Wednesday 27 February 2019

Quick Fire Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

It's not quite Thursday yet and I'm trying to get ahead and get this sorted as I feel like I have a ton of things to do right now. I hate that heavy feeling, I have to get myself in check and remind myself that all is well. It really doesn't matter that the washing machine is not working, I got the clothes out and I have access to another washer, even if I do have to walk some way to use it. It's all good for the step count after all! Then, next Tuesday the engineer will come and I pray he'll fix it, as it is a £1K machine that I've only had for 2 years, so he better be able to, or that will be rubbish.

So this week, it is quickfire reasons to be cheerful. Counting all those big and small things that are making me smile -

  • Time with my Parents and brother at the end of last week
  • My Dads operation went well and he is recovering
  • Visit to the Llama Centre at the weekend with my hubby and the girls
  • Superb worship at Church on Sunday
  • Miss M stood on a plug and punctured her foot, which of course isn't a R2BC but I was so grateful the damage wasn't worse
  • Tuesday with my hubby; we got an appointment booked to get our finances in order, had a nice Toby carvery and bought a new car! ekk
  • The kids are back at school, which is good for both them and me
  • I secured a nice new piece of work
  • I only put on 1/2 lb in the two weeks over half term. I thought it might be more as I really wasn't focused. I'm pleased that some of the changes I've been making are just coming naturally and it is showing on the scales
  • School listened and acted on a complaint I had made before half-term
  • A snatched coffee with a lovely friend
  • I sorted out the plan on Miss M's pay as you go phone, it was something silly that had been hanging around to sort and now it's done!
  • I got an evening with just Miss E, as we hung around for a couple of hours whilst JJ was at Police Cadets
  • Our cat continues to enthral us all with his funny ways. He has certainly settled in well here

My excitement for today is that I am picking up our new car, wish me luck!

For the month of March Reasons to be Cheerful will be over with Becky at Lakes Single Mum, so if you fancy joining in, you'll need to link up there.

Come and Join In!

I'd love to read your Reasons to be Cheerful and it is as easy as 1, 2, 3 to join in -

1. Link up a post about something that is making you super happy/ grateful. It can be in this style or it can be anything you like - a recipe, a tutorial, a from the heart, a list - it's your blog, you choose

2. Add the #R2BC badge onto your post or blog so that people can easily find the linky and join in too if they fancy

3.  Share the love. This is the really important bit. Please don't just link and run, comment on at least a couple of posts and why not share with #R2BC too?

I'll stop by all linked up posts to comment and I'll share on twitter too

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Review - Our Day Out at Leeds Castle, Kent

Leeds castle view

If you live within, or about an hour from Leeds Castle, near Maidstone in Kent I’d say you’re worth a visit. It’s one of those attractions where your entry ticket will gain you admission for a whole year. So, on the basis that you can return again and again, it’s great value, but if you have further to travel and might only visit the once then it’s a costlier affair.

Entry Costs
The price of an adult ticket is £25 if you buy in advance online, or a pound more if you get it on the day. Children are free up to 4 years and a child ticket (4-15 years) is £16.50 in advance. I was pleased to see that customer feedback had been noted and acted on in the last year and there are now family tickets available for a cost of £70 (that’s either 2 adults and up to 4 children or 1 adult and up to 5 children). As mentioned, £70 is a great price if you return multiple times.

We visited Leeds Castle last Tuesday during the February school half-term and it was fairly busy with families with small children, but being a big site there was plenty of space for everyone. Inside the actual castle was quiet, as was the maze but the falconry display was fairly busy and the play park was heaving.

At 11am as we arrived there was plenty of parking, with friendly attendants directing us and we didn’t have far at all to walk to the entrance. I was super pleased to see massive (and clean) toilets by the entrance and it didn’t take us long to get in. You’re best to check opening hours on the website before you travel, as the times change from the low to high season. We could have arrived as early as 10am if had wished and last entry is at 3pm, with the park closing at 5pm in February.

Saturday 23 February 2019

Join #TeamMum to Help Women gain Breastfeeding Support in Meru, Kenya

Any mother will know that breastfeeding isn't always an easy journey. Yes, I think we all understand that in most circumstances it really is the best thing, and of course when you're in a country that can't guarantee a good, clean water supply it becomes even more improtant, but it can still be super difficult.

I was lucky enough to attend breastfeeding classes run by the NHS, along with NCT antenatal classes when I was pregnant with JJ. I can honestly say that these classes made the world of difference to me. When I was in hospital after my C-section and I couldn't get JJ to latch on properly I remembered all I had learnt at the classes and had the confidence to persevere and seek out help. We then had a good few months of successful and enjoyable breastfeeding.

With girls the situation was different, as tandem breastfeeding is quite a skill and add a toddler in the mix and you are pretty busy and quite a demand on your time. But again, I had the help of the local breastfeding counsellor and my health visitors to help me, enocurage me and find the right way through for my family.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Half Term Reasons to be Cheerful - Feb 2019 #R2BC

Time for my weekly dose of joy and its always a bit strange writing this when I don't feel that joyous. I'm feeling quite flat and anxious as I write this and wondering why. I assume it's because my Dad had an operation on Tuesday and I haven't seen him yet. I'm also stressing about stupid stuff and because the kids are off school, I'm not getting the time to take myself off and just be with God, which is what I'd normally do when I'm out of sorts. But it is only a short while they are off and I need to embrace it and enjoy it. I can focus again next week!

So there has been some good times in the last week, many things to be thankful for -

Friday - my lovely friend Krisha came over for the day and we chatted loads, ate cake and had a great walk around the lake. I started that day feeling sad and ended it much happier.

Saturday - We all went out for lunch at the Toby Carvery and I helped the girls make some cupcakes for sale at church the next day. 

Sunday 17 February 2019

Review of our Day Spa at Bannatynes, Hastings, East Sussex

Exterior of Bannatynes Hastings
Image Credit

I wanted to get my husband something different for Christmas, he’s the kind of guy who never wants anything and doesn’t appreciate people spending money for the sake of it. So I decided that I’d book for us to do something together and enjoy a day or a night out. We often go to the cinema, out for a meal or enjoy the theatre. I’d already bought us some comedy gig tickets with money from his Grandma, so I was racking my brains for something different.

As I was browsing a marketing email from Wowcher, I saw loads of great deals for spa days and I thought that might just be perfect. He works hard and his job can be stressful, so I figured a massage might be just the ticket. Without telling him why, I got him to take a day off in January and I booked for our local Bannatynes in Hastings, East Sussex.

I’d definitely recommend checking out both Wowcher and Groupon if you want to book a Bannatynes spa day for two as they have some great deals. There were a few different options I could have booked, starting from £69 for two people, but I wanted the option with the most treatment time, so I spent £95 for the two of us to have 4 mini treatments each (55 minutes of treatment time), and full use of the spa, leisure facilities, gym and classes.

To be honest we only spent a half day there, as we headed off to enjoy a late lunch elsewhere, but I’d definitely go back and would spend more time next time. I wanted to share my experience with you, so if you book, you’ll know what to expect.

Spa reception area, Bannatynes Hastings
Spa reception - Image credit

Thursday 14 February 2019

Blogging Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

hands on a laptop
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

Thursday has rolled around again and that means it is time for me to share my Reasons to be Cheerful. This week I have chosen to share based on blogging reasons, I quite like to mix things up and have a theme or do a different style to keep these #R2BC posts interesting.

Blogging is a very funny animal. I've been doing it a long time now, in fact some would refer to me as an early innovator and this does make me laugh as I've never been a forerunner or innovator in anything. 

Blogging Anniversary
On 10th February 2019, I had my 11 years of blogging anniversary, isn't that mental? I only started sharing so my friend and mum could see some pictures of the kids and then my comments led other readers back to me. I didn't even mean to do it!

But blog I have, many of my old posts have now gone back into draft now, as frankly they were just appalling, but there are also still some pretty abysmal ones lives on the blog from the early days, but I figure they are all part of the journey and show just how far my writing and skills have come.

However, despite all those old posts being back in draft, on 2nd February 2019 I published my 2000th live post on this blog.

Successful Blog Posts
There are some crackers, I still marvel at the fact that a post I wrote back in 2011 to publicise Chris from Thinly Spread travelling to New York to attend the UN General Assembly on behalf of Save the Children, has over 100,000 views on it. I think back then was when the parent bogging community was it its best, it was far smaller, we all knew of each other and the support was immense, withing 48 hours Hello It's Gemma and I had encouraged 164 other bloggers to write and publicise an article to support Chris and Save the Children. 

Monday 11 February 2019

#TeamMum are Creating Pregnancy Support Groups in Meru, Kenya - Join Us?

Long term readers of this blog will know that back in 2004 I had an awakening, I'd definitely say it was a spiritual one. For 31 years I'd merilly gone along believeing that charity started at home and burying my head firmly in the sand. Then after becoming a Christian it was as if the blinkers were lifted as I started to see all the injustice in the world.

And you can't see it without it impacting you, so my husband and I started to do what we could, small steps - sponsoring a child abroad, helping with Christian Aid collections at church, giving our time and money where we could, around our work and family.

Then in 2011 my passion and fight intensified and I could see the difference that coming together with other bloggers makes. Each of us making a tiny ripple in a sea of change and those ripples, coming together and creating a wave and ultimately a long-term tidal wave of change that is necessary to erradicate extreme poverty.

Sadly this isn't a sprint, the journey towards an end to extreme poverty is very much a marathan, and one I want to remain in training for. I've realised that my heart is breaking for those who live in extreme poverty, especially women and children, and Africia is the continent that I particulalry have a heart for.

Thursday 7 February 2019

How to Save Money on your Groceries

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
{Collaborative Post}

Christmas is over now, but you may still be feeling the financial effects of the season and you’ve been to the Creditfix website to find ways of spending less this year. One of your main expenditures will be groceries and it’s perfectly possible to reduce your food bills and still eat well, if not better, than usual.

Here’s six ways to spend less on groceries and maintain a full fridge (and stomach)!

1.  Have more plant-based meals
Those pesky experts all tell us to eat less meat nowadays, not just for our health, but also because a vegan or vegetarian diet has less of an impact on the environment. Getting more protein from plant sources also means you can reduce your spending too, so explore the vegetarian versions of your favourite stews. At the very least, replace half of your usual minced beef with some lentils or pulses.

2.  Go shopping in the evening
You don’t have to get all your shopping from the reduced aisle, especially if you’re looking for meat products, but some items are perfectly safe to pick up from there. Pasteurised cheeses and dry goods are good bets, as well as ready meals that you’re planning to eat when you get home. You might also find bargains like bottles of bubble bath with small cracks in the screw caps. Always be ready to swoop in and grab a bargain.

Thankful for a Slow Saturday #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends, I hope you're all well. It's a new month and that means that Reasons to be Cheerful is back with me for February.

Today I wanted to share a full days gratitude. Last Saturday was a day with no plans and I was so grateful for that. Some days I like to stop and remember to be grateful in all aspects of the day, it really does heighten the experience of being thankful and living as if I am blessed (which of course I am!)

So here's my daily list -
  • The cat let me sleep in until 7.45am before he started miaowing at my door to be let out
  • The girls had a really good lie in after their adventures the night before, breaking down in the snow with my husband after youth club
  • I enjoyed bacon and eggs for breakfast and cooked them for everyone else too
  • Cheesy catch-up TV was the order of the morning, so I watched some Dynasty and Designated Survivor

Wednesday 6 February 2019

When you have Nine Stone to Lose....

Photo by HENCE THE BOOM on Unsplash

Nine stone, that is a lot of weight.

It is a whole person.

Did I ever dream I'd weigh as much as two people?

No of course not.

It was never my dream.

So how did it happen?

I couldn't even tell you quite honestly.

I've been overweight for as long as I can remember.

It has been the primary focus of my life since my early teenage years.

My being fat is completely tied up with my mental well being and my beliefs about myself.

I've been seriously working on unravelling those beliefs and being kind to myself for the last five years.

I am making progress.

Internal progress.

Yet again I have started at a diet club.

I joined Slimming World on New Years Day.

And I've been struggling ever since.

There have been small loses. To date in 2019 it is 5lb that I've lost.

Saturday 2 February 2019

Creating a Family Valentine's Night with CoolStuff (Review)

light box saying welcome to family valentine

Who says Valentines Day has to just be about celebrating romantic love? When you start to investigate the origin and history of February 14th you find lots of stories about a man called Saint Valentine who was martyred. But not just one of them, quite a few, the Catholic church alone recognises at least three saints called Valentine or Valentinus.

Then you have tales from the Roman times of a man called Valentine who was killed for trying to help Christians escape from prison, and before his death he apparently sent a card to a young girl he had fallen in love with, and simply signed it "from your Valentine".  There are also Christian stories and Pagan stories, and let's be honest, we have no idea what is the truth.

In my younger years I considered Valentine's day to be an exciting time, one when I might receive beautiful flowers, a meaningful card and I'd dress up for a night out. After 25 years with my husband I'm no longer seeking for him to spend our well-earned money on tokens and over-priced flowers. We often go out together and I'd rather do it at times when the rest of the world isn't out, showing how much they love each other.

So with this is mind I started to wonder why I couldn't celebrate Valentine's Day with all my family, with those I love most, but maybe not in a romantic way.