In November Daddy D treated me to an early Christmas gift of an Apple iWatch.  We had just joined Slimming World together and I had been lo...

In November Daddy D treated me to an early Christmas gift of an Apple iWatch.  We had just joined Slimming World together and I had been looking to purchase a smartwatch so that I could track my steps and get back to running.  

I had been after an Apple watch for a while but they were always out of our price range.
But, as luck would have it, a friend of mine decided to sell her series one Apple watch and I was lucky enough to secure the purchase from her in double quick time before it got snapped up by someone else. (It was an amazing bargain).

Things had been going well with the weight loss and fitness plan with the pounds (lbs) coming off gradually each week (18lbs lost so far).  During the monitoring of my activity via the health app on my iPhone, I had noticed some dips in my heart rate.  Initially, I didn't really think much of it.  Even though my heart rate had been dropping into the 40's I had been feeling fine in myself so just assumed the watch hadn't been able to pick up an accurate reading at those times.

Around a month later I started to suffer from lightheadedness and dizzy spells and so I started to monitor my heart rate more frequently.
After monitoring it for a couple of weeks it became apparent that my dizzy spells were consistent with my heart rate dropping into the low 30's.

Obviously, I am fully aware that smartwatches are not a diagnostic tool but I also knew that the readings seemed to be consistent and the fact that I was experiencing symptoms meant that it was not something that should be ignored, so I booked an appointment to see my GP.

The GP agreed with me that the readings seemed to be accurate and sent an urgent referral for me to have some tests and see a cardiologist.

A few weeks later I was given an appointment to have a cardiac monitor fitted, which I would have to wear for a month, so that whenever I experienced a symptom I could push a button to take a reading of my heart rate and then send those readings straight to the hospital via our landline telephone. (I know! Very clever stuff).

Once the monitor was removed and the results were analysed by a cardiologist it became apparent that there were some obvious abnormalities (which are now become more frequent).

During the month of wearing the cardiac monitor, I also had an echocardiogram which shows that there are no obvious issues with the structure of the heart, which is obviously very good news.

There are no definitive answers at the moment, but what we do know is that it is the right ventricle causing the issue and that lots more tests are now needed to get to the bottom of it all.

I have been referred to a consultant at Harefield Hospital, which is a specialist heart and lung hospital, as well as being given appointments for a cardiac MRI, a continuous 24-hour recording of my heart (to see how many times the abnormality occurs in a 24 hour period), a stress test on a treadmill (to try and establish whether the abnormality occurs more or less when my heart rate is elevated) and it is being recommended that I am tested for a rare condition called Brugada Syndrome (because of where the abnormality is and the pattern it gives on the ECG).

The dips in my heart rate (and dizzy spells) are becoming more frequent, the lowest so far has been 32bpm, but I am also now experiencing elevations in my heart rate (the highest of which has been 170bpm) which have occurred even when resting.  Not to mention the heart palpitations which I also experience on a daily basis.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried.

As much as I keep telling myself not to stress about it (until I have to), it is always there in the back of my mind.  
Each dizzy spell has me wondering if this might be the time where I lose consciousness and I have developed an unhealthy fear of going to bed and not waking up in the morning, which is making it virtually impossible to get a good nights sleep.

Unfortunately, all I can do now is wait. 

And hope that everything turns out okay.

Let's hope I get some answers soon.

Missy x

This summer CJ has signed up for a 3-week course with the National Citizen Service (NCS) where she will get to take part in a week of advent...

This summer CJ has signed up for a 3-week course with the National Citizen Service (NCS) where she will get to take part in a week of adventurous activities, a week of living on a university campus and then she will help to coordinate and complete a project in our local community that will be beneficial to its residents.

She found out about NCS, a government-backed programme, through her school and jumped at the chance to take part. 

NCS is open to 16 and 17 year olds across England and Northern Ireland who are able to complete a two to four week programme during their school holidays, including outdoor team building exercises designed to put them through their paces and take them out of their comfort zone whilst having fun, a residential stay where they can learn 'life skills' and responsibility, a community-based social action project where they can develop leadership skills and connect with their communities, and an end of programme celebration event.

CJ has already started mapping out her future and is extremely focused when it comes to her studies. 
I couldn't be any prouder of her and her incredible ambition and this course with NCS will give her the perfect opportunity to have some fun after completing her GCSE's, as well as experiencing what it will be like to live on a university campus and being completely independent and responsible for her own survival.

It's pretty scary to think that we are only a few short years away from that scenario and anything that will help to build her confidence is very welcome.

She is really looking forward to experiencing all of this with some of her friends from school but also about making new friends along the way; something which she has already been able to do at a pizza and quiz night which was hosted by NCS for that exact reason.

Another great thing about NCS is that they offer several different dates for each course, so even if you already have plans for your summer they will do their very best to accommodate your child.

It is easy to see why more than 100,000 teenagers, from many different backgrounds, will be coming together in common purpose with NCS this year.

By breaking down barriers and bringing together teenagers from different backgrounds NCS are encouraging them to strive to be better adults; to be more accepting of the people around them and to be prepared to tackle any challenges that come their way in the future.

I'm starting to wish NCS had been around when I was a teen!

There are still places available for year 11's to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer.
To sign up now, go to the NCS WEBSITE.

You can also find out more by visiting NCS on FACEBOOK, TWITTER and INSTAGRAM

Missy x

This is a paid collaboration in conjunction with National Citizen Service (NCS) and Tots100.
All opinions are my own.

As a parent things are constantly changing. Recently the years seem to be flying by in a blur, and we have just started a pretty signifi...

As a parent things are constantly changing.

Recently the years seem to be flying by in a blur, and we have just started a pretty significant chapter in our lives.

For the very first time, all of our children are at school. Full-time school!  (With the exception of Boo who continues to be home educated).

It is a very strange feeling not having any little ones at home with me during the day anymore.  Having a baby at home has always been the norm for me.  And now they are rapidly growing up and finding their independence.

It is a new and strange situation for all of us. 

CJ is busy making plans to move on to a college education, which absolutely terrifies me.  
I'm pretty sure she just started nursery 5 minutes ago.  
She has even started looking in to which universities she would like to attend and has a career plan mapped out for herself. 

I love that she is so organised and driven, but I kind of wish she would just slow down and stop growing up so quickly.  

Emotionally I'm just not prepared for being the parent of a young adult.

Boo continues to be home educated and is so much happier.  His anxiety levels have decreased, almost disappearing completely, and he is revelling in the one to one attention he now receives.  
I have to admit he's not the only one enjoying the mother and son time we are able to enjoy now that Bubba is at school, and seeing him happy and relaxed makes it all so worthwhile.

Roo is in her last year of Junior School!  
We have completed the applications for her high school placement and she is extremely excited about the new adventure that lay ahead of her.  
I wish I could say I was as excited as she is, but it is yet another step up the ladder to adulthood, and it seems to be approaching us way too quickly.

On top of Roo finishing at junior school Little Man is also in his last year at infant school.  He is such a bright little boy and the teaches often pass comment on his ability to teach them new things and his pure joy for learning.

Next September I will have one child finishing infants and moving to juniors, one child finishing juniors and moving to high school, and another finishing high school and moving to college.

I have a feeling I am going to need a very large supply of tissues.

It really is scary how quickly they are all moving through the school system, but at the same time, I love seeing their characters develop outside of our little family unit.

There have been more than a few bumps in the road at the opening of this new chapter, which is one of the many reasons why I just haven't had the time, or the drive, to be here updating you all.

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

It took Bubba a couple of weeks to adjust to being at school all day after having been at home with me all to himself for a whole year.
There were mornings where he had to be peeled off of me by his teacher while he screamed and sobbed for me to take him home.
These were the days on which I had to hold in my own tears until I had left the school so that my baby didn't realise that it was hurting me too.

Those days were absolutely heartbreaking, but now he has adjusted to the change he is really enjoying school and we are seeing a new side to his cheeky little personality.

Lots more has happened in the months that I haven't been able to write.  
Too much.

But this is yet another new chapter.
One that will have as many ups and downs as any other, but that's what life is all about... the challenges.

I feel as though we are on a completely new journey now.  
Finding ourselves in uncharted territory all of the time... and I find myself juggling with my feelings about it all.

Feeling such joy that my babies are growing into happy individuals, and yet feeling sad that they don't need me quite so much anymore.

I guess it's normal to feel this way, and I'm sure we will eventually find our feet.

But for now, I will continue to feel my sadness and joy and wonder what on earth I'm going to do in a couple of years when my biggest baby leaves me to go to university.

Love Missy x

Having 6 children can make life rather hectic, trying to keep up with the extra curricular activities that everyone wants to take part in, t...

Having 6 children can make life rather hectic, trying to keep up with the extra curricular activities that everyone wants to take part in, the mountains of laundry and dirty dishes that are created, the constant stream of "Mum..... Mum..... Mum" in my ear, so finding the time to cook meals from scratch can be quite tricky.

Luckily Dolmio have made it a lot easier for me to be able to prepare a healthy meal for the whole family, by ensuring that their jars of Dolmio sauces are 100% natural; 

Thanks to Britmums and the Dolmio #ThankGoodness campaign I was sent a brilliant hamper of food so that I could try Dolmio for myself, and see just how easy it is to make a deliciously healthy spaghetti bolognese for the whole family.

I decided to stay fairly traditional and make spaghetti bolognese with my Dolmio sauce, but created a chunky vegetable sauce to see if the children would notice the extra vegetables that I had 'hidden' in there.

I even used courgette, something that my children have never eaten before, and NO ONE noticed!

In my sauce I also included red pepper, mushrooms and sweetcorn.  
People often think I am a bit odd for adding sweetcorn to my bolognese sauce but I find that it gives it that little bit of extra crunch and sweetness, and the children love it.

We served our spaghetti bolognese using the wholewheat spaghetti, which had been sent in our hamper, and with grated Parmesan cheese.
Everyone cleared their plate which is practically unheard of in this house (lots of fussy eaters), and they have even said they would eat it again! 
I'm taking that as a win.

This is definitely a meal that I will be preparing again and again, and I am loving some of the recipe ideas that have been featured by other families taking part in the challenge. 

You can find those recipes and ideas by clicking HERE.

If you fancy getting creative in the kitchen with Dolmio then I would love to see your creations in the comment section below.

Missy x

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio.

Today is Red Nose Day. As I'm sure many of you know already,  I have been busy fundraising with Team Honk again this year and as a te...

Today is Red Nose Day.

As I'm sure many of you know already,  I have been busy fundraising with Team Honk again this year and as a team we have already raised over £3,000, which is AMAZING!

Thank you to every single one of you who have sponsored us/donated.

I've been up to quite a lot in the last few weeks leading up to Red Nose Day, so you might want to grab yourself a cuppa (or something stronger depending on the time of day) before you read on to find out what I have been up to .......

The Honk Line

On Saturday 11th March 10 members of Team Honk (myself included) got together to walk 10 miles across London to raise money for Red Nose Day/Comic Relief.... in fancy dress!
We started off in Waterlow Park, Highgate where we had breakfast and got ourselves ready for the long day ahead.  

As we were about to leave Waterlow Park Jamie Oliver scooted past us (literally ... on his child's scooter), and Mummy Barrow managed to chase after him, apologise for intruding on his family time, and then asked him for a Team Honk selfie.
Being the lovely man he is, he happily posed with us before we left the park for the first leg of our journey.

The first 2 miles went quickly and smoothly, getting us past the Emirates Stadium nice and early before fans started to appear for their match later that afternoon.

Our next stop was Highbury Fields where the wonderful Firepod team made us all a delicious lunch of pizza, which only took 3 minutes to cook in the amazing Firepod oven!!
They joined us for the whole 10 miles, pulling the pizza oven with them.
We were in pizza heaven.

Not only did we enjoy pizza for lunch we also had a selection of snacks and treats to share between us, including some gorgeous homemade houmous made by Vassos Kouzina, a company owned by one of our very own Honkers, Sarah.

At this point I may also have been drinking cava from a teacup. (I definitely was).

Of course, it wouldn't be Red Nose Day without humour, so we decided to 'gallop' through Highbury Fields in support of another fundraising team who were preparing to do the 'Miranda Hart Gallop' around Cheltenham racecourse for their fundraising.
I won't even mention how this particular video ended up on the Radio Times website.

Cue the embarrassing slow motion video evidence .......

After lunch we walked another 3 miles to Lincoln's Inn Fields, where we stopped to drink tea from china teacups and ate biscuits, cakes, scones and more.

The last part of the walk was a six mile trek and was definitely the hardest part of the day. 

By the time we reached the end we were all exhausted, but elated.

We did it! And by the end of our 10 miles we had already raised just over £2,000

After getting the train home I had a well deserved soak in the bath and a glass of wine before heading straight to bed.

I would just like to take this opportunity to say a HUGE thank you to Michelle from ABC Parties who came to my house at stupid o'clock in the morning to paint these amazing red noses on my face before I left for my 10 mile walk!

New Horizons Project Visit

On Thursday 16th March myself and 4 other wonderful bloggers were lucky enough to visit the New Horizons Youth Centre in London to see how money raised for Comic Relief is helping to make a difference.

I have been working with Team Honk for a few years now so it was really good to see firsthand where some of that money is going.

New Horizons is a safe haven for young people aged 16-21 and helps to provide them with support, guidance, helps to find them safe accommodation, and lots more besides.  
They are open 7 days a week and also have an outreach team who work on the streets and visit young offenders in prison, preparing them for life on the outside, ensuring they don't go straight back to the situations that got them there in the first place.

The first thing I noticed during our visit was the friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Every single person we encountered during our time in the youth centre were polite and respectful, holding doors open, smiling and saying hello.

Some of these people have been in situations we couldn't even comprehend, especially for such young people, and yet they were just like our own children.... laughing, joking and wanting to have a good time.

On arrival we were given a tour of the centre to see the facilities they provide.
There are laundry facilities, baggage storage and hot meals available twice a day, ensuring that these young people are able to find some normality in a safe environment where they can relax and make new friends.  

This is even more important for the young people who are currently living on the streets or 'sofa surfing'.  
New Horizons do everything they can to find accommodation for these young people who are in such desperate need, but unfortunately there is a severe shortage of housing available at the moment.

They also provide the young people with additional services such as access to a nurse for physical care, private counselling rooms, housing advice, and projects that they can attend, such as the women's group.

This is the group we had come to observe.

The full time women's worker is currently funded by Comic Relief and runs a workshop for the young women twice a week as well as being available to liaise with them and support them throughout the week, and liaising with the weekend staff to ensure continuity of care. 

A lot of these women have been victims of sexual exploitation and violence.

We were lucky enough to observe the women's group during their session, and the main thing I noticed was the respect that these women have for each other. Some of them were completely new to the group, but they all treated each other as friends and tried to help each other to feel relaxed by painting each others nails and sharing snacks.

The session was coming to a close at the time I observed them but, before leaving the women's worker Hazz asked each girl to say something positive about the person on their left, even if they had never met them before.
Each woman obliged, and you could tell how much it meant to each and every one of them to hear that positive remark.
Hazz then took the time to give each and every woman sitting at the table a compliment, while making it fun for them.

The group seemed relaxed and comfortable with each other, with absolutely no judgement being passed.

After observing the women's group we were then able to interview 3 of these incredible young women who were willing to share their stories with us.

*Please note - names have been changed to respect these women's privacy*

Farah was the first woman to talk to us, and had initially visited New Horizons with a friend before using the services for herself.  
She had been having problems at home, coupled with a sexual assault which she had kept secret from her family.  This led to her developing a drinking problem and spiralling out of control, especially when charges were dropped against her attackers due to a lack of evidence.
Her father disowned her and threatened to hurt her if he returned and so she ended up in a shelter.  This is when she started coming to New Horizons.
The woman's group has had a really positive impact on Farah and she is now pursuing a career in beauty and has been teetotal for a month.
Farah told us that the woman's group has turned her life around and that she is now determined to make the most of things.

Polly and Lucy then came in to tell us how they ended up at New Horizons.
Polly had fallen in with the wrong crowd and been in some trouble with the police, and Lucy came to the centre after living on the streets and developing a problem with alcohol.
Both women had nothing but positive things to say about the centre and the women's group, even going as far to say that it has changed their lives.
Lucy says she owes the New Horizons workers more than she owes her own mother.

The women's group has given these women confidence and the ability to find (and use) their own voice.  They feel safe there, and it is extremely clear that they have a lot of respect for the staff.

After speaking with Hazz, who has been the women's worker at New Horizons for the last 6 years, it is clear that she loves what she does.  
She wants nothing more than to help these young women to feel safe, supported and included.  Empowering them and helping them to find some independence after escaping some pretty horrendous situations.
And the women who attend the centre expressed how they felt they can tell Hazz anything and she will not judge them.

Comic Relief's funding has changed these women's lives.
Without it I wouldn't even want to think about where these women might be right now.  One things for sure, they would be in far worse situations than they are now.

Come Honk With Me

On Saturday 18th March I held a fundraising even at my best friend's pub; The Cornerstone, Shefford.

We sold tickets for the event and sold vodka jelly shots, cocktails, raffle tickets and cupcakes to raise money. We also had a 'guess how many sweets in the jar' competition and put a bucket on the bar for people to donate their loose change if they wanted to.

We had a brilliant night of music, drinks and dancing and managed to raise just short of £350!

A big thank you to everyone who came and supported me and helped to raise money for Comic Relief, and to my amazing friend for allowing me to commandeer her pub for the evening.

So there you have it .... I have been a busy bee for Red Nose Day and really appreciate the support of every single one of you.

It's not too late to sponsor me/donate if you would like to. Just click HERE.

Together we can (and are) changing lives.

Love Missy x

P.S ..... Here are some photos of Roo, Little Man and Bubba ready to celebrate Red Nose Day at school, just because ......