Tuesday, 1 April 2014

We all need strong, confident women in our life

Being a parent is tough, being a single parent is even tougher! This is why it is so important that we surround ourselves with a good support network.

I recently posted about my group of girlfriends and the need to let my hair down and just be Laura and it seems a lot of you have similar views. I'm very lucky to have such a great group of friends, each in their own stage of life whether that be single, married, engaged or in a serious relationship, we each bring our own aspect which makes for a wide range of conversations.

Outside of my group of friends, I also have many strong, confident female role models:

My mum is my biggest supporter, we may not always see eye to eye and we clash far too many times for me to list them, but she made me the person (and parent) I am today, she raised myself and my brother as a single parent and she did it with the same fierce pride and independence that I have for my own children.

There are not enough words to describe my Gran, she's the head of our family, the one who raised my Mum to be who she is. I love my Gran very much, she's a fighter and will fight to the very end. One thing's for sure, she wont go to her grave quietly!

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of my Step Mum, but she also deserves a huge mention. Alongside my Mum, my Step Mum also made me the person I am today. I go to her for the in depth conversations that I can't have with my Mum. I vividly remember her telling me as a child that I should never settle for second best, I should always go for what I want and this has become a personal motto, if something isn't going right then change it, if a relationship isn't working out then walk away, life is far too short.

Now how lucky am I to have all these strong, confident female role models in my life and to be able to call them family!! Who knows how I would have turned out otherwise!


Monday, 31 March 2014

Review: Colour In Paper Boxes for Easter from Hobbycraft

We were very lucky to be given the fantastic opportunity of reviewing some of Hobbycrafts Easter goodies.

We selected the following and it arrived through the post last week.

Included were 2 bunny boxes, 2 chick boxes, 4 felt tips and some double-sided sticky tape.

For the purpose of the review, Erin picked a chick box to complete.

First she coloured it on.

She done a good job but the perfectionist in me was screaming to fill it in for her, as hard as it was for me to leave her to it, we arranged the box, stuck it together using the double-sided sticky tape and Erin filled it with some of her sweeties.

Damian had been away camping and because she had missed him so much, Erin wanted to give the box of sweets to him as a welcome home gift!! She's so thoughtful!!

Erin really enjoyed this craft and was very proud of the finished product, it was well suited for her age and only needed a little help folding the box, the rest she completed herself. She is planning on using the remaining boxes to give some Easter treats to her friends.

My opinion is that it is a fantastic craft for children to complete on their own with minimal adult input, the product was good quality as was expected from the UK's best Arts and Crafts retailer.

Erin and myself would recommend this product to others.

If you would like to see what other Easter goodies Hobbycraft have on offer, you can view them using the link below:

Note - We received the colour in paper boxes for review purposes but the words are my own.


Thursday, 27 March 2014

When I think of Spring

It certainly didn't feel like Spring today, with heavy rain showers, hail and thunder storms, but according to the weather forecast, it shall be more Spring like at the weekend.

When I think of Spring, I think of sunshine, flowers, freshly cut grass and bird song, I think of lighter mornings and lighter evenings, we're finally awakening from our Winter induced coma.

It's time for new life, rabbits and squirrels appearing, ducklings, goslings and lambs. Spring brings life to a country battered with bad weather, torrential rain fall resulting in an epic scale flooding situation, Spring will bring relief to those affected by these floodings, the sunshine will release inner endorphins and we start to feel happier and more alive.

As a family, we love to put bird feeders out to welcome them into our garden, to hear them sing on a beautiful sunny, Spring day, we make little dens for hedgehogs looking for a safe place to rest for the night. We take a trip to the boating lake to feed the ducklings and goslings to give them a good chance of survival.

Spring is a breath of fresh air after the long drawn out months of Winter.


Heading towards an ASD diagnosis


This is my son, his name is Damian and he is 10 years old.

Since he was 3 years old, I had a nagging feeling that he could be an ASD child.

He thrived on routine
He would become distressed if we didn't follow this routine
He would obsessively line up his toys
He found social activites hard work

But due to his age and not wanting to put a label on my son, I didn't push for an assessment referral. I voiced my concerns to his teachers but as it wasn't affecting him day to day, I left it in their hands as to whether they wanted to push for a referral through the SENCO.

But as he got older, it was becoming a problem!!

He has sensory issues with food textures, noise and touch. He will discount food on how it feels in his mouth and not how it tastes, if he doesn't like the texture, he will gag. So he tends to eat the same food over and over again. With regards to noise, if it is a repetitive, non-background noise, it will distract and irritate him (think along the lines of someone clearing their throat or a dog barking). He has little awareness of personal space and without knowing will stand right in front of you while talking, but if he isn't expecting it or is unwilling to accept it, he doesn't like to be touched, sometimes even rebuffing cuddles from loved ones. Though if he wants to give a cuddle he will.

He prefers his own company to that of children his own age and will often isolate himself from others, if he wishes to be sociable, it's on his terms and he will initiate it and terminate it when he feels it's finished regardless of if the other person wants to ask more questions or play another game. He becomes very agitated if another person encroaches on his alone time or refuses to play his games his way.

He doesn't understand social cues: how to join in with a group of people and how to have a reciprocal conversation and this impedes greatly on his ability to make and sustain friendships.

He also has great difficulty on guessing how people will react or what they are thinking or what the outcome of a given situation will be, he doesn't have that flexibility of thinking. He finds it hard to understand why people might be sad or hurt by something he has done or something he has said, but when I talk to him about it and explain it to him, he can become quite upset at the thought that he has upset another person.

He talks in a somewhat adult manner, but his voice doesn't lilt even when talking about something that he loves, his facial expressions rarely change either. He prefers to talk to adults than children, he can become quite irritated when talking to younger children and having to explain things. When talking to adults, he doesn't grasp the concept that they might not understand or have knowledge of the subject and will carry on the conversation whether they are listening or not.

He also needs extra help with his personal care along with cooking food, this is one of my main concerns as he gets older and approaches adulthood.

Approximately a year ago, I went to my GP with 2 sides of an A4 piece of paper full of my concerns about Damian and we talked about it, along with my worries and the GP referred him immediately, in this time we have met with the Lead Paediatrician in his case and he has had a visit from the Educational Psychologist. The report from this assessment was a huge eye opener, reading the same thoughts and worries I had myself in writing that his teacher and the Psychologist also had. For all these years, I've doubted myself and many times I've talked myself into believing I've been exaggerating matters.

After talking to his teacher at Parents Evening this week, her thoughts are on an ASD diagnosis, from all my research and experience with Damian, I think he will have a diagnosis. but until it comes from a professional, we can only do what we can to make Damian more comfortable in his abilities and implement structure and routine.

I felt the time was right to finally talk about this as before, I just couldn't find the correct words to explain what was going on. Regardless of whether we get a diagnosis or not, I would never change my son for the world, he is and always will be my baby boy, my first-born, my little buddy and my pride and joy and I love him with all my heart.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Girly Night's Out

As a Mother, I love spending time with my children more than anybody else in this world. We love shopping, walks, picnics, movie nights, games nights, just as long as we are together and spending that quality time with each other.

But once a month, for one night only, I get to be Laura!

And boy, do I enjoy being Laura. 

Myself and my girlfriends arrange a girly night once a month, now this could be a full blown frocks-on-dancing-til-your-feet-are-sore night out or it could be a comfies-on-with-snacks-juice-nibbles-and-plenty-of-gossip-night-in. Whatever we decide, it always turns out to be the best nights and we really look forward to it all month.

This weekend just gone was our monthly night out and it was a full blown frocks-on night out. As soon as the children are picked up by babysitting grandparents, the doors are locked, the music is turned up and the beautifying process comes into play.

Outfits are selected.
Make-up is chosen.
Shoes are matched.
Hair is styled.

Then the night begins!!

I really do enjoy and need my girly nights with my girlfriends.

I didn't take any picture that night, which is unheard of, but I'll leave you with photos from previous nights out.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Silent Sunday


I love snuggles

There's nothing better than snuggling on the couch with your children.

Erin thinks my house coat is super soft and loves to snuggle up when I'm wearing it.

This afternoon, we were snuggled up together watching Cinderella and I couldn't have thought of a more perfect way to while away a few hours.

Even if it ended with a bit of funny face pulling!

Linking up with mummy daddy and me


Saturday, 22 March 2014

If I had three wishes

Three whole wishes.....1, 2, 3......un, deux, trois!!

It's really hard to decide, do I go with the World Peace type wishes, or do I go with the super selfish I'd-like-to-be-rich wishes??

Seeing as this is only hypothetical, I'll go with some of each:

1. World Peace - I wish we could live in a world where everyone accepted everyone else; racism, homophobia and prejudice was completely wiped out. There would be no violence, no fights for power, children were raised to love, not to hate.

2. All deadly diseases could be cured - HIV, Aids, Cancer, Heart disease....all cured!! No more suffering. No more watching your loved ones battle to keep their health. Medical advances are made every day, but I'd still like to give it that helping hand.

3. Never have to worry about my finances every again - I'm not talking about being a billionnaire, I couldn't spend that money if I tried, I'm the sort of person who instead of purchasing a dress for £150, would want at least 3-4 dresses for the same amount. I'd like to be in the position that I would never have to worry about paying bills, feeding myself and my children, clothing us all, maybe even throw in an annual holiday in the sun. It's very selfish I know, but they are my wishes!!

I'm linking up with 'The Prompt', so hop on over and see how others would make their wishes, or even link up a post of your own and share it with us.


Saturday is caption day

This photo was taken nearly a year ago, but I recently found it when viewing an old camera card and laughed at the faces pulled.

I would love to hear your captions.


Word of the Week

Education is very important, whether that is gained through Public School, Private School, Private Tutoring or Home Schooling, a good education is the most powerful tool we can give our children.

I'm forever drumming into my children to get their heads down and learn, if they're not sure how to do something, or don't quite understand what the teacher has just taught them, then it's always best to put their hand up and say so.

Every Friday, homework is handed out and each of my children know that when they come home, they cannot start their weekend until all of the homework is complete. They huff and puff and complain, but change their tune as soon as it's finished and they can enjoy the rest of the weekend and weekday evenings, without the Thursday homework deadline hanging over their heads.

This week was also School Report Week, I love reading their reports and the praise they receive from their teachers.

Damian always struggles with his school work, he's very intelligent, but his willingness to learn depends on the subject matter and whether or not it interests him. But give him a subject he is interested in and he will learn absolutely everything there is to know. He's currently being assessed on the Autistic Spectrum, so this could explain a lot. I will dedicate a post on this when I find the right words to explain the situation.

Erin, on the other hand, excels at everything she turns her hand too and no surprises, her school report was glowing. The grade 1 is outstanding.
I really don't mean to sound big headed, but she reminds me so much of myself at that age. She always asks me to write out maths sums for her to do, she loves reading as much as I do and she questions everything! Take today for example, she asked why a man was sitting on the floor in dirty clothes, I explained that he was homeless and didn't have a home to go to. This started a barrage of questions: Did he get cold? Why didn't he have a home? Where was his Mum and Dad? Where would he sleep if it was raining?

I thought this was a great opportunity to teach her about homelessness and how easily it can happen to anyone, I told her about shelters and food banks and homelessness happens to children too and that it's very important that we donate to these causes if we can. She was quite upset to hear that some children don't have homes of their own, so this may be an opportunity for some random acts of kindness!

I'm linking up with Jocelyn over at The Reading Residence, so why not pop over and share your Word of the Week.

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Donating to Cancer Research

 As soon as you hear the word Cancer, you immediately think of death.

Although medical advances have been vastly improved and survival rates are on the up, the word 'Cancer' is still strong enough to instil a lot of fear in many people.

You can read all about the survival rates of Cancer here. But more needs to be done to beat this disease for good and that's why donating to Cancer Research is so important.

Over on Facebook, a campaign was started to share a #nomakeupselfie to raise awareness and to hopefully raise some much needed funds. No one knew how much this would take off until it went viral yesterday and has now raised over £1 million pounds. Source.

We all know somebody who has been affected by Cancer, so please please donate so we can kick Cancer's ass!!

Here's my donation.

You can donate online here. Alternatively, you can donate £3 by texting BEAT to 70099.


Monday, 17 March 2014

Review: Weekend Box

Just recently we were given the opportunity to review The Weekend Box.

Now, I'm sure by now, you'll have realised that Erin loves all things crafts, so to be asked to review a craft box was pretty much a no-brainer.

For those that would like more information about The Weekend Box, you can do so here.

The gist of the box is, there are 4 activities which come under the following categories:

Something to Cook
Something to Make
Something to Explore and
Something Green

The activities are aimed at children between the ages of 3-8.

As soon as the box arrived, Erin tore into it. She loved the bright colours and the little creatures.

The first activity we tried was Something Green.

Each activity came with its own instruction card.

It was definitely a good craft and game to play for St Patrick's Day.

The next craft was Something to Make.

There was some yellow paint provided but Erin wanted her birdie to be red. She really enjoyed this activity as she was able to do most of it herself, with very little input from me.

Most of the items needed to complete each activity is included, if not, it will mention on the instructions what you need to provide. I was very impressed with the quality of the box, it didn't look cheap and nasty with all the crafts thrown in as an afterthought, it was well thought out, with cheerful illustrations and good quality materials.

I would definitely recommend this box to anyone thinking of something similar.

If you'd like to try a Weekend Box, all my lovely readers have been offered a no obligation promotional code, which will give you your first box completely free (including delivery).

Your unique promo code is LAURA49 and can be redeemed at www.weekendboxclub.com

Friday, 14 March 2014

Word of the Week

Further to my previous post about 'Acceptance', this week is all about change.

Now that I'm making an almighty effort to accept myself for how I am, I've been making a few tweaks here and there.

First of all, I had most of my hair cut off, it was very long, but seeing as my hair is naturally curly, the weight of it was pulling the curls out. My hair is now shoulder length and the curls much more pronounced.

One side looks longer than the other, but that's because I have my head turned to one side (I've also had another inch or so taken of the length since this pic was taken).

Another change is to always look my best, this is for no other reason than how it makes me feel...For example, if I go out wearing a pair of baggy jeans and a shapeless top with my hair tied up and no make-up on, I don't feel very good about myself, I try to blend into the background, yet if like today I put on a pair of leggings with a dusky pink lace tunic-style dress and my new brogue heels, with my hair down and a touch of make-up, I feel much more confident, like 'Hey, look at me, don't I look great?'. Confidence is a great thing.

Not the best lighting for a selfie, but you get the idea.

It's little baby steps, but they are all in the right direction. 

The Reading Residence


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Erin's Art & Crafts - Mini Creations

Saying that Erin loves Arts & Crafts is a huge understatement, she's forever drawing pictures, colouring in, making people or butterflies out of cardboard toilet rolls.

GL over at kidglloves has introduced a Mini Creations Link Up Party which is a fantastic opportunity for all of our children to showcase their Arts & Crafts.

This week Erin has made a windmill which came as part of her monthly rainy day box.

She also used some of her bug stickers to decorate the sails in the hopes it would attract some real bugs.

Then we put it out in the garden, she's very pleased with how it all turned out.

If you want to show off your own child's Arts & Crafts, why not pop over to kidglloves and join in.

Mini Creations

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Zomlings Review

Damian was luckily enough to be sent a selection of toys by the lovely bods over at Zomlings, you can read all about them here. You can also follow them on Twitter here.

If you've previously read my blog, you will know that Damian is a HUGE fan and collector of The Trash Pack Trashies and I was a little cautious over how these Zomlings would be received. We've been through Star Wars Fighter Pods and Zombie Zity but in my opinion they haven't kept Damian's attention like the Trashies have.

I needn't have worried though, Damian tore into the packages as if they may just dissapear (I was allowed to open the pack but not allowed to peer inside), the look on his face was pure excitement and joy, very much the same look when he opens his packs of Trashies. 

I was quite taken with them too, they are very cute in a freaky zombie-kinda way.

As this is Daman's review, I thought I would ask him some questions:

Q. What do you think of the Zomlings?
A. I think they're really great.

Q. What's the best thing about them?
A. Some of them have glow in the dark eyes and they have them as animals as well as people.

Q. What's the worst thing about them?
A. Nothing, I think they are great.

Q. Would you spend your pocket money on them?
A. Yes I would, when are they available to buy and where can I buy them from.

I would say they have been a hit with him, and just to make sure I knew how much he liked them, he has come to me a further 5 times to tell me he loves them and can't believe he gets to keep them.

A big thumbs up from him and a big thumbs up from me.

If you have a child who loves to collect, I would highly recommend these Zomlings, they are also very affordable which is another big thumbs up from me.

Note ~ We were given a selection of Zomlings for review purposes but the words are my own.