O5rcB_NXbIeHbJV7JFNcdfqL-vY Mummy From The Heart...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Our favourite book - Officially amazing


For the last three years we have been very lucky to attend great events with Guinness World Records (GWR). All my family have attempted to break world records and sadly as yet, we have not been successful. We have had great fun trying though, JJ was so close to attaining the most hats on your head in one minute record and I almost got the most socks paired & rolled in one minute and most party poppers popped in 30 seconds. Next time I vow I will do it and will go home with one of the coveted world record framed certificates.

The fact that we have not managed to bag a world record has not diluted the kids thirst for all things GWR though, not at all. Last year they each had a copy of the Guinness World Records book and I can’t believe how much they were looked at. I did wonder at first if three books might be overkill but it has proved perfect as one or two are kept in the car and others float from room to room in our house. I shouldn’t be surprised if the kids could now tell you some of the facts in that book off by heart.

They haven’t been selfish though, oh no. The books have been shared with their three mates that we take to school each day and the six of them chat about the woman who had eight babies, the tallest elevator in the world or which country has the most mobile phones per 1000 people (UAE if case you were wondering with 1709 per 1000 people). They have also been into school and other kids been allowed to read them and used as fun props in lessons.



This year is the 60th anniversary of Guinness World Records and that is quite some time for it to have been running. I remember it right back to 40 odd years ago as a child when it was presented on TV by Roy Castle and I can still sing you the tune and hear him playing his trumpet. It’s a shame there is not a Records Breakers prime time show anymore as I think we miss good old fashioned variety show fun entertainment nowadays. Of course the kids can still watch a similar program with Officially Amazing being aired on CBBC.

Last year when we was at the GWR blogger event they used us as a focus group to talk about the book and get the kids input and feedback on what they liked about the book and perhaps what could be changed or updated. There were some interesting conversations but in truth I didn’t think much about it at the time, it was only when the 2015 GWR book arrived on my doorstep last week that I recalled the group and felt a little proud that we had helped to choose that cover and had an input to how it might look this year. That sure does make this year’s book feel even more special.

JJ was gutted that we won’t get to make the blogger event this year as we are away in Jersey at the same time. Hopefully we will get an invite to the next event and JJ can console himself by reading he book.

So what is the book like this year?

To put it simply - it's great. Full of all the fun facts and great pictures that the children enjoy but fresh and with lots of new content. It is amazing really how they manage to keep such a big book interesting year on year. It is 255 pages of non-stop entertainment and there is a bonus chapter available as an e-book, which will take you on a behind the scenes tour of GWR. As always it has a strong hardbacked cover so it remains nice and the pages are thick and glossy.

As with the last two years the augmented reality feature is here again. You can download the app for free (on apple and Android) and then parts of the book come alive. It really is very simple and very effective, what a great way to engage the kids. They have the tech they love but it is still book based and educational. The sort of experiences you can have are measuring yourself against the worlds tallest man, explore the planets of the solar system and witness the worlds most venomous spider leap from the page (ekk!).

Here is JJ with Craig Glenday the GWR Editor last year looking at the augmented reality app.


The Guinness World Record 2015 book has an RRP of £20 but I see it is currently £9.00 on Amazon and I've seen it for £10 in some shops, it really is a snip at those kind of prices and for sure I'll be buying copies if JJ needs any birthday gifts for his mates in the coming months.

If you have youngsters who are interested in world records then they must check out the new kids GWR website, as it has all the information they love presented in a way that appeals to them.

Yet again GWR have done good and the book is a big hit in our house. It is juts a shame we only have on copy this year as there have been arguments so far and JJ is now asking me for the gamers edition.

Disclosure: We was sent the book free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Lifes little niggles #Nigglefix



Over the last fifteen years or so I’ve been trying to live a life of gratitude, a positive life were I am a nicer person to be around and where I am more patient and thankful for the people in my life. I’m not going to lie to you it hasn’t all been plain sailing but lots of progress has been made. When I think back to how I used to allow silly things to annoy me and I’m ashamed that I was that same person.

I can now celebrate that most things do not get to me, I can take a Pollyanna stance and choose to be glad instead of sad but I’m only human and there are still some small things, you know some niggles that really get my goat. For instance what about bird’s pooing on your car? There are plenty of other places for them to do their business, don’t they realise that I have no interest in cleaning my car and I have a lot on so I can do without them adding to my workload!

As I think about it, I realise that most of my niggles are to do with my car or driving, this is obviously an area I need to work on. The other day I was pulling out of a parking space and I saw someone turning down my lane so I waited and then they decided they would reverse into a space and it took them an age (back and forwards and back again and you guessed it, once more). They finally parked and I was able to pull out when I then spotted that they had come in a no entry lane and my blood boiled. ‘Frigging driver’ I moaned to myself and carried on. It is only when Miss M asked me what frigging means, that I had to explain it is not a nice word and Mummy really shouldn’t have said that and she should forget it.

We get further down the road and I’m about to pull out of the retail park onto a roundabout, all clear for me to the right, I have right of way so off I go and quick brake slam, someone pulls out to my left and stops so I can’t get off the roundabout onto my exit as they are blocking it. Seeing red once again I beep and shout ‘you twat’ to which Miss M reminds me that really isn’t a nice word and I shouldn’t be saying it. Again I apologise and we move on in silence and then a few minutes later Miss M tells me maybe I shouldn’t drive as it makes me cross and I keep swearing. Oh dear, they do say our little ones teach us valuable lessons.

Anyway enough about me I asked a few friends what the little niggles were in everyday life that really get on their nerves and here is what they said –

Sonya at Rock n Roll Mum – “I get pedestrian rage when people stop suddenly right in front of me on the pavement, or weave around all over the place so I can't squeeze past them, I want them to instigate slow and fast lanes like in swimming pools!”

Emma at Mummy Savvy Savings – “That my children rip open boxes especially cereal boxes so that they cannot be closed with the little tabs all neat. So frustrating.”

Carolin at Mummy Alarm – “People who do things in slow motion, e.g. simple things that could be done in 20 seconds and they take 5 minutes to do it. Annoys me so much, I think I'm just impatient.”

Sarah at Boo, Roo and Tigger Too – “People who don't return your call. It's so frustrating, especially companies who say 'we'll call you back' but don't actually bother.“

Andrea at All you need is Love and Cake – “Bigoted idiots on Facebook, who you can't delete as it would cause too much trouble”

Mary at Keynko – “People unable to park between the lines in a car park!” 

Penny at Parentshaped – “People who obsess over grammar, it's not that I don't think it is important, but I think there are more important things to worry about. Plus it can be patronising, we all make mistakes and not everyone is given the same access to education.”

Ali at Kids Chaos “My husband's bike being kept in the kitchen when me and the kids keep ours under bike covers in the front garden? grrrr…”

So it turns out that we all have niggles in all different areas of our lives and Triumph found the same too when they did some research. In fact one of the top ones with women was pokey wires in bras and this is definitely an issue I have. Thank the Lord they have found a fix to this and there is no longer any need to have red marks under your armpits as you get poked or rubbed. The new magic wire bra alleviates this and is created to be a comfortable wear.

What are your niggles?
Triumph are really interested to hear about your little niggles and want you to tweet @triumphuk them using the #nigglefix hashtag as they say a niggle shared is a niggle halved and you never know, they have manged to sort the bra issue, maybe someone can sort your niggle. I'm thinking I might have to sort my own driving issues very soon or I'll end up with potty mouthed kids!

You can follow Triumph on Twitter or like them on Facebook if you want to keep up to date with their latest goings on.




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Monday, 29 September 2014

Tanith's tips for succcessful and stress free parenting


Last week I published a review of Tanith Carey's new book - Taming the Tiger Parent and I promised that I'd share my lists of tactics that I'm taking away with me to ensure that I stay focused on my children becoming who they are supposed to be rather than who I push or mould them into being.


  1. Labels are never helpful, all they do is pigeon hole a child and then they feel they have to live up to that label. All children have good and bad behaviour and they exhibit it at different times, it does not make them good or bad as a whole.
  2. To remember that play boosts intellectual development, When I don't fill their days and I make them go outside and break through the boredom barrier they will have had a successful days learning in terms of risk-taking, decision making and developing their inner strength.
  3. Be mindful of how I speak to my children. My body language, tone and facial expressions are just as important as the words I'm saying, more so.
  4. Start noticing how many times a day I smile at my kids. I need to do it more, just because.
  5. Help my children find their spark, this is their special skill, talent or interest that they are naturally good at and really enjoy. When I find that spark I need to encourage it.
  6. Teach my children optimism. I'm an optimist, I regularly look for the joy in life and express my gratitude, I need to help my children do this more, as in doing so I will be offering them powerful protection from depression and anxiety in later life.
  7. Listen more and actively. Stop what I'm dong and just focus on them and demonstrate they are the most important thing in that moment.
  8. Let them solve their own problems. When they have a dilemma or issue that they want to be solved, I must stop myself from being a fixer. I need to listen and reflect back to them and facilitate them coming up with their best solution and then support them whilst they give it a go.
  9. Praise the children regularly and have positive interactions in the main. A ratio of 1negative (or critical) interaction to every 4 positive ones is a good ratio to aim for, this will help the child to feel confident.
  10. Teach them to value their own opinion. When they show me something and ask what I think, I need to throw the question back and ask what they think and remind them their is value in their opinion. It is their own opinion on their work that matters most and then of course I need to encourage them too.
  11. Train the kids to be organised. JJ starts secondary school next year and already he is feeling the pressure of being self-sufficient.I need to do what I can to help him be ready for this, give him responsibility, let him make his own arrangements and get things ready for scouts, camps etc.
  12. To stay mindful that mental equilibrium not exam certificates is the true measure of my success as a parent.  Not all children will go on to have professional and well paid jobs but with the right support from their parents they can all go on to do a job they love and excel at and be well balanced and content.

There are actually loads more I could take but you have to be realistic and this is well enough to focus on for now.  I'll come back in a few months and review how I'm doing.

Have you got any other good tips for me, or are any of the above ones working for you?


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Sunday, 28 September 2014

A year in photos - Weeks 37 - 39

Hello all, I hope you are well as you read this post. Life is good here, I'm feeling immensely grateful for time with my parents and aunt a couple of weeks ago, the kids settling back in at school and new volunteering projects. Oh yes and it is under a month until I head off to America, that is of course very exciting and I've bagged a few bargain clothes to take with me!

I've been surprised just how much has gone on over the last couple of weeks as I looked back at my photos.

Apple picking here and now the apples are off being made into Ashburnham apple juice.


I know you must be bored of it by now,but I never tire of living here and I'm so grateful for the joy that Gods precious creation brings me.


Some friends had their children dedicated here and the kids all played afterwards. All of mine love the large hula hoop!


Bexhill beach on one of the amazing days we have had recently, I was feeling all patriotic with the flag!


The sunsets have been just wonderful recently. This is the view from my door and it looks this good most days.


We took a trip to Scotney Castle, which is a National Trust site and had a good few hours there. I really liked this simple white flower that I captured.


And a great photo of my mum with my kids.


Each month we have a special get together for all the kids to enjoy Jesus and each other. This picture captured Miss M's more nurturing side, which is not always evident.


A good iPhone snap taken on Birling Gap beach when we took some volunteers there last weekend.


Another sunset but this one was captured in Bexhill, when about 70 of us descended onto the beach for a fish and chip supper. Of course the girls had a dip in the sea too.


And that's it for another week. This is such a great linky for making you stop and look at what you have done and reflect on just how lucky you are. 

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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Friday, 26 September 2014

Holidaying in Jersey with the Family

Image Credit

October is going to be a very busy month for me, it starts with JJ's eleventh birthday and we are taking him and a friend away for a weekend, just some good old fashioned fun at a holiday park in Camber Sands.

Then mid-month of course I head off to America on my own for a whirlwind trip to Washington D.C to attend the ONE AYA Summit where I expect to be inspired and amazed.

Practically as soon as I return to the UK I'll then be Jersey bound in half-term with all my family. We first drive down to Weymouth and stay overnight there to be ready for an early morning ferry crossing with Condor Ferries. It has been years since I've been on a ferry, I think perhaps the last one was back in the early 1990's when I went to Jersey for a day trip with some uni mates. That trip was pretty different to this one though as our main aim was to buy duty free and drink a lot of alcohol.

The kids don't know we are taking this trip yet and I'm sure they will be excited to find out they will be travelling Club Class on this huge ferry. I can imagine it will all be very exciting - from driving the car onto the ferry, to finding our seats, to being on the viewing deck and watching the ferry pull away and just generally enjoying the four hour journey.

I suspect the girls will seek out the special children's area where they can watch films and dress up in Condor uniforms and I bet JJ will badger me to buy him one of the activity packs that has a chance of a golden ticket inside and with it a trip to meet the captain. Dh and I will probably just be happy for a nice relax in the private club class area; the seats recline, there are large tables for us to play games with the kids (we can even hire board games on the ferry) and there is complimentary tea, coffee and muffins. It all sounds good to me.

Then once we are in Jersey we have a short drive from the port to the Mayfair Hotel for our three night stay there. It looks like a great base, we have well equipped inter-connecting rooms and I see there is small pool, I suspect the children will pester me into that each day as well as a trip to the free soft play at the sister hotel. It was reassuring to see the Mayfair Hotel has won a TripAdvisor award of excellence in 2013 too.

The Jersey tourist board found our accommodation for us and I have been having a good look through their site checking out some of the attractions we should go and visit during our short stay on the island. There are many things I like the look of - Mont Orgeil Castle, walking the lush north coast, duty free shopping in St Helier and a cruise around the bay, but it is hard to know what it best to fit into our short stay so I asked some fellow bloggers for their recommendations and this is what they suggested -

Donna at Mummy Central lived in Jersey for three years so she knows the place pretty well and has suggested St Brelade's Bay, the Durrell Zoo and the Amazing Maize.

Amanda at the Ana Mum Diary has said she really enjoyed the Jersey War Tunnels when she visited three years ago and it does look interesting, I know JJ would love it, he is very into learning about the 2nd world war.

Being Mrs C didn't specifically recommend a particular place for me to visit but did point me to a post about her visit to Jersey back in 2008 and said it was a wonderful break.

Globalmouse Travels has a whole host of posts about the channel islands on her blog and I've had lots of fun reading through and discovering some great finds.

My friend Anya visited Jersey  in the summer and she travelled with Condor Ferries too. She was visiting friends on the Island and had also previously lived there for a bit so her post is a great insight to both Condor Ferries and to Jersey as a tourist destination.

It's only about a month until we take this trip now and I pray this beautiful weather continues so we can go on the beaches and really get to explore Jersey. It feels amazing to be going somewhere further afield but be able to take our car and not have the expense of buying the kids passports. Check back in early November to find out what we thought of our holiday in Jersey.


Disclosure: We are being offered complimentary ferry crossings and 3 nights B&B at the Mayfair hotel for the purpose of reviewing both. We have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sometimes I bury my head in the sand...


There is so much going on in the world and truthfully my brain can only deal with so much. Each day we are bombarded with news about what is happening in our world and so much of it scares the living daylights out of me and do you know what I do sometimes?  I put my fingers in my ears and sing la, la, la because I just can't process it all.

I'm ashamed to say that Ebola has been a bit like that for me, I see news flashes, I read tweets, I receive emails and I feel helpless and I wonder what this small person can do to make a difference to such a damaging and fast spreading disease. Realistically what I can do is very limited but I have realised that what I must do to honour all those people who are dying from Ebola is to find out more and to at least seek to make change and help them.

I thank the Lord that organisations like ONE do not stick their fingers in their ears or bury their head in the sand. As soon as an issue makes itself known they start work campaigning and lobbying for change which can make a difference.

At the moment ONE have a petition that they are asking us all to sign, there are 101.030 signatures on it as I type and they hope to reach at least 125,000 by tomorrow. Yes you read that right - tomorrow.

On Thursday 24th September world leaders are meeting in New York to discuss Ebola but of course they need to do more than talk, action needs to be taken to stop the death toll. Over 2,500 have already died and hundreds of others arrive at make-shift treatment centres to find there is no space and they sit outside and wait to die. That is so wrong and it needs to change but an awful lot of money is needed to make that change. I was pleased to read that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has ear-marked $50 million to go towards the fight against Ebola but so much more is needed. Now I'm not asking for your money, just a bit of your mental energy and a little time.

Please check out and sign the ONE petition HERE.

Then share the petition, use the social buttons on that page and do your bit to get the message out, it is really easy and takes just seconds.  Thanks for caring, Mich x

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Being your child's champion or maybe a tiger parent?

My three having a great time pretending to be Harry Potter

As a parent, isn't it our job to be the champion of our child, the one who holds the banner high, encouraging them to be the best they can be and keeping them out of harms way?  Sure it is, but when does it go too far? When does it become harmful and the gentle encouragement changes to pressure and then intense stress put upon them?

It's a very fine line and one that I'm passionate I must not cross as a parent. Personally I think it is so important that my children grow into the person God destined them to be, we are each created with our own set of attributes and abilities. Just because I'm good at organisation, administration and management does not mean that I will turn out three little managers of the future and thus it is important that I don't try to push them in that direction or inadvertently make them feel as if that is the career choice that will win my approval.

The truth is they will have my approval whatever job they choose to do in the future. All I ask is that they try hard, find something they are passionate about, care about others and be a good citizen.

I'm pleased to say that I really do not consider myself to be a pushy or tiger parent. I believe in setting the boundaries and then stepping back a bit and letting the kids explore, make mistakes and learn who they are and what matters to them. It isn't always easy and yes at times it is incredibly frustrating. I would like things to be neat and tidy, easy even. I'm not looking for a hard life, I don't want to have to struggle and constantly dish out consequences when one of the kids does not listen but I do it as I know it will be worth it. I see it already with JJ, my older child, he went through the tricky stage and tested all the boundaries and pushed my buttons and he has come out the other side. Of course there will be more testing times with him, the hormones will be surging soon but that is OK as I know it is all transitional and in time my job will be complete and each of my children will be an adult. Gutsy, fun and friendly adults I pray.

A few weeks back I was sent a copy of 'Taming the Tiger Parent' by Tanith Carey and I've hardly been able to put the book down. For a non-fiction book it really is very gripping and the 190 pages pass in a flash. Apart from my Uni text books I'm not sure I've ever had a book with so many annotations in the margins. There are stars everywhere, literally as I turned each page I'd find something else that resonated with me.

I did wonder at first if the book would be right for me, was it just aimed at those who are tiger parents and need to learn how to calm down but no I imagine the book suits all parents. It does have parts that tackle the pushy parent and suggest ways to let go and loosen up but equally I found it strengthening me and reminding me that I'm in charge of my child's education, not their school and not our government. It has felt so poignant to be reading this book now as JJ starts in year 6 and gets ready for his SATS and transition to secondary school, and also my twins have moved into KS2 and one of them is not at all ready for the pressure that comes with this move.

I felt empowered to go into school and tell Miss E's teacher that she would not be doing all the homework she was set, she cannot cope and I refuse to put her under that kind of pressure and make her unhappy. Luckily enough he was fine with this and understood what I was saying, the challenge has been to help the children understand that we are in charge of their learning and not school.

Even in the introduction to the book I started to underline, make notes and be impacted by this book. It is shocking to think we are creating a nation of anxious children. Depressed children in primary school, it just shouldn't be happening. I need to share with you the ending from the introduction to the book as it gives such a good indication of Tanith's no-nonsense writing style -
This book asks you to examine what you mean by being successful parent. Should we judge ourselves on our ability to turn our offspring into high-achievers who gain entry to the top universities and get the best jobs in order to buy nice houses, holidays and expensive cars? 
Or should we judge ourselves on our ability to guide our children towards becoming happy, ethical, compassionate people who like themselves and value the world around them? 
Of course, put like this, its a no-brainer. My question is why are we still raising children as if we don't know the answer?
Do you see what I mean? Tanith has the ability to challenge your thinking without it being judgemental or preachy. She shares lots of real life case studies and draws on her own experience as a parent and combines this with solid research to make a really readable book.

The book is split into three sections. The first looks at how we ended up where we are today, what created the rise of the tiger parent? It was interesting to read the examples of the education systems in China and Japan and to see how apparently high and successful grades correlate with unhappy children and high suicide rates. There have been so many factors contributing in the UK too though and we are reminded that 'our children have not had time to work out their own strengths, before they get judged in contests they didn't ask to compete in'.

Part two explores how competition affects our children and that is competition in all ways, self enforced, put-upon by parents, teachers, peers and other well meaning people and it is horrifying to read about the rise in teenage suicides and self harm. This part of the books closes by asking us to recognise that competition sucks the joy out of parenting and diminishes our appreciation of our child as a unique being.

The last part of the book focuses on helping you shed your tiger parenting stripes and it would be easy to think this does not apply to you if you are not a pushy parent but actually I found this part really helpful and it gave me a list of tactics that I want to ensure I employ to help each of my children flourish and really be themselves. I'll publish another post with those later this week.

I suspect you can tell that I really enjoyed this book and I'm happy to recommend it. Taming the Tiger Parent by Tanith Carey went on sale this week and I see it is currently £6.29 on Amazon.

Disclosure: I was sent this book free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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Monday, 22 September 2014

Pondering adult baptism... Has the time come?


I always tend to think of the Holy Spirit as wind, whenever I feel the spirit moving then it is cool air I feel. Whilst I know that many people associate fire with the Holy Spirit I never really have. Not until the other night when I saw this amazing sky outside my front door. For the last couple of weeks the sky has been getting better and better at sunset and tonight when the kids said 'oh Mum, you have to see this sky' I grabbed my camera and captured this.

Today this sky really made me think about the above scripture. Here is the full verse -
"I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am--so much greater that I'm not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Matthew 3:11 (NLT)
I was Christened as a young child (probably because it was the thing that British people did at that time) and then I did go to a Sunday school most weeks until I was about 14 but really I was not a Christian, I did not understand what it meant or feel the commitment I now know I would feel. When I became a Christian in 2002 I was attending an Anglican church and thus got confirmed, which meant I was asserting my faith and belief in Jesus Christ as my saviour when I was old enough to make that decision for myself.

However for about the last four years I've been wondering if confirmation is enough and I have been pondering baptism, just as Jesus was, by full immersion. We are supposed to imitate Jesus and He choose to be baptised by John even though He was sin free. I really feel I need to recommit and publicly declare that I'm living my life for Jesus. Time to cast off my last chains and sins and to walk in His way.

I suppose I ought to make some enquiries and make this baptism a reality.  Thankfully it should not be too difficult we have a lake and a baptismal pool where I live.  Watch this space....
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