Tuesday 31 March 2015

Dear So and So - The weekend away edition

If you've been blogging for as long as me (6-7 years in case you are wondering) you are bound to remember the Dear So and So linky that used to be run by Kat over at 3 Bedroom Bungalow. Kat hasn't been blogging for quite some time now and has kindly said she's happy for me to run Dear So and So as a linky. Predominately I'll be posting this each Tuesday for my benefit but I'll put a linky on it and if you fancy joining me I'll happily come visit and comment and share your post socially.

Dear So and So is open to interpretation but basically you write down all those letters or notes that are bubbling away in your head. Here are some links to old posts of mine which will give you an idea but like I said post about whatever you fancy and I've found in the past this format works super well for ranty type posts!

Dear Weather,

Come on!  What are you thinking? It practically Easter and ever since I've been a tiny girl the weather has been nice at Easter. We headed down the coast for three nights to enjoy time as a family and you were just miserable. The wind and rain meant we didn't even see the glorious sandy beach that was right behind the flood barrier!

Not happy! Windswept Mich

Dear Park Holidays,

I have never been to a caravan park where you can not drive close to your caravan nor where there are no paths through the park. When the weather is rainy and the grass has just been cut it means you get a caravan full of grass and when you are in one that is not even big enough to swing a cat it really is pretty darn annoying. I think we can safely say we won't be back. Yes, alright I admit we didn't pay much for this break but a good job when the toilet blocked at 6am on the first day and we had to trek the site to find a toilet to use as the main building was not open. Then as for the cold 'hot' water, the carpet full of dog hairs and dust, the missing lights and the absence of a duvet and pillows for my son we can safely say you have not impressed us.

So glad to be back home, Michelle

Hey twinnies,

I was so proud of you today when you went swimming on your own for the first time. Those swimming lessons are really paying off and I can see your perseverance and skill. Yes my heart was in my throat as I sat on the side and watched you, making sure you did not head off into the deeper end but I knew it was important to let you do this and give you some freedom to grow and develop.

Love you both so much, Mummy xx

Dear Pizza Express,

Our family have never been massive fans of yours. To be honest you were probably always our least favourite of the pizza brands and we just visited you sometimes if we had vouchers to use but with this last meal you changed all that. Your branch at Ashford designer outlet centre was exceptional, our waiter Mason and the manager were so attentive and fabulous, they really made our weekend. The food was great, the kids love that you now have chocolate brownie available on the kids menu and just everything about our two hours was great. We chatted and laughed from start to finish. Never in years have we seen such good and friendly service. It was perfect!

Yours sincerely, Happiest customer ever

Darling husband,

Sorry our break wasn't quite what we had hoped for, a 4ft bed for the two of us wasn't really adequate and the lack of heating in the caravan was a problem but I'm still glad I got you away for a couple of days, It meant you disengaged from work and took time to relax and recharge. I'm looking forward to us all spending the day together Monday, no matter what we do.

Love you babe, Mich xx

Hey Miss E,

When you told me you hate my computer as it takes up too much of my time I listened to you. There was I thinking I was careful to just do my work when you were not about but your perception is that I still spend too much time on here so I need to be even more careful.  You children are far more important to me than any time spent on this PC and I must show you that.

Thanks for being so honest with me, love you Mummy x

Dear Home,

Oh how I love you.  We are so blessed to live here and I never want to take all this for granted. To arrive home and the house is warm, our bed is comfy, there is food in the cupboards and I'm able to sit down and use the electricity and wi-fi to type this post.  Life is good.

With gratitude, Mich x

Now over to you, do you have any letters or notes that you want to share?

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Thursday 26 March 2015

I only need one Reason to be Cheerful this week! My Dad

It's been a funny old week as my Dad has been in hospital from Monday through to Saturday. My faith has meant that I've not been stressing too badly despite it being his heart but it was so good to get to see him on Friday and to get a hug and know that was being taken good care of.

He's had a pacemaker fitted and three stents inserted into a blocked artery and since then he seems to be stabilising and has become well enough to come home, which is fantastic.  Of course he needs good rest for the next week and then recovery over the following weeks but I'm very excited that come July when we all go away together to Bournemouth he should be fitter than ever and we will really be able to enjoy our summer holiday.

Something like this makes you really think about how much you love your parents. Thursday night was a bit touch and go with Dad after his operation as his heart was racing and they had to give him a massive drug cocktail to regulate it. For me, praying has made all the difference and I'm so thankful Dad has come through this looking well and hopefully with many years yet.

I've been thinking about what it is I love about my Dad and of course he is not perfect, who of us is? But he has been really instrumental in forming who I am. We have lots of similarities and both like to take charge in a difficult situation. I know that I can always depend on him, one phone call and he would drive the length of the country for me and I'd do the same for him.

Here are a few other things that I love about him -
  • He grew up in poverty but instead of settling with his lot in life he fought to buy a house and have all he needed for his family. Those 3 jobs he used to do paid off, I certainly gained a great work ethic from him.
  • He puts his family first all the time
  • He is genuine, what you see is what you get
  • He has a visible sense of pride in any job he does
  • He is so simple and never really desires anything material
  • He is dependable and if he commits to something he will carry through
  • He is fiercely protective of those he loves
  • He is generous beyond measure
  • He taught me the difference between right and wrong
  • He taught me to keep going when it seemed things were tough, we get through them
  • He makes himself available when I need him
  • He is a fabulous Grandad and all three of my kids love to spend time with him
I suspect I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. I love my Dad and I'm so glad to have him in my life (and yes Mum I adore you too as I know it will be you reading this).

I'm linking this post up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for Reasons to be Cheerful (#R2BC). Why don't you come and join us and share what is making you grateful right now?

If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday 21 March 2015

Guest Post: What to Say When a Baby is Born with Down’s Syndrome

I am super pleased to host this guest post for World Down's Syndrome day today from a wonderful friend of mine, Hayley Goleniowska. I met Hayley a number of years ago at one of the many blogging events we attend and within minutes I could tell she is someone I'd like to know more and we got to share a fab dinner together at the MAD blog awards in 2013. She has a gentle elegance and radiates warmth but don't underestimate her as this lady is made of tough stuff!

Hayley is the mum of two beautiful girls and her second born, Natty has Down's syndrome and due to some of the unfavourable responses Hayley has received since having Natty she is working tirelessly to help educate people and change wrong perceptions of those living with Down's syndrome.

Hayley brings her expertise on talking about Down's Syndrome for New Parents to Fink Cards where she will publish a new pack to help new parents find the early years' support they need. These cards are designed to spark important conversations at a time when perhaps people might not know what to say. For fear of saying something insensitive, some people simply say nothing when a baby has received an unexpected diagnosis of Downs’s syndrome. However here is Hayley's excellent advice:

Don’t be afraid to say something
If your words are meant with kindness saying something is always better than saying nothing at all.

Just as important as starting a conversation is the ability to listen. New parents might want to talk about their feelings, their fears and concerns or they might simply wish to chat about everyday things over a cuppa. A great source of support and friendship will be able to sit and listen.

Congratulate the family on their new arrival
Take flowers, champagne, send a card. Ask to see a photograph. Ask how much the baby weighs and what his or her name is.

In fact ask and say all the same things you would if the baby did not have Down’s syndrome.

Be realistic
I found it enormously helpful when friends acknowledged the challenges and worries that lay ahead of us, rather than glossing over them. Over-optimism can be insincere, but being positive and realistic about what all children can achieve with support is important.

Avoid outdated language and clichés
Here is a little baby who has an extra chromosome. She has Down’s syndrome and it is just a part of who she is. She will be a unique individual more like her own family than any other child with Down’s syndrome.

Offer support and help
Kind offers of help in the form of cooking a meal, washing up, looking after siblings, watching baby while mum gets some sleep are always welcome.

Practical gifts go along way too, like a hamper of wholesome snacks for parents spending hours in a neo-natal unit or a pretty coolbox to transport expressed breast milk to and from the hospital.


Hayley Goleniowska is a writer and speaker, working with parents, teachers and medical professionals as well as self-advocates who have Down’s syndrome. Her work is internationally renowned and her blog Downs Side Up has won many awards for its outstanding contribution to society. Through her many media interviews she also hopes to gently change the public’s perceptions of the condition.

Hayley and her eldest daughter Mia have recently launched a book for children, entitled I Love You Natty: A Sibling’s Introduction to Down’s Syndrome.

Hayley is passionate about increasing the support that parents receive after unexpected news, whether that comes during pregnancy or after a baby’s birth. By easing their fears and helping them to sort the facts from the myths that often surround Down’s syndrome she hopes to buy them precious quality time with their newborns. For more information visit
If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Thursday 19 March 2015

A little sad but still grateful #R2BC

I'm not feeling very wordy today I'm afraid friends. My Dad is in hospital with a poorly heart and they are trying to find out what is wrong and get him sorted. Of course I'm praying but something like this is always hard.  I just find myself in that sad place, I suppose it is because I am a couple of hours away and all I want to do is go and see him - not long until Friday when I can.

I want to stay true to myself though and I need to remain grateful and joyous even in the difficult times. Here are a few things that are making me feel immensely thankful.

The place where I get to live, this is my drive home after taking the girls to gymnastics the other day, I love watching the sun go down.

Living in East Sussex where there is so much beauty on my doorstep. This is Herstmonceux Castle that we got to visit last weekend.

My Mum and Dad came to stay last week and whilst Dad was not great it was super to be with them. Mum and I were supposed to be having a weekend in London for Mothers Day this weekend but of course that won't happen now. We will have special time together at her house instead.

My crazy kids - 'Mum, take a picture of me in black and white'. OK babe, who am I to argue with her?

And her crazy counterpart...

And the big one who has become much more subdued in his old age! Here he is successfully managing to transport water in his hands around the labyrinth into a glass vase.

I'm linking up with my lovely chums for Reasons to be Cheerful (or #R2BC for short). Why don't you come and join us too? It is hosted over at Becky's this week, at Lakes Single Mum.

If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Visiting National Trust Properties Local to East Sussex

Since we moved to East Sussex 18 months ago we have really enjoyed visiting the local area and getting out and about. Some of our favourite visits have been to National Trust sites, using our family membership. I thought it was time I bought all the reviews I have written together in one place and I'm also planning for this year where we should visit, we could go back to the old favourites but actually, I think it is good to experience something new.

Bodiam Castle
Bodiam Castle

Robertsbridge, East Sussex - We've been to Bodiam Castle a few times now and there is something wonderfully peaceful about it, even on a busy day when the kids are off school. I always manage to get lovely photos here and they have fun kids activities and living history events in the school holidays.  Check out my 2020 Bodiam Castle post too.

Monday 16 March 2015

Out for Mothers Day Lunch at

It's come to the end of a long but enjoyable day and I'm thankful to my children for all the hugs, messages of love, homemade cards and little gifts I got today. I'm also grateful to my husband for doing the homework with the girls and giving me a little time to myself earlier.

It has been my kind of day, there has not been anything massively fancy but we have done things that I've enjoyed. I got up early and breakfasted with my three babes, they smothered me with presents and good wishes. We all went to church parade this morning and I received three cute little posies of flowers. We then headed over to the Windmill Brewers Fayre for lunch and then back home where I read and studied ready for a course I am running on Wednesday.

Following a chilled afternoon at home we headed to our regular church for their cafe style evening service and it was fabulous. A grilled chicken kebab and a movie with my husband have topped the day off. I can go to bed happy.

I think days like Mothering Sunday can be difficult for some as the expectation of what might happen is huge. Will my children remember? Will I get great gifts? Will my husband look after the kids? Can I relax all day and suit myself? I have to be honest and say I try not to build my own expectations up and thankfully my family do OK.  Yes I have stacked the dishwasher and I've made the kids food but I'm OK with that because what I try and remember today is that I'm their mother and it is these things I do with love that mean they want to make me cards and give me breakfast in bed.

Saturday 14 March 2015

I love a weekend curled up with a good book

I've always loved to read; as a teenager you'd find me in the lounge with the rest of the family but I'd be curled up on a chair with my book rather than watching TV. It became a joke that I'd get through a new book most days and I needed a continual supply from the library.

How life changes once you grow older and then have young children. From the woman who read 2-3 books a week, every week I became the one who could go a couple of months without reading anything much and I really missed it. So as JJ got into a routine of sleeping I got back to reading more books. I like to read a mixture of non-fiction and also chick lit, those kind of easy books that transport you away to another place and you are right there beside the main character living their reality.

Thursday 12 March 2015

5 Common Hearing Problems in Children, and How They Can Be Treated

Diagnosing hearing problems in young children as early as possible is the key to treating them successfully. However, it's not always easy to identify hearing problems in infants, as young children have no effective way of communicating. There are five relatively common causes of hearing difficulty in children, and early diagnosis through infanthearing tests usually means the long-term effects can be managed more effectively.

1. Genetic hearing problems
Hearing loss caused by genetic problems is often part of a wider 'syndrome', and in many cases, there are no known cures. For instance, Waardenburg syndrome involves very particular facial features such as a wider than normal space between the eyes and a widened nose bride. Unfortunately, hearing loss is also associated with Waardenburg syndrome. These symptoms are present from birth, and hearing loss can be anything from mild to non-progressive. Other genetic causes of hearing problems include crouzon syndrome and the mutation of the connexin 26 gene. In some cases, hearing can be improved with a hearing aid or surgery.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

It has to be said - #PovertyisSexist

When she was 15, her father tried to force her to marry an older man. Her future suddenly looked very bleak. No secondary education, no career and little hope of earning her own money. 

But Judi’s stepmother wanted a different life for her so they left and headed for the Umoja community of women. Judi stayed on at school and learnt to speak English. Now aged 21 years she works in the museum within her community teaching about the Samburu people, using her language skills to talk with the tourists who come to stay . 

Judi is a success story, she has a strong stepmother who stood up for her and fought for her. We all need someone like that in our lives and in fact we can all be that woman (or man). I've never met Judi and as much as I'd like to chances are I never will but I can fight for her. I can speak up about injustice and I can spread awareness and lobby for change. I am that strong woman.

The Big 5 Meme – Life lessons you want your kids to learn

I’m not sure what started me off the other day but I couldn’t stop thinking about what legacies I wanted to leave my kids. As a parent, before I pass, what are the crucial things that I need to help my children understand? 

There is so much we want our children to achieve and enjoy but we could easily run ourselves ragged or put too much pressure on the kids if we do not have a focus on what the outcomes we desire are.

Like anything in life if we set clear goals we are more likely to achieve them but we need to do that deep thinking first to ensure the goals set are the right ones. When you ask parents their hopes for their children in the future you often get an answer like ‘that they are healthy and happy’ or ‘that they do not have to struggle financially like I have’ and of course they are both valid and we all want our kids to stay well - in body, mind and spirit.

However, realistically, I have very little input as to whether my children will ever develop an illness or what their happiness state might be. I also can’t make them rich unless I have lots of money to pass on (which I don’t) but what I can do is help to shape their character. There are some really important character traits that need to be nurtured and developed to ensure our children become well-rounded adults. They need to learn the art of resilience, to be kind, to have self-control, to be non-judgemental and to be generous, as well as a whole raft of other skills.

Monday 9 March 2015

10 Top tips for a stress free school morning

I often hear parents talk about how they pull their hair our before school each day and I have to confess that this is one area we do not suffer any problems with, so I thought it would be a good idea to share my tips for ensuring the morning goes without a hitch.

My children are now 7, 7 and 11 and until 18 months ago I was a work out-of-the-home Mum so we needed to leave home by about 7.30am and I had school breakfast club and nursery drops to do, so I do know the pressure of an early morning and multiple children.

Of course my life has changed now and I feel very blessed that we do not need to leave home until 8.25am and as the kids are older they are now more self-sufficient.  Boy did it use to be fun when I had two 18 month old twins to wake, feed, clean-up and dress as well as a 5 year old boy t shepherd and direct, all to leave home by 7.30am.

Sunday 8 March 2015

New Nintendo 3DS trial and our no screens experiment

It has been a funny couple of weeks in our house, good funny though! We have been having a time without any screens for the kids - no TV, computer, iPad or gaming consoles and this is a first for us. My 11 year old boy, JJ is computer crazy. He is really talented at ICT and his teachers even go to him for advice and help when they have a problem and thus we have encouraged him to develop his talents and he can often be found on the computer or iPad but we think it went a bit too far.

It got to a point where all he wanted to do was sit indoors and play Minecraft and whilst we knew he was developing some great skills for his future career, he was also missing out on lots of opportunities to play and interact with his sisters and friends. The girls had also become a bit reliant on having the TV on whilst they played and I just kept catching the kids being short and argumentative with each other. I decided this must stop and the ban came into place.

Friday 6 March 2015

Fancy a family break in London this Easter?

If you had asked me two months ago if I fancied a stay at a gorgeous 5 star London hotel with my kids, I might have been weary. I don't have those kind of kids you see, you know the ones - they sit quietly, they eat with no mess and they talk in a low voice. No my kids are the full works and there are three of them, so you get a full on experience. Life is interesting and excitable and they will milk it for all they can, running instead of walking, shouting instead of talking and laughing exuberantly instead of a smile.

Well I need not have worried, we stayed at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington a couple of weekends ago and no-one blinked an eyelid at us. Really, we didn't even get one agitated stare or hear a tut of annoyance and we saw plenty of people, it wasn't as if we were the only ones in the hotel. The staff were gracious and chatty towards my lively children as they asked excitable questions or went around the rotating door one time too many.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Joyful and blessed #R2BC #sharethejoy

What a lovely week I am having and it is not over yet. I thought I'd share my reasons to be cheerful for each day this week -

Monday I had lunch with a very special lady who is so caring and warm, really great to get to know her a bit more and spend time chatting. She also gave me my first bunch of daffs for the year and these are making me smile each time I go into the kitchen.

Then Tuesday I drove to Eastbourne and all through the journey I was praising God for the amazing countryside I get to drive through, I love seeing the South Downs as my backdrop and then drawing close to the beach and my calm being restored. My reason for a trip to Eastbourne was to have coffee and lunch with the lovely Anya of Older Single Mum fame, we had a really lazy day and just sat and yapped away for a few hours. It is always good to see her and catch up. I had meant to get a selfie of us together but I didn't remember until I was in the car on the way home! doh

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Parenting with Grace

The terrible twosome laughing together for once!

As I undertook the mundane (but quite enjoyable to me) tasks of tidying the kid's bedrooms and changing my bed the other morning I listened to a podcast from the God Centered Mom. I've been subscribed to this channel for a while but not really listened before but after the podcasts, I listened to today I'll be back and I'd say check it out if Godly parenting is your kind of thing.

More and more as I grow as a Christian I've been thinking about how I shine my light and demonstrate Gods love to all those I meet. Of course, this needs to start with me - being kind and forgiving of myself and then with those closest to me. None of them is perfect so I must not expect that from them and when I speak tenderly to my husband even though he may have annoyed me or lovingly to my children even though they may be screaming at each other I'm doing the right thing and emulating Christ.

Let me assure you it is not at all easy to be as Jesus was. He was the son of God made into man and sent here to experience our world, he was perfect and wholesome. I am broken and flawed but I have given my life to him and now I am dead to my old selfish ways and Jesus lives in me, I just need to let him and not fight it.

Visiting Peppa Pig World this year

At the weekend our family were chatting about where we would like to visit this year in the UK. What is on our wish list and what can we make a reality? There were all sorts of ideas - Alton Towers, Dover Castle, a Cornish beach, Centre Parcs and Peppa Pig World were just a few.

I have to say I was a little surprised to hear Miss E say Peppa Pig World as my girls are now nearly 8 and JJ is 11 and I'd of guessed too old. When we chatted a bit more about it, Miss E talked about all the wonderful memories she has of visiting there each year since she was a toddler. I soon realised that at their age it is not actually Peppa Pig World that holds the appeal but Paultons Park itself and all the rides for the older kids.