Sunday, 17 December 2017

My Sunday Photo 17th December 2017

My trees heavy with snow with more snow falling and the sky a white blur!

This is my garden on Sunday Morning last week. It's so blurry because the snow was still falling. It's hard to capture snow fall on camera.

And our car on Sunday Evening. It stayed like this for three days then hubby had to sweep off the snow so he could go out. I'm just glad I didn't have to go anywhere.

Have you had any snow?

I pin My Sunday Photo pics I visit on my Pinterest Board. Please let me know if you wish your photo to be removed.


Sunday Snap

Friday, 15 December 2017

Word of the Week - Snow

Today I am hoping to be able to leave the house, I need to go to the bank and do some shopping!
I've not been out since last Friday because of this snow!

We went out Saturday afternoon and it was snowing just a little. We visited my brother, had a coffee and then when we left the snow was pretty thick. It was the first time my hubby had driven in the snow and I was terrified. I am the more experienced driver but snow really scares me. It took us quite a while to get home even though it is only a short journey. 

The snow kept coming and the kids spent loads of time outside playing in the snow. The photo above was taken on Sunday morning when the snow was at it's worst. 

It didn't disappear either and the kids had no school on Monday and Tuesday. By Tuesday even they were fed up of the snow and we decided on a cosy pyjama day as they were not prepared to go out and get cold and wet again. 

They went back to school on Wednesday but it was still pretty snowy and the snow and sleet kept coming. Then on Wednesday evening we had a lot of rain, which then froze overnight and made the roads and pavements the most dangerous they had been all week on Thursday morning. Finally, it began to warm by the afternoon and the snow was melting away. 

I'm going to a busy shopping area today so fingers crossed the pavements are clear enough for my wheelchair! 

What sort of week have  you had? Did you have snow?

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Healthy Waffles (or maybe not!)

I was sent a Nutri Snack Waffle Stick Maker and so far I'm really happy with it. It's fairly small so easy to store away in the cupboard and lit makes fabulous delicious waffles.

The Nutri Snack Waffle Stick Maker is pushed as a healthy snack maker and comes with a recipe book full of healthy alternatives to the sweet and sugary waffles that you are probably more familiar with. You can make all sorts of waffles with vegetables, fruits and because you are making sticks rather than full size waffles they are a much healthier snack.

I've never had a waffle maker and my kids are more familiar with potato waffles rather than these flour based ones and it was something new to try. So, I pushed the healthy recipes aside for the moment and looked up a classic waffle recipe to try.

The batter was whisked up in a whizz and I started filling up my waffle stick maker.

Just a few minutes later and I was rewarded with these golden and crispy waffle sticks. The kids loved them! Everybody loved them and they soon started raiding the cupboards for things to dip them in. I'd like to tell you here that they were healthy dips but I'm afraid the favourites where chocolate spread, golden syrup and maple syrup!

There are so many waffle recipes to try and the waffle maker is so quick and easy to use, I'm thinking it's going to be our favourite snack maker.

Here are a few details about the Nutri Snack Waffle Maker.

✅ NUTRITIOUS WAFFLE STICK MAKER: This Waffle Stick Maker by Nutri Snack makes perfectly sized treats without sticking to the cooking plates. The non-stick cooking plates make it easy to use & clean.
✅ POWER AND READY LIGHT INDICATOR: The convenient light indicator shows when the waffle machine has reached the ideal temperature for starting to cook healthy sized treats. Try the included recipes!
✅ AUTOMATIC TEMPERATURE CONTROL: The automatic temperature control and the light indicator tells you when you are ready to go. Cook 6 amazing waffle fingers for your breakfast or just as a snack.
✅ NON-STICK COATING PLATES: The deep cooking plates with non-stick coating cook fluffy waffle sticks to perfection. Cook up to 6 waffle fingers at once. Perfect for themed parties or birthdays.
✅ HEALTHY SNACK: You can always have a healthy nutrtious snack such as low calorie falafel sticks, diary/gluten-free chocolate waffles or nutty protein waffles - just discover your favorite recipe.

Product description

You don't have to cut everything out of your diet to eat healthily - in fact you're more likely to stick to a balanced diet with healthier eating habits if you allow yourself the odd treat or indulgence now and again - and this Nutrisnack waffle stick maker is ideal for making snack-sized treats with a healthy twist. And with recipes for everything from low calorie falafel sticks to dairy and gluten free chocolate waffles and nutty protein waffles, there's plenty of inspiration to get you started.With automatic temperature control and an indicator light which tells you when it's ready to go, it's really easy to use and, because its cooking plates are non-stick, mess is kept to a minimum. Makes up to six waffle sticks at once.Model No. NS004.20.5 x 9 x 20cm H. Flex 80cm. 900W.

Do you have a waffle maker? What's your favourite waffle recipe or dip?

Disclosure: I was sent this product for free but not asked to write this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Contains affiliate link to Amazon. (please read below for Amazon linking disclosure)

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Qualities Of A Good Educator For Preschool

Studying hard certainly prepares you to be a good preschool educator, but there are a number of inherent characteristics that will ensure you are a sensational teacher. For instance, you can certainly learn how to create a warm classroom or teach the preschool program, but exuding enthusiasm for the education of your students is something that can only come from the heart.
With that in mind, here are more important qualities that make a great educator for pre-schoolers.

1. Passion

Do you have an intense desire to really make a different in young children’s lives? Passion is arguably one of the most important qualities for any teacher. There will be those days when teaching preschool will be difficult, whether it’s because your salary isn’t what you thought it would be, the parents seem ungrateful, or the kids are acting up, getting through those low points can be overwhelming. But, when you have a burning passion for education, it is your drive and determination that will get you through.

2. Patience

Besides your passion for education, you need lots of patience. Each class, such as those in Guardian child care centres in Sydney, has children with a variety of developmental skills. When it comes to pre-schoolers, constant reminders about protocol, manners, and hygiene are all part of a normal school day. From behaviour difficulties to learning difficulties, it takes a great deal of patience to keep your classroom in order. What’s more, working with difficult parents, teachers, and administrators means you need to be patient outside the classroom, too. A great teacher knows how to keep his or her cool under varying degrees of pressure.

3. Creativity

Being creative in the classroom involves more than making projects. You may have to work in a restricted environment with limited resources, and your classroom may be a melee of children from different backgrounds and cultures. So, you need to be able to draw from your creativity to make decisions in the best interest of your class.

4. Flexibility

Even when you have every detail of each lesson planned, unexpected turns can arise. A great educator is one that is flexible in dealing with change. Whether it’s as straight forward as having a back up plan for rainy days or amending the entire plan to accommodate for budget cuts, your fine-tuning skills and flexibility will help you tackle challenges with grace.

5. Dedication

Finally, excellent preschool teachers are those who are dedicated to their career and their learners. They stand up for their beliefs and educational values, and for their student’s needs. What’s more, these educators are dedicated to education and continue to inspire students to continue learning. At preschool level, creating a fun learning environment can resonate with children for the rest of their life.
Along with these 5 important qualities, a great educator will also form part of a supportive teaching community. Many teachers find even more inspiration by aligning themselves with professional associations.
Above all, exceptional preschool educators are those teachers that continue to work on their craft and personal development to continue growing.

Disclosure: Collaborative Post

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Waiting to Bounce on our Trampoline

The plan for this last weekend was to put up our brand new trampoline from Big Game Hunters. However, this is what our garden looks like at the moment.

Not exactly perfect for putting up a new trampoline don't you think? The kids will just have to wait a little longer. I can't blame them for being excited though because the trampoline we have is a fab looking 8ft Skyhigh Orbisphere from Big Game Hunters and it has some great features. It has a modern curved pole design and it is built to last with foam covered springs and pvc covered poles. It also looks pretty fantastic.

I think we will be the envy of our neighbours once we do have it up. In fact we are one of the only ones without a trampoline so far and we are in the middle so I can see our kids competing against the neighbours kids on who can bounce the highest. With 48 springs at 165mm in length I think they may have a good chance of winning!

There is still time to order a trampoline in time for Christmas and Big Game Hunters currently have some real bargains with up to £200 off the cost of their trampolines.

You can also get some great accessories for your trampoline like covers and ladders and even tents. I know that my kids would love a tent and I'll be thinking of investing in one for them very soon.

Big Game Hunters are specialists in outdoor garden toys and have many things on offer. Delivery is free on items over £150 and orders are often dispatched on the same day as ordering. Besides trampolines they also sell playhouses, climbing frames and swings, basket ball equipment and Garden Games. 

We can't wait to have fun with our trampoline and I'm hoping to get you a video of how the kids enjoy bouncing around so watch this space.

Do you have a trampoline in your garden?

Cuddle Fairy

Disclosure: I have been sent a trampoline to review but this will come at a later date. I have not been asked or paid to write this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Monday, 11 December 2017

My Choice of Christmas Gifts from eChemist

Being disabled I do a lot of my Christmas shopping online. It's convenient, less hassle and much more relaxing. In the past I've been the kind of person that loves the Christmas crowds in the shops, walking my feet off around all the different stores, soaking up the Christmas atmosphere and searching for those perfect gifts. Sadly, I am unable to cope with that anymore, trust me, wheelchairs and frenzied crowds don't mix.

So, apart from a couple of visits to the less crowded, huge stores, most of my shopping has been done online. I even have a delivery slot booked for my Christmas food delivery.

So, it's less than two weeks now until the Big Day, and hopefully most shopping has been done and dusted, but there are always those few little extras you need or gifts you may have forgotten. Online shopping is great for this, especially with most places offering delivery right up a day or so before Christmas.

I've been shopping online at eChemist and I wanted to share a few little things I managed to pick up.

For the Sister-in-Law

Everyone likes a nice smelling home and Yankee Candles are a big favourite. I think my sister-in-law would love these gorgeous smelling Christmas votive candles that come with a pretty holder.

For The Brother-in-Law

You can't go wrong with some toiletries. The blokes might complain that that's all they get for Christmas, along with their socks...but lets be honest...they do get good use out of them.

So, I've chosen this toiletry set from L'Oreal

Secret Santa

I love Secret Santas and try to take part in at least one every year. I love the challenge of finding a gift for someone in secret. This year I believe that this lovely gift set from Burt's Bees will be a real treat.

Stocking Filler

If you are anything like me you are always trying to find little stocking fillers for the family. My kids love the little gifts they get in their stockings and it's nice to find something that fits.

I love this little bead set and it's just the right size for a stocking and both my girls would love it.

Do pop on over to eChemist and see what they have to offer. They also sell all the usual chemist supplies so you can stock up on those too while there. Don't forget your Cashback too. Top Cashback offers 5.25% cashback on all purchases from eChemist and it's free to join.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The A Word and Ticking Boxes

As you may already know, I am a big fan of the BBC drama, The A Word all about a family dealing with their little boy's autism.

As an autism family myself I like to use the drama to reflect how it has represented my experiences with Autism. I've not written for a few weeks, partly because the drama has followed so many different paths to the autism one and partly because I've not really had the time to analyse the episodes. I have decided to write this post though as I now have another reason to write about it. All will be revealed in a moment.

I've chosen the title ticking boxes because any parent of a child with autism or any disabilities or learning difficulties will know the relevance. In the A Word we see the family struggling to fill in a form for their autistic boy Joe's new school. Form filling is something we special needs parents know all about, whether it's for schools, for assessments or even for benefits for our children. There are forms galore and many of them pages and pages long. It doesn't stop either. In a later episode we see an older autistic boy, Mark, filling in a form for college. He read out a part of the form he'd written himself, about himself and it made me cry. A small insight into how an autistic teenager feels about trying to fit in with others.

When your child is first expected to have autism then it's forms that come first. Tick the boxes, fit the structure, get the diagnosis. Only, it's not so easy, what if your child doesn't fit? What if you can't tick the boxes?

This is the situation I find myself in right now, yet again, for the third time. My youngest, my Little Man has been having problems at school and after a meeting with his teacher the other day, she has suggested that we see about getting him assessed for autism.

I can't say I've never thought about it but he just doesn't tick the boxes. But, no autistic child is the same so even though I have two already it's still possible to have a third that's totally different. The thing is, in my heart, I really don't think he has autism, I think maybe he has an Attention Deficit Disorder. I guess the only way to find out is to get him assessed and that's probably what we need to get started on.

Both my eldest and Star were different from birth, they didn't sleep, they didn't settle, they were mostly unhappy. Then they didn't fit in with other children, they didn't play the same way. They were both vocal but difficult to converse with. They both had echolia and vacant episodes. They both had trouble at school which led to them being assessed. They both ticked many of the boxes for autism...yet, they are not very much alike, they are very different characters.

The Little Man was a quiet baby, but clingy. He didn't like being apart from me or his Dad. He was very floppy and instead being played with he preferred to lie flat on our laps. He didn't even like sitting up. He did sleep okay but that's probably because we co-shared our bed with him. We were in a much smaller house with a baby we hadn't planned for and all our space was taken up, so we had no choice but to share with him. (When we moved house he took the transition to his own bedroom really well!)

He didn't walk until he was nearly two years old and then he just ran everywhere, the phrase 'you can't run until you can walk' had little meaning to him. He was also a slow speaker. The health visitor suggested that we sent him to a pre-school group for two and half days a week. He was only two and would be all day for two days, meaning he had lunch there as well. It was a difficult decision for me as I'd cared for all my children until they were old enough for nursery, he was still a baby to me. But, it did him good, he soon caught up with all his peers and he even toilet trained while there.

Despite his slow start he has come along really well and is bright, lively and very loving. He cares about everyone and loves to cuddle. Something my older autistic children have never been keen to do. (Although my eldest does have his own way of hugging me and does so frequently.) He's always had loads of friends and everyone has seemed to like him....until recently.

Suddenly the children he has been at school with for the last four years have turned against him. His friendship list has dwindled massively. A couple of his close friends have now moved to different schools which may have started the disruption but it's hard to tell, he doesn't tell us much. He has started being very naughty in class, drawing on walls, desks and chairs, tripping up other children, flooding the toilets and more. Has has zero patience and limited concentration. This continues at home which is why I think he has ADD.

However, he is also a child in a different kind of home with autistic siblings and a disabled mother. He has very limited memories of when I could walk. It must all be very tough on a seven year old.

I really don't think he ticks the boxes, but let's bring it on. I'm ready for more forms.

Another point that was brought up in The A Word was whether you would change an autistic child, or wish for them to not be autistic anymore. I don't mean a cure, but just wish they hadn't been born that way. This is such a tricky subject and I'm so glad they were brave enough to mention it. Their little boy is different from other children and they face a future with him that they didn't expect and one that no-one would really wish for. But, if they took away the autism would the child be the same child or would it be like swapping them for a different child? There is so much about autism that is not bad, an autistic person can be very loyal and truthful. The autism becomes part of their personality and with all the awareness these days I'm sure life will be better for them in the future. I can see autistic people fitting into jobs, marriages and leading a relatively normal life, in fact many have already. Then there are those that are on the higher end of the spectrum that will never lead a 'normal' life. It's so difficult, because taking away the autism is taking away part of the child. No-one wants an autistic child, but once they are in the family everything changes and whether it's for better or worse the only thing I know for sure is that everyone is different.

School Runs and Shopping Trolleys
Debs Random Writings

Reflections From Me

My Sunday Photo 10th December 2017

Three children sitting at the feet of Father Christmas in his grotto, with a festive fireplace to the left of the picture

Three children with their magic golden keys about to enter Santa's toyshop

Yikes! This time in just two weeks it will be Christmas Eve!!
As it's getting so close now I've decided to share some Christmas photos taken at Hatton's Enchanted Christmas Kingdom a couple of weeks ago. Yes, we got our visit to Father Christmas in  early and letters were written and sent. Phew, that's one thing less to worry about, I just hope Father Christmas brings them all that they wished for.

We really enjoyed the grotto at Hatton, it was magical to wander around. I'll leave my 3 minute tour video at the end of this post if you are interested.
In the meantime Christmas preparations are in full swing here, I have begun the big wrap up and cards are being written. The food is ordered and last minute presents  sent for. I'm taking part in two Secret Santa's this year and I've already received one of my gifts. I'll be posting mine off on Monday.

Are you ready for Christmas? Are you feeling festive?

I pin My Sunday Photo pics I visit on my Pinterest Board. Please let me know if you wish your photo to be removed.


Sunday Snap

Friday, 8 December 2017

Word of the Week - Nutcracker

Ballet dancers on the stage performing The Nutcracker

Photo courtesy Birmingham Hippodrome

It's been a busy week. I've had good news - a call from my consultant about further treatment, bad news - about the Little Man at school and heartbreaking news - about my poor cat Salem. But I don't really feel like talking about any of these now so my word of the week reflects the brilliant birthday present one of my friends gave me.

On Tuesday evening I fulfilled a life long wish of visiting a ballet. My friend took me to see The Birmingham Royal Ballet perform The Nutcracker. As a child I always dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer, but I was too tall, too clumsy and lacked any sort of grace, never mind dancing ability. My Dad loved to watch the ballet on television and would often draw me pictures of little ballet dancers which probably inspired my passion. I've always wanted to see a ballet performance but it's something I've never got around to, or never really had anyone to go with before. When I told my friend she said she would take a look at what was on, and then she booked tickets as a birthday present. 

It was a truly magical performance, the stage sets were amazing and the dancers simply beautiful. I loved every moment. We also had front row seats which was brilliant. I'd definitely love to go again sometime, I'm sure my girls would love it too. 

So my word of the week this week is Nutcracker. And a big thank you to my lovely friend. 

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Dining Pretty with Debenhams this Christmas

Christmas is coming, the family is popping around and you take a look at your crockery and think that maybe you need a new set? I know I did, I had so many chipped plates, only tiny chips, but I'm really clumsy lately and just knocking them together causes chipping. Now I have a dishwasher, I no longer have to worry about the washing up and clinking my plates together (or even dropping them in the sink, as I have been known to have done.) Even the kids are keen to put their plates in the dishwasher, so now I'm hoping that chips will be thing of the past.

I still needed a new dinner service though and I was given a gift voucher from Debenhams so I decided to look on their website. A lot of Debenhams Dinner Sets are on offer at the moment, so it's a great place to pick up a bargain.

I decided to go for this Blue Leaf Print Dinner Set.

I also bought some new cutlery and place mats, plus coasters. I was really happy with the choice offered by Debenhams at such reasonable prices.

Now I'm thinking of a nice table cloth for Christmas, I love this Christmas tree one, it's so classy and would go with any colour of tableware

And if you wanted to really spruce up your Christmas table you could always add this gorgeous silver runner. You need a little bling at Christmas time.

Finally, what about cooking? Do you find yourself eating turkey for days after Christmas? While on the Debenhams site I also treated myself to this Morphy Richards Sear and Stew Slow Cooker.

I've found this recipe for turkey leftovers which I'm going to try.

Christmas Casserole


Serves: 6 
500g (approx) leftover turkey
2 leeks
50g butter
2 tablespoons red wine
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cranberry sauce
2 bay leaves

Prep:20min  ›  Cook:2hr  ›  Ready in:2hr20min 

1. Switch slow cooker onto High. Melt butter in large pan, add sliced leeks, season with salt and freshly grated black pepper and cook gently until softened. Spread evenly across base of slow cooker.

2. Strip turkey of remaining meat and (at last) throw carcass out - unless making soup. Cut turkey into bite-sized pieces. Heat olive oil in same pan, add crushed garlic and cook gently, adding turkey pieces as it starts to sizzle. Stirfry for 10 minutes, add bay leaves and cranberry sauce then place on top of the leeks.

3. Switch slow cooker to auto or low, gently pour over the red wine and leave to cook until needed. I find about 2 hours is fine but will keep for hours on the low setting. Stir in cream just before serving. Perfect, served with potatoes of choice, for a hungry family returning from a winters walk

Are you table ready for Christmas? Do you have special crockery or tableware that you save for Christmas?

Disclosure: I was sent a slow cooker and a gift voucher in return for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Recipe from All Recipies

Monday, 4 December 2017

Getting Back on my Feet with Smart Crutches

You may, or may not know this already but I can't walk. I'm not totally immobile, I can walk around my home a little and with aids like a zimmer frame, rollator or walking sticks, but when I'm outside I always have my wheelchair.

I have stiff person syndrome and my lower limbs and feet are most affected. My muscles are stiff and liable to spasm at any time. I also have nerve pain which makes walking difficult. My feet feel as though the are in high heels which are two sizes too small constantly, even when I'm barefoot. My hips and back are affected too, so you can understand how my mobility is affected. When I do walk, it's incredibly slow and I feel like I'm walking through treacle.

I'm fairly new to this immobility, it's only been 23 months. Over that time I've tried several things to help me walk. My favourite so far has been my sticks. My rollator is better and more stable but I just feel like a real old lady when I use it. The problem with stick is that they help me a little but I never feel really steady. When I left hospital I was given some standard crutches but they were cumbersome an uncomfortable to use.

Then I heard a friend saying that she'd bought some crutches from Smart Crutch  and that they were amazing. I took a look and I thought they looked like some other coloured crutches that I'd been looking at. Then I looked again and saw all the positive extras that these crutches had. So I had to have a pair.

Choosing a colour was difficult although I was immediately drawn to my favourite colour, each one had a little description behind the colour. This is what the site said about yellow:

Optimism, Enlightenment, Happiness and a promise of a positive future.

Yellow will advance from surrounding colours and instil optimism and energy, as well as spark creative thoughts.

I was sold, this sounded just what I needed. At £98.99 I was hoping I had made the right choice
When ordering they need to know your height, weight and the length of your forearm so you can get the best fit. I was really excited to receive mine just two days after ordering.

Don't they look great! They are fully adjustable in both height and angle of arm rests. You can also adjust the length of the arm rests. I messed about with them for ages before I decided I was happy. Then I thought they felt too short, but they were on the highest setting. Feeling confused I contacted Customer Services at Smart Crutch. After all, I'd given them my height. They wrote back very apologetic saying that they would send me the longer bottom halves but could I first measure the ones I had to make sure that was the problem.

This is where I win wally of the year, as I was taking the bottom half out I realised just how long they were. I measured them and sure enough they were 600mm, the longer length. What I'd been doing was adjusting them upside down, so I was thinking they were on the tallest setting when in fact I'd made them on the shortest setting. It was so simple and I had got it wrong! Anyway, after confessing to customer services what a silly mistake I'd made I finally had my crutches on the most comfortable setting for me.

Time to go out with them!

We took the kids to Mc Donalds and as it wasn't a very long walk from the car I decided to use the crutches. I found them very comfortable and easy to use. Then once inside we had our meal and eventually I needed the toilet. It was another short walk to the toilet but I had my crutches so I gave it a go. You may think I'm making a big deal out of walking to the loo, but we are talking Mc Donalds, where there are kids everywhere and obstacles like pushchairs that I have to navigate around. When you can barely walk this is huge! But with my crutches I felt confident and supported, I even managed to take a loo selfie.
(I admit that using my phone to take a photo was difficult with my daft hands, but at least i had the crutches to balance on.)

I love my new crutches and today I walked even further, from the car park into the vets. Okay I was incredibly slow but I made it! 

My aim now is to try and walk a little more each time, especially outside. I doubt that the pain will ever go away, but at least I won't have to worry about losing my balance. And I may get tired really quickly but at least my arms will have something to rest on.

Have you ever had to use crutches?

Text - one step at a time is good walking. Photo of a woman taken from behind while she is walking

School Runs and Shopping Trolleys
Debs Random Writings

Reflections From Me

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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