Thursday, 11 October 2018

International Day of the Girl - Advice to my Teenage Self #AdviceforGirls

Sorry for the image quality but when you are dealing with pictures taken in 1990 before the digital camera was even around, you tend to find they aren't the best quality. The above is me aged 17 years; I'm on holiday in Corfu with my (then) boyfriend. 

Today, on International Day of the Girl Compassion UK asked me to share a picture of myself aged 15 years old and I didn't have one to hand, this is as long ago as I can access, so it will have to do. The idea is to share advice I would give to my teenage self, so here goes....

Hey Mich, You're just a teenager still and already you have been on a number of diets and berated yourself for the way you look, but come on... just take a good look at that image above, you are gorgeous, you are brilliant and you are filled with potential. 

What I want you to know is that you are so much more than a body and a face. Please don't take any notice of what you see in the magazines, what you overhear the popular girls say about you, what the boys at the youth club or at school whisper about you, or even what you hear well-meaning relatives say when they think you're not listening. You are amazing!

In Psalm 139 God tells you that He knows you, inside and out, that He sees you, that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and that most importantly, you can never escape Him or His love for you. You don't need to meet societies expectations for beauty, because you already meet Gods. 

Mich, you are enough. God knows it, you need to believe it and live it. Please don't waste your time striving to be thinner, to be browner, to fit in or to be liked. Be uniquely you Mich, that is how God made you and He doesn't make mistakes. 

Have you got any idea how well this body will serve you in life? It will carry you to Ethiopia, Belarus and Washington as an advocate and activist working to help put an end to extreme poverty. It will birth three amazing and unique little beings. It will be a friend to many and help dozens of people, as a friend, volunteer and co-worker. 

Please don't waste another minute worrying Mich. God tells you not to be anxious  but to present your requests to Him in prayer and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7). So the best thing you could do, right now, aged 17 years old is turn your life over to Christ and come to know His never-ending love for you.

He's got your back Mich! Just believe it.......

Of course today, many girls the word over, are worrying about their body and their beauty, just like I did and have done for many, many years. But as well as these kind of worries like |I had, there are also girls in so many countries who are worrying about much bigger issues, like where to get clean water or their next meal from, or perhaps who their husband will be when they marry at age 15 or 16.

Research from NGO Save the Children showed that Brazil is the worst country in South America in terms of girls development opportunities. It scores 102 out of 144 countries and the data is based on teenage marriage, teenage pregnancy and those girls completing secondary education.

Given these facts Compassion UK choose Brazil as the focus for their Handbook for Girls campaign, which is hoping to educate teenage girls there and change the amount of them dropping out of education early.

Image thanks to Compassion UK

Launched this summer, the campaign aims to raise £20,000 so that all 10,000 girls in Compassion's church-based projects in Brazil receive a Handbook with vital information on health, education, relationships and employment. The Handbooks are being developed by Compassion Brazil’s programme staff in partnership with child development experts, including psychologists and education professionals, and are aimed at girls aged 12-20 years.

What’s more, church partners will receive training in how best to support girls in the topics covered in the Handbook and boys will participate in workshops on the value of women. Each book costs just £2 to produce and distribute, which I think is a great use of such little money.

If you think what Compassion are doing in Brazil is important then I'd urge you to text EMPOWER to 70140 to give £4 and change the life of two girls in Brazil and visit Compassion UK for more information and the text-to-donate terms and conditions. 

Thanks for getting involved friends. It might not seem a lot we can do from the comfort of our warm homes here in the UK, but as I always maintain, every small action adds up and creates a ripple of change that one day will be so big it makes a monumental difference.

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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Ways to Improve your Parenting Tool-Kit

Photo by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash

We all want to be the best parent we can be to our little ones, to maximise the amount of family time we have with them and to improve our skills that will help them navigate their way through life. But how do we become better parents? Of course, time helps, and you learn on the job, so to speak. Your confidence grows as your child does, or as you have more children. However, some parents like to bolster their parenting skill set with more tools and to be proactive, rather than just organic in how they grow their parenting tool-kit.

Here are a few ideas for gaining new skills which will help you on your parenting journey -

Nursing Skills 
Every parent has that inner panic when their little one injures themselves; you want to do the best for your child and make sure you don’t make the problem even worse. So why not develop your caring skills, with a first aid course or you could consider online nurse midwifery courses, where you can earn a reputable degree and a real sense of achievement. Not only will you learn how to take care of babies professionally, but you might just find a career path that you truly adore.

Calming Skills
When your life gets hectic it can be very difficult to keep your cool at times. Of course, you want to stay calm for your children, but it can be difficult seeing it through, especially in times of high stress. You could become a better parent by practising calming methods in the comfort of your own home, even for just a few minutes a day. Meditation, mindful or centering prayer are great ways to tune out of your problems and to just focus on the here and now. These methods can then be employed next time your child is acting in a stressful manner.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Staying in Paris at the Adagio Paris Bercy Village

bercy village header

Back in July it was my Mums 70th birthday and as a treat, my brother and I (funded by our lovely Dad) took her away to Paris. I'd spent ages looking for accommodation that was reasonably priced but could sleep two women and a man without us all being in one room. Hotels were coming up really expensive for two rooms and I didn't fancy three single beds in one room and no room to move about. 

I ended up booking the Aparthotel Adagio access Paris Philippe Auguste, which is situated in the 20th arrondissment, next to the Père Lachaise Cemetery an close to metro links into the centre. The price was 463.93 Euros for three of us for three nights and I thought this was reasonable for Paris.
Imagine my surprise when the day before I received an email telling me there was a technical error and we couldn't stay at this aparthotel, but they had booked us out to Adagio Paris Bercy Village and that it was a higher specification aparthotel. On the one hand the accommodation did look better and had the benefit of air-conditioning, but on the other it was quite a bit further away from Gare du Nord where we were arriving in to.

Inside the Adagio Paris Bercy Village
Public areas at Adagio Paris Bercy Village

Friday, 5 October 2018

Family Visit to the British Wildlife Centre, Surrey

British wildlife centre header

My husband loves both photography and animals/ birds, so for his birthday we decided to combine those two things and headed over to the British Wildlife Centre, in Lingfield, Surrey. We didn’t really know what to expect as it didn’t look the biggest place but the reviews on Trip Advisor were very good and that’s always encouraging.

The cost for two adults and to children (a family ticket) was £37.00 and we just hoped that our time there would be worth this cost as well as the two hours round journey. Thankfully we had the most wonderful visit, staying for four hours and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

We arrived just before 1pm and headed straight down to the Dell for the hedgehog talk. I wondered how much interest one tiny animal could hold but it was great, the keeper was really informative, he was easy to hear and understand and I learnt something too. All whilst watching the little hedgehog scampering all over the place. Who knew they were so fast? Then when we got to see the hedgehog up close he was cute beyond words.


Thursday, 4 October 2018

JJ's Birthday, Family Visit and Taking Time #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends. Today is my baby boys birthday and he turns 15, I can hardly believe how quick times goes by. I'm so pleased to say that I still really like him and enjoy spending time with him. I don't think he's your average 15 year old (if there is such a thing) as he is mostly found at home and thankfully not getting into all the mischief I was at his age.

He still agrees to come out for a coffee with me and if I ask him for help, he is generally there, so I count myself lucky. But of course I still get that bit of teenage attitude at times, although I think his Dad does more than me. I'm so grateful that I'm here when he returns from school as those are the times he wants to chat to me.

I'm excited to see what his future holds, he is a really bright kid and I hope he keeps applying his intellect and doing well at school, so he can have the best opportunities open to him when he decides what he will go on to do as a career. Happy birthday my boy, we love you.

I mentioned last week that my parents and Aunt were staying for a week and that was fab, they were able to help me when I felt ill, they had the girls to stay whilst my husband and I took JJ out for his birthday meal and cinema, we had lots of meals out together and had a visit to Batemans, where I got a rare photo of me with both parents.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Christmas Gift Guide: 5 Things Every Teen Girl needs for a Break Away

Header for girls christmas gifts to take on holiday

Every young woman loves to go away, whether that's with school, youth club, their family or perhaps a friends family. There is so much excitement in the preparations and getting ready for that special time.

Years back with our eldest we started to give experience gifts rather than money or physical gifts, as we found that the kids had everything they needed and frankly the thing they wanted most was one-on-one time with either my husband or I.

JJ and my husband have had so many great stays up in London, visiting museums, going to the cinema, exploring the Thames and of course eating too much. Once our twin girls Miss M and Miss E were old enough they wanted in on the action too and the first year I took them both away with my Mum for to a holiday park for some girlie fun . Then this year they choose to split up and Miss M went to London with my husband and Miss E and I headed to Surrey for a spa break.

Who knows where next year will take us but the girls have already said they want to go away as their Christmas gifts, so I suppose I ought to start scouring sites like Secret Escapes now to see what luxury hotels I can find for bargain prices.

Miss M, in particular is a very girlie girl and loves the excitement of the holiday preparation and packing as much as she does the time away, so I'm thinking that for Christmas I might ask the family to get her some great gifts to make her time away really special. Here are five tops picks I think every teen (or even tween) girl will love -

1.   Alfa Italia Viaggio TRAVEL styler set
Miss M has just got in to straightening her hair and she religiously washes and blow drys it a few times a week, so this travel style kit from Alfa Italia is just right. It is super stylish in black with gold accents and combines Italian design with premium quality professional hair styling tools. It retails for £39.95 and is exclusively available from the Chill Cabinet.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

10 Ways to keep the Magic of Christmas Alive for your Kids

child reaching for christmas light
Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

It won’t be that long before the big day is upon us, but more than the actual day, I love the build up. The anticipation of the fun to come, watching the kids get more and more excited, smelling all those spiced biscuits and gingerbread, wondering if snow will fall and of course the buying, hiding and wrapping of the gifts.

I truly believe that Christmas is a much more magical time when viewed through the eyes of a child and as such I’m very happy to indulge my children in all their favourite pre-Christmas activities as they grow older. My 15 year old JJ, of course, is under no illusion that a cuddly fat chap in red comes down our chimney and my 11 year old twins don’t believe either, but we’re in that funny phase where I haven’t confirmed or denied. Last year they asked me again and I threw it back to them, asking if they liked the idea of Father Christmas? They both said they did, so I told them to enjoy it and forget the rest.

If like me, you want to help keep the magic of Christmas alive in the run up to the big day, why not check out these ideas of activities to do with your children -

Send a letter to Santa - £
I’m sure, at one time or another, every child has written a letter to Father Christmas, it’s a great way as a parent to learn what gift their heart may be desiring this year, but be careful not to do it too early with young children as they are prone of changing their mind. I know this from experience! You can buy letter writing packs, print a template off the web or just use regular paper.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Visiting National Trust Felbrigg Hall with Tweens/ Teens

felbrigg hall header image

Whenever I chat to my friends who have older kids, I hear the same thing again and again. ‘Oh yes, we went to a National Trust property yesterday and the kids all moaned and didn’t want to go and then they ended up having a wonderful time’. It’s completely the same for my family, my 11-year-old twin girls yawn and whinge about having to go and my 14-year-old lad says “at least you can get a good cream tea there” and is just resigned to the fact that he has to come off his PC every now and then and have a bit of family time.

We’ve been to quite a few NT properties now and we always have a great time. My husband and I said the other day that whilst they are all different, there are a lot of similarities with the properties sporting a stately home, and if you aren’t a massive history buff then they could become a bit boring. But what I think the NT do really well is engage all the family. Recently we were on holiday in Norfolk and we headed to Felbrigg Hall, it’s a well-maintained house with a superb walled kitchen garden and a large estate to explore.

Felbrigg Hall