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Winter 2017 Edition

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Photo by LA Capture

Welcome to the special Festive Edition of The Mum E-mag

Winter 2017

Meet Debbie

 

I'm Debbie Lucas, founder and editor of The Mum E-Mag.


As a mum of two little ones and a pre/postnatal fitness instructor who chats to other mums regularly, I know how important it is for mums to share experiences and help each other along.  


I wanted to create a place where mums could showcase their talents, tell their stories, give opinions, educate others,ask questions and find support. 

 
I hope you enjoy it!

Find out more

Join Our Team

 

The Mum E-mag couldn't happen without the support of all our mummy friends.
 

If you'd like to feature an article, photo, review, blog, poem, ask a question, or anything else you'd like to see included, please do get in touch.

What's Inside?


We have a great collection of articles and blogs for you to read covering a wide range of topics including Christmas fashion tips, crafts, photography advice, parents Christmas hacks, ideas for getting your children outside and lots more...

Contact us

Festive Fashion


The festive part season will soon be upon us. The reality when you have kids is you usually have 5 minutes to get ready and your wardrobe is more suited to soft play than black tie!

So here are five very simple hints and tips that I hope will help you look and feel great over the festive season.

1) Maximise your budget.

In the run up to the festive season almost every shop will have some kind of discount offer. It's an expensive time of year already so if you can find good deals all the better. The best way to find out about offers is to sign up to shops for their email alerts. To avoid my inbox getting clogged up I've created a second email address just for this. I check it in the evenings when the kids are in bed and shop and save from the comfort of my sofa!

2) Shop your own wardrobe.

Have a good old root through your own wardrobe and see what you already have. It's worth thinking a bit outside the box. Maybe you have a black jacket you've only ever worn to work. Could you take the jacket and pair it with a dressy top and skinny jeans for a more relaxed night out?
Pinterest can be a fantastic source of inspiration for this kind of thing but be warned it can be addictive!

3) Separates are your friend.

If you're starting from consider separates that you can mix and match. Instead of a dress why not go for a skirt and top combination? In the photo below I have picked a simple black satin skirt it could be worn with the lace top and a pair of simple heels and a clutch for a smart event. The top and heels could be worn with jeans for a more casual night and you could pair the skirt with your Christmas jumper for a comfy but dressed up look for Christmas lunch.

4) Simple clothes, statement accessories.

I love a pair of black skinny jeans with a simple black cami top and then either a black blazer or an embroidered kimono. In the below photo are some of my picks from the high street. I have invested in these basic items and wear them again and again. To change my look I rely on statement accessories. Big earrings are all over the high street and they can add a pop of colour, you can easily pick them up for under £10 so they are a cheap way to update your outfit.
My other favourite accessory is a fabulous pair of shoes and my favourites for this season are the M&S copy of Carrie Bradshaw's Manolos. They come in 2 heel heights and a number of colours and every time I see them they make me smile.

5) Stay true to you.

One thing I have learned about dressing for any event is the most important thing is to be comfortable.
For example, if you're conscious of your cleavage don't wear a neckline that you constantly have to pull up.
Also if you are heading to the shops don't worry about the number on the label. Wear the size that fits, every shop cuts things different.  If you're a size 10 in one shop and a 16 in another who cares? If it fits and makes you feel fantastic then buy it!

Happy Holidays 


See more from Sleep Deprived Style

I’ve got that hygge feeling!


I’m sure you’ve all heard the word ‘hygge’ by now but do you really know what it means and how you can incorporate it into your life?

The Oxford Dictionary definition is: 

Hygge - a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).

In other words it’s finding those little (or big) things in life that make you feel special and happy inside.It can’t be bought or forced, it just happens naturally.Often hygge is mis-understood and people believe they have to be with friends and family for it to occur.In fact, all you need to do is be present in the moment and connect with your inner self so hygge can happen anytime, even when you’re on your own.I know it sounds pretentious but it’s true!

How often do you feel like that?Probably not as often as you’d like if you’re honest.Perhaps you just don’t notice when it happens or don’t focus on it when it does?The tiniest things could trigger that hygge feeling, from seeing a beautiful orange sunset to smelling the lovely aroma of coffee brewing.It’s those simple, magic moments that count.

Now whilst the feeling can’t be forced you can certainly do things to enhance your surroundings and routines to encourage hygge to happen.

Here are some ideas you could try:

  1. Set aside a decent amount of quality time with your family and friends so you can chat and chill out together.
  2. Switch off the gadgets!You can’t engage with your inner self or other people if you’re busy looking at a screen or have headphones stuck in your ears.
  3. Make your space warm and cosy in the winter.Light a fire or some candles if you can.Have some comfy cushions and throws to soften things up.Use subtle lighting during the evening rather than bright lights.Play some suitable background music.
  4. Why not do some things together with your family such as cook and then share the meal you all prepared?
  5. Why not try being outdoors too?A lovely walk in the woods, park or on the beach can be so refreshing.Take a flask so you can stop and enjoy a cheeky hot chocolate whilst you’re out.It’s well documented that getting out into nature lifts your spirits so go an embrace it.
  6. Find something that you appreciate and build it into your regular routine.Buy flowers, have a luxurious bath or go and gaze at the stars from your garden.

Hygge is about recognising things to celebrate, not about spending money.Really simple things can make you feel amazing and give you that wonderful sense of happiness.

Go and find your hygge this Christmas!


Debbie x


Okay, I’m going to say it. The ‘C’ word. Ready? Here it comes… That’s right: ‘Christmas’.

Or should that be commercialism? Consumerism? Capitalism? Let’s face it, they’ve all pretty much grown synonymous with a religious holiday that left its true meaning long ago somewhere back at the department store.

Now, I don’t profess to be religious. So a pious rant about the commodification of peace and goodwill is probably a tad hypocritical. Even more hypocritical is the fact that I, too partake in this mercenary charade. Despite my atheistic persuasions and general distaste of all things materialistic, I do celebrate Christmas. Hell, I even buy people stuff. Invariably the kind of stuff gathering dust in the cupboard you’ve expressly reserved for what I like to call ‘miscellaneous crap’. And that’s exactly my point.

It occurred to me a few years back that so often many of us are simply swapping money in the guise of pointless and – dare I say it – unwanted gifts that are later stored away never to be seen or used again. And why? All so we can say we’ve bought each other something? I appreciate it’s the thought that counts. But honestly, how much thought seriously goes into these meaningless monetary exchanges? Judging by some of the frankly useless tat we’ve personally amassed over the years, I’d say very little. The yard of ale glass my husband received from a friend one year in particular springs to mind.

At the risk of sounding ungrateful or – heaven forbid – like Mr Scrooge himself, it seems to me that Christmas has become nothing but a facile box ticking exercise to get every friend and family member checked off on an ever growing list. And where do you draw the line? Where does the ridiculousness end?

I recall a conversation one year to such effect. We had already stretched ourselves considerably to buy for our daughter, each other, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews and grandparents. Then a family member raised the question of whether to buy presents for cousins too! It was, quite simply, moronic. And yet, every year without fail, people across the globe continue to mindlessly bankrupt themselves in the name of good cheer and merrymaking. Or should that be moneymaking? Because it strikes me that the only ones benefiting from Christmas are the retailers cashing in on our frenzied spending habits.

Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with buying gifts for my own children – or even children in the immediate family. (I’m not completely heartless). In fact, in this one regard I am more than happy to part with my money. Because I happen to believe that Christmas is all about the kids. I can’t describe the warm, fuzzy feeling I derived from seeing my daughter’s joy last year when, for the first time, she was old enough to understand the true magic of Christmas. I delighted in her wide-eyed fascination at the twinkling lights; her excitement during her first visit to see Santa and her first Christingle service. And yes, her unbridled enthusiasm on Christmas morning as she unwrapped the first of many, many presents. But importantly, those countless gifts had not eclipsed all of those other simple festive pleasures. Her newfound love of Christmas songs; her first taste of homemade mince pies: these were as special to her as any of the presents that Santa had bestowed. Seeing it through her eyes, I vicariously rediscovered the magic that seems so lost on us adults, having been driven out by the inane pressures of commercialism. Keeping that magic alive for my children is where my priorities lie – not with filling the stockings of adult friends and relatives.

Every year, I vow that enough is enough. I find myself repeating the same awkward conversations from the years before, always with the same tiresome outcomes. My proposed ‘no more presents’ policy is shot down time and again and we’re roped into another year of crippling – and entirely unnecessary – extravagance. Family members have in the past reassured me that “it doesn’t matter if you don’t get us anything; we’d like to buy you a present. We’re not expecting anything in return.” I always want to explain how infuriatingly unhelpful that is. Despite the outwardly magnanimous gesture, this simply obliges us to do the same – whether the other person intends that or not. I recently heard money man Martin Lewis on This Morning saying “the best gift you can give someone at Christmas is releasing them from the obligation to buy you something.” And honestly, I couldn’t agree more.

Friends, family, being with the people you love and care about the most; those are the things that really matter. Which is why I find a generic set of smellies from someone I’ve seen perhaps just once or twice in the whole year more than a little ironic. So please, let’s stop the senseless overspending and focus on the really important stuff. After all, spending time with your loved ones costs a lot less – and says a whole lot more.


By Mummy Muddling Through


Bah, Humbug!

This year Christmas will be very different for me, last year I was pregnant and waiting for the imminent arrival of my first baby then I had a massive get out of jail free card for any Christmas expectations.He arrived on the 17th of December and entered this world via C-section so my card became even bigger.Now I have no excuse and also a first birthday on my hands close to Christmas.I know I’m going to love every second but I need to simplify things as I am also now back to work.Whilst I like to think of myself as wonder woman I know the reality will be more like mombie on a lot of coffee. So here are some hacks that I have resourced and thought I would share to make any parents life easier because, hey we can all do with a helping hand!


  1. Plan in advance: This may sound like a simple one but it helps if you know what’s on your list and stick to it.I’m forever wondering round shops aimlessly looking for a present but if you do a bit of web searching whilst trapped under a sleeping child it may make the shopping trips less painful. (thanks Amazon Prime)
  2. Spread the cost: To go with planning in advance it’s also useful to pick up little presents when you see them.We all love a bargain and if you spot something perfect earlier on in the year and maybe even in the sale this can help the spend out in December
  3. Homemade gifts: I don’t know about your present receivers but I have a lot in my circle that are a sucker for a homemade gift or photo in a frame- I say monopolise this now while your kids are cute and before the novelty wears off.I’m still trying to persuade the husband to make a Christmas card as a family but trying to keep the 10 month old and the dog still together may not be worth the card it is printed on.
  4. Different wrapping paper: If you have more than one little one or even if you want to distinguish presents use different wrapping paper. This makes it so much easier separating presents whilst the excitement of unwrapping is happening.I do wonder wear you draw the line though, especially when I’m wrapping the husbands in Marvel paper. 
  5. Secret Santa: This is always a great one to spread the cost amongst your present receivers.If this is something that would work for you it will save lots of money and everyone will get one well thought out gift.
  6. Food Prep: We all know getting the stuff ready for the Christmas dinner feels us all with dread, because hey it’s hard work on a normal day for your small tribe let alone adding in all the extended people that may come. I personally feel that for this one day I can afford to stretch to a bit of prepared veg.If it’s not something that speaks to you then look out for the vegetable deals that your local Aldi or Lidl is advertising. Oooh I do love a Lidl bargain.
  7. Second Hand: There is nothing wrong with shopping on Facebay or in your local Littlepickles market. I love looking for the bargains that I can get and my little one gets to reuse the toy at a fraction of the cost it could have been bought brand new.There is nothing more satisfying than winning a bid on Ebay!
  8. Book advent Calendar: My little one loves a good (that’s not my) book. So, this year for his advent calendar I have sourced 25 second hand books that we can open every evening before he goes to bed and read the story.I have wrapped the Christmas ones close to the end.

So there they are! My top hacks to adding a little help to your life in the run up to Christmas.Do let me know if there are any tips that you use to make your life easier at this crazy time.


Karly Harvey

(Blogger, wife and winging it mum of one)

Survival Hacks for Christmas as a Parent

See more from Karly Harvey



 

I love Christmas! Not just because it's a great excuse to eat too much and not be judged on the amount of baileys you consume, but also because it's an ideal time to create special memories with my son Ted. Whilst he may be a little young to understand the concept, some activities are a great way to help his development and the keepsakes you can make will last a life time. 

As a special needs teacher, I'm all about messy play and ideas that help a child's learning whilst keeping it fun! Below are a few ideas of activities and keepsakes that your little one will love and you will too because as we know, apart from the food and drink (did I mention baileys milkshake?!) there's nothing better than seeing your kids enjoying the build up to Christmas! 


Christmas sensory bag. 

Using a clear plastic wallet, fill with a range of items and clear shower gel and seal. This will provide lots of squishing Fun! I have made one with Pom poms  to decorate a Christmas tree and another that shows snow balls on a dark night.


Santa hand prints. 

These make fantastic keepsakes and wonderful presents and if you're on a budget, it's ideal! Once the salt dough is made you can make handprints and decorate. Recipe, instructions and more ideas for these types of keepsakes can be found on my Facebook page. 


Messy play tray. 

Fill a tray with lots of Christmas themed fun, it can be anything from a sensory tray full of smells (cinnamon, pine cones etc.) or items associated with Christmas to prompt discussion and questions. Fake snow (recipe on my page) for messy play will provide hours of fun. I have used lots of tinsel and items with different texture to explore. 



Get ready for Festive Creativity!

Non messy canvas painting. 

This is a great gift to give to loved ones and what's even better is that it's not messy! With the help of cling film, your child can squidge away and make a fabulous painting for a present. 


Gingerbread dough and story. 

Fill your house with the gorgeous smell of gingerbread as you make gingerbread dough (recipe on my page) and let your child use tools to roll and cut and make gingerbread biscuits to decorate. Read the story and allow their imagination to run wild. 


Bear hunt day. 

Many of my students at school love 'Going on a bear hunt' and one day we had a bear hunt day. We had lots of fun making a cave where the (teddy) bear was sat waiting for us after a visit to the woods where we picked up leaves, played in mud, splashed in puddles and enjoyed reading the story. You can finish the day by watching the tv adaptation snuggled on the sofa with a hot chocolate- perfect! 


If you would like to see more ideas and activities please check out my Facebook page 'Kate and Teds excellent adventure'. 


Merry Christmas! 

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Why it’s important that your kids get outside in the winter months

You wake up on a Saturday morning and the weather is cold and wet. Do you:

      a.  Quickly plan for some indoor play activities for your kids? or

      b.  Get them dressed in their warm clothes, wellies and waterproofs and head out for some 
           puddle splashing?

I’d say many of us would probably choose option a? It’s tempting during the winter months to spend more time inside but it’s important to our children that we get out just a bit and, with a bit of preparation and the right kit, it can be positively beneficial for our kids and ourselves.

Housebound Brits

Recent research shows that British children are amongst the most housebound in the world – with three quarters spending less time outside than prisoners - less than half an hour a day!

Alarmingly, more than one in nine children in England hasn’t set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for at least 12 months and one in five British parents interviewed said that on a typical day their children didn’t go outside at all!

When quizzed about their children’s lack of outdoor time, parents cited the weather as the main reason. The British weather is far from ideal but are our winters really worse than those in Scandinavia or Canada? It seems to me that something else is going on.

Why is time outdoors so important?

I believe time spent outdoors and connected to nature, should be given the same level of priority when caring for children as their academic education. I believe it is good for them and good for their parents.

Good for them

Studies show how vital it is that children have regular access to green spaces, with proven benefits including:

  • enhanced brain development, 
  • improved concentration, 
  • mental health and wellbeing, 
  • staying fit and healthy.

Recent research from the World Economic Forum even shows that children who have regular ‘free play’ outdoors are more likely to do better at school. It isn’t easy getting our children up and into school five days per week but most of us do it. Why do we choose to forego something that is every bit as beneficial for their health and future wellbeing? 

Good for you

My own practical research into this subject – I have been that parent who can’t get their kids outside in a morning – backs the above up. After dealing with too much cabin fever I’ve decided my two sons and I HAVE to go out every day - for all of our sanity! Even if it’s just a walk or cycle to the local shops, spending time outdoors calms all of us and puts us in a better frame of mind. My boys are so much happier and fight less when they’ve spent time outdoors, they often don’t even ask to watch TV when we get home if they’ve had a good stint outside! 


How to get them outside in the winter

So how do we get our recalcitrant children and selves away from the TV, games console and warm, warm fire and out and about for the next few months?

Talk it up

How much children WANT to play outside has a lot to do with how we, their parents, perceive the natural world and the interest we take in it: if children are taken on family outings to forests or parks they’re more likely to take an interest in the natural world themselves. 

Similarly, how we TALK about the weather in front of our children will make a significant difference to how they perceive it. If it’s raining and freezing for example, we have a habit in this country of talking the weather down. Forcing ourselves to say something like ‘it’s a dressing up warm day today! Let’s bring a flask of hot chocolate with us to the park!” portrays the weather in a more positive light and makes us feel positive about it too!

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing

Investing in some sturdy full body waterproofs and some warm clothes for your kids during the winter months will help them feel more comfortable. But importantly get some for yourself as well - I feel the cold but I invested in a warm down jacket last year and now I can spend a lot longer standing in the park waiting for my boys before wanting to go home!

Have a list of things to do

Your time outdoors could involve anything from bike riding, gardening, visiting national trust sites or local forests and parks, playing ball games, going for a hike, going on nature scavenger hunts, playing in a playground, exploring a city or just deciding to walk somewhere instead of driving or getting public transport. Going outdoors doesn’t have to mean doing more: it can just mean approaching your schedule differently. 

I recently set up a blog and facebooktwitter and instagram pages to share nature and outdoor ideas and activities to help inspire families to get their children outdoors. Please join me on any of them and I’d love to hear your ideas about ways to connect children with nature and get them outdoors more! 

I’m also shortly going to be launching a monthly subscription box aimed at getting children more connected with nature, Each box will include two seasonal activities: one gardening and one nature craft- along with instructions, quizzes and games aimed at teaching children about nature. If you’re interested and to receive 50% off your first two boxes visit www.mudandbloom.com 

WHO’S VOICE DO YOU MISS?

WHO’S STORIES WOULD YOU LIKE TO KEEP?

Listening to someone talk about their experiences is much more powerful than reading about it; this is why I create unique digital audio records of people’s memories, personal stories or messages as a permanent keepsake for themselves or to leave as a legacy for future generations.

The idea of personalised recordings first came to me as I remembered the stories my grandmother used to tell of her own childhood over 100 years ago. It made me think how life has changed and that those experiences are what shaped Grandmother’s life and ultimately mine. Sad to think that all those personal memories are lost I wondered what to do about saving mine. It came to me that as a producer of audiobooks and radio programmes, I already had the equipment and know how needed to make quality recordings of people’s voices and so Croft Productions was born.

As a means of celebrating my Grandson’s first birthday I produced a CD which included several generations of Fin’s family talking about their personal memories of the first year of his life. Some of us talked about the day he was born, how we felt and the hopes we have for his future. Listening back you can hear the emotion in our voices and it always brings a little tear to my eye. The recording also includes the sounds of Fin playing with some of his favourite musical toys and his ‘chatter’. Both Fin and his parents will be able to listen back over the following years to this reminder of a special year in their lives.

I’ve now worked on several projects; however the one closest to my heart and most precious to me includes my Parents reminiscing about their lives. I learnt that my Grandmother decided to ‘modernise’ a tin bath when my Mum was a child and Mum was the first to use it. You can imagine what happened to the paint when the bath was filled with hot water – yes, it must have softened because Mum says she got stuck to the bath. Dad talked about an experience he had when he was a baby, one of the farm horses picked him up by the blanket he was wrapped in and carried him around the field held up by its teeth. These are little snippets of my parents’ lives that they’d never thought to tell me. Funnily enough, I also learnt some interesting things from when I was a baby, for instance how my Mother wasn’t allowed to take me into one old lady’s house in our village until I’d been christened.When we did finally get to visit I was given, to take home, a raw egg, a piece of silver and some salt. (Coin for future wealth, salt for preservation and egg for new life)

Both of my parents have since died but I have a permanent record of their voices which is so very precious to me. 

Now you know why, this is how……. I aim to make the experience as stress free and rewarding as possible for my clients. All I ask is that they do a little thinking in advance of the topics they want to talk about and perhaps prepare themselves some notes. I can send some “prompt” sheets if asked; these are purely to give some ideas of subjects they might want to mention. I then arrive at the prearranged venue with a small professional recorder which is arranged in an unobtrusive place as possible and either sit quietly whilst the client reminisces and recounts memories or, if preferred, will prompt with one or two questions if this helps. I then go away and edit out any long gaps or interruptions to make it sound free flowing and as natural as possible. At this stage music or pre-recorded sound effects can be added if desired. The finished project is put onto a USB memory stick and delivered in its presentation case.

For You – A record of your own memories and recollections

For Sharing – Sending a message to a loved one.

Forever – A permanent memento.


usb-preentation-2

I hope you find this interesting and if you’d like to know more, perhaps about giving someone you love this opportunity as a gift or indeed to record your own story, then please check out the website www.croftproductions.co.uk or give me a call on 07587 200 300.

Viv

CROFT PRODUCTIONS - Connecting People’s Lives.

I have changed the topic of this latest article because I had hoped to share my experience of the NHS Quality Surveillance Team Neonatal Peer Review at Warwick Hospital which I was due to attend in October. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend due to illness, and I was devastated to have missed out. But that is life isn’t it? 

As the title suggests, Life after loss is full of Milestones, Days, Weeks, Months, Dates, Anniversaries, A lot of firsts. First Birthday, First Christmas, First Anniversary. But unlike ‘normal motherhood’ these milestones are filled with a whole lot of Love, and the same what should have beens. Dates are my thing, and it struck me the other day that we are fast approaching 18 months, and this realisation has hit me like a led balloon. It has really taken the wind out of my sails. Just as life has settled down, Boom, something else strikes. 

How has it been 18 months since our baby boy was born, and died? It was only a few weeks ago. In 6 months it will be 2 years. Yet life still feels new, raw, different. Our new normal is still in the making, and I suppose it will be this way forever. So it seems rather appropriate that the main part of Joshua and Dragonflies project should start to come together on 1 November 2017. 

On 1 November, I will be going into Neonatal at The Princess Anne, where Joshua was born and died, and I will be refreshing the room with home comforts, assuming that is that no one is using the room for the reasons we were. I hope with every fibre of my body we are able to have access to the room. It would break my heart knowing another family are experiencing what we did 18 months later. 

I am very pleased with the purchases so far, and I hope the look is everything I imagined and more. We have bought a Tassimo machine, towels, bedlinen, cushions, mugs and so on. All these things are such a huge comfort during the trauma. And I look forward to sharing the progress next time. 

Joshua and Dragonflies is taking a new turn, and already starting to generate more income to ensure that the room remains fresh and loved. We have now got products for sale where every penny of profit is being reinvested in the room. We currently have hoodies, t-shirts and mugs. 6 of these mugs will be given to Neonatal, and have already proved very popular, which is incredibly heart warming. Please contact us if you would like to purchase any 😉. 

I have always said, that I wanted something positive to come out of our loss, and some days I question how anything can. But Joshua’s short life will have an impact on families in the future, that is the reason Joshua and Dragonflies was formed. 

It is a strange time, I do feel that a reasonable amount of ‘normality’ has returned to life, although I still question how can this be. But simultaneously I also feel numb. 

We survived our first Christmas without Joshua, the shattered dreams, the broken imaginings, and I thought I would dread this year, but interestingly I am starting to feel a little excited about it. I do not expect this feeling to stay, a wave will crash over me at some point where everything remotely Christmassy will probably make me want to run and hide under the nearest object forever, but I hope it will return. For now I am embracing it. 

This article is not formulating how I want it to, for some reason today, I just can’t seem to find the words, but I have come to accept that is all part of life after loss. Happiness, is relative. I am not as happy as I once was, but I am happier than I was a year ago. I am my own greatest critic, and expect a lot. But the New Me, isn’t what it was, and so again, I am starting to cut myself a little slack. Our current project is one of these examples. Every element of the plan will not be in place next week, but in some ways this is a positive, as it will keep my mind focused on achieving the next step. 

Having a focus is vital for me, to help me find my new normal, and to keep my head above water. I do sometimes drown in the depths of grief, and this is ok too. In fact it’s more than ok. It is necessary. So for now I will focus on 28 October, and the following 1 November, 18 months since we last held, kissed and even saw our baby. All else being well, I shall endeavour to do his memory justice and feel close to him in the last place I saw him. 

Instagram @JoshuaAndDragonflies

Facebook /JoshuaAndDragonflies

Joshua & Dragonflies - Milestones

I set up Mum plus One because I’m on a mission to get mums more active!

 

As a mum of two little ones I know how important it is to be fit and healthy to keep up with them, but also understand how difficult it can be to find the opportunity to exercise properly. 


I realised that exercise needs to be more easily accessible to mums and qualified as a pre/postnatal exercise instructor so I can run specialist classes that mums can bring their babies and toddlers along to.  Some mums also bring their dogs to the walking class!  

 

For mums who can't get to classes I offer a Virtual Fitness Training scheme so they can workout with  my support at home.

 

Mum plus One is designed to provide you with fun and relaxed mummy-friendly workouts that will improve not only your physical fitness but also your mental well-being.

  

Debbie Lucas

It's the most wonderful time of the year!


So why not let your children get creative and make their own decorations?  


With a little imagination and a few bits and bobs you can make some lovely things.  


Here are a couple of simple ideas you could try...

Find out more about classes
and virtual fitness

Little lives needing little journeys...

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Princess Anne Hospital Southampton cares for and retrieves sick preterm and newborn infants from around the Wessex region in the UK. The unit currently has 37 cots, with plans to expand!  Every day there are sick babies who need to be transferred from the neonatal unit at Princess Anne Hospital across the road to our Southampton Children’s Hospital for specialist treatment or medical investigations.  

We are currently fundraising for a specially adapted ambulance which can be used to transport sick or preterm babies. The ambulance will cost £120,000 to purchase, and we have already raised a phenomenal £70,000 from existing supporters of the unit through Southampton Hospital Charity. We are now desperate to reach our final target and use the ambulance for our youngest patients. 

Freya Pearson (Lead Neonatal Consultant) comments: “This specialist ambulance will be a huge boost to the service and will make an enormous difference in the provision of care for hundreds of sick babies and their families every year. It will enhance the service we can provide by: ensuring that we spend less time making arrangements for these transfers · enabling us to provide a more streamlined service using our own staff who already know the babies and their families allowing us to continue to provide the full intensive care that the babies need from the unit and back. Amongst the many advantages provided by the new ambulance are the inclusion of specialist transport equipment, greatly increased storage capacity for medical gases, much improved electrical power to support specialist medical equipment, additional seating for family members or nursing/medical staff and the availability of a specialist transport vehicle ready for immediate departure for time critical intensive care transfers.

Thank you your support will make a difference to our babies and their families.”    

To donate please click here to
visit the JustGiving page

Top Tips for taking photos of your children this Christmas

I often get asked about taking photos of your children and the best way to go about it.Now most people, if not everyone I speak to, has a mobile phone these days, which can have a pretty decent camera.My tips below work no matter what you use, be it your own DSLR, a point-and-shoot or your phone.Even as a professional photographer, I will literally grab whatever is next to me at the time, as you can get brilliant shots from your phone.

Tip 4 - Shoot and shoot and shoot! 

Take loads and loads of photos.When snapping away with children, particularly very young children, you just don’t know what’s going to happen, you can’t predict their next moment, so always be ready.You don’t want to be missing out on a special photo because their eyes were half closed either.When you take a photo, take at least 3 if not 5 in a short burst, to ensure you have one which will capture the moment best.Also, with groups of children, it can be difficult to have everyone looking either at the camera or capturing them best in that moment, so just keep snapping!

Tip 1 - Get Down

And yes, I mean literally!Some of my favourite photos are taken from getting right down, to the height of your little ones.It also seems to make them feel much more comfortable in front of the camera with having you at their height.You get such a different perspective from shooting low and the composition most often is better, as it can create more of a background and gives further story to the picture.

Tip 3 - Shoot the details

As I mentioned before, mobile phone cameras are so sophisticated now, most are able to do Macro shots.Now a macro shot is where you get up close and personal to get details.Try it with your phone now, using your nail.You should have your nail in focus and a lovely blurriness to your background, which is called a Bokeh effect.Now see how close you can get before you lose detail and focus on your nail.You may have to tap the screen where you would like the focus to go, if it keeps focusing on your back ground.Now as a photographer, I like to tell stories and my favourite bit when creating my photobooks for clients is looking back over the detail shots.These can be with your children where you close in on a part of the scene, i.e. a smile, a hand, their eyes.It can also be details around you, your child’s favourite toy at that time or your child’s creation (which they may have left half completed as their attention was taken away by something else!).You will look back and be grateful you can remember these details, which may otherwise have gone forgotten.

Tip 5 - Use natural light

For the best photos find a place with as much natural light as possible.Outside is great but if you don’t have that option, then try to let the light indoors as much as you can, without turning lights on.You want to be taking photos with the light coming in from a window to the side of you or behind you (the person taking the photograph), if you can do this without coursing a shadow to fall on your subject!This way, it will be easier to capture sharper photos of your subject, even if they are moving.There are exceptions to the rules and rules can obviously be broken in a fun way! (see title photo).

Tip 2 – Play! 

I always say to my clients that you won’t hear me say “Now look at the camera and say CHEESE everyone!!”This results in photos which have forced smiles, there’s no interest to them and they become generic.My favourite thing to do is set up an activity for the children to do, be it painting a picture, their reaction to a bubble machine (every child loves bubbles) or get them outside and let them run about, kick a ball and play.They will have so much fun, they won’t notice you snapping away and you’re sure to get lots of photos with glorious genuine smiles.Also, you’ve created a memory of happiness for them and a story to go with the photo.

Tip 7 - The child is boss!(Patience) 

Sometimes children don’t want their photo taken.Sometimes they will “allow” you to take their photo but they won’t want to smile or sit where you’ve asked them or kick the ball/do the activity you have planned for them.In these cases, patience is needed.Don’t force it, the photos will never be good and why would you want to be reminded of a time like that!?Best thing to do, either put the camera down and wait for another time or wait for the kids to be distracted by something else and take candid detail shots until they cotton on to you!

Tip 10 - Print your photos! 

Ok so this is less of a tip, more of a reminder…...print those wonderful memories you have taken the time to snap!

We are living more and more in a digital world and I know it’s great sharing your photo’s online but having your photos printed is where the magic really is.They come alive when they are printed.You could even save them all up and create an annual photobook of your favourites throughout the year.They also make fantastic gifts for the grandparents, aunties and uncles!

I hope you have enjoyed these tips and put them into practise.I would love to see the photos you take over the Christmas time.If you are particularly proud of a picture and you are on Instagram, add the Hashtag #LACapturetips and I will check them out and feature my favourite on my Instagram account @LACapture1.Also, if you liked what you read here, sign up to my Newsletter over at www.lacapture.co.uk, where I send out more tips like this and loads more information to help you capture the wonderful moments in life.

Louise x

Tip 6 - Use negative space/keep it simple 

A composition tip for you would be to think about negative space and rule of thirds.Composition is a big subject so I can’t go into it now, but this can work well in close ups and further away.Negative space is the space around the subject and when using it to its artistic advantage, it can bring great balance to a photo.Rule of thirds is where you split the image into thirds and place something of interest on those lines.This means rather than placing your subject slap bang in the middle, place them to either side or up or down and see how you feel about the photos, as this can tend to create more energy and tension to the photo.

Tip 8 – Selfies
I know these have become a big thing in recent years and I think I can hear some of you groan reading that title, as they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but bear with me.I’m not talking about the kind where you’re just showing the make-up look you have that day or putting a Snapchat filter on, I’m talking about getting your kids involved and even letting them press the magic button that takes the photo.Trust me, they love it!Have fun with it, they may not turn out exactly right but you will get some completely genuine smiles from those little cherubs.Also get stuck in and get yourself in there. If you’re anything like me, being the photographer of the family, you don’t tend to actually feature in the photos that much and it is nice to look back and see yourself in the memories as well sometimes!

Tip 9 - Not all about smiles

Christmas can be a fantastically chaotic time and as a lifestyle photographer and portrait photographer, I want to try and capture all the moments, especially at Christmas.For my family, it’s the time of year where friends and family get together, where children are either frantically ripping open all the wonderful presents they have received or running around manically on a sugar/food induced high.Step back and snap away at those times, as these are some of my favourite moments to capture.It’s the spirit of Christmas for me!


Fit for life, not fit for fad

OK, so we’ve all done it.

Made that New Year’s resolution to get fit and lose some weight. We go into January all guns blazing feeling ready to take on the world and everything it can throw at us. We cut out the booze, find a diet that appeals to us (usually the one promising the quickest results) and hit the gym hard. After the first week we are starving hungry, aching badly and feeling rubbish. After 2 weeks we start flagging and suddenly slimming and getting fit seems a lot less important. Our then find enthusiasm wains and we slip back into our old ways. Now we have to deal with the feelings of guilt and failure before the first month of the year is even over. What sort of start is that?

I believe that we have a tendency to set totally unrealistic goals about our health and fitness so failure is inevitable. We seem to forget that there are no miracle diets or exercises that can get us looking and feeling fantastic in just a couple of weeks. If you want to lose weight and improve your fitness you need to set sensible targets to achieve over a longer period of time. You should be aiming to get fit for life not just as a New Year fad.

Think of weight loss in terms of around 1-2 pounds per week if you eat healthily and perform moderate/vigorous exercise for at least 30 mins 5 days per week and strength exercises 2 days a week. You need a balanced approach which is sustainable over a long period in order to see the results you are after and then to maintain them. If you fad diet and exercise you might get results quickly but as soon as you revert to normal you will regain your weight and lose your fitness. Why waste all of that effort? You should aim to be fit for life by making manageable changes to your food intake and fitness routines.

There are lots of ways to exercise so explore what’s out there and find what suits you best. You don’t have to be clad in lycra and feel awkward at the gym! There are indoor and outdoor fitness classes, various dance sessions, personal trainers, DVDs, internet and virtual fitness training (where you are designed a personal training plan to follow at home with the remote support of an instructor), to name but a few. You can also just get out there for a run or walk, play tennis, golf, rowing, swimming, the list is endless! If you are pregnant or have just had a baby there are pre/postnatal instructors running specialist classes too as it’s very important to stay fit during pregnancy and to aid recovery afterwards.

So once you have chosen what you want to do, go and give it a go! Get those feel-good hormones flowing, boost your energy levels, increase your metabolic rate and help your body work more efficiently. You CAN do it!

My tips for sticking with it are:

  • Make sure you have fun as the more you enjoy it the more you'll want to do it.
  • Mix and match what you do so it doesn't become boring and repetitive.
  • Make sure you vary sessions each week to get a balance between cardio and strength training.
  • Have a training partner or someone to provide you with lots of support and encouragement (this can be a partner, friend, family member, class teacher, gym instructor, personal trainer, etc).
  • Schedule exercise time in your diary the same as any other appointment.
  • Keep a diary of what you have done and how you feel so you can see your progress.
  • If you want to track your weight loss, only weigh yourself once a week. You could also take measurements of your chest, waist, upper arms, upper thighs and calves. Remember that you may not lose weight every week as your body goes through changes and develops more muscle.
  • Drink plenty of water (around 8 glasses a day) to help flush out toxins and rehydrate you. Drink more when you are exercising.
  • If you have a baby or children at home you could either ask someone to look after them for you or find a class that allows you to bring them along.

As well as having a structured fitness plan to follow you can make some very simple changes to your daily life which will help to burn off more calories such as:

  • Walking instead of driving to your local shops or dropping the kids at school.
  • Put some music on and have a boogie whilst you do your housework.
  • Don’t just sit in front of the tv for hours – every time there’s an advert break get up and do some squats, lunges, run on the spot, star jumps, plank position, press ups, etc.
  • If you need to go upstairs for something, go up and down the stairs twice.
  • Get your kids involved and take them for a walk or run around in the park or garden.
  • Think about your posture all the time, pull in your tummy, shoulders back and relaxed, head up.
  • Incorporate some squats and lunges into your daily chores like when sorting washing or tidying up your kids toys.

So, if you've previously made a start on the “New You” but have fallen foul of the fad approach, now is the time to take a step back and look at what you can adjust to make a long-term plan work this coming January. If you’re really not sure where to start try taking a look at some of the NHS guidelines at http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/fitness/Pages/Fitnesshome.aspx or contact me for some advice.

(Please remember that you are advised to speak to your GP before undertaking any new exercise regimes, especially if you have a medical condition).

If you have any stories or comments about New Year’s fitness resolutions, sticking to a fitness plan, successes or failures at fitness, or anything else you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Debbie Lucas
Mum plus One


mumplusone@fastmail.co.uk
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visit the full article at: http://thehershamhub.co.uk/new-year-new-you/fit-for-life-not-fit-for-fad/

January is just around the corner so some of you might be thinking about your New Year's Resolutions already.  If you decide you need to get fitter, shape up, lose weight or simply be more active, here are some tips that might help...

Thanks for taking the time to read this special edition of The Mum E-mag.  I hope you've enjoyed the variety of content and it's helped to put you in a festive mood ready for your seasonal celebrations.

If you have any comments or feedback, please do get in touch as I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, Season's Greetings to each and every one of you!


Debbie x

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