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.

Did you know that just ONE Mum can make a difference?

Am I asking you to put your hand in your pocket for a good cause in these cash-strapped times? Not this time.

Do you like to talk, to tweet, to write and/or to blog? Have I got an opportunity for you?

Think Africa and if you are like me, you might think all you ever hear is bad news. Too often, the media present images of Africa that make us think there is no progress, no change and no hope.

Last week, I was privileged to find out that there is a whole lot of good news to celebrate and massives of hope for the future too. I don’t mean tiny positives, I mean great big huge ones.

Examples include …

46.5million more children started going to school in Africa between 1999 and 2008

Millions of Africans are receiving life-saving HIV/AIDS treatments

Child deaths have fallen by millions in recent years.

We are talking MILLIONS of good news stories.

In fact, I am going to be sharing a lot more of them with you over the next few days, weeks and months.

In the meantime, I ask whether you will be the ONE mum that makes a difference.

How?

Here is ONE way to start.

ONE is a grassroots campaign of more than 2.5 million people committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease particularly in Africa.

Will you be the ONE Mum to add your voice?

Visit http://www.one.org and add your ONE voice because it really will make a difference.

All they are really asking you to do is to spread the word about the amazing achievements that UK aid makes and can make to Africa.

Let me know if you join. Your voice as a mum has the potential to change and save lives.

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.

 

Do you like bargain-hunting?  Looking for second-hand finds in all manner of places?  Will it be the charity shop or ebay?  Are you a member of freegle where you can get all sorts of items for free?  With the sunshine finally showing up, the new Sunday cult of car-boot sales provides yet more opportunity to fill up you home with life’s little essentials and more.

I used to link up with the lovely Liz’s Magpie Monday blog hop every week.  It is still one of my absolute favourites.  I am still bargain-hunting and yet all too often I am failing to link up.  I blame the fact that it is Dad’s pension day so we go off to town for various adventures.  Also life is getting fuller and busier which has to be a good thing.  However, I miss my Monday ritual and checking in with the magpies.

So without further ado, here are my recent finds.

1. A stylish computer desk and chair and chest of drawers all from a Netmums member.  Total price was £25.  All the items were in as new condition.  The computer desk is very popular with the children and has served many purposes.  In fact, the only one it has not served yet is to hold a computer but that will come.

2. On my Friday visit to town, I saw a lovely item in the window of the charity shop.  I go in regularly so the manager knew what I was going to ask about before I even opened my mouth.  The price was £7.50 which I thought was very reasonable.  However, I foolishly had no cash on me.  I emailed Him Indoors as he was due in town just before 5 to pick up the children from an after-school club.  I said could he get it but only if he was back in time.  Him Indoors got major Brownie points when he emailed back to say he had telephoned the shop and reserved it.  The manager said lots of people had looked at it so I think I may well have missed out if Him Indoors had not made the call.  So what was it?

It is in a silver colour with gold detailing.  It is a mother with a baby and two children.  I have 3 children and it just seemed right somehow.

I am sure the magpies and others can tell me more about it but I have never seen anything quite like it before.

Now scurry over to the Me and My Shadow blog to check out all manner of beautiful and quirky things not least of which is the hostess with the mostest Liz.

Oh and if you think this blog is inspiring, leads to change or stands out, do click on the shiny pink buttons on the sidebar and vote for me in the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards.  Thank you.