Saturday, 27 May 2017

6 Top Tips for a Great #TeenTalk #Ad

Mother and Daughter image from Shutterstock

I know some people cringe at the thought of the conversations they need to have with their children as they grow up but I've actually found that having a very honest and open relationship with my children is the making of it. Unlike the 68% of parents (1) who find it hard to broach the subject of puberty I just dove right in and had a really successful chat with my near 10 year old twin girls a few months back.

I don't recall many conversations with my own Mum about growing up; how my body would change, getting periods, having the ability to do anything I put my mind to, choosing to say no, about becoming sexually active, about being responsible with money and all those sorts of things. This seems strange when I think back as I have a really great relationship with my Mum but thinking about it now I don't think she had anyone to do it with her and she wasn't the sort to read parenting manuals etc.

On the other hand, I love to read and to find out information and thankfully I like to talk as well, so I thought it would be useful to share six of my top tips for having those 'can-be' awkward #teentalks.

1.  Talk to your child shoulder to shoulder rather than face to face
I learnt this trick with JJ when he was younger, he would always open up when we were driving in the car. So I used this to my advantage and had some of the more tricky conversations whilst we were driving along.

The first one I can recall was picking him up from Scouts about three years ago (so he'd have been around 11) and there was a bumper sticker on a car that said something about pornography and he was laughing at it. I then asked him if he knew what it was and he mumbled 'not really', so I told him, in language that was appropriate to his age and he was really shocked but this then led on to a conversation about how his body will change and his mind and that one day he will start to find girls attractive. It was all going well and about 15 minutes in he said 'Mum, can we talk about something else now?' and that leads me into my second point

Friday, 26 May 2017

Three Ways to Reclaim Space in Your Home (Permanently)

Fashionable Living Room Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a sure-fire method of making sure the house was always tidy and there was plenty of space for everything? Sadly, there aren’t any sure-fire methods, but there are a few tricks that can vastly help busy people reclaim more space, and make it stick. Here are three of them:

#1 - Don’t Keep Things at Home that You Don’t Use

This doesn’t mean throwing everything away as soon as it falls out of use, because we all have stuff we want to hang onto but that we don’t use every day - or even every year.

Instead of getting rid of possessions, an inexpensive way to keep hold of them without having them take up space at home is to put them into self storage. It doesn’t matter whether you have a vast collection of items, or just a few precious objects, as self storage facilities have a good range of room sizes, even lockers.

The terms are short (you can rent a room from a week upwards), the security is high, and the locations are convenient for most town dwellers. Parking is good, even for large vehicles or lorries, and there are trolleys to help move bulky or heavy items.

One excellent idea is to use self storage on a seasonal basis so you’re not, for instance, tripping over lawn mowers and garden furniture through the winter, or fighting for closet space for summer clothes because all the room is taken up with winter boots and coats. Twice a year, you swap things round and only keep at home those items you know you want for the next few months. But because locations are handy, it’s a quick job to pop back if you want to retrieve anything.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

UK Recipe - Fabulous Fun 2 Minute Make Kids Silly Putty/ Slime


Over the last couple of weeks I have been testing out loads of slime recipes and trying to find one that works every time with UK ingredients. I have at last been successful and here is the recipe -

Ingredients - 
  • PVA glue (clear is best but white works fine) 
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Food colouring (or you can use paint)
  • Contact lens solution (must have boric acid as an ingredient)
  • Optional - baby oil, to stop the slime being sticky
  • Optional - shaving foam to make fluffy slime

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Girls have gone Smiggle Mad!

If you have tween girls you must by now have heard of Smiggle. It is the Australian born stationary and gadget brand that is taking the UK by storm. It has only been in the UK since 2014 and already there are nearly 100 stores.

Go back a year ago and my girls had to wait until we went to a big town like London or Brighton to get their Smiggle fix but now even our local town, Eastbourne has one!

Smiggle isn't just aimed at girls though, it seems to be a hit with everyone. They have all sorts of colours, styles and images to suit girls and boys of all ages.

As a family we are loving Smiggle and here are 5 reasons why -

1. The styling of the products is super colourful and funky.
Just look at some of the latest products from the 'Smiggle Says' emoji range that my girls were recently sent to try out and enjoy. They seem to have received quite a blue selection and were totally thrilled with them but you can see from the picture below that there are lots of different colourways within this new range.

From top to bottom: Smiggle Says Double Hardtop Pencil Case £15.50, pack of erasers £4.50
and Scented Yay Pop-Our Pencil Case £15.50

Sunday, 21 May 2017

16,800 Average Steps a Day - Go Mich! #SlimmingSunday

A post shared by Michelle Pannell (@michelletwinmum) on

Morning friends, welcome to this weeks link-up for #SlimmingSunday.

I'm afraid it is a short and sweet one for me this week as time has just run away with me. My parents have come to stay for a week, which has been great but they have kept me so busy that I haven't had any time to devote to my blog.  I suppose you could say that is a good thing, I've just been out there enjoying life and not closeted away indoors. This post has literally been written in 10 snatched minutes between the recycling and the summer fete.

Exercise wise I'd say it has been a good week as I worked hard at my Monday night Fit Club and then I have really upped my steps again, finishing on just over 84,000 steps for Monday - Friday, so that's an average of 16,800 steps a day. I had said I would do two early morning DVD workouts but that didn't happen. I suppose because I hadn't thought about my parents being here and not actually having any free time.

I did teat myself to some new exercise gear this week though as I saw my jogging bottoms were getting some holes, I then realised they are 20 years old - that will be why! I'm hoping to put these though their paces Monday night but I'll have to see as I hurt my knee yesterday. I stepped down some stairs and felt the crushing pain as if too much impact had gone through my knee. It is no fun having arthritic knees at age 43.

I weighed in at Fit Club last Monday and as I mentioned a few weeks ago I have decided to do it blind for a while, so I have no idea what the scales said and truthfully I don't expect they said anything too different to the week before. I haven't been consciously dieting but I have been being mindful of my foot, trying not to just eat for the sake of it and I've been good with my water intake too.

Next weekend I head off to Spain on holiday and that means it will be Emma (Mrs Shilts) hosting #SlimmingSunday alone for Sunday 28th May and 4th June as I won't be here, so you'll need to make sure you link up over there.  I am enjoying keeping up with your journeys though so once I am back and the washing is done I'll be over to visit to see how you are getting on.

From Monday 5th June I am treating it as if I am back at Slimming World and following that diet plan to give myself a good kick up the bum and to get some weight loss going. I was going to say ready for the summer but actually it is just because it needs to happen.

Wishing you a fabulous week, Mich x

How to Join in

Slimming Sunday is a weekly linky hosted by Mich at Mummy from the Heart and Emma at Life According to Mrs Shilts. The posts go live at 7am every Sunday morning and you are most welcome to join in with any slimming/ weight loss/ exercise/ healthy recipe type post. Join as little or as often as you like. No pressure!

1)  Write or link up an existing post about diet/ slimming/ healthy eating/ exercise or anything related to these topics.

By linking up you'll receive a weekly email reminder about Slimming Sunday, of course there will be an unsubscribe button on every email so you can opt out any time but lots of people have been asking me for a reminder.

2)  Grab the badge or add a text link to either Emma or I (or both if you are feeling super generous)

3)  Go share the love. Please comment on both Emma and my posts and also at least one other but it would be great if you feel you could comment on a few more. I'm sure you'll feel the love back if you do.

Emma and I will come and visit you too and tweet out your links. Feel free to tag us with #SlimmingSunday, @michelletwinmum and @mrsshilts and we'll give you an RT.

I can't wait to read your post. Have a fabulous week, Mich x

Slimming Sunday at Mummy from the Heart

Subscribe to #SlimmingSunday

* indicates required


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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

Friday, 19 May 2017

Arlington Bluebell Walk, A Superb Afternoon Out


We have a mass of bluebells where we live and it would be so easy to go for a walk in the woods and capture some amazing pictures, we do have 220 acres at our disposal after all! However it isn't half as much fun to visit something beautiful in a setting that you know like the back of your hand, so we decided to travel about 30 minutes from our home and visit the Arlington Bluebell Walk.

The Arlington Bluebell Walks were established in 1972 and are open for a limited season each year, to tie in with the bluebells of course! This year the walks have been open from 8th April to the 14th May and most years have a similar time period with the opening hours of 10am - 5pm each day.


Thursday, 18 May 2017

There's Good in Every Day - #R2BC

Good morning friends. I hope you are well.

This week I am going to share #1GoodThing in every day of the last week. During Advent I did this purposefully on Instagram and it is fab for helping you to see that every day has joy in it somewhere. Now I am posting more sporadically but I'm super pleased to see lots of people have kept on using the hashtag on Instagram and there are now a whole ton of positive and gorgeous pictures under the hashtag of #1GoodThing.

Here are mine from the last week -

Thursday - I had dinner out at a local pub with my lovely friend Izzy and it was so good to be able to talk uninterrupted without the kids. We talked about everything and anything and she is a real tonic to me, helping me to see things more clearly. 

Friday - Lunch with my hubby. Whilst the kids were at school he took a couple of hours off work and we headed to a local Italian that does a really good 2 course lunch menu. The food was exquisite and we didn't stop chatting the whole time and really deep and meaningful chatting. 


Saturday - We took our Pastoral Group over to visit Knole, a National Trust site with a 1000 acre deer park. The weather wasn't brilliant but it was good enough to have a picnic outside and we looked round the house and had a wonder, feeding the deer. It was a great day out. 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Why I’m Starting to Prepare my Daughters for the 2018 Year 6 SAT Tests Now

Image Source: Mum in the Mad House

My twin 9 year old daughters will sit their SAT tests next May and I felt it was important to start the preparation now.

Why?

Well, I want them both to do well of course. It is important to me that they are fulfilled; attaining everything in life that they seek to achieve and that they do the best they can.

Does this mean I am employing a tutor to help them along? Or maybe sending them to weekend prep classes as I’ve heard a few schools run or maybe I’ll just be getting their (very clever) big brother to coach them into how to become a set one student?

No, my preparation doesn’t take any of those forms. The preparation I am doing is gentle and low-key. One of them asked me the other night if you can have a reader to help you do a SAT test if you have dyslexia, I told her I didn’t know but that we would find out if it would make her feel better.

I then got both my girls together and asked them what they knew about SAT testing and they told me how they had done some tests in year 2 and one of them had achieved the national standard and the other hadn’t.  The one that hadn’t spoke of having been upset at the time, as she felt stupid. I asked them how these tests they took three years ago have effected their lives. Was the one who had met national standard doing any better than the other? Was she happier than the other? Was she more fulfilled? Had she achieved more?

I loved watching the light bulb switch on when they both realised that the year 2 SAT tests had been really inconsequential in their lives. Nothing had changed as an outcome of them. We then talked about the year 6 SAT tests being much the same. Whatever result they get will be OK. Their test results do not define who they are or what they will achieve.  They will just be used along with the CAT tests they will take in the summer of 2018 to help their secondary school know which set to put them in and isn’t it better that they are in the right level for their academic ability?

One of them then asked me why they had seen year 6 students crying and getting stressed and why they had to be quiet around the school hall for the SAT week if it wasn’t important? I made sure they understood that to the school the tests are quite important, they are a measure of their teaching. Both girls then said how wonderful their school is and that they have fabulous teachers and I advised yes, they do and that is why they will do wonderfully in their SAT tests and how important it is not to worry.

So this year’s preparation will be about open conversations, reassurances that they are both accepted and doing well whatever the outcome of the tests are and that it will always be far more important to me that they are kind and loving above anything else. Over Easter one of the girls took it on herself to raise money for two charities and the other (I’m sure) was sent to sooth my soul when I'm having a tough time. Those things make me far prouder of my girls than their ability to pass a test with top marks.

My girls have all the wonderful life skills in them that they need to do well and whether their SAT scores say they have met the national standard or not does not matter to me.

You'll notice at the top of the page I share a screen print of a FB post from Jen at Mum in the Mad House. One of her sons took his SATs this year and she has made sure he understands that he is judged on the way he treats others and not defined by a test he takes at the age of 10.

I'm completely with Jen and I'll be reinforcing this message to my girls this year as well.

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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Facing My Fears - #SlimmingSunday


Morning friends, How are you doing on this fine Sunday?

I'm doing well, it has been a good week. Again I couldn't tell you I have been massively focused on my food, so it hasn't been a dieting week as such but overall it has been a really good week and I am pleased with my progress.

I've shared a little about how my eating and food issues are tied up with so many other things and one of the things that keeps me fat is fear. I have a fear of being hungry, a fear of losing weight and having loads of saggy skin, a fear of being too confident in myself and a fear of facing some things that have gone on in my past that have led to me wearing this fat suit as protection. I don't expect you to understand but it has been my reality.

This week I have done a session from the marriage course with my husband and we had a really deep and open conversation, been out with a friend where we also shared deeply and then had lunch out with my husband and continued the conversation. All this honesty and talking has been good and as my husband said, 'you can't not lose weight just because you are fearful Michelle'.

I realised I have been living under a sprint of fear and that I don't want it to continue as God wants me to be free and not fearful. So I took a symbolic step and I drove down a one-car wide country lane. I've lived in the countryside for four years now and I never drive down them as I get scared but I approached the lane and knew I had to drive through it and show myself there is no need to fear any longer.

I also went to my Fit Club on Monday night and I loved it. It really tested me and boy did I ache for a couple of days after but I am even looking forward to my session again tomorrow. Then I also need to start exercising more often, once a week is a start but it is not enough. I've been great at upping my steps and moving more but again it is not enough as it doesn't raise my heart rate.

So this week I am going to get back to a habit I had some years back. I woke early and came downstairs and did about 20 or 30 minutes of a fabulous workout series I have, called Walk at Home by Leslie Sansone. I just love them as they are walk aerobics and can be as low or high impact as you like but they are simple and get your heart pumping.

Last weeks Targets -
I did OK. I got my sleep, which is important. I don't think I had as much water as 2 litres each day and I forgot to write a full meal plan! No wonder I didn't achieve that one, if I didn't do the meal plan. I'm not writing a meal plan this week as my parents are visiting and that will mean lots of unpredictability and meals out.

I think I hit my step target except one day and I say think as I had let my Fitbit run out of charge without realising and missed a day and a half of steps logging. It's amazing how much this annoyed me as my track record now doesn't look so good!

Targets this week -
  • 7 hours sleep every night
  • 2 litres of water per day
  • No chocolate all week
  • 2 sessions of working out to my DVD as well as Fit Club
I'm looking forward to another good week ahead and I hope you are too. Wishing you all the best, Mich x

How to Join in

Slimming Sunday is a weekly linky hosted by Mich at Mummy from the Heart and Emma at Life According to Mrs Shilts. The posts go live at 7am every Sunday morning and you are most welcome to join in with any slimming/ weight loss/ exercise/ healthy recipe type post. Join as little or as often as you like. No pressure!

1)  Write or link up an existing post about diet/ slimming/ healthy eating/ exercise or anything related to these topics.

By linking up you'll receive a weekly email reminder about Slimming Sunday, of course there will be an unsubscribe button on every email so you can opt out any time but lots of people have been asking me for a reminder.

2)  Grab the badge or add a text link to either Emma or I (or both if you are feeling super generous)

3)  Go share the love. Please comment on both Emma and my posts and also at least one other but it would be great if you feel you could comment on a few more. I'm sure you'll feel the love back if you do.

Emma and I will come and visit you too and tweet out your links. Feel free to tag us with #SlimmingSunday, @michelletwinmum and @mrsshilts and we'll give you an RT.

I can't wait to read your post. Have a fabulous week, Mich x

Slimming Sunday at Mummy from the Heart

Subscribe to #SlimmingSunday

* indicates required


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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

Friday, 12 May 2017

Review: Middle Farm, Near Lewes, East Sussex


The other Saturday as we awoke the sun was shining and we decided it would be a shame to waste it so we headed over to Middle Farm, near Lewes. We've popped in the tea room before (and not been impressed if I am honest) but at just £5 each entry (for children over 3 years and adults) to the actual farm we didn't think there was too much to lose and friends had said they'd enjoyed time there before.
Middle Farm is a 625 acre working farm. It has been in the Pile family for 50 years and they are proud of their high quality produce. It is really heart warming to read the history and learn that the family have innovated and pulled together in all sorts of ways to make Middle Farm what it is today.

Plenty of room for everyone 
As we arrived, we were surprised to see just how busy the overflow car park was and we started to worry that we had made a mistake and the place would be rammed. We needn't have worried though as there is loads of space within the farm and we got to see everything we wanted to and there wasn't long waits for the animal petting or play park equipment.

Explore at your leisure 
You don't get a map on entry to the farm but it is small enough that you can just explore and see where your feet take you. There was a big sign up as we entered advising us when the day's events were - lamb feeding, pig feeding, animal petting, cue milking etc. These were well spread within the day and whatever time you arrive I'm sure you'd get to see or take part in something.


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful: Stepping It Up, Bluebells and Cleaning #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends,

I hope you're having a fab week. I am and next week my parents come to visit for a week so it will get even better. I'm hosting Reasons to be Cheerful for all the month of May so I'll be digging deep for my thankful moments.



Thankfully the weather has cheered up a little and we've been able to get out and about more. This has helped my steps no end and I was super pleased to finish last week on just over 103,000 steps taken. I also started back up at the Fit Club that runs in the grounds of my home and it was so good to do some exercise, even though I didn't really want to go before hand! I did show myself just how unfit I have become as this one hour session was very hard going but it felt good to be doing something positive towards better health.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

I asked him to marry me with a sweetie!



I have been with my husband for a long time, we got together on 28th December 1994, he rescued me from a wet and windy pier and a horrid creepy guy.  He was my hero! OK scrub that, he still is my hero.

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic recently and was thinking back over our eventful relationship together. In 1999 my husband asked me to marry him when we were on holiday in Tenerife, I said yes,  I had been waiting quite a while for that proposal.  It was very romantic - late at night and we were sat at the waters edge looking at a beautiful electric storm out at sea.  He asked me if I could see where the sea met the sky and I replied no. He told me he loved me that much, further than we could ever see. It may sound corny to you but that was possibly one of the most lovely, unprompted things he has ever said to me.  He is not much of a talker you see.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Wasting Time or Enjoying Life? #SlimmingSunday


I've been musing this question this last week - 'By being fat am I wasting my life or am I just choosing to enjoy life by eating the foods I fancy?'

If you've read my blog before you'll know that I have spent the majority of my life for the last 30 years as an overweight women, probably around 20 of those as a very overweight woman and much of that time I have been exceedingly unhappy about my size and weight. In recent months I've been doing a lot of what I call 'head work' in relation to some of the issues I have that send me to the food as my drug of choice.

Friday, 5 May 2017

A Whole Year of Fun at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard


On the Sunday/ Monday of the early May bank holiday weekend we headed two hours down the coast to Portsmouth to visit the Historic Dockyard. For a few years now I've been seeing posts from other bloggers and FB posts from friends sharing their great day at this huge attraction. It is somewhere I'd been meaning to take the family to explore for a long time but you know what it is like, life is busy!

I'm so pleased we made time to visit, even though the weather was miserable and rainy and I can tell you from the start, we will definitely be going back. We didn't even manage to get half of the attractions done in the five hours we spent there. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard really is a great day out for all the family - old and young. It offers a unique experience which spans 800 years of British Naval history and as it is situated within a working Naval Base, the dockyard is the only place in the world to see the Royal Navy past, present and future

So what attractions are there?
First off there are two main parts of the Historic Dockyard, there is the main site which houses the Mary Rose, HMS Victor, HMS M.33, HMS Warrior 1860, the Action Stations interactive kids area, Boathouse 4, harbour tours and The National Museum of the Royal Navy. Also at the moment there are a couple of special exhibitions in the museum - 36 hours: Jutland 1916 and Women and the Royal Navy. Looking at the map I wondered if we would have to do a lot of walking during the day but actually the site is really compact and whilst we did lots of walking, as we toured the boats etc, there wasn't actually far to go.

Then there is the Gosport site, which you can access by waterbus from the main dockyard site. Here there is the Royal Navy Submarine museum and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower. There is also the Royal Marines Museum a Eastney too.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Farms, Mast Climbing and Muffins! #R2BC

Good morning friends. How are you this week?

It is time for our Thursday dose of cheer. I'm looking forward to reading your posts and finding out what is making you full of joy this week. It's been a while since I've done an #R2BC post - March in fact. First we headed off on holiday, then the Easter holidays and to be honest this is the first week I feel like I have caught up since the kids were off. Sorry for my absence. Let's dive straight in with a few reasons from the last week -


We had a fun weekend over the May bank holiday. On the Saturday, my husband, myself and the girls headed over to a local farm. It wasn't particularly big but it was nice to see the animals and the girls had a great play together. Miss E was enjoying using her camera and we are going to make a photo book as a memory of her weekend (as she won a free one in the McDonalds monopoly game).