Wednesday, 31 August 2016

My Embarrassing Confession

There are often times in life when it's very difficult to keep everything in. I'm talking about the embarrassing problem of urine leakage.

I had this problem when I was pregnant with Star. Although I already had two children it had been sixteen years since the last was born. It was like the first time all over again and so many things had changed. Not only that but I was much older! Towards the end of the pregnancy my baby was pressing against my bladder all the time and causing me to leak. I used sanitary pads to make sure I was kept dry. The problem is that sanitary towels are not meant for daily use, they are only supposed to be used one week a month or so for your cycle. They can cause irritation and do not really help with incontinence.

I had just a few weeks to go until my baby was due and the leakage was getting heavier. I mentioned it to my midwife and she said it could be my amniotic fluid leaking which could be dangerous for my baby. She told me a good way of telling if it was my amniotic fluid was by smell, it smelled sweet and much nicer than urine. So, I smelt my sanitary towel that I'd been using and was greeted with a lovely sweet smell. I rushed off to triage and told them my worries about my amniotic fluid leaking and they had me in for testing. Then came the embarrassing bit, my amniotic fluid was not leaking, I had used a fragranced sanitary towel. I'll never forget that day, I just consoled myself that my baby was safe and never used a sanitary towel for incontinence again.

Please feel free to share any of your embarrassing moments in the comments, go on , I dare you!

Star is now eleven years old and things have changed a lot since then too. Getting protection for leakage is a lot easier. Hartmann Direct offer a whole range of products for whatever your problem is. They have a really good Product Selector which is easy to use and can tell you which product you should be using. I had a go myself and I was given the option of MoliMed Comfort which come in packs of 28 for £5.10.

Since I got sick in January this year I experienced a lot of paralysis. I could not use my bladder or bowel at first but I was lucky that some feeling came back. The problem is I only know that I need to go when I really, really need to go. Then I have mobility problems which mean getting to the toilet on time is difficult. I don't have many accidents but I do leak occasionally so I wear protection every day.

I tried out the MoliMed comfort and although they are a little bigger than my usual brand they were a lot softer. They did not curl up while in use and the sticky strip worked really well in keeping them  in place. I would definitely recommend them for every day use. They are more comfortable and slightly larger than the brand I normally use and that reflects in the price. I do feel more safer using them. If I chose the smaller ones which are equivalent to the brand I normally use they would actually be cheaper.

I think Hartmann Direct offer a really good service which not only ensures you get the right product for your needs, they are also reasonably priced. I was really happy with the product I received and would buy them again.

Disclosure: I was given a sample product to review for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Great British Bake Off 2016 - week one

Last week we saw the return of the Great British Bake Off. Twelve new and nervous contestants are back in the tent hoping to wow us with their Show Stoppers and avoid all soggy bottoms. I was really excited for the start but in actual fact I had to record it and watch it late because life got in the way. That's why my post about it is a little late, but hopefully I'll be watching along with everyone else this Wednesday.

Week one was Cake week, a great start to baking. 
First up was one of my all time favourites, Drizzle Cake. If I'm honest I have only ever made orange or lemon drizzle cake, I'd like to try something a little more exotic.

Most of the contestants were very shaky, it must be nerve wracking to be in that tent and judged by Paul and Mary. The first round went fairly comfortably apart from the youngest contestant Mike. He'd gone for a Matcha Green Tea cake and Mary said it tasted like grass. I'm actually a big fan of Matcha but I will admit it's an acquired taste for some. In fact I remember Dorret, a contestant last year, using matcha in her biscuits and they didn't go down very well with Mary.

Then came the technical round and the contestants had to make Jaffa Cakes, something I've not tried before and would love to do, only no-one in my house but me likes Jaffa maybe not. I wouldn't dunk my Jaffa Cake in my tea though, shame on you Mr Hollywood, Mary's face was a picture when he did that.

I warmed to the quirky Val who listens to her cakes to see if they are cooked and has great difficulty in distinguishing the difference between icing sugar and cornflour. I hope she stays for a while, she could be fun to watch.

Selasi had to be the most laid back baker ever, nothing seemed to faze him, especially not the Jaffa Cakes as he came in first in the technical challenge. Poor Andrew was the only one who managed to do his cakes upside down, although Jane was a little confused and started her first upside down but continued with the rest the right way up. Lee's Jaffa's were a little short on chocolate, what a crime, in fact so much so I'm sure he would have come last if it wasn't for Andrews upside down cakes.

Then it came to the Showstopper, the make or break of cakes. A Mirror Glazed cake which Sue described as simple but fiendish. They were told to produce cakes with a mirror shine, which was taken a little too seriously by Candice who presented hers on a mirror. Unfortunately, as mirrored as her cake was decorated the actual sponge was a big flop, literally, and she walked away from the judges trying to hold back her tears. Another one in tears was Benjamina, she had real trouble with her cake and felt it had all gone wrong...she was wrong, the judges were really pleased with her efforts and her tears where turned to tears of joy.

Kate, Louise and Selasi failed to get a mirror glaze on their cakes, although their sponges were not so bad. Lee had a glaze on top but not on the sides, his cake also had no decoration and when they tasted it they complained that it was missing something...maybe the cream that Paul hinted at when talking to Lee about his choice of cake. Take the hints bakers!

Andrew of the upside down Jaffa Cakes produced a beautiful, shiny and tasty cake and redeemed himself. We will talk no longer of the upside down Jaffas.

Jane was working along a theme, her drizzle cake was chocolate and orange, the jaffa cakes, were of course, chocolate and orange, and her showstopper cake was also chocolate and orange. It was also a big hit with the judges so not a bad call really. In fact, really not bad at all as she was crowned this weeks Star Baker.

Lee was the baker sent home back to his parish, he tried but it was his lack of chocolate on his Jaffas and lack of shine on the side of his Showstopper that let him down.

It's hard to judge in the first week when nerves are also playing a huge part but I think that Jane, Selasi, Benjamina and Candice will do well and struggling already are Mike, Louise and Val.

I've not baked along this week but please feel free to take a peek at my Matcha Green Tea Cake and my Lemon Drizzle cake. 

Here's one I made earlier 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Accessible Days Out.

As a fairly new wheelchair user I am becoming increasingly aware of places I can and cannot visit easily. Accessibility is something you don't really think about until you are in that situation. I guess the closet I've come to thinking about it in the past is when I've had my children in their pushchairs. Times when you can't get across a road for all the parked cars, or you are faced with a big flight of steps, or even public transport although that has improved over the years. When my older children were born you couldn't take your pushchair on the bus, you had to fold it up and put it in the holder and carry baby or toddler on your lap.

Things are changing for wheelchair and pushchair users though, over time I'm seeing so much more accessibility. There are also places that you normally wouldn't think of visiting with a wheelchair that are surprisingly accessible, like castles and museums. It makes such a difference for all with mobility problems, but it's so exciting when a wheelchair bound mum, like me, can take their child to visit these places. Here is a fantastic infographic showing just some of the places you can now visit in a wheelchair, and a pushchair of course.
Scroll infographic to view it all.

This week I am getting my especially adapted car so we will be able to get around a lot easier. It makes a big difference to those with disabilities to be able to get around without having to relying on public transport. Do you know, if I want to get a train I have to phone ahead at least 24 hours in advance to tell them. I can't just turn up and jump on a train like I used to. Even when I go by bus I often wait while bus after bus goes past because there is no room for my wheelchair. Taxi's are also a problem, first you need one that is big enough to carry your wheelchair, then you need someone willing to help you. If we go as a family we have to order a extra large taxi, which of course carries extra expense. Having a car is going to make such a huge difference. I am lucky because I can transfer from my wheelchair to a car but some disabled people need wheelchair accessible vehicles so they can get in while still in their chair. I'm not sure yet if I will be able to cope on my own, I can't put my wheelchair in the boot or get it out by myself so I'll have to have someone with me. Being able to drive my wheelchair into the car would make life easier for me. It's maybe something I will think about in the future for even more independance.

So, where will I visit when I get my car? Somewhere accessible of course!
I wish I lived more north, I'd love to visit Scotland, going back to my infographic, can you imagine climbing a mountain in a wheelchair, I'd love that. I'd also love to visit The Falkirk Wheel or Edinburgh Castle. There are accessible castles a little closer, like Caernarfan Castle in Wales. I've also been to the World Museum in Liverpool in the past, when I was mobile. I'd love to go back knowing that it is possible to do so in my wheelchair.

If I wanted to travel further afield it's refreshing to know that their are sites like Disabled Holidays at hand to help find accessible holidays. Disabled Go also provides information and accessible places to visit including restaurants and hotels.

Sometimes, when you are wheelchair bound it feels like going out is such a hassle and staying at home is the better option. I know I've felt like this a lot this past nine months. It need not be so bad though, there are options you just need to look for them, from transport to places to visit and even holidays abroad, being wheelchair bound should not be a drawback.

Infographic suppplied by Mobility Nationwide.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Printerpix Canvas Review and Reader Discount

I was given the opportunity to have a canvas produced from one of my prints at Printerpix.
They have also provided me with a code for my readers to recevie a massive 60% off site wide..that's anything on the site. You can receive this fantastic discount by visiting Printerpix and entering the code RAISIEBAY at checkout. This offer is for UK and Ireland customers only and expires September 30th 2016.

I do love canvas pictures, they always hang so well and you don't need a frame. I wanted one of my three youngest having fun in the garden. Unfortunately, I can't get into the garden because of my mobility issues so I had to trust the Other Half to take it. He did take some lovely shots, but didn't bother to pick up the stray toys scattered around the garden in the background.

I uploaded the print to the Printerpix which was really easy to do. I was then given a rating on my photo and told if it would suit the size of canvas I'd chosen. A lot of my photos, particularly the ones taken on my phone were unsuitable for the larger size canvas, but my camera photos were ok.

One feature that  I really liked was being able to see what the canvas would look like on the wall. You could even scroll through several different rooms on the site to view it.

Canvas prices start from £19.95 and go up to £69.95 depending on what size you chose. I went for 20" by 16" which would cost £37.95.
Here is my canvas on my wall at home, along with my mum's clock.

After ordering, my canvas was with me within 3 working days which was really good. It arrived very well packaged and in excellent condition. The canvas was true to the photo (including the toys scattered in the background) The canvas is on a sturdy wooden frame and it's easy to hang.

Printerpix do not only make canvas, they do many other photographic gifts, from prints to photobooks. I'm a big fan of photobooks and they've taken the place of photograph albums in my home. You can also have your photos printed on cushions, mugs and phone cases.

Don't forget the fabulous 60% discount that Printerpix are offering my readers by using the code: RAISIEBAY at the checkout before September 30th 2016.

Disclosure: I was provided with a canvas print for the purpose of the review. the banner is an affiliate link. 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Star - Word of the Week

It's been a strange week, I don't feel as though I've done much yet a lot has been achieved. I've chosen Star as the word of the week because a lot of the week has been about her.

On Monday and Tuesday Star went to her new secondary school. She stayed all day both days and made some new friends. She was also supposed to go on Wednesday but it was her birthday and although she was looking forward to spending her first ever birthday at school, when the day came she didn't want to go. It wasn't compulsory attendance so I let her off. Because we thought she would be at school we didn't have anything planned for her, but she didn't mind. We did go out, we went to check out the venue for our wedding reception, and then we did a little school shoe shopping.

After shopping we grabbed some lunch from Greggs and ate outside in the sunshine.

I think she's looking so much more grown up now that she is eleven. She's 5ft 3" and her shoes were size 4. It won't be long before she's taller than me.

I made her a birthday cake, last year she wanted a Charmander cake. For those not familiar Charmander is a Pokemon and it evolves into Charizard. So this year we had Charizard on the cake.

Her next birthday treat is a trip to Pizza Hut with the entire family. It's becoming a tradition now, I've tried to persuade her to do something else but she's adamant it's what she wants to do. We will also take a little trip into Build-A -Bear with her birthday money.

Then on Thursday Star had a visit to the hospital to see her neuro consultant about her neck. She has already had her CT scan. The consultant was really pleased and said her neck is doing very well, the bone graft is fusing (which is why she's been experiencing pain and soreness, but that's a good thing) and the pins are in place still. It's hard to believe all that we went through with her neck, two years of worry for us and pain for her, it's such a relief to know that all is well. She will still have six monthly checks because her body is still changing and growing.

She starts her new school on 8th September and she's all ready now. I've even filled her pencil case for her. I was thinking last night that I've not yet had a child that has made it through secondary school, Star could be my first if it goes well. It's quite a worry with her autism, but I've had lots of contact with the school already and another meeting set up for 30th September to see how she's settling in. My fingers are very tightly crossed.

I did think that I would be getting my new car today, but they are only just fitting my adaptations so it will be next Wednesday now. We will still have a week before the kids go  back to school so I'm looking at places we can go in our last few days of the holiday.

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Does Screen use Make Your Kid Autistic?

I was reading a blog the other day, quite an inoffensive blog that I read often. This blog had featured a guest post which was also quite inoffensive, apart from one comment 'Is the iPhone and iPad a trigger for autism?'
I felt angry just reading this. It's just not fair, any mum of an autistic child will tell you that guilt is something that many parents feel despite knowing that it's not our fault. It's true that the exact causes of autism are unknown but it's also true that it has not been proved to be caused, or even triggered by outside sources. It is most likely to be genetic and I'm sure one day this will be proved.

Going back to the iPhone and iPad trigger autism statement the post cites two different documents for back up. One states that screen time for under two year olds can be bad. I cannot disagree with this, I don't think babies should be given ipads or phones to play with or be stuck in front of the tv for hours. Small amounts of television isn't that bad, I know one of my babies loved listening to nursery rhymes and other tunes along with pictures for a short time. It's balancing that with time spent interacting and playing with toys with the child. Of course a child will suffer if screens are the only stimulation they ever get. The other document was a study carried out on children in three USA states and apparently shows that autism rose in states where there was more cable television, or more rain to keep the child indoors. The problem with studies like this is that they don't take into consideration other important factors that could be the cause of autism. So, although children watch more tv and from an early age there is nothing to suggest that this was the actual cause, there are far too many other variables like the families income, diet, race and history.

Many autism parents find devices like the iPad a fantastic way of entertaining and teaching their child. Children do love technology and this also goes for many autistic children. I have used one to keep my child pre-occupied while waiting for surgery, she was much calmer than previous times when there was no distraction to stop her from getting stressed and upset. There are many other times when it's necessary to keep a child (autistic or not) calm and pre-occupied and these devices are ideal.This article calls the iPad a 'miracle' device for autism. I don't totally agree but it can be really useful if you have an autistic child.

My children love watching television too. They watch it together and then go off and talk about it, draw pictures about or even play things they've seen on television. This is normal, this is fun, this is not destroying their childhood, it's enhancing it. I have five children, two have autism, they have all been brought up the same and probably watched the same amount of television. My older children enjoyed playing console games together and my younger children have mastered the computer at a young age. I don't believe any of it has harmed them. Only one of my children (one of the older ones) has eyesight problems. I do get my children's eyesight checked regularly though.

My younger children will enjoy spending time sitting at the computer playing games or watching videos. They learn a lot and laugh a lot. They have regular breaks and don't go on if they are feeling ill. They have probably spent more time in front of a screen that myself, their Dad or their older siblings ever did at their age but I don't think it has harmed them. Take them away and they still know how to play together, they have fantastic imaginations and loads of energy. They are not overweight and do not have eyesight problems.

More importantly my children's autism was not caused or triggered by any sort of screen time and I stand by that until proved irrevocably otherwise.

Let me know what you think in the comments? or on my Facebook Page.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Asics Gel Kayano Evo Trainers - a review.

I was asked by Infinities Designer Menswear if I would like to choose something for my Other Half. By chance he was just telling me that he needed a new pair of trainers so of course that's the first thing I looked for.

He went for the Asics Gel Kayano Evo Trainers in Navy Blue.

The trainers have a skeletal logo for support, a full mesh textile upper with a perforated toe and branding to the tongue. They also have alpha gel in the heal a tonal midsole and a sock collar and heel. 

I think that they look smart. I'm not keen on brightly coloured trainers and plain black is boring, so Navy Blue pleases me.

My Other Half is very pleased with his new trainers.

He thinks as well as looking smart they are really comfortable. He loves the mesh because it means his feet can 'breathe' and he doesn't feel hot and sweaty. He feels they are a good fit and easy to wear, he loves the midsole and the gel heels, he said they make him feel like he has a spring in his step. He does a lot of walking so I'm sure these trainers will get a lot of use, especially as they are so comfy. 

I had a little nose around the Infinities Designer Menswear website, just in case I fancied treating the Other Half to something else a bit later...shhh! (Yes, I'm an early Christmas shopper)

This site is choc-a-block with designer brands from Adidas to Henri Lloyd, Paul Smith to Vivianne Westwood. I managed to find a nice Paul Smith wallet that I believe OH would like. 

If you are into your designer labels then this is a good place to shop. Of course with designer labels come designer prices but I did notice a lot of things on sale which prove to be a great bargain.

The trainers I chose retail at £69.95 and a quick Google search tells me this is the R.R.P across most shops, except those with sales on the product. 

In conclusion, Infinities Designer Menswear is a great place to go for men's designer clothing and good for a bargain or two at sale prices.

The trainers I ordered were delivered promptly, well packaged and have tested to be a great product. I'm sure we'd buy Asics again. (Actually, I can't see any reason why I can't have a pair especially as seeing sizes start from UK size 6!) 

Disclosure: I was given the trainers free of charge for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinons are my own and those of my OH. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

My Sunday Photo - 21st August 2016

No the best quality of photo this week, but that's what you get when you are at a party with just your  phone camera! Here are my three all sweaty and exhausted after a session on the dance floor!

The original plan was that my Other Half would take the kids to the party, which was his friends engagement party, and I was staying at home with some friends coming over to keep me company. It turned out that my friends had their dates mixed up (one thought it was Friday the other Saturday and neither could make the other day) so we have postponed our night in for a couple of weeks.

This meant that I was free to go to the party and the Other Half really wanted me to go. I haven't been out in the evening like this since we were on holiday in June and that  was  a disaster. There was no room for my wheelchair, I couldn't move anywhere and panic set in. We even ended up arguing because we were both stressed.

I really didn't want to go but I have to go on living my life despite what's happened to me. So I found some bravery from somewhere and off we went with OH promising that we wouldn't stay very long.

We had a really good night. The kids were on the dance floor from the very beginning and I found space where I felt comfortable. We ended up staying almost to the end. (There was even a disabled toilet in the cubicles, which meant I could tell Boo to go back to dancing as I'd taken her with me to help just in case.)

I'm so glad I was brave enough to go in the end, everyone had a real good night. The only bad part was the venue was upstairs so it took us a while to get in and I suffered a bit quite a lot afterwards because of the stairs. But it was worth it and I've gained an extra confidence point which is always a good thing. 

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I'd love to connect with you there.


Friday, 19 August 2016

Word of the Week - Planning

Last week we got the date for our wedding, which is only just over three months away!

Wedding Countdown Ticker

So this week we have started planning, there is so much to do.
So much I didn't really think about before!

We went shopping to get some inspiration as we've not picked a theme yet. We came back with a cake topper and cake separaters. I'm not making my own cake,  I've made a wedding cake before, but it's far too much work for me now that my health is not good. So I'm buying three plain white cakes and decorating them myself. 

I also ordered a few dresses online to try on at home. I couldn't manage trying them on in a shop, I get exhausted getting dressed. One didn't fit at all (even though they were all the same size,) one I loved and fitted lovely, but the last one I tried on I loved even more! So I've found my dress.

I decided to do the same for the girl's dresses, it's less stressful trying on at home. Boo has her dress but we will have to try again with Star, she's not yet 11 years old but even the 13 yr dresses I sent for didn't fit her. It's a good job all these things can be returned.

We wrote down our list of people we wanted to invite individually and then compared. Then we started all over again whittling the list down. We have already decided it will not be a huge gathering but it's so hard to choose who to include and who not too. We decided that it would have to be close family and friends that we are still in touch with regularly. So that's those we see frequently or speak to frequently on the phone or internet. There are so many friends and relatives we don't see a lot of. Most of my family I only see at funerals.

Then when we had a rough idea of how many people were coming we started looking for venues to accommodate them. The plan is late wedding at registry office with just a few close family members, then a reception party on the evening. There will be no wedding breakfast, we don't have the time or money for that. The wedding is late November and nearly all the venues we tried are already booked up with Christmas parties. You have to get in early to book for Christmas, probably January is a good idea. 

Finally we were down to three venues, one is close but only holds 70 people, we said small, but maybe a few more than that. The next venue is upstairs in a gorgeous listed building pub. This venue holds 120 people but you have to have their pub food for the buffet and it's pretty expensive. We have a preliminary booking there just in case. The third venue is the one we are going to view first, it's all ground level (a big bonus when you are a wheelchair user,) holds 100 people, and offers a reasonably priced buffet. 

I think I've become very excited about it all now. I did want to get married but I thought I wanted a quick run to the registry office, sign the papers, deed done sort of wedding. I'm glad I've changed my mind, even if I come to regret it later with the stress. The Other Half has become very useful at helping with the planning although he tends to get a bit carried away, I believe we might end up with three DJs and three photographers if I don't keep him in check, haha. 

Thanks for reading my ramblings, getting to the point, my word this week has to be planning!

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Boolino Books Review - Introducing Teddy

We are a family of book lovers although we all have our different tastes in what we read. I have instilled a love of books in my children from a very early age and with my older children I've seen that love grow.

The younger children are just starting out on their reading journey and area already beginning to show their preferences. Star loves a good adventure story but it has to feature animals or mythical creatures. Boo likes funny easy to read stories and her favourite book is The Magic Faraway Tree. The Little Man loves easy to read books, he's only six and reads all the time.

I'm really happy to be  a Boolino Books blogger and get the chance to review their books on a regular basis. Boolino Books have a mission to create lots of new readers by helping parents find books they would like easily. The website is easy to use and the books are easily searched by age or topic. There are also lots of reviews and recommendations on the site. They also have a fabulous selection of bedtime stories to read or listen to on Soundcloud.

 The first book I was offered to review is Introducing Teddy, a story about being yourself.
The book is written by Jessica Walton and illustrated by Dougal MacPherson and is published by Bloomsbury.

Here is the blurb from the back;

Errol and Thomas the Teddy play together every day. but when Thomas feels sad one morning - and not even the swings cheer him up - Errol is worried.
Thomas has a secret to share, and it's something that is difficult to say out loud. Will Errol understand that Thomas would rather be called Tilly? And can they still be friends?
A heart-warming story about friendship and acceptance, starring a very brave teddy. 

At first I was concerned about it being aimed at introducing to transgender issues, but the entire story is quite charming and it's so much more about the strength of friendships rather than gender issues. My concerns were soon lost and I actually felt ashamed that I felt them in the first place. These are issues that are faced every day and children will grow up more accepting if they understand that some people are not as they seem straight away rather than shielding them from it. In fact it would be the perfect story for a child where, say perhaps, Uncle Simon has become Auntie Jane.

In short Thomas is a boy teddy bear and he wants to be a girl teddy bear, he's worried what his friends will think, but his friends don't care because they love him anyway.

The text is easy enough to be grasped by early readers but it's also a good book to read to your children. The illustrations are delightful and make the story even more special.

The book was well received by both my six year old and my eight year old children.

Disclosure: We were sent this book for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Activation Game - Reaching the End.

Twelve and a half weeks ago I was asked to review a personal development course on rediscovering human values. I embraced the course myself and I'm so glad I did, I enjoyed every moment and I feel I have learnt so much.

Each week the book gave me a clue to solve, the answer gave me a website with lots of resources which explored a human value and then led me into a discovery of what that value meant to me and how I could explore it further.

Some of the values I found easy, they are things that I always embrace and I know that's the way I am. Other values were much harder for me to explore and I found out things about myself that I never knew before. The hard weeks made me face up to a lot, but they are also the weeks that I gained the most.

I watched videos, played games, spent time thinking about things, talked to people, shared things, meditated and discovered how to be more mindful. It has certainly been a journey. One I didn't want to end if I'm honest.

When I reached the final half week I found myself hoping that I would find the clue really difficult as I knew that once I found the answer, and the website, it would be the beginning of the end. Of course I know that things like this never really end because when you learn so much about yourself you take it with you forever.

For twelve and a half weeks I have been completed events, or tasks, that have been set for me. Some I've not been able to complete precisely because of my disabilities, but I've always found a way of doing them. Some of them I had to postpone until a later date, some I've not completed yet but I know I will, I actually have them planned for later dates. The events have been fun and enlightening and I've felt at ease doing them, even the more challenging ones.

It's hard to describe something when you don't want to give too much away. I guess book reviews are like that, you want to tell everyone all the little details that you feel excited about, but if you do, you spoil it for them. There always has to be an element of surprise. With this book I hope everyone will be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Things I think I can tell you without giving too much away are..
This is more than just a book, it's your book.
This is a journey and you are welcome to share your journey with others on the Facebook page.
You can take it at your own pace. It is meant to be done over twelve and a half weeks but I'm sure it wouldn't really matter if you took longer.
You don't have to do everything you are told to do, but you do need to do as much as you can to get the most benefit, and it is designed to benefit you.

If you would like to know more about the book then please take a look at my original review.
You can also get a taste of what it's like on the website The Activation Game.
The book can be purchased from the website or from Amazon.
If you do take it up be sure to let me know, I'd love to know how you get on and I'll always be on hand if anyone needs any help on the Facebook Page.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

My Sunday Photo - 14th August 2016

I took this photo at Hatton Adventure World a couple of weeks ago. I really love tortoises, I remember seeing the one they had on Blue Peter as a child and always wanting one of my own. I didn't have one, boo hoo, but I did have two lovely terrapins which I adored.

Is there a pet that you always wanted as a child?


Friday, 12 August 2016

Dates - My Word of the Week.

I'm a huge fan of dates, they are sticky, sweet and delicious...but that's not what kind of dates I'm on about this week.
The week started with my other half taking his driving theory test....and passing first time!
So he booked his driving test when he got home. He was a bit worried about this because he doesn't feel ready yet, but I said to go ahead anyway because there is always a waiting list. I was right, there was nothing available until December. He called his instructor who told him to try another test centre and he managed to book his test for 23rd October which was much better!

So, there is my first date - 23rd October! I know a lot of people don't pass first time but I'm really hoping that my other half will do well. It's very exciting.

Then a little later in the day I had a call from the car dealer to say he'd managed to secure my car and it will be in country within 10 days. Then I have to wait for the adaptations to be fitted and the car will be mine..on 1st September! That's date number two, when I get my new car.

On Tuesday it was the Little Man's birthday, always a special date.

Finally on Wednesday we took a trip into town to the Registry Office and booked our wedding day. It was a bit touch and go as somehow I've managed to lose my decree absolute from my divorce. We turned the house upside down looking for it but with no luck. I can't remember having to use it before. It's strange because I have everything else, all my letters from the solicitors and the family courts and my decree nisi. I even have a letter from my solicitor saying that my decree absolute was enclosed...but of course, it wasn't. We had been told that without it we couldn't go ahead with our appointment but as I knew this wasn't law I decided to go anyway. It didn't matter if they turned us away we'd lose our £70 appointment fee for not turning up too. The lady we saw was really nice and said it was ok for us to go ahead so long as we produced the missing decree absolute 28 days before the wedding, preferably sooner. So, we did it..we booked a date.

We said we were not really fussy about the date but it would be nice to have it in November. She came back with 26th November and we snapped it also happens to be my birthday! So that is my third date, the date of our wedding (and my birthday.)

Oh, and while we were in town I put in my application for a duplicate decree absolute, so that's sorted too.

Now I'm faced with the realisation that I have a wedding to plan in just over three months!

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

What's in the Box This Week?

Hello and welcome to this week's What's in the Box my weekly linky where you can link up all your box opening posts and vlogs.

First let me tell you about a couple of subscription boxes I've heard about. Feel free to add your posts on any type of boxes though, you don't have to follow my theme..although if you have reviewed either of these I'd be interested to hear about it.

Book and a Brew - Sounds perfect to me, there is nothing I like more than grabbing a cuppa and settling down with a good book. With this subscription service you can do just that. For £12.99 per month you get a hardback book and pack of tea. It's a surprise especially selected for you.

Prudence and the Crow - If I'm honest I think £15 per month is a little much to be asking for an old book, but you do get a handmade bag, a special library card and sometimes a little extra surprise. I think you'd be wealthier visiting you local charity shop, but if you like a surprise through your letterbox you might be tempted.

I've decided to set up this linky so that subscription box lovers can link up and find out what everyone else is getting.

It might give you some ideas of the best ones to sign up too!

In the future I hope to feature some of the best posts that have linked up, so please do join in. I'll also tweet your posts and share them on my Facebook page. I'll also comment on all submissions.

Now for the Rules, don't worry they are easy.

  • link up your subscription box post or video, it can be any kind of box
  • take a look and comment on a couple of other posts in the linky, it's only fair and you may find something exciting to subscribe to.
  • include my badge so that others may find the linky and join in.
There you have it, simple!

I'll put the linky up every Tuesday and you can add to it until he following Monday. Do tell your friends, this is a new linky and we'd love everyone to join in.

I really can't wait to see what you've had in your boxes!

Here's my badge, the copy code is underneath.

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Minecraft Birthday Party for the Little Man

My Little Man is now six years old, I have no idea how that happened, he'll always be my baby.

He was my little surprise baby, I wasn't really expecting any more and after having fertility issues in the past I really thought I was fully blessed already. However, when I found out I was expecting again I knew it was meant to be.

My Little Man is funny, lovely and always thinks of others. He's great at making friends and talks to any child even if he's not met them before. We can be walking down the street and if we come across another child he'll say "hello, will you be my friend?" I think he scares some children with his forwardness.

He does have problems with his attention span and finds it difficult to sit still, or be quiet for any length of time. This is why he gets in trouble at school a lot, he needs constant stimulation. One thing that he will spend ages doing is playing Minecraft and other similar games.
So I was not surprised when he asked for a Minecraft party for his birthday.

There are lots of resources for Minecraft activities online but I didn't want to go over the top. In the past I probably would have done, I'd have dressed up the house, the table and everything would be themed. I'd plan tons of related games, and get lots of prizes in for the kids that came.

However, I'm not well at the moment and I had to limit myself to what I thought I could achieve. Plus, I've done parties for six year old's before and they can be hard work, sometimes it's better just to let them play.

The party was last Saturday and it was  a really hot sunny day. We've just had swings and a slide for the garden so there was already plenty of play opportunities. I bought a grass coloured table cloth and my partner stuck it to the side of my shed. Then using Minecraft printouts, I made masks by sticking them on to card and adding a lolly stick so the kids (And adults) could hold them to their face. The affect was really good and the kids (and adults) really enjoyed posing for me.

We played foraging for supplies like they do on Minecraft. I got the older girls to hide lots of little pictures of minecraft supplies like gold, meat, apples, carrots, TNT, cookies, redstone and bread all around the garden, then I gave the kids a little prize for bringing me five different pictures that they had found. Kids always love a treasure hunt.

Then we had the food. Apart from using Minecraft green tablecloth, plates, cups and napkins I just did regular party food like sandwiches and sausages rolls, party biscuits and other snacks. I did take a little time to make him a Minecraft Cake though and he was really pleased with it.

After they had eaten we played 'Pass the Parcel' not very Minecraft I know but it's always a pleaser at parties.

I gave all the children a pot of bubbles to play with in the garden. You can get Diamond bottles which is somewhat along the Minecraft theme.

Finally I gave all the kids a party bag to take home, I had bought party bags which had cards inside with a personalised Minecraft message. When most of the children had gone the ones left had a game with the Little Man's new cricket set.

I think the Little Man and his friends had a great day.
I've made a little video of his celebrations.


Monday, 8 August 2016

The Day I Did Too Much Physio

Anyone who has needed physio therapy will probably relate to the way you try so hard to please your therapist. It's probably because deep down you believe they are the one that is going to fix you and you are desperate to be well again so you'll do whatever they ask and probably more.

As a member of an online support group I read on a daily basis of people who have suffered from my condition, Transverse Myelitis, and worked really hard to get well again. To walk again and live a normal life. Even though many are prone to relapse or still have lots of pain, they still consider themselves recovered because of the hard work they put in to get there.

I want to get better, of course I do, who in their right mind would want to suffer pain 24/7 and not be able to leave the house unless in a wheelchair?

The need to please my physio therapist and do well is apparent in me. I will do everything she says and more. I don't ask for a break unless she asks, I keep going, keep pushing, determined to show that I am getting better, I can do this.

For some reason this week I wanted it more than ever, maybe it was my frustration of getting out and about while in my chair. I wanted to show that I could do it, that I was so much better than I was before. I've been exercising at home and I wanted to show it.

It started off well, I wasn't as stiff as I was last time when I got out of my wheelchair. I walked, being careful not to drag my foot. She said it was too slow and told me to go faster, it's easier to walk if you walk faster apparently. So I did, I picked up my pace a little and got into the swing of it. Then she told me to let go of the bars and do it again, and I did. Then she told me to relax my hands away from the bars and do it again, and I did. Then she made me side step, then side step a little faster. By this time I was well and truly shattered and she asked if I wanted a break.

Five minutes later I was up again and this time she had got the step out. Step up and down with one foot, step up and down with the other foot, and again and again. Then step up and over, and again, and with the other foot. My knee was hurting and I complained...ok just a few more. It hurt, I was shattered but I did more.

Finally it was over and I'd done incredibly well, so why didn't I feel elated? Usually when I have a good physio session I'd log onto to Facebook and tell my friends how well I was doing. I didn't feel like I was doing well, I felt like I was dying inside and out.

Before I left my therapist was trying to persuade me to go without my wheelchair next time. Did she think I'd make the 10 minute walk to the bus stop? Ok then, she suggested I got a taxi and walked into the hospital taking breaks whenever I need them. It's a big hospital, I'd have to arrive an hour earlier to get up to the gym by the time of my appointment. Then I wouldn't be fit for anything. Ok then, maybe I could walk from the reception to the gym. Ah, that's better, it would probably only take me about 10 minutes, if I could make it, there's nowhere to stop on the way, nothing to hold on to.
Suddenly I felt very pessimistic. I felt as though I wasn't doing enough, She was making out that I rely on my wheelchair too much.

I don't, I don't use my wheelchair in the house and I walk around as much as possible during the day. I'm even going up and down the stairs a few times a day now. I push myself all the time.

I was so worn out after the session I felt like falling asleep on the bus on the way home. My feet started to swell and within a couple of hours I couldn't even get my slippers on. My legs were burning and my knees hurt. My knees hurt so bad my painkillers didn't touch the pain and I couldn't get to sleep that night.

The next day my feet were swollen and my knees hurt. This is not the sort of pain you expect from exercise, trust me, I've done enough to feel the burn in my lifetime. This was non stop neuro pain, this was my body saying you've done too much and I'm not happy. This is my life as a TM sufferer and it happens whenever I do too much.

Then there is the exhaustion, it takes you over and makes you feel like you've not slept for days.
Then you can't sleep because the pain won't let you.

Do I have to suffer to get better?

Will I not get better unless I push myself and bear the pain?

What is the point in spending one hour proving that I can walk and step up and down a little step, if it means I'm going to suffer for days afterwards?

Last year I did the Race For Life. That's 5K. I didn't run but I walked quickly and it hurt, and the next day I ached. But, it was nothing like I felt after my physio, it is like comparing a cold to pneumonia.

I felt like cancelling my next session and never turning up again. I felt like I just couldn't do it, I'll just sit in my wheelchair and get used to a life of immobility.

But I can't. I'll do my therapy like a good girl and prove that I can do it because I'm superwoman and nothing is going to stop me. Then in  five years time I'll go back to my support group and tell them how I fought  my way to getting well again...until the next relapse at least.

My Random Musings

Sunday, 7 August 2016

My Sunday Photo - 7th August 2016

My Son is Minecraft mad so it was no surprise that he asked for a Minecraft birthday party this year. The party was yesterday but it's not his birthday until Tuesday, then he will be six. How did that happen?

I decided for this party that I'd have a photo booth, I bought a cheap tablecloth that looked like grass and my OH pinned it to the side of his shed. I printed off some Minecraft characters and stuck them to card then stuck a lolly stick on the back. 

The kids took it in turns to have their photo's taken. I did get some props as well but it was so hard to get more than one six year old at a time to stand still for 10 seconds!


Friday, 5 August 2016

Transport - My Word of the Week

This week I've chosen transport as my word of the week for several reasons.

On Monday we went to Hatton Adventure World, we've been there many times before and I usually drive there. It takes about half an hour to get there by car (unless you miss the turn off on the motorway and end up in Oxford instead, but that's another story!)

As I'm not currently driving we had to take an alternative route. Bus, train and taxi.
The first journey I planned had to be abandoned because Hatton Station has no wheelchair access, so we had to go to the next station and then get a taxi back. The whole journey took 2 1/2 hours. A little longer than the usual 1/2 hour don't you think. We've decided that as much as we like Hatton we are not travelling there like this again.

Then on Thursday I had a hospital appointment for physio and we decided to take the kids to stay with their nanny. To get to nanny's house we had to travel on three buses. The first two were fine but while waiting for the third bus we had to watch three go past because they did not have room for my wheelchair. It was getting late so when we finally got on bus number four, which went directly past nanny's house and the hospital, I came up with a plan. We called nanny to meet us at the bus stop and then my other half saw the kids off the bus and we stayed on to go straight to the hospital. We just didn't have the time to wait for another bus.

So our transport options this week have not been good and it does get depressing sometimes. It makes you not want to leave the house because everywhere we go takes much longer. And if I'm really honest, it's not fun being in a wheelchair on the bus. Why do I have to face the whole of the bus while they face me. It would be so much more comfortable if I could sit sideways in my chair. Most people don't look at me, but those that do look at me with pity. I don't want to be pitied.

Today is a new day though, and although we have to face more bus journeys it may end very nice. We are going to view some cars and I'm going to try out some hand controls. I have no idea how  it's going to go yet but I do feel optimistic and excited. My other half is worried that I'll find I can't drive with hand controls and I'll be even more disappointed, but I have to try.  If all turns out well we can put in an order for a new car with hand controls. Now that is exciting!

My other half is currently learning to drive and hopes to have his licence this year. If that goes well he can drive my car too because hand controls can be turned off and the car driven normally. The only drawback is that the car needs to be automatic which won't be good for my other half having just passed his test, so I'm saving up so that we can buy a second cheap car for him to run around in...and keep practicing those gear and clutch controls.

Wish me luck!

The Reading Residence

Brain Boost Box - Review

If you are a regular reader you will know that I am a big fan of subscription boxes so i was thrilled to be offered a Brainboost box to review. I chose the School box for 9-12 years old for my daughter Star who is ten. Other options are 2-4 years and 5-8 years boxes. If I am honest I think that maybe I was sent the 5-8 years box by mistake. The activities did seem more aimed at that age and definitely the book that was provided.

As much as I love Judith Kerr and Mog I do think this book is more for my 5 year old rather than my 10 year old. In fact my Little Man picked it up straight away and began reading.

The box arrived addressed to Star which she was thrilled about, children really do love getting post addressed to them. 

Inside the box was six activities each one in a zip lock bag. This idea is brilliant, it keeps everything together for each activity. 

Each bag has a details instruction card. It also tells you about which skills are developed. For this project, Elephant Sewing, you get all the materials needed to sew and stuff a cute elephant. The skills are;
  • Early investigative skills
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Develops creativity and communication
It gives precise details of how to make the elephant and also makes some suggestion as to how you can increase the child's learning. For example, researching elephants and where they live, how much they way, how tall they are and so on. It's definitely educational.

Also in the box was a basket to weave from a template and ratten, some wooden letters with instructions for several games to play, instructions and materials to make a straw rocket, a bag of beads with thread and a game to play outdoors with chalk and counters.

The beads where very popular with all my children and they all had a go at threading them.

Here is the Little Man deep in concentration.

As the card had suggested I instructed him to thread to beads in colour order. This was his finished result.

I think he did really well and it kept him occupied for ages which is pretty impressive for a hyperactive five year old. 

The little man also really enjoyed the rocket activity. He spent ages designing his rocket, then he played for ages blowing it off the end of a straw.

Brainboost box was the invention of Dr Maryhan Baker, her aim was to create a way that parents could interact with their children in a fun and educational way. The activities in the boxes focus on five core skills, creativity, communication, emotional, physical and cognitive. 

In each box you receive five activities and a book. Each activity is in it's own ziplock bag and has a detailed instruction card with modification ideas to increase the educational value of each one. 

Each box is £20 with free P&P for UK customers. You receive one box per month and can cancel at any time. You can also choose to pay 3 monthly or 6 monthly for a discount on the price. You can also add extra materials for siblings which I think is a nice idea as a lot of us mums have more than one child who wants to join in .

I found the activities engaging and fun and my children enjoyed doing them. I do believe that the activities in the box were for the 5-8 yr age group rather than the  9-12 which is what I asked for. I believe this was a genuine mistake and as it was sent free of charge (and I have two children in the 5-8 yr bracket) I would not complain.

My overall opinion is that the box was packaged well, the box was sturdy and it was easy to keep everything together inside it despite it being through the mailing service. I love the idea of the zip lock bags to keep all the activity pieces together. The activities where entertaining, educational and fun, I actually managed to get my children to give up screen time to try them out. You definitely get more than you would with a letterbox children's activity box and this is reflected in the price. If you found most of the activity bags individually in a shop you'd probably expect to pay at least £5 each and you also get a book, so it's worth the £20 you pay for each box. The only activity I was disappointed with was the wooden letters. They were good quality and very colourful but  there was only nine of them and although we could play most of the games we couldn't make many words from them. I think you need at least 20 letters if not a complete alphabet. We still had fun with them though.

Here is the reply I received from the founder of Brainboost after my post was published.
"Hi Raisie, it's Maryhan, the founder of Brainboost. We are so sorry, we did post out the wrong box! We sent you the Early School box, which is for 5-8 year olds. Thank you for your honest review, we really do appreciate it as it helps us make our boxes even better. Thank you also to all your lovely followers and their comments too. 

We are in fact currently looking into different options to make our subscription more accessible such as boxes with fewer activities for less than £20 and offering a bi-monthly option. We would really appreciate some frank and honest feedback from anyone who might ordinarily be interested in this type of subscription. So please do get in touch and we can email a questionnaire across and then follow it up with a telephone call, if you are willing to speak to me directly.  

With very best wishes Maryhan"

Disclosure: I was sent a Brainboost Box for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Hatton and the Water Wars!

We were excited to be invited to spend the day at Hatton Adventure World and try out their new Water Wars.

You can do Water Wars and Water Battles but I'd advise you to do both at the same time and bring spare clothes and towels because you are going to get very wet!

We arrived at Hatton just before lunch and had a walk around the animals, played on the helter skelter and had a picnic before attempting the water events.

The first event was Water Wars and my other half and the kids were first in line. You work as a team and fire water filled balloons at your opponent. The result is that you have lots of fun and get wet in the process.

Then it was onto the battle field where you fill up your water pistol and fire at will, there are hay bales to hide behind too. Everyone had loads of fun and got really really wet!

Here is a short video highlighting the fun we had.

I was talking to some other mum's there and they agreed that these two new additions were fantastic for the summer and that it was definitely worth a visit. The kids had loads of fun and because I'd brought towels and spare clothes they were able to get dried off afterwards to enjoy the rest of the farm.

The Little Man really enjoyed the pedal JCB's and the fairground rides.

They all liked the gold panning where they exchange their pieces of gold for a medal.

There is so much to do at Hatton Adventure world, including sand play, parks, slides, bouncy castles, zip line, picking peas (and other seasonal vegetables) magic and puppet shows, indoor play, picnic areas, restaurant and cafe's. Then of course you have the farm animals.

There are also the indoor reptiles and the amazing guinea pig village. The children are actively encouraged to pet the animals at certain times. Boo feel in love with this particular guinea pig.

There is also a regular falconry display which proves to be really popular. We've seen it before so we missed it this time but only because we had so much else to do. 

When the kids get older I'm pretty sure they will enjoy the lazer combat, we were watching while the kids were on the slide and it looks great fun. You can also go for  a ride around the farm in an army truck. 

Hatton Adventure World is one of our favourite places to visit. It's not far from us too being in Warwick and really not far from the M40. 

Tickets are £14.95 each (basic price) but you can save up to 25% by booking online.

Everything is included in the price, rides, bouncy castles, water wars, laser combat etc. There are extra charges for food and drink but you are welcome to bring a picnic and there are lots of picnic areas. 

I'd recommend Hatton Adventure World to all my friends and family, it really is a great place to visit.

That's not all though, adjoining the Adventure World is Hatton Shopping Village with lovely quaint shops. You have to stop by the sweet shop! You can also buy shoes, bags, clothes, antiques, food and there is a fantastic garden name just a few places. There is no entry fee to the shopping village so it's worth a visit. I keep saying that we'll go without the kids one day. 

Disclosure - We were given free admission to Hatton Adventure World to try out the new Water Wars and Water Battles, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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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