Friday 29 June 2012

Moving your blog to the next level....

Last Friday I was at BritMums Live and by this time of night I was well and truly merry!  Well that is the polite way of putting it, I was the worse for wear but luckily I am a fun and giggly drunk and I tend to still know exactly what I am up to but I lose my inhibitions.  If only I could master being that relaxed in everyday life……. maybe...... one day!
Earlier in the evening I had not been so relaxed if I am honest, I think my tweet of about 4.30pm to @Nickie72, @HerMelness, @NorthernMum1 and @RedTedArt was ‘that I was crapping myself’.  Logically I should have been fine about speaking as part of the blogger studio (Crossing the chasm – moving your blog to the next level). My paid job is as a trainer and I regularly stand up and present and facilitate training courses for between 8 – 50 people.  I write those courses and have lots of fun but speaking at BritMums Live felt like a different kettle of fish.
Nickie was our facilitator for this session or ‘Master’ as we fondly came to know her. She advised me I had to do a 5 minute introduction on myself and talk about how my blog is at the next level. All 5 speakers would do this and then we would field questions from the floor. I have to say it was a tad hard to follow Melinda as she had prepared a checklist of 10 super sensible points to consider and basically she stole the show, but that is OK as she is pretty darn amazing.
So after being nagged it's time for me to share with you what I had planned to say and I have no idea now what I actually did say.  I have had some very good comments though and even a few people tell me they were inspired or touched by what I said and that is perfect.
So who am I?
I started out by making the point that I am just an average woman and I have never had a desire to be a writer or be famous.  The reasons I blog are for personal therapy, to demonstrate that Christians can be normal too and we don’t all wear socks and sandals and because I love it. My blog was born in 2008 out of a desire to record my life with my kids, but that was far too ambitious with 7 month old twins and a 4 year old so it sat on the bloggy shelf for a year and festered.  Then in 2009 I returned to it with a renewed hunger and posted most every day.
Slow starter that I am, I kept my blog private for all of 2009 and then in early 2010 started to find the parenting blogging community and joined in….. very slowly! I just dipped my toe and then ran away from the big bad sea of bloggers for most of 2010 but it was like a drug I could not keep away from and I kept coming back for more. By the end of 2010 I was pretty well known and was ranking in the top 50 in the Tots100 and I started to find my feet and feel good about what I was doing.
January 2011 was when I started to feel like I had stopped being a newbie.  I took a regular feature from my blog ‘Grace in small things’ and made it assessable to people of all faiths or none by turning it into Reasons to be Cheerful, I still run that linky 77 weeks later. A few weeks later I held the first new bloggers fortnight and established a name for myself as someone who would reach out to new bloggers and take the time to help them and read their blogs.
You can call me marmite!
I may have been a slow starter but today I am happy with my loyal readers.  I call myself a marmite blogger, as people either seem to love or hate me and that is OK, as it is better to be that way than just bland. The most important thing I say to any blogger is to be you.  Your own unique voice is so important and it is what makes your blog readable. In blogging never imitate. Remember you don’t have to do what everyone else does to be a success.  It is good to be bold and to do something different. Find your path and your voice.
For me I realise that -
I can’t be funny like Jane is,
Nor provoke debate and have strong opinions like Nickie does
Nor create an empire like the mighty Maggy
And I don’t have an ounce of the natural talented that Melinda has but that is OK and I don’t have to.  I am me and that’s unique and many people like that. Blogging should be fun and that is individual.

Prior to this event one blogger commented to me that she would say hello if she could get through my throng of admirers and this really did make me laugh out loud, as I am just me.  A normal and average mum.
What makes someone an established blogger?
I finished by saying that for me being an established blogger is about your state of mind. Act successful and believe you have something good to offer and people will buy into it.  It sure worked for me!

All the time you believe you are new or inexperienced you will believe it and everyone else around you will believe it. Change your mindset and take a risk, step out from your norm and become known.
I read a post the other day which said that our session was vague to say the least as none of us knew what we meant by the next level and firstly let me say that I love the fact a newer blogger said what she honestly thought of the conference and made some good suggestions for next time. But let me also say we all knew what we meant by the next level but just because what we believe is different to you does not make us wrong.  Like most things in blogging there is no one right answer.  All five of us before the conference spoke about what the next level was for us and each one of us had a different idea, be it outstanding content, strong readerships, stats, state of mind, being published or whatever.
The session was billed as ‘a chance to sit down with your favourite bloggers and to pick their brains’ and yes I think BritMums were perhaps a bit ambitious when they thought that the 150 odd bloggers that attended our session might have the time to pick our brains. 45 minutes goes very quickly indeed, perhaps five bloggers is too many for a panel? Something for BritMums to ponder for next time.
To conclude -
Wouldn’t life be simple if there were published advancement points, just like there is at my work, when I reach X amount of service time or X level of competence I move up the pay scale? Blogging, like much of life is not like that, some shakers rock up and take the world by storm in 3 months and others like me take 3 years but that makes blogging rich and varied and we should treasure the diversity in our community.
It is great to move to the next level of blogging, the one where you feel good about what you are doing and you are comfortable in your own skin.  That is real success in my book.
Image Credit:  Shamelessly stolen from Her Melness Speaks

Thursday 28 June 2012

#R2BC - Week 26 - Exciting Journeys...

Hello all, I hope you are well. I am in a funny place today, not unhappy you understand, just feeling a bit nothing and I don't like it. I think I have too much going round my mind at the moment.

I'm off to a work conference later on today but to be honest I'd rather stay home and be with my family. I feel as if I have been very busy just lately and I need some down time. I am pretty sure I am heading for a serious bloggy break over the summer to recharge my batteries. If you fancy guest hosting #R2BC one (or more) weeks over the summer then let me know and we will get a rota organised. Email me on mummyfromtheheart (at) virginmedia (dot) com.

So following on with the alphabet theme from recent weeks I will be starting my reasons to be cheerful with the letter E this week. I have discovered that E is a hard letter to work with, my first thoughts were eggs and elephants but I have to be honest and say I did not have that much gratitude for them right now!

So maybe I’m cheating a bit, but you know – my blog, my rules -

Exciting Journey-

It is only a month away from our family trip to Yorkshire. We are off to the Sand le Mere holiday village and all the family are super excited. For the last 3 weekends in a row I have been away without the kids and it is just too much. I need to be with my family and what better place to do this than staying in a luxury lodge and enjoying a part of the country that we have not visited before. I can't wait to play frisbee on the beach, watch the kids enjoy the mini disco and take some long leisurely walks, enjoying the beautiful area we are staying in.

Expeditions –

Then in the last 2 weeks because of my blog I have been offered two totally different but equally wonderful expeditions.  I can’t really say too much yet, as we are just in the early stages of planning but needless to say I am feeling very humbled at the moment that my blog and me might be able to do something for the greater good and in the process I will get to go on two life changing journeys.
To say I am scared is an understatement, what if I let them down? What if my writing is not good enough? What if I cannot muster up enough support back home to make the trips really successful? Then on the flip side I have complete butterflies in my tummy and I cannot control the bubble of excitement that is growing. There is so much organisation that I will need to do - visas to sort, clothes to buy, posts to write and family to organise.  Then on that note I need to mention my
Exceptional hubbie –
I have to just say yet again that I have a truly amazing husband, it is not many men who would consider letting you go abroad in both October and December and leave them for a week at a time to organise the kids and home. Having been to India on a mission trip himself he knows this will be massive and they are opportunities not to be missed.
And I think I’ll leave it there as now what I need to do is the ironing before I go away.  Real life does not stop just because I want to blog sadly!
Why don’t you join in this week?  Yes YOU.  I see you reading and coming by each week but I’d love to know what is making you happy too.  I’ll come and visit everyone who links up this week.  Tweet your posts with #R2BC and I’ll try and give you an RT too.
Thanks to you all for your continued support and so wonderful to meet some of my great #R2BC mates at BritMums Live last weekend.
Come and link up now, and take the bloghop code too if you fancy and then we can jump from blog to blog....

Tuesday 26 June 2012

What is your greatest parenting challenge?

Last Friday I met with some other mums and we sat around a table and mused about what challenge is the greatest facing us as parents today. There was probably only one surprise in there for me and it was really enlightening to hear one blogger talk about how heart wrenching she finds the divide between those 'who have' and 'those who don't'.  She showed us this image from the Guardian, depicting a family in Greece who are now living and begging on the streets. I have to say I had not given this much thought as a parenting issue (in general, yes) but she is right, I can remember at school knowing which kids lived in the council estate or those whose parents could not afford the trendy clothes and I am not casting any dispersions on those families but there were visible differences that even young kids can discern.

The other topics discussed were pretty much what I would term as the usual suspects.  I bought up the issue of technology and the impact it has on our children. Trying to limit the time spent on screen media is a job in itself, I know my JJ would happily sit at his PC for the day long and it always make me smile that when I tell him his time is up he thinks perhaps he can get his DS and play on that instead.  Err no, go jump on the trampoline boy!

Which leads me nicely into the next challenge; helping your children to live a healthy life and make wise choices with their food.  In this era of convenience foods and quick fixes it would be really easy for children to inadvertently learn that instant gratification is the name of the game where food is concerned. In opposition to this, another challenge is the worry that our children are growing up in a time where the media is portraying and promoting children to have an unhealthy body image. I have written before about my friends anorexic 10 year old.  Doesn't that make your heart ache? Do I ever want my children to believe that they need to be stick thing with an enormous bust? I think you know the answer to that.

At least three of the six of us at this market research session cited money as their biggest challenge.  I heard about large mortgages committed to whilst both parents are working, families taking big pay cuts to allow more family time and overall less stress and generally about how family life can change and cause massive money worries. Family can take on many different guises these days and this presents loads of unique situations. How do you provide what your child needs and pay all the bills without working yourself to death in 2012?

Many other issues were talked about but I won't give everything away, because what I would love to do is encourage you to share what is the big challenge that you face as a parent?  In this day and age there are so many pressures, which take you to boiling point?

It might be the same as one of those I have mentioned or it could be completely different.  There is no wrong answers, this is about you. The market research company that I met with today with love to hear from more parents about their challenges and for your time taken commenting, you will be entered into a draw to win a £25 voucher for Amazon.

So come on and tell me - 'what is the single biggest parenting challenge facing you today?' 

To enter - Just leave me a comment answering the above question and let me know the ages of your child/ children.

Giveaway Terms and Conditions

* The giveaway will close at 12 noon 6th July 2012
* The winner will be picked within 4 working days of the end time
* You need to respond within 7 days or I will choose another winner
* One valid comment will be picked at random
* I will organise a £25 Amazon gift voucher for the winner
* The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative

Disclaimer:  I attended a market research session and have been asked to blog on the subject of parenting challenges. I have not at all been instructed what to write.


Sunday 24 June 2012

Memories of pregnancy...

There I am, pregnant with twins.  31 weeks + 5 days.

I was listening to a show on Premier Christian Radio the other day and the presenter and her guest were chatting about being pregnant and the different challenges and joys we face in each trimester.  I found myself nodding along and enjoying the walk back down memory lane.  I don’t expect I’ll be walking that journey again but I have to feel privileged to have done it twice already. I think I have finally come to terms with my experiences not being the rose tinted dreams that I had hoped for.
Here, I'll walk you back through my pregnancies and what I recall -
First Trimester
My overwhelming memory is one of the elation I felt at being pregnant.  I had early bleeding with both pregnancies so there was a bit of apprehension too but early scans put those fears to bed and of course in my second pregnancy revealed the joy that I would have twins.

I have to laugh when I look back at my pregnancies and just how tired I felt.  I recall the first time I felt pregnant, the day of my first positive test, I actually fell asleep at my desk briefly and that was the kick up the bum I needed to go and buy a test kit! From that big fat positive result I was unstoppable and a woman on a mission, to provide the best in life for her baby.
Shopping was a big part of both of my pregnancies, but especially for my first.  I can recall starting to buy small toys, neutral clothes and baby supplies even during this first trimester. I had so many books and magazines, guiding me week by week as to what to expect and advising me how my baby was progressing.
I suffered the ‘ill-named’ morning sickness and felt pretty queasy at most times of the day, thankfully by about 14 weeks this was leaving me and I started to feel a lot better.

Second Trimester

The blooming stage; this was my favourite part of being pregnant, I started to look pregnant rather than just fat and of course you start to feel all the flutters and movements too.  Not to mention getting to hear your babies heartbeat (s) on a regular basis too. And as for bigger boobs, yay!  Something I have always wanted and sadly no longer have.
I think this is when pregnancy became real for my husband as well.  It can be so hard for men to engage with the pregnancy, as obviously they are not actually feeling all of the hormones or changes, just seeing them from the outside.
In general I just felt on a high during this part of pregnancy and really enjoyed it. I found BabyCentre and started to chat to other mums expecting their babies at the same time as me, this was the start of some friendships I still have now, 9 years later.  Becoming a Mum is a very unifying process.  You start to share so much more than you ever did before, your dignity and privacy disappears out of the window!

Third Trimester

This is when pregnancy started to take a toll on my body, especially during my twin pregnancy.  I had put on a lot of weight and was suffering with bad oedema in my legs and feet, making movement hard.  Thankfully my hubbie became a dab hand at foot massage.

Heartburn was another thing I suffered with and I would walk around with a large bottle of Gaviscon in my bag and swig from the bottle, I just needed a brown paper bag to complete the look! Lactulose became my friend as well, as my body seemed to bung up and not want to do what nature intended!

With the twins I was in hospital from 34 weeks pregnant with pre-eclampsia so it was very lucky I had got organised and sorted out the practicalities.  I do adore shopping and checked out so many shops but in the end I went with the advice from my friend D to visit Argos for nursery furniture. JJ had a gorgeous set of Winnie the Pooh nursery accompaniments from there and the girls had girlie pink.

Another big buy for us during this trimester for both pregnancies was the buggy/pram and I went through just two with JJ but six with the girls. Six, how crazy is that?  A mix of double and singles as sometimes it was far easier with one baby in a pushchair and the other in a sling. We hit lucky at one point though as another friend, S had bought her Quinny at Argos and passed it on to us, so appreciated when you have loads to buy for twins.

I enjoyed the birthing and breastfeeding classes that were a regular occurrence in my first pregnancy and I loved writing that first birth plan.  The one where I would have a perfect vaginal birth in the water with soft music playing and dh by my side.  Not quite what happened but still… I have my 3 perfect children and what more can I ask for than that?

Over to you, what is your favourite memory from your pregnancy?

Saturday 23 June 2012

#BritMumsLive - Was it worth it?

500 odd phenomenal bloggers all in one room!

So I'm home and yes I am completely knackered and if I was sensible I would be going to bed and having a good sleep but I can't seem to let go of the high I am on...... the fever is continuing.

I have to say that #BritMumsLive is probably the best conference I have been to, I had a ball.  Some of that is to do with the people I shared it with and some is to do with me finding my feet and being comfortable in my blogging self!

Thursday 21 June 2012

#R2BC BritMums Live here I Come... (Week 25)

As this post goes live it is just 24 hours before I and about another 499 bloggers travel up to London for the massive blogging conference that is BritMums Live and I can not wait!

Yes I admit I am just a bit excited!

Last year going to CyberMummy I was a bag of nerves worrying about what I would wear and wondering if anyone would talk to me.

This year I feel completely confident.  I am meeting up with some valued friends and I intend to enjoy myself.
I am particularly looking forward to –
1.      Being part of the speaker panel for the Bloggers’ Studio: Crossing the Chasm, how to bring your blog up to the next level session at 5.10pm on the Friday. I join Nickie, Mel, Jane and Maggy and we will attempt to baffle and confuse explain how your blog can too operate at the next level. (Being part of this panel assumes that my blog is at that next level and that makes me go all shy and giggly so don’t expect much from me at this session!)

2.      Our google + hang-out after this session.  I am so old-school that I have never been involved in a google + hang-out before, so I really will just be looking pretty for this one but it is a good experience!

3.      The presentation for the Brilliance in Blogging awards. I am not being coy when I say that I have absolutely no expectation of winning my category (I mean outstanding, really).  I am in with some truly phenomenal bloggers and not just the usual suspects either, which is lovely.  I will enjoy watching many of my blogging friends walking away with their awards.

4.     I get to spend a whole night with Clare and Alex and we will have an amazing time.  I do hope we get to bed a little earlier than we did at last years MADS, we have to be up early and do a  full days conference on Saturday after all.  I am officially old now and cannot take it!
5.     Getting to meet loads of bloggers that I have chatted to for a very long time but never had the pleasure yet of meeting, like Bod for Tea, The Boy and Me, Helen, Ruth, Emma and a million others I have not mentioned.

6.     Then on Saturday at the end of the conference I am one of the keynote bloggers and that is fine in as far as I am comfortable with my post but I suddenly realised last night that I need to practise as I have to read it out to near 500 people – ekk and double ekk.
So to say BritMums Live will be amazing is an understatement. I am super excited and the bit I am most excited about is seeing Alex and Clare and all my other lovely friends and I will sincerely miss Heather and many other blogging friends who cannot be there.
As you'll know I have been basing #R2BC on a letter each week just recently and this week should be D but I could not resist writing about BritMums and that just did not fit with D, but here is one D - Dedicated Daddy (or I suppose that really is double D, lucky you!).  Here he is at 9.20pm tonight building the trampoline for the kids after a full day at work.  They are going to be so made up in the morning.

Over to you.....  what is making you cheerful?  And are you coming to BritMums Live? Let me know so I can look out for you.  If you recognise me, then please do say hi.  I am actually a little shy in real life and can be a bit quiet (well for all of 5 minutes anyway) but I'd genuinely like to meet you.  Yes YOU!
You know what to do, link up a post, add in the blog hop code, tweet it and visit others to share the blog love.  I will visit and comment for all those who do the same for me (but it may well be the beginning of next week).

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Has anyone seen my Blogging Mojo?

Do not laugh, this is a deadly serious post! I have been thinking of taking out a classified ad...

Public Announcement

Michelle of Mummy from the Heart fame (what, stop giggling, I am famous) seems to have carelessly lost her blogging mojo. 

Have you seen it? 

Is it possible that when she has seen you at a recent event that you might have taken it by mistake?  Or do you think it may just wear off with time?

Michelle is keen to see her blogging mojo return as she really does not have enough other things to be doing with her time.  She is keen to get back to a position where she can post on a daily basis and then she will not have to attempt to make small talk with her husband, play with her children nor clean the house. All things that take up precious blogging time.

The lack of photos on Michelle's camera and phone have been a sure sign that her mojo is missing. Michelle even managed to have two nights out in a row last weekend.  Something that surely could not have been done, had her mojo been in-tact!

The little heart flip that used to happen when offers for reviews or invites to events dropped into her email inbox seems to have gone as well, replaced by a heavy heart that just cannot be arsed to do anything or attend anything.

If you know where Michelle's mojo might have gone to then please do get in touch by sending an email to

See you soon (if I can be arsed of course!).  Mich x

PS: This is sort of how I feel about my blogging at the moment!

Image Credit

Monday 18 June 2012

A Tale of Two Weekends...

....well one weekend if I am being pernickety! This last weekend both dh and I went away but separately, now don't be worried by that, nothing is wrong, it is just the way it worked out.

Here is my perfectly peaceful ladies retreat in the Shropshire countryside -

It was just a little bit different where dh was! 

For a start he had our 3 kids with him, but then there was about another 40 kids too.  Whereas I had a comfy bed with crisp linen and 2 pilows he had a tent and sleeping bag with 2 over excited little ladies.

We both had home cooked food but mine was things like a roast beef dinner followed by banoffee pie, his was more bangers and mash over the gas stove.

We prayed the rain would stay away and God was kind.  My girls have pronounced this the best holiday ever and it sounds as if they all had a perfect Fathers Day. My dh sure knows how to keep the kids happy!

Friday 15 June 2012

Will I Prejudice or Protect my Children?

Just recently much of my thinking has been taken up with pondering how to deal with the issue of weight and my children. I have a very real fear that one or all of my children will be overweight and as a result of that they may be bullied, may lose faith in themselves or basically just may not reach their full potential and I find that so distressing.

This image makes me so sad.  Small kids feet should not be on scales!

Anyone who has read even a small portion of my blog before will know that I have big food related problems.  I consider myself to have an eating disorder, I am a compulsive overeater and it is as deadly as any other eating disease such as anorexia or bulimia. I know that my children being exposed to my eating problems is a problem in itself.  Yes I am fairly good at masking and hiding my issues from them but at the end of the day they see how fat I am and they see me put too much food in my mouth. I just pray they do not see how unhappy my weight makes me at times.

Never do I want my children to have to go through what I have been through due to my size and issues with food. Yes in the main I am happy, I am a blessed woman living a good life and I thank God for that but it does have to be acknowledged that every part of my life has been clouded, all the special memories I have also include memories of me being fatter than I would have liked or not finding the clothes I felt I wanted to wear. Who would dream of wearing a size 22 wedding dress after all?

I kept attempting to sort myself out and recently it has not been happening for me.  I am so aware that I need to get well and to lose weight but it is much easier said than done. I pray that one day I will have my eating under control and that I can go through a day without obsessing on food and feeling down about the way I look. The feelings of inadequacy and sadness are not what I wish for my children.

The situation I am in at the moment is that I do not know what to do for the best for my kids. On the one hand I really want to tell them about all the taunts I got at school as I was just that bit larger than the other girls, about how unhappy I was having to buy an adult size 10 bridesmaid dress when I was 12 years old, about going to the doctors for my first diet when I was 14 and about being ashamed of my body when I had my first sexual experiences.

But then I am worried that if I share what was reality for me I may just be prejudicing them. My attempts to help ensure that they do not suffer the same as I did may actually just be setting them up for the same pattern and that would be tragic.

The seemingly harmless remarks when I was a young girl that told me to lose my ‘puppy fat’ or ‘that I was pretty and just think how gorgeous I could be if I lost a bit of weight’ were actually anything but harmless. Here I am over 30 years later scared by them and still believing them every day.  I do not want my kids to think there is any condition to their being gorgeous; they are stunning and beautiful inside and out just because, not because there is a condition on them. The things that have blighted my life might not be a problem for them.

I have been troubling myself over the last few weeks wondering what to do for the best. Do I advise one of my children that they are overweight for their age and height? Do I open their eyes to the fact they are bigger than their class mates?  Do I make comments when I have to buy clothes in yet again the larger size? Would these things help to prepare and protect them?  No I don’t think so. I think they would just serve to set them up with issues for the future.

So having chatted to dh about this, what we will do is encourage lots of fun exercise as a family together, get outside often, limit the amount of treats but not stop them, keep an eye on portion sizes and stop puddings in the main and we will do this for all of us so no one person feels singled out.

As a parent I have a duty to promote a healthy lifestyle and an element of moderation, so that is what I will do.  When the kids ask for something sweet sometimes they will get a yes as I believe it is important that I do not put a ban on anything and lead them to covet it in later life.

I'd seriously love to hear from you. 

If you are overweight or have eating issues yourself, did you manage to keep your kids sane around food and if yes, how?

And if you do not have any food issues what are the unspoken rules around food in your house, the ones that a normal eater would set? This is the problem I honestly have no idea! Are your children allowed to snack between meals?  Do you have treats in the cupboard? Do they have pudding? When do you say no and how?

Image courtesy of

Thursday 14 June 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful - C is for... (week 24)

It’s Thursday and you surely by now know what that means – Reasons to be Cheerful!  Welcome to this week’s edition, I hope you have some super cheery things to share with us.

For me, I am continuing with the letter theme that I started a couple of weeks ago, so this week the things I am grateful for are starting with the letter C.  Here goes –

1.       Cloverley Hall – This weekend I am going for a weekend away with about 10 ladies from my Church.  There are some organised sessions but there will be a lot of down time and I intend to use this to refresh myself.  I am feeling pretty burnt out at the moment and I dearly need some down time.  A good book, a cuppa and if the weather holds up some lovely countryside walks are just what I need.

2.       Camping – while I relax in the comfort of Cloverley Hall my lovely dh will be camping with his cubs and all 3 of our kids.  Rather him than me is all I can say.  Please Lord could you let this rain ease up for them, I’m not sure how well my little ladies will cope.

3.       Counselling – As you will know I am on a journey to try and sort my weight out and I have realised that until I sort my head issues, my body has no chance, so I am trying out some counselling and have my first appointment today – we will see how it goes.

Short and sweet this week, but I am on a race against time to get everything done before I go away tomorrow. Time for you to share, what is making you happy, cheerful or grateful?  Write your post, link it up.  Take the blog hop code if you fancy and pop it at the bottom of your post and then go visit some others and leave some comment love. I promise if you comment here, I’ll come do the same and I’ll try to get to everyone who links up but no promises as I am having a computer free weekend.

Have a great week ahead.  Mich x

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Link up now -

Tuesday 12 June 2012

JJ's Record Breaking Heartache!

Last Thursday the kids and myself enjoyed a day at Whipsnade Zoo courtesy of Thomson Family Resorts and Guinness World Records. We were introduced to their new partnership and it seems like a super and really novel idea.  Basically, when you travel with Thomson to one of their 18 family resorts you can attempt to break a world record.  Yes a proper world record and you might even make it into the annual year book and you will of course gain yourself an official and coveted certificate.  Now if you are old like me you will have fond memories of Roy Castle presenting record breakers on the TV.

During the day time on your holiday you can take part in the heats and those with the best times/ scores will then be able to make official world record attempt in the evening in front of a cheering crowd. Maybe you could be the new champion who can put the most underpants on in one minute!

On our day at the zoo there were a few different records we could attempt.  Not just the kids but adults too.  The Mummy Whispers hubbie was a dab hand at lilo stacking and Claire from the Veggie Experience even managed to set a new world record and gained herself a certificate.

From the start my JJ took a liking to the 'how many hats can you put on your head in one minute' record.  He spent quite some time practising before lunch and really got into it; bossing people around, timing them and advising them of the rules.  The current record was 27 hats balanced on a head for 5 seconds once the one minute was up and in the practise time JJ got up to 24 hats, so he was feeling really excited and confident.  I'll let you watch how he got on....

If I'm honest he went home a little gutted but his friendly ways and confidence paid off for him because he will soon receive a special preview copy of the 2013 Guinness World Records book and that has made him smile a lot.  Now if only I could get him to buddy up with the people at Thomson's, we would make really excellent reviewers for a trip abroad! I have spent far too much time this evening  could set us up with.  If I just had a spare £2000 the 5 of us could jet off somewhere hot in August, but instead we'll be heading to Dorset!  My last holiday abroad feels like a super long time ago in 2004.

I think the highlight of the day for Miss M was meeting Thomson the dog, she took a real shine to him.  The girls are still at that lovely age when they do not question if the characters are real or not.

And my laid back one, Miss E she just watched all the others join in and was a happy little lady.  So easy to please, you have to love her.

Disclaimer:  Thomson treated us to a day at the zoo with a lovely lunch and some fun toys for the kids.  I have not been instructed to write a post but thought I would share with you. Thanks to Thomson and Guiness World Records for the invite.

Monday 11 June 2012

Will we ever have sun?

I am super keen for some nice weather to arrive in the UK, for a multitude of reasons -

  1. We have a brand new trampoline, sitting in the box in our house, waiting to be put up!
  2. Dh is taking all 3 kids camping with the cubs this weekend coming (brave or what?)
  3. My garden is like a jungle!
  4. I have been sent these stunning SUNUVA rash vests for my girls to protect them in the sun and at the moment there is no sun!

Do you like Miss E's model pose?

You might not have heard of a rash vest before (I hadn't) but basically it is a T-shirt for wearing in the sun.  These Sunuva vests are SPF 50+ and that means they block out 97% of the suns harmful UV rays, meeting the stringent standards insisted upon in Australia & New Zealand.

I really like the rash vests, I am a little paranoid about my fair-skinned children getting their shoulders burnt and these tops will completely alleviate that fear.  They have a high rounded neck and full coverage over the shoulders and back. However they remain beautifully styled with cute ruching at the side and at the cuffs with a button trim too.  There are loads of gorgeous colours and prints to choose from. The rash vests start at £36 each and whilst that is probably more than I could normally afford to pay it is not unreasonable for the quality.

Two mums (Emily and Sabrina) started Sunuva after finding that they could not source the trendy and stylish sun protection outfits that they wanted for their kids. Roll forward a few years and now they have a stunning mix and match range of swim and beach wear with gorgeous accessories such as glasses and hats. It it interesting to think that my two little ladies will be wearing the same brand this summer as the children of Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. Now there is a first I am sure!

You can buy Sunuva products at Harrods, Fenicks and boutique children's stores, as well as online directly from Sunuva. Delivery is £5.05 or free if your order is over £100 and they offer a full exchange or refund service if you are not happy. I have been very pleased with my dealings with Sunuva to date.

I would say their sizing is pretty true to age, both my girls had a 5-6 year size rash vest arrive and it was fairly snug on Miss M but considering she is 117cm tall (yes and only 4 years old) that is about right.  It had more room on Miss E as she is 111cm and a smaller frame.  As you can see from the photos you can wear the rash vest as a cover-up over a swimsuit or bikini bottoms like Miss M or with shorts, trousers etc like Miss E.

Just take a look at the beautiful designs on the vests.

And if you have some spare cash you can choose one of the stunning ranges and kit out all your kids to coordinate and be the talk of the beach! JJ did ask me where his was, whoops sorry babe!

The Sunuva range are between about £25 - £45 a piece and I must say that if I had a bit more disposable income I would be tempted by quite a few things. The girls dresses and playsuit are to die for...

Disclaimer:  I was provided with the 2 rash vests free of charge for the purposes of this review.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Why BOGOF's are Brilliant!

Note:  Please do read this, it is NOT a paid-for post, I'm just passionate about all people having enough to eat.

I’m assuming you know what a BOGOF is?  Buy one, get one free and you increasingly see them at the supermarkets now and everyone likes something for free don’t they?  But what I find often happens is that you then start to stockpile foods that you don’t really need and the cupboard gets way full of things that don’t get used that often.
Shall I share with you what I do with my free one?
I gave it away. Yep, it cost me nothing, so why not share my fortune because I can?
At the moment I am giving it to a specific family that I am helping but at other times I will give it to our local food bank. My local food bank is run by a church in my town and it has donations of both goods and money from other local churches, local people and supermarkets.  I went to visit a couple of weeks ago and watched as they gave out 2 bags of shopping to about 60 families. Families that are in need because they are living on the poverty line.  Roll back a year and I had no idea that anyone lived on the poverty line in an affluent Hertfordshire town. It is so wrong.
I sincerely wish I knew more about the way our benefits worked in this country as I find it so hard to believe that people are expected to live on such a small amount, it means that even when they have changed their ways and are trying hard to work themselves out of debt, they hardly can. It is just horrifying that a family may split and the benefits go with the partner who has walked out and the person left home with the kids then has to be reassessed, easily taking 2 - 4 months. What will they eat in the meantime?  I used to naively think that everyone had someone they could turn to when things were really tough, I now know that is not the case.

Food banks are a lifeline to some people; the tray of eggs, box of cereal and tinned fruit that they receive are luxuries in their daily meal of plain pasta or tinned soup.  Yes that really was the extent of the diet of a lady I have been helping up until a few months ago when I bought her to my house and started to feed her.
And that is the thing, we are not talking scruffy homeless people here, you may never spot on the street who is struggling and needs help. At the food bank I saw a load of families from my kids' school, all dressed and clean, all with homes and polite children that attend school but for one reason to another, illness, redundancy or such they need food. I now know of mothers who regularly skip their meals so they can feed their children.  Of families who use a microwave to cook everything as they cannot afford to have their well-used cooker mended and of children who have never tasted a piece of exotic fruit as that would just be a frivolous waste of their parents scarce money.

This is the picture in every town in the UK, even the rich ones like mine, where the average house price is £250K. The good news is that increasingly there are more local food banks available and people are able to turn to them but it strikes me that not enough people know about them or know how to access them.  So if you are reading this and you skip meals as you would rather feed your kids or you know that a bag of shopping would make the world of difference to your diet then visit this map and see just how many there are across the country.  Also speak to your GP or Health Visitor as it will be them or specified council workers who will be able to give you a voucher to use at the food bank.

I am passionate to see this network grow.  People coming together and helping other people is so important. In this day and age we hear everyone talking about how so and so needs a helping hand and wouldn't it be great if they got a break? Well, we can all orchestrate that break and it is so simple.  Small donations from lots of people make a big difference.

Perhaps after reading this you feel compelled to put an extra item of shopping in your trolley and maybe some of your local supermarkets have food bank drop-off points for you to conveniently drop the tin or packet into. Or maybe you can give an hour or two a week to help sort the donations or chat to someone in need. 

There is something we all can do.  The question is........ will you?

Image Credit

Saturday 9 June 2012

#SatCap - Where has my JJ Gone?

Joining in with the awesome Mammasaurus today for #SatCap. 

Take a look at the pictuire of JJ and caption it!  It did make me laugh when I took it earlier this week.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful - B is for.... (Week 23)

Hello all, Did you have a wonderful long weekend off work?  I sure hope so.  I really enjoyed being home, but such a shame the rain came and messed with much of it. My lawn still needs doing!

I am following on from last week with the letter theme and thus this week I am grateful for all things starting with B and of course the obvious one to start with is -
  • Blogging - To be honest at the moment I think my blogging mojo has gone on holiday as I am not feeling that inclined to blog but I am by no means giving up blogging.  It does generally give me lots of joy, some wonderful experiences and opportunities that I would not get otherwise and of course some super bloggy chums.
  • BritMums Live - Only a couple of weeks until this big bloggy conference and I just know it will be loads of fun.  It is a little daunting for me as so many new things are happening for me there but I will be just fine with my friends by my side.
  • My Boy - We popped into town on Monday to pick up a couple of bits and there was free face painting, which of course the girls wanted.  So JJ asked if he could walk down to Smiths on his own and buy some Euro 12 stickers.  I let him do this and all seemed fine and then this man walked up to me and asked if he was my son. 'Oh dear' thinks I, but I need not have worried as it turns out he wanted to congratulate me on having such a lovely polite boy, who apparently conducted himself impeccably. Go JJ!
  • Bank Holidays - We have had some good fun this long weekend, it was so nice to be together as a family and seeing lovely friends, so I'll share some photos from our Sunday trip to Hyde Park for the Sainsburys Family Festival (which I'm sorry Sainsburys was a wash out!) but luckily the kids had a wonderful time, due to seeing their little mate J.

Sorry I have just realised that I did not visit anyone last week, so do feel free to ignore me this week and not leave a comment  ;-). I will endeavour to come and visit this weekend but I am off to visit my Nan again as hopefully she is coming out of hospital. Blogging just seems to be taking a back seat to real life right now but I am sure you would all agree, that is the way it should be.

So now over to you, what is making you cheerful right now? Link your blog post up, go visit some others in the linky and leave them some comment love and I am sure they will do the same back. Tweet with the hashtag #R2BC if you fancy and most of all enjoy and smile!

Have a great week, Mich x

Tuesday 5 June 2012

I've been for a Health MOT!

Last Thursday I went for a health MOT as part of the new ‘nudge’ initiative that I have been lucky enough to be signed up to at work. The results were pretty much as I expected, it is not as if I am blind to the fact that I am very overweight.  My BMI came out as expected at 41 and I think this was a bit shocking to the instructor, she advised me I should be looking to have a BMI of about 24 and realised that this is a big drop for me, probably about a 6 stone drop, so we agreed that I would start with a drop to 35, that in itself will be hard enough work.
What was a lovely surprise was that my cholesterol and blood sugar levels were excellent, both showed no problems at the moment and that certainly made me smile.  As a large person you are always warned of the damage you are doing to your body and I have wondered before if I am playing roulette with diabetes. I suppose truth be told I am still gambling but just coming out on top on these factors for now.
The MOT was a through one and I found out that my waist-to-hip ratio is very poor, my lung capacity is just below average and I need to improve my stretch.  My blood pressure came up with an appalling result and I will pop to the doctors and get this checked but to be honest I think it is inaccurate as previously the results have always been wrong when a small cuff is used.
I am due to go for another MOT in 3 months and I am wondering if I should just focus on this big goal. I find that weighing every week sends me a bit crazy and if the weight is down, I want to eat and celebrate and if the weight is off then I feel I can have a treat as I deserve it. I do have a very warped mind when it comes to weight loss.
The next MOT would be due to be in early September after all the summer holidays and festivities so in one way this feels like a very tough time to diet but to be honest I think the summer months are easier than the winter as generally people are less hungry in summer, so I am told.  I am not sure that has ever applied to me, but if I start to curb my eating and shrink my stomach a bit maybe it will.
My weight at the MOT wearing my clothes and trainers was 17st 9lb, which is where I was on 13th May 2012 when I started to think about weight loss again.  I did lose 3lb and I assume this has pretty much stayed off as that would have been a naked weight and trainers and clothes must weigh a couple of lbs. Anyway, today I have weighted my twins as part of their twin study (that is why I have scales at home) and I have now put them away, so I am not tempting to just jump on.
I have just started read a book by Sue Prosser called Stop dieting and Start Living and it looks good, it is written from a Christian perspective and I think that is important for me to think about getting my body fitter in the right way. I should not just be looking to be slimmer for vanity’s sake.
I had been starting to think about making a checklist for life over my last few weight loss update posts and I do think I need to carry that on.  Some of the changes that I need to make and habits I need to form are –
1.       Thinking positive about my ability to lose weight
2.       Eating mindfully, praying at the start of each day and before putting food in my mouth
3.       Drinking a glass of water before each meal
4.       Drinking more water in general (I was surprised at the MOT to find that my body is
5.       Exercising at least 3 times a week
6.    Remembering to take my vitamins each day
I have not made up my mind yet if I will be blogging about how I am doing during this 3 month journey or if I will just come back and report at the end.  The summer is an unpredictable period and I fully expect to blog less and have some breaks. So just expect to see me when you see me, I need to sort this for me and in my own way rather than fitting in with a pattern.
One day I’ll post and surprise you all and things will be going in the right direction.  I pray that will be soon, but if not I’ll keep on trying.  Perseverance can take you a long way….  Look at Thomas Edison and his thousands of attempts at getting the first incandescent lightbulb to work. He struck gold in the end and so will I!
But what about you?  How are things going?  Any super tips you want to share with me or is it just a case of just do it MIch!

Saturday 2 June 2012

Happy Jubilee, AKA Family Time

Hello all, just wanted to wish you a marvellous Jubilee weekend and I hope you have a super time with your family and friends, I intend to be missing from action on this blog and just enjoying life instead.

Here's the loonies sharing their jubilee outfits from school yesterday.  Catch you next week.

Be blessed, Mich x

Friday 1 June 2012

No Words #TippingPoint #Syria

I have spent much of this afternoon reading about Syria and the needless killings that went on last week, I am moved, horrified, tearful and generally feeling very helpless for the people that are being exposed to the unrest in their country.
I am appalled to find that humanitarian agencies, such as Save the Children cannot access the country to be able to try and help the people there. It is beyond belief that people, people like us (we are one people after all) are having to live terrified, that children are managing to survive massacres by covering themselves in blood and pretending to be dead and that mothers will live for the rest of their lives having watched their children be brutally murdered.  Our world is so broken and it breaks my heart.

I cannot find the words today to convey to you how I feel, everything I want to say has been said, so rather than repeat it all, I will keep this short and simple and point you towards some good posts that will make you want to act - Thinly Spread, Blog Up North, Kate Takes 5 to name but a few, you can see a full range of posts linked up at BritMums. It is also very worthwhile to read the Times article and look at the Q and A on the Guardian.

However, the thing that you should do above all others is sign the Save The Children petition, which is calling on world leaders to put in place an immediate and legally binding "Resolution to Protect Children" that carries the full force of international law on those attacking children and other civilians.
"We welcome the UN Security Council's unanimous statement condemning the attacks on civilians in Houla in Syria.
However, this statement does not go far enough: the Security Council must pass an immediate resolution setting out the concrete political measures that will bring about an end to the violence, and which will grant access for humanitarian agencies to reach the children injured and affected by the conflict.
The resolution must restate the rights of children to be protected from violence and make clear that all perpetrators of atrocities must be held to account for their crime"
Also raise awareness in any way that you can, talk to your neighbours, ring your mum, email your friends and use social media. The hashtags for twitter are #syria #tippingpoint and #stopthekillings

I urge you today friends, just do one thing.  Do not turn a blind eye, we all have a responsibility to stand together and to speak for those who have no voice.  Together we are a force to be reckoned with.

God bless, Mich x