Monday, September 26, 2016

5 Tips for Networking with Other Bloggers

Blogging can be a great hobby or even business. It can also be a very lonely hobby or business if you don't reach out to others. Over the past few years, I've made it my goal to network with other bloggers and I really think that's what has kept me in the blogging world and in some ways, made me successful in the blogging world.

Autumn has arrived which means the weather will be cooling down soon and eventually there will be more time spent indoors than outdoors. It's the perfect time to hone in your blog networking skills with just a few simple tips.

Join a blogging group.
There are lots of great blogging groups scattered around Facebook. In fact, I'm in several great ones that I use for different reasons. Unfortunately, deciding which one to join can be a bit overwhelming. I thought I'd make it simple for you and invite you to join Blog Connected. It's not an entirely new group, but it is a group that I've been giving a major makeover. I'm part of several groups that offer golden opportunities for social shares and promotion. I'm also part of several groups that offer collaboration, discussion, and feedback. I haven't seen many out there that combine these two aspects. That's what I've set out to do with Blog Connected. All of the fun really starts October 2, but you can join now to get a sneak peek and to see what's coming! I promise you won't be disappointed! (And if you are, all you have to do is click "leave group" so you really have nothing to lose!)

Comment on other blogs.
This one may seem obvious but commenting on other blogs is a great way to network. It allows you to see what other bloggers are posting and it also gives you the chance to talk to other bloggers. Many are great about responding to the comments on their blogs and I've even had a few full blown conversations via blog comments. On the other side of this, I highly recommend responding to comments that are left on your own blog!

Attend Twitter Parties.
There are tons of twitter parties happening every week and many of them are hosted by other bloggers. You can start finding chats by checking out the list that the Shield Sisters Initiative put together. It's pretty comprehensive and well-organized! One party that I can recommend is #bloggybrunch which happens every Sunday at 2pm EST.  I may be a bit biased since I host the chat, but I would love to see you join us for socializing and blog discussion!

Link up with other blogs.
Have you heard of link ups? (If not, please let me know in the comments and I'll explain what they are!) Well, link ups are an excellent way to start networking with other bloggers. They are also a great way to find new blogs since there are new people joining every week! You can start by joining our Bloggy Brunch link up on Sundays. Then, you can head over to Girl on the Move and find many more parties to join!

Use your social media.
You might not realize it, but you're probably already doing a little bit of networking. Do you comment on other Instagram posts? Share content on Facebook? Pin favorites to your boards? All of these are ways of networking. They may not connect you in the same way as those mentioned above, but they are definitely a start. Start being more active on the interaction side of your social media accounts! You might be amazed at how many friends and connections you can make by simply being you!

What other ways have you found to network with other bloggers? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Five Things to do When You Discover You’re Pregnant

I’ve dedicated every Friday on the blog to pregnancy. I’m excited about my pregnancy and want to share the excitement with you but I also don’t want to overwhelm anyone who might not want to hear about it. Each week, you can expect a pregnancy related post along with my bump update for the week. If you’re just here for the bump update, feel free to scroll to the bottom. Otherwise, please enjoy the tips I’ve put together for you from my own research and experiences!

There are so many things to do when you’re pregnant and so many books out there giving advice that it can be a little overwhelming. I know I was slightly overwhelmed right after seeing the positive on the stick. That’s why I’m bringing you five steps that you can take immediately without getting too overwhelmed. After all, you have nine months to do everything else!

Deal with your emotions.

Happy, sad, scared, nervous, overwhelmed, surprised. The list could go on and on of different emotions that you might be feeling when you first see that positive on the stick. It’s okay to feel however you feel. Maybe you’ve been trying for months and you’re over the moon with excitement. Or maybe it’s a total (and slightly unwanted) surprise and you’re scared out of your mind. Whatever you’re feeling, know that it’s okay to feel that way and do your best to come to terms with your emotions and the changes that you’re about to embrace. It’s important that you practice a little self care and reflection in this moment.

Figure out how to tell the father.

Let’s face it – it takes two to make a baby (well, in most cases). How you choose to tell the father is entirely up to you. He might be right beside you waiting for the line to appear or he may be nowhere near. There’s three things to consider when you decide how to tell him – when you’ll tell him, how you’ll tell him, and where you’ll tell him. For us, it was a personal moment at home and I told him as soon as he got home. I’ve known others who like to wait a few days and plan something super special as the reveal. Remember, it’s entirely up to you.

Call your doctor and set up an appointment.

This one is going to vary for person to person. For me, I had to set up an appointment with my general doctor in order to be referred out to an OB. For others, you may already have an OB or gynecologist that you can call directly. I recommend looking into your insurance and medical requirements for this step. Special side note: Even though you might call right away, it could still be several weeks before the doctor feels you need to come in and be seen. This might also be a good time to start a secret Pinterest board so that you can start researching on your own and prepare a list of questions for the doctor.

Download a pregnancy app.

You’re probably going to be curious about your due date. The doctor will help you figure it out, but like I mentioned above, you might not get into a doctor right away. There are lots of free calculators out there on website and apps that can help you make a prediction. If you’ve had regular periods, this prediction might even be pretty spot on (mine was). I downloaded several different free apps and I ended up narrowing it down to two that I really like. The first app is the Ovia Pregnancy app. This app has a way that you can compare the baby’s size to things other than just fruits and vegetables. It also has a graphic that will show you how big the baby’s hand is each week. The other app that I’ve enjoyed a lot is BabyBump Pro. I love the simple daily tips it gives and the weekly updates of what to expect. Each of these apps have a lot more features but these are the ones I’ve used the most so far.

Evaluate your wardrobe.

The day you find out your pregnant, you’re still going to be able to fit into your wardrobe. However, this will quickly change as bloat and eventually a bump changes your waistline. I recommend evaluating your wardrobe early and moving things to the back that will get too tight too quick. This will allow you to remain comfortable for longer. For pants, I recommend the rubber band trick and the belly band to help extend the life of the ones you already have. Trust me – these hacks will make your pants SO much more comfortable as your waistline expands. I also recommend wearing lose bottoms, dresses, and skirts whenever possible. For tops, I recommend keeping anything with stretch or an empire waist to the front of your closet. These are going to be your best friend as your body starts to change. If you evaluate your wardrobe well, you can make a lot of things stick around through the first trimester and on into the second trimester.

What were the first things you did when you found out you were pregnant? Are there any tips or hacks you would add to this list?

P.S. Keep scrolling for this week's Bump Update!

Bump Update

Week? 19 weeks

Gender? We know but we're not telling until Monday! (Teasers on the Facebook page!)

Size? Baby is the size of a tomato!

Movement? Lots of movement - Daddy finally felt the baby move!

Bump? See the picture! Definitely a bump going on!

Maternity Clothes? Some - especially bottoms

Stretch Marks? None!

Belly button in or out? Still in!

Cravings? Dr. Pepper

Symptoms? tired, back aches, head aches

Mood? Happy

What are you missing? Wine

Highlight of the week? We found out the gender and Daddy felt a kick!

Looking forward to? People receiving their gender reveal cards and sharing the news on Monday with everyone!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dear Kandy: A Letter to My Dog

Last week, we had to say goodbye to Kandy, our family dog. We got Kandy when I was a senior in high school, so she had been a part of our family for a long time. She lived a long life of 12 years but that doesn’t make it any easier when the end comes. This background is necessary to understand today’s post which is a letter to Kandy.

Dear Kandy,

I want you to know that you were a good dog – perhaps one of the best. I want you to know that I loved you more than I thought possible. And I want you to know that I’m sorry I couldn’t be there in your final days.

I’ve decided the best way to remember you and to cope with this loss is to remember the good times. I want to remember the moments that made me smile – not the ones that made me sad.

There’s the moment when we brought you home and the story I love to tell of how we convinced Mom to get another dog. When our first dog passed away, Mom said she would never get another dog. My sister and I were approaching the end of high school and she knew (well thought she knew) that we’d be moving out soon.

That all changed when we started volunteering at the local animal shelter. Dad had to volunteer with us (due to us being under 18) and called home one day telling Mom that we were adopting a dog. We really weren’t, but Mom thought he was serious and it opened up the conversation. Before I knew it, she said we could get another dog but that we’d take our time making the decision.

It was two days later when she told us to stop by the shelter on our way home from school to look at a puppy they’d found. We walked in and there you were – cute as can be with big brown eyes and soft fur. We took you out and played with you for a while before we were informed that they had already completed the paperwork to adopt you. You were Mom’s choice. You were her little girl from day 1.

We took you home and that’s when the real fun began. You were only a little eight week old puppy so potty training and more became front and center for the family. Luckily, you caught on quick and the puppy snuggles outweighed the clean ups.

There’s plenty of other moments that make me smile – too many to share them all in fact. None quite outweigh the memory or joy of bringing you home to join our little family. For now, let’s keep those other moments just between us.

There is one more that I’d like to mention before I close this letter though. And that’s the day I brought home Ella. I have to say that Ella should thank you when she sees you again. You’re the reason I adopted her. Our bond had shown me that I loved having a dog around, but Mom and Dad wouldn’t let me take you with me when I (finally) moved out. So, I found a solution and asked if I could get a puppy of my own. I was honestly surprised when the answer was yes.

I’ll never forget the day I brought Ella home. Mom and Dad were out of town for the weekend and it was just you, Sister, and me. Ella was scared to death and Sister ended up carrying her into the house for a bath. You just watched us both with a look that said “I don’t think Mom and Dad are going to like this.” You were a good girl though and didn’t freak out on us at all. You simply watched us with curious eyes.

You and Ella spent the next week or two peacefully existing in the same house but never quite interacting. Once you finally broke the ice, there was no turning back though. You two were the best of friends, inseparable until the end. And that’s why I left her behind when I moved to California. I couldn’t bear to separate the two of you.

Unfortunately, there are things out of our control that do eventually separate us from the ones we love. I promise you that we’ll do everything we can to make sure Ella is happy and safe, just like we did with you. I can tell she misses you from the things Mom has told me lately.

I’m afraid I have to close this letter here because I’m afraid I’ll write a book if I don’t. Kandy Girl, you were so much more than we could have ever imagined. You’re a part of the family and you’ll always be in our heart. I don’t believe in final goodbyes, so I’m choosing to view this as another “until we meet again” moment. I love you and I miss you.

Love, Pam