Nominated: Best Pregnancy Blog in the MADs

A few days ago there was much excitement on twitter as the organisers of the MAD (Mum and Dad) blogger awards started to announce blogs which have so far been nominated in each category. As I saw the tweet for the Best Pregnancy Blog nominations come up on my feed, I thought I’d take a look, not because I thought my little blog would be on it, but because I’ve come across a few other pregnant bloggers and was curious to see if they were on there. Although I had been aware of the awards, I’m not really into asking for nominations, and I know a lot of my readers (who aren’t that numerous anyway compared to some blogs) aren’t bloggers themselves so probably wouldn’t be aware of the MADs. But to my astonishment my URL was listed! Someone must have liked my weekly bump diary enough to nominate me 🙂

In my very first blog post I talked about the reasons why I blog: primarily because I enjoy writing and wanted a place to do it regularly as well as writing one-off articles in parenting magazines published by charities (one of which I now edit), but also I like to see others read it and get something out of it – maybe it encourages them, makes them laugh (hmm maybe… if they share my slightly odd sense of humour), gives them a different perspective on something, or introduces them to something they’ve never heard of before. It is such an encouragement to know that my blog is being read and enjoyed. I often get comments from people I see face to face, saying how they liked my last post or found my post on such and such useful, and I get a few positive feedback comments on the blog, but I still think of my blog as quite small, by which I mean not very widely read. So to be nominated for an award, particularly in a category that I wrote regularly and enthusiastically on over this past year, gives me a great sense of achievement. I never set out to win anything, but it’s lovely to know that my writing is appreciated enough to be nominated.

So what happens now? Having checked out the MADs website, the nomination stage is still open until 18th February. After that the blogs with the most nominations will be shortlisted as finalists and then a winner will be voted on. Most of the voting is by bloggers, so being popular and widely read will help, but there will be one blog shortlisted in each category based on a panel of judges’ decision. I have no idea how much chance I have of getting through, but whatever happens, I’ll wear my ‘nominated’ badge with pride – look at it all colourful over there —>

Thank you to all of you who read my blog; without you it would just be me wittering on to myself!

MAD Blog Awards

To us a child is born

It was the start of December last year that I started this blog – so it’s Happy 1st Birthday to Mixed Bag of All Sorts! I remember distinctly that one of my first posts was about Advent, and what this time of year means to me and to us as a young family as we start new traditions. Well, what a difference a year has made to us as a family – there are now four of us instead of three, and this is the first Christmas that Andrew really has much idea of what’s going on. He was 11 months old last Christmas, so although older than Joel is for his first Christmas, he didn’t really get the concepts of presents, parties and why we were spending time with family and friends.

Guarding the Advent calendar from early morning predators - you never know who might want to get at your mini socks!

Last year I wrote about the Peanuts (Snoopy and co.) Advent calendar that tells the story of the first Christmas line by line each day as you open a door, all in rhyming verse. It has survived many Christmas-times from my childhood to the present. My parents gave it to us last year so that we could carry on the family tradition of opening it with Andrew, not that he had much clue what it was then, but this year he’s definitely more interested in listening to stories. Next year Joel will also be more in to this kind of thing.

It's a bit fiddly to get at the contents of these socks, but I'm determined to do it without help, and that's part of the fun of it!

In addition to this calendar, my parents have bought the boys another Advent calendar this year. It’s one that you can fill with your own treats again and again each year. It came with little chocolates for this year, but in future we could put various things in like little toys or pieces of paper telling a story a bit like the Peanuts calendar. The design is quite simple but lovely and effective – a string of 24 mini stockings that you hang up between two hooks on the wall. Ours is hung at Andrew height across our living room window so that he can help us discover what’s in each day’s stocking. When he first saw it he was very interested in it and kept saying ‘socks, socks’! This morning he took out the first chocolates – two mini chocolate Father Christmas figures, and he proceeded to say ‘Father Christmas’ after me with not bad accuracy. We think he understands that it’s only one sock per day, now that we’ve explained to him after Tom caught him fiddling with another stocking after we’d emptied number 1!

Wow! There's shiny stuff in these socks - cool!

In the build up to Christmas, which we are marking as a family with our calendars, I am personally thinking about the first ever Christmas, when Jesus was born into this world. During Advent each year I’m often reminded of a couple of verses from the Bible, from the book of Isaiah, chapter 9, verses 6-7. Isaiah was a Prophet who told of Jesus’ birth many years before it actually happened – Jesus is the child referred to by Isaiah in these verses:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.

Although I have read and heard this passage many times, it wasn’t until I had children of my own that it really took on a new meaning for me. This Advent, a child has recently been born to us, a son has been given to us; last Advent, the memory of our first child having been born to us was still fresh in my mind, 11 months after the event; and the Advent before that we were anticipating the birth of our first chid in about a month’s time. The experience of our own children being born to us brought it home to me that Jesus was a real person who was born to a real mum and a real dad, just like us. As I sit here feeding Joel, I think of Mary feeding Jesus, and changing his nappies (no Pampers or Huggies around in those days!) – or maybe Joseph helped out with that? I think of Joseph finding a place for them to stay just before the birth and supporting Mary through it, and how that’s similar to Tom’s role of getting me to hospital and being with me for the birth of both our children.

The difference between this family in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago and our family is that Jesus, as well as being fully human, was also fully God, just as it says in the Isaiah verses above. And not only is He Mighty God, but also Wonderful Counsellor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – the person I turn to for help in the most difficult of life’s situations, who is always there for me and always will be, giving me His peace which goes beyond all human understanding.

Baby Jesus didn’t stay a baby, he grew up; as a man He went on to do what He was born into this world to do – to die on a cross in order to make up for all the wrong things that we do which separate us from God, and if we believe that He did this for us, we can have everlasting life beyond our lives in this world. The ‘us’ referred to in Isaiah’s verse doesn’t just mean Mary and Joseph in a literal sense; it means anyone, at any time and in any place on Earth – Jesus was given as a present to everyone, it’s just up to each and every one of us whether we accept the present.

In all the busyness of Advent – the shopping, the parties, the chocolate eating – why not take some time to think about why this time of year involves all these things. Advent is the anticipation of celebrating Jesus coming into our world many years ago. Have you accepted the present that He came to be? If you’d like to find out more, there’s a great course called Alpha that runs across the country – you can find one near you here.

Now there are only 24 days left to celebrating Jesus’ birthday this year. Can’t wait!

Ha ha, I have chocolate.... not sure I should share it with Mummy, Daddy and Joel....!

Pregnancy diary: week 21 – bits and pieces

As I’ve come to sit down and write this post, quite early on in the week (although I’m posting later), there aren’t really one or two particular things that are happening or are on my mind that are specifically to do with pregnancy. So this week’s post is mix of a few bits and pieces…..

The reason I’m getting the bulk of writing done early in the week is because I’m going to the BritMumsLive 2012 bloggers conference on Friday and Saturday. This in itself is very exciting, and I’m definitely looking forward to going and meeting up with people I know mostly just from virtual conversations. But it’s not specifically to do with pregnancy. I have just found out, though, that a lovely blogger, Louise, whose blog I came across only recently, is organising an informal get-together for pregnant mums at the conference. She is only a few weeks behind me in pregnancy, so it’s great to read her posts too and know that someone else is going through similar thoughts/feelings/physical changes. From what I’ve seen on twitter, it looks like there’ll be quite a few other pregnant mums joining us. Pregnancy is generally something that inspires people to blog. I thought it would be a nice record of a journey for me, baby, Andrew and Tom. Although I didn’t think about doing this with the last pregnancy (probably because I hadn’t come across the world of blogging and what I could get out of it and what others could get out of me), I’m really enjoying writing down my thoughts each week so far. And it turns out I’m not alone – there are plenty of other pregnant mum bloggers to link up with. I’m sure I’ll post more about the conference at some point, and I’ll include a bit about the bump meet-up.

One thing that’s been on my mind from time to time this past week is breastfeeding, both weaning Andrew and preparing for baby, but I haven’t come to any real conclusions! It’s still something that I keep tossing around my head when I get time to think. I said that we’d get to 20 weeks, then reassess where Andrew was at in terms of showing signs of self-weaning, and think about what to do from there. Well, we’re now at 21 weeks and he’s not feeding less than he was before pregnancy. I explained in my previous post on thoughts about nursling (self-)weaning that he was generally feeding twice a day – once first thing in the morning and once last thing before bed, for about 20 minutes each time (I guess – I don’t clock-watch, but roughly). Ironically he then started feeding more in the early weeks of pregnancy! I’m not sure if it was because he was teething molars, or because he actually liked the ‘weaning’ milk that starts to be produced in early pregnancy (which tastes less sweet and more salty than before pregnancy), or because I was so sick and tired that all I would do in the afternoons is lie on the sofa and watch him play (in between running to the toilet) so he was more aware of milk just being there to drink with no distractions like going to the park like we usually do. Or quite possibly a combination of all these things. Whatever it was, this seems to have worn off again, and he’s back to the two main feeds a day (plus the odd short one if he’s upset and needs calming down).

On the one hand, I see the fact that he’s still feeding as a good thing. It means we’re maximising the chances of me developing more breast tissue and therefore producing more milk for baby than I did for him, and minimising the gap between him stopping feeding and baby starting feeding. On the other hand, I’m concerned that if he feeds into the third trimester, he’ll start drinking some of the milk (colostrum) that I’m producing in preparation for baby. If I didn’t have hypoplasia, this wouldn’t be a bad thing because my breasts would produce plenty; but given that my milk supply is not necessarily going to be enough for this baby either, even with all the knowledge and support I have this time round, I really want the newborn to have everything that I can produce. The one (kind of) conclusion that I’ve come to is that I need to talk to some experts about this, because we’re a special case and I can’t decide what’s best to do based on books and online reading.

Bump getting bigger....

Another thing that’s been on my mind (and therefore Tom’s given how much I’ve brought it up in conversation) is what we might need to buy for baby. Of course as Andrew is only 16 months, we have most things already. But the two things that I’ve been researching are nappies and a sling.

I posted a while ago about cloth nappies, and told of their greatness! As we only have enough for one, we’ll need to expand our stash. Recently Andrew has been becoming a heavier wetter than he was, because he’s suddenly discovered the taste of squash (thanks primarily to his childminder!) and drinks it like there’s no tomorrow. I’m generally happy that he does this, because I think he can’t really drink ‘too much’, but it is possible to drink too little, and this has always been at the back of my mind since he was a 6-day old baby in hospital with dehydration. The nappies have started to leak sometimes, because we haven’t put (m)any extra booster layers inside, since the style we have get quite bulky with extra layers. So we’re thinking that it could be a good plan to buy some more absorbent but slim-fitting ones for Andrew, and use the ones we already have for baby. I’ll write more about the specifics of what I’ve researched on nappies when we’ve bought them, as it’ll need a post in itself.

When Andrew was a baby, we were given two slings second hand from friends. One was the Baba Sling, and one was the Baby Bjorn. I used both of them a bit, but neither of them were very comfortable to use for more than quite short distances or short periods around the house. By the time I stumbled across the wonderful world of ‘babywearing’, Andrew was a toddler and it wasn’t long before I was pregnant again. I discovered that there are many types of sling different from the two we had, which looked far more comfortable and came with excellent reviews and recommendations from what I could see in all the online babywearing information. I’ve done some research on what would suit our needs, and we’ve decided that instead of buying a double buggy, we’ll buy a good quality, comfortable sling that I can carry baby in and Andrew can continue using the single buggy. We can then reassess when baby is older; by that time I think it’s likely that Andrew will be fine on a buggy-board and baby can go in the buggy. Given that people ‘wear’ their babies right through into toddlerhood, this initial arrangement could last us quite a while. One of the prizes in last week’s Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt posts was a Moby sling (or ‘wrap’). As this is one of the choices of sling that I have narrowed down to, I’m waiting until after the competition winner is announced before I go any further with going about buying a sling. Again, I’ll write another post specifically on this at some point.

I think that’s enough rambling for this week. Hopefully I’ll have some more decisions made on weaning, nappies and a sling over the next few weeks, so I can update you with what we’re doing.

Fun times ahead at BritMums Live! 2012 – are you going too?

This is my ‘meet and greet’ for BritMums Live! 2012. Thanks to Carly at Stepford Wifey for hosting this 🙂

After a few days waiting to see whether Granny and Grandad (who were on holiday) could look after Andrew on the Friday of this conference, I’m pleased to say that I can go to what sounds like an amazing opportunity to meet my fellow mummy (and daddy) bloggers. I’ve been to quite a few academic conferences in my time as a researcher, and they were interesting, but I have a feeling this is going to be something very different. I can’t wait to meet others and pick up tips on how to improve my blogging as I’m a total newbie in this world of blogs. So here’s a bit about me….

Name: Ruth

Blog: http://blog,cumming.me.uk

Twitter ID: @ruthcumming

Height: 5 ft 6

Hair: Short-mid dark brown (though I have been bright red in the past, particularly memorable on our wedding day, but too expensive to keep that up now we have a little one).

Eyes: Blue (as does Tom, my husband, so any kids we have will all have blue eyes – I learnt that from genetics lessons at school, Mendel’s peas and all that…)

Likes/Loves: being mummy to Andrew, chocolate, swimming, Jesus, baking, cooking, cereals and milk, curry and other spicy food, tea, cross-stitch, sewing, anything crafty, breastfeeding, singing, walking, skiing (not that we can afford it these days, but when I was a teenager), speaking languages other than English, hearing different accents of English, sunrise and sunset, spectrograms and waveforms, the International Phonetic Alphabet, watching British sitcoms over and over again (Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses, Blackadder etc.), quoting lines from sitcoms, going to the theatre, musicals, freshly washed bedlinen.

Dislikes/Annoyances: traffic in Cambridge, pedestrians who step into the road without looking when I’m cycling, supermarkets, being too hot (or too cold, but this happens less since I’ve had a baby?), slow broadband (or narrowband if you live where we do), Chinese food, red meat, waiting for buses, my perfectionism.

Me and my boys - Andrew was 6 months old here, so it's a bit out of date for him, but I love these pictures that we had taken of us, and I haven't changed much

Am I up for a BiB award?

As I only entered the world of blogging a few months ago, I was very surprised to have been given The Liebster Blog award by a fellow mummy blogger a few weeks ago. As if that wasn’t enough of an encouragement that people actually like to read my blog, I was stunned when I read earlier this week that I’d been nominated for a BiB award – Brilliance in Blogging (not what Tom thought when he glanced at the BiB logo: he thought I’d been nominated for a Breast is Best award, as if it were some prize for breastfeeding my baby into his 2nd year of life!!). These brilliant blogging awards, which come in different categories, are (in the words of BritMums) ‘an opportunity to recognise the most creative, inventive and compelling blogging of the year!’ A fellow mummy blogger, Amanda over at The Family Patch, nominated me in the FRESH VOICES category. I’m very pleased that someone who writes so wonderfully herself thinks that my blog is worthy of an award. So here’s the badge that goes with the nomination.

Brilliance in Blogging: Fresh Voices 2012

I guess if one person thinks this mixed bag of all sorts deserves (in BritMums’ words) to be celebrated as a newbie in the blogging world, with content, pictures, video and voice that makes the rest of the bloggers take notice, then it’s just possible that others would nominate me. So if you agree that my blog fits the description of a FRESH VOICE as I’ve just given, please add your nomination by clicking on the badge in this post or on the sidebar. I’m up for a BiB award, if others think so too.

What happens then? Well, from now until 15th March, we bloggers nominate our favourite bloggers in 12 categories. I still need to do this, so I must get my skates on (no wait, I’d only fall over, I’m hopeless at skating….probably best to put some flippers on or something). One thing is for sure, I’ll be nominating Amanda in the INSPIRE category – why don’t you check out her blog yourself if you haven’t already? Then all the responses will be gathered together and BritMums will make a short-list, so everyone can vote for their favourite in the list. Finally the winners will be announced at BritMums Live! in June. Having just booked my ticket to this, I’m very excited to be going and picking up lots of tips for how to improve my blogging as a total novice. I’m very much looking forward to it already. Let’s see what happens with the awards 🙂

Die liebste Ãœberraschung des ‘Liebsten Blogs’ – Danke schön!

The loveliest surprise of the ‘Loveliest Blog’ – thank you!

Being a total newbie to this blogging malarkey, I had no idea about blog awards – what they are and how they work. So when I was nominated by fellow mummy blogger LowImpactMama for the Liebster Blog award, I was very surprised, not just that someone had nominated me, but that such a thing even existed. I came across LowImpactMama’s Low Impact Parenting blog via the Mumsnet bloggers network, and I have enjoyed reading her posts about greener living whilst being mum to a toddler (who’s sadly been sick recently, but appears to be on the mend now, hooray!) I too try to be as ‘green’ as possible and I have a toddler, so I’m keen to pick up lots of tips and learn things from her very readable, well-written and interesting blog.

Once the initial surprise was over, the linguist within me was immediately drawn to the fact that Liebster is a German word (meaning loveliest. dearest, nicest… things along those lines). A quick thank you reply to the nomination comment on the blog and a tweet later, I suddenly thought that I should probably Google this, to find out exactly what it is. From a quick scroll down the first page of results, I soon realised what I needed to do….. and this is me doing that here and now.

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog: done (before I realised the next steps…)
2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you: done – see above or here’s the link again for Low Impact Parenting
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog: done – it’s in this post and I’ll work on putting it on the sidebar soon (I’m planning on doing some rearranging at some point anyway)
4. Reveal your 5 blog picks: see below. I have to say it was quite hard because most of the blogs I’ve been reading since getting into blogging are obviously much longer established than mine, so they already have more than 200 followers for sure. The ones I’ve gone for here are those which look like they’ve been going for not too long, or the number of twitter followers that author has is less than 200, as that’s easy to find info. Sorry if I’ve got anything wrong here….
5. Let them know you chose them by leaving a comment on their blog: (off to do that now…)

My five blog picks are the following…

Old Policehouse is written by Grace, who welcomed me very kindly into the Mumsnet Bloggers network, leaving me a lovely comment straight away. She is mum to six kids (wow, amazing lady!) and they live in an Old Policehouse along with her husband and various pets. I love her writing about family life, and I’m sure I can learn lots from her as a more experienced mum than me.

Made by Yours Truly is packed with gorgeous crafts ideas. I’ve come across it a few times through Mumsnet, and was particularly drawn to it recently by the post on how to make a Hobby Horse – I would love to do that one day! Yours Truly certainly knows how to transform old or boring things into fun and funky things, mostly for kids.

Miss Magpie Makes is written by Beth, who also has lots of fantastic craft ideas, mainly tending towards needlecrafts, which is why I came across the blog. I share her love of finding bits, bobs and shiny things (hence the Magpie name), and I’m looking forward to reading more of her ideas of what to do with them.

The Adventure of Parenthood is written by Bex, who writes about all the things that she’s realised she has lots to say about since becoming a parent. I can totally identify with this feeling – that was also one of my reasons for starting a blog, and I too feel like being mummy is a real adventure. Her little one is younger than mine, but I was particularly drawn to her most recent post about going back to work part-time, because I had the same kind of feelings about leaving my baby.

Truly Myrtle is written by Libby, who I actually know from life before we both started blogging, but I just came across her blog recently through Mumsnet. Although very new, this blog has already got lovely ideas for knitting, sewing and generally making stuff – I like the look of the handmade giveaway that’s currently on offer. One day I’d like to give knitting a go and maybe the tutorials coming soon will inspire me.