Tuesday 28 February 2017

One Day I'll get my Lantern Roof

When we moved to East Sussex nearly four years ago we decided the best thing was to sell our house in Hertfordshire. We did this as it gave us the most freedom to do whatever we felt God was calling us to next and I still think it was the right thing to do but in typical Michelle style I do sometimes mourn the loss of that house and all it meant to us.

It wasn't the first home my husband and I had bought together, it was actually the third but it was supposed to be our forever house. It had three bedrooms, was semi-detached and sat on a good sized corner plot on a pleasant tree-lined road. By the time we left eleven years after buying it we had made a good profit and had converted the garage so we had a large fourth bedroom or a playroom depending on our needs.

We had to do lots of renovations and decorating and I can't fail to mention my wonderful Dad who did a lot of it but there was still so much I wanted to do and I'm looking forward to one day moving back into a home that is ours and we can mould to suit our family.

I have this little fantasy in my head of how our home will look. It doesn't have to be particularly big or grand but I do like an open plan downstairs. I think having all the family in one large area that is zoned off for different purposes is really appealing.

Monday 27 February 2017

Review: Saltdean Tavern Stonehouse Restaurant, Brighton

On Saturday night my husband and I headed over to Saltdean, Brighton to try out the newly refurbished Saltdean Tavern. The restaurant has recently been re-branded as a Stonehouse restaurant specialising in pizzas and carvery roasts. My first thought was that this was an odd combination but actually upon being in the restaurants and seeing the breadth of the menu and all the big family and friends tables I could understand that there is logic in having opposites as the attraction it it means everyone in your party can be satisfied and enjoy their meal out.

First Impressions
The restaurant is situated behind the old Saltdean Lido, which is currently being renovated (over a very long term and with a few tricky issues) so the location is super easy to get to and there is tons of well-lit parking. The outside looks really smart and there is lovely wooden play equipment for the kids, I know mine would love it and we'll come back in the warmer months to enjoy the local area and a meal there.

As you enter the building you have a bar area to the left and restaurant to the right and the refurbishment is lovely. The decor looks really smart and very welcoming. You can see the chefs working in the pizza preparation area as you arrive and that looks very inviting. There is also a salad bar, carvery and ice cream factory on show too.

We arrived about 8.15pm, a quarter of an hour after our reservation but this wasn't an issue to the restaurant, which made us feel at ease. When we arrived there was not a clearly defined welcome area so we just stood in the entrance and waited and a waitress took the initiative to approach us. We told her we had a reservation and she checked this out and took us to a marked table. There was plenty of space in the restaurant area and between the tables so you could feel relaxed but the floor was full of crumbs and the menus were sticky from split soft drinks and beers. So our first impression was a bit mixed to be honest.

Saturday 25 February 2017

Feeling Fulfilled…

I’ve probably had one of my best mornings of the year today. I’m currently sitting having a cuppa in one of my favourite cafes and you can’t wipe the smile off my face. I feel totally fulfilled right now as if I’m doing the right thing at the right time.

Why? You might wonder. Has Michelle landed a fab job, secured a holiday, lost a stone (if only)? No, nothing quite so dramatic, nor so self-focused. What I’ve done this morning is have my regular one hour appointment with a child that I am coaching through the Christian charity TLGfollow. I won’t tell you any specifics about the little boy I meet as that’s not appropriate but basically he is someone who is struggling at school.

Generally TLG take coaches into school to meet with children who need someone on their side. Often they are on the verge of exclusion, regularly being sent out of class, having volatile interactions with their peers or maybe completely withdrawing. Misunderstanding and unhappiness can of course manifest differently in each child and some don’t even know why they are not happy, they just live in a loop of anger and desperation causing poor choices and negative consequences.

I’ve been meeting my little mate (that’s what I call him) since September last year. We have just one hour each week in school that is time for him. TLG have set up their coaching resources perfectly and I have a whole host of tools I can use to fill 20 minutes with meaningful conversation – exploring actions, consequences and choices and the other 40 minutes is about fun, bonding and being together. Many coaches craft with their pupil and before Christmas we did this, making gifts for his family but now we have settled into a routine of game playing. He loves Uno, cards, monopoly, connect 4 – you name it, we’ve played them all.

The value of this game playing can’t be underestimated as I’ve seen him grow in fairness, integrity and honesty over the last five months and I pray those good choices he makes when he is with me start to feed through to the rest of his life. Today, for the first time we played the Anger Solution Game and it is an excellent resource to help your child explore their own feelings, hear your model answers and keep the child focused on gaining their counters and winning ultimately, so they don’t really realise how deeply they are opening up.

Today my little mate honestly talked about both the good and the bad of his week and he felt confident and comfortable to do so. He has worked hard against his target the last few weeks and as such next week during half term he will come out with my girls and I to our local seaside and the kids will all scoot the prom, play in the park and have fish and chips. Or if the weather isn’t so great then maybe they’ll swim but I hope this helps him to believe that kids who try hard are a pleasure to be with and they get rewards.

Could you volunteer?

TLG is always looking for new coaches. Maybe you’d like to do what I do? It would require a commitment of one hour a week for an academic year and you get allotted one child to get to know and work with. There is no academic work involved and you are the master of your own sessions but be reassured you’ll be trained before you start, you have an easy-to-use recording system, you’ll have a local co-ordinator and a prayer partner and there is always someone to help or talk to if you need to. For more information head to the TLG website.follow

Friday 24 February 2017

Review: Babe the Sheep Pig Live - Touring the UK NOW!

Last night our family of five had its first trip to the theatre all together. We've been to panto, we go to the cinema loads but we've never seen a theatre performance together and as my husband and I adore live theatre it was only the perceived cost stopping us. I've investigated seeing a West-end show together before and the cost would be around £250-300 for the five of us in decent seats and that is outside of our affordability.

I'm not sure why but I'd totally bypassed local theatre venues and how stupid have I been? We all headed off to the Devonshire Park theatre in Eastbourne to see Babe the Sheep-Pig Live, a family friendly show produced by the unique children's theatre company Polka and in general we loved it (well four of us loved it and one is a 13 year old boy with a love only for gaming! lol). And the cost for seeing this in a town local to us rather than seeing a west-end show was £81.50 full price in the best seats but in fact a special offer email was sent out a few weeks ago with all seats at £13 for the Thursday and Friday performances, so that's just £65 for five people - what a bargain!

Before I tell you what we loved about it, why don't you have a quick peek and see for yourself what the show is about -

It looks good, right? and it really is as good as those snippets make out. 

Thursday 16 February 2017

8 Positive Things to Do When You are Feeling Overwhelmed

Sometimes you don't even know what is bothering you but life just feels as if it is about to overwhelm you. You know how it is, some days you can take on the world and others the slightest thing may push you over the edge. Here I share five positive things you can do to help yourself when it all feels too much.

1.  Acknowledge it
It is so important that you own how you are feeling. Don't be too quick to dismiss the feelings as something silly or insignificant. It might be tempting to berate yourself as your life is good and there is no reason to feel as you do but it won't help you, you'll just get locked into a negative cycle.

2.  Be kind to yourself
Following on from acknowledging, it is important that you are kind to yourself. Remember that age old saying 'if you wouldn't speak to a friend like that then don't speak to yourself in that way'. You are a precious son or daughter of the most high and He would never speak to you in a negative way.

Sunday 12 February 2017

Visiting Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain with Children

Last August we took our first holiday abroad as a family and we had an amazing time. So amazing in fact that we are again this year heading back to the Catalonia region of Spain and will be enjoying a holiday with Eurocamp at the Playa Montroig Camping Resort in Miami Platja, Costa Dorada.

One place that I expect we will visit again will be the beautiful historic city of Tarragona. it is the capital of the Catalonia region and a real gem to visit. There is such variety and depth in this city that became a UNESCO World Heritage site in November 2000 when it recognised 'The Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco' (modern-day Tarragona) for its importance as a major administrative and mercantile Roman city.

Visit the Tourist Office
Tarragona is such a big and diverse city there are four tourist offices across the city for you to visit. Either plan your visit out using the internet in advance or arrive at one of the offices and let the very helpful staff advise you how to fill your day.

Make sure you check out the calendar of events in advance as there is so much going on in Tarragona from an international fireworks competition to Tarraco Viva (that looks to raise awareness of ancient Roman history) to L'Home dels Nassos (the man of the many noses) festival. In September you may be lucky enough to be there for the festival for the Patron Saint of the City - Santa Tecla,

Praying for Future Grace


Last night as part of my Freedom in Christ course I was introduced to the concept of praying for future grace. It is not a term I’ve ever heard spoken before but it really struck me and has sat with me all morning and I keep musing it.

I was asked if I ever pray the night before for the tools I’ll need the next day to help me through the day and whilst I do pray for situations that might be coming up the next day or things that are troubling me. I have never named all the things I’ll need to help me through the next day – things like patience, joy, self-control, wisdom etc

I like the idea of this if I’m honest and it seems really authentic, as if I’d be more purposefully connecting with God and invoking his help in my day-to-day life and particularly in my struggle areas, like that of over-eating. I absolutely know that God is willing to be involved in all parts of my life and that whatever I do He loves me the same but the bible tells me to ask, seek, knock (Matthew 7:7) and the answers will be provided and the door opened and I feel as if praying into these situations asking for what I need the next day will be actively seeking and unlocking the door.

That feels really powerful.

I had a bit of a google to see if others are using the term future grace and I came across a book of the same name written by John Piper and I’m going to treat myself to it as I feel as if the Lord has led me to this book. It appears that Pipers position is that too many Christians are attempting to be good disciples of Christ from a sense of gratitude, whereas it would be better to follow Jesus as we walk in faith and belief of the grace he extends day by day. I like the idea of this as it feels like a relationship built on heart knowledge rather than just head. Having wrote a blog post on here a while back I realised that I needed to move much of my knowledge from my head to my heart, so this sounds perfect. I really liked this quote taken from John Pipers Desiring God website

By grace I do not merely mean the pardon of God in passing over your sins, but also the power and beauty of God to keep you from sinning

How amazing if I can move from a place of feeling like I have no option but to sin (normally overeating in my case) to being confident of God’s grace and His conditional love for me being the antidote.  I’ll keep you posting.

For now, here is tonight prayer for future grace for tomorrow –

Dear Lord,

Thanks for all You do for me, I love being Your child and being able to study Your word and get to know You better.

  • Please Father can I ask for time so that I may sit and wait on You to hear what Your will is and what You want me to do each day.
  • I ask for self-control that I may be able to hold back from eating foods that I don’t need or ones I know are not wholesome and useful for my body
  • I ask for wisdom of how to spend my time and where to place my thoughts. Please help me to use the time I have effectively to glorify You.
  • I ask for humility so that when things go well I remember it is about You and not about me. I can only do these things through Your gifts and strength.
  • I pray for tolerance that when I come into contact with people who I find difficult that I might meet them in the supernatural and be able to extend Your love to them.
  • Even though I don’t think I deserve it, I know that grace covers that and it comes without conditions so please Lord I ask that You help me to be fit and well.  That my aches in my legs will cease, that my periods return to a normal and manageable level and that my lungs work to their full capacity.
  • I pray Lord You give me a desire to move more and to exercise to help me be fitter and lose some weight.
  • Also Lord, please I pray can You help me to be kind to myself. No longer do I want to label myself or call me names, I just want to see myself for what I am – an imperfect Christian trying her best but ultimately leaning on You to make changes.
  • Finally Lord I pray that I feel Your peace all day tomorrow. There is a need for effort on my part but no need for striving as the things I’ll be doing are done for You and in Your power.

You Lord are the one almighty Father and I praise your name and thank you again. My life is so much richer since I came to know you. Blessed be Your name.

Friday 10 February 2017

Giveaway: Tommee Tippee Complete Feeding Set, worth £109

***This giveaway is now closed. Massive congratulations to Tracy K for being the luck inner. I've sent you an email, please respond within 14 days with your address and claim your prize. Thanks, Mich x ***

Look at that lovely bundle right there. If you are expecting a babe then this is perfect for you or maybe it is your daughter, your friend or a work colleague. Just think how popular you'd be if you won this amazing complete feeding set from Tommee Tippee and gave it to them as a new baby gift. 

Best. Friend. Ever! Right?

So what is included with this amazing giveaway?

Well, everything  you see in the picture above and that is 
  • Electric Steam Steriliser, 
  • Travel Steriliser, 
  • Electric Bottle and Food Warmer, 
  • 3 x 150ml Closer to Nature Easi-Vent Bottles with Slow Flow Teats, 
  • 5 x 260ml Closer to Nature Easi-Vent Bottles with Slow Flow Teats, 
  • 2 x Medium Flow Teats – 3-6m, 
  • 2 x Fast Flow Teats – 6m+, 
  • 4 x Milk Storage Lids, 
  • 6 x Milk Powder Dispensers – 0m+, 
  • 2 x Insulated Bottle Bags, 
  • 1 x Bottle and Teat Brush 
This really is the full works and the absolute beauty is that this set will suit you whether you want to exclusively bottle feed or mixed feed. I breastfed my babes first and then expressed and introduced a bottle so my husband could do the 10pm feed and I could sleep. It was bliss and in those early colicky days it meant that I only got a six hour stretch of sleep and personally I found that if I got six straight hours I could tackle anything!

You'll notice in the picture below that the teats in the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature range have patented ridges near the teat so that it moves in a way more closely aligned to how the babe would move a breast.

Enter Now!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on here to share either your favourite memory of a time with your own baby or someone else's.

The giveaway is run through Rafflecopter and will be live until midnight on 23rd February 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions (copied from Rafflecopter)
The giveaway will close at midnight on 23rd January 2017. The winner will be chosen at random. The winner will receive a Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Complete Starter Kit. The winner will be announced on this blog and twitter within 7 days of the giveaway close. The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative. The winner of the prize needs to be a UK resident and be over 18 years of age. The winner will have 14 days from announcement to email/ tweet me and provide their name and address for delivery. If the winner does not contact me I will re-draw. Tommee Tippee is responsible for the fulfilment of this prize.

Disclosure: I've not received anything to host this giveaway. Sometimes it is just nice to offer out a great prize to my readers as a thank you for your continues support, Mich x
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Wednesday 8 February 2017

Parenting Expectations Versus Reality

Holding my JJ in the very early days!

I've been a parent for over fourteen years now as I believe the parenting gene kicks in from the moment you find out you are pregnant, not just when the child arrives. I loved and nurtured JJ in my womb, I was planning for our future together and I was certainly already spending money on him before he had even been born.

I can vividly remember my lunch breaks from work in Hemel Hempstead town centre making frequent visits over to Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre to buy baby vests, pastel coloured toys, nappies, cot accessories, feeding bottles, more nappies and in truth a ton of other stuff that I probably never even used. If I added up the cost of all the mother and baby magazines that I bought we are probably talking at least three figures!

It is no wonder that parents underestimate the true cost of raising a child and of course there isn't only the monetary cost but there is also the emotional and lifestyle costs too.  Truthfully as a younger woman I never thought I'd be a mother, I didn't have that desire but then for me, meeting the right man and getting married triggered that maternal want but with it came many sacrifices. I gave up my well paid job as I just couldn't justify having a child and working those kind of hours any longer, we stopped going abroad as of course the money I used to earn was now not there and I then had this little being that I had such a fierce love for and I had to let go of many of my selfish ways.

Sunday 5 February 2017

Rejection: Even Harder to Watch as a Parent

It's only been in the last couple of years that I have realised that at the age of 43 I suffer with deep-seated feelings of rejection. The root of these goes right back to primary school and being the last to be picked for gym or being the one left out when it was play time. I can still feel the hurt of being about 10 or 11 and sitting hiding behind a curtain at a birthday party, crying as I just knew no-one really wanted me there.

It's not easy being stuffed full of all these feelings of inadequacy and unlove for more than thirty years but the great news is that now I know about this issue I'm able to deal with it and I'm currently reading Uninvited by Lisa Terkeurst. It is proving really helpful, giving me insight into how I need to deal with those feelings of rejection that have stayed with me for far too long. I've also just started a course at church called Living Free and I had an amazing first week and can't wait to go along again tomorrow.

Thank the Lord that as I grow as a Christian God helps me to see all the issues that I have been burying for far too long and I have the opportunity to deal with them if I wish. This revelation isn't just helping me though it also enables me to see where my children might be having issues and right now one of my girls is feeling rejection in a big way.

Thursday 2 February 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Weight Loss, Curry and Living Free #R2BC

Morning friends, if you are over here looking to join in with the Reasons to be Cheerful linky then you need t head over and see the lovely Becky at Lakes Single Mum as she is this months host. I'll be back in March hosting.

Here are my reasons to be Cheerful this week -

1. #1GoodThing and Instagram. I really enjoy Instagram, it is such a positive and visual place, so I love to have half hour there most days. Back in December I started the #1GoodThing hashtag for Advent and the idea was to stay grounded during the crazy run-up to Christmas. I enjoyed it so much and so did @teamlloyd that we decided to keep it going for all of 2017. 

I'm loving seeing more people join in and use the hasthag and it is creating a nice little community of like-minded people. It's a bit like #R2Bc for Instagram I suppose!

Wednesday 1 February 2017

5 Months Later - Hotter School Shoes Update

Pictures taken in the Hotter Store, Eastbourne

You might recall that all three of my children were super lucky back at the end of August and chose a pair of Hotter shoes each for back to school. They have all been wearing their shoes for all of Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec and Jan and I'll let you take a look at the shoes and see for yourself how they are doing.

The Pictures above were taken in January 2017 as they came off the kids feet, so without them being polished and the ones below are today with them polished ready to wear again tomorrow.