Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Happy Birthday Blog!!!

Happy Birthday Blog!!!
17 July 2013

The first warning signs of an impending labour, had actually been there for quite a while.  I just wasn’t able to read them.  Maybe I was in denial?  Perhaps I was a bit scared?  Would it be painful?  Would I be able to sustain it?  What if my “offspring” grew up and I didn’t like it?  What if it wasn’t any good?  Would the sleeplessness, constant demand for attention and nightly feeds finally kill me this time around?

But there was no turning back.  I was fully engaged.  The birth was inevitable.  I had to push through. 

And so, without much fanfare, my much beloved blog, “From the birds and the bees, to family trees”, was born on the 18th of July 2012.  With very little fuss, and having not given it too much thought, I simply closed my eyes and took a leap of faith.

Friends and family had been urging me for a while.  But I thought they were just being polite.  Trying to flatter me and be kind.  Maybe just complimenting me to be nice.

Still, had I not always loved writing and telling stories?  Had the few little snippets that I’d written not been absolutely lapped up and loved by all who read it?  Perhaps they were right?  Perhaps it was time?  Besides which, I might love it.  The simple joy of writing alone.  And added to that, I had so much to tell.  My lovely, large, mad-cap, boisterous, crazy family certainly provided me with enough fodder.

Grant was away on a business trip at the time, and so I had some time on my hands, after the kids went to bed.  The thought had been running through my mind the whole day long.  I mentioned it to a very good and dear friend, who told me about a friend, of a friend, of a friend who wrote a blog.  And successfully too.  Well, actually it was more of a friend of a sister-in-law’s cousin’s roommate, twice removed, who has subsequently been divorced, and is now dating her ex-husband’s first wife’s daughter from her third marriage.  You catch my drift.  A very, very, very far off connection.  She told me the name of this blog, which I subsequently Googled, and luckily for me, it happened to have the lady’s e-mail address on it.  I took a gamble, popped off a mail to her, explaining that I was toying with the idea of starting a blog, and asked her which platform she recommended.  Amazingly, she answered me within about 5 minutes, with the necessary info, wished me good luck, and off I went.

I had no pre-conceived idea as to what I wanted to achieve.  How I wanted it to look.  The tone I was aiming for.  The nature of my stories.  How often I would post a story.  I thought, perhaps I could just go with the flow and see it unfurl along the way.  Though I did know this – I wanted to be honest, truthful, real, funny and family orientated.  Because that is who I am.  I didn’t want to be fake or pretentious.  I wanted to tell it like it is. 

Another thing I knew, was the name.  It just came to me, and kind of summed up the very essence of what I wanted it to be.  It fit me like a glove and I loved it instantly.

What I also discovered that very first night, was that the other blog lady, mentioned in an interview that she did, that she had 67 000 views in total.  This after a period of about 20 months.  I was super impressed and thought, “WOW!!!”.  That’s amazing!  Imagine doing that!  It was highly unlikely I’d ever reach that target, but still, dreaming was good.  Perhaps even then, in the back of my mind, I set myself the personal goal of reaching 67 000 views within one year.  As initially I had thought it had only taken her a year, to reach that viewership.  What a ridiculous target!  Was I insane?  Why would I even have imagined it???

Still that first night, I fiddled about a bit on the computer.  Found the blogging platform, and fumbled my way through the set up.  My very first blog was called, “And so it came to pass”.  But it looked so sad and lonely out there in cyber space all alone, that I decided to give it a few friends.  And so I uploaded another six old stories.  Stuff I’d already written.  I felt so chuffed, looking at my little index and seeing seven stories in total.  But what is the point of doing a blog, if nobody knows about it?  And so I sent an e-mail to pretty much everyone I know, telling them about my blog.

I had no great aspirations.  I knew with confidence that my mom and my sister would read it.  Maybe my aunt.  Perhaps my gran.  My closest friends, when they had a chance.  And apart from that, I didn’t have much faith or hope.  Imagine my surprise when I checked the blog the very next morning, to find 167 views overnight.  Shut up!!!  I was delighted!

Upon my request, my friend Gillie, very kindly designed a logo for me to my requirements and specifications.  And I thought it was breath taking.  Perfection!  As time has passed, I’ve become a bit more proficient at the blog thing in terms of loading, pics, changing things on the site, adding add-ons, etc.  I have loved the stats from the very beginning, and they’ve held me spellbound.  Keeping me intrigued.  I’m aiming to streamline my look a bit.  Making it look a bit more elegant and professional.  Not like some unknown, and uneducated person simply slapped it all together on her own.  Which is pretty much what I’ve done.  Still, there’s enough time for that.

The success in terms of viewership, has left me breathless.  And I find it really hard to believe.  Seriously!  People are actually reading it?  Every single day?  From all over the world?  People I don’t even know?  For reals?  And from all accounts, it is very well received.  I am the recipient of so much love through my blog.  Kind comments.  Warm, personal messages.  Outpourings of empathy on occasion.  Commiseration on others.  And appreciation for the humour too.  I am rewarded daily and this is extremely gratifying and satisfying too.  It is both validation and affirmation and is super encouraging.  It shows me that I’m on the right track.  I’m doing something right.  I’m being heard.  My voice counts.  People share my feelings.  They appreciate my viewpoints.  What I’m doing is adding value to people.  And I soon realised, that I should adjust my target of 67 000 views within one year.  Looking at the exponential growth of the blog, I revised my new target to 85 000 views within one year.  Still a pretty ridiculously wishful pie-in-the-sky goal.  And all was going swimmingly.  Until exactly one week ago, when I all of a sudden had an inexplicable and sudden surge of nearly 4 000 additional hits a day.  At first I was cautiously excited.  Then flat out ecstatic.  Would it stop?  What where they reading?  How did they find me?  But warning bells started going off.  And then after much searching on the internet, I learnt that I was the unlucky recipient of a form of spam, called “Referrer Spam”.  It has luckily subsequently stopped, but I estimate that it falsely boosted my figures by about 19 000 views.  And so, despite my blog view counter, stating that I’ve had 103 539 views, I’m actually only on 84 539.  My 85 000 goal should be reachable by the end of tomorrow with a wee bit of luck.  Maybe only the next day.  Still such is life.  I will not let this dent my enthusiasm for my blog.

I had never intended to blog every day.  In fact, initially, I had no intentions at all.  I was just going to see how it all panned out.  But I found myself so enamoured with it, I ended up doing just that.  Writing every single day.  Skipping the odd day on occasion.  I was surprised by the amount of stuff I had to say.  The way stories just seemed to continually sprout forth.  Popping up in my head, demanding to have their own voice. 

Each milestone has been a remarkable personal achievement.  Because make no mistake - the blog is a huge commitment.  It takes dedication and hard work.  Discipline too.  I don’t go to bed early.  EVER!  I need to publish a post.  Or share it on Facebook.  It can be lonely.  Clearly I’m very obsessive and my self-diagnosed OCD has been kicked into high gear with the blog.  But I love it.  My kids are used to it by now.  My long suffering husband, Grantie too.  I’m not entirely sure they understand, but they’re used to it.  I’ve explained that it is my creative outlet.  My hobby.  I have the joy and privilege of practicing my hobby whilst in the comfort of home.  It doesn’t take me away from them. It doesn’t cost a cent.  I don’t like it to impact on family time and hence I write when my kids are at school and my husband’s at work.  The afternoons are for homework and extra-murals.  The evenings for meals, and family time.  But when they’re all asleep – I come out to play.  Grant grumbles every so often about going to bed on his own.  Firstly, this is not true.  Every so often, I do blog late at night, once everyone’s gone to bed.  But some nights I do it early and go to bed with him.  Besides which, he’s not a lot of fun or a great conversationalist when he’s unconscious.  So blogging while he’s sleeping is fine in my books.

I find it rather hard to believe that it's only been one whole year of blogging.  305 stories in total.  How absolutely life changing it has been.  How enriching and rewarding.  Self-fulfilling and inspiring.  It feels as if the blog has simply always been there.  And perhaps it has.  The thing is though, that it probably was only in my head.  And now it's all out there for everyone to see.  And actually if I think about it too much, it makes me feel scared.  Who am I kidding?  It scares me spit-less.  Sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with whoever chooses to read, makes those feelings less private.  I’m actively inviting people into my life.  Asking them to look.  People can judge me and I’m sure they do.  I do wear my heart on my sleeve.  I do share it all.  And tell it all.  Insecurities can creep in.  Is what I have just written any good?  What if I’ve made mistakes?  Do I seem horrible to people?  Do they think I’m an awful mother?  And more importantly, at forty years old, why do I still care?

My blog is a happy place for me.  My island in the sun.  My Swiss alps.  My gondola in Venice.  My lazy swings on a hammock.  My browsing in an antique shop.  My scrumptious picnic in the dappled sunlight beneath a great giant oak tree.  My juicy fat strawberries, freshly picked and still warm from the sun.  Okay, so I'm getting a bit carried away, but you most certainly get my point.  It’s my happy place.

And so I wrote it a little song, to be sung to the tune of “Happy Birthday”.

Happy Birthday dear blog

I love you as much as a good snog

Happy Birthday dear “From the birds and the bees, to family trees”

You truly are the bees knees!

 A huge big humongous thank you to each and every person, who has ever read one of my stories.  I thank you for your time.  I thank you for your input.  I thank you for your encouraging comments.  But most importantly I thank you for your acceptance and your love.

But, enough about little old me.  On to the really important stuff.  I’d like to wish one of the most amazing and inspiring people out there, a happy 95th Birthday too.  To our darling Madiba, we love you!  In your honour, I have picked up sea glass all along the sea.  Not just the pretty, old, rounded ones that I love, collect and keep, but the hard, horrible, sharp and pointy ones too.  These I throw away and hope that my small amount of effort makes a difference to the littering that is so ever present.  I have knitted a grand total of 44 squares.  And if know you me, you’ll know that this is huge.  I’m not gifted when it comes to knitting at all.  These squares are to be knitted together, to make blankets for the elderly.  I have knitted these with oodles of love and have loved every single minute.  Not only that, but whilst on holiday, my mom and aunt each knitted about six or seven squares as well.  And my Ouma Helene?  Well, she’s the champion – 67 squares.  Every little bit helps, and that’s the essence of your message.  I get it.  I can’t pick up all the sea glass, but I can pick up some of it.  Yes, tomorrow there will be more.  But it will be less than if I hadn’t picked any up.  Maybe our knitted squares are only enough for two blankets.  Or maybe only for one.  It’s not going to be enough for the nation.  It’s sad, but it’s okay.  We tried.  We’ve made a difference.  But two elderly people, are going to have snug warm blankies, thanks to my efforts and those of my family.  And that makes me feel incredible.  Wonderful!  Blessed!  And so I’ve come to realise, that on you birthday, you gifted me.  Thank you, Tata!

BTW – Having started the blog spontaneously and impulsively while Grant was away on a business trip, he’s become rather cautious about leaving me to my own devices…

Today, the blog.  Tomorrow, the world.

Please click on this link and Like on Facebook - Thanx!

Hey!  Check it out.  It's a knit-a-thon!  We were all away at the family holiday house in Kleinbaai for a few nights, and knitted up a storm whilst there.  Such fun!

We're all a part of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Squares

Huge guffaws of laughter, as Maggie demonstrates some of the cousins' knitting skills in the past

Ouma Helene sitting in front of the fire, knitting away.  Buddy-Gal ever faithful at her feet.

Yes, we are ever so slightly obsessive.  What made you ask?

Ouma Helene in her element, knitting away, whilst Oupa is holding forth

Knitting with a view - sitting on the stoep at Kleinbaai

This is my contribution - 42 squares.  Though I've made a few more, after the pic was taken.  Must confess to feeling quite chuffed with myself.

Team Lombard's efforts - 124 squares!  We did good!  Thanx to Gillie for the wool and the needles.

Sent this pic on to the family and it didn't take long for my cousin Jacques to claim that he had found a hidden picture in the blanket squares.  A robot man, playing a box-type guitar.  He had to explain it very carefully, but eventually I got it.  The lonesome orange square towards the left of the top half, is his head.  The diagonal blue blocks, form his guitar in front of his body.  The blue blocks at the bottom are his feet.  Don't get it?  Can't blame you.  Think Dire Straits - remember that music video they made?  Money for Nothing.  Still nothing?  Okay, it's just blanket squares then.


  1. Veels geluk Foef!! Amazing how the blog has grown, your stories just keep flowing and have no end to them, your enthusiasm still TOTALLY there. Such an inspiration! Your blogging is a success story (excuse the pun) of note! xxxx Also LOVE the photo's! Let's see...I spot 4 beautiful gals and 3 generations on the couch knitting, I spot Oupa wearing crocs, I spot spottie sleeper-socks (super groovy!!) on Bettie, I spot Mommy telling the knitting story of Attie practically stabbing himself in the tummy from the 'tight knitting', I spot Oupa putting his hand up to talk, I spot my happy seesta and I spot a labour of love patchwork. Such fun! xxx

  2. Happy birthday Blog!! You are part of my daily routine, each morning when I open my eyes! And a fantastic connection for family and friends far away, from Joburg to Istanbul, Paris to Melton Mowbray. You mean so much to us! Such a variety of stories of the joys and challenges of everyday life, written at times with sadness, but mostly with lots of laughter. Thank you!! And may you have many many more!!

  3. Ag jinne Helene!!

    I love your blog, and really enjoyed this too!
    You suffer from the 'familie kwaal' of sharing!
    However, if 'sharing is caring,' we do very well!

    Congratulations on your immense sense of commitment and effort.
    It is indeed the story of all our lives that you are chronicling for us.