Thursday, 31 January 2013

The MAD Blog Awards 2013


MAD Blog Awards

Nominations have just opened for this years MAD (mum and dad) blog awards. Last year I just stumbled upon them after someone nominated my old blog. I filled in the form missing out quite a few places because I'd not given it enough though before hand. This year I've done my research and hand picked nominations for every category. I had to rethink a couple (the baby one had me stumped, I had two but couldn't use either because the baby birth dates were just before the allowed date in Feb)

So who are you nominating? Ah, no need to answer, but what a lovely way to show appreciation for all the lovely blogs out there, so do please nominate your favourites.


The first week of nomination results are starting to come in and I'm so thrilled to have been nominated in six categories,  Schooldays, Family Life, Family fun, Cooking, Best Writer and Blog of the Year. Thank you so much to whoever nominated me xxx There are still two more weeks to get your votes in and remember the blogs with the most nominations will go through to the finals.

I know I'm shameless but if you do have a nomination to spare I'd be so grateful to receive it. I really want to get through to the next round so I can go to London to the posh awards ceremony with posh frocks galore and copious amounts of alcohol. (click the badge above to make nominations) 


Take a peak here:











Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Time to Share and Japanese Food

Now as you probably already know, I have five children (it's up there at the top of the page in my 'blurb') Two of these are adults and still live at home. If I'm really honest they are just as much hard work as the little ones, who says it gets easier? (not me!) I do enjoy getting the opportunity to spend some time alone with them though.
Last Friday it was no1 son's birthday (he was 25!! No, I can't believe it either) and I went out for lunch with him and Eldest Daughter. We also managed to fit in a little shopping and browsing and it brought back lots of memories of the times we used to spend together walking around town for hours. It's not easy once you have little ones tagging along, not impossible, but certainly not the same. However, now that the girls are at school and the Little Man has his pre-school twice a week, I'm beginning to find more time for such outings.

This week Eldest Daughter decided she wanted to treat me to lunch. The thing with ED is that she has a love/hate relationship with food, the chance to get her to fill up on her favourite nosh is something I rarely turn down. So what food does she love? Japanese! We love to go to Wagamamas, Yo Sushi or Mount Fuji. Each is a different experience so it depends on what mood we are in. Wagamamas is fine if you don't mind eating with strangers. They have huge tables which are shared by all customers. The food is delicious though, our favourite dish from there is Chicken Katsu Curry. Also a very social experience is Yo Sushi, where you sit around a huge conveyor belt taking off the dishes going by that you like the look of. My favourite here is the Kappa Maki (or cucumber sushi rolls) but I do try lots of other dishes. I tend to grab anything with prawns in. For some reason I always drink far to much sparkling water (it's on tap) at Yo Sushi.
This week we were in a Bento kind of mood so it had to be Mount Fuji. the restaurant we go to is pretty small and most of the tables have a window view which is great for people watching. We both had Chicken Karage Bento which was gorgeous. If you are not familiar with Bento, it's a meal in a box with all the different parts of the meal in different sections. Here's one I had before, this is Sweet and Sour Chicken bento:

I also had a cup of Hojicha latte, which is green tea with hot milk. Hojicha is different because it's roasted rather than steamed and looks brown rather than green. It's incredibly yummy.

For dessert we had Matcha Tiramisu;

Matcha Tiramisu



Do I need to say more? Well, ok, matcha fine ground powdered green tea and is often used in desserts. This Tiramisu had a matcha flavoured sponge with a cream and matcha tea on top. It's one of our favourite of the Japanese desserts. 

Do you have older children? Do you make time to spend with them, does parenting stop when they get to adulthood? 
Maybe things will be different when they have families of their own? That will be a new experience for me. 
(one more question: Am I strange in longing to become a grandma, even though my youngest is only 2 years old?)


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Princess Poops


This is a revised post from my other blog which I wrote for a Special Saturday theme about toileting.

We started training Star when she was two years old, which I guess is about average in our part of the world. We tried a potty but she wouldn't sit on it, we tried a toddler toilet seat but she wouldn't use it. She hated not having a nappy on and despite trying every toilet training trick in the book we just couldn't get her to go.
We gave up and left it for six months before trying again. Again we were not successful. We tried several different types of potties, one lovely one looked just like a throne, she liked it, but wouldn't use it. We tried a Disney Princess toddler seat on the toilet with a special step. We even painted the littlest room in pretty pink so she would like it more in there. Every time we sat her down she would just scream the house down.
At three she started full time nursery. They suspended her a few weeks later and told us we could take her back when she was toilet trained. We'd tried to get away with it by using pull-ups  but as Star was just not using the toilet at all she was soon found out.
So we just persevered and although it was a nightmare time we finally got her to pee on the toilet. She still screamed but at least she was peeing as well. After a while she got better and would stop the screaming and just go. We rarely had any accidents and pretty soon she was dry throughout the night too. Success.
But as we all know it's not all about the pees. The poops are still an ongoing problem. Star suffered terribly with constipation for many years, eventually we got it under control with diet and sugar water and once they were softer she would go more often and get less constipated. But where she goes is in her pants. The past year she has got better, but she still starts to poo in her pants and then goes to the toilet. At school she just never goes, she waits until she gets home. Unfortunately just the other day was the first time she pooped herself at school and because of her age I had to go and clean her up. It was just before home time so I took her straight home afterwards and hopefully her classmates do not know what had happened as children can be so cruel.
We have talked about this problem with her psychologist who has promised to get her investigated as she may have a problem where she does not actually feel the need to go until it's actually on it's way out. It does seem that way but Star doesn't understand. We have tried taking her to the toilet at the same time every day, about an hour after school, which is when the accidents tend to happen but even if we make her sit on the toilet she doesn't do anything. Then she will poop her pants afterwards.
Going out is awkward but we just take a pair of pants and some wipes and just hope that we can get her to the toilet as soon as possible when it happens.  We don't know if this will problem will ever get any better, at the moment we don't have much hope.

Update: This post was written in May last year and I don't really have much else to report. Star continues to start going to the toilet in her pants and then goes to the little girl's room. She can't tell us why she doesn't go any sooner. At least now she's not completely soiling herself, although she will need changing each time she goes. We have had little success with the GP and are still waiting for her next psychologist appointment.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow Business

You are probably sick of hearing about snow now. I know I am. Why is it such a big deal in this country, a big snow fall and everything falls to pieces, public transport dies, the roads are treacherous and all anyone is talking about is snow! You go online and your Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with pictures and tales of woe about the snow. Even the tv is full of it, they even encourage you to send in your snow photos so they can show them on the news. I know that we don't really get that much snow here in the UK, but surely we should have it sussed by now.  I'm peeved because I was expecting my new bed to be delivered today and now the earliest I will get it is next Wednesday.
When we got up this morning we mocked the weather report that said we'd be waking up to a thick blanket of snow, there was barely a covering on the pavement and nothing on the road. The school texted to say it was open...but it was snowing. By the time we left for school the snow had become quite thick and it was welly time. The Little Man had not walked in snow before and was so excited. I figured letting him walk would be easier than trying to push his buggy. It was still snowing. When we reached the school we were told they would be closing at lunch time and it was up to us whether the children stayed or not. Boo and the Little Man wanted to stay, Star didn't and came home with me. It was still snowing.
Back home I did some housework and helped Star work on her homework (weighing and measuring) Then I got a call from the Little Man's teacher asking me to pick him up, so I picked up Boo too. It was still snowing and really thick underfoot by now.
We had a lovely afternoon playing in the snow all wrapped up.
Sorry if I've added to the deluge of snow stories, but now I'm going to punish you even more with our snow photos. (evil laugh)


The Little Man
Star and Daddy



Boo
Collage, click to enlarge




Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays CornwallLinked to Coombe Mill's Country Kids, click on button for other posts in the linky.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Stars Knees


Star has had problems with her knees for as long as I can remember. Even as a baby the only way we could calm her sometimes was by massaging her legs, or moving them in a bicycle motion. We thought it was to ease colic, no I think maybe it was leg pain all along. I took her to the GP several times and eventually she was sent to hospital for an x-ray. Nothing showed up but they did say she was hypermobile or double jointed. It was suggested she may have juvenile arthritis but on mentioning this to the GP I was told I would just be following up an unnecessary diagnosis as there wouldn't be anything they could do for her. Dismayed by the GP I went home, got Star a bottle of calpol and a couple of wheat bags. This helped for a while.
When Star was referred to a psychologist for a diagnosis into her autism she was sent for a physiotherapy check. Here her hypermobility was picked up again and it was suggested that this was what was causing the pain in her legs. So she was given regular physiotherapy which took place at school so it didn't interrupt her school life so much. She was also referred to a podiatrist who prescribed inserts for her shoes. I have noticed a difference, but she still gets pain. Recently I bought her a new game for her Wii. She loves dancing, so I bought Just Dance3. She has really enjoyed playing/dancing and it's giving her loads of exercise. Just like mum she lacks rhythm but I am already seeing an improvement. Maybe learning to dance this way will give her more poise and stop her looking so clumsy all the time? 

Looking more into Hypermobility Syndrome I have realised that Star has inherited this from me. I have always known that I was double jointed, but never really associated it with the pain I get. From a very young age I can remember screaming with pain in my knees and my mum massaging me. She always said it was cramp or growing pains, she had no reason to think otherwise. I still get the pain now, and in my ankles and fingers. Some times it's not so bad, sometimes it's inscrutable, but it's something I've had for such a long time I just get on with it now. The only thing I can liken the pain to is the the cramp you get during pregnancy, the sort that has you jumping out of bed in the middle of the night and will only go away by massage or walking it off. Sometimes my fingers seize up dead straight, this is painful too and I look like someone with arthritis. I can remember my nan's fingers like this, to the point when she was very old that a couple of her fingers where 'stuck' like it. Was it arthritis or did she have hypermobility syndrome too?

I have also learnt recently that bruising easily, sensitive skin and drooping eyelids are all symptoms that can be associated with Hypermobility Syndrome, both Star and myself have these too. Maybe they will be able to find the right medication in the future, in the meantime the wheat bags are our best friend.

Monday, 14 January 2013

A Little Time For Me - Center Parcs Monthly Challenge

This months Center Parcs challenge is to create your own mini-spa at home. I've not yet been to a proper spa (roll on May) but I did have a mini spa experience at an event last summer, I had a manicure, mini massage and my eyebrows threaded. I was reluctant to join in at first, but after I can easily see why you'd want it to be something you did on a regular basis.

To join in the challenge just take a look at the Tots 100 page. They are choosing wildcard bloggers to become Center Parcs family bloggers and enjoy a break at one of their resorts so it's well worth having a go and blogging about it.

Now, I'm a busy mum with three young ones, but the older ones are around a lot too and my 'me time' is very restricted. You may think that creating a mini-spa at home would take all day, but you can still have a little pampering even if time is limited. I usually get about 30 minutes and this is an example of what I do.

Shower/bath
I often shower with a toddler in the room, squirting out the toothpaste in the sink or throwing the towels into the bath tub (The toddler, not me) so to get some time to shower on my own is already a treat in itself. To make it more special I like to use some lovely products and really pamper my skin and hair. This time I used a gift set I was brought for Christmas. The name Chilli Pepper was slightly off putting, but I can assure you that I didn't end up smelling like an Indian take-away.
Smelling sweeter and well moisturised I moved on to step two.

Facial

I cannot deny it, it happens to the best of us, I am getting old. I can see it in my face even when my head is in full denial. So a good facial routine is a must. I am lucky to have a lovely set from Center Parcs Aqua Sana Spa. I have a Decléor hydrating skin ritual kit.
Starting with a beautifully aromatic essential oil, followed by a 'flower nectar' moisturising cream. Finally a delicate gel eye cream. I love it, it always makes me feel refreshed and soft.

I also have a crazy little love affair with boxes (don't ask) and I keep this set on my shelf still in the gorgeous box it came in.

By now my 30 minutes are up, but I'm feeling refreshed and renewed and ready to face anything...yes, even an hyperactive toddler.

If I have more time I tend to go for a nice touch of nail polish. I love painting my nails, although I keep them fairly short. I have a huge collection of colours and find I always feel better with a touch of colour. (I don't really wear make-up, so I have to add it somewhere.)

I hope I've proved that even busy mum's can spare enough time for a little pampering.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Being Social

I remember when I first became a fan of social networking. I was 15 years old and my older brother had a CB radio fitted in his car. The first few times I tried I just couldn't speak, but less than a month later I'd been given a radio of my own which I had in my bedroom run on a car battery with an aerial stuck in a biscuit tin. I called myself Sweetpea and chatted with anyone who could hear me into the early hours of the morning. I joined a group called the R&R breakers and we used to have meetings every other month. I had some calling cards which said 'You have been eyeballed by Sweetpea' and I loved meeting new people all the time. I was useless at meeting people normally, but after chatting with someone on the radio the ice was already broken when we met. In fact it was on the CB radio where I met my first real love who I later married.
My next experience of networking was many years later when I was introduced to the Internet (Ah yes, I'm really that old) First up it was forums like yahoo groups, then on bulletin boards. I started meeting people from further afield, I think the furthest to date is Alaska, when a lovely friend I'd been speaking to stopped by during a holiday in the UK.
Then I discovered Facebook and then Twitter. I love the sharing aspect of Facebook and I've re-connected with a lot of old friends and family members, even some of my old CB friends! Twitter reminds me most of the CB, that too was very much like walking into a room full of conversations and finding one to join in with. You could spend time talking to yourself on the CB too, particularly if you were trying to catch a foreigner.
I then joined Pinterest which was a little confusing at first, then I realised it was just like a giant storage room where you could store whatever you found and share with others. I find I use it all the time when I am planning an event, or a cake, or just looking for inspiration.
I'm now trying to find my way around Google+ It's kind of like Facebook but different. I'm not sure how to really explain it because as I say I'm still finding my way.
Connecting with like minded people has never been easier. It also makes sharing easier, I remember how difficult it used to be to connect with the right people many years ago, but now with so many social networking sites it's not difficult at all.
These days there is really no excuse for not linking up....unless you are not very social.
Of course if you are a blogger you are already networking because even without too much effort people will find you and interact.

Here is how I use Social Networking.

Google+ to connect with like minded people, generally bloggers, but also companies I like. I've taken part in a live video chat even though I didn't really know what I was doing, I was being watched by many but I hadn't realised that at the time, I probably would have not taken up the invitation if I'd known. It was fun though. I also use the new communities which are great for sharing things like competitions and blog posts. I don't just post though, I love to read as well. These days Google+ is my first port of call because I use Google Chrome as my browser and it tells me as soon as I log on if there is something new. You can find me on Google+ here

Next I'm off to check Twitter. I use this just for general chatting, often talking to myself, but also joining in with others. I will also share my links to new blog posts and occasionally enter a competition.
I've recently discovered Twitter Parties which are a good way of sharing knowledge and ideas. I've met some lovely people on Twitter who I have got to know really well. You can find me on Twitter as @okesanne/RaisieBay

On Pinterest I currently have 33 boards on subjects like Cakes, Party Ideas, Craft Ideas, Delicious Desserts, Great Quotations and even Zombies to name a few. You can see my profile and follow all or any of my boards here.

My Facebook is for good friends and family but I also have a page which relates to my blog. It's not very old and a bit desperate for new likers (hint, hint) I like to chat with my blog readers here and give extra entries to any competitions I may host on my blog.

I love the way the internet has made it so easy to connect with others just like the CB radio used to. If you find you have difficulty with any of the platforms I've mentioned feel free to ask me any questions. I'm not an expert but I've been around a long time now.

Also, if you do decide to connect with me please be assured that I always follow back where I can :-)

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Invisible Disability



When I started this blog I wasn't sure which direction to take it. I have a few other blogs, one about my baby, one about my cakes and another more personal one about my depression. Now this blog is becoming established and I've decided to use it to take over from my baby blog. One of the things I used to post about regularly there were my children's disabilities so I have decided to re-blog a few posts from there as an introduction so I can continue writing about this here.
This is a post I wrote last August about Star's autism.
**********************************************



I don't tell everyone that we meet that Star has autism. Many of her friends and their mum's at school are unaware. At the age of 7 (almost) we can get away with it. I tried to get away with it much longer with her older brother but things turned really bad when he was 12 years old I don't want to make the same mistake.
Star is verbal, intelligent and looks normal. Occasionally she will glaze over and become distant and it takes a while to get through to her but most people will take no notice. Sometimes she gets a little over excited and an a little flappy, not an unusual amount though and again, most people will take no notice. She is un co-ordinated and clumsy, she has a strange gait when walking and running and sometimes performs strange actions. At 7 yrs this is starting to be a little more noticeable but we are still getting away with it.
Star talks out of turn, ignores people, repeats what you say, talks about what she wants to talk about and doesn't really interact, talks incessantly about the things that interest her, makes funny noises all of which you can get away with at 7.
When do we stop getting away with it? When does it become apparent that Star can't help these behaviours and is not just immature. Sadly, I don't think it will be much longer and we have to start thinking about how to deal with it, and make things easier for her.
Star's older brother didn't have any physical problems but Star also has Hypermobility Syndrome and weak core muscles. These contribute to the strange way she walks and talks but also affect simple climbing ability. This summer our visits to the park have involved Star's 5 yr old sister and 2 year old brother doing everything by themselves, while I have had to help Star with climbing things. One park in particular has a slide/climbing frame that you can only access by climbing up a ramp holding on to a rope. While the other children, big and small, were zooming up with ease, Star just couldn't manage it and I had to give her a shove. Then yesterday we were at an event with face painting and the children were sitting on high stools to have their faces done. Star could not climb on to the chair and the lady who was about to paint her seemed shocked. I helped her up and went back to help her down afterwards.
So, although Star may not have the traits of a severely autistic child, and doesn't look obviously disabled, she does draw attention to herself.
Do we carry on as though this is all normal? My son suffered terrible bullying and even now I worry if he goes out alone (which he doesn't do very often.) How am I going to make things different for Star?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Reminiscing and Resolutions.

This is the time of year when you reflect on what has gone before and what you would like to achieve ahead.
First a look back at 2012

In February I had my purse stolen while out on a shopping trip in town. It's a horrid experience and I can't believe that people can do such a thing. The culprit was eventually caught as I was not the only person she stole from that day and she left a trail. I didn't get anything back (not even my purse) but I guess justice was done in the end.
Also in February, Number 1 son went to visit his dad in France for a couple of weeks.
In March their was a big family party for my aunt and uncles golden wedding anniversary. It was lovely catching up with all my family, most of who I haven't seen for years (and probably won't see them again for years/ever)
Also, the little man finally learnt to walk, the slowest of all five of my children. Of course once he started there was no stopping him, in no time he was running, jumping and climbing a proper whirlwind of activity that has left me thinking...'why do we want them to hurry up and learn to walk?'

On 1st April a really lovely friend lost her long battle with cancer :-(

In April I went to my first ever Blog Camp and was inspired to start this blog. I already had a blog (or two) on the go but I finally started to realise where I wanted my blogging to go and I feel now that I may be on the right track.

In May I finally got a car, I bought it on Ebay off a local seller and I swear I will never use this method of buying a car again. Still, it was nice to have wheels and we treated ourself to a day out at Cosford Airforce musuem.
At the end of may we had a short break in Prestatyn with the little ones. The weather was lovely and we had a great time.

In June I had a weekend away in London with Eldest Daughter for her birthday. We went to see Chicago and had a day of sightseeing. It was good fun and totally relaxing to have a couple of days of freedom.

July saw Boo's 5th Birthday and her Hello Kitty party which was good fun. We also had trip to the Next Blogger Event in Northampton. I also lost my car this month when I took it for an MOT and it turned out to be a death trap there was so much wrong with it. (I hadn't noticed apart from the brakes being a little iffy!)

August was Little Man's 2nd birthday and Stars 7th birthday and My Little Pony Party. We also had a really nice day trip to Liverpool.

September saw a local festival, a trip to Nottingham Kiddicare for a blogger event, and the decision to send the Little Man to pre-school a couple of days a week.

In October my lovely friend had her second baby, another little boy :-)

I won a competition to become a Center Parcs family blogger and had a trip to Sherwood Forest Center Parcs to learn about my role and meet some other family bloggers.

October was a lucky month because my other half also found himself a job after being out of work all year.

In November I took my girls to see Disney on Ice after winning tickets. I went to the International Cake Show with Eldest Daughter. We also visited the lovely Christmas German market a couple of times. The end of the month saw me getting another year older.

December was a month of illness as we were all struck with a virus (or two) at some point. The girls had to have time off school for the first time. And OH lost his job because he failed an hearing test on his medical :-(

I had a lovely day out with the girls when we went to see The Gruffalos Child.

Christmas was quiet but nice (I was still really ill) but New Years was great fun as all illness had been banished and family and friends gathered (at last minutes notice) for a really good night of food, drink and fun.

So, you've got this far, well done. Now for my resolutions. Well, not so much resolutions but wishes for the next year.

*That the grown-ups in the household get jobs (Eldest Daughter has an interview next week!)
*That we finally get a bigger house
*That Star continues to improve (all the extra help she's been getting has been working)
*That Boo continues to improve and gets the extra help she needs


And that's it for now. My list will probably grow longer as the year progresses.
For now I'm focusing on looking forward and the most concrete thing to look forward to so far is our Center Parcs holiday in May.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

N.B. Some of the links will take you to other blogs but I can assure you that it's all my words.





Yellow Days


Click button to find other bloggers posting about their year!

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay



Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I've also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me...is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I've loved. If I don't love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It's always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I'll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.
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