Epilepsy And Us

[AD] The word epilepsy always conjured up visions of people falling to the floor and convulsing. I always thought this was a blanket type effect of the disease and anyone suffering from epilepsy would have limits to their life due to their disease.

I had a very limited understanding about epilepsy as this wasn’t something that had ever affected me directly. However, this all changed just before we all went into lockdown this year, when we noticed some changes in Oscar. 

For a while, he had been what we originally thought was rolling his eyes at us. This would happen several times a day, but we just put it down to a habit he had got into. This was until one day when we were chatting with him, he started to lose balance and completely ‘left the room’ for a few seconds. A trip to the doctor and then a referral to the hospital saw us talking with neurologists and having an EEG, as they were sure he was suffering from absence seizures. Absence seizures are characterized by short, sudden and unpredictable episodes of impairment of consciousness lasting no longer than 30 seconds (Holmes, 2008, p. 124).

The results from the EEG came back showing something a little different from what they were expecting, and until now it is still a work in progress to get to the bottom of the type of epilepsy Oscar is actually suffering from.  What I wasn’t expecting when we got this diagnosis was the worry that it has caused. These few second periods of absence seizures can have such a huge effect on his day in so many different ways. 

Imagining the possibility of him having a seizure by the side of the road and slipping off the curb, or by the edge of a pond and then falling in, keeps us on alert with him at all times now, just in case something like this happens. You just can’t be complacent, as I found out when we were out the other day. Oscar had rushed off ahead of us and started to climb by himself. By the time I rushed to get to him, I saw his eyes going and he fell off of the edge of the climbing frame. 

Those few split seconds when Oscar ‘blacks out’ could potentially cause harm to him, and so the whole family is now on alert around him at all times to keep him safe. His seizures are also brought on by getting out of breath, so it’s been a bit of a challenge to try and stop a super active six year old from getting out of breath! 

With that said, I still want him to lead a full and exciting life despite his epilepsy. We just need to ensure he is safe whilst doing so, even if this does mean me scaling climbing frames and swinging through trees with him. 

Of course, there are a whole host of medications out there to help control these seizures and we are on this journey now. It’s been a bit of trial and error and there have been some bumps along the way, but I have everything crossed that we will find something that works for him soon.

One thing that we have found out since his diagnosis is an understanding of why he had been struggling at school. Can you imagine being six years old and listening to your teacher explaining something. During this conversation, losing a few seconds of what is being said can cause the entire conversation to be lost on you. This in turn means you have no idea what you should be doing in class, and then end up trying to bumble through your day without any knowledge of what’s going on. I suspect that this is what has been happening for a while now for Oscar, and would explain why he has fallen behind in school. Hopefully, this can now be worked around, so he can thrive at school again. 

This series of incidents made me aware of how much knowledge I lacked about this disease. Apart from our doctor, I have found forums and sites are a great place to speak to others going through the same thing as well. GSK also has a disease awareness campaign called ‘Life Is Calling’ which has been a great platform to learn more about epilepsy and how it affects all kinds of people from all over the world.

Oscar’s diagnosis may have been a shock to us all, but he has taken it all in his stride. He has done so well with trying out medications that have had him feeling a little rubbish at times, and has adapted well to me having to pull in the reins when we are out and about. 

Yes, things have changed, and yes we need to be aware, but this has not and will not stop Oscar leading a full life. I can’t wait to be on this journey with him!

Tips For Buying A Get Well Soon Gift

[AD] When someone you care about is unwell, or they’re recovering from a surgery, or injury, it’s nice to let them know that you’re always thinking of them. Even if you can’t visit the person every day in hospital, sending a get well soon gift and a card can remind a person in a bad place that they’re not alone, and they have people who care about them waiting to see them.

The only problem is, it can be difficult to determine what kind of get well soon gift is best. Do you stick with flowers, or go for something entirely different? Here are some tips to help you decide.

Consider the Individual – What’s going to make your friend feel best when they’ve been poorly? Are they the kind of person who would love a home-made batch of soup and cookies delivered to them, or would they prefer a jokey card and something funny to make them laugh? They say laughter is the best medicine, but it’s best to avoid anything that might come across in poor taste.

Just like you would with any gift, it’s important to keep context in mind. How old is the person? If they’re young, maybe they’d like something soft and cuddly to make them feel safe during this difficult time? If they’re a little older, they might like a pair of cosy slippers to wear while they’re in hospital. Sites like UKGifts can be a huge help in helping track down that perfect gift based on the person’s hobbies, interests or lifestyle.

Be Practical – One of the most important things you’ll need to consider when choosing a get well soon gift, is the nature of the ailment. If the person you’re gifting has been struggling with a flu where they can barely get any food down them, you probably shouldn’t send a basket of cupcakes. Think about whether the person in question can actually get use out of this present.

When someone isn’t feeling well, the first thing they’re going to want is an item that can make their lives easier. This could mean that you fill their freezer with meals so they don’t have to cook when they get home, or you get them an extra blanket so they can stay comfortable when they’re on a chilly ward. Consider practicality first.

Be Considerate – Before you send someone a bunch of flowers straight to their hospital room, think about whether they’re in a ward with other people who may be allergic. A lot of hospitals won’t allow people to keep flowers in an open ward where other people are staying right now. It might be better to wait until they get out of the hospital and take flowers to their home instead.

In the same way, think about how your gift might annoy other people around the hospital if that’s where the person is. A singing bear that doesn’t shut up might be funny at first, but when it’s keeping a bunch of unwell people awake all night, it starts to get a little more upsetting. Be considerate and think about everyone who might be affected by the gift.

Stick with Something Simple – If you’re not sure what your friend or loved one would want to make them feel better right now, it’s best to stick to the simple things. No-one can be unhappy with a bunch of flowers – no matter how cliché it might be. You can also think about putting some cash in a card, or giving them vouchers that they can use when they get out of the hospital, so they have something fun to look forward to. Try to avoid anything that’s too over the top if you’re uncertain.

People who feel unwell are generally more emotional, so you don’t want to give them anything that’s going to end up making them upset, instead of getting the smile that you’re hoping for. If all else fails, think about how you can make their life a little easier for them. Maybe your gift could be going and tidying their house, so they don’t have to do that when they feel better?

Ask if They Need Anything – Finally, ask them if there’s anything they really need to make this experience a little better. They might have a food that they particularly crave, or they might want some ear plugs so that they can sleep a little easier in a busy hospital. It might seem like cheating to ask for tips, but your friend or loved one will appreciate that you’re taking their needs into consideration.

What Makes Our Family Special – Guyana:Review

[GIFTED] “Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we were all the same” is something I’ve always reminded my little ones of. We often talk about all the different factors that make families special and celebrate this. I am ashamed to admit though that being a blended family ourselves with my father in law coming from Mauritius we haven’t really delved into what life is like there, how people live and how it differs to here in the UK and this is exactly what the beautiful book – What Makes Our Family Special GUYANA by Danielle Clarke does.

Our thoughtfully hand wrapped booked arrived with a hand written note attached from the stars of the book, along with some colouring sheets which was such a lovely touch. Oscar opened the package with such excitment and the beautiful, colourful illustrations from Lily Carver immediately caught my eye.

Evie and Isla are tucked up in bed and all set and for a special bedtime story about their Guyanese grandparents when they are transported on an adventure to Guyana; learing lots of facts about this gorgeous county. While they are there they come across a distressed river otter who’s baby is trapped under a huge log. Working together as a team, they manage to free the baby otter and head back home with dreams of Guyana and their exciting adventures.

This book allows children to think about how different families are up and this is what makes each one so special, they are able to learn a whole host of facts about Guyana…I learnt more than a few myself and finally it shows how coming together as a team gets is always the best way the job done.

Beautifully written, beautifully illustrated and most importantly a very important message delivered in the perfect way! Oscar absolutely loved this book and we are egarly awaiting the next in the series!

Twelve Days Of Christmas With Elvis The Elf

[AD] Elf On Shelf has taken homes by storm over the past few years and although this cute little fellow may be a bit like Marmite, over 14 million elves have settled in people’s home all over the world.

The children get such excitement to find out each morning what their elf has been up to and it’s the task of the parents to think up something different and exciting each day.

This year has been one like no other and I think it’s even more important than ever to bring a little magic into our homes…as we are set to be spending a lot of time in them this year; and this is where Elvis the Elf has come to the rescue with some slightly more interactive setups to the norm.

Traditionally things like the elf wrapping the tree in paper or stealing the Christmas chocolates are used, and although this is all super fun it’s a little short lived after the initial surprise. So this is why with the help of Design Bundles.net who are the masters of paper cutting templates – I have twelve days worth of set ups to share with you that allow the children to get really hands on with all the tasks Elvis has set them.

Thirty one days to fill can be a little daunting so as we know every cloud has a silver lining and due to the pandemic it means the sneaky little elf has had to quarantine for two weeks, giving him a whole fourteen days inside his little jar!

Day One:Get Cooking It would be Christmas without some baking so day one sees Elvis with a baking kit for the children and some little flour elf footprints leading the way there.

Baking kit

Footprint stencil

• Sprinkle of flour

The set up for this is simple. Just leave all the baking ingredients with Elvis and use the stencil and a sprinkling of flour to make the footprints.

Day Two:Kitting Him Out Mask wearing is the norm now and Elvis isn’t exempt from this. Day two sees Elvis sporting his Christmassy face mask with all the materials he you need to make him a new outfit to match.

• Mini Face Mask

• Fabric Squares

• PVA Glue

• String

This set up couldn’t be simpler. Find somewhere to place Elvis with his mask on and then leave the fabric, glue and string next to him so you are all good to go with your creations.

Day Three:Colouring In – This is such a busy time of year so something to keep the kids busy is always welcome. So Elvis has left the kids some colouring sheets to keep them busy.

Colouring Sheets

• Pack Of Pens

This one couldn’t be easier to do. Print a few Christmas colouring sheets off and leave them with Elvis and a pack of pens. maybe Elvis can even get things started!

Day Four:Mr Postman – Who doesn’t love receiving Christmas cards! Elvis has kindly brought a card for all the family and left all the materials you need to make your very own card for someone special.

Mini Card

• Card Paper and Envelope

• Card Decorations

• Pens

Set Elvis up with his mini card on his lap and everything you need for your own card next to him.

Day Five:Handmade Decorations – Decorations with a little thought behind them are something I really love and Elvis leaving everything you need to make your own decorations and one he has made himself is a lovely touch.

• Handmade Bauble

• Clear Fillable Bauble

• Fake Snow

• Bauble Filler

• Stickers

If your tree is up then that would be the perfect place to put Elvis with the decoration he has gifted and all the pieces to make your own.

Day Six:Scavenger Hunt Lockdown has sent us all a little stir crazy and with super excited, hyper active kids it’s good to get them out in the fresh air to get some exercise and burn off some energy; and this is why Elvis’s scavenger hunt is such a good idea.

A printed scavenger hunt

Leave the scavenger hunt alongside Elvis and just get ready to have some fun!

Day Seven:Naughty Or Nice – As the excitement builds things can get a little frayed so Elvis leaving a letter to Santa to check if the children think they have been good this year is perfect!

Printed letter to Santa

• Christmas pen

This is another super easy one and Elvis can be left just about anywhere with his letter and pen.

Day Eight:Window Display – With lots of people still out and about getting their daily exercise Elvis has decided to cheer up all the passers by with some window decorations and all the things you need to add your own.

• Scandi House Window Stencils

• Blue-tac

• Patterned paper

Simply fill your window with the pretty stickers and wait for the children to come and put their own spin on it!

Day Nine:Gifts Are For Giving – Teaching children the importance of giving is so important and this is why Elvis has left a little box of chocolates to pass into somebody else.

Leave Elvis all set and ready with his chocolates to give to someone they love.

Day 10:An Act Of Kindness – Keeping

With the theme of thinking of others Elvis has left a list of acts of kindness that the children can then carry out, such a writhing a letter to someone or donating food to a local food bank.

• Act of kindness sheet

• Something to do with one of the tasks they may carry out

This one can be set up with the sheet along or with something to do with one of the tasks. I have gone with tins we can take to the food bank.

Day Eleven:Setting The Table – With the big day just around the corner Elvis is thinking about this place at the dinner table and has come with a place name and a milk bottle ready to leave for Santa, plus some card and a pen for the kids to write out place names for everyone else!

Leave Elvis all ready with his place name, bottle and plenty of card for the children to get creative.

Day Twelve:Get Wrapping – The final bits of prep are underway and Elvis is all prepared with his wrapping and bowl of popcorn to watch a movie at the same time.

• Small confectionary pot

• Bag of popcorn

• Sheet of wrapping paper

• Christmas gift tag

• Washi Tape

Pop Elvis in front of a Christmas movie with all you need for wrapping presents and fill Elvis’s popcorn pot up, saving the rest for the kids…and you!

Getting Ready For World Book Day With Viking

[GIFTED] World Book Day often fills parents with dread, but I love it for so many reasons. It gives the children the opportunity to use their imagines and recall all their favourite stories from over the years.

For reluctant readers and can give them a more creative way to look at reading and this is exactly what I have been doing with Viking.

I was sent a gorgeous parcel of craft materials to create something around the theme of World Book Day; included in this was a gorgeous book of book craft creations. They were all stunning, but super delicate and with my youngest two being bundles of destruction I wanted to create something for them that would stand the test of time.

I simply took a piece of A4 black card and onto that randomly stuck some pages from old books – the older and more dishevelled the better.

Then I look some pages that were partly blank and using the old typewriter style alphabet stamps I printed out a couple of quotes from one of our favourite authors – Roald Dahl.

One complete I roughly tore the page until it was a good fit and put in place on top of the pages.

Lastly I placed inside a pretty frame and it was all ready to take up home next to the boys bookcase to give them a little reminder every time they walked past.

I have lots of other ideas running through my head so watch this space for more book crafts to come!

Making Family Time With Deliveroo

[AD] Meal times in our house work a little like a hotel with sitting. It’s a one in one out kind of affair where I find myself serving meals from around 5pm to as late as 10pm.

My husband says I have made a rod for my own back but with so many different commitments that we all have from after school clubs, work and play dates it can be hard to get everyone together at the same time.

It is however important to me to try and carve out a few family meals times at least once a week and we recently tried this with the help of Deliveroo.

Deliveroo offers restaurant quality food to your door in around 30 minutes from a large selection of local restaurants that are selected for you on their easy to use app after you have filled out a few simple questions.

The children enjoyed scrolling through all the different cuisines from the usual kind of takeaway foods such a fish and chips and curry, but we were presently surprised to see our favourite – sushi.

Using the super easy drop down menu they all decided what dishes they wanted and it was delivered by the super friendly delivery driver in just over 30 mins.

The ease of order, great selection of restaurants and the speed in which it was delivered were all big bonuses for us and allowed us to spend some rare time together sharing good food with arguments only over who was getting the last California roll – and this is why 89% of 130 Mumsnet testers would recommend Deliveroo to friends and family, qualifying them as Mumsnet rated.

Glass Partitioning In The Home

[AD] For a long time now open plan living has been a big thing. The elimination of doors and walls creates an light and airy feel by making all living areas as one.

I love the look of this kind of design but for me the need to escape to a room on my own is far to great, and this is where something such as glass partitioning would make for a happy medium.

Glass partitioning in the past has been something used more readily in shops and office spaces, but it is making its way into the home and I for one am loving what it has to offer. Here are some of the reasons I am so taken with it.

Creates Privacy – One of the problems with open plan living is that there is nowhere to escape to get five minutes to yourself. By using glass partitioning you can section off areas of the house to get that privacy whilst still keeping the light and airy feel.

Making A Statement – I find glass a beautiful feature and when combined with stunning framing it can be a real piece of art and make a big statement in the home.

Letting In The Light – The ability to let in light is probably what I love most about glass partitioning. Doors and wall obviously create this barrier whilst glass allows light to flood through.

Reduces Noise – Having a large family equates to a lot of noise which sometimes is nice to get away from. With glass partitioning you can have these separate areas that allow you to shut out the hustle of bustle without feeling like you are penned in.

Controls Odour – We all know the feeling of going out after you have just cooked and having the small lingering around on your clothes. Well with open plan living this is heightened as there is no way to stop the odours from your food travelling around the whole house. With the glass partitioning this can act as a brilliant barrier to keep all the smells just in the kitchen.

Staying On Top Of My Finances With Youtility

[AD] Housing costs are at a 13 year high with no hope that things are set to improve anytime soon. The bills that are coming in highest are housing, fuel and power which are obviously necessities and not something we can get on without. This coupled with huge costs of rent/mortgage payments, travel to and from work, food and clothing can often leave people with very little to spend on free time which can be extremely hard on family life.

Due to this keeping an eye on money coming into and out of the house is of upmost importance and sadly I am the worlds worst at organising my finances. I don’t keep track of anything coming in and out and very rarely shop around for cheaper deals which is so important when it comes to getting the most from your money.

I know that for me this is an extremely poor way to deal with things, especially as I am trying to run such a large household, so when I was approached by Youtility to try out there app I knew it was the perfect time to get things into order.

Youtility offer a one stop app to revolutionise the way you organise your household bills so that everything you need is all in one place.

Every Bill In On Place – Youtility allows you to add every bill you have to the app so you know exactly what you have and how much is going out in, all in one place instead of having to log into each account separately to get all your details.

Track Your Homes Performance – This was something I really loved about the app. You can see how efficiently you are running your home compared to others in your area. It really makes you think about things like your electricity and gas consumption and has really prompted me to make changes in these areas. Having shorter showers, turning the thermostat down a notch or two and making sure that the house isn’t continually like Blackpool illuminations are all great ways to make small changes.

Compare And Change – As I said earlier making time to make sure we have a competitive rate on our bills is something I rarely look into as I never seem to find the time to do it. With Youtility it is all done for you, so if a better deal comes up for you then it can all be done through the app.

Keeping You In The Know – There are breakdowns of how much you have spent and what you have ready to come out which makes it really easy to budget. They will let you know about any high bills that you may need to take a look at and keep you informed of when contracts are coming to an end which is great to make sure you are taking a look at everything you are getting is as you need and if not then changes can be made at the right time.

Sunshine Dreaming With Simply Beach

[AD] I’m sure I’m not the only one that is longing for a bit of sun now and I for one can’t wait for Mr Sunshine to show his face so that we can make the most of the great outdoors and hit the beach.

Over the years my beachwear choices have certainly changed and a trip to the beach with my brood requires a pack horse rather than a nifty little bach bag. However this doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style and with the help of Simply Beach I have compiled a wish list of items that I would like to see me though the summer.

Swimsuit – I am well past the days of wearing a bikini on the beach which I am perfectly happy with to be honest. There is such a great range of swimsuits available now that they can look just as stylish as a bikini whilst allowing you to have a little more confidence by covering the areas you might not be so happy with.

Tummy control swimsuits have been my best friend for a while now and this Lush Lanai Pin Up Swimsuit is definitely on my list.

Cover Ups – A good cover up is essential for me to shield myself from the hot sun and to quickly whip on when you need a trip to grab a bite to eat. I have fallen in love with this Melissa Odabash Maxi Dress that offers great coverage as well as looking effortlessly cool.

Beach Bags – Of course a good beach bag is a must and mine needs to be big enough to fit swimmer, snacks and all the other paraphernalia that comes with a big family. I love a classic basket style bag that can be filled to the brim whilst still looking great. My top pick for this summer is the Seafolly Oversized Beach Basket that has a classic design with pretty detailing in the twisted handles and tassel.

Flip Flops – Last but not least is footwear which for me on a trip to the beach need to be easy to slip on an off and waterproof as the little ones spend the majority of the time up and down for dips in the sea, walking along the seafront and not so glamorous toilet trips. These Vix Solid Flip Flops are the perfect, lightweight shoe for any beach trip.

I hope I’ve given you a little inspiration for those warmer months ahead and I would love to know your go to pieces for the summer.

A Year In Pictures – 2018

This year has been a bit of a mixed bag for us and to be honest I was being a bit of a negative nelly about what we had done and what I had achieved until I started scrolling through my trusty iPhone where I saw that we had in fact had some amazing adventures and I had come a lot further with my work than I was giving myself credit for.

My blog is all about capturing moments so instead of a long winded post about my year I’m simply going to let the pictures tell the story.

We started the year with meeting the Teletubbies…

We started our family fitness journey with David Lloyd…

We met Adam Hargraves at the Mr Men launch with MiPac…

We had some success with Frankie’s food allergies…

We enjoyed the snow…

I embarrassed Izzy with my lack of skating skills and she was over the moon to meet Frankie from The Saturdays..

Oscar got to meet of his favourites…

We had a trip to the seaside…

I got to work with the lovely Nadia Sawalha and had some amazing opportunities with Mumsnet…

We loved every minute of our work as ambassadors for Chessington World Of Adventures…

The boys love toy testing with Little Tikes in Hyde Park…

Darren and I got a much need night away…

Little Tikes treated us again to a trip to Silverstone and an awesome helicopter ride…

I got some quality time with Izzy on a photography course with Sharp Shoots…

The amazing Laura Shaw brought out my confidence in front of the camera…

We had our first festival of the year at Elderflowerfields…

Izzy meet some more celeb crushes at  a Num Noms event…

More fun at the beach…

I celebrated at my Sister’s hen…

We picked strawberries…

We had a fabulous photo shoot with Rachel Thornhill…

We had our first family trip to Alton Towers…

We went to a  brilliant screening of Hotel Transylvania3…

Oscar left nursery and started school…

We braved the storms at Camp Bestival…

We picked the coldest week of the summer to visit Chichester…

We went to our first fashion show…

We took to the red carpet…

We had a VIP trip to Legoland with Warner Bros that was out of this world…

Isla visited her first pumpkin patch…

The boys explored the Natural History Museum…

I meet the lovely ladies from George at ASDA…

We moved house…

At Christmas we visited Winterville, Winterwonderland, London Transport Museum and rounded it all  of with a trip to the fabulous Lapland UK.