I am over the moon to let you know that I am a finalist in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards in the Change Category.

It has given me joy in my heart and reminds me that my late Mum was a wise woman as she was the one who advised me to start a blog in the first place.

Having seen the very wonderful other blogs in the category, I think I am best advised to give my thank you speech now.

Thank you to my Mum for having faith in me and my ability to write. Thanks for showing me that one person can make a difference in their community. Even with terminal cancer, you carried on helping to raise funds for good causes. Some folks say I am inspirational but they should have met you. In your final year, you got me on the absolute right track for me and I thank you for that.

Thank you to my Dad who asks so many questions every day about blogging and social media so that he can get to grips with it and understand what I keep banging on about. He is 84 now and I love every single day with him.

Thanks to my husband who is never surprised when I hear news like this. He reckons it is just people waking up to how wonderful I am. His words, not mine.

Thank you to my children who make me eligible for the awards in the first place and provide a ready stream of ideas for blog posts.

Thank you to old school-friends C, H and L who encourage me far more than I think they realise.

Thanks to college peer, R, who makes me think which has to be a very good thing.

Thank you to all the people who have supported my blogging by reading, commenting, taking part in blog hops and so on. Even those who are not officially groovy mums are very groovy to me.

Obviously, a huge shout-out goes to those who took time out of their busy days to nominate me and vote for me. It really touches me that people would do that.

Thanks for all the advice received from more expert bloggers than myself. The ones who taught me about the technology bits and the bells and whistles even though I acknowedge I still have huge amounts to learn. Kat and Nickie spring to mind but there are loads more too.

Thanks to BritMums for setting up the network and the awards in the first place.

Remember if you are a blogger who shares your joys, sadnesses and passions with the world, you are a winner already no matter what your statistics or profile are like. It is a journey this whole blogging lark and a fascinating one at that.
For a long time, I blogged with tiny statistics, did not promote actively and just relished every single comment I received. I imagine many of the finalists on the Brilliance in Blogging list can give a similar story.

Finally, it seems appropriate to celebrate in some way so I am offering free slots for charities on my blog throughout June 2012. I will be looking for around 500 words on who the charity it, where they are based, what they do, who they help together with a weblink if possible and a charity registration number if possible. Contact me on kateonthinice@gmail.com if this is of interest.

Well done to all the other finalists. See you in June.

Oh this is lovely. A less hectic Monday makes me able to join in with Magpie Monday, the linky where we celebrate our bargain finds. As I love seeking out the quirky and the beautiful to me, this is one of my favourite memes and when I don’t do it, life just doesn’t seem quite the same.

Netmums have a nearly new board in every locality. I find it a really good source of bargains.

Here are my children enjoying a recent find.

Him Indoors had a go too despite his advancing years. I did take a photo but I think he destroyed the evidence.

My eldest son is a real car fanatic so imagine his delight when I picked up all this again via Netmums for just a fiver.

It made him so happy he even shared with his siblings.

Partly because I buy too many bargains, I am always on the lookout for storage. A wicker chest was advertised on Netmums but it came with lots of toys in it. The strategy was to not let the children see the toys and to donate them to a charity shop but to save the chest.

What can I say? It didn’t work. The children sussed it so I now have about 40 more toys to tidy up around.

Ah well, they are happy and I have more storage for bedding. Result.

Linking up with the very lovely Liz on the Me and My Shadow blog.

http://missielizzie-meandmyshadow.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/magpie-monday-wooden-it-be-lovely.html

Have you found any great bargains on Netmums?

Yesterday, I went on a school trip as a parent helper for the very first time. My youngest son and his class were visiting a Co-operative Farm.

I turned up at the appointed time and watched whilst the teacher got the children registered and so on. The children played apart from my son who was sitting in the middle of the classroom reading a book on the space shuttle. He did not see me at first and then went mad, jigging around in excitement.

Another mum suddenly said to me “You’re leaking”. Fear not dear readers, twas only juice coming out of my rucksack. There was no way of telling which of the cardboard cartons was leaking so most of them got dumped.

I was allocated four children to look after along with the class teacher. There were two boys and two girls so off we went to the bus. The lovely thing with children is that if you talk to them, they usually will chat with you. It never seems quite so easy with adults.

We arrived at the farm and were given an introductory talk about the various Coop farms in the UK, their products and the endangered species they protect. All news to me so very interesting indeed.

After health and safety guidance, we split into two groups. Our group went out on the farm looking at crops and planting seeds and garlic bulbs. The weather was fine and the tutor was very good with the children and answered our questions well.

It was lovely to be out in the fresh air doing something different with my son and other children.

The weather was good enough to spend lunchtime outside with our packed lunches followed by play. Many games of tig ensued but I took this opportunity to get to knows some of the other mums a bit better. Guess what? They did not bite and they did not turn away.

In the afternoon, we made pizzas. It was great fun and wonderful how cookery linked in with what we had seen and heard about crops earlier. I enjoyed making a stripey pizza and encouraging the girls around me to be creative so that we had pizzas with faces, loveheart pizzas and other ideas.

There was a quick game of fruit and vegetable bingo again getting over really good messages in a fun and educational way.

We had a final quick talk to see how much we had learned. It was not just the children who got to know new things. I learned a lot too particularly about what various crops look like and what we make from them.

All the children got a lovely free hardback book with recipes and more “From Farm To Fork” details.

As I left the bus, the other mums who help a lot asked me to come next time.

A great day out altogether. Highly recommended and nope, nobody has sponsered me to write this post.

I am, however, going to say that things are not so easy in terms of ensuring children have access to healthy food in Africa. That is why I am asking you to get behind ONE and their “Let’s Thrive” campaign. Add you voice (they don’t ask for your money) to ensuring adequate aid goes to the world’s poorest. Click the link and find out more here http://www.one.org/blog/2012/04/10/lets-thrive/

When I first started blogging, I had no idea that people would actually comment on my posts.  I certainly did not expect to find like minds or to make new friends.  For those who don’t know, I just started blogging as my Mum sat up into the early hours fuelled by whisky telling me that I had always wanted to be a writer and it was about time I started.  She issued the now infamous words “Even if you just keep a diary” and that is how my blogging journey began.

It was many months later that I discovered blogging networks existed and even longer before a public relations company approached me about reviewing a product.

I had no clue on all the bells and whistles technology of blogging and I still have a lot to learn.

That is is the background to my blogging.  Three years later I find myself nominated in several categories of the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards.  Not only that but I have made the shortlist for the ourstanding, inspire and change categories.

When bloggers are nominated for awards, it is lovely but also makes their life a bit challenging for a while.  Should they mention that votes are welcome and if so, where and how often?  Should they keep a dignified silence or does that suggest they don’t care including about the people who bothered to back them?  Bloggers are individuals and some will need an ego-stroke of a nomination or a vote more than others for all sorts of reasons.   Some bloggers want to monetise their blogs and think that an award will help with that. It is all a bit complicated.

Then bloggers being bloggers and women being women, little controversies start emerging.

So here is what I think just in case any of the people who read my blog are interested in  my view.

You should vote for me in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards if you want to do so and also have the time to do so.  I won’t lose sleep if nobody votes for me but equally really appreciate anybody who bothers to do so.

I did not nominate myself and I won’t be voting for myself.  I don’t criticise anyone who takes a different approach.  This is just what I decided to do this year.

I won’t tell you which categories I would ideally like you to vote me for as it is up to you.  My personal view is that I do not deserve to win one category at all, that another it depends on how you judge such things and the other I can see reasons why people would think I fit in that but can also see that other blogs in that category are equally worthy.  As I write that, I realise that others would have different opinions on each of those.  We are individuals.

I am not the best blogger.  I am not particularly high up the rankings.  My blog serves me first and foremost and then I try to help others because having an audience, I feel I should do some good with that.

Inevitably, where there are shortlists, sometimes you love two or more blogs on the list but can only vote for one.  That is really challenging.  Personally, when I did my nominations, it took me hours and hours and you just had to leave out some blogs you really wanted to vote for.  That is the nature of the beast.

Bloggers are individuals.  They take individual approaches to what they blog about, to who they share their blog with, to networking, to reviews and events and to monetising their blogs.  You can expect bloggers, therefore, to take individual approaches when they hear news of awards.

I have always thought prizes and awards are a good thing in all arenas for driving up quality and recognising effort.  The Brilliance in Blogging Awards gets people talking about blogging which has to be a very good thing.  They also demonstrate the diversity of parent blogging today and that gives folks new ideas too.

And those are my last words on the subject of nominating and voting on the #bibs.

How do I start a post when I am still a little in shock from yesterday’s events?

For those who missed it, we held a Twitter party using the hashtag #groovymums.  If you are a #groovymums you are officially on trend according to Twitter.

The original idea was to acknowledge that the Groovy Mums blog hop and online support network established in September 2011 was 6 months old.

I thought most of the participants of the groovy mums blog hop would take part and maybe a few interested observers.  I was amazed to see loads of people joining in and some very interesting debates and chats taking place.

At some point in the party and yes I was sober but my head was still spinning, people started to tell me that #groovymums was trending at number 2 on Twitter.  This still seems very surreal to me but does at least show the power of mums when we get together and tell our stories.

Topics covered included ..

How to combat the isolation many mums feel

How to still have your own identity when you become a mum

How powerful or powerless mums are in society

How peer support can help mums move forwards in their lives

How media images and the celebrity culture affect how mums feel about themselves

What things get left behind when you become a mum and whether you can recover some of them

The hopes, dreams and aspirations of mums

How to increase energy levels and feel better physically

How to tackle mental health issues including post-natal depression and where to access support

Mums’ self-image

How to get involved in volunteering and how it might benefit mums

How to get back to work or into self-employment

How to get involved in learning

How mums can carve out me time and what mechanisms help them to do so

Whether partners and children can benefit when a mum puts herself first sometimes.

As you can see, it was an awful lot to get through in one hour.

I would like to thank so many people but if feels like the Oscars where I could end up writing for ages as so many people helped.  Particular thanks go to the parenting and blogging networks (Tots 100, Britmums, Love All Blogs, Mumsnet, Netmums).  None of this would have happened without those women in the last 6 months who have joined in with the Groovy Mums blog hop.  Personally, huge thanks go to Hayley, Louise, Caroline and Kat who are always there to put me back together again when I need it.  Finally, to each and every person who promoted or took part in or get in touch about the Groovy Mums Twitter Party.

Now for some more questions so please leave a comment, contact me on kateonthinice@gmail.com or tweet me @kateonthinice

1. Should we have another party or regular parties?  If so how often and what time suits people best?

2. Do you have any particular topics you would like to see covered via Groovy Mums?

3. Do you think you might link up blog posts to the Groovy Mums blog hop?

4. Would you like to take on a new role with Groovy Mums?  It will be unpaid but might be rewarding in other ways or enhance your blog profile.  If you are interested in this, please email me and I will be in touch by the end of the week with more information.

5. If you are an organisation or business, would you like to link up or partner with Groovy Mums in some way?  I am very open to ideas so drop me an email.  It would be lovely, for example, to see some prizes offered to participants at the next party.

Groovy Mums continues to evolve so all ideas and feedback are most welcome.

In them meantime, if you have a blog or website, you are most welcome to use the Groovy Mums badge which you will find in the sidebar.

If you think that the party was inspiring, changed things and/or stood out, you might want to consider voting in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards using the bright pink buttons on the right.  Thank you.