Monday, 19 November 2012

Teaching the importance of giving to our children this Christmas

You may remember last year I wrote a post about 'Introducing charity to your children' - it opened up a lot of important discussions and inspired a few of you to write your own posts about the subject *proud face*.

Christmas is coming, did you notice? It was made official to me when I heard the magic words that fill me with joy and make me feel like a ten year old little girl all over again "holidays are coming... holidays are coming" - yep the Coca Cola advert, smack bang in the middle of the Xfactor ads last week. Christmas is officially here!

If you read my aforementioned post you'll know that we decided to use this magical time to try and teach Belle the importance of giving to others less fortunate every year, so she will learn to be grateful for everything she has.

We sacrifice a stocking filler gift that we would normally buy her - you know, that millionth Peppa Pig DVD, and instead make a donation to a charity for the same value as the gift would have been.
We then write a note about how proud we are of her for giving up a gift to help others and put it into her stocking.

She’s still so young, but this will be a tradition in our house, and we will keep the cards to show her as she grows.

A small gesture, but one that not only raises much needed funds for a charity, it also helps us teach our little girl the importance of giving.

Well, this year I have had the amazing pleasure of working as a freelance marketing manager for the inspirational African Children's Choir. Yep, the beautiful children who performed with Mr Gary Barlow (swoon) at this year's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. 

When discussing Christmas fundraising ideas I told the team about what we do for Belle, and so the campaign Give up a Gift for Africa was born.

You too can teach your child the importance of giving this Christmas whilst also supporting and raising funds for this inspirational charity.

The African Children's Choir perform around the world, acting as the ambassadors for Africa's most in need children - raising much needed awareness and funds for the education of the continent’s most vulnerable children, as well as their own education, as they go.

Give up a Gift for Africa is appealing to parents, like you, to turn one of your child’s stocking filler gifts into a donation to The African Children’s Choir this Christmas – as we will be doing with Belle.

Once the donation has been made you will receive a link to a printable Christmas card, via your confirmation email, to put into your child’s stocking as a thank you – there’s even space to write them a special message.

Money raised by the Give up a Gift for Africa campaign will go towards both The African Children’s Choir programme, and the many other essential programmes run by their official fundraising charity Music for Life, who have helped educate over 52,000 vulnerable African children in their 28 years.  

So you too can teach your children the important message of giving this Christmas by donating to The African Children’s Choir on behalf of your child, helping us create ChangeMakers for the future of Africa.

DONATE NOW if your a UK mummy via Just Giving visit

Parents from elsewhere around the world please donate via First Giving

We are also appealing to mummy bloggers to help us promote this inspirational campaign. If you would like to support Give up a Gift for Africa on your blog please email

The African Children’s Choir are also on:
Twitter: @acchoir #ACCGiveupaGift

Want to know more about The African Children's Choir? Watch this video and to discover how truly inspiring these children are...

I can't tell you how much it would mean to me personally if you could donate and help support. I know that with your help, we can really make a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable African children, whilst also teaching our own children the importance of giving this Christmas.

Merry 5 weeks, 1 day until Christmas :)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

It's been a while...


It's been a long old while since I have written on my Mummy Bean blog.

If you used to read the blog you'll know that we were having quite the adventure, moving home from living in Sydney, having our first baby and planning our wedding, all whilst I was still striving to be a marketing freelancer extraordinaire :)

Well... Belle is now two, we are married (minus the Vera Wang but I wouldn't of had it any other way) and my writing has led me to an amazing opportunity...

I'm currently working as a freelance marketing manager for The African Children's Choir, and their new campaign 12 Million Orphans and counting!

You may have seen the choir singing with the gorgeous Gary Barlow at the Jubilee celebrations. The choir are just amazing, and they raise money for relief projects in Africa that help the most vulnerable and in-need children there.

Here is a bit about the choir...

We are launching a new campaign called 12 Million Orphans and counting to highlight the ever growing number of suffering children in Africa, the children whom the choir sing for.

I have one daughter who I would move the moon and stars for, the children our projects help in Africa may have lost one, or even both, of their parents to AIDS. Who is making their dreams come true?

We believe in helping Africa's vulnerable children today, so they can help Africa tomorrow.

I'd be so grateful if you could follow the progress of this campaign on...

Our Blog

Our Twitter Page

Our Facebook Page

We have some exciting times ahead for the campaign, the choir will be over in the UK in September, we will have a refreshed website and new branding all coming soon, so please be sure to follow. We will also have some life changing opportunities for host families, volunteers and supporters, so stay tuned!

I will be tweeting about all things working mummyhood from my personal twitter account @Shell_12million

Thanks for reading, it would be great to hear from you all, let me know what you're up to!

Mummy Bean x

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Our first separation

If you follow my blog regularly you'll know that I freelance as a marketing professional, yep, that's right, I'm a pro (in the non red light sense of course) working mainly from home.

I agreed on a job back in November that would whisk me away to Barcelona for 6 days in April, glamorous? Not really, I'll be inside a convention centre for the most part.

At the time, I pondered the impact leaving Belle would have and concluded it would be minimal, we needed the money. Besides, April was ages away, Belle would be nearly 10 months old and by then, I could probably do with the break.

Well, April has arrived, I fly on Sunday.

To say I'm apprehensive about the separation is an understatement. My stomach does actual flips, like a dolphin at Sea World, when I think about leaving her.

I had imagined that she'd be able to say mummy by now. She said it for the first time on Sunday but we think it was a fluke. I had imagined seeing her on Skype and her waving 'mummy mummy' in a missing me kind of way, but knowing what I know now, she'll probably have no interest and just try and chew the laptop.

I'm scared. For many reasons and it's making me very confused.

I'm scared that she won't miss me. That the moment we are reunited she won't be phased by it.

I'm worried that her routine will get messed up and I'm fretting that'll I'll miss something. She is so close to crawling right now.

James has the whole week off with her so I'm sure all of the above will be in order and if I do miss something there will be photographic evidence.

On the flip side I'm also concerned that I'll enjoy it. The moment on the plane when I sit there, uninterrupted, listening to music and reading Heat magazine really appeals to me. Will I feel guilty if I do enjoy it? What if it makes me want to go back to full time work?

Mainly, I'm worried that they will do fine without me.

Choosing to work, stay at home or work from home once you've had a child is the most heart wrenching decision, whatever your situation.

I'm trying so hard to find a balance by freelancing and think this will be my ultimate test.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Gallery: Mothers Love

One of my biggest regrets is the lack of photographic evidence we have of my pregnancy and our first moments as mother and daughter.

I hated what I looked like at the end of my pregnancy and post birth, I was stupidly adamant that no photos be taken of me.

I was quietly suffering with the trauma that had been Belle's birth, and was struggling to breastfeed, I hated myself, why would I want photos of that?

I'd like to get a hold of myself then and shake her a little. You never get those moments back. I kick myself now that we don't have more of these images of us to treasure.

This is one of the very few I have of Belle and I in our first weeks together, embracing in a very special moment, which is why it is my entry for this weeks (and my first) Gallery at Sticky Fingers. I think it is a true capture of a 'mothers love'.

Monday, 4 April 2011

My Breastfeeding Battle

It's strange isn't it, when you become a mum and meet others, there are two stories you need to hear.

One, the birth, and two, their breastfeeding story. I find both so interesting, as not one is the same.

I've already shared with you my birth story, so how about the breast bit? Here goes...

I was convinced I would be a six monther. That's what the books told me to do, it was the best thing for Belle, so that was that!

I've got a picture of the first time Belle fed from me. I don't remember it as I had just come round from a general anaesthetic, which makes me sad, but she took well to it.

After a successful day and night of breastfeeding I was about to be discharged from hospital when they noticed Belle was slightly drowsy, and wasn't opening one eye completely. After a horrid foot prick test they told me I couldn't have been feeding her correctly as her blood sugars were low.

I was devastated. All through the night I had been asking them to check that we were doing it right, and they had said yes. I was so confused.

It was decided Belle would be cup fed to 'top up' the breast in order to increase her sugars. I was expressing on an industrial electric pump, if anything is going to make you feel like a cow it's one of those bad boys! She also had to have some formula.

Cutting a long story short, after 2 days and 2 nights of no improvement they tested her using an IV rather than the foot prick test. Her poor little feet, they had been battered and bruised, I'll never forget all those tiny little plasters covering her soles.

The test results came back from the lab, she was fine. Blood sugars were normal. Although we never got an official apology or explanation, they said that the machine being used for the prick tests may have been faulty and had been sent off the ward to be recalibrated. At that point I didn't really care, my baby was healthy, we could finally go home, albeit still slightly confused, did this mean I had been feeding her correctly the whole time?

She slept on the way home, and didn't seem to want feeding for a while. Once she did, she didn't want to stop. 10mins on 15mins off, for the rest of the day and evening. It got to midnight and she was screaming, so much so I rang the ward.

I explained the feeding pattern (as I had written down length, time and side of every feed) and she said it sounded as though she hadn't been taking anything. I went into panic mode, thinking I had starved my child and I was the worst mum in the world. She said try again and if that doesn't settle her bring her back. I had failed within 12 hours.

Thankfully one more go seemed to do the trick and she fell asleep for a few hours. I rang the ward back and they said a midwife would be sent round first thing.

I did nothing other than stare at her and pump for those few hours she was asleep. Praying that she had taken some milk. Praying that the midwife would get here soon. When she woke I bottle fed her my expressed milk, at least that way I could see she had fed something. Then the 10 minutes on 15 minutes off started again.

The midwife came at 9am and was greeted by myself, balling my eyes out at the front door. She watched me feed her, with a massive smile she said, 'you're doing fine honey'. Again I burst into tears, I was doing it fine. The angel sent from heaven midwife had set my mind at ease, I was doing fine.

3 weeks went by and Belle was feeding every hour, day and night. I was sore, sleep deprived, not enjoying my beautiful baby. We tried everything else before feeding when she cried, nappy, cuddles, too hot, too cold, the car, but every time, all she wanted was milk.

Within those 3 weeks I'd sent James to the kitchen to sterilise the bottles and get the formula several times, but with each, I'd run in crying 'no, I can't give up, I'll keep going.'

I went to the breastfeeding councillor and she showed me different positions to feed her. This didn't work, still she was screaming for food every hour.

We couldn't go out, I felt like a prisoner, we were stuck between the sofa and the moses basket. Feeding every hour.

It was suggested she was using me as a dummy, so against my will, we tried her with one. She just spat it out.

I was sad, I felt lonely. James was amazing but at the end of the day he had to go to work, and needed his sleep. So Belle and I stayed downstairs at night grabbing an hour between multiple, painful, tearful feeds.

By week five I gave in. I couldn't do it any more. I hadn't had more than 2 hours sleep at a time and was struggling with not only feeding but getting over the emotional trauma I had suffered from a difficult birth.

I beat myself up about it for months, I felt like a complete failure, a bad mother and a useless woman. I had tried so hard.

But now I stand firmly by my decision to stop breastfeeding. It was the right thing to do for my family.

I was a different woman, I was happy, enjoying my newborn like I should have been.

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers but I can't stand it when women preach about breastfeeding. If it works for you, congratulations, that's great, but just because you found it easy does not mean it's that way for everyone. Please do share, encourage and support breastfeeding, but do not judge.

I plead any breastfeeding preachers, just spare a thought for the women who tried, with all their heart's, but couldn't do it, for whatever reason. Please don't make them feel like failures, they are great mums too.

This really made me laugh

Having a bad Monday? Then check out this gorgeous little bubba. Guaranteed to make you laugh!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Learning (by default)

They say you learn something new everyday.

This phrase has never been more true since having Belle.

Not only am I learning how to be a mummy but I'm still learning how to be a grown up.

Yes, I am 25 years old, I should have that down by now, however I have always been slightly domestically challenged, unless you count doing the Tesco shopping online, I'm ruddy good at that.

So every once and a while I thought I'd share with you...

What I've learnt (by default) this week...

1. Do not wash the kitchen tiles with a dripping cloth when there are power points on the wall. It makes the points spark, then bang, then Daddy Bean get's angry concerned.

2. Make sure wipes are at the top of the changing bag. If you are discretely trying to mop up sick from your child whilst out in public it doesn't help if it takes five minutes of frantic digging to find the wipes. After which point everyone has noticed the crazy lady rather than the sicky baby.

3. Text back straight away. Just because you have answered a friends text in your mind doesn't mean that they will receive that reply telepathically, having a baby does not install this function, however useful it may have been. Friends will assume you have ignored them and will therefore make other plans.

4. Check pockets before putting trousers into the wash, and then the dryer. Must order James a new card, and wallet, oh, and driving licence... oops.

5. If you are going to sneakily check out the hotel you are staying at on-line whilst on a very important conference call make sure you turn the laptop volume off. It's a sure fire sign that you are not paying attention to the call when a promotional video with 'jazzy' music starts blaring down the line.

And that's just this week!

I've always been told that this side of me is endearing, hmmm, do you think they were just being nice?

What have you learnt (by default) this week?