25 February 2014

Save the Children #FirstDay Campaign

I recently attended a Save the Children blogger conference. As I heard aid workers talk about the vital work they do - taking care of the children in conflict and natural disaster - my thoughts turned to my own children. If they had been unlucky enough to be born into war, my boys may have been forced to train as soldiers. You can not imagine what that must be like for them. My heart breaks thinking of those little boys holding guns.

You would imagine that all parents love their children as much as we love ours, and that is why we feel such empathy. I heard a story of one man who said he had to force himself not to love his children so much in case something happened to them. That's not right. That's really not right.

Save the Children's new campaign, launching today, is

The problem:
For a mum or dad, the first day of a child’s life should be a time of excitement, wonder and hope. A day they will remember forever. But childbirth is often complicated and a newborn child is frighteningly vulnerable.

Every year 2.9 million babies die in their first month. Maybe their tiny airways get blocked, the delivery is obstructed or they are exposed to infections or hypothermia.

Newborn deaths now account for nearly half of all under-five deaths.

The death of one baby is a tragedy. The death of 2.9 million a year is an outrage. And most of these deaths are preventable, with the help of a trained and equipped midwife along with basic medicines such as antiseptics and antibiotics, vital equipment and a clean environment to work in.

These are not difficult things to provide: all it takes is political will from governments around the world to provide the funds to train up and equip midwives.

The world has made amazing progress in saving children’s lives over the past two decades. Thanks to global action on vaccines, family planning and treatment of childhood illness, the number of children who die each year has dropped from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012. Save the Children’s social media campaigners have helped us drive so much of this change.

But that isn’t enough – not while 2.9 million babies a year never reach their second month of life. Lack of political focus on newborn deaths is blocking us from being the generation to stop all preventable child deaths.

2014 gives us a unique opportunity to make change happen: For the first time ever, countries and institutions around the world will sit down to agree the Every Newborn Action Plan. We need to make sure world leader’s take action on this and know the world is calling for them to do so.

What we want to achieve:

Save the lives of 2 million newborn babies a year
Ensure that every baby is born with the support of a trained and equipped midwife

How can people help?

Save the Children are asking bloggers the question ‘What did your midwife do that made sure your baby had a second day?’ This is my answer:

When Presley was born, our midwife, Helen, noticed that he wasn't breathing properly. There had been meconium in my waters when they broke, a sign that the baby may be distressed. He was grunting. Helen arranged for Presley to be taken immediately to the Special Care Baby Unit, where he spent his first day in an incubator. This ensured he had a second day. He is now a strapping six year old. I am incredibly grateful for my midwife's actions on my first day as a mother.

Join Save the Children for a #firstday twitter chat on Tuesday 25th Feb

On Tuesday 25th February Save the Children will be holding a #firstday twitter chat from 1 – 2pm to launch their new campaign. Their campaign aims to end first-day deaths as we believe that no-one should have just one #firstday. Join @thinlyspread & @savechildrenuk who will be hosting the chat to talk about the favourite first days you and loved ones have had – was it a first day at school or a new job or the first day of being a brother or sister? We’ll also be joined in the twitter chat by Nigerian midwife Catherine who will tell us what a baby’s #firstday is like in remote health clinics in Nigeria.

If you’ve only got one minute:

Sign our petition to ask David Cameron to put a global plan into action in 2014 that will ensure every baby is born with the life-saving help of a trained and equipped midwife and use his influence to get world leaders to do the same.

Text a donation: a donation of £3, the price of a cup of coffee, could save 10 newborn lives by buying 10 tubes of antiseptic cream. Text COFFEE to 70090


10 February 2014

Taking Control

'Before' and 'During', there is no 'After' yet...

As I continue on my weight loss journey, I realise that my focus has changed.

When I first met Dawn a couple of years ago, I was morbidly obese and desperate to lose weight. This desperation didn't stop me eating cakes, chocolate, biscuits and ice cream though. What I really wanted was a magic wand.

There is no magic wand. In addition to Cognitive Hypnotherapy (disclosure, some of it has been provided  free of charge) I have been going to Slimming World for sixteen months. Sometimes I have struggled to stick to the healthy eating plan, mostly when I saw it as being on a 'diet'. How I hate that word. I have stuck at it though, as I feared that if I stopped going to my weekly group I would put all the weight back on and then some, as I have done in the past.

Then something changed. This is all down to Dawn. She whispered something to my subconscious and it stuck. Without being consciously aware that I was doing it, I started to become more active. I started walking more, enjoying being out in the fresh air. In September I decided to try to run, just to see if I could. And I could. Since then I've been running three times a week. I've joined a gym, for icy mornings when the paths are slippy and for when it's tipping down.

This morning, as I ran my fastest 5k to date (42.48 minutes, if you must know), I started wondering what it is that keeps me running. I love running, but it's not easy. Some days are easier than others, some days it's hard work. What kept me focused today was how strong my legs felt, how there is less fat to wobble than there used to be, and how this is getting me closer to my next half stone award at Slimming World. I am on the cusp of moving from a BMI that labels me 'obese', to one that just calls me 'overweight'. I felt powerful.

Now I know how good it feels to run, to get fit, to feel my body changing. I also cycle, row and use the cross trainer too, just for fun. I enjoy feeling my muscles getting toned on the machines at the gym. I feel in control of my body for the first time in my life. I enjoy eating healthily and am starting to see food as a fuel for my body, not as a treat, or comfort, or the enemy. I don't want to eat a load of sugary fatty rubbish. I will have that stuff occasionally, but I will eat well the rest of the time. I will eat like a 'normal' slim person. That is my plan to get to a healthy BMI - and to stay there.

I am taking control of my body and my life. I will be as fit and healthy as it is possible to be. I will see my children grow up.

Biscuits are not the boss of me.

I am taking control.



4 February 2014

So I handed the Team Honk Blogger Relay baton to an elephant...

Team MK

I've loved watching, online, as the Team Honk Blogger Relay has made its way around the country, raising thousands of pounds for Sport Relief. Yesterday was the Milton Keynes to Hemel Hempsted leg. I was proud to be part of Team MK.

Two weeks ago we sat in a coffee shop in the shopping centre plotting and scheming. We wanted to do something a bit different and thought about the iconic and the well-known attractions of MK and the surrounding area. We knew we had to include the concrete cows in our plans, they're synonymous with Milton Keynes.

Then we talked about Woburn Safari Park. Claire rang them there and then, told them about the relay and they said YES straight away. They also suggested that the elephant could hold the baton. We'd joked about this before the call and hadn't dared to ask. Oh and we'd need £10m public liability insurance. Details details.

Isn't she beautiful?

An actual elephant holding the baton

Hayley mentioned that she and Gemma could get hold of a unicorn. So we were sorted for cows, elephants and unicorns. The plan was coming together.

On Sunday I met Lizzie and Helen, and their families, who had swum, cycled, run and walked from Cambridge to Milton Keynes. I took the baton and ran around the concrete cows, with my red velvet pants on my head (nice).

Lizzie, Sandy and Helen

On Monday the pants were back on and I ran 4 miles (in 55 minutes, a personal best). I was going to handover to Alyce on her bike, but sadly she couldn't make it, so I hopped in the car and drove to Woburn.

Sweaty Sandy

There's something especially exciting about being in a safari park that isn't open to the public that day. We were introduced to Damini the elephant. We were blown away by her size. I know, I know, elephants are big, but standing next to one makes you realise just how enormous they are. She took the baton. I got trunk slobber on my coat. I love the face I'm pulling in this photograph, a mixture of awe, joy and fear.

Sandy and Damini

Damini also held one of our signs (made by Marissa).

Do as the elephant says...

Hayley and Gemma took the baton and headed off to find their unicorn.

No, it's a real unicorn. As if we'd dress up a horse. Tut tut.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored us via our Sport Relief page or donated using the text number. There's still plenty of time left to donate, or join in, either en route with the baton or at one of the many Sport Relief events around the country. The Calicos are all running a mile together next month. That should be interesting...

Huge thanks to Katie and the team at Woburn Safari Park. Claire and I will be taking our families in half term because it is an amazing place to visit, and also to give them some business. We talked to the elephant keepers about the park. The elephants are walked for miles daily and allowed to roam free in the woods and have their own private lake to play in. Not a bad life.


Thank you.



1 February 2014

Frugal February

After Christmas and the January Sales I need to calm down my spending, I mean seriously calm down my spending.

I've decided to try something I've never attempted before and that is to only spend money on essentials in February. I'm calling it Frugal February.

Look, I made a banner and everything*

Baby Baby

I really don't need anything now. I bought so much in the sales, most of it at bargain prices. I filled my present box (90% off jewellery at DotComGiftShop, 70% of gifts at Sainsbury's and Debenhams).  I bought another Mia Tui bag, that I didn't need, but it was a bargain. I bought new running gear (90% off at SportsDirect).

I also had to buy new clothes to replace the ones that are now too big as I have lost weight. It was a thrill to be able to be able to shop at Boden, Gap, Monsoon and John Lewis and know that a size 16 would fit me. I also bought some jeans in a 14 as I'm still losing weight and they'll fit soon. I bought make up, perfume and nail varnish, all half price or less.

So, yes, I went a bit crazy at the sales.

Yes, I did get some amazing bargains, but the spending has to stop. So Frugal February it is.

I've made some lists of essentials and non essentials to remind me where the money has to go and where it can so easily be frittered away.


  • Regular outgoings (bills)
  • Regular commitments (clubs and activities)
  • Food
  • Petrol

Non Essentials
Everything else, including:

  • Takeaways
  • Apps
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Running Gear
  • Magazines
  • Books
  • Make up
  • Nail varnish
  • Jewellery
  • DVD's
  • CD's
  • Yarn
  • Stationery
  • Handbags
  • Fancy hair products that promise so much

Will you join me? If you post about Frugal February do let me know. Link up your posts below and we'll support one another through the month. Then we'll catch up again at the end of the month and see how we did.

28 frugal days starts today...

* using the Cool Realm code generator, it's simple and free. They didn't pay me to add this link, just so you know, I'm adding it out of the goodness of my heart because it's a great product. Jeez, it's awful that I feel I have to justify and disclose every single link these days.
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