O5rcB_NXbIeHbJV7JFNcdfqL-vY Mummy From The Heart...: February 2012

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Is there such a thing as being too helpful?

Today I am taking part in the Multi-Coloured Blog Swap Carnival that is the brainchild of Troubles Mummy over at Trouble Doubled. You can see my post over at It Takes A Women and it is about why I am longing for the summer..

But for today you can find the lovely Fay blogging here, I expect many of my readers may know Fay already, as she is a regular on Reasons to be Cheerful.  I'll let her introduce herself properly to you....

I'm a glass half full type of girl who started the blog in March 2011 to help me through illness and weight loss. FayC Glass Half Full helped me put some order to the chaotic thoughts going through my head and turn things around and see things in a positive light. Writing about my hysterectomy to treat uterine cancer, losing weight and getting fit has shaped the randomness of the blog but the thread woven through is optimism. I participate in various meme's including Michelle's Reasons to be Cheerful so there are some regular post types in there too!

I was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer (I know, what are the chances of that! Some might say unlucky but it was found by chance, that is luck!) so expect more of the same!!!
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Monday, 27 February 2012

Blogging Awards - What's Your Opinion?


Image Credit

It's that time of the year again. 

Last week I was happily reading through some of my regular blogs and I came across the first BIB (Brilliance in Blogging) badge and a post from the author asking their readers to nominate for them.  Now, before you get carried away with trying to second-guess me I do not have a problem with anyone making their readers aware of a competition or asking for their nominations/ votes.  This post is written purely from a personal perspective.

This year there are two major awards in the UK parenting blogosphere, the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging awards, which will be presented at an evening ceremony at BritMums Live in June and the MAD Blog awards, which if last year is anything to go by will be celebrated with a ceremony September time.  I have to be honest and say I would prefer if there was just one set of awards, I do not really want to have to make a choice of which to put myself up for but to be honest I don't want to have to 'go through it all' twice. Ohh decisions, decisions.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

#Mumentum: Focus Shrink and Pray

Mumentum at New Mum Online
 

This post will be short and sweet as I am dead tired and I need to sleep if I want to get up and exercise tomorrow morning, which I do.

The week started off as a week to shrink my stomach by eating my 3 meals a day and not snacking and also a week of remembering to pray and ask God for help when I am finding it hard.  The first part of the week was good and the weekend not so much so but I will not give up.  This is the difference I am finding at the moment, I want to keep going.  Even when things are not perfect I will not declare that it is too hard for me.  This is for the long haul and one day I will be slimmer and healthier.

#SilentSunday - Mr & Mrs....



For more Silent Sunday photos check out the #SilentSunday hashtag on twitter and there is now a linky being hosted at Love All Blogs too.

Thank you to @SeasiderClare for a lovely sleepover and to little J for agreeing to marry Miss E at the age of just 4!  It could be a long engagement.....

Saturday, 25 February 2012

What to do about clubs?

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I am back in a dilemma situation again and I am hoping you lovely readers can help me and perhaps offer some words of wisdom. My little Miss E does not want to continue with her gymnastics class and I think it would be good if she did this half-term and gave it a really good try-out. I need some independent opinions please.
I'll set the record straight from the start, I do not class myself as a pushy parent and I have no penchant for my children to undertake numerous out-of-school clubs each week but I do, in general think it is good for children to develop a hobby and to have an interest.  That can of course be something of their choosing and I do not want to dictate what they must do but I sort of feel that unless the child tries out some activities they will have no idea whether they like them or not.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Surviving Anorexia - A true Story

Some of you will read that title and will know me and instantly think 'no way' and you will be right, this isn't a post by me. This is a true post that has been written by a fellow blogger who wishes to publish her story anonymously and as I am someone with an eating disorder myself (albeit at the opposite end of the spectrum) I have an understanding and am thus proud to share her courageous and sad story.

Here you go...

I’m writing this anonymously not because I don’t want the blogging community to know who I am, but because family and friends read my blog who don’t know the real extent of my problem.

I first stopped eating when I was about 15, I don’t really know why, it just kind of happened. I was at an all girls’ school, I knew I would never be the cleverest or the prettiest, but I could be the thinnest, and thin I became. I’d either throw my packed lunch in a dustbin on the way to school or spend my lunch money on CD’s. Initially I flipped between under eating and over eating, until almost total non-eating took control. I felt good when I was hungry, like nothing could touch me. I felt almost invincible. In reality, I was far from invincible. I was a wreck. I slept under two duvets to keep warm and wore two jumpers in the day. My hair started falling out. I looked awful, but I was convinced that just losing a few more pounds would make me happy.

My parents dragged me to the doctor eventually, who to be fair, did his best, but a sullen, non-compliant massively underweight teenager was probably out of his league. Under duress I started to eat again, and my weight plummeted further to the point where I was almost hospitalised.

The next few months are a bit of a blur for me. I remember seeing a dietitian, writing down all the food I ate, revising for exams and slowly coming out of my self induced isolation. My biggest regret is that I lost a lot of friends in that period of my life. I was a self obsessed anorexic with no time in my life for anything but food. While my friends were out trying to get into nightclubs and having their first kisses I was snuggled under layers of clothes trying to keep warm. It was not a nice place to be.

My parents for some reason decided not to send me to counseling…the result of that was I eventually got back to a normal weight, but didn’t resolve my emotional issues.

My University life was turbulent with big highs and lows. It’s fair to say that alcohol and I did not mix well, especially if the alcohol was consumed on a somewhat empty stomach. My weight fluctuated up and down over these years depending on my state of mind, but there were weeks and even months when I felt quite normal. I even managed to find someone mad enough to marry me. I don’t really know when things went wrong again, it happened slowly just a few pounds here and there and before I knew it I was back in the vice like grip of my eating disorder and; When my periods stopped again I knew I had to do something, so after crying on my GP he referred my to a psychiatrist. To cut a long story short the next few years saw me in and out of therapy and counselling. I think the realisation that I might have damaged my body to the point where I couldn’t have children was the big turning point. I knew I had to sort myself out.

My husband has been amazingly patient throughout our marriage, never blaming me, but gently encouraging me to get better. I owe him so much.

Looking back now, I feel like I had a lucky escape. Things could have ended so differently. Somehow, I managed to pull myself up and out of the gloom to a place where I am happy, where thanks to medical technology (my body needed a bit of a kick start for me to conceive my first child) I have children.

I still have days where I don’t want to eat, where I feel I don’t deserve to eat. I’ve lived with my eating issues for so long they are part of me. I have to tell myself that being in control does not mean not eating at all, it means eating sensibly. One bar of chocolate does not have to turn into ten. If I‘m having a bad day, I think of my children, I think of who they want me to be, of who I want to be. I don’t want to be a shadow of a person, I want to be strong, I want to give them someone to look up to, and I want them to be proud to have me as their mum. So that is who I strive to be, each day is hard, but each day gets easier.

Thank you so much for sharing. I have read this account a few times now and every time it tugs at me. There are so many children suffering in silence. I blogged a while back about my friends little girl who was diagnosed with anorexia at 10 years old. Sadly she is in hospital at the moment, nearly two years later.

I asked the lady who wrote this story if she would consider herself fully recovered now and she said that she still has an eating disorder but mostly feels in control of it and would consider herself to be recovering. As someone with an eating disorder I have a massive fear that my children will pick up my unhealthy attitude to food and may develop problems themselves.  So I asked the writer if she had any concerns about her children. She said 'I try very hard not show any food concerns around them, we focus on food being 'healthy' or not healthy as opposed to bad for you, fattening etc. Not wanting them to pick up on anything is part of the reason why I fight to stay a healthy weight, I'd be heartbroken if any of them went down the same path as me'.

If you are suffering and would like to speak to someone who has been in your shoes then do feel free to email or DM me on twitter and I'll pass your details onto the writer.  I assure you of my confidentiality.

It is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, there is lots of help out there if you need it. Start at the BEAT website.

Do leave some comment love please....

Thanks, Mich x

I have linked this post up with the #dosomethingyummy campaign for CLIC Sargent, as this weeks prompt from Nickie was Survivor and by coincidence this post perfectly fits that title.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

#R2BC Week 8 - Grace in Small Things

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
 
As I cleaned my house this morning I worried that I had no topic for #R2BC this week.  Nothing was coming to me easily and I wondered what I might write.  Then as I sat down and opened my laptop I knew what God was telling me, I just ought to keep it simple and stick with the roots of #R2BC.

So here are the things that are making me cheerful right now -
  1. The downstairs of my house is all clean, not spotless but clean, enough so that
  2. the lovely Clare and little J can now come and stay tomorrow and I don't have to feel worried about the state of my house (not that she would care)
  3. I am so looking forward to our chilled weekend, good food, getting to know each other better and the kids having fun
  4. Dh is on the mend, he has some more movement back and this is wonderful. (He strained a ligament last Friday night after being really ill the whole night and has been in bed since)
  5. I am off to pilates in half an hour and that makes me feel so alive
  6. The girls and I are off to tea at a friends tonight, it will be great.  It is a woman I love and do not see enough
  7. New Bloggers Fortnight was received really well and I hope lots of people have been helped.
So over to you.....  I am sure you know the drill by now.  Write a cheery post, what is making you happy, cheerful, grateful right now?  Link it up here and hop over to a few others blogs, read and share some comment love.  You know how it works basically, leave a comment and I'll come visit you and say hi too. Check out the #R2BC tab if you want to read more.

Have a great week, Mich x

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

New Bloggers Fortnight - Post Round-Up

Sadly we have come to the end of New Bloggers Fortnight, I hope you have enjoyed our guest writers input.  I know I certainly have, one of the things I love about blogging is the diversity of opinion and thus writing that you read. When I was planning this second NBF I worried (just for a moment mind) that the content would duplicate last years and may not add any value but of course I should not have feared as the writers all came up trumps. A big massive thank you to all my guest writers.

If you missed any of the posts then do take a peek, there are some real gems of knowledge and experience shared in them.

Welcome to NBF and sharing my story blogging

DorkyMum dispels some blogging myths

Blogging Etiquette from Actually Mummy

Pick of the New Parenting Bloggers

Anonymous Blogging by The Boy and Me

Establishing Yourself in a Crowded Blogosphere: Mammasaurus

Reviewing with Integrity by Inside the Wendy House

Mummy, Mummy, Mum on using social media

Things I wish I had known at the beginning from Multiple Mummy

Seasider in the City reveals why you don't have to be everyone's best friend to be a blogging success

Geekmummy answers your geeky questions

To reveal or not to reveal?  Things to think through by Lou of Bloggomy

Nickie of Typecast shares her secret tip

The content that is part of New Bloggers Fortnight is by no means an exhaustive list of subjects that are of interest to new bloggers. I think we could have been here for the whole year posting daily to cover everyone's requests, but I do hope it gave you a good flavour for blogging and has also exposed you to some superb bloggers who are all approachable and willing to chat.

I'll leave you with one final thought, blogging can be completely addictive and even if you are trying to earn an income from it, the most important thing you can do is maintain perspective - get out and live your life. For that is probably what attracts readers to your blog, you have something that they find attractive and interesting.

Blog: Life balance is where it is at!

Come on then, reveal - which was your favourite post?  What nugget have you taken away with you that will help on your blogging journey.

Monday, 20 February 2012

To Reveal or not to reveal? Things to think through... (New Bloggers Fortnight)

We have a rather lovely lady on the blog today,  I have always found Lou to be very approachable and real and we shared a few late night al fresco drinks after the MAD blog awards last year, so I know first hand she rocks. Lou writes at Bloggomy.

I am a Stay at Home Mum of 4 children. My children are 19, 12, 10 and the smallest is 14 months. My blog started as an online diary of my smallest child's life and has grown organically from there.  I was a runner up in the MAD Blog Awards Best Baby Category after blogging for just 6 months.  I am enjoying being a mature mum to my youngest son. Experience is a gift not a hindrance
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New to blogging or thinking of starting one? I have been blogging for 14 months now and I have learned quite a bit in that time. Here are a few things to think through about what you reveal on your blog and possible reasons why...

* Names and information about yourself, family or children..

With the web being a world wide stretching resource everything you write is there for the world to read. Once you hit publish its there for all intents the world to see and search. If like me, you have children with unusual names for instance, then just by searching a name in a search engine will list any content on your blog. If you don't want to use actual names then perhaps a nickname is an option? If you don't mind sharing and are happy then share, share, share but if you are a little apprehensive then perhaps think about what you want people to be able to search.

* Are you happy for your friends and neighbours (and strangers) to know everything about you?

For mainly the same reasons as above, mentioning school names, places and the contents of your underwear drawer will mean it is accessible in a search and although most people are just looking perhaps for advice it is also 'out there' for those not so innocent. Again think what YOU want people to know about you and if you don't want quite as much openness then you can blog anonymously. You don't have to put your name on your blog, Twitter or anywhere else unless YOU want to.

* Photos

Like the written word photos and images are also included in search engine searches, for instance Google Images. These will link back to the website or blog they are displayed on. If you include photos of yourself and children then these could be recognised even if you don't name them. There are a few, more diverse shall we say, people that search the internet so again you may want to think what photos you are happy for people to see. Again if you are apprehensive take photos that do not show faces or places but if you are happy with it all then hit that share button!

* Its there in black and white!

Well of course it is - its a blog you may think. Ever read a text message and thought you understood what the person meant but then when you spoke to them you had read it completely differently? This is the same for your blog posts. Remember that many readers to your blog have no history with you and do not know you in real life. No matter what we may like to think or how exact we think we are being, we all can take and read things differently to the way the writer had written them. What you thought was helpfully sharing tips on life based on your experience could be seen by others as preaching or you are trying to be superior in some way. You just share some helpful tips for getting a baby to sleep but others may read it that you are implying you are a guru or authority. Everyone is different and that's what makes the world so full of diversity!

* Having children from two relationships..

I chose not to share information on my previous marriage. Firstly I don't want to share something that then comes up in a search (see above points) and secondly my children can also find (and read) information I have written. Yes you may think your ex is a no good so and so and tell the world about how they did this or that when you were married but is that something you want your children to know? Still want to share the information? Cool go ahead or again chose the option to blog anonymously but make sure you are not sharing something that could only be from you!

* Linking your blog to your Facebook account...

Remember by sharing your blog on your personal Facebook account it is available for everybody on your friends list, and possibly even those outside of it. Check your Facebook security or account settings for just who can see what you put. There is an option for 'friends of friends' or 'public' to see your shared details and if you're happy post away or if not change the settings in your account to what you are happy for people to see. Perhaps separate your friends list into those you want to share with and those you'd rather not then when sharing a blog post just share with the selected list of people. You can also keep the two separate and not link your blog to Facebook at all if that's what you'd prefer.

* Blogging for therapy.


Sometimes putting thoughts into words can be extremely therapeutic. It can also give you a place to look back to and see how far along the path you have come since you wrote it. It can also support others in a similar situation.

Although many of the above points may seem negative points to blogging they are not. It is about you having a choice and control over your blog contents. As you get further along the line with your blog you may choose to review these points again and change anything you don't feel happy with but at the end of the day blogging is your space, your words and your rules so enjoy!

Thank you Lou, super stuff.  I think the big message here peeps is to think through what you are going to share.  I never did that, I just started a blog and then thought it through afterwards.  Originally my kids names were on here and once I went public I had to go through and change them all to the nicknames I now use.  I also recall the first time I published a school picture of JJ, so proud he was now a big boy and then someone pointed out to me that from the badge on his top I had just told the world where he was schooled - eek!  The my favourite boob though, was when I was a finalist last year in the MAD blog awards, I duly sent a press release to the local paper as advised and only once it was published did I think through that everyone who actually knows me locally could now link me to my blog.  Think first and press that publish key second.

Well, it is the penultimate post tomorrow and I have to be honest I sneaked in an established blogger.  I would call her one of the old bloggers but I know she hates the new/ old divide.  The lovely Nickie of Typecast fame will be here and shh don't tell anyone, she really is lovely. I know she likes her reputation as a bit of a scary one but it is all front. She is one of the most knowledgeable and giving bloggers that I know. Tomorrow she'll point you in the direction of some great tutorials to add a few bits and pieces to your blog.

Then on Wednesday I'll wind up the week with a few wise blogging words (ha, ha yes don't hold your breath for those) and a round-up of all the super posts we have had in the last couple of weeks.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

#Mumentum - Life is a Learning Curve


Image Credit

I think that title sums it all up pretty well really, life is one big learning curve or perhaps for me it should be like the diagram above, nice managable steps up and then all of a sudden a sheer climb which I just cannot seem to manage and I tumble back down! I seem to get the hang of something, climb the hill and then slowly forget what I have learnt and slump back down.  That sounds a bit negative dosen't it?  But here is the good news, I don't give up.  You can call me rubber band, I'll keep pinging back and I will try, try, try again.  I do have full confidence that one day the miracle will happen with regard to my weight and health related to it.

So here is my summary of the things I have learnt in the last couple of weeks.  The things I need to remember and stick with!
  1. When I miss my one session of pilates in a week I find it really hard to stay on track with anything during that week.
  2. When I listen to my Thinking Slimmer slimpod, I eat less.  Simple, it works, I just have to remember to...
  3. go to bed at a decent hour so I remember to play it, I feel so much better for an early night and ...
  4. it allows me to get up at 6am to do my exercise, which I do really enjoy.  So no excuse Mich!
  5. Then lastly, I realise that I eat so much better when I have a meal plan for the week. So here is this weeks effort -
Monday
Breakfast   2 weetabix, banana
Snack   Melba toast and philli
Lunch  Ham, cheese and salad wrap, yoghurt
Snack  Crisps
Dinner   Jacket potato with tuna and beans, sugar free jelly

Tuesday
Breakfast  Porridge, OJ
Snack   Apple
Lunch  Jacket potato with beans
Snack  Melba toast and phili
Dinner  Quorn and veg stir fry

Wednesday
Breakfast  Shreddies, Banana
Snack  Carrot sticks
Lunch  Ham & salad sub, crisps
Snack  Apple
Dinner  Spinach and ricotta tortellini and tomato sauce. Rice pudding

Thursday
Breakfast  Porridge, OJ
Snack  Melba toast and Philli
Lunch  Chicken and veg soup, with ryvita and ham
Snack  Banana
Dinner  Home made chicken nuggets and wedges, sugar free jelly

Friday
Breakfast   Beans on toast, OJ
Snack  Buttered malt loaf
Lunch Tuna salad
Snack  Cup a soup
Dinner  Chicken tikka, naan bread, sag aloo and salad

Saturday & Sunday  I have no idea yet if I am honest.  I have the lovely @Seasiderclare coming to stay Friday night so who knows what we will do/ eat on the Saturday and then Sunday will probably be something good to make up for the day before!

Does anyone have any good snacks they can share with me please?  I need something filling, ideally low GI and not too many calories.

If you have read this and are on a similar journey, don't forget to link up with Liska (click on the #Mumentum badge) and for the first time I'm linking up with Mrs M too for Meal Planning Monday. 
Stay well, Mich x


            Mumentum at New Mum Online
 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Geekmummy answers your Geeky Questions (New Bloggers Fortnight)

We can count ourselves as very lucky today, for on the blog we have the lovely Ruth who blogs at Geekmummy, she won the MAD blog award last year for most innovative blog and she fully deserves it. Have you ever seen any of her excellent vlogs?  She puts me to shame with my QVC inspired ones! I'll let her introduce herself properly -

Hi I'm Ruth, and I blog at geekmummy.com. I've been blogging in various forms since 2005, and I started my geekmummy blog in August 2010 as something to keep me busy whilst on maternity leave from work after having my son (as if looking after him and his older sister wasn't enough to be getting on with!). As I'm both a Mummy and a geek the name wasn't too hard to come up with! I was very flattered when Michelle asked me to participate in her New Bloggers Fortnight by answering some of your geeky questions – I love being able to help other bloggers. So here goes…
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Can you sum up SEO for a novice?

SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimisation", which is a phrase that seems to strike fear and confusion into the heart of many a blogger. When you visit any search engine (like Google or Bing) and type in what you are looking for, that search engine must decide which of the many millions of web pages it knows about is the most relevant to you. The precise way it works this out is a fiercely guarded, and frequently changing, secret, for if it was public knowledge then content producers would be able to "force" themselves to the top of the results pages, and the search engines would lose credibility with their users.

The good news is that the search engines generally like blogs as their content is regularly updated. And whilst you can spend a lot of time studying SEO, installing SEO Plug-Ins and improving your position in search results, there are a few simple things you can start doing now that will make the search engines rank you higher in their results.

• When you're writing a blog post, think about how people might search to find that article. Use those words in your post title, and again in the first paragraph of your post. These are called your keywords.

• If your post answers a question, consider using that question as your post title.

• Tag your posts - your blogging platform should allow the addition of tags to your post - again make sure you use these, and include your keywords

• Tag your images - most search engines have the ability to search for images as well as text, so again add relevant keywords to your images

Can you sum up what measures matter in the Ebuzzing and Tots100 rankings?

I can certainly sum up the measures used in the Tots100 rankings, as they are publicly available. There are seven metrics that make up your Tots100 score, and for each metric all blogs in the Index are scored relative to each other (i.e. it's not your absolute score that matters, it's your position relative to all the other blogs). I recommend reading the Tots100 primer over on the Tots100 website for a great explanation of how the index works, but in summary here are the seven metrics:

• Number of links to your blog (found via Google)

• Number of those links in the past month

• Number of links to your blog (found via opensiteexplorer.org)

• Your blog's MozRank (found via opensiteexplorer.org) - this a measure of how influential the sites that link to you are)

• Your Klout score

• Your Technorati score (this measures how many different blogs have linked to you in the last month)

• Number of subscribers your blog has in Google Reader.

It is harder to say how the Ebuzzing rankings are calculated, as Ebuzzing do not make that information public. What they do say is that blog and article popularity are calculated using their own algorithm, which takes into account content shares and recommendations on Twitter, Facebook and the primary content exchange platforms. It does seem that links to your blog are a major factor, and links from other blogs within your Ebuzzing category are weighted more heavily than other links.

In general I recommend focusing on producing great content that people will want to link to and talk about as the best way of improving your position in these rankings.

What exactly are backlinks? And how are they counted? Do they all stack up with time?

A backlink is a link to your blog from another blog or website. They are counted by search engines, who use the number of backlinks as a way of deciding how "authoritative" your blog is. In general your number of backlinks will increase over time, as the old ones don't tend to disappear (well unless the linking page is changed or removed), and you should be getting new links each month.

Can you explain ‘no follow’ and do many blogs use that?

To explain "nofollow" I first need to explain a little bit about how search engines explore your site and decide how "authoritative" you are. Search engines trawl the web with "crawlers"; programs which follow links and read the content they find. Each time you link to a site, you're effectively telling the search engines that this is a site that you think is relevant to your blog content. If the search engine keeps finding content it doesn't think is relevant (for example if you mostly talk about parenting issues but keep linking to financial sites), it will decide it doesn't trust you as much, and consider you less authoritative. This damages your page rank, and thus the position you'll achieve in search results. The nofollow tag can be used in a link if you don't want the search engine crawlers to follow the link - it's your way of saying "here's a link, but I don't want you to consider it relevant to my blog content". If you write sponsored posts this is essential, and indeed some companies that offer sponsored posts, like eBuzzing, insist on the use of nofollow links. The simple rule is if you're linking to something else, and it's not directly relevant to your content, use a "nofollow" link otherwise you may damage your own search engine ranking as well as that of your target.. I would also recommend if you're posting sponsored content you use nofollow links.

You make a link into a "nofollow" link by switching your blog editor into HTML view and manually adding the text rel="nofollow" to the link, so that it looks like this:

<a href="http://www.anothersite.com/" rel="nofollow">Click on this link</a>


If you're on WordPress self-hosted there are plugins you can add to your site to make this process easier, unfortunately if you're on Blogger or WordPress.com your only option is the HTML one.

I hope you’ve found this information useful. If you have any more questions please let me know – you can find me on Twitter as @geekmummy.



Thank you so much Ruth, I know that people will find that so helpful, me included.  I have never yet made a link 'nofollow' and I do sponsored posts, so something for me to have a play around with.

We are nearing the end of New Bloggers Fortnight now, in fact after today the fortnight is up but I still have a couple more posts and hence it will continue! Next up is Lou blogging at Bloggomy, who had one of those moments just recently where she wondered if she should just delete her blog.  Thanks heavens she remembered why she blogs and she is sticking around. Monday Lou questions how much you should share on your blog and the things to think through.

Friday, 17 February 2012

You don't have to be everyones Best Friend to be a Blogging Success

Today on the blog we have Clare, she blogs at Seasider in the City and is one of the nicest bloggers that I have had the pleasure to meet. (I tried hard to think of a word better than 'nicest' as I know some people think nice is limp but that is not the case at all). Not only is Clare nice she is also feisty, opinionated and fun to be with, well that is what I think, here is what she says about herself -

Clare is the tangerine dreamer behind Seasider in the City, with an undying love of family, golf and food and on an eternal quest to lose weight and get fit with minimal effort. The best is yet to come…
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In many areas of my life I don’t quite fit the normal stereotype. For many years I was one of the few straight members of a women’s football team, at the golf club I am very competitive which is quite unheard of amongst the women, as an IT manager I am pretty ungeeky, and certainly don’t spend my free time talking techie (unlike the group I overheard in the pub on Friday), and in the office I wear jeans and no makeup (gasp).

All these things make it at times difficult to fit in, I am not welcomed with open arms, more eyed with suspicion.

I have found blogging to be along the same lines. I see posts on blogs and forums saying you must do ‘this’ and you should never do ‘that’ and I smile to myself thinking I do exactly the opposite of that, and so what?

There are times when not being part of the ‘in’ crowd hurts a little, you see conversations on twitter and when you try and join in you are not really made welcome, sometimes you may tweet asking for help, knowing that the people that can are online right now, and you are ignored. Other times there is just the frustrating thing of commenting on a post and the blogger replies to every single other reply but not yours! It’s hard but slowly I am toughening up, developing a thick skin in blogging as I have done in the rest of my life.

Just over a year ago, when I started to write, I so desperately wanted to fit in and be liked. I would do anything not to rock the boat and jumped through hoops to try and be popular. I look back on this time and feel ashamed. It wasn’t me, who was I trying to kid – it was like turning up to work with straight hair and a full face of make-up! I even deleted a review post I had written because there was a lot of negative talk about the brand – I had no issue with the brand and I really liked the product, I didn’t even contact the PR to apologise. I removed it, just in case someone thought badly of me. How shallow!

What have I done then? I have written what and when I wanted. I join in with linkies, I review quite a lot of products. I do care about statistics though, even if I am told I shouldn’t – I like to do things well. My blog has grown beyond belief and I am proud of this, it is something I have done.

Most importantly though I have made some really good friends, pinpointed some fellow bloggers that are happy to share both their opinions and their time. They are happy to give advice whether you are brand new or been around the block a few times. They keep my feet on the ground and are a voice of reason if I think people are being mean!

My advice – don’t try too hard (at least not for too long)! If you are new and want some friends come and find me and anyone else appearing in Michelle’s new blogger fortnight – obviously you have already found the fabulous lady in question and she is well worth a follow too ;-)

Thank you Clare for sharing so honestly, I read this post and felt a little tug at my heart, in 500 words Clare summed up my life.  I have never been THE one, the one everyone wanted to be friends with.  I was always on the outskirts of the 'in' crowd and trying to fit in, trying to make sure everyone liked me.  Then a few years ago I grew up and stopped trying so hard and since then I have been a much happier woman.  When I first came to blogging, like Clare I found it incredibly tough and wanted to rise to the heady height so blogging stardom (if there is such a thing! lol) and what I found was that when I was focused on the stats and how popular my blog was I was at my most unhappiest and not feeling in the slightest joyful at what was being achieved. Things started to get taken for granted, I got to number 2 in the Wikio (now ebuzzing) parenting blog chart - so what? I had over 20,000 page views and just over 10,000 unique visitors in a month - yeah and...? My Klout score reached about 65 and my self-esteem reached about 2!

When I stay true to the reasons I blog, I am happiest and then things really do fall into place.  Making friends like Clare = result! 11,000 page views in a day on my blog as I was helping @ChristineMosler and Save the Children with their #healthworkers campaign = phenomenal and passing on the blog love in New Bloggers Fortnight - yep that rocks!

Thanks for reading, stay true to yourself and let yourself shine.  We can not all be the best read blog out there but we can all be happy and enjoy what we have instead of hankering after more and more, which I promise you might not be that satisfying at all when you get it....  You know what they say, be careful what you wish for!

Late tomorrow on New Bloggers Fortnight I welcome the superb Ruth from Geek Mummy, I put some questions to her that new bloggers had asked me and she comes up tops with the answers.  Check back to find out about SEO, no-follow links and ranking metrics.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Things I wish I had known at the Beginning by Multiple Mummy (New Bloggers Fortnight)

If you are here looking for Reasons to be Cheerful, then head over to Seasider in the City and link up there, for this week the lovely Clare is the host.  Cheers Mich x
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We have a fellow twin mummy on the blog today. Kerry from Multiple Mummy has just had her first bloggerversary and has really established a lovely blog full of family fun and honest tales of being a stay at home mum. Make sure you stop by and visit her if she is a new blogger to you. Here is what she says about herself -

A family obsessed lady who turns the big 30 in April. Mummy to a three year old boy Noah and two year old twins Little Madam and Chilled Out Boy and I blog at Multiple Mummy which has just celebrated it's 1st birthday. I am currently a stay at home due to childcare costs (please don't get me on my soap box) and am a Science Teacher by Trade (I also co-write Science Sparks) a job I love with a passion and hope to return to one day. Blogging has become my new addiction, and has kept my sanity. I am a chocoholic, a twitteroholic and a babyoholic and hope to have more! I am also a total geek! I used to be geek chic, but the chic bit has fallen off since having children! I'm a real people person and love a chat so please come and say hello.
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We all start blogging for different reasons. For me, I stumbled into it, and then found it to be my release from the carnage that can be two-year-old twins and a three-year-old little boy. I never comprehended how much I would learn and how addictive it would become. I never began to imagine the passion that would grow and the love I would have for it.

I have been blogging now for 1 year (my blogaversary was the 31st January) and I have come to understand a lot of things over that year, including the so called blogging rules which I think Dorky Mum sums up perfectly, but there are some practical things that I really wish I had known in the beginning that would have helped and my blog kick off to a flying start:

Join things and take Part

There are a lot of places to sign up to, that will give you more information, hints and tips for blogging, but will additional help enhance your network of ‘friends’ and I promise you this, as strange as it seems, some people will become true friends and you will get opportunity to meet them.

Things to join or know about are BritMums, Tots100, Netmums parent blogger network, parent blogger network group on facebook and Love all blogs. It has taken me all year to find and join them, and I am constantly stumbling upon things on other blogs that I don’t have, or have not seen, so really take a look around of other blogs.

Link ups are a great way to read new blogs and also to help give you inspiration for those moments of writers block. Some popular ones are The Gallery; Saturday is Caption day and Reasons to be Cheerful. Plus I have just started one called Family Frolics (thought I would sneak that in) and they are all worth a look at. Again I did not start doing this until nearly two months in, and it is all helpful in the beginning to get yourself known a bit. Don’t feel you have to do them all, and they should never be a chore, but if you like that week’s theme and it fits in with your blog, then link up!

As a new blogger, you are lucky as you are so looked after and well supported nowadays. There is the Love All Blogs site which showcases posts every week and BritMums has created a feature for new blogs so getting yourself seen is much easier. Do take advantage of this.

Facebook page

I waited ages (well 10 months in fact) until I finally made a Facebook page and wish I had done this sooner. In some ways I can get more conversation flowing on there than on twitter and you can get a lot of traffic via Facebook.

It is funny because Mich from Mummy from the Heart said I had a successful Facebook page and she asked me what I did to make that happen. I am not really sure. I think I treat it like my personal page and add bits to my wall about my day, share photo’s and link my Instagram to it sometimes, and if I start to write a tweet that might generate discussion, I transfer it to Facebook first as that links to twitter anyway, and so I get chatter from both aspect.

I make the effort to reply on Facebook to those who commented on my posts and definitely some of my readers are greater Facebook users than Twitter.

I created a welcome page on my Facebook, which I think helped and if you look at the page you can make one for free to by clicking the link at the bottom.

When I went to Cybermummy last year one of the sessions made out that your page should be like a business and you should only post on there a maximum of three times a week. I have not found this to be the case. Readers (who are normal people) read us because they can relate to us, and so want that connection. We are not trying to sell them anything; we are just sharing our thoughts. I think Facebook and twitter make us real.

So for example last week when I just commented I was excited that ‘Call the midwife’ was on, I got lots of responses from people who were watching it to!

My view is…chat.

Share the love

Ensure you have share buttons on your blog as a widget so that people can tweet or stumble or G+ your blog and get in the habit of doing this to other people’s blog posts you enjoy! Additionally ensure you have a ‘subscribe by email’ widget is my other tip especially as GFC is being phased out.

Also if you really enjoyed someone’s post share it on your social network sites. They then may return the favour later on. Having a blog roll or blog love page is also a great way to share who you are reading.

If you want comments (which we all love if we are truly honest) then you need to comment as well! Bloggers tend to be very loyal and if they notice someone is commenting regularly they will head over to that blog and return the favour and you may find you end up with a new follower.

Time and schedule

Remember you do your blog for fun so try not to let it take over you life (this is easier said than done with the addiction part of it) but do try to find some sort of balance, or at least after six months work out what you want from it and where you want it to go. That way you know what is a realistic amount of time to spend. One thing that took me ages to realise was that I could schedule my posts and so before this I was staying up late or getting up early to publish when actually there is a function that does it for you. Great if you know you are going away and want to prepare something in advance.
So there we have it, my list of things to make blogging life easier! However linking back to Dorky Mum’s first post, these are only suggestions and guidelines as to what I have personally found useful and are by no means a set of rules. I hope you find them useful too. Please to take a moment to stop by and take a peak at my blog. I love getting to know new people and I am friendly soul so please can and chat to me!

MM  x

Many thanks Kerry, since I have renewed my interest in Facebook in the last 4 days and taken on board your tip to use it as I would my own page the people chatting about my blog page has risen by about 700%! I call that a result.

I have a lovely post for you tomorrow, one I can really relate to.  It is written by Clare from Seasider in the City and she shares why you can be a success at blogging but not be everyone's best friend.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Year of Valentines

If it is now Thursday and you are here looking for Reasons to be Cheerful, then head over to Seasider in the City and link up there, for this week the lovely Clare is the host.  Cheers Mich x
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This year has probably been one of my most favourite Valentines ever and that is quite something coming from me, as it is not a day I have really celebrated or put much emphasis on for a few years now.

I've mentioned before that dh and I will have been together for 18 years this year and I do believe that as time passes and children come along, a little bit of the romance slips away.  Well to be honest with us, it has been a fair amount of the romance.  It does not seem to come naturally to either of us anymore to do all those little things that take a lot of thought and not a lot of money that you do so freely in the early days.

However, I think the beauty of our relationship is that we have not given up, whilst it is not second nature for us to just do impromptu, loving stuff we do both love each other deeply and want to make the other one happy. So every six months or so one or the other of us will do something to initiate a little more romance and emphasis on us.  We might reinstate date nights, book time out together, do some extra little jobs the other might nprmally do or something similar. In 2010 we even did a marriage course together and that was an experience I would definately recommend to anyone.  Our marriage was not in trouble, we just took the time to build on it.

So what made this year's valentine so good? Well, Mum is up so we had an instant babysiter and as I was supposed to be going out to my regular bible study group on Tuesday we had our valentines a day early and went out for a meal and then onto the cinema on Monday.  Perhaps not the most magnificent or imaginative of nights out but we enjoy it and that is what counts. The meal was hilarious as everything that could go wrong did, but did it spoil it for us?  No, on the contrary it made our evening fun and we had a great chat.

The film we went to see was 'The Vow' and wow, I loved this movie.  It had me laughing, smiling and even having a little cry.  I walked out with all my nails bitten off as I was so anxious, willing the stars of the movie to get it back together. It was an awesome film and one I will be buying and boy it must have had a good effect on dh.  All I said afterwards was how much the guy obviously loved his wife and that it made me want a guy who could show his love like that.

I won't tell you the ins and outs of my valentines present but suffice to say it did not cost the world but it was perfect.  There was so much thought in it and it was personal to us and also dh had based each of my small presents of a piece of bible scripture.  Something I am sure many people would not be interested in but as an active Christian it worked.  The boy did good!

As well as dh doing good I had a couple of lovely surprises Valentines morning. I was catching up with a few jobs and the doorbell went and there stood a Royal Mail delivery man with a super big parcel from Warner Bros. containing some great new DVD's for the kids to entertain themselves with this half term.

A bumper selection from Warner Bros.

All the kids (and the dog too) were engrossed in the Looney Tunes DVD's
Then not 10 minutes later the door went again and yet another Royal Mail man stood there and handed me a box from Warner Bros.  For a quick second I wondered if groundhog day had arrived but no, this box was for me, all me! and what a treat it was....  take a peek.


I have to say a big thank you to Warner Bros. as they have just sorted out my date nights for quite a while to come. Not sure how dh will feel when I submit him to The bodyguard, Valentines Day and Midnight in Paris but it is all in the name of romance and keeping our love on fire so that's a good thing! As I read one of my daily devotional emails today about how valentines should be every time we make an effort to be romantic and not just once a year I knew this was right and I booked in our next date night for Friday - 2 in one week.  Go Mich!

Here is to a year of Valentines, fancy joining me?  Well, you know what I mean, not literally me.  That is just for dh and I.

Mummy, Mummy Mum on using Social Media (New Bloggers Fortnight)

Today's guest writer is a lovely woman that I have met a couple of times. I recall first meeting her last May at blog camp and I was in awe that such a new blogger had the guts to come along to a blogging event so soon in their journey.

Hello, I'm Emma and I blog at Mummy..Mummy..MUM!! I have 3 small children and love to write, chat and make things mostly while drinking coffee and eating cake.

I started my blog about 10 months ago and have had such a great year because of it. I've been given the opportunity to do some amazing things and met even more amazing people. I have absolutely loved my blogging journey so far.


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I am by no means a social media expert, but am a bit of an addict, so here is my rough guide to social media.

If I’m honest I started my blog because I thought I could make some money from advertising. I wrote some posts, sat back and waited, nothing happened.
It was only then that I googled ’mummy blogs’ and found ‘Sticky Fingers’ and ‘The Gallery’ prompt. Thanks to ‘The Gallery’ my blog had its first visitors. I can still remember getting that first e-mail to say someone had commented on my blog and how exciting it was. From that point I didn’t look back. I became a regular contributor to The Gallery and Silent Sunday. Through these I found many wonderful blogs and soon had regular visitors to mine.

Eventually I cottoned on to the fact that joining Twitter would be a good thing, and was soon spending most evenings engaged in twitter chats. Through twitter I have made many friends, some of whom I have met in real life. All have been amazingly supportive. Twitter can be a great place to just hang out. Like anything you have to put time in to get something out of it. It takes time to build relationships with people and build a following, but is absolutely worth it.

From a blog point of view Twitter is an invaluable tool for marketing your blog. It is such an easy platform to get your latest post out to potentially thousands of people, with little effort.
To find people to follow, I would pick a blogger you like and follow the people they follow to start with. After a while your audience just grows by itself.

Twitter can be a little overwhelming at first, but you just need to dive in and start chatting.

Top Twitter Tips
  • Find like-minded people to follow.
  • Use tweekdeck or hootsuite to manage lists or more than one twitter account.
  • Be thick skinned – don’t worry if people don’t follow you back immediately, as long as you interact with people your followers will grow.
  • Consider your twitter name, most people have a name linked to their blog, but that’s not always best especially when there are a lot of similar blog names around.
  • If you read something you like, retweet it. Everyone likes to be be retweeted.
  • Use Follow Friday, where people recommend people for others to follow using the #FF hashtag
  • Put some time into it, like relationships in the real world, twitter relationships take time to grow. 
Pinterest

Pinterest is quite new to me, but I LOVE it. It’s basically a visual bookmarking tool. You have boards for different areas of interest and then you can ‘pin’ posts to the boards using an image from the post. Pinterest is a great way to not only keep track of posts you love, but to get your own posts out there for others to find and hopefully re-pin for you.

Again you just have to dive in there, add some boards and start pinning and following. Don't forget to add the 'pin it' button to your blog then people can easy pin your posts.

Facebook

Most people have a separate Facebook page for their blog. I found it quite hard to build up a following on facebook, but again it’s worth persevering with as its another great way to interact with followers.

The best thing to do is follow blogs and brands you like and interact with them, whilst ensuring your own posts and status’s are interesting and engaging.

Basically you only get out of social media networks what you put into them, the more you interact and share other's posts, the more your own will be shared. It is hugely time consuming, especially these days when there are so many different networks. I have only briefly touched on the main ones I use. Don't forget there is also Stumble Upon and Google Plus which seem to be growing in popularity.

I never did manage to monetize my blog very well, but the experiences and friends I have made along the way have most definitely made the journey worthwhile.


Many thanks Emma, one of these days I will get my bum in gear and head over for a look at Pinterest, I see so many people talking about it but for now I do not have the mental capacity to deal with anything else so Twitter and a renewed interest in Facebook will have to do for meNext up on new bloggers fortnight will be Kerry from Multiple Mummy and she will be sharing with you the things she wished she had known about at the start of her blogging journey.

Thanks for reading, catch you soon. Mich x

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Reviewing with Integrity from Wendy (New Bloggers Fortnight)

Today's guest writer is Wendy, she is someone I met quite early in her blogging journey and one of the people who joined in with the original new bloggers fortnight last year.  At that point Wendy had been blogging for just about 4 months, now it is more like 16 months but I have to say that I think her her as one of the old hands.  She is a super nice lady who blogs honestly and extremely regularly, I have no idea where she gets the time. But as I value her input I cheekily asked her to squeeze in this guets post for me.

I'm Wendy from Inside the Wendy House, forty something mum of five amazing children aged between 2 and 24.  I've been there and done that through every stage of parenting and I've lived to tell the tale with a smile on my face. I've been blogging since October 2010 and have loved every minute of the adventure. I enjoy reviewing products with my team of Tiny Testers, and writing about my thoughts and feelings on life Inside the Wendy House!
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When I first began my blog back in October 2010, I had no expectations of what being a blogger would bring. I was aware of other bloggers out there who did a lot of reviewing, but I had no idea how they got involved in it, and never assumed it would be something that I would be a part of. However, very quickly I saw an opportunity to apply to become an ambassador for Graco. I thought I'd give it a go, so filled out my application form and was very excited to be picked as one of the lucky five people who would be given a Graco Symbio pushchair to try out. We had to promote the pushchair using social media and as someone who also enjoys entering creative competitions, I used those skills and enjoyed making fun videos, writing songs and poems and taking photos of the Symbio. I was chosen as the winner, and with the title of Graco Ambassador under my belt began my journey into reviewing. Since then I have become a John Crane Craniac, a Toys R Us Toyologist and a Quinny Caster through similar routes. As a stay at home mum, my blog helped me retain a sense of identity and working with brands gave me a sense of credibility and improved my self-confidence no end.

As my blog developed and my internet presence grew, I began to get approaches by PR companies and brands asking me if I would like to review products or services for them. I also saw companies asking for reviewers to contact them via Twitter or Facebook and contacted them directly. I was actually stunned by the way it all snowballed. With every review, I made sure I researched the product and company, wrote original copy and included photographs of the product in use and often included a video. It was time consuming, but I really enjoyed involving my children. I have hundreds of videos and photos of my 'Tiny Testers' playing with toys, helping me in the kitchen or enjoying a day out, thanks to reviewing. These are priceless mementos that have documented our life, and are a real bonus!

It was a real thrill receiving things through the post everyday. At first it was very difficult to say no to anything...it seemed rude not to accept an offer of a product! Consequently at times I was inundated with things and felt very bogged down. I always try to post a review within 2 weeks of receiving a product, so I put myself under a lot of pressure. Thankfully though, I learned to say no and realised that I was offering a valuable service to PR companies and could be choosier regarding who I worked with. I also realised that I didn't need to make a video for every single product I reviewed and consequently took some of the pressure off myself. However I still make sure that I write my own copy and include photos, after all, these reviews are going on my blog. I don't want it to be inundated with regurgitated press releases. I also try to keep a balance of review posts and personal posts.
I am very proud of the work that I have done. I love receiving positive feedback from brands regarding my reviews. I also think that blog reviews are a valuable resource for people Googling products before they make purchases, especially with expensive products such as nursery equipment. A real parent's honest opinion can be very influential!

Personally, I don't tend to make cold-call style approaches to companies myself (I'm a bit shy for that and am not good at being pushy!). I wait for opportunities to come to me. I have been incredibly lucky and have received loads of products including toys, pushchairs, clothing, food, kitchen equipment, cosmetics, toiletries, electrical goods and even a sofa! I've had lots of great family days out to zoos, theme parks and museums. I've enjoyed hotel stays, cookery courses and exhibitions. It is a real honour to be involved, but I do work very hard to ensure that I do a good job. Whether I'm reviewing a £600 pushchair or a £2.99 Valentine's Day card, I put in a lot of effort and make sure I 'do it with integrity'!

Thank you Wendy, I have every respect for you as a reviewer. You really do appear to do it with love and interest in each and every product and that was why I recommended you in my first BritMums roundup earlier this month.

So what do you think new bloggers - are you interested in reviewing products, hosting competitions and writing sponsored posts?  Yes, then do remember like Wendy says that it is hard work, an average review takes me anywhere between 45 minutes and 3 hours depending on the product and whether I am making a video or such.  Reviewing is not an easy way to get free goodies!

If you think it is for you then let me point you in the direction of some great resources -

BritMums roundup of all their recent posts about how to improve your blog.  This contains links to posts about how to write a review, creating a media kit, advice about working with brands and loads more.
The Tots100 blog is also a fabulous resource and recently they have had a series on blogging basics.
Then lastly you can check out the NetMums blog and their start a blog series.

Tomorrow, here on New Bloggers Fortnight, what have I got for you?  Well we have Emma from Mummy, Mummy, Mum (Isn't that an appropriate blog name?) talking about social media and how she uses it as part of her blogging journey.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Are you scared to share? Don't be, the shame can be crippling...


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At least a couple of times on this blog I have published a blog post titled 'I'm not just fat, I have a problem', this was one of my favourite posts to write, as I felt like I was breaking down some sort of wall that had been built around eating disorders.  I am really encouraged to see how much people are talking about PND and depression in general nowadays and I pray that one day people will break the silence and speak about their issues with food/ eating disorder/ food addiction - call it what you will.

So if I say eating disorder to you, what do you think?  What are the first things that come to mind?  Is it incredibly skinny young girls with their bones sticking out? Anorexia? Or perhaps it is Bulimia and the thought of people making themselves sick?  Yes those seem to be the instant thoughts that the words eating disorder conjure up.

However, Anorexia and bulimia are not the only eating disorders.  There is another which is just as serious but in a different way and that is the eating disorder I suffer from, the one of compulsive overeating. Some people fail to recognise that as a problem, some people would just say I am fat, lazy, greedy or even dumb. However if you change the words to disordered eating I think then pretty much everyone would agree that both binge eating or picking the whole day long are not what our bodies were designed to do.  That kind of eating is against the natural order of things and that is why some of us get very fat and unhappy to boot!

So why do those of us who have an eating disorder do what we do? There is no easy answer to this, if there was we would all get help and be cured.  Nothing quite so simple available sadly.  It seems to be generally agreed that those with an eating disorder seek to control through their food.  This could be because we feel out of control in other areas of our lives. Where the anorexic will go without food from their body, or just eat small portions in a certain order, the bulimic will stuff their face and then perhaps make themselves sick, use laxatives or excessively exercise to control their body from gaining weight. Whereas the compulsive overeater or binge eater will stuff their face.  Literally stuff their face, it is not a nice thing. 

Please do not ever think that those of us who eat too much really enjoy it.  Those flippant comments from healthy friends 'ohh I wish I could eat like you do'.  Really?  I seriously doubt it. For fleeting moments we may get a buzz or high as we look at the food, plan what we will do and start to eat.  But do we taste and savour it?  Probably not in the main, we are too focused on whatever it is that is driving us to eat. That could be feeling angry, unhappy, out of control, anxious, depressed or on the flip side even elated and excited.  Any emotion away from the norm can drive a person with an eating disorder to act-out. Believe me it does not take much with my warped mind.  I have a headache, know my instant answer?  Eat chocolate, totally illogical isn't it?

The week commencing 20th February is UK Eating Disorders Awareness Week and I would love to see some people speak out and break the silence. The amount of emails and DM's I have had in reponse to being open about my eating disorder is fabulous, but imagine the collective voice we have if we speak out.

We do not have to be ashamed that we have or had an eating disorder. Statistics show that about 1.6 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder.  See, you are not alone, there are lots of us and at all different levels of our addiction. But please know that you can gain so much by being honest with yourself and exploring this more. Go to Beating Eating Disorders  and take a look around, see if anything resonates with you.

There is some superb help out there and you do not have to start at your local doctors if you really do not want to.  You can refer yourself to many addiction or eating disorders clinics, google your local area and make that phone call.  Or what about Overeaters Anonymous?  Have you heard of them? They are amazing and you don't even have to have 1p to be able to access the support and help that is available through them.

Just been tweeted a link from Emma's blog.  She has had the courage to speak up and has opened a linky for anyone else who is posting on this subject.  Take a look at LLM Calling.

I'll leave you with a few simple questions.  Go ahead and ask yourself them -
Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat?
Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?
Would you say that Food dominates your life?
Do you ever make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
Do you eat when you are not hungry?
Do you have feeling of guilt and remorse after overeating?
Do you eat to escape from worries or troubles?
Does your eating behaviour make you or others unhappy?

If you are nodding or recognising yourself in some of these questions then please do seek help.  Make a phonecall, speak to a friend or a doctor.  Just do something, please for you might just have a problem.

and if you read this and want to chat to me, then do get in touch (mummyfromtheheart@virginmedia.com or @MichelleTwinMum) and I'll happily chat. I'll never break your confidence you can be sure of that. 

God Bless, Mich x

#Mumentum gang, I hope you do not mind me linking this up.  I am not at all suggesting any of you have eating disorders.  I was wondering what I woud write about this week as I had not felt inspired about anything and then when another lovely blogger reminded me about eating disorder awareness week I knew this was what I needed to write.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I asked him to marry me with a sweetie!


I have been with my dh for a long time, we got together on 28th December 1994, he rescued me from a wet and windy pier and a horrid creepy guy.  He was my hero! OK scrub that, he still is my hero.

With Valentines day just a couple of days away I felt a bit nostalgic and was thinking back over our eventful relationship together. In 1999 dh asked me to marry him when we were on holiday in Tenerife, I said yes,  I had been waiting quiet a while for that proposal.  It was very romantic- late at night and we were sat at the waters edge looking at a beautiful sunset.  He asked me if I could see where the sea met the sky and replied no. He told me he loved me that much, further than we could ever see. It may sound corny to you but that was possibly one of the most lovely, unprompted things dh has ever said to me.  He is not much of a talker you see.

Like any relationship ours was not perfect and there was stuff we needed to work on and work through.  So our planned wedding for 2001 was called off in 2000 and we worked on our relationship and fell in love all over again. As our wedding and thus engagement had been called off dh told me that he had done his part and whenever I was ready to commit again and get married I would need to do the asking.  Ekk, I had never been one of those girls who wanted to do the proposing, but in September 2001 (when we should have been getting married) I did just that.

I thought long and hard about how I would propose to dh, how would I make my proposal different to his, without upstaging it but still making it very special? I thought at the time I had a very unique idea but I now know that lots of people do the same.

Image Credit

I recall talking the day off work without dh knowing and spending the whole day cleaning our flat and cooking a special dinner. I enjoyed primping and preening myself and getting ready with anticipation for my big night. I sent dh a text to let him know what time to come home and when he arrived at the front door of our flat he was greeted with a surprise envelope on the front door, containing a single love heart sweet, I cannot recall what the caption was, but something along the lines of Be Mine.  There was then two more doors that he had to pass through to get into our flat and you guessed it, they also had envelopes with a single sweet in too.

When he walked in the flat, there was I all ready and I handed him the last sweet, the one that said Marry Me.  Luckily he said yes and in July we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.


Are you thinking about popping the question?  I can certainly recommend using Love Heart sweets to do the job for you.  It is nice and quirky but if you are a bit more modern than me then you could think about using the new Love Hearts love messaging app on Facebook.

I received some love heart sweets to review and instead of eating them myself (which I could easily do, as I love them) I am giving the large I Love You tube to dh for Valentines Day in the hope that he thinks back to the early days and shows me how much he loves me.  Then the lovely vintage tin of mini sweets is being used next week for Church, it fits in well with a lesson about a Christian survival kit and how every person needs a reminder of God's unfailing love.

Disclaimer:  This is a review post

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Establishing Yourself in a Crowded Blogosphere: Mammasaurus

Hey all, we have a good one for you today.  It is Annie from Mammasaurus, the lady behind Love All Blogs.  Annie is a pretty new blogger herself but she has really established herself in a short time and I believe she blogs with a ferocity I have not seen in many bloggers.  I reckon she is a work hard, play hard kind of lady! Here is what she says -

RAWR I’m Mammasaurus, Evil Mastermind of Love Blogs MWHAHAHAAA! Actually I’m really Annie, mother of 8, wife of 1, lover of gin… I write stuff, I draw stuff. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s nonsense and on the odd occasion it’s sad and thought provoking – but if I had to sum it up in word that word would be ‘eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!’. Make of that what you will.

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Starting a blog is a bit of a learning curve, you spend the first few weeks trying to make it look lovely and learning all about posts and pages and learning the lingo (hands up who else sat and thought ‘what the dickens is a meme?’ ) ?!

It’ll soon become apparent that this new world of blogging that you have stumbled in to is big, really big, in fact forget big - it’s HUGE! You may start to feel a bit dejected when you work hard on your posts, writing stuff you feel proud of but feel like you aren’t getting noticed. So just how do you cement yourself in to Blogland? Here’s my advice…

Join in. Join networks and read other peoples blogs – this is the single most effective way to show people who you are. As a newer blogger you soon become aware of the ‘big names’ in Blogland, the established bloggers who it will seem that everyone knows. There are however thousands of bloggers and so it can feel a bit daunting when you first set out.

My advice is to find newer bloggers like yourself through networks or even just tweeting out ‘any other newer bloggers out there ?!’. Read these fellow newer bloggers blogs and comment if you can. People tend to visit a commenter's blog back to comment and over time you will find you have a handful of firm favourites. Keep up the commenting, chat on Twitter and you will soon start to form your own little ‘circle’ of friends. This is the first real step into feeling part of the blogging community.

Join in with memes, blog hops or anything that you can try and join in and link up to. Be sure to visit some of the other blogs who take part in these as you’ll be writing about similar things but there’s usually a big variety of interpretation amongst the posts which makes for great reading.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. If you have an idea for a meme, challenge or blog hop of your own, no matter how daft it seems, act on it! There are so many good ideas ‘out there’ that not every new idea will take off – but if you don’t try you won’t know! If you need advice or help with an idea you have don’t be afraid to ask some of the more established bloggers – they are usually flattered to be asked for help!

Create your own identity. No need to wear a Super-hero cloak or put your pants on your head, just discover who you are and what you love to write about and build on that. Some bloggers become known for being funny, writing reviews, promoting breastfeeding, taking amazing photographs, charity work and so on. Find what you enjoy blogging about and work from there.

Be nice. You’ll never agree with everyone on everything but it’s important to remember that people’s blogs are personal to them and there are emotions attached to them. If you read something that you strongly disagree with then by all means explain your point of view but do so in the nicest way possible as it’s easy to misunderstand comments sometimes and take offence.

Remember these things take time. No one comes in to blogging and is an overnight blogging mega-star! Becoming established takes time and can be jolly hard work. Over time the things your write about, how you participate and communicate with others and how you approach situations can gain you respect from other bloggers. The established most ‘well known’ names in blogging are where they are through a combination of talent, passion and sheer hard work.

Don’t give up! Sometimes you’ll find you go through a spell when it seems no one is visiting your blog and commenting and this is why it’s important to find something you love to write about because if you enjoy blogging it can carry you through any lulls – and we all have lulls.

And finally enjoy it!

Thank you Mammasaurus, I am sure so many people will be interested to read how you managed to take the parenting blogworld by storm in such a short amount of time. Before you go, I have just a few questions you could answer for us all.....  pretty please....

*  How did you find out about blogging and what made you start?
A friend of mine blogs for a large Mums Network over in Australia and it was reading her funny posts that encouraged me to get in to blogging and so one day, completely on a whim I set up a Wordpress blog - and the rest is history.

*  Did Mammsaurus start out how it is now, or has it changed over time?
When Mammasaurus started out it was very much focused on the funny things that my children did. Over the past few months it's morphed into a blog about...well...I don't know! And I think it's the not knowing what I am actually doing that makes me love it so much!

*  You mention about the big name bloggers, what strategy did you take with them? Did you actively engage with them or choose to focus on the newer bloggers like yourself?
Initially I was scared stiff to even try and engage with the big name bloggers! My biggest support in the first few months was from other newer bloggers. Back in the first couple of months I hosted a 'Look! A Book!' week to try to reach out to other bloggers - it was all newer bloggers who joined in. The first person to offer to join in was Actually Mummy who remains my closest blogging buddy to this day!

*  At a guess, how many blogs would you say you comment on each week? and how many of those are new blogs to you?
Cor blimey that's a question and a half ! Quite a lot, on an average week anywhere between 50 -150 blogs, with about 10 being 'new to me' blogs. I always used to be sure to read every blog entered in to Love New Blogs but with Love All Blogs having over 300 entries every week I am finding it hard to get round them all any more - but I do try!

I once told a close blogging buddy to try reading as many blogs as she could and comment if she found she was engaged - within 2 weeks she saw a dramatic rise in her own blog stats.

*  Did you have a plan in the beginning for the Love new blogs series, which of course developed into Love all Blogs?
There was no 'masterplan' and it's been a really organic process. A couple of weeks after Love New Blogs began I found that I was receiving a few emails each week asking if I had a similar site for non-parent bloggers (as Love New Blogs was aimed at newer parent bloggers). Then I met Diary of a Dad at BlogCamp and it became apparent that dads were being a bit under-represented as the main parent blogger networks do welcome dads but their Network names are very much 'Mum' orientated - Love Dad Blogs followed and then before long there was Love Craft, Love Cookery and Love Photo Blogs and eventually morphed into Love All Blogs.

*  What are your personal objectives for blogging in 2012?
I aim to keep blogging and focus on Love All Blogs as a priority in the short term until I have it running as smoothly as I can, I am working on some really rather nerdy things that will revolutionise the site at the moment which I find really exciting (yes I know - I am sad!)

I want to Support Black Dog Tribe more throughout the year ahead, mental health issues are personal to me and so we 'click' and I feel that I can really relate to what they hope to achieve. I've looked for a charity to support for the past few months and I wanted to find a Charity that isn't yet represented much within blogging circles. There are some wonderful Charities that are greatly supported by many bloggers - I'd personally like to see more smaller charities supported by different bloggers rather than dozens of bloggers supporting just one or two as I am now realising that the exposure can make such a big difference to them.

I'd love to speak at an event at some point. Any event, I'm not fussy though sadly I have no idea what about - I have no real 'experience' or 'skills' to share but I do think I could really inject some enthusiasm and motivation into anyone who blogs if I could sit them down for 15 minutes!

*  Do you check out your stats? and if yes, do you have an aspirational level that you would like to reach for page views/ uniques/ followers or whatever your favourite measure is?
Oh I used to check them - every day and it was a big deal for me! I know we all say 'it's not about the stats' but I think for many they do play a big part! These days I tend to check every other week and if I see I am about to reach a 'milestone' then I get excited - I reached 50,000 visits last week and I did celebrate with a G&T silently! I don't have an aspirational level that I'd like to get to though, I'm just going to keep on blogging and see what happens!

So, did you learn something new about the lady behind the RAWR?  I always find it so interesting to find out what makes other people tick.  Thanks Annie for a super insight. What have I got for you tomorrow I hear you cry?  Well New Bloggers Fortnight is on a one day holiday.  Tomorrow I have a couple of things I need to post up on the blog and then we will be back in the swing of things on Monday and I will be super pleased to welcome Wendy from Inside the Wendy House onto the blog. She will be talking about her success working with brands, reviewing, running giveaways and the like.
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