Joining in with one of my favourite blog hops where we celebrate our reasons for cheerfulness every week to keep ourselves in that sensible frame of mind that despite the challenges, we are in fact blessed. If you want to find out more, do check out http://mdplife.blogspot.com

1. I have butterflies in my tummy already and am totally excited that I have heard today of the date of my 25th anniversary college reunion. Yes, of course that means that I started uni at the age of 5 lol. It happens next September so I am wondering what size I will be then but know that it will be a whole lot smaller than I am now. It will be so lovely to visit THE most beautiful building in the world and to hook up with old friends and acquaintances. It will be very Porterhouse Blue and I cannot wait.

2. I am happy to report that both my boys got good reports from school at recent Parents’ Evenings. They were both acknowledged for their wonderful vocabulary and levels of general knowledge. So surrounding them with books and babbling on about all manner of things to them seems to work. I am also delighted that my older son who is very bright but really struggles with handwriting is to be given a statement of special educational needs which I hope will protect him as he moves up to secondary school next year.

3. I am happy to have a new pet, a cream labrador bitch who is just lovely and very easy to have around.

4. I am glad that my Dad is going on holiday tomorrow after missing out twice over the Summer.

5. I am pleased to see how my children are popular and how party invitations keep flying through the door for them.

6. I am over the moon that I have picked up some great bargains recently and will be reporting back on #MagpieMonday on my little treasures.

7. I feel grateful that I am managing to stick to my healthy eating regime and hope to have an important milestone to report as part of #mumentum on Monday.

8. I am loving getting to know new #groovingmums and am delighted to be trying out a whole new blog hop on writing that should help me and others move forward on that front. Check out women’s inspirational stories here http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/you-really-can-rediscover-the-woman-you-know-you-really-are/ and get involved with writing here http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/are-you-a-would-be-writer-join-wordsmith-wednesday-blog-hop/

9. In the last week, I was mentioned more than once in blog posts on the Prompt on Best Blogs. I have two blogging awards that have hurtled my way and I have been tagged in interesting memes. Great to have blogger friends, ain’t it?

10. The wonderful Caroline over at http://cazandbelleblogspot.com gave birth to a lovely baby boy this week. How wonderful for a woman who has had to handle so much. I don’t know Caroline but her story moves me. Also, a very good friend Kat is due to give birth to her new baby anytime soon.

Hey, what’s not to be cheerful about?

I have discovered how to be grateful.

I am joining in with Maxabella Love’s weekly blog hop about gratitude. Check out http://kympiez.blogspot.com/ for other grateful posts as she is hosting this week.

1. I am grateful for my husband. I know that is a bit cheesey coming from me who is normally so sarky. However, this week I wrote a blog post about him for his children. It made me remember why I love him so much. When someone commented that he sounded like a fabulous guy, I had a wake-up moment where I realised that yes he is and I take him for granted way too often. Shhhh! This is top secret and not to be shared with the man himself.

2. I am grateful for the house I live in and our wonderful land with its crop of apples, greengages, pears and plums. I have taken these for granted recently until they were threatened. I think the threat has gone but I resolve here and now to appreciate living the dream.

3. I am grateful that the X Factor is back. I am yet to be convinced by the new judging panel (with the exception of Gary Barlow) and miss Danni Minogue, Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell. However, it provides my Saturday fix in the chillier months and heralds the countdown to my birthday and Christmas.

With love from the Striking Mum x

It is Freddie Mercury’s birthday.

I am joining in with this blog hop for the first time. I love music, always have and have eclectic tastes too. So I hope to be a regular for this particular linky.

I have to select a Queen song today in honour of Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday.

Freddie is a hero of mine. I became a fan when I realised that I liked every Queen song ever made. So how do I choose just one. I like his solo stuff too so that gives even more to consider. Can I have them all please? After all, it is a very special day.

Don’t Stop Me Now has played loudly in my life whenever I need a particular boost to my self-belief. Education, jobs, public speaking, parties – it works well for them all.

Killer Queen is another favourite but as soon as I say that I think of a load more I love. I think I would like as my epitaph, “Perfume came naturally from Paris …” I don’t live a glamorous life but, hey, there is time yet.

Barcelona is special because my mum loved it. We both cried when Freddie died. Even Dad had to admit that Freddie had a great voice even if he did get very grumpy when we ended up in the traffic for the Knebworth Queen concert when I was a kid. He said to me, “Couldn’t you have bloody told me and I could have taken a different route?” Mum and I smiled at each other slyly and enjoyed the impromptu Queen party as people got out of their cars, danced on the road, laid on bonnets and sang along to Queen from their car radios.

When mum herself died, I turned on the radio and heard Radio Ga Ga. I played it very loud and the lyrics took on a whole new meaning. I found it quite life-affirming on the most difficult of days. It made me think things would somehow be OK. Freddie there for me in my hour of need again.

I don’t just like Freddie’s music. I like the things he said too. When asked if he was good or bad, he replied “Both, just like everybody else”. That is true sanity and so many people identify as one or the other when actually we are all a unique concoction of the two.

Well, I could go on and on but I think you get the message by now.

Happy Birthday Freddie. I bet there is a huge party going on in Heaven today.

With love from the Striking Mum x

The Pramshed

Birth plans seem like such a good idea when you first hear the concept. As a mum-to-be we have a vague idea that birth might involve a lot of pain and screaming so surely it is best to have a plan.

Before I experienced the reality of childbirth, I thought the pain was a rite of passage and that mums were exaggerating the level of pain involved. I dutifully went to antenatal classes and read books galore on what to expect.

I then went into labour. Did my waters break of their own accord? Nope! Did my contractions get progressively nearer together? Nope! Was I sent home from hospital due to lack of progress? Yup!

My husband sat all night long recording every contraction but they did not fit any of the patterns the pregnancy books told me about

My baby was  lying with his back against mine. This is known as an ‘occiput posterior’ (OP) position. So much for birth planning as mine involved listening to tranquil music, seeing contractions come relatively quickly, a bit of screaming and maybe biting down on a spoon like in old films.

It didn’t get any better when I decided I really must go to hospital again. My husband put me in the car and after travelling for about half a mile, the car broke down. So as the contractions finally sped up I had to walk home in the dark and cursing my husband. Sepia image gone right there!

After hours waiting for a taxi, I screamed all the way to hospital with the encouragement of the driver who was superb and told me to scream away whilst he played the Beatles. Talk about “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away ..”

It all worked out well in the end and that back to back baby is now a strapping 16 year old.

I am not saying making birth plans is silly because it does give you some level of control so long as you accept that life might take a different turn.

NHS Choices even gives you a draft birth plan so you can write it all down. They advise that you might want to discuss your birth plans with your midwife, the baby’s father and other key players in your life.

Think about pain relief options, birth partners and how  you feel about intervention such as forceps or ventouse delivery.

You should also choose “I will survive”as your musical choice because us mums have a knack of coping with what life throws at us.

This post is brought to you by the ex-pert mum by no means an expert but definitely ex-pert.

Cuddle Fairy