My Top Highlights
*Marrying the love of my life on a beautiful July afternoon in Hathersage, and celebrating with our family and friends at Chatsworth House.
*Embarking on the trip of a lifetime across Italy for our honeymoon, as well as several shorter holidays, including a surprise visit to Oman for Mr Sunshine's birthday
*Finding out that we were expecting our first child while in London at the end of our honeymoon
*Seeing our baby wiggling around on a scan for the first time, and later discovering that we are going to be having a little girl
*Receiving lots of visitors from the UK and building some new, lifelong friendships in Qatar
*Moving into a new, larger apartment and beginning to furnish our daughter's nursery
*Feeling happier and more fulfilled in my career than I ever have before. Managing to get several articles published in local and regional press, and visiting Jordan to help open a football pitch and launch a football for development programme
*Enjoying several trips home to England, and realising that despite life changing, my closest friends and family are always going to be around.
2015 in Numbers
2: The number of hen parties my friends organised for me (one in Qatar and one in London)
130: The number of friends and family that came to celebrate our wedding with us
1: The number of publications that featured our wedding. There was a beautiful article on our wedding on Style And The Bride
27: The number of weeks I was pregnant for in 2015
90: The (approximate) number of times I was sick in my first trimester!
5: The number of countries I visited this year, for work and for pleasure
5: The number of times Mr Sunshine and I flew into Heathrow Airport
5: The number of important age milestones that were reached in my family this year. My half sister Bethany turned 18; Mr Sunshine, his twin James and I turned 30 and my mum turned 60 in close succession
3: The number of my close friends that got engaged
2: The number of times I was asked to be a bridesmaid
3: The number of my close friends that got married
4: The number of my close friends that announced that they are pregnant
3: The number of my close friends that had babies
744: The number of Instagram photos I posted @polbag
27,320: The number of Instagram likes I received
134: The number of blog posts I wrote
197: The number of different countries that visited my blog this year.
Now is the time that I look back at the blogging resolutions that I set myself at the beginning of the year to see whether I managed to meet any of them! Despite the inevitable decrease in the quantity of posts I've been able to write since I became pregnant and work ramped up a gear or two, I feel pretty happy with how Follow Your Sunshine has evolved.
-I gave my blog layout a complete overhaul and underwent a redesign, with a little help from the wonderful Envye, which is run by one of my favourite bloggers and Instagrammers, Dana Fox of The Wonderforest.
- I attended a bloggers' photography workshop, and made an attempt to improve the quality and consistency of the photos I post.
- I became a lot more organised with my blogging schedule, as well as organising my life around the events that I attended and things that I wanted to promote. This involved opening myself up to lots of exciting opportunities such as restaurant visits and hotel stays, but also learning how to say no to certain opportunities when they arose because they didn't fit with my brand or because I simply didn't have the time to do the project justice!
- I reached some new follower milestones on the blog as well as across my social media channels, which are small but significant to me. My blog viewing stats went through the roof around our wedding and the announcement of my pregnancy. It seems that while you lovely lot like to read about food and travel, you absolutely love those personal posts (which is great for me, because they are my favourite posts to write)!
My 10 most popular posts of 2015:
1. Our Wedding Day: This One's For You
2. Pregnancy Update: My First Trimester
3. Pregnancy Update: Week 13
4. So, I Have Some Exciting News...
5. 6 Things That Change When You Live Abroad
6. Our Wedding: The Ceremony
7. Top 6 Fine Dining Restaurants in Doha: #4 Antica Pesa and Toro Toro
8. Our Wedding: 25 Things I've Been Thinking About
9. Our Wedding: The Reception
10. Top 6 Fine Dining Restaurants in Doha: #6 La Mer
What This Year Taught Me
- Finding out that you are going to have a child really is as wonderful as everybody says it is. Your whole life will change in an instant.
- Your friends and family make the world go round. Don't take a single one of them for granted.
- Sometimes it's not where you are, but where you're going that matters.
- Hope and faith can get you anywhere. Sometimes holding on to the fact that your fate is in the hands of something or someone bigger than you can really help.
- Soulmates exist.
Our little girl is due on the 28th March 2016. Until that point, I will be wrapping up and handing over some important things at work before I go on maternity leave, finishing off our nursery and pursuing a few exciting blogging opportunities before I get too large to move!
As great as 2015 was, I know that 2016 is going to be even more life changing for us, and I can not explain just how excited I am about us becoming a family of three. I feel like I have been destined to become a mummy for my entire life, and I can't believe that it's finally about to happen!
Not long after our little one is born, we will be heading back to the UK for two important weddings: first Rich's brother James and Inger Johanne in June, and then in July, one of my best friends Romana is marrying Arthur, where I will be joint maid of honour. At this point, Mr Sunshine and I have decided to stay in England for a while and I hope that we will get the opportunity to catch up with our nearest and dearest properly, and to introduce everybody to our new arrival.
From there on out, I think it will be a rather quiet year for the Sunshines...well, if you count sleepless nights and endless nappy changes as quiet!! We are both using up all of our leave time for when the baby's born, so no quick hops over to the UAE or Christmassing in the UK for us this year. And luxury holidays will definitely be out of the question!
Nevertheless, I've never started a year with such excited anticipation for what is to come, and despite being desperate for March to come, I'm going to make a conscious effort to enjoy every last moment of my pregnancy up to that point.
I hope you'll join me on the blog as I continue my journey!
Thanks again for all of the support, I couldn't do this without you. Wishing you all the best for a very happy end to 2015, and a great new year to come,