Friday 28 June 2019

The Importance of Gratitude #R2BC

I'm really pleased to be sat here writing a Reasons to be Cheerful post. Without being conscious that I was, this week I have been counting every blessing and have been reminded of the importance of gratitude. When I first started #R2BC back in 2011 it was because I needed to look at the good in my life and to reset to be content and grateful for what I had. It really worked for me and I truly believe that the two main keys to contentment are being happy with what you have and not seeking more and more, as well as being grateful.

So here we go with this weeks dose of positivity. The things I am feeling super grateful for right now are -
  1. Blue skies and sunny days
  2. The air conditioning in my car
  3. That my house stays cool, even in crazy hot weather as we have 1ft thick walls!
  4. A fun festival in the grounds of where I live last Sunday
  5. JJ being made a Prefect for year 11 and getting an end of year award for maths
  6. Getting myself two gorgeous dresses from Maine at Debenhams today, they should have been £75 and I got them for £40. Bargain!
  7. I had a great chat with dh this morning, whilst we had a coffee after both having our hair cut
  8. We're trying out a new church on Sunday morning
  9. I'm still enjoying my work and if I go in early, even after a 45 minute drive I can still be home by 5pm
  10. Taking the girls swimming in the lake with lots of other people from our community after work
  11. The roses here are beautiful at he moment
  12. The most yummy piece of carrot cake
  13. Loads of new international volunteers where I live, and the wonderful interaction my girls are having with them
  14. Miss M has performed at school in the choir five times this week for the new year 7 intake evenings

How To Spend 5 Days In NYC

Photo Credit: Clay Banks at Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

As you may know, travelling can be great for the soul. But not only that, it can be great for your family dynamic too. Because when you travel together, you get to spend some valuable time together too. And not only that, but you get to make great memories too. This is why it’s great to go to new and adventurous places together, like New York City.

It’s easy to think that NYC isn’t the place for a family trip, but it certainly can be. There’s a lot going on in the city for families and kids can get just as excited over the magic of the big apple as you do! We definitely want to head there as a family in the not too distant future, Im just savign up at the moment.

Here’s how to spend five glorious days there -

Day One: Check In & Explore
Your first day can be a bit slow after a long flight; you just want to get settled in. No matter what time you arrive, make sure that you check into your hotel and try to adjust to the new time zone right away. Time is precious, so sticking with NY time is crucial. You’ll find that heading out to explore helps here.

Day Two: Sightseeing
When you wake up on day two, you may feel a little jet lagged, but you’ll also want to ensure that you’re able to make the most of the day. So push through and plan a day’s sight-seeing! There are lots of different family-friendly attractions in NYC that you can explore, along with the most notable. So think about the things that will make your time here as memorable as possible. Talk to friends who have visited before and check out family blogs for great ideas.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

A Girl's First Love Stays with Her Forever #PethoodStories

Teen girl and her labrador
Me, aged 15 with Toby Jack
{This is a collaborative post}

Every woman remembers their first love. I could say it was my Dad, but I think that's a given. No, my first love arrived into my life when I was 14-years-old and he was gorgeous. The most handsome boy I'd ever seen, this glossy and silky gingery-blond hair, a massive smile and he was content to just be with me. Hardly any demands, just unconditional love. A love that lasted for thirteen years.

We went through some interesting times together, Toby and I. Times when I deserted him for other boys, times when I was too busy to spend as much time with him as he deserved, and times when I slept late in the morning and forgot to get up and walk him (thankfully mum didn't)! But he always forgave me. He was always happy to offer me cuddles and a gorgeous shoulder to cry into when I needed it.

I can't tell you the amount of times that I cried to Toby, he just listened, he never made me feel bad and he never answered back. Of course, that's because he was a dog, a Labrador, but not just any ordinary dog as far as I am concerned. He, for me, is the best dog that ever lived and I don't think any other dog will ever take that place of my first love, of my bestest friend.

I look back at old photos now and I chuckle to myself, he was so placid and my brother and I used to never let up, always looking to have fun with him. Just look at the photos below to see for yourself.

Saturday 22 June 2019

An abundance of Gratitude - Family, Walks and Time to Be

This was the beautiful sight that greeted us as we arrived back from a meal with
our pastoral group on Thursday night

Hello friends, so sorry I didn't get an #R2BC post live last Saturday.  Time totally ran away with me and as I had my parents staying I figured it was more important to spend time with them, than fret over a blog post. I know you understand.

As always I have so much to be grateful for -

Family to Stay
As I mentioned my parents came to stay at the cottage we have onsite here and this meant hubby and I got a night out to see the new X men film at the cinema, as well as going to a bible study and new church on our own. It's so great when they are beloved babysitters available.

JJ was happy to spend a night looking after their dog whilst they went to the cinema and the girls stayed up there and it feels like a mini holiday. We didn't do anything major whilst they were here as some days the weather was rubbish, but it is just good to spend time with them, chatting going out for meals and charity shop browsing for Mum and I.

We had a yummy lunch at Tottingworth Farm cafe in Heathfield
My new Job
I'm still loving my new job, I've done three weeks now, but realistically that is just 6 days. In my head I want to know everything now and be able to get on with it, but I know my expectations are too high! I'm enjoying getting out, doing something different, challenging my mind and having some time to myself in the car each way.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

National Trust: East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley, Yorkshire

Front of East Riddleden Hall

In half term we travelled up to Yorkshire to stay near Bradford, We had a lovely time travelling around and exploring the area. We had one day where we just didn't fancy a long journey so we stayed close by and headed to the nearest National Trust site for a bit of culture and outdoor space. East Riddlesden Hall was the closest, situated in Keighley, West Yorkshire. We weren't sure what to expect as this isn't the biggest site, but actually, it was really nice. The staff were friendly, interested and knowledgeable and there was plenty to do.

As soon as we arrived the kids spotted the birds feed for 50p a bag, so we all headed out to the lake and all my family enjoyed feeding the ducks. This simple act always seems to calm down my crazy girls and focus them on something nurturing. Even JJ loves to feed them, although he is always a little more vigorous in his feeding style! lol, I was happy to find some hale bales to sit on and just enjoy the dry weather and watch my family.

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Starting my New Job wearing Hotter Sol Sandals (Review & Giveaway)

I started my new job last week and I had a great time. It was so nice to feel part of a team again and to be doing something that is feeding into a goal that I believe in. As well as that, it was great to be able to dress a bit smarter again, and with it being summer I needed some sandals to complete my outfits.

As if by perfect timing I won a pair of Hotter Sol sandals and I knew these would be good for work as I still have a pair from two years ago. Back in April 2017 I went shopping at my local Hotter shop in Eastbourne and came away with metallic gold Sol sandals and they are still going strong now. Yes they have discoloured inside (that will be my sweaty feet!) but the actual shoe itself has hardly aged in two years.

I had a look on the Hotter site to see what the latest colours are for the Sol sandals and I had a choice of platinum multi-coloured, truffle multi and jet black multi in standard and wide fit. Or blood orange, royal blue multi or white in standard fit. I absolutely adored the orange pair but I saw that my old ones were the wide fit, so I ordered the orange in standard fit and the jet black multi in wide, both in a size 7.

Monday 10 June 2019

Give Blood: Do Something Amazing

I gave blood recently, it was my 26th donation and you know what?  I'm pretty darn proud of that. I love giving blood, it only takes about an hour and I know that I help someone, without any cost to myself.

Each time you give blood you get a text to tell you where your blood has gone, so this time around I'm helping someone at the Cheltenham General Hospital. In January my blood went to St Bartholomew's, London and last September it was Salisbury Hospital. I pray it made a difference.

As humans and for me as a Christian, we're supposed to be there for each other and to do what we can to help. We may not have an abundance of money that we can give away, but I have had the gift for time the last few years, and this is one of the ways I have made the best of that time.

I made my first blood donation in about 1997; a friend where I was working was going to give blood and she convinced me to go with her. No-one I knew gave blood and to be frank I wondered why it was my issue. I recall being quite worried, but it all went seamlessly and in fact I give blood very quickly and without any consequence to me. I've never felt ill after donating and to be honest, what I tend to feel is elated.

So I continued to give blood but as my career took off and I worked more hours it became more patchy as I was never around when the donation sessions were taking place. It was only once I'd had the children that I started to have some time again to be able to donate and it's only in the last three or four years that I've become a regular thrice a year donor (women can donate every 16 weeks).

Last year I wrote a post, titled a Beginners Guide to Giving Blood in the UK, why not take a look if you have not donated yet.  There are a few things you need to think through and of course you need to check you are fit and well, and can donate.

The website is very informative and easy to use. You need to register before you can donate and you can book your sessions online, so that you don't have to wait long. I've found my sessions to be super efficient since they introduced the online booking system quite a number of years back.

Each day roughly 5,000 people give blood but there still isn't enough blood all of the time, for everyone who needs it. There needs to be around another 400 new blood donors every day to ensure that all needs can be met. This is why it is important that YOU consider giving blood. You might just be that person who has a rare blood group, who can help someone with sickle cell or who provides the O negative blood that has fallen in short supply.

You can make a difference. You can do something amazing. So why not investigate today and start your blood donation journey?

Saturday 8 June 2019

Reasons to be Cheerful - Great First Week!

Loving this photo from our visit last week to NT East Riddlesden Hall. I think Miss M looks
like a winner up there and I feel like a winner at the moment!

It's the weekend, Yay!  We've not got anything planned and I'm quite happy with that. My parents arrive on Monday for a week, so I'm sure next week will be a busy one with plenty going on.

This week I started my new job with Spring Harvest and it has been great. Here are a few reasons why I'm feeling cheery about my new job -
  • Not only is my job share partner very nice, she also seems efficient and capable. Things that are super important to me!
  • I'm part of a great team, really diverse and I think we'll have fun.
  • I'll be helping to organise the big Christian Spring Harvest breaks that I've been going to for the last 14 years, I feel very privileged to be a part of the organisation now, and the work seems interesting. 
  • Each week we have prayers and it was good to join with everyone to pray for both work and personal situations.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Weddings And Technology: A Match Made In Heaven

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

Technology has an uncanny ability to transform our lives in ways that we never expected. Who would have thought that we'd all be glued to small, handheld computer screens checking status updates twenty years ago?

But the world of tech isn't just affecting our work and social lives; it's also having an outsized impact on weddings too. The modern wedding just wouldn't be complete without the use of tech.
Technologies make the whole process so much easier. Here's why weddings and tech are a match made in heaven.

Say Goodbye To Paper Cuts
Preparing wedding invitations used to be an unbelievably drawn out process. You had not only to find somebody to print out all the cards, but you also had to deliver them by hand to the post office, and pay a small fortune for the privilege.

Now, though, there's an app for that. All of a sudden the vast machinery of the postal service is redundant: with a simple click of a button, you can import your contact list, filter the people invited to your wedding and click "send." Then all that's left to do is wait for the RSVP - no more dealing with lost replies in the post.

Stop Searching For Wedding Entertainment
Finding a great entertainer was a challenge in the past. Most couples relied on local ads or the recommendations of their friends. But today, it's easier than ever. This awesome website, for instance, categorises entertainment options by type, including for weddings. These platforms let you browse your options, read reviews, and then pay for the band you want online. It's about as easy as using Airbnb.

Monday 3 June 2019

The Highs and Lows of my Pregnancies

(#Ad - This post has been commissioned by Rennie®)

This summer my girls turn twelve and that means it is twelve years since I was last pregnant, I can’t quite believe that if I am honest, it feels like it was only a couple of years back; the memories are so vivid. Despite not having the easiest pregnancies or best birth experiences either time, I absolutely loved being pregnant as I felt so special. Growing a small human is an absolute privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy.

I so clearly remember being at work in 2003 and this veil of tiredness fell over me as I sat at my desk. I immediately went out to buy a pregnancy test and recall sitting in the loo silently screaming and thumping the air with elation when the two little lines appeared! My pregnancy with JJ was a good one generally, I was a model student, attending all the classes, reading all the literature, chatting to other pregnant women and mothers, and I think I knew nearly as much as the midwives.

Then for some silly reason a few days before JJ was due to arrive, I got impatient and I decided to see if I could help him along a little by cleaning the garage top to bottom. Straight after I had my routine midwife appointment and found that I had pre-eclampsia; high blood pressure, protein in my urine and terrible oedema (water retention) on my legs. I was sent straight up to the hospital to spend the night on the antenatal ward so they could get my blood pressure under control.

As I’d had such a good pregnancy and done all the things I was supposed to do, I truly believed that I’d have this idyllic water birth. We’d been encouraged in our classes to write a birth plan and mine was full of ideas of soothing music, easing the pain in the warm water and my husband by my side. The reality was quite different; I was forced to have an induction as I had pre-eclampsia, that then failed and my baby getting distressed, so I was whizzed through for a C section, but the spinal blocks and epidural didn’t work so I ended up with a crash section under general anaesthetic.

Saturday 1 June 2019

Northern Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

We headed off up north this week, and that's a very rare occurrence for us. I was pondering if the kids have ever been up north and we realised they had once, back in 2011. We stayed in a holiday village near Hull and didn't really enjoy ourselves, so it's probably a good thing I had forgotten that before I booked this break.

This time we stayed in an Air BnB and I'd happily recommend Squirrel Court, which is close to Thornton village, Bronte Country. We were around 20 minutes outside the centre of Bradford, but it felt like it was a lifetime away, as we were in the countryside, with amazing hill views, a farm shop at the end of the lane and tons of local pubs.

*  We've enjoyed lots of family time, doing all sorts, from just chilling in the wonderful cottage to heading into major cities.