Saturday, 30 November 2013

I Miss You

I've not written much about my mum on this blog before but I believe the experience of five years ago changed me and made me look at life so differently. I've been pondering what to actually write, even considering extracts from the blog I was writing at the time, but to be honest it's not easy reading and not easy for me to go over it all again.

So please let me share some facts about  my mum.
She was an older mum when she had me, already in her late 30s. When I came along I had two teenage brothers. I wasn't the last child however, when I was eight she gave me a baby brother.
As a young child I remember her preferred birthday presents were chocolate and hair dye. She always died her hair a really dark brown colour, almost black which is what colour it was before she went grey. I believe my eldest son has inherited her dark thick hair, I know I didn't!
She was always incredibly close to her mum and became her carer for many years when she got sick.
Both of her husbands died suddenly at early ages.
Mum was very musical, she could play the piano, accordion and sing. I have inherited none of her talents.

On November 30th 2008 mum was taken to hospital very ill. On 11th December she was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the liver and lungs. On Christmas day 2008 she passed away in a hospice. 25 days. Some people have less notice I know, but is it easier knowing that someone is going to die, or having someone die suddenly? I think I can speak from experience, neither is easier, both are so so hard.

As the years have passed the pain has eased slightly. At one point I held on tight to the pain because it felt like pain was all I had left. Time doesn't heal, it just helps you deal with things better. I still miss my mum every day and always will.

In memory of mum, January 2nd 1931 - December 25th 2008

The German Market

Every year we have a fantastic German Market in our City Centre. Loads of wooden cabins selling lovely gifts and crafts and delicious food. I love the Bratwurst sausages and the crepes, but the very best are the schokokuss, gorgeous chocolate marshmallows in lots of different flavours.

schokokuss - chocolate kisses

I took the girls to the market for a browse. We all had a ride on the wonderful carousel and enjoyed some yummy doughnuts filled with chocolate. We also had a look at the skating rink, we couldn't skate as it would have been unfair on Star. So we went up to the first balcony on the new library and watched the skaters and the big wheel in action. (One day I will get them to go all the way up to the rooftop, it's amazing up there!)

I love the German market, it really gets you in the mood for Christmas. Although this was the girl's first visit this year, I've already been twice before! Next time I'm aiming for a nice mug of hot chocolate with a little something naughty added ;) Although the last time I went on the evening I ended up in the jacuzzi with the floozie as there was really no space left for standing! (for none Brummies this is a large statue in a fountain which we have lovingly nicknamed the floozie in the jacuzzi, and fortunately on that evening they had taken all the water out!)

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Star's Neck - The Next CT Scan

After much pushing I was pleased to hear that the hospital wanted to see Star for another CT scan. Not exactly the result I wanted, but an opportunity to get myself to the consultant and ask a few important questions. My plan was to attend the scan then make my way up to the consultants office and sit outside, all day if necessary, to get my questions answered.
So we arrived first thing this morning and were soon told that the consultant would be joining us for the scan. Whoo hoo, I had my opportunity to speak to him without making a nuisance of myself.
Of course he was very busy so we had to wait nearly an hour past our appointment time before...his assistant, turned up. The scan was detailed with Star having to go in twice in different positions. The second position was really uncomfortable for her and she ended up in tears.The consultants assistant then asked me if I was able to stay and join him up on the ward with the consultant so they could discuss with me what was going to happen next. Of course I wasn't going to refuse.

It took another two hours but I eventually got my questions answered and a plan of action. Star is going back into hospital on Monday for a manipulation under a general anaesthetic. Now just in case you've not been following her story, the simplest way to put it is; the joint at the top of the spine has moved a little due to the top disc of her spine rotating and now Star's neck is stuck in a 'cock robin' position.
excuse the tongue, she's at that stage where every photo is accompanied by a tongue out or silly face.

Star normally wears a collar, day and night, to keep her neck up. It hasn't really helped in keeping it straight although that was what it was intended for originally. However, keeping her neck up means she can eat, drink and breathe normally, things she was having problems with before she had the collar. The photo above shows her with the collar off for a short time. An hour or so later and her head would fall further and further towards her shoulder and that's when the pain and problems occur.

Back to today - the consultant wants to manipulate the joint back to it's proper position. This means her neck will be straight again and the pain will go away eventually, it's bound to hurt for a while afterwards. Worst case scenarios are also there but I don't want to think about them. Currently I'm stressing out about my little girl having a general anaesthetic, it's not a good experience. 

All along I've been hoping we could get away with this but the none-invasive methods haven't worked so I have to go with whatever will make my little girl well again. 

The consultant also said that she may need a halo collar. This is an over the shoulders collar that hold a ring, or halo, that is attached to the skull so that the neck does not move at all. I'm hoping that it doesn't come to that, I've read all about them and I don't think Star would be happy at all.

So for now I'm hoping and praying for the best possible outcome, that the manipulation works and my little girl is fixed at last. She could be well and 'normal' for Christmas.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Stocking Fillers

Just one month to go until the big day, hopefully most shopping will be done by now. (ah who am I kidding, I'm only about half way there!) Now is the time that most  are looking towards the little stocking fillers. I have to admit, my littlies do have stocking but they only get sweets and pack of raisins in them. I might push the boat out though and give them a little toy in their stockings, especially when you can get them cheap enough. Kiddicare have a great range of stocking fillers for under £10 ( music to my ears!)

Kiddicare's Top Ten stocking Fillers:

Cute Disney Minnie Rattle £5.99 a perfect little gift for baby a lovely soft rattle.

Buzzing Brains Rocking Rings £6.99 five colourful rings for ages 6 months plus.

Press and go Bunny £7.99 a cute little bunny with light up sounds and melodies

Buzzing Brains lights and sounds mini driver £7.99 every child loves to pretend to drive, this toy is for 12 months plus

Colour Changing Ducks £5.99 amazing bath ducks that change colour in the water, 18 months plus

Hape Little Pounder £8.75 classic wooden hammer and pegs

Lego Duplo Busy Farm £7.99 listen and build with this books and bricks set

Buzzing Brains my first shape puzzle £6.99 great for little hands

Buzzing Brains My first Piano £9.99 light and sound piano with lots of features 18 months plus

There are loads more on offer at Kiddicare for under £10, so go and fill your stockings and remember, up until 2nd December it's 3 for 2 on Buzzing Brains, Sunny Safari and Woodland ranges.

Do you have a list of anything related to Christmas? Come and join our Christmas List Linky.

No disclaimer required. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Merry Christmas x

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Parents Evening

Every year I attend parents evening at the littlies school and every year I know exactly what to expect. This year however was a little different. First up, I had the Little Man's first ever parents evening, plus the girls have just changed schools so things are very different for them.

The Little Man is now in nursery. He has attended pre-school before so he is comfortable in a school environment. He settled in quite well from the beginning, although he did keep asking for his old school and Margaret his carer there. However, just a few weeks in and he was fine. His nursery teacher is happy with his progress. He is the youngest in the class being an August baby, this means he is a little behind in some things, but she believes that starting school late (because of moving house) has more to do with this than his age. He plays well with the other children and is well behaved. So a good report there, well done Little Man.

Boo was very popular in her old school so I thought she would have difficulty settling in to a new school and making new friends. Her teacher (who is most definitely young enough to be my daughter) said that she settled almost straight away and has lots of friends. At her old school she struggled a little with her work but always tried hard even when it was difficult for her. Now she is not struggling so much and managing to keep up with the other children. She is very determined to get things right and works very hard. She strives on praise so if her work doesn't get her praise she will try even more to get it right. Her teacher said she is well behaved, kind, caring, friendly and very well mannered. Well done Boo, I'm so proud of you.

Star's story is a little different. She has found it harder to adjust to the change. At her old school they understood her needs and she had a fantastic support system in place. At her new school her teacher had only just found out about her autism. She had noticed that Star did not relate to the other children and preferred to be on her own, but she thought this was just because she was having difficulty adjusting to a new school. Star has never really had many friends. She is also falling behind in her work because of starting the term late and having so many hospital appointments for her neck. She still tries very hard though. In her old school she was on the 'top table' for all subjects but mathematics, now she is nearer the bottom of the class and has actually been moved down a class for math. They are starting to get her support back in place after liaising with her old school, and once she is more settled and her neck is sorted, I have no doubt that she will catch up again. She is a clever girl, she's just suffered a lot of setbacks. Her teacher said she is well behaved, good mannered and works really hard when she puts her mind to it. I know Star has found the move and all the changes the most difficult to deal with so I'm really proud that she is able to behave at school and try her best.

I am currently a very proud mummy.

Ethans Escapades

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Our Favourite Christmas Books

We are a book loving family and all take turns to read. As Christmas approaches we like to bring out the seasonal books and here are our top five children's books this year.

1.The Jolly Christmas Postman (The Jolly Postman) The Jolly Postman has been a favourite in our house for many years and now we love this Christmas version where we can find out what well loved characters from fairy tales are sending to each other at Christmas time.


2. The Nativity Story (Candle Bible for Kids) Even if you are not Christian it is still a story that every one can relate to a Christmas time. I like this version because it's well illustrated and the story is simplified so even the Little Man can understand.


 3. The Night Before Christmas (Pop-up book) A classic Christmas poem, we love our pop-up version. It's a great way to learn the names of Santa's reindeer.


 4. Peppa Pig: Peppa's Christmas This one is for the Little Man, a huge Peppa Pig fan.

5.Santas Coming to Birmingham (Santa Is Coming) This is a new one for us this year. I couldn't resist it and the littlies have loved reading about Santa arriving in their own town. They recognised many of the pictures and places mentioned. There are many other towns available in the series too.

Do you have a list of anything related to Christmas? Come and join our Christmas List Linky.

This is not a sponsored post but does contain affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Merry Christmas x

Monday, 18 November 2013

Getting Rid of Stains with Vanish - Review

When you have kids stains are an everyday occurrence, whether it's juice, ketchup or mud you are bound to have to deal with a stubborn stain at some point. My first point of call is to get the stain rinsed with cold water as soon as possible, a stain that has been diluted is much easier to deal with than one that has dried in.

I was sent some Vanish products to review. I was sent a tub of Vanish Oxi Action Powder and a Vanish Oxi Action Pre Treat Spray.
First up I tackled a stain on Boo's school shirt. It was an old stain of fruit juice that hadn't come out in the wash. I didn't hold out much hope as these products do tend to work better on new stains. I sprayed on the pre treat spray and put a scoop of powder into the washing machine.

I know it's hard to see the actual stain in the photo's as it was already faded. It didn't disappear completely after the treatment but it did look better.

My next test was to whiten some of the girls socks. These were particularly grubby socks so again I wasn't expecting too much. Vanish also do a Crystal White range which would hopefully work better on tasks like this but I thought I'd give the powder a try anyway. 

First I soaked the socks for a couple of hours with a scoop of vanish in the water. I added a few other items that needed a spruce too. Then I put a scoop of vanish in the machine along with my regular washing liquid and washed them on a 40 degree wash. I was really happy with the results. They didn't look like new, but they were so much cleaner and whiter. 

The Vanish website has some great tips, including videos which help you tackle most stains.

Here is the page for tackling fruit juice stains, a common problem in our house.

Or another bane of my life....ketchup stains!

You can also find loads of tips for getting rid of stains on the Vanish Facebook Page  where I've just spotted one for removing hair dye to read it now!

I was sent two products from Vanish for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own, so are the stains I tackled, unfortunately. 

Dealing with Children's Colds at Bedtime

It's that time of year again. Little Man already has a runny nose, it won't belong before the germs set in and the littlies get their first colds. Along with the colds come sleepless nights and overtired mums and dads. 
Parents lose up to 72 hours of sleep a year, equivalent to nine night’s sleep, when their children have a simple snuffle – with mums more than twice as likely as dads to have a disturbed night, according to a survey of 2,000 UK parents for infant decongestant Olbas for Children. 
Although Dads will argue that their nights are equally disturbed.
So what do you do if your child is keeping you awake at night while they are poorly with a cold? 
My top tips would be; 
  • Use a decongestant, it's the first thing I reach for and often works long enough for the child to fall asleep. I use a couple of drops of Olbas for Children on a tissue beside their bed or I put the tissue inside their pillow case.
  • I also make sure the bedroom is well ventilated, it may be cold but hot stuffy rooms can make them feel so much worse. 
  • Make sure you give your child plenty of fluid to help keep them from dehydration. Water or juice is best.
  • Finally, I raise the head of the bed, I do this by adding a rolled up blanket under the mattress, or sometimes just adding and extra pillow will help. By doing this the airway is kept more open and if the child can breathe easier then they will sleep easier. This is not advisable for a child under one year.

A poorly child will also benefit from baby or junior paracetamol to keep their temperature down and aid recovery.

So as the weather gets colder and the germs spread, all we can do is brace ourselves for the sleepless nights and hope they recover quickly. Sadly, statistics say that  child can suffer up to ten colds a year. 

Not a sponsored post, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The Tudors on our Doorstep

After our walk to the park and visit to the old church on the way home we were excited to see that the church would be holding a Christmas Craft Fayre just a week later. So we walked down not so much to see what the fayre had to offer but to nosey around the old buildings. We enjoyed both.

The church itself, St Nicolas, is Norman in origin, with a tower and spire from the 15th Century. In the church grounds is one of the oldest school buildings in the country, and in front of the church is the Tudor Merchants house. Together they constitute the finest collection of medieval buildings in Birmingham.

Again we were lucky with the weather, although it's definitely getting colder now and raining a lot. We were excited to get inside the Merchants House were most of the fayre was held.

It was a mixture of old and new, having been restored and new rooms added. You can see exposed wattle and daub and five hundred year old original timbers. The Queens rooms is where it is believed that Queen Henrietta Maria (Queen of Charles I) spent the night in 1643.

Next we had a mooch around the old church, again really old but lovingly restored.

Afterwards we had a little nosey at the local farmer's market which is here every month and held on the village green outside the church.

So once again we had the chance to get to know our local area a little better and enjoy a little outside time as well as checking out the craft fayre.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Big Plan for Christmas

I used to plan Christmas down to the very last detail, I'd have a timetable for the actual day for the cooking so I knew exactly when to prepare food or put it in the oven or on the hob. Trips out and activities over the holiday season where planned well in advance. I'd sort out the clothes that we would be wearing in advance and even plan the weeks tv viewing so as not to miss anything good. (I'm going back to the days before On Demand or Catch Up television)

You see, as a child our Christmas' were always pure magic. My mum was a planner as well, little notes around the house everywhere. Food bought weeks in advance and stacked at the back of a kitchen cupboard. Nan would come to stay on Christmas eve and help with all the cooking. Then on boxing day our house would be filled all day with aunts and uncles and cousins.
But, I was a child, Christmas is always magic when you are a child, you blank out any arguments that may occur, or relatives that may have had a little too much to drink. You don't see the stress behind the scenes, the panic when the gravy goes wrong or the turkey isn't cooked on time. You forget about the arguments over who wants to watch what on TV.

I learned long ago that Christmas never goes to plan. I could tell you some stories of woe, of how things went terribly wrong. I've had a few Christmas' go that way. It doesn't matter how many lists you make, or how many plans you have you have to be prepared for mishaps along the way. Christmas is a stressful time for some, particularly parents. We say Christmas is for the kids and do our best to make it special for them, while at the same time running ourselves into the ground. Then after the Big Day, we feel deflated, worn out and broke...was it worth it?

Of course it was, and next year we do it all again because that is Christmas.

I've always wondered what it would be like to go on holiday at Christmas time, have someone else do all the cooking and entertaining. It's not really me though because secretly I strive on the stress. It's not Christmas if I haven't gained a few extra grey hairs, it's not Christmas if it's not at home with my family around me, doing what I can to make them happy, even if I don't get it right all the time.

So believe it or not, especially after reading this, I do love Christmas. I love the build up before hand, the manic Christmas shopping, the ads on tv, the Christmas films, old and new. I love making my Christmas cake weeks before and feeding it with brandy every week, then covering it with marzipan and icing and decorating it even though I'm the only member of my family that really likes eating it. I love turkey and brussells sprouts, Clementines and figs, Egg Nog and Baileys. I love Christmas trees and fairy lights, Christmas fayres and reindeers. There is nothing more magic than waking up on Christmas morning to the excitement of children when they see that Santa has been.

I love church at Christmas time, singing carols, kristingle, seeing the children take part in the Nativity play.

I don't plan Christmas down to the last detail any more. That doesn't mean that I don't plan it all, I just keep a more realistic view on it all. Things can and probably will go wrong but there is still a lot to fit in so a few lists are necessary, after all I wouldn't want to forget that special present that one of my littlies has been asking for since September!

So I write lists for present, food shopping, Christmas cards, decorations I might need after last years fell apart (must remember new lights for the tree this year, mine died on boxing day and wouldn't come back to life)

I write a menu for Christmas day to make sure I don't miss out on any of all that lovely food, most of which is total indulgence and completely unnecessary, but if you can't pig out at Christmas when can you?

I decide whether or not I'm going to entertain, and if I am I send out invites nice and early because people tend to get booked up quickly over the holiday season.

Most of all, my plan is to enjoy myself, and if the workload gets too much then I'm going to delegate or say that's enough. A tired overworked mummy is no use to anyone.

Do you plan Christmas to the last detail or go with the flow?

Tots100 Best Blog Posts by Parent Blogs

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What Autumn Means to Us - Center Parcs Monthly Challenge, November

Last year I was lucky enough to be chosen to be a Center Parcs Blogger. This year I was unable take part due to moving house and being disconnected from the internet for absolutely yonks (at least a month)
So now I'm entering to try and win a wild card place.
This months challenge is all about autumn and writing a poem. First I read the great tips by Emma on the Center Parcs blog. My favourite tip was:

Play outside – Despite the drop in temperature, it’s great to wrap up warm and get outside in the fresh air. The sound of the leaves crunching as you stroll through the park or play in the garden is bound to get you and your children inspired, so why not head outside for a brisk autumn stroll before setting to work on your poetic masterpiece?

This is exactly what we did, and I'm so glad we did because we had a lovely day. We walked to the local park, it was our first visit as we've only just moved here, and it's bound to be the first of many.
When we were back home we admired our haul of leaves and things we'd found while out walking and then created a word cloud.

We then set to work on our poem and this is what we came up with together

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What Autumn Means To Us

Birds start leaving in flocks above our heads
the days get darker and colder
The duvets are put back on our beds
And it's mum's birthday so she gets older

The leaves on the trees turn to orange, yellow and red
The frost on the ground nips our toes
We walk along with a crunch in our tread
And the cold North wind blows

The Spooks arrive on Halloween
giving us all a trick or a treat
The fireworks create a wonderful scene
and the bonfires give off heat

Time for one last play in the park
wrapped up warm in our coats
Soon the days will be too cold and dark
we'll have scarfs wrapped around our throats

We love Autumn, its our favourite season
We love leaves on the ground
We love all the bright colours for every reason
We love all the sights and sounds.

Our final task was to use the leaves we had collected while out on our walk to make a lovely wall display which will remind us of our lovely Autumnal walk to the park.

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 November challenge. If I'm chosen, I would like to visit Sherwood Forest..

Monday, 11 November 2013

All I Want is Help for My Little Girl

This week I am on a warpath. I feel guilty for not pushing sooner, but  I put my trust in others and now I am angry and upset.

My little Star has been in pain for more than thirteen weeks now. And the hospital have done nothing but mess us around and possibly made her worse.

Today I've contacted the hospitals Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) not so much to complain but for advice on what to do. It's been two weeks since Star had her CT scan and all I've been told since then was that the physiotherapy had to stop immediately and she was not to take off her collar. We had been working with the physiotherapist really hard on moving her neck and keeping the collar off as long as she could, but it seems that it has made her worse not better. Today I called Star's consultant's secretary to see if an appointment had been made for her yet to discuss the CT and what the next plan of action was, but was told that he had no appointments for the next few weeks. So obviously my little girl is unimportant. Of course I have every sympathy for every child who needs a consultant urgently, but now I want treatment for my child and if her consultant won't see her, then I want her referred to someone who will.

It seems that just because she is alert and otherwise well and carrying on with life as best as she can, then she is not an urgent case. She can be left in pain and discomfort because she's not making a big fuss. We are the only ones who have to help her lie down in her bed because it hurts too much to do it by herself, we are the only ones who are massaging her gently when it hurts too much, we are the only ones who see her cry because she doesn't want to wear her collar any more, or cry because she wants the collar back on because it hurts so much.

Or maybe it's because the consultant does not know what to do to help her. I've heard others say what a brilliant consultant he is and I've no doubt of that, but this is a rare and complicated condition which he has probably not come across before and doesn't know how to deal with it. From the way Star has been treated so far I am convinced this is the case. From the beginning it seems that no-one had a clue what to do. She was admitted to hospital but although they talked about different treatments she was eventually discharged having nothing at all, apart from the collar, muscle relaxants and pain killers.

So now I'm at a dark place, I swing from anger to tears and I'm just fed up with my little girl not being given the proper help she needs. I want someone to take action now, someone who knows what to do and how to make my little girl right again. Past medical records on this condition show that if left later than three months it becomes really difficult to treat and can mean a permanent problem. My little girl has been left more than three months now and my fears are growing daily.

If there is by any chance anyone out there who knows of someone treated for rotary subluxation of the atlanto occipital joint, please let me know of your experience.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A Walk in The Park in Autumn

Inspired by the Center Parcs November challenge we went for a walk to the local park. It was our first visit as we have only just moved here. I'm sure we will be going there again and again. We picked the perfect Autumn day, sunny and (mostly) dry.

As we walked to the park we took in the sights of Autumn all around us.

When we arrived at the playground, the littlies had loads of fun. It felt strange to me as I recognised the park instantly even though I'd believed I'd not been there before. When I was little my Dad would take me to a park every Saturday afternoon, we would visit lots of different parks but this one had been my favourite because it had a Helter Skelter. Sadly the Helter Skelter must have been long gone, but there were many features that I remembered, even the little car park where my dad used to park his Robin Reliant. Today the playground is fresh and new with lots for the littlies to play on, and as there were so few children there (just one other little girl and her mum) there was no waiting for swings and things.

After playtime we went on a forage for leaves and things that reminded us of Autumn. The children had fun running through the leaves that had fallen off the trees. We also found acorns but I told them to leave them for the squirrels to store for winter. There were a few conkers too and pine cones.

When we left the park we decided to visit the old church before heading home. It truly is a scene from the past and this weekend we are going back there for an old fashioned Christmas craft fayre.

Finally, we headed off home, but there will still things to see, like a bonfire on the allotments and trees filled with red berries, and tons and tons of leaves to walk through.

Redpeffer The Theme Game
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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 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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