Thursday, 1 December 2016

Advent starts here - Christmas traditions await!

It's advent time!

I love the run-up to Christmas. The long, grey, drizzly December days seem so much more bearable when you know something exciting is coming up. Plus the decorations come out, so no matter how dusty or dirty your house is, you can just switch off the main light and enjoy the gentle glow of fairy lights. Ahhh.

Traditionally we light a candle every dinner time throughout December - the idea is that we say a slightly longer/more thought out 'grace' prayer than usual, although with a hangry toddler this sometimes doesn't go to plan. Also at some point in December we try to:

  • Go on an evening walk to look at Christmas lights
  • Make paper chains
  • Make gingerbread men
  • Make Christmas cards

And there is the obligatory viewing of Home Alone/Love Actually/Miracle on 34th Street/National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation/A Christmas Story whilst wrapping presents in the evenings ...

It's actually pretty important to establish family traditions, whatever they might look like. They are an important, identity-forming part of childhood. I mean, I remember our childhood Christmas traditions as clear as day - and it is humbling and quite exciting to know that we are forming those early memories for our kids. Plus, it's nice to enjoy the excitement of Christmas without the main feature being a huge pile of toys under the tree.

(I'm not going to lie though - I was always very excited about the toys).

My blog is going to be fairly quiet over December due to the new baby, but there are a few posts coming up. Also, throughout December, if you follow me on Facebook, you will find a series of children's Christmas book reviews for the first week of December - so if you need an excuse to go book shopping, this is it!

I'll be posting every day in December on my Facebook page with some craft/food gift ideas too, as well as some great blog posts by other bloggers. So get in the spirit and follow me there!

Also I've got a pretty good advent board on Pinterest going on. Check it out here.

In the meantime: what do you do for advent? Do you have any traditions that you have to follow every year? Let me know in the comments, I love Christmas chat!

Linking up with:

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Let's be real: thoughts on the last stage of pregnancy

I've become nothing more than a baby incubator. That is the stage of pregnancy that I am at. Bit of self indulgent moaning ahead: I can't walk without feeling our son's head butting into my pelvis, and I need to wee approximately ten times a night (and often I will rush off and then not be able to wee at all). My brain is melting into goo. The other day I cried because I lost at a board game (and I did quite well despite losing. Blaming it entirely on hormones). My daughter is using my lack of energy to get me to say yes to every whim (mostly she wants endless amounts of grapes, which isn't so bad).

I've reached the end. I want him out of me.

That's it.

I've been trying to pre-write blog posts and I've noticed they're all kind of factual list-based posts for the next few weeks. I keep wanting to sit down and write a proper one but I can't. My brain won't concentrate on anything else other than impending birth-giving. But I haven't done a general update-y post in a while, so here's a few thoughts about the last few weeks of pregnancy:

1. Everyone has differing opinions on how pregnant I look

I get a fair few 'wow, you don't look like you're full term!' comments. I also had two random strangers say to me that I looked like I was about to pop at any moment. I had a lady serving me in Morrisons nod sagely and tell me she didn't believe I would have another three weeks without giving birth. Meanwhile, today someone told me my bump didn't look low enough to go into labour at all.

Who knows what's going on? I don't know. I don't know what he's doing in there at all. (Other than kicking me in the bladder)

2. I am trying to remember how miraculous this all is.

But it's hard because a lot of the time I just feel like a big round potato person.

To be fair, growing a person is pretty miraculous if you think about it. It's weird and wonderful to be able to see the shape of feet under the surface of the skin on my belly. However: a lot of it is just downright ... human. And gross. It's all about heartburn avoidance at this stage. And the weird feeling like he might just fall out at any moment. And packing things like nipple shields into my hospital bag. Amongst other things I won't mention.

3. I'm worried my waters might break spectacularly in public

I had to have them broken for me when we had Jellybean, so I've never had that TV-sitcom-burst experience that some people have.

If it does happen I'd quite like it to happen in a shop and have them bestow us with gift vouchers. (That happens, right?)

Also part of me is a bit worried that my waters will go but it will turn out I've actually wet myself. Sneezing is a bit of a gamble at this point.


That's it. I'm sure you wanted to know all that. 

I'll be back next week. Unless I have a newborn. But if you see me and ask me 'not had the baby yet, then?' I can't be held responsible for my own actions ...

Linking up with:

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Saturday, 19 November 2016

A Blogiversary Giveaway: win a book here!

****COMPETITION ENDED - See end of post!****

Four years ago I started this blog. FOUR YEARS. Which makes me feel proud and old at the same time, because where on earth does the time go?

When I started this blog, I was a full time nursery nurse, working a lot of hours running around after small children, involved in youth work at my church, and was three years into our marriage. Now? I'm not that far away from thirty, SEVEN years into our marriage, and a full time stay at home Mum to our three year old daughter and soon-to-arrive baby boy.

I'm still a bit of a rubbish blogger to be honest. I only manage to blog once a week now. I'm awful at social media and I still don't get all the technical stuff.

But I still love it. 

Here are three lessons I've learned in the last few years of blogging:

1) The internet can be really cool

How supportive is the blogging community? Very, that's what. Yes, there are people who like to start arguments ... but there's nowhere near as much drama as, say, your average hour spent on Twitter. 

Bloggers, on the whole, are pretty supportive of each other. Thank you, fellow bloggers: you make the internet suck less.

2) I can't actually think without writing things down

Turns out I can't process things in my mind without writing them down, whether that be here or in a notebook or something: after a few days I start to feel antsy and fidgety and a bit overwhelmed unless I have time to write my thoughts down.

It's soothing for my brain.

3) My voice actually matters as much as it doesn't.

This is two lessons in one. For me, having an outlet for my opinions on things has been enormously freeing, because for years I lived under the lie that what I thought about things didn't actually matter, or wasn't relevant, or something like that. I dunno. I was weird. I suppose I lived in the fear of people disagreeing or mocking me, which is no way to live. I am now way more comfortable expressing myself. Hooray!

But also: I've learnt that my opinion doesn't actually matter that much, really. In the grand scheme of things, if someone wants to disagree with me, that's fine. It's actually good: we're not all the same. Thank goodness. Through blogging I have learnt that I am actually fairly flawed, but I can make a joke about it now. I'm not an expert on everything, and I don't have to pretend to be. I'm just me: sometimes I get things wrong, other times I get it right, and I'm actually comfortable with that.

If you're interested, I wrote a post a while ago called Why I Love Blogging which has a lot more background as to why I started blogging in the first place.

And now onto the fun stuff!

My First Ever Blog Giveaway!

A while back I started thinking about the books that have changed my life. The one that immediately came to mind was this one:

Half the Sky was the book that first pushed me from 'caring in a vague way about women's rights' to 'feeling burningly passionate about women's rights'. Informative, emotional and very readable, Half the Sky takes you on a journey around the world to meet inspirational women trapped in terrible circumstances - and examines the difference that could be made, for everybody, if women were treated equally to men.

I figured it was a perfect first giveaway choice: it sums up so much about what I feel passionate about, and, hopefully, will ignite in whoever wins it a flame of passion, too. A huge part of why I write, and allow people to see it, is because I want my daughter to know that her voice. skills, talents and gifts are no less useful to the world just because she is a girl. So many young girls do not have that freedom: Half the Sky will make you want to kick ass and do something about it.

My copy is battered and dog-eared, so here is the lovely new copy the winner will receive this one:

Not included: my ridiculous face

Interested in winning it? It's easy! Comment on this post telling me something that you're passionate about, something that makes you feel alive: is it painting? Making music? Writing? (That would be me). Running? (definitely not me). Celebrate the things you love doing in life and you could win a book that will inspire and challenge you all at once.

I will then use this tool to pick a comment at random. Spammy comments will not be counted: you have to answer the question!

Important note: unfortunately due to shipping costs, this will be a UK-based competition only: please only enter if you are in the UK!

I will announce the winner in a week from now, and will send off your shiny new copy of Half the Sky!

COMPETITION CLOSED - check your comment to see if you are the winner!

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