Tuesday 29 November 2011

30 Great Things to do on a Bloggy Break

I am supposed to have been on a bloggy break from 21st October to the beginning of December but if we are honest I did not do that well. I keep sneaking onto the PC and posting but the good news is that I have not been pressuring myself and I have not been feeling like I have to come onto the laptop. Isn't it funny that when you take the pressure away you want to do it?

There have been a whole load of days where I have not even turned the laptop on and instead I have done the following things ........
  1. Take the kids to the cinema to see Alpha and Omega, a nice little film in case you wondered.  A wolf version of Romeo and Juliet!
  2. Go to Church and sing my heart out.
  3. Organise a PTA quiz night for school (and make lots of money!).
  4. Cuddle my girls on the sofa covered in blankets all warm and snug.
  5. Go swimming with JJ and have lots of laugh out loud moments.  He sure knows how to take the mick that boy!
  6. Watch cheesy movies on TV like Ghostbusters and Sister Act.
  7. Write blog posts, without feeling obligated to do so!
  8. Go out with a number of different girl friends for drinks, chats and food.
  9. Read the bible and lots of literature from my eating disorders group.
  10. Have early nights.
  11. Play ball with the girls and help to teach them to throw and catch - important skills don't you know?
  12. Walk the dog.
  13. Go to the gym.
  14. Play board and card games with the kids.  JJ is real good at Uno.
  15. Organise a shoe box collection at school and make lots of boxes with the kids.
  16. Talk to my husband.
  17. Visit my parents.
  18. Re-visit my old Church and catch up with good friends.
  19. Attend a Baptism.
  20. Have a date night with my husband
  21. Put cheesy music on the TV and dance with the kids.
  22. Cook a really nice meal.
  23. Make Christmas decorations
  24. Go to the library
  25. Enjoy an al fresco ice cream!
  26. Go tot he children's farm and have a great time as a family
  27. Clean the house top to bottom
  28. Apply for a new job
  29. Mow the lawn
  30. and lastly the one I am most excited about, volunteer at the local YMCA day centre and get to meet a ton of super people who need someone to chat to or a helping hand.

Miss E being confident for the first time to hold an animal

Brother & sister working together for once!

Fun at the park...
I have learnt from the last six weeks that balance and perspective are extremely important when it comes to blogging and I will continue to have complete days or even weeks away from the blog when I want to, as really it won't fall apart without me!

So what have you been up to lately?

Tell your man the truth, or you might just miss out!

I was looking back through some old photos today and I was reminded of how different life was before the kids came along.  Now, do not get me wrong I would not change a thing but it was lovely then to just be able to decide to go away and disappear at the drop of a hat.

Roll back to December 1998 and dh (well he was just my boyfriend then) and I were working at a hotel for a large international chain, as per the years previous we were both working Christmas day and then the hotel would close for a few nights.  We had a superb night Christmas Eve and really enjoyed the party atmosphere and then straight back into it Christmas Day.  Once the guests all left and we had cleared up around 4pm all the staff sat down and enjoyed their turkey dinner together.  It was great, we were only 25 and hard work did not phase us. 

The highlight of my day though was heading off with dh after our meal and opening our Christmas gifts, I have no idea what I bought him that year but I remember opening an envelope containing currency and when I looked at dh puzzled, he explained that on 27th December we would travel first class by Eurostar to Paris and we would stay in the 5* St James and Albany hotel for 4 nights. Ohh to have some spare cash again and enough time without kids to be able to do that sort of thing, what a difference it would make to our relationship I am sure.

We took in all the normal sights of Paris and wondered around in the chilly weather hand in hand eating freshly cooked crepes, just as you would expect a young couple in love to do.  The whole time we were there I had butterflies in my stomach as I awaited a proposal. We had been together 4 years at this point, we lived together and we had talked about our future, what better place for dh to give me the much wanted diamond engagement ring? But as the days went past I grew more impatient and even joked to dh that he had not bought me any diamond jewellery this Christmas and that every year since we had been together he had bought me something diamond, be it a bracelet, earrings or my favourite solitaire diamond necklace that I still wear most days, even now fourteen years after receiving it.

We had a wonderful holiday but sadly we did return home with me feeling like something was missing as the proposal never arrived. We got home, I forgot all about it and life carried on as normal that was until we went away to Tenerife in the summer of 1999 and very late one night as we walked along the sea front dh sat me down and asked if I could see where the sea met the sky, I said no, it looked as though it was a million miles away and he told me that was how much he loved me and would I marry him.  At last the diamond solitaire that I had longed for was on my finger and I was due to be married. My ring was so special as dh had it made to his own specification, he knew what I would like and the simple classic round diamond set in platinum with an 18ct gold band was beautiful.

Roll forward a few years and dh and I were married and we were chatting about our trip to Paris and how great it had been.  I said to dh that I spent the whole trip wondering when he would propose and that whilst Tenerife was lovely Paris would have been something else. What he then told me taught me a big lesson!  He had planned to ask me to marry him in Paris, that was the point of the trip and the extravagance of first class and a 5* hotel but not remembered by me, we had a conversation back in November about getting engaged and I had said I was not ready and therefore he postponed.  I recalled the conversation he was talking about and I also remember saying I was not ready, I said it as I was testing the water and wondering whether he was ready.  Well being the non-communicative type that dh is, he said nothing at this time but took to heart me saying I was not ready.

Newly engaged, as happy as could be....  and maybe a bit tipsy too!

So the lesson here ladies is to not play games with your man.  They do not get our ways.  Be straight with them and tell them actually how you feel.  Don't try and fish for information as you may just fall flat on your face like I did .... and yes I do just ask outright nowadays if I want to know something!

What about you, have you ever got yourself in a pickle with words?

Monday 28 November 2011

16 is the Magic Number! #Mumentum

Another week and here I am again, no slimmer I am afraid but I will be taking full opportunity to post every week about my battle with my weight!  There is a lot of be said for being disciplined.

An article caught my eye this week on my homepage, about Ruth Jones (girlfriend of James Cordon) and her weight loss journey.  In the online article I read it said she had lost 4.5 stones and gone down to a size 16, I see the Daily Mail says a size 12, whatever, she looks fabulous and I would love to emulate her success.  Some weight loss stories I look at and they do nothing for me but looking at Ruth I feel motivated and how did she do it? The age old method of taking in less calories than those she was losing. As we say at my eating disorders group, simple really.  Not easy but simple!

Image Credit

Image Credit
Looking at the most recent picture of Ruth made me think about being a  size 16 and I was trying to recall the last time I was that size. 1998 was probably it, I had slimmed down from a size 20 and remained at a 16 for about a year, then like always the weight crept back on. In the hope of reminding me that I look good and healthy at a size 16 I have dug out some old photos.  They are not the best quality as they are all photos of photos but hopefully they will do something towards motivating me.

Look at those curves and toned arms.....  if only!

Practically no tummy, my first LBD. Age 19

Size 14 in this one. Unheard of to be that flat under my bust!

I recall feeling so good in this size 16 dress


So whilst I have not actually lost any weight this week I will look for the good and say that I am pleased to have recognised that I need to stay focused on the goal. The overridding goal is that I want to be a size 16 next year when I speak at Britmums.

I need to keep my eyes to heaven and not on the nitty gritty of everyday life.  If I allow the detail to get in the way of the big plan then I will never succeed.  Life is full of ups and downs and I have to take them as they come, deal as best I can with them and keep on going......  Thank you Jesus for walking with me!

I am linking this post up with Liska's #Mumentum.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Mum, The Boys at School Read Your Blog

Can you imagine, your 8 year old, year 3 child comes home from school and tells you that? My first thought 'Oh dear Lord, what is on the blog that I do not want children reading?'. I purposely do not make friends with children I know on facebook and I would not engage with children on Twitter as I believe that social media is for adults and I have control in those areas. But my blog, it is public and open, anyone can look at it.  JJ knows that it exists and what it is called, he has found my youtube channel and told friends about the reviews that he does for me. What is he opening himself up to inadvertently?
Image Credit

I do not want to find that JJ has become the brunt of anyones joke or a target for bullying because I shared too much on my blog about him, his emotions and what is going on in his life. Thankfully this scenario has not happened but I suppose what I should add there is yet...  it must only be a matter of time before some of his friends do find my blog. So I feel grateful that I stumbled upon a post the other day on Honest Mum's blog about over sharing and how it grates on her when bloggers feel the need to share too much.  Some of the comments then started to talk about the impact of sharing too much of your children's lives too and this really got me thinking about the fact that JJ is his own person and it is not for me to share his life online.

I seem to have fallen into the trap of thinking that because they are my children that I have a right to tell their story but actually our story belongs to each of us alone. I never bog about dh nor any tricky or challenging parts of our relationship as that is personal and not for public viewing.  As an adult I make a choice to blog about the difficult parts of my life, such as my miscarriage, troubles with food and childhood shame. Now I am making a choice to no longer blog about many parts of my children's lives.  Yes there will still be photos of them, updates, funny posts and parenting dilemmas but without sharing their personal reactions or anything that would be embarrassing to them if read by a peer.  I find it weird when people mention things to me and I wonder how on earth that know that, let alone one of my kids finding that someone knows something about them and they did not even make the choice to publish it.

Just last week I was writing a blog post about some difficult conversations JJ and I had been having and how they had effected him, when I stopped mid sentence and thought about it. If I was telling his friends this in the playground at school how would he feel?  It was enough for me not to press the publish button and to have an awakening.  In my endeavours to share my parenting difficulties with people and my desire to help others I could of actually been damaging my boy, so this has to stop.  He is far more important to me than anyone else reading my blog.  I can still continue to blog about the troubles of being a Mum but I must just do it from my perspective and not reveal anything too much about JJ and how he deals with things.

My beloved babies

This has been a real learning curve for me in the last week. JJ was just 4 when I started blogging and to be honest it did not matter what I said about him as no-one would have been using it as evidence to hurt him but now at age 8 and completely IT savvy, people could easily be looking for information that could put him in a vulnerable people.  I will not be giving them any ammunition.

How about you?  Was you a bit more prepared than I was when you started blogging and you actually thought these things through?  Or do you need to stop and think too and wonder if you are over sharing about your children and what is going on in their lives?

Friday 25 November 2011

I Want To Get Off... A Tale of PND & Plea for Help!

Yesterday I read a post over at Mammasaurus about her experience with postnatal depression and this made me realise I have never blogged my own short journey through late-onset PND and I thought it was high time I did so.

Especially when she pointed me over to Boo and Me's blog.  Mummy Boo has been busy organising a raffle over the last couple of months and she is aiming to raise money for the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation.   This is not a charity I have heard of before but having read about it, it is one I would love to help.  At the moment we are in a negative cash state so I can not offer money, but what can I do?  I can blog and help Mummy Boo to promote her raffle and to raise money for this superb new charity.

Let me briefly explain that Joe committed suicide in April 2010, just 10 weeks after the birth of her baby. She had been suffering from severe postnatal depression and her husband Chris started the charity to help raise awareness and to provide information about this illness which effects at least 15% of all new mothers every year.What I did not know is that it also effects about 10% of all new fathers too.

So what do you need to do now?
Head over here and buy a raffle ticket, they are £1 each or buy lots of raffle tickets if you have some spare cash.  The money is all going to the foundation, the prizes have been donated. Click the big red DONATE button, do not add gift aid please (you can't with a raffle). You can win all sorts, a gorgeous Pink Lining Bag, a pregnancy gift box, a Cath Kidson blanket and on and on.  I believe the prizes total around £800  but let's be honest you won't be doing this for the prizes, they are just the icing.

No money? You CAN help anyway?
Chris Bingley has started a petition that he hopes will gain enough signatures for it to be discussed in Parliament. Wouldn't it be great if we could help this along and add a few more hundred signatures?  Currently it sits at 517 signatures.  Head over now and sign, so that  the Government have to ensure that our NHS take care of new mothers.

And now the not so important bit, my story of PND....

In May 2008 I wrote a post on a Babycentre chat board entitled 'I want to get off'.  This was the start of me admitting there was a problem and I was not coping, it was one of the best things I ever did.  Speaking up when you feel there is something wrong is so important.  Trust your gut.

My twins were born in July 2007 and all I ever heard was how amazing I was dealing with new twins and a pre-schooler as well as my usual volunteering at Church and such. 'You are always so calm and everyone is so well presented, I have no idea how you do it Michelle', that was the type of thing I heard and for some reason it became very important to me to keep up that image of being able to cope and of doing a good job. I think the fact of not being at work played some part in this for me, parenting was what was defining me at that point and therefore I had to succeed at it. Succeed at any cost, even my health.

Between July 2007 and May 2008 the pressure built and I found myself feeling more and more unlike me.  It was hard to put a finger on what was wrong but I became angry and showed a real lack of patience especially towards JJ.  I recall crying to my Mum saying that maybe I did not love JJ anymore as all I ever did was shout at him and that he made me so mad. It broke my heart to think that perhaps my firstborn had been pushed out of my love and that my heart was not big enough for all three of my kids.

I recall smashing the sofa with my fists and screaming as I had to let the aggression and anger out.  I was like a pent up bomb waiting to explode. The outbursts were not that often but those I had were certainly not something a 4 year old boy should have been seeing.  How he must of felt, I have no idea?  I still have a list that I typed up to take to the doctors to show them how I was feeling.  My over ridding feeling was that I felt everyone wanted a piece of me and that the merry go round had to stop, as I just wanted to get off  and sleep but it never seemed to stop and I just went round and round and no solutions or rest came.

I was lucky that I was listened to when I went to the doctors, I sat there and cried and told her I could not cope and made her promise she would not take my babies away from me.  I just needed Miss M to stop screaming so much and to sleep and for JJ to behave and stop being so jealous.  I did one of those questionnaires which showed I did have depression and I was prescribed some anti-depressants.  A prescription I never fulfilled, I decided to try a softer option first and what I did was start to talk, talk to anyone and everyone about how I felt and why I felt the way I did and what help I needed.  Most people had no idea that PND could strike when your babies were 10 months old.  The opinion seemed to be that PND came straight on after having your baby and of course it does for some people but we are all different and since then I have learned that many parents of multiples suffer late-onset of PND, those first few months are so busy that you just whizz through them on adrenaline.

Over the next two or three months I regularly chatted to my Mum, husband and friends about how I felt and yes I am sure they were bored silly by keep hearing how hard it all was but it worked.  I started to feel more like me again and I got an evening job so I could escape the kids for short periods of time. Dh helped out more and realised just how much I was struggling and things picked up.  By November 2008 I was restarting back in my proper job, JJ was at school full time and the girls settled into nursery on my work days.  I learnt about balance and not having a spotless house, I took time to read and relax and my life improved significantly and I was pleased to say I now know the symptoms of when life is getting me down and I know the actions I have to take to stop myself getting to the stage I was at in May 2008.

I sincerely urge you to speak up if you feel out of sorts, if something is just not right or you feel different.  Tell someone.  They may not know what to do with the information but just the act of getting it out there could be a massive help to you.

For me, the following were my symptoms of PND, this is the list I wrote back in May 2008.  I just thought I would share it in the hope it may help someone else....

• I feel so tired much of the time, as if I can just sleep and often I feel dozy and spaced out, especially when having to concentrate (driving or PC)
• Everything feels like so much effort and I stress and worry about doing things, instead of just doing them

• I am being destructive with my eating and just having what I like and remembering I need to be good and then eating a packet of biscuits in spite of that

• I feel so anxious much of the time

• I worry how long the babies will sleep and the worry stops me using the time productively and doing anything with it!

• Money is a real worry to me. I know I should not spend it but I do to try and make myself feel happy/ better
• I find myself in my own world often and I want no one to talk to me

• I find myself wanting to shout leave me alone, I just need peace

• I feel that everyone wants a piece of me and I am pulled in too many directions, I want time alone. I want the Merry go round to stop, so I can get off

• My motivation is lacking and I find it hard to do things that I used to do easily. I always feel overstretched

• Yesterday I felt so mad and angry inside, everything made me angry – there being no baby milk at Morrison's so I chucked the cheese back and walked out!

• I am very forgetful at the moment too

• I am getting lots of headaches

• I can get short tempered and normally it is with JJ and it is generally when Miss M is screaming (at me – logically I know it is not but it always feels as if her screaming is a personal attack on me).

Now over to you, do you blog?  Have you had PND?  Yes, write a post and send people over to Mummy Boo's raffle.  No, then sign the petition and buy a raffle ticket or two if you are able to.
Thanks, God Bless, Mich x

Wednesday 23 November 2011

A Big Fat Mummy Fail!

Isn't it easy to fall into the trap of beating yourself up about your prowess as a parent? Why, oh why do we do it?

I dropped my kids at school this morning and walked away feeling tearful and a complete let down to them.  A over reaction from me? yes. Dramatic? yes. Hormonal? yes again. Thankfully I am a pretty sensible sort and I went straight into a meeting at work and got real, remembering that it is one day and that the kids are fine.  What got me in a tizz?  It is Roald Dahl day at school and they requested the kids to go in costume as one of the characters from his books.  They sent the information 1 week ago.  I picked it up 6 days ago and since then have been manic.  To my mind if the school expect us to create fancy dress outfits when I have no cash they need to give me notice and realise I have a life and plans and that they come first.

I thought nothing of the fact that the kids were not dressing up and assumed as least half the school wouldn't be also.  I thought about putting the kids in casual clothes and just passing them off as Danny and Matilda or such but then decided that was a cop out and I either did it properly or not at all.  Time, or lack of it dictated it was not at all.  At school this morning it looked like the majority of kids were dressed up or in casual clothes. Whoops, Mummy fail!

When Miss E said to me that everyone was wearing different clothes and why.  I just replied 'I know, I'm sorry babe' and my little cutie hugged me and said why are you sorry mum. I didn't need to answer but in my mind I was sorry that I had not made more effort to help them fit in.  Yes I had been very busy, at work and away at the weekend but I could have tried harder.

This small incident that made me feel so bad got me thinking about all the things that us Mums (and Dads too I'm sure) end up feeling guilty about or worrying about and how pointless it all is.  In an effort to cheer myself up I made myself a Mummy checklist for today so that I could see it was not all bad!

  • Snuggled with kids in bed before getting up - Fab
  • Helped the kids get ready for school - Fab
  • Organised the kids breakfast, cereal and yoghurt for them all - Fab
  • Drove to school to drop the kids - Fail – should have walked for exercise!
  • Dropped the kids at school, so I can go to work -Fail – should stay home and be available for my kids at all times
  • Did not make/ organise costumes for Roald Dahl day - Fail – should be more organised
  • Picked the kids up from school - Fab
  • Gave the girls fruit as their after school snack - Fab
  • Cooked dinner for us all (chilli) - Fab -hit the 5 a day recommendation for fruit & veg!
  • Did homework with the girls – practised their letter formation  - Fab
  • Tidied the kitchen, baked bread, loaded and unloaded dishwasher, sorted recycling - Fab
  • Picked up dh from station, picked up JJ from a friends so they could go to Cubs together - Fab
  • Make some Xmas tree decorations with the girls for the festival in a couple of weeks - Fab
  • Got the girls ready for bed and had snuggles watching some TV together - Fab
  • Tidied downstairs and sat down for a relax - Fab

So looking at my day I am pretty happy and just reminded that I am a normal and average Mum. Some things I do well and others I am rubbish at.  Ask my kids as they went to bed tonight if I did OK today and I do not even think one of them would even register it was a problem that they were not dressed up at school today.  They have non-uniform day on Friday and are looking forward to that.

Just bringing me back where I started, why are we so hard on ourselves?

Let's join together and put a stop to this.  I am a real Mum and I try my best and I do a good enough job! What do you say?

My little ladies showing off their new sleepsuits tonight, don't they look cute?

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Saintly of Course!

I have been tagged by two lovely new bloggers, From Fun to Mum and Boo, Roo and Tigger too to take part in the 'Where do you Blog Meme'. The idea is that I am supposed to reveal a bit about myself in showing you where I blog and then you will know if I am Saintly or Slatternly (It's a real word, new to me!). So anyone who knows me will know I am bit OCD and I like things to be just so. I have learnt to relax and to realise that kids will make a mess but once they are in bed, how I love it to be tidy and just so.

So I give you my saintly sofa....  the blogging destination of choice.  That or the dining room table, where I am sat right now as the kids do craft or even occasionally in bed whilst watching TV.

Laptop, remote and sofa with pillow - it is all I need!  Ohh and the odd cup of tea every now and then. I'll show you the other side of the room (in the day when the kids are up, hence the bits of mess on the floor in the dining room and teddies on the other sofa!) just so you can see that the room is not as bare or minimalist as it looks in that first photo.

From Fun to Mum also asked the question of why we blog and I have a feeling I have probably posted on this before, so I'll dig back in some old posts and share this Gallery post with you, My Blog is..... That tells you about what my blog is and I know it is a tad different to most people's reasons for blogging!  What am I here for if it is not to glorify God in all I do? and I'll also share my 'Short 'n' Tweet' Journey of a Blog post which takes you from the first press of publish on 10th February 2008 to August 2011.

Monday 21 November 2011

Monday #Mumentum & @Slimavite Update

A couple of weeks back I told you how nice my nails were and I even got a tweet from @NewMumOnline telling me how good I looked when she saw me at a blogger event. So if I tell you that this week I broke four of my nails and now my hands look pretty scruffy, would that give you a clue as to the kind of week I have had?

Today is one of those days where I'd like to hide and not report in but what good would that do? I could pretend the week had gone well and that I was still on track but that does not help me at all and it just makes me a liar.  On the other hand I could completely beat myself up and get all mardy that I have had a pretty awful week and again that does me no good. So I need to be sensible and take the middle road.

It has been a bad week.  I have felt completely hormonal and very, very hungry.  Some of this I think is down to the time of the month, some of it may be going to bed too late and therefore not having enough energy to resist when my emotions tell me it is time to eat.

Rarely this week have I had my @Slimavite milkshakes instead of a meal. I have allowed myself to go with the flow and to eat whatever I fancied.  There have been at least two days that have been bingeful and I have seriously overeaten.

The good news, it has stopped.  I cannot go on like this, if I do I will not meet any of my goals that I set a couple of weeks ago and that would be a real let-down. Yesterday I planned all my meals for the week and went shopping, so we are fully stocked with good healthy foods and I have my shakes.

I pray for a better week.......  please Lord. I am willing to do whatever is needed of me.  I want to be rid of this weight that causes me so much misery and stifles my life.

This weeks update -
Weight 1 Sept 2011 17st 13lb
Weight at start of Slimavite diet (26 October 2011) 17st 10lb (yes the weight I lost in Sept went back on again!)
Weight Sunday 6th November 17st 5lb
Weight Sunday 13th November 17st 2lb
Weight Sunday 20th November 17st 4lb

Total Loss since starting to use Slimavite shakes 6lb (yes sadly it has been a gain this week)

Disclosure: I have been provided with the Slimavite shake powder free of charge and I am required to blog a weekly update. I am not instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Thursday 17 November 2011

#TheGallery : When I Grow Up....

So the theme this week over at the Gallery was 11.11.11 and of course that was Remembrance Day, one special day of the year when we all join together in a minutes silence to pay our respects to all those people who fought for our country and lost their lives.

My little man fancies being in the Army, he is obsessed with all things camouflage and can often be found playing Army Club.  I'll be so scared if the day ever does come that he enlists but I will also be enormously proud that he has chosen such a selfless career. Only time will tell...

As for the girls...  Miss E just wants to be a Mummy.  Apparently she is never going to work, just have babies and be like me.  I did remind her that I work and still look after them.  Her response 'No Mummy, I just want to look after my baby all the time'.  Oh OK, we know what she wishes for then.

Then there is Miss M, my little vivacious twinnie, what does she want to do when she is all grown up? When I went upstairs Friday after school I found her play acting the career that at the moment she feels she will follow.  Can you guess what she wants to do?  Leave me a comment and I'll let you know if you got it right!

Don't forget to check out some of the other super entries for this weeks Gallery.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Essential Winter Preparations

When October rolls around and the clocks go back and the colder weather arrives I know it is time to get all prepared for the really cold spell and this for me means heading out to the shops (yes, yes OK. I know I need no excuse to go shopping, it is my favourite pastime but honestly I am good now. No money equals no shopping). However,  I always find that if you don't shop early to get your winter essentials you are either left with the dross that no-one else wants or you have to spend a fortune and as someone on a budget who still likes to look good, planning and shopping early in the season is the answer.

So what do I need this year?  Not too much actually, which is good news!  Late last year I was shopping in Debenhams with my Mum and it was the very end of their sale and they even had buy one item get another free on sale coats.  My Mum needed a waterproof coat for dog walking and I spotted a gorgeous red wool coat and obviously bagged that.  So coat sorted, my Rocha John Rocha is still in pristine condition and will happily last me this season. What did it cost? I can't remember exactly but I think it had been reduced from about £90 to £25 and of course we got it free as my Mum was buying anyway.

Then thoughts turn to gloves, hats and scarfs and yes I have all those too.  Somehow I have managed to keep my pair of black leather gloves for about 6 years now, which is just perfect as they are all soft and moulded to my shape. Red bobble hat (I kid you not) fits a treat and makes the kids laugh but boy it does the job of keeping me warm on those January school walks.

Next up is boots and I have a couple of pairs currently, a knee high brown smart pair and a beautiful pair of K soft black knee-high casual boots.  I love to wear these but for me they are just not something I can wear under jeans and as a women of larger proportions I just look silly if I try to wear skinny jeans and my boots over them. 

So I need something ultra comfortable, durable, warm, suitable for rain and snow that look good and can be worn under jeans.  Well my answer came in the form of a pair of 'Jade' (no not bright green boots, Jade is the style name)  boots I received from Hotter comfort concept to review. I was not familiar with Hotter before being contacted but I have since found out that my Mum has a pair of Hotter shoes and she loves them.  We both have rubbish problematic feet and never wear the truly glam shoes that some people do, so when my Mum sang their praises I knew they were good, this is a lady I can trust!

The ankle boots I ordered are in a lovely aubergine colour and have a short zip in by the ankle so they go on easily. The leg of the boot is in a crinkle design but depending on the colour you can have them crinkled or straight leg, they do some lovely taupe suede ones but as I wanted boots that would last me through the snow that is bound to show up soon, I was sensible and opted for leather. I did some puddle jumping tests to see how my boots might last when soaking and they came through the test unscathed!

I ordered my boost in extra wide fit and at £85 they are not cheap but I am alway ahappy to pay this kind of money for a pair of boots that last and feel good. The lightweight sole is moulded rubber and there are millions of air bubbles in it, this along with the super soft cushioning is what gives the shoes the complete comfort factor. I kid you not, these are like wearing slippers.  I do love them.

I just took a look at the Hotter site to find out a little more about the company and it has made me smile to see why my boots were as comfy as slippers!  Hotter are a  family owned and run business and they started off in the slipper market back in the 1950's. Most of their shoes are British made at their own factory in Lancashire, 1.3 million pairs last year to be precise.  They are passionate about their product and enjoy making sure the customer is happy.  Every pair of shoes or boots is hand polished and wrapped in tissue paper before being sent out.  I do have to say my boots arrived looking fabulous, the box was good and sturdy and would make a lovely gift.

There are a massive selection of shoes and boots on Hotter and I have to be honest you won't be going on there to buy the latest on-trend platforms or killer heels but I think that clue is in the name Hotter comfort concept!  If you want comfy shoes for work, evening shoes for an older woman or trendy flat boots then I highly recommend taking a look around the site and placing an order. There always seems to be lots of offers, Just tonight I can see £5 off your order and free P&P or buy 2 pairs of boots and save £20. Then when I received my boots they came with a catalogue which had 3 for 2 on shoes and gifts. Bargain!

Then lastly my winter essentials would not be complete without the party pieces and here are my gorgeous but very impractical and very uncomfortable (truth be told) heels that I'll be wearing over the Xmas season. I already have a nice outfit from the MAD blog awards but with my weight loss I do hope that might be too big and then I'll wear a beautiful Wallis top and M&S wide leg black trousers which have been too small for over a year and I was also dreaming about this dress yesterday too.....


Disclosure:  I was supplied with a pair of Hotter comfort concept boost free of charge for the purposes of this review.  They did not instruct me what to write and I remain honest. These really are the most comfy piece of footwear I have ever worn.

Friday 11 November 2011

My Blogging Charter Meme

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So after a week or so of numerous posts about PR relationships, bloggers being blaggers and the so-called cliques of the parent blogging world I've had enough of all that and to put it to bed I have written myself a charter for blogging.  Written in jest but actually the sentiments are true but no before you worry, I am not taking myself too seriously! So here we go....

I Michelle, Mummy from the Heart... promise to -
  1. Believe in myself and stand by anything I write.
  2. Be honest and open in all that I publish.  My integrity is important to me and I won't be compromising it for anyone or any brand.
  3. Post what I like, when I like even if you, yes YOU find it boring and irrelevant. Don't read it, there is a choice you know.
  4. Appreciate my readers by responding to comments and trying not to publish too much drivel. I'll also try to stop by your blog and comment too.
  5. Never publish anything that is just done to pinpoint or humiliate another blogger/ person.
  6. Ensure that my ratio of reviews or sponsored content never exceeds 1 sponsored post to 3 personal ones.
  7. Support others bloggers, especially new ones.  Not making any harsh judgements about them or why they blog.
  8. Respond if you tweet me.  I'll talk to anyone, I may not have anything interesting to say but I'll happily chat away to you if I am on twitter.
  9. Keep hosting Reasons to be Cheerful to do my bit for spreading gratitude around the UK parenting blogsphere.
and lastly and probably most importantly -

   10.   Ensure that I am taking adequate time away from the laptop and the world of blogging
           and social media to ensure that I remember who my kids and husband are, what fun is
           and how to laugh.  Life is all about laughing you know.  It is good for the soul and even
           good for the skin!

So tell me, if this was your charter, what else would you add to it?  Have I missed any obvious ones?

Also, I have decided to make this a meme and to ask other bloggers to join in and to declare their charter.  It can be anything - funny, feisty, fictional, fantasy or fact!  Just go for it...

Time to tag 5 bloggers -

Jane at Northern Mum, as you know hers will make you chuckle
Mummy at The Boy and Me as I tagged her once before and she blew me out!! Debt owed
Emma at Mummy, Mummy, Mum as she is such a thoroughly nice blogger
Helen at Actually Mummy as she is a fab new blogger, doing really well to establish herself
Rachel at MidLife Single Mum as I just love her and think she should be in the UK not Israel! Most inconvenient!

So grab the badge, write your charter and pass it on to 5 (or 50 if you feel that way inclined) other bloggers and lets remind the blogsphere that we blog for us and we answer only to ourselves!!

Blogging Charter Meme at Mummy from the Heart

Thursday 10 November 2011

Realising the Importance of my Other Man!

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For quite a while now, since early August I have been getting into bed at night with my other man.  There have been times when I have forgotten him and on those occasions we tend to have a foray in the morning.  I like him, what can I say? He has a silky voice and the things he speaks to me, oh boy! Without even directly saying the words he tells me I am beautiful, I am worth the effort, that I should believe in myself and I can make changes.

So why has she got another man you might wonder, what is wrong with the one she already has?  Well nothing but this new man does something completely different for me and he even improves my relationship with my husband. When you feel better about yourself you also feel better about your intimate relationships, have you noticed that?

If I am honest you could perhaps get a bit bored of him as he does say the same thing over and over again but it makes me smile when during the day some of his phrases just pop into my head. Phrases like 'from the inside you are changing the outside', 'you are gaining a sense of control over what you can achieve', 'becoming someone who can say no because it is what you want' and 'inevitable that you will look how you dream'.

Don't worry though as Dh is fully aware of my 'other man' and even named him so. In fact one night he got into bed with him too but he decided it was not for him and that's OK, I like to keep my men separate and in their own little compartments. Trevor is mine, well I say mine.  Really his voice is heard by thousands of people every day, both male and female, anyone really who wants to try to change their thinking and ultimately their eating. You may have gathered by now that I have been talking about my Thinking Slimmer Drop 2 Dress Sizes slimpod.  This is just 10 minutes of the silky voiced Trevor giving me suggestions of what I might like to do in my day to change myself for the better, ie: eat less, move more and make better choices.

One of the things that the slimpod talks about is learning why you really want to lose wight.  What is the thing that comes to mind that will keep you on track? What will keep you motivated to achieve your goals? This has been a fabulous thinking and discovery process for me. I would have said that I want to lose weight for health reasons and to be a good role model to the children but actually I have realised just the other day that they are not the primary reasons.  That is not the full truth. I have discovered through listening to this slimpod and thinking things through that the main reason I want to lose weight is to feel better about my body and to feel desirable and improve my relationship with my husband.  I know that both our weight issues hold us back from being as happy together as we could be.

So I have to keep motivated and keep moving forward as the outcome will be so worth it.....

When I spend any length of time listening to my slimpod I do find myself making far better choices.  One of the phrases that rings true for me is 'Enough is enough and is so much less than it used to be'.  I had cheesecake the other night and left just under half of it as I was full.  Then today I found a packet of minstrels in my desk drawer and choose to stick to my plan and abstain instead of scoffing them within minutes, which would be my normal response.  In fact I have so many examples of being sensible with my choices that I am spoilt for choice of which to share with you and that is wonderful.

If you are interested in purchasing a slimpod they cost just £29.99 and there are a range of titles to suit all sorts of needs.  There are also slimpod plus programes which retail at £44.99 and contain 4 separate titles making them great value.

I know there are lots of us using the slimpods.  Are you one of them, how have they worked for you?

I am linking this post up to my Reasons to be Cheerful linky this week, as my weight loss and positive change in the choices I have been making are making me very happy and grateful indeed.  #R2BC is not here this week though, it is over at Kate on Thin Ice, so go over and visit, link up and show Kate some comment love.  Cheers Mich x

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Disclaimer:  I have received my slimpod free of charge.  I have not been instructed to write this blog post.  I felt compelled to share my success with this product and I happily endorse it.

Monday 7 November 2011

Doing #Mumentum the @Slimavite Way!

I expect you all know by now that I have an real issue with food and have been seeking to try and sort this out for years now.  26 years to be precise!  That's a long time isn't it?  I recall going on my first diet aged 12 years old and it has never stopped since then.  One word - exhausting!  The mental exhaustion of carrying this weighty burden (ha ha see what I did there) is massive.

Nearly 2 weeks back I started to use @Slimavite shakes for 2 meals a day and to be honest for the first week or so I had good days but then I also had bad days.  I always find you have to be in the right place mentally to diet and to have enough mental energy to try and sort your food out.  Otherwise I can just get busy and find myself eating something before I even realise it is in my mouth. Planning is key for me.

Last week was much better, I felt motivated to stick with my shakes and for the whole week (bar 1 day) I used the meal replacement shakes for 1 or 2 meals a day. Normally breakfast and lunch.  I have to say it has been a good week. I do not find it particularly hard to have a shake instead of a meal.  I make sure I have a big glass of water first to line my stomach and slightly fill me up and then I drink my shake.  As I mentioned before they are nice and frothy and filling.  After a shake I do not feel the need to reach out for any food due to hunger, of course wanting to eat on my emotions is quite another thing.

Not content with just using the shakes to help me lose weight I am trying to adopt a holistic approach to 'Operation New Michelle' and I am also following the 12 step approach which I have learnt in my eating disorders group over the last couple of years and listening to my Thinking Slimmer slimpod each night. I think all these things combined have meant a good week for me.

So I won't leave you hanging any longer, how have I done?

Weight 1 Sept 2011                                  17st 13lb
Weight at start of Slimavite diet                  17st 10lb (yes the weight I lost in Sept went back on again!)
Weight Sunday 6th November                   17st 5lb

5lb loss, which I am pleased about as my food was anything but perfect.  Much better but not perfect and yesterday I had a lovely event and to be honest the chocolate cake there was very good!

As well as my 5lb loss the really exciting news was that since the beginning of September I have lost 1.5" off my waist and 3.5" off my hips, 1" off my bust and 0.5" off each thigh.  So the exercise that I have restarted must be paying off.

Something I have also done in the last week if define some goal for myself in terms of what I wish to achieve with this weight loss and those will help to keep me focused -
  1. Wear a lovely Wallis top I got in August 2010 and have only ever worn once.  It would be fab for all the Christmas do's I have coming up. Only 4 weeks to shift a good stone to be able to do this!
  2. Be able to wear my engagement ring again (currently it is too tight)
  3. Feel really comfortable when I speak at Brit Mums Live in June 2012. That is 7 months away and how amazing would it be if I can be down to a size 16/18 by then.  I am currently pushing a 24.
So that is where I am right now.  I'll post again next week with my weekly Operation new Michelle update!

I'll leave you with some gruesome pics of me at my starting point.

So fellow weight loss pals, how are you all doing right now?

Saturday 5 November 2011

Come on then, define blagger for me... Is it me?

So I have hardly been blogging recently and have read very little and even I have seen how much is being said at the moment about mummy blaggers. Blaggers? yes you read that right, not bloggers.  Blagging seems to be the topic of right now! Take a look here if you are out the loop and want to see the great debate on this post.

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So what is a blagger?  From what I can gather they are someone just out for what they can get.  I looked at the Urban Dictionary and it basically says to blag 'is to gain something of material worth by cheekiness or trickery, apparently lying is acceptable too'. Hmm nice, a term I'd like to be associated with then.  I think not!

I then asked on Twitter what people associate with the term Mummy Blagger.  Nickie told me "someone who "blags" (blatantly asks) for review items because they cant be arsed buying them". I have to say she made me laugh, that is probably a pretty good description of blagging. Daddacool suggested "it is a blogger who is only in it for the freebies".  Yep probably another good definition.

Given all those definitions I sit here and think, 'good, no way I can be seen as a blagger then can I?' I did my first review in October 2010, I started my blog in February 2008. I have 732 posts on this blog and only 41 of them are reviews (yes I have a review blog but even that only has about 50 posts). So my ratio is about 7 personal posts to 1 review, a good balance in my mind. I receive well over 50 emails a week offering me items for free, I say yes to about 3 of those and I review honestly stating the negatives of a product as well as the positives.

But then....  I start to think about how the first event I went to was because I asked another blogger to put my name forward and then the best days out review I have ever done I got because I asked yet another blogger to put my name forward and not content with that review, I then asked the same PR if they were happy with the response they had to my review and could I come back and review another part of the park? I go on blogger.ed and BritMums and I'll respond to PR requests on there and I'll respond to tweets from PR's and brands.  So let's think again, does that make me a blagger?

No I hear some of you shouting, not you Mich.  You are like me, an established Mummy blogger who enjoys some of the perks of having a well established and popular blog....  but then I can hear others, ones who hate any kind of review or those with longer-established blogs than mine who may say yes, all that qualifies you as a blagger.

So here we are with a totally subjective matter. We will never all agree on this. For the record, I do not regard myself as a blagger. If I think something fits with me and my family profile I will say yes to an approach or I may ask to review it if I know there is blogger activity going on but in general I do not email out or tweet to ask for product reviews, I just do not have the time or inclination to do that. Good reviewing is hard work.

I feel like I am in a minefield with this blogging lark.  There are unwritten rules all over the place and no-one knows when they have overstepped an invisible line.  All I can do is stay true to myself and continue to do what feels right. I advise you dear reader to do the same.  If something works for you, go with it.  As long as you sleep at night and you hurt no-one then who am I to criticise or dictate to you how to live your life.  You want to send out tons of #PRRequests a day on twitter then go ahead, I can always unfollow if you get on my nerves.

So what do you think on this? Be honest (I can take it), has my asking before put me in the blagger category?

Friday 4 November 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful: Keeping Perspective

I'm like a bad smell aren't I?  There is just no getting rid of me, I say I am on a break and I keep popping up, but you know what?  Being on a bloggy break is just a state of mind I have found.  I do not actually have to be keeping away totally I just have to be keeping perspective and for some strange reason, thinking to myself that I am taking a break gives me the OK to blog sporadically and without worrying about anything bloggy.  It is working for me right now, so I am going with it.

I had no intention of doing a #R2BC post this week.  I knew that Ems would be doing a fab job guest hosting it over at A matter of Choice but after a conversation yesterday I just could not resist.....  I am feeling just a little bit excited and I just need to share...

I am going to be speaking at BritMums Live next June.  How fab is that?  Little old me is going to share my blogging experience and advice.  I am going to be using this date as a goal for my weight loss and I hope to be there feeling really good in my skin and not having got all silly and stressed like I did in the run up to CyberMummy.

Generally I am feeling very happy and grateful right now, my diet is going well and I have been abstinent from compulsive overeating for a few days, my nails are lovely and long (and that is always a visual indicator of my general health and wellbeing).

I am so grateful for the gift of perspective.  Yesterday I did all the things I needed to do including going to the gym, going to my eating disorder meeting and taking time to chill and it would be so easy to beat myself up that I achieved nothing and that the house still needed cleaning and the ironing remained not done but perspective reminds me that only when Mich feels balanced and content is the world good and that is far better than checking tasks off a list!

Also my house feels wonderful and the kids are really enjoying their new bedrooms which Granddad sorted for them (photos below).

I am looking forward to a super family weekend - I hope you have something nice planned too!

Pop over to Ems and link up your #R2BC post.  Take a look HERE if you are new to this and want to know more.

Love you all, Mich x