being away from Strawbug and Saturday and Sunday ecstatic just to be in the same room as her! What I can say is that a) I spend all my waking and sleeping hours thinking of her, b) any time that i am not working I spend with her, c) we make the absolute most of that time as a family which consequently means that d) none of the housework, boring chores or any of the above resolutions get a look in. But, then, who in their right mind would choose vacuuming over peek-a-boo?

The Prodigal Blogger Returns

Today on twitter, I pledged to resurrect my commitment to positivity on account of Lent.

I haven’t practised a particular religion for 20 years (wow! didn’t realise it was that long until I counted it up just now). Not that I’m lazy. On the contrary. I’m extremely curious about religion, spirituality and things that are seemingly “other worldly”. What I didn’t want to do was go to church every Sunday and not really believe what I was saying or doing, or worse, not go to church at all but play the religion card when I need/want to get my child into a good school.

I actually take it very seriously. Least of all because I made a promise to my father (who is a strong believer) that I would make very conscious decisions about ‘God’ and ‘The Church’ and would not belittle his faith by being flippant about it.

And I believe that some of the things I was taught by my parents and religion have contributed to my being a “good person” today. One of those things is Lent. Well kind of.

I think that it is a great idea to take time out, whether it’s once per year or once each day, to be conscious about who we are and what we do for others. Whilst during Lent we are often encouraged to give something up for the duration (in support of what ‘Jesus’ gave up for all mankind) I believe that actually it makes more sense to give something back.

So, I’ve done this a few times over the years. I’ve participated in Lent in my own way. By doing something extra.

This year, I’m refocusing on positivity (see my previous attempts here and here). So, I’ll be looking for small ways each day in which I can help others (and from time to time myself) through the power of positivity. Harder than it sounds but then, it wouldn’t be worth it if it was easy!

I’ll keep you posted. Look out for updates on Twitter. Might even pen a blog or two about it… After all I did promise to write more this year.

Today, I blog!

Today, I blog again…

My beautiful little girl is nearly 9 weeks old and the last 9 weeks have been the best and the worst of my life. People tell you it’s the hardest and the best job in the world (being a parent) and they’re right!

I once blogged about how overwhelmed with unconditional love I was for my little furball when he came into our lives. But my love for my baby girl is a gazillion times stronger than that. I could never have imagined it until the first time I looked at her.

Still now, every time I look at her, even when I’m at my lowest ebb; having had no sleep for days and she’s been screaming her little lungs out for what seems like hours (she has colic), all I can think of is that she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. How amazing she is and how lucky I am to have her. I miss her even when I’m just in the other room.

And my love, respect and admiration for my Beloved has grown too. Don’t get me wrong there have been times when the tiredness has presented, let’s call them, significant challenges. But I could not have delivered her without his fortitude. I would not have survived the baby blues or my battle with breastfeeding without his love and support. And I have grown as a person by learning to let him (and my friends and my family) help me.

She is definitely Daddy’s little girl! He brought her into this world with his own hands and she’s had him wrapped around her little finger ever since. But that is a good thing. He will love her and protect her forever, we both will.

Our family has grown and will hopefully continue to grow… although, I’m not sure where we’ll put them. This one tiny little girl has accumulated so much stuff in 9 weeks, we already need a bigger house. How is that possible?!

 

Is it good to share?

1 week to D-Day.

I still think it will be longer and I’m trying not to fixate on the date… but I can totally understand why women get to the home stretch and “just want it out!!!”. I feel really good today and managed to have a reasonably good night’s sleep last night but the 2 nights/days before that were pretty challenging. But I’m not here to complain about my pregnancy woes, nope. Today’s post is about how much information should I put online about our baby?

I know I said that this wouldn’t become a mummy blog… but what else can I write about, when my every waking thought is consumed by Strawbug?

I’ve been thinking about this blog subject for quite a while. Ever since I announced my happy news actually.

Putting details of your life online whether it be a blog, Facebook or Twitter can be risky for anyone. I myself, don’t even share my own name on this blog or my Twitter account and I try very hard to disguise anyone in my life that I write about (unless they have already set the precedent of “going public” with who they are online). Some might say that I’m copping out but I do it because whilst I enjoy the process and the experience of writing and sharing, I find it much easier to share feelings anonymously. I also do it out of respect for others in my life. I don’t feel I have the right to publish details of their lives online without their permission. After all, its possible that these details could be read by millions of people across the world (not that my readership is anywhere near that high, but it’s out there, it’s accessible and it is possible).

On the other hand, it is the acceptable convention of social networking to share personal information, photos etc. of yourself and others online. And the internet provides a useful tool to enable today’s distributed families to share these things in almost real-time. It provides support systems and information to many who feel isolated because of the fact that we no longer live in local family units. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s free.

The downside of the internet is that it can be accessed by anyone, and by that I mean unsavoury types. Parents spend many hours worrying about who their kids are chatting to online, putting security software in place to try to prevent them accessing the types of sites where they could be harmed and (hopefully) educating their children about the dangers of the internet and how to avoid them.

So then is it fair, or safe, to then post photos of those kids on Facebook? or a blog? and share details of who their kids are and what they did today with, potentially, the entire world?

I’ve googled (as is my want) and searched for any studies or theories that may answer my question (in whatever way). But all that I have been able to find is thoughts, research and advice about kids using the internet and online safety software or education.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging any proud parent who puts photos of their kids on Facebook. Heck, I’ve already done it here on my blog before my baby is born! I’m just generally struggling with the idea, and I’m not sure what the right thing to do is for Strawbug. I genuinely wouldn’t want her or him to come to any harm as a result of something I had done.

So, what do you think? Is it risky? Am I being over sensitive or should I employ the same rule as I do with others in my life and assume I don’t have the right to openly disclose such personal details?

Leave a comment… I’d love to know what you think.

All Change

So, today was my last day in work before Strawbug arrives. It was a strange day. I’ve been looking forward to it for so long but in the end it felt kind of weird. Kind of sad. It’s been a long long time since I haven’t worked and my job, my ‘career’, has been (for the best part of the last 15 years) a large part of the definition of ‘Me’.

Now, I know that I’m about to change that definition forever. And I have wanted nothing more than to have a family with my Beloved for quite some time now. But, it’s still a massive change for a very independent girl (OK I’m clutching at straws with ‘girl’!).

It’s ironic that my job is (was) all about the management of change. And I’ve never been change averse. In fact, I’m the complete opposite of change averse. I get bored easily and have spent large periods of my life changing jobs, cities and homes every six months. And because of this I find it very difficult to understand why (some) people are really quite terrified at the prospect of change. I’ve always (well mostly) seen it as an opportunity (the exception being when I’ve been dumped, and in which case I’m not sure it was the ‘change’ that was bothering me).

So anyway, back to me not working… I guess maybe the way to look at it is that I’m on secondment for personal development purposes. Because I’m fairly certain that once Strawbug arrives, daily life will return to good old hard graft, although I expect that job satisfaction will be off the scale in relation to what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years.

And although I’m excited, I still can’t really imagine what life will be like once the baby is here. But then, when you haven’t had kids before, can anyone?

For the next couple of weeks though, I’ll be taking the view that I’m on holiday. Which is fine, I can get my head around that. I’ve had staycations before. And just think of all the time I’ll have for blogging and Twitter!

M.I.A.

Hello stranger!… No, sorry that would be me!

I actually didn’t realise how long it’s been since I last posted to my blog. I knew it had been quite a while but I genuinely hadn’t realised it’d been three and a half months. Some of my “cyber friends” were starting to worry about me going M.I.A. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? Or indeed when your life is being turned upside down?!

So, what news? Me? well little Strawbug is getting big now, and I appear to be growing at twice the rate that he/she is, my little furball is riding the emotional swing with me (one minute he loves us to bits and the next he looks at us like we’re the proverbial on his paw – I think he senses/smells/whatever cats do, the baby in my tummy and knows that something big is about to happen). The house isn’t ready (in fact it’s even more unready than the the last time I posted), we don’t have everything we need, we had planned a natural water birth at home and now I’ll be going to the birth centre at the hospital (and probably be taking huge amounts of narcotics given that I have not practised my deep relaxation techniques one bit!)

In general, I’m feeling massively underprepared and totally not ready for this.

But then I am 35 weeks pregnant and so, I’m hoping that this feeling is completely natural and every pregnant lady goes through this phase.

For the most part, I’ve had a pretty easy time of it (compared to many women) so I shouldn’t really complain (two ticks, need a quick swig of Gaviscon…) ah, that’s better. Though I have been growing increasingly scatty and in the last 2 weeks have returned to the depths of lethargy I experienced in the second half of my first trimester. Serves me right, I suppose, for boasting about how easy it’s been 🙂

Still, only 5, 6 or 7 weeks to go. And there’s the most amazing gift at the end of it all… given how quickly the last 3 months have passed, Strawbug will be here in no time!