Thursday 30 September 2010

Parenting Hurts! Detentions for 6 year olds???

I have had a good cry this morning! I felt so sad and I did not know what to do about it. I wanted to submit and eat and try to stifle my emotions and not to feel but I knew that would solve nothing and I had prayed for the ability to be strong today and to remain abstinent. I have not eaten on this, that is a minor miracle. Thank you Lord.

What made me cry? My little man, or maybe not him directly but circumstances surrounding him. I am not even sure why it made me cry, I think it might of been the release after the rubbish assessment last week. The one I took so calmly. I know one thing for sure, being a parent really does hurt. Every little thing our kids go through, we go through with them and with our added years of life experience it hurts us far more than it hurts them.

At school yesterday lunchtime there was an incident in the playground, one involving my JJ. I picked him up from school and saw nothing of the teacher, I was not asked to come into class or anything. JJ has a chart each day which monitors his behaviour (he has a tendency to call out and monopolise lessons, so this helps him to focus and to be able to understand what is reasonable and acceptable behaviour in the classroom). He told me he had 2 sad faces on his chart that day. He said he did not want to tell me why, so I probed and he said he had been crying (he does this fairly often at school nowadays, it is as if he has no control over how his emotions wash over him). He had cried as he had hurt a little girl C at lunchtime when they were playing. He was swinging a hoop making noise and it had hit her. He told me it was an accident and he had apologised. We talked about being careful and having our own space and then I thought nothing more of it, these kind of clumsy accidents happen a lot in World JJ.

We went to Wild Wednesday, a lovely outreach initiative at a local church and one of JJ's teachers was there. She is a great lady and has a real love for all children. I said to her I had heard JJ was upset and we talked a little about him and she told me he had a good day in the classroom it was just the lunch incident and he would go to lunch club the next day. She said this was a positive initiative to help him understand that his behaviour has consequences. It was busy there, I was looking after the three kids doing craft etc so I moved on. It was only when I was at home talking to dh later that we thought about this lunch club and realised it sounded a lot like detention. Can that be right? A detention for a 6 year old who hurt someone by accident and then I had not even been informed of it by school. This seemed strange to us so I decided to investigate it this morning.

At school I briefly spoke to JJ's teacher who had been absent yesterday and he confirmed JJ would go to the lunch club with the Deputy Head but as he was not there he did not know much of the incident. I then saw C's Mum and apologised to her that C had been hurt. She tells me that the girls had been playing a game and JJ had been trying to wake one of them and hit C with the hoop as he tried to wake the other little girl. Nasty and hurtful but still sounds like an accident to me. I agree JJ needs to understand that he is a big boy for his age and that his actions have consequences but more and more I want to cry. I start to feel that my boy is being misjudged, misunderstood and being penalised for an accident. Is it really right for a 6 year old to lose his playtime and to have to eat with a teacher?

By the time I am home I am really sad and hurting for my boy. So I call the school and they agree yesterdays teacher will call me and explain. She explains that JJ has to have lunch with the teacher and discuss appropriate playground behaviour, then he is to draw a picture of good behaviour and he can go out and play. I am pleased to hear that he will get playtime but I still feel I should of been informed if an incident was this serious that it required him spending time with a teacher for lunch. I ask her if they consider that it was an accident or not. I am told JJ hurt C on purpose. I explain that is not what I have been told. We agree to speak later after she investigates more with the children and lunchtime supervisor.

I come off the phone hardly able to say goodbye and I have a good cry. My baby, what to do with him? So full of complexities. I truly do not believe he is just naughty, there is never any malicious intent with him, no smirks and no backchat. I want to be there on the playground each day to protect him and help him to learn to play like everyone else. I think his lack of social skills hurts me more than it hurts him. I need to know what I can do to help him. I need people to think the best of him.

Every fear that a mother has is coming out, I worry so much about my boy having friends to play with. That report from the school referring Jacob for assessment has really stabbed my heart and worried me, when it talks about JJ having no real friends as he tries to have his own way and control the games too much. He is a part of me, I love him so much. I know I need to give this worry away, it is not productive for me to keep it inside and let it eat at me. Please Lord release me from this and let me know what is best for JJ and to act in his best interests.

I have used Josie's prompt 5 from this weeks writing workshop to write this post. That prompt is imperfection, because truly that is what I am! but as long as I keep trying, that is what counts....

Tuesday 28 September 2010

The Gallery: Food For Thought!

It is that time of the week again, the Gallery and this week Tara has given us the prompt Food.

Well those of you who know me know this is an awful prompt for me. I could use this gratuitously to show off images of amazing food and then I would start to drawl and remember how much I love food and head straight off to the cupboard. Considering I have been being good around food for the last few days this is not a good idea and I was not prepared to do this. I did consider not posting to the gallery this week but that would be a shame. The food or should I say my obsession, my addiction should not win, I should be able to be in control of my life and be able to do this.

So the pictures I have chosen to share with you are of my kids finishing off the cake we made for dh on his birthday about a month ago. It all looks innocent enough in the first pic....

and then little fingers can not resist any longer...

... and here they are, proud as punch! What a good job they did, with a little help from Mummy (and a nasty burn on Mummy's arm!)

Food holds an important place in our family and already my children have a good love of food and eat a wide variety of foods. These are both great things, what is not so good is that JJ already will tell you his favourite part of a day out was the food or that the highlight of a party was the food. This worries me a little, it could be early signs of the same problem I suffer with. but I can not get hung up on that as who knows what the future will bring.

All we can do as parents is to do our best to promote a healthy diet and a healthy body image. Have you ever thought about the fact that everything you do is watched and noted by your child? scary thought, isn't it? When you say you are on a diet they think that must be a good thing to do as Mummy does it and she is our idol! Or when you gorge on chocolate because you are feeling down, tired or stressed your child learns that is the way to deal with emotions. Do not show them, stifle them.

Have you ever read that verse by Dorothy Law Nolte 'Children Learn What They Live'? Here it is -

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

This is so true and yet again scares the life out of me. What a big role I have to play in my kids lives. But that is OK. I do not have to be worried or scared. As long as I do my very best that is all that is expected of me and it will be enough.

So here are a few of the strategies that are used at our house to try to ensure that the kids do not grow up with an eating disorder or body issues -
  1. I do not go on diets anymore anyway but if I did my kids would never know. Diets are banned, it is not a healthy thing to promote to a child. If I am eating healthy or abstaining from a certain food and my kids offer me chocolate for instance, I will just so no. If asked why I will just reply 'I do not fancy it right now'.
  2. Food is not given as treats. Food is just part of life and should not be a reward, that is when it becomes sought after or turned to for comfort.
  3. All foods are allowed, moderation is the key. Luxury foods are given at my discretion and not all the time. Children can never help themselves to any luxury foods (sweets, crisps, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, ice cream, desserts and anything like this).
  4. The kids do not have to finish everything on their plate to be allowed their pudding after but they do have to have tried everything and eaten an adequate portion.
  5. My children are always told they are beautiful, not just for the way they look though but for their character - such as being great fun, being kind, considerate etc. This way if they ever find themselves in a position in older life when they do not like the way they look they have something else to fall on to keep their self-esteem.
  6. We try to all eat together at the dining table at least once per day and we try to chat and have fun at the table. This is family time.
  7. We try to encourage the children to eat slowly and to savour each mouthful. We also always have water with our meals.
  8. We say grace before our meals to thank the Lord for the luxury of having a good meal every day and as a way remembering those who are not as fortunate.
So what are your thoughts? Have I given you some food for thought here? Any tips for me on how you promote healthy eating and body image in your family?

I look forward to reading your comments. Mich x

How To Enjoy Your Childs Birthday, Simple Style!

It is JJ’s birthday next week, he will be a big 7! We are taking him out Sunday and then he will be at school on his actual birthday but we will still celebrate! Here are my 10 simple rules for enjoying your child’s birthday party and not turning this once a year event into a major stress or pocket buster!

1. Do not get drawn into the politics or one upmanship that seems to be the norm at some schools. Just because Peter had a 6ft hand carved pirate ship cake does not mean your child needs one too. Be confident to do your own thing.

2. Just invite the children you want to invite, not the ones whose parents you want to please! At the end of the day your child will know who they play with and this should be the most important thing.

3. Set a limit on the number of children you will invite and stick to it, there will always be that ‘just one more person will not do any harm!’

4. Do not have the party at home. I have only done this once and it was supposed to be the most stress free year. It was not – kids did not want to play the games, they trashed my boy’s bedroom and I had to clear it all up afterwards!

5. On that note, use disposable table wear. Yes I know it costs more but the time you save in clear up is well worth it in my mind and the kids love the novelty table wear. Keep your eye on ebay or your local supermarkets for good deals – buy in advance. You can always put the paper in for recycling.

6. Also, watch out for value/ reduced party bag gifts throughout the year and buy when things are cheap. Or give bigger gifts instead that are on special offer. For my girl’s birthday this year I gave plasticine sets to the kids who came to their party, they were in the sale for £2.49 down from £10.00. A much longer lived gift than a party bag of tat! For JJ’s birthday next week the boys are getting a Ben 10 stationary set which I got for £1.49 in a supermarket clearance sale.

7. If you are providing the food, offer what you want to offer. I know a load of Mums that make up a really healthy buffet and the kids do not touch it. Yes, offer some carrot and cucumber sticks and some grapes and strawberries, things we know that kids like. But ultimately it is a party and just one day, the kids are there to enjoy themselves, so loosen up a little.

8. Alternatively make life even easier for yourself and order pizza online. Most kids love pizza and places like Domino’s offer wedges and chicken now too so you can get some variety. We will definitely be ordering pizza to arrive just after we get home from work on the actual day of JJ’s birthday. This is a treat for him and a lifeline for me, a busy working mum. Plus have you seen some of the good deals they do? You know me a sucker for a bargain!

9. JJ’s birthday party this year is a trip to the cinema with 6 little friends. We are going to a Sunday morning £1.00 showing. Ever thought of doing that? What great value for a 7 year olds birthday, then a walk across to McDonalds afterwards for lunch and a candle in his McFlurry and we are set! A small party does not need to cost the earth but your child will enjoy it. Last year we took JJ and his friends to soft play after school using a buy one get one half price entry voucher and afterwards a 50% off food meal voucher. There is always a deal out there you just have to find it.

10. Lastly, make sure you have enough adults with you so you can relax and enjoy. Watch the delight on your little ones face and savor that special time. There are plenty of other days in the year for you to get stressed out…

Here is the birthday boy JJ himself. To say he is getting excited already is an understatement. Roll on Sunday……

Sunday 26 September 2010

I'm Not Just Fat, I Have A Problem!

This post was originally posted to my blog on 27 January 2010, just after I opened this blog up for public viewing. I got some great comments but I am very aware that my readership is now fairly different to back then and I just felt I wanted to explain a bit about me and my food journey!

That's right I am fat, I am very overweight.

Currently I am about 15 1/2 stone (I say about as I have no scales at the moment but the belt notch feels about that weight!). At one point I was what they classed as 'morbidly obese' but I am about 2 stone lighter than that now, so I am probably 'very obese'. One day with the grace of God I hope to be just purely overweight. I have no secret longing to be a size 10, I just want to be a healthy weight, a good role model to my kids and living a full life without a crazy obsession with food and weight.

You see that is what my problem is, I am an addict. I do have a very real addiction to food and also to the comfort and release that eating, stuffing my face and stifling my emotions gives. Every day I obsess on food - where my next meal will come from, what will it look like, will it fill me up, how many calories are in it, does it add to my 5 a day etc etc.

It really is not as simple as joining a weight loss club and just losing some weight. People like me who have lost stones and then regained them numerous times in their lives have a problem. A problem which keeps drawing us back to the food. Every time we move away from the day to day feeling of normal life, be it that we have a high or a low we want to celebrate or commiserate with food. So I vow now never to fool myself again and to start a diet, that I just will not keep to.

I expect some people may read this and laugh and wonder what I am on about. Food an addiction? Yes, in exactly the same way as drugs, alcohol, sex, self-harm, shopping, spending, love, soaps on the TV, trash mags or anything else can be. Most of us have some kind of prop in life - mine is food. Some would say it is far less harmful than drugs, at least I won't kill myself - but won't I? What about heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, to name but a few.

It really does take some time to admit to yourself and be ready to say 'Hi my name is Michelle and I am an addict, a compulsive overeater'. I was going to say it is not something I am proud of but actually the fact that I am being brave enough to face up and take this journey does make me proud. For the last 6 weeks or so I have lost the plot, I have rejected most things recommended by the program of addiction recovery that I am following. From this moment on I am back on track and I pray for God to help me, it is through Him that this will work. You do not have to be a Christian like me for this program to work for you, you just need to believe that you are out of control and that there is a stronger being/ higher power in the Universe. For me this is God, for you it might mother nature, Buddha, or your recovery fellowship.

I do get incredibly fed up with the stereotype of a fat lazy person and I want people to see the real me inside, that thin person struggling to get out. Rather than seeing the fat first and the person second. I suppose that is our culture today so much based on image and looks, how can I blame anyone for thinking that I have let myself go and that I am slowly killing myself by being too lazy to get up off my bum and do some exercise.

So here are a few truths which may set the record a bit straighter -
  • I do at times eat too much, I have been known to binge but generally my eating is getting better.
  • I adore food and just love new tastes and the excitement that comes with knowing I am going out for a nice meal. You see that is the addict in me, food = love and stability and happiness.
  • I run around after three kiddies when I am not at work. I have ants in my pants and rarely sit down - always doing something - housework, ironing, gardening, out to shop etc
  • I exercise a couple of times per week, I go to the gym or aqua or swim and I enjoy it (once I am there!)
So that is my 'fat story' so be continued

Friday 24 September 2010

Notes From The Heart: JJ Meets the Child Psychologist

Dear Child Psychologist who assessed my JJ today,

I am sorry the NHS puts you under such a tight time line that you had to keep hurrying my husband along and not giving him enough time to talk and answer all the multiple questions you were bombarding him with.

I am sorry that no one saw fit to brief us that we should have been coming to you with at least 10 full exercise books of examples of JJ's behaviour showing why we want some help.

I am sorry (really sorry) that you thought it would be acceptable for JJ to be in the room when you asked my husband to tell you about how he makes friends and his lack of them. Do you really think that a loving Daddy would knock his son's self-esteem just so you can get your answers?

I am sorry that you seem to think we were there to waste your time and that you think my sons behaviour patterns are just down to naughtiness! If only it was that simple, our discipline tactics would have sorted things out long ago. We are not exactly slack parents!

Lastly I am sorry that you appeared to think that we wanted a statement for our son and that we were just after some funding. Would you like to hear what our aim was from this assessment? It was to help us get some answers. Why does JJ act the way he does? Why does he not have any friends? Why does he not understand that sometimes we have to sit still and listen? Why can he not make eye contact? Why does he burst into tears inconsolable when his routine changes? Why does he feel the need to control all situations? why, why, why? Strategies for us to help out little man were all we were after but it appears that you can not provide that....

So yes for the next 6 months until you see JJ again we will keep a log of his behaviour and it will be me coming to see you next time, so watch out as I will have answers for you and I will tell it as it is!

A cross Mummy!

Dear dh,

I am really, really proud of you today. JJ wanted his Daddy to take him for the assessment and you rose to the challenge and took him. Some Daddies have no interest in their kids, you are ace! Do not feel bad that you could not answer all the questions and that you yourself sometimes find it hard to communicate especially when someone is pressing you. As I said earlier it is God's will that is done. So he knows better than us and this is obviously the right outcome for now.

Love you babe, Mich xxx

JJ, My Beautiful Little Man,

I love you so much my sweetheart and the realisation I have had today is that I need to be more patient with you. I truly believe that you do not willfully act naughty, it just appears that you have no idea what is OK and what is not so it is my job, as Mummy to help you to learn that and fear, aggression and anger will not teach you anything. So babe we will be having lots of praise, hugs and sweet talking from now onwards.

Mummy xxx

Miss E,

It is really easy, when you need a wee, you ask Mummy. Got it?

It would make my life so much easier. Thank you poppet.

Mummy xxx

Miss M,

Nothing burning that I need to say to you this week but it is that twin thing again, where I feel if I write to one I have to write to you both. So all I will say is thanks for being such fun. You make me chuckle and that rocks!

Mummy xxx

Tommy The Plaster!

You have done an amazing job, thank you so much.

A Happy Customer!

Dear God,

Thanks for sticking with me. Thanks so much for keeping me away from the food these last couple of days. It makes such a difference to my sanity. I am a much better Mummy when I am not 'in' the food.

Michelle xx

Dear Readers,

As always thanks for being there and supporting me. It has been a fab week for chatting to people, making new friends and finding new blogs.

I got to 100 followers yesterday and then someone dropped me off their reading list, so I am back to 99 again! doh oh well it will get there in its own good time.

Have a great weekend.

Mich x

Thursday 23 September 2010

Wish Me Luck!

So today has been a good day and I pray this may continue for a long time. I need all the prayers, positive thoughts, luck etc etc that I can get to be able to crack this demon!

But for today things are OK, as today I am back on the band wagon.
  • I did not eat on my emotions today

  • I did not eat as I was lonely today

  • I did not eat as I was bored today

  • I did not eat as I was angry today

  • I did not eat for any reason other than the fact that I have to eat to live.
Sounds boring? It might be but it is completely necessary for me, a compulsive overeater. I have been out of control the last couple of months. I have known that I have been on a slippy slide into the food but I have not felt able to do anything about it. Boy, does it take a lot of mental effort to be good around food and to abstain from unhealthy behaviours towards food.

I actually feel as if I am starting from scratch again. My weight this morning was 16st 6lb, this is about a stone less than my heaviest weight but about a stone heavier than my lowest recent weight last year. I hope to see the scales go down, the waistbands loosen and the smile on my face expand over the next few months. I feel very positive and ready to give my willfullness up today. This is a big step in itself. I must remember not to get ahead of myself and to stay living in the day - For Today is one of the slogans from my ED meetings and it is very pertinent - I can do today things that might horrify me if I thought I would have to do them forever.

I really enjoyed taking time to read when I woke this morning, first my ED literature and then my Bible. This and chatting to God first thing this morning set me up for a good day. I must make time for this each day. It is a discipline I had got very good at but then in the last month or so even that had slipped away - it was just easier not to bother! But who said life had to be easy?

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Sold Out!

So I have started to do the odd review and the odd sponsored post and this seems to be a real hot topic in the blogging world at the moment. I have read a ton of blog posts about this very subject in the last week - can I find any of them now I want to link to them? No, but still..

It seems that people are split into a few camps: those who think bloggers (especially stay at home parents) should be able to earn a small amount from their own blog; those who think it is outrageous and an absolute sell out, that those people doing it are selling their souls to the devil and losing all honesty and integrity; those who feel their blog is more established and have more of a right to the revenue to me made; and lastly of course those who do not blog or just do not care.

I have to say for the record that I fall into the first category. My personal opinion is that everyone has a right to do what makes them happy and what suits their family. If earning a small amount from their blog is right for them then it is OK with me. If I read and feel they have lost their honesty and have sold out to the company, advertising pet insurance when they do not have a pet for example then I just won't read anymore but it is their choose and I won't be chastising them for it!

Many of my readers will fall into the later category, whilst I have some fellow bloggers who stop by and support me many of you are people who I know in real life or in other on-line ventures. I doubt you will be getting involved in a debate as to whether I have lost my marbles and am now 'in bed' with Pizza Hut as I did a sponsored post for them. If you know me at all, you know that I am honest if nothing else, brutally honest many people would say. Very forthright and very open and always talking and writing from the heart.... hence the name of my blog!

So let me assure you dear readers that I will never be doing posts for products I do not engage with nor accepting payments or products for things I do not believe in. If something it sent to me for review and it is rubbish, that is what I will say here. Yes I will try and add a bit of tact but the truth will be told.

Shall I tell you what I plan to do with the money I make from blogging? This is the exciting bit!

All the money that I receive (yes you read that right, ALL) I will be using for good causes. The money I received from the Pizza Hut sponsored post has already been used to start a monthly direct debit to help fund some wonderful work being done with orphans in Malawi by a Christian charity.

As a Christian it is my duty and my honour to be able to share some of the wealth I have with those who have far less. Dh is going to India next February with a Christian Charity to see how he can help out there and many of you know we sponsor a child Carl-Henri in Hiati. Praise the Lord he was well in the earthquake. Who knows what I can do next if I continue to be able to make some money from this blog. So please keep reading and keep commenting as the more traffic and engagement (comments) I have the better the chances of me being offered lucrative promotions.

This is not a selfish plea in the least. I am on fire with excitement to think I might be able to help others via my blog.

So come on tell me, be honest back - what are your thoughts on this?

Saturday 18 September 2010

2nd Look Saturday: Parenting Is Not Easy!

Every so often I try and join up with Cass over at Casa Di Cass to re-post a blog entry from my past. One that people might have missed. Well this is easy for me as I only opened my blog up in January this year, there is a years material before that which no-one has ever read - not unless they are really diligent and have searched my back catalogue!

I see that Cass is actually out of town, so this weeks 2nd Look Saturday is actually at Nolie's Place. This is the first time I have visited Nolie's and I will be back.... go take a look!

So on 4 October 2009 I posted the below under the title: This Parenting Lark Isn't Too Easy!

I have been wanting to write this entry for ages. I have had the title in my head and even about 2 weeks ago I had some things I wanted to say! lol Today I feel a bit of a brain block but I am hoping that if I start typing, it will all come flowing out....

Being a parent is really tough, or should I say striving to be a semi-decent parent is really tough. The actual having sex, making a baby and even having that said baby was easy by comparison.

How do you influence these little people in a good way? Well the best thing would be to live a saintly life and never to show the many character defects that I have and to show them by example how to be a well-rounded adult with a good sense of fun and responsibility. One problem - I would have to be living that myself to be able to show them and I am very much an imperfect being. I get stressed, anxious, cross, irrational - I shout and sometimes I even lash out in anger. I am not at all proud of some of the ways I behave but I am sane enough to know that I am not the worst parent out there and nor am I the best. So I think the facts that I am very aware of the need to grow emotionally and spiritually to enhance my character, and also that I am working the 12 steps to try and be a better person will mean that I am doing the best I can for my small people. At the end of the day, the best I can do is all I can offer!

Well that is not the route I intended this post to take! lol My original plan for this blog entry was to talk about some of the things that are really testing me at the moment - like Miss M's defiance or Miss E's whinging or even JJ's lack of listening and learning skills. How many times can you take something away from a child or show them their actions have consequences without them learning at all! absolutely loads is the answer in our house. What I have remembered from this exercise is that we are supposed to praise the good and ignore the bad. So whilst I had been acting on the naughty stuff he had been getting attention that way, rather than praising him for the good stuff. So Thursday we started a reward chart again and yes his behaviour has been much better - bingo! Sometimes us parents just have to stop and pause or pray so that we have time to think and clear our heads to see what a good solution to the problem may be.

Also today, I had the stair gate open to the kitchen and Miss E was able to come in and help me unload the dishwasher = no whinging! I forget how much they love me, I am the center of their world and they just want to be with me all the time and to help me. I should be flattered and yet sometimes I am just short-tempered and trying to get on with chores whilst shouting shhhh!

I need to remember that my babes are the most important things in my life (along with dh) and that I should show them that. xxx

Thursday 16 September 2010

A Restful Day For Jenny WoodenMum!

So after the unexpected news that Jenny WoodenMum was having a new baby she has been very busy looking after her new little princess. This beautiful addition to the family has been named Jasmine Wooden.

WoodenDad being the super kind bloke he is felt that Jenny WoodenMum needed a bit of a break from the tolls of breastfeeding, sleepless nights and nappy changing and he sent Jenny on a trip by train to the Kew Botanical Gardens. Here are a couple of snaps of her enjoying her day out!

Wow, can you believe it, that Jenny is back in her same denim skirt already, and only about 3 weeks after the birth of Jasmine!

If you think I am bonkers writing about and taking pictures of a doll, you may just be right but that is not the sole reason of this post. It was written as an entry to the John Crane Summer Competition. Have you been over to their blog and looked at their gorgeous wooden toys and furniture? It is well worth a glance and the prices are reasonable too.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

The Gallery: A Celebration!

So it is week 27 of Tara's Gallery and this weeks prompt is a celebration.

At first I had all the usual thoughts about weddings, anniversary's, engagements, births, birthdays etc etc and whilst they were all amazing and wonderful celebrations they are what you would expect me to post a picture of. So I wont! lol

With all the excitement of the MADs awards on Monday it got me looking at @wearebutlins on twitter and I found that Butlins are running a competition for the best photo of you at Butlins. Well, this was one for me. When JJ was small, Butlins was our regular out of school holidays jaunt. We first went in 2004, twice in 2005, three times in 2006, once in 2007, once in 2009 and once in 2010. We are already booked again to go next April for Spring Harvest.

So I had an enjoyable hour last night reminiscing and looking at family holiday snaps and I watched JJ grow up at Butlins. These photos held really wonderful memories for me.

The celebration that I am going to post a picture (or two) of is a holiday we had at Butlins, Bognor Regis in early September 2007. My twinnies were just 6 weeks old. To get on holiday with a 3 year old and 6 week old twins was cause for a celebration in itself.

This was the same holiday where Miss M slept her first 6 hour stretch and where Miss E started to put on weight as I discovered Aptimel baby milk and she was able to take this without it upsetting her reflux too much. I decided on this holiday to give up breastfeeding Miss M and put them both on formula and whilst I was somewhat sad to do this (as I had breastfed JJ for 6 months) I knew it was the right choice for my family. JJ had his Mummy back again, a Mum who was not sat with 2 babes on her boobs for 2 hours out of every 3!

This was also the holiday where I got to leave dh to look after both babes and I slept in my Mum and Dads apartment and had a full nights sleep. My excitement was untold! Then to cap it all, as my Mum and Dad were there too, dh and I were also able to go out for 2 nights on our own and remember that we loved each other as us and not just as parents.

These were massive celebrations for me.......

There we all are in September 2007, a new family of 5. Perfect!

Back in May 2005 this snap off JJ and Daddy having fun in the outdoor pool of Minehead.

JJ and Daddy in 2007 at Bognor Regis.

JJ and Billy Bear in 2006 at Bognor Regis.

All 3 kids with their favourite 'Bobby The Builder' in July 2009.

Here's to making some more fab memories at Butlins, we will be back in April 2011, Skegness here we come.......

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Notes From The Heart....

Dear House,

You are making me very happy right now. I am loving your new playroom. It is finished and it is perfect! Well I suppose I could put curtains up at some point, but no real hurry...

From the Happy Lady of the House!
Dear Tommy the Plasterer,

Please call me back, pretty please! My living room looks such a mess with a big hole in the wall and walls stripped of wallpaper. All you have to do is come for one day and skim those walls and of course I will pay you for it! Then we can let the plaster dry and get decorating and the carpet laid - all before the really cold weather arrives! Perfect.
I will love you forever...

Mich x

Dear Mum,

You must not worry about me. I am OK really. I know I am your little girl and you hurt when I hurt but fundamentally I am alright and I am a survivor who will get through what is thrown at me. Like you say I have a wonderful family and also my faith.

I am truly blessed.

Love you all so much, Mich xxxxx

Hola my babies (did you get my Dora moment there?)

You are both such little cuties right now and I enjoy you so much. Just one request for each of you - Miss M stop making those evil eyes at me. When you do not like what I am telling you, just deal with it, I am the Mummy! Miss E, could you please stop having little cries in the night, what is wrong my babe? I know it only takes a few moments of a cuddle and to give you Alfie back but really, sometimes Daddy and I could just do with a full nights sleep with no disturbance at all.

Thank you my twinnies.
Mummy xxxxx
To My Big Boy,

You seem to be settling back into school really well and that makes me very happy. I pray you will be happy in your school life and that these two assessments you will go through next week will show us if there is any underlying developmental issues that affect your behaviour. Also hopefully we will be given some strategies longer term to help you to be able to relate to people better and to learn to understand what is socially acceptable and what isn't. It breaks my heart when you tell me that numerous people said they would not play with you at school yesterday. My consolation is that it did not seem to upset you, it just goes over your head.

I love you so much, Mummy xxxxx
Note to Self!

Do not let the bastards grind you down! I know it seems at the moment as if nothing is simple and that everyone keep saying no to things. These are all small stuff and you must not sweat them. Front room decoration, new HR systems at work, bike insurance claims, cinema ticket traumas, changing Beaver packs etc etc will all not matter this time next year. What will matter is the wonderful family and faith that I have.

Mich with her sensible hat on!

Dear Readers,

You stick with me and I love that. I love you! (well some of you anyway, lol)

In fact my stats have gone through the roof just recently, maybe because I am actually putting a big of effort into tweeting!

I am now at 95 followers and it would be fab to get to that all important 100 mark. In fact I might just do a giveaway at that point.

So if you pop by to see me regularly, thanks. Leave me a comment and I will pop over and see you. I like to reciprocate the blogger love and if you are new then press follow and boast my blog and again I will come visit you too!

Thanks, Michelle x

Dear So and So...

Monday 13 September 2010

It's Good To Vent: What Has Become of UK Customer Service??

I have now calmed down! 20 minutes ago I was furious. What is wrong with people who are in customer service positions nowadays? When did it become OK to NOT acknowledge a customers complaints? Why is it that a customer service rep can say 'It is not for me to suggest anything, you have to sort your own business out!'. How dare the crappy insurance guy I spoke to just dismiss everything I said and make out that we are trying to fraud his company!

Do you want to know which company I am pissed with?

Well it is esure, the insurers. We have our home insurance with them and have done for a few years now and we have made a couple of claims: root damage to drains, storm damage to roof and 1 lost diamond earring and they have always been fab. No problem at all, hence we renew with them each time.

Do you remember a few weeks back I said that some idiot has stolen my DH's bike, well we reported it to the police and reported to the insurers and they said we needed to provide the receipt. We could not find it, what a bummer! They asked for photo's of dh on the bike - err yeah right! So we sort of assumed we would not get a pay out. The claims handler said he would call back and advise what the loss adjusters said - he never did!

A couple of weeks later, I called for an update and was told I would have a call back - we never got one! That weekend there was a great deal in Halfords so dh bought himself a new bike - he needs it to get to work after all.

Then I happened to be tidying some things of mine and found the bike receipt, yay! So I called esure again to get a stroppy guy with no idea about customer service and he said we had to fax the receipt. I then called again today to explain that dh had already bought a bike and we had the new receipt etc and could they refund money instead.

I basically got told we had prejudiced the claim, it did not matter if esure never called us back, that was their prerogative (WTF!) and that if our house was ever burgled we would need to provide every receipt for every item before they would pay out. I asked what would happen if the burglar had turned the house upside down and all the receipts were ruined or such and got told it was their right to withhold the money without receipts. Anyone every heard of this before? To me this seems the world has gone crazy! Are there so many people out there now making bogus claims that those of us with good trusty claims histories and years of never claiming have to now be treated as criminals?

I will be writing to esure and making a complaint about the attitude and lack of helpfulness of the guys I encountered. There has obviously never been any training to give them decent customer service skills as neither one of them would say sorry or admit that it was not good enough that promised return calls were not made.

If esure felt they could not pay out on a bike claim as we had no receipt that is one thing and I would respect that is just the way it is but for their staff to not be able to be civil and to explain things properly is not at all acceptable.

I will be investigating other insurers and finding out if this keep every receipt thing is universal. I no longer want to be a customer of esure!

What about you? How are you finding customer service in the UK nowadays? I blogged a couple of weeks ago about how fab the service was at Chessington and recently I have had some fab service in John Lewis but then I also balance that with the promised return call that never came back to me from the local cinema and our dental surgery that now sends out reminders to some people. err how do you chose those people that are lucky enough to get a reminder??? Equality for all please.

Right rant over!

Please someone restore my faith and tell me about some great service you have recently received or rant if you like, as the title says it is good to vent and get it all out your system. Link up if you have a relevant post and want to join me on my quest for great customer service in the UK.
Image Credit

Saturday 11 September 2010

I Don't Know If I Am Ready Yet....

For days now I have not felt as if I could blog. On the one hand I really want to blog and have so many things I want to say, I keep noting topics and post titles on a pad by the side of my bed, but on the other hand I have been in work extra days this week and been really busy. I have got loads done around the house and am therefore knackered. More than that though I just have this awful feeling in the pit my stomach, you know that horrible butterfly/ sinking feeling you get when something is troubling you.

I think my 'something' is to do with my eating issues, weight and general health.

A couple of weeks ago I woke up and thought 'Who am I?' and my first reaction (which they often say is the most honest one) was that I am a fat pig. Isn't that sad that I am allowing my body to define me? I feel as if I have gone off the rails at the moment. I am not interested in going to my eating disorder group, I do not want to talk to any of my friends in recovery, I do not care what food I am putting in my body, I have put on weight and I feel that I look yuck but I am not in the right place to do anything about it at the moment. I do not feel ready. I feel scared to expose myself and to let myself lose the weight and perhaps this will mean that I will lose my hiding place. Boy am I being honest with myself in this post.

I know it sounds crazy, but aren't many things. I think some of this comes down to the miscarriage I had earlier this year. The other night (you know the night I hardly slept before my paddy at work) I was chatting with dh in bed and got all upset and could not stop myself crying. I said to him I feel as if I am hiding in my fat. Just not ready to emerge yet and to deal with the scary big world. By having my extra weight I have a big tummy and this tummy could easily look pregnant to the untrained eye and I think secretly I like this. I think a woman's pregnant body is very beautiful, whereas I think fat is very, very ugly. I do fairly often think to myself what stage of pregnancy I would of been at now if I had not lost my babe. I would of been a good 7 months pregnant now and whilst I truly think it is for the best that we will not have any more kids I think this could be the grief catching up with me a few months later. Everyone did say how well I coped at the time. I am hoping by putting all this down in writing it will help me move forward and be ready to sort myself out. It is no good ignoring issues and hoping they go away, because they do not.

I wonder if people will read this post and think I am ga ga (and not as in Lady - just plain nuts) or if some will understand that many emotions, thoughts and feelings are not sane and do not have good reason behind them. Trying to be real and honest with yourself is a really scary thing I am discovering......but is so essential if I am ever to be fully well.
Perhaps this is me on my recovery journey, taking another step towards really being able to say yes I have completed Step 1 - that I am powerless over food, that my life has become unmanageable!

I feel better just having written this post, that horrible feeling is not there right now and at this precise moment I believe all will be well with God's help. I just need to remember to give up my will and allow God to work in my life instead of my trying to control everything.

A big thank you to all those who support me both in real life and my virtual friends.
This week Josie pressed us all to write about 'Change' as part of her writing workshop. She left the prompt open and as such my offering is a self-indulgent one. If you want to read some other entries from people who are trying to press for change in the third world then visit Josie's blog and have a read.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

The Gallery: Back To School

Tara over at Sticky Fingers has given us the prompt 'Back to School' for this weeks Gallery. I really ummed and ahhed about this one and wondered what back to school means for me.

Noways it just made me think of ironing - numerous white polo shirts all hung up ready each Monday morning. I am such a Mum!

As a kid my memory of going back to school was the excitement of getting together a new pencil case full of exciting bits, choosing my trendy uniform, shoes and bag and looking forward to seeing my mates again.

When I asked JJ is he was looking forward to going back to school, I got a 'No, I hate it'. I don't actually think this is true though but he can struggle at school. That difficult combination of being bright academically but very immature socially is hard for him. He has 2 assessments coming up in 2 weeks, one with the communications disorders clinic and one with speech therapy - we will see what they have to say about my little lad. He will always be my shining star whatever they say. He has been such a little dream today, getting his uniform ready for the morning, helping me clear the table and load the dishwasher and we enjoyed a game of Cluedo before he went to bed tonight.

Anyway, back to the Gallery. The pictures I have chosen are here -

This is JJ on his first day at school back in 2007. He looks so small to me but at the time he was the tallest in the class (and still is!). Then below we have the other 2 beauties that accompanies us on that first drop off at school, Miss M and Miss E are two months old there.

Then here are the three of them a year later in September 2008.

The start of each school year, really is a reminder of how quick times flies and in January my little ladies will start nursery school too. Bah, three sets of uniform to buy!

Monday 6 September 2010

I Threw My Toys Out of My Pram!!

I had a paddy at work this morning. I proper shouting and stomping type paddy. Yes you read that right, at 37 I acted like a 2 year old tantrumming!

Want to know why?

I did some soul searching last night and had a wonderful chat with my gorgeous, caring and handsome hubbie and then I could not sleep. I laid in my bed until 3.45am and that was the last time I finally looked at the clock - so I must have dosed off. Only to wake at 6.25am for work. That is not much sleep you know. I am not at all used to so little sleep. I am not good when I only have that much sleep. Add into the mix being hungry and I become a volcano about to erupt!

I had plans to be so good with my food today, to start taking control of that aspect of my life again. I had taken bread to work for my breakfast toast as I knew I had butter there. About 9.15am, after over an hour of ploughing through holiday emails I make my way to the kitchen to do my tea and toast. Bread in the toaster and I open the fridge - it is completely empty!

I see a sign on the door from last week (I have been on holiday 2 weeks), saying the fridge was to be cleaned last Friday and if you did not remove what was yours it would be binned. I was livid. I had a new tub of butter in there (with 6 weeks left on the date) that I planned to use for my breakfast and lunch and now I was left high and dry!

I stomped, I swore, I threw my bread across the room into the bin. I typed up a big sign saying 'Cheers for nothing! and stuck it to the fridge and then I seethed for a good 10 minutes to anyone who would listen to is comical when I think about it now...

.....and breath. I felt better after my paddy. I still feel my in date food should not of been binned but it is small fry in comparison to other stuff going on.

So tonight I will go to bed early and become the normal Mich again. That's all. As you were.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Blessed by a Bunch of Teenagers!

WOW, What a night!

I am just back from Church and I feel on fire. Tonight was a testimonial service from all the people who have been away to a Christian festival called Rivercamp. Sadly our family did not go this year, mostly because I was too scared to cope with 3 kids camping in a soggy field! Next year will be different - nothing will stop me going.

At least 20 different teenagers all went up the front to share their experiences from this festival. They were amazing. My heart nearly broke when I heard a young girl of about 15 tell how she had been so lonely all her life and on Rivercamp people prayed for her and her loneliness has gone and she feels part of a family, something she has never had before.

These children were a complete and utter blessing to me. Reminding me that it is not enough to encounter the Holy Spirit, we have to live as Christians every day, taking time to pray, spend time with God and help others in the way that we can. I realised I have not been hungry for God just recently. I need to step up to the plate and take on whatever Christ has in store for me.

In one way I feel worried typing this post. Most of you that read will know I am a Christian, but do I ever really talk of God or evangelise on here? No I don't and perhaps I need more of a Christian slant in my writing and in my life in general. So, no I won't be turning into a raving brain washer but I will be sharing more of my spiritual life. If that turns you off, then so be it. I do not need to be verified by the number of followers on my blog. I need to be verified for the work I do in Christ.

Lord, take me where You want me to go, Let Your will be done. Amen

Saturday 4 September 2010

Why Mummies Should Not Stay Up Too late!

Oh My Goodness! What a night and now what a day so far......

I had a busy day yesterday and then went to a friends last night to meet all the other school mums and the plan was wine, nibbles and karaoke. Now the last time we did this we got home at 3.45am and I knew that considering dh was going to work at 6am in the morning that was not the best idea to repeat the same.

So I decided not to drink and took my diet coke with me. One less thing to worry about - no hangover! Thank F***, I can not even imagine what I would have been like this morning if I had a hang over too.

Last night was great fun, we sang and chatted and put the world to rights. We have elected a new PTA chair, arranged the Xmas do and discussed doing the 3 peaks for charity! Well, lets be honest - I won't be doing the 3 peaks but there is the link for any of my friends who are fit enough.

I tried to be sensible and thought about leaving at 11pm and then again at 11.45pm and then about 12.15pm (you get the idea). I finally walked out the house about 1.15pm with 4 other women to drop off and got into bed around 2am. 4 hours later one babe is crawling into my bed and wanting to watch Peppa Pig, follow on another babe and then my big boy. 7am they all announce they are bored of Peppa and will go downstairs. JJ is a good boy and pretty sensible so this is OK. If anything starts to go wrong he comes and gets me. He will give them a croissant and some juice/ milk and normally they have a play or watch TV.

I am laying in bed thinking how subdued they all sound and really enjoying this lazing time, which I so need from my very late night. I have a hazy recollection that JJ came up about 8.15am and asked if he could play the computer, which means he is upstairs and not down with the girls. About 8.45am Miss E comes up and starts chatting to me. I am half asleep and do not really know what she is on about until I hear 'Miss M got dangerous things from the shed'. WTF! I run downstairs to find that Miss M has 2 bottles of fairy liquid (one blue and one yellow, 'pretty Mummy'), 2 large cartons of orange juice, 6 bottles of water, a container of comfort refresh and a spray window cleaner - all mostly empty and either emptied into various cups and bowls or all over the new floor in the play room (Please Lord let it all dry OK for my Dad to lay the floor tomorrow).

Heart palpation's - oh yes.

First thought - are they OK? They assure me they have drunk nothing, they were playing cafes and making pretty colours. In one way thank God I had that sleep or I would have been a horrible mad women clearing this up and shouting and in another I think that it would not have happened if I had not been a neglectful Mum and stayed in bed.

Lesson here - do not have such a late night when you are on parent duty in the morning. It is very irresponsible.

OK a sit on the step and serious chat number 1. The day has now started and surely that is the worst of it over. I start to methodically clear everything up and you know what a bugger fairy liquid is - mess and bubbles everywhere! About 10 mins later I go to see Miss M and she has tell-tale yellow cream on her leg. 'What have you been up to Miss M?'. 'Poorly leg mummy, I put some cream on, but it's my cream so it is OK!'. Up I go to find metanium (yes you know that gooey thick yellow nappy cream) over my bathroom, their toys, their bedroom - all in 10 minutes! arrgghhh. Is this not dejavu of a few minutes ago.

Right a sit on the steps and serious chat number 2 later and they are back playing again. I come in the front room to find them playing hairdressers, ahh lovely a nice make believe game. Hang on, no Miss M has the nail scissors and Miss E's hair has been cut. My beautiful babes hair!!!!

So that will be another sit on the step and serious chat number 3 then.....

Do you think things will improve for me today? Or is this the pattern for my Saturday......

Friday 3 September 2010

Chalk and Cheese!

As many of you will know I have a set of twin girls. They turned 3 in August and very much now have their own looks and personalities. In fact they have got to the age where people do not even realise I have twins any more (despite the fact that about 80% of the time they are either in the same outfit or the same but different colours - yes, I know. I did always say I would never do that, but until you have your twins you just do not know how you feel. I don't care if you think they look twee, it is so much easier to decide what they should wear in the morning and there is no guilt of giving one the best outfit). Anyway back to topic..

When you first have twins, all you hear from people in the street is 'double trouble' or 'you've got your hands full there' and I can remember groaning with other twin mummy friends saying 'can't people think of something original to say' and why do they have to stop me with 2 screaming babes, not one but two!! arrgghhh. You often get asked if your twins are identical and despite me assuring people that my girls are very different, I would still get the obligatory 'are you sure?'. Well, yes funny enough I birthed them and am their Mother!

Well, no one stops me now, as once the kids are not cooped up in a double buggy anymore, it is a lot harder to tell that they are twins, especially when one is a foot in front and the other is trailing a foot behind. So twin mummies, here is a note - enjoy the attention while you can, because once it is gone, you may just miss it! lol I did always feel incredibly special and lucky when people stopped me to tell me how beautiful my twins are or how well behaved and now that does not happen anymore - have they got more ugly or more naughty? no I sincerely hope not, just bigger and less obviously twins.

So here I am with two very different little ladies, let me introduce you to 'Chalk' first -

  • Also known as Miss E, Poppet, Popsey, LouLou and about 4 other variations of her real name
  • 97cm tall
  • Long glossy straight golden brown hair which is the envy of my friends - she looks like she has natural golden highlights
  • Slim body, chubby face. Age 3 clothes now
  • Took an age to learn to sleep through, was a very difficult babe to look after in the first few months
  • Could not take to breastfeeding and used to cry and scream and squeal and squirm. Until we found she had reflux and needed medication
  • Walked at 16 months
  • Goes to bed like a dream nowadays, needs her sleep
  • Sits back and watches at first, a bit of a reflector
  • Happy to be led and gives in easily against her siblings
  • Eats most anything with minimal fuss
  • Would prefer juice or squash
  • Generally a good little girl and if you start to count, she will come on 1
  • Mummy's girl
  • Happy to be left at nursery or creche, no crying
  • Can be very stubborn and determined in a quiet way
  • Gets frustrated as she keeps things in
  • Will sometimes try to push her luck and not listen
  • If she thinks she will get told off she will fib and say it was not her!
  • Keeps herself to herself, happy to play alone
  • If she is singing and dancing and you noticeably spot her, she will go all shy and stop
and her twin - Cheese (monster)

  • Miss M, also known as Pixie, Minx, May May, and about 3 derivatives of her real name
  • 101cm tall
  • firm, heavyset but slim body and slim elfin face, age 4-5 clothes
  • Pale white blond fine hair, with a slight kink, which is always a glorious mess
  • Slept through from about 8 weeks old, very easy baby to look after.
  • From about 8 months became a nightmare at bedtime, too active and excited to sleep!
  • Breastfed easily and then took to bottles well
  • Walked at 12 months
  • Wants to be in charge, bossing her twin and older brother
  • Daredevil - will try most things once
  • Tries her luck and will see how far she can push it. Have to be at 3 (last number) counting before she comes
  • Fussy about what she eats (not classic kiddie stuff) She loves pulses, beans, croissants, liver and all sorts of adult foods!
  • Would prefer water or milk
  • Daddy's girl
  • Cries when you leave her anywhere, as she wants me!
  • Gets her own way with her siblings and never seems frustrated
  • Will listen if she has been naughty, be honest and own up and takes it on board for next time
  • Very friendly and will talk to anyone. Happy to initiate conversations
  • Complete show off, dancing for you and then posing
  • Opinionated and stands her ground
  • Very nosey and a finger in every pie
So there they are, my little babes. Very different and yet they get on so well. People always ask why they are so different and I have to remind them that as fraternal twins they only share 50% of their genes. No more than either of them share with JJ. They just happened to reside in my tummy at the same time.

So what about your kiddies? poles apart or like mine - the same but different?