It is the time to celebrate my reasons to be cheerful this week.

1. Yesterday I had a day out in London with my 11 year old son.  It was great to have some one on one time with him.  We attended a blogger event and I did not know anyone there although knew their blogs of course.  Although my usual shy self, I don’t think I did too badly in terms of chatting to people.  My son was amazing talking of films, history and social networking.  We bought cheap and cheerful gifts for the other two children so everybody was happy.

2. My son and daughter are doing so well with their swimming every weekend and are now jumping in happily and have forgotten all about armbands.  We have decided that after this series of lessons, we will take them ourselves and join in the fun.

3. I am feeling upbeat about BritMums Live next week.  OK, so I am speaking, but how much damage can I realistically do.  It will be fine and the more I meet bloggers, the more I realise how most people are genuinely warm and wishing you well.  I have new shoes as I ended up not able to walk in my boots yesterday so got some flat shoes.  I have various outfits from the charity shop to try on.  I need a haircut and then I am all set.  If you want to find me for some reason, I will be at the Give As You Live stand at 1.45pm on the Saturday and am trying to work out a way to persuade people to come and say hello and find out more.  All suggestions welcome.

4. I made a decision to not waste any more time on one particular issue.  Sometimes things cannot be resolved and you have to let them go. 

5. I get the sense that Him Indoors is getting very committed to me having a life of my own and doing all he can to facilitate that.  This makes me cheerful as I want new chapters but want him by my side too.

6. I feel we are making use of the land this year both in terms of growing vegetables and by getting out there to play badminton and so on.

I am sure there are lots of things I have forgotten but that goes to show that life is pretty happy right now.

Now pop over to http://mdplife.blogspot.com to meet some very positive bloggers sharing their smiles.

I am promoting charities and good causes for free on my blog during June 2012.

Here is an introduction to the work of the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.

 

The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield supports children with life limiting conditions and their families. The charity began more than 12 years ago as a result of the challenges of a local mum whose son, Russell, became very ill and needed hospice care. She was concerned at the lack of local support, and set about changing this.

 

12 years on The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice is now a reality. In October 2010 the charity began supporting children and families through its hospice at home service. To date we have received more than 60 referrals, and we are already helping over 40 children and their families, with more coming to us every week. In October 2011 the hospice building was completed.

 

The care provided by a children’s hospice is unique. All of the children we help will have conditions which will, sadly, significantly shorten their lives. However we may support children and their families for many years, possibly until the child is a teenager or even a young adult.

 

We know that when a child has a life limiting condition they still have the same needs as all children – the need to play, to communicate, to experience new things, to learn and to reach their full potential, whatever that may be for them. Our focus is to do everything we can to make children happier and more fulfilled while they are with us, however long or short that may be. Despite the common perception, a children’s hospice is much more about life than it is about death – and any visitors will find fun, noise and laughter in a building which is designed to feel like a large, welcoming home.

 

As well as helping the child we also provide support for the whole family. Caring for a child with a life limiting condition places immense strain on parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members. We give parents a break, and help them become parents instead of full time carers. We give support and attention to siblings who are dealing with all the issues of having a brother or sister who get all the attention but who won’t always be with them. We support families through bereavement counselling, relationship guidance, and general emotional support while they are caring for their child and often for years afterwards.

 

There is no charge for the care and support we bring to children and families. As less than 4% of our funding comes from government sources we must work hard to raise funds to enable us to care for those who need us. As we open the hospice and continue our hospice at home service we must increase our income from £1million per annum last year, to £2.5 million per annum over the next 18 months.

 

We love to hear from people who are able to fundraise for us in any way. Please get in contact if you want support, ideas or information on 01422 411046

Do you like chocolate?  Is that a really silly question?

I was lucky enough to be sent some Divine Chocolate to review.

It was a generously-sized bar of the dark chocolate with orange and ginger.  I loved the taste although it took me a few minutes to get used to the texture presumably orange or ginger strands.

I don’t actually eat chocolate often but when I do, I like it to be a really indulgent treat.

Divine Chocolate fits the bill perfectly.  Chocolate to savour or to share with a very special loved one.  A lovely addition to a romantic night at home.  Alternatively, something to hide away just for you when the children are in bed and you want to reward yourself for another day of juggling it all.

Even better, you can rest assured that the producers of the chocolate are getting rewarded appropriately for their efforts too.

Divine Chocolate products are made from the best Ghanaian cocoa supplied by the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative that owns 45% of the company, and are free from artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives.  They are all suitable for vegetarians, and carry the FAIRTRADE MARK. 

In celebration of Divine’s Ghanaian ownership, the bars are decorated in gold with distinctive traditional West African motifs called Adinkra symbols, each of which carry their own meaning, making them a beautiful gift as well as a perfect treat.  

For more information on the full Divine range of 100g and 45g bars, gift chocolates, baking ingredients and seasonal lines visit http://www.divinechocolate.com

Last September, I was grossly overweight, fed up with my lot in life and hoping to find paid work.

My instincts told me I would only change with the back-up of other women.  I decided to set up a blog hop and was so pleased when other mums came forward and said they wanted to effect changes in their lives too.   Inspired by all things Eighties, I called us the Groovy Mums and we set off with our knapsacks on our virtual backs towards an undefined but a “It’s got to be better than this!” future.

There was a definite first set of mums who got involved and there was lots of accompanying banter and support on Twitter as well as via blog comments.  That has got less probably as we got involved in various tasks towards getting our groove back.

We found that when mums were struggling, some would not post at all and some would in great detail and end up helping others with their sadder posts as well as with their happier ones.

9 months on, I am aware that some participants found that Groovy Mums was not for them or could not find the time to join in.  I am proud to see all the changes that mums have made, both baby steps and huge ones.  I think we have worked out that when we achieve some things, a lot of us still want to move on to new ways of thinking and different activities.  Perhaps there is not a destination after all but rather a fascinating journey.

So where now for Groovy Mums and me?

My life has changed a lot since last year.  I lost a considerable amount of weight so feel better health wise.  I have stones and stones to shift still but I know I can do it now.  Nothing seems hopeless anymore and that is largely down to the impetus of the Groovy Mums.  Thank you.

I have paid work now and can see new opportunities to acquire more at a pace that suits me and my family.

I am a member of the BritMums team and am speaking at BritMums Live in less than two weeks.  There are nerves naturally but my reality is now that I will be fine and contribute well to the event.  My thinking has shifted about what I am capable of.

I am involved in supporting charities and am a proud ambassador for Give As You Live, the organisation that ensures that money goes to charity when you shop online (but you do have to sign up and can do so here http://www.give.as/savingbabieslives ).

So I have changed and I feel ready for a big adventure after BritMums Live.  I am working on the finer details but I feel the time is right for me and look forward to sharing in due course.

I have noticed that less people are linking up when I do Groovy Mums posts and challenges.  On a level, this does not matter but on another if I am going to be busy and the posts are not helpful to folks, I wonder if I should continue with them.

We have had a few Groovy Mums Twitter parties which appeal to a wider audience and seem to assist in linking up mums who can help each other in terms of support, tips and information.  Should we do some more?

I never was a great guru and never had all the answers.  I was just a fat mum stuck in a small village who wanted to feel like herself again.  Groovy Mums was as much about helping myself as reaching out to others.

So although I feel quite clear about where I should go next and what I should do, my question is where next for Groovy Mums?

Should it be allowed to die a natural death?

Should it continue in the same way?

Should it change radically?

Should I share the load more as some mums seem keen to help out in some way?

I would love to know what people think whether they join in with Groovy Mums or not.  I am also not going to make any major decisions on the future of Groovy Mums until after BritMums Live because sometimes I too need to take time out to reflect and to ease up on myself.

Over to you …

Don’t look now by Daphne Du Maurier is short story and described as macabre.

In it we meet Laura and John who are on holiday in Venice. It all starts out light-hearted enough but is a very good reminder that as in real life, things are not always what they seem.

The apparently happy couple on first glance are grieving for the loss of a child with each handling this situation in their own individual ways.

The couple encounter some strange ladies one of whom is blind. The talk to Laura and appear to suggest they can deliver messages from her dead child. Can they, are they psychic or a pair or charlatans?

Despite John’s best efforts the ladies will keep turning up and tell the couple that they must get out of Venice and quickly.

A call from home results in Laura heading home to care for her son with John planning to follow on soon. He starts out on the journey but something makes him turn back. Was the reason for this real or an apparition? Suffice to say, whatever it was it causes John a great deal of stress as he struggles to make sense of it all. Is he going mad?

Will the ladies be proved right? Should both of the couple have left Venice after all and if one of them doesn’t, what will be the consequences?

I really enjoyed this short story even though it is not the usual type of thing I would choose. It was difficult to guess whether the strange ladies had good or bad intentions.

My only criticism that as so often in short stories, the ending seemed rushed and I was not surprised by it.

Overall Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier is a good story and a great read for the holidays.

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