Thursday 29 December 2011

Week 52 - #R2BC Christmas Was....

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Quite simply..... a wonderful time.  Just what it should be. Lots of relaxing, some lovely food but not too much, parties with friends, time with family, playing with the kids, great presents, good movies and just generally feeling good.

So what else could be a more perfect topic for this weeks Reasons to be Cheerful  (#R2BC) post?  Christmas made me cheerful.  I don't think there was anything about it that gave me a cause to be anything other than happy, grateful and glad to be me. How blessed I am to be able to say that.

I'll share my week in photos this time, it is always nice to vary my #R2BC posts.  This is my 52nd one of them after all! Yep one whole year - how time flies when you are blessed!

This weekly linky will keep going in 2012 too.  Enough people have said to me that they enjoy joining in, that it is definitely worthwhile.  We may not be the biggest weekly link up around but we certainly have the most fab group of people who join in.

A big thank you to Warner Bros. who sent me the most beautiful lined hessian sack filled with superb Warner Bros. family movies.  My JJ was super chuffed with the full set of Scooby Doo DVD's stored in the Mystery Machine. We received loads of other fab movies too such as Happy Feet, The Polar Express, Yogi Bear and Ben 10.

Our beautiful wooden nativity set.  The kids used it to tell the story to dh and I on Christmas eve, very cute!

The kids made us lots of beautiful tea light holders this year and our Christmas table had them all.

Far too many gifts. I had said I was going to be so frugal this year - whoops!  Yes that is Miss M crawling into a present bag practically as big as her.

Favourite present of the day?  the £1 children's make up set from a pound shop of course!

Off to Church we go.  Not a flattering picture at all but at least it is all 5 of us together.

Fun at Nanny's, at last Miss E is getting brave with climbing frames and even tried out the zip rope.

Dh takes his role as chief craft adviser very seriously.  The girls loved having Daddy help them decorate their jewellery boxes.

So many great things that I forgot to catch on camera, but I think you can see from that lot it has been good fun here!

So over to you.  What are you feeling cheerful about at the moment?  Take a few moments and count your blessings, especially if things feel tough right now.  It really will help, even just a little, to focus on the positive stuff - for there always is hope...

If you are new to #R2BC and want to see what it is about, then check out HERE.  Please do visit some other people who link up and I will be over to visit everyone but it will be early next week.

Happy New Year, Mich xx

Wednesday 28 December 2011

London: New Years Day Parade

What will you be doing on New Year’s Day then? Lunch with the family, a good movie, relaxing? They all sound rather good but we, as a family will be doing none of those. No, we will be up in London in the freezing cold, outside!
But don’t worry, it will be fab and it is through choice. So if you are lost for something to do on New Year’s day, then why don’t you join us and thousands of others in central London for the London Parade where you can watch 10,000 performers from across the world and join half a million other spectators.  The fabulous thing is that because it covers such a wide area of London, it is not too busy and even out little toddlers could see fine last year and the other big plus point, it is free!

2012 will be the 25th year of the parade and they expect it to be bigger and better than any other year.  It really is a spectacle and the highlight for us was watching all the American marching bands with their fantastic costumes, routines and inflatables.  Of course there are also the superb floats from all the boroughs of London, the horse and carts, trains, motorbikes and every other type of transport imaginable too! The parade starts at 11.45am and runs until about 3pm, so it will keep you entertained for hours, lets just pray it does not rain like last year or worse still snow!

Anyway enough from me, check out some of the pictures we took last year and click on the link and see for yourself if you fancy a trip to London on New Years Day.  We will be staying over on NYE, so we are ready nice and early after a Maccy D's breakfast - we know how to live!

Look at the size of that inflatable!

Image Credit
This is not a sponsored post, we just had a great day last year and I figure that I had never heard of this before so many local people probably have not either.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Saturday is Caption Day & Merry Christmas

Saturday is Caption Day!

Saturday Is Caption Day

For a bit of feative fun, I thought I would join in with Mamasaurus' 'Sat Cap', but please be gentle with me, I'm just a newbie.

Here we go then - caption this!

Happy Christmas from Mummy from the Heart...
I am breaking with our family tradition today and we are not going to see Santa, we already did that last weekend so today we are free to relax as a family, watch a movie, play some games, read about the true meaning of Christmas and head off to a Christingle service and have some fish and chips on the way home. I am really looking forward to a day with no pressure and no chores to be done.

The wrapping is all complete and I intend to enjoy Christmas Eve evening watching 'Its a Wonderful Life' curled up on the sofa with my hubbie.

I hope you have a great Christmas Eve planned and I wish you a marvellous and blessed Christmas.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog this last year, it has been superb getting to know so many of you.  Mich xx

Trying hard to look festive and all together!

Thursday 22 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 51 #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Not long now folks - both to the anniversary of #R2BC and to Christmas and a brand new year.  It is going to be an exciting couple of weeks....

So what is making me cheerful this week?  Quite a few things really, read on....
  1. You know I had an interview last Thursday? Well I got the job and I should start at the beginning of February, so that is very exciting.  It is still at my current workplace and I am situated in the same office but with a new team and I will mostly be out training now.
  2. After posting about feeling very down earlier this week I have received loads of calls, emails, tweets and comments from friends old and new wanting to let me know I have their support.  Thanks so much. As per always getting the fact that I feel down out in the open has helped loads and the last couple of days I have felt so much better.
  3. I finished work today and do not go back until 3rd January.  I think this break will be so precious to me and the time with my family will make a massive difference to how I have been feeling.
  4. Our Christmas will be very low key and just the 5 of us.  Originally my family were coming on Boxing Day but my Dad's car has broken and they cannot find a hire car so this now means we will have Christmas and Boxing Day with just us 5 and in true Polyanna style I am turning this sad thing into something good and it means we will all have to relax and play together.  I shopped tonight and have not gone overboard at all, so there will be no cupboards full of goodies to empty when dh and I start the diet after Christmas.
  5. We will not get to go and visit my parents at their house on the 27th Dec and I'll look forward to that.
  6. We had a fabulous little party for the kids on Monday when I was off work.  6 Mums got together and put in £14.50 each and we had a full packed 4 hours fun in a hired hall. It was superb and so much better than buying lots of cheap presents for the kids, we all got to spend time together.
  7. I have started to receive some great offers of giveaway prizes ready for the grand #R2BC anniversary giveaway which will go live on Thursday 19th January. I have 8 prizes promised so far....  watch this space!
I could actually keep going, but 7 has to be enough really!  Over to you.  How is life treating you?  Surely you must have some reasons to be cheerful right now?  Kick off your shoes, relax and forget the hustle bustle of getting ready for Christmas.  Count your blessings now!

If I do not catch you before I wish you a blessed Christmas and I hope 2012 is a special year for you.

Love Mich x

Monday 19 December 2011

I want to laugh at myself.... and some of you too!

Back in June when I was at the CyberMummy conference, I grouped with a load of other awesome bloggers and had my photo taken by the talented Jay. Well now Tara and Jay have gone and made a calendar of all the photos taken and I just know I am going to look truly awful!  Not because Jay will have made me so (I did ask her if she could skim off a few stone but she was not seeming too accommodating with that) but because that is what happens with me and photos and I am sorting of hoping there might be a few others who product cracking photos in this calendar, as boy I need a jolly good chuckle at the moment.  Aren't I mean?

Anyway mean or not, I am able to get my grubby mitts on a calendar by writing a post about my blogging inspiration and posting a photo that sums up my blog.  I did that once before for Tara's gallery and I have written a few posts around why I blog but basically I blog for many reasons.

Fundamentally, for me, my blog is Church, it is the place I share my faith and try to show people that Christians are pretty normal too, we have imperfect lives and we keep on failing but we pick ourselves up and try to do better the next time. Someone once left me a comment saying that they avoided my blog for a long time as my strap line advertises me as a a Christian and this put them off as they expected to get preached to and then once she started to visit she found she loved the warmth of my blog and kept coming back.  Perfect, that warmth is my faith.

My blog is also my personal therapist, all those things I would love to say to someone who would sort my head out get blurted out here and it makes me a tad vulnerable but it helps so much.  I just worry about giving my poor mum a heart attack.  I actually think the day anyone has to really worry about me is when I choose not to write it down and to push it under the carpet and hide.

My blog is also a personal account of my family life, I love to share my children's milestones here and to show photos to my family and friends who live far away. When I take the time to read back over posts from years ago it is amazing to find that I remember that Miss E used to refer to me as 'my darling' when she was 2.  Something I had forgotten and would have lost if it had not been for my treasured blog.

Then lastly my blog has opened up a whole new world for me, both in terms of new friends across the world (some I have met and see often and some I have never yet met but feel very comfortable and happy with) and in being paid for my writing skills and being seen as an inspiration to so many people.

Life has changed a lot since I started this blog back in February 2008, it was definitely one of the best decisions I have made....

I Can't Give Up On Me...

What do you think when you look at those awful fingers?  Ouch, they look painful?  That is certainly how I feel, yes that disgusting excuse for a hand is mine and today it looks even worse.  In a moment I'll have to get myself a plaster as my middle finger is so raw and frayed that it is snagging on everything.  Do you recall I told you a while back that you can always tell what kind of state I am in by how my fingernails look?  Well, I will give you one guess how I feel right now!

Now don't go getting worried there is nothing so bad that I can't get through it or that I'll collapse in a heap but I do feel very low at the moment, I am having big pockets of unhappiness and being on the laptop seems to be make it worse.  This will be why you have not seen me on twitter or such lately.  Doing real life stuff, keeping busy, getting ready for Christmas is helping me loads though.  I even have a few hours of happiness and feeling light when I go out with the kids and just relax.

So what is making me feel like this? I'm not 100 % sure but I think it is down to my weight and my poor body image. I have some horrid feelings of self loathing at the moment.  Truth be told I just want to give up on myself and give in and say 'I can't do it, it is too hard' but I am sensible enough to know this is not an option.  So I am hoping that this crap I am feeling is my personal low, that one you have to hit to be able to claw your way back up to the top.  It seems that everyone who has a successful recovery has hit rock bottom and I have always known that I have never got there.  Some people in my eating disorders group have told me I am lucky, I have found help before I hit that low and I need never get there and that would be fabulous if it was true, but sadly I feel that until I hit that low I will still keep pissing around losing weight one week and giving up on my good work the next. I find myself boring, so who knows how you feel!

I must be honest and say that I do wonder if I am a bit depressed at the moment.  I feel different to how I did back in 2008 when I had PND, back then I wanted the world to leave me alone and I just wanted to sleep.  This time around I just feel sad a fair amount of the time.  I recognised this back in October when I decided to take a bloggy break and in the main nothing much has changed for me. I get these waves of sadness and I feel like the super unpopular girl at school.  I read too much in to everything and I wonder why I cannot seem to get it right.

I know there is a way through this, I just have to keep searching and I'll find it.....

Thanks for being there, reading and supporting me. I expect some of you wonder why I blurb so much personal stuff onto this blog but I made a commitment to myself to join up on a Monday each week with the #Mumentum blog hop that Liska hosts and even though I am not losing weight and being focused at the moment I figure if I can keep talking and thinking through my sh*t to do with my weight then at least I am keeping that discipline and will be ready to tackle it all again soon.

Sunday 18 December 2011


I can't have one beauty without the other!

Miss M

Miss E
If you like to take a look at people's pictures on a Sunday then check out the #SilentSunday hashtag!

Thursday 15 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1, 2, 3 - Week 50

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
Oh wow, week 50, that means we are only 2 weeks off this linky having been running for a year!  Isn't that fab? When I started this I committed to keep it going for a year and I can't believe how time has flown by...  I am hoping to have a nice little bundle of goodies for you as a Reasons to be Cheerful 1st anniversary giveaway, because it will keep going and who knows we may even hit a 2nd anniversary.

The #R2BC launch week saw 39 people join up and share their joyful reasons and the number of bloggers joining in continued around that mark with a peek at week 5 with 45 people joining in.  In more recent times we have become a select group with about 20 people linking up and now in the busy run up to Christmas we seem to have shrunk to 8....  but what a fab group of 8 we are! I wonder if I will be all alone this week and next?   Nah, I have faith, there are a few of you who will keep me company come rain or shine!

This week I am going back to basics and am just simply posting my reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3.  Here they are -
  1. By the time you read this I probably will have had my interview for a new job at my existing work.  I have to do a 15 minute presentation and have a panel interview so to say I am a tad nervous is very true! The wobble I had when I called dh at work on Wednesday was no fun.
  2. To celebrate the interview being over work has laid on a large party for me, yes honestly just for me.  Not for the other couple of thousand of people who work there!  It should be a great night; free food, great music, dancing with friends   I have a lovely dress and I really intend to enjoy myself and all without an ounce of alcohol.
  3. I am grateful for good friends with great ideas.  Instead of my girls buying their little friends a token gift this Christmas six Mums are coming together to organise a 4 hour party on Monday.  We are having loads of crafts, games (pin the nose on the snowman, pass the parcel etc), dancing and party food.  The twelve 4 year olds that will attend will have an absolute ball and this may be something we do every year and all for about £10 per parent.  Fab, hey?
So there you go, simple.  They are the 3 main reasons for me to feel cheerful this week.  Of course Christmas being only 10 days away and me only having 2 more days to work before Christmas are just aside factors and are not really making me that cheerful at all, yeah right!

Over to you - write your cheerful, happy, joyous or gratitude post and link up.  Visit the others who link up and share some Christmas cheer.  Don't forget to tweet about your post and use the #R2BC hashtag and if you are new to Reasons to be Cheerful then take a look HERE and read a bit more about where this linky came from.

Thanks all, love you.  Mich x

Monday 12 December 2011

Charity is such a Personal Thing. Do you Blog about it?

Image Credit

As a blogger, you could give yourself a real attack of the guilts.  Every day, no-fail, at the moment at least one email appears in my blog inbox from a well-known charity asking me to blog about them and to help raise awareness of their very worthy cause.  Boy, how I would love to help them all, I am an avid believer in helping those in need and those less fortunate than me but truth be told if I blogged about them all I would have nothing else on my blog other than charitable posts and let's be honest, would you come back and keep reading if all I ever wrote about was appeal after appeal?  I think not. We do not need constant reminder after reminder of just how broken our world is and how much help is needed.

I have started to email back to explain that I am an avid supporter of many charities but that the ones I choose to blog about are Save the Children, Compassion and Operation Christmas Child in the main. These are all charities that I support in effort and money as well as blogging about them and therefore it feels right. If  I blog about any other charity it will be because it is on my heart at that time rather than because they have a current campaign.

I was watching an episode of the Secret Millionaire the other day (I love that programme) and it really surprised me to watch this millionaire go into the deprived area that he would live in and seek out a charity for stray dogs, he then proceeded to give them thousands of pounds to continue their good work.  My instant thoughts about this were why was he not giving the money to a homeless charity or some ill people?  Why dogs?  This was when I realised just how personal the choice of charity to support is.  What makes sense to someone else and is the best cause to support seems alien to me.  Take my post last week about Operation Christmas Child and how I feel it is important to bring short-term joy to children as well as long term medical care and food supplies and some other people thought I was bonkers.  Each to their own, how true this is.

For some people, I realise they do not even want to get involved in what they see as charity.  The number of times I have heard the phrase 'charity starts at home', 'we are broke', 'I can't afford to give my money away' yadda, yadda, yadda.  Yes, some people in the UK are on the poverty line and cannot afford to give anything but that does not go for the majority of us.  If you have a takeaway meal once in a month then you can afford to give something but yes it is your choice and I am very happy for you to make a choice but just be honest with yourself and admit you choose not to give to charity.

Sorry got a bit ranty there, like I said charity is such a personal thing.  We all do what is right for us and the only person we are answerable to is God, so as long as you are happy then that works for me.

Tell me your thoughts, how do you feel when those emails drop into your inbox?  Or what is your gut reaction when you see a charity post on a blog?  I'd genuinely love to hear...

Sunday 11 December 2011

My Christmas Wishes, those that money can't buy!

So what are you wishing for this Christmas?  Are you expecting a nice treat under the tree on December 25th?  Something sparkly and diamond, a little trip away, a beautiful new coat?  Nope none of those, not me anyway.  There is nothing I need really and sadly we do not have any spare cash so those things that money can buy won't really be coming my way, I'll wait a few more years yet for the next Caribbean holiday or my eternity ring.

Donna at Mummy Central came up with the lovely idea of listing our Christmas wishes, the kind of things that money cannot buy.  She quite rightly says that Christmas has become so commercialised and many of the gifts we give are not what we would truly love to give, or receive for that matter. Then Ruth at Dorky Mum tagged me to join in with this and how could I refuse?

So here are my hearts desires, those things I wish for that money cannot buy or guarantee... but I'll keep praying for them...

  1. That all my babies grow up to be well rounded adults who are content and happy in their own skins.  I do not mind at all what they wish to do or to be when they are older as long as they live their lives to the full and continue to be good people.  I will be so proud.
  2. To be able to do something that really feels as if it is for the good of many others. 'To work for God' is the way I have always verbalised this internal desire.  How I would love to win a few million pounds and then be able to do something wonderful, I am not sure what but it would be something along the lines of building an orphanage, homeless shelter or such.
  3. I would not be being true to myself if I did not add in this totally selfish one!  I want to be slim and healthy and I want to be able to maintain it.  To wake every day and to just eat because it is what we have to do, rather than to plan my day around food would be the most amazing and freeing thing for me personally.
  4. To live by the seaside and to have my parents living close by. Wow, I have this little dream life in my head, where dh has his own business and we work together. Our life allows us to spend tons of family time together and the kids grow up with loads of fresh air and running after my Mum's dog on the beach - sounds divine.
  5. To be able to change myself and grow so that I have more patience and less anger.  I hate that I have a temper and I long to stay calm with my kids, even when all three of them are shouting at me at once.  One day..... 
  6. To have a wonderful chilled Christmas this year, loads of TV watching, cuddling up, playing games and chatting with those I love.  No pressure and no chores!  We decorated our trees yesterday and had a lovley time doign it, I now just need to chill out about the fact that the kids covered theri one in lametta and now my house is covered in it, however much I clear up...    agghhhh....   and breath Mich !
My Tree!

The Kids Tree!

Thursday 8 December 2011

#R2BC - Week 49 Grateful for a Simple Weekend

Hello fellow cheerful ones,

#R2BC is back with me this week and I am pleased to welcome you all back to my blog. You know the drill - write a happy, joyful, grateful post and link it up.  Visit other blogs in the blog hop, leave some comment love and feel good you have put some smiles on some peoples faces.  If you link up early, any chance I can ask for a favour and you pop back Saturday to visit those who join up later?  They tend to miss out on the love.  I will definitely visit and comment on all blogs this week (well unless 100 join up!).

Last weekend, early Saturday night I headed out to the washing machine to empty it and load up the tumble dryer when it hit me like a rock.  I was content.  In that moment, life felt good, I was happy and I needed nothing else.  It felt wonderful. If only I could bottle that feeling and sell it, I'd be very rich and I'd be able to do a lot of good with that money.

Mum and her soppy dog Archie!

Let me share with you the simple things that were making me feel good -
  1. My Dh and kids all being at home and relaxed
  2. Mum having been to stay for 4 days
  3. Some good shopping and a beautiful new maxi dress from M and S
  4. Knowing I have 2 great Christmas parties coming up and I now have a perfect dress to wear
  5. Home-made coffee cake
  6. Dh's homemade chicken and vegetable soup - enough to keep us going all week!
  7. The housework being done enough (notice that word, enough.  Nothing was perfect but it was all manageable and I was able to let go).
  8. My Dad and Brother coming for a roast the next day
  9. The kids Christmas tree being well received at the local festival
  10. 2 little girls mesmerised by meeting Santa
  11. Sitting on twitter, chatting away about nonsense to some good friends
Perfect!  Isn't it amazing when we can just accept what we have then and there, making the best of it and forgetting the bad stuff for a small time?

So. we are fast approaching #R2BC's bloggerversary.  Tell me, do you think I should keep it running next year? We are a small and select group nowadays, ranging from 8 - 25 posts linking up each week but I do think it always feel like a lovely community.  Tell me what you think.......

Cheers Mich x

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Merlin Series 4 on DVD: Review & Giveaway

Congratulations to @JoBeaufoix, JJ has picked you as the winner.  Your suggested name was his favourite but now he is asking me what a wench is??  Oh dear.  Anyway email or DM me your address details and I can pass them to the PR, who would love to send your DVD out tomorrow so it reaches you for Christmas.

Thanks, Mich x

Merlin has undoubtedly become one of the BBC's most successful dramas in recent years.  With around 7 million tuning in to each episode in series 3, series 4 sees the most dramatic change yet in the fortunes of the heroes and is destined to become the most exciting series so far.  This series started broadcasting on 1st October and runs for a few more weeks yet. I have been sent volume 1 of series 4, which contains the first 6 episodes for review by my hubby and JJ, who are both avid Merlin fans.

Whilst I indulgence in the froth of X Factor or such on a Saturday night my boys head upstairs together and enjoy a boys hour snuggled up watching Merlin.  The next best thing to Doctor Who is how they described it to me. JJ especially was happy to watch the same episode a number of times, whereas dh said that he would watch them more than once but would want a good time to pass between.

Dh said that Merlin is great because it is something that is suitable for all the family to watch together and there are not that many programs nowadays that capture the imagination of all ages. The story twists and turns and engages JJ. Once one episode finishes on a Saturday he is already talking about what may happen the next week.

I was surprised to see that the DVD has a 12 certificate.  This means that my 8 year old should probably not have been watching it, but of course TV does not come with a certificate so we had not known this and talking to dh he sees no reason why JJ should not watch.  He always watches it with his Dad and asks about anything he does not understand. I decided to take a look at the BBFC website and see why it was rated 12 and it appears that all the Merlin episodes that have been rated to date are PG cert with the exception of series 4, episode 4 which gained a 12 cert due to moderate violence.

The series stars Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Angel Coulby, Katie McGrath, Anthony Head and Richard Wilson with John Hurt as the voice of the dragon and was released on 28th November.  It has a 270 minute run time and the DVD and Blu-ray come with extras such as outtakes, fan gallery, storyboards and deleted scenes.

Volume 1 of the Merlin Series 4 DVD retails at £11.99 on Amazon . Volume 2 and the complete 4th series will be released on 23rd January 2012.

If you have not watched Merlin before, take a peek here and see what it is all about -

Like what you saw?  Want to win yourself a copy of Volume 1 of Series 4?

How to Enter
  • Mandatory - Leave a comment telling me what your character name would be if you were in Merlin and leave me an email addy or twitter name so I can contact you if you are the lucky winner.
  • Optional for an additional entry - Tweet 'I'm in to #win a Vol 1, Series 4 Merlin DVD with @michelletwinmum's #giveaway, it's magic! #comp ' and leave me a comment to say you have done so.

Giveaway Terms and Conditions
  • The winner will be chosen at random
  • Open to UK and Ireland residents only
  • Giveaway closes at 12 noon on Tuesday 13th December 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 DVD will be sent direct from the PR agency

Disclaimer:  I received this DVD free of charge for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Sunday 4 December 2011

What will your Christmas Dinner be this Year?

Traditional turkey, duck, pheasant, 4 bird roast or not even a bird, perhaps you are veggie - a nut roast?  The choice is so wide and we have the privilege of making that choice.  The other day whilst having dinner dh and I were chatting with the kids about what they would like to eat on Christmas Day.  Pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and maple syrup for breakfast, cooked by Daddy of course have become a bit of a tradition in our house.  This year for lunch we will have traditional turkey with all the trimmings, roast potatoes, green beans, carrots, swede and red cabbage - yum. I am hungry just thinking about this.

But of course, in all honesty, hunger is something I know nothing of it. It makes me quite ashamed when I think about all the posts on this blog about my eating disorder, about my battle with compulsive overeating.  I cannot dwell on it too much as the shame just washes over me and really it is not productive at all.  It does not make me stop eating so much. Sadly the people who need the excess food I eat are no-where near me as I live in a privileged area. I keep on praying and one day I know the miracle will happen for me and I will stop the needless comfort eating.

For now I remember how fortunate I am and I take time to think about all those in the world who are desperate to eat, either because they cannot afford food or because of drought destroying their hope of food growing. I am writing this post today as Molly over at Mothers Always Right has asked me to, let me nick some words from her blog to tell you why -

Save The Children are campaigning to end extreme hunger. They want the UK government to sign up to the Charter to End Extreme Hunger. This Charter calls on governments to take life-saving measures to protect children around the world. So far over 6,000 people have signed it, including me.  Will you sign it too?

Save The Children are now asking people to take the campaign up a level, with their #66Cities project. They want people to champion their cities, write to their MPs and encourage other people to sign the petition.

Molly says that she cannot hope to impact this alone but with other bloggers, we can all do something amazing.  Remember how we all pulled together for Save the Children before? with the #Healthworkers campaign, 164 bloggers wrote posts and linked up, pretty awesome hey?

Here is what Molly suggests we do -

  • Share a picture of your child covered in food eating beautifully on your blog. Then ask your readers to sign the petition asking for David Cameron to support the Charter to End Extreme Hunger.
  • Tweet about it, using the #66Cities hashtag.
  • If you want to, come back and link your post here. I will tweet it too and shout about it a bit (I have a rather loud voice).
Remember, no child is born to die.

I'd love to tag the following people to join in with this and to spread the word further -

Emma at Mummy, Mummy, Mum
Gemma at Hello It's Gemma
Kerry at Multiple Mummy
Annie at Mammasaurus
Clare at Seasider in the City
Susanne at Ghost Writer Mummy
Ruth at Geek Mummy

Thanks a lot, Mich x

and these Molly are for you -

Friday 2 December 2011

Operation Christmas Child: My Response

Boy in Belarus receiving his Operation Christmas Child shoebox
Image Credit: Jonty Wilde

I spent an enjoyable couple of months this year planning and organising for the Operation Christmas Child gift boxes that my children would make and also organising the collection for the school my children attend.  Last year the school sent off 92 completed boxes and I had hoped that because I was extra organised we could make it even bigger and better this year.  I had not realised that my organisational skills would not impact the amount we send off as a school.  This year we sent 80 boxes and I could have been disappointed as we did not hit the target I had set but let's be honest when an extra 80 children will receive a nice Christmas gift box this year, how can I be sad about that?

Whilst the drop in the number of boxes we sent did not make me sad, some of the things I read on a number of blogs and forums did. This started with a message on a private forum I post to with a general neutral post about Operation Christmas Child, this very quickly filled up with strong opinion from bloggers pointing me to blogs which cited articles from the Guardian and other renowned sources dating back quite a few years, these talked about how Operation Christmas Child was there to just convert helpless children to Christianity and that each box had religious material inserted into it.

As a Christian myself and an avid supporter of OCC I did not believe this was the case, it did not really sit right with the principles of Christianity as I understand them. So I contacted OCC and they confirmed that they NEVER insert anything into boxes but that a pile of leaflets are delivered along with the batch of boxes and people are free to have them if they would like them. They also assured me literature is not distributed in Muslin countries as the authorities do not allow it. Receiving a leaflet is not a condition of receiving a box and if anyone does not wish to take a leaflet then that is perfectly fine. OCC have FAQ pages on their public website and these openly discuss all this information and even have the booklet in a downloadable format if you would like to look through it.

On the blogs I was reading I kept seeing blogger after blogger asking why could OCC not be more open about the fact that they are a Christian organisation?  Really, are they hiding it? Again on the website, on the about us page, I discovered their mission:
The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Hmm does not seem to me as if they are hiding anything!

A blogger I respect and one I found very early in my blogging journey posted on this subject a few weeks ago and Jen tweeted me saying 'as an active Christian she would appreciate my input on her post'.  I did go and read it and I just could not comment at that time, it made me so cross. I could not understand why someone would want to highlight the reasons they would not be participating in a charitable event, not when I could see no faults with something that is set up to bring joy to others.

The information she gave about Evangelical literature being put in the boxes was incorrect and many commenters were misled, this is irresponsible I feel. Journalists have to check their information but for bloggers, we can just press publish and the damage is done. That's not right, we should be held to the same standard.

In the comments, Jen states that Franklin Graham sees every shoebox as a Gospel opportunity.  Me too, it is called love in action.  This is what the Gospel is all about. I take offence at the derogatory comment about not condemning charity, only Operation Christmas Child and it's Evangelical Christian angle.  When did Evangelical become a dirty word?  I am an evangelist, it does not mean that I force feed you scripture or talk Jesus all day, it means I aim to live my life as Jesus did, I spread my faith as best I can and that I live in the hope that all will find hope in Jesus.  However, I know we are all different and many people have their own different faiths and I'm OK with that.  It does not mean I think they are right, I would be a wishy-washy Christian if it did. It is just called respect.

Child with Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in Belarus
Image Credit: Jonty Wilde

Some people have had a bad experience with Christian organisations, Jen included and others have watched too much news and seen things like the Waco siege of 1993 but let me just say that to my mind there is nothing wrong with a Christian organisation doing something wonderful at the time of year that is all about Christ.  So many people are happy to celebrate Christmas but have no regard for the faith that it is built upon. I loved the comment on Jen's post, by the Hairy Farmer Family about how people are happy to send their children to the local faith school as they generally perform better and they do not seem to worry about those children being evangelised to. So why all the fuss about one leaflet? So true!

I have seen other comments before about how OCC is all about the giver and not the person receiving the gift and if that is the case then the motivation for doing it is wrong, but I don't necessarily believe that is entirely wrong to give the gift as the recipient does benefit.  When my children, as young as four understand there are many people in this world who are not fortunate like them and they choose to buy gifts and keep things given to them 'for the children who do not have anything' then I think that is a pretty valuable lesson and I feel proud that my children are learning about the world.  You may say I should be shielding my children and they should not know about these things at their age but I beg to differ.

I do understand the objection that some bloggers make, like Salt and Caramel about the fact that items are imported into the UK, bought, put in a shoebox and then distributed to other countries and that this causes needless distribution costs.  Wouldn't it be better to give the money to a charity who will buy life-saving food, shelter or vaccinations and will deliver them directly in the country?  Maybe, but for me, there is a balance between giving to this kind of charity that provides relief directly for the needs of life and giving to a charity that is then enriching and making pleasurable the life of a child who has little else. When my husband was in India earlier this year he testified how much the children loved his small secondhand teddies, cars and balloons that he took for them.  These small gifts made the world of difference to them.

Children in India playing with toy cars

I am truly concerned that many people seem to think that OCC and Samaritans Purse are misleading the general public and that they are actively being underhand in trying to offer some hope and the Christian faith to the people they meet abroad.  I have a strong belief in OCC; as a Christian organisation, I trust that they will keep their word and be above question. For this reason, I will be travelling with a local team on an OCC shoebox delivery next year to see first hand what goes on.

Then being me, I will of course blog about it and I promise you now, I will be blogging very honestly, if I find that anything does not sit right with me and meet with my personal ethics I'll say so. I am not scared to blog the truth.

So there we go, that is my thoughts on the matter. I wanted to present the flip-side of the coin from someone who has supported this charity for years and will still continue to do so until I am faced with something that does not sit right with me and then I'll have to review.

I am open as always to be educated. I know many of you wish to give to charity in other ways and that is OK.  We are all different, you do what suits your family and your situation but please do not assume that because a charity is Christian or states that it is Evangelical that there is anything wrong with it.

Roll on next November, I can not wait! Anyone want to join me?  No seriously, would you like to come along and see for yourself?

Why not pin this post for later?

OCC my response pin

Thursday 1 December 2011

#R2BC - Week 48. Grateful for 3 Little Words

Week 48 of Reasons to be Cheerful and this weeks guest host is Becky over at Lakes Single Mum.  Pop over and see her, show some comment love and join in.  We would love to see you. I will definitely stop by and comment on all posts this week.

If I say to you '3 little words', what do you think of? My instant reaction is 'I Love You'.  They for me are the most special 3 words that anyone can say and this week I am super grateful for the power of those words.

Minxy Miss M & Mummy

You may have seen me post before about Miss M being a bit of a minx. She is old beyond her years and quite often displays teenage attitude.  I have never seen a 4 year old manage to make so many put-out, bored or aggro faces before but I have found a cure. Yippie!  When she makes a face at me or is rude, I tell her 'but why are you doing/ saying that to Mummy? I love you' and within an instant her face changes to a smile and she puckers up for a kiss - perfect!  The power of I love you, hey?

Then you have Miss E who regularly tells me 'You is the bestest mummy in the whole wide world, I love you' and this just makes me melt.  This child who can be very whingy and demanding knows how to get round me and the best thing it never appears as if she is doing it to get round me.  It is always just spontaneous and quite often seems to be for no real reason at all. I cannot complain.

As I was writing this post yesterday I started to worry about JJ and whether he knew how much I loved him.  I could recall saying it loads to the twinnies but not so much recently to JJ.  Not for any particular reason but just I suppose as he is growing older, more independent and more interested in spending time with Daddy rather than me.  So this morning I said to him 'if someone asked you if your Mum loves you, what would you say?'.  'Of course' was his answer, keen to press in I said 'but how do you know, what does she do?'  I got that same face that I get from his sister that says 'duh Mum' and he replied 'you like say it to me all the time and you do stuff for me too, of course you love me, I'm your special handsome boy'.  Ohh good, worry closed then!

Now I just have to work on remembering to say it more to dh......

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?