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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

10 Days Blog Makeover Challenge

While scrolling through Facebook I came across the 10 Days Blog Makeover Challenge by the fabulous and friendly Daniela @ Blogging on your own terms

It is my 5th year of blogging, so a makover might be in order, right? Let's see what I would have to do...

Day 1 - Write a mission statement for your blog

Fill in the blanks: I write about [my topic ] in order to help [my audience + my unique angle]. I do this because [my purpose].

Uuggghh. What's next, a SWOT analysis? I always hated assignments like this. Can't I just say "I write about this and that because it hit me, and I'm happy that there are people out there who like to read it?"

Truth be told, I don't even know what my topic, my audience and my niche are. (<-- Oh! See? Need for action!)

My blog is a hodge podge of online diary, monthly writing challenges, recipes and crafts.
From what I know my audience consists in my loyal secret subject swap and use your words blogging friends plus a couple of real life and Facebook friends, mostly moms, and one or two brave and supportive guys.

The only thing I can think of that distinguishes me from other mommy bloggers I know of, is that I'm Swiss. I even had to name my Facebook page SwissPartTimeWorkingMom (likes are greatly appreciated!)

Day 2 - Answer the question "if your blog was a place, where would it be?" 

In addition to figuring out the place, we were to create a Pinterest board and pin a ton of pictures. This was my favorite activity ;-)

I decided my blog needed at least a summer and a winter residence. 

Winter vs Blogger: Log cabin, wooden floors, red brick fireplace with a crackling fire, some comfort food, wine and coffee, fluffy socks, blankets and cinnamon stick candles,...

It's summer, and we still want to get lots of writing done - here's my take on it: Beach house, deck chairs, lots of windows, ceiling fan, A/C, mosquito nets, fully functional fridge and freezer with an endless supply of fruit juices, sparkling wine and ice cream!

Day 3 - Choose your fonts for your blog

So I work with Blogger which offers the following fonts:

When I started this blog, it was clear to me that Helvetica was the one to go with. Because, Switzerland ;-) Kidding aside, I like that it's neat and "generous". For the future I might consider using the larger font size though.

If I wanted a larger selection of fonts, I would have to switch to Wordpress. Which would entail a whole new challenge: how to import over 300 blog posts..?! What about all the links that are out there on Pinterest, Facebook and Google+?

Day 4 - Choose your colors and integrate them into your blog

So my winter colors have a HEX code: 591B02 or 2C76A6

Did you know colors have HEX codes? I didn't. 

Those are the colors that Blogger allows me to use, I guess I can pick my custom colors from here:

Summer colors

That's all fine and dandy, BUT: I read somewhere that people are much, much more likely to click on something that is either red, pink or orange. Byebye summer and winter colors, I think I need to start from scratch and do something spring-like!?

Day 5 - Create a branded graphic template for your blog posts

Background, headline, logo - Colin would LOVE this task! He creates logos for his fictional hockey teams. I should outsource this one to him! 

Oh! I know what "you just need" means. Want to do a fun craft for St. Patrick's Day? Here's an idea, you just need a few items that are lying around the house." 
Or you live in Switzerland and want to make gummy treats with a just a few simple ingredients? Hahahaha!!

The thing is, I am fascinated by graphics and images, and I wish I knew how to create and edit them! I tried working with Gimp once. Almost had to check myself into the quiet place with the awesome drugs. 

Oh, and PicMonkey? There is a free trail version - however they'll only give you access in return of your credit card details?!

Day 6 - Make your headlines kick butt

With this fun tool you can find out if your blog title contain the right mix of (un) common, emotional and power words. They suggest to aim for a score of 70 or higher. So I ran all of my January posts and found out that all but one of my titles suck :-(

Day 7 - Help your blog readers to stick around longer

Make relevant posts easier to find. This one is basically an "organize your junk drawer assignment". Once upon a long time I started to create a category for my writing challenge posts. I guess I should take the time and finish the job.

Day 8 - Format your posts for easy reading

Keep everything nice and neat. Paragraphs shouldn't be longer than three to five sentences. Use headings, dividers, bullet points, pictures,...
I think this is the one I don't need to work on. Yay! Check!

Day 9 - Help your blog readers take action

Add a Call to Action toward the beginning and the end of a post. 

Whoa! As a reader I don't think I want to click follow, subscribe or anything at the beginning of a post, to me that'd be like buying a pig in a poke. I also think one should only "like" a page if you really like it. Then again I am aware that some of my own likes probably were favors of friends. 

Day 10 - Time to celebrate your blog!

There are a couple of suggestions on how to celebrate and congratulate ourselves for sticking around and making changes to our blog. (I haven't really done anything yet - do you think I'm still entitled to party? Please say yes!)

Next we are supposed to set new goals and actions steps. There we go again :-(
I know, I know it's important. I'm just having such a hard time coming up with realistic, measureable, bla bla bla. My blog is supposed to be fun. 

So, I'm gonna ask you, dear readers: 

If I am going to make three modifications to my blog, which ones would you suggest? 

This challenge wasn't about content. However I am particularly interested in hearing your feedback on content: what do (or don't) you like reading about here?

Thanks for leaving me a comment below or on my FB page!

Friday, February 5, 2016

February Secret Subject Swap - Video To My Unborn Baby

Welcome to February's Secret Subject Swap. Again 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  
Sit back, grab a cup and check them all out:

My subject is 
You're pregnant and leave a video to your unborn child. What would you say?

It was submitted by Spatulas on Parade thanks, Dawn!

I read a similar post just the other day and was impressed by the amount of thought this Dad Eric put into it. Also the imagination! 

I usually don't lack in the fantasy department - I pulled off quite some fiction - however when I was pregnant, I didn't have the ability to realistically picture my life beyond giving birth!

All I did was googling the baby's weekly milestones! 

There's a movie I remember. "My Life" starring Nicole Kidman and Michael Keaton. He plays a becoming father who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He learns that he might not even make it until his son is born, so he starts making movies about his life, this way the baby will know who his Dad was.

It's so sad. I hope this prompt didn't presume I wasn't going to live to raise my baby? Because that would be the worst!!!

Actually, checking out early (along with losing my baby) is one of my biggest fears. 

I want to see my son through everything! I want to take pictures at his hockey games, birthday parties and graduation, I will even wear a dress for his wedding, and I want to babysit his kids! 

If going for another run next week and / or cutting back on coffee, chocolate and wine is what it takes, then I'll might do it!

About this time of year, in 2008, I found out that I was finally pregnant. I had my share of disappointments and a "false positive" (I thought there were only false negatives in home pregnancy tests?) so I was reluctant to dance with joy and buy cute little outfits just yet, let alone make videos!

I did talk to the little guy (I just knew) all the time, though. In my mind, and sometimes out loudly. 

When I was on my way to work, stuck in traffic, feeling nervous about being late for a meeting, it'd suddenly hit me that meetings about headcounts, turnover rates and budgets would not be my responsibility for long now.

So I would say to the little guy "you know, once you're here? On Monday mornings when all the poor suckers hard working people have to go to the office - the two of us are gonna sleep in, cuddle in bed, giggle and be happy!"

Little did I know that my baby was barely going to sleep at all, much less, sleep in. 

With what I do know today...

Here are the basics that I would let my baby know in a video on our life together: 

  1. I love you! And I will be surprised to find out what loving my baby even feels like.
  2. You are my first and only baby, I am a rookie mom. I'm trying hard to do this right. I can't promise that I won't screw up sometimes. I tried to read the parenting books, but I kept falling asleep. I do promise to take good care of you, protect and encourage you! Sometimes I may overdo it or lose my sh**. If in doubt, just refer to bullet point 1!
  3. I need my sleep. I am committed to getting up and preparing your bottle as soon as I hear you cry. I'll also change your diaper and hold you. Other than that, there is no need to wake me up between midnight and 7am! Allright? Excellent. 
  4. I need my me-time, meaning you need to need your sleep. This is what your crib looks like (camera pans). Look, the cuddly stuffed animals you got, aren't they cute? When I lay you in here, it's nap time. Close your eyes and sleep. You can do it!
  5. Most days we don't have many time restrictions. On the rare occasions that we do have to be somewhere on time, it'd be nice if you didn't puke all over your clothes or have a poopy diaper up your whole back!
  6. This is a coffee mug, and this is a wine glass. Both, along with all the appliances with the fancy buttons, are off limits to you, I just wanted you to familiarize yourself with those items because you may see me holding either of them in my hand occasionally. And when you do, don't push and trip me! Repeat after me: happy mom - happy son!
  7. Let's take a look at the garage. This is my car! Meaning we have the privilege of going places whenever we want to! I will also learn soon that driving may become my secret weapon to make you take a nap! As it will turn out, your falling asleep will more often than not happen within the last two minutes before we get home.
  8. While we're in the basement let me show you the washer and dryer. Those are our livesavers! While you are busy making your current clothes dirty, those wonderful machines will wash and dry the haul from earlier today! Even though doing laundry is not a hobby of mine, you seem to think so and constantly work on new supplies for me...
  9. This is where we store our suitcases. Thanks to your Mommy's job with the airline, you'll be barely two years old when you'll take the flower power airplane to SFO, ride cable cars, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and hang out at Pier 39! Yes, against my plans on becoming a happily ever after bake and craft at home mom, right about your first birthday I'll get a phone call from a former coworker. One interview will lead to another, and boom, you'll attend daycare twice a week and love it!
  10. We are taking a look at the decoration boxes in the attic now. My camera's battery is blinking which means we have to be quick. This is a St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun. This is a Halloween Ghost Light. This is our Elf on the Shelf, she's gonna join us before Christmas. We will have so much fun preparing and celebrating these events!

I don't have many pregnant pictures. This was in June or July 2008. Can you tell I finally believed that this was happening!

And look how it has been happening!!!

Your turn now!

What would YOU say to your baby?

PS: I published my 300th post last night :-)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

This is my 300th post!

I'd like to dedicate my 300th post to wishes and dreams. Yes, call me Dr. Marcia Fieldstone ;-)

The other day - it was actually at Colin's bedtime, he was stalling. and he was doing an awesome job at it - he asked 

"Moooommy? What is your biggest dream?"

I was stunned. How does he even come up with questions like these?

Also I was at loss for words. There are wishes, of course. To sleep through the night, for many nights in a row. Staying healthy and happy. Having good friends around me. Going on vacation soon.

But my biggest dream? I don't think I have one?! The other day I came across this article about People's Biggest Regrets. It's a 3.30 minutes video, watch it, it makes you think! 

Someone wrote "not pursuing my dreams", and it made me sad. I know there are always reasons not to do things. Obligations, lack of money, lack of courage, all of the above - but in the end if you don't do anything about it, your dream remains a dream. Which is fine. As long as you don't end up writing it on a chalkboard, along with other people's biggest regrets and making a sad little face. 

"Actually, sweetie, my biggest dream has already come true" I finally replied. "I got you!"

"And your car!!!"

Hahaha, so true! My dream car has finally arrived last weekend. After 8 months of waiting, almost like a human baby. This may be for another post, though. 

Colin proceeded to tell me about his biggest dreams:

  • Becoming a top notch hockey player for an NHL team
  • Building his dream house with 100 storeys, each floor containing an apartment for friends, and a gym, an ice rink, a pillow shooting area,... It seemed to be an upgrade of the 20 floor house he was telling me about a year ago:

Berger Family (his girlfriend)
Pfister Family (his buddy at daycare)
Gerber Family (that's us)
Evans Family (his friend Eric)
Bumper Cars / Terrace
Ice Hockey / Terrace
Table Tennis
Bumper Cars
Living Room / Workshop
Pillow Fight

I like that house. It's full of life, fun, people and food!

Last month I signed up for the 10 days blog makeover challenge, and one of the assignments was to think of your blog as a place. I will tell you about the challenge soon. I haven't really implemented anything yet, but the ten steps have certainly given me something to think about. 

Anyway, if my blog was a place... it'd need to be two places. 

A summer beach house, preferably in La Jolla, CA

 And a winter log home in Vail, CO.

There you go, there are my biggest dreams: living and being paid for writing at those magnificent places!

Your turn! What is your biggest dream?