Saturday 28 July 2012

I feel ashamed, elated, humbled and excited!

I am on an emotional roller-coaster right now, if I did not know better I would be tempted to think I was pregnant and the hormones were in full-flow.  But I’ll just set the record straight from the start – I’m not. Oh no, no more babies for me. I have other work to do.

My baby making days are over and I feel I have another calling right now.  Of course I’ll continue the important work of raising my own children with my husband, that goes without saying.  I also need to continue in my paid work as practicalities dictate that we need to pay the mortgage and I do love to have enough earnings that we can continue with our charitable giving such as the 2 children we sponsor through Compassion and the monthly donation to the Hope project.

But in recent times I have wanted to do more than just give money.  I am mad at the world and especially the injustice of the way that wealth is unequally spread, it is really impacting my life.  I drove through a nice area of Hertfordshire the other day on the way to a Cub camp and I was appalled by all the large and decadent houses. Who needs to live in houses worth a couple of million?  Roll back 15 years and I would have been yearning for a house like that, now I can honestly say it makes me feel physically sick.

I do realise I am a hypocrite though, I am appalled at vast displays of wealth in people’s houses, cars and clothes but here I am a very overweight woman. One who could be said to be flaunting her wealth in all the excess weight that her body carries.  I can hear some of you now ‘ah Mich, don’t be hard on yourself’, ‘losing weight is difficult’, ‘when the time is right…’ yadda, yadda, yadda.  I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but I need a dose of tough love.

There is no excuse for being this overweight and I do feel bad about it, I just also at times, feel completely powerless over it. But I am taking positive measures – counselling, time away from blogging to free my mind space to remember to eat healthy, to exercise and to allow myself to go to bed early.

‘So where is this post going Mich, is it just another whine about you being too fat?’ I hear you thinking. While yes, I am whining about my weight, it is for a slightly different reason. Things have come to a bit of a head for me as I have had the most exciting news. have invited me to travel with a group of US bloggers and one other UK Blogger, Jennifer Howze to Ethiopia in October, with the focus for the trip on agriculture and maternal and child health as part of #ONEMums. I am so humbled to have been asked and to be able to go there and see for myself both the immense problems that are there but also the wonderful inspirational success stories of families becoming sustainable and lives being saved. I cannot even begin to explain to you how I feel about going to Ethiopia, my heart is in my throat as I type this and I wonder how I will get through the next couple of months with the anticipation and expectation for what I will experience.
I feel I really must show some respect and try to shift some weight before we go, I sort of feel that going out there at this size is just like rubbing their noses in it.  However, I pray that the Lord keeps me focused on the trip agenda and not the inward struggles of being me. I am going there to learn more, have my eyes opened and to be the voice of people who are not able to reach you. I am so privileged to be able to take this trip and my desire is to share everything that I see and experience with you.  Right now I am on fire, my heart is both aching and longing to help as well as buzzing and beating with the excitement of taking such a life-changing trip.  How can I ever view things the same again after this?

I know some people wonder why people like me bother taking these trips. Isn’t the problem too vast that nothing will ever make a difference?  Well with that attitude perhaps but I believe, like really believe. I believe we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. There have been some amazing blogger charity trips in the last couple of years and now I just hope and pray that I, along with the other ONEMoms/Mums can do something amazing with, such an inspiring advocacy and campaigning organisation.

For those cynics reading this, take a quick peek at this video, smart agriculture programs make a difference -
What I would like to know is will you take this journey with me blogger friends? Can you be on the ground tweeting and blogging while I am in Ethiopia? Will you support a friend to help get some much-needed awareness out there?

And if you have not yet signed up to support ONE (remember they want your voice not your money) please do so HERE. It takes just moments.

Friday 27 July 2012

Yay - the craft that made Miss M sit still & win a £100 voucher

If I said to anyone who knows her well that Miss M sat still for an hour and applied herself to just one task this last weekend they would not believe me.  This is a child who has 'ants in her pants'. She is not at all good at applying herself.

So what was it that had her interested I can imagine you are wondering. It was the magic cocktail of Mummy's full attention and Hama Beads. We had such fun together and I have to be honest, JJ has had hama beads for years but I have never really sat down with him and done them.  He just gets on with it himself. You would have thought that I would have learnt by now that kids love any toy or play item better when a parent is involved.

I think this is something that Merry from Patch of Puddles blog is aware of, as a home-schooling mama she is used to working with and engaging her children and I know hama beads are a bit of a passion for her. So she is holding a hamabead competition this summer and she invited my kids to join in and create some designs around the theme of ‘an amazing holiday’.  JJ got the concept straight away but Miss M and Miss E were a bit more stubborn and just insisted that they wanted to make some creations of their choosing, rather than fitting with the theme.

Would your child like to enter the competition and be in with a chance to win a £100 gift voucher to spend in one of Merry’s online shops such as Craft Merrily, Play Merrily, Jolly Dollies or The Little Big Toy Shop ?   Yes?  It is dead simple; get them to craft a hama bead creation of their own design, take a photo and email that to  patchofpuddles {at} gmail {dot} com with a note of your child’s first name and age.  The entries will be judged by an independent person from DKL Marketing or Hama Beads (TBC) after the close date of midnight 31 August 2012.
Here is what JJ created - first a rocket to take you to the moon, which he tells me would be the most amazing holiday ever and then an aeriel view of the earth, taken from his rocket!

If you have not tried out hama beads before then I genuinely can recommend them as a nice way to help your children craft.  Merry has put together a special starter kit that you can purchase for £11.95 but there is no obligation to do so, you are free to enter the competition just using the beads you already have.

Head over to Patch of Puddles and see the full details.

Disclosure:  Merry was kind enough to send us some hama beads so that we could take part in this competition.

Thursday 26 July 2012

#R2BC - Week 30, Grateful for..... Images

Running in and running out again, work is all go, go, go at the moment and I am trying to get everything done so I can have a good break over the summer- from paid work, from blogging and from anything that feels like a stress on my life to be honest.

Following my alphabet theme, this week is ‘I’ and you know what, I found that immensely difficult.  Inspirational and incredible came to mind but I just did not have the mental capacity to do them justice, so instead I went with the word images. The images I am most grateful for are all of my family; I love to look back and would be lost without my photos. Here is a little slide show I enjoyed making on Tuesday night, I hope you enjoy….

Are you joining in with us this week? Come on, it will make you feel good, honest. Gratitude is a powerful tool I find. Choose to be happy and grateful and you choose to live a better life. Check out the #R2BC page for the backdrop to this linky. Write a cheery post, put the blog hop code at the bottom and link up. Then go and spread the blogger comment love and encourage others in their journey.

You might have seen me mention before that I am having some summer downtime and as such I have guest hosts for Reasons to be Cheerful for the next 5 weeks. I hope to still join in each week but I have to be honest and say I cannot guarantee it. Please do still go and visit my guest hosts and join in as they are all very regular contributors to this community and will be known to you I am sure.

So here is where you will find #R2BC over the next few weeks -

Week 31 - 2 August - Seasider in the City

Week 32  - 9 August - Glass Half Full

Week 33 -  16 August - Mama Owl

Week 34 - 23 August - Lakes Single Mum

Week 35 - 30 August - Cakes Photos Life

Week 36 - 6 September - Tiger Tales

Wishing you all a fantastic summer.  Remember get away from the PC and enjoy some time with your kids, I am!  Mich x

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Monday 23 July 2012

Are you a Mum looking for work?

For me life is all about balance, even the best things can become too much when taken to extreme, so whilst I love to be home with my kids, to play with them, nurture them and just enjoy our time together I have a complete fear of being home all the time.  

Luckily when I changed jobs after JJ was born nearly 9 years ago I was extremely fortunate to find a part-time job with a public-sector employer.  In the time I have been there I have been able to change my hours and job role a number of times and all within the same department.  My salary has nearly doubled and I still only work 22 hours a week but in a job that challenges and excites me.  Yes I am indeed one of the fortunate ones.
There is no reason why you cannot be one of the fortunate ones too, perhaps you have heard of a useful website called  All in one place you can easily find vacancies across the UK that are being targeted towards Mums. Don’t you think that is fabulous? No more discrimination when a potential employer spots the child raising career gap on your CV and no more uncomfortable questions at interview when they realise you have three pre-schoolers. 

The employers engaging with the Working Mums site are reputable, brands like John Lewis, HSBC and T Mobile, they know the value of employing Mums and understand that those of us who work part-time tend to work smarter and harder as we have to fit everything we do into a limited time-frame.
I had a good explore of the Working Mums site and was pleased to see loads of part-time and homeworking jobs but also full-time ones too for those Mums who require more hours. It was interesting to note that there are even paid market research opportunities available for those Mums who want to just earn a nominal income each month.

Having working in HR and recruitment for the last 14 years I know that no two Mums are the same, every person wants something slightly different to suit their own personal situation. It has also been apparent to me over the years just how many women lose their confidence after having children or feel they have nothing to put on a CV anymore but this site has a wealth of information on CV writing, interview tactics and tips on how to work flexibly and best of all - it is all free advice, easily available at any time of day.
However not everyone wants to be employed and if you are interested to work for yourself then there are some super franchise opportunities available as well. There were lots of well-known names that I recognised like Tatty Bumpkins, Merry Maids and Families magazine – all looking for new franchisees to join their success. Not only that, there is also a resource area in the franchise zone where you can read articles around writing a business plan, how to research a franchise and lots more.  You can even post a question for Tom Endean, the Marketing Manager of the British Franchise Association, I think that is a very valuable resource to tap into.

In short the Working Mums site appears to be a great resource for women looking to get back into the work place or just changing roles or even starting a franchise. Part of my paid work is to help advise and coach people when they are facing redundancy and I will certainly recommend they visit Working Mums if appropriate.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Friday 20 July 2012

My creative kids #ColourMeInRK

My children love a challenge and they adore doing crafty things, so when I showed my twin girls the 2 boxes of Rice Krispies that I had for them to colour in and enter the #ColourMeInRk competition sponsored by Kellogg’s and hosted by BritMums they were up for the challenge.  Just one small problem I had not banked on my 8 year old boy, JJ wanting to join in as well.  Luckily our local supermarket was able to provide another Rice Krispies colour me in box and the three of them sat down Sunday morning before Church and started to colour in.

I took loads of photos so I could show you the intense looks on their faces, the beautiful creative process that they went through and I am gutted to say that my dh seems to have wiped them off. He was doing me a favour on Monday, transferring all my photos from my laptop to the external hard drive and sadly when I went to use them today in this post they are not there, nor on the camera.  Oh well, life goes on.  Luckily I do have the beautifully finished Rice Krispie boxes and I can show you their creations that they are so proud of.  When I needed to open a new box of Rice Krispies this morning for breakfast there was a big debate about whose box we should eat first!

I had to laugh at the way they took this task so seriously, they have no idea what they can win, I just told them that if one of them won they could go to the local toy shop and choose a small something each and that we would be having a nice holiday this year. As they all sat at the table with their pens, glue, glitter etc every so often I would hear a small argument break out ‘I’m going to win’, ‘no, I’m going to win’.  Not once did it occur to them that someone outside of our family may win.  Of course we had the usual conversation about us all being winners for making a good effort and having fun in the process.  But I know this is not enough for JJ, he has already asked me since when the close date is and when will he find out if he has won.
If you fancy the chance of winning £500 or a years supply of Rice Krispies then your child can join in with this competition too. All they have to do is colour in one of the Rice Krispie Colour Me In boxes (or you can draw the Rice Krispie figures if you do not have one), blog and tweet about it using #ColourMeInRK hashtag and add to the BritMums linky. The close date is 31 July 2012 and you can read the full terms and conditions on the BritMums post.

So without further ado I give you the entries from my children -
First up is JJ's creation and he is aged 8

....and he told me to ensure that I showed you that there are glittery bits and that he has done some patterns in the colouring too.  I offered him some craft bits so he could decorate the box more but he said it was a colouring competition. Here is the close up -

And here is Miss M's, she is my more flighty and stubborn child and refused to colour in the third man - Crackle. Aged 4 when she did this.

Lastly Miss E's creation.  She is of the ilk that 'more is more' and wanted to add all sorts to the box, I think Hello Kitty makes a great addition, don't you?  Aged 4 when she did the colouring.

There we go, we hope you like the children's creations.

Disclosure: We received Rice Crispies and 2 art kits in exchange for taking part in this competition.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful - The H edition... (Week 29)

Just dropping in quickly today, I have so much work on right now so that is where I am.  I'm on a bit of a summer wind down to be honest and my plan is to have a bloggy break for the month of August, so I won't be about much, I'll be enjoying time with my family.

Anyway on to H, lots of things came to mind.....  home, hugs, happiness.... but the ones that won this week are -

*  Holidays - So the first H has to be for holidays, both the going away type (which I have 2 of in the next month) and the school summer holidays in general.  Down time, hardly any commitment and hopefully some sunshine will be just perfect.

*  Happy Birthday - my young ladies are now 5  so grown up but of course that is not really the case.  T 4 & 5 year olds went really well and they received far too many presents, so I have been share some around and put some aside to go in the Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts that we make each year.

*  Husband - This week dh and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and it will be great to go out and have some time together. With my counselling over the last few weeks I have been thinking lots about life, my marriage and finding myself again and I have surely realised how blessed I am with my husband.  Yes we have our niggles but he is there for all the important stuff and we make a good team.  I love you babe, thanks x.

So over to you, remember there is no pressure to follow my letter theme. Just write a happy, cheerful or grateful post, take the blog hop code from below and paste it in and then visit other linked up blogs and offer some comment love, we all love a comment after all.  Then don't forget we tweet with the #R2BC hashtag.

Have a blessed week, happy summer holidays!  Mich x

Monday 16 July 2012

Photo Story - The Girls 5th Birthday treat....

I saw that Julia Boggio has hosted a BritMums carnival just recently and unfortunately I'm a bit late to the show to join in but I liked the idea so much that I thought why not,  I'll give it a go!

So here I am sharing our Saturday from this last weekend. The girls turn 5 this week and Saturday we had a family day out for them and also to celebrate the superb school reports that all 3 children received. It was a day to remember and it is a joy to spend time with my kids, life is so much easier now they are 5!

Here they are at the Empire, Leicester Square where we had gone to watch the new GoGoGo! Show and they absolutely loved it and you can read about it on my other blog. Check out their new outfits, they choose them themselves the week before when we went shopping together.

..and meeting the performers from the show... I really do think the girls thought they were VIPs!

Then when you are in Leicester Square the next obvious choice is to visit the M&M store of course... and out we walked with 1kg of M&M's, its obscene really, who needs that many sweets?  They better last a long time...

Then back to the train and heading out of London and on to our local Beefeater for a celebration meal and it was fantastic.  Check out my review on Honest Mummy Reviews.

and this was how I ended a superb day...

Happy Birthday my babies, this year I am not reminiscing and looking back, I am looking to the future and enjoying all the things we can do together now you are bigger.

Sunday 15 July 2012

It's just a bed, right?

I have slowly been realising that my bed has had it!  It needs to go, it's ready for the dump sadly. And I do mean sadly, I know it is just an inanimate object and I should probably just get over it and let it go but I do not want to.......I love my bed.

Dh and I bought our king-size bed in February 1997 when we first moved in together.  It cost us a bomb, about £1000 and considering that was 15 years ago  it tells you it was a good one, but everyone knows that 15 years is too long for a mattress, especially when every night it has housed two rather large adults.

As I have been pondering recently about buying a new bed I have come to realise that for me it is far more than just a piece of furniture, it holds so many memories for me.  Loads has happened in that bed and no I do not mean that!  Well yes of course that, but sex is not what I am referring to.

No, my bed makes me think about -
  • the early days when dh and I were together and we used to lie in bed and listen to an old soul album and we would talk and cuddle for hours, getting to know each other.
  • falling in love with my husband and finding joy with him.
  • all the times I snuggled up with my babes when they were small and the closeness of breastfeeding them in the middle of the night.

  • being pregnant with the twins and hardly being able to move but loving the refuge of my cosy bed.
  • being let out of hospital each day for a couple of hours over the 2 week period before the girls were born. Going  to bed in the afternoon with JJ and watching a DVD with my small man, so he still felt he had his mum.
  • napping in the afternoon with my toddler twins when they thought they were too old to nap but would still do so in Mummy's bed.
  • the times like today when my kindly dh moves out of our bed as one of the kids is ill and all they want is their Mum.

  • spending time alone with myself and with God, just being or reading in the quietness of a school day - perfect!
But I need to be honest with myself, even when I have a new bed I'll still have those wonderful memories and a new bed will be perfect for making new memories in, so no looking back Mich.  Dh and I need to bit the bullet and get out there and do some shopping.  Summer sales and all that!

It will be really important for me that I get a functional storage bed, as currently my 5ft bed has 4 drawers underneath and these house my book collection, gym clothes, spare blankets and cushions and wrapping paper and to be honest there won't be anywhere else for all these things to go.  Then when I asked dh he said his most important consideration is a high-quality mattress and of course this makes sense, that will be the thing that actually improves our quality of sleep afterall.

So we need to get the holidays out the way and have a little more money in our pocket and do some bed trailiing!

Saturday 14 July 2012

#SilentSunday - Love is in the air

Just one photo, captured by me yesterday.

Sand Le Mere: What have we got to look forward to?

You may have read that I am going on a review trip to Sand le Mere Holiday Village with my family at the end of July. I am a bit like a little kid about it, as I am super excited.  Now let me just say my idea of a perfect holiday for me is not in Britain and not at a holiday park...  but and it is a big BUT, as a mum, the kids really do come first and when it comes to holidays this is their idea of a perfect holiday and thus dh and I are happy too.

So with only a couple of weeks left to go I have spent a good hour or two today investigating the park and also the local area and I thought I would share what I have found out, in case you fancy visiting there too.

I'm looking forward to a warm welcome in the brand new £4Million venue.

Some peace and quiet in the beautifully landscaped village.  Do you think I am aiming too high with this one, I will have 3 kids with me after all?

Maybe I can dump them in here to play with dh while I read a good book?

Or if the British weather lets us down (surely not, hey?) then they can try out the brand new soft play area.

I have been really good recently with my exercise, so I think I ought to take the opportunity of dh being there as a babysitter and make sure I use the new gym too.

But I am pretty sure one of my favourite parts of the holiday will be the times we spend as a family in the pool.  The simple stuff is where the best memories are made I find.

and this slide does not look too scary, so maybe they can get me on here too!

Ohh we are going to have so much fun!

Disclosure:  My family is holidaying at Sand Le Mere for 4 nights for free for the purposes of reviewing the park.

Thursday 12 July 2012

#R2BC, G is for.... girls, grades, God and gang (week 28)

We have made it to Thursday and that rain still keeps on coming, I am pleased to say I have gone beyond being fed up with the weather now and have just got used to it.  It will be such a shame though if we can not get outdoors much during the long summer holiday. Anyway enough of the glum stuff, over to the matter in hand, #R2BC.

This weeks reasons to be cheerful are bought to you by the letter G -

*  My girls - my beautiful little twinnies will be 5 next week and I can't believe that much time has flown by.  They are having a big party with about 40 kids at a local soft play centre on Tuesday and then I am never doing a full class party ever again! This weekend we are having a family day out for their birthday, we are going to the GoGoGo! show in London, the girls do not know this yet but it is so going to be their thing and I am looking forward to it, followed by a nice meal and even better both are reviews, so minimal cost (yes, cheapskate mummy!).

*  Grades - we received the three school reports this week and the girls ones were much as expected.  Miss M was called confident too many times to remember and Miss E was referred to as a shy and sensitive girl (ahh my little poppet). The real star however, was JJ. What a report!  It was one that every parent would be proud to receive, he received an A in all subjects for his attitude towards work and to be honest that is more important to dh and I than anything else.....  but then that was not all! No, he also received grades that were year 5 and 6 standard.  He has just finished year 3,  yes it is a proud mummy moment and I am so thrilled with his progress.  My little man who used to struggle so much is blossoming.

*  God - How could I not mention God?  You all must know by now that He is the pivotal point in my life and I am so pleased to be a Christian.  It is hard to watch others you love not knowing the blessings as I do but I know that in time they will come to know Christ too and find the joy in life.  To be content can never be underestimated.

*  Gang - that's you lot!  My #R2BC gang.  You are such a wonderful group of people who link up week after week.  Some of you don't post for ages but in the main people always seem to come back.  This linky seems to be remembered when people have something really wonderful to share and how perfect is that?  Thank you all.

See simple, this has literally just taken me 10 minutes to knock this post out.  Don't stew over it, just put what comes to mind.  How are you being blessed this week?

If you are new to #R2BC then hello and welcome, check out my primer, write a post, grab the blog hop code and paste it in and then link up here.  Don't forget to go visiting people and leave some comment love.

Have amazing weekends, lets pray for sunshine.  Mich x

Link up now -

Monday 9 July 2012

Can you feel the Olympic fever?

Today we spent a great day in our home town, we went in early and enjoyed a joint church service in the rain, then we had free homemade cakes and did lots of craft and played games, all without spending a penny. It really was lovely. The highlight of the day was supposed to be watching the once in a lifetime event of the Olympic torch passing through our town but that for me was the anti-climax of the day.

I keep hearing lots of enthusiastic chatter about the Olympics, people being beside themselves with excitement - you know themed parties, torch processions, a blogger friend even travelling back from her holiday in France to watch the synchronised swimming event and of course loads of blogs are littered with craft ideas, recipes and Olympic themed linkys. But I need to be honest, I just do not feel the excitement, sadly I have no real enthusiasm for the Olympics being held in London. It has been suggested that I am just 'bah humbug' and I'm told I should be proud and that it is a wonderful thing that will enthuse my children about participating in sport.

Really? How marvellous, I would love for my children to be really enthusiastic about sport, not so they can be Olympians, just so they are healthy and can enjoy their lives to the fullest. But I have to confess I am not too sure the Olympics will do this. Perhaps if some of the money that has been lavished on new sporting accommodation and associated services had been given to schools, local leisure centres or swimming pools to lay on some free or subsidised classes then there might have been a better chance for my kids. As it is I struggle to pay for sports lessons, the girls going to gymnastics costs me about £100 every half-term. I would love for them to learn to swim and have lessons, but where would that money come from?  Yes we could give less to charity but then for me personally it means something has gone wrong if we become so insular that just our family’s needs come first.
Anyway I digress, back to the matter in hand – JJ came home the other week and presented me with his homework. He needed to talk to his parents about their views of the Olympics and write a short passage about this. ‘Ekk, oh no’ thinks I, I do not really have much of a view about the Olympics or certainly nothing that positive anyway.
My overriding feeling is that far too much money has been spent on London hosting the games. Yes I know that a deprived area of East London has been regenerated because of it and that of course is a great thing. But, let’s be honest, it should have happened anyway, why did they have to wait for the Olympics? I do not believe that sport should have to sell out to Coca-Cola and Cadbury to allow people to have a decent standard of living accommodation. Not in the UK, not in this day and age.
I decided it was not wise to show JJ my lack of knowledge about current affairs and thus turned to Google. It seems that opinion is divided; there are plenty of people like me who think this PR exercise is a step too far and then others who really do seem to think it is the best news ever and has the potential to change the shape of things in the UK.
I was disheartened to read that many countries end up in a far worse situation financially after hosting the games. Ideas of grandeur getting in the way of rational thinking perhaps? I don’t want to be ‘bah humbug’ just for the sake of it, but in honesty I have no interest at all in competitive sports. I’m told I should feel a sense of pride when England win in a championship but in reality I may not even know it has happened.
I don't believe the Olympics will change my opinion towards sports, it would be nice to think that it might enthuse my children to try more things out but realistically I think it will all be forgotten by September.  How sad!
So how are you feeling about the Olympics?  can you feel that fever?

Sunday 8 July 2012

Are you a victim? A Not So #SilentSunday Post

Never would I have thought that I was a a victim. If I am honest being a victim is something I would see as negative. I'm not talking about being a one-off victim of crime or such but I'm talking about having a victim mentality. Do you know what I mean?

Let me try to explain, I see it as when a person believes that bad things will happen to them, that they will never make anything of themselves, that they are not good enough. Those are the people I would previously have labelled as victims and I would never have said that I fit the bill.

However, about a month ago now it occurred to me that in one area of my life I am a victim.  I have allowed my problem to be bigger than me. I could see no end to the problem nor a solution. I believe that today by acknowledging I have been a victim, that I am breaking this vicious cycle I have got into. Today, I admit I am weak. I need help to sort out my food obsession. I want to be well in body, mind and spirit and there is only one person who can help me.
The bible tells me in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
It is not a bad thing to admit I am weak. Today I see that and I think it helps me to develope a positive attitude and a belief that I can lose weight.  I have to do the footwork and try my best and practically that means being cautious of what I eat, getting enough sleep and exercising but I can trust God to carry me when I feel like it is all too much. He promised me He would never give me a burden to heavy to carry.

I'm not sure if I have made any sense to anyone else in this post, but it has been therapeutic writing it and that is enough.

Do you understand what I mean by a victim mentality? If you do, do you have any positive thoughts or stories to share with me?

Image Credit

Friday 6 July 2012

Blogging - what makes me happy?

I read DorkyMums great post about BritMums Live and it really got me thinking.  That woman speaks so much sense and on a number of occasions she has made me stop and think and then change the way I live my life.  I could in fact become a groupie for her....

Let me quote Dorky Mum - "I will stick with promoting my blog on Facebook and Twitter, because I have fun on those two sites anyway, but I’m not going to join Pinterest or Google+ just to try and add a few zeros onto the end of my monthly page views. I’d rather spend that time coming up with ideas for posts, I think." and also " If you are prepared to put the effort into producing strong writing then you can create genuine connections with people. That for me is a far more important reward than high monthly stats or rankings, so I think it has given me the confidence to blog less, but blog better.#

How perfect is that? I spent time at BritMums Live in the Pinterest session and created my account and followed a few people.  The next day when I came home I started to fill my boards and again the next day and then I just felt deflated, I could not be arsed.  There is undoubtedly some really beautiful stuff on Pinterest but I would say I am more about the words than the images and trying to be contrived and finding a great image for every post I write feels like a lot of hard work, as does watermarking all those images. I don't know that I want to find the time for that!

So Dorky Mum's post set me off on a journey, thinking about the things that make me happy from blogging and seeing as blogging is a hobby for me I realised that happiness probably ought to be my goal. From that happiness stem many other things, such as wonderful opportunities to help others, beautiful friendships and a boast in my own self-esteem.

So here goes, these are the things I love about blogging and those I should therefore focus my time on:
  • Writing posts, ones I feel passionate about, that just come to me in a heartbeat, like this one.
  • Writing posts that I have spent days and weeks pondering on and developing thoughts and themes for.
  • Chatting on twitter intermittently with some lovely bloggy friends.
  • Reading other peoples blogs, just because I want to and because I am hoping from blog roll to blog roll.
  • Reading the comments left on my blog posts.
  • The amazing opportunities to do good and speak for those without a voice that come through writing a well-read blog.
On the flip side, things I loath about blogging and related social media that goes with it -
  • Wondering why I have not received PR pitches or event invites that others have received when I am so well placed in the rankings. Hmm, does thbis mean I need to stop? Still pondering that one.
  • Sitting on twitter wondering why no-one is chatting to me.
  • Updating my blogs facebook page.
  • Using google +.
  • Having 101 blogging networks that I feel I should visit and comment on. Then having a weird voyeuristic draw to a couple of them to ensure that I do not miss out on the latest blogging must-know crap. Why Mich, why?
  • Feeling like I always need to learn something new so I can keep up, like Pinterest. Why do you even need to keep up Mich? and who with?
  • Feeling like there is not enough time to do all that I need to. I hate it when those reviews start to pile up.  Must say no even more often!
Things I am neither here or there with -
  • Blog rankings.  I no longer feel any real elation when I go up in the parenting charts so why am I still in them?
I have no answers really from this pondering but it has been good to do it.  I would highly recommend to all bloggers that if you get a bit 'meh' with it, have a think about why you do it and what works for you.  All I know right now is that Pinterest, Google +, and all the other new stuff are not for me, if I can't keep up and sink into the depths of being an unknown parenting blogger over the next year, so be it, at least I'll be happy.

Last week I went away with work and had a great time but after when I looked at my photos, I had at least 8 photos taken from inside windows.  I know at the time I liked the view from in there but I have now got to wondering if I have been stiffling myself a bit and I need to move from here

to here.....  there is a big wide world outside of blogging after all!

Thursday 5 July 2012

#R2BC - F is for..... The crowd sourced version!

Howdy all, I hope it is a cheery Thursday where you are!  I am feeling good here, pleased to report that last week’s blah feeling was gone in a flash.

This week I am starting all the things that make me cheerful or grateful with the letter F and I started to think about what that might include whilst the girls were at gymnastics yesterday afternoon.  I was not getting that far if I am honest.  My thoughts consisted of -
·        Future – and mine feels very rosy right now. I have some wonderful opportunities coming up and I feel positive on all fronts.  I am at last manning up and dealing with my weight with the help of God.

·        Family – mine rock!  Need I say more?

·        Faith – this keeps me going when times are tough and I am so proud to say I am a Christian.  Since finding faith my life has been transformed, all for the better.

I didn’t feel that my thinking was taking me too far, so I sent out a random tweet ‘Tell me Twitter, I say F if for…. You say?  Positive answers pls’ and I got loads of responses, which was a nice surprise. So I thought to myself why not make this week’s #R2BC a crowd sourced edition.

Here are some of my favourites that Twitter came up with (sadly I can’t add them all, as there were so many) –
@C-oreilly was straight in there with Friends. Doh of course, how did I forget that one?
@tattooed_mummy proved to be very useful and in quick fire succession she offered – family, friends, funky, festival, fun, fishfingers, fans, frogs, fruit, food, feet (especially babies) flowers and flapjacks!
@Natgourley made me smile with her input ‘Fish and Chips! Like the ones I just had at the beach. Feeling extremely positive after those! #yum’
@lesleyannp offered me ‘flatulence’ which was an interesting one and I liked her second effort much more ‘forgiveness’. Oh yes – so important!
My favourite offering had to be from @ktmoo and she said ‘f is for 'flutterings' (I'm pregnant and started feeling the little one recently)’
Lastly I give you @anonomum’s suggestions, which will have you humming or singing some cheesy melodies – Freedom and Final Countdown!
Now over to you, of course you do not have to use the letter F.  You probably know me by now, you can do what you fancy and as long as the post is a cheery, grateful or happy one. Link it up. It’s my Mum’s birthday this weekend and the Olympic torch is passing through our town Sunday so I expect to be busy and may well not get to every post this week to comment but I’ll make sure I stop by every blog of those who take the time to comment.
Wishing you all a blessed week, Mich x
Take the log hop code, paste it in your post and then people can travel blog to blog.  Link up now -

Wednesday 4 July 2012

If this upset me, what would it do to them?

This year my family have been planting seeds and nurturing them into some very fine vegetables. My husband is absorbed by the activity and the kids love to do the watering and of course the eating of them.

As the frost remained for a long time this year I was careful to keep my cucumber seedlings inside but as the weather appeared to turn dh planted them out, some in the raised bed and a couple in a terracotta pot. When I went out one morning and saw this -

my heart dropped and I just felt deflated, all that work and love we had invested in those plants was wasted. They had just got to the flowering stage and now they were gone.  That reaction really got me thinking, if two small cucumber plants failing made me feel like that, how on earth does it feel for those in developing countries who unlike me are not just planting and growing for some fun but are planting for food and a livelihood.

They don't have another area that is flourishing like this one (our potatoes) -

Nor can they just go to the shops and stock up on these -

Please don't allow those in countries far less fortunate than ours to be forgotten. We may not be able to get a plane straight over to Africia and sort their problems out but we do not have to give in and feel helpless.

We can -
  • Pray for them and for rain and good conditions for food growth
  • Sign the petition to put pressure on the EU to ensure they do give the amount of aid they had pledged in 2011. When we can see evidence that this aid helped to enrol more than 9 million children in school and vaccinate more than 5 million and connect 31 million people with clean water, how can we not act?
  • Join the cause and tweet, blog or facebook mention about the petition, at the moment just over 80,000 people have signed the petition, lets help get it to the 100,000 target.
Take a look at this and be inspired, real women training real women to farm and become sustainable by themselves, perfect!

Monday 2 July 2012

A 24 hour journey of self discovery....

I went away with work this week.  It is the third week in a row I have stayed away from my children and due to this fact I was not really looking forward to it, but I have to say that it has been wonderful, really enlightening.
I was away at a conference for staff developers (trainers to the non-initiated) who work for universities in my local region.  We all come together and share ideas, tips and best practise to help inspire each other to do our jobs better.  Being fairly new to my role I was really up for this and have not come away disappointed at all.  So you see my time away was not supposed to be about self-discovery but some of the development exercises that we partook in really got you thinking and reflecting, examining yourself even.
Here is what I discovered about me whilst I was there –
  • That team sports can be fun
  • With some coaching I can achieve more than I expected
  • That my preconceived negative beliefs hold me back
  • That stepping out of my comfort zone is good and can be really lifting
  • That I don’t have to feel like the newbie at work, my contributions are valuable too

Isn’t that great?  What a lot of valuable learning to come from just 24 hours away from my family and everyday life.
I was in such great surroundings at Maddingly Hall, Cambridgeshire that I’ll share a few photos.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Would you have helped? A not so #silentsunday post

I was sat watching the news on Friday morning and seeing all the sad stories of the people who have been affected by the freak weather we had in the North East and Midlands.  I saw reports from people who were stranded at Newcastle Central station; they would have to sleep the night there due to a landslide on the train route to Edinburgh and all trains had to be delayed as it was not safe to travel.

They showed a lady, who must have been at least 75 years old and she said how tired she was and it really touched me.  This woman was going to sleep on the train platform as every hotel in the city was full. Immediately my thoughts turned to where were the people in this, you know joe average, the ones that have a house within walking distance of the station or even a short drive?

My instinct was that I would want to go and offer a bed to one of these people for the night and a lift back to the station the next day.  If enough of us came together and did this then all the people would have been safe and warm for the night and just think how much good feeling there would be. For me this is a biblical principle - love thy neighbour, but for others not sharing my faith, is it not just a human responsibility to come together and look after each other? Certainly in the days gone by you would have found people helping each other, community was key but not so much nowadays and that really saddens me. What an individualist world we live in nowadays or the developed world anyway.

What saddens me also is that if this had been in my local area I would not have necessarily known about it, as I rarely watch or read the news.  This is not a planned decision to avoid it, I just rarely watch the TV and time does not seem to be kind enough to allow me to catch up with what is going on, both on my doorstep and in the wider world and I realise I need to change that.

Last September our family changed Churches and I now go to a small Church, very local to our house, as we felt it was important to be in our local community.  The church is not at all what I would have chosen if I was looking for somewhere that would satisfy my needs but actually I changed my thinking and instead of 'what can Church do for me?', I now try to look at 'what can I do for my Church?' and isn't that outward look just the right one?

What I adore about this church is that is is living as Jesus would have. It is a mission based Church and the people reach out to the local community in so many ways. We clean houses for those in crisis, one guy provides a bed for homeless people, others let those in need camp in their back garden, we all provide meals for the hungry, lifts for the less fortunate and love for all.

It is not always easy but it is so rewarding and just how community should be.

But what do you think?  Have I gone all hippy in my old age or would you like to see more community spirit in your local area? Or even, are you blessed enough to live somewhere where community is alive and well?