O5rcB_NXbIeHbJV7JFNcdfqL-vY Mummy From The Heart...: November 2010

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Call For Posts: Multiples Mayhem Carnival - 9 December


Multiples Mayhem Carnival at Mummy with a Heart


It is time for a carnival!  A Multiples Mayhem carnival none the less. So come on and join in, all bloggers with twins, triplets or more... can submit a post.

It would be great to get some posts with a festive feel, but no real pressure.  Everything is welcome.  We are fully inclusive here. In fact if you only have singletons and want to write about your desire to have twins I'll even include that! lol

Email (mummyfromtheheart@virginmedia.com) your links to me by the end of 6th December and the carnival will go live here on Mummy From The Heart... on 9th December.  It should make for some good reading.

I am getting very excited....  It is my first carnival. Make it a good one and send me your post please, old and new welcome.

Ohh, and you see that beautiful badge at the top. That as created by Rebecca at twobecomefour, she has a real talent for design work and her digital scrapbooking is fab! Go visit her...

Thanks, Mich x

Getting My Priorities Right!


Today (and yesterday actually - go me, 2 days in a row!) I am really pleased to say that I got my priorities right.

It is so easy to get involved with the detail, the small stuff and I am known for sweating it! I just can not seem to help myself, I get stressed about crazy things.  Is my house clean enough? Have I made my video footage into a DVD yet? Why am I so fat? Will it snow some more? Have I promoted my blog giveaways enough? None of these things really matter. There are so many bigger fish to fry.

So on Monday from nowhere I found myself seriously thinking about what I would do if I found out that I was very poorly.  My actual thought process was around having cancer and being told there was only a few months to live. I know this is nothing new, that often people try and get you to put things in perspective by asking what you would do if there was only a few months left but I have never seriously considered this. It was a bit of a revelation for me.  If there really was only a few months left there would be some seriously expensive things that I would do, like flying off to Disney with my family and taking my Mum abroad to the Caribbean and I won't be rushing out and doing those things as I must still remain sensible in this as praise the Lord I have not been told I am unwell.

There were plenty of things that came to mind though, which it is now my duty to make happen.  Lying in bed with my kids snuggling and watching a DVD, going for walks through the woods, playing on the swings, doing craft together, spending time with my hubbie and enjoying each others company.

I am pleased to say that yesterday instead of hurrying my kids to bed so that I could get downstairs and either have some me time or start to tidy up the house I took turns to get into bed with each of the kids and had some serious snuggles, we did prayers and JJ read to me too.  Then at 10pm I was strict with myself and I switched the computer off and I went upstairs to read instead.

I have also booked next Monday off work and so has dh and we are planning to spend the day together, shopping, going to the cinema and having lunch, all child free - it should be bliss.

The one thing that I seriously need to keep in perspective is this blog. I was having a good think yesterday lunchtime (it was the day for it) about what hard work blogging can be and especially how much effort it takes to undertake good product reviews and to run competitions/ giveaways on your blog, so I seriously need to think about my motivation for doing this and the way forward. Do I just forget the reviews and go back to blogging for pleasure as and when I fancy.  I think I know that is the best answer for me, as I have always said this is not a business for me, it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby and not an all-consuming popularity contest.  Do remember that Mich!

What about you?  Have you thought about your priorities recently?

Friday, 26 November 2010

Perfect Therapy!


What an amazing couple of days I have just had staying in the most beautiful London hotel.  Work booked me in for a CPD course for Weds and Thurs this week and I was not too sure what to expect.  To be honest the course was not that useful to me but the people were nice and it is always good to network......  but the hotel, well that was a real treat! We stayed at the Athenaeum Hotel on Piccadilly, Mayfair.  It is a established 5* hotel but not one I had been to before and I have been to a fair few. What I loved was that it was decadent but also quirky and unique. Nothing appeared to be copied on every floor, all the art work was different and  absolutely stunning. The receptionist checked me in and tried to get my hubbie and girls to stay too.  I convinced her I really was quite happy to stay alone and off she took me for a tour of the hotel and then onto my bedroom to show me how all the lights, air con, ipod dock etc etc worked.

One of the best things she had to tell me was that my mini bar was completely free, as was the teddy in my room!  No I did not drink it dry, but yes a few bits made it into my bag to come home with me!


One of the parts of the tour that I loved was the children's Winter Wonderland play room. Just look at it...  Any child that stays at the hotel should use the room and enjoy their stay at the hotel and use the craft, DVD's, games...  Wow, not the kind of hotel I normally stay at - let me tell you!


The service was second to none, completely discreet but extremely professional. The food was of a fabulous standard, it easily met that of the Ivy and in fact there is not one thing that I could fault about my stay. Whilst the Athenaeum is out of my normal price range I would most definitely consider coming here again for a special occasion or if I could find a good deal.

It is amazing how 36 hours without the kids can really recharge your batteries.  Sitting in the deep bath relaxing, having my divine 3 course supper, chatting over pancakes, bacon and maple syrup for breakfast and being able to watch TV sprawled across the whole bed was the making of a very happy and relaxed Mich. The indulgence of those couple of days also had the effect that I was happy to come home and get back on track with my food and come back to being abstinent again. Excess makes me want to back away form the food thankfully.  So today I am very thankful for a wonderful meeting at my Eating Disorder fellowship last night, some super friends who really build me up and support me, a loving God and the ability to give up my will and to be abstinent from the act of eating compulsively.

Yes, I am singing this hotels praises and no they have not sponsored me to do so.  You know when you just love something and you have to tell the world!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Gallery: My Beautiful Boy in Black & White

I was looking through my albums for a black and white photo to use for this weeks Gallery.  I knew the one I wanted but then I came across this and I could not resist.  White babe in a black bag!  This always makes me laugh a lot; if you look at the photo for too long it looks false, as if I have pasted his head and arm on a completely different photo!  He really was in Nanny's bag..


And this is the actual beautiful black and white photo I was looking for. Taken at a professional studio when JJ was about 8 months. I will treasure this picture forever.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Hemel Hempstead Snow Centre - Giveaway!


I am very excited to be doing my first giveaway on Mummy From The Heart…, and not just any giveaway. I have something really exhilarating for you!

You will recall that JJ went to an amazing kids party in October. It was held at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, Herts. Well the lovely people there have offered me the chance to give away 2 recreational lift passes to be used at a time to suit you. These are worth a cool £48.00. How great is that?

So, if you are an avid skier or snowboarder and you miss the real snow or you want to get a bit of practice in before flying off for your winter ski holiday then this is right up your street! You do have to meet their minimum standard of skiing though to be deemed safe to hit the slope – that’s me out of the question then. Believe me that would be entertainment and a half to watch me keep falling over!

Here’s how you enter –
    Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email and leave me a comment on here (required)
  • For additional chances to win –
  • mention this competition on Twitter including @MichelleTwinMum in the tweet and comment to let me know you did so and get an additional entry
  • Like my facebook fan page and get 2 additional entries
  • Follow me on networked blogs (widget to the right -->) and get an additional entry
Take a look here and see the Snow Centre’s online gallery, whet your appetite and then sit back, cross your fingers and hope you win. Good Luck!

I will use a random number generator to choose the lucky winner. Entries close at 12 noon on Monday 6th December. Please either leave me an email address or your twitter ID so I can contact you if you win. You will be contacted within 3 days of the close date.

Terms and Conditions –
• Those using the passes must be able to ski or snowboard to a minimum recreational standard: be able to link turns, to stop, control your speed and use the button lift unassisted.

• Age restrictions apply for juniors. Children aged 10 years and under who are signed off at level 4 or 5, must be accompanied by an adult on the slope who can also ski or snowboard to the minimum recreational standard. Children aged 8, 9 or 10 years who are signed off at level 6 can go on the slope without an adult, but the adult must stay on the premises. Children under 11 years taking part in any snow activity must have a responsible adult on site at all times.

• It will be open to all UK residents (excluding those affiliated with The Snow Centre) and only the recreational lift passes will be included – not travel/accommodation.

• They can be 2 juniors/adults/mixed – both on or off peak. Excludes Freestyle Friday 7pm – 11pm.

• The lift pass prizes must be booked and taken before 31st May 2011.

• The prize is non-refundable and cannot be transferred. No cash alternative is available.

The Lucky winner is @Muddlingalong.  Please DM or email me your contact details and I can pass these to The Snow Centre to get in touch with you and arrange for you to take your prize.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Super Saturday: I'm A Lucky Girl!

2nd Look Saturday Button

This post originally appeared on my blog on 6 February 2010, I am re posting today to join in with Big Mama Cass's 2nd Look Saturday, where we re-post things from the past that might have been missed. As many of you know my blog has only been public reading for a few months.

It seemed right to post this again today, as it is Saturday and I expect a super day!!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My how times change when we have kids, or they certainly have for me. Go back 6.5 years and you may find me enjoying a Saturday in London, spending money in the shops, having a lovely lunch at a swanky restaurant, meeting friends or dh, perhaps the theatre in the evening, another meal and maybe even stay over in a nice 4 or 5*. Not so any more, the money is not there and that is OK as we consciously made the decision to have far less money and far more time with the children.

So what makes me feel like a lucky girl today? Well it is those simple things -

* dh getting up at 5am with pesky Miss M who wanted the toilet, her dummy, water, milk and anything else she could muster the strength to ask for.
* getting cuddles with all 3 kids in my bed (whilst poor dh has gone to work).
* taking an hour to read a good book (in bed) whilst the kids played and did some drawing on the floor.
* doing my toe and finger nails (in bed, can you see a theme for this morning??) with the girls trying to help me ('my help you mummy', 'ohh painting', 'pink, pretty!' etc).
* having a lovely shower and hair wash in peace whilst the kids all made music together (yes a bit of a din but at least they were not arguing).
* pottering about the house and getting the bathroom cleaned, my bed changed, upstairs tided, dishes sorted, washing on, all with double mini assistance (*ahem*)
* now we are off out for lunch at pizza hut (if the 50% off voucher ever arrives by email! grr)
* then tonight dh and I are off to a murder, mystery evening which should be good fun.

I am very grateful for my Saturdays. They used to be a busy day as I got up and dashed about in the same way that I do all 6 of the other days in the week. JJ went to a sports club and had to be there for 9am and as dh works on a Saturday that meant the girls had to be ready too. Now he does football after school and Beavers and has dropped this club and I am so pleased. I may never let anything steal my Saturday space again. I think everyone needs one chilled day per week. I know many do this on a Sunday but as we enjoy going to Church and it is the only day we are all together we tend to do things then.

I always said I would not be one of those Mums whose kids went to tons of clubs and they run round like loonies to accommodate the kids. I think what I specifically did not like was the competitive mums (you know the ones!) that had their children doing a club every day of the week - French Club, then maths tuition, then swimming, then violin lessons, then ballet and then a day of drama on Saturday. At one point JJ was doing Beavers and Boys Brigade on an evening and Sports Club on a Saturday morning and this felt like too much. When was his time just to play in the garden? and when was my time to just cuddle up with the kids? I think some of the problem comes that you get home from school at 3.40pm and then the club starts at 5.15pm so madly I cook dinner and shove it down their throats to rush out to drop off and then by 6.25pm I am out again to pick JJ up.

I dread when both girls want to go to clubs as well and then I will have 3 children to try and get to numerous places. Call me selfish but I think I will try and limit their activities to ensure there is a balance of getting the extra curricular fun and then taking time at home to be kids and to play.

How do you feel about the chasing around for clubs?

Friday, 19 November 2010

Love In Action.... Special Bloggers


This morning I just quickly want to share with you a few blogs which have made a real difference to me over the last few months.

Anyone who reads regularly will know that JJ is being assessed at the moment for a communication disorder. They think perhaps he has Aspergers. I am not fully convinced but there are a lot of traits there which could be..... so who knows. Time will tell.
I do not know much about Aspergers and I have to be honest and say that I think I am being a bit of an ostrich as what I should do if research and get a book and find out more info but I have not been brave enough to do that yet.... maybe soon. What I have been doing is reading lots of blogs of people who have child with special/ additional needs such as Autism or Aspergers and I have found these blogs to be amazingly inspirational, encouraging and they have also opened my eyes and provided me with some answers and clues. So here I share just a few that I have been enjoying:





Go and check them out yourselves. Each one of these ladies is an example to us all of love in action!

This post was prompted by the carnival being run at Notes From Home today. The theme of today's carnival is How blogging has helped me through the parenting minefield.

Here are the other entries in the blogging and parenting carnival:

Frugal Mom at The Diary of a Frugal Family writes about why she started her blog and the support and advice from the mummyblogging community.

Chic at Chic Mama writes about how blogging has helped her be a better parent during tough times.

Jen at Table for Eight writes about her love of reading parenting blogs and her goals for blogging more.

Jax at Making it Up writes about links, SEO and the community aspect of blogging.

Ella at Notes From Home writes about how reading blogs and writing her own blog helped her cope with motherhood.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Due Date.... Today!


It’s 18th November 2010. Today is my due date. This is the day I was supposed to give birth to my fourth child. Of course it was not to be and I have blogged about my miscarriage here, here and here.

I always prayed before I had children that I would not miscarry as I knew it would be something really hard for me to deal with. I do think the blow of losing my babe was softened by the fact that I have already been blessed three times. Of course each child is different and I was sure that this babe would be a boy and I would have named him Samuel Noah. So little Samuel you will always have a special place in my heart, you are the beautiful babe that I never got to have.

Straight after the miscarriage I could not believe how well I appeared to be dealing with things. People kept telling me to let myself mourn but I was not listening. I was OK, well in my mind. Then over the last four or five months I have had periods of sadness and loss and I think slowly I have been coming to terms with the fact that our family is complete. 5 is a perfect number for us.
It seems a bit trite to say that I believe I am mourning the loss of a fantasy as much as the loss of my actual babe. Once I found out I was pregnant I thought how great it was that I would be on maternity leave when my girls started nursery school and how that would make logistics much easier. I also had all these little dreams about being able to breastfed my single baby and having time alone together to get to know each other and to snuggle. Sadly much of that one on one was missing with the girls as there were always two on one as well as toddler in toe. I built this little fantasy world in my head, the one where I would have the natural (don’t lynch me for using that word, I know my c-section births were natural too. I just don’t want to use the V word!) birth I had always longed for. Perhaps in water with dh at my side and definitely serene and blissful.

So here I am today in the reality and let’s be honest the reality isn’t bad at all. I have one husband I love who is hard at work earning a living to keep our family. I am sat at toddlers surrounded by loads of friends from my Church. The girls are having fun playing and I have a job that I enjoy and fits in with my family. I am blessed every day in my Christian Lord and all my needs are met and provided for. I really cannot ask for any more!

I will not feel sad today, I will celebrate my life and all that I have.

I was prompted to post this by Josie’s writing workshop and also I wanted to support Jen at the Madhouse in her crusade to get people talking more about miscarriage.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Gallery: Before & After

The prompt from Tara for the Gallery this week is Before and After. Tara asked us to take a photo from the past and to recreate it today.

So here is a picture of me blowing a raspberry on JJ's belly when I was 8.5 months pregnant with the twins.

Then we got home from Messy Church today and I bribed him (with cuddles whilst watching TV with me) to help me to create the scene again.

I suppose the before and after could apply to the fact that the first picture was before the twins were born and the second was after. Or it could be before our recent redecoration of the lounge (goodbye yucky orange wall!)

But of course as soon as the girls saw the 'fun' JJ and I were having, they wanted a piece of the action too, so first Miss M joining in...


..and Miss E just could not control herself and collapsed in fits of laughter!
And this awful picture is what prompted the fun in the first place, back in July 2007. I was 36 weeks pregnant with the twins and JJ wanted to give them a kiss and then asked me to kiss his tummy, but of course Mummy blew raspberries instead!

Wordless Wednesday: Love Your World

OK, this post isn't wordless. Hands up I told a fib! I wanted to make it wordless but wondered if any of you would know what the pictures were about! lol


Today, we went to messy Church in our local town. This is a fab initiative that is run nationwide. You arrive after school finishes, have squash and tea. Make crafts for an hour - loads of fun doing messy activities, then we have an interactive story and song and finish by having tea all together. How fab no cooking for Mich today!

The picture above shows all the fab things my children got to make and take home, including bird feeders.



These two pictures show all the children's activities from their time in messy Church today.
If anyone local would like to come with me, once a month on a Wednesday just shout. You do not have to be a Christian, but you do have to enjoy fun!!!!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Family Christmas Traditions

Photobucket

The other day I was sitting thinking about family traditions or habits. Yes, me really! I do sit still and concentrate on the very odd occasion. I was trying to remember what traditions we had as a family when I was young. I have mentioned before that I grew up in a very happy household and I enjoyed my childhood. The types of things I could remember were pulling the sofa up close to the fire and snuggling with my Mum to watch Saturday night TV, going to the Happy Eater on a Sunday with all the family for tea and playing board games with my family after Christmas dinner.


My thoughts then moved to what traditions or customs dh and I were creating for our kids and specifically in relation to Christmas, this being such a special time to us Christians.

The one thing that dominated my thoughts was that each year we enter a decorated tree to the local church Christmas tree festival. This festival normally includes between 60- 120 trees all decorated by different families, organisations, faith groups, charities, schools etc. Here are a few photos of some of the entries our family has been involved with over the years -

Baby's First Christmas, when JJ was 3 months old in 2003

Photobucket


Winter Wonderland - 2004 when I was Chair of the toddler group

Photobucket


'Merry Christmas Choo Choo You' - 2006, JJ did a Thomas the Tank Engine themed tree. Sadly I can not find a photo of this.

What are little girls made of? 'Sugar and Spice and Twins are Twice As Nice' - 2008. This was the first time JJ was big enough to help make decorations and to really take a lead on what the family did for a tree. It was a sweet tree dedicated to his sisters.

Photobucket

As you can see these trees are not glamorous or even particularly co-ordinated but they are created with love.

This year we are working to the theme 'Let It Snow' and the children are avidly making decorations and all three of them will be there to help me decorate the tree before the festival starts. Then of course we will visit the festival and as dh is a Scouter we will also be manning stalls and helping with the refreshments.

I love the fact that this is something unique, special and free that our family do together each year. It helps the children to think about something other than the presents they will get. I do get annoyed with the way the UK seems to have gone, turning Christmas into a farce that is all about money and receiving things. Don't you think this is a lovely tradition our family is building together? This for dh, JJ and me (the girls are a bit young yet) signals the start of the festive season and from this first weekend in December it is then go go go for Christmas...

Talking about Christmas, it is good to remember that the focus should be on giving and the joy that is experienced in this selfless act. Have you started to think about presents for family and Friends as yet? What about giving a gift which helps those who really need it? This year Oxfam Unwrapped have some amazing gifts on offer and I really like the way that the website allows you to choose gifts by the type of person you are buying for, ie: kids, gardener, foodie etc

One of the gifts that I would like to be sending this year is the Education for all gift.

This is what Oxfam Unwrapped say about it -This classy gift pushes politicians and communities to make education available to all, right now. It makes sure governments supply and train teachers. Build classrooms. Pay for books and desks. So that every child and every adult gets the schooling they deserve. So go on, help teach leaders a lesson or two.

The gift is just £15 and imagine how stoked you would be to know that your gift helped to ensure that children across the world were able to access essential education thanks to your Christmas present.

If this gift does not tickle your fancy then go over to Oxfam Unwrapped and have a look at the large selection there or why not visit the Simplify Your Christmas Carnival hosted at Who's The Mummy? on Monday 22nd November 2010. You will find links to dozens of posts from bloggers like myself who have posted about something you can do to simplify your Christmas this year.

So tell me, what traditions do you and your family have at Christmas time?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Review: Santa's Magical Kingdom

Photobucket

Saturday was the day! The day I had been awaiting for a few weeks.

I am such a big kid!

The children knew we were going to do 'something really fun' this weekend but they had no idea what. Dh and I had a good laugh keeping them hanging and making them guess what they might be up to. Needless to say not one of them guessed correctly.

I had been invited to review the Christmas attraction at The Hop Farm, Tonbridge, Kent. So off we went to Santa's Magical Kingdom. The M25 was kind to us and the journey there was relaxed, we decided to have a pic nic (yes really in 5 degrees) to keep the cost of our weekend low but I have to say I wish we had not bothered as the Tea Room at the farm looked lovely with its leather sofas and good menu.

We were greeted by some elves and this was one of the things I loved about this experience, all the staff kept in character and played the role of friendly elves just perfectly. The kids were each given a golden ticket to take with them around the kingdom, receiving a stamp for each new part of the experience they entered. They were also given a bauble to decorate the tree lined arrival path. There must of been at least a couple of hundred of snow capped trees. Here Miss M and JJ place their decorations...
Photobucket
We were directed through to the soft play area so the kids could use the toilets before the magic began. Then we headed off to start the experience. As soon as we arrived in the first waiting area there were a couple of lovely brightly lit animated displays. These were very pretty and kept the kids amused for a few minutes but unfortunately we were made to wait in this area for about 20 minutes and of course all the children started to become bored. The good part was that the tallest elf recognised this and started to play games with the kids - sleeping penguins, what fun!

Soon we were ushered into the 4D cinema but not until we had completed a few Mexican waves and shouted to the door 'Lumi, says let us in please'. Lumi being the chief elf. The 4D film was very good and the kids all enjoyed it. After collecting our stamps on the golden tickets it was time to move through to the Enchanted Forest where we met the snow queen and encountered more mischievous elves.
Photobucket
This pretty walk led through to more Christmas themed animated displays, this time they were behind glass and the kids could press the buttons to make the displays work. My girls liked this a lot; here they are at the Rudolf display.
Photobucket
The next stop on the journey was for the kids to write their letters to Santa. Of course my girls are too young to do this but there was plenty of room for us to sit and help them and JJ enjoyed showing off his writing skills - his list was very long! The really magical part for the kids was that they could post their letter to Santa and we watched the letters be sucked up the chimney and off to Santa. The girls wanted to post numerous letters to Santa and I was really pleased when JJ said he would write a letter for Carl-Henri, who is our child that we sponsor in Haiti.
As the children were busy with their letters we were handed a parent card to fill in with their details so that when they met Santa later, he would know their names.
Photobucket
With the letters complete, we set off again, this time to visit live reindeers and then through to the North Pole were the snow was falling. This put a big smile on all the children's faces! At the end of this part of the journey one of the elves decided it was time for a song and we all participated in a rendition of 6 Christmas baubles hanging on the tree (to the tune of green bottles) before being ushered through to the craft workshop. I was really pleased with the large christmas tree 3D decoration each child was given to decorate. We were in this room for about 15 minutes and this was enough time for a bit of sticking fun and then the kids were ready to move on and we were able to take the decorations with us for finishing at home.

Before finally making it to Santa, which I have to say is what my kids were dying to do we had a story with Mother Christmas, watched Pipi the Elf perform some magic and had some dancing fun on the Ice Walkway. All these things were enjoyed by the kids.
Photobucket
The grand finale came at last and it was good to see that there was at least 4 Santa's on duty and thus the queues were short and the children kept happy. The set up was very good, the kids would never have known there was more than one Santa there. As we walked in the room, Santa (who was very authentic) greeted the children by name and asked them if they had been good this year and what they would like. Miss M was lost for words and told Santa she would like a 'thingy'.

When directed the children shouted, '1, 2, 3 wish' and down the chimney popped three lovely Santa's Magical Kingdom bags with a gift for each child. JJ was gobsmacked that Santa would know that he would love an Alien Launcher and the girls were very taken with their plush toy each. I have to be honest here and say that whilst the bag was good quality I would have expected a better toy given the entry cost. Miss E also wanted to know if she had not got her dolls house as it was too big for the bag! lol
Photobucket

Below are the girls posing with their goody bags. They tell me the highlight of their day was meeting Santa, closely followed by the fact that they could use the soft play after the tour. Sadly the carousel and the mini wheel were both out of action on the day we visited but the children were able to go on a small train and JJ loved the driving school. That was the best part of the day for him apparently.

Photobucket

We finished our tour about 2.45pm, so it had taken practically 2 hours. The cost for this experience starts at £27.50 per person and I do have to say that the children loved the time they spent there. dh and I adored watching the children experiencing something new and exciting but I am unsure I could recommend that each adult also pay the cost of £27.50. For the five of us, this would have made our day £137.50 and that is a lot of money for 2 hours entertainment.

So, overall how did our family score this day out?
Family Fun: 9/10
Actual Santa Visit: 10/10
Park facilities - toilet, baby change, refreshments: 8/10
Gift Received: 6/10
Value for money: 5/10
Overall Experience: 8/10


Santa's Magical Kingdom is open each weekend until Christmas Eve and from 16th December it is open every day.

I received the tickets to attend this experience free of charge but as always I remain honest in my review.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Notes From The Heart...

I hear that Kat is back hosting her Dear So and So meme again and I do love that. It is so therapeutic to fire off a few letters/ notes to people who just may never know about them. Here are mine this week -

Dear Children,

I can not wait for tomorrow. I pray our little weekend outing to Santa's Magical Kingdom will be just that - magical! It is fab to have Daddy off work and to know we can all spend time together with no jobs to do. Just fun!

Reviewing Hop Farm for the Santa experience (watch out for my write up early next week readers), then staying at a hotel (first time for you girls), having breakfast in the restaurant, going on to visit Nanny and Grandad and hopefully Daddy and I will get to go out together Sunday night for some 'us' time. Then if you are good big boy, you and Daddy can go to the cinema Saturday night while the girls and me stay in and watch our cheesy Saturday night TV.

Then to top it all Uncle Rich is here doing some last jobs for us and enjoying the peace at our house while we are away. Perfect!

Please my three gorgeous kiddies can you try your hardest to behave for Mummy and Daddy this weekend. It would be such a shame to have something so lovely tarred by silly behaviour.

Love you all, big kisses Mummy xxx
------------------------------------------------------------------------

To Lizzie at Toddlers,

It was lovely to meet you and your gorgeous kids today. It is not often that I find someone who is so open and will just chat. I really appreciated you chatting away to me and I hope to see you again next week.

Michelle
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Anyone with a decent answer,

Can you please tell me why Miss E regresses every so often and starts to wet herself again. Attention seeking? Laziness? I do not know. She seems to find it funny and laughs when I ask her and then tell her off. She knows it is naughty and I am convinced knows she needs to do a wee. She was dry for a good 6 months before we had any spates of wetting and then we can go weeks between these little incidents.

I am baffled and I have to say it really annoys me.

Thanks for your wisdom, Mich x
-------------------------------------------------------------------------


To all the Parents at JJ School,

It was a real blessing today to see the 92 beautiful shoe boxes that we collected for Operation Christmas Child. Thank you so much for your effort and consideration. Just imagine how stoked those kids will be when they receive their lovely gift.

Thanks again, Michelle

PS - Start collecting bits from now on, we will be doing it again next year, bigger and better!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

To the three children who made the blue covered shoe boxes,

I think it is the most beautiful thing ever that whilst your family does not have the spare money to make a shoebox up that you went to your own bedrooms and choose some toys to give to other kids who are less fortunate. It seems so unfair that I can not actually give your secondhand, broken toys to those children as I am sure they would be grateful of them but you are an example to each of us. Your giving heart is a credit to you.

Thanks and love, Michelle x
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Lord,

I need to do a gratitude list. I am feeling so blessed at the moment. I thank you Lord for my food sponsor, for being abstinent, for the fab news about the nursery fees, for this family weekend, for my wonderful parents and all they do for us, for my job and for helping me keep perspective when my own mind wanted to run off and go nuts!

You just amaze me. I know that when we gladly serve you or others we are repaid for our efforts. Just today I gave my time to check the shoe boxes and there in one of the boxes was a pair of nearly new school shoes in Miss M's size that we could not send off in the boxes. How that has blessed me - I have been wondering where the £60 will come from for 2 pairs of school shoes in January.

Thank you, help me to know you more each day.

Michelle x

Dear So and So...

Friday Blog Boost!

Have you seen that there are tons of blog hops out on a Friday? Well if you are interested in finding some new blogs to read, making some potential friends and while you are at it increasing your followers and boosting your stats then go visit a few blogs today and share some comment love. Just click on each of the buttons below and they will take you to a new and different blog hop, all around the world.

If you have arrived here following a blog hop, then Hi and welcome, nice to see you. Please press follow on the goggle friends and leave me a comment and I will come visit you over the weekend.

I have to say Flog Yo Blog Friday is my favourite, it started and is hosted over in Oz and I just love the blogging community over there. I have met so many great people. Go look.... I have made it easy for you, the hop is attached to this post! tra da....


rrsahm



BoostMyBlogFriday


Photobucket







Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Facing The Truth: I Was A Bully


A different lifetime. A different person. I was not me back then. Not the me I am nowadays anyway. Not a mother who understands that every child should be treated equally and that kids do not choose their upbringing. I was a little girl. A chubby little girl who often got teased by other kids and sometimes got picked on. But I was one of the lucky ones; I had an amazing family waiting at home for me.

I had no idea what I was part of. I wanted to be liked and to be part of the gang. So much so, that I am now ashamed of my behaviour. My recollection is that at the time I had no idea I was part of anything nasty. No realisation of what we were doing to one poor boy. No understanding of the way our cruelty would affect his life, and not just his life then but his life for many, many years after.

Shall I tell you the story of one boy who came and joined our primary school?

His father was in the army and thus he had moved around a bit and joined our school a couple of years in. I think his family were very tight for money; my recollection is that he did not have the latest toys or clothes like many of us did. He lived in some flats that most kids thought of as being a right off. I cannot remember that he smelt or was dirty or anything like that but for some reason most of the kids in my class took a disliking to this boy and looking back now I know that we made his life hell. I am so sorry for the part I played in this and I have made amends with L and said this to him but I think it is important to tell this story as it makes you realise how things that seem like harmless kiddie behaviour at the time can actually be much more sinister.

Basically, each time anyone saw this boy, we would cross our arms across our chests and say ‘fleas, injected for all my life’ (as if we had been inoculated against flies). Where this came from, how it started I have no idea at all. My memory is that it was practically everyone in class doing the same and I am sure the teacher was aware too, as we became more sneaky and would just mutter it under our breath and maybe slowly cross one arm over our chest so as not to be obvious. Why did this teacher not talk to us all? Why did they not have our parents to the school and insist we stop bullying L? Why did L’s Mum not demand the school did something? As a mother myself now, I am outraged for the lack of care the school had for L. As a human I am mortified at the way this impacted him for so many years and as a Christian I can certainly say I repent with all my heart and would love to forget this ever happened but as ever it teaches me humility to know that I am flawed.

I don’t know about you but stuff from my early days at school (about ages 7 -10 I think) is not something I think of often and I have forgotten much of what went on. So when I was contacted on Friends Reunited and later Facebook by L himself about 9 years ago when I was 28 and he started to ask me about our time at school and why certain things had happened and did I remember…. I had to honestly say ‘no, I do not remember most of it’. It was inconsequential to me but of course not to him, not when it was damaging his self-esteem each and every day.

My first thoughts were fear when he started to contact me, was he after me? Did I have a stalker? Should I be looking over my shoulder? But here I am 9 years on and nothing sinister has happened. I think L just needed to make some sense of his childhood. He told me that his mother left a lot to be desired and he had not felt wanted at home. So there we were, heartless middle class kids putting the boot in at school too!

I believe L is relatively happy now, he went through years of counselling but is now in a relationship and I pray he can live out his days happy and at peace.

Never again will I ever have to face the truth and know that I am a bully. I vow not to do that. I am an adult now. I know better. I have other avenues that I can pursue. I do not need to fit in with the crowd that much. I do not want to get sucked into others crap.

I am happy to be me, the Lord loves me and I am blessed with a wonderful family and great friends.
This post was written using the Prompt 'Past Secret' for Josie's writing workshop. Hosted over at Sleep Is For The Weak. Go take a look I am sure there will be loads of other great entries.


Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping Beauties - Then & Now

August 2007 - 2 babes and 1 moses basket.


September 2010 - 2 big girls and 1 double bed!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Gallery: Seasons

This weeks prompt from Tara at Sticky Fingers is a lovely one. Just the one word - Seasons, it will be really nice to see what different interpretations crop up accross the Blogsphere.

I expect to most people the word Seasons just makes them think of the changing weather and the times of the year. For me as a Christian is has another meaning too, we tend to talk about seasons of our life. Or the phases we might go through during our life and how things and priorities change with those seasons/ phases. So for me right now, I am in the season of Motherhood. Bringing up my children is the most important thing and that takes precedence over other things. Family Rules!

So the pictures I bring to you represent this season of Motherhood and also the 4 changing seasons that we get to experience here in the UK. Looking at these pictures got me thinking that we are very lucky to be able to experience such diversity in our weather and scenary.
So we start with right here and now, this is my Kids enjoying our town centre on Saturday. AUTUMN. JJ and Miss M are my posers!

Before this came SUMMER and our holiday back in July to Dorset.

April/ May time earlier this year and my girls were Beauties in the Blossom, back in SPRING.
and finally the time that all the kids love - WINTER. Miss E and JJ building a very small snowman back December 2009.
Pop over to the Gallery and visit all the other wonderful entries.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Life Lessons That Need To Be Learnt!

Many of you will know that I am in a 12 step fellowship for my food problems. I am a food junkie and at least once a week I say ‘Hi, I am Michelle and I am a compulsive overeater’. I sit in a room of anything between 2 and 20 people who all share the same problem with me. We all look completely different; people can range from a size zero to a size 50 and more… Some of us overeat, some under eat, some binge and purge, some are exercise bulimics and some people have a combination of food related problems but fundamentally we all have issues that lead us to thinking food just might be the answer to today’s problem. Of course we are wrong but that does not help our warped logic.

So with the aim of becoming whole again: spiritually, physically and emotionally we embark on this 12 step programme which will become a part of our lives forever. Each day we have to work to be abstinent from the act of eating compulsively, we have to read useful literature, we have to pray or mediate to a power greater than ourselves (and for me this is God but it does not have to be for you, it can be anything. For many people it is the power and love they share in the recovery room with their group) and we have to reach out to fellow sufferers.

I have been in this fellowship for about 18 months now and to the untrained eye you might be fooled into thinking that the programme does not work as I am still fat but that is where this programme differs to any diet you have ever heard of before, losing weight is not the be all and end all. I have made some amazing friends, people from all walks of life. People that the old prideful, snobbish Michelle might never have met. Each one of us in the fellowship is from a different walk of life, some are unemployed, others doctors, some are off work due to ill-health and others like me balance being a parent and working part-time in a good professional career. When we are in fellowship together we all stand equal and I love that. It teaches me humility and it teaches me about some of the wrong perceptions I used to have about life.

When I became a Christian about 9 years ago I started to see changes in myself. I became a nicer person basically and much of that was because I was reading lots and working on my own character defects. I am a lover of anything of a self-help nature. I have been known to read Life coach yourself in a week, Soup for the soul,Tthey f##K you up! and of course many amazing Christian resources too like the Purpose driven life.

What being in fellowship has done is allow me to explore myself even farther. Each day I read literature that comes to me via email, web forums, podcasts and in approved books and some of the things I have read have changed my thinking enormously. I know that even if I stopped going to my meetings I would still read this literature because all the readings are so based on Christian principles that they apply to everyone who wants to be a good and decent person.

Over the coming weeks I plan to share some of the snippets with you from my readings as they make a lot of sense and offer good advice for a sound life…

So here is today’s thought for you –

Whatever men attempt, they seem driven to overdo --Bernard Baruch

It's usually very difficult for us to bring balance into our lives. We may find it hard not to put in overtime at work. We may be obsessed about housework or garden work to the extent that we work long hours at it. Whatever we do, whatever we have, whatever we want, it's usually not enough for us.

Any activity or commitment needs a certain amount of time, concentration, and energy. But some of us may be too absorbed in physical fitness to notice we are always tense, always on the go. Some of us may be so obsessed with money that we take on additional work, not noticing we are often hard to get along with. Some of us may be so fascinated by a hobby that we ignore people in our lives who need our time and attention, too.

We need to recognize the obsessive areas of our lives and begin to make changes. It may mean assigning time limits to different activities. Or it may mean altering our schedules, even letting go of an activity. Now is the time to begin to bring balance into our lives, gently and gradually.

I know I need more balance in my life. What are some changes I can make to bring the scales more in balance?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Being Driven Mad by a 3 year Old Tag Team!


You know when you have had one of those days?? Well today was one of those. You see that pretty face above here - that is Miss E - that is the cause of my crappy day!

How is it that kids know when you are vulnerable? When you are tired, poorly, hung-over - whatever it is? At the moment I just feel exhausted and a friend of mine came over today and confirmed it, Cheers L. x

So I have spent the day feeling frustrated. Wondering why my 3 year old twin tag team do not want to listen to me. Have they saved their terrible two's for when they are actually three? Or was it like this when they were two as well? I know Miss M was like this, but Miss E that is a whole new ball game...

How many times can two kids go and open the fridge and just look inside and say 'I am hungry'. OK, I could give in and let them eat something but when I told then that if they did not eat their breakfast they would have nothing until lunchtime I meant it. Yes I created a rod for my own back and it was a complete pain in the arse to enforce but necessary I feel.

Miss E has turned into a devil at the moment. I do not say that lightly, I am a good Christian Mummy you know! We go to pick JJ up from school and she likes to sit in the buggy and she sits there like an angel and smiles at people and does not say a word. Miss M runs off and disappears playing with her 'best friends' and people comment about Miss M being the naughty one. 'NO' I want to scream, you have no idea, Miss E has found her voice and her naughty streak and at home she is trying to push every boundary at the moment. This girl is so determined. I suppose it was to be expected, she could not be a little poppet forever. I do like feisty children with big personalities after all. I aways said I would hate to have boring kids.... and now I am rethinking that.

So there lies the problem - 2 feisty and troublesome parents = demanding kids that just wear me out! I was so ready for them to flop into bed tonight.
Can I take a repeat tomorrow? No way, I won't make it into Sunday. I have vowed to stop shouting so much in general so I have to find another strategy. What can I do to help my kids learn to be nice little people and to ensure that I stay sane too? Got any wonderful ideas for me? Leave me a comment...

So tomorrow I will implement strategy 1 - I have put together a simple chart for the kids and tomorrow we are going sticker crazy. Every little thing that the kids do right will be rewarded with a sticker and I am pretty sure that this should work some magic. I know JJ is always better with positive praise than discipline or Mummy shouting like a banshee, which is my default method of parenting!
Wish me luck...... I am sure going to need it!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Best Kids Party Ever - In The Snow!


I may have mentioned that a few weeks ago JJ was invited to one of his friends birthday parties and as always he was looking forward to it, but this was on another level!

JJ was blown away, I was blown away and the twins were so jealous it was untrue! We had to go to the local Tesco and pacify them with a new bracelet each!

So what was so fab about this party I hear you ask? It was on snow, like real snow! In October, in the UK! The party was held at The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead which is only about half an hour from where we live and I even used to work in Hemel so I drove past the signs every day for a few years but I had no idea what was lurking down a regular suburban road. The Snow Centre looks amazing from when you first arrive, it is modern, slick and wooden on the outside and as you might expect built into a steep hill!

Then inside there are three levels, on the bottom is the well equipped snow and ski shop, level one has access to the snow slopes and loads of changing room for getting yourself quipped and level two (which was my favourite) was a lovely spacious bar/ cafe with plenty of comfy seating and massive glass viewing windows. I had no idea that the girls and myself would be able to stay and watch JJ partake in his party. Him and 10 little friends had an hours fun on the ringos (large inflatable rings that the kids sit in and slide down the snow). The instructors were very helpful, kid friendly and knew exactly what they were doing.

At one point JJ disappeared from sight and we wondered where he had gone. He had been easy to spot in his black jacket and bright red wellies. It was only on closer inspection that we realised he was now in black snow boots. When I asked him about this later he had got snow in his wellies and the instructor had sorted him out with some snow boots free of charge - a nice little touch which kept this Mummy very happy.

Here is a little video of some of us Mums and siblings watching from the cafe bar. It was good to feel part of it but still be in the nice warm with a cuppa. Feel free to turn the sound off as we were just wittering away!



Once the kids finished on their ringos they came up to the party room and enjoyed a cooked meal, the food was good quality and the little touches provided by the snow centre (balloons, crayons etc) were all well received by the kids. With regard to the actual sport and the party there is nothing I could say a negative word about and I also spoke to the Mum who organised the party and she was completely happy too. The snow centre provides a wide range of childrens parties - snowboarding, ringos, ski lessons.

The Snow Centre For Skiing

Of course the centre is not just for parties, they have a much larger slope which is wonderful for ski lessons if you are thinking of taking the family away for a ski holiday. Whilst we were there we saw loads of adult friends who obviously regularly met there and enjoyed using the centre as a fun day out to socialise and stay fit - just like you would if you had access to a real snow slope I would imagine.

In conclusion the snow centre got a massive thumbs up from our family and when the girls are older I expect we all might go back there and enjoy laughing at each other as we fall over!..... or maybe I will just sit in the cafe and watch dh and the kids and maybe come out onto the viewing balcony once in a while....

This is a sponsored post but as always I remain completely honest.
There was an error in this gadget