Mama Shelter:The Kidzcation

Stepping out of the cab with the blistering sun burning down on us, we could have easily been on an LA strip and not in the centre on Hackney when we arrived at Mama Shelter.

The grand, black building and striking canopies gave the hotel that immediate ‘wow’ factor, which also fills me with dread when it comes to travelling with kids! Little did I know though my worries were soon to be quashed.

We made our way past young couples sipping cocktails in the sun and entered the entrance hall where we were greeted with a ecletic mix of clashing, colourful prints and luxurious fabrics that were a feast for the eyes; but I think the game changer for us all was the arcade game sitting right by the reception; which imedietly put my mind at ease about the children being there and gave them something to do whilst I checked in, in peace.

I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome. I was told everything I needed to know and the children were asked what they were looking forward to during thier stay.

Our stay was going to see us experience Mama Shelter’s ‘Kidzcation’ which means that when you book one room you get one half price which is interconecting if avaliable so the family are all still together.

Our rooms consisted of a double bed and two singles which worked perfectly for us. There was plenty of room to move around and all the little essentials you need such as an area to make drinks and gorgous own brand bathroom goodies.

Screen addict Frankie homed straight in on the TV and was over the moon with the huge array of free movies on offer…I think he would have been happy to stay there all weekend. Another lovely little extra were the sweets on the kids beds and the super cute Looney Tunes masks that the boys kept on for the majority of their stay .

All settled in we made our way down to dinner. The restaurant was buzzing and had a fantastic atmosphere. There was a heated debate over who was sitting on the sofa which resulted in a full on meltdown from Oscar. Normally this would make for a fraught evening, but thanks to our wonderful waiter the crisis was divered and his kinds words telling me what a fab job I was doing with the kids meant so much!

We feasted on the best burgers I have ever tasted and finshed off with a variety of puddings from cookies and milk to brulee’d pain perdu.

The children’s menu mirrored that of the adults which is always somthing I like, instead of the usual beige offerings. Mine all wolfed down their meals and I had the chance to sit and enjoy a G&T in peace while the boys played on the super cool football table.

A check out time of 12pm meant that we could have a really lazy morning which is always welcome when you have numerous little ones to get ready. A few coffees, a bit of TV watching and a long relaxing shower later we went to fill our bellies once more. Children under 12 eat free for breakfast and they get to choose from the main menu which has a great variety. We are definitely a pancake loving family and couldn’t turn down the fluffy panckes dripping with syrup and covered in crispy bacon.

Full to the brim the boys made full use of the arcade machines before we headed to the karaoke room. Tucked away at the bottom of the hotel are two karaoke rooms where Oscar was in his element. The disco lighting and iPads to select your favourite tunes were a fantastic addition to an already wonderful stay.

If you are looking for a stay that caters perfectly for the kids whilst still giving the parents something special then Mama Shleter is the place to be!

The Pros Of Big Age Gaps

With a fair few years between my older children and under two years between the youngest I often get asked what I think is the perfect age gap – in short I don’t think there is ever a perfect gap or a perfect time to have children, but I must say having a larger gap can come with its perks and here are a few for you:

Time To Get Into Routine – Having a few years gap gives you time to see what works and what doesn’t for your family. Getting yourself into some kind of routine with just one little one running around is mush easier to do then with two or more!

One On One Time – For me the most precious time is those first few years that pass within the blink of an eye. If you have one that is already at school or nursery then you can get to make the most of that time with just you and the baby.

Tricky Stages Are Easier On Their Own – Parenting comes with endless tricky stages, but if you can tackle things such as potty training and weaning one child at a time then the chances of keeping your hair a little longer are greatly improved!

Childcare Costs – For those of you that are returning to work, childcare costs can be a huge worry and by having a bigger age gap you can spread these costs more if you already have children at school.

Getting Out And About – Simply leaving the house with children can be a huge task so if they are a little more independent than this can be easier, as there is not so much need to take everything bar the kitchen sink with you.

Sleeping Through – Sleepless nights and children come hand in hand, and if I’m honest this tip shouldn’t come from me as I still have a nine year old that doesn’t sleep – that said, in theory if you can get a good bedtime routine set before another little ones comes along to turn this upside down again then at least you only have one you need to settle.

Older Ones To Lend A Hand – I have always been very concious that it was never my children’s decision to have a large family and have never agreed with them having to pick up the parenting because of that; but it is certainly handy when you have a little helper to grab the nappies or entertain the baby for you every now and then.

Giving Yourself Some Recovery Time – Having a baby puts a huge pressure on your body and I definitely felt this with my last two being so close. Having a bit of a break between children and having time to recover both physically and mentally is a definate bonus.

Less Rivalry – I’m not sure if it was more to do with the girl, boy, girl mix or the age gap between my first three, but there was definitely a lot less confrontation and fighting then with the last two. I think the fact they were at different stages and into different things helped with them not arguing over every little thing!

Having children is a huge blessing and whenever they happen to come along is a always the most magical but hard journey, so these really are only a few views on how I have perceived things over the years.

Letting Go Of Those Worries On Mental Health Week

As a parent it’s not only a backpack full of stuff we carry around on our shoulders – we carry the weight of everyone’s worries.

Just as the countless snacks and water bottles weigh us down, so can all the mental pressures that raising a family can bring.

So on mental health week I just wanted to say that it’s ok to acknowledge things are getting on top of you, it’s ok to have a good cry and let it all out, it’s ok to have that extra long bath to get away from things for five minutes, it’s ok to close the door and take yourself for a walk to get that much needed alone time and most importantly it’s more than ok to let others know you are felling like this.

We spend a great deal of time checking in on everyone else and it’s ok to check in on ourselves too!

Four Simple Steps To A More Eco-Friendly Home

Are you trying to make your home more environmentally friendly this year? There are things you can do, both big and small to work towards a more eco-friendly home.

To learn some tips and tricks that can help you with home sustainability, keep reading. When working towards trying to live a more green-conscious life, the home is the perfect place to start.

Stay Conscious About Your Energy Use

The energy you use at home not only affects your energy bill but also has a huge impact on the environment. For starters you should begin to make sure you are not using home utilities more than needed. For example turn off fans, lights and other energy using sources when you leave a room.

Try opening your blinds and shades when daylight is bright enough to light up your home rather than using lamps and lighting. Things like only running your dishwasher when its completely full, or shutting down your electronics when they are not in use can also help.

Additionally making small changes with your heating and cooling system, such as turning temperatures down slightly or or turning them on low can also help.

These little things can add up to make a huge difference in your carbon footprint and your energy spending. The best way to manage your home’s energy production is to install solar panels in your residence. To do so contact Blue Raven Solar today.

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Did you know the kind of products you use can have environmental effects? Harmful chemicals are present in many cleaning products such as bleach, toliet cleaners and even dish soap. When these cleaning products are washed down the drain they end up in rivers and oceans, where they can cause damage to water dwelling animals.

Eco-friendly cleaning products work to do less environmental damage. This can also help to make sure that certain toxic chemicals are not being inhaled by you or your family memebers.

Choose Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

The lightbulbs that you use at home can have an effect on the environment as well as your energy bill. Choosing energy-efficient lightbulbs over traditional ones can help. These lightbulbs tend to last longer, which allows you to not have to change them so often.

Consider Composting

If you have a large household in which you are often cooking, or feel that you are throwing away tons of waste, starting to compost can be a great way to use this waste that would otherwise end up at landfill. Composting your leftover food waste can work towards using this waste in your garden or backyard.

Eco-Friendly Home Tips

Having an eco-friendly home is only getting more and more important as our environmental situation worsens over time. Consider beginning some of these earth-friendly habits to be kind to mother nature while also cutting down on energy cost in no time.

Are you looking for home advice, tips or tricks? if so then head to the ‘interiors’ section of our site today!

Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Moissanite Jewellery

It might seem hard to believe, but diamonds are slowly moving over to make space for a relative newcomer on the engagement jewellery scene – moissanite. Chances are you have heard the name before, but not quite known what it was. Practically, on an appearance and performance level, this amazing stone is similar to a diamond, but its origins, production process and price point are a whole other story!

Far from being a cheapie or a knock off, moissanite is a stone that can hold its own in a landscape that has, for years, been dominated by diamonds. But with the rising cost of living, and the astounding amounts of money that goes into purchasing a diamond, it’s no wonder that people are looking for sustainable alternatives.

What is Moissanite?

In its unprocessed state, Moissanite is known as Silicon Carbide (SiC). This compound was discovered in the 1800s by Henri Moissan, a French scientist. Although the fact that the compound was discovered near a meteorite crater, which led to years of speculation that moissanite might have originated in space, this is not the case. Moissanite is easily produced at a low cost in a lab setting, which is largely how the price is kept very manageable.

Things to bear in mind when you are shopping for moissanite.

From its amazing, brilliant qualities to its accessible pricing range, there are many things playing in favour of moissanite diamond rings. Another factor is its durability. Rated 9.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, a noticeably short way behind diamonds, which score a 10, it is essentially just as hard and durable as diamond. You can expect to get the same kind of wear from it, and its high resistance to chipping and cracking makes it a solid favourite amongst those who are keen on the idea of a diamond alternative.

What colours are available?

Although moissanite is essentially a “white” stone, it comes in a range of hues or tints, similarly to a diamond. The colour integrity of the stone is what determines its overall desirability and value, and although the untrained eye will struggle to see the difference, tints can vary between yellow, grey, and white. Some stones can even include grey, green, or yellow tints, which is not traditionally desirable. The clearer and more colourless the stone, the greater its value and desirability. Unfortunately, as the value goes up, so does the cost of the stone.

Let’s talk about the colour range and finding your way amongst the different classifications. The clearest and most colourless samples sit in the D-E-F colour range and very closely resembles a diamond. The next grading is known as “near colourless”, which falls under G-H-I.

Moissanite puts the engagement ring of your dreams into reach, without the need to compromise your finances or put yourself into debt. All the sparkle and toughness of a diamond are yours to have and enjoy, at a much lower price tag – what’s not to love?

* collaborative post

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!

Valentines Big Night In With Moonpig

[AD] As with most things at the moment Valentine’s Day is going to be a little different this year. There won’t be any candlelit dinners in cosy restaurants or celebrations over cocktails in swanky bars, but this doesn’t mean the celebrations have to stop – we can have just as much fun indoors and I have got some fantastic ideas from Moonpig to help with the fun.

Moonpig cards are a staple for any celebrations in this house and they couldn’t be handier than they are right now. From humour to romance they have it covered and the abitltiy to personalise your cards with your own photos or even handwriting make them all the more special.

Valentine’s Day and flowers are probably one of the most traditional ways to celelebate and Moonpig offer a fantastic range, with my favourite being the dozen red roses – simple and beautiful.

With the flowers to set the mood then a gorgous sented candle is the perfect accompaniment to set the mood for your date night. Yankee Candles are always a winner and the fresh cut rose scent works so well alondside the bouquet.

Next up would actually be a little treat I would buy myself…we all need to treat ourselves sometimes don’t we! The Valentine Beauty Gift Set from Birchbox has a great selelction of gifts such as lip gloss, nail polish and pillow spray to pamper yourself with.

For something a little different then the At Home Date Night gift card is a great way to plan a night of quizzes, puzzles, musical challanges and more. This alongside a few gin and tonics like the Edinburugh Pink Valentines Gin will make this somewhat different Valentine’s Day go with a bang!

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!

2020 In Pictures – You’ve Not Been All Bad

2020 will most certainly go down as a year to remember. Sadly this will be for all the heartache and loss it has brought to us all. But as with every bad situation you need to look for the good and for us there had certainly been some wonderful, simple moments that I will cherish forever, and as always I’m going to show you these in pictures as they convey the fun much more than my words ever could…