Friday, 18 August 2017

A Family Day Visit to Seaford, East Sussex #CountryKids

A few weeks back we had a spare Sunday with nothing planned and the kids suggested a trip to the beach. Since moving to East Sussex we've been to Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings so many times and they are all great but I thought it would be nice to visit somewhere new. So we got ourselves together and headed over to Seaford, I had no idea what to expect as it is more of a local residential town rather than a tourist one.

As we visited on a Sunday there was plenty of free parking around the town and that's always a bonus. We didn't really walk around the town, preferring to head straight for the seafront as it was a lovely day. It wasn't massively busy on the seafront and the kids could easily have bought their skates, scooters or bikes with them as it is a lovely long, smooth promenade.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

It's my Birthday - Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends. Reasons to be Cheerful is over with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for August and will be back with me in September.

I'm away in Norfolk with my family at the moment staying in a lovely little cottage in Little Snoring. We booked via AirBnB and it was our first time but certainly won't be our last as it has been wonderful.

The owner has chicken, ducks, cats, sheep and Shetland Ponies in her grounds and my kids have been able to feed them, pet them and we have enjoyed fresh hen eggs too. Miss M has been in her absolute element, being around animals is her idea of heaven and I admit it has been magical. We head home today and I'm expecting some tears.

I came down on the morning of my birthday to find the cottage had been decorated with banners and balloons and I had a little tea party in the afternoon. I was also super impressed that Miss M and my husband managed to cook me a coffee cake when they didn't have any baking tins, weighing scales or other proper equipment!

We headed over to the Bickling Estate, a massive National Trust property and had a lovely day there on my birthday.

We had excellent fish and chips in Wells-Next-The-Sea and loved playing the penny arcades too. The kids all came away with lots of won trinkets and we had ice creams as well, won from the machines!

Then yesterday we explored the town of Cromer and it was heaving as we had arrived during carnival week!

All in all it has been a great week and I've also managed to apply for two jobs, so we will see where those applications go! Somewhere I hope as I am up for a new challenge when the kids go back to school.

Have a fab weekend and week ahead, Mich x
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Dressing my Man with Jacamo - 23 Years On

Our family back in early 2004 when JJ was being christened

My husband and I will have been together for 23 years this Christmas, we were just young 21 year olds when we met working at a hotel in Eastbourne all those years ago. It always makes me smile to think how much I was dreading being sent to work in the hotel over the Christmas period. I was based up at the London Head Office at the time but as a new Graduate Trainee Manager I wasn't allowed to have Christmas off when everyone else on the programme was working so Eastbourne it was to be!

I had visions of a run-down hotel full of grannies where bingo was the highlight of their stay. I thought all the staff would be old and stuck in their ways and the town would have shut down for the Winter period. Of course in some ways I was right, the hotel was full of elderly people and bingo was a definite attraction, as was Jean on the Piano and Malcolm on the Organ but what I hadn't banked on was that the Assistant Manager would become my husband and that most of the staff were young and there was a great many nightclubs in town all catering for our age group.

When I first met dh I wasn't too impressed if I'm honest, I thought he was a bit camp and he tried to give me a staff room with a door that wouldn't lock. I did of course notice how good he looked wearing a suit and tie and it is funny but my overriding early memories of him were that he had great hair and nails. It was almost as if I was assessing him for future pedigree!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Thirty Years on and I'm still dreaming of a Mercedes-Benz

I have to laugh when I think back to my younger years and the ambitions I had. Growing up I had a very strong sense of what I wanted from life and there wasn't any way of steering me away from it. I knew I would be a manager in a large, quality hotel after I completed university and I would work my way up to being the General Manager so I had ultimate control and was earning a good amount of money.

As a teenager I remember having the ambition of earning forty thousand pounds a year. If I earned this I thought I would be set for life, of course that was thirty years ago and it seemed a mega amount of money. Nowadays it wouldn't be buying me so much with a large family.

A four bedroom detached house with a U-shaped gravel drive was next on my must-have list. I never really had any vision of what the inside of the house would look like but I knew it would have the drive for parking my Mercedes on. I had my heart set on a sports model, a SL500 convertible in red. Mercedes-Benz has always been the premium brand that I'd love to own, even now I'd happily have one if I could find the money.

Image: Thanks to The Sandown Group

A lack of money doesn't stop me from dreaming though, I've recently been perusing the Sandown Group website to see what Mercedes-Benz I might one day own. Of course if I was to buy one now Id need something big to be able to comfortably seat all five of my family. Since having the twins ten years ago we’ve opted for a seven seater car and we could do that again and get a V class. It certainly looks awesome in comparison to our much smaller car. Oh what a joy it would be to have enough boot space for all our luggage and to take the three kids without them arguing about who is nudging who and how that bag is in their area! Also with a seven seater we can continue to share the school lifts and take our neighbours kids too, which means I get some days school journey free.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Fabulous Twin Fun - Micro Scooter Sprites - Unboxing at the Beach

As part of my girls being involved with the Start-rite back-to-school shoes campaign they were sent new Micro Scooter Sprites in the teal owl design. Start-rite want the girls to put their shoes through vigorous testing and to make sure they really can stand up to the beating that a normal 10 year old gives them. How better than by regularly scooting in their shoes and lets be honest, kids don't always use the brake on a scooter, they often do it with the sole of their shoe!

Both girls have had Micro Scooters before, they started with the Mini Micros when they were just toddlers and then moved up to the Maxi Micros when they were around 5 years and to be honest they have been moaning at me for the last couple of years that they wanted a grown up 2-wheel scooter. Well now they are super happy and their wish has come true!

The Micro Scooter Sprite scooters start from £89.95 for the silver, £94.95 for the coloured and £99.95 for the patterned ones. They are available in a variety of colours. My girls were sent the Teal Owl with a bell and flower accessory included in the box. I noticed it was on special offer last weekend so it is definitely worth keeping an eye on the Micro Scooters website and signing up for their newsletter, which will keep you informed of their current deals.

Have a watch of our video and see the girls unbox and set up their scooters themselves. I love it when a product is so easy that a 10 year old can take it out the box and do everything they need to make it ready to ride. Even putting their bell on the Sprite scooter is child's play.

My girls really are super happy with their Micro Scooter Sprites and have been having some fun with the 360 degree rotation of the skate platform. I've never really seen them be into the tricks and stuff before either but with these scooters they have been going along walls and trying to do jumps and hops too!

We've only had these scooters for a couple of weeks but I feel 100% confident they will last really well. I say this based on the Micro Scooter Speed that is in my hall. My son got it in early 2013 and it is still working now, despite him having bashed it and abused it for the last four years. Yes it can be hard to fold it now but nothing a spot of oil wouldn't fix.

If you guess that these Sprites will last my girls at least four years like the Speed has done my son (and we still have the girls Maxi's five years later too) then it only works out to around £25 a year and I think that is an absolute bargain!

Why don't you pin this post for later?

I'm linking this post up with Fiona at Coombe Mill for #CountryKids.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Disclosure: We received these Sprite scooters free of charge for the purpose of an honest review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Keeping Yourself Safe at Work - In The Office

Work Safety Image from Shutterstock

Do you know how to keep yourself safe when you are at work?

It might seem a strange question if you work in an office as you're wondering what can possibly go wrong but having worked the last ten years before moving to East Sussex in a very busy HR department of a large University I can honestly tell you how important it is to ensure your work space is safe and efficient.

We were very lucky at the University as we had an Occupational Health Department and Health and Safety department so when you started a new job with the Uni, you were met at your desk by a trainer assessor to review your work space and ensure it worked for you. These two departments worked really closely with us in HR to ensure if any ill health or accidents did come about in the workplace we could be immediately responsive.

Of course this is a luxury and doesn't happen in most offices, especially small ones like I'm currently working in. We have six of us all along a window in a fairly small space and we have to be quite careful not to be tripping over each other and our equipment.

Given the amount of people who are working in offices without the support of specialist trained staff I thought it would be useful to share some tips for keeping yourself safe at work in your office environment -
  1. Never use electrical extension cables plugged into multi-plugs or each other, the last thing you want is a surge and your PC to blow!
  2. Make sure there are no trailing wires across the office, you can easily buy plastic wire covers
  3. Ensure the office stays clutter free. When you finish with files make sure the boxes are moved for storage straight away
  4. If you need to reach something high make sure you use a stepladder or stool (made for this purpose) to stand on. never be tempted to use your office chair as it may just roll away from under you!
  5. When you finish getting something from the filing cabinet, make sure you shut the door. Most have a mechanism to ensure you can only open one drawer at a time but if that is broken and you open a few, you risk the whole cabinet falling onto you.
  6. Ask for your work space to be assessed to ensure it is ergonomically suitable for you. All equipment should be adjustable, chairs, monitors etc and your feet should remain firmly on the floor when you are working.
  7. Take regular breaks from working at your computer to ensure you minimise the risk of eye-strain and RSI
  8. Use a computer with anti-glare protection already built-in or buy a cheap anti-glare screen cover to protect your eyes
  9. If you get wrist or hand ache from typing for long periods invest in an ergonomic wrist support and mousepad
  10. If you need to pick up large or bulky items make sure you have received manual handling training and always remember to bend at the knees, not from the waist
  11. This might seem obvious but when moving around the office make sure you can see where you are going. Don't stack up things so high that you can't see over them and certainly don't be reading as you walk around.
  12. If you have a spill make sure it is cleared up straight away and not left for someone else to slip on
  13. Also do not touch anything electrical whilst your hands are wet
  14. According to UK law we all have a responsibility for Health and Safety in the workplace and as such as soon as you see something you feel is wrong or hazardous it is your responsibility to report it to your manager or the appropriate staff member. 
  15. There should be regular fire drills conducted at your workplace so that in the event of a real fire you all know what to do. If you have been inducted in the fire procedures at your work or been involved in a drill then raise this with your manager.
Also have a look at the excellent interactive graphic over on Accident Advice Helpline where you can find the statistics of how frequently the kind of accidents I've mentioned above are occurring.

Of course there are always many more factors to consider but if you manage to follow all these you'll be doing pretty well and protecting yourself at work.

Have a great day tomorrow! Mich x

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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Choosing the Right Swim Wear as a Plus Size Woman

I don't think there has been a time in my life when I haven't been classed as plus size. Even at my slimmest I was a size 14, which I have to say looks really good on me but for at least the last couple of decades I've been a 20, 22 or 24. I've had a turbulent relationship with my weight and the way my body looks and whilst I have no desire to be a tiny size 10, I do want to be healthier and to have far less of a tummy.

For now, I am still a size 22 and in years gone by choosing a swimsuit that flatters my shape has been my least favourite thing to do but not any longer as Simply Be have the most amazing collection of swim wear available in all sizes to suit women of every shape. In my current size they have 217 swimwear items available, that is pretty awesome, right?

I've had a good look though and thought I'd share my top picks for various body shapes -

Apple shape - wide waist 
You'll want to create the illusion of more of a waist if you have a rounded middle shape. Swimsuits with two colours in panels can really help create this silhouette. Look at the Beach to Basics swimsuit in black and white on the left, it retails for just £32.00 at Simple Be and I think it would be perfect. Or take the Magisculpt swimsuit (£45.00) on the right, it has level 3 tummy control in the swimsuit and a beautiful blouson top over it to glide over the tummy area.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

#SlimmingSunday - A Time of Change

Welcome friends to August’s Slimming Sunday, the linky for all your weight loss, healthy eating, exercise and healthy living posts. #SlimmingSunday goes live the first Sunday of each month and your hosts are Emma at Life According to Mrs Shilts and me, Michelle at Mummy from the Heart.

This is a small, friendly linky and we’re happy to have you join in. We are not big on rules but please, if you link up visit some fellow linkers and leave a bit of comment love to encourage them and I'm sure they’ll do the same for you. I'll be over to visit, comment and tweet out your posts.

So, come on and share - how has July been for you? Share your highs and lows and let us know where you need support. I'll be really happy to pray for you too if you'd like.

It's been a good month for me, it feels like I'm in a time of change and I'm hopeful this is the start of my forever journey to healthy living. I started taking Orlistat fat blocker tablets (prescribed by the doctor) and I was a bit fearful of taking these as they can lead to quite explosive results (if you get what I mean) but thankfully because I've been making good decisions to eat well most of the time I have been fine and at my first check-in at the doctors I had lost just over 3kg which I'm happy with.

I've also had a number of doctors appointments in the last month to try and get some of my health ailments sorted and again I feel as if progress is being made. I had an MRI scan on my foot and there was no evidence of a Mortons neuroma which is what they thought, so on the one hand that's great but on the other I'm no closer to having any answer as to what is wrong with my foot and why I get so much pain. I'm praying that as I lose weight the pressure on my foot will lessen and naturally help it.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Fun for all Ages at Mighty Claws Adventure Golf, Bournemouth

Whilst on holiday in Bournemouth recently we headed to the new Mighty Claws Adventure Golf which is situated over by Littedown on the way to Christchurch at Play Golf Bournemouth.

I grew up holidaying in Bournemouth and Boscombe and it was always a key part of our holiday to have a game of crazy golf. Back in those days it would have been in the Boscombe gardens and I can still recall many of the holes from the course. In recent years I've been taking my kids and my parents on holiday to Bournemouth so we have carried on this tradition and played crazy golf each year. The place we have chosen to play has been in Bournemouth gardens opposite the band stand.

However, this year we broke with tradition and took a drive over to the newly opened Mighty Claws Adventure Golf and played there instead. My son was really resilient at first as he loves everything to stay the same but by the time we had played two holes he was converted. The course is just brilliant. It is so well themed and I'd say that at 13 and 10 years my kids are too old to be into dinosaurs but it isn't just for little kids at all as it is so well done. They really must have spent a lot of money as the dinosaurs are animation too and move and make noise.

Days out by Coach - Do you Enjoy Them?

White bus in Summer Landscape from Shutterstock

I bet some of you read that title and are wondering if you've landed in the right place. I can hear you now ‘Michelle’s 43, right? Not 73. Why she is she writing about coach trips?’ But I love a day out by coach, it is such fun to be amongst a big group of friends and be heading somewhere all together, without having to drive and worry about traffic. Do you not find that the journey always feels quicker on a coach?

I've loved going out on a coach day trip since I was a kid. The company my Nan worked for were very keen to be family friendly and each year as well as Christmas and Easter parties they organised a few family trips to the seaside or local attractions by coach and all for free. I was chatting to my brother the other day and we were reminiscing about the trips to Littlehampton where we would enjoy fish and chips, a few goes on the funfair rides, a dig with our bucket and spade and of course something beachy to take home. I used to buy real shells or maybe a shell full of those candy sweets that looked like pebbles. It was the stuff that childhood memories are made of.

I'm pleased to be doing the same with my children too. You might know that I live as part of a Christian community and there are probably around 100 of us nowadays at the conference centre where I live. A few times a year we close the centre and have community day where we all spend time together and deepen our relationships. Very often these involve days out and we've had recent coach trips to Dover Castle, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Windsor Castle. I've been able to get to know people on a level that a day at work or a shared dinner just doesn't provide by sitting next to them on a coach for 2 or 3 hours chatting.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Well Fed is Best! #FedisBest

Image from Shutterstock - Young Nursing Mother

I realise it is World Breastfeeding Week right now but what I am wondering is do we really need a world breastfeeding week promoted here in the UK? It was only six weeks ago that we had National Breastfeeding week and surely there is enough pressure on women to breastfeed in the UK already?

It is of course a different story in the developing world and breastfeeding is often the best option for nourishing a baby as there isn't access to sanitary water to be able to prepare formula milk. Although, as I saw in Ethiopia, even this isn't as cut and dried as it might seem as so many of the mums are so undernourished themselves that after having a baby their body can struggle to produce milk and certainly to produce milk that is of a good enough quality to adequately nourish the child. So of course the fight still needs to continue to ensure that all people in our world are able to be fed and nourished well.

But don't get me wrong, I am not at all anti-breastfeeding. I successfully breastfed two of my babes and really tried with the other but it wasn't to be so we moved to bottle feeding and it was the best thing for us as she finally started to put on weight instead of losing it and and heart-ripping label 'failure to flourish' was removed from over her head.

And I think that is my point here. All we want as responsible and loving parents is for our child to be well fed. To me it doesn't matter if it is from the breast or a bottle as here in the UK we are lucky enough to have clean water and high quality milk power available to us.

Yes, I agree let's promote breastfeeding as the best first option for a child. It is what God intended after all; the milk is perfect for our babe, contains all the antibodies they need and is super clever morphing itself to what the child needs depending on factors like the weather and their age. But let's also realise that a mothers sanity and well-being is really important in this too. Telling a new Mum to put her babe first and to persevere through the pain as they will be depriving their babe otherwise is just not helpful.

As a new mum you're already feeling a million emotions that you had no idea existed as hormones surge your body and the last thing you need is to feel you are failing your baby by not producing the milk they need, or being in constant pain or them not being able to latch on.

I remember being about six months in to feeding JJ and it was mixed feeding by then but I had stopped enjoying breastfeeding him as the constant biting hurt. One teary night I said to my husband 'do you mind if I stop breastfeeding him?' and it had taken me age to feel confident to say this as it was such an emotive issue for me with the press and friends telling me it was best. My husband looked at me like I was nuts and said 'of course not, as long as he is fed that is all that matters'. He took the emotion out of the situation and the next day I weaned JJ and it really suited us.

And that is how it should be for everyone. Doing what suits them. In the same way that baby-led weaning is right for some and pureeing is right for others, breast to bottle should be viewed in the same light. If the woman is going to be desperately unhappy breastfeeding and it adversely effects her mental health then surely we can all agree that isn't the best thing for babe as we all know our babies tap into our state of mind.

So I urge you friends, please lets be kind to each other however we feed or fed our babies. Fed is most definitely best at the end of the day! In the UK it doesn't matter if it is bottle or breast.

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If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Review: Codenames Board Game #BoardGameClub

I was super pleased that our family were asked to be part of the Blogger #BoardGameClub where we will receive a different board game each month for twelve months and our family will get to try the game out and share with you an honest review.

Codenames - an Introduction
The first game we have received is Codenames which has been crowned the Blogger Games Club game of the year 2016. It's not a game I've heard of before but it sounded interesting from the box blurb -
Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES. In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right colour while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. Codenames: Win or lose, it's fun to figure out the clues.
Codenames is designed by Vlaada Chvatil, a Czech board game designer who has had much success in the last decade. When you look across the web at reviews for Codenames it seems to be widely agreed that Vlaada has done it again with Codenames and it is a massive hit with games geeks. Take a look on Board Game Geek and see for yourself what the self-proclaimed board game experts say.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Parenting a Digital Native - How Hard Can it Be?

I know it's often said that parents nowadays are living in an totally different world to their own parents or grandparents but I really feel it is true. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s there wasn't any such thing as the internet or email, I played with my dolls, drew and coloured and made believe in the street with my neighbours. Now my children meet their friends in virtual chat rooms on discord and challenge each other to jump subway trains (on a screen of course).

It really is interesting parenting in this evolving time and I am thankful that I work as a blogger and as such am very savvy when it comes to tech generally and more specifically social media, but you can't become complacent as that is when something falls under the radar.

I started my first blog back in 2008 and as such opened social media accounts right at the start of their growth. This means that when my eldest child wanted to get online and join various platforms that I was knowledgeable and able to work with him to ensure that the right safe guards were in place.

Don't think it has all been plain sailing though, there have been times when we’ve had to have some serious chats with my son about sites he has visited or things he has said but we've only been able to do that as he has known from the start we would have his passwords and access to any gadgets he has. Then impromptu visits and a glance through his history and such have meant we feel sure he is playing safe.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Birthday Party Fun at Go Ape (Moors Valley, Dorset/ Hampshire)

It was my twins 10th birthday last week and they enjoyed an evening out with my husband and I but due to school and all sorts of end of term commitments there wasn't a big fun birthday adventure. So to rectify this gaping hole Go Ape stepped forward with a Tree Top Junior adventure for the girls and their brother to enjoy whilst we were on holiday in Dorset.

We tried out Go Ape at Bedgebury in Kent back in April and all three of them loved it, so they were super keen to go back and had we been home rather than on holiday I'd have happily booked a Go Ape party for the girls and some of their friends.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Scooting, Golf & Go Ape! #R2BC

We are on holiday with my parents and brother in Dorset this week, having left my hubby at home to work. The weather hasn't been great but we haven't let that affect us as it is still great to be away and of course the kids love being with their grandparents and especially their golden Labrador, Archie.

End of Term Treat
Even before we went, once school had finished on Friday, I picked the girls up for an end of term girlie treat, and we headed out for ice-cream milkshakes, signing up for the summer reading challenge at the library, scooting on their new Micro Scooter Sprites on the seafront, wearing their new school shoes from Start-rite (which will be their main school shoes from September), enjoying a fish and chip supper and finishing with some playtime at the park. We were out for hours and then when we got home I had to do the packing as we were leaving at 8am the next morning, lol!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Scooting Adventures in their Start-rite School Shoes

This last half-term has felt like it was very long and we were truly ready for it to end. So finally when that last bell rang at school on Friday I picked the girls up for a few hours girlie time.

First stop, our local town Battle where we had some jobs to do ready for our holiday. Prescriptions to fulfil, keys to be cut, summer reading challenge to be signed up for and celebratory ice-cream milkshakes to be enjoyed! Miss M opted for a bubblegum flavour and Miss E white chocolate; I'm not much of a fan so I had an Oreo cupcake instead.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Quickfire Reasons to be Cheerful - Birthdays, Anniversaries and Holidays!

Good morning friends, how are you today?

All is good here, I am on countdown for the end of school and going away for a week to Poole/ Bournemouth from early Saturday morning. Hubby has to stay home and work but we'll have my parents and brother with us to keep us company.

In all it's been a good week and for this Reasons to be Cheerful post I'm going to do one of my quick-fire lists where I shout out about everything that is making me smile right now!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Celebrating Creativity with BIC Kids

BIC has been a name I've trusted since I was a child. It makes me smile to think back to when I was a young girl and my Dad was the local Unigate milkman, I used to love to go and help him deliver the milk at unearthly times in the morning and then collect the money on a Friday evening. What's that to do with BIC you might be wondering? Well it was all manual systems back then so Dad had a big leather covered book that he kept all his orders and payments in and about once every six months it had to be re-written as it would have run out of space and that was Mums job and the only pen she'd use to do it? You guessed, yes it was a BIC crystal biro. So we always had a stock of them in our house.

We still use BIC biros but nowadays you'd be more likely to see BIC Kids products around my house. One of my 10 year old twins, Miss E wants to be an artist when she is older, it's been her dream for a number of years now and I'm not seeing any signs of it subsiding. Even in her recent school report it was her creative work that she got outstanding marks for her.

So like a good Mum I have to encourage her to keep going and to extend her passion. She has an amazing eye for photography, makes beautiful beaded jewellery, is forever crafting bookmarks and I love her acrylic paintings too. Have a look at this montage of some of the pieces of Miss E's work displayed around our house. I think it is really good for all the kids to see their work on the wall, it helps to give them a sense of pride.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Just regular Life #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends. I'm on countdown to the end of the school year and thankfully we are nearly there. Six school days left and this last week always seems a bit of the fast as the kids are tired and the teachers are tired and not a lot of learning goes on but yet the Government insist the children stay at school!

But I shouldn't really start of an R2BC post by moaning, should I? I've titled this weeks post, just regular life as there is always something good we can find and Candi is our very own example of this.

Pool Party Fun
Over the weekend the girls and I went to a pool party for the children who are coached by people like me who volunteer for the charity TLG (Transforming Lives for Good). We had a wonderful three hours, with the kids all in and out the pool so many times I lost count.

Great Doctors
I'm so grateful for my GP, she is an absolute diamond and is really helping me to investigate my many ailments that I have at the moment. I left her office Monday feeling empowered and read to shift some weight. I am giving Orlistat a go to see if they can help me kick start things.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Guest Post: Islamic Family Traditions and Culture

Image Credit: Muslim Family Prayers from Shutterstock

We live in an increasingly multicultural society, so it is great to know and understand the traditions and culture of other religions. One culture that is brought over all the way from the Middle East is the celebrations and traditions followed by Muslims. Just as Christians celebrate Easter and Christmas, Muslims have an Islamic calendar with holidays to celebrate.

Educating yourself and your children about these traditions is a great idea to help you to understand the basic beliefs of Muslims. Whether your child is at school with another Muslim child, your neighbours are a Muslim family or you work with someone of that culture, showing an interest and knowledge of their culture can go a long way.

There are three main holidays in the Islamic Calendar; Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. Many of the holiday traditions are commonly shared by Muslim families. Here are some of the exciting celebrations and fun traditions Muslims participate in during these holidays.

Moon Sighting 
The holiday dates for Muslims vary each year; this is because they are determined by a fully lunar calendar. For this reason, a sighting of the moon is a very important part of the tradition. A new born crescent moon is sighted to mark the beginning and end of a month – such as Ramadan. If the crescent is there then the festivities can begin and if it is not, they will begin a day later.

Monday, 10 July 2017

My Beautiful Mane - Where I find My Confidence

I think it is fair to say that every one of us has something about ourselves that we love or at least like. That character or feature is often the thing that gives us confidence and we can connect our identity with it.

Take me for example, my feature that I love is my hair. I've always thought of it as my mane and my crowning glory. I'm pretty sure if someone was trying to visually describe me to someone else who vaguely knew me I'd be the larger/ big/ fat (whatever word they might choose) with the beautiful blond hair.

As someone who is very aware of being quite overweight I am super glad to have my hair as a feature I can rely on and I never feel too fat for my hair. It is naturally blond and yes it has grown a lot darker as I've got older but I think forever more I will insist that I am blond even if others think I now have light brown hair <insert sad face>.

My hair is also pretty thick and has a gorgeous natural curl to it. Let me share with you one of my favourite pictures taken in recent years. That is me (the blond one!) with my lovely friend Clare in 2015 at the BritMums blogging conference and you can see just how happy and confident I feel there.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

How to make a New Parents Survival Kit for under £5

Last year some friends of mine were expecting their first baby and the Mum-to-be was quite apprehensive about having her first baby. She isn't the most confident of women but I just knew that having her babe would be the making of her. I wanted to get them a gift but there wasn't anything material that they needed and all I really wanted to do was give her something that would encourage her to trust her instincts and to realise she would know best for her baby.

I therefore came up with the idea of giving her a New Parents Survival Kit, full of reassuring tokens to symbolise all the wonderful times ahead and qualities that the new parents already have but maybe don't realise. As my friends are Christians, I created a Christian new parents survival kit but you can tailor the kit to any faith or none.

My friends loved this gift and it was so inexpensive to make that I am making more this year for other friends who are expecting babies.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Family Time, Blogging Success and the Beach #R2BC

Hello friends, happy Thursday, I hope it looks to be a good one for you. Mine should be good and busy as I'm on the school run and then coaching my little boy first thing. Next I need to get a couple of tyres changed (Nothing exciting there) and then it is time for quick bite to eat and the girls parents consultations at school. Once they are home, it will be the normal homework, catching up with blog work and doing their dinner before I escape out with the my lovely friend Izzy for a meal and a catch up.

I'm sorry I haven't posted many R2BC posts recently, I seem to have had loads of paid work to do and whilst that's good (and with the summer holidays looming, definitely a reason to be cheerful) if I want any kind of work/ life balance it means I need to do less personal content but you've got me for every Thursday in July now as it's my month to host.

Blogging Success
In fact I think I could name all things blogging related as reasons to be cheerful as my Facebook blog page seems to have taken off and I am managing to be consistent in my posting and I've had a wonderful blip on YouTube. I assuming it is a blip but you never know I might just be the next big thing! Lol At the time of writing this I've had over 33,500 views on a slime tutorial I put up about five weeks ago. For the first four weeks it did what I thought was well with about 5,000 views and in the last week it has moved up by nearly 30K, that's pretty astonishing isn't it?

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Flying for the first time with Jet2 from Stansted Airport

Back in December I started to plan our holiday to Playa Montroig Camping Resort with Eurocamp and I was really grateful there is no set arrival day so I could seek out the best price for our flights. As we needed to travel during May half term I knew there wasn't going to be any bargains but I hoped to secure something at least half reasonable in price.

At first I checked flights from Gatwick and Heathrow as these airports are closest to us and ones we've flown from before but the dates, times and prices were not ideal. I then remembered that fellow blogger Vicki from Honest Mum is working as an ambassador for Jet2 and I decided to check them out.

Who are Jet2 - Should we fly with them?
Being a Southern girl they weren't an airline I’d heard of before but when I started investigating them I found out they are the UK’s fourth largest scheduled airline. But more importantly that they were named the ‘Best Airline – UK’ and the ‘Best Low-Cost Airline – Europe’ at the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards and they are also the only UK airline to have ‘Which? Recommended Provider’ status. It was all pretty impressive but the clincher for me was that they were starting to fly from Stansted in May and that's only a couple of hours drive from us.

Almost straight away I found an ideal flight time from Stansted to Reus with a 8.45am departure and 2.15pm arrival back in the UK. To be able to secure a good price I booked for the Monday of half-term and resigned myself to the fact I'd need to ask for a day off school for each of the kids. There were flights on the Friday and Sunday too but these were around £600 more for the five of us and thus a day off it would need to be.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Slimming Sunday - Regaining My Focus

I've been worrying about this post since the beginning of the week when I realised this weekend was the first weekend of the month and I'd suggested to Emma that would be a good time for our #SlimmingSunday linky to publish. We were doing it weekly but in truth hardly anyone was joining in and we wondered if people didn't want to write a post quite so regularly and thus have changed to become a monthly linky. 

From now there will be a Slimming Sunday linky every first Sunday of the month and it will be over on Life According to Mrs Shilts and here with me too.

So you might wonder why this post has been playing on my mind, its not as if it is a difficult or controversial subject to write about but it's about me feeling bad, sad, guilty, ashamed, whatever it is that I'm feeling as I haven't lost any weight since I posted my last Slimming Sunday post and even worse than that I've not really done anything positive towards sorting myself out. 

I'm not quite sure what's up right now but I'm obviously not in the right place to be really focusing on healthy eating and exercise in an effort to lose some of this weight. For one reason or another, or perhaps it is one excuse or another I've hardly been to my Monday night fit club, I haven't focused on my walking and my step count has dramatically reduced and I've been eating whatever I like.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Talking Intimate Health and Win a £50 Amazon Voucher

**Giveaway Closed, Congratulations Carol T**

We all struggle with different issues as parents and I've certainly got areas where I need to up my game but I am thankful that one thing I don't struggle with is being able to talk to my children openly about all sorts. The girls are now nearly ten and a few weeks back we had the growing up, periods, body developing and (surface level) sex talk and then a couple of weeks ago I was presented with a prime opportunity to talk to them again, this time on the topic of intimate health.

Now don't get me wrong, it isn't like I enjoy broaching sensitive or potentially embarrassing conversations with them I just figure that if I tackle them head on and without my face going too red they will grow up knowing that it is OK and normal to talk openly. I pray this will stand them in good stead when they have relationships of their own one day, nothing worse than a wife who beats around the bush and can't be honest with her husband, right?

So there I was a couple of weeks back, I wasn't feeling that great having developed a cold when we returned from Spain and I was coughing and sneezing like a good’un. I've also got some women's issues and I'm waiting for my appointment for a colposcopy, as after nearly ten years of excessive bleeding it has become too much to live with. Then to top it all off I started to feel uncomfortable down below, I was itchy, sore and just generally feeling very tender. I was pretty sure it was thrush but due to my heavy bleeding I couldn't spot the tell-tale white discharge that normally accompanies it but I knew it was time to take action.

Friday, 30 June 2017

What's Going on with Photobucket? Info for Bloggers

So, like me you might be fuming at Photobucket right now. What are they playing at? Or maybe this is the first you are hearing of there being a problem, let me explain.

Photobucket have changed their T&C's as of 20th June 2017 without any notice
It is one thing to charge for a service, I think we all get that but quite another to literally overnight and without any notice to change your terms and conditions so that bloggers who have hosted images on the site for free for a decade are now being asked to pay $39.99 per month or $399 per year. Come on Photobucket, I had 14 photos on there that were hot-linked onto my blog and I'd have happily paid you a couple of quid a month but what you are asking for is ludicrous. It's not like I'm hosting thousands of photos or taking masses of bandwidth.

Yes Photobucket, I get that you are a business and you have obviously realised that the business model you were following is not working for you any longer. Fine, send your customers an email and give them a chance to pay or host elsewhere but no you decided to hold us to ransom and completely muck our blogs up. It is so unethical it is unbelievable. I truly think you have shot yourself in the foot, as everyone I know is leaving you now.

Thursday morning I started to get messages to ask if I had been hacked as this is what my blog looked like but no it was just Photobucket turning each one of my tiny subject header images into massive ugly black images, seven deep. You had to scroll for an age before you could find any content at all.

The Solution
Was I going to pay the Photobucket ransom?  Hell no. If they can't ask for a reasonable rate I'll just go elsewhere.

I went into Photobucket and downloaded the images that I needed. This is very easy but boy do the adverts drive you a bit bonkers as you try to navigate the pages. Just look through your library and then click on the image to open it. If it is one you have hosted elsewhere it will show with that awful black image but when you download it (bottom right corner), it will be your regular photo with your original image name.

Once you have all your images back you are then free to host them somewhere else. I now know that I can get the source code for linking from a draft post within either Blogger or WordPress.

So paste your image into a draft post (I called mine Image Hosting so I'll always remember what it is and not delete it) and then within the text tab (on WP) or the HTML tab (on blogger) you'll see the image code.

Once your image is there, the code will look similar to this and you just need the URL that comes after SRC="

You can then replace wherever you have the Photobucket image code with your new code and Bobs your uncle, no more ugly Photobucket black dial images anymore.

Linky Badges

As a Linky Host - If your linky badge is now broken, you'll need to create new code to use on your blog and ideally go into your old posts and change the code to the new badge (or just remove the old one) as at the moment that broken badge will be showing all across the blogs of anyone who joined in and took your linky badge, but sadly there isn't anything you can do to help this except apologise.

Joining in with someone else's Linky - If you've joined in with a linky and the badge is now broken and ugly on your blog post, I'd advise contacting the linky host and asking them if they will be continuing to use Photobucket by paying the fee. If they are the image will reappear and all will be fine. If not, you'll need to delete the badge as it will remain the ugly black image forevermore.

Whats the deal if you already had a paid account with Photobucket?
I don't know is the honest answer. There used to be the option to have a paid account for $2.99 a month and this made your viewing ad free and gave you additional bandwidth. It appears at the moment that anyone who was lucky enough to have subscribed to this before the T&C changes on 20th June 2017 are still get linking and 3rd party hosting rights. Will they change this? Your guess is as good as mine but if I was a customer I certainly wouldn't be trusting them after this stunt. My guess is that you'll get to your next renewal date and be presented with new terms but my only basis for that guess if their utterly abysmal behaviour in the last week or so.

Contacting Photobucket
They seem to be keeping pretty quiet on their public pages but they are answering DM's on Twitter and emails too. You only have to search Photobucket on twitter to see why they are keeping quiet, there are hundreds, or even thousands of very unhappy, departing customers!

Their email is and you can find them on Twitter or Facebook.

Closing Your Account
I am just about to do this. You go to Settings > Account and scroll down for > Delete my account and this will delete all your images permanently so make sure you have downloaded anything you want first.

I truly hope Photobucket haven't caused you as much faff and heartache as they have done me! Mich x

Why not pin this for later?

photobucket, 3rd party hosting, holding images ransom, easy fix, tutorial

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The Savill Garden at Windsor Great Park - Any Good for Families?

Last Saturday whilst the girls and I were staying with my parents in Surrey we headed to The Savill Garden, which is part of Windsor Great Park. I wasn't too sure what to expect, nor if it would be a suitable place for my near 10 year old twins to visit but I have to say I was really pleasantly surprised.

Created in the 1930's this 35 acre park is just beautiful with eight distinct interconnected gardens - the Hidden Gardens, Spring Wood, the Summer Gardens, the New Zealand Garden, Summer Wood, The Glades, Autumn Wood and the Winter Beds. Take a look at this short video to get a glimpse of what you might enjoy when you come to visit in the summer months.

Every season has its own gems and the real highlights from our visit were the Queen Elizabeth temperate house, the rose garden and the Royal Jubilee Garden. These were the places were we saw the best floral colour.

Now, I'll be honest with you I don't know a lot about gardening but I do know what I like, so this garden is good for amateurs with an eye for beauty like me and also those with a more focused interest on flora and fauna as there is a lot of information available if you are interested.

The girls really enjoyed the space and having lots of nooks and crannies to be able to run in and out of. There is a particularly fab tree by the rose garden that you can hide under the branches and the Hidden Gardens are great for a game of hide and seek or tag. Of course you have to remain respectful to the landscape but there are lots of corners to hide around.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Mums and Their Work - Is Your Family Flourishing?

We are all aware of the age old debate about mums and should they be working? Out the home, in the home? Or not at all?

But how crazy would it be if we expected a women not to work just because she has birthed a child? Work isn't only something you are paid for, work is everything you put effort into and therefore as responsible adults we all have to work. Looking after your child is work, cleaning your house is work and being paid to man a shop or helping your elderly aunt are both work too.
Oxford English Dictionary definition -"Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result."
Each one of us is unique and this is just the way God planned it. We don't need to be jealous of the next woman because she can plan an Instagram perfect party and execute it with panache for twenty 5 year old's. Changes are it is part of her gifting - organisation, an eye for beauty and indulging her child are all things that build her up and she enjoys. I'm willing to bet that she isn't doing it to show you how wonderful she is. In fact I'm willing to bet she hasn't even thought about you!

Harsh, but true. We need to remember that we are the centre of our own tiny little world but we need to get outside ourselves and stop making everything about us. Let's think the best of our sisters, of all those other mums, who like us are probably just trying their best and muddling through however they can. When we build another woman up and support her she grows and that's really important. Just look at nature, when you grow green beans and you offer them a bamboo cane, they cleverly wind their tendrils around the cane for growth support and keep on flourishing. 

In the same way God extends His grace to us and that is something none of us deserve but it acts as a support framework to allow us to feel forgiven and able to grow. We all need to follow Gods example and extend grace to everyone we meet. Especially every Mum as the likeliness is that she already believes she isn't good enough.