Tuesday 29 September 2015

Dear So and So - Body, I'm sorry you're falling apart!

Oh Mich,

Come on girl, we have had this conversation so many times. You have to change, you must eat differently. I know it sounds dramatic but you are slowly killing yourself. Do you get that?  Killing yourself. Yes that is what I said and you need to take notice. It is not good to be your size.

Why do you think your knee joints hurt and when you get up after a couple of hours on the sofa you can hardly move? It is not normal for someone of 42 to move about like they are 82. It will be the excess 8 stone you are carrying. That is, after all, the weight of a small woman.

There are so many routes available to you and frankly it does not matter which way you go but you just need to do something and dramatically cutting down on what you eat (particularly the junk) will make a really good start.

Stop being so busy with everything else please and just get to it. Carve some time out and give yourself space to exercise, sleep enough, drink more water and eat healthier.

You are worth it Mich, you need to start treasuring yourself in the same way you do others.

From your exasperated self

Monday 28 September 2015

LEGO Friends - How my girls love you! #LegoFriendsParty

I think Miss E's dreams came true at the weekend. She absolutely loves LEGO and more specifically LEGO Friends. Her bedroom is covered in posters, made up LEGO Friends sets, colouring pictures that she has printed off and junk modelling that she has created to be part of her LEGO world.

If you ask me I'd tell you it is all a bit of a mess and extremely hard to hoover around! If you ask her she will tell you it is a wonderful world and creates hours of fun and imaginative play for her and her sister and when put like that, how can I argue?

Miss E is just following in her brothers footsteps really. He has been crazy about LEGO since he was about 2 or 3 years old and was always building sets way above his age. Now at age 12 he is still creating his LEGO and wasting away a good few hours using his imagination and fine motor skills. I do love LEGO, it is a toy that never dates (some of JJ's LEGO came from my brother, who is now nearly 40) and it rarely breaks or looks old. Yes it might be a bit of an investment to buy a big set initially but when you consider the toy will last around 50 years (or even more) then it really is worth it.

At the weekend the girls and I were invited to go to a LEGO Friends party at LEGOLAND in Windsor and what a lot of fun each of us had. We invited my Mum to join us so we could have a real girlie weekend and after a night at the local Premier Inn and a big (and delicious) breakfast we headed to Legoland for a few hours of fun before the disco party commenced in the Legoland hotel.

Friday 25 September 2015

Good News - There has been Progress but we need more...

Today was a historic day and sadly it pretty much passed unnoticed in the UK. I find it so hard to understand why massive things happen in the world and the UK just seems to ignore them and let it pass us by. Or it is just that the media want to focus on all the bad happening in the world and anything with potential to be really world changing is relegated to page 52?

Today the Sustainable Development Goals were ratified by the 193 member countries and that's a big deal.

Why is it a big deal?

Because change happens when people come together. Back in 2000 the Millennium Development goals were set and I'm pretty sure many of you reading this have no idea what they are but just read on to see the results of them. In 2013 the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced that “The Millennium Development Goals have been the most successful global anti-poverty push in history.”
The target to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty has already been reached, as have the goals for improving access to drinking water and making conditions better for the world’s 200 million people who live in slums. There have also been marked improvements in primary education and health. Progress in the response to malaria, tuberculosis and HIV has had a dramatic impact, according to the report.  
Taking HIV as an example, the level of new infections in sub-Saharan Africa fell by 25% between 2001 and 2011. The Caribbean saw an even sharper decline of more than 40% in the same period. A record 10 million people living with HIV now have access to antiretroviral treatment and there has been a significant acceleration in roll out and uptake in the last year. (1)

See, this is massive stuff we are talking about and I hope you can see why I don't want the momentum to stop and why I'm so pleased that the new sustainable development goals (known as the global goals) have now been formally adopted.

The Global Goals set out to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years -
1. End extreme poverty.
2. Fight inequality & injustice.
3. Fix climate change.

If the goals are met, they ensure the health, safety and future of the planet for everyone on it, but if the goals are to be achieved, everyone needs to know about them. You can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are and this is where today's post comes in. This is just one of a series of posts over the next 15 years publicising the goals and (I pray) sharing the successes that have come about because of them.

Wouldn't it be amazing if our children are the first generation to live in a world where no-one is hungry? That could just be 15 years away....... Mind blowing, isn't it?

Have a watch of this short video and it will put it into perspective (in a fun way) why we have to strive on and fight for a better and fairer world for everyone.

Share your #GlobalGoals Selfie
Today thousands of people around the globe are sharing a selfie to help raise awareness of the Global Goals (remember we want to make them famous, so that world leaders have to act on them and keep their promises). Choose the goal that appeals to you most (see the image of the 17 goals below), snap a picture and share it socially. You can copy and paste the text below if you like or use your own words but just make sure you tag in @theglobalgoals or use the #GlobalGoals #TellEveryone #PrayerforEveryone hashtags as appropriate.

Twitter - “I’m passionate to #telleveryone about @TheGlobalGoals Visit http://goo.gl/hFcr4x & now you take a selfie & share”

FaceBook – “I’m passionate to #telleveryone about @TheGlobalGoals. My goal is (insert your goal here) Visit http://goo.gl/hFcr4x for more information & now you take a selfie & share the goal you want to see realised”

If you want to read more about the Global Goals then head over to the website.

If you would like to blog or share details socially about the Global Goals then please do come and join our Facebook Group and you can have access to the briefing document which should allow you to share easily (or I can email it to you if you ask).

(1) Source UNAids. Org
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Thursday 24 September 2015

We Love Telford Town Park #CountryKids

If you are ever in the Telford area with your kids and need something cheap to do I can't recommend the town park highly enough. A couple of weeks ago we spent a week in Telford staying at a friends house and exploring a little of Shropshire. It is a beautiful area and so accessible, we could not believe the amount of motorways and A roads within easy access.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Guest Post: Praising God even when it Hurts

“All our troubles and, all our tears, God our hope, He has overcome. All our failures and, all our fear, God our love, He has overcome. All our heartache and, all our pain, God our healer, He has overcome. All our burdens and, all our shame, God our freedom, He has overcome...”
 ~ Take Heart, Hillsong United.

It’s 2011. I stood in the balcony of our church, arms outstretched to God, tears streaming down my face, overcome by grief, unable to utter the words of the song that everyone else was giving their all to. He has overcome? God our hope? God our healer? God our freedom?

The previous Sunday morning I hadn’t been in church. Laying in A&E, I had stared at bloodstained ceiling tiles while a consultant picked the remains of our twelve week old baby from my insides. I had awoken that morning, finally at week twelve, the safe zone, only to find that I was bleeding. The following day, the day I was actually booked in for our twelve week scan to check our baby’s health and growth, I was having a scan to check that the baby had been removed successfully.

Monday 21 September 2015

Dear So and So - La Español Edición

A photo posted by Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona (@costabravapirineu) on

Hey Mich,

Who would have guessed it? After a 30 year break since you last tried to speak a foreign language you are back in the classroom and shock, horror - you enjoyed it!

Those lies you told yourself for the last 30 years - that you are rubbish at languages and don't have an ear for it, well they are just that - lies!  You are a very capable and well educated woman and you can do anything you put your mind to. This includes learning a second language.

Now you need to keep practising - reading, online, games and most importantly talking. You are in a very unique and privileged position because you live with lots of native Spanish speakers, so make sure you make use of them and try your hardest.

I have faith in you Mich, next summer when in Spain you'll be able to chat to the natives!

Mich x

Sunday 20 September 2015

5 Thought Provoking Picks on Netflix for Adults #StreamTeam

Not so long ago I published a post highlighting some of my favourite inspirational watches for kids on Netflix UK. Well today it is time for the adults. So here are my recommendations of what to watch on Netflix when you want to feel challenged or inspired,

1,  TED Talks - There are so many of these short (anything between about 5 - 40 minutes) talks on Netflix now and there is something to suit every interest. My personal favourites are in the Love, No Matter What category. Check out Brene Brown speaking on Shame and David Epstein on a body by design.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Friends of Faith - We need you to join together for #PrayerForEveryone

As Christians we are taught to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and every one of us who is committed to an intimate relationship with Jesus knows the power of prayer. God speaks to us in many ways, but for me none stronger than through His word and I speak to him through prayer. Not always long, deep or particularly complex prayer, mostly just chatting throughout my day. Thanking Him, asking for strength, looking for guidance, lifting His name and praying for others.

Probably one of my most common prayers to God is about the state of His world. How broken things are here, so much crime, injustice and people going hungry. Countries at war and all for no good reason. Satan and the love of money often being the root of that evil but the day will come when all will be right again. Until that day we all need to play our part in both prayer and actions to support the people who are not as fortunate as us.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Guest Post: God wants You to Win at Life

Love Heart Hands from Shutterstock

I've got another Christian guest blogger today, it is going to be a regular thing on a Wednesday for the next few weeks. Here's a little intro to today's writer Emily -

Emily is a super-short (4’10”) kick-ass mummy to three fabulous (and loud!) children who are 5.5, 3.5 and 1.  Married to a Student Pastor of a city-centre church their house is often filled with extras coming to ‘do life’ in the midst of crazy but beautiful family life.  In her spare time (pah!) Emily paints and has been known to pick up the mic from time to time to share from her passion, the Bible. Emily also blogs at Emily's Blog 

You know the setting, trying to have an in-depth conversation with another mummy friend in the midst of children charging around noisily, interrupted by a nappy change, a bang to the head, an argument that needs to be resolved and then continue as if nothing had happened.

It’s in this context that I am imagining one of my mummy friends say – “So why are you a Christian anyway?” 

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Dear So and So - The Random Musings

OK, uneasy Feeling,

You can bog right off. I hate you. There is no need for me to have this sense of dread, this worry that something might be wrong. Yes there are a few little niggling things but none of them are important and none of them need to take up excessive mind space.

Whenever I feel like this, I have learnt that I have to acknowledge that my equilibrium is off and then I need to be really conscious to acknowledge what is troubling me and work out the worst case scenarios. At this point I know it is all manageable and I refuse to allow the devil to steal my joy.

So there you go, bleur feelings. You've had your marching orders. Time to leave Mich alone as I won't be succumbing to the downward spiral that you would love me to embark on!

I remain in control and God is the only one I answer to!


Monday 14 September 2015

What Does He See When He Looks At Me?

Just look at that picture. Is there anything as gorgeous as a child fully at rest, peacefully sleeping? It's all the more precious when that child is a live wire and you have had to coax and train her to be able to fall off to sleep without a fight.

Last week dh and I went out for the evening and when we got back I went in to check on each of the kids as I always do, but this time I stopped and really looked at Miss M and captured this picture. In that moment I remembered how important it is to focus on the good in a person, every person.

It goes without saying that I love Miss M, adore her in fact. She is so like me but that doesn't necessarily make things easy. It makes them harder if anything, as all those little traits I don't like about myself, well she has them too and all those rough edges I've been working on and smoothing out over the last few years since deepening my relationship with Christ, yep they are evident as well.

Sunday 13 September 2015

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Booked via TodayTix

My lucky, lucky boys got to have a wonderful day together this weekend; it is so important for JJ to spend time one on one with his Dad and for them to have the opportunity to be guys together.

They headed up to London to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane courtesy of TodayTix, a new (for the UK) mobile app that allows users to buy the best priced West End theatre tickets in around 30 seconds between one day and one week before the performance.

I got to use the TodayTix app to procure the tickets for my husband and son and it really was very simple. The app is available to download for iOS, Android and Amazon and just took a minute. Once you open the app you can start to browse straight away for the shows that take your fancy and you get an indication of the kind of price you might pay. Of course, there are various pricing options for each show depending where you want to sit.

Friday 11 September 2015

Tranquility in the Craziness - Our stop at Hughenden National Trust

We had the journey from hell last week, it was pure craziness, all I could hear myself saying were things like 'kids, will you stop', 'be nice', 'no more whining' and 'this is not acceptable behaviour'. We were heading home from Telford and our journey should have taken us 4 hours without any stops but we had issues from the start.

Our slip road onto the M52 was closed as they had found a human skull there the day before, the M6 was a massive car park and then had a stranded car and by the time we got to Warwick services we had been travelling for nearly three hours. We thought a quick comfort stop and to eat our picnic was in order but we had to laugh when we were greeted with toilet queues practically out of the services and not a spot of grass in sight as about 8 coaches had all stopped together.

Once on the motorway again we realised that there was something wrong with the car, it couldn't seem to accelerate in the way it normally does and felt as if it was missing a beat and then I checked the motorway flow app for the M25 and found that our stretch had average speeds of 15 miles an hour. Oh, joy, more traffic! So in a moment of inspiration, I suggested to dh that we stop off at a National Trust site and enjoy a couple of hours there instead of another motorway services or the craziness of the M25. By this time we were close to High Wycombe and my National Trust app highlighted that we could travel to Hughenden within about 15 minutes of leaving the motorway.

Thursday 10 September 2015

The Kids Enjoying their New GORE-TEX® Shoes

Back in July I was sent a pair of shoes for Miss M and JJ as part of the new GORE-TEX® Big Days Out Ambassadorship. They asked me to get the kids to have some fun over the summer and put the shoes through their paces to see how they perform. They received a pair of GORE-TEX® Legero Tanaro shoes each.

In general we were really happy with the shoes, they were comfortable for the children, easy to put on and great in all weathers. Miss M's leather shoes did start to look quite worn-in after a while but they polished up well. The black leather does dye onto the white laces but this didn't really create an issue for us but it is interesting trying to teach an 8 year old to tie her own laces

I wouldn't hesitate to buy Legaro sheos with GORE-TEX® in the future as they have performed super well.

Here are some of the adventures that the kids took their shoes on -

Climbing old castle ruins

Keep an Eye on your Tyres & Stay Safe in the Family Car

Get them checking the tyres young!

Safety and our families well-being are always our primary concern. For this very reason, we all like to choose a reputable family car that gives a better chance of safety on the road. We service them regularly, monitor the oil and cooling liquid levels, check the condition of our brakes and so on. However, there is one major thing that many people seem to forget and that is to keep an eye to ensure we have functional tyres.

Tyres are our cars only points of contact with the road surface. Damaged or worn tyres can’t fulfil their role properly and can pose a threat to our and our family’s safety. So how do you know when it is time for new tyres? Here are some warning signs from mytyres.co.uk:

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Guest Post: Why am I a Christian when there is so much suffering in the world?

Bleak Beach image provided by Shutterstock
Today I am really happy to share this guest post with you, written by my friend Liz who is a kind and generous soul.

You may have seen the tragic and heartrending picture going round the newspapers and social media of the 3 year old boy from Syria, whose body was washed up on a beach in Greece. The picture is trending under the #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik ("humanity washed ashore") hashtag on Twitter. The little boy came from a group of Syrians fleeing the Islamic State group. His name was Aylan.

Why, if there is a God, would God allow this suffering? Why did Aylan, his brother and his mummy, and countless thousands of others have to die in this terrible tragedy of our times?

I am a Christian. I firmly and passionately believe that there is a God, and that God is good. You may ask me why I am convinced of this, when evidence appears to point so much to the contrary. The first thing that I would say is that there are times I ask this as well, ask God why, but time after time I become assured once again of God's overarching love for every human being.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Dear So and So - The Back to School Edition

Dear JJ,

Love you big boy. I know you are now at the age where you think it is quite embarrassing that mum wants to give you a hug or kiss you goodbye, so I'll respect that you are now a secondary school student and let you be.

I'm so glad your first days at your new school have gone well and I hope you continue to enjoy learning there. I also pray that you make some good friends and find some interesting extra-curricular activities. It is not all about maths and Minecraft JJ, remember that.

Standing with you always, Mummy xx


Sunday 6 September 2015

A Season for Everything

Autumn Park provided by Shutterstock

When it comes to blogging I've been feeling a bit washed up just recently. I started my blog in 2008 on a whim and here we are seven years later and I am still going strong. Or am I?

I suppose if you were to look at the stats you would say I am still going strong, I pull in around 45-50K readers a month, I earn decent money from my blog, I'm consistently ranked in the top 10 mummy bloggers each year by Cision (now Vuelio). My placing currently with Teads for parenting is 28 and 'll quickly pass by my Tots100 ranking where I have plummeted to 76 (from the top 30 where I have consistently sat for the last four years or so).

Friday 4 September 2015

The Rise of Dr Google and the Dangers of Self-diagnosis

Health app image from Shutterstock

We've all done it, there is no use pretending you haven't, in fact I was at it last night and what does it do? Cause worry and stress of course. I can't give you even one example where a friend has goggled their health ailment or symptoms and come up with a good and reassuring answer. There is even a name for this nowadays - cyberchondria, the anxiety and fear created when you search the internet and come up with a worrying diagnosis for yourself. If I'd been the sort to readily believe the internet then I'd be sat here this morning thinking I had COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) especially as my Mum has this disease. But I don't, I have a cough. Yes one that I need to get checked with the doctor as it has been hanging around a while but until a doctor tells me otherwise I refuse to be worried by it (just annoyed!). I firmly believe that for a lay person like me self-diagnosis is not the way to go.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Do you have to go to Church to be a Christian?

I put it out there recently and have said to real-life friends and those I know on social media that I'd love to answer their questions relating to my faith. As I get to know someone I often find that they then feel more comfortable to ask me about what makes me a Christian and what I believe. I am always happy to share but I'll be honest, they are not always easy or comfortable conversations as the answers I give have to be truthful and sometimes they are not what the person wants to hear.

I've now got a few questions lined up to answer and I am really happy to take more, so if you have something you would like to ask (even if it is really forthright) then leave me a comment or send me an email.

You'll have seen from the title of this blog post what the question is today - Do you have to go to church to be a Christian? - and this is what a friend Katie asked me the other day. Here is my perspective and I'll give bible references to support my belief but you may find that other Christians believe something different to me and this is the complex part of my faith, many feel the bible is open to interpretation but I choose to believe the bible is the word of God and is to be taken as such.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Science4You - Perfume Factory Review

Look at those happy faces.  I've just spent an hour with each of the girls having one on one time and they just thrive on it. We were sent the Science4You Perfume Factory set to review and it has created not only a great learning opportunity for the girls but also a wonderful time for us to chat and enjoy each others company. We have talked about the science of how each of their perfume and beauty products have been made but also what it means to be a woman and how and if we have to use products to beautify ourselves. It has been so good for them to see for themselves that too much scent in a product is over powering and off-putting and we've discussed that make-up is down to personal choice and not a necessity for youthful skin.

Below is the set we received, it came in a nice large (sturdy) box and retails at £19.99. I was impressed with the amount of items we received in the kit as other kits we have had like this before have been a bit skimpy and we have constantly been washing a pipette or such. You can definitely tell this is a premium product and the girls liked the fact they had two different cosmetic colourings (pink and blue) and three fragrances (vanilla, lemon and peach) wthin the set.

Dear So and So - The #Ashburnham2015 Edition

Dear New Ground,

Wow, you sure know how to put on a great weekend away. Your planning and organisation is seamless and my family have had such an amazing time. Thanks so much, we really appreciate all you have done to make this happen.

I sure hope we still live here in 2017 when the next mass gathering of New Ground churches will be.

Very happy to be a member of one of your churches, Michelle