> The Beesley Buzz: October 2012

On a day like this...

On a day like this, his younger brother says "I wish I wasn't in this family" and it breaks my heart.

On a day like this, I think to myself "I never realised that I'd signed up for this when I became a mum".

On a day like this I want to tell those staring faces that I'd like to see how they'd cope with him 24/7.

On a day like this, I want to tell them that I need a break...everyone needs a break from this.

On a day like this, I want him to wear a sign that tells others it is not 'bad behaviour'. Yet...

On a day like this, I feel angry at him because of his bad behaviour.

On a day like this nothing seems to work - consequences, punishments and rewards have no meaning to him.

On a day like this, he won't even remember what he has done after the meltdown.

On a day like this, the word meltdown is a major understatement.

On a day like this, I wonder what his future will hold.

On a day like this, I wish my mum was around to hold me and tell me it will all be alright.

On a day like this, I am physically and emotionally drained.

On a day like this, I feel guilty that I have no energy left for my other children.

On a day like this, I curl up and cry when the meltdown is over.

On a day like this, I think why? why? why?

On a day like this, I vow that I'll handle it better next time...but I know I won't because I don't know how.

On a day like this, I peek into his room and watch him sleeping...and I remember...I remember the thing I wish everyone understood, I remember the thing that I, of all people, should know... I remember that his brain is wired differently and it is NOT HIS FAULT.

I love you Joshua and I just wish I knew how I could help you better on days like this. x

The fate of Pumpkin Number 2...

So in our attempt to avoid Halloween but still do something fun with our pumpkins, pumpkin number 2 has been 'miffyfied' for our friends at Official Miffy UK.

Well we had to make the most of our bumper crop of 4 pumpkins. After all, last year we had zero percent success rate in growing pumpkins and the year before that we had only 1.


Toyologist Review: My First Painting by numbers

Review by The Beesley Buzz.

What's in the box:

This Painting by numbers set contains two numbered painting boards featuring a jungle design on each, one paint brush, 7 acrylic paints, and the back of the carboard packaging is designed to be pushed out as a paint organiser to place your paint pots onto the corresponding number.

I didn't have high hopes for this product as I am a firm beleiver that children should be encouraged to use their own creativity and imagination when drawing and painting and not be too restricted by pre-printed pictures and where the colours are decided through a paint by numbers system. However, as soon as my sons started to work on their paintings with such a sense of care, attention to detail and pride, my mind was transported back to my childhood and I remembered just how much I used to love painting by numbers.

Instead of seeing it as a way of restricting their creativity, I suddenly remembered that wonderful sense of acheivement of ending up with a painting that looks really good and the challenge of making sure the colours had been filled in correctly and neatly.

It is aimed at children aged 5 and over and I think it would be too fiddly for children younger than this. Even Daniel (aged 6) got a little fed up half way through and has saved the rest of his picture to finish another day. But for Joshua (aged 8) it was a perfect activity to pass an afternoon during half-term.

The positives:
  • 2 numbered boards included - so we just added another brush so that both children could do the activity together.
  • High quality product - the boards are made of cardboard and have a gloss to them so any accidental spills can be wiped off.
  • The paints are good quality acrylic paints and offer good coverage both in terms of looking bright and thick, and there is sufficient paint included to cover both the boards with a little spare.
The one piece of feedback I would give to the manufacturer is that the paints cover the picture so well, that they also cover the black outline of the pictures so the pictures don't end up exactly as portrayed (unless your children have an extremely steady hand and manage not to paint on any of the outlines).

Overall, I found this to be a great product and it would make a lovely Christmas stocking filler.

Henri Rousseau eat your heart out!

Available soon from Toys R Us.

Our Nuby adventure begins...

Well our first box of lovely Nuby goodies has arrived and here's what's inside. Trinity and mummy are going to be having SO much fun!

I love the Nuby products being so brightly coloured for babies and toddlers giving them an instant appeal and yet the items aimed at mums (like the breast pump) have a more sophisticated look to them.

There were one or two surprises in there - for example, I never realised that Nuby do dribble bibs so I would never previously have thought of purchasing them there. Ditto for the nail care set.

I am really looking forward to trying these products out and letting you all know how we get on.


Meet the New Nuby Bloggers!

Mummy and Trinity are delighted to be able to announce that we have been selected as one of the new Nuby Bloggers!

As a mum of three, I often find that I do have my hands full so I'll be blogging in Nuby's 'hands full' category.

They had over 200 entries - so well done to everyone taking part!

If you are not already a Nuby fan, do pop over to their facebook page to keep up to date with all their latest products, offers and competitions and of course to hear news of how all the Nuby Bloggers are getting on.


Could this be October's BEST budget meal?

Soup in a pumpkin
 I was feeling rather guilty that on two occassions in the past week, we had resorted to eating out unplanned! A combination of severe backache, some difficult days homeschooling and various other factors had conspired against me cooking, so I knew I had to find a way of getting the food budget back on track...meet the virtually zero cost meal we made.

Take a pumpkin (grown from the seed of a previous years pumpkin we grew). Cost: £0

Make a yummy scrummy pumpkin soup. I used abel & cole's recipe for 'Soup in a pumpkin'. Look under the letter P in their recipe section (we tweaked the recipe to use only a splash of cider and more stock instead to make it more family friendly). The few additional ingredients needed were store cupboard ingredients and would not have cost very much.

Now if I had been organised enough, I could have added a few ingredients into the breadmaker and made our own bread to go with it, but instead bought a baguette from the supermarket to eat with it.

What better to enjoy on a cold autumn day in late October than a warming seasonal soup that fed the whole family and cost next to nothing.

Now what to do with the rest of this years bumper crop?


Doo Yoo Savoo?

Earlier in the week I found out that after being shortlisted in the top 30 (out of 600 entries!) I didn't quite make it to interview stage for Savoo's search for the UK's smartest shopper. Obviously it was a little dissapointing and yet I found that I was also delighted at the same time to have made it to the top 30.

I was also secretly just slightly relieved at not having to go to an interview as it has never been truer for me that I have a wardrobe full of clothes and yet have nothing to wear (!!!) as I still haven't shifted my post-baby weight since Trinity was born.

However, those weren't the only pounds I had gained over the past year or so. In the process of preparing for a possible interview, I did calculate a rough total (and this is a conservative estimate - the actual amount is actually higher) of the amount that my 'savviness' has been worth in monetary terms over the past year or so.

To our amazement it came to around £5,000. I knew I had written about a few things on my entry but I even surprised myself to discover the total.

I have since been asked by Savoo to be one of their 'DealPro's' and hopefully will be able to share some of what has worked for me with the Savoo community too.

If you have not yet taken a look, Savoo.co.uk is THE place to find out about the best deals, discount codes and tips. You can find the best deals on pretty much everything from groceries, to beauty to fashion to travel and the list goes on.

After having had a previous bad experience when looking for a discount code (from another organisation, I hasten to add) where I ended up getting a lot of spam and junk mail, my experience with Savoo has been very different. These guys certainly seem to know what they are talking about, there is a real community feel to the site and with so many brands represented on there, you are bound to find a discount code or offer for whatever it is you are thinking of purchasing.

And you can find out more about those lucky ten that made it to the final interview stage here. We wish them all the very best of luck in meeting the judges this weekend and we can't wait to find out who is crowned 'The UK's smartest shopper'!

Toyologist Review: Spin Mania

Review by The Beesley Buzz.

This game was totally not what I expected it to be but in a really good way! I had expected some sort of board game with an element of something spinning in it - but no board and thankfully no boredom either - This game was great fun!

Designed for children aged 6 and over, this game really was a fun one to play as a family. Although the packaging suggests 2 or more players, the instruction sheet highlights that it can actually even be played solo. It takes a little bit of practice to get the hang of it - but you can get really rather hooked on playing this as it is so much fun.

Make sure you have a couple of size C batteries to hand to get started (thank you Duracell for providing ours!).

You then start the spinning machine (it only works when on a flat surface). Set up the three stands around the room (the idea is although not 'hidden', another player can put them out to make it a bit harder to focus on finding them whilst carrying your spinning disk). Pop on the first spinning disk onto the spinning machine. Once it is spinning fast enough, start the timer, and use the tool to lift the disk off whilst it is still spinning. Carry it over to your first stand and place it on there (whilst it is still spinning).

Don't be dissapointed if you don't manage it at first. It took us all a few practice goes to get the hang of it before we started to time ourselves. There are four tiny coloured pegs (mind you don't lose them!) to mark your time for completing the challenge of getting all 3 disks onto all 3 stands whilst they are still spinning.

Much to my surprise, this proved to be a highly enjoyable game and I can even see us playing this with friends and getting it out on Christmas day to play with all the family.

Toyologist Review: Gyro-Botz Deluxe Battle Arena

Review by The Beesley Buzz.

Hi I'm Daniel. I'm six and a half years old. Today I'm going to be telling you all about Gyro-botz. You see I love 'bots' (I don't mean bottoms - I mean ROBOTS!). I have lots of different types from zibits, to bobble-bots to a bee-bot, lots and lots of bots.

So when my friend Geoffrey the giraffe at Toys R Us sent me these Gyro-botz to try out, I was very, very excited. There was a sheet of stickers in the pack so you can even design the arena and your gyro-bot how you like it to look.

You get two Gyro-botz in the pack and they come with a battle arena so that your gyro-botz can battle each other. They are really easy to use because all you do is thread through the ripcord and when you pull it out and put the botz on their heads in the arena, they spin and spin and spin. The winner is the robot who spins the longest.

It is for children aged over 5 because otherwise it might be too fiddly for younger children to thread through the ripcord that makes the gyro-botz spin. But it was perfect for me and my brother to play. The funny thing was my mum and dad found that they liked playing it too to keep battling each other. Daddy seemed to win most because he could pull the ripcord out the fastest to make the gyro-bot spin the best.

There are also some special tricks you can do with your gyro-bot. We managed to figure out one of them. If you drop the gyro-botz to try to get them to land on their feet, they always fall over. But if you get the spinning bit to work first and then drop them onto their feet, amazingly they manage to stand and not bounce over. Me and my brother thought this was a great game to play because it was easy to use and fun to play.

Here's what mum says:
"There are a few things I love about this game. Firstly no batteries needed (yay!) as the gyro-botz spinning ability is created mechanically using a ripcord. Secondly, the kids could just get on with playing it straight away. There was hardly any 'setting-up' needed as they even managed to put the stickers on themselves and quickly figured out what to do. There are other 'gyro-bot' designs available to purchase separately so that helps keep the children insterested as they can save up their own pocket money to buy additional gyro-botz if they want to. The main feedback I would give to the manufacturer to improve this toy is to produce the plastic arena from a higher quality plastic. I had to keep telling the kids to be careful not to leave it lying around as it looks like it could very easily break which would be a shame because the actual gyro-botz themselves are of much better quality than the arena."

Hope you enjoy Gyro-botz as much as we do!

love Daniel x

Gyro-botz deluxe arena will be available soon from Toys R Us.

Toyologist Review: Transformers Prime : Star Hammer and Wheeljack

Review by The Beesley Buzz.

This Transformers Prime set is described as 'easy', so was well suited for Daddy to understand how it works! It comes with two Transformers - Star Hammer, and Wheeljack.

Although Star Hammer doesn't do much in the way of 'transforming', it is a sturdy troop carrier and has some neat features. It takes two AAA batteries (included - well done Hasbro) to make the Energon Booster light up when you press a button. It can also carry three figures, so is great if you already have a few at home. It also includes two missles that can be launched (imagine the fun the boys had with that once they discovered it!)

Wheeljack converts between a car and a robot with just a couple of moves - even I managed it without help from the boys - and has two sabres to carry as a robot. Whilst a robot, he can fit in different places on Star Hammer, making the set complete.

This set proved a hit with the boys as no complicated moves are needed to get it to 'work' and it is ready to play with straight away. With volunteer troops from other playsets, battles commenced between the forces of good and evil - with a break at dinner time - with delighted smiles and happy children all round.

Compared to other Transformer sets, this is very simple to convert - a couple of moves for Wheeljack, and pushing a lever for Star Hammer - so it might not appeal to older more experienced fans. But for me, the simplicity was a winner as it made it accessible without having to learn anything new. I would expect new Transformer fans to fall in love with this, and any with other small figures already will enjoy having the Star Hammer to join them.

Available soon from Toys R Us.

Toyologist Review: Smasha-Ballz

Review by The Beesley Buzz.

What's round, furry and noisy? No, not the cat. Not the children. Not the mother-in-law. No... it's Smasha-Ballz!

The furry monster that came to live with us is apparently called Gooba. Despite his claw-like hands and four eyes, he is less scary monster and more surreal football. When you squeeze, hit or throw him, he lets out a roar, burp or 'uh-oh' and shakes. It was great for encouraging the neighbour's cat to leave our pet's food alone, and thankfully didn't cause a stir for our six-month old despite being quite loud.


Gooba comes with three AAA batteries for demonstration purposes, but they are still going strong in our beast. The packaging is very enticing, with Gooba appearing to be breaking out of the sides of his box.

A great secret-santa present for work colleagues perhaps, but after the initial excitement our boys tired of him. I'm sure you could invent games to play with Gooba, but there wasn't much enthusiasm for trying in our house. Sorry, Gooba, but you won't be on my Christmas list. Now... if only I draw my boss in the office secret-santa.....

“Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again” L.Frank Baum

When I saw Warren Evans' challenge to blog about our unsung heroes, the ones that fight the monsters under our bed, the ones that help us feel safe at night…I knew exactly which family member to write about. No longer the youngest, since our new baby arrived earlier this year, but every bit as important…meet….

Blue Bear!
Blue Bear with Daniel (both at 2 days old)

Blue Bear belongs to Daniel, now age 6. Blue Bear’s arrival into the world was slightly traumatic as Daniel’s birth was triggered by a sickness bug which swept through the whole family. Biggest brother Josh (then only 21 months old) had been poorly for several weeks, yet upon hearing the news that his baby brother had been born, went off to the shops with Granny and chose a very special friend for baby Daniel.

Blue Bear, baby Daniel and big brother Josh (21 months).

The really touching thing was that Granny had intended on buying Joshua a present too for becoming a big brother, but when asked what he wanted Josh said ‘nothing’ and only wanted to buy his new baby brother a gift. The very next day, Josh became so unwell that he was rushed into hospital as he had become severely dehydrated and come down with a chest infection on top of the sickness bug.

Little did we realise what a comfort Blue Bear would be to both baby Daniel but also to mum, who on her first day home with the new baby, found that her other precious little boy would be spending the night away from home in hospital.

Baby Daniel soon discovered that Blue Bear was a loyal trusted family member and as he got to know his ‘flesh & blood’ family, he also became extremely close to his ‘fabric and stuffing’ family in the form of that very special Blue Bear.

So much so, that a “Spare Bear” had to be tracked down and purchased in case any eventuality should happen to Blue Bear. Yet, even at only a few months old and before he could even say a word, whenever Blue Bear had to take a trip to the washing machine and Spare Bear replace him for the evening, Daniel KNEW the difference. With his eyes closed, he would feel the bears face and look puzzled that the fur felt different. As Daniel grew older we could see the dismay in his face each time he was presented with this clean, soft-furred creature which day by day was bearing less and less resemblance to his true friend Blue Bear.

Blue Bear (left) and Spare Bear. Would you believe these two were identical twins at birth?
Nowadays, Spare Bear is no longer a hushed secret but is used as a last resort if Blue Bear is misplaced. However, Spare Bear often ends up thrown down the stairs and a full scale search and rescue mission needs to be launched with the very serious “CODE BLUE” alert being issued to all the family to start searching before bedtime!

Despite being the grand old age of 6 and a half (which is very old in cuddly bear years), Blue Bear has had surprisingly little cosmetic surgery. He needed a minor nose job last year when his previous nose started to unravel. His eyes have lost their bright youthful shine but that is to be expected at the grand old age of 6 and a half (remembering, of course, that is very old in cuddly bear years!). When I asked Blue Bear how he felt about any future surgery, he told me that he keeps an open mind about such matters as he wants to stick around in full health for as long as possible.

Speaking of surgery, Blue Bear’s other best friend, Blue Bunny, had to undergo some lifesaving surgery a few years ago. In order to be washed after another bout of sickness, Daniel had to make the difficult decision to allow an inexperienced surgeon (aka mummy) to attempt to remove Blue Bunny’s music box. Blue Bunny did live to tell the tale but has been left with scarring. And the music box actually lives on having a kind of out of body experience of its own.

Blue Bunny and his music box, post-operative.

Now, where were we. Oh yes, fighting monsters under the bed. Blue Bear actually does a job far more important than fighting monsters under the bed. He helps Daniel fight the monsters in his head. You see, although Daniel doesn’t like the dark and he doesn’t like things that go bump in the night, his biggest fear is having bad dreams. Daniel told me ”I have nightmares about monsters, but when I wake up, Blue Bear is there and I squeeze him tight.”  

So although Wizard of Oz author, L.Frank Baum most probably meant something entirely different with his quote, for Daniel these words also hold a very special meaning; “Whenever I feel Blue, I start breathing again”.
"Whenever I feel Blue, I start breathing again."

Fact: We ARE Yummy inside out - whether we feel like it or not!

A facebook post that Pink Lining put up before the weekend has been plaguing my thoughts all weekend and I have tried to put in out of my mind but just can't.

They had a link to an article on The Huffington Post, entitled 'The mom stays in the picture' and it has set me on a mission to find how many pictures there are with me and my children that actually reflect the true day to day me of how I look 99% of the time. Let's face it, with three children, one of whom is a baby, one on the autistic spectrum and with the two older ones homeschooled, I barely find the time to even brush my hair, let alone blow-dry or straighten it! My contact lenses only actually make it anywhere near my eyes on very special occassions. And as for make-up - what make-up? I have had the same make-up kit I had as a teenager, as having been used so little since having children, it has lasted so long!

I looked through all the photo albums we have of when the children were younger and looked through a fair few of the digital snaps we have on the PC and whilst there are some with me with each child at Christmas and on Birthdays (less and less as time has gone on though), I couldn't find any of me in 'normal' state.

I was all set to put a 'normal, day to day me' piccy up but could not find one so have asked my son to take a picture today.

And if you compare it to my 'hair tidy, contact lenses in, make up on' public face you'll see on my facebook profile...you'll see what I mean.

I am still kicking myself when a week ago, for my birthday, one of my son's had gone out with granny and secretly bought me two little glass swans - a mummy swan and a little swan to represent him and me - and as he snuggled in whilst I was opening it, daddy went to take a photo and I snapped 'no photos today'. Why oh why did I say that. I was having a day of feeling ugly inside and out and my ugly behaviour reflected it. I just SO wish I had let him take those photos and if I didn't like them, then I just wouldn't have to look at them again but at least my son would be able to look at them in future and it would trigger what should have been a really happy memory of giving me that special present.

I take lots of photos of my children because they are so precious to me, and yet I never realised until today that actually I am really precious to them too (and I'm sure there is a lesson for me to learn here about wanting to be a good role model for our children not to judge by appearances, then I need to learn not to judge myself by appearance in terms of being selective about when to appear in photos!)

After all, as Allison Tate rightly points out in her Huffington post article, we have no idea how long we are going to be around for our children. When I lost my mum 10 years ago, I dug out and spent hours looking at EVERY single photo I had of her. She died very suddenly and unexpectedly one day and I wished so much that I had more photos of her. I remember having an unfinished film in the camera and I wished so hard that there would be one more picture that I had forgotten about but when I developed the film, there was not. The value of each photo became priceless to me because each photo unlocked a memory...

...I found photos of her and me as a baby when she celebrated my birthday each MONTH until I was a year old (how amazing is that?), and then went to the norm of having an annual birthday party like most people do.

...I found photos of me and her with flowers. She loved flowers. Whenever there were fresh flowers in the house it represented a photo opportunity for her regardless of how she looked. Why oh why did I not buy her flowers every week whilst she was still with us!

...I found photos of her with her yellow mini. Her favourite car because it was yellow (her favourite colour) and she could fit it into the smallest of parking spaces.

Each photo is like a key, a key that helps unlock that memory. And I have decided that from today, I am going to leave my children with a big bunch of keys to unlock those precious memories with when I am no longer here.


More to Pumpkins than Halloween

This is a blog post we wrote a couple of years ago for Ooffoo, but with it being that time of year again, thought it might be nice to repost it here. Especially as this year we have had a bumper crop of pumpkins (more about that in the days to come hopefully).


All summer long our son Joshua has lovingly watered his pumpkin, watching it grow in size and then start to change colour from green to orange. It has been carefully kept free from slug attacks by checking it daily. Out of Daddy’s pumpkin, little brother Daniel’s pumkin and Joshua’s pumpkin – Josh’s pumpkin was the only survivor that made it to Autumn. A few weeks ago, we deemed it to be ready. Not really sure what to look out for, we took the colour change and the hollow sounding-ness to be a sign that it was ripe.

Josh ventured out to the garden and as a proud father cuts the umblical cord of his newborn, Joshua cut the pumpkin from it’s vine.

I was then forced to attempt pumpkin soup as this had been the planned destiny of the pumpkin (A friend helpfully commented to remove the seeds before cooking which although sounds obvious, it was worth the effort of getting all the seeds out even the ones that seemed embedded throughout). The soup was a remarkably simple recipe (onion, pumpkin, and cremefraiche) but tasted the best soup we had ever tasted. The freshness of the pumpkin, the fact it had been so lovingly grown and cared for by our son for so many months, the satisfaction from being able to cook pumkin soup for the first time ever; i’m sure all this contributed to the taste (but it really did taste fantastic).
Nothing went to waste. We washed and dried the seeds, saving some to plant next year and toasted the rest to make ‘pepitas’.

I even saw a fantastic idea for the hollow skin in a waitrose magazine which is to make an autumnal flower display in it.

So our whole family had such a lot of fun with Joshua’s pumpkin growing adventure with not a bit of halloween in sight!

My boys are booked into their third Bright light’s party this weekend. The aim being to have more (not less) fun than others who celebrate halloween with no idea of the sinister effect it could be having thinking it is just harmless fun. With so much to celebrate and do this time of year (apple day, harvest, autumn season crafts and activities, bonfire night around the corner) my children have never worried about missing out on halloween and are all too pleased once the ‘yukky’ (their words not mine) displays are gone from the shops!

Toyologyist Review: Transformers Prime - Weaponizer BumbleBee

Review by The Beesley Buzz.

My one previous experience of a Transformers toy was not a good one – it was made of flimsy plastic and, try as I might, I could not transform it from the vehicle to the robot or back again. So it was with some trepidation that I approached this project, charged by my sons with the task of transforming BumbleBee from robot to car and back.

The good news is this was a lot simpler than I remembered the last one. Although plastic, it was pretty sturdy and survived my heavy-handed attempts to transform him before I dared look at the instructions. Sadly, for Transformer novices like me it is not altogether natural to pull a robot apart and see how it fits back as a car, so I had to resort to the instructions. But, with a little practice I worked out how it transforms both ways and even managed to film the occasion!

I am sure my boys will master this far better than me, and will be transforming BumbleBee between car and robot much quicker than I can manage. They love this toy, and I think the challenge of working it out will be a good thing, too.

BumbleBee needs two batteries, and I am very pleased to be able to say that they come with the toy. That said, the batteries add some minor lighting effects and it would not be a huge loss if the batteries ran flat as the toy itself can still be transformed.

My boys were delighted when they saw BumbleBee peering out of his box at them, and have enjoyed tormenting Daddy to learn this new skill and teach them the basics. I can see that this will be on many boys’ Christmas lists this year, and many more Dads will be trying to master the toy on Christmas morning! My top tips are to read the instructions and take it slowly!

My day out at The Baby & Toddler Show at Bluewater

When I was very kindly sent tickets to the Baby & Toddler Show by one of the exhibitors (thank you!), I decided that 3 babies in, it was high time to actually make the effort to attend a baby show and was pleased to meet some old friends and make new ones.

There were various seminars running throughout including first aid, baby sensory, and health visitors talks. There was also an area created for nappy changing and feeding within the Glow centre to avoid long treks looking for baby change facilities. Here are my highlights.

It was so lovely to meet the people behind MaByland. I have been a facebook fan for a while and seeing their lovely products first hand, I was impressed with the great quality. They have some fabulous changing bags, Matchels (mini change bag disguised as a satchel - solves the problem of any Dads not wanting to be seen carrying pretty changing bags around), and baby carriers.

And it certainly is service with a smile from MaByland as they were so lovely and friendly!

It was great to see Karen from Boobiemilk who stocks a range of maternity and nursing bras. Karen came to my rescue in the summer visiting me with a selection of nursing vests to try (I am very lucky to live within the catchment area for Boobiemilk to offer a bra fitting service) and I will be forever grateful to Karen for fitting me in at such short notice. The Emma-Jane nursing vests that she stocks were so super that a few days later, I ordered another one.

Until now, most of my nursing bras and nursing vests left me feeling uncomfortable and looking like I was still pregnant, but these vests are fab. Comfy and with enough support (rather than the baggy section on my previous nursing vest). They have kept their shape really well despite being constantly worn and washed over the past few months.

Karen also blogs at Breastfeeding in England which is a great source of support and helpful hints for breastfeeding mums.

And the biggest highlight for us had to be....

Meeting the very lovely Helen from Cuddledry. As you will probably know already, we were the extremely lucky winners of a Cuddledry competition earlier in the year (see more here), and it was just really special to meet one of the founders of Cuddledry and for her to actually meet baby Trinity for real (it was a photo of Trinity that was the winning photo in the competition).


Book Review: Cartoon Kid Emergency

Cartoon Kid Emergency by Jeremy Strong. £5.99 Puffin (7+)

Review by Joshua age 8

I normally like to make sure I read any books that Josh does a book review for, but this is one that he seems to have done such a great job of when he did this book review as a piece of home-school work one day. So here it is in it's entirety unedited by me.

Three super funny superhero stories in one. They are called Vampire Robbers, Fairies, and Cows.

In Vampire Robbers, there are two robbers who are stealing everyone's packed lunch. Casper, Pete and Mia hide under some boxes to jump out at the thieves...

In Fairies, Casper's big sister Abbie has a boyfriend. Casper wants to see them kiss so when he hears them going into Abbie's room, he has a brilliant idea.

And in Cows, the school are doing a project. Casper has someone in his family who grew up there. But to find out, you must read it...

"What chocolate cake?"

A certain 6 month old baby has developed a real taste for CHOCOLATE CAKE!!! So I guess that means the baby-led weaning part has now begun. We have never seen her open her mouth quite so wide for any other food.

Oh and yes, that is the remains of fish finger on her bib. I know that Fish fingers and Chocolate cake is not quite the same winning combination as Fish Fingers and custard, but nonetheless Doctor Who would be proud.


A place to work, rest and play (without tears!)

I have seen some amazing ideas by other bloggers for the Tots100 room makeover challenge with RatedPeople.com and I absolutely know I don't stand a chance of winning, but I loved the idea of thinking creatively about making-over a room in your house if you had the money and guts to do it!

So out with sensible, in with adventurous and let's see what we end up with. I make no apologies for  designing our room makeover around Joshua's needs because day to day we have to take his ASD and Sensory issues into consideration in every area of our lives, so in designing a living space, his needs should be a priority too.

The past few days have been difficult for Josh. He has had a major meltdown every day and so my mind has been thinking along the lines of 'what if..."

What if...Joshua had an indoor space where he could get the Occupational Therapy input he needs on a daily basis (the NHS is so under resourced in this respect that he last had a couple of OT sessions in July and the soonest possibility of more sessions is next Easter!!!).

What if...he could have a way of hiding away in his own cocoon when he feels overloaded.

What if...Joshua and his younger brother (who are both homeschooled) had their own space to do their work without distracting each other and with plenty of storage for their school books.

What if...he can practice his handwriting 'BIG' until he has the gross motor skills and muscle tone to help his handwriting improve on paper.

What if ...he can just chill and relax on his favourite character beanbags when he needs some space to calm down...

....whilst looking up at a calm blue sky....

What if....he had somewhere to store all his cuddly toys that are so special to him without mummy always nagging that she is tripping over them....

What if...he has a special play space to learn to develop imaginative play with his little brother and baby sister. Somewhere truly special where grown-ups are not allowed...

(Ironically our understairs cupboard is where we store our old tins of paint and is in our living room which is the only room in the whole house that has not been decorated for well over 10 years).

I love the idea of wall art but have never been bold enough to try it so how about some wall art that says...

And here's plan B... if all the above doesn't work, we need a space for Mummy to escape to instead. So how about a Mummy's Me-Time room. Here's one I made earlier...

ratedpeople.com painting and decorating