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.

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 Cakes…so 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 

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.

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. 

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