Wednesday 27 December 2017

Bells Palsy: The Day I Lost My Smile!

Saturday 29 July 2006.  The day I lost my smile.

The first day of me learning a big lesson in humility.
The first day of a few months of pain.
The first day of realising just how vain I was.
The first day of realising how strong my faith in Christ had become.
The first day of the rest of my life... my life with a wonky smile!

30 year old woman with bells palsy for 5 days

The above photo was taken 4 Aug 2006. I can literally only move one side of my face, look at my forehead and the lack of wrinkles on that side. I also have a droop to my mouth still at this point.

30 year old woman with bells palsy for 3 months

The above photo was taken 14 October 2006. Still no wrinkles by the side of my eye on one side and my smile won't lift properly.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Wishing you an Amazing Christmas and a Healthy 2018!

That's me done for a while now. It might be until the New Year or I might be back earlier, it all depends how I feel and what opportunities drop into my in-box. It's nice to have the freedom to choose.

Thanks so much to all my supportive readers this year. I love being able to share our lives, the things on my heart, reviews and any random rants that come along!

I wish you a peaceful Christmas, full of fun and joy and a blessed New Year. I pray 2018 will be a fabulous one for you with good health and blessings in abundance, whatever that might mean for you!

Mich xx

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Thursday 21 December 2017

London: Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland - Is It Worth a Visit?


Last weekend my family headed in to London with the intention to have a few hours fun at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and then to go to the theatre.  Well, the theatre was amazing and I'd recommend La Petite Soiree to anyone who'd listen but Winter Wonderland was a bit of a let-down to be honest.

Would we got again?  No, probably not but you might enjoy it. Every family is different, so I'll give you my very honest low-down and share with you some links to review posts from other bloggers, then you can make your own decision.

Travelling to Winter Wonderland
Of course you'd expect the weekends to be the busiest times and also after school and into the evening I believe, so be ready to battle the crowds in the tube stations. We came out of Hyde Park Corner station at about 11.30am on Saturday 9th December and it was heaving, we had to hold our kids hands and they are nearly 5ft tall. I'd have worried if I had to battle those crowds with a toddler or buggy.

Later in the day we tried to get on the tube at Marble Arch at about 5.45pm and it was so busy they were turning people away to use different entrances. We headed over and caught the bus on Park Lane, which was definitely less packed and more desirable.

Top Tip - Plan your journey in advance and leave plenty of time. Check out the TFL journey planner to help you.

Entry to Winter Wonderland
There are a few entrances (which I don't think most people realise) so don't make the mistake of just queueing at the one closest to Hyde Park Corner tube station. When we arrived at about 11.45am to the entrances the first one we came across had mega queues and really didn't seem to be moving very fast. We walked a bit down and yes we joined a queue but it was about 4 times smaller than the first one and we were in within 10 minutes, so I was pleased with that and there is a fast-track lane if you've booked to see any shows or join in with an attraction.

I was a bit miffed that they took my water away though as it was in a plastic bottle and apparently a safety risk.

Big plus point, there is no entrance cost to Winter Wonderland, so you can just go in and soak up the atmosphere, without spending a penny - if your kids will allow you to of course!

Monday 18 December 2017

You Can Be Who You Want to Be! Stay #PrettyCurious

It was open afternoon at my girls school last week and they were keen to show me all their hard work

I think it is a very sad world to live in where any child has their dreams and horizons clipped and is expected to develop in a certain way and do certain things when they grow older. When my Mum was young (she is now in her late 60's) it was very much expected that once she married and had children she would give up her work and stay home to care for her family.

Perhaps because of this my Mum was determined that I should undertake any career I chose and as such I was the first in my family to go to University, where I studied Hotel Management. My parents have always been very proud of my career and supported my choice to keep working once I had my own children. I did change fields at that time and moved to work in a large entrepreneurial University near my home as a HR Manager. During my ten years at the University of Hertfordshire (UH) I undertook my Masters and worked in HR and training, supporting our staff to deliverer the best education to our students.

Working at UH was very inspiring and an eye-opening experience as the disciplines taught were vast and it was the first time I was seeing women in high level positions in the fields of engineering, medicine, technology and science. I can clearly recall the first time I went along to see Prof. Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn (professor of Artificial Intelligence) KASPAR showcase and felt so proud that a women was leading in a field that is traditionally dominated by men.

Thank goodness the UK seems to be moving in the right direction and thanks to forward-thinking schools, colleges, universities and employers we are seeing some positive trends for girls going into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers. However it is still not enough, only 1 in 4 people working in core STEM roles are women and this means we are underrepresented (source).

Friday 15 December 2017

Helping your Little One Overcome their Fear of Water

Tips to help your child overcome their fear of water
Water image, thanks to Shutterstock

Does your child have an unprecedented and completely unexplained fear of water? Whether it’s bath time that puts fear into your child or the very idea of swimming, when your child has developed a phobia it can be debilitating for the both of you.

But don’t despair, there are ways that you can help your child face their fear – without them even realising it! Here you’ll find a few tips of what might help.

Bathroom tips
Think about what is the cause of the fear. Is the bath too large and empty? Is the bath too crowded and full of toys? Is the bath uncomfortable and slippery so your child is worried about hurting themselves? Check out this website if you’re looking for a new bathroom suite that’s kid friendly.

Once you have figured out what his/her fear or fears are, find creative ways to help them overcome their fear(s). One way to help your child overcome their fears is to make the water more enticing -

  1. Try purchasing special toys that are just for use in the bath. 
  2. Fill the bath with bubbles or change the colour of the water with special water colour tablets.  
  3. If your child is afraid of getting into a full tub, try putting your child into the bathtub and then filling the tub with water. Let him/her turn on the water faucet so that they feel like they can control the situation.
  4. Have you heard of Bath jelly? It's so much fun and sure to help your little one want to bathe.
  5. Or why not get in with them!
If your child is afraid of the drain – and worried they might get sucked away like the water, then remove them from the bath before you pull the plug. You can also then show them that the plug is much too small to drain them away, and demonstrate this with some of their toys or your hands.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Maru Swimwear - Perfect any Time of the Year!

beautiful sporty and colourful Maru swimsuits for all seasons

I have to admit that I get so frustrated when I head to the high street shops in Winter to buy one of the girls a new swimsuit and find there is nothing available. Maybe a plain 'school' navy swimsuit that is so dowdy it should be for the over 70's if we are lucky but certainly nothing my trendy 10 year old's would like to wear.

Girl's Swimwear
Neither of my girls like to wear bikinis, they both like a full suit but they are interested in them being comfortable, colourful and stylish. Thankfully online retailer Maru is able to help any time of the year. They have swimwear for men, women, girls and boys and offer both practical plain coloured swimwear suitable for school or lessons and also gorgeous brightly coloured suits to make swimming fun but not frivolous. Oh no, their swimwear is created for the serious swimmer who needs their suit to stay in place and not distract from the speed or stroke of their swimming.

beautiful sporty and colourful Maru swimsuits for all seasons

Monday 11 December 2017

La Petite Soirée - The Most Amazing Family Show

La Petite Soirée was everything I hoped it would be and more. This extraordinary cabaret show deserves every award and glowing review it has ever received.

Upon arriving at the beautifully refurbished Aldwych theatre in central London my family's expectations were a mixed bag. I'd done some research so I sort of knew what we were heading in to see but my family had no real idea apart from the little I'd told them and you really can't do it justice until you've seen the spectacular for yourself. The girls were up for the ‘posh circus’ as they'd named it and I could see that my husband and 14 year old son were reserving judgement.

We headed in to collect our tickets, not knowing what the PR agency had booked for us and were pleased to find we had ringside seats. These are general admission seats so we were given a wristband and able to take a seat wherever we fancied within the ringside area. Our arrival at 2.40pm (20 minutes before the show started) gave us a good pick of the seats but the closest we could get was 4 rows from the front. I'd imagine you’d need to be at the theatre about another 20 minutes earlier to get front row seats but of course you also need to be prepared to join in and be a good sport if you sit in the front row!

Thursday 7 December 2017

Completing the One4all Challenge - What will we Do?

Recently I wrote about how the people at One4all Gift Card had challenged me to treat one of my kids to a truly memorable Christmas activity.

After checking out the One4all website I discovered that we had hundreds upon hundreds of options open to us for great things to buy or do. I didn't want to use the money on the card to just buy things that might be used once and then forgotten so I decided that the bulk of the money would be spent on a night away for the two of us. When I had asked Miss E what she wanted for Christmas this year she had said 'time with you mummy' and this seems the perfect way to fulfil that wish.

Hotel Stay over
I discovered that I could book hotels via the Superbreak site using my One4all card, so after a good look round the site, I decided to book the Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel and Spa in Surrey. My husband and I have stayed at this 4* hotel before and had a wonderful time and it is only about 30 minutes drive from my parents. This is perfect as Miss E had said she'd love her Nanny to be involved in her treat too, so this will be an extra nice surprise for her. The one night stay for the both of us booked via Superbreak is £110.

Images thanks to Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel

Monday 4 December 2017

12 Ways to get your Teen off their Tech this Christmas Break

Teen with Mobile Image courtesy of Shutterstock

In 2017 I think most parents of teenagers are suffering from the same thing. Deaf ears. My son doesn't hear a word I say when he has his headphones on and is in the virtual world of game play with his mates online. Manage to get him offline and he'll wander downstairs grunt a hello and grab his phone from his pocket and be at it again. Sound familiar? Yes, I thought so but fear not as I have some great ideas for you to help get your teen off their devices for at least part of the Christmas holiday.

I wouldn't recommend a full tech-free fortnight though as I think we need to be realistic as parents and nowadays our teens very much live in the digital world. Some online time is fine, that's how many of them stay connected to their friends when there isn't any school but we know that a full-day online is too much and they will just end up withdrawing even more than usual. A good balance is what we're after.

You might find it a little hard to implement changes if you've never restricted your teens tech access before but perseverance and open conversations go a very long way. Make sure you share your concerns about excess screen time with your child so they know why you are doing this and be willing to limit your own time online too, so you are setting a good example.

Try to give your teen the choice of what tasks they want to do instead of dictating to them as they will buy in to it more if they feel they have choices. I always find that once my son gets in to other tasks and puts his tech down he actually ends up enjoying them and starts self-regulating himself on his tech anyway.

Saturday 2 December 2017

Making Simple but Beautiful Christmas Tree Mini Wreaths

Tutorial for making Christmas wreath decorations that are a fantastic gift, they are simple enough for a child to make but are cheap and look really effective.

Miss E and I have been making some Christmas wreath decorations to gift to her teachers and Godparents this year. I'm really pleased with how they have come out and think they are a fab gift. The best thing is that these were made by a 10 year old and are really simple and cheap to make.

Here's what you need -
  • Curtain rings (wood ones as they ave the metal hoop at the top) We used ones compatible with a 28mm pole and picked these up in Homebase for £1.29 for 6
  • Wool in any colour you fancy, green if you want them to look like traditional wreaths (£1 in Poundland)
  • Multi-size gems - I bought 2 packs of different size ones for 99p each from Hobbycraft
  • 3mm ribbon in a colour of you choice (40p per metre)
  • Hot glue gun (or another firm glue)
  • A pair of scissors
Tutorial for making Christmas wreath decorations that are a fantastic gift, they are simple enough for a child to make but are cheap and look really effective.

How to make the Christmas Wreath Decorations

1.  Cut a long length of wool. Tie it on to the curtain hoop close to the metal ring. Take care to wrap the wool around the hoop, pushing it close to itself every so often and ensuring you keep a tight hold. If you run out of string, you can tie another piece on and the knot will sit at the back so it won't show, Once you have finished the full hoop tie off the string around the metal hoop and make sure it is secure.