Monday 30 July 2018

How to Better Protect your Children while Online Gaming

Miss E staged this photo when we were away on holiday in April but sometimes this is reality!

Parenting in the digital age isn't necessarily an easy task and what I've found is that there is no 'one size fits all' answer for every family. My son is now almost 15 and has been gaming online since he was around 8 or 9. Back in the early days it was playing on Minecraft on a closed server, so I knew who he was chatting to but nowadays he is everywhere, literally!

Do I worry about who he is chatting to and whether he is potentially being groomed or giving away sensitive information? Not particularly, but that's not down to naivety on my part, it is more about the fact that we have an open door and open conversation policy. I do let him have his laptop in his room but I can walk in any time and ask to see whats he's up to. We also regularly talk about what is happening with people he knows online, what I've read recently or whether he's had any close calls in his online relationships.

Thankfully nowadays, most of his chatting is done via Discord with his extended friend network from school and cadets, but there are still times and games where he will be chatting to a stranger and all he knows is the information they give him, and I'm grateful he has a questioning mind that doesn't trust everything to be as it seems.

Computing is one of his strongest skills and he is my go-to tech expert for anything I need doing, so truthfully his knowledge is far superior to either mine or my husbands and yes he could run rings around us. However, I believe that because we have given him trust over the years and always been available to talk about any topic without any judgement, that he has a good level of respect for our wishes.

Sunday 29 July 2018

On Feeling Needed...

I've had a desire to be needed from an early age. I'm not really sure why. A psychiatrist might suggest some kind of deficiency that I am trying to fill but genuinely I have no idea.

I can just recall many instances as a girl and younger woman where I would make myself available, and desire to fill a need. Standing up for people at school, taking on tasks that weren't mine, working extra hours and always ensuring I had the best knowledge, not to be the best but to be the one that people would call on when there was a need.

Love has always been in my life, I've never doubted that people loved me, so I wasn't seeking that and I really can't pinpoint a time when this desire to be needed started. What I have ascertained is that I struggle with feelings of rejection and perhaps it is my way to fighting that off. If people need me, they can't reject me? Maybe, I really don't know.

As I mature and deepen my faith in Christ I find that I'm doing more and more work on me and who I am. What makes me tick and what are the rough edges that need filing away? I love being able to delve into a good book and absorb some new wisdom, something that helps me in my lifelong journey to become more Christ-like.

Who am I? and what was I made to do? Those are the questions I am investigating at the moment. I went on a great course back in February, which introduced me to the Enneagram; it is a personality typing tool with strong Christian roots. I've discovered I am a type 8, often called the Challenger or the Protector and both those words ring very true for me. I won't stand by and see injustice, I'll challenge it and don't you dare mess with anyone I care about, or the underdog, as I'll fiercely protect them.

It's been quite a surreal couple of weeks listening to podcasts from other people who identify as a type 8 on the enneagram. I've felt such a deep level of resonance with these people and I'm keen to keep exploring and learning more, as the ennegram doesn't just type you, it also offers a path for becoming a healthier version of yourself.

Thursday 26 July 2018

So Many Things to be Thankful For #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful is back to 'business as usual' this week after the very untimely death of Kate last week. I don't want to sound course but Kate would have loved to know that she has inspired so many people to think again about how they are living their lives and that she is inspiring them to be the best version of themselves, whether that means in body image or getting out there and grabbing all the opportunities that come their way.

In the main it has been an exciting and wonderful couple of weeks for my family. So much has been going on and I have loads to share for this weeks #R2BC.

1.  Girls birthday - my little (not so little) twinnies turned 11 and Miss E chose to go out with dh and I for bowling and a meal. Miss M chose to have a Saturday shopping trip with some school friends, she spent a load of money, they had Pizza Express for lunch, frappes in the morning and ice creams in the afternoon. They all had a ball!

Thursday 19 July 2018

Starting Secondary School with Blacks #BacktoSchool

child modelling joules raincoat

If you have school aged children and I say to you 'back to school', I bet you start thinking about shopping and getting the kids kitted out with all their new uniform and essential supplies. The obvious places to shop are the supermarkets (for cheap and cheerful tops and socks) or the high street department stores for the slightly more expensive pieces that you want to last a while, but have you thought about shopping at an outdoor retailer like Blacks?

As well as the actual uniform I expect you need a waterproof or winter coat, trainers, school bag, gym bag and water bottle. Blacks have all these things and because they are a retailer of items for outdoor activities, we are talking really high quality items. They cater for both children at primary school and also bigger kids like mine that have moved into adult sizes and are heading to secondary school, or even college.

My 11 year old twin girls move up to secondary school this year and that means I have a massive task ahead getting them kitted out. Their uniform will include a blazer and therefore any coat I get needs to be a bit larger to go over it and as they have about a mile walk to the bus and back each day they will need a good waterproof to keep them looking smart and feeling comfortable.

Miss E already has a waterproof jacket, as being a size smaller than her twin she gets the hand-me-downs but Miss M was definitely in need. So we had a browse of the women’s waterproof jackets on the Blacks site and I kept pointing her to nice jackets that were perhaps plain black or navy to go with her uniform, but no I totally forgot who I was dealing with. This is my vivacious and vibrant daughter, who likes to be colourful and to express herself, so here is what she choose, a beautiful coat by Joules. How can it be that my 11 year old has a piece of Joules clothing before I do?

Remembering that Life is too Short! #R2BC

Hey friends, I seriously thought about not doing an #R2BC post this week as it just felt a bit contrite and disrespectful. I've been floored by the news that my lovely blogger friend Kate Sutton (or you may know her as Wit Wit Woo) died on Monday from a stroke. She was only 48 years old, it is too young and I just can't make sense of it. Facebook has been a very sad place this week as I see status after status of all the people who are gutted, devastated and missing Kate. Of course the ones suffering will be her lovely sons Dexter and Ben and I'm keeping them tightly in my prayers.

I'm only doing this post as Kate was so full of life. She was all about going out there and grabbing it by the balls and making the most of it. I think Kate's untimely death has really shaken me and made me aware that I have to stop living in limbo and I need to enjoy every day more and be less complacent for all the wonderful things in my life. So today this #R2BC post is about 'back to basics' gratitude.

Monday 16 July 2018

The Juvenile Arthritis Research (JAR) Project - Did you know Children can have Arthritis too?

Richard and his daughter Trinity, who suffers from JIA

I’m so pleased today to be able to feature a guest post on my blog. I’m not sure how many years it is that I’ve known Rebecca from The Beesley Buzz blog, but it is a quite a number, and she is one of those women who never fails to inspire and have an encouraging word for everyone. Back in 2015 she discovered that her young daughter had Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and it has been harrowing to see what Trinity must go through to be able to live a (more) normal and pain reduced life.

I was so excited to hear from Rebecca back in January this year that her husband was taking an exciting (and of course scary) step by starting the Juvenile Arthritis Research project. Richard is doing something incredible to make a difference to the lives of children who suffer from JIA and I’m delighted to have him share with you here today. Really, did you even know that children could suffer from arthritis? I certainly didn’t.

What is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (or JIA)?
JIA is diagnosed in children and young people under the age of 16 and is a different disease to adult-onset rheumatoid arthritis, and entirely different from age-related osteoarthritis. The term ‘idiopathic’ means that, despite a number of theories, the exact cause of JIA is currently unknown.

Many people are not even aware that children can get arthritis. Yet JIA affects around 15,000 children under the age of 16 in the UK. At present, there is no cure.

JIA is an autoimmune disorder where the body starts to attack the joints, causing inflammation, pain, discomfort and reduced mobility. Left unchecked, JIA can lead to other health conditions as the immune system attacks other organs, as well as permanent disability and long-term health implications. Many children with JIA suffer from uveitis, where the immune system attacks the eyes; if not stopped this can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness. Some forms of JIA lead to systemic inflammatory damage, where other organs are damaged and, in the most severe forms, this can be fatal.

I founded Juvenile Arthritis Research (JAR) to find a cure for Juvenile Arthritis. With the support and endorsement of leading academic researchers, the JAR project works collaboratively yet independently to analyse data and information from a wide range of different scientific disciplines and research fields. By bringing together the disparate sources of information, we believe that we will be able to piece together the clues necessary to fully understand the disorder and develop a cure.

Saturday 14 July 2018

Visiting Paris with the Paris Pass - Was it Worth it?

arc di triomphe header

At the beginning of July I travelled to Paris with my Mum and brother for my Mums 70th birthday treat. We only had two full days in the city with travelling time on the two days surrounding them and having now returned home I wish we’d had three clear days for exploring, as Paris is just so vast and there is a crazy amount of things to do, especially included with your Paris Pass.

What is a Paris Pass you might be wondering? 
Well as the name suggests it is a pass that gives you access to most every attraction in Paris as well as a Paris Visite travel card for use on the metro, rail, tram and bus. I say most every attraction as there are a couple of exceptions, like the Eiffel Tower and the catacombs but it is very comprehensive and there are also a load of special shopping and restaurant discounts that you can take advantage of too. 

You can buy a Paris Pass for 2,3,4 or 6 days and there are differing prices for children (4-11 years), teens (12-17 years) and adults (age 18 plus).

The Adult price ranges from €131 for a 2 day pass to €244 for a 6 day pass
Teens - €81 - €135
Children - €44 - €75
So, as you can see the price per day gets better when you buy a longer pass but of course it depends how many days you'll be in Paris for.

Paris Pass

Thursday 12 July 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful - Paris, Transition and the Circus

It's been another busy week for me and it doesn't look as if the next few weeks are going to be any different. There seems to be so much to fit in at the moment, which is a bit frustrating as I'd quite like to chill and take some time before the kids break up for six weeks, but c'est la vie, what will be, will be!

Viva La France
Last Thursday morning I headed off to London to meat my Mum and brother so we could catch the Eurostar over to Paris for a few days. It was incredibly hot and we had issues with seats, queues and delays on the Eurostar but in general we managed to have a great few days celebrating my Mums 70th birthday.  We packed loads in our days and I particularity loved going up the Eiffel Tower, taking a river cruise, riding the open top bus and seeing some awesome works of art at the Musee d'Orsay. Our apartment in Bercy Village was stunning too.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Bracing Your Family For An International Move

Image thanks to Pexel

They say moving is stressful. Why do they say this? Well, because it’s resoundingly, absolutely and completely true. If you have moved home before you're most likely nodding in agreement and if moving does not stress you in the least, then you would probably enjoy a very lucrative and successful career as a special forces operative, because it seems almost nothing could phase you.

Not only is moving house a monumental organisational task, but you must also emotionally calibrate yourself to your new surroundings, and attempt to stay positive throughout the whole affair. It’s uprooting the anchor of your life to move on to another place entirely, sailing the seas over uncharted territory until you can place your anchor in a sturdy place once more.

If moving within the bounds of your current understanding is somewhat difficult, then consider moving across national or international borders. Even if you have a great degree of familiarity with the new culture, moving to a new country entirely can sometimes lead to culture shock. The flow of life is different from place to place, and so sometimes it can take a little while to adapt.

For some tips to both brace your family for an international move and then execute the process effectively, consider the following:

Thursday 5 July 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful - Family, Holidays and Friends #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends. I’m sorry I’ve been so lapse on the reasons to be cheerful front, it’s not that I’ve been miserable, I’ve just been super busy.

So much has been happening and much of it is good, I did have a couple of weeks where I felt really low and I wasn't even sure why but I seem to have worked through that and come out the other side. Praise the Lord.

I feel like a could write a number of posts as there is so much to be thankful for but I’ll go with a nice long list to keep it simple and easy to read. Here’s five weeks of gratitude for you -
  • We had an ace family holiday in the South of France over May half-term. I’d definitely go back to Eurocamp at Club Farret again.
  • My Mum and Dad came to stay at the cottage in the grounds of our home for a week and it was lovely spending time with them and we went out for lots of yummy food too.
  • The girls had an inset day and I went to a local farm attraction with them and loads of people from our community and it was a fabulous day out.