Thursday 29 March 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful: Social Media, Baptism and Italian Food

Happy Thursday friends. How are you doing? Can you believe it is Easter tomorrow? This month seems to have gone by in a flash and next Thursday Reasons to be Cheerful will be back over with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for the month of April.

I've had a good week and here are just a few of the things that have been making me really cheerful in the last week -

*  I've been getting great feedback on the social media work that I'm doing for Ashburnham Place. It's so nice to be doing something that is appreciated and hopefully making a difference to the number of people who know about what we do and perhaps want to volunteer here.

*  One of our community members got baptised on Sunday evening.We had a great time of worship and prayer by the bonfire and then she braved our lake for a full-immersion baptism, it was really beautiful.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

A Beginners Guide to Giving Blood in the UK

A beginners guide to giving blood in the UK, It is safe, quick and simple and could save a life

Last week I was super happy to give blood. A pint, that's all they take. My body doesn't miss it and luckily for me I've always found it a really easy and painless process. This time I was at the donation centre for 35 minutes start to finish and that blood I gave might save someones life. It's worth it, right?

This was my 23rd donation and I'm already booked in for my 24th in September. As a woman I can give blood every 16 weeks and men are able to give every 12 weeks but of course you have to do what is convenient for you and that's why I've only given 23 times since 1998. But I refuse to beat myself up that it could have been far more because that is 23 pints of blood that have made a big difference to some people and I really love the fact nowadays that I get a text after donation to tell me where my blood has gone to, it really helps me feel connected to the process.

Surely they have enough blood already?
I bet you know someone who has received blood. Most of us do whether we realise it or not. The NHS need 6,000 blood donations every day to ensure there is enough blood to meet demands within England. This means they need 200,000 new donors every year to replenish those who can no longer donate. Over half of regular donors are over 45 years old and as such more young people need to start donating to ensure there is enough blood in the future.

There is a particular need for more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to give blood so there is adequate supply of certain blood types. Especially blood from black donors that can be given to black patients with sickle cell disease.

A beginners guide to giving blood in the UK, It is safe, quick and simple and could save a life

Saturday 24 March 2018

JJ, Age 14 Reviews the Young Driver Experience at Bluewater, Kent

boy in front of young driver sign

Today we took the 90 minute drive from our home on the South-east coast up to Bluewater, the massive shopping centre in Kent. Shopping wasn't our main reason for the visit though, no today was about JJ enjoying one of his Christmas gifts. He had received a gift voucher for a 1 hour Young Driver experience and he was super keen to get behind the wheel of the car.

He's nearly 15 but hasn't tried out driving before so we had no idea how well he would take to it. On the one hand he is very intelligent and takes in information really easily but on the other this was the kid who had occupational therapy for a few years as he could hardly balance and had no spacial awareness. I need not have worried though as JJ took to it like a duck to water.

young driver lessons
Off they go to start the lesson

What are Young Driver Lessons?

If your child is between 10 and 17 years of age they can sign up for a 30 or 60 minute lesson at one of over 60 venues across the UK. Young Driver have been giving lessons since 2009, delivering over 500,000 lessons with hand-picked, DBS checked instructors. The cost is £36.95 for a 30 minute lesson or £67.95 for a 60 minute lesson. I also see that they do birthday party packages and I think the price of £66 for a 15 minute lesson for four children is excellent. Do keep your eyes peeled on money saving sites too, as I've spotted a number of special offers around.

Thursday 22 March 2018

24 Hours in London - Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

This week I'm dedicating my reasons to be cheerful post to a great 24 hours last weekend spent with my Mum in London, belatedly celebrating Mothers Day. We've done this the last few years and it is a really nice treat to look forward to.

We start the weekend off with me heading over to meet Mum at Waterloo and enjoy a good cup of coffee at Costa, of course having a right old natter to catch up on what has been going on since we last spoke. The weather is then far too nice to head down to the underground so we walk along the South Bank and take in the street performers and the great atmosphere on the way to Westminster tube station.

There we pick up the tube to go to High Street Kensington as we are staying in the Holiday Inn just off the High Street and only a few minutes walk from the tube station. It proves to be an excellent hotel and I'll write up a review, even though I paid for it as my Mums Christmas gift.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

The Importance of Spending One-on-One Time With Your Children

If you invest in one-on-one time with your child when they are young then you will build your relationship and their trust in you for when they are older

Every parent wants to have that joyous bond with their child. One where they are both respected as parent and cherished as friend. I think one of the keys to that closeness and developing a special relationship that will last a lifetime and weather the storms is spending intentional one-on-one time with each of your children.

Now before you start telling me that you have six kids, no money and your partner works away from home, this doesn't have to be expensive or too time intensive.

Yes, of course you can have those kind of special times too. Both my girls chose time as their main Christmas present this year, so during February half-term Miss M will go away with my husband to London to see a show and stay overnight. Then a few days later Miss E will go away with me to see my Mum and stay in a great hotel with a pool. We will all have the most amazing time I'm sure and in doing so we cement our relationships further.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Yippee, Its National Slime Day Today! Glam Goo Deluxe Pack Review

Well who knew there was even such a thing as national slime day? I certainly didn't but it seems fitting for this year as my girls love to make slime and there is always a collection of tubs of the gooey stuff on our side.

When I asked the girls if they wanted to have a play with Glam Goo for National Slime Day they were thrilled and said yes straight away, as we make tons of white and coloured slime but good clear slime is a much harder make and that is what comes with the Glam Goo Deluxe pack. The RRP is £22.99 but to be honest it seemed to mostly be selling for £29.99 at well-known toy stores such as Argos and Smyths Toys.

In the Deluxe pack you get the clear Glam Goo in a pink storage case, 3 sprinkles, 2 colour pigments, a scent and of course the glamorous slime storage handbag and ring. The girls love it that you can mix and match all the sparkles and colours to make lots of different small batches of slime and as you can see in the handbag below, they really are very pretty.

The bag has a pink cover that goes inside it to ensure it stays air-tight and the slime lasts. We have had ours made for a couple of weeks now and I find you have to play with it to warm up the slime a little but it then still has good stretch. If you try to do it too quick, it does snap a bit.

My girls have done a full vlog review of the Glam Goo Deluxe Pack. Why don't you take a look at their video and see how they got on?


And if you fancy making your own slime then do head over to YouTube and have a look at our Easy Homemade Slime playlist.

Disclosure: We received 2 packs of Glam Goo for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest. 
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Thursday 15 March 2018

A Week of Reasons to be Cheerful

Home sweet home and the sun is shining!

It's time for our weekly dose of cheerfulness and I am feeling a lot more like myself than I did last week. Sadly my lovely aunt passed away, so I'll be heading to her funeral on Tuesday but I'm so thankful she is no longer in loads of pain.

Here's my week of cheer -

Thursday - I had a good session with the little boy I coach through the charity TLG. Then in the evening I headed to Tesco whilst my girls were at Guides and I got a new coat for the Spring. It is raspberry coloured and I love it.

Friday - We headed out for a meal for my friend Annie's birthday and the food was exquisite. I had a chicken breast stuffed with spiced lamb and spinach and coated in a mild curry sauce with pomegranate seeds, sultanas and sunflower seeds.

Sunday 11 March 2018

Super Lucky to be Here: Happy Mothering Sunday #isurvived

JJ, my boy who made me Mummy

Happy Mothering Sunday Friends. I wish every woman out there an amazing day, be she a mother herself or a mother figure. This day isn't only to be celebrated and enjoyed by those who have given birth it is also for those who selflessly offer their heart and soul loving others in the way a mother often does.

This is the 16th Mothering Sunday that I have celebrated. Of course JJ isn't actually that old yet but my hubby bought a card from the bump (AKA JJ) back in March 2003, seven months before he was even born. I remember being so thrilled to receive that first card and some flowers (if I remember rightly) as it was the start of my maternal journey, having thought previous to this that I might never have children.

I do remember feeling very special when I was pregnant but I had quite a lot of sickness for the first few months and I just looked extra fat rather than glowing with a perky bump. I did then get about four good months with JJ just before he was born but then stupidly I decided it would be great to have him in September rather than October, as was his due date. So I cleared and cleaned the house and then started to gut the garage. I remember I worked like a Trojan and it was very satisfying, well up to the point when I saw my midwife that afternoon and she started to worry about high blood pressure, excessive oedema in my ankles and belly, and protein in my urine.

Yes, it turns out I had pre-eclampsia. I've no idea if all my 'nesting' added to my getting this condition but it surely didn't help it and I was taken off to the hospital that evening for monitoring and a scan. It was decided that they wouldn't let me go too much over my due date and thus I was booked in for an induction on 3rd October 2003 when I would be 40+2 weeks.

Whilst my induction with JJ was a bit of a debacle and took me quite some time to emotionally recover from, I am still enormously grateful that we have the NHS in this country and that when JJ's heart rate kept decelerating, I could have the C-section without any delay. Then when the spinal blocks and epidural didn't work, there was an anaesthetist on hand who was able to give me a general straight away. Luckily JJ was fine and he hadn't swallowed any meconium as was feared and over the next few weeks I healed too.

Friday 9 March 2018

Sunset Scooting at Bexhill-on-Sea

Bexhill beach

Isn't it good to break out from the norm sometimes? During half-term we grabbed my husband out of work early on the Friday afternoon and dropped JJ off so he could go away for an adventure weekend with our church. Then the rest of us headed down to my favourite local seaside town, Bexhill-on-Sea for some fresh air and exercise.

bexhill sunset

girls scooting on bexhill prom

Thursday 8 March 2018

Happy Thursday - Seeking Out the Reasons to be Cheerful

I love the ice fountain but am happy it is now about 10 degrees warmer and has running water again

It's been a funny old week. I've had moments of elation and others of almost despair. However nothing is massively wrong with me, so please don't worry but I think the news that one of my aunts is terminally ill is having a real impact on me. She is the most lovely woman and I only found her about twenty years ago and haven't even seen her that much but I just knew she was there and we spent a lovely couple of days together last year when she came to stay. I'm really hoping I can organise to get up to see her very soon. Whilst prayer is great, it isn't quite the same as seeing her in the flesh.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a cheery post, so I'm going for some quick-fire reasons to be cheerful:

1.   I love streaming TV. I know it may sound a naff reason but the US box sets do make me so cheerful. I'm particularity loving Netflix right now, we just started to watch Quantico. Everything sucks was an easy watch and I'm getting into Riverdale too.

2.   I've got some new paid work doing social media for the conference centre where I live. It's only short-term initially but it is something I used to do on a voluntary basis a couple of years back and I really enjoyed it, so I'm glad to get back to it and be rewarded for it too.

Sunday 4 March 2018

Beautiful Silver Child's Locket from Molly Brown London: Review

Have you heard of Molly Brown London? I hadn't until last week but now I am so glad that I have. Molly Brown London is a British high-end children's jewellery brand established in 2006 and upon its launch it was dubbed ‘Tiffany for girls’ by VOGUE Magazine. I can certainly see why, just look at their packaging, if you changed the beautiful pink and chocolate brown packaging to robin egg blue it could easily be mistaken for the iconic brand. No wonder it is widely accepted as some of the best in the business.

The founder Erica Illingworth believes that “A love of jewellery can be inspired at any age and hopefully indulged for a lifetime.” My girls really did feel very special from the moment they took their individual Molly Brown London bag out of the delivery box.

A piece of Molly Brown London jewellery might be the first taste of luxury that your little girl has experienced and what a wonderful introduction to the finer things in life. Don't think that it has to be super expensive though as the price for a beautiful necklace starts from as little as £30 and actually at the moment they have some amazing sale items for just £12, I'm definitely going to be picking up some gifts.

Saturday 3 March 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Returning to Work after Maternity

Mother and Baby Image, thanks to Pixabay

Not so long ago you were preparing for the arrival of your little bundle of joy. You were setting up the nursery, getting hold of all sorts of paraphernalia - bibs, baby grows, toys and soothers, and eagerly awaiting for the initial pangs of labour to kick in. Your other half had got the hospital bag, you were eating spicy food to try and kick-start your baby's entry into the world, and you couldn't wait to start your new life as a family of three. Fast forward twelve months and you’ve had a year off with your little one and you’re relishing the joys of mummy hood, but the time has come to go back to work. Perhaps this terrifies you? You don’t know if you can leave your little darling in the hands of a stranger, albeit a well-qualified professional, and you panic that going back to the world of employment will make you a bad mother.

Hang on - Take a step back and assess your situation. Maybe going back to work is a positive step. You will have the chance to reconnect with colleagues and friends, and you’ll have the chance to be professionally fulfilled once again. You won’t have to spend twenty-four hours a day speaking baby babble, and you can have an adult conversation. You’ll be able to challenge yourself and continue your professional development. While you may ache to return to work, you may also fear the pangs of missing your precious offspring. This is normal and shows just how much you unconditionally love your child. However, heading back to work will never make you a bad mum.

Part Time Or Full Time
If venturing back into the throes of full-time work leaves you reaching for a brown paper bag and developing heart palpitations, you need to reconsider how much time you can dedicate to your job. Returning to work full time will result in a greater financial contribution to the family home, but it could also mean a higher childcare bill and less time spent with your toddler during his or her formative years. If you can afford it, consider heading back to work part-time or enquire about working from home more often. Many employers are now welcoming the concept of flexible working with open arms. They appreciate that a happy employee is a productive employee, so by proving your worth when working from the comfort of your own sofa, you could find the perfect balance between your work life and mummy hood.

Thursday 1 March 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful - Snow, Rock Hunting and Community Day

Happy Thursday #R2BC friends, sorry I haven't been around for a couple of weeks. I really need to get myself a bit more organised when it isn't my turn to host as I find that I forget to schedule in the time for my Reasons to be Cheerful post and then get lost in paid work and other commitments. I really am trying not to spend too much time blogging but still make enough money to cover some niceties like weekends away and days out.

It's been a good week for me generally. I wouldn't say I've been the most productive work wise but so what, that's not everything, right?

A New Gym
I've joined a new gym and had my induction. It's a great little place and I'm going there twice a week whilst the girls are at trampolining club and Guides. I love the idea that it fits in with lifts I need to do anyway, it feeds into my need for efficiency! lol

Sick Of Bouncing Off Diets?

Image courtesy of Pexels

Few words are likely to fill a lot of people will more frustration and misery than that word "diet". Sure, most people are totally on board with the idea of adopting a healthier lifestyle, but the truth is that there's a big difference between doing that and going on a diet. Of course, a lot of diets can be great. They can allow you to improve your health, look the way that you want, and increase your self-confidence. However, that only happens if you can actually stick to it. A lot of people will tell you that all you really need in order make a diet work is to stick to it, but that might well be the very definition of the phrase "easier said than done" Being able to stick to a diet can be a serious challenge for a whole host of reasons. Luckily, whether it feels like it or not, a lot of those challenges are within your control. With that in mind, here are some ways that you can really make your diet stick!

Set clear goals
One of the most common mistakes that a lot of people make when it comes to starting any kind of diet is that they try to jump in without really thinking about the kinds of results that they want. Things like "lose some weight" or "be healthier" are great as motivators to start a diet, but when it comes to actually trying to stick to something, you need goals that are a little more specific and clear. Figure out exactly how much weight you want to lose and try to figure out how long that will realistically take. Not only should your goals be clear and specific, but they should be something that you can actually achieve. The last thing you want is to end up getting discouraged because you haven't reached some kind of overly ambitious goal that you were never going to achieve in the first place. By having goals that you can aim for and can tick off your progress over time, you're going to find it much easier to stay motivated, even when things get difficult.