Reasons to be Cheerful

I'm struggling a lot lately, be it depression, pregnancy, hormones, whatever, I want to call it I guess. I am trying to be kind to myself, but it is always so much easier to blame myself.
But damn it! I will not be beaten, so here are this week's reasons to be cheerful.

My old camera, a digital compact Canon PowerShot A470, died recently and I was lost without it. I bought a cheap camera as a replacement, but it was never going to be a long relationship. I enjoy photography too much to put up with bad quality images! So this week I (along with my trusty Google) managed to repair it. However, I also used the opportunity of a broken camera to read up on reviews for Digital SLRs. I have wanted one for a while, but couldn't afford or justify it, especially not with a baby on the way. 
And then it happened...

I saw a second hand shop selling three Digital SLR kits within my budget. As with most things I buy, I have my usual go to sites for reviews and tech stuff, I am a blatant out and proud geek. 
I did it. I actually only went and bought it! Eeek! 
Now looking forward to figuring out all the extra features *grins*.

Open University
Registration for Open University courses for October opened. I have registered for a new module, just waiting for confirmation of financial support. I don't need the points, but I do need the experience for the next level. I have also requested places on two short courses in between my current course ending and this one starting. I am not sure I will get either of these as I need financial support, and it seems quite complicated because I am not a new student, but I have applied, so just have to wait and see *crosses fingers*.

Pregnancy Massages
I continue to have pregnancy massages, which are beneficial to me, physically and mentally, and also to baby. 

Groovy Mum's Post

I am starting to look after myself better, mainly due to pregnancy, but I hope to continue after the baby is born. I am eating a bit rubbish at the moment, heartburn is a b1tch! I am conscious of it, so am trying to get back to healthier eating. 
I am also continuing with my pregnancy massages, they are great for mind, body, and baby.

Mind & Blogs
I am enjoying reading other blogs, especially pregnancy and mummy related ones. I am pleased to be part of the Groovy Mums blog hop and promise to do better to link up. Kate (Kate On Thin Ice) is an inspiration and a lady I enjoy talking to.
I am pleased that some of the bloggers I nominated for Brilliance in Blogging Awards have been shortlisted. Please do check out the list and vote. Voting is open until Monday April 30, 2012 at 17:00 GMT.

This isn't an area I focus on. I enjoy religion theoretically, but not spiritually. I know religion is very important to some, so I am happy for this category to be included, even if I do just skip over it. 

Charity Connections
Do think about supporting National Daffodil Month and raising funds for the Marie Curie nurses. 
In the past I have raised money for Diabetes UK, SANE, and St Gemma's through a variety of ways.
I recently blogged about a charity cycle ride for RNIB and this is something I may continue to do in future blog posts.

Special Days
It is National Bed Month and you can find out more on good sleep by clicking here. I have previously blogged about problems with sleeping, and am currently suffering quite badly with insomnia. I feel undermined and not listened to when I mention it now, I mean I'm pregnant surely I'm not meant to sleep anyway...?

The Big Question – Why do you set limits for yourself?  Are you setting them too low? 
I am an expert in self sabotage and during recent weeks this has been evident. I have little faith in my own abilities at times, but I must have them, I get good positive feedback on my creative writing and have been chosen to be involved in So You Want To Be A... Writer

HiPP Baby Club & Competition

A quick Google of baby clubs or pregnacy sites will bring up an ever increasing list of helpful websites, offers, discounts, etc. I'm an advocate of and used the site to see what people thought about the websites before I joined up.
I joined up with quite a few and have to say I have been disappointed with some. 

A new contender to these sites is the Baby Club. It is run by HiPP Organic
What does it offer I hear you cry! 

As a member, you can enjoy all this for FREE

  • Personalised baby calendar
  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Regular baby development emails
  • FREE 1st year record book
  • Expert advice at every stage
  • A-Z of pregnancy & baby health
  • Chat to other mums and health experts in the HiPP Chat forum
  • FREE HiPP Organic samples and money off coupons
For me, I have been rather relient on the internet for pregangcy information. As it's my first baby I have also enjoyed reading the weekly updates about baby's development by following your baby's growth on your very own personal development page. Some women (and fathers too) read everything they can possible digest. I haven't read any books as there is more than enough information in the weekly emails for me, but I do like being able to log on to the site and ask questions. And believe me there are a lot of random questions that have cropped up! You can ask a midwife, a health visitor, a nutritionist, HiPP's Customer Service manager directly or ask on the forums if it is less specific. A lot of the ladies on the forums are going through the same as you, have been, or are trying to negoitate another way around it. They are a great support and a laugh too.

There are lots of helpful hints and tips, what to buy lists, what to pack for hospital, what to eat and what to avoid information. The foods guide for pregnancy can be printed out to keep handy, especially when those cravings kick in. The recipes for pregnant mums is a nice touch.

The Getting ready for your arrival section is going to be very useful for me in the coming weeks, as it includes:

There are lots of charts and tools for the new mum, and those a good few months in. HiPP offer a free HiPP Organic weaning starter pack (when baby reaches 17 weeks old) plus exclusive offers for joining. 

The HiPP Baby Club is open to those living in the UK and pregnant and/or have a child under 12 months of age. Once registered, Baby Club is available for you to use up to and including your child's 5th birthday.

You can join the HiPP Baby Club here.
And find out all about HiPP Organic here, including competitions, updates, etc.

In conjunction with HiPP I am pleased to offer a new competition. One winner will receive a goody bag of HiPP Organic Baby Food containing:
A selection of jars (3)
Creamy Porridge (1)
Fruit Pots (1 box of 4)
Fruit Pouches (2)

Baby's are expensive?

When I first found out I was pregnant one of my immediate thoughts was 'how the hell am I going to afford everything?!'
And if I'm being honest, 30 weeks later, I am still feeling something similar. 

The government had stopped the Health in Pregnancy Grant at the beginning of last year. And the new Healthy Start vouchers and the Sure Start Maternity grant don't apply to me because I get contribution based benefits, not income related. Although it would mean the same amount of money physically, income related benefits do act as gateway benefits. But because I have paid tax, and in Iain Duncan Smith's words I am getting 'something for something', I am entitled to **** all (*insert own word).
Bizarrely the government would have covered the cost of NHS treatment for an abortion.

Add in to this that the government also expect me to be looking for work. I'm claiming Employment & Support Allowance as not been well enough to work, which was the result of a tribunal process I don't ever want to have to go through again. Initially I was happy to be finally accepted on to the work program, but as usual I'm beginning to think its a thinly disguised excuse to waste money. I actually felt rather bullied at my last appointment. I don't feel having to constantly justify myself to them is helping anyone, especially when I am just repeating myself.

Oh yeah, and just out of interest, any employers want to employ someone who cannot commit to longer than eight weeks (at a push) and then need to be replaced as on maternity leave?

What are my Reasons To Be Cheerful today?

I am late in the day posting this, purely because I was too busy studying today, but I am so glad I held off, as I have exciting news to share!

I received an email today from Alex Chisholm, Associate Director (Literary), at West Yorkshire Playhouse who informed me that I had been selected to be in this year’s So You Want To Be A... Writer.
One of last week's Reasons To Be Cheerful, was that I had applied, although I wasn't sure how well I had come across in my letter. Well I now have my answer, and that was good enough! I'm so excited, I cannot wait to receive the letter with the details. I'm sure it's a journey I will be sharing with you.

On Sunday, I celebrated my first Mother's Day (premature I know). I received a card and a lovely necklace from Princess Bump, I was almost in tears, so unexpected and lovely.

Assignments and study. I am almost up to date with studying again, and with the baby due in ten weeks, I need to get a move on with the other assignments, I am feeling positive about two ideas, I am currently working on for the next one, the other maybe used for a later assignment. I am confident that I will get through the next two OK, but the exam is the one I am worrying about! *laughs* But I am feeling positive about the next one (or two) and that's great, right?

Getting My Groove On!

A Groovy Mum's blog post

I am still trying carve my own piece of grooviness out in the world. What have I being doing to achieve this?

Mind - I am still working on my OU Creative Writing course. I have received marks and feedback for 3 assignments so far, all positive. Irritatingly I still question my where my strengths lie, and to be honest if I have any! The marks should be encouraging but as an expert in self sabotage , I struggle to accept that I am not the student I once was. The days of A grades and encouraging feedback are long gone, now it is about constructive feedback. My tutor summed it by saying he is not their to like or dislike us, but purely to provide criticism that will help us develop. I know I am paraphrasing, but the point remains.

I still have two more assignments and then a final examinable assignment, the last of which is due at the end of the course, two days before bay's estimated delivery date. So I need to push on and get the work finished, so if she does come early I am ready. Not that I think I can halt the delivery to say, 'wait, I need to submit an assignment!'.

I am already looking at the next course. I want to continue to do the next 2 courses in creative writing, but need further points at Level 2 if I want to apply for a BA / BSc Hons Open degree. So I'm currently thinking about my options there. I'm not sure where I want to go, and the work program isn't being as helpful as I hoped. I am now in the process of creating ideas of where I want to go and what I want to do. 

In an ideal world, I would love to be an full time author, but I'm not sure I have enough faith in my abilities. Although I obviously believe I have the ability! Self sabotage again!

Body - I am continuing to have pregnancy massages by the lovely Karen, it's a rewarding treat in a chaotic time. I am also conscious of my weight at the moment too. At my first appointment with a midwife I was told what would go wrong as I was obese. Not what could go wrong, but what would. As it turns out nothing has, I had and passed my glucose tolerance test with flying colours, although as my mother had diabetes, I wasn't so sure I would. I am now in my 29th week and have put on 1/2 kilo since the beginning of my pregnancy, although to be honest, I did lose 3 kilos through morning sickness, which I have put back on. I have struggled with my weight for years, but I like to think I am doing well. I know I have changed shape, not just the bump! But I can wear a dress size smaller in normal clothes and 2 sizes smaller in maternity clothes. I hope to continue once baby gets here.

Helping the Blind (& others)

I want to highlight and help promote this great cause.

Did you know:
  • About 100 people a day lose their sight due to preventable conditions;
  • RNIB do not only provide books for blind and Visually Impaired people;
  • Audio books are helpful to people who find reading tiring, difficult due to concerntration, dyslexic people, and helping children to read.

I am doing a sponsored cycle ride from HMS Victory, Portsmouth to the Liver Building, Liverpool for the blind.
I am trying to raise enough money to add more talking books to their library, as my mother has recently lost her sight and relies heavily on the RNIBs talking book service.

About 100 people a day lose their sight due to preventable conditions; it can happen to anyone, but recently it happened to my mum. She lives alone, so things are difficult for her, but the highlight of her day is listening to talking books supplied by the RNIB, whilst the highlight of her week is visiting Bradbury Fields, a centre for the blind in Liverpool.
I am in the Royal Navy and living in Fareham, HANTS, so I don't get home to Liverpool as much as I would like. I joined the Navy at 17 in 1982 and initially served in the Submarine Service, based at HMS Dolphin, Gosport. I am currently based at HMS Collingwood in Fareham.
I recently took to cycling, as I hate driving to work, and I thought it would be great if I could cycle to Liverpool. Always up for a challenge, I decided I would try and raise money for the RNIB, hoping to sponsor more talking books for their library.
The journey will be tough, involving cycling approximately 300 miles in three days. I am leaving from HMS Victory in Portsmouth on 3 Jul 12, and cycling to the Liver Building in Liverpool, arriving on 5 Jul 12. I will also be taking part in other challenges in order to get myself fit for the main event. This includes completing 1163 miles through a combination or running, rowing, swimming and cycling by June.
I will be delighted if I can raise at least £1000 for the RNIB, as they do great work and without charitable donations and fund raising , the services they provide would not be available to people in need of them. Remember, anyone can lose their sight, but many don’t have to. Donations could help the RNIB carry out vital research, helping to prevent others from losing their sight as well as helping those that have already lost it. 

This is taken from Paul's JustGiving page here.
Please consider making a donation if you can.
I am in no way involved other than as a supporter of the cause.

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I'm a fan of Kate over at Kate on Thin Ice and always enjoy reading her blog. I have been reading her Reasons To Be Cheerful posts and often thought about writing one myself. I mean if I can find three reasons to be cheerful each and every week, then my depression can never win, right?

I went over to Michelle's blog, Mummy From The Heart..., to see where Reasons to be Cheerful 1, 2, 3 all started. Michelle posts her reasons to be cheerful every Thursday and provides a blog hop for those who wish to get involved (full details here). Which is exactly what I intend to do!

So what are my reasons to be cheerful today / this week:

1) I submitted a letter to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to apply for their So You Want To Be A… program / course (details here on Culture Vulture website). I found it an interesting experience to write the letter without it becoming a 'I would be suitable because...' speech. I'm not sure I submitted enough info or that any of it was relevant, but I did it! Yay me! 

2) I have an almost empty inbox! Actually two of them, G-d I'm good! *laughs*
I have been struggling a bit lately, and communications often suffer, which resulted in me having over-flowing inboxes, it's taken me a while and I still need to reply to some, but it's organised and I am back in control.

3) It's Mother's Day tomorrow (in UK) and my first one (although prematurely) as a mum. I have been assured that having a bump qualifies me to celebrate Mother's Day. 
Here's to all mothers  
*raises a glass of alcohol free Rose* 

Isn't this a fab fun glass? I want!
It's available @

Have a fantastic day x

Competition Winner: Win a Barbie Princess Charm School with our friends at Argos

My apologies for the delay, but I have finally drawn the winner for my Win a Barbie Princess Charm School with our friends at Argos competition.

The lucky winner will receive:

And the winner is:

I hope you, or rather your daughters, enjoy the prize x

We Bought a Zoo

I went to preview of We Bought a Zoo on Monday.

A recently widowed father (Matt Damon) wants a better life for his kids and a 'new' start. Whilst viewing houses he falls for a beautiful, but rundown house. However, it comes with a catch, a minor detail...

Given that I'm not a fan of Damon (I think he's too interchangeable with DiCarprio, Affleck et al) and having read the synopsis, I was debating not going.

I'm glad I did. It is a funny, often overtly sentimental film. But will keep the kids entertained. The younger members of the audience really seemed to enjoy it, especially all the animal scenes. 

The scenes with Scarlett Johansson I didn't really think added much to the film, but Hollywood will always add a bit of romance. I felt it detracted away from her character's passion for her job and the animals.

There are some well written scenes with Damon and his two kids, and with his brother, especially when talking and reminiscing about his wife.