I have not written a Reasons to be Cheerful post. The reason is quite silly. I like to get these posts right as it is still the most meaningful linky I take part in. This may because is was the first or quite possibly because it got me on the road to counting my blessings and changing my life for the better. So when the day for it rolls around, I like to write a post that  matters. I have now worked out along with a lot of soul-searching recently that this is me all over. I am constantly striving to be perfect and then beating myself up emotionally when I don’t meet my own standards. So as part of my self-awareness and willingness to let go a little bit, doing a Reasons to Be Cheerful post this week is a positive in its own right.

Birthday boy

13 years ago I had a C-section and out popped my youngest son. He weighed in at 11 pounds and 8 ounces! He looked like a cute pirate and he shook our family up in the most marvellous way. He is my extrovert, the one with  charisma and comedy timing. He is amazing because he is also kind, a wise counsellor and has grown to look after me in the most lovely ways too. I suspect he will go far and quite possibly change the world as he is super-bright, does most things well and has great people skills. When I question my parenting, he tells me I can’t have done that bad as he is still here. As I said before, he is wise beyond  his years.

My daughter

My daughter will have new glasses very soon. Her eyesight has hardly deteriorated which is such good news. She entertains me with her strong opinions – very much the mini-me so if I failed miserably, she will be my torch bearer moving forwards perhaps. She is quite political hating racism, sexism and injustice in all its forms. She is so focussed in what she does working most of the day on art, design and stories. Better still, she is confident in her own skin and believes she is gorgeous but not in an arrogant way just in a way that it is a given. How I envy her getting to this realisation so early in life!

My almost 18 year old

My other son turns 18 in exactly 2 weeks time. I have a son who is bright but lacks confidence currently. He is happier now he has some plans in place for his future.. He is likely to do something around history and/or politics. He is also excited about various gaming things which seem to be nicely time-tabled around his birthday. He was out with us on Halloween night insisting on dishing out sweets to customers in the bar and on the street. He spoke at length about his views on Trump and so on. He knows so much about world politics and puts me to shame on that score. He also really impressed me by saying he always looks for both right and left wing media outlets before coming to his own view. He is as a bright as a button and his challenge now is to feel that way. He has also started to shave at last!

My husband

Shock! Horror! My husband turned up in a scary mask to the bar the other night. He appears to have found a little bit of a fun factor. He also did me a really big favour stepping up as a parent in a huge way leading to him having good quality time with our youngest children including a visit to an aquarium amongst other things. Finally, he has just negotiated a good price on a car repair – hurray! I think he is trying to understand me. He never will I fear but he is at least trying.

Myself

I am a little all over the place at the moment. I have hit a period in life when I am not sure what I want moving forwards on so many fronts. Where do I want to live? What do I want to do work and/or volunteering wise? Why am I here? Perhaps what used to be called The Change makes us want one.  I guess it is a time when a lot of our hopes and dreams have inevitably not panned out as we imagined when we were teenagers. In fact, I think this is a time when a lot of emotions we have as teenagers are present again in full force.

On the positive front, I have people who like me here. That’s quite a revelation. I feel I have missed out on friends in the real world for so many years. It has been lonely for a long time. I like to laugh and talk and I can do that here. I have learned that I need to curb my drinking but have realised I can indeed go out and have a good time without drinking to excess. Plus my health needs me to take better care of myself so I am eating more healthily too and seen 5 pounds slip off in a week. These days I worry less about the numbers on scales and more about how I feel and whether I am in pain or discomfort.

Another great thing is that I workbooks in place now which is helping me structure home education which I prefer even if so many home educators don’t. I may be over-schooled but I need some structure to prevent me wobbling about our lifestyle choice of educating at home.. I feel we are moving on in mathematics particularly well. We are now getting things going earlier in the morning which an education  consultant told me years ago is the way forward.

So yes I have plenty of reasons to be cheerful and perhaps can convince myself that over the decades I did get some things right. There is work to do and a whole lot of self-care and mindfulness needs to be put on my agenda methinks.

 

 

 

How alcohol affects your bowels and bladder may not be uppermost in your mind when you are on a boozy night out. I was brought up in a family of drinkers. Much of my social life from teen years until the present day has involved a tipple or two. As I reach a milestone birthday, I am questioning the way I live my life and one thing I am reflecting on is my consumption of alcohol. I was interested to read some recent findings on how alcohol affects your bowels and bladder.

What we already know

I think most of us these days are aware that drinking alcohol can have an adverse impact on our liver function an heart health. My own father died of liver disease and was whilst not a huge drinker a regular one. I have struggled with my mental health over the years as I believe most of us do. There is no doubt that whilst alcohol is fun in the short-term it is a depressant by nature. Most of us would probably be better off facing our demons rather than self-medicating them away for a little while.

Bladder function

What colour is your pee? Did you know it should be clear? Alcohol can often mean dark yellow or even brown pee. Alcohol dehydrates you so please do ensure you restrict the levels you take in and also drink the suggested levels of water to combat the ill effects of boozing.

If you have ever had a urinary tract infection, you know how thoroughly miserable they can be. As well as that feeling of constantly needing to pee, you have the burning sensation when you do. My last UTI was awful and laid me low for about a week or so.  Headaches, pain and fever can all come with cystitis meaning you don’t want to have sex, socialise or do anything much except lie under a duvet somewhere need a loo feeling sorry for yourself.

Finally, incontinence can be brought on by booze whether that is leakage or wetting the bed.

Bowel function

Most of us will have had constipation or diarrhoea at some stage of our lives perhaps due to another illness. I am hear to tell you abuse of alcohol can only make these worse. If you want to know the details of what is happening to your body parts when you drink,  what the worst drinks might be for you and why you are worse off if you have not eaten before drinking, visit Hartmann Direct for a detailed guide.

Get real

Perhaps a lot of us need to stop putting our heads in the sands about the dangers of drinking alcohol. Too many parents talk of wine time. Booze is glorified regularly on daytime television whilst it also hosts interviews with people who have suffered the impact of alcohol perhaps losing a child in a crash where a drink driver was the cause or by getting bowel cancer. I am by no means perfect but I hope like me you will look at your own alcohol consumption and ask yourself whether your lifestyle choices are serving you and your wellbeing..

How Alcohol Affects Your Bowels and Bladder

 

My Random Musings

How to prepare your daughter for her first period is something that will be on the mind of mums of tweens and teens. You don’t know quite when this key milestone will happen but you want her to know the facts and also have some idea of what periods will mean for her for approximately 38 years of her life. If you are like me, you find it easy to discuss such matters but perhaps you are a parent who struggles to approach anything to do with bodies or sex. What are the various ways you can prepare your daughter for her first period.

Talk to her openly

OK, so you may be a little embarrassed but if you don’t talk to her you can bet someone else will. I remember a girl at school who came to me for her information. Now luckily I had a mum who was open to discussing things with me so I was relatively clued up but by no means perfectly.

Books

There are books on periods available now and on the wider challenges and joys of becoming a woman. My own mum left a book by an agony aunt on my bed and told me I could ask her anything once I had read it. My daughter was ahead of the game and chose a book on periods out of the library herself presenting it to me and telling me she would ask if she had any questions.  I was very impressed with her that day.

Supplies

Ensure your daughter has access to pads or tampons. I think most of us start off with pads and it can be a little scary at first for your daughter to think about inserting a tampon into her body. A really great tip is to provide her with something like a pencil case or tin for her to keep supplies with her at all times so when the first period or an unexpected one later arrives, she is all set.  Consider pants that are secure such as those from Knixteen which are available online.

Pampering

Only recently have I let myself off the hook as I come towards the end of my time having periods. It is OK to realise that if you have cramps or other not so good elements  of periods, it is sensible to take it easy. This might mean a nap, a treat or extra cuddles. I like that my daughter is  already taking extra care of herself at her time of the month. She is an inspiration and I often think she is teaching me  rather than the other way around. I am going to carve out some special times for us when she has her period where we do things together as the amazing women we both are.

Involve others

OK, so perhaps you don’t need to be like my own mum who telephoned every member of the family to announce my first period but you can involve others in supporting your daughter. As with many parenting issues, you are not the only person who can help her. My mum dispatched my dad to buy me a cake when I had my first period to celebrate me becoming a woman. That might sound a little corny but it is a gesture I have loved ever since. I made sure both my husband and boys knew about my daughter starting her periods and what she would need from them at this special time of the month.

How To Prepare Your Daughter For Her First Period

 What tips do you have on how to prepare your daughter for her first period?

 

Cuddle Fairy
Shank You Very Much
My Random Musings

This year marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. From 1914 to 1918, this conflict embroiled most of Europe — along with Russia, the US and the Middle East — and is considered one of the bloodiest ever, with approximately 35 million casualties.

People from all backgrounds in the UK came together to contribute to the war effort. They all contributed in different ways — from fighting on the frontline to working in munitions factories. But with communications far less efficient and slower than what we know today, advertisements became an essential component of mobilising morale and letting everyone know how they could help.

Together with foamex signs printing company, Where The Trade Buys, we take a look at some of the most iconic World War I posters — including how they did, or didn’t work! See if you know any…

Keep calm and carry on

One that has become widely recognised today is the Keep Calm and Carry On poster. It was part of a motivational campaign — which included ads featuring the slogans: ‘Freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might’ and ‘Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us victory’ — that was launched by the government in 1939. The punchy phrase and crown image of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster were designed to quell hysteria and instil a collective feeling of togetherness, community spirit, and, most importantly, ‘Britishness’ to help people cope with the tragedies of war.

Why was it successful?

Actually, it wasn’t. Around 2.45 million posters for this campaign were printed, yet ‘Keep calm and carry on’ was never authorised for display and the other two designs had a very limited showing before being scrapped. But why?

People had an issue with the slogans in the posters. They said that they found them patronising, ambiguous and inappropriate. They were designed under the misconception that the nation would be hit by bombing after bombing, resulting in massive destruction and countless casualties immediately following the declaration of war. So, when war was declared, and this didn’t happen, these dramatic mottos just didn’t make much sense. Many also interpreted the ‘your courage will bring us victory’ as soldiers and the general public must make sacrifices on behalf of the upper classes and high-ranking army officials, which added to their lack of appeal.

Thankfully, one of the original copies of the poster was found in Alnwick in 2000. And, ever since, the saying has been reused on mugs, pens, t-shirts and other merchandise!

The Women’s Land Army (WLA)

Some of the most memorable posters created during the war efforts were the recruitment posters for the Women’s Land Army. By the end of the first year of World War I, more than one million men had been recruited to the British Army — a number that hit around five million by the end of the conflict. As a result, the country was suffering from a significant workforce shortage and needed to employ the help of women to feed the people left at home.

Why was it successful?

The entire aim of the poster was to encourage young women to take over jobs in agriculture. Often referred to as ‘Land Girls’, some farmers were hesitant or even completely against using female workers, despite the dire situation. Others even felt that the choice of WLA uniform was too masculine.

Why was it successful? To someone who was deemed unsuitable to participate in front-line combat for her country and who perhaps wanted to break free of the domesticated lifestyle and dress code that she was compelled to follow, this image of a woman dressed in loose dungarees and working in a field showed that this was the time to prove how equally capable female manual labourers were to their male counterparts. Just two years after its launch in 1915, there were over a quarter of a million women working on British farms, with approximately 23,000 in the Women’s Land Army.

Britons join your country’s army

This World War I poster was designed by Alfred Leete. It features the British Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, pointing at the reader above the slogan ‘wants you’. At the time, Lord Horatio Kitchener was a well-known and very respected military leader and statesman to the public — an opinion not necessarily shared by all of his cabinet peers.

It turned out that this image was a good choice. The government were able to encourage millions of men to enlist, and reportedly, there was a significant spike in volunteers putting themselves forward to join the army immediately after the poster’s launch in September 1914.

Why was it successful?

The design of this poster was designed to use a selection of tactics to evoke the response it wants from its audience. The emboldened ‘BRITONS’ text and insertion of ‘God save the king’ were hugely influential in inspiring patriotism, while the image of the pointing Lord Kitchener made the poster seem personal to each viewer as an individual. The call-to-action — ‘Join your country’s army!’ — is also clear and concise, while the use of red is an excellent choice to grab attention.

At the time of its creation, it was critical that that men took immediate action and enlisted to fight, and this urgency is clear from its strong, stirring and succinct design.

Dig for Victory

Even today, the saying ‘dig for victory’ is recognised as being associated with World War II and it’s push for homegrown produce. During the 1939-1945 conflict, feeding those left at home became a great concern and something needed to be done to reduce the country’s reliance on imported produce.

The ‘Dig for victory’ poster was launched around a month before World War II broke out. The Ministry of Agriculture launched the poster to encourage the public to grow their own food to ease the pressure on rationing. This campaign was international, with ‘victory gardens’ proving just as popular in countries like Canada, Australia and the US.

Why was it successful?

Not long after the launch, urban areas were transformed wherever possible, with many parks, sports fields and back gardens used in cities as makeshift allotments. Even the lawn next to the Tower of London was used to grow vegetables!

Many think that the success of this poster was down to its simplicity. The slogan ‘Dig for victory’ has all the tools to inspire a response: a simple action (dig) to secure an essential outcome (victory). Utilising the eye-catching quality of bold red and a simple close-up of a ‘Brit at work’, the poster grabs the viewer’s attention and implants a sense of ‘taking action’ to make a difference. Reportedly, the number of allotments across the country reached around 1.75 million following the launch of the ‘Dig for victory’!

Are you in this?

This poster was founded by Scouts founder, Robert Baden Powell in 1915. It features a mix of people carrying out various war-related jobs. with the slogan ‘Are you in this?’.

The poster basically asked you to evaluate your personal war effort — are you helping the wounded, working in munitions, building vital machinery, fighting in the armed forces, or simply strolling around with your hands in your pockets?

Why was it successful?

For many, this poster spoke volumes. In marketing, you have a very small timeframe to make an impact — and a strong image that tells a story can sometimes help you achieve that quicker than text.

The poster was also able to speak directly to a single viewer — for example, it’s not gender-specific. The use of multiple war roles helps to widen the scope of potential jobs that someone who is not ‘doing their duty’ could be doing, if they took action. Relegated to the edge of the poster with his hands idly in his pockets, few viewers would feel a positive connection with the man who is not contributing.

Air raid shelter warning

Because of the bombings risk throughout World War I, it became essential that the public protected itself as best it could in an air raid shelter. As you can imagine, this was a new concept and there were many of these temporary places of safety all over cities. In fact, up to 300,000 people used underground stations from 1915 onwards!

Because of this, posters were places in or at the entry points of air raid shelters to make it clear where these sanctuaries were — and what you could take in with you.

Why was it successful?

This air raid warning poster, which was placed outside of London’s tube stations, had a purpose and it served it. Using different-sized fonts, it separates each piece of information into level of importance: the first being that the location is a place for shelter, the second that any injury here is not the fault of anyone but the wounded person, and the last that certain creatures and objects are forbidden.

Figures show that around double the number of people used tube stations to shelter from bombings between May 1917 and May 1918 than during The Blitz attacks of 1940.

Sources:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-was-the-womens-land-army

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/0/ww1/25237878

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/inside-first-world-war/part-ten/10865167/why-soldiers-kept-fighting.html

https://history.blog.gov.uk/2014/06/27/keep-calm-and-carry-on-the-compromise-behind-the-slogan/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Horatio-Herbert-Kitchener-1st-Earl-Kitchener

https://bkthisandthat.org.uk/brief-history-of-allotments-in-england/

https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-air-raids-that-shook-britain-in-the-first-world-war

https://www.britannica.com/event/World-War-I

http://ww1facts.net/quick-reference/ww1-casualties/

When I was a child I remember reading magazines and salivating at the designer kitchens  with fancy kitchen worktops showed in them. They always seemed very expensive and out of the range of ordinary people. My cousin was a kitchen fitter and made a fortune. Our kitchen produced brilliant food as my mum was a cook by trade. She did not particularly care about the look of the kitchen so long as she could cook in it. I still have huge plans to renovate my kitchen when time allows so look at sites like Silestone UK to inspire me.

Kitchens  are very much the heart of the home where families come together to eat and to spend quality times together. Memories are built here so why not invest in something that expresses who you are as an individual and as a family.

Kitchen worktop looks

What do you find pleasing to the eye? Have you considered how potential kitchen worktop looks fit in with your cabinets and appliances? Perhaps you want to make a feature of your worktops and go for something that really stands out.

Kitchen worktop choices

There are diverse choices out there for kitchen worktops these days. You can go for solid wood which gives a homely and perhaps slightly farmhouse feel. Oak is popular but shop around as you may want to be that little bit different using a different wood. I like wooden worktops as they are strong and durable. I would probably go for a walnut one if I renovated my kitchen because of the colours in the grain.

Easy to clean kitchen worktops

If you are a busy mum perhaps juggling work, community work and parenting, a kitchen worktop that is easy to clean may be your priority. Laminate may be a good choice for you and is cheaper than wooden alternatives. You could have a wood-look laminate or go for black which tends to look cleaner unless you are a domestic goddess in which case you can go for white. Also you may want to be more funky and the world really is your oyster with the colour choices out there. If you are looking for long-lasting solutions, check out solid laminate.

Be that little bit different

If you are looking for real strength, check out stone and quartz options perhaps from somewhere like Silestone worktops online. It’s really about working out what matters most to you whether that is affordability, strength or qualities such as being waterproof.

What kitchen worktops to you have currently and would you like to change them?

How To Choose Your Kitchen Worktop

 

 

 

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Confessions of a New Mummy