Monday, 20 October 2014

Blog Camp with Tots100 2014

Saturday was my first ever blogger event. I have been to events in the past as a blogger, but this was the first, just for bloggers, and lots of big names in the blogging world! To say I was nervous was an understatement. Although I've been blogging 6 months now, im still a small fish in the sea, with lots to learn. I was going to attend with a blogger friend, but she had to pull out in the final week, so I was either going solo, or pulling out too. I decided to go solo.
Saturday arrived, and I was out the door at 7am, thankfully Grandma and Grandad M slept over after having dinner with us Friday, so were ready to hand at the crack of dawn to take over as Daddy was already at work... HUGE THANKYOU to them. :-) I decided to get the train as the camp was right near the Birmingham train station. All went to plan, but I arrived early. I was lucky enough that they were already there, and I helped myself to a welcoming coffee and a Danish... yum! (Diet is off!)
As more bloggers arrived I got speaking to Nayna from Citrus Spice and simply food. She made me feel welcome at such a big event, and really made an effort to get talking to me, those that know me, I am very shy when I am in new situations and especially when I know NO-ONE nor confident on the subject. So again, Thank you Nayna for our little talk.
The talks soon got underway, and we got told that we were extremely lucky that Showroom and Cow and Gate growing up milk sponsored the event so we didn't have to pay. So again, another THANKYOU.
After the introductions, we got told the itinerary. There were a few classes I wanted to go, but some were running at the same time, so I decided to attend the photography workshops as that is my main hobby, rather then trying to push into the you tube world... that will be saved when im more confident in this side of blogging. :-)
The first workshop was with Tom and Becky, and all about food photography. So to start we had to create a piece of food to photograph... normally the girlies o this part for me, so I got creative with some fruit, and then sprinkles. Only 3 of us turned up for this workshop, which was really nice, as we got lots of tips for our own specific cameras... I finally got off auto focus... yeay, and got to explore different backgrounds, lights, and textures as well as angles... all the same piece of work, but all look different...
Out of those 3, I prefer the ingredients in the background, and love the natural light coming in. But then I got told about the seamless look using a piece of A3 card, wow, im blown away... I actually took those photos... ME.... I am proud, im not sure which one I prefer as unique, the angles are so different as well as the lighting. It looks pro... wow! I will be off to Staples for my card next time the girlies bake. And an LED light, of course.
It was then time for another coffee break... Mmmm... more fresh coffee. This is when I got speaking to Cow and Gate PR team, they have given me some samples to try with S, which I am keen to start due to the Vitamin D benefits, perfect for this time of year.
After the coffee break, we had another talk with some professional bloggers that get paid to do what I enjoy, and are successful enough they now do it full time. Honest mum, Vicky, has listed her top 10 tips here, and they are very useful to know. I really need to work on number 1. Behind my computer, in my home comforts I am extremely confident, but out in the real world, on my own, I really lack it. EEk.
Then it was lunch time.... again, WOW! Food was divine. I demolished it too quick to snap it, but consisted of large meatballs, lentil bake, fresh salads, hummus and breads, and Eton mess for dessert... and this was all free for us. Thank you Tots100. I sat with some other bloggers that again made me feel at ease, so another thank you to Louise from little hearts, big love, and Helen from Kiddy Charts.
After lunch was another photography course. This one was based around portraits and selfies. Teaching us all about light, angles, movement, props, and fun. We were paired up for various stations, and moved to different pairs for different stations so we were with different bloggers. Here are my 3 favourite pictures from the various stations.
capturing movement, props and capturing fun.
On the selfie part of the work stations, I took a few shots....
none of them were "right" the first was too high, so too much forehead, but I liked the smiling side of it. 2nd was too much going on in the back ground, and I don't like the angle. 3rd was too bright and again too much in the back ground, and 4 I tried natural light, but didn't quite get it. I have tried again at home, and come up with a better one, in my opinion, to update my About me photo, now that I have gained a few Ibs and that I am now a full time glasses wearer due to my contact lens disaster earlier this year.
...the lighting isn't great as its spot light 'orange' light rather then daylight light, but I like it. I hope you do too.
After that course there was more coffee, and biscuits.... I am being spoilt.
Then it was a talk about brands, this talk is where I learnt about having a contact me page, and this has since been made, so please pop along and find me on the other channels and say hello. Along with Mummy M's Memories facebook page.  This is all new to me, and I am learning as I go along. Any other tips and hints would be great from more experienced bloggers.
After the brand talk, it was then time for a dash to the train station, and time to let it all sink it. Would I go along again to a blogger event, well.... that all depends. I learnt and gained ALOT, but I did feel uncomfortable at times as I had gone solo, I was sat on my own at times whilst larger groups giggled and laughed around me, but why shouldn't they? They all have met many times at various events. I did not feel comfortable approaching larger groups mid conversation, on subjects I knew nothing about. So if I become more successful, more confident, and don't go solo, yes I probably would go to another blogger event again.
Thank you Tots100 for organising a lovely event.
Snapshot taken during Toms photography workshop

Friday, 17 October 2014

The best of both worlds... Formby beach

Last weekend the weather was glorious, and Daddy was off work, and he had enough energy to go out with the girls. We don't often get out and about now J is at school, and with the commitments of dancing and swimming lessons, so took advantage of the free Saturday afternoon. We headed off to one of my favourite National trust places, Formby beach. Its the best of both worlds, the forest and the beach.... my favourite two places to go with the girlies for fresh air.
We started in the woods, and soon found some HUGE leaves, unfortunately we didn't have out leaf bucket with us to collect, but we still had fun playing around and hiding behind them.

and S attempted to carry it around, it did get dropped shortly after though...
We also found a big 'den' that we went to explore, there were lots of wasp looking flies so we didn't stay for too long....
The next corner we walked around, we stumbled across a natural playground....
...the girls enjoyed looking for a stick to make music...

..and found a magnified glass... S especially like this, and soon called J over to explore it too...

 J wanted to go around the tree obstacle course, but with it being wet, it was slippery, and she was hesitant as she wanted to hold on to us, with some encouragement she, did have a go, and she made it all around....
...and was so proud when she completed it....
...after the play area corner, we found some puddles, as the girls were equipped with wellies they were allowed to splash.
 ...but S managed to splash so big, she splashed onto her tights, which she didn't like... we were leaving the woods, J realised just how high the trees are, we didn't see any red squirrels on our walk today, but we did keep our eyes open.

After the woods, we headed down to the beach, and grabbed an ice cream enroute... 
...this was a challenge for S, as we had to climb the sand hill first to reach the beach... we reached the top of the hill, we saw a big rain cloud coming across the sea, and the rain falling, we decided to watch it come closer, whilst we finished our ice creams, but due to the rain, we didn't hang around for long....

...J was thrilled that we were on the beach...
...and happily posed with her sister, you can see the rain falling behind them...

..there is something soothing about a beach with stormy weather approaching.... S had got bored with eating her ice cream, and knew we were limited on time, she dived into the sandcastle building equipment, and had fun building a few.... unfortunately my camera battery died around this point, so we couldn't capture the final result...
We made it back to the car just as it started to rain, and the rain followed us all the way home for the 90 minute drive. The rain and the sun was happy to provide many rainbows to entertain the girls throughout the journey.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Healthier me.... my journey so far... 4 weeks in.

I last posted my update on my attempt to become healthier about 3 weeks ago. Which you can read here. I was struggling with m food, but could see a little change, and then decided to keep it simple.

I arranged for our main meals for a week to be based around roast dinners, potatoes and veg, and come day 5, was still on plan with the nutrition, I did not feel deprived, and enjoyed cooking without the stress of a new recipe every day. Come day 6 though, hubby didn't want any more roast dinners though, and his cravings were kicking back in, and I didn't want to waste a joint of meat on just me... so we caved in, and have since struggled to get back on track, which is going to change again now, I am going to make healthier meals, and will serve it up, so they can eat t or go hungry. :-) I need to start putting myself first.
But that's all I am going to say on the nutrition front, as what I am doing is not just about nutrition. I also do very hard, and I mean HARD exercise's 3 times a week. They come through to my email address, and are different each and every time. They started easier, but now consist of 20sec very intense exercises with 10 seconds rest, or various other timings, you think as its short bursts it wont be too tiring, but oh it really is.
We did a fitness test at the start of the 4 weeks, and then again at the 4 week stage, and I have noticed a HUGE difference already. Look at the difference just 4 weeks and 30minutes 3 times a week can do... as I cant say nutrition is perfect...YET!!

                                                               Week 1                               Week 4
                         Full squats                        25                                       38
                         Press ups                           17                                       31
                         Burpees                             8                                         13
                         Plank                                 20 secs                               43 secs
All the exercises are done in my front room, and require no equipment, what so ever, I normally do it from my laptop, whilst the girlies are watching one of their TV programmes, and sometimes they attempt to join in, J is obsessed with burpees, and I have no idea why, I hate them with a passion. But all the squats, lunges, press ups, planks, star jumps, jumping squats etc are all helping to mould me to a healthier me. And a smaller me... which I'm more then happy with, the programme I am following is loose 2 dress sizes in 8 weeks, I don't think I will achieve this, but I haven't been following the nutrition side, but once I have tweaked this side, im looking forward to the results as I will be joining the gym very shortly too so I can get some much needed ME time.
I love being a mum, but when that's all I am 24 hours a day, it does bring me down, im slowly loosing myself to the routines, and unable to return to work due to the expense of child care and hubby "I wont get a day off", I'm stuck at home, so hoping the odd 45minutes here and there will help me keep my sanity.
So here is to the next 4 weeks, with even more exercise thrown in, and bringing in the reins on nutrition....
Can you see a difference??

Friday, 10 October 2014

Little Moreton Hall

Today was a beautiful autumn day, with blue skies, and the chill in the air.... my favourite days!
S wanted to do painting, but I wanted to make the most of this dry weather. I managed to persuade S that we could go leaf collecting, ready for painting or collaging over the weekend. She was certainly up for this idea when I presented a pumpkin bucket for her and her wellies.
We are lucky where we live that we have a fair few national trust properties close by, so we headed to one where we have never been to, Little Moreton Hall.
S loved the quirkiness of the wonky beams. And the air was filled with quacks from the many ducks dotted around.

S adores any animals, so soon went to introduce herself to the ducks.... the ducks were NOT impressed.

The gardens here are small, but the knot gardens were beautiful, and S liked trying to climb over the miniature hedges which is hand trimmed, and takes over 80hours.... wow!!

 S was very pleased that for once she was allowed on the grass...yeay!
We then remembered we were here to collect leaves for our collage, we were hoping to have big leaves and very colourful ones, but it wasn't really that type of national trust place, but S still managed to find some.

and some puddles....
she has progressed from last year to walking through them, to actual splashing.

With the greenery as back ground, I decided to capture some of S many expressions, and she was happy to participate.

and enjoyed having one with mummy too without J pushing to the front as she was at school.
After finishing in the gardens, we decided to have a little wander into the hall to see what its all about. There was a guide all dressed in the olden day gear, and helped make our experience more then just a walk through, so THANK YOU!
S took a liking to her, and seemed to listen to what she had to say, she showed us a game from the Tudor times, where they had to get marble type stones/clay into arches and count up the score, along with a cloth type board game with a wooden dice, and even showed us the bed. S liked how comfy it was, but didn't like the idea of sleeping upright. I learnt a new fact, that back in the olden days to get the cloth so white, they used urine.... yuk!!!
And it was all finished off by S making a stained glass window.
The lady has mentioned some of the half term activities they have planned, like mask making of a face that is in the chapel onsite, and wolf masks, story telling and other activities, so think we shall be going down with J in tow too, to keep boredom at bay.
Another great little outing on the national trust membership! Thank you.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Looking back to J's arrival...

5 years ago... my life completely changed.  I became a mummy for the very first time, and took a giant leap into the unknown.
It started as any usual pregnant day, where I was hoping J would make an appearance, so I tried everything... I cut our lawn, which isn't an easy task when 9 months pregnant, and then Daddy M and myself decided to go to the Trafford centre for a coffee and a cake whilst we were still kiddy free, for one last time. Whilst there we walked the entire length to try and help, but it did trigger my SPD pain, but I pushed through the pain as I wanted things moving. After our coffee and cake, (I had a milkshake, I actually managed to go caffeine free through both pregnancies, just cant now...) We gave Grandma M and granddad a call as they live close by, and we were invited around for dinner... I still remember it now, Roast chicken, mash and veg!
After dinner, almost immediately after, (Just stood up from the table) I felt like I was wetting myself, just a little trickle, so I headed to the toilet, thinking it was just a leaky bladder which I had read about lots this far gone. It wouldn't stop, so I asked Grandma M if I could have a sanitary towel.... then I realised what I was leaking out was GREEN....
We knew then it wasn't wee, and it was serious. A quick dash home for the medical notes and hospital bag, which seemed like ages (40minutes drive) whilst phoning the hospital, and my parents, who live 260miles away.
When we arrived at Warrington Hospital, a midwife took one look at the pad, and turned around and said, you wont be leaving without baby in your arms... yeay... that was the start of it all...
 That was at about 6.30pm 8.10.09 they got me settled into the room, and hooked up to hear baby heartbeat, as I was leaking green waters which is a sign of meconium in them (baby poo) which means baby could be in distress. I had 24 hours to get baby out by myself, otherwise I would have to have a caesarean. They wited to see if my contractions would start by themselves, but at 9.30pm, still no sign, so I was hooked up to the induce drip. So I was bed bound.... my TENS machine came in handy when the contractions started, and it was ALL and I mean ALL in my back....
The midwife hooked me up, and then left me too it, I was contracting every 30seconds for about 2 hours, when she came back in to see how I was doing, she realised, and turned it down a bit. I wasn't progressing quick. Grandma M turned up with coffee for her and daddy about 10.30-11.30 to help give daddy some support and to give me a bit of extra help. (Always good to have an extra nurse around ;-))
Being induced is no fun...
 During the night, I realised the gas and air and the TENS machine just wasn't cutting it with the pain, so was given an injection of pethindine pain relief that would last approx. 4 hours. Wow... I actually managed to get a tiny bit of relief, but when that wore off and I wanted an epidural, I got told I couldn't have one now, as they had an emergency elsewhere on the ward, and then I was too far gone. I then wasn't allowed anymore pethindine as I was too far gone too... at this point they realised baby was back to back. (Facing the wrong way) which is why all the pain was in my back, so they helped to to change position which was a huge relief  as I was off my back, but was still bed bound, all I wanted to do was have a little walk. They had me on my knees for about 40 minutes whilst I was 10cm, to see if I would help baby turn, but then had me back on my back to start pushing.... WOW... excruciating pain I have never had before, and still to this day, not had since (even with another birth under my belt) The room filled with doctors and extra midwifes, and it got very scary.... her heart beat was slowing down, and the emergency incubator/cot/light/heat things came out and was plugged in. I was told if she didn't come out with the next push, they would have to cut me to help her... she didn't budge... they cut.... even with the anaesthetic spray it hurt like crazy. She still didn't budge, so the forceps came out, some pushes from me, and some pulls from them, she eventually came out, with emergency caesarean words floating around. When I finally gave birth, the cord was cut by doctors and she was whisked to the incubator at the back of the room, I still remember that little wait for her cry. Her airways was clear, she hadn't digested the meconium.... phew! Once all the checks were done, we were able to have a cuddle, I still remember now, not letting her go until the stitches had been completed, as they hurt so much, and she would stop me thinking of what was happening at that end.
first cuddles

When I finally let go, she was weighed, and was a tiny 6Ib 14oz

first moment.... with my birthing partners
I actally had a male doctor, which if asked me when I was 3 months pregnant, I would have said no way, not down there, but he was great, so reassuring, and he did an excellent job fixing me up, several check ups later by various midwives and doctors all comment on how well and his sewing techniques... (disgusting I know, sorry!) And he brought J to the world safely. And of course Simone the midwive who took over in the morning, so much more calming and reassuring compared to the midwife during the night. So if you ever read this....THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

Thank you to the Dr and midwife.
Meeting Daddy for the 1st time

Birth announcement photo

We had to stay in hospital over night, which took forever as she was born in the morning, but they had to make sure there was no side effects to the meconium. I attempted to breast feed, but it just didn't happen.

My parents took to the road almost immediately, and made it the very same day she was born.

And auntie L from mummytoboyz came along for the journey too, whilst pregnant with O to meet her new niece.

And we eventually made it back home as a family all safe and well, if not sleep deprived, about 48 hours after it all kicked off.