Blogger Interview: Shari Anderson & Cheryce Thompson

Optimistic Divorcees by Shari Anderson & Cheryce ThompsonOPTIMISTIC DIVORCEES BY SHARI ANDERSON & CHERYCE THOMPSON

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
The Optimistic Divorcees was created as a way to share our experiences surrounding our marriages and divorces in an effort to encourage, support and relate to those who are experiencing separation or divorce. We realize that this transition is not easy and often times you may feel alone or believe no one understands. We do. It is our hope that this blog connects with those who need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, life goes on and there’s reason to remain optimistic.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
The Optimistic Divorcees blog is about encouraging, supporting and inspiring those who may have dealt or are currently dealing with or contemplating divorce through our stories and the stories of others who have experienced it. We aim to show that although divorce is painful, there IS life after divorce!

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
Our ideal reader is anyone who has experienced divorce or may be contemplating a divorce. We hope that through the content of our blog, readers realize that they are not alone in their experiences and that leading a full, enjoyable, happy life is possible after divorce.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
In 5 years time, it would be great to have a larger following of our blog as well as products based on our blogs – books, etc. The statistics for divorce haven’t decreased, so the topic will definitely continue to be a prevalent one.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
We typically find content for our blog just by conversations we have with one another or with friends, and of course pop culture. Relationship talk is always big among women. 🙂

5) How to do you remain committed to each other to keep the blog going?
There aren’t many successful blogs out there that are a collaboration! Admittedly, it’s hard to remain committed to keeping the blog going. It’s a much bigger task than we’d originally anticipated. We are actually just coming off of a three-month hiatus. However, we believe that our experiences and what we share in our content can be of help to those dealing with divorce. It’s also encouraging to hear from readers who tell us that were encouraged by something that read on the blog.

6) Tell us about your Hump Day Haiku and OD Adventures segments of your blog.
Our #HumpDayHaiku segment is a fun and creative way to poetically share our thoughts on topics related to relationships and divorce. We like to think of them as quick therapeutic exercises. Our OD Adventures segments seek to show us just living life and doing things we love – being tourists in our own city and other places we visit, dining out (we consider ourselves foodies), etc.

7) What would you say to a new divorcee on how to remain optimistic and positive?
Our advice would be to take the process one day at a time, surround yourself with those who will encourage and support you and keep moving forward. Don’t look at what was lost, but instead look for the lessons in how you can be even better in the new chapter of your life. What will help them get through the initial stages of loss? What will help them get through the initial stages of loss is actually allowing themselves to really acknowledge what their feeling and allow themselves to feel every emotion – anger, hurt, confusion, etc. Masking how they really feel during this time can only prolong the healing process.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
When you want to give up, DON’T! Recognize and remember that what you have to share, someone needs to read to be inspired or encouraged!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Shari Anderson & Cheryce Thompson and would like to follow their blog, here are all their pertinent details.

Blog: Optimistic Divorcees
Shari & Cheryce’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Lottie Lomas

THE SECRET DIVORCEE BY LOTTIE LOMAS The Secret Divorcee by Lottie Lomas

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
When I was 40, I realised I’d married the wrong man. I had two beautiful boys, but was sinking into a mire of depression. So after months and months of tears and discussion and loneliness, I made the decision to separate from my husband.

I am a single parent, but don’t want to be defined as such. I work, I’m a pilot, I’m a singer, I’m a photographer. And a parent. I write about all sorts of aspects of life, from my family to my ageing body. Occasionally I add in pictures I’ve drawn, but they are awful. I am terrible at art.

I’m still looking for the right man. God knows where he is. He’d better show himself soon because my knees have started to make a frightening creaking sound every evening as I go upstairs to bed.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
I started to write very soon after I had separated from my husband. Although it was my choice to leave, it was a very stressful time and I found that there was a lot of – well…stuff – that I couldn’t say to anyone. So I just let it out in my blog. In one big dump.

It started as an electronic diary, a private log, but quite quickly it grew into a more public space. As I became happier in my personal life, I found that I was considering my audience much more, and I wanted to share the fact that divorce can actually be a positive experience.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My blog isn’t all about divorce now! In fact, as I separated three years ago, it’s much more about the ups and downs of life as a single parent. So I guess that the blog is aimed at single parents, because they will identify with my shenanigans – but actually the reality is that most of my readers tend to be in relationships.

I do get messages regularly though from unhappy women, who are thinking of leaving their husbands. Sometimes they want advice, and other times, they just need someone to speak to.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
As the blog is about my life then I’m hoping it will still be going in 5 years’ time. Let’s see: my boys will be 19 and 17 by then. The 19 year old will probably have swanned off to America (he was talking about this just yesterday) leaving me hanging on to my 17 year old   with all my might. He will no doubt hate me for this, and I shall become a wizened old bitter empty husk of a crone, with a severe case of premature empty nest syndrome.

And who won’t want to read about that?!

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
It mainly comes from my children. How I feel about them, what I do with them, how they affect my relationships… They have a wonderful insight on the world that adults don’t seem to have. I’m also a keen amateur photographer so, if I don’t have written content, I will share some of my photos. I don’t sweat it, though. If nothing comes into my head, I won’t post anything.

5) Do you have any words of wisdom for all the single parents out there that have tweens and teenagers in their household and how to deal with co-parenting effectively?
When I split from my husband, I had a fairytale vision that we would spend Christmases together, babysit for each other, support each other. But quite quickly our relationship exploded; he lied about me to our friends and cut off all communication. If this happens to you, my advice is to not rise to it. Head down, keep being polite, don’t lash out. Particularly don’t reveal your feelings to your kids. If you manage to bite your tongue, it will all level out in the end. It’s taken me three years, and we’re still not quite there, but we show each other more respect now than we have done for a long, long time.

6) Does your ex-husband read your blog? How does he feel about it?
No. I blog anonymously.  If he read some of my earlier posts, all our positive relationship-building would go down the toilet.

7) What opportunities has your blog provided you professionally?
Well, I spent six months drawing up an agreement with a large internet-based organisation, which sadly closed down before everything went live! So I’m back to the drawing board on that one. I would love to publish a collection of my posts, or write a book about divorce – but as all single parents know, time is hard to come by.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Don’t faff about too much, thinking about your aims, or the blog title, or the platform, or whatever. They’re just excuses. Just write. It doesn’t matter if your first posts are a pile of poo. Actually, what am I saying? It doesn’t matter if ALL your posts are a pile of poo. Just get on and write. You’ll find it’s an amazing outlet for you. And if you’re not already on Twitter, get on it. There are like-minded single parents out there who will, in time, give you support when you most need it. Good luck!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Lottie Lomas and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: The Secret Divorcee
Lottie’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Kate Efomi

SUDDENLY MUM BY KATE EFOMI Suddenly Mum by Kate Efomi

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
After graduating from the University of Nottingham with a degree in English Studies, Kate went on to work as a trainee researcher at BBC Birmingham. In 2002 she moved to Glasgow to work with BAFTA and Emmy award-winning director, Norman Stone (Shadowlands, The Black Velvet Gown) at his company, 1A Productions. During her time there she learnt about every stage of TV and film production, working on many dramas and documentaries before producing her own documentary, Old MacDonald’s Farm, for BBC Scotland.

Meanwhile, Kate has always had a passion for writing. From the age of fifteen she secured a regular column in her local newspaper, The Northern Echo, and has been writing professionally ever since. She started writing her blog, Suddenly Mum, when she became a full-time step-mum soon after marrying her wonderful Congolese husband, Consol. In November 2013, whilst on maternity leave, Kate started her own copywriting, proofreading and web content business: kateefomi.com – The Wonderful World of Words. She is also working on various writing projects and is contemplating a children’s book based on her most popular blog post to date: Daddy Had a Pet Baboon.

She also opened notebooklove.com – an online store selling beautiful notebooks for those who prefer old-school paper – in early 2015 as a passion project.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
My blog centres on my relatively new role as step-mum to two gorgeous girls who have hearts of gold and a very messy bedroom. Two months after marrying their dad, they unexpectedly came to join us, full-time and permanently. For the first few months, I was having fun and panic attacks all at the same time. I was Suddenly Mum, forever! No maternity leave or health visitor support, just straight into packed lunches, homework help and school gate shyness (me, not them). I love writing and my new life provides me with plenty of material. My blog laughs at my own fumbling maternal attempts, offers me a little therapy and solace and helps me order my thoughts about being a step-mum – a job that doesn’t come with the best of stigmas attached. Thanks, Cinderella.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My main reason for starting my blog was to create a bit of space for me. An online journal, if you like. But in those early days what I didn’t realise was that there was such a fantastic support-network of fellow step-mums and mums out there, both on blogs and Twitter. A blog isn’t just a book you scribble in before sticking it under your bed at night. It’s a living, breathing creation for all to see… and comment on. I don’t aim my blog at a particular audience, but new step-mums seem to find it mildly amusing and sometimes helpful.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
Just as I told myself over and over again during that first week, as I clenched the duvet around me: This is for life. I’ll never stop being their mum now. We’re family through-and-through and with that will always come stories. In 2013, our little girl was born and she has brought our new family even closer together. She’s a laugh-a-minute and brings her own unique stories and experiences.

Right now we have a teen, a tween and a toddler. In five years’ time our eldest will be 19 and emerging from the fog of her teens, my youngest step-daughter will be celebrating her 16th birthday and the toddler will be starting school. All manner of fun to be had there! Thankfully, 5 years is a little too soon for step-grandchildren. I hope!

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
Life constantly provides colour, stories and anecdotes. Whether it’s the youngest asking if there was electricity when I was young or the oldest being scared about the impending birds and bees school talk… there’s always something to write about – tastefully and always with the girls’ hearts and dignity held in the highest regard. Mine, not so much.

5) Describe your parenting style and how did it forge the relationship you have with your two step daughters?
I had a very happy childhood with strict but loving and fun parents who showed an active and supportive interest in me as I grew up. Thanks to Billy Graham turning up in Leeds in the early 80s, my childhood home soon became a Christian one where I was introduced to a loving and kind God. If you’ve had a happy childhood I think you want to replicate it for your own children. I certainly want to do that for our girls.

I’ve been surprised and truly blessed by the way we’ve all clicked together. We’ve been in a privileged position in that everyone in the new family wants to make it work. The kids accepted me very quickly, I didn’t feel like I needed to win their love at all, in fact they were desperate for hugs and kisses, time to chat and have a laugh together. It’s been so rewarding to see two young lives blossom and hear almost every week, “This is the best day EVER!” in response to just the simple things in life, like a hotdog in Ikea,

I can be pretty shouty though and I’ve been working on that. I’m a bit of a clean-freak and I grew up with a clean-freak mother. Before I was born, Mum was an officer in the Royal Air Force and one of her jobs was to inspect levels of cleanliness by running her hand, in a white glove, along skirting boards and tops of cupboards. She carried that standard into our family home when I was growing up and still insisted on the skirting board inspection after I’d cleaned my bedroom. Thankfully the gloves were long gone by then, though. As a result, I feel more at peace in a clean and orderly house, but I’ve had to let my standards drop a little for the sake of sanity these days. The girls have got better and summer holidays with my parents (whom they love dearly) have been a bit of an air force bootcamp for them. No complaints from me and I think they now appreciate the fact that they can see their bedroom carpet.

6) What advice would you impart onto first time step mothers so they are well equipped to start this journey?
Don’t try too hard, pray hard and just as you’ve committed to your husband in marriage for better or for worse, resolve to do that for the kids too. Roll with the challenges and be honest with the kids when you need a bit of space. I tried to be Super Step Mum for the first few months, but ended up blowing a gasket and turned into Step Monster instead. Major back-fire! Work together as a new family, after all you’re not the only one who’s new to this. Encourage the kids to talk openly about how they’re feeling, what they’re finding tough about being in the new family and listen, listen, listen, love, love, love. Oh and no matter how tempting it might be, never speak ill of their mother, even if it means just being silent – it’s really not worth it and can be so damaging to the kids and the family life you’re trying to build. Every now and again we go out for a family meal and review the highlights of the last few months together. We also each go round the table and pick out positive things to say about each person in the new family. It builds everyone up and creates a great atmosphere in every-day life, which could otherwise be tough. This life is so rewarding and I wouldn’t now swap it for the world.

7) Apart from a blended family, you also have a multiracial family. Does that add colour to your family life and how did the Scottish in you and the African in him embrace that?
Although I’ve been living in Scotland for the past thirteen years I actually grew up in beautiful North Yorkshire, south of the border. Meanwhile, my husband, Consol, is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo but his dad’s job took his family around the world. Before he was a teen, Consol had already lived in China, Germany, Sweden, Burundi and Zambia. He also went to boarding school in Belgium so Consol has quite a western outlook on life.

Having said that, there are definitely differences and when we first started dating we had very little in common. From how to carve a chicken (carve it? What about the bones? Give me the bones!) to the pets we had as kids (hamster and cockatiel vs baboon and monkeys), things definitely differed. But the most important thing in my life and the most important thing in his is exactly the same: our faith. That holds us together. Any other cultural heritage or tradition takes a back seat really.

Our wedding was great, though. Lots of African men in kilts and a tongue-in-cheek dowry of a live chicken for my mum!

The girls are very Scottish as the oldest came here when she was three while the second step-daughter was born here. They say they don’t fancy going to Africa as they, ‘don’t want to encounter any snakes or creepy crawlies’. Consol rolls his eyes and knows we need a family trip there some time soon to give them a taste of their roots.

Occasionally we have Congolese food, which I know Consol misses. Yorkshire puddings don’t quite cut it for him so he sometimes buys banana plantain and chikwanga at the local African shop. I must get his mum to teach me to cook Congolese dishes next time she visits. Last time she was here she cooked so hard she split our wooden spoon clean down the middle, length-ways! The food was awesome though and well worth the minor damage.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Give it a go. Set up your blog and don’t think too hard about what you’re going to write. Build it bit-by-bit. It doesn’t have to be perfect all at once. Just use it as a diary and you’ll find that the stories start to flow. I am forever tweaking and changing my blog. The important thing is just to start, then the fun begins and you’ll be hooked. Join Twitter as well – there’s a massive community of mums and step-mums out there and Twitter helps you find their blogs. They’re all so lovely, come and join us!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Kate Emofi and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Suddenly Mum
Kate’s social media connections:

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LGBTQ Children’s Picture Books And Its Evolution

Over the last three decades, LGBTQ children’s books have gained in prominence and importance. We owe our gratitude to children authors who were and are brave enough to broach the subject head on despite knowing the backlash that would ensue. Thirty five years on we have seen greater acceptance of these books into a wide cross section of family units. Be it read for awareness, education or the simple pleasure of enjoying the word, they play an important role towards universal same gender equality.

By the same token, we still face challenges. We still face discrimination and injustice toward such literature, aimed at nothing more than to express one’s belief or simply as a resource for children growing up in modern society. Let’s delve into how these books have risen to the occasion against all odds and how they have made a credible contribution to the literary world.

1980 Your Family My Family
Your Family, My Family by Joan Drescher in 1980 was one of the first US children’s picture books to show a same-sex family. The book was published in the hope of educating people on different types of families, only to be met with negative repercussions.

1983
Jenny Lives With Eric and MartinJenny Lives with Eric and Martin by Susanne Bosche was one of the first children’s books that included gay fathers. A Danish book, it was translated into English in 1983. Using real photography, the book depicted five year old Jenny, who resided with her father and his partner.

The book sparked incredible controversy and went against UK’s Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. The book highlighted how the Act forbade the promotion of homosexuality by local government which squashed the book’s attempt at educating people about LGBTQ families. The book was also condemned by UK’s Secretary of State for Education. It is pleasing to note that both Denmark and the UK have now legalised same sex marriage.

1989 Heather Has Two Mommies
In 1989, the most talked about LGBTQ children’s book written by Leslea Newman was released and recently celebrated its twenty five year anniversary. Heather Has Two Mommies is the first lesbian-themed children’s book ever to be published. This book truly heightened same gender family awareness and openly acknowledging that it existed.

As one can imagine, the controversy that emerged from this publication was huge. Libraries banned it, anti-gay groups attacked it, and the Chancellor of New York City’s school was sacked. It even became a subject of debate in the U.S. Senate who banded together to sponsor an amendment stopping federal aid to school districts that supported the literature.

Congratulations Leslea Newman! Your book has lasted the test of time and has come out on top time in the end. We are still here and the U.S. is closer to Federal legalisation of same gender marriage.

Daddy's Roommate1991
Michael Willhoite wrote a children’s book entitled Daddy’s Roommate about a young boy whose divorced father now lived with his same gender partner. It was one of the first books that depicted gay partnerships in a positive manner.

As one would expect, acceptance of the subject matter was difficult when it made second place on the American Library Association’s (ALA) 100 most challenged books of the 90’s.

2003 King & King
The rest of the 90’s remained quiet on the LGBTQ children’s literature front until Dutch authors Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland wrote King & King. The book tells the story of Prince Bertie, who is single despite his mother’s wish that he marry. The queen sends out an invitation to the world’s princesses to come and meet her son, only for her to be disappointed when he declares “I’ve never cared much for princesses.” The prince ultimately meets Prince Lee, whom he falls in love with and they eventually get married.

King & King created an immense amount of scrutiny and challenges.  In 2006, a school in Massachusetts sued a school district after the book was presented in a second grade class, despite same-sex marriage being legal in that state. A judge dismissed the lawsuit stating that diversity was the hallmark of the nation. One big step for equality!

and Tango Makes Three2005
And Tango Makes Three is a 2005 children’s book written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book follows the six years of their life when they formed a couple and were given an egg to raise.

Regardless of the numerous awards and accolades the book had won, it became no stranger to censorship and heated debates about adoption and homosexuality in animals. Conservative groups such as the Focus on the Family Action group stated that the book was inappropriate, misleading and far from the truth and had a political agenda to young children. The ALA reports that And Tango Makes Three was the most challenged book of 2006 to 2010, except for 2009 when it was the second most challenged. In 2014, it made it to ALA’s “Top Ten Most Challenged Books in 2014.”

Ten years later, it continues to be on Amazon’s bestselling list!

200810,000 Dresses
2008 brings us one of the first children’s books about transgender people and their experiences, entitled 10,000 Dresses. Written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Rex Ray, the book is about Bailey who dreams about beautiful dresses and longs to make them and wear them. However, Bailey’s family is not understanding or supportive, as Bailey is biologically male. Although she faces some challenges, she is still strong willed who believes in herself and who looks elsewhere for support.

This book has been described as simple but powerful with strong symbolic illustrations that manage to accentuate the storyline.

The Purim Superhero2013
Author and illustrator Elisabeth Kushner through Kar-Ben Publishing released the first gay-themed Jewish Children’s book. In conjunction with Keshet, a national grassroots organisation that works for the full equality and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews in Jewish life.

The book is centered on a Purim holiday theme and is entitled The Purim Superhero. It is a story of a young boy who can’t decide which Purim costume to choose and requires the help of his two fathers.

2014 My Chacha is Gay
In 2014, we have the privilege of seeing Pakistan’s first anti-homophobia children’s book by Eiynah. Eiynah is a Pakistani-Canadian blogger/artist who dreams of a progressive Pakistan as opposed to the extremist state it is close to becoming.

My Chacha Is Gay is about a young boy named Ahmed and his gay uncle. It was originally a post on her blog. It received over 10,000 views and shares over two days with many readers encouraging her to get crowdfunding underway to get the book published. She achieved her goal quickly and she has since received much publicity.

Eiynah has noted that the Pakistani media have been relatively quiet about her controversial book but she has certainly received more than her fair share of hate mail since its posting. But she soldiers on and we can certainly thank her for her courage!

This Day In JuneJUNE – PRIDE MONTH
As we approach Pride Month, many communities around the world host gay pride celebrations to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots, when the New York City police raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, and the patrons resisted arrest and fought back over three days.

In 2014, the American Psychological Association published its first children’s book to address sexual orientation and gender diversity. Author Gayle E. Pitman, PhD, a professor of psychology and women’s studies at Sacramento City College, wrote the story This Day In June, after noticing students in her psychology of sexual orientation classes knew very little about LGBTQ history.

The book showcases pride parade facts on its pages with each page containing illustrations of part of a parade tied to a group or an event. The reading guide describes the historical and/or cultural significance of each scenario and is aimed at children 4-8 years.

NEWS
Despite the prevalence of LGBTQ awareness over the years, LGBTQ children’s literature is still met with such intolerance.

Last year, The National Library Board of Singapore, which operates twenty six public libraries, deemed children’s gay literature as inappropriate and proceeded to literally destroy them. The conservative city-states’ Information Minister, Yaacob Ibrahim, said he supported the decision. Gay sex remains illegal in Singapore and homosexuality continues to be a taboo subject. This move sparked global outrage and a massive step backwards in the eyes of gay activists.

Just a few weeks ago, Efland-Cheeks Elementary School in North Carolina made headline news when a third grade teacher read King & King in the classroom. Many parents lodged complaints that they had not been notified of the reading and its contents. A public forum was held to deal with the outrage which was highly explosive and lasted over two hours. One parent was even kicked out for being overly disruptive.

2015 Wishful Wedding by A.S. Chung
Just a few weeks ago, Ireland became the first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote. What a momentous, historical occasion and superb win for gay rights. As a result of the landmark event, this has now prompted widespread discussion in Australia. How is it possible that this great nation that prides itself on diversity remain homophobic?

Australian author A.S. Chung hopes to highlight marriage equality to children and their families through her picture book entitled Wishful Wedding.

“Papa’s sister is getting married today! Daddy and I get ready, a flower girl I am. We witness in delight and giggle with glee but deep down in our hearts, we’re sad you see? When will my fathers be able to wed? I can only hope for change, in the future ahead.”

OUR WISH – PIGEONHOLE BOOKS
Children’s literature is precious. LGBTQ literature is priceless. Let’s celebrate Pride month and LGBTQ Families Day by embracing all these wonderful books! Created by authors who wish for nothing more than to write, heighten awareness, tell a story and educate the younger generation.

Blogger Interview: Eleise Hale

A VERY BLENDED FAMILY BY ELEISE HALE A Very Blended Family by Eleise Hale

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
Eleise is a mum to one gorgeous, ridiculously active 6 year old girl and wicked step mum to a teenager girl doing her HSC and step-step mum to an 18year old boy who ran away to the Navy, she calls these her bonus kids. She has been part of a blended family for 4 years and is always learning.

She writes about her struggles with the relationships with the 8 parents who raise three awesome children and the complex nature of the blended family. She was a step child and now a step mum so she often reflects on her own childhood to try and make best decisions for her family.

Outside of her blended family Eleise is an accountant, married to an auditor and lives in beautiful Wollongong. She loves to cook, run half marathons and can get a little obsessive about living a healthy life. She hates cleaning and holds steady to the idea that a clean house is a sign of a wasted life. The whole family lives a crazy busy life, encouraging each other  to make the most of each day and live with gratitude.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
I started blogging before I met my husband and wrote about my local area and reviewed cafes and events. When I started dating my husband I really struggled with the new dynamic of being a blended family and I couldn’t seem to get my head around our situation. I started googling forums for step mums and I was shocked by how much of it was negative. I wanted to write a new blog to document my difficulties but also the positives and lessons I learnt along the way. I found the blog much cheaper than therapy and often used it as a way to communicate with my husband.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My ideal reader is other mums in blended family or step mum roles who just want to love their step kids and enjoy their blended family. Being a blended family can be horrible some days so I want my readers to see that although I have crap days sometimes there is light at the end of the tunnel and it can become more positive. I sometimes get emails from step mums reaching out for some positive support they adore their husbands but their new blended family just isn’t working, they don’t want to hear horror stories they want to hear that there are positive steps you can try to improve the situation.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
I think blended families is a growing topic, more parents are reaching out for information and trying to make their unique family work. With the number of kids in blended families growing I think that blogs are a great way to share experiences and maybe get some tips from other mums who have already been through the same situation.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
It is usually easy, having to deal with 8 parents and 3 kids, marriages, babies, sports, different school, and of course running, ideas comes to me. Our life is crazy, finding content is easier than time to write it down.

5) How did being a step child help you become the step mother you are today?
My dad died when I was 4 so I was a pretty messed up kid, in my early teens life threw me some huge curve balls and that didn’t help. I was pretty horrible to my step dad and my mum. I often thought about what they could have done better as parents, now as a step mum I try and put those lessons in place. I love my step dad now and have a great relationship with both of my parents. During the difficult days I think about how hard it was on them and they survived.

6) How do you cope being a parent to a kindergarten and two teenagers? It would require such different parenting styles due to the age difference!
I will admit that some days I feel torn at each limb. One child gets up at 6am every morning whilst the others want you to stay up until midnight every night. One wants to go shopping the other wants to go to the see a kids movie. We found that we need to break up often and give the kids individual time. My daughter and I go to the local cafe for coffee and milkshakes on Saturday mornings whilst hubby and the teens sleep in. The teens require more emotional support where the 6 year old needs help with everything and a lot of time. Miss 16 likes to go on dates with my husband and I to restaurants we can’t take the youngest. I am very lucky to have in laws who are happy to babysit.

7) How do you find the time to blog, being a step mother, mother, wife and tax accountant? What’s the secret?
I went back to work full time in May last year, it certainly has been a challenge to continue blogging. I see blogging as something that keeps me balanced so it is just like writing a diary. We don’t watch much TV so I blog in the evening when the youngest is in bed. I think the real secret though is low expectations, my home is far from perfect and good enough is well….. good enough. I try to prioritise what is important to me and my blog is part of my journey.

8) How did you keep up with your ‘balance’ for 2014 and how will that help you keep this year’s resolution of ‘simple’?
When I decided on my word for 2014 being balance I knew I had a tough year ahead. Our eldest was starting in the Navy, the middle child was starting her HSC, the youngest was starting school and I was selling my business and starting work full time. I knew that we needed to keep balance to survive. When I started working full time, my husband used some leave to structure part time hours to help with the transition and balance. We often sat down through the year and asked ourselves how could we balance things better, often it meant giving something up or splitting up our team to divide and conquer. 2015 is all about simple, this word came from balance because so often last year, simplify was our answer. I tend to over complicate things, so I want to focus on simplicity.

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
If you love writing, just write. Don’t worry about statistics, write from the heart.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Eleise Hale and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: A Very Blended Family
Eleise’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Kyle Bradford

CHOPPERPAPA BY KYLE BRADFORD ChopperPapa.com by Kyle Bradford

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
Kyle is the author of ChopperPapa.com, a blog dedicated to observations and discussions about single parenting, dating, divorce, manhood, and occasionally motorcycles and music. Launched in late 2010, ChopperPapa.com is not the average “daddy blog” about potty training, naps, minivans, or the best apps for toddlers. Once referred to as “Confucius on a Chopper,” Kyle brings a shrewd and candid approach to the weighty issues we all face (married or single) such as relationship communication, coping after an extramarital affair, co-parenting, relationships and the kids, dealing with ex-spouses, and other tidbits he affectionately refers to as  “intellectual road kill.”  A single father for nearly a decade parenting two tweens, he will soon be remarried and add another topic to his tag line – blended families.

Through his own mistakes, he is intimately familiar with the struggles single parents endure whether it’s answering our children’s questions about divorce, spending holidays alone, or finding love again.

In 2013 he launched a program called ‘Fatherhood Wide Open‘. A podcast dedicated to intelligent conversations on issues facing fatherhood and masculinity. He holds in-depth conversations with writers and thinkers about topics most important to men and dads.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception? Tell us how a recovering backwoods redneck became a prolific blogger that has been featured on Huffington Post.
Naively, I believed, when I began writing, that I would be the next Oprah prodigy. When that didn’t happen – I am still waiting for the phone to ring – I discovered more authentic and sincere reasons. As the first of my circle of friends to become a divorced father, in the ensuing years those same friends who were now facing the same trials I had previously endured approached me. After discussing with others, it was suggested I begin writing about my thoughts on divorced fatherhood, dating, remarriage, and all that entails. I write what’s on my heart and mind. Issues that I read about or hear of that sit at the intersection of fatherhood, relationships, and divorce always grab my attention. Over the years my blog has become the storehouse of my thoughts on life and love. Hopefully I’ll write indefinitely and can, in the years to come, look back and see how much I’ve changed or stayed the same.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
I hope to connect with single fathers. What breaks my heart most are fathers who, through the ending of a relationship, abandon their children for the sake of fun, freedom, or fear. I want to inspire, encourage, and even frighten them into reengaging with their kids. I hope to connect with single and divorced fathers who are dating again and how to navigate those dangerous waters. Yet, I also hope to give a different perspective to single and divorced moms and offer a male’s thoughts on the topics they often wonder about.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
I have no expectations for my site. I will continue to write with a heart of sincerity, authenticity, and transparency. Perhaps I’ll expand on a series of posts about a topic and put that into a book. With a remarriage in the near future, blending families will be a central topic of my future writing, but I will not move away from those same topics that have grabbed my attention for the last few years.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
I read authors who inspire me, most should add, are dead. F. W. Boreham and J. G. Greenhough are two very obscure writers/preachers from the 19th century that have given me new perspectives on numerous topics. My faith is an important part of my content. Current news and events around us can be wonderful inspirations, but always trying to keep any topic within the framework of fatherhood, masculinity, and single parenting.

5) Tell us about ‘Fatherhood Wide Open’ and how did it come about?
There are wonderful men around this world who are doing great things by they are sharing their manhood journeys with the world and I have been inspired by many of them. FWO is an opportunity to catalogue just a sliver of their wisdom. The program is two years old and in the 20 plus episodes I have recorded, I have yet to have a conversation where I didn’t learn something new. It is one of my greatest joys in connecting with other men about issues that matter.

6) What sort of content makes it to your ‘intellectual roadkill’ section of your blog? How did you come about naming that segment of your blog?
Intellectual Roadkill is that content that doesn’t fit neatly into fatherhood or parenting topic, it’s a catch all for anything that doesn’t stick, for example my article on Thanksgiving dinner or the dangers of the social media app Yik Yak. I chose that because, as any motorcycle rider will quickly admit, roadkill is something we must always watch out for.

7) What advice do you have for single fathers raising tweens?
Be there! As children get older the influence of a father becomes crucial and there may be no better time than in the tweens to have a father pour himself into his children. Don’t allow the shiny objects of singlehood to distract you from the responsibilities of being a dad. Childhood is fleeting and before one knows it any influence we have vanishes never to be regained again.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Forget the popularity, forget the idea of making a living at it, never mind the number of readers you have, or the likes, forwards, or comments on social media. If all that happens great, if not, great. I don’t believe in this idea that as a blogger we ‘write for ourselves’. If that were so we wouldn’t publish it for the world to see. Everyone enjoys recognition, but that shouldn’t be the aim of a blogger. Always and every time write from the heart, where your passion is, write on what you enjoy and that matters to you. But I must caution that when you do so you will likely experience what was noted by Catholic mystic Thomas Merton, “If you write for yourself, you can read what you’ve written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you’ll wish you were dead.”

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Kyle Bradford and would like to follow his blog, here are all his pertinent details.

Blog: Chopperpapa
Kyle’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Mandy Walker

SSince My Divorce by Mandy WalkerINCE MY DIVORCE BY MANDY WALKER

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
English by birth, Mandy studied Business Administration at the University of Bath, England. In 1986 she emigrated to the United States and spent the next twenty years working in financial services. Of the many hats Mandy wore during that time, she was responsible for handling formal customer complaints and major service resolution issues giving her a solid foundation in dispute resolution.

With a change of career in mind, Mandy graduated in 2008 with a Masters in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. While pursuing her journalism studies, Mandy and her husband of seventeen years divorced and it was that experience that led to Mandy’s new career as a divorce coach and mediator.

Mandy is a member of the Mediation Association of Colorado, the Boulder County Bar Association and also serves on the Board of Children First of The Rockies, a non-profit that provides safe exchanges and supervised visits for children on the Front Range in Colorado

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
Since My Divorce, inspired by my own divorce, is collection of people’s stories about life after divorce, shared with the hope of making my readers’ own journeys a little easier, whether that comes from gaining a different perspective, growing in compassion, greater understanding or knowing they are not alone.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My ideal reader is someone who is going through divorce whether it’s them or their spouse who initiated it or who is considering divorce and wants to know more about what to expect. I hope that my blog helps them on several levels. I hope the stories help them see that divorce is another life event that shouldn’t be stigmatized or judged. I hope they’ll find some practical solutions to the complexities of untangling from your spouse and I hope they’ll get the sense that they are not alone because divorce can be a very isolating time of your life.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent in the same vein you have blogging about it?
I’d love for Since My Divorce to still be around in five years’ time – most blogs don’t make it past a couple of years and Since My Divorce has already been going for over five years. The need for divorce-related information certainly is not going to go away and I think people will still need to learn about the tools and skills for ending a significant relationship with dignity and respect.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
My blog is about sharing other people’s stories so the content comes mostly from interviews with other people. Very few people turn down an interview request – I think on a fundamental level we all like to help others and we like to feel we’re making a difference.

5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
Starting my blog was part of my midlife transformation although I didn’t know it at the time. I’d spent 20+ years in customer service and operations in Financial Services when I took a severance from that job. I went back to school for journalism partly because I didn’t have any idea about what I wanted to do for the rest of life. That led to the blog which led to divorce coaching which then led to divorce mediation. Now I have a whole new career centered around helping others and that’s important to me.

6) Do you think there are enough resources out there for children of divorce? What do you think is missing or what can we improve on?
I think we need more resources specifically for children, rather than their parents, giving them tools and skills for renegotiating their relationships with their parents and siblings following divorce, how to love both parents without choosing and what they can do to avoid getting caught in the middle. The challenge is getting the resources to the children because often they are dependent on their parents for access. It would be great to create to an coaching program for children that could be delivered in school perhaps as an after-school program.

7) Why did you decide to create some free audio and how does that complement your blog?
The free audio programs are timeless content such as deciding if divorce is right for you, essential preparations for divorce and parenting after divorce. They really are the basics, the starting points for anyone who is ending their marriage and getting that information out is about helping people to get started on the journey. Frankly, it’s much easier for me to turn these teleconferences into audio programs than to keep organizing the teleconferences.

8) Tell us about My Divorce Pal
My Divorce Pal is an affordable, self-guided, online divorce coaching program created from the interviews for my blog. It covers five main areas: deciding to divorce, preparing for divorce, financial preparations, parenting and divorce, and self-care. In total there are over 50 different modules each of which comes with a worksheet so you can apply the message in the module to your specific situation. It’s a great learning tool.

Membership in the program gives access to all the modules which you can do in any order because, divorce is not a neat, orderly process as much as the law would like us to believe it does. I do firmly believe that you will easily save the cost of your membership through finding out more about divorce, making more informed decisions and making better use of the hired professionals on your team.

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
I don’t like to put anyone off blogging because it’s been such a great learning opportunity for me. Blogging about your divorce can be challenging since it can cause difficulties with your ex and privacy concerns for your children. That makes it hard to be authentic about what’s happening and if you can’t be authentic then you may be losing some of the therapeutic benefit of blogging. This leads many people to using a pseudonym and that’s probably the safest way to start. I still caution people though, especially if they’re still in the legal process. You absolutely do not want to jeopardize your parenting arrangement or financial settlement because of something you wrote in a moment of overwhelming emotion.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Mandy Walker and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Since My Divorce
Mandy’s’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Ana & Frank Amelio

OUR BLENDED MARRIAGE BY ANA & FRANK AMELIOOur Blended Marriage by Frank and Ana Amelio

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
Frank and Ana are an American expat couple currently living in Croatia. Their family is a blended one, not just because this is their second marriage but because they are also a blend of two similar yet different cultures. Their blog is a place where they share their blended family experience as well as blogging, design and productivity tips.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
Our blog is about our everyday life, a place for us to share our experience as a blended family, our dreams for the future with a mix of blogging, design, and productivity tips.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
Our ideal readers are other parents, people who have been in our situation, and people who are facing the possibility of having a blended family. We hope to inspire others and show them that there is love and life after divorce, that blended families can thrive, and that dreams do come true.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
In 5 years time we hope to still be blogging and we hope that our topic will be prevalent as it is today because blended families are out there and I don’t think they will go away any time soon.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
We find inspiration in our day to day life, and we address any issues we might come across. Sometimes, a heated topic can be a theme for a general post idea, but we also share our knowledge of blog design since we are experienced in that area. Considering Ana is also a work at home mom she knows all too well the struggle work at home moms face and she is not afraid to jump in and share her experience with others.

5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
So far, we have been interviewed on a few small scale blogs, and Ana had a few of her posts featured on BlogHer and SITSGirls blogs. We also had the opportunity to review Time Doctor, a fabulous time tracking software, and work with a few brands on sponsored posts such as ServiceRestore Master and Merry Maids.

6) What made you include a “complete random things” page to your blog?
We wanted to be honest and fun at the same time. Although we have an About page on our blog, it serves more as an overview of what our blog has to offer. Writing separate pages with random facts about us seemed like a fun way for people to get to know us better.

7) How do the two of you work together on this blog? Do each of you have distinctive roles or is it very much adhoc?
When it comes to maintaining the blog and social networking, Ana carries the load there. When it comes to writing blog posts, Frank is more spontaneous than Ana and blogs as his work schedule allows. It’s nice to have a blogging partner who also serves as a back up editor and someone to bounce off general topic ideas.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
We could probably tell you here everything that’s already been said multiple times. So we are not going to do that. The words of advice that we have is: be who you are, and be social. Nobody will come to your blog just because you published your first post. You have to let the world know you are there and the best way to do that is to go visit other bloggers. Be generous with comments and with sharing their content. Don’t give up if they don’t visit you immediately. Most of the bloggers out there have a few dozen other blogs they follow and it might take a few comments from you before they come visit your blog. But in 99.9% of the cases they will come and check you out.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Ana & Frank Amelio and would like to follow their blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Our Blended Marriage
Ana & Frank’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Stacey James Wheeler

STEPDADDING BY STACEY JAMES WHEELER

PROFESSIONAL BIO:Stepdadding by Stacey James Wheeler
Stacey James Wheeler is a Family Dynamics Researcher, speaker and author. His work has been called “Insightful,” “Powerful” and “Valuable” by counsellors and family coaches. The focus of his research is the struggles of blended and step-families. The goal of his work is to help Stepdads succeed.

Wheeler is the founder of Stepdadding.com -the Information and Inspiration site for Stepdads- and is an active voice for family and child organizations and charities.
Wheeler has authored numerous research papers & articles. His books include:
• The Stepdad’s Guide:  Resolving Family Conflict (author)
• Dad’s Behaving DADLY (contributing author)

His upcoming book Stepdad 101 –What to Know BEFORE you Marry a Single Mom, will be released in 2015. Wheeler is a proud Stepdad of three.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
I was raised by a single mom and understand the value a full-time dad adds to a child’s life. I created Stepdadding after discovering the issues I’ve dealt with as a Stepdad are common in most single mom remarriages. As a Stepdad I struggled to resolve the turmoil in my family.  My wife and I were a good couple and, on the surface, nothing seemed broken. But there was an amazing amount of stress and tension. We fought over little things, and we were growing apart. Divorce seemed unavoidable.

I started researching blended family statistics and found that more than 3/2 of marriages to single moms end in divorce. I discovered that Stepdads are nearly twice as likely to ask for a divorce. I also found that there are underlying stress factors that slowly erode these relationships, making them more likely to end in divorce. I was amazed I’d never heard this before. Understanding the underlying issues helped me save my marriage.

I knew this information could help other guys too. But most of the information I’d found was in hard statistics and was spread around the web. You couldn’t find it all in one single location. I created Stepdadding.com to give men a single site to get help. I was able to share what I’d found and help more men avoid divorce.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
The ideal reader for Stepdadding is any parent in a step-family. I created the site for men. I had in mind that I could help Stepdads and biological fathers work better as a team. It’s been good at attracting male readers but the analytics show that more than 40% of my readers are women. I also receive about 15% of my reader questions from women. Preventing divorce is a core goal of the site. So it’s not surprising moms are attracted to Stepdadding too.

I want to help kids. Divorce is hardest on them. The site helps couples resolve their stress triggers and stay together. Kids benefit a great deal when you can avoid divorce. Most step-kids already suffered through one split up. Saving these relationships keeps them from having to go through that again.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent in the same vein you have blogging about it?
The newest statistics show the Stepdad trend is growing. A larger number of single mothers remarry each year –and the trend is worldwide. Last month readers from over 150 countries visited the site.

A Canadian study shows more than half of households reported they had a Step-parent in the family. The US is the same. Blended and step families are the new normal in western culture countries. The information provided at Stepdadding.com is needed more than ever.  The site traffic continues to grow at an amazing pace. The traffic increases by 150-200+% each year. People are sharing the articles in social media and work is getting around.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
I get content from a variety of sources I’ve developed, who are experts in the field. This requires a good deal of networking, but has been very valuable. I also use SocialMonsters. They are a free content service you can sign up for. For article ideas I subscribe to Google News feeds. This allows me to have news stories with specific key words sent to my email. I scan the emails each morning for relevant content.

Reader mail is another great source for topics. I have a link the readers can click to submit a question for my “Ask The Stepdad” page. These questions underline the most common issues couples deal with. The responses are posted, so new content on important topics is created. Other couples struggling with the same issue can apply the information to their situation.

There are about five major stress factors unique to Stepdad’s relationships and family life. Communication is the best way to overcome or avoid these issues, so communication is a huge theme on the site. And I don’t just say it’s important. I give relevant tips for how to improve the way couples talk.

5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
The blog is a labour of love. There’s no cost to the reader. I started it so I can help other couples succeed. My work on the site has led to other opportunities. I was offered a monthly column in a parenting magazine. It was unpaid, but it gave me a new audience to share the site with. I wrote a research paper on the struggles of Stepdads, which was expanded and published as my first book, The Stepdad’s Guide.

I’ve been able to network with great people who’ve opened doors for other projects. I was asked to submit a chapter for the book Dads Behaving DADLY and asked to speak at several conferences through these connections.

This past summer the site was nominated as a top parenting site and was site chosen by voters among the top five in the world. It was the only site on the list dedicated exclusively to Stepdads. It was great publicity for the site.

6) How do you decide on what image should accompany each post? Is there a formula or pure creativity?
I used to put a lot of effort in finding what I felt was the perfect images, but I’ve backed down a bit from that. Searching for good images is time consuming. As the site becomes more successful I need the extra time to answer reader mail and do other formatting work.

I’ve become strategic. I want to site to look good and be easy to read. I like to have at least one image in each article but I’ve started inserting quotes from the article. I want the information to be easy to access and understand. I break up the article by section or point, by using formatting tricks. I use a larger font to introduce a shift in the focus as the article moves forward.

I also love to use video. It takes a little more effort but if the video content is important to the topic, it will be helpful to the reader. I’ve started creating more original video for the site and plan to put more emphasis on video in the future.

7) If you could provide one piece of advice for all men out there who are about to meet their potential step children for the very first time, what would it be?
Don’t expect to be “dad”. If the biological father is still in the picture this can cause the kids to feel pulled in two directions. It can cause a rift between the Stepdad and the father, making it hard to work as a team. This too is bad for the kids. When you’re a Stepdad you need to make a huge shift. The kids’ need become the center of your daily focus.

If the biological father isn’t in the picture the kids may choose to call you dad. You can let them know how you feel about them by referring to them as your kids in public. But don’t force it. They’ll decide on their own. Depending on their ages, they may never choose to call you dad.
Just be a parent. Raise them like you made them.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
If you want to be a blogger, write about a topic you’re passionate about. Consider how many people need what you can share. If it’s a big audience you might have something. People Google information they can relate to and use in their own lives. Bloggers that share recipes, how-to videos and gardening advice will appeal to a huge audience of people. We all eat. We need to fix things and there are millions of people who garden.

Bloggers who just write about themselves won’t do as well. People probably won’t do a Google search that will turn up what you’re writing about. If what you’re passionate about is yourself, then just stick to Facebook.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Stacey James Wheeler and would like to follow his blog, here are all his pertinent details.

Blog: Stepdadding
Stacey’s’s social media connections:

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Blogger Interview: Holly Sosa

OUR HOLLY DAYS BY HOLLY SOSAOur Holly Days by Holly Sosa

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
I have always been a blogger. I can remember starting a LiveJournal back in High School & I always kept up some form of a private blog. I started publicly blogging in 2008 after the loss of my son, Liam. Originally, I wanted to connect with other parents who had experienced loss similar to mine. Since then, my blog has taken on a whole new life & I’ve loved the community it has opened up to me.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
An ideal reader? Well, ANY reader is ideal; I’m not picky! Ha! My typical readers are Moms & Step-Moms with small children. By sharing my experiences, I hope to teach other parents whether it be with easy recipes or crafts to potty training & step-parenting.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
In five years, I’d love for Our Holly Days to be a fairly mainstream blog that offers tons of content for parents with children of all ages. I’d also love to write a recipe book that features fun holiday ideas for kids.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
I’m a pretty creative person; so I’ve never had an issue with that area. I do get into a slump now & then, but motivation is key. I treat my blog like it’s my job & dedicate myself to making it fun, fresh, & filled with content.

5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
When I began, it connected me with families that had also lost babies. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my grief & provided me with comfort. Since then, I have been blessed to be able to work with several brands that my family already uses. How much fun is it to get paid to share things you already love with your audience!? It’s opened up a whole world for me!

6) With a brood of five children, how do you find the time to blog and also include all those wonderful photos to complement your posts?
I’m organized down to the minute. I’m a self-confessed organizational freak; so I am careful with my time. Typically, I work while the kids are in school or napping, & even late into the night.

7) Living so remotely, how do you keep up with fashion, style and crafts?
BLOGS! It’s so much fun to keep up with the trends, activities, ideas, & more via my fellow bloggers. It gives me a link to the world outside of my rural town & allows me to explore ideas I wouldn’t usually see.

8) How do you get inspired with all your recipes?
I draw most of my ideas from what made me excited as a kid. My mother was always creative with food & it made me feel so special. Transitioning that into my cooking has always felt natural to me.

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Dedication. I’ve had several people approach me to help them start a blog & they get off to a fabulous start, but six months in they give up. Posts suddenly stop & they disappear. I didn’t get to where I am overnight…or even in a year. It takes dedication & determination to not give up. You’ll build an audience over time. And get to where you want to be!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Holly Sosa and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Our Holly Days
Holly’s social media connections:

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