O Em Gee It’s My First Guest Feature

In Conversation With: The Hippy Christian Mum on Over Heaven’s Hill

How many children do you have?

I have two children and on the blog I’ve called them Beg and Beb. Beg is my brown-eyed-girl. She is 6yrs old. Beb is my blue-eyed-boy. He is 5 months old. It feels really weird whenever I type out their blog nicknames but I had seen other bloggers using pseudo-names for their children and I just thought it was a really nice idea as I am talking about them so publicly. It feels a bit close to the bone to use their real names even though I do post pics of them on Instagram too!

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Are you a Working Mum, Stay-at-Home Mum or Work-from-Home Mum?

I am a SAHM of 6 years. Before I gave up work to stay home, I worked part time as an admin assistant in a social work team. I really liked my job but after childcare costs I would have been adding only £100 to our household income. As it was I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her at 9 months (we didn’t have family who could have her) and so I took voluntary redundancy.

I find I do tend to face a lot of pre-judgement with the whole SAHM thing. People assume I am claiming top ups or that I have a secret mill stashed in an offshore account. I stopped fighting people’s opinions about it a few years ago and now I let them think what they like without correction. I think if people really want to get to know me they will ask of their own volition. My friends know us and the rest can talk!

I have friends who work full time, part time and some don’t work, some are on maternity leave, single parenting, adoptive, foster, all kinds of amazing wonderful mums. We can still moan to each other if we’ve had a hard week without judging the other’s life circumstances.

What is the best part about being a Mum?

It has to be the pure joie de vivre that only children have. The laughter. No matter what is going on in life hearing your children laugh just sets something alight within your soul. I like the silly too. I do silly voices for the bedtime stories. My husband does silly voices and games. We say stupid stuff all the time and Beg thinks it is all great fun and it makes me laugh too. I also love watching Beg and Beb’s relationship unfolding in front of me. I can’t believe we almost never had another, she loves her brother so much. It’s truly a beautiful thing to be witness to.

What is your biggest fear as a Mum?

I recently had to face some big mum fears when Beb was born. He had to spend the first couple of weeks in neonatal intensive care which was a really hard time for us as a family. When he was born he was breech and it hadn’t been picked up. He was born not breathing so instead of laying him on me the midwife had to perform CPR immediately. I didn’t actually get to hold him until he was 8 days old.

He had cooling therapy and then had seizures when they brought him back up to temp. He had a chest drain, infection, morphine, anti-seizure medication. It was a scary time. I just prayed and prayed over him. I would go into the NICU and reach into his incubator and he was freezing cold. He was there in his nappy, wires everywhere, shivering, and all I could do was touch his hand and talk. So, that is what I did. He gripped my finger and I told him about his big sister and sang him made up songs.

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My church prayed for us too and my Pastor asked everyone he knew to pray for us. There were whole churches all over the world praying for him, as far as New Zealand. At first I didn’t know if we would ever bring him home. My husband said he knew we would. They told us there would be effects from the lack of oxygen at birth but they had no idea to what extent it would be. But I’m absolutely joyous to say his MRI scan was completely clear. He is a little miracle, and he is absolutely thriving. He is a wonderful bubbly 5 month old and I praise God for him everyday.

If you could share one piece of advice to other soon-to-be Mums, what would it be?

Well, if something doesn’t feel right in your pregnancy do bring it up no matter how silly you think it is. I kept saying to my midwives, what is this big hard lump at the top of my bump and they passed me off. Turns out it was my baby’s head. And definitely breastfeed. It gets easier as you go along and once it does it’s an absolute breeze and so great for bonding as baby gets older. Oh and have a Blessingway. Best thing I did when I was pregnant. I did a post on mine which you can read here.


Thanks for having me on your conversation series at Over Heaven’s Hill. I’m truly honoured as I am a newbie blogger. My blog is only 4 months old. You can read more about my birth story here.

And thank you Kate for joining us on In Conversation With. It was a pleasure and after reading your interview, I went straight to your blog to read more about your birth story. I had also have never heard of a Blessingway before. It is such a beautiful idea empowering the mother through the strength of sisterhood.

You can find Kate at her blog The Hippy Christian Mum, on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

You can find Geraldine from Over Heaven’s Hill on Facebook and Twitter

 

A Mum Track Mind

 

Bloggers Meet for Macmillan

Off the back of the Smiggle event I went to I joined a lovely group called South Wales parent bloggers and saw an invite to attend a Macmillan Coffee Morning. It was in Parc Play Cardiff so I thought I’d go along and introduce myself.Parc Play

You’ve probably already heard of or been to a Macmillan coffee morning event. It’s really easy to set up and you can sign up on their website to receive a free hosting pack to do your own. It’s a really nice event to do because people are so willing to get together to support it and donate to the charity and eat lots of cake together.  There’s lots of ideas and downloads on their website to help you host your own too.parcplay

Last year Macmillan raised £25 million through their national coffee morning. I was really interested to read all the things Macmillan actually do with that money. They can provide a specialist cancer nurse to someone dealing with a diagnosis, they can provide grants that can help to pay for things like a blender for people on a special liquidised diet as a result of their cancer treatment or hire a room for a support group to meet. It is obvious that Macmillan are there ‘on the ground’ helping people in very practical ways. Often as friends and family we don’t know what we can do to help and I think that’s why so many people and families are so grateful to Macmillan for their knowledge and support. So needless to say I was made up to be invited along to join in and promote the event this year.

I had been to a Macmillan coffee morning a few years ago organised by my friend Rachel as she was going through her cancer treatment. I fondly remember it because it kind of gave a positive spin on a terrible circumstance as I felt I was doing something active to help in some tiny small way. I got to catch up with some old workmates and we played games and nattered which made for a lovely fun atmosphere. Parc Play was one of the places we visited with the kids while Rach was going through her treatment too so it was nice to return again to support Macmillan.

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Rach, me & Laura

This year’s coffee morning is being supported by Marks and Spencer and they have a range of lush cakes that you can buy and 10% of the sales of them will go to Macmillan. ms-cakes

Overall it was a lovely afternoon and I really enjoyed getting to meet  some other local mummy (& granny) bloggers. A special thanks to Cathryn of Cardiff Mummy Says for organising the event and being so welcoming to me as a newbie blogger. Thanks so much. Here we are left to right- me, Cathryn Cardiff Mummy Says , Sally Teddy Bears and Cardigans , Alina We Made This Life , Kerry All About A Mini Norris and Leanne A Slice of My Life Walesmummy bloggers

Right, I’m off to see about signing up to host one at my church. 🙂

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

 

Ann Summers Party

Hello my name is Kate, and I attended an Ann Summers party.

We’ve just moved house this summer to a new build estate. Because literally everyone  is new, there is a real sense of camaraderie and a building sense of community. We came to an afternoon street party the week before we moved in and the community facebook page is very active with everyone happy to help people moving into the estate. In general nearly everyone is very keen to make the effort to make friends. So when I was invited in passing by a woman who lives on the estate to her Ann Summers party I thought nothing of it. I’ve been to a couple before and honestly completely forgot about the invite altogether until my husband came back from Beg’s play date at our neighbour’s house and said “You off out tonight are you?”  My automatic response was I can’t really be arsed but I’d had a funny day where for various and sundry reasons I was feeling like I didn’t really fit in anywhere and ultimately I decided it might be a good excuse to get to know the neighbours a bit better. A lot better it turned out but then I guess an Ann Summers party is quite far removed from tea and scones with the vicar.

I made it an excuse to put some make up on and wash my hair. Husband is always very accomodating on these occasions (probably happens twice annually) and takes over ‘entertaining the baby’ without asking where anything is for half an hour. Beg gets very excited being the very girly type of little girl that she is and always has been -the mere mention of lip gloss gets her attention- so Rich will distract her for as long as possible but then she will make her way upstairs for a good nosy at what I’m wearing. Asking me hugely philosophical questions that she doesn’t even realise the weight of like “but why do you wear eyeliner mummy?” which makes me want to scrub my face, stop shaving my legs and live in a hessian sack.

Anyway, all going well so far then suddenly a strange and faraway thought began to form in my mind…’*Should* I even be going to an Ann Summers party now that I’m a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N?’ Dun dun duhhhh! First of all I knew this was a stupid question because 1. Should I be anything-anything now I’m a Christian is just a really religious and oppressive way to conduct myself that I don’t wholly agree with; change should come on a fundamental level for good reason not superficially because I feel I need to live up to a set of religious standards. 2. Ask me should I do anything and just know I am certainly going to do it. Especially if there is an insinuation that I shouldn’t.  It’s just the way I’m wired. My best friend could tell you about the time she watched me scale a bridge on the outside ledge aged 10, over a road because someone said I shouldn’t. Not big or clever but did she know I was gonna do it? Yeah she did.

So armed with my bottle of prosecco I went and called for my neighbour and another neighbour came and called for her straight after and we three merrily set off through the estate each carrying our bottle of plonk. The party was well underway when we got there and as is always the case with these things, the atmosphere got more and more relaxed as time went on. I really belly laughed a lot at some of the things that were said (what happens at an Ann Summers party stays at an Ann Summers party I’m afraid) and had a really nice time. It was a bunch of women letting loose at the end of the week, having a giggle, sharing snippets of our lives, and enjoying it. Also we all only bought nice underwear. Honest. 😉

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Blogger Event 101 – What to Expect.

You’ve got your first PR invite, all looks legit, what happens next?

I was positively ecstatic to receive an invite to a blogger event from a bona fide PR company.  Having only been blogging for four months it really was a great surprise. You may have seen posts from bloggers about events they have attended and products they have been sent to review and it all looks very exciting. They have worked hard on their blogs and worked up a big following but how does it all come about? And what actually happens at a blogging PR event?

If you’re a newbie blogger like me, here is the lowdown (you know, from my extensive experience).

 

What is a Blogging Event?

It will differ wildly depending on the product and the brand. For example this Tefal event – A Moment With Franca was in a house in North London as it was for cookwear. If it was a film pre-screening it may be at a cinema. The one I was invited to was for Smiggle which is a kid’s stationery brand so it was at their Cardiff store. It was in the morning 8.45am-10am and the store was closed to the public. There would be competitions and free goodie bags and the invite extended to my family too; so the kids could try the products.

 

How do you get invited to a Blogging Event?

I registered with Tots 100 which is a blogging community website which links with PR companies. I registered, messed it up, emailed someone and then forgot about it. That is where the PR company who organised the event (Beattie Communications) got the details of my blog along with my contact email. To register just outline your blog in one paragraph, add your social media links, and tick the box that says you’re happy to be contacted. At the event I met some other mummy bloggers, one of whom Heledd from Yummy Blogger invited me to join a facebook group for parent bloggers local to my area. Event opportunities are often shared on that page too which is really handy.

What happens at a Blogging Event?

It was all very exciting and felt very exclusive. Thankfully I wasn’t the only blogger there who hadn’t been to anything like this before Madeline from This Glorious Life was a newbie event blogger person too which I was glad of.

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Me, Madeline & Heledd.

 

I went with my family; hubby & 2 kids. We got there early to find the store roped off with a chalkboard sign at the front saying ‘Welcome bloggers!’chalkboard sign

There were a few other people nervously loitering so we said a quick hello to one another. The rep from Beattie Communications said hi, ticked my name off the list and let us in. There were free coffees and breakfast baps on offer which was a nice touch. I couldn’t eat/drink them as I am currently dairy free for babba so hubby had 2 instead. The cheek of it! While he was eating me and Beg got down to business perusing the goods. I took a load of pics while Beg sniffed everything as she had discovered some things were scented. The Manager (who had an Australian accent – Smiggle is an Australian company) gave us a quick talk to give some background information about the company. She highlighted one or two things they were keen to promote; mainly their back to school range. This was when we found out there was a £200 gift card up for grabs and one of our names would be pulled out of a hat to win it later. Oooh. Then we looked round a bit more while a staff member demonstrated a toy for the kids and helped them with their entries to the design a backpack competition.

Then the big moment for the gift card raffle. The name was drawn and it was me! I couldn’t believe it. So while everyone else made their purchases and left, Beg went on a trolley dash (basket dash) and shopped, shopped, shopped. Everyone had a goody bag at the end and just like at a kid’s party we knew we could then politely exit. Then we went round the corner by the loos and did some silly posed pictures with our haul but you don’t have to do this bit yourself if you don’t want to.   

What happens after?

I emailed the PR company to say thanks for inviting me and used the event hashtag #backtosmiggle on my social media. Then a few days later I wrote up the review and published it and also emailed the PR company to let them know it was live.back to school

The Best Bits.

The obvious highlight of the day was winning the gift card. Seeing Beg so excited because of something I had done and feeling a great ownership of my blog was good. Also I was thrilled to meet other local mummy bloggers that I had previously only met online.

Hopefully this post gives a little insight into what these type of events can entail. I hope there will be more in the future to write about but until then here’s a video of me ‘unboxing’ the free goodie bag.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Back to School with Smiggle

If you’re a bit of a stationery fiend like me who can spend happy hours online poring over pretty flamingo print notebooks and such like then you probably enjoy the stationery part of back to school shopping too.

Needless to say I was very excited to be invited to Smiggle (where a smile meets a giggle) to try their products and see their back to school range for 2016 called ‘sidekicks’.  I’m happy to report that school stationery has moved on from maths ruler sets and mustard coloured rule lined books. 20160825_083700

Filled with bright neon colour, the store is instantly recognisable. The shelves are filled with loads of  fun things that kids will love like lunch packs and fold-down drinks bottles, key rings, glitter pens, lip balm, and fluffy pencil cases and backpacks. Scented pencils and rubbers add to the cool factor with scents like candy floss. Cola was my personal favourite.

At the back of the shop there is a trying station set up where you can try out some of the pens and pencils to see which ones you like (perfect for finding that perfect ‘write’ of a pen) and the staff demonstrated one of the creepy crawly starfish toys that ‘climbed’ down the wall and lit up too. I felt welcome to pick up all the stuff and didn’t feel like I had to keep telling Beg not to touch everything because the store is set up for kids to be able to have a good look.  At the front of the shop there is a post box to post your entry into the design your own backpack competition. If your entry is chosen as the winner Smiggle will make your back pack for you-how exciting is that?

I really loved all the products, everything had a good quality feel to it and there were lots of things within pocket money budget (lots under £3).

I had an exclusive preview of the Spikeys 2 range. These are collectable ‘Smiggurines’ there are 12 to collect. They are £7. each and all come in the same packaging so you don’t know which one you are getting. I love that element of excitement and I think kids will too. If you ever have doubles you can take your Spikey to any Smiggle shop and trade with any of the 3 on the trade table. There is also a mega mystery one even the staff don’t know what character it is. So lucky you if you find that one! I had a goodie bag given to me with freebies in and I had the ‘Kong’ Spikey.

Smiggle do a different back to school range each year, and you just know it’ll be the one all the kids will be talking about. For 2016 it’s the ‘sidekicks’ range. Five cute characters -a penguin, puppy, cat, dog and dinosaur, and each has lunch packs, drinks bottles, pencil cases and more.

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I was fortunate enough to win a £200. gift card.20160825_100107 I was so excited and me and Beg had a massive shopping spree which was so, so fun. I’ve never done anything like that before so I was really made up. So we got a fair few bits and pieces (there is some left on the gift card honestly!) and since getting them all home I’m really impressed with the quality of them.

 

My favourite thing we got was this trolley case. The hot air balloon design is so pretty and it will fit all Beg’s things in for future holidays. It can be worn as a back pack-which is great for getting around airports- but also has an extendable handle and wheels that light up when they move. It’s so cool! It’s priced at £42.

Beg’s favourite thing was the spy pen (£4.00). Normal biro one end, but the other end is a white marker that doesn’t show up until you shine the UV light onto the page. She has been writing secret messages all weekend!

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Smiggle has really impressed me and it’s really geared up to what kids will love. Loads of products to choose from and really funky and bright designs.

 

Check out my first you tube video of me ‘unboxing’ the freebie goodie bag here.

*Disclaimer: I received free products for this review, though all views are honest, and my own. *

Check out Smiggle for yourself!

 

 

Validation.

Finding validation as a stay at home parent.

My husband said something really interesting to me the other day. It wasn’t so much what he said so much as the way he said it that struck me.

He told me that he thinks that what I do being a stay-at-home-mum is much harder than what he does going to work. Ahh how lovely, right? Which is what I usually think and carry on with my day but this time it was something about the way he said it that made me realise he actually genuinely means it.

The conversation was nothing to do with our home life, he was talking to a friend at work about paternity leave. This friend and his wife are sharing maternity leave so he was asking for advice about how much time would be good to take off work. So they were chatting about it and Rich said I wouldn’t like to stay off too long (back hackles up) because what my wife does is much harder than what I do (phew rescued yourself there son). Now, I have heard him say this before and always just thought that’s nice of him. But I could see he really meant it this time (mostly because he was laughing that said person was naively shocked that stay at home parenting is hard). But I was quite taken aback. I realised that all this time he’d actually meant it! And I felt really proud of myself!

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Some days are easier than others.

Rich gets a lot (a lot) of validation at work. He works hard and is good at his job. As it’s a sales job when he hits his targets he gets bonuses, if he wins a big account his phone buzzes with well done messages from his team, there is a camaraderie and ‘in’ jokes and nicknames and so on and so on. But sahm mum’s don’t get that. Nobody ever walks past me doing the laundry and says “great job Kate, I see you are going out of your way to boil wash the sicky muslin, well done not slacking and just doing a quick 40 wash.” I don’t get a text message from my mate calling me Mrs Wonderflaps saying “Well done you’re killing this whole motherhood thing” and I certainly don’t get vouchers at Christmas or a bottle of fizz. But did I ever get that kind of pat on the back in my old job in the office? Not really. Do any of my hard slogging wonder mummy friends get any kind of notice in their day jobs or their home lives “You just helped that older person with dementia get the right care package and you’re an amazing mum too, here’s a £100 bonus.”

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He actually got a real life trophy.

I had my first ever PR invite for the blog a couple of weeks ago (keep your eyes peeled) and I was so excited. It felt good to have a little validation from outside the home. As a stay at home mum a pat on the back isn’t usually on my radar. I love staying home with my children, and I truly feel so happy to be able to. We work as a team in our house and I really do feel like that. But there was definitely something special in realising that my husband thinks I’m awesome. There was definitely a spark of excitement to receive an email about my blog because it’s something only I have done. And there was definitely something special about nagging my 6 yr old to keep her room tidy because I just cleaned it and getting the reply “Thanks Mum”.

Dear Bear and Beany

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday 

Mummy Needs Some Me Time.

Today was a bit of a wash out and in trying to complete 100 things I only managed to do one.

I think I got a bit excited it was the weekend and husband is home. The prospect of having another adult around to well, adult with me, got a bit overwhelming and I messed up the whole day. Our plans for this Saturday got cancelled so we had planned instead to get some DIY done. Then I had a brilliant idea

Continue reading “Mummy Needs Some Me Time.”