Sunday 31 May 2015

A Procrastinating Parent’s Guide To Wills

With kids around you have to prioritise your procrastination. Some things you can safely put off, indulging in the luxury of ‘tomorrow’. Others - really anything that’s kid related - you know you just need to get on with.

In the clamour of the needs of ‘now’, putting into place solutions for something that might happen in the far distant future is a prime candidate for the ‘tomorrow’ pile.

Friday 29 May 2015

Family visit to the Castle Siege at Arundel Castle

We had the privilege to spend at Afternoon at Arundel Castle recently and what a lovely time we had. Our 11 year old JJ was away at camp, which was a shame as I know he would have loved the rich history of this castle and the super living history we observed as part of the castle siege weekend. 

Do it was just my husband, myself and our 7 year old twin daughters who got to experience this super event. We spent about four hours at the castle and in the grounds and didn't get to see it all, so it really is a place where you can spend the whole day with the family, especially when there are events on, like the castle siege we attended. I see there are lots of different events and I particularly fancy the jousting in July but sadly we are already away at that time.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

I'm Raising Two Strong Girls

As part of ONE's #Poverty is Sexist campaign I have a great video to share with you today. 'Strong Girl' is a powerful song featuring nine female artists from seven African countries -Victoria Kimani, from Kenya, Vanessa Mdee, from Tanzania, Arielle T, from Gabon, Gabriela, from Mozambique, Judith Sephuma, from South Africa, Waje, from Nigeria, Selmor Mtukudzi, from Zimbabwe, Yemi Alade, from Nigeria and 14-year-old South African rapper called Blessing.

I've shared before that this year is when the new Sustainable Development Goals will be set and ONE is calling on the prominent women who will be part of the summits this summer to make sure that the interests of women and girls will be top of the agenda. It's widely known that poverty disproportionately affects girls and women but only ONE are being brave enough to shout it out that Poverty is Sexist. When women in many countries can not earn a fair wage, own land, attend school, marry of own their free will or make decisions for themselves then things have to change.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Dear So and So - Yay for Half Term

Whoop, whoop it is half term and I absolutely adore having the kids off. No having to get up at silly o'clock and lots of time having fun!

Dear JJ,

I'm so glad you had a wonderful weekend at Scout camp, we knew you would but we also knew you would come home and be as grumpy as anything. I am praying you get a fabulous nights sleep so that I get my nice boy back tomorrow and don't have to confiscate that iPad!

I mean it, pop a smile on your face! Mum xx

To all volunteer Scouting leaders and helpers,

Sincerely, thank you so much for all you do. It makes a real difference to so many children's lives and I know at times it feels as if you are an unpaid babysitting service and as if no-one appreciates you but we do. I really do and I know JJ and the girls do too. I think they have possibly joined the best scout group in the country and I'm not just saying that as dh is one of the leaders. Although that sure makes it fun for all the kids when they are young. I was very proud watching the girls being invested on Tuesday night.

A grateful mummy


Monday 25 May 2015

Recreating our Honeymoon in Barbados

Image Credit

This year it will be thirteen years since my husband and I got married and that means in September it will have been the same time since we were in Barbados for our honeymoon, it really was a holiday of a lifetime. We had such a fabulous and memorable time there that we vowed we would return again and in fact we talked about how nice it would be to do it for our tenth wedding anniversary. Of course we had well-paying jobs and no children back then but when our tenth anniversary actually came around we had a nine year old and two 5 year olds and no-one to have them whilst we jetted off, os it has only been cheap holidays for us since.

Friday 22 May 2015

I never dreamed we'd be a wetsuit kind of family! #CountryKids

Our lake that the kids love to swim in every day in summer and a wetsuit makes it so much more pleasant

That might seem like a strange statement. What is a wetsuit kind of family you might ask?

Just not one I ever thought I'd be part of is the honest answer. Growing up no-where near the sea and with parents who were not exactly adventurous I've never done any kind of activity that means I needed to don a wetsuit and now being a larger lady I suspect I may never. My husband grew up in similar circumstances and whilst he did lots of adventurous scouting type things when he was young, kids didn't really wear wetsuits when we were young.

Now our lives have changed beyond recognition and we live in 220 acres of beautiful land and have three lakes, one of which has a dedicated swimming area but of course it is cold so the kids want a wetsuit as they love to take a dip every day after school. I'm so looking forward to the nicer weather and them being able to enjoy the lake for swimming and boating.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Dear So and So - to my JJ

To my most gorgeous boy,

In a few short months you will be twelve and starting secondary school. I am so proud of you and how far you have come. From the giant 5 year old who started school and lacked any kind of empathy or relationship with other children, who also dribbled constantly and had no sense of coordination or balance to the well-rounded lad you are now. In the last seven years you have bloomed and grown so much and I'm so glad to have been a part of your journey.

Of course at times it has been hard, there have been tears, there have been discussions, deep discussions, oh so many discussions about what is acceptable and appropriate behaviour and how to read people and to know when an apology is required or a kind word appreciated.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Strong Girls Unite to Fight Together - Will YOU Join Us?

In March on International Women's Day ONE launched their latest campaign, titled #Poverty is Sexist as it is a sad fact that girls and women the world across are disproportionately impacted by poverty.

Together with Beyoncé, Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep, Angelique Kidjo and others, ONE called on world leaders to unlock the full potential of millions of girls and women by taking real action that leads to real change this year. As I type this so far 150,700 people have signed the Poverty is Sexist petition with ONE, calling on world leaders to make sure that the rights of girls and women are key discussion points at the upcoming summits this summer.

Please do sign the petition if you have not already.

It is now time for phase two and ONE want our help to spread the message that Poverty is Sexist far and wide and this is where we all come in. I've said it before but I'll never tire of saying it, when all us regular people come together and show collectively that something matters to us the powers-to-be have to take notice.

So, ONE wants us to share a #Strengthie and you may be wondering what on earth one of those is, let these strong women show you -

Have you heard of Rosie the Riveter? No, well you will recognise the image on the right I'm sure but basically Rosie was the cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II when the men were shipped off in the army. She was a symbol of strength and girl power.

ONE are asking us to take a picture of ourselves in the iconic pose that Rosie had adopted on the right there and to share these images on social media.

We need to show the world we stand #WithStrongGirls everywhere by posting a #strengthie (our own photo version of the iconic ‘Rosie the Riveter’ image) to our social media channels.

Ideally we will share our #Strengthie #WithStrongGirls image with the strong girls and women in our lives by tagging them and encouraging them to take and share a #Strengthie too and then ONE will do the hard bit and make sure the world leaders get to see and know about all our photos and the strength of our protest.

I have to be honest, I felt stupid and fat adopting this pose and taking a photo but when it comes down to it, the message is too important for me to ignore it and thus I had to take the #Strengthie and to share it with you all.

I beg you, please will you join in and take and share a strengthie too?

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Preparation is key - Getting ready for your childs 11 Plus exam

Don't you just find that time flies by so quickly? We are already half-way through May and if your child is going up to year 6 in September they may be getting ready to sit their 11+ tests in the Autumn term. Of course every parent is keen to see their child do their best without causing them unnecessary stress and if you are in an area where there are grammar schools or schools that use selective testing that require your child to take an 11+ entrance exam you may be thinking about how you can help them prepare in the best (and least stressful) way.

Letts is a name I have known and trusted since I took my GCSEs a good 25 years ago, I remember buying their study aids and they definitely helped me through my revision and gave me confidence in my exams. They don't just cater for older children though they have a number of books available for your child to use in preparation for their 11+ examination later this year. There is a whole variety of 11+ Success books, covering all subjects that may be tested on - maths, English, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, practise papers and 10 minute tests. You can download some free pages and see what the books contain here.

Saturday 16 May 2015

No need to continually strive...

I had a wonderful day last Thursday. It was a really busy week, busy but enjoyable as a new reservations system was being installed in the conference centre where I live. It was my hubby's responsibility to make sure all the relevant people got training and the go live date was the same week, so we needed to get knowledgeable and quick. That in itself was not an issue for me as I enjoy work; I know systems and I learn quickly but it did mean my mind was in one track and all I wanted to do each day was head up to the main house and learn more and help others.

So after a long days training and a nights PTA meeting and fete organisation for Saturday I was completely pooped and the last thing I thought I wanted was a quiet day retreat the next day. I spoke to a friend and said I couldn't imagine I'd be going and I headed home. Then as I drove home I felt a peace wash over me and I knew the Holy Spirit was intervening and calming my busy head, allowing me to make the best decision and to put my relationship with Jesus first.

Friday 15 May 2015

A Family visit to Chartwell - The Home of Winston Churchill #CountryKids

So much fun in the grounds, hill rolling, daisy chain making and just lying back and dreaming...

If I start by saying that I want to live the rest of my days in the grounds of Chartwell I think you might realise how much I loved it there.

We visited a couple of weeks ago on the Saturday of the May bank holiday weekend, so it was pretty busy and we were directed to the overflow parking. The sun was not shining too bright but it was a nice enough day that we braved a picnic before setting off to explore. I think the word a lady used when she saw us picnicking was 'hardy' but it was fun.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Dear So and So - The General Election

union jack, flag

Dear UK residents,

I'm really proud to live in a free country. A country where we can speak out about the things that are important to us. Where I can shout it from the rooftops that I'm a Christian and that my relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life.

I understand that after last weeks election some of you are dismayed and upset with the result but I refuse to be dictated to by you. Yes there are things that need fixing in our country but money is finite and tough decisions have to be made and someone has to do it.

Democracy means that we all choose who we vote for and then I believe we should respect each others opinions and agree to not agree if that is the case. We each make choices based on our realities, and what it real to me is not real to you and vice versa. Just because one person votes Conservative, UKIP, Green, Labour, Lib Dem or something else entirely does not make them evil or mis-informed it just makes them different to you.

I'm so pleased that most people I'm friends with are completely reasonable and see the logic in this, even if they vote differently to me.

Thanks, Mich x

Monday 11 May 2015

Families come in all shapes and sizes #StreamTeam

My little family of five

I don't think this statement has ever been truer than in 2015. When I was growing up in the 1970's most families I knew included a Mum, a Dad and probably two or three kids. I don't recall any very large families, nor any divorced parents, nor any same sex parents.

How different things are nowadays, most children would not blink an eye if introduced to a family with six children, one parent or two mums. Things have become much more diverse and acceptable. I was chatting to my friend Anya the other morning though and saying I don’t really know many single parents locally. I’m not sure why this is as I’m not avoiding anyone but I just put it down to meeting most people at the kid’s school, which is in the middle of nowhere or at church, where marriage is still the norm.

Saturday 9 May 2015

View from the Shard, London - A Review

View from Borough Market (which is well worth a visit too)

Last Saturday I got to spend a lovely day in London with my long-term friend Kate, as part of that day we headed to the London Bridge Quarter to visit the View from the Shard. If you have not been to the London Bridge Quarter since the Shard opened in February 2013 then I'd highly recommend a visit as the £2b regeneration project is working miracles and it is such a fun and interesting area to visit. 

The 1016ft Shard has become an icon of the London skyline and it stands taller than anything else in our country, in fact anything else in the European Union. As you stand at the bottom and look up you get a real sense of its height and I have to admit I was feeling a tad nervous about travelling up it, would my ears pop? would I feel sick? or might I even not be able to look at the view for fear of vertigo? How silly I was, the two lift rides up to the 69th floor viewing platform are super smooth and yes I felt the need to release my ears but there was no pain or fear. You feel completely safe and looked after.

Monday 4 May 2015

Dear So and So - Bank Holiday Weekend Edition

Dear School,

I'm so pleased you choose to have an inset day on Friday, meaning that we got a four day weekend. It has gone in a flash but that chilled first day really set the kids up so they could then have three full-on busy days.

However, I could sincerely do without them being off on Thursday for the election. It does bug me that I can't take them out for one day to have a long weekend away but you can close the school for the election when there is a perfectly good village hall down the way!

Sincerely Mrs Pannell

Sunday 3 May 2015

Being a Digitial Activist - I'm Speaking at BritMums Live 2015

Me as part of the panel I sat on in 2012

It is always a pleasure to go to BritMums Live each year. This is definitely my favourite blogging event of the year and one I have not missed for about the last four years. I've spoken before, I've been a butterfly (to welcome newbies) and I even moderated a room last year but my favourite thing is to just be there; meet friends, eat good food and soak in the atmosphere.

This year I am on a panel on the Saturday morning and I'm speaking alongside Hayley Goleniowska, Karen Cannard and Jean McLean. Our session is titled - “Digital Activism – Charities, campaigning and shaping the world we live in” and we will be discussing what it is like to campaign (both on and offline) for what we believe in.

Saturday 2 May 2015

Great places to visit in East Devon/ Dorset

We are off to stay at a beautiful self-catering cottage at Mazzard Farm at the end of May for a long weekend and we are all very excited. This isn’t an area of the country we have explored before but it is only a four hour drive and just along the coast from my beloved Bournemouth.

I’m starting to think about where we may go and visit when we are in East Devon, so I asked for recommendations on one of the blogger forums I use and I got a whole ton of suggestions of local places to visit and even better than that, I was pointed to loads of review posts, so I can really ascertain what might suit our family.

Mummy’s Little Stars was the first to make a recommendation and she suggested we go to Escot, which is a 220 acre natural haven in the heart of East Devon. Looking at the pictures in Fiona’s post I know my kids will love it here. We live in 220 acres of natural wood and parkland and this looks very similar but with the added bonus of a huge maze, trampolines and tons of trees to climb on. I can see why Escot is called the Natural Place.

Mary at Over 40 and Mum to One advises we visit Charmouth for the beach and discovery centre there and it appears there is fabulous rock pooling, so that will be a big hit, just look at this beauty –

Image Credit: Over 40 and Mum to One