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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

great things on the Mommy Stories

Happy New Year's Eve, mommies!
I love this time of year. I feel like things get more focused, settled down and exciting after the holidays and around New Year's. It's just exciting to think about what's to come in the new year. I just saw a post on Facebook this morning of a cool quote that I think sums up this time of year: "Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one!" and then this one made me stop with awe…

I have been thinking about this blog post for two months now, with so many exciting things happening. There was a time late summer early fall that I was feeling pretty down about the Mommy Stories Facebook group and drama that was ensuing there. I was feeling like I was doing something wrong, like I needed to be doing something differently to keep things running smoothly with the 1500 moms in there. After talking to some trusted mom-friends about the blog and seeing that there are like 99 to 1 positive experiences in the group, and after taking to heart one friend's truthful advice "You can't please everyone. You just keep doing what you're doing, it's GREAT and working for more moms than the ones it's not working for. Keep doing your thing," I have listened and done just that.

I scan the group daily, sometimes multiples times a day, to be sure there is no drama or negativity. I try to encourage positivity, like with Momma Mondays, asking moms to give a shout out of encouragement to another mom. It's working! The group is growing (1500 people and more!). People say "thank you, I don't know what I'd do without this group" on a daily basis it seems. I am so grateful for the camaraderie in there. I know it helps moms.

I've realized after so much observation and reflection for the last few months that are GREAT things happening in the Mommy Stories discussion group on Facebook and via this blog. I'm so proud of what it's becoming. 

Sometimes it's just small things that are amazing in this group. Like the fact that you can post in the middle of the night, frantic about a rash or sickness, unsure what to do, and by morning you have at least 15 responses from real moms who get it.

A few specific examples that make me smile:
  • Every time a new baby is born someone posts congratulating the mother. I love these! In December we had a momma Jillian Rogers deliver twins and post the most ADORABLE picture of her babies in winter hats. The support for these brand new babies was astounding. In a day this picture received 300+ likes. I love the simplicity of that and yet how powerful it must have been to that brand new momma.

Image shared with permission from Jillian Rogers
  • My good friend shared numerous dairy free recipes for other moms who have children with dairy allergies. There are quite a few parents who have kids with allergies in this group and I love that there is sharing and support happening for them. 
  • Numerous times moms post pictures children with rashes and medical issues. The instant response from other moms is so helpful. I know, personally, when I posted hives a few weeks ago and was panicked, waiting to hear from the doctor's office wasn't as helpful as the moms who replied INSTANTLY to me on Facebook. It's a resource we're all lucky to have. 
  • I've tried featuring REAL moms on my blog with real topics that mean something to we mothers… like postpartum depression and fire safety for your family. I hope that moms are helped by these stories. 
My favorite from the entire year though was something I never imagined would happen through this group of moms from all over the world - yes, world, not just country, crazy! A mother posted that her well was not working. She was so worried with wintery cold days and several children at home, she didn't know what to do. Another mother from another state somehow connected her own husband to the original mom with the well issue husband… and voila, a few hours later the well was fixed and she had water for her family again! It was the craziest, most amazing thing I've seen. Real moms, really caring, and connecting for support and encouragement. Wow. And it cost NOTHING. I love this. 

I'm so proud that this blog and discussion group can be a vehicle for positive moments among mothers. 

Along with all of the great things in the group have become some things that I never expected, some exposure out there on the World Wide Web that I never ever anticipated or planned on and am happily surprised by.

First, I posted this feature of mom Meghan Szylvian writing a letter to her premature babies back at the end of June.
Then at the end of July the HUFFINGTON POST picked it up and asked her permission to re-post the article on their site. HUFFINGTON POST. Do you see that?! It's pretty much the most amazing blog rep-posting site ever. I was shocked when I saw this.

Then it got better, in August, Huffington Post in ENGLAND asked also to re-post this article. I was elated! I did not write the article, the credit goes all to Meghan and her beautiful babies, but having my blog be the vehicle that got it to such high success and leading to other moms around the world writing to Meghan with support and encouragement… that's AMAZING.

Images shared from Meghan Szylvian 

In August I was so grateful to talk to Nina from pee-kaboo reusable potty training stickers. She is an AMAZING momma and hard worker. I was one of the first mom bloggers to test out her new product and promote it to the world here on my blog:

She sent me free stickers that totally made our potty training experience easier with our daughter. I felt so special getting this and again my blog was what made it possible. Now I'm connected to this mom and her great work, that I promote everywhere I go because I love it!

My other most favorite thing of the year for my blogging experience was being connected to the Orange Rhino. I'd looooved her work for at least two years before I "met" her online. She's an incredible mother who is SO truthful in her experience of yelling at her 4 boys and trying so hard to stop- she quit yelling for more than a year straight. Amazing.

I randomly happened to see on Facebook one day that she wrote a new book and was doing a "blogging tour," where she was asking bloggers like myself to review her book. I was chosen out of hundreds of people to review her book. I was SO excited, ask my husband, I bragged about this for days at home when the book came in the mail.

This was an amazing experience. I don't know how I'll ever top this in the future of my blogging world, it was so cool. She's like a mom celebrity to me!

After the review, TWO lucky Mommy Stories readers received free giveaways of orange treats from the Orange Rhino just for responding to my question about how they stay calm when parenting. LOVE that I was able to do my first ever giveaway on this blog. I hope to do more in the future.

Here is my review:

Then in early December a representative of Shutterfly contacted me, asking for permission to re-post my blog article that I posted last December 2013 about how I hang up my Christmas cards. WHAT?! I was so surprised and excited that another big organization was recognizing my little blog from Maine.

They linked my blog post to the Shutterfly Pinterest board "Home for the Holidays," here SO EXCITING!

In exchange I got free things from Shutterfly - MY favorite stuff! What an unexpected gift.

With all of this Web outreach, I wanted to give back some of the generosity I received.

So we helped my friend who had a house fire. I asked moms to consider donating to her cause… what happened was beyond my wildest dreams. We raised more than $7,500 for her to start rebuilding her life after this fire made her family of three lose everything. She is in New York, yet moms from Maine who had never met her and those from around the world were helping my friend simply because she's a mother in need. I was brought to tears with the daily support that was coming toward me for my friend. Every single day my sister and I were busy fielding emails, messages, phone calls, donations, etc. People sent books and bubbles, clothing, bedding, etc. Some new, some of their own used things, all appreciated so much. The generosity was incredible. I'd never been a part of anything like this before, and it was something I'm so lucky to have been part of. Taking a terrible thing and turning it into something beautiful is awesome.

Then a mom in the Facebook group had a daughter who got a concussion and she was told things would get worse for her if the toddler didn't sit still, no running around, etc. How on earth do you contain a busy toddler?! This mom was upset and worried. So I asked if anyone wanted to send her stickers, coloring books or even just a gift card to Starbucks to make mom's day easier. Multiple moms send something right away. This was so sweet! It seems simple, but imagine you yourself in this position of having to keep your toddler still… wouldn't some new gifts in the mail - even small things like stickers - make that hard task a lot easier?! Love that. 

Lastly, in December the Mommy Stories adopted a local Maine family, the Carters, for Christmas. Mom gave us her list of items her boys needed, and every single thing on the list was covered by donations and gift cards to the family - including the coolest gift of date night out for the parents. I love it! I was so amazed at the generosity - one mom bought the entire family new bed sheets. Another mom sent in clothing for both boys and winter jackets. Another mom sent a gift card from England! During the busy holiday season, seeing moms stopping to help others in need made me so happy. I hope we can adopt a family next year, too. 

SO much more fun is coming in 2015! 
Make sure you are a part of it :) THANK YOU, moms, for following me on this motherhood journey. It's a lot more fun with you there laughing along with me. 

Follow all the fun here on Facebook where I post lots of awesome mom articles.

Follow my Pinterest page here for cool ideas I've found along the way:

And of course my fun photography skills put to use - showing off real mom messes, favorite books and toys, adorable kids, etc.

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