New self hosted site

Hi there,

If you’re new here please feel free to head to http://www.thistinybluehouse.com to follow along.

If you’re already subscribed please update your readers since TTBH has moved to http://www.thistinybluehouse.com

Cheers,

Jenny

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Highs & Lows – Week of April 2nd

I am soooo glad it’s Friday. Anything fun planned this weekend?

Here are my highs & lows for this week!

Highs

Celebrating my 6 month blog anniversary. The whole idea is still very surreal to me. Thank you so much for all your lovely comments and emails on my blogiversary post this week. I’m so blessed that you’ve kindly given me space in your readers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

TTBH’s new look. After wanting a cleaner and neater looking theme I decided to give TTBH a little overhaul. So far, I’m loving the simplicity of this new look and I’m hoping it’s here to stay for awhile. For those of you who are interested I’m running the Rosalie Theme and my new header was created using the chasing embers font available for free from dafont.com

Swimming lesson success. I’m so incredibly proud of this little girl! I totally had a proud momma moment when Mer was able to dunk her under water not once but twice during her lesson. This kiddo was terrified of getting her face wet so, we’ve made an enormous amount of progress!

Lows

The cold bug is making its way through out house. My mum is down with a cold which means the rest of us will probably catch it too. Crossing my fingers that we were able to avoid spreading germs by segregating ourselves.

So much rain. We’re going on day 6 of continuous rain. Not sprinkles or drizzle – rain. I’m just so over it. Hauling a toddler in rain gear sucks. Trying to get the rain gear on or off sucks even more. Gimme all the sunshine!

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Anxiety. My good friend anxiety decided to pay an unwelcomed visit this week and it’s probably been the worst flare I’ve had in a good while. Nothing in particular set it off but I’ve been on edge, flustered and dealing with feelings of being rushed in basically everything I do. I’ve made it a point to meditate a little before bed which seems to be helping. If this persists I’ll put a call in to my doctor to discuss a new plan.

Have a wonderful weekend folks!

QOD

What are your highs & lows for this week?

10 things I learned from my 6 months blogging

This week marks my 6 month blog anniversary!

6 months? How did that happen? In some ways it feels like I hit publish on my first post just yesterday. The day I created this blog I was so overwhelmed by the very basic process of creating an account that I had to step away not really knowing if I’d ever sign back in to write that very first post. I did write it– and I’m just so glad that I pushed through my fear and started to share my life with you fine folks. You all are so incredibly wonderful and have truly made the last 6 months an amazing experience for me.

What started out as a “let’s see what happens” type of adventure has really stolen my heart. I enjoy giving my thoughts a voice and sharing tid bits of my life with you fine folks. But, most importantly, I love communicating with you guys and hearing your thoughts, experiences and opinions. Blogging has become an integral part of my day to day life and I’m excited to see where this journey takes me.

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It hasn’t been easy though. There have been many days plagued with self doubt, newbie mistakes and questioning “what’s the point?” This tiny piece of internet real estate is truly my happy place and along the way I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share with you today.

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Staying true to your voice can be harder than it seems. I realized pretty early on that my “thing” with regards to blogging is writing about topics that pull at my heart strings. If I’m not passionate about it then I can’t write about it well. Mer often tells me that I’m a terrible liar and that when something displeases me you can see it all over my face. This notion really applies here – I can’t be someone I’m not. My “things” seem to keep coming back to advocating for breaking down the taboo surrounding pregnancy loss, being real (sometimes overly so) about the challenges I face as a rainbow mum and challenging ideas that literally keep me awake thinking obsessively at night (two spatulas anyone?). This is who I am – this is what I’m like offline and so it would only make sense that I portray a true version of myself here in this virtual space. Writing from these perspectives is tough sometimes – writing about loss, about anxiety/depression and often feeling like I’m losing myself to motherhood makes me unlike most mom bloggers which scares me and leaves me feeling judged at times. But, I can’t help it and it wont change because this is my story and by consequence my voice.

Engaging with my readers is the best part. I never thought anyone would read my blog. It sort of started out as a way to just put down all those ideas whirling around in my brain. Then, something happened and you fine folks started popping in and taking the time to communicate, share ideas and support me. Can I just tell you how much I love your endless support, kindless and encouragement? I love hearing what you all have to say so please keep your ideas coming! You guys are absolutely the best part of this journey.

Being consistent is key. I’ve been experimenting a little with post frequency lately. My typical schedule is a Monday, Wednesday and Friday type of deal. It works and I don’t feel overwhelmed by the blog which is the way it should be I think. I’ve experimented with upping my post frequency to 5 times a week and felt frazzled, disconnected and overwhelmed. Being consistent is so important to growing your readership and maintaining a sense of community in the blogging world but, at this point in my life and my motherhood journey, 3 posts a week is plenty and I’m okay with that.

Writing blog posts is only a small part of blogging. The actual process of blogging involves so much more than simply writing posts – who would have thought?. Beyond the actual writing part of it, there’s communicating with you fine folks (which I love), publicizing content on various social media platforms (I tend to stick to instagram and twitter), editing images and researching post ideas. I spend less time writing and more time figuring out the rest which was really surprising.

Social media is your friend. Social media is such an important part of the blog world and until I jumped in head first I had no idea just how useful it was! I’m not overly active on channels like twitter, instagram or pinterest but have started putting more effort into putting myself out there via those platforms. Most popular bloggers will tell you that growing their readerships stemmed from having active social media accounts and so I’m dabbling with being more consistent there as well.

Don’t obsess about the numbers. At around the 3 month mark I started to get really wrapped up in the numbers: number of visits, number of comments, number of shares you get the idea. Curiously, it was around this time that I jumped into monetized the blog (update post coming soon) and realized just how important those numbers appeared to be to potential media companies. I went weeks scrutinizing my traffic and trying to find ways to boost my readership then, I realized that by doing that I was falling out of “love” with my blog. Blogging was becoming a chore because I was so consumed by the numbers I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing here anymore. Now, I hardly look at the stats because those stats really don’t mean much. For a relatively low-traffic blog my engagement levels are rather high and I’m good with that since communicating with other like minded people was my goal from day one.

The blog will be there tomorrow. Blogging can be incredibly consuming if you allow it to be. The internet is 24/7 and technically there’s always something you can be doing online that is blog related. I caught myself falling into that rabbit hole back in January and thankfully I was able to acknowledge that I was spending far more time online than necessary. The blog will be there tomorrow – you can’t be “present” all the time ya know? Take time for you- readership building, comment replies, emails and social media can wait.

Be patient. Seeing “progress” however you qualify it takes time. Growing a blog takes patience, hard work and dedictation. You need to really come back to your space and continue to put one foot in front of the other.  Clearly, all bloggers want their posts read, liked and commented on – that’s why we blog and not write a paper journal right? But, the blog world is infinite and often our posts (however great) are hidden in obscure corners of the internet unread and unnoticed by readers. It takes time to grow a readership, it takes time to build that sense of community but slowly it will come. < — I continuously remind myself of this one.

It’s a lot of work. So so much work but I love it which makes it a pleasurable pass time for me. I get far less sleep than I did pre-blog but that’s okay, I enjoy what I’m doing and don’t mind investing the time and effort. Having said that, it takes at least 10 times more time than I initially thought it would. There’s a ton involved in writing a blog that you hope others will read.

Ask questions. Bloggers are generally friendly and willing to share their knowledge. If you’ve got a question just go for it and ask! Some will respond to you while others wont which is fine. In my experience the bloggers I’ve reached out to have been kind, helpful and willing to help me which I’m incredibly grateful for.

With that, here are my top 5 posts from the last 6 months:

QOD

Do you blog? If so, how long have you been at it?

What is one thing blogging has taught you so far?

Guts over fear

I think in some respects I thought hoped bringing Margs into the world would heal me. I mean, why wouldn’t it? We tried to bring a living child into this world for years before we were blessed to finally meet her. Her birth should have repaired those millions of broken pieces of my heart. But, it simply didn’t.

I often tell people who are facing a fresh loss that they’ll adapt somehow and find a “new normal”. That “new normal” is different for everyone but once you get to that place, it’s essentially existing in a space of acceptance and continued living by simply putting one tiny foot in front of the other. My new normal does not mean I’m always okay ( I doubt I ever will be) nor does it mean I’ll ever understand what has happened. But, I have accepted that I’m powerless to change my past and that however tragic- this is what the universe decided to hand me.

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Parenting after loss is hard. I’m so incredibly grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to even be facing these issues and I know all too well that there are loss-mommas out there who are still fighting to meet their rainbow and get the opportunity to step foot into my reality. But nonetheless, parenting a rainbow is far more difficult than I ever imagined because some days it tests me in ways I never thought possible.

“Is this your first?” asked a fellow play group mom.

“What an incredibly loaded question” I thought to myself “what do I tell her – do I tell her the truth?” and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. That all too familiar feeling – flushed face, heart pounding out of my chest, forehead beading with sweat despite feeling freezing cold. I was having a panic attack.

You see, being put in a situation where I either have to tell the story or have to lie makes me uncomfortable. There’s no grey area here folks; my options are limited to truth or lie. No in-between exists when faced with these types of questions.

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I could have told her that Margs was my first. I could have saved that woman the burden of being forced to face the enormity of my grief. I could have kept it all to myself and pretended it never happened sparing myself the emotional energy required to broach the topic again. But, I decided to be honest regardless of how difficult it was to do so.

“No, Margs is my only living child” I replied.

Such a simple response made me realize that all those times I’ve lied (and yes, I’ve lied far more times than I’d like to admit) were fueled by the fear that my story would inconvenience and burden others. I’d lie and then agonize over denying the existence of my 5 other babies which forced me into a guilt cycle that was difficult to shake.

The truth might be uncomfortable to hear. It might very well be scary to some. It might not be the response a curious individual was expecting but, it’s my reality and the reality of an astounding number of women who for a plenitude of reasons lie just like I did.

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It took guts to face my fear of telling the story to a stranger. In that moment something finally clicked – my journey to motherhood albeit atypical and stained by heartache is a story worth telling. This precious baby girl that I get the honor and privilege to tuck into bed each night is my miracle – she is my rainbow after a very long and dark storm. Her earthly presence is cherished in ways that words will never adequately express but regardless, her presence does not heal the heartache and void created by her heavenly siblings.

I opted to make a vow that day – a vow to tell the story honestly anytime I’m faced with those types of questions. For the first time, I faced my fear head on and proudly came out on the other side.

I’m a proud loss mum and this is my story to tell.

QOD

Loss mommas, have you lied? Why or why not?

Friends, would you want to know the truth?

Highs & Lows – Week of March 27th

Happy Friday folks! Busy weekend ahead?

Ours is shaping up to be pretty quiet except for Margs’ swimming lessons. Mer has been working evening shift all week and we’re all extra tired from the change of routine. We’ll be spending the weekend eating good food, relaxing, taking walks, watching movies and resting up for the coming week.

If you’re just catching up here are the posts that I published this week.

Highs

Surviving a complete change of schedule. Our little family was thrust into a night shift this week. Every few months, Mer works a 3 pm – 12 am shift for a couple of weeks. Well, it’s the first time he’s on this shift since Margs has developed a little bit of separation anxiety. She’s super excited to have her dad home during the day and we were really worried about how her nighttime routine would go since he usually puts her to sleep for the night. This little girl is a rock star and has been adapting like a champ all week!

A few small home reno projects are being discussed. When we bought this house last year it was pretty much in move in condition. There were a few things we wanted to change but agreed that they weren’t pressing issues and that we’d hold off. Mer and I have been discussing tackling each project and I’m really excited to get started. Our list includes: removing wallpaper from our foyer and painting it a neutral color, repainting the powder room which currently has a black ceiling and landscaping the front of the house to give it a little more curb appeal. I’m looking forward to taking this on!

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Lows

Rainy wetness most of the week. It rained on and off all week which meant Margs and I didn’t get the chance to play outside much. Thankfully her father was home during the day and she thought it was the coolest thing ever. Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and I’m crossing my fingers for nice weather this weekend because all this rain is a real downer.

Baby blood work. It’s done and I guess that’s what counts but oh man the process sucked. I’m crossing my fingers her results are fine and we wont have to venture down that road again anytime soon (routine anemia work up). In a nutshell it took 2 phlebotomists and Mer to hold her down. It was just awful.

QOD

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of March 27th?

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Taming my inner mama bear- why jumping in might not always be the best solution

So it happened, earlier than expected but, it happened. At play group last week my 15 month old daughter was intentionally pushed to the ground when she tried to play with an older child who wasn’t in the mood to share that day.

My heart just about broke into a million pieces. I watched in disbelief as this unknown to me child put her hands on my baby and forcefully pushed her to the ground. I stood there dumbfounded and processed what had just happened. I mean, I somehow thought that I’d have at least a few more years before I’d have to deal with this sort of thing – she’s still a baby for crying out loud.

My reaction was probably pretty typical. I ran over, picked up my kid and comforted her because that was what my momma instincts told me to do. (To be fair, although shocked by what had happened Margs wasn’t hurt, crying or otherwise upset) I watched the other child simply continue playing with really no awareness of what had just happened.

 

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I spent the rest of the day pretty upset. I was sad that Margs had been excluded. I was angry that she was put in a situation where she was vulnerable and defenseless. I was infuriated that another child took my daughters agency away and may have potentially showed my daughter that physical displays of aggression are okay when things don’t go your way.

Then I realized my kid wasn’t even upset by it and I realized that all I want for this little girl is for her to be comfortable in her own skin, set boundaries and not let this sort of stuff upset her the way it upsets me.

This was about me and not herIt’s 100% about my insecurities about dealing with these types of situations and my own feelings of inadequacy when it comes to parenting.

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Mer and I had a long long long discussion that night about how we’re going to deal with these types of situations. Sure, she’s small right now but soon enough (sooner than we’re probably comfortable with) our little girl will come home upset because of something similar – what then? Do we jump in and help her “deal” with the issue, do we leave her to her own devices to figure it our for herself? What is the right approach? What method will help her foster independence, boundaries and self love?

As we discussed it our attitude changed from helping her deal (mediating the issue) to taking a very very passive and supportive role. Although Margs will have to proverbially trip and fall a few hundred times before she figures it out – neither of us truly feels like it’s our place to get involved in issues between children (we’re looking ahead here to when she’s old enough to understand these types of situations for herself). It is not my job to find out why, it’s also not my job to scold someone else’s child for behaviors I perceive as inappropriate, it’s not my job to resolve these types of issues – it’s between the children.  My job is to make sure my kid is equipped with communication skills, empathy and the confidence to deal with these situations herself. Sure, they may not always go her way – but my job is to make sure she’s as equipped as possible to deal with whatever is handed to her and not to solve it for her.

But bullying said Mer. What are we gonna do if she gets bullied? Just stay out of it?

Of course not I responded! If her safety whether that be emotional or physical is threatened to a degree that she is unable to manage with her communication skills then clearly we’d get involved – my goal is to raise her to be a strong, confident little girl who will come to me to discuss what is going on. I’d like to think that I’m raising her to be aware of her needs, to acknowledge what makes her uncomfortable and to admit when she needs help.

In retrospect, I’m not sure if I handled the situation correctly. At only 15 months old my instinct was to run to her and comfort her. Yet, I question if she really needed to be comforted or if my instincts were somehow to make me feel better about the situation. Parenting is hard. Decisions even harder – we often have to react in the moment and are then left to question if we made the right decision.

QOD

How do you handle these types of situations?

 

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Where to find free images to use for your blog and social media posts

Morning friends! How’s your week shaping up so far?

If you’re just popping in and want to catch up on this weeks posts they can be found here and here. There’s an interesting discussion going on about morning routines so please feel free to join in if you haven’t already!

I’ve been receiving quite a few emails and comments about blog photography recently so I figured it would probably be  a good idea to write up a post about the topic if anyone reading is curious. Pictures are really important when writing up a blog post aren’t they? I feel like they add a certain visual element to the story you’re telling/information you’re sharing which helps the reader get a better visual of the nuances you are trying to communicate.

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As much as I enjoy taking photos, there is simply no way that I could manage taking all original photos all of the time. When I do have a moment to snap some pictures I gladly share them here on the blog or on Instagram but generally speaking I don’t have enough free time to really focus on good quality photography (which makes me incredibly sad because this was a very dear hobby of mine!). When I first started this blog I was snapping photos with my iPhone and felt very overwhelmed by the quality of photos I was seeing on other blogs! The blog world is pretty intimidating isn’t it? Sure, some bloggers take their own photos but a good chunk do not which I discovered after doing a little googling after seeing a dozen or so bloggers use the same image. Did you know that there are royalty free images that you can use on your blog without attribution? If not, I’m about to share a few of my favorite sites!

Pexelswww.pexels.com

Pixabaywww.pixabay.com

Photopinwww.photopin.com

Stock Vaultwww.stockvault.net

Free Pixelswww.freepixels.com

These are just a few of the sites that are out there! If you google royalty free images I’m sure you’ll pull up a ton more options. Always have a good look at the conditions of use before diving in just to confirm they are in fact free and royalty free!

If you have any questions feel free to post a comment below or shoot me an email.

QOD

What are your free photo websites?

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Starting the day on the right foot – the importance of having a solid morning routine

A few weeks back I had a listen to The Power of A Morning Ritual from the Accidental Creative. I was at a point where I often found myself frantic, scattered and overwhelmed in the morning which made me irritable and unpleasant the rest of the day. Mornings around here can get pretty busy. Mer is up and trying to get ready for his work day while I’m mostly dealing with Margs on my own (who wakes up FULLY energized and ready to rock) which leaves very little time to wake up, focus and start the day off on the right foot.

For quite some time, we had a great system going. She’d wake up and we’d cuddle in bed together for a good while before we all headed downstairs to get a start on our day. Recently though, she’s decided that once her eyes open she’s got to get right out of bed and mosey on down the stairs. This leaves very little time for me to do anything for myself since before I know it I need to whip breakfast together, change her diaper/clothes and start moving and shaking to keep up with her.

The Accidental Creative podcast was really eye opening and helped me realize how badly I needed to nail down a realistic morning routine that would help me start the day on a positive note instead of a frantic, scattered and impatient one. Does anyone else feel like their morning flow somehow predicts how the rest of the day will go?

Todd Henry talks a lot about centering yourself in the morning. To do this, he suggests waking up at the same time every morning and essentially taking the time to just sit and be with your thoughts. He outlines his process with includes things like reading, clearing your mind, reflecting and writing. Although inspiring and likely very beneficial for him, I didn’t necessarily feel that his approach was a good fit for my current lifestyle.

What did stick though was his idea that we need a predictable period of time to be alone. In my case, waking up with Margs as opposed to before her gave me basically zero opportunities to just sit and be still with my own thoughts or to do basic things like shower and get dressed for the day.

Inspired by this idea of  “predictable periods of alone time” I set out to create a morning routine that would help me refocus my energy in the morning and start things off on a better foot. I’ve been following this routine for roughly 2 weeks and although I’m sleeping less I feel far more energized and ready to take on the day. Below is a rough idea of my morning ritual which is really quite simple and so far has been really effective.

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I wake up before Margs. Margs wakes around 7 am and to give myself ample time to complete my routine I set my alarm for 5:30 am to give myself roughly 1.5 hours of alone time at the start of my day.

I sip my coffee while listening to podcasts for 30 minutes. I’ve gone so far as preparing my coffee pot the night before so as not to waste any precious alone time in the morning. Sipping coffee and listening to inspiring podcasts helps me stay motivated and set realistic goals.

I write down 3 simple goals for the day. This step has proven to be the most important part of my ritual. Since I’m home with Margs, I’ve started to realize that I’d often get through the day coasting on mommy auto-pilot without necessarily achieving any specific goals. I’m a goal setter by nature and I felt like there was something missing from my day to day life. Now, I set 3 goals that I look forward to accomplishing each day. The goals can vary depending on what my day/week looks like but ultimately they make me feel better, more accomplished and motivated. Today’s goals included: calling a friend who has been struggling to let her know I was thinking of her, creating digital copies of important household documents and completing one creative activity with Margs. I accomplished all 3 and it felt really great to know that I followed through on 3 things that wouldn’t normally be part of my daily life.

I shower and get dressed. This is self explanatory I think. Having the time to take a proper shower and get dressed makes a world of difference in my mood. Some mornings were so busy that I’d only get the opportunity to shower and or get out of pajamas during Margs’ mid morning nap. Being dressed and ready to face the day before she even wakes up is really a game changer.

QOD

What does your morning routine look like?

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