Wednesday 25 January 2012 Blogging Challenge - Beat the January Blues has just launched a new fortnightly blogger challenge so I thought I'd put my thinking cap on and join in. (If you want to get involved too, check out the details here.) They have asked us to use the gloomy month of January as our inspiration and come up with a nice positive story to cheer us up. They suggest a progress report on our resolutions or reasons why 2012 is going to be a fantastic year for our family.

Well, this instantly made me think of the Reasons To Be Cheerful bloghop that Mummy From The Heart posts on her wonderful blog and that I have been meaning to enter forever without ever finding the time to do it. That sounds perfect so I'll do a Top Ten Reasons To Be Cheerful in the Madhouse for 2012. There are ALWAYS things to look forward to and zillions of reasons to be cheerful and it's actually a really good idea to sit down and make a list like this every now and then so that we remember !

1) We're getting a new car ! Our leasing/loan jobby needs to be redrawn up every four years and February 2012 was the magic date. After looking at the options - basically selling the car back to the garage for the guaranteed price, paying the balance and keeping/selling it ourselves or continuing to pay the balance but upgrading to a new car (or something like that, Madhouse Daddy Mike dealt with all the paperwork as I don't even drive so it all went a bit over my head !), we went for the new car option. We'll be getting a  Peugeot 5008 which has three real seats in the back so Sophie won't be eternally squished between Pierre's and Juliette's car seats. That's good news for us too as it'll mean less squabbling in the back ! It also has two extra seats that can be installed in the back to make it into a 7-seater so if the girls ever want to invite a friend out with us for the day, we will now be able to say yes. Slightly scarier is that my usual reply of "no, we're not having any more kids because we couldn't fit any more in the car" now no longer stands. Eek !!

2) We've booked a fab fortnight in Tunisia for the summer. We always like to get in on the early bird deals and bag a family room before they all get snapped up and this August we're off to Zarzis. White sand beaches, palm trees, camels ... the kids are sooooo excited already- and they're not the only ones !

3) Spring is on the way ! Now, this could be down to global warming or just a particularly mild winter but I was gobsmacked to see daffodils in bloom in the week after Christmas ! All that greenery and sunshine can only be around the corner so we can look forward to long walks and trips to the park again. Those thick baggy jumpers and scarves will soon be packed away for another year.

4) Now, I know we were very slow off the mark here but we have discovered the joys of Skype ! It started off at work, where the kids in my class loved having a live webchat with a class in Kentucky, and carried on at home. The Madhouse is even madder than user when Madhouse Grandad pops up on the screen !! It's hilarious listening to the kids relating in minute detail everything that has been going on since the last chat !

5) I'm still amazed to see that the SlimPod is doing its stuff. I was so cynical about it at the start and still can't understand how listening to a 10-minute mp3 every now and then (after listening to it every day for 21 days on the trot) can have such an effect on the way you eat and ultimately your waistline. It's not a sudden drastic effect - I've lost 4kg in a couple of months - but it is working, there's no doubt about it ! (Follow my updates here.)

6) I've also discovered the ... well, I wouldn't say the joys but it's not as torturous as I feared !! - of MuTu System and the lovely Wendy who has devised a whole system to get your Mummy Tummy back in shape, however long ago you had kids and however little time you have in the day to do sport. I'm only on week 3 of a 12 week programme but I'm still on track so far :) (Progress reports here.)

7) There are so many babies on the way amongst my bloggy and tweety friends, some of them after the sadness of losing a child which just makes it all the more special, especially having been there myself. I saw that Amanda Holden has just had her baby today too so that's another sad story that found its happy ending. Yay !

8) I've made a real effort to get more fresh fruit and veg into our diet recently. We have a fabulous local market literally at the end of our road every Sunday so we've been heading off to see what we can find. We came back this week armed with one bag full of fruit (mangoes, bananas, apples, pears, kakis, ...) and one full of veg (cauliflower, endives, mushrooms, peppers, leeks, carrots, courgettes, ...). Just seeing all the bright colours gets the kids interested in trying out new flavours and it's more inspiring for cooking from scratch than opening an empty fridge ! 

9) We're still married and we have three happy kids. It seems that every week brings news of yet another one of those supposedly rock solid celeb marriages breaking up. After Brad & Jen, J-Lo & Marc and Demi & Ashton, I was slightly shocked to see Seal and Heidi Klum going their separate ways this week. I know they're celebs but they always seemed so normal and down-to-earth with all the right values. Here at The Madhouse, all I need to do is look at the huge smiles on Sophie, Juliette & Pierre's faces most days and any thoughts of the January blues just go flying out of the window. The rest is all immaterial !

10) And the final Reason to Be Cheerful ... there are only 334 days until Christmas ! Woohoo can I start getting excited already ?!!

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