Thursday 31 May 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful - A is for.... (Week 22)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Some weeks it gets to Wednesday night and it feels like a chore to start to think of my reasons to be cheerful.  I have had a great week, all has gone well so there is loads to be cheerful about (family time, enjoyable work, sunshine, new clothes) but I am busy and to be honest blogging is the last thing I have time to do.  There is washing to be bought in, ironing to be done (no school tops left!), exercise to do, my bible to read and yet here I am again wiling away time on the internet.

Monday 28 May 2012

Dear So and So - the Bloggers Edition

Dear SEO analyst,

Can I just ask one quick question? Why is it that you think I am stupid? I get emails from you and your counterparts everyday addressed to dear blogger or hey there and frankly I am sick of them. I am an educated woman and I understand the terms and conditions that google ask webmasters to adhere to.  I know the difference between a follow and no-follow link, if I choose to publish follow links I will and I understand that comes with risks. Risks that I'll have weighed up and made a rational decision on.

I do not need you to tell me I am misguided or have misunderstood and that because you are representing a reputable brand or because that brand fits with my blog, I'll be OK. Luckily I am not delusional enough to believe that I am untouchable and that google won't get me.

Sunday 27 May 2012

How did you say goodbye?

I am sure you will have seen me post before about miscarriage.  I feel strongly that it ought to no longer be a taboo subject; the more woman that share their experiences the more people will realise how (unfortunately) common it is. Only then will people realise that is is OK to grieve and to be beside yourself and to not know how to handle it.

The Miscarriage Association state that 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage and 1 in 100 will experience recurrent miscarriages.  That is an awful lot of us having to go through this.

I count myself as blessed as I have only experienced one miscarriage and it was after I had my three children. Whilst I am not saying that makes it easier for everyone it did for me. I am lucky to have a strong faith to draw on and a fabulous family to turn to when the difficult times come. My belief is that the baby (Samuel Noah) I miscarried in May 2010 is now with Jesus, God had different plans for him than I did.

If I am honest I don't know if I grieved the loss of my baby, I did not do loads of crying, nor take a long spell off work but I think I used my favourite avenue, this blog to work through the pain and to realise that Gods plan is perfect, if unknown to me.

I find tears pouring down my cheeks as I read others stories of their repeated miscarriages and heartache as they wonder if they will ever successfully carry a pregnancy to term. Every person deals with things in their own way and I know some people just push miscarriages under the cover (so to speak) and bury their pain but from personal experience I find that things do come back to haunt you. It is really important to  acknowledge that something terrible has happened and to take time to come to terms with it. Of course this is true for both parents, we must not forget the men in this.  They may not have the hormones raging but they have lost their future hopes and dreams with that child that they had invested as well.

Recently I found out about a not for profit organisation called Saying Goodbye and I exchanged a few emails with one of the founders Zoe Clark-Coates. Zoe herself has experienced five miscarriages and is now blessed with two beautiful daughters.  Her miscarriages hit her extremely hard and she believes that things happen for a reason (yes she is a Christian too) and that out of her terrible times came the idea of Saying Goodbye.

To help parents be able to grieve and let go of their beloved babies who never made it here on earth they have set up a number of large remembrance services at cathedrals across the country. The have chosen to use these large historic buildings because they feel that all babies deserve to be honoured in wonderful, awe inspiring places. Additionally they wish for all people to feel at ease attending the services, and as the venues chosen are used for many secular events as well as Christian services, they hope that people of every faith or no faith will feel comfortable coming along.

All the venues are centrally located, easy to find, and offer plenty of space, so not only people who have lost a baby themselves can attend, but also their supportive friends and extended family, who may also feel a need to say goodbye to their niece, nephew or grandchild

The list of confirmed services for 2012 are -
  • Exeter Cathedral , Exeter - Saturday 15th September at 3pm
  • Edinburgh Cathedral, Edinburgh – Saturday 22nd September at 3pm
  • York Minster, York – Saturday 29th September at 1.30pm
  • Birmingham Cathedral, Birmingham – Sunday 28th October at 3.30pm
  • Cardiff Cathedral, Wales - Saturday 3rd November at 3pm
  • St Martin’s in the Field, London –  Saturday 17th November at 11am
  • St Paul's Cathedral, London – Saturday 24th November at 5pm
  • Bristol Cathedral, Bristol -  Saturday 8th December  at 3.30pm 
and there are plans for at least another 12 services in 2013.  Ohh and I think I forgot to mention, there is no charge to attend the services, as with all church services if you would like to make a donation then you are most welcome to but money is not a barrier for anyone to attend.

It is not only me who thinks these services seem like a fabulous idea, the Miscarriage Association have partnered with Saying Goodbye and the NHS association of early pregnancy units have supplied information to hospitals across the UK, so I pray that never again are mothers who have lost their babies treated as just someone with an aliment, they will be offered support and a way to grieve.

I'll leave you with a quote from Professor Lord Robert Winston who is ambassador for Saying Goodbye.
"I am delighted to be an ambassador for a marvellous new organisation called 'Saying Goodbye'. Following losing five babies themselves, Zoe and Andrew Clark-Coates, the directors of CCEM, decided to launch the first national set of commemorative services, which will allow families to come together to mourn their babies. I hope that these services will be a turning point in the nation, and through this new organisation miscarriage will become more widely understood, and families will know that their pain and loss has been heard and recognised.”
This is not a sponsored post, I have not been re numerated to post this, I just think it sounds like a lovely idea and I adore it where people use the resources they have to bless others.

Saturday 26 May 2012

This Mummy loves...

You know sometimes you just feel good and there is no big occasion making it happen, you are just content, happy with your lot in life and finding joy in all that you do.  Yep, that's me right now, lucky hey?

I seem to be taking a back seat blogging wise at the moment and making more time to focus on getting my weight and health sorted out, spending time with God and being with my family. As a result of this time away I am feeling good and thought I would share some things that I am loving....

The relationship between Miss E and her Alfie
6.40am and I am just finishing exercising when an audience appears and they sit there quietly and watch me. Just look how tired she is!

 The times when Miss M excels herself and manages to behave really well
This little lady getting herself ready for school in next to no time and being such a poppet the other morning, not a monkey tendancy in sight! yay

The relationship between my kids and their Daddy (my dh)
A couple of weekends back I went down to stay with my Nan for the weekend as she is unwell, this morning I was downloading pictures and found these from when I was away.  I know that my kids always have a good time when Daddy is looking after them but it is even nicer to see the pictures.

Miss M's passion for life
Then on the same camera, I find that Miss M has been practicising her photography skills and taken just over 100 pictures of completely random things.  Here is my favourite one that she took!

JJ learning to cook
My boy is so keen to be able to help out in the kitchen and luckily dh feels confident to equip him.  So they cooked us all a meal together and JJ has done his cooking badge with cubs now because of it.  The rice pudding was super yum.

What about you, anything making you smile right now?

Friday 25 May 2012

Say goodbye to sports injuries

After a stressful day at the office or at home, many of us find that a trip to the gym or indulging in a sport of choice helps us escape the worries of everyday living.  There are over 600 muscles in the human body.  However, someone who spends their day sitting in front of a computer for example might only use 40% of those muscles during that time. Hence the importance of incorporating some form of exercise into our daily routine and whilst exercise is a wonderful thing we do have to take care.

The following tips may help to avoid sports injuries -

1.  Avoid a cold start.   In order to reduce the risk of injury and allow you to give your best performance, do some stretching exercises beforehand to get your muscles warmed up and ready for action. When muscles are warmed up they are less prone to injury.  Depending on your activity, you may also need to do a mental rehearsal beforehand. If you have a history of injury or have had a precious injury to a joint or muscle, it is vital to warm up prior to exercise to prevent such injuries becoming chronic problems.

2.  Ambition can spur you on but can also increase risk of injury. Be realistic about your capabilities.  Being too ambitious and not knowing your limits can result in too much pressure being put on your locomotor system.  If you take on some form of strenuous exercise that you have not been unaccustomed to, there is the danger that you might do more harm than good. If you experience pain when exercising or doing sport, stop at once.  It is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong and should not be ignored.

3.  Stay safe. Wearing the correct protective gear for your particular sport e.g. helmet, gloves, sunglasses, knee and elbow pads and shock absorbing sports shoes. Make sure the equipment is properly fitted and worn correctly and consistently to help prevent unnecessary injury.  

4.  Regular breaks. Taking a break at regular intervals can also help prevent your body becoming overtaxed.  Rest is an important component of proper training and can make you stronger.  Insufficient rest can result in fatigue and poor judgement. Recovery days give muscles the chance to repair between training sessions.

5.  Correct technique.  Whichever sport you choose to do, make sure you are using the correct technique.  Whether it’s badminton or swimming it’s always best to have some instruction at the very start otherwise you run the risk of unnecessary injuries.

6.  Stay hydrated.  Dehydration can lead to poor concentration and a higher risk of injury.  It also affects performance abilities.  Be sure to drink plenty of water to replenish what your body loses in sweat.  Keep a water bottle to hand and drink from it at regular intervals.

7.  Consult your doctor.  Patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, migraine or other long term illnesses should check with their doctor as to what sports would be most beneficial to their health and which should be avoided.

8.  When to avoid sport.  It is best to avoid any sporting activities if you are suffering from a fever, tiredness or a heavy cold.  It’s also unwise to attempt any any form of exercise or sport if you are under the influence of alcohol.

9.  Avoid taking risks.  In the case of outdoor sports, gauge your pace according to the weather conditions and also to the time of day.   More care needs to be taken during bad weather conditions such as rain and ice and also when lighting conditions are not good, wear suitable reflective equipment.

10.  Be prepared.  It’s worth keeping a tube of arnica gel to hand should you have the misfortune to suffer sprained or strained joints or other tissue injuries whilst training.  Arnica has been recognised as a medicinal plant since the 16th century and is a popular remedy for bruising.  In the form of a gel it is convenient and easy to apply.  

Disclaimer: This is a guest post but as someone who has been doing more sport just recently I was happy to host as have a genuine interest.


Thursday 24 May 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 21

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Happy Thursday!  Is it sunny where you are?  I do hope so, this nice weather is making me super cheerful.

Random one for you this week.  I was walking the kids to school the other day and JJ started to talk to me about cars.  As we passed a BMW, he asked me if they were posh and could he have one when he was older.  This got me thinking about cars and having written a post about the Volvo V60 the day before it felt very pertinent. I got my first car in 1996 when I was 24, it was a brand new Ford Fiesta, bright cherry red and the base model, no electric locks, body coloured bumpers or anything but I loved it. 

A love of fiestas grew from there and then in 1998 I upgraded to a black sporty new fiesta in the newer shape and then again I moved to the newer shape with a navy fiesta in 2002 and a pale metallic blue one in 2004.  You get the picture I liked them, lol.  Then those twinnies came along in 2007 and fiestas did not cut the mustard anymore. We moved over to our trusty nearly-new Toyota Corolla Verso, it is now 6 years old and that is the oldest car I have ever had and I am so grateful for it.

I am thankful that -
  • I have a reliable car that takes me to see my super family and poorly Nan
  • I do not have to take over an hour on the bus to get to work, I can be there in 15 minutes
  • we can fit all the kids and luggage in our car and head off for lovely family holidays, like our review trip to Sand le Mere, which I am so looking forward to
  • that I can have 10 minutes alone and chill with some good Christian music.  My car is my thinking and praying place very often
But more than anything else I am grateful that I am grateful.  In years gone by I would have yearned for a nice shiny new car with all the gadgets and now I don't care.  I have grown up, I have a vehicle that works and does what it needs to, it is comfortable and reliable and that is enough for me.

What is making you grateful this week?  Dig deep and even in our darkest moments there are glimmers of light that we just have to say 'Thank you God'.

If you are new to Reasons to be Cheerful then take a look here for some background information.  Write a cheery post, link it up, add the blog hop code to your post if you fancy and tweet with the #R2BC hashtag.

I'll come and visit you all this weekend and comment.  Sorry I did not make it round last week, there was just too much going on with my visit to see my Nan.

love to all, Mich xx

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Our best family getaway.... & win with Volvo

When I was asked the question 'where was your best family getaway/ holiday?' I started a serious trip down memory lane. I absolutely love to get away with my family and holidays are a real time to be cherished. Dh and I become so relaxed and I am sure the kids must think they have new parents, if only I could be like that every day!

I was really torn but I think I'll have to go with our summer holiday last year.  We spent a week in Bournemouth and my Mum and Dad came to join us, this meant that dh and I could have evenings out on our own and our Children adore their grandparents.  The sun shone lots and we were able to spend quality family time on the beach, in the park and enjoying meals together.  Nothing too expensive or fancy, just good old fashioned British family fun - perfect!

And talking of family fun I'd love to win some tickets for Go-Ape, a glamping weekend or days out with my family courtesy of Volvo. Wouldn't you?

On 27th May Volvo are running a super competition on Twitter and the great news is that to enter you do not need to jump through any hoops, yay!  Each hour @VolvoCarUK will tweet questions such as 'Where was your best family getaway' and you will need to respond using the #V60Getaway hashtag and then voila you may just get lucky and win a prize,  I am coveting the Merlin annual passes that will be up for grabs. When I first heard about this competition I did hope that Volvo might have been giving away one of their V60 cars but I had got a bit carried away with myself.

Funny how things change, in years gone by as a child I recall referring to Volvo's as tanks and thinking I would never drive one and now I would happily sit behind the wheel of one of their stylish and ultra safe cars. I was a bit awe-struck when I read that the V60 has the facility to detect pedestrians who might step out into the road unexpectedly and also to monitor the traffic ahead and apply the breaks if necessary to help avoid a collision.  Sounds perfect, I had no idea that cars could do these sort of things.  I certainly know some distracted drivers who could do with these features. Add those special extras to a very sexy looking car and I would be happy to bag myself a Volvo V60 if I had a spare £25K. Anyway enough dreaming from me....  back to real life and only 9 weeks until we head off for our next family holiday together.

So don't forget - follow @VolvoCarUK now and then on Sunday 27th May tweet the answer to their questions using the hashtag #V60getaway for a chance every hour of the promotion to win super family prizes.

Very best of luck to you (and me! lol).  Mich x

Disclaimer: I am part of the NetMums Blogger Network and this is a commercial post but I have been free to write about the given subject as I see fit.

Monday 21 May 2012

Leapster Explorer- Perfect for on the go!

I have to say that I am feeling very grateful to LeapFrog at the moment, they kindly sent us a Leapster Explorer console to test out and my twinnies are loving it.  I have had to remind JJ that it is for the girls and to keep his mitts off.  Whilst the Leapster Explorer is designed for children aged 4- 9 years JJ has his own toys that the girls are not allowed, so fairs fair!

We have a LeapPad already and the girls really enjoy that so I have to say I wondered if the Explorer console would hold any interest but actually Miss E in particular does not want to put it down.  I can honestly say that her DS has not been picked up once in the last three weeks since we received this.

What is a Leapster Explorer?
The console itself is a great size for small hands, not too heavy, it is easy to grip and use. The screen is full colour and superb quality, I pleased to see that the pen is attached to the console otherwise I fear it might have been lost fairly quickly.  I had a worry that the console might use up the battery life really quickly but I have been so pleased, we have now had it 3 weeks and have not had to change the batteries yet, despite loads of use and a couple of long car journeys.  It is far more battery economical than the LeapPad.

The console has a RRP of £59.99 but you can pick a new one up on Amazon for as little as £41.69 and I think that represents superb value. They are available in green or pink to suit your child's tastes and they require 4 x AA batteries, which are not supplied.

What about the games?
The LeapFrog educational games are so engaging that they make the kids want to learn and play.  Miss E is happy to sit and do some drawing on her console but Miss M really engages with the games, especially the Tangled one which we received, she loves this and what is super is that it is really helping her phonics, spelling and reading.  I have seen such an improvement in the last week or two when we read her school books and I am convinced the Leapster Explorer has helped with that.  I just need to help Miss E engage more with it in that way now as she hates traditional reading, so making it fun with her seems the way to go.

It is also fantastic that the games cartridges and downloads can be used across the range.  I was most happy when I connected the Explorer to my laptop for the first time to find that it automatically added itself to my LeapFrog account and I was able to put our previously downloaded games onto this console too - result!

The cartridge games retail for about £17.99 each and the download app card is £9.98 for 2 applet downloads, depending on your child's choice of app this could get you one or two games, ebooks or videos.

Why is it good for on the go?
I don't know about you buy my kids are not big fans of long car journeys.  Back at the beginning of April we travelled for 5 hours in the car and boy do I wish we had the Explorer Console then.  We have done a couple of hour long journeys since having the console and we have to take the egg timer so the girls know when to swap as they are so engaged in their play it is the only way we can stop arguments.. 

As the games are intuitive and you can set the learning level on the console it means that the girls are just able to turn on their console and play, no worrying about asking Mum or their older brother to help them.  This Independence has made on the go play and lean ring much easier and certainly more stress free for dh and I.

As previously mentioned it is really battery economical too and you do not have to try and worry about recharging after an hour or so.

I couldn't even get her to look up at me, she was too engrossed!

How do I know what they are learning?
There is parental peace of mind with the LeapFrog range as you can see your child's learning journey by connecting the console to your laptop or PC. The console is so easy to connect, it really is plug and play, you just download the connect software and you are ready to go.  Then from the same place you can download your free games when you first connect and buy more downloads at a later date if you so wish. The downloads are fun too and all have a learning element, we have the Sugar bugs which is a fun way to teach your child about the importance of dental hygiene and the jewel train which is great for developing problem solving skills.

You are able to see if your child is engaging with the system at the appropriate age level and then of course you can change the settings if you need to challenge them more and there are additional sheets that you can print off to work in conjunction with the games.

Would I recommend the LeapFrog Explorer?
100% yes.  I am so pleased with the way the twins have engaged with it and they are not even 5 years yet.  It feels good that they will still get another few years entertainment from it yet.

Plus Points -
  • Sturdy, easy for small hands to use
  • Intuitive and no hassle to set up
  • Online learning journey for the parents to monitor their child
  • Great variety of games and aps to buy
  • Super fun for your kids and educational too
  • Makes long journeys great fun and much more relaxing for the parents
  • Super customer service, I know this from past experience
  • Economical on battery use and you can buy an adapter for use at home
The downside -
  • My girls wanted to play on it a little too much!  So as parents we have to monitor and limit their screen time.
  • I was seriously having trouble thinking of any negatives, I suppose for some the initial outlay cost may be a bit much but to be honest when you can pick one up for about £40 I think it represents excellent value for money.
Disclaimer:  We were sent this console and 3 games for the purposes of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Ohh a nudge, just what I need! #InnerTruth

I am lucky enough to work someone which has fantastic sports and gym facilities, we even have an olympic sized swimming pool but I have let my membership lapse as I just found it so hard to get there in the times when I do not have the kids.  When I am at work, I am just that and then before or after work I always have to rush to drop/ collect the kids.  On the 2 days I am off it seems to take the whole day up to get there, so I decided to exercise at home and that is going OK but I am pleased to say that I have been selected to be part of a initiative at work called nudge jubilee.  I am not entirely sure what it involves as yet but I do know they will provide me with a actiped pedometer and that in itself should motivate me to exercise more, as I know I'll enjoy beating my own score! I'll also of course be getting some nudges to exercise!

I have been pleased with my progress in the last week.  I feel as if I am making changes for life and thus they need to be sustainable.  Nothing too radical, just small things that can become habit and make a difference.  As I want my changes to last I am introducing just one or two new things a week and building on my previous changes,  building a checklist for life if you like.  Every day I will mentally check off all the tasks on my list until they feel second nature and just part of my life.

The first week I started to think about weight loss again I decided that my first step was to think positive and believe that I can lose weight. I really do believe it, God is walking with me and will help this to happen

Last week I set the goals to exercise a minimum of 3 times and to pray before I ate.  I have done OK with the exercise and I have had 3 sessions using my walking DVD and I have certainly remembered to pray each day but not enough perhaps, I think I do need to try harder with that one.

This week I am adding 2 more to the list -
  1. Think positive, I can lose weight
  2. Exercise a minimum of 3 times a week
  3. Pray before I eat
  4. Drink a glass of water before I eat & drink at least 2 litres a day
  5. Plan my meals for the week ahead as I know it keeps me focused
So there we go, good simple stuff but things that make a difference and how have I done this week with regards to weight loss? I have lost 3lb and I am happy with that, I have cut down but not at all starved or deprived myself.  So today I am sat at 235lbs or 17st 6lb.   Here is to a good week.....  for us all!

Linking up to #InnerTruth with Liska at New Mum Online and also At Home with Mrs M for Meal Planning Monday. 

Inner Truth

Monday - Breakfast, lunch and snacks - Porridge and OJ, Banana, Soup, Ryvita & cheese, Yoghurt. Dinner - Jacket pot with tuna mayo and beans

Tuesday - Breakfast, lunch and snacks - 2 weetabix, crumpet with peanut butter, carrot sticks, slimfast drink, melba toasts and philli.  Dinner - Lasagne, peas and sweetcorn

Wednesday - Breakfast, lunch and snacks - Museli and OJ, Banana, ham, philli & salad wrap, carrot sticks, yoghurt.  Dinner - Sausage, mash and baked beans

Thursday - Breakfast, lunch and snacks - Porridge and OJ, 1 toast and peanut butter, Tuna mayo and salad wrap, crisps, apple. Dinner - Roast chicken dinner

Friday - Breakfast, lunch and snacks - 2 weetabix, banana. No idea for lunch as taking a friend to court and no idea for dinner as going to a friends with the kids!

Weekend - Not sure as yet, it depends if we stay home or go and visit my family but I will be sure to be mindful, whatever.

Wishing you a super week, Mich x

Saturday 19 May 2012

If Twin Mums Ruled the World...

I was cleaning out the car the other day and for no good reason at all I started to think about how different things would be if all parents had twins.  So here is my take on what might be different if twin mums (or triplet, quad et al) ruled the world -

*    There would be a law against people stopping you when they see you with a double buggy and two tiny babies inside.  Yes that stressed look on your face and the double set of screams does mean they are hungry and you are avidly dashing to John Lewis to find the only place in town that is private enough for you to tandem feed two babies.
Look at the lengths I went to, to avoid unwanted attention.  Yes,  I used to take my twinnies out in a single buggy together.  I figured they were happy and used to be snuggled up together!

*    Never again would the words 'Ohh you've got double trouble'  or 'you've got your hands full' or 'two for the price of one' be uttered, as if they were then the twin mummy police would quickly be there to arrest the responsible person and to throw them into 'stupid statement' jail!

*    Then in the same vein it would become a crime punishable by public humiliation to ask a twin mum if her babies were conceived naturally. 'ohh are they real?' would never again have to be heard and endured.

*    When you are pregnant and you find out that you are expecting twins, as well as growing the babies you would miraculously grow an extra set of arms or even two sets if you have children already. Then you would never need to be the boring mum who finds herself telling her children to wait a moment as you only have one set of hands!

*    Not only do you grow an extra pair of hands but you manage to acquire a second husband.  All us women know it is impossible for men to multi-task and thus we just need to take a second one to ensure the extra work is fairly shared!  (Gosh, will I get lynched for this one?)

*    The world would be quite a different place as every pavement would be double width and all shops would have massive isles. Tandem buggies are very wide don't you know and if you are anything like me you will drift towards your other twin mummy friends and then a walk into town becomes a real battle when you have two double buggies trying to move together.

The smallest buggy of all the twins I owned!

*    Pilate's and tena lady would of course be available on the NHS and be offered as standard for all multiple mums. Not very glamorous you might think but have you seen the proportions that our stomachs get to when carrying more than one baby at a time, we need all the help we can get to recognise those muscles again and to get them in check.

*    On a person note I would rule that all cute clothing is either sold in a two pack or there are two versions available of the same thing.  Who would have known that tough old Mich would turn out to be so twee but I loved my twinnies in the same outfit but just slightly different.

*    Then with all major purchases it would just be common sense that you would buy one and either get the second free or at least receive a 50% discount. Parenting twins or more is ridiculously expensive so we could do with a break.

That was about where my thoughts stopped, so I tweeted the question and asked other twin mums, what might be different if they ruled the world and here is what they said -

Dara at Mum of all trades was with me and wanted an extra set of arms. Just after my twins were born my JJ did a portrait for me with his dream of how I should look now I had three children -

Debbie at the Johnson babies said that the Government should offer project management training rather than antenatal classes and I love that one, it is so true.  You become a master of planning, organisation and precision as a twin mummy.

Childcare would be much, much cheaper was the comment from Jane who blogs at In a Different Voice.  So true, I know how crippling it was while my babes were young and I was paying £100 a day for nursery.You can tell how much I needed my work fix because I certainly was not earning enough to pay that!

Karen at Tales of a Twin Mum made me laugh with her input 'pre-school would start at 10am instead of 8.30am'.  8.30am what kind of time is that???  lmao. See, that was how much I loved work, I used to leave home at 7.30am with them all ready and having eaten to drop at breakfast club, the station and nursery to then start work at 8.30am.  Boy am I glad those days are over, makes a 8.50am start at school and work after that seem like a lie in.

I really was chuckling away at Rebecca, she tweeted '..all shopping trolleys would be double and all doors would be extra big (for the pram you know not because we eat for 2)'. I had forgotten how entertaining she is over on her blog Here come the girls, I must go and visit more often....  if only there was more time.  She then went on to say '...people would have to pay a pound every time they say "you've got your hands full"'.  Oh yes, that is a fine idea, even better than my idea to lock them up, let's make some money out of the ones that drive us crazy!

And there I'll leave you, do feel free to add your own addition.  If twin mums rulds the world....

Thursday 17 May 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful - The Nanny Mary Edition (Week 20)

This week Reasons to be Cheerful is dedicated to grandparents everywhere.  I will have shared with you before that I am super lucky with my Mum and Dad, they are fantastic grandparents and I am so grateful to them but they are not what this post started out to be about.

Last weekend I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday with my Mum and my Nan. We should have been going away to a caravan on the Isle of Sheppey for a girls weekend and some quality time together, but due to my Nans fall about a month ago we ended up spending the time at my Nans flat instead.

I have to say that I still enjoyed the weekend; time away from the kids, morning lie-ins, a trip to the cinema with my brother and loads of family time were much appreciated.

It was a real privilege to spend such a lot of time with my Nan or Nanny Mary as all the great-grandkids call her.  I enjoyed doing all the domestic chores for her, making tea, washing, ironing, cleaning and cooking her meals but it was the time we spent chatting and her sharing some of her oldest memories and thoughts with me that was really extra special.

My Nan has always held a special place in my heart, I am her only grand daughter and I have such fond memories of growing up and spending time with her and my grandad.  I loved staying at their house on a weekend and cooking with my grandad or pottering in the garden.

On Monday this week my Nan ended up back in hospital having emergency surgery, her colon had died inside her and it has had to be removed.  At age 84 this was a risky operation and there was only a slim chance of survival but God was with my Nan and she has come through it and is recovering in intensive care. As this post goes live on Thursday I'll be heading down to Surrey again to see her and to spend the day with my Mum helping her to come to terms with the fact that my Nan is no where near out of the woods yet and that she now the issue of very limited mobility due to her smashed and then pinned ankle and now due to having no colon.

I am praying for my Nan of course but more than anything praying for her three daughters, this is hardest for them.  Ultimately God's will be done and His perfect plan will be executed. One day my Nan will join her beloved Jack again.

On my wedding day in 2002 with all us ladies looking radiant!
I hope I have not made you feel down. Nan is very ill but whichever way it goes she is a blessing to me and I feel content that we have a special relationship that will go on forever.  She is a real reason to be cheerful.

And now it is your turn to let us know what your reasons to be cheerful are for this week.  Don't forget to tweet your posts with #R2BC, you can snatch the blog code from below and paste the linky on your post if you fancy making me smile and please, please visit each other and comment.  Community makes the blogging world go round after all.

Thanks for all your support, week after week.  I have a super fab bunch of readers and friends from this blog.  Be blessed all of you.  Mich x

Tuesday 15 May 2012

What time should primary school kids go to bed?

Sponsored Guest post.

What time should primary school kids go to bed? It’s a question I often have cause to ponder as the walls of my house are thin enough to clearly hear much of the noise of family life produced by the young family which lives next door.

The children who live next door are primary-school age and every evening there seems to be a loud chorus of protest at around 9:30 each evening – the time I guess they are sent to bed. Perhaps I’m just getting old but it does seem like this is quite a late bedtime for children who must, I reckon, be six and eight-years-old.

When I was at primary school I cannot remember exactly what time I went to bed but I do remember that the opening bar of the Coronation Street theme tune was often the signal for me to get changed into my pyjamas. So judging by this primitive method of keeping time I must have gone to bed at 7:30. (Even today, the Coronation Street theme tune still produces a powerful feeling of weariness in me whenever I hear it.)

I also remember that when I was at primary school a girl in my class called Eleanor McCarney (the name has been changed) boasted that she went to bed at 9:30; news which when relayed to my parents at the dinner table produced much muttering and the mention of the word ‘degenerate’ from my father.

So is it right to send your primary school son or daughter to bed at 7:30 or have my next-door neighbours, and Eleanor McCarthy’s parents, got the right approach?

A quick look at internet blog forums led to more confusion. Over at netmums, a blogger called Leandra S. fretted that her seven-year-old’s 8:30pm bedtime is “too early”. On another site, an American mother taunted her British counterparts with the message: “Why do you Brits send your kids to bed so early?” I’m sure someone could come up with a witty put-down response to this.

Moving away from the parenting forums, I decided to seek clarity by turning to an oracle of parenting wisdom…

The Supernanny website recommends that bedtime should be:
• Between 7pm and 7:30pm for children up to age of four or five
• Between 8pm and 9pm for children between the age of five to 12

Annoyingly, while Supernanny recommends a going-to-bed time she doesn’t recommend a getting-out-of-bed time; someone really should point out this flaw to her!

However, recent research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine website reveals that school-age kids should have ten to eleven hours’ sleep per night. Combining the American Academy research with Supernanny’s advice suggests that primary school age kids should go to bed between 8pm and 9pm and get up at between 6am and 8am.

So it seems like my next door neighbours, by allowing a 9:30 pm bedtime for their children, are definitely along the right lines. And my parents weren’t far out when they sent me to bed at 7:30. Even if it did mean missing out on years of Coronation Street!

James Christie writes for Yellow Moon craft supplies shop. Check out Yellow Moon’s extensive range of arts and craft ideas for kids.

Sunday 13 May 2012

'Ohh, you are expecting again?' #InnerTruth

This was the comment that greeted me today when we bumped into an old family friend. I gave my normal glib answer 'no, I'm just fat!'.  The woman felt awful and I assured her it was fine, my spilt stomach muscles do mean that I look as if I am pregnant but I'm not and I truly hope I never will be again. My family is perfectly complete.

Pleased to say, it is not this big!  I was actually pregnant there.... 31 weeks with the girls.

Last week I wrote my #InnerTruth post and said that in the next week I would focus on being positive and believing that I could lose weight. For I know that until I am positively thinking about my weight loss it won't happen. Positive thoughts feed positive actions after all. I feel that my negative beliefs have been stopping me handing my problem fully over to God and doing the foot work to ensure that things change.

I did try fairly hard to think positive but what I found was that without actually dieting, it was incredibly hard. I would think to myself, 'I can do this, I will lose weight, I am a woman who can, God is with me' etc etc and then this little thought would jump in my head that said 'so why are you not doing it Mich?'.

And that that is a good point, why am I not just doing it? Is my weight loss not that important to me?  It should be. I checked tonight and I am 238 pounds, that is 17st and 9lb and my BMI is 40.8, anything over 40 is class III obese or some call it morbidly obese.

The following factors have to be a wake up call don't they?
  • People think I am pregnant (I'm not!)
  • I will die prematurely because of my weight and leave my family
  • I am at risk of developing diabetes (very soon)
  • I hold my weight in the middle of my body, the most risky place
  • One of my babies is showing a tendency to put on weight and obsess about food, it is my poor example that is the cause of this
So here are my goals for this week. I need to keep them simple to make sure I do them but they have the potential to work...
  • I will exercise a minimum of 3 times this week
  • I will pray first before I put anything in my mouth.  The serenity prayer will remind me to give it up to God. 
Lord, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can change,
The courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the diffference.
    I am linking up with the lovely Liska at New Mum Online for #InnerTruth.  Most people seemed to achieve their goals and graduate when we were #Mumentum, so if you fancy joining us and offering some support then please do, we will happily come and see you and cheer you on as well.

    Wishing you the best of weeks. Don't forget to drink lots of water, it makes a world of difference.
    Mich x

    Inner Truth

    Only dead fish go with the 'blogging' flow....

    .....and if I am honest I have no desire to be a dead fish. And that is really good for me to remember!

    I had a bit of a wobble this week, a bloggy wobble. I got an email to say that I was a Brilliance in Blogging finalist in the Outstanding category and whilst I thought 'ohh that's nice' I did not really think any more of it.  I didn't even mention it as part of my #R2BC the other day.  I have no idea why this did not register as a big deal, but it is and I thank all of you who voted for me.

    Then a couple of days later the finalists were announced for the MAD blog awards and my name was not there and you know what? I was absolutely gutted.  I have no idea why it cut so deep or why I expected to see my name there but I even had a little cry.  I knew it was illogical and that I had done absolutely nothing to canvass for nominations; my Mum or husband had not even nominated for goodness sake.  That tells you how active I was at informing and encouraging people. Yet I had become complacent and felt it would just happen.  I had become a dead fish and was being washed along with the tide.

    I have taken a few days away from blogging and been doing some serious thinking and I have come to realise that as far as blogging goes I have inadvertently become a dead fish, by that I mean that I have been going with the flow set by others. I have preempted what I believe the expectation is of a successful blog and tried to fit that. I have posted daily as I thought that was what was expected, I have coveted luxury goods to review, I have craved prestigious events to attend and I have commented and visited a ton of forums and blogs, all to emulate the most popular bloggers. I don't think I even realised I was doing some of it.

    But......that is not what this blog was for. I never set out to be top 20 in the Tots100, Ebuzzing and Cision charts. I did not set out to be a household name in parenting blogs. I did not set out to be the blog that everyone assumed would make the shortlist. My blog is all about an imperfect Christian mum/ woman showing that she is pretty average and not too off the wall! This is where I share my faith, positivity, journey with my food demons and imperfect parenting moments and hopefully inspire others to do the same.

    Sometimes you readers tell me that you relate and that it helps you and that is perfect. Meeting that goal has to be more important than a glitzy ceremony and a nice prize?  Because if I am honest I think that was the attractive part of the MADs, otherwise I would have been excited by the BiBs too, wouldn't I?

    I don't like sharing this with you and revealing how shallow I am but if nothing else dear reader I am always as honest with you as I can be. So as I realise this, I admit to you yet another character defect, one that I can work with God to overcome.

    I want to thank the super Mari for her great blog post  titled 'How important is a blogging award?' that I read the other night and some wise words of hers really spoke to me 'don't let it affect who you are and what you are blogging for'.  Brilliant, she has said it all.

    One real bonus of blogging that I never ever expected was the superb friends I have made, people like these fab ladies, they are the icing on the cake!

    Be blessed, Blogging rocks when we do it for the right reasons, our own reasons, whatever they may be. Mich x

    NB: I know the written word can come across wrong, so I add this end note to say that I have every respect for the organisers of both awards, I wish all the finalists the very best and I hope they have a ball and that I am not calling any other blogger a dead fish.  Just me, I was the one going with the flow.

    Saturday 12 May 2012

    Helping Your Baby Twins to Sleep at Night

    I was very lucky with JJ and he slept through from an early age, some would say this was purely down to luck but I am pretty sure some of it was due to me being very persistent and also consistent. I just knew I was a horrid Mummy when I lacked sleep and therefore it was worth my effort to get him to sleep through. I know many parents believe that it is wrong or cruel to do controlled crying and to start sleep training too young but my personal experience is that if you start it young (around 6 weeks) then you as the parent never get to the point where you are too tired or worn down to be able to do it will your full commitment.

    Roll forward nearly 4 years and I have the twins and boy that makes things a bit different. Two babes rather than one add a whole new dimension. Some of what I had learnt with JJ stood me in good stead but there was a whole new learning curve too. One of the first decisions you have to make when thinking about how your twins will sleep is will you sleep them together or apart? This is a completely personal decision. I know many twin mummy friends whose babes slept together for months and they would cite the advantages as the babies feeling secure and warm, just like they did in the womb and they swear that their babies slept better because of it. Personally, mine slept together for a short time and then I found that they were too big to share the moses basket any longer and also that Miss E tended to wake Miss M as she had reflux and was often uncomfortable.

    The sleep pattern that worked for us was the girls sharing their ‘fishbowl’ in the hospital (far easier to have one to push around). Upon arriving home we decided that the girls would share a moses basket as practically this was good for space and also the twins seemed to like to be close together. I used to love the little hands touching each other. This lasted for a whole 3 weeks as Miss M grew quickly and soon they were a bit squashed together. Unless you already have a moses basket or are given a couple of good quality ones then I feel they really are a luxury rather than necessity as babes grow out of them so quickly.

    Luckily we had a couple of donated moses baskets and thus moved the girls into separate ones until they were about 8 weeks, then moving them in to share a large cot (one at each end) for about two weeks. This did not work for us at all and the babes woke each other and generally seemed unhappy. So into separate cots they went and even separate rooms at approximate age 3 months. This felt like a really big move at the time as my hormones were still raging so I started to wonder if I was keeping the one I loved more in my room. Of course that was not was the truth; practicality prevailed and we kept Miss E in our room as she required night feeds for a longer period than Miss M. Once our girls were separated we found that they both started to sleep soundly and it was the start of their good sleeping habits.

    So how did I manage to get two babes to sleep well at such a young age? Here are my tips for helping younger babes to sleep (be it singletons or multipes) –

    • Swaddle new-born babies, leaving one hand out by their face. A stretchy cloth wrapped tightly around babe can work wonders for them feeling secure and it stifles the startle reflex too.

    • Once your babe is about three months and is more wriggly, they are probably ready to be moved into a baby sleeping bag.

    • Put your babes in a darkened room for their sleeps, thus setting up clues that it is time for sleep. I had black out curtains in the girl’s room. I never made the room pitch black as I needed them to be versatile to sleep at others houses and on holiday etc. I did nearly always try to have them sleep in their bedroom though.

    • Use a dummy if you have a sucky baby. Dummies can be taken away and thumbs cannot. I have successfully removed 3 dummies at age 2 years and none of mine have any interest in them now. This is very much a personal choice but for me dummies work, especially when it is 3am and you are single handily trying to feed two hungry babies.

    • For us it was very rare to replace dummies in the night. My children learnt that if they woke in the night they would not have their dummy replaced and thus we avoided this common pitfall.

    • If your baby starts to whine or cry a little in the night, let them for a short while. Sometimes they are just waking and complaining that they do not want to be awake. With twins it is good for them to get used to the sound of the other and not to be affected by the other ones noise.

    • Set up a routine very early on with your babes. Bath, massage, feed in a dimly lit room and then down to bed. One of mine used to like me to gently pat her tummy while making a ‘shh, shh, shh’ noise. I would do this for about 5 minutes and then slow it down and eventually stop, always before she fell asleep, so they actually do fall asleep on their own and without aid. This is important as then when the child wakes in the night they learn to sooth themselves back to sleep.

    • Miss M always liked me to sling a Muslin over her face, just gently and not covering her nose but it was as if she liked me blocking the visual stimulation so she could sleep, especially in the pushchair.

    • If your older baby is over-tired or getting overwrought and you find they cannot sleep then I used to rock my babies practically to sleep. I can use this technique successfully on even the most screamy and cranky baby. Many friends have been astounded at this! I hold the babe with their body towards me, with one arm through the middle of their legs and patting their back with my hand of that arm and the other cuddles them close to me with their arms tucked in tight to my body. I sling a muslin lightly over their face towards my body and give them their dummy if they have one. I then rock them up and down while ssshhing pretty loudly and maybe also saying ‘there, there, there’. I stop this just as they are falling off, place them back in their cot and continue with the patting and ssshhing but more quietly.

    • If (or should I say when) your babe wakes in the night reassure them in a low voice ‘Mummy is here, it is all OK’ but do not pick them up. I used to pat gently on the tummy or stroke on the face, anything that let my babies know I was there for them but would not be picking them up. There are no rewards in our house for babies waking. Of course if your baby is ill this is a different matter.

    Remember that every baby and every parent is different. You need to do what feels right for you and your family. There is no definite wrong or right, what is right is what makes you all as happy as can be. It is only when you are unhappy that you need to question any of the methods and perhaps try something else.

    If you are the type of person to feel compelled to read the text books then go ahead but remember to add a good dose of common sense to whatever you read. My method for helping babes sleep was mastered with time and from some tips from Gina Ford, and the Baby Whisperer Tracy Hogg.

    Good luck, I hope your babes sleep peacefully for you.  Mich x

    Thursday 10 May 2012

    #R2BC - Playing the Glad Game (week 19)

    Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

    You will have probably seen me mention Polyanna before and my love of her ability to turn bad stuff on its head and look for the positive. So here I am doing the same -
    1. I woke up Tuesday and just did not want to go to work. However, I am so blessed to only have to work 3 days a week and Monday this week was a bank holiday - even better!
    2. My Nan has shattered her ankle. Thank the Lord that is all it was, she is 85 and getting more frail, it could have been far worse.

    Wednesday 9 May 2012

    5 ways to tell you are NOT supermum!

    If you are anything like me you live in constant search of the elusive SuperMum state* but sadly I never quite make it there and you know what, it is OK.  Good enough (or real) parenting rocks in my book.

    Have a read through the following scenarios and see whether you fit into the SuperMum or real mum category-

    Monday 7 May 2012

    Lifes a Journey! #InnerTruth

    A couple of weeks ago I wrote an #InnerTruth post with the message for myself of ‘Just do it’ and for a few days things were going well.  I felt I was being successful in my journey towards the healthier and slimmer Michelle and then it went a bit wrong.  I can’t recall why, something went off track and instead of just getting back on the horse and trying again I quickly fell back into bad habits.  I didn’t post last Monday as it felt as if there was little point.  I had no weight loss to report and no inspiring message to share.

    I tweeted that I would be back this week with an update and sadly I do not really have anything to report in regards to weight loss again.  I have had some good days, times when I have been focused and have eaten mindfully but others have been off-kilter and they are the ones that mean my weight has maintained. I had plans to start my exercise again but then I was unwell and other days I went to bed too late and could not easily get up in the morning.

    Sunday 6 May 2012

    Proud Mummy Moments and Chalk and Cheese Updated.

    Anyone that reads my blog or knows me in real life will know that I have chalk and cheese twinnies.  Very little about them is similar and nowadays people generally do not even realise they are twins at all, Miss M is 7cm taller than Miss E after all.

    I find twins absolutely fascinating and whilst I know that fraternal twins (like my girls) share no more genes with each other than either of them would with JJ, my illogical mind still tells me that they should be more alike, they did share a tummy for 8 months after all. As a wonderful reminder I try to post a chalk and cheese update every so often and this one is an early 5th birthday edition.  In just 2 months my girls will turn 5 and that feels like we are reaching a big milestone.

    Saturday 5 May 2012

    Saturday is Caption Day! #SatCap the Twins Way

    Time for something light....  take a peek at my picture and give me a caption, what where my little ladies up to?

    #SatCap is open to all, come and join in with us and link up at Mammasaurus.

    Thursday 3 May 2012

    #R2BC - The Walk to School (Week 18)

    Hello cheerful people, How are you?  Super well I hope.  All is good here at the MFTH residence.

    Perhaps when you saw the title of this post you thought that I had gone a little mad.  The walk to school, as reason for being cheerful? Well yes! I have been running #R2BC as a linky for 70 weeks now and when you have posted that many times on your reasons for being cheerful and grateful you have to start to dig deep and for me that is when the real blessings start.

    We all know that our children, family, times with friends, days out, unexpected gifts, special occasions, weight loss and great food are all superb reasons to be cheerful but they are the easy things. So this week I decided to think about it a bit differently and to remember to thank God for the little things that make a positive difference to my life and being able to walk the kids to school is one of those things.

    Tuesday 1 May 2012

    Summer holiday up North? Are you mad?

    As a child we only ever holidayed in Dorset or Sussex, I really cannot remember going anywhere else to be honest and that was not a problem for me.  I love the southern coastline.  I chose to live in Bournemouth and Eastbourne for a while and one day I dream of living by the sea again, on the south coast of course.

    Until about the age of 21 I had only ever been north of London once and that was to pass straight through the north of England up to Scotland.  I did live for a very short time in Manchester and I missed home awfully and returned after about 3 months there.  I have never visited any coastal towns north of Skegness and it is only since I have lived in Herts that I even ventured onto the Norfolk or Lincoln coastlines, before then it was always strictly south coast and even now we holiday in Bournemouth most years with my parents.

    Beach close to Sand Le Mere Holiday Village