There’s no shortage of blog ideas out there. You can write about fishing if you’d like, or stamp collecting, or whatever you want – there’ll always be people who are interested in what you’re writing about. They all come with their own set of rules. If you’re hosting a blog about a trendy subject, such as music, fashion, or the arts, then you’ll also need to play by your own set of rules. In this realm, what you say is important, but it’s also imperative that you have credibility in the eyes of your readers. Being trendy is a fickle business, let’s not forget. Below, we take a look at a number of ways you can give yourself the bona fide trendy seal of approval.
Know What’s Hot
You’ll want to be a trendsetter, but before you get to anyone of that, you need to know what’s hot in the world you’re talking about. If you’re writing about fashion, then you should be well-informed about the looks that have recently debuted on the world’s leading catwalks. If it’s music, then knowing which artists have just released a gold-standard album and which are relying on reputation, will be crucial. It’s like writing; you can break the rules, but you have to know what the rules are first. You can’t talk too much about what’s trendy if you don’t know what’s going on in that world.
Have the Right Location
We shouldn’t give too much precedence to the location when it comes to opinions on trendy subjects, but we do. It’s easier to take a blog that focuses on music more seriously if it’s hosted in an epicentre of culture, like New York, than one that is hosted in the middle of nowhere. Of course, you can’t move at all, so transplanting yourself to the hottest cities won’t be feasible. But by using a service like physicaladdress.com, you can at least give the appearance that your blog is hosted in a city like New York. If people think that you’re right in the mix of all the latest goings-on, you’ll be a respected commentator on your chosen subject.
Don’t Just Repeat What Everyone Else Is Doing
You can’t fake knowledge. Well, you can, but people will quickly find out. If you’re just repeating what everyone else is saying, then why does your blog exist? The idea is to have fun with your blog, to use it as a platform to get your thoughts out there. There’s really not much point if all you’re doing is scanning other blogs for the next big thing, and then repeating the information on your website. Trust your opinions. If you know your subject well enough, you can be confident that other people will be interested in what you have to say.
Connect With Others
You’re not going to be the only blogger talking about your chosen subject. And it’s also highly unlikely that you’re the most influential. There’ll be dozens of other people talking about the same issues, and some will have more followers than you do. So why not look at connecting with them? Writing a guest blog for a website that you know is at the top of the game when it comes to commentating will put your website in front of people who are A. eager to read expert opinions and B. know what constitutes an expert opinion.
Be Active On Social Media
There’s a whole world of commentary out there, and it’s called social media. If you’re not part of the conversation, then how can you expect people to take your website seriously? For starters, reputations are often developed on social media, especially on Twitter. If you’re actively engaged with the issues that everyone else is talking about – and are putting forward smart insights, then you’ll find that people are already sold on your credibility by the time they arrive at your site.
Don’t Force It
We all know those people who try too hard to be cool. While it’ll dupe some people, anyone who really knows what they’re talking about will see through the ruse straight away. So be true to yourself. There’s no point saying something just because you think it’s the trendy opinion to have; say what you believe. You might even lose some points from time to time, especially if you go against popular opinion, but that’s just fine. A blogger who ignores what’s happening in mainstream opinion and puts forth their own views will always be welcome; indeed, that’s why their site should exist.
I have recently been thinking a lot about the time I started my family history research, the mistakes I made, and the things I wish I had known then.
I made A LOT of mistakes and, 11 years on, I am still learning but I can certainly share my view on the first 5 steps to start your family tree.
Step 1 – Write down everything you know.
The first step to creating your own family tree is to write down names, dates of birth, places of birth of any family members you have.
Start with yourself at the centre then add your parents and siblings, then your grandparents. You may find it helpful to create a tree.
At this point you don’t have to go into too much detail but it’s good to write any additional information down because you may need it later.
Step 2 – Talk to family members
This should be something we all do, even if you don’t want to start bidding your family tree. The older generations have stories to tell, Stories that will get forgotten if they don’t get told.
But, I am not saying only talk to older generations younger family members may have heard different stories, they may have heard snippets of stories as children. Every family story can have a use in family research.
One thing you, as the family historian, need to remember is that some stones are embellished over the years. BUT in every embellished family story there is some truth.
The story of my husbands’ great grandmother is testament to this. Descendants were all told She went ‘doolally! However, the truth of this can’t be proven. She disappeared sometime around 1894 and I haven’t been able to locate her anywhere. The last reference to her is related to her giving evidence at her husband’s trial for bigamy. She vanished, and he lived out the rest of his life with his third wife.
Step 3 – Organise your research so far
After following the first few steps you will probably have more than you know what to do with and despite genealogy being about more than names and dates, these are the easiest bits to record.
Find yourself some family tree building software, Ancestry and Find My Past offer a free family tree builder with their free trials but there’s also a lot more dotted around the internet. You may prefer a programme you can run on your computer. There aren’t many free ones but I’m sure you can find a decent one that’s paid for. (I’ll be writing a post on this soon).
Also, store transcripts of stories on your computer and on paper. Remember to back up everything regularly.
Oh, and get into the habit of creating sources for everything asap. it may seem pointless and tedious, but you’ll be glad you did when you revisit some one months. or years after you researched them.
Step 4 – Start your online research.
Whether you want to sign up with the major research sites or try out the free sites (such as FREEBMD, free Reg or FreeCen) you can now start proving relationships, finding people, and discovering your ancestors’ stories.
Remember to start with what you know, don’t add everyone you come across until you know they probably do belong. Highlight guesses or uncertainties.
Step 5- Confirm your research and verify your findings
This is vital. If you make a mistake early on it’s ridiculously hard to rectify. I made a huge mistake in my early days and didn’t realise for ages. By that point the mistake was so huge, it was easier for me to start a new tree.
There are several ways you can verify information, but the main sources are civil registrations of births, marriages, and deaths
(from 1837) and parish records for baptisms, marriages, and burials (from around the 16th century to present day).
Over the coming weeks I’ll detail more of these resources and guide you through them one at a time.
It can be such a luxury to have a garden of your own. So, it’s always important for you to make the most of it. When you’re planning home renovations, why not start with your garden? It’s definitely not too late to get the most out of your outside space this year. And it’s definitely great to be able to have something sweet ready for next spring and summer too. However, because we’re part way through the summer, you may not want to take on an entire garden renovation project just yet. So, why not just create a small tranquil nook instead? If that sounds like something that you’d absolutely love to have in your garden, here are five simple tips to follow to make it happen.
Select Your Space
The first thing you need to do, is work out where you want this to be. A great choice will always be the patio area. But, if you want to do things differently, you could also choose the end of the garden too. Ideall, you need an area of at least 5 to 10 square meters to work with. Remember, you’re going for a garden nook, so it doesn’t have to be a huge area. This is great if your garden is relatively small already.
Pick Your Furniture
Now, because this is going to be a relaxing space, you’ll want some furniture. Think something relaxing and cozy – not a outdoor dining set. Here, great options like a small seated swing or a bench could be exactly what you need. Just make sure that it’s going to be comfortable and something that you can see yourself relaxing on at the end of a busy day.
Bring In Your Plant Choices
Then, it’s onto the plant choices. And get creative here. Remember, it’s a nook. So you won’t want to cram too much in. Instead, you could use a vertical garden kit to create a wall garden and surround yourself with gorgeous greenery. Or, why not go for a row of potted plants in a large planter? Think about the colors of the flowers and the breeds too. It would be great to pick out your favorite scented flowers that can add to the tranquility of the space.
Look Into Water Features
What could be more relaxing that a water feature? If you love the calming sound of running water, the this is the next step. Take a look at different styles. Maybe you want stacked pebbles or a fountain to really bring a sense of calm into your nook?
Accentuate The Relaxation
To finish off, you’re going to want to take the idea of relaxation to the max. Really boost the feeling of serenity with scented candles and sweet twinkling fairy lights. You may even want to bring in ornaments, like a Buddha, or even some cushions for you to relax with too. Set the space of with your favorite music or bring a book out, and you’ve instantly got yourself a tranquil garden nook to enjoy.
I’ve spoken about the severity of Macsen’s speech delay several times. He has a very difficult time forming the sounds we take for granted. I’m going to be traveling a very similar journey with Enfys over the coming years too, no doubt about it. During the last 12 months of speech therapy I have learned so much. I’ve discovered ways I didn’t realise existed to get Macsen talking and found things that work and far more that don’t work.
I’ve put together a little list of 5 ways you can help your child with a speech delay. (However, this is not medical advice, nor should it be use in place of a professional opinion. It is simply to help you make a start while waiting for official speech and language therapy sessions.)
Simplify your own language
This is the first thing our Speech & Language Therapist drilled into me.
Instead of saying:
“Macsen, come and get your shoes on.”
or instead of:
“Let’s get your coat on.”
Don’t say it in the same tone you would tell your dog to sit though… Macsen has reminded me time and time again that he is not a dog unless he wants to be.
It’s super important that the phrase you say makes sense. I made the mistake of sounding like an idiot because I couldn’t think of a way to make the phrase I was trying to say sound less flowery. The intonation is the most important thing and the only way you’ll not sound like you’re demanding something.
Ask your child a question that requires more than just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer
Keep your questions as open as possible. In the beginning, I gave Macsen a choice and making sure the most likely option was the word he heard last.
“Macsen, would you like a banana?” (To this he would simply say ‘yes’ if he wanted the banana.
Change it to:
“Macsen, would you like grapes or banana?” More often than not he would choose banana because it was the last word he heard.
Model the language back to your child
Macsen has a really good try at pronouncing many words these days. Anything I can understand I model back to him using the correct pronunciation. Not only does it create a dialogue but it provides your child with the opportunity to hear the correct way to say something.
MACSEN: “Hee all the amuls, Mammy”
MAMMY: “You want to see all the Animals, Macsen?”
MACSEN: “Yeah, Mammy, the hee, gow, horshey”.
MAMMY: “Ahhh, you want to see the sheep, cow and horsey?”
The conversation could actually work like this for some time. Although, that’s not to say you won’t occasionally get it wrong.
Make all communication about what interests your child
We all know that children’s interests can change daily. In the past 12 months we’ve had dinosaurs, cars, diggers and tractors, but right now we are on animals. Macsen is completely obsessed with animals. He also likes jigsaws. His speech and language therapist actually combined the two with great success. He was willing to repeat a modelled word in exchange for a jigsaw piece.
We have lots of animal and dinosaur books and, although we don’t read the story we make up our own simple version where I can model words for him.
Make speech and communication fun and rewarding
We initially started out with Macsen disliking any type of singing so we started off playing with toys. Toys that Macsen chose. Things that would make HIM feel good and under no pressure to talk.
We’re at the stage now, where Macsen WANTS to communicate. He knows it’s hard for him, but he still gives it his best shot. He also knows how to do just enough to satisfy me.
Recently, Macsen has become a fan of singing (I think it may have something to do with Alexa) and so we sing children’s songs. The Wheels on the Bus, Old McDonald had a Farm, The Hokey Cokey, Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Since we’ve been able to sing, his speech has improved loads. Maybe it’s because, when we sing, he’s under no pressure to say things
Living with a speech delay is incredibly difficult. The most important thing is to give the child opportunities to talk but not to force them.
Do you have any other advice to help a child with a speech delay?
Macsen’s hospital visit in January to remove play doh from his ear took me by surprise. I had absolutely no idea how to prepare him for it. Yes, we went through a lengthy hospital stay with Enfys but she was under 6 months. She didn’t really understand anything.
In the lead up to taking Macsen in, I prepared him for it in a number of ways. Here are my top 5 ways to prepare a child for a hospital visit.
Explain what’s going to be happening
This can be difficult depending on the child’s age and personality. Macsen didn’t really want to go into hospital but I explained that if we didn’t take the Play doh out of his ear then it could get really painful. I also explained that he would be going into hospital to have a little sleep. He loved that idea.
The hardest part to explain to him was the fact that he couldn’t eat before he went to sleep. He was surprisingly good about it though. I had to promise him a big chocolate cake afterwards though.
Plan something exciting beforehand
The weekend before we knew he had to go in we planned a nice relaxing weekend. We asked Macsen what he would like to do and he decided he wanted to visit the park. We did just that and followed it up with his favourite dinner and some treats. We also got all the duvets down and watched movies on the sofa. It was lush.
Pack your child’s favourite toys
I asked Macsen which toys he would like to take. He, naturally, chose his dinosaurs. He was actually really excited about choosing and packing some toys ready to go to hospital. I even told him he could show the nurses his favourite dinosaurs.
Personally, involving the child in this decision is crucial. Even if you’re in for the day, there is a lot of just waiting around. Playing with their favourite toys certainly helps to relieve boredom.
For me, this one was vital. I had to take Enfys and Anwen along too so I recruited my Mam for the day. She helped me with the girls and gave me some company.
If you do go alone though, take something to read or keep your mind occupied.
Hide your own fears and concerns
This is perhaps the most important one to remember. It’s okay to show your child some of your feelings but make sure you don’t project your feelings onto your child.
I know that Macsen can get quite agitated so this was a concern of mine. I hid it and only spoke about hospital positively. I tried to make it something fun and projected only positive thoughts onto him.
Do you have any other tips to prepare a child for a hospital visit?