Friday 30 September 2016

View from the Brighton BA i360 Tower

Saturday our family took a group of the volunteers who live as part of our community over to Brighton. I think everyone knows that Brighton is a great place to visit. There is so much to do with dozens of cafes, bars, restaurants of every type, the beach, the gorgeous lanes shopping area, modern shopping in Churchill Square, museums, galleries, theatres, the cinema and so much more.

Our plan for the day was very loose but our family did have some tickets to ride the new British Airways i360 attraction, which is the worlds first vertical cable car where you travel up 450 feet in a stunning glass pod and have 360 degree views of Sussex. My husband and son both said they didn't really want to take the ride (or flight as BA call it) but that was fine as we had a couple of Romanian friends who were keen to try out this new experience.

Thursday 29 September 2016

Family Reasons to be Cheerful - Brighton, Smiggle and Twin Love

Happy Thursday friends. I thought I'd ask my family what is making them super cheerful at the moment. Here is what they said -

JJ - He came home with a letter yesterday to say he has won a prize for great work in ICT and considering computing is his first love, he was over the moon. Even more so when he found out he would get a £25 book token as a prize. It also means Hubby and I get to do our proud parents bit and go to the prize giving in November.

Here he is checking out the new Guinness World Records Gamers Edition to see if he is mentioned. He currently holds a Minecraft world record, don't you know!

Wednesday 28 September 2016

18 Tips for Flying with Older Kids

Having recently taken our first flight with our three children (aged 9, 9 and 12) I thought it would be useful for me to share some of the things I learnt on this journey. You don't want to make the mistakes I did and end up with no sleep in an overpriced hotel when I could have secured cheap airport parking and driven after a good nights sleep!

1.  Plan your flight times - OK of course it is cheaper to fly at 1.00 am but can your child cope with that? You want your first day on holiday to be as much fun as all the others, so book wisely.
2.    Book your seats in advance - we made this mistake this year, having not taken a package holiday for over a decade, I assumed very few people would pay the extra to book their seats. I was wrong. Luckily I found this out and was able to book our seats, if I hadn't the five of us would have been in completely different areas and what child wants to fly alone for the first time next to two strangers?
3.    How will you get to the airport? - this year we opted to travel by train and stay in a hotel at the airport. Yes the train fare was really cheap as we booked a long time in advance but we had so much angst due to the strikes and reduced timetables on Southern Railways. Then we also got no sleep at the airport as it was too exciting for the kids and too hot in the room. Next time we will definitely drive our own car so we are in control of our timings and don't have to struggle with big cases.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

I’ve made a start…

As I drove home today from the running club that I have joined I was pondering this post and the title ‘guilty of neglect’ kept coming to mind but thankfully I captured that thought and quashed it, because how useful is it to focus on the negatives? Yes I am very guilty of neglect, I am 43 years old and if I went through one of those bone scanners and full health checks I am pretty sure they would say the age of my body is about 63 or maybe even 83 years old.  I already have arthritis in my knees, one of my ankles is dodgy, my calves hurt if I move too fast, the under pads of my feet hurt when I exercise, I suffer with chronic periods and I get breathless in no time at all.

But, I don’t want to focus on that bad stuff. Today was a successful day, I made a commitment to join a local running club hosted by an inspirational woman from my church and after finishing my TLG coachingfollow this morning I left the school and headed to my car in the pouring rain. As I walked up the hill, my feet and calves hurt and I felt very short of breath. “What are you letting yourself in for Mich, best not to go running in this weather, you’ll hurt yourself and with the size of you, break something. You’re not cut out for this kind of exercise. Just go home” was the internal dialogue running through my head. Thank God the angel on my shoulder was egging me to go along and just give it a try.

The last thing I wanted to do was run, especially down on the St Leonards-on-Sea prom as the wind and rain lashed but I had made a commitment to be there and having already done one session with Jax before I knew she would spur me on and you know what? I enjoyed it. It was fun to walk, jog, huff and puff in the rain. I went the shortest distance, I went at the slowest pace, I was the biggest there by far but they were a fab group and I learnt new things and now I am sat on the sofa aching but that is OK as I’ve had a healthy lunch and resisted the snacks and I am going to keep going.

Back in the days when I went to Overeaters Anonymous follow(yes it is just like AA but for food addicts), they taught us that we have to stay in the moment. When we are walking away from our addiction and fighting the devil on our shoulder we must do it one day at a time, or if this is too hard, then literally one moment at a time and that is where I am today, fighting for every moment, to stay abstinent from the destructive act of overeating.

I can make changes and if I do then my body will change too, I just have to be ready and I AM ready. Who knows if I’ll be able to travel the whole journey this time, there is a very long way until a healthy BMI but I think what I am realising is that small steps or some steps are better than none at all. I can’t sit still (both figuratively and actually) I have to be brave and make changes. I’m not even sure what it is that I fear, that keeps me locked in this fat body and not taking the steps I need but no more, I’m going to be a big girl and face it.

I’m facing up to the fact that I am unhealthy and putting my life at risk

I’m facing up to the fact that I set a bad example for my kids

I’m taking the bull by the horns and starting to exercise regularly, even though it hurts me

I’m taking steps to eat better and consciously

I’ve got a kick-ass accountability partner

I’m relying on God, because I can’t do this alone. This problem I have had for so many years is far bigger than me but it is time that it was dealt with. So here I am on day one and I am pleased to say I’ve made a start…

I’ll keep you updated! Mich x

Sunday 25 September 2016

Review: Cala Font Hotel, Cap Salou, Spain

Last month our family took our first holiday abroad. Of course the hubby and I have travelled abroad dozens of times but the furthest the kids had ever been was Jersey and we felt it was high time after a really tough start to the year for us all to kick back and have some proper relaxation.

We've always been really lucky and had many UK based holidays and short breaks; my blog has been immensely useful for securing those but I did find this year that nothing beats the complete difference of being abroad. That hot weather makes you feel like just completely chilling out, not visiting theme parks, historic houses or trekking round towns. Just laying on a sunbed, reading a good book, having a wonderful swim and eating fabulous food.

Thank the Lord we absolutely fell on our feet when we booked the Cala Font Hotel via Thomsons. We were quite late to book our August break as it was only June that I proposed the idea of a jaunt abroad to my husband but my research on Trip Advisor and other online forums definitely paid off. I'll start by saying that we would highly recommend the Cala Font Hotel in Cap Salou and at the moment we are considering if we will return again next year. I say considering as we are wondering if it would be good to try a new resort or country for variety but we are being heavily swayed by the lure of coming back to a hotel that we know provides everything we need to a very high standard.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Meeting up After 14 Years! #R2BC

What a fantastic weekend I had last week. I just want to do it all again but alas that won't be possible for some years yet.

Fourteen years ago I got married and all my wonderful Uni girlfriends were there by my side and one of them was my bridesmaid, having surprised me by making the trip from New Zealand without my knowledge that she was doing so. It was truly awesome.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Snapping up a Bargain with Sports Direct Voucher Codes

As the weather changes it is time to kit the kids out with new gear and why would I go anywhere else when I can use Sports Direct voucher codes to get myself a good deal?

I do love to shop and there is nothing quite like the thrill of a bargain and that is what Sports Direct is full of, absolute bargains. I think I was quite late to discover Sports Direct, just assuming it was for sporty types but actually my non-sporty family shop there an awful lot. As the prices are so reasonable it is perfect for the kids as they grow so very often and I can't afford designer prices when something might only get worn for a couple of months.

Friday 16 September 2016

It's the Global Fund Replenishment Today, Should You Care? #Girlseverywhere

I suspect many of you reading this are wondering what the Global Fund is and that is OK, as it is not necessarily something that Joe Average knows about. I only know as the amazing people at ONE helped to peel the scales back from my eyes and now I actively seek out information about the positive steps being taken towards a fairer world where extreme poverty is being eradicated and preventable diseases minimised. 

Let me explain a little - The Global Fund is a public, private partnership, where Governments, companies, consumers (via the RED brand) and private donors come together to pledge money into the fund that specifically fights HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

Thursday 15 September 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful - Parents, Nights Out and Snuggles

Happy Thursday friends, how are you? I'm feeling good and it's always a pleasure to be hosting R2BC and getting to read all your cheery posts too.This has been a good week for me as my parents have been here to stay and this means that the kids and I have got to spend lots of quality time with them and it also means I've had willing and able babysitters. Total win:win situation!

I know some of you like my cheery list posts, so that is what I'm sharing this week
  1. My parents have been here visiting and we've all got to spend some nice time with them
  2. They had the girls on Friday night and dh and I took JJ out for his first Indian meal and we had such fun. It had been a busy day at work for dh and JJ managed to make us both roar with laughter
  3. Then Saturday night they had all our kids and dh and I had the most gorgeous Turkish BBQ meal followed by watching Bad Moms at the cinema. Another fab night and Bad Moms is worth a view, even though it was a bit close to the mark at times 

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Blogging: Not Always Easy but it can Change Your Life!

In Ethiopia with BritMums Jen Howze, supermodel Maya Haile and Cherry Friedmeyer, Director of Women at Risk

Having been blogging since 2008 it is now easy to see that the same things come up time and time again. Every 18 months or so you get a few bitchy people who are jealous of the opportunities that other bloggers have been offered and they start to stir up ill feeling. You see posts, tweets and general ill feeling towards a few, often the very successful few and sometimes the most vulnerable. It is so depressing.

The accusations of cliques (or more recently tribes) begin to flow and many bloggers start to question why they are doing it. 'Who needs this kind of controversy and animosity?', 'I only started my blog as a memory trove for my family' and 'thats it, I'm out of here' are the kind of statements you see shared. Sadly I've seen dozens of really decent bloggers stop writing and sharing because others have targeted them.

Yet here I am eight years on and the nasty trolls didn't manage to scare me away. I've had two particularly bad blogging times when I easily could have thrown the towel in, but no, I'm still here. I'm not sure what has made me so resilient, maybe it is my faith or maybe it is because I believe I am doing important work.

Friday 9 September 2016

Family visit to Battle Abbey, East Sussex (English Heritage)

This year, for the first time we have joint English Heritage so we are happily making the most of our membership by visiting some local sites. Although to be honest the card covered its cost when we went to Kent in May and visited Dover Castle, Deal Castle and Walmer Castle.

We are lucky enough to live just outside of the very pretty and historic town of Battle in East Sussex. So Battle Abbey, which is home to the famous battleground where the 1066 Battle of Hastings took place is something we see most weeks. Bar one visit for the battle reenactment (which was superb fun) we have only ever smiled at the outside in the lat three years we have lived here but now we have the membership we are making frequent visits. Sometimes even just for the tea and cake as the prices (I was super surprised to note) are very reasonable and less than many of the coffee shops in the town. There is also a nice children's play park across from the cafe and that means our kids can run off and have some fun rather than being bored with us oldies!

Thursday 8 September 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful - I have an Interview!

How does the picture fit the post? Errm, if I get a job, I'll be able to afford more Spanish holidays! lol

What a funny old week it has been, the kids went back to school on Wednesday and due to that I've lost track of all time and days. Never before have I forgotten to get a Reasons to be Cheerful linky post up at Thursday 7am but here I am at near 8pm and I've only just seen a prompt from Often Called Cathy to remind me! Ekk, super sorry friends.

I've been exploring what I should do (workwise) since about May but it had been put to a side for the summer holidays and then earlier this week I wrote a post on my other blog as I was clarifying in my mind what the way forward is for me workwise. I spent quite a bit of time in prayer and came to the decision I was looking for a part-time role out of the home and not at the place where I live. I also realised that satisfaction from my role is much more important than easy money.

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Back to School with Hotter Shoes (Review)

Last week just before the kids went back to school we headed into Eastbourne for the dreaded back to school shoe shop. Well I say dreaded but actually on this occasion it wasn't as we knew we were heading for the Hotter shop and as they only sell adult sized shoes we didn't have to worry about coming up against screaming toddlers and too-hot preschoolers who would rather be in the park.

I've been a keen Hotter customer for about five years now. I recall when they first approached me in 2011 and I assumed their shoes were all for the older ladies who couldn't wear heels anymore and yes they do cater for that market but they really are so much more than that. I have trainers, comfy boots and stylish pumps from Hotter, no heels but that is only because I rarely wear them nowadays.

Monday 5 September 2016

What’s for the best? Only God knows the answer…

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23 (NLT)

September – the kids go back to school and routine is resumed but this year it’s a time of change, I can feel it. Not for the whole family, I’m not foreseeing any big moves or shifts in our lives but just time for me to find a way to make the most of my skills. We’ve been in East Sussex for just over three years now and whilst I’m very settled here and quite content to stay for as long as the Lord calls us I’m also yearning for something else, to use my talents more fully, for some fulfilment. To work for God.

 I’m continuing my voluntary work with the Hastings food bank as I enjoy that and I know it makes a difference to many lives but to be honest I’d stop if I felt there was a more permanent job I should be doing. I’m also starting a new voluntary role with the education charity TLG (transforming lives for good) followand that means I’ll give an hour a week for the next academic year to a little boy to ensure he feels nurtured and cared for at school. This is a definite, so I won’t be changing that as you can’t make a commitment to a vulnerable child and then back out,

 For the last few years I’ve been volunteering in the Welcome Team and managing the Facebook page of the Christian Conference centre, where I live. It has been an absolute privilege to serve alongside the committed team at Ashburnham Place and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it but there doesn’t appear to be any kind of paid or ongoing role for me there and I need to find an ongoing role. My heart is yearning for stability, challenge and the satisfaction of a full day’s work. I’ll still give time to Ash (as I fondly call it) and I can’t help but to be part of the community loving and nurturing all our young volunteers that come to live with us for 3-12 months but I won’t be such a regular sight in the office.

 One thing I know for sure is that I don’t want to go back to full-time permanent work outside of the home. My kids all tell me they adore me being home (even if some of their reasoning is a bit skewed – who would do the cleaning if you weren’t here Mum?) and I like the freedom to be able to pick them up, take them to the lake swimming or help with their homework but I’m definitely open to a part-time job. One that will allow me to be around most of the time.

 I’m considering temp work, or something like admin or reception is a local business. Without sounding boastful I have so many organisational skills I could offer to a small business. I don’t need a fancy title, or tons of money. I just want to help, enjoy my work and know that I am making a difference. It’s not easy to find the right role though as many a mother wants work a few days a week around school hours.

 I’ve seen a couple of jobs that are home-based and I could easily do them and enjoy them but then I wonder do I really want to work 15 hours a week for £150 when I could do one or two sponsored blog posts in a few hours and earn the same? But truthfully I’m not even sure why I’m worrying about the money as that is just a nice sideline of working. One that could perhaps pay for the abroad holiday next year that we now all desire, having been to Spain this year.

 Would working in my own home give me that same sense of achievement and connection that I feel when I work outside of the home? I’m really not sure it would. I like the interaction of having people around me and bouncing ideas off them. There have been too many times when the Internet has felt like a very lonely place and it is full of comparison and you have to be pretty self-confident to be able to ride out the storm sometimes.

 So when the kids go back to school on Wednesday I’m going to take a few hours in the prayer centre to pray and seek the Lord to see what He wants for me. I am after all, just a servant but please God I pray, show me the way. Help me to see what steps I should be taking this year. Where do you want me to serve?

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Friday 2 September 2016

Making the most of the Great Outdoors

My little girls love to be outdoors, it is a real challenge to keep them in. As many of you will know we live in an amazing place with 220 acres of land including three lakes, so we have an abundance of space but sadly we don't have a private garden by our house. So no trampoline or garden equipment for the girls but they make the most of the beautiful courtyard that is outside our door and having a shared space means they can always play with our little neighbours.

As the girls get bigger they want to go further afield and escape the courtyard, so often their older brother or my husband and I will head out with them to explore the wider landscape. Both girls have been sent some Superfit GORE-TEX trainers to trial out and have fun in and you'll see from these pictures, they are certainly having fun and putting the shoes through their paces. I'm pleased to report that they are doing really well, the girls say the shoes are comfy, easy to put on and they keep their feet dry and sweet free.

Thursday 1 September 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful: Viva La EspaƱa

We've been back from Spain nearly a week now and what a magnificent holiday we had. It was the kids first one abroad and the first time my husband and I have been on an abroad beach holiday for 13 years. It was well needed!

We stayed at the Cala Font Hotel in Cap Salou, which is about a half hour walk from the busy resort of Salou on the Costa Dorada. We would highly recommend the hotel and Cap Salou as a quiet family resort and it was an added bonus that the transfer from Reus airport is only about 30 minutes.

We really took advantage of being able to fully relax and hours were spent by the pool, in the pool, in the sea and relaxing generally. Our rooms had wonderful views over the pool and out to sea and we'd find it hard to fault anything.

As my reasons to be cheerful this week I'll share with you some photos from our holiday.

The view from our balconies