It’s a Family Business:Through My Eyes

A little while ago I introduced a piece by the lovely (and also very talented) Meaghan over at Little Love Designs. She kindly shared what it’s like to mix raising a family with running your own business. I’m delighted to be able to introduce the second in this series with a charmingly candid piece from Marie, the creative genius (seriously, folks, just check out her gorgeous images!) behind Marie Donn PhotographyMarie has been such a kind supporter of Riding the Stork, and so it’s with great pleasure, I hand you over to her. I defy you not to love her by the end. 

Hello, my name is Marie and I’m a photographer <insert chorus of ‘Hi Marie’s here>.

For the longest time I wouldn’t have called myself that, in fact one of the reasons this fab blog is dear to me is because for ever such a long  time I was a Wife. Or a Mother. Or a ‘TTCer’. Or a ‘Baby-Loss’-er (that sounds clunkier than it should!). Starting my own business has given me another title, but as with most working mums it’s one I wear on top of all the others rather than instead of any of them. Picture me, if you will, with a tall tower of hats on my head… wobbling!

Family Business | Marie Donn Photography | Working Mum | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

I started my own business, the eponymous Marie Donn Photography, about three years ago after the loss of my first son, Joe, who died before birth. I had maternity leave from my day job stretching out in front of me and needed to get out of the house, so I enrolled on an adult education course in Photography. I had no desires to do anything other than be with other humans once a week, but slowly it dawned on me that there were worse things in the world than doing lovely creative things and being paid for them, so I started the business.

The End.

No, not really!

Family Business | Marie Donn Photography | Working mum | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

If I’m totally honest, I didn’t have the first clue about what starting a business meant at the time. I’m afraid I probably shared the opinions that many people still have, that professional photography was swanning around clicking the camera a few times and taking some pocket money home. By the time I had decided to jump into self-employment, my maternity leave was starting to get shorter and shorter, my next maternity leave was looming (my littlest boy was born in May 2010) and as I had my hands quite full I completely failed to do anything sensible like undertake business training. I DID however complete a business plan, and slowly the light bulb came on that I would have to do this properly or not at all.

Who knew, for example, that photography involves not only shooting at weekends (necessitating a super-supportive other half and childcare), but also editing into the night because I have kept my day job to support us as my business grows? Juggling family bills with new equipment, insurance, petrol, website maintenance? Finding an accountant (I learned quickly which tasks I had the skills for, and which to outsource, accounts being one of them!)?

Family Business | Marie Donn Photography | Working Mum | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

Putting yourself into a professional frame of mind reminds you that your clients expect (and deserve to expect) nothing but the best from you  (professional photography is a treat, a wonderful investment, and done properly it’s rarely an everyday expense ) while you are getting the best from them. Whoo! The pressure!

So why do I do it? Well, because photography matters to me. Families matter to me. This little business of mine allows me to give other families the most precious things, memories together, and the ability to bring them home.

Not to be too blunt, but the only memories I have of Joe are in my photos of him. I never got the chance to make any more memories with him after her was born, and because of that I’m pretty darn passionate about taking time to make a moment – and to keep it afterwards. Photography is a wonderful way to do that – and if I can have fun meeting new and wonderful loving families, singing Old McDonald (my Cow should be Brits-nominated) and rolling around in leaves while they laugh, this must simply be the best job in the world.

Family Way | Marie Donn Photography | Working Mum | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

So I run my business from laptop and mobile, I email when the children have gone to bed, I have a ridiculously organised husband to help me ensure that I don’t spend more time with other people’s families than my own (my girl Sofie is 6 this year, my boy Milo is coming up to 3), I search the internet constantly for inspiration, I balance my books (grudgingly).

I meet new mums, noisy families, I travel up and down Essex, London and Herts, I source gorgeous products (I’ve just added THE most beautiful album to my newborn packages), and I take people’s pictures.

And when they cry over their galleries, I smile ear to ear. And that’s why I do it.

Family Business | Marie Donn Photography | Working Mum | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

All photos by Marie Donn Photography, of course, and feature her beautiful children. 

If you run your won business whilst juggling parenthood and want to be featured here, please do get in touch!


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The Pregnancy Diaries: Calendars and Counting

Feeling refreshed after the Easter break, folks, or just sluggish from too much chocolate? I was pretty good and, at the time of writing on Easter Monday, still have most of my chocolate left. Mr Stork has done a good job of demolishing his Easter chocolate but then he’s the sweet toothed one of us pair!

We’ve got some great posts coming up this month so be sure to stick around. Kicking us off for this new term (at the grand age of 30, I still consider my year to be split in to terms, I blame my teacher mother!) is the lovely Becky. We first heard from Becky when she explained all about Fragile X Syndrome (you can read about it here) and, most recently, when she shared her joy at getting a BFP. She’s back today with an update. Becky, I know I’m not the only one sending you lots of good wishes for your scan this week. 

This week I have mostly been staring at the calendar and counting. I am a numbers geek at the best of times and with a background in science, I have really enjoyed revising all of the reproduction physiology and using my Babycentre ‘Pregnancy’ phone app to keep track of exactly what is going on inside me at each stage.

With this in mind, it’s probably no surprise that calculating my ever-changing due date has been something I’m particularly interested in. Most people know that EDDs (Estimated Due Dates) are usually calculated as 40 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period. That’s always been based on the assumption that a woman has a 28 day cycle, and ovulates in the middle of her cycle – so in other words, the EDD is really 38 weeks from ovulation. Not all women track ovulation, but for those with different cycle lengths to ‘the norm’ do often find that their EDD is different whether based on ovulation or their last period.

For example, the 1st day of my last period was Thursday 17th January, which gives me an EDD of 24th October. However, by monitoring my body for signs such as ovulation pains (clear, on the left hand side that cycle), egg-white cervical mucus (warning: don’t google images in public – or at dinner time!), taking my temperature and using urine dip sticks to detect an LH surge, I was 100% sure that I ovulated on Tuesday 29th January – giving me an EDD of 22nd October. Continue reading

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Weight Loss Wednesday – incentives, a pondering

I successfully survived my first 5:2 fast day and will be sharing my experiences with you next week. It’s early days but I feel borderline evangelical about it!  In the meantime, here’s our Victoria with her latest instalment. I think she hits the nail on the head regarding motivation! 

Incentives – A pondering.

Why is it that sometimes, suddenly, the many things that were acting as your motivation can just suddenly stop having that effect on you? And how come a tiny little thing like going to one of your Hubby’s work colleague’s wedding dance, or meeting some ‘internet weirdies’ for the first time can seem like so much more of a motivation that something truly ‘important’ like…

Your wedding.

Your honeymoon.

The sudden horrifying realisation that a whole year’s almost gone and despite ‘dieting’ constantly, overall, you’ve just gained weight.

Another summer holiday.

Being Matron of Honour for your sister.

A baby…..

A baby for God’s sake! You know you are unlikely to be able to conceive at this weight, you know it’s going to carry risks as well. It’s the one thing you’re aiming for, the next step in your life that you’ve always planned together, yet in the grand scheme of things it can just seem like such a distant dream and when you’re in that mindset and lacking in will power, you’re bound to fail.

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TTC: Introducing Joulz!

I’m delighted to introduce another regular contributor to you. I’ll hand you straight over to Joulz who no doubt you’ll get to know in the coming months. Welcome, Joulz!

So you’ve made the decision to start trying for a baby and you eagerly start counting down the days until your last contraceptive pill. The day arrives when that last little baby blocker has been swallowed and your period follows soon after. As the days pass by you have sex over and over and towards the end of the month start googling every possible pregnancy symptom and then when you reach day 28 and there is no sign of a period you immediately assume you’ve succeeded! Hurrah! You’ve made baby! But wait… have you?

This situation is exactly where I was at the end of 2012; I stopped taking the contraceptive pill in November and jumped straight on the baby making plans but I hadn’t realized that things might not be that simple. I peed on every kind of pregnancy test I could between days 28 and 35 convinced that if my period wasn’t here that I must be pregnant. If I wasn’t pregnant then where was my period? As the days crept up my confusion grew into frustration and even anger. Day 37, 38, 39… eventually I hit day 40 (New Years Day) and extreme cramps and nausea made me run for the toilet and I felt a wave of joy when I wiped and saw blood. My period was finally here!

TTC | Introducing Joulz | Long cycles after coming off the pill | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

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Meal Planning Monday returns!

It’s been a while since a meal plan graced these pages but, hurrah, it’s back! Mr Stork is doing more and more cooking now so we’re coming up with our choices together. As much as I love cooking, making lists and, well, making lists about cooking, it’s nice to share it.

As usual, we’re trying to keep the cost down whilst trying to limit our reliance on supermarkets and largely we’re succeeding but we’ve not done any batch cooking for ages. I’m hoping that the more I settle in to my new job, the more I can work out a routine that will stop me feeling like I’m running around like a headless chicken!

Without further ado, the tasty plates of food expected chez Stork this week are as follows:

Meal Plan w/c 25th March 2013

Meal Plan Monday 25 March 2013 | Frugal, healthy eating | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

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The Perfect LBD

Hurrah, it’s FRIDAY! How’s your week been? Good, I hope.

At the moment I’m trying to increase my work wardrobe and, given the amount of entertaining that forms part of my job, I need to have outfits that can take me from work to play (as much as you can play whilst still technically working!). Over the coming months I’ll be bringing you my favourite picks, taking in a variety of styles and budgets, whilst thinking about outfits that will suit different figures.

First up is an incredible dress that is oh-so-flattering. The headline price isn’t cheap, it’s £118 full price, but they have excellent sales every few months, taking it down to nearer £60. Now that might still sound steep but it’s so versatile you’ll be getting your price-per-wear down (just me?!) to pennies in no time at all, I promise. It’s from ME + EM (as are all of the pictures), somewhere I discovered a couple of years back. They seem to have created the holy grail of frocks. Something that’s jersey based (so lovely and soft to wear), whiclst remaining structured enough for work but also suitable for socialising.

Perfect LBD | Dressing for work and play | Versatile dress | Fashion | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

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Mr Stork makes an appearance…

Well, in spirit, at least!

Morning, lovely people. I hope you’re having a good week so far? At the moment I’m still finding my feet in my new role at work and, as a result, I’m working some pretty long hours once you’ve factored in travel and entertaining. Compared to the hours I used to work (the bulk of which from home – barely any travel, wooooo!) this feels like a huge step up and it’s taking me a while to adjust.

When I do get home I’m shattered and the last thing on my mind is cooking something that takes up any more time in my evening. Thankfully my husband (who gets home earlier than me – now that *is* weird, definitely not used to it!) has taken on the bulk of the cooking during the week. I’m usually the one who pours over recipes but he’s taken to being more creative than usual in a bid to expand his repertoire to include quick, tasty and healthy meals.

He made the following dish for me last week and it was delicious. He mentioned, in passing, that it had been quick and easy to make but it was only yesterday, when I saw the recipe, I realised how much of an understatement that was!

Ladies and gents, I give you ‘Mr Stork’s Incredibly Easy Vegetable Laksa’!

Mr Stork's incredibly easy vegetable laksa | healthy eating | recipes | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

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Here comes the science bit…

I’m delighted to be introducing the first in a series of extra special bonus posts from Sammi. If you’ve not realised by now, our Sammi is a clever sausage, and a sciencey sausage at that. 

Today she’s given a frankly awesome account of the basics of charting which is an absolute must read for any of you wishing to look into this next step when trying for a baby.  Enjoy, folks, and as always, we’d love your comments on this one :)  

Let’s talk about charting…

Or temping, or basal body temperature monitoring, whatever you call it in your head, let’s talk about that. Temping isn’t for everyone, I mentioned previously that some people prefer the ‘bury head in sand and have lots of sex approach’ whilst others feel empowered by knowing exactly where they are in their cycle. If you’re naturally at it like rabbits more than 4 times a week, chances are getting to know your cycles will not help you fall pregnant faster. However, if your sex life has a more leisurely pace, it can help identify the best time to plan that ‘date night.’

There are two myths widely believed by women worldwide; the first is that they ovulate mid-cycle, the second is that they ovulate of day 14. While both these statements may be true for a handful of women, it is a myth for the majority! You in fact ovulate approximately 14 days BEFORE your next period, with as few as 10 days and as many as 16 being considered normal. Therefore, only ladies with a perfect 28 day cycle will ovulate mid-cycle or on day 14. This time between ovulation and your period arriving (or indeed a positive pregnancy test) is called the luteal phase. The length of this phase is controlled by the hormone progesterone which is released by the burst follicle that contained the egg, known as the corpus luteum. In most women, the luteal phase is a very similar length in each month. If you have trouble with irregular periods, your body takes a different number of days to grow and release the egg each month, the luteal phase will remain constant.

Here comes the Science bit | Guide to charting | Sammi | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blog

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The Pregnancy Diaries: Mrs W’s early pregnancy symptoms

Happy Monday, folks, I hope you all had a good weekend? I spent mine celebrating my birthday with my family and am hoping to give my poor liver a rest! 

Today it’s the turn of Mrs W who we first met in February when she introduced herself and then came back to tell us all about getting her BFP. I’m delighted that she’s back again today with her latest update, all about the symptoms, joy and fear of early pregnancy. 

Everything changed in my mind once those lovely words were printed across my CBD screen. I have been viewing friends of mine who have had babies in a completely different light. The most obvious of which is their symptoms throughout early pregnancy which I have always viewed as being over dramatised. I know its a cliche to say it, but you really can’t sympathise with someone for this unless you have experienced it. I would nod along when a close friend told me just how bone tired she was all the time, when inside I was wondering how on earth it could really make that much of a difference to them. I mean, she wasn’t even showing, it was so tiny, how could it affect her so badly. To the 2 friends of mine who know about little Flutter Bean who have had children, I have apologised. Profusely! I am actually embarrassed at my ignorance.

Early pregnancy symptoms | Mrs W | Riding the Stork, a UK mummy and baby blogImage credit. 

I have joined the realms of typical pregnancy symptoms. About a week after the BFP, I started with the nausea. I have been sick with it most days, and through most of the day have the waves of nausea hitting me. I find boiled sweets or mints really helpful to curb it, but when its really bad, Gaviscon is a saviour. Luckily, I am not bad in the evenings, so can try to eat well then. Although I find by that stage of the day, I just want something quick and not always that healthy! My boobs are sore but not swollen, getting an unexpected hug from someone can be quite a wince of an experience. But tiredness is the hardest one to deal with. I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat – I have never been one for snoozing, but I can put my head down after dinner on the sofa and be gone for the whole evening! Mr W is finding it very amusing, as I always mocked him for falling asleep on the sofa! I am holding out for the 2nd trimester for these to leave me be for a while. But even feeling as strange and as sick as I sometimes do, I am constantly buzzing about what’s to come and how lucky we have been so far.
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Booze, glorious booze!

Booze, glorious booze. What a wonderful thing you are! I don’t know about you folks, but I enjoy a drink. There’s something quite magical about that first sip of a crisp drink after a long day in the office.

I do a lot of entertaining as part of my job so there’s something so wonderfully simple and, frankly, enjoyable about being able to sit at home on my sofa with a glass of something dry and fizzy without having to worry about impressing a client. You see champagne and I are close friends. I spent last year teetotal, except for champagne, though prosecco and cava fell within my ‘allowed list’! It seemed a far better idea than a dry January and I can tell you, it was much more fun!

Not that I discriminate when it comes to booze, oh no! Tipples that I don’t enjoy are few and far between but you can keep your tequila, your sweet wines or your oaked chardonnays, they are not for me. I enjoy a beer though I tend to stick to champagne, wine (red or white, I think we’ve established I’m not fussy…) or gin.

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