Tuesday 30 August 2016

Talking Body Shapes and Size

Image Credit: Fat & Lean woman

I think it's been really good for my girls spending lots of time by the pool during our holiday in Spain, they have seen people (and let's be honest by people, I mean women) of all shapes and sizes wearing whatever it is that pleases them and of course that is how it should be. We are all different and our character and style is unique, so my desire to wear a one piece bathing suit is different to someone else's desire to wear a g-string.

There have been some strange comments like 'Mum, do you think all these people know how big they are and they are wearing bikinis?', 'you look really big in that Mummy' and 'can you swim if you are that fat?' I've been challenged by each of these statements both as a mother and a larger lady but pleased that they have presented the opportunity to again talk with my girls. The conversations have gone along the lines of people being able to wear whatever makes them happy, that bikinis are not just for super slim women, that I am more than just my size and that people of all shapes and sizes can swim really well.

It does trouble me where they have both got this body size obsession from. You might jump to the conclusion if you've seen me that it is down to me as I'm large but I never express dissatisfaction with my body size/ shape in front of them and I have never commented on others either. I am really open with the girls, I acknowledge that I am overweight, but I do not flinch when they touch me, they see me exercise and they have seen me eating more healthily as they know it is not ideal to be as big as me. However, I have always been really clear that it is not 'bad' to be fat but it can cause health issues and that is why I should try to be healthier. I tend to talk in health and fitness terms rather than size or weight as I feel it is much more important.

Perhaps just my being fat is enough to have scarred them? Maybe they are scared of ending up the same way as me? Maybe the cruel playground comments about me have upset them? Or perhaps it is the things I allow them to eat, the way I allow them to live their life that will lead to them being fat? I don't know, parenting and trying to navigate the minefield that is raising kids is immensely hard and like everyone else I'm just trying to do my imperfect best. Yes it worries the inner me if I see there is more weight on their little bodies than I think is ideal but I never give them any indication of this and I remember that each one of my three children is growing and changing and puberty is approaching and their bodies now will not at all be indicative of their bodies as adults. I would never ask them to change or diet.

What is it about living in the UK that makes people obsessed with how women look? The hotel where we were staying had people from all nations and us Brits were very much in the minority but I noticed it was only the British women that sat there with their arms crossed over their tummy and wearing a one piece swimsuit. The Russians, the Germans and the Spanish, to name just a few of the many nationalities were all in bikinis and as brown as berries. Maybe that is it, they are more used to the sun and having their skin on show?

I don't really have any answers, that is the difficult thing. All I know is that I need to keep encouraging my girls to accept themselves just as they are and when they are older if they decide for any reason that they don't like what they see when they look in the mirror then they need to take positive steps towards change or acceptance. They just have to be careful not to allow their bodies to become an obsession.

My prayer for them both is that they will be brave and bold enough to just be the wonderful and unique person that God created them to be, it makes no odds if that person is a size 10, 14 or 22.

Just look at them, aren't they fabulous?

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Wednesday 24 August 2016

Our First Family Holiday Abroad

Our family is away in Spain at the moment. It's the kids first holiday abroad and I've not been on a package holiday since I was pregnant with JJ in May 2013. We hadn't intended to be a family who just holidays in the UK but that was sort of the way things have panned out. We got JJ his first passport in 2006 when he was three and said we would go abroad the next year, of course I then fell pregnant with the twins in November 2006 so that put paid to that plan as neither my husband or I could bear the idea of taking two babies and a toddler on a plane and into the blazing sunshine.

Once the girls were both out of pushchairs and nappies we considered going abroad again but by that time we were having great family holidays in the UK and the kids are really active so I couldn't imagine them enjoying a holiday where they just sat by the pool. I know I've asked JJ many times over the years if he fancies an abroad holiday and he always looks horrified and says no, he enjoys the hustle, bustle and organised activities of holiday camps and places like Butlins in the UK.

Saturday 13 August 2016

8 Top Ideas for Sensational Summer Holidays Activities

Thanks to my husband for this fab photo

{This is a collaborative post}

The summer holidays are fabulous but they can also be a little challenging when thinking about how to entertain the kids for six (or more) long weeks.

It is great to go on holiday and have some days out but realistically you don't want to be spending tons of money every day, so some thrifty ways to enjoy time at home or locally are important.

1.  Go open air swimming -
We are super lucky to have a lake where we live but even in our old house there was a great stream where everyone met in the Summer months and as a kid I swam in the local Ford. If you google your local area you are bound to come up with some great places to go swimming or paddling with the kids but remember to play it safe.

2.  Cook with the Kids -
Are there any children that don't like to get messy in the kitchen and of course, they all love to taste their bakes afterwards? We love to use up overripe bananas by cooking Banana muffins or bread but sometimes it is just too hot and you need cooling down and this BFG-inspired Snoozecumber ice cream would hit the mark. My girls are pestering me to make these ice-cream cone cupcakes for their next birthday and I have to say they look amazing.

3.  Take a day out to a National Trust Property -
There are some great deals to be had on National Trust family membership and I'd seriously say don't knock it until you have tried it. My three kids are all of the hyper sorts and they adore running around the grounds and exploring the great play areas. Sites we have particularly loved have been Chartwell, Kent, Attingham Park, Shropshire and Dunster Castle, Somerset.

4.  Get Crafting -
Myself and the kids do enjoy crafting but we are not the image-perfect kind of crafters you see on Pinterest. We often love to just empty out the bag of recycling and do some junk modelling or sit with a floor full of papercrafts and make some greeting cards, It doesn't have to be complex to engage the kids. If you are one of those more crafty types then why not try out making a mosaic tray, I think this one is just stunning.

5.  Camp in your Back Garden -
I think all kids love camping outside, or at least the idea of it, so pitch your tent in the back garden and grab a good book and some snacks and have an outdoor sleepover. If your child can't face the great outdoors then have an indoor camp. My girls adore taking over the lounge and making it into a huge camp that I let them sleep the night in. For a different camping adventure, send them to a summer track and field camp. These camps offer structured programs where children can learn and develop skills in various track and field events, such as running, jumping, and throwing. It's a fantastic way for kids to stay active, make new friends, and build confidence in a supportive environment. Plus, the excitement of participating in track and field activities can be a refreshing change from more traditional summer pastimes.

6.  Travel further afield for a couple of days -
There have been some summers when we haven't been able to take a long family holiday for one reason or another but we have had many great 2 or 3-day breaks away. To help make these super affordable we normally book a long time in advance and go for one of the budget hotels like Premier Inn or Travelodge. We used to live in Herts and often go back up there to visit friends and family and it is great to re-visit our favourite days out like Willows Activity Farm or the Harry Potter Studios Tour. Somewhere that we never did visit when we were local as Hitchin Lavender, but I see so many people sharing photos from there that it is on my hit list for the next time we visit.

7.  Get their Imaginations Going in the Garden -
Your garden really can be a playground for your children. As long as you don't mind some clutter and a bit of a muddy mess then the kids will have a ball I assure you. At age 9 my girls still love to make mud pies with their little neighbours and I delight in watching them all run around together. Rope, old tyres, pallets, buckets and spades and plain old mud make for super fun times.

8.  Go out for a Photo Walk -
This is one of my girl's favourite things to do. Miss E opted for a good camera for her birthday but Miss M is happy with my old point-and-click. I adore watching them find all the little things in nature that make my heart sing. You don't need to live in the beautiful countryside like I do, town walks and even industrial walks can be fun if you set some challenges about what photos to capture.

Of course, the queen of fabulous ideas which won't break the bank is Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family and here she shares 100 fun and frugal ideas, go take a peek.

I bet you are feeling a bit more confident now and ready to tackle the rest of the summer, enjoy!

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Festival Fun with our Superfit GORE-TEX Shoes

We are a very lucky family as we get to live in 220 acres of amazing East Sussex countryside. Once or twice a year the estate becomes the home to a Christian festival and just a couple of weeks ago we had around 1200 people camping and staying on site. It is quite strange for your home to become a festival but great all the same as we get to enjoy all the amazing activities but also have a real bed to sleep in and a hot shower too!

Just as the festival was about to start we received our package of Superfit GORE-TEX® shoes and as the weather was predictably British we thought this would be the perfect time to try them out. Sadly my 12 year old sons feet seem to be growing at an astounding rate so his shoes were too small but luckily the Superfit trainers we had been sent fitted me and of course navy is a universal colour, so I am enjoying wearing them.

Sunday 7 August 2016

Can You Transform a Child's Future? #GiveABackPack

I don't expect you realised that being the kind of person who reads this blog that you have the power to change a child's future.

Not just change it but transform it and make it better. In fact help it alter beyond recognition. And I'm not talking about a child that is your own. As parents we tend to realise that we can help shape the course of our children's futures. I'm talking about giving hope, dignity and the knowledge that someone believes in them to a child living in difficult conditions in Eastern Europe.

We tend to take education for granted here, it is standard for all kids in the UK to attend school five days a week and the implications are pretty high if we let our kids skip school. But life is very different elsewhere and it is universally acknowledged that education (especially for girls) can be the difference between a family staying in a cycle of poverty and no prospects and a young adult being able to break free from their chains and gain a valuable job with a bright future.

Tuesday 2 August 2016

The August Break - A Month of Slowing Down

Back in July, I gave myself permission to have a blogging break, to dump the commitments, the guilt and the constant need to write.  My blogging mojo had been missing for a while so I figured I needed some time to just be and see if it would return.

I've enjoyed the last couple of weeks and now August has arrived I feel free for a month as there is lots of fun ahead of us. I came across the August Break yesterday on Susannah Conway's blog and I thought why not join in.

It is a slow month of August where you can take a photo a day to record your downtime over summer. I'm going to be sharing my photos over on Instagram and I'm trying very hard not to be intimidated by all the perfect images over there that are using the #AugustBreak2016. I want to do this for me though, so I'll press on and share my life in my normal real, messy, from the heart way.

Above is the list of prompts that you can use if you so wish but basically this is a no-rules kind of project, so the idea is to snap a photo every day and share (or don't share) in your own way.

I wasn't going to use the prompts but actually, both of my pictures so far have fit the theme (but not in an aesthetically pleasing Instagram kind of way!). Day 1 was morning light and whilst it was a picture taken in the evening the theme of the festival this week is 'New Day Dawning' and that seemed just perfect.

Then day 2's theme is leaf and there was plenty of those in my joyful jumping photo!

This project is open to all and a great way to find new blogs and Instagram accounts, so why don't you join in too? You don't even have to complete the whole month and you are welcome to start anytime.

Have a blessed week, Mich x