Thursday 28 April 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Choc Chip Banana Bread! (Week 17)

Hi, Welcome to week 17 of Reasons to be Cheerful.  We had a pretty quiet week with link up's last week, that will be the bank holiday and sun, glad to see so many people out there living life and hopefully creating loads of reasons to be cheerful! (it also made it an awful lot easier for me to comment everywhere, lol!)

I have decided that I will vary how I post my #R2BC post each week. Sometimes a written list of my gratitude's, others a slideshow, others a vlog and this week a recipe and couple of hours cooking with my little blond bombshell, AKA Miss M which made me very cheerful indeed!

So here is the recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

3 medium size very, very ripe bananas (the softer and riper the better)
1 tsp lemon juice
5oz soft brown sugar
3oz butter
9oz self-raising flour
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
3 medium eggs
1 small bag of chocolate chips

All ready?  off we go then...

1. Preheat the oven to about 190 degrees C.  Lightly grease and I also line with greaseproof paper a large cake loaf baking tin.
2. Mash the bananas in a bowl with the lemon juice and a heaped tablespoon of the sugar, keep for later.
3. Gently heat the remaining sugar and butter in a pan until the butter melts. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
4. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl, make a well in the middle.
5. Beats the eggs into the cooled butter/ sugar mixture. Pour into the flour well and mix thoroughly
    Every good Chef has to taste their food?
6. Add the chocolate chips and stir.
7. Gently stir in the mashed banana mixture.  Put the finished mixture in the cake loaf baking tin.

8. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 50-55 minutes, or until it is well risen and golden brown.
9. Leave to cool slightly in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack.
10. This cake is really good the day after cooking, it firms a little but still stays moist.  Great to eat for up to about 4 days after cooking.

Super yummy with a cup of tea!

So over to you, you know the drill.  Link up your cheerful, happy gratitude post.  if you don't know what Reasons to be Cheerful is all about, then read HERE.

..and before you go, I must remember to point you over to Maxabella's I'm Grateful for... link up.  Join up your reasons post there and make some new Aussie friends. It is live on our Friday.

Of course Jen's Blog gems is still open too. Jen is having a real hard time at the moment, so blog gems is being hosted by friends. Look at Jen's blog and that will direct you where it is right now. Link up every other Sunday and air your archives.

7 Things every new parent should know!

Image Source

It's pretty easy to become a parent, isn't it?  A bit of fun and maybe a tad of forethought and then boom all of a sudden you have this perfect little being to look after (or if you are really lucky like me, the little one might come packaged as part of a set!) and nature kicks in a bit, you fall in love, you soon learn how to change a nappy and bath them  but the hard bit I always think is knowing how to parent those babes and later children. 

So as a mother of 3 I thought I would share some great information that I have learnt along this 7 year journey that I have travelled.  By no means do I assert myself as an expert or guru but I think some of the best advice comes from average people who have been there and done it!

1. There is no such thing as normal!

When it comes to children every one of them is unique and whilst the manuals and text books that you may have devoured when pregnant said that your babe should be X weight at 3 months and that they should be sitting at 6 months, crawling at 8 months and walking at a year this is just utter rubbish. Do not compare with your friends, it really does not matter if their child weans first or get a tooth first.  By about the age of 2 years it all evens itself out and most children are at the same stage. Take my children and being dry at night, you can not rush this, it is not learned behaviour but an actual physiological change that happens in their brain which allows them to wake when sleeping if they need to wee.  Miss M was 2 years 6 months and dry at night, Miss E is practically 4 and still not dry at night, JJ was 5 years 6 months before he was dry at night.  Three children with the same parents and the same upbringing and completely different results - this is what is normal!

2. You know best, trust your instincts

I have said this time and time again to many friends of new babes, do not let other people tell you what to do with your baby.  Yes, of course listen to advice and read up if that is your bag but if something does not sit right with you and makes you feel uncomfortable then the answer is it's not for you and your family.  You completely and utterly know what is best for your own children. Learn to listen to that inner voice and be strong enough to say something when it needs to be said.

3. Remember you are a parent first and friend second

Do you ever recall your parents saying 'this will hurt me more than it hurts you?' and I do not mean in regard to a smack! Being a parent is not easy and it certainly is not painless.  Your primary job is to parent, this mean enforcing the good with the bad.  Positive discipline is a must.  When you toddler tests those boundaries, make sure they are firm and stick to your guns.  Decide what discipline method will be used and stick with it, consistency is absolutely the key. What is the ultimate aim of parenting? To help your children grow up to be independent and responsible adults who are a pleasure to spend time with.

4. Present a united front

On the subject of discipline it is imperative that you work with your partner to ensure consistency and a united front.  I have a friend with a wayward teenage daughter, the Dad is pretty firm and when she has been naughty he will give a consequence for that behaviour.  The Mum then comes along and ruins all his hard work and she retracts whatever the consequence is as she is scared that the daughter will then not like her.  Newsflash, sometimes your kids will not like you!  However, they will still always love you, it is exactly the same for them as it is with you.  If you were the man, would you stay with this woman?  I know I would not, talk about making someone feel as if their opinion is not worthwhile. Basically whatever you and your partner decide to do is fine (you are the parents, it is your child) but you just need to stick together and make rules and changes to those rules in partnership.  Even if you really want to disagree, you do that out of earshot of the kids.

5. Let your children learn for themselves

How easy is it to do everything for your child?  Far easier than teaching them to do it for themselves.  But which will make your life easier and their self-esteem better in the long run? For sure it is helping them to grow in their independence which will in turn give them a sense of confidence.  We had a child here yesterday, the same age as my near 4 year old twins.  She was using our large trampoline and wanted to get off, I told her to use the ladder and she stood there and shook and said she could not, I should carry her down. We had a chat and I assured her she could do this, she was a big and capable girl.  With some coaxing and me being there as her security blanket she came down the ladder and then we clapped her efforts.  She then proceeded to climb up and down that ladder about fifteen times (I kid you not!) her sense of accomplishment was immense and it was the first thing she told her Mum upon collection. Empowering your children and giving them responsibility for their own actions is very powerful.

6. Offer your child the gift of acceptance

Many people believe that the greatest gift we can give our children is love, but I dispute that. Read this example:  A beautiful 14 year old girl came into the room, she was a little overweight.  Her mother, a 40 year old slim and attractive woman is trying to get her daughter to be more careful with what she eats, in front of guests she comments 'gosh Daisy, I am more than twice your age and in better shape, you need to drop a few pounds'.  This woman adores her daughter, she would give her life for her as she loves her so much but she can not just seem to accept her.  If you ask Daisy she will tell you that her mother does not love her as much as she could as she is always critical and she has never felt accepted or good enough.  Isn't that sad?  Think on it.

7. You won't always feel in love with each other

Being a parent is hard, like really tough! Anyone who has a baby to mend a broken relationship is on a path to a break up.  Children add an extra dimension to a stable relationship and are a complete blessing but they never work well as a sticking plaster. As brand new parents, or those dealing with the terrible two's in triplets or parents looking after a challenging teenager there will be times that you will not feel in love at all with your partner. You may dream about life being easier without them (one less person to clear up after- sound familiar?) or not having to listen to their opinion but do not give up.  Marriage takes work and lots of it.  Have regular times to sit down and talk, be honest with each other.  Schedule date nights, make time to cuddle, try not to view sex as a chore. Think about a time when you were really happy together and aim to recreate that.  You may not have a babysitter but cook for each other at home, bring a duvet downstairs and cuddle up with a movie.  It is simple but it works.

So what about you, what would you say is your top tip for new parents?  What bit of advice would you like to pass on? 

Please leave a comment and I will amend the post with your input and add a link back to your blog or facebook page.

Adding in the feedback...

Karen says Always be consistent and anyone involved with the children needs to be too. You need to share a united front and that way everyone knows where they are. Also read the baby whisperer... Amazing results!! (I'll just add that if you read any of the parenting guides then do add a good dose of common sense to them. I also loved the Baby Whisperer, but combined it with some Gina Ford methods and my own instincts, Mich x).

Honiebuk says A big yes to the 'acceptance' point - in your ideals to seek the perfection you wish to create, remember they are still learning and blossoming into the person 'they' are to become - which is not a mini-me (or you).

One thing I see lot of and OMG I hope I don't do it too, is that 'if you are divorced' please don't pass your dislike or loathing of your X onto them. They probably 'do' still love them and you should not disapprove that love if you want them to have the same consideration for you - they won't thank you for it and lets face it, we don't all like all of our relatives - but we often still love them!

Anthea said Make plans by all means but don't expect everything to 'go to plan' Babies are human beings with their own personality and will. They are also not yet in control of their bodily functions and you can almost certainly guarantee that nappies will be filled at the least convenient moment! Oh, and always carry a clean top for you in the changing bag. Just in case... (See I am so far past the baby stage now, that I forgot all this but excellent advice,all true!)

Live Otherwise said Savour them. Cherish the good moments, remember to enjoy your children and each other. Life isn't supposed to be all about hard work. A couple of years ago out it really snowed here, and dp got the kids togged up and took them into town for a snowball fight. They still remember that evening and talk about it fondly, and all it took was time. (I love this advise, it is so true.  Kids will forgot all those expensive presents in years to come but the times they remember mostly cost nothing!)

Thank you all xx

Wednesday 27 April 2011

This time last year... I was very sad!

This is a post about miscarriage, if it will upset you, best not to read.  I feel it is very important to remove the stigma around miscarriage and thus I am talking about this and blogging about it too.

Image Credit

Today I am thinking back to last year.  I had returned from Spring Harvest a very happy girl and I had just announced to the world that I was pregnant with my fourth child and then on this very day, 26th April 2010 I went to the doctors as I had some spotting.  Never did I imagine anything particularly bad, I thought it might have been a sign I was having another set of twins as I had spotting with the girls too.  The doctor could not find a heartbeat with the handheld and this did not phase me, there is a lot of flab to get through and I was only 11 weeks gone. 

He sent me over to the hospital for a scan just to be sure that all was well.  I sat there for about 3 hours before I was seen as they had to fit me in around the booked appointments.  Still I felt OK drinking my gallons of water and then having to pee, wasting all that preparation drinking!  I always thought that if anything was amiss in my life I would know it, I would have a feeling.  I am normally very intuitive and can sense that something is happening.  Not this time, my radar was off.

When I finally saw the radiographer, she asked if I wanted to see the screen, 'oh yes' I said  and I looked and I could see that it was all wrong.  After having so many scans with the girls I knew what I was looking for.  At 11 weeks there should have been a visible baby shape, a flashing heart beat, some movement but all I could see was a small blob, a very still blob.  Slow tears started to roll down my face, I knew even before she told me.

A missed miscarriage is what they called it.  For some unknown reason my baby had not thrived inside me and had died around 6 or 7 weeks.  It was strange to think I had been carrying a dead foetus around for over a month and loving it and making plans for how our future might turn out.  I got packed off home with lots of leaflets and questions of what I wanted to do next.  What I wanted was to cuddle my hubbie and to have my babe back.  Sadly the latter was not one of my options.

Dh was fabulous and I got the cuddle very quickly as he came straight home.  I made the decision that I would book in for a operation to have the babe removed as it was tearing me up knowing that the baby inside me was not mine but was now with Jesus. I had a few very sad days where I waited for the day of the operation, each moment wondering if the miscarriage would occur naturally before I got to that time.  The night before the operation it all kicked off and I had the most horrendous few hours.  Never have I felt pain like it or seen as much blood.  Thankfully within about 24 hours it appeared to be over and I did not have to make it to the operating table. Never would I have thought that miscarrying a 7 week foetus would be like this, it just shows that we are all different.  I know friends who have commented that they literally had a heavy bleed and a little cramping at the same sort of stage. I know I am not a woss when it comes to pain but this was devastating, perhaps because it had all been inside me longer?  Who knows?

I had a funny few months after the miscarriage, one day far more traumatic than others.  On the one hand I was fine, I knew my babe was in the best place and I realised it was not meant to be.  Dh and I are completely blessed with our three children and on the other I could not help mourning that little life that I had never got to know.

So now it is a year on and I feel alright, honestly I do.  Of course I remember and I will always treasure my memories of my fourth child, Samuel Noah  but for today I know that my life is just as it is meant to be and I will kiss those babes at home more fervently tonight than ever!

If you, yourself have been through a miscarriage or heaven forbid multiple miscarriages then I am praying for you and hope that your hurt is able to heal a little with time and love from those around you.

Mich x

Saturday 23 April 2011


Silent Sunday = One photo, no words, taken in the last week! 

Thursday 21 April 2011

Possibly the hardest meme ever! Mrs Lister's Q&A

I found this meme really tough but I have been tagged by four people for it now so I will persevere! I am sure you are not supposed to be filled with dread when completing a meme, I can just hear Nickie and Paula telling me to leave it and not bother and Rosie and Anna would probably care that they have caused me angst by tagging me but maybe it is a good thing (a therapeutic thing for me) that I am here revealing even more about myself.

I tag myself as an honest person and I tend to have a no secrets approach to posting on my blog, so what am I scared of I hear you ask. Shall I tell you? I am afraid that you will find out the truth about me. That really I am pretty shallow, I have no substance, I don’t do politics, I know hardly anything about the heavy stuff, I rarely ever partake in hard-going conversations. Don’t get me wrong I am intelligent enough, I have a masters with distinction, I know my stuff in specifics fields but my general knowledge and world knowledge particularly is just rubbish.

This meme originated from Kerry Jean Lister who I believe took the Q & A from the Guardian weekend supplement. See, that just feels scary in itself, I have never once even looked at the Guardian. I have not read the FT, The Times, The Telegraph or any of the other broadsheets and I have hardly read any of the middle of the road papers like the Daily Mail either. I grew up in a working class family and my Dad read the Sun, he still does. He is a sporting man and from what I understand it covers sport (football in particular well). So that is about my only exposure to newspapers. We do not buy any in our house; I rarely watch the news or read it on the web and thus there are hundreds of subjects that I just do not really have an opinion on as I do not know anything about them really and therefore do not feel best placed to comment.

So when I am asked to complete a quiz which is supposed to be a bit of fun and I think the idea was to see if I was the kind of girl that people might want to go to the pub with, I actually feel very exposed and quite out of my depth. I imagine by now you have made the decision that you might not bother with the pub with me!

Anyway on with the questions….

Which living person do you most admire and why?
I had teal trouble with this. I have a massive admiration for so many people but most of them are unsung heroes and if I told you their names they would not mean anything. Any person who overcomes adversity and goes on to use it for the greater good has my respect. During my stay at Spring Harvest I met a lady called Debra Green from a charity called Redeeming our Communities and she was very admirable in her endeavours to work with public sector agencies to change local communities for the better, reducing gun crime, drug problems, unruly teenagers, graffiti, road traffic accidents and any other problem that is effecting a local community. I am feeling very compelled to see if there is anything I can do to help this charity.

When were you happiest?
I know it is cliché but I was ecstatic on my honeymoon in Barbados, 2002. I had such an amazing time and felt so close to dh. It was where we made the decision to start our family and we just had a wonderful time together, everything you would expect of a honeymoon.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
A recent embarrassment I can think of was about 5 weeks ago. First day in my new job and I am on a training session with all the project team that I work with. I had bronchitis and my wheeze and cough is very bad so I am constantly drinking water, then all of a sudden one of them makes us all laugh and then they decide to say something even funnier just at the point I had taken a large mouthful of water. The poor woman who I was taking over from was sat in front of me and got a right shower. I learnt that day that my character has grown a lot in recent years. On one hand I wanted to leave the room and die alone. On the other I knew I just had to apologise, offer tissues and face up to it and take the ribbing. Even now, numerous weeks later at least once a day when I am at work I get stick for this incident. They constantly watch me when I am drinking and if I cough there are comments such as ‘umbrella’s at the ready!’.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you have bought?
Nothing exciting I’m afraid. Very predictable, our Toyota Corolla Verso cost about £13,000. We had to buy it when I had the twins and we tried the car seats in my Fiesta and realised we could not fit the 5 of us in there!

What is your most treasured possession?
If you can call your children your possessions, then it would be them. My 3 unique and special little beings are my world. They infuriate and astound me in equal measure. Every day is a delight and I love to watch their growth. I find myself constantly tapping my hubbie and saying ‘ahh look, did you see?’as they do something new and show their developing character a little more. Each one is a rose that is budding and blooming and as the new petals open I get to see more and more of their traits and quirks which make them who they are.

Failing that it would either have to be a ring I wear which belonged to my Dad’s grandmother who he grew up with, totally irreplaceable. Or my photo albums, filled with memories from my toddler years to now. Yes I still print and place in albums all my favourite photos. I am an old fashioned kind of girl at heart!

Where would you like to live?
I would love to live by the sea and to have enough time in the day to appreciate the seaside with my family. I love the clean and fresh air of the seaside. I have lived by the sea (including on the promenade) a couple of times in my life and they have both been exceptionally happy times. One day I know that dh and I will move to the seaside with our family.

What is your favourite smell?
My husband when he has just had a shower and has put on his aftershave. I could sniff him for hours! He wears Armani in case you are interested.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
I have no idea! Why don’t you tell me? Who would play me in the film of my life? What I want to know is why on earth anyone would be making a film about me??

What is your favourite book?
I suppose the correct answer from a Christian would be the Bible but I cannot put my hand on my heart and say this. There are parts I love and parts I find so hard to read and have no understanding of. I don’t think I have any one favourite book. I love to read and often have 3 or 4 books on a go at the same time. I happily devour books and then pass them on to someone else to enjoy.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I have lots. The one I am very aware of right now is biting my nails and the skin around my nails. I can go months and my nails look beautiful and then I get anxious and they all get bitten away and I look like a skanky teenager! They are re-growing at the moment, I aim to look like an adult at CyberMummy.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
I don’t do fancy dress! Sorry

What is your earliest memory?
I have all sorts of memories floating around in my head, most of them just seem to be fragments and I am hard pressed to recall what age I was. I can think of a beautiful red dress which had a little white apron attached to it and on there was a picture and I can recall feeling really special in that dress. I can remember a fancy dress party where I was Mary, from Mary had a little lamb and my fancy dress costume was fantastic and I can remember cracking a stone on my Nan’s fireplace when I was hovering. See, all completely random!

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Food, you will already know that if you know me or have read my blog before. Guilty pleasure and biggest vice!

What do you owe your parents?
Pretty much everything; they gave me that solid foundation on which to build my life. They modelled what a family was all about, they encouraged me to be the first in their families to go to University, they went without holidays etc to provide for my brother and I, they loaned me money when I needed it, they kissed away my tears when I was sad and they continue to be there for all my family now.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
The first person that came to my mind was a girl called Ceri who I was best friends with from age 15 – 18. Not that long in relation to my life but they were three intense years and I loved her. We clicked and for 2 years we did everything together and then I met a boy who I thought I loved and more and more time was spent with him. We all then had a car accident and I felt she was being unreasonable and we lost contact and I stayed with the boy, the loser boy that he was. I would love to see Ceri now and say sorry. I don’t know why we had to stop being friends.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I want to say God, or my husband or my children but the reality is that food is my great love first and foremost. This is the thing that I turn to when times are tough and I make a false idol of it and put it on a pedestal. I want this to stop and one day I will be able to conquer this awful addiction.

What does love feel like?
Love as in my marriage or parental love feels like I could burst, I am filled to the brim with little tiny bubbles inside me and they are all popping around excitedly.

What was the best kiss of your life?
Do I really have to tell this? It was with my husband, that’s enough!

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Stop, as a direction to the kids! As Miss M runs off, as JJ teases the girls, as Miss E whinges.

What is the worst job you’ve done?
It probably has to be doing room cleaning duties when I was a hotel manager. Sunday mornings and not enough staff turn in so I ended up cleaning rooms and dealing with the fallout from a wedding reception the night before. Vomit on floors, blocked toilets, used condoms, you name it – we used to find it!

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I am not sure if I would. There are certainly things I have done wrong and I am not proud of but if I changed then I would be different to how I am now and surely this is how God intends me to be.

What is closest you have come to death?
I have not, thank the Lord!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children and dh and I staying together and being happier than ever after lots of crap over the years.

When did you last cry, and why?
I know it was recently and it was in front of people, as they were laughing at me crying from just one eye!  I think it was with laughter, so that's good!

How do you relax?
Loads of ways - I blog, I meet friends for food, chats or the cinema, I read, I go on holiday, I pray.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Just a small amount more money so that I could give up paid work and do voluntary stuff and feel as if  am really doing something worthwhile.  Also an extra bedroom so we could foster or adopt a child who needs us.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
What goes around comes around. Treat others as you wish to be treated and don’t be afraid to say sorry when it needs saying.

Wow, isn’t that long. What a meme! I am sure no one else’s seems to be as long as mine. Did I mention that I am not good with being concise? Think again ladies before you tag me for a meme like this one!

Did you manage to make it to the end? If yes, massive well done. I am sure I would have given up a while back!

Go and enjoy people, or ignore if it feels like a burden. Do what makes you happy!   Mich x

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Review & Giveaway: Morphy Richards Meno Milk Frother

How do you feel about cappuccino or a nice frothy cup of hot chocolate just like you get in Costa?  Yep, I love them too and therefore when I received the new Meno milk frother from Morphy Richards I was pretty chuffed.

This mini kettle (the Meno) has made friends with it's big brother in my kitchen and is sitting along side him making me divine drinks each evening.  For I am being strict with myself and just having them on an evening.  It could be quite dangerous (without even having to mention the word addictive), if I start to drink milky drinks all the time I know that a tubby like me will pile on the pounds!

The Meno milk frother is capable of making hot frothy milk for things like cappuccino and hot chocolate (or babyccino as my kids love) as well as cold milkshake drinks. It is very easy to use, pour in the milk, twist and lock the lid and press the button, a couple of minutes later and you have perfect forth, be it hot or cold.  I have to say the heat and froth function is my favourite.  Just take a look at this picture, the froth is great, it stays really firm and makes for a fabulous drink.

I have to say that in all honesty I was not as impressed with the milkshake function which froths the cold drink.  It was not as frothy and bubbly as I might have expected but was still good. Actually JJ told me it was excellent, so what do I know?

Once you have used the milk frother it is actually really easy to clean.  None of it can be immersed in water so it is just a case of washing with hot water, a mild detergent and a soft cloth.  It took seconds literally.

The Milk Frother retails at £59.99 from Morphy Richards but if you fancy buying one then you can have a 30% discount when you use the following code MFH6030 and purchase direct from the Morphy Richards site prior to 6th May 2011.  Just enter the code at the check out stage.

That takes the cost down to £42.00 and if you consider that the hot froth gives you a drink as good as you get when you buy from Costa or such, it will have paid for itself in no time!!

One last thing, those lovely people at Morphy Richards have given me one of these super kitchen gadgets for one lucky reader to win.

To enter:
  • Mandatory- Subscribe to my blog, either click the google follow button on the right or the RSS feed one and leave me a comment to say you have done so, making sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are the lucky winner.
  • For an extra entry - Tweet I'm in to #win a @LoveYourMorphy milk frother from @michelletwinmum 's #giveaway
Terms and conditions:
  • The competition closes 12 Noon 1 May 2011
  • The winner will be contacted within 3 working days of the giveaway closing
  • Open to UK & Ireland residents only
  • The milk frother will be posted directly from Morphy Richards
  • The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative
Good Luck!

Congratulations to @utterlyscrummy who is the lucky winner of this great prize.  This email or DM me your address so I can pass this on.  Thanks, Mich x
This is a review post.  I was sent this item free of charge for the purposes of this review.  I was not instructed what to write and I remain honest.

The Gallery: My blog is...

OK, I can hear you now!  What Michelle, your blog is a tent?

A marque?

A big top?

or maybe you are thinking it is a circus......  that might be closer!

No, here's the next clue

That is what is going on inside the big top.  That is Tuesday morning 19th April 2011.  There are approximately 2000 of us all having an awesome time! The next one gives away what was going on in the big top! It is the Church of Spring Harvest, the large Christian festival held at Butlins each year.

You may still be completely confused and wondering what on earth any of this has to do with my blog?  Yes?

Well for me, my blog is Church.  This is where I get to do my bit for God.  To shine my light and demonstrate that us Christians can be really average and normal just like anyone else.

Every time I look at my stats and see that hundreds of people have been visiting each day I squeal silently and thank the Lord that I am able to do my part in raising awareness of issues close to my heart and especially close to God's.

Take a look at Tara's blog if you fancy checking out more Gallery posts.  I bet there will be a very diverse array of pictures this week. 

I wonder if anyone else considers their blog to be Church?

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Are children growing up too quickly?

Image Credit

I was just thinking the other day that perhaps I have got really old before my time; I might have turned into an old fart! I walk down the street and I see a young attractive woman and she has on such a low cut top that I can see the curve of her breast. I am not just talking cleavage, I mean the full inside curve of each boob and I just wonder why, why would you do that? There really is no mystery to her; any man that fancies her has already had the full show. All that is left is a nipple and really they are not that interesting!

I amaze myself sometimes with how much I have changed. I recall being 21 and being on holiday and wearing a top that was so low cut you could see the middle of my bra and that was the look! The idea was that I gave a glimpse of what my lucky boyfriend was privy to. I very often had my boobs on show during my University years (always in a bra mind) as I was conscious of my very curvaceous lower half and therefore always went for the tactic of drawing attention to my boobs, which before 3 kids were pretty darn good, nowadays think spaniel ears. Life does change, in more way than one!

Last week I went shopping for the girls and I was confronted by wide necked tops, extremely short skirts, tiny shoe string strap dresses which reveal too much chest, halternecks and other pieces of clothing which are just not suitable for a 3 or 4 year old in my opinion. I like my little girls to dress appropriately for their age and to look exactly as they are – young innocent girls. When they are teenagers I am sure we will have arguments about their school uniform and the length of their skirt hems, for now that is not a nightmare I need. What has gone wrong that many of the big stores want to sell things to my girls which are way beyond their age? The clothes we ended up with were from M&S, George and Next and we were able to get appropriate clothing of all sorts but my girls will have to wear T-shirts under the dresses as I really could not find any that covered tender little shoulders in the sun and also gave the modesty that I desire for my little beauties.

I was gobsmacked a couple of weeks back when I went to a Mother’s day tea party at JJ’s school. All the children had made a hat and took turns to model their hat on a cat walk, this was in the main hilarious, we watched all these little 6 and 7 year old pretending to be Naomi Campbell (am I really showing my age here, I have no idea who the latest super model is?) doing twirls and curtsey's for our joy. Then on walks a little girl of just 6 years with the most beautiful and trendy short asymmetric haircut. Wow, that is very grown up for her age I thought and then I looked down and yet again was astounded. She had on a short mini skirt, like numerous inches above her knees and with it she had black over the knee socks. So just a couple of inches of thigh showing between the two. It was an outfit that would not have been out of place in a porn film. I hate to say it, but she looked sexy. Sexy and provocative looking at age 6, that is wrong, right?

I started to hear mutterings all around me and it seemed that many of the other mothers also felt the same way. The excuse that I heard time and time again was that the little girl ‘has older sisters’. What, this makes it OK? For her to be dressed in a manner that a) is completely unsuitable for a school setting and b) just looks totally tarty. What had possessed her mother to allow her to grow up before her time?

I am sorry I sound so judgemental but I really do worry what will happen to our children if we allow them or encourage them to grow up too quickly. My girls are at that age when they ask me for nail polish and I am loath to do it. On the one hand I think what is the harm and on the other I just think that they will lose the thrill of growing up and discovering all things girlie if it happens too quickly. I have friends who straighten their 3 and 4 year olds hair, or crimp their hair or let them wear make-up for parties and I just do not want to do this. What is the need yet? They look absolutely stunning as nature intended them to.

So now you need to be honest with me? Have I gone a bit crazy and I ought to loosen up? What age is it OK for your little girl to start wearing a bit of make, have her nails painted or crimp her hair for a party? My thoughts at the moment feel it would be at least 6 or 7 years.

Monday 18 April 2011

Easter Play Idea - Growth in Jesus or New Life!

Here is a nice simple idea for a Christian or Easter play activity.  For a family who is not comfortable with the Christian faith you could center this activity around Easter time and the concept of new life with the focus being on lambs and chicks
About a month ago the kids and I went to Messy Church at our local Anglican Church and one of the activities we did was to grow a bean. Look what happens in a month with a bit of nurturing...

The logic is that we are all a little single, solitary bean and when we are nurtured and fed spiritually we will take root in Jesus and our faith will start to grown and eventually bear fruit.  Children, especially small children like my 3 year old twins love to understand concepts from a real and visual viewpoint and watching this bean grow we have been able to have some great little chats about growth with Jesus.

You will need a clean jam jar, with the label removed so you can watch the beans grow, some kitchen roll, a piece of cardboard and a bean - we used a kidney bean.

Take the cardboard and put the kitchen roll sheet around it, wrap into a tubular shape and insert into the jam jar.  Then wedge one or more beans between the glass and the kitchen roll.  The cardboard is holding the beans in place so they do not slip.

Every couple of days run a bit of water into the bottom of the jam jar, the kitchen roll will absorb this and ensure the bean stays moist and starts to sprout.  Enjoy watching it take root and start to sprout from all angels, then once it has got to a good size, you can transfer it outside and wait for the gorgeous fruits of your labour to arrive.

We hope you enjoy!  Mich x

Sunday 17 April 2011


Silent Sunday = One photo, no words, taken in the last week!  Enjoy more by clicking the badge below -

Silent Sunday

Friday 15 April 2011

Oh what to pack when you are a 3 year old girl?

Decisions, decisions.  You should have seen the flurry in the playroom today, two 3 year old madams running round and throwing things everywhere!  Where is my phone?  Where are my pennies? Can I take my handbag?  These were the questions being slung at me when I returned from work on Wednesday and tried to get packed for our holiday.

The instruction I gave the girls (as much to get them out from my hair as to actually do some packing) was to get their Dora backpack and to put a few toys in it to take with them on holiday.

Let me show you what my little beauties chose to take on holiday and their bags are filled in nearly an identical way - super cute!

Let me help with what they packed, you in case you can not make out from the photo.  Some necklaces and bracelets to look pretty, a brush, nail file, mirror, pretend hairdryer, pretend make up and brush - just like Mummy has apparently. Mobile phone and their DS (a plastic magic drawing board from a comic - I love it that they think something worth 10p is the same as their brothers £100+ console!)

A couple of Mr Men books each, their build a bear, one called Sally and the other Jessie and they both have a small pushchair to take with them.  I know it will be a frequent afternoon activity to take a windy walk on the Skeggy prom pushing their furry babies. Of course, how can you go on holiday with no kit for your baby?  Well you can't obviously, so we have potty, bottle, bowl, rattle, blanket, musey, teddy and dummy for their build a bear.

Whilst I was in JJ's room getting this clothes ready I heard Miss M showing her Daddy what was in her bag and very nonchalantly told him she had a wand 'for making magic wishes'.  Just like Princess Holly of course!  If only Mummy could pack one of those too!

Don't you just love the innocence of play of this age group? I posted before about the fact that I have not exposed my young kids to too much technology and there was mixed opinion on if this was the right approach but I have to say that I am much happier with my pre-school children playing make believe, play doh and baby dolls.  At nearly 8 years JJ is desperate to get on the PC when he gets home from school and we have to limit his time or he would gladly do that or play his DS constantly.

What do you think to their packing?  Did they do a good job?  Or miss an essential item?

Thursday 14 April 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 - Week 15

Welcome it's week 15!  My, how quick times flies when you are having fun!

Miss M with her precious handbag!

Lots to be grateful for as always....

  1. I am on holiday, by the time you read this I will be at Butlins in Skegness at the Christian festival Spring Harvest and I always have an amazing time here, as do all my family.  We get to spend lots of time together, worship God and be fully refreshed - where there is 3 reasons to be cheerful rolled into one (oh and burglars if you are thinking of raiding my house, don't bother my brother is there with his girliefriend doing some electrics for me!)
  2. Today I am feeling comfortable in my own skin. I am larger than I have been in a long time but I am looking in the mirror and liking the Mich that looks back at me, she has grown so much as a person over the last 10 years and no longer is she a harsh person who does not tolerate weakness in others. One day when I really do feel brave I will post about that Mich, she had some very big character defects.  I am praying I can hand my eating issues over to God at Spring Harvest and then not only will I like the Mich I see in the mirror, I will also like the body I see that houses her.
  3. Miss M has been listening to me. This is a biggie!  If you know my blond bombshell you will know that she is a very independent and willful young lady, whilst also being immensely funny and beautiful. We had a grown up chat about 5 days ago about how she does not like me to shout at her and I explained that I only shout when she does not listen and respond to my requests.  It is not perfect, but we have made massive progress.....  long may it continue!
  4. I have been nominated in 3 categories for the Mummy & Daddy Blogger Awards (MADS) and this is making my day.  I know blogging is not that important in the big scheme of things but for me my blog is my Church and it is where I get to share myself and do a little bit of good.  If you fancy nominating me too, then hop over to my MADS post and have a read...  Cheers x
So share with us all your reasons?  What is making you have a smile from ear to ear this week?

As I am on holiday and am trying to remain offline - Can I please ask you all to try extra hard to comment on each others posts and to retweet.  I know that some of you are amazing and read & comment on every post and I thank you very dearly. Yes, Kate this is you I am referring to!

..and before you go, I must remember to point you over to Maxabella's I'm Grateful for... link up.  Join up your reasons post there and make some new Aussie friends. It is live on our Friday.

Of course Jen's Blog gems is still open too. Link up every other Sunday and air your archives.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

I am Beautiful

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see a wonky face staring back at me,
I see sad eyes, spots, blemishes and lines,
I see tired hands, flabby bits and a woman not in her prime.

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see someone who is too harsh and who judges me,
I see a woman obsessed with her size,
Programmed by the media to believe the lies.

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
Occasionally I see you crying at me,
I see hate, the loathing, it’s all in my eyes,
I see myself, that comes as a surprise!

Taken this weekend
Tomorrow and forever...
I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see a woman who wants to break free....
A woman who knows that beauty comes from inside,
one who cherishes honesty and will not hide!

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see a natural beauty smiling at me,
I see someone with a massive heart,
that same someone who cares when you are falling apart.

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see a middle aged woman as happy as can be.
I see a loving and dedicated wife,
one who is willing to change her life...
I see a mother of three, a daughter to two,
aiming to please because she loves you.

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see a friend to many, confidant to some,
a person who tries to love everyone.
I see a positive woman with future dreams,
someone who very much is as she seems.

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see an imperfect being who is trying her best,
One who knows that's enough because God does the rest!

I made a decision over the weekend that I needed to love and accept myself just as I was.  This does not mean I can not take positive steps to deal with my obesity but it means I can not allow it to define me.

We all have to remember that true beauty is not about how we look on the outside but how we are on the inside. If we are more concerned and spending more time worrying about and nurturing our outside appearance than the state of our heart then something is amiss. I have been doing a lot of pondering on this over the last couple of weeks  and am pleased to say that despite still being as fat as ever I feel OK today.  Today I am loving and accepting myself and even looking in the mirror and thinking I look pretty.  Turn back the clock a couple of weeks and I was feelling very much as the beginning of this post suggests - ugly, misshapen, shameful and useless. I was looking in the mirror and hating what I saw, I could not see anything that satisfied me and that is a sorry state of affairs.

As with all challenges I turn to the word of God and see what the bible has to offer on the matter. 1 Timothy 2:9 says that women should dress modestly and not adorn themselves with inappropriate items. I used to worry that this meant I should not be taking any outward pride in my appearance but actually it just asks us to dress appropriate to the situation and not to flaunt our beauty and wealth. In fact it is advocated that partners look appealing to each other but we must not put so much emphasis on the outside that we become obsessed and lose our humble and grateful heart.

So today I am grateful and I say thank you Lord for how beautiful I am.

I thought I would share a selection of pictures of me without any make-up showing my natural beauty (isn't it funny how time changes your perspective, when I look at the ones of me in my teenage years and early twenties I now see a young, vibrant and curvaceous woman, whereas at the time I thought that a size 16 was the most ugly and enormous size ever!)

Sunday 10 April 2011

Boys Being Boys!

I have mentioned before that I am a bit lucky in my choice of father for my kiddies.  I did well!

Dh is fabulous with all the 3 children and seems to have far more patience than I do.  I can not knock the fun he has with them and the places he takes them but by the far the thing I absolutely love to watch most is his very special relationship with JJ. If I was not so confident that my little man adored me I could feel quite left out.  Given the choice JJ would spend all his time with dh  but really - how perfect is that?  It is so important for boys that they have strong manly role models in life.  Real men who are not afraid to show all their facets.

How amazing it is to watch two men (one big and one still very small) who almost look identical go off with their heads buried together plotting their activities for the day and they have such boyish fun together. Dh is a Cub leader you see, he has been for about 10 years now and since JJ was about 3 or 4 years old he has gone off and done 'boys things' with dh.  They go trekking, bike riding, camping, explore museums, climb trees, pot hole, rock climb etc etc.

Camp 2008

Yesterday was one of those special days.  At 9am I dropped the boys off to dh's scout hut and they spent 12 hours with about 30 other Beavers, Cubs and Scouts having the most fun ever. I just had to share some pictures with you. So today we do not have a #silentsunday post but a Superb Saturday's fun!

I only wish the girls were a little older and then we all could have had so much fun yesterday, but let's be honest the boys spending the time together is so important too!

Have you got a boy? Yes, have they got a strong man in their life to show them the way?

Saturday 9 April 2011

The Secret is Out, I'm Not a Domestic Goddess!

You know what, that Jen at Mum in the Madhouse has gone and done it, she is making me reveal to you all that I am not the perfect parent and domestic goddess that I know you all thought I was!

I have been tagged in the Fridge of a Bad Parent Meme started by Sally of Who's the Mummy?

So go on, laugh at me, here are the contents of my fridge (and yes it is broken, no milk compartment any more *hangs head deeply in shame*).

Today Jen challenged me and a few other bloggers to reveal the contents of our fridges and look how sparse mine is!  Shall I start making the excuses now....  I have been at work most of the week, I am poorly (tonsillitis), we go on holiday next week so no point in stocking up. Shall I continue?

So what was in there?  Carrots, yellow pepper, brocolli, cucumber (notice I have started with the good  stuff!), water, 2 cartoons of juice, eggs, milk, cranberry sauce, redcurrent jelly, squirty cream, margarine, cheese of various types, frubes and a couple of yoghurts.  Not much of a stock, hey?  Pretty different to how it looks much of the time but I'm an honest kind of girl so I thought I would share my shame!

It got to tea time yesterday and after feeling rank all day I wondered what on earth I was going to feed the kids.  Nothing planned, nothing much in the freezer, no energy to go to the supermarket or even the chip shop.  Dh at work until 11pm.  So seeing as I am revealling my rubbish parenting skills I'll embarrass myself further and show you the dinner that my kids ate.  One of the most eclectic concoctions I have ever seen, but one I could put together in minutes while feeling like I should be in bed and actually (I'm quite proud to say) one that covers all the major food groups!  Whoop, Whoop

You know the funny thing - the kids loved this tea.  They all ate so much and really quickly. What did they enjoy?  Pasta, cucumber, carrots, butter beans (miss M's favourite), cheese, boiled eggs, sausage rolls and sweetcorn.  Bet you are all rubbing your tums right now, yum, yum!

I have not tagged anyone for this one as I think more people than not might cringe at this, so if you fancy being tagged, then go for it - you are it!  Let me know and I'll put a tag on here for you...

Back to amend, I am tagging Ella at Notes From Home because she tweeted that she needed a tag to motivate her to clean the fridge - so here is it, lovely lady!  Happy to oblige.

Lastly, just to say that I am hosting the BMB carnival on 24th May 2011 (see how organised I normally am)  and the theme of my carnival is Imperfect Parenting.  So dig out those post where you talk about how it all went tits up and email them to me on mummyfromtheheart (at) virginmedia (dot) com.  Think I'll enjoy putting this carnival together *rubs hands together while making an evil cackle*.

Cheers, Mich x

Friday 8 April 2011

Family Matters...

...well it does to me anyway.  I grew up in a close knit family where we were each others world and I am trying to recreate that for my kids too. Both my parents had challenging childhoods for one reason or another and this meant that they both chose to be super amazing parents to my brother and I.  We were and still are very lucky.  So I have a hard act to follow, but as with everything I am just trying my best.

You hear and read so much in the media nowadays about how traditional family values, such as eating meals together at the table, playing games together or involving the children with worthwhile activities have all but disappeared.  Not in this house they have not and listening to Vosene last Saturday, not in many families lives. Out of all the friends I have chatted with about family meals at the table, all but one seem to have at least a few family meals all together each week.  I have to say I wonder how kids eat on their laps?  Is it just that mine are still young and we will get all lapse as they get older?  I do hope not, I enjoy that time catching up with them after a busy day with no interruptions.

Like most people if you offer me some time to myself I will happily escape.  I am a very busy person and sometimes just need a bit of a break but after one or two full day I am normally itching to see my kids and to have some fun with them.  Going out and about with my family is what makes me happy.  A couple of weeks ago we went to Peppa Pig World and I mentioned this to lots of people, who mostly looked at me as if I am crazy. 'Great' said with a sarcastic tone was the usual reply I got but we had an amazing time, as joy for me nowadays is watching my three beautiful children have fun and be in their element. This is why, when the very nice people at Vosene (yes you know, the shampoo) asked me if my family wanted to attend a day together at London Zoo I said yes please!

During the few hours I spent with some of the Vosene staff and a load of other fab bloggers we got to spend good qaulity time with our own family.  Sadly dh was working so he could not join us but we had popped in to his work on the way and we travelled back from London with him, so it felt as if he was there!  The children made Mothers day cards, they decorated biscuits, played dress up, had their faces painted, hopped around on space hoppers, made pictures with hand prints and watched a superb magician.  As well as this being great fun it really showed me that Vosene do understand the concept of family and that they actually make an effort to know their customers.

Whilst I was there I learned that they have launched a new campaign called Vosene Family Matters and this is based around 6 core values, those being: sharing, belonging, time together, traditions, fun and trust.  A great set of values and ones which I would say are important to our family. Vosene undertook extensive research to bring this set of values together, talking to their own customers and also to parents in general.

The part that is probably interesting to you, is that they are running a superb competition from April until September with a different theme each month.  This month the theme is Sharing and what they ask you to do is provide them with an example from your family of sharing and perhaps provide a photo.  Then you ask friends and family to vote for you.  At the end of the month the top 10 entries are sent to Vosene's partner, the NSPCC and and they will choose that months winner.

Here is the super, super exciting bit - in October all the 6 winners of the monthly rounds will be in a grand final and the winner of that will take away a family holiday for 5 people (maximum of 3 adults) to any one of 3 magnificent locations: Walt Disney World, Orlando; Safari in the Masai Mara; or luxury family holiday at a resort in Kos.  How much would my kids give to go to Disney?  JJ keeps asking me when he will go there and I reply......  one day babe.......  maybe one day!

Looking at the Vosene site again and thinking about the concept of sharing I have decided that I will make an entry for our family. Well, there is a chance of me winning professional cakes for a year - what could be more perfect for a foodaholic? lol

So here is the photo that I will submit with our entry.  Any idea what the children are doing here?

They are making shoe boxes for Samaritans Purse to send to children for Christmas in less fortunate countries. This is a marvellous initiative that runs every year and we are proud to support it and share with our children, who in turn use a small part of their pocket money to share with others.

Miss E proudly shows off the box she made for another child

All the boxes that JJ's school managed to make

So if you like what you see and fancy voting for my family I'll let you know when our entry is live on the Vosene site and perhaps you might vote for us?  or you might submit your own entry?  Go on, it was very easy.

Vosene provided entry for myself and my 3 children to London Zoo, they also provided lunch, activities and some products for us to take away. I was not obligated to write this post but as I was so impressed with what I heard and saw I am happy to endorse their brand and this competition.  My words are my own and I remian honest.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 - Week 14

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

Good evening all. I hope you are feeling cheerful this week.  If where you live has been anything like here then how can this beautiful sunshine fail to make you feel just a little brighter?

Lets dive straight in....  this weeks reasons to be cheerful are -

  1. Work.  I had to make 2 big presentations this week in my new job and they went well. I received comments and emails from senior people about how well I did, so that is super!
  2. I am a guest blogger today! Posting over on Maternity Matters.  Have you visited this site yet?  It has been set up by @Susurem and @Jaynecrammond as a resource for mothers who have experienced birth trauma, it is fully inclusive and will offer guest posts around all parenting topics. Today I have a 2 part post over there about what it means to be a Christian parent in a secular world.  If you fancy going over and sharing some comment love I'd really appreciate that.
  3. I got loads of housework done today and I did not even mind doing it.  The girls helped me make beds, empty bins, dust etc and they think it is fab - long may that last!  I am trying to get things all organised at home ready for next week, because...
  4. We are going to Spring Harvest!  This is a massive Christian festival held at Butlins and it is the highlight of my year, we have such an amazing time.  I pray to feel completely relaxed by the time I return home, I normally do.  I will be taking my laptop with me so I can plan the future program for creche.  I only plan to go on-line every other day for a maximum of an hour, so expect posts/ tweets etc to be much more sparse than normal and guess what else?  My lovely brother asked if could use the house while we are away and I said only if he fits some new lights for us!  So when we return things will be looking all glam in the living room!
What about you, what has brightened your week this week?

Last week I asked if you wanted to see any changes to R2BC and the overwhelming response was no, you like it just the way it is.  So I will change nada!

Another question for you, please let me know...

I have been struggling to get to every post and comment every week.  It really is my desire to do that but you know what things are like... life and kids get in the way!  What I wondered was if you expect me (as the host) to comment on each post you link up?  I realise it is polite and nice etiquette but of course I also know that some hosts don't and that's not an issue to me but I wondered if it was an issue to you?

It was suggested to me today that what I could do was RT your tweet, perhaps with a comment added about your post as a thank you for joining in.  Of course this is good for you too, as RT's from those with a fairly good Klout score, helps your own Klout score.  It means you would have to remember to use the #R2BC hashtag so I can find your tweets though.

So how does that sound, some weeks I'll comment on the blog and others I'll RT posts.  Would you be happy with that?

Do be honest with me, you know you can be.

Have a great week, Mich xx