> The Beesley Buzz: October 2019

Brightening up those winter days: #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge with Britmums (gifted product)

Whilst I wish I could say that I was one of those people who loves the winter approaching...the cosy evenings indoors, the warm winter clothes and boots coming out, I'm afraid I can't. In fact, I often dread the long winter season of dark evenings, damp weather and the general dullness of winter.

My winter clothes tend to stay untouched in the wardrobe for long periods of time leaving them somewhat musty smelling by the time summer has ended and winter is here again. So anything that can help me get even a little bit excited about winter is definitely a good thing.

I may not have the brightest of winter wardrobes, but instead I love to add a splash of colour with bright scarves, gloves and hats.

When it comes to seasonal clothes and sustainability I'm all for looking for new ways to revive old outfits rather than buy a new outfit altogether. So when I spotted these hats with bright pink pom-poms in the spring sale early this year, I snapped them up and kept them packed away ready for this winter season. The jeans that me and Miss T are wearing are close to a decade old! Miss T's jeans used to belong to the boys when they were younger and I remember buying my jeans just before I was pregnant with Miss T. They've both been in storage for a while so it was great to get them out again and freshen them up to look as good as new!

I'm also a big fan of charity shop finds. In fact our Christmas jumpers were charity shop bargains. Whilst the charity shop is a fab place to find winter clothes I tend to find that they DEFINITELY need a bit of a refresh to get them looking and smelling their best.

We also had an added twist to our school uniform stresses this year when our eldest announced that for year 11 they are permitted to wear coloured shirts instead of a white shirt. A special privilege for year 11's without thinking about us poor parents. He chose purple. Oh great - something else to keep free of stains and looking bright!
The boys no longer wear white shirts at school, but blue and purple.

At my younger son's school, the uniform is blue shirts for every year group so I'm glad to have found a way to keep his new shirts looking bright as his older shirts are definitely looking a paler shade of blue over the years. And of course at Miss T's school it is always a struggle to keep whites looking bright with the amount of tomato-based dishes they seem to serve for school lunch.

So the #ACEWinterRefresh challenge is perfect timing for all the laundry dilemmas in our family!

With the plastic-free revolution taking hold around the world and also in our own household, we LOVE the idea of using a regular spoon instead of having a bespoke plastic laundry measure. What an utterly simple idea but absolute genius idea at the same time.  The pack itself is also recyclable. And to help the planet a little more you can wash at 30C because ACE is effective at low temperatures too.

ACE for colours is so simple to use. It can be used in every washload to remove stains and keep colours bright. You add your usual detergent and then add 2 tablespoons of ACE into the same detergent drawer as the water flushes through at the start of the wash cycle. You can double the dose if you have really grubby or heavily stained clothes.

There are also instructions on the pack for pre-treating and soaking clothes too. It's always important to check the instructions to help look after your clothes. For example, this product is not suitable for wool, silk or leather. Most of our jumpers tend to be acrylic, polyester or cotton so ACE has been perfect for them. Although Miss T loved taking part in the photos for this blogpost, we do store all of our detergents and cleaning solutions out of the reach of children.

Stain removal is an absolute must for our family, keeping colours bright is certainly helpful too given the coloured school shirts situation but the real bonus has been the wonderful fresh smell from using ACE for colours:

  • Teenagers tend to bring home smelly and sweaty uniform and PE kits (well my teenagers certainly do)
  • My own clothes often pick up cooking smells
  • Our charity shop finds are often musty smelling
  • And don't even get me started on how muddy J returns home after Saturday morning ParkRun!
So having a way of getting our clothes really clean and smelling fresh too has been brilliant. This is where I wish the power of the internet was strong enough to have developed "smellyvision" to be able to let you smell just how fresh I mean. Instead I'm going to have to urge you to try it yourself to see what I mean. So for a winter wardrobe refresh it is perfect.

But my extra secret tip is to wash all your summer bright t-shirts and dresses before packing those away for next summer. Sure they may need a quick refresh too when the season changes again, but in the meantime it means my wardrobe smells fresh that bit longer than usual.

And here's a really quick video explaining just why ACE for Colours powder gets the thumbs up from us:

Disclosure: This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge, sponsored by ACE for Colours Powder. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper http://www.acecleanuk.co.uk/ and pick up the range at your nearest Morrison’s store or buy online on Amazon.

I was sent 2 x 450g boxes of ACE for colours powder for the purpose of this challenge. All opinions are my own. 

World Arthritis Day 2019 - Four and a half years on from diagnosis

12th October is World Arthritis Day. I thought it would be a good time to give an update on Miss T and where we are four and a half years on from a diagnosis of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

What was first a shock and ordeal to deal with has now become our ‘ordinary’. Some weeks we have hospital appointments almost every day - yet that is still within our 'normal'. The weekly MTX injection is part of the routine (although much dreaded), and we no longer worry about missing certain medications because they are SO part of the routine now that it's hard to forget them. Miss T can remember her medication list and physio routine to update each of her doctors herself.

Physio is an ongoing struggle because each time we lapse (and I say ‘we’ because it really is a family team effort to stay motivated and to ringfence the time to do the exercises each day) her muscle strength deteriorates and it is hard to keep up the exercises day in, day out, all through the year. Over the summer holidays with our routine being different we’d missed doing the exercises for a while and it was clearly evident when she went for her physio appointment at the end of the summer. They score the muscle strength out of 30 and hers had dropped to 18 out of 30. She’s worked really really hard over the past few weeks to improve that and has managed to get it up to a score of 23. She is now up to 30 repetitions of 4 key targeted exercises using ankle weights of 1.5kg on each leg. Yes it’s hard work. Yes it can get pretty boring. And yes there are days she really wants to just get to bed without having to do her exercises but she also understands just how important it is to do them.

Over recent months ongoing investigations into the mystery left foot that has been going on since summer 2017 have ruled out neurological involvement so that is a relief although none of the plethora of healthcare professionals that she has seen have been able to give a definitive answer of what has happened / is happening to that foot for it to have become arched like that and smaller in size than the other foot. A podiatry appointment in November where they will take measurements of the foot again will hopefully help us understand whether the size difference is improving, staying the same or worsening.

At the moment remaining on her weekly methotrexate seems to be the preferred option. Whilst there is no definitive test that can be done to identify whether a child is in remission from JIA, at Great Ormond Street hospital they do an MRP blood test which is used as an indicator of how likely it is that the child will flare if coming off MTX. Frustratingly it can take 3-4 months to get the results of this blood test. When they first did the MRP test for Miss T her score was over 15,000 (they can only measure up to 15,000). Anything over 4,000 indicates a high risk of flare. They repeated the test in Spring this year. Her score was 5,000. So at her next appointment I’m anticipating that they may wish to discuss whether it is worth the risk of trying to come off the medication or to stay on it longer.

Many people still associate arthritis with the elderly. Whilst it is not common amongst children, it is still important to be aware that children CAN get arthritis. Increased awareness leads to faster diagnosis and treatment and better long term outcomes for children with JIA.

This world arthritis day I’ll be spreading the word on social media that children get arthritis too with a little help from Kipo. Kipo is a monkey who has JIA. He is the main character in a lovely storybook written by parents of children with JIA – originally in Israel. 

Miss T proof-reading the Kipo book about Juvenile Arthritis

They’ve kindly given the Juvenile Arthritis Research project permission to translate it for a UK audience and to print and distribute the book in the UK. At this stage it is going to be made available via the A Little Box of Hope initiative which has been designed to provide information for the families of newly diagnosed children. It is currently being piloted in one area with a view to eventually roll it out to every newly diagnosed child. Ultimately it would be great if the Kipo storybook could be made available to every child with JIA who would like one. So we are thankful to all the supporters and volunteers who have made the pilot possible with their fundraising efforts - we just need to keep going to be able to reach every family who needs it! 
JAR Project's A Little Box of Hope initiative being piloted for newly diagnosed families
Please do pop over to Juvenile Arthritis Research's  social media pages and share, retweet or re-post one of their messages to help spread the word this World Arthritis Day that children get arthritis too! 

When I look back at my early posts from 2015 when Miss T was first diagnosed, I can sense the urgency and passion I felt in trying to raise awareness that children get arthritis too. That hasn't changed. The need is there more than ever. Juvenile Arthritis Research have developed a resource, the #ThinkJIA campaign, in conjunction with leading health professionals - Whether you are a parent or carer, pre-school or school, or front-line health professional, you can find out more here: www.thinkjia.org

Please do pop over to either twitter, facebook or instagram and give the image of Kipo the monkey a share to let others know that children get arthritis too! Thank you.