National Citizen Service for Year 11 teens for Summer 2018 

By | April 24, 2018

Being a parent to two teenagers (a son of 15 and a daughter of 13, both with autism), I cannot help but worry about the world that they are growing up in, not just from an additional needs viewpoint but also with regard to the multiple stabbings in London so far this year.

We live in an ever-increasingly multi-cultural society and, growing up, I had a need to “belong” with a group of like-minded friends, we all do, to find our “tribe”, people who understand us for who we are, irrespective of skin colour, race, religion or additional needs.  

It might seem easier in the age of social media to find new potential friendships, but social media has its pluses and minuses, as we all know.

So, when an email popped into my inbox from the National Citizen Service inviting me to help spread the word about the government-backed programme they are running during the summer holidays to promote inclusion, to get Year 11, 16-17 year olds from all backgrounds together in a fun environment whilst at the same time teaching valuable life skills, it sounded like something I’d most certainly want to share.

  
The programme costs just £50 for a 2-4 week programme during the summer holidays (bursaries are available) and 1 in 6 of 16-17 year olds have already signed up for the programme, that’s over 100,000 teenagers of differing backgrounds who will be making new friendships, have fun working together and helping their local community, with a graduation evening at the end of the programme. That’s really quite impressive already! 

  
There is scope for many, many more teens to attend, at dates that suit holidays and family commitments, please click here to register your interest to receive more details.

I’m also reassured by the fact that additional needs will be catered for. D’s SN school works extremely hard on respecting the individuality of each pupil, whilst very much a school community and it would be positive to think that a little bit more awareness of additional needs could be generated by bringing together teens in an environment which may not have previously been available or accessible.

Both T and D are too young to attend this year but I can see how the NCS programme would benefit them both.

For T, he lives and breathes football, it is his passion and has been from as soon as he could pull himself up whilst watching a match. His knowledge of match stats and facts is amazing and all-consuming, for him to attend would benefit him so much, especially from a team-working, sense of achievement perspective.

  
For D, it would be an opportunity to build on her confidence in an accepting environment, she suffers from a multitude of anxieties so the fact that additional needs can be accommodated (as it should be) is re-assuring.

Here’s some information about the NCS:

“NCS is a government backed programme established in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens. 

 

NCS is open to 16 and 17 year-olds across England and Northern Ireland. The two to four week programme, which takes place in school holidays, includes outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.

 

At a time of huge political uncertainty, where division is more evident than togetherness, NCS is a powerful tool to ensure the next generation see more in their similarities than differences.

 

In a nutshell, the programme:

● Puts young people through a series of challenging activities to take them out of their comfort zones and develop their strength of character

● Provides a progressive journey that hands over more responsibility to young people as the programme progresses and develops leadership skills necessary to succeed in the workplace

● Enables young people to connect with their communities through social action. 

 

To date: 

● Almost 400,000 young people have taken part

● More than seven million hours of community action have been completed

● For every £1 spent, NCS’ 2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back to society

 

NCS is amazing value for money. The whole experience including food, accommodation and travel costs just £50 and bursaries are available on a case by case basis. Support is also provided for young people with additional needs.”

It all sounds so beneficial for our teens, doesn’t it? I’m looking forward to tracking via the NCS website how this year’s programmes have gone and raising the possibility of my two attending in upcoming years.

As mentioned before, there are places available and interest can be registered here.

*This is a collaborative post 

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Safety Tips When Using A Moses Basket For Your Baby 

By | April 16, 2018

 Parents-to-be will inevitably face this question when choosing a bed for their new born baby: should they get a crib, carrycot, baby cot, bassinet, or a Moses basket? Many decide to go for a Moses basket because they offer a cosy alternative to the large cot, helping create a reassuring and enveloping space for their little one.

Why are Moses baskets a great bedding choice for new-borns?

The first and most important reason why parents should get a Moses basket for their baby is because a new born baby should never sleep alone, owing to risks such as:

• Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

• Fatal accidents (choking, falling, etc.)

• Psychological issues (primarily sense of abandonment)

Since new born babies sleep up to 20 hours a day, Moses baskets allow parents to easily move their baby around the house and keep a watchful eye on them.

Although carrycots offer a similar functionality, they are primarily designed for temporary transit. In addition, carrycots do not offer the same level of comfort and ventilation for babies.

Moses baskets, on the other hand, are designed to provide a snug and comfortable sleeping experience to babies for an extended period of time. Moreover, they can be placed on any surface, even on the floor. Detachable stands can also be used to keep Moses baskets at a specific height (usually level with the parents’ bed).

 However, they are not a permanent bedding solution, and parents must gradually transition their baby to a cot or crib by the age of six months.

Important: Babies should be taken out before the Moses basket is moved. The handles of the Moses basket are not designed to safely carry the load of a baby while moving. There have been instances of babies falling out of the basket when carried in such a manner.


Moses basket accessories:

Moses baskets typically come with a complete set of bedding, including a waterproof foam mattress and a fabric hood. However, designer Moses baskets sometimes exclude either or both bedding and mattresses. However, parents who order designer or customised designs usually already have the bedding and mattress sorted out in advance.

Also, as tempting as it might be, don’t buy tiny baby bolsters or pillows for the basket. There isn’t enough room, and the products might become choking hazards.


Safety Tips:

• When buying plastic baskets, absolutely insist on products made from either polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA) or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). Other compounds may degrade over time and the seepage could be harmful to babies.

• Don’t stuff your baby inside the coverlet that comes with the basket. It is heavy and restrictive. If it gets cold, use a light blanket to cover your baby. But keep an eye on the room temperature – your baby has no way to communicate with you if they are feeling too warm.

• Never place the Moses basket near a heat source like a radiator. Neither should you place the basket under a shelf- just in case!

  

*This is a collaborative post 

 

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InstaLinkLove – Week 83 #instalinklove

By | April 14, 2018

Welcome to Week 83 of InstaLinkLove!
   

 If you haven’t joined us before, then this is the easy-to-use linky which helps you get your Instagram posts a bit more interaction and interest.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last week and welcome to those who are back for more and those who are first-timers.

This is a really straightforward, no stress (none of us need that in our lives!), easy to use linky.

All you need to do is link up the URL from up to four of your most recent Instagram posts. We suggest most recent because this is better for interaction.

It’s just a case of finding your Instagram account on-line, clicking on the photo that you want to link up, clicking on “share post” and then copying and pasting the link into the Linky below.

The only condition is that you go over and “like” everyone else’s pictures who’ve linked up.

Here’s my favourites from last week’s link-up:

 
    
    

  
   

 

Please remember our (very easy) rules:
*You can link up to 4 images per Instagram Account per week.

*Please remember to visit and “like” the other pictures linked up, prior to next week’s Linky opening.

It would also be great if you could share your post with the linky on Instagram using the hashtag #instalinklove to help grow the community.

Thanks and really looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to on Instagram this week x


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InstaLinkLove – Week 82 #instalinklove 

By | April 7, 2018

Welcome to Week 82 of InstaLinkLove!

   
If you haven’t joined us before, then this is the easy-to-use linky which helps you get your Instagram posts a bit more interaction and interest.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last week and welcome to those who are back for more and those who are first-timers.

This is a really straightforward, no stress (none of us need that in our lives!), easy to use linky.

All you need to do is link up the URL from up to four of your most recent Instagram posts. We suggest most recent because this is better for interaction.

It’s just a case of finding your Instagram account on-line, clicking on the photo that you want to link up, clicking on “share post” and then copying and pasting the link into the Linky below.

The only condition is that you go over and “like” everyone else’s pictures who’ve linked up.

Here’s my favourites from last week’s link-up:
    

  

  

  
Please remember our (very easy) rules:

*You can link up to 4 images per Instagram Account per week.

*Please remember to visit and “like” the other pictures linked up, prior to next week’s Linky opening.

It would also be great if you could share your post with the linky on Instagram using the hashtag #instalinklove to help grow the community.

Thanks and really looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to on Instagram this week x


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InstaLinkLove – Week 81 #instalinklove

By | March 31, 2018

Welcome to Week 81 of InstaLinkLove and Happy Easter!

The Linky is back to “business as usual” this week, closing tomorrow April 1st.

  

If you haven’t joined us before, then this is the easy-to-use linky which helps you get your Instagram posts a bit more interaction and interest.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last week and welcome to those who are back for more and those who are first-timers.

This is a really straightforward, no stress (none of us need that in our lives!), easy to use linky.

All you need to do is link up the URL from up to four of your most recent Instagram posts. We suggest most recent because this is better for interaction.

It’s just a case of finding your Instagram account on-line, clicking on the photo that you want to link up, clicking on “share post” and then copying and pasting the link into the Linky below.

The only condition is that you go over and “like” everyone else’s pictures who’ve linked up.

Here’s my favourites from last week’s link-up:
  
  
Please remember our (very easy) rules:

*You can link up to 4 images per Instagram Account per week.

*Please remember to visit and “like” the other pictures linked up, prior to next week’s Linky opening.

It would also be great if you could share your post with the linky on Instagram using the hashtag #instalinklove to help grow the community.

Thanks and really looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to on Instagram this week x


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InstaLinkLove – Week 80 #instalinklove 

By | March 25, 2018

Welcome to Week 80 of InstaLinkLove!

   
The linky is open until 9.30pm on Tuesday 27/3 this week. 

If you haven’t joined us before, then this is the easy-to-use linky which helps you get your Instagram posts a bit more interaction and interest.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last week and welcome to those who are back for more and those who are first-timers.

This is a really straightforward, no stress (none of us need that in our lives!), easy to use linky.

All you need to do is link up the URL from up to four of your most recent Instagram posts. We suggest most recent because this is better for interaction.

It’s just a case of finding your Instagram account on-line, clicking on the photo that you want to link up, clicking on “share post” and then copying and pasting the link into the Linky below.

The only condition is that you go over and “like” everyone else’s pictures who’ve linked up.

Here’s my favourites from last week’s link-up:

   

  

  

  
Please remember our (very easy) rules:

*You can link up to 4 images per Instagram Account per week.

*Please remember to visit and “like” the other pictures linked up, prior to next week’s Linky opening.

It would also be great if you could share your post with the linky on Instagram using the hashtag #instalinklove to help grow the community.

Thanks and really looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to on Instagram this week x


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The Picture (and the meltdown) 

By | March 24, 2018

D loves to draw, it – along with looking at countless similar pictures of My Little Pony or Minecraft on google – is one of her self-calming tools.

She’s always drawn and every birthday/Christmas/other occasion card she writes is accompanied by a drawing, some of which are incredibly detailed.

Drawing brings her happiness but, this one brought her anything but and was the cause of some severe emotion, which manifested itself at home after being bottled up during her school day:

  
It was from an art session in school, a lamb balancing an Easter egg on its nose and, although it was drawn a couple of weeks ago, it came home this week.  

D was met by Hubbie as she’d been to after school club and his first indication that anything was wrong was that her body language was very shut off, her head was down and she matched straight past him, as if he wasn’t there.  “Slam” went the car door and shouts of “nothing! I’m fine” when she arrived home, swiftly followed by items being thrown and more shouting.  Unresponsive to bear hugs, she curled up into a ball.

The home-school diary gave no clues, but did say that she’d been very quiet and refused to tell anyone what was wrong.  An indicator that something was very much amiss and that her emotion had kept on building – a bit like a rolling snowball – until she got home.

There was nothing we could do apart from waiting for her to ride it out, although she shouted that she “had told a teacher”. 

In these situations D remains closed off to any gentle prompts to say what’s wrong, any humorous tactics that might normally bring a smile don’t work and it can be made far, far worse if she comes into contact with her brother, who finds it all extremely annoying and will – in his very blunt way – tell her so,

Eventually she whispered in my ear what was wrong.  Unfortunately whispers turned to shouts as she re-lived the situation which had effected her so much.

And it was this: whilst she was drawing her picture two weeks ago, she noticed that the pupil sitting next to her was copying her picture, which greatly annoyed her at the time and accompanied by a lot of shouting from D, she told me that they’d copied everything – the trees, the lamb, the egg on its nose, everything.

Poor D, her excitement at bringing home a picture was completely over-shadowed by her re-lived negative emotions.  Masking at the time and plenty of masking this week at school as she waited until she was at home, before letting those emotions out.

Any suggestions that maybe she could fit it flattering that someone had liked her picture enough to want to replicate it were met with (shouts of) “well, they should have their own ideas!”.  

I can see her point, it’s a shame that what was a lovely picture has been over-shadowed for D by such extreme emotion.

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InstaLinkLove – Week 79 #instalinklove 

By | March 17, 2018

Welcome to Week 79 of InstaLinkLove!

  

 
f you haven’t joined us before, then this is the easy-to-use linky which helps you get your Instagram posts a bit more interaction and interest.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last week and welcome to those who are back for more and those who are first-timers.

This is a really straightforward, no stress (none of us need that in our lives!), easy to use linky.

All you need to do is link up the URL from up to four of your most recent Instagram posts. We suggest most recent because this is better for interaction.

It’s just a case of finding your Instagram account on-line, clicking on the photo that you want to link up, clicking on “share post” and then copying and pasting the link into the Linky below.

The only condition is that you go over and “like” everyone else’s pictures who’ve linked up.

Here’s my favourites from last week’s link-up:

  

  

  

 
Please remember our (very easy) rules:

*You can link up to 4 images per Instagram Account per week.

*Please remember to visit and “like” the other pictures linked up, prior to next week’s Linky opening.

It would also be great if you could share your post with the linky on Instagram using the hashtag #instalinklove to help grow the community.

Thanks and really looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to on Instagram this week x


Facebook Comments

InstaLinkLove – Week 78 #instalinklove 

By | March 10, 2018

Welcome to InstaLinkLove and Week 78! 

   
f you haven’t joined us before, then this is the easy-to-use linky which helps you get your Instagram posts a bit more interaction and interest.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last week and welcome to those who are back for more and those who are first-timers.

This is a really straightforward, no stress (none of us need that in our lives!), easy to use linky.

All you need to do is link up the URL from up to four of your most recent Instagram posts. We suggest most recent because this is better for interaction.

It’s just a case of finding your Instagram account on-line, clicking on the photo that you want to link up, clicking on “share post” and then copying and pasting the link into the Linky below.

The only condition is that you go over and “like” everyone else’s pictures who’ve linked up.

Here’s my favourites from last week’s link-up:

   

  

  
  
Please remember our (very easy) rules:
*You can link up to 4 images per Instagram Account per week.

*Please remember to visit and “like” the other pictures linked up, prior to next week’s Linky opening.

It would also be great if you could share your post with the linky on Instagram using the hashtag #instalinklove to help grow the community.

Thanks and really looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to on Instagram this week x


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The wonky feet saga 

By | March 7, 2018

Its a strange feeling, knowing that this time in six weeks I’ll (hopefully) be at home, recovering from what should be my last operation on my feet, affectionately known as #scarfeet on the blog.

Trying to imagine how things will look under the bandages and hoping that I’ll have “a matching pair” of feet, to quote my surgeon.

The journey to this point hasn’t been easy, it’s taken just over two years so far from my first appointment and there are times when I wish I hadn’t gone through it, not just for me, but because it’s been the cause of so much upheaval to my family (and my children crave routine and don’t cope very well with sudden change) and also it’s greatly affected my emotional (as well as physical) wellbeing.

Part of the reason for me writing this down is that I want to look back once I’m all healed and know that it’s all been worth it, blood, pain and all.

So, it all began in February 2016 with a referral to – don’t laugh – a “deformities clinic” at the local hospital. I have what is known as hallux valgus (or crooked big toes) which affected not only the big toe but also the second toe on both feet.

You might think “stupid cow, that’s down to ill-fitting shoes” but I promise it’s not in my case, I’ve always worn flat or barely-there heeled shoes as anything else was too painful and I was also acutely aware of how awful they’d look in sandals. It’s hereditary. 

I saw a surgeon who agreed to operate, breaking the big toes and re-position them and I asked to have both feet done at the same time, thinking it would be less disruptive for T and D.

Hollow laugh time, how wrong I was! 

The initial funding request from my original surgeon was refused and we had to submit an appeal. By this time I was in constant feet pain and feeling that I’d be stuck like that, I’d resisted seeking help for so long as I didn’t want to disrupt T and D with operations and such-like until I felt sure that they could understand that I’d be having an operation and that they really definitely shouldn’t step on my feet afterwards!

I submitted an appeal and as it was now in the summer holidays of 2016, there was an anxious wait whilst we’d get an idea of a date when the panel would meet, only to find out that the quorum (minimum number of panellists required to debate and make decisions) hadn’t been met.

Eventually we heard that funding had been approved and a date was set for October 2016.

This was both good news but at the same time really quite petrifying as I had home-school transport for D to organise and plenty to sort out at home to ensure that T and D’s routines were affected as little as possible.

The day of my operation came and I was mega stressed, D’s school transport had also had to go to appeal and they had agreed to it but that she would be collected at a stop 40 minutes walk away and they not only expected her to get there on her own but also that to get there she’d be going past her school – yes, I didn’t understand that logic either – and the day before my operation I’d had a very stressed phone conversation about it all with someone in school transport who had a “computer says no” attitude.

I went into having the general anaesthetic administered crying because of fear and the transport situation.  

It was a relief to wake up afterwards but also a feeling that I’d done this to myself and things were so uncertain for D.

  

The next day saw us at A&E as one foot would not stop bleeding and our local GP wouldn’t send someone out. To expect someone to hobble into A&E still bleeding from feet operated on the previous day just didn’t seem right! 

Sorry about the pic!

  

Things then got worse the following night when I was hit by the worst period I’d ever had (which I’ve since been told is a stress reaction to a general anaesthetic, nice!) and well, let’s just say I was very weak and losing a lot of blood, not ideal with the foot situation. I remember vividly being in the bathroom and not having the strength to get back to bed, feeling that everything was ebbing out of me and knowing that my head was feeling weaker and I was then struggling to breathe. It was horrible and I knew that if I did not get back to bed and get my legs elevated, I might not make it. That sounds dramatic but to feel your body trying to shut itself down felt very very real. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks, with D’s transport finally getting sorted and lot of sleepless nights and it was time for the bandages to be removed.

The operation hadn’t worked.

At a follow up appointment a few weeks later, I felt so disappointed and pointed out to the member of staff that they looked the same (albeit very swollen) and was told “you should be grateful, look what we’ve done for you”. Hmmm, demoralising or what? 

You can imagine, not only was I in pain from the operation sites and struggling to walk but I also had nerve damage all over my feet. It wasn’t good.

If I’d had soft tissue damage  damage, there would have been a way forward via Accident Advice Helpline Direct but I now had to wait to be referred on to a specialist surgeon to correct the operations, but one at a time this time.

Last August (2017) I had the first remedial operation on my right foot, metal in the big toe, my second toe was pinned straight (with the longest pin ever!) and it was a total success as you’ll be able to see from the pictures.  

  
I’m not sure where the stand-in-front-of-your-finished-crochet-in-patterned-socks started but these are the first such pictures I’ve done like this. 

  
“Wonky left foot” and “straight right foot” as D calls them. Something which she referred to in her Christmas card to me last year.

  
  
Having two feet of different sizes has made for challenges, I’m living in my trusty Skechers furry boots or trainers as I still have a lot of nerve pain in my wonky foot.

I did try a fitflop sandal on my straight foot a couple of weeks ago and was absolutely delighted at how it looked.  

  

Hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll have a (pain-free) matching pair, it will have taken a long time to get there but it will be worth it.

I’m very grateful to the second surgeon for agreeing to remedy my feet issues and Hubbie who has been a dab hand with rubbing Vaseline into my wounds and coping with quite a down wife at times! X 

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

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