Thursday 29 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - The MADS Edition

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

How could my reasons to be cheerful be about anything else this week? Selfish, indulgent? Yes. So what? Sometimes we have to look after ourselves and have a bit of fun! Life is about balance after all. Too much seriousness makes Mich a boring bunny.

Tomorrow night is the Mummy and Daddy (MAD) blog awards in London and it is thanks to you super bunch that I will be there as a finalist in the Best Blog about Family Life category. I am super chuffed to be going and very excited. I know that Sally and Jen will have done an amazing job organising the event.

So straight onto my list of MAD reasons -
  • After dropping the kids to school tomorrow, I am straight off up to London for a spot of shopping
  • Then meeting a load of great bloggers for a late lunch/ early dinner of Tapas
  • Checking into the Radission Bloomsbury hotel - which looks super plush!
  • I have an outfit provided by Marks and Spencer and I feel so comfortable in it and hubbie tells me I look glamorous. It looked quite plain on the hanger so I have just included a snippet in the monatge below, I'll post a full piccie for you on Saturday.
  • I am have had my hair cut this morning
  • I applied the fake tan last night and have non-pasty legs for once
  • My toe and finger nails are manicured and tidy, sadly the hot pink went out the window for my finger nails as a load have broken but they still look nice.
  • I intend to have cuddles with loads of super friends at the awards - Chris, Alex, Clare, Heather, Karen, Nickie, Maggy and a very special hug for Lexy. (and if I have not mentioned you by name I am up for hugs with everyone else too!)
  • I am going to have some booze tomorrow night, it is not very often I drink and completely non-existent to get drunk nowadays but tomorrow I might just head that way!
If you fancy tuning in and getting the live news from the MADS then log on to the MADS Blog for about 7pm tomorrow night.  The awards will actually start at 7.15pm. It will be worth it just to see every one's gorgeous outfits. There will be a competition running on the live blog so someone can win £250 of luxury skincare products - sounds good!

My thanks go to Parentdish UK and TalkTalk the main sponsors of the MADS. So over to you, what is making you happy this week? Link up your post now...

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Can I Mention the C Word Yet?

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Dh and I were sat chatting at the dinner table the other day and I asked if I could mention the C-word yet? ‘Ohhh’ we hear from JJ as he takes a massive gasp ‘Mummy, how naughty. Why do you want to say that?'

Can you guess what he thought I was talking about?

If I say to you the C-word, what do you think?

We had a recent conversation with JJ (who will be 8 soon) where he told me he knew the rudest swear word there was and that it began with a C. You can imagine what I am thinking; I could not believe that my 7 year old has been exposed to that. He then went on to say it ended with a P and of course at that point I breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Crap’ I said very quietly to him and his eyes widened and he said ‘Yes, that’s so rude isn’t it Mummy?’ Of course, I agreed and Dh had to wander off to cover his sniggering.

Now the very rude word or the not so rude word was not what I was referring to, the one I was talking about was Christmas of course. It is late September after all and I have seen the first of our local shops start to open up their dedicated Christmas aisles.

Is it safe to admit to you that I already have all the little presents for my girl’s stockings? JJ is not done yet but he will be pretty soon. I absolutely love being prepared for Christmas and this year I have decided to be even more frugal in my buying for the kids. They will have a great time and will get a good few gifts each but not the stupid amounts that they may have had in years gone by.

If I had my way I would stop Christmas presents for all adults. I hate the ‘tit for tat’ of it sometimes, especially when you get the people who want nothing, except a specific present like a bottle of booze. I give you some booze and socks, you give me some money and I put it back in the bank. Can we not just cut that out and just make it about the kids and the true spirit of sharing good times?

Monday 26 September 2011

Looking After Mich

What use are we to other people when we are not taking care of ourselves? That is the question I have been asking myself just recently and the truth is not a lot.  We think we are doing the right thing by putting the emphasis on them and looking after their needs but in the end we lose out. I know for me I just end up tired, crabby and bitter.  Hmm that sounds like a Mich you all want to hang out with doesn't it?

So I was pleased this week to have yet again realised that I must look after myself. More for myself than anyone else, I am listing the areas that I must look after  -
  1. Sleep.  I need to make sure I am getting more of this.  I have made headway in the last week, there has not been a night that I have stayed up later than 11.30pm and that is good but not good enough. I need some early nights and to start feeling refreshed.  Dh got up this morning and I had a lie in and it was bliss, so needed. 
  2. Exercise. I rejoined the sports village at work last week (yes it really is as spectacular as it sounds, it hosts loads of training Olympians and me, lol!) and I have been to the gym a couple of times and also swam.  My inner thighs are telling me they hate me right now in fact.  I am feeling really good for some exercise and aim to do soem at least 3 times each week.
  3. Food. The last week has been bad, I have not been making a concerted effort but I was super chuffed to be asked by Slimavite to be a trailist for them.  So in about a week I will be starting on their bite plan diet and blogging about it so you can all follow my success, for that is what it will be.
  4. Saying No. I promise to keep time for myself, to stop saying yes to things and offering to do things.  I must keep some time to myself to just be.  To read and to enjoy my life, not allow it to float past me.
You see that photo there, that is one I use online, it was taken in 2010, when I was about 2 stone lighter than I am now.  I was still far too big but I think I look good and I want to look that happy with the way I look again.

So this is where I am.  I have not weighed for a couple of weeks.  I figure why bother when I am not being particularly good.  I'll weight when I start my new diet plans with Slimavite but for now I have the MADs on Friday and a lovely new outfit from M&S to wear for it - I can't wait!

I am linking this post up for Liska's #Mumentum.  Come and join in if you are a Mum and are trying to lose your mum Tum.

Sunday 25 September 2011

The Sunday Soapbox & Song - I'll Follow You...

Do you ever listen to a song for the first time and it just sends chills through you?

Some songs affect me so much and I find myself on the brink of tears listening to them. Most recently those songs tend to be modern Christian worship songs.

I've shared before that I have a little crush on one of the prominent worship leaders here in the UK. He just has these too cute dimples in his cheeks.... but anyway that is going off track a bit!  It is his voice really that I find so irresistible and the words that he manages to sing and how he glorifies God when he does it.
So today is Sunday and traditionally us Christians head off to Church today and generally have a day filled with awareness of the Lord and the part we play in making His world a better place. So today, I just wanted to share this song with you, this is one that is really speaking to me right now.

It talks of living a life that please God and boy, how I want to do that.  I have many problems and imperfections but I can only keep trying and I will be kind to myself and acknowledge that I AM making headway.

The songs starts off with 'May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart bless Your name'.  Whether you believe in God or not, don't you agree that the world would be a much better place if we all took time to cleanse our hearts and think about the words we spoke before we said them. The God of the New Testament, Jesus we call Him, is a man who showed us Christians how we should aim to live....  by loving others, all others and by taking the kind path rather than the righteous one. If we all tried to be a little kinder in the world there would not be half as much ugliness and war.  Simple when you think about it!

So there is this weeks challenge for us all. Be kind, in every situation, be kind.

It may be tough.......

Friday 23 September 2011

Multiples Mayhem Carnival

Multiples Mayhem Carnival at Mummy with a Heart

A bit later than advertised but I have got here.  Finally with a moment to sit down after my very busy week, I have some time to read all the posts submitted for the carnival and what a great evening it has been.

I give you the superb posts from the twin mums of twitter!

We have some newer boggers joining us this time, which is lovely and I'm gonna start you off with a goodie.  Rebecca at Here Come The Girls has posted her highs and lows of having twins. If you have twins older than a year this will be a walk down memory lane for you, the pictures are gorgeous and all those memories of tiny twinnies sleeping together, holding hands and making each other chuckle all came flooding back to me.  Beautiful!

So how many of us have daughters?  Quite a few I think, in fact everyone as far as I can make out except the lovely Karen who has all those handsome boys to look after. So here is a scary thought... we could all become grandmothers of twins, agghh.  There we were thinking that once this batch was done we could rest and actually we may be helping out in the future! Those of us with non-ID twins at least.  They do tend to follow in the family and that is because we pass our ovulation legacy onto our daughters, so us super smart woman that release 2 eggs make more super smart woman who release 2 eggs.  I am not sure whether to be proud or running scared!  Troubles' Mum shares with us an interesting part of her family history as she finds out where her twins came from.

Debbie at Johnson Babies shares with us a post about the items she would recommend as essentials when you have twins. Her twinnies still share a cot at 8 months (and there is a gorgeous piccie of them sharing) and this has worked due to sleep positioners - who even knew such things existed - not me! lol
This summer has been an important one for Mari over at Mari's World, her little twinnies were getting ready to go to pre-school in September and to say they were not impressed with that idea was an understatement.  Watch Mari's vlog and get some great advice from her sister-in-law who is a nursery teacher. Then not to leave us hanging we have the follow up post letting us know how her girls got on for their first day. Do tell us Mari, has it continued this well, are they all settled in now?

After reading Kerry at Multiple Mummy's post I had a massive smile on my face.  She sums up so well how hard is is have three little ones and how life can feel as if it is swallowing you up. Luckily Kerry had a knight in shining armour come and save her over the summer.  Welcome back to the world of big smiles Kerry.

Heather at Young and Younger has blogged about a subject which is obviously close to her heart.  Did you use the Baby Led Weaning method with your twinnies?  She would love to hear about your experiences.

Karen at All About the Boys is a bit of a cheat really, her post is not really a twins post but all her boys are so gorgeous and I like seeing snippets of her house too, so she manages to sneak in to the carnival! This post is a lovely idea and one I may just have to nick.

I better not forget to add in a post from me, had I?  My recent twins inspired post was about recognising my twinnies as individuals.  The girls are now just over 4 years, in full time school and have just separated bedrooms - ohh my big girls!

Before I close this carnival down, I need to go in search of one more post.  This time around our very own twin mummy comedian has not entered a post, so not to be defeated, I'll just add one in anyway! Here Jane at Northern Mum shares with us why she is so excited!

So there we go, just enough to last you about two cuppas!  Read and enjoy....  (oh and don't forget to comment too, everyone loves a good comment).

So who is next then?  Let's get the Multiples Mayhem Carnival on the road again.  Do we have a takers who'd like to host in October/ November?  Leave a comment and we will sort it out.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Keeping it in the Day! Wk 38

Good morning all,

I feel like I have been on a real journey this week, something amazing happened and should not be underestimated. 159 bloggers (mostly parenting) came together and posted to help raise awareness for the petition that Save the Children have to lobby David Cameron to do his part towards making sure that there are enough health workers accross the world. I am not quite sure what number the petition finished on, about 43000 the last time I looked before it ended.

Thank you sincerely to everyone who took time to take part.  Now gang, we have to keep this going. If we all post sporodically we can maintain awareness levels and slowly influence others and get more people on board to lobby for change.

With a week that has been so focused on others, I am taking time today to thank the Lord for all my wonderful reasons to be cheerful.

Today -
I woke in a bedroom my gorgeous Dad has just decorated for us
I woke next to a handsome hubbie in a comfy bed
All the kids slept well and are safe
My children are all at school being educated as I type
We all enjoyed a hearty breakfast this morning and will have two further good meals today
Our clothes are clean and warm
I am meeting a lovely friend for lunch and some great chatting
I have made JJ a routine doctors appointment and he is able to see a professional promptly
I have cleaned my kitchen and it is spotless
Tonight I will go to my eating disorders meeting and enjoy fellowship with those in the same boat
I AM CONTENT!  (That is the biggie)

So what about you?  Tell us your reasons to be cheerful this week.  I will make sure I get to everyone to say hi this week.  If you have posted and want to link up, head over to Mum of all Trades as she is our guest host for this week.  Next week #R2BC returns home to me, Mummy.  I have missed it but have been blessed by all the guest hosts.  Everyone has made me proud looking after our baby and introduced a new joiner or two.  Well done, team effort!

One last plug, if you are wondering what you can do to help Save The Children now the petition is closed, you could give some money to help all those people starving in East Africa due to the drought.  Even £2.00 would make a difference. In fact I'll go without a coffee at lunch today and do just that.

As there are no photos in this post and it is always good to have some visual, I'll share this very short vidow with you.  Made by Lindsay, who on YouTube has a channel called Lilliesarelike she went to Mozambique with @ChristineMosler earlier this year and took this footage, it is brilliant.  These are the smilies your donations will bring.

Thanks all, be blessed.  Mich x

Tuesday 20 September 2011

You Can Help Too & Yes it May Make You Sad!

Over the last few days I have been avidly chatting away to anyone who will listen to me, be it in real life, on twitter, via Facebook, on forums or my blog. I have probably been a bit of a bore but I don't care.  I am absorbed at the moment, after going to the Save The Children conference on Saturday I can not seem to focus on anything else really. My heart is aching and my mind is buzzing.

What can I do to help?  People are dying needlessly and that makes me so angry and on the one hand I feel powerless. I am one small human across the other side of the world, I have no power, no real money to speak of and it would be easy to think 'who me, I can not do anything'. I have probably been guilty of that mindset for much of my life. Not now, not anymore, I have been affected, over the last 10 years or so I have been educated, my line of vision has been widened and I see that I can help. We all can help, yes even you!

I am not willing to be apathetic and think this is not my problem, I can not help.  I now say I am one person who may be able to affect a few more.  I have no delusions of grandeur, I don't have 40K followers on Twitter to influence but if I affect 5 people and those 5 people then affect even another 2 or 3 each and they do the same, then we have spread, word of mouth spread.  The best kind.  Dh made me smile the other day when he said I am pyramid selling at the moment and that my pyramid of contacts  is getting bigger each day, he is right.  This is a bit like that, the snowball effect I would say, it does not sound so calculated.

As I have been chatting to people I have heard all sorts of replies that have initially shocked me and made me really down and then I stop and remember that actually it takes a lot of guts for people to be honest and to tell me that they think the problem is too big and therefore why should they bother? Go back 15 years and I may have said the same.

At the conference on Saturday we sat there and listened to Gareth Owen, Director of Emergencies for Save The Children and wow he blew me away.  This was a man with the kind of heart I desire. So many of us in the room were shedding tears when he reminded us 'that we all were letting people die' and that '750K people were about to die'. No softly, softly approach, this is a man who goes out to the developing world and sees the hard face.  He knows the sorrow of the affected people. At the end of his session one person in the audience suggested that the local governments ought to take responsibility and try to sort some of their own problems. Gareth agreed, I think the whole room agreed. He told us that often there was no proper leadership, that the government was little more than some war lords or gangsters. The choice he was faced with was to help and perhaps even keep helping the same country or community again and again or to let them die. When this persons silence suggested we let them die I felt physically sick, just as I do now typing this. That is not humanity, that is genocide.

So to the person who asked the other day 'why posting a blog about Save The Children could help and wouldn't it just make them feel sad', yes it will make you feel incredibly sad, you might also cry and you know what when you are in that state you can do great things. Over the last two days over 130 bloggers have posted about the petition for more health workers in the developing world and that came out of a conference that probably had about 30 of those bloggers there. So another 100 have joined us and I just checked on hashtag tracker and I see that in the last 24 hours an audience of over 1 million has been reached on twitter, from Sunday - Monday that was about 2.6 million.

Surely you can see that is amazing? So anyone and everyone reading this, please help, even in a tiny, tiny way. One alone can achieve little but when we all unite we can achieve anything. I do not post this to chastise or judge anyone, I post this with the hope that you may start to see my point of view.

Something we all can do is sign the petition for more #healthworkers and we can ask our friends and families to do the same.

Then if you want to blog about this, Facebook or twitter mention it (using #healthworkers) then you are raising awareness and spreading the word and believe me that really is equally as important as giving money.

You see those 3 kids there in the photo, they are the reason why I must speak out and do what I can, wouldn't it be amazing if they grew up in a world where there was justice and equality. Where the wealth was spread and all people had access to everything they needed. I know some people say they are broke in the UK right now but often that means they can not afford big Christmas presents for the kids, how about if we could not afford food for a week for our kids? That might give us some perspective.

So come on join me, yes you'll be sad and you may cry. My heart will not seem to stop aching right now but that is nothing in comparison to what is going on for many in the world.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Let's make Chris Proud! Will you join us? #HealthWorkers

Today I attended a conference for bloggers and vloggers at the Save the Children head office in London.  This was not just any blogging event.  Yes, I got to see some amazing people that I chat to on the Internet but more than that I was reminded of how I can help a cause which just seems too big, insurmountable even.

I am sure that by now you have seen there is a severe drought in East Africa. I learned today that 750,000 are about to die and that we (yes all of us) are letting them die.  Gosh, that does not sit comfortably does it? I hear you now 'Who me, no I don't want anyone to die'. I beg you, don't close the browser, keep reading. None of us want people to die but we have to challenge ourselves as to what we are willing to do about it.  Saving our fellow humans is the responsibility of us all and that is not just giving money.  Please do shy away and think 'I'm broke, I can't help'.  Yes you can, we all can.  That is the truly amazing thing and all it costs is a little time.

These people in the developing world all have names and families and things they love to do but what they do not have is enough presence over here, a big enough voice so they are heard. Lets all help to give these people a voice. Today I listened to Lucy, talking from South Sudan about how a lack of #healthworkers in so many countries means that people die needlessly. Save the Children are campaigning to change this.

 Dr Morou & DJ Amilou (Image Credit)
On Tuesday, a fellow blogger and friend Chris Mosler (@ChristineMosler) will attend the UN General Assembly in New York. She is going there with Liz Scarff on behalf of Save the Children to pressure David Cameron to play his full part in solving the health worker crisis.  There is a target of 60,000 signatures on the petition by Tuesday. At the moment that petition sits at 41,673 can we change that? Sure we can!

Let's pull together, people power and make Chris proud.  Lets do our damnedest to make sure she goes on Tuesday armed with 60,000 signatures.
  1. So first off - Let's all sign the petition, 30 seconds work and a step closer.

  2. Then the challenge set by @HelloItsGemma and I is that we want (need) to see 100 posts of 100 words linked up here by Tuesday. If 100 bloggers each write a post about this and encourage more signatures that could make a massive dent in the 20,000 signature shortfall that we sit with right now!

    Write your 100 words about a great health professional you have encountered in your life. Add a link to the petition and either link or add in some information from Save the Children about the #Healthworkers campaign

  3. Link to a number of other bloggers/ vloggers and ask them to do the same. 

  4. Tweet about this, facebook mention it, remark on google plus, talk to your Mum on the phone, whatever you can do to spread this to just a few more people, please do it.
So here is my list of people I want to pass this baton on to -

Maggy at RedTedArt
Emma at Mummy Mummy Mum
Sabina at Mummy Matters
Josie at Sleap is for the Weak
Nickie at Typecast
Emma at The Real SuperMum
Sally at Who's the Mummy
Rosie at Rosie Scribble
Ella at Notes from Home
Tim at Bringing Up Charlie
CJ at Crystal Jigsaw
Karin at Cafe Bebe

and YOU, don't be precious that I have not named you, this is too important and there were too many wonderful people I wanted to link to.

Link your post up here (or take the blog hop code and add it onto your own blog) as soon as you can, but by early Tuesday as the deadline.  Then we can let Chris and Liz see the support that has been going on here for the work they are doing at the hard end.

Thank you, each and every one of you.  Mich x

Friday 16 September 2011

Building Trust in your Family

Trust. It is quite a word, a big word, one with importance, not one that I use that easily I would say.  Ask me who or what I have complete trust in and I may be pushed to think of that many things:  my husband, my parents, my own abilities, some friends, some aspects of what my children do.  Maybe not about whether they will tell me fibs! I don't think they yet understand the significance of those lies for me to trust that they will not do it.

Trust has to be earned I feel, I would not automatically leave my children in the care of a new friend but I would with a friend that I have grown to know over a period of time and seen they are worthy of my trust.  So how strange it is it that I would leave my kids with a registered childminder, that is putting my trust in a system and believing they will have been vetted properly and have the right skill and attention to look after them.  I am pretty sure my gut/ intuition would have something to do with my willingness in that case as well. So many factors go into building a case for trust.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 37

Morning cheerful ones!

This week we are being hosted by Ems over in Cyprus, so pop on over and see her at A Matter of Choice.  Link up your happy post there and leave her some comment love.  Thanks go to Bod for Tea who did a super job of hosting last week and even managed to attract some male attention to #R2BC - you go girl!

  1. So this weeks top news for me being happy is that I have returned to work after my secondment.  One way or another I manged to have most of the summer off, which was very welcome but I have actually enjoyed being in for my 3 days this week.  I have some great colleagues that I work with and it was nice to be back and realise that I have remembered how to do most things!
  2. We are having carpet laid today.  After the moth debacle (which I must blog about) we are finally having some carpets go back down upstairs.  So by tomorrow Miss E's room will be complete.  I am then decorating over the next couple of weeks and then the other two bedrooms will be done too.  JJ has moved downstairs and the twinnies have a room each, it is all going well on the home front.
  3. Family time at the weekend, we tried out a super new church, very small but really personal and I have not seen dh that comfortable with strangers for a very long time. Our country Police HQ also had an open day and the kids were in their element especially JJ, he is already trying to sign up as a cadet, only a 5 year wait JJ!
  4. I am getting some time to myself.  With the girls being at school full-time I have 2 school days a week to myself.  I have re-joined the gym, made some overdue appointments and contacted friends to arrange some coffees! Let the good times roll...
  5. School settling in is going really well for my girls.  They tell me they love it and whilst they are very tired by bed time they seem to be coping brilliantly.  Mummy is very proud of you little ladies.
Every day the girls run into school excited, long may this last!

So I expect you know the protocol by now, write a cherry post, link it up and go and visit some other blogs on the linky. In fact go and visit all the other blogs on the linky, it is always fab to find some new reading material.  Leave me some comment love and I'll come and do the same for you. Check out here if you are new to #R2BC and want to read the full low down.

Thanks for joining in, you rock!  Mich x

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Simply Happy #TheGallery

This weeks Tara's prompt of a happy memory has stolen one whole night of my life.  I sat down earlier, grabbed my external drive and shifted through more than 7000 images taken in the last few years. What a brilliant night I have had.  Rubbish on the TV, no matter, I was walking down memory lane. Early night, ohh did I say that?  Whoops, it is now practically midnight!

I looked though all the classics - our wedding snaps, the kids being born, Christenings, holidays, family partys, weddings we have been guests at etc etc but the pictures that really spoke to me were those when JJ was just a little chap.  I look back at those pictures and dh and I look so young and happy.  I remember how we loved being just the three of us, we did that new parent thing of checking with each other if the babe should have a feed, or should we wean yet, do we check he is sleeping?  All those things you worry about when your babe is so new and so loved.

Searching to fill that hole... You know the one.

Image Credit

At least once a month if not more I find myself parking up at the local shopping parade and dropping a bag of unwanted goods into our local Save the Children store. Now this in itself is not a bad thing to do, in fact I would positively encourage you to do the same. What is bad is that I have enough stuff to keep doing this.  Surely most people just clear out and sort once a quarter or even less? I do it constantly, the crap just keeps on flowing from my house.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Monday #Mumentum - The Journey Continues...

Well it has been a tough old week. It would be great to come on here and report another massive loss but that is not going to happen. I would say I have had three good days out of the seven. One day has been pretty bingeful and the others have just been off plan. Nothing major but not great.  Today has been good though, so I can continue in this way and hope to lose more than 1 lb next week.  Oh well 1 lb still has me at 11 lb lost in the last two weeks and that is OK.

So what has caused this then? I think some of it is tiredness, I have gone to bed far too late a few nights and my resilience is low when I lack sleep. I also think it might be that time of the month but really I have no idea as since having a coil the months just roll into one without any significant differences just perhaps me feeling more emotional and not knowing why at particular points. I suppose I should journal it and then I would have a fair shot at preparing myself for the harder parts of the month.

Reviewing the Vileda 1 2 Spray Mop

Cleaning, I know it is some people's idea of hell but I do not mind a good cleaning session.  Clear the kids out the house and give me some time and I am quite happy to get down to a bit of sorting and scrubbing.  The sense of satisfaction when it is all done is amazing.  Of course now I have kids my blissfully clean home is shattered within minutes of them returning but that is the small price I pay for having a fun and lively family life.

Vileda obviously heard about my love of cleaning as they asked me to review their new mop for them, the 1 2 Spray. Take a look at my vlog and watch the mop in action and learn a bit more about it.

After making the vlog I did use the mop with water and bucket and I think the words I used to describe the cleaning action with the 1 2 spray mop to my Mum were 'it glides like a dream'. As I did not have the special bucket with the wringer, I used my own method which did work well but having tried out this mop with water I will be investing in the proper bucket as I know I will want to use this regularly.

I also removed the cleaning pad and washed it at 60 degrees, it came up perfectly and dried nice and soft on the line, ready for use again.  Much more hygienic than my regular mop head which just gets rinsed with water.

The 1 2 Spray mop gets a 4.5 out of 5 overall, I love the mop and it performs fantastically but at £24.99 for the mop, £7.49 for the bucket and wringer and £5.99 for a refill pad it is not the cheapest option available.

If you would like to find out more about this or any other Vileda product, then take a look at their website HERE.

Disclosure: This is a sposnored post, I was paid to review this mop and I received the mop free of charge. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday 9 September 2011

A letter from Mummy about Daddy...

To my three wonderful and unique children,

I thought I would pen you a little letter, one you can read later on when you are grown up and understand emotions a bit more. When I fell pregnant for the first time I was thrilled and Daddy was thrilled too, we had so wanted to have children.  I especially wanted to have a boy first and then a girl afterwards.  How blessed were we to receive you JJ, my big intelligent boy and then doubly blessed to get not just one girl but two special little angels.

You know by now what Mummy is like, I am a talker and I say what I mean and what I feel.  You regularly hear me tell you I love you and you see it in the things I do. It is easy for me to praise you and remind you each of your wonderful assets and strengths, this all comes natural to me, I grew up with it. Daddy does not find this kind of thing so easy.  He grew up differently to you, loved but not in an outwardly expressive way. So he is still learning...

I know that Daddy does not say 'I love you' very much but you know what?  He adores you, each of you. Sometimes I think he loves you more than life itself. He is a man of very few words when it comes to speaking his emotions but he has massive depths, so don't ever let that fool you.  In fact I am pretty sure I do not even need to tell you this as although Daddy does not directly say he loves you he shows you every day, in those cuddles, kisses, the time he takes to listen to you, the way he coaches you and the fun you have together.  To have a daddy who bakes with you, baths you, reads to you, takes you on bike rides and gets down on the floor to play - those are all pretty special things, right?

I would even go as far as to say that you kids have set Daddy free to be the man he wants to be, you have helped him to open up and to love unconditionally.  Mummy did some of the work before you came along but it is you guys who have melted his heart and made him an old softie.  He would give you anything and lay his life on the line for you.

You may have noticed by now that Daddy has a special talent, he can work with young people and children, especially those who have been marginalised or bullied and he helps them to believe in themselves, he gives them responsibility and trust and they reward him with results and growth in their confidence. I know that as you grow and develop in your own special ways Daddy will help each one of you and nurture you to be all you can be, he won't push you to meet his agenda or have unrealistic expectations of you. If you wish to be a scientist or a street cleaner, a doctor or a plumber he will be fine whatever, except that is of course if you feel the world owes you a living and you want to put in no effort and be on benefits, that is probably something neither him or I would tolerate.

You have a very wise Daddy and you would do well to listen to him, respect him and learn from him.  I truly believe he has the God given gift of Wisdom. When he tunes in and listens he is able to make sound decisions in all parts of life. We pray that each of you will recognise your God given talents and use them to your full advantage.

Each one of you makes us proud, in totally different ways and everything Daddy does is done with you and me in mind.  When he does not want to go to work in the morning he does it to provide for his family. When he says no to spending money on something which may seem fun but is wasteful he does it so he can provide for our great family holidays and when he says no to you he does it as he is the adult and he knows what is best for you. Those books you want to read JJ will not educate you in what is kind and considerate of others, running off alone Miss M will not keep you safe and crying and sucking your fingers will not help you to be assertive Miss E.

Being a parent can be painful as we teach you the important lessons in life but it is also the most rewarding job ever and one we choose to do and are proud to stick with.  You are very lucky to have such a wonderful father and I will be pleased to see you remember this as you grow older.

You make us proud, our wonderful children.

Love you, Mummy xxx

Friday carnivals are back at Notes from Home and this is my entry this week. Go and take a look, Ella is very lovely and will welcome you with open arms.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 36

Good morning fellow cheery people, or at least I hope you are cheery?  How is your week going?

Don't you find when you choose to look on the bright side of life you feel just that much better?  If you have known me for a while you will know that I  believe everything in life is a choice, you choose how your day goes.  Yes you get thrown the odd curve ball but it is how you deal with it that defines what the final outcome will be.

Have you heard of those people who lose their fortune in a bad deal on the stock market, one will believe their life is over and they lose everything and one will take the opportunity that is handed to them and decide to scale down and live the simple life. Their children are so happy they are available to them and not at work, their husband falls in love with them again and they develop their desire to refurbish old houses and guess what?  They live happily ever after, no big house and no flash car just lots of love and fun times. How does that sound to you?  Think about this next time money feels tough, do you really need to strive for more?

Anyway, I am obviously feeling pretty deep this morning, I had not planned to write that but you know sometimes it just flows out...

If you came here to find the #R2BC linky then I need to direct you over to the super friendly Bod for Tea for she is our guest host this week and you will find the linky code there. Please add it to your post so this is a blog hop.  I have only not added it so to force people over to the guest hosts each week. Leave her some comment love too, she really is very divine.

Here are a few quickie reasons from me of why I am counting my blessings this week-
  1. My Mum has been to stay for nearly a week, we have had a lovely time just being together, nothing flash
  2. My baby girls started Reception this week and they are loving it, they do their full first day tomorrow, which I know will tire Miss E out so much but with time she will be fine

  3. They also went to after school club for a trial session.  I was so proud of them as they let me go home and leave them there alone.  Miss M was totally not phased and was straight in there.  Miss E was much more nervous and started the silly behaviour that comes when she gets nervous and shy. She asked me who would look after her and I explained that the teachers would look after her and also that JJ would be there in 1/2 hour when his football club finished. She looked pensive and then said 'I know Mummy, Miss M will look after me. We will look after each other, we are twinnies'.  My heart swelled and I confirmed that they were indeed twinnies and would stick together.
  4. My diet is feeling very tough this week but I am still going.  I can do this.  Tonight I will go to my eating disorders group and that will be super to be amongst friends that understand and share my problem.
  5. I am also stoked to see that Ella at Notes from Home has restarted her Friday carnival. Go and visit and think about joining in, it is another little community of the parent blogging world that is just as friendly as #R2BC
I could go on and on, I am extremely blessed and pleased to be reminded of that but that is enough for this week or I'll bore you all!

Leave me a comment, I'll come and do the same.  Link your post up at Bod for Tea and visit others on the blog hop. These kind of things only work when we all put the effort in to visit and share the commenting love.

I've said it before but I'll say it again, thanks to you all for making #R2BC such a wonderful place.

Love you, Mich xx

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Keeping my Sanity about the MAD Blog Awards

I am getting rather excited, at the end of September I am going to the MAD (Mummy and Daddy) blog awards ceremony in Soho at the TalkTalk Customer Experience Centre.  I am a finalist in the MAD Blog about family life category and I intend to have so much fun, I am under no illusions that I will win but being there and joining in the with the evening will be reward enough.

Today, I have been shopping and that is one of my most favourite activities in the whole wide world. My Mum and I set off for an enormous M and S that is near us and we hunted for something glamorous for me to wear.  Luckily M and S have decided they would like to sponsor my outfit for the night and help to make me look tip-top! On the flip side sadly the fashion at the moment seems to have all dresses being not suitable for someone who has a rather large belly!  So dresses seem to be out but I have got myself something nice, so far!  Notice that 'so far', there is still 24 shopping days until the awards and I intend to use them fully, my outfit could get swapped right up until the last moment.

One thing I won't be changing though, is the shoes. I was super chuffed to walk into my local M and S last week and see the perfect shoes for the awards.  I wanted evening glamour and they are black patent with velvet trim and I wanted heels, which they do have but being me I am no good for long periods of time in very high heels, so whilst I would love to have worn my 4" platform patent shoes (also from M and S, yes it is my favourite shop) it means more to me to be able to walk all night and to be able to have a good dance with some fabulous blogging mates that I will see at the awards like @nickie72 @SAHMlovingit @ChristineMosler @allaboutheboys @northernmum @seasiderclare and so many more.

No jeans on the night though!

As well as going to the ceremony, I also get to spend the night at the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel, sharing a room with the super @Kykaree that I have only chatted to a few times before on twitter but I just know we will get on so well.

I am amazed at how different I feel now to the weeks that were the run up to CyberMummy.  By rights I should be more nervous now and worried about what to wear and how the evening will go but I just know that the @Swhittle and @Mum_Themadhouse will make sure we all relax and enjoy ourselves.  No going MAD for me this time!  Well unless I win the award and then who knows what may happen!

I am linking this post up to this weeks Gallery over at Tara's place, it seems to fit this weeks brief of shoes!

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Orchard Toys Review & Giveaway - Piggy in the Middle Game

Congratulations to  @mrswebster147.  You are the lucky winner.  Please either email or DM me your name and address for me to pass on.  Well done, Mich x

I do love it when I get an email from Orchard Toys asking me if I would like to review another of their products. Without a shadow of a doubt I know that I will receive a British made innovative and educational game or puzzle arrive in the post that will delight my children.

Piggy in the Middle is no different.  The object of the game is to achieve savings of £5 and reach one of the finish spaces.

You play the game by rolling the dice and moving around the board, if you land on a spend or save space you collect a card and it instructs you what to do.  You have to spin the spinner to see how much either you pay to the bank (you spend) or the bank pays to you (to save).  JJ adored being the banker, this was his big brother duty.  If you are really lucky you might get the piggy bank card and then you can claim all the money in the piggy bank (which will have got there by people landing on different coloured piggy bank spaces and having to pay 50p in the piggy bank). Once you have managed to save £5 you make your way up the board to any one of the finish spaces.

Without sounding a bore and as if I am the champion of Orchard Toys let me tell you why we liked this game so much -
  • The packaging is sturdy and lasts, no silly broken corners after a few weeks.
  • The board breaks into jigsaw pieces for small storage and again is a real sturdy card with a sort of laminate wipe clean cover
  • There is a cute little red piggy bank with it (need I say more? lol)
  • The game is good fun, it is advertised for ages 5-10 years and I played it with my just 4 year old twins and 8 year old and they all loved it.  The 4 year olds needed a bit of help with keeping track of the money but they got the hang of the game very quickly.
  • The game really does bring the whole family together for some fun
  • It teaches my kids how to handle money and ties in with the national curriculum for maths, how can I not like that?
The game took us a while, about 45 minutes but that might have been because we had younger ones playing with us and dh and I had to help them. It did not feel too long though, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Piggy in the Middle retails for £11.50 and I believe it is really good value for money. You can buy it direct from Orchard Toys HERE and I must also say they always ship really fast and package the item well.

Would you like to win your own Piggy in the Middle game? 
  • Mandatory - leave a comment and let me know how I can contact you if you win (email, Twitter ID)
  • Additional Entry- subscribe to my blog for email notifications, so you never miss a giveaway again!
  • Enter your email address: Delivered by FeedBurner
  • Additional entry - tweet 'I want to #win a superb game from @orchardtoys in @michelletwinmum's #giveaway'
Giveaway Terms and Conditions 
  • The winner will be chosen at random
  • Open to UK and Ireland residents only
  • Giveaway closes at 12 noon on Friday 16th September 2011
  • The winner will be contacted within 3 working days of the competition closing
  • The winner needs to contact me within a week of my announcing the winner or I will draw again
  • The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative
  • The game will be sent direct from Orchard Toys

Disclosure: We were provided with this game free of charge for the purposes of the review.  I was not instructed what to write, the words are my own and I remain honest.

Monday 5 September 2011

Monday #Mumentum - So how much have I lost?

Week one of my new diet is practically over and it has been a good week, you always expect a decent loss in the first week but the 10lb I have lost is beyond my wildest dreams.  Now before anyone starts to get worried that I have starved myself let me share with you an average days food.

8am Breakfast - Glass of water and Slimfast shake
Cup of tea
About 11am - 2 Ryvita with clover and ham, water
About 1.30pm - Glass of water and Slimfast shake
3.45pm - Cup of tea and some strawberries
6pm dinner - Baked salmon in a herb and lemon butter sauce and a huge mountain of vegetables, more water
More water
9pm - Cup of tea and chocolate penguin biscuit

That is hardly starving myself is it?  Can you imagine what I must have been eating before for that to result in a good loss. I think the really big differences are cutting out bread, limiting most carbohydrates and chocolate and allowing myself a 100 calorie (ish) treat in the evening.  When I worked it out I am having about 1500 calories a day, so I would expect that may be a drop of about half my daily calories from before.

Shall I share with you what I think the key to my success is this time around?

I believe I can do it, I truly and utterly feel positive that the time is right. That it is God's will for me to lose weight and be fit for the purpose he has for me. Can I just say that all the time you believe you cannot do it then you won’t.  You will always stifle your effort, that is what I have done for years.  This time I believe I can do it, I am worth doing it.  This is why I will succeed.  My fear of being slim has left me and I pray that is a permanent change. I really do feel I have my Thinking Slimmer slimpod to thank for this thinking change (along with God of course).

Along with self-belief here are my other top dieting tips
  • Drink lots of water.  I always say the more you drink, the more you shrink! This will not bloat you as many think, your body needs a certain amount of water and if you drink too little it retains it, whereas if you drink lots like me it flushes the system.
  • Make sure you know why you are losing weight. What is the reason?  Who are you doing it for? anyone but yourself and you risk it all going very wrong.
  • Visualise your goals, make sure you break them down into small manageable chunks, my first goal is one stone by 30th September when I will attend the MAD Blog Awards and wear my gorgeous new outfit as provided by Marks and Spencer
  • Take things one day at a time, one minute at a time if you need to. Think positive and know you can get through that next minute.  If you feel as if your willpower has left you then find something else to take strength in, for me it is God and I pray when I have a weak moment, for others you could talk to a friend, read some positive literature or write your feelings down to get rid of them.
  • Live with your hunger for a short while, it won't kill you.  Each time you get past a bout of hunger it will be so much easier next time.
  • Remember it is YOUR diet, people keep asking me if I can have that, or go there and I remind them I can do what I fancy.  I am a grown up, if I wish to flex my diet and have a meal for lunch and a shake for dinner I can do that and I know I can stay on track as I am focused and motivated.
So over and out, next week I'll get the tape measure out and see how I have done since starting.  Why don't you pop over and visit Liska at New Mum Online, she is our #Mumentum host and is starting her diet today.  Good luck Lisa, I believe in you. x

Saturday 3 September 2011

Recognising Twins as Individuals

I have always known that my girls are chalk and cheese but I think that without realising it I have still been coupling them together and keeping them a neat little pair.

Guess who is who?

They tend to wear the same outfit or if not the same they wear the same but different colours or matching designs or something like that. It is not even about the cute factor anymore (it was when they were little) it is more about practicality and making my life easy.  The night before I always get the girls clothes out for them and bring them downstairs so they can dress in the morning, imagine how easy it makes it when you just grab 2 of the same outfits.

They also go everywhere together.  Dh and I have no problem with separating the kids but it tends to be that one of us takes the girls and the other has JJ and normally this split is about age range and the activity we are going to undertake.  On holiday each of the girls had a day alone with their Grandparents and they loved this. Also sometimes when I go shopping I will just take one of them with me if dh is about, so they can have some alone time, but they are now getting to the age where it would be healthy to spend some more time apart.

Again on holiday the girls had separate rooms and Miss E was over the moon, she kept going on about how she did not have to share, the room was all just for her. This really seemed to strike a chord with dh and he commented on how Miss E came out of her shell and was much more confident in the last week or so and now because of this we have had a move around at home and we no longer have a playroom!  JJ has moved downstairs into the playroom and now has the biggest kids pad of all time and the girls have a bedroom each.  My days off over the next few weeks will be spent decorating and then we will get the carpets replaced and all the kids will be as happy as Larry! (whoever he may be).

So times are changing, the girls have their own bedrooms, they want they decorated in different colours, they have chosen which toys go in their rooms, they start school full time next week and will be in separate groups,  I expect they will start to want to attend clubs soon, their friends are different and I have just sorted their uniforms for school and they are different too. 

My world is about to be smashed! Mummy has to face up to the fact that she has two very different little ladies.  Still the same but oh so very different as well!

Most parents face the battle of teaching their young child how to effectively share, we have the task of teaching our less dominant child (Miss E) how to claim ownership of her own things and how to be confident standing on her own two feet without her twin as back up. Then there is also the opposite challenge of teaching Miss M to allow more freedom to those around her.

Here is a reminder for me of the differences of my twinnies, age 4 years and 2 months:

Miss E - Known as Poppet or Beauty (yes, yes I know very un-PC, what am I setting her up for?)
  • Tenderheart, give her a stern look and watch the tears appear
  • Little cutie, remembers her manners and tries so hard to please
  • Bit of a whinger, I think this becomes of being the least dominant of 3 spirited kids
  • Sulker, this is a new trait, if she cannot have what she wants then watch her plonk on the floor and sulk!
  • Cautious, scared to try anything new, needs lots of coaxing and hand-holding
  • Can be very shy when meeting new people, then gets silly and shows off
  • Content to be alone and happy to play quietly by herself. Loves drawing, sticking, small animals and dolls in their houses, Playmobile, Lego and Zhu Zhu Pets
  • Favourite colour is pink
  • Favourite person is Mummy or Nanny H
  • Still in night nappies, much to her dismay but sleeps so beautifully.  Pop her in bed, watch her curl up and snooze!
  • Very long, straight and gorgeous dark blond naturally streaked hair with she takes a real pride in and enjoys having in all styles.
  • Most treasured item is Alfie, her very scruffy teddy
  • Size 10 feet, average height
  • Favourite treat would probably be Haribo sweets and dinner would be Sausage and chips
Miss M - Known as Pixie, Mini Me or abbreviations of her real name
  • Nonchalant, nothing too much phases her, tell her off and watch for the teenage bored look or even direct defiance.  Hard work? Miss M? - never!
  • Can look as though butter would not melt. In direct opposition to her naughty behaviour she can be as sweet as anything as she climbs on your lap for a cuddle and kiss
  • Argumentative and opinionated, this 4 year old feels she knows better than most every adult!
  • Happy to meet new people, all the more people to pay attention to her! lol
  • Superb fun, Miss M is always up for a laugh
  • In to everything.  Mess, yes what is more fun that making a mess and if it may upset Mum, then all the better!
  • Not really interested in toys, wants to be on the go constantly.  Happiest with other kids at the park or doing something active, trampoline bouncing, dancing or just running looney with JJ
  • Favourite colour is yellow
  • I don't think she actually has a favourite person, she is fickle and happy to be with whoever is giving her the most attention
  • Been dry at night for nearly a year and hates going to bed, life is to be lived not slept!
  • Beautiful white blond fine hair that is still growing out the miscut from last time she hacked it.  Cannot even be bothered to have it brushed let alone wear a clip or hairband.
  • Most treasured item would probably be her Lelli Kelly make-up (which I have hidden!) but again she is fickle and this could change day to day
  • Size 12, as tall as can be, in age 6 clothes!
  • Favourite treat is crisps and favourite dinner is Macaroni Cheese

So there you see, my two girls are chalk and cheese, lucky I love them both equally.  Funny isn't it when you have one child you can not imagine you have enough love for any more and then in my case you get two more kids and your heart just expands and you then have enough love to cater for all three kids.  All so different and yet each so special and loved.

Any tips for me?  How do you encourage your children to be individuals?

Friday 2 September 2011

The LeapPad Explorer's a Hit at our House!

There has been a revolution in my house, the young ladies have discovered digital gadgets and it is all my fault.  For 4 years I have kept them away from all things electronic and insisted they stay my babies and play with traditional toys and their imagination only but I think their starting at school full-time has made me realise that my 4 year olds are growing up and that in this day and age that means them getting to grips with all the new gadgets.

So when we were offered a brand new LeapPad from Leap Frog to review I eagerly said yes and now I have bedlam, two young girls wanting to play on the tablet.  Will they play together?  Oh no, they both want it on their own and the kitchen timer has become my best friend, as I time how long they are allowed. The only thing I can be grateful for is that at near 8 and with the savvy of a 10 year old JJ is not that interested in it and has gone back to the laptop and his DS.

Being the complete novice I am I asked Dh what makes the LeapPad better than JJ's DS?  Why is it needed?  and he informed me that it is far better for youngsters like our girls as it is educational as well as fun. Each of the games give verbal instructions as you start and play them so that the little ones do not have to fathom it out for themselves. Also the screen is much larger and better quality than those of the small hand-held games consoles.

As well as using the pre-loaded content such as the art studio, story studio and pet pad you can also download games, e-books and videos for your children to enjoy.  The prices starts from £3.50 for a download and that is really reasonable. The kids are enjoying Jewel Train and Vegetable Stew at the moment. The part that JJ does enjoy is the built in camera and video recorder. He is loving using the software which allows him to manipulate the photos and make us all look like Father Christmas or a gruesome ghoul!

I have to be honest and say the part that has driven me crazy is that the LeapPad is not rechargeable, it has gobbled up AA batteries like there is no tomorrow. This is an expensive business, so I will need to invest in a 9V charger so the kids can play with it plugged in to the electricity.

The LeapPad retails for £79.99 and is available from all good toy retailers as well as from Leap Frog direct. If you had a Leapster previously then all the games are compatible and you can use them in your LeapPad too, to that's a bonus. I can see this being the must have Christmas present for 2011!

In a nutshell:
Look and design   5/5
Ease of use for a young child    5/5
Educational Value   5/5
Interest factor for a young child   5/5
Interest factor for an older child  2/5 (guide age is 4 - 9 years)
Diversity and quality of games/ books/ videos available  5/5
A complete hit in our house!

I'll leave you with some fun facts you didn’t know about LeapPad!
• You can record 120 minutes of video, which equals a feature length film longer than any of the three Toy Story movies, or for our budding geniuses, 3 short film submissions for an Oscar.
• Children can take 30,000 pictures, which is approximately one picture a day for 82 years.
• Children can make 1,548,288 combinations of pets, which is 91 times more animals than the 17,000 at Berlin Zoological Garden, home to more animals than any other zoo in the world.
• Create 15,000 pieces of art, which is more than double the number of existing paintings created by Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, O’Keefe, Michelangelo, da Vinci and Dali combined.

Disclosure:  We were provided with a LeapPad and £15 download card for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 35

So how you feeling this week?  I am super chirpy and cheerful, I hope you are too.

#R2BC is not here again this week, it is continuing its little holiday around the mummy blogsphere (you know what thinking about it? We have never yet had a daddy blogger join in with us, does that mean they are more miserable?) and is at How to Laugh in the Face of It All this week.  So head over there and show Kate some love.  Thanks so much to Clare for hosting last week, you did a fab job!

Well if you read my recent post or have seen me tweeting the last few days you will know I am on a diet and yes this is a big reason to be cheerful. I know most would dispute this but for me to have the motivation and willpower to be dieting and handing my control over to God is a fabulous thing.  I have been using Slimfast shakes for 2 meals a day, having healthy snacks and a healthy dinner.  I am keeping carbs to a minimum but not cutting them out completely.

One of my strange but healthy (& tasty) dinners - Quorn chilli with cabbage, peas, Cauli, green beans and rice!

The first couple of days I have had a terrible withdrawal headaches from sugar and chocolate but again I have to be thankful for this reminder and I have to remember it and not have to go through it again in the future.  I am such a forgetful bird!

At the moment I have a real belief that I can do this and I will be successful, I think that my Thinking Slimmer slimpods have had a positive influence on this mindset.  I thank the Lord for this change of mindset and that is where I will leave Reasons to be Cheerful for this week.  No need to dilute my joy with extra reasons!

So now you have read my reason, leave me some comment love, write your post and link up at Kates and I'll promise to come and visit you!  Have a good week.  Mich x

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart