Getting Quirky with RedCandy 

By | June 14, 2017

I love searching for unusual items for gifts, something that stands out and makes the recipient smile whenever they see it.

There are a lot of websites to choose from and I was pleased when RedCandy got in touch to see if I’d like a browse through their website and see if anything took our fancy.

Firstly I perused their Father’s Day section and found this:

Isn’t it wonderful? A Ballon Dog Night Light, instantly reminiscent of children’s parties and an entertainer squeezing and squishing balloons into shapes.  It’s battery operated via a back leg and looks wonderful when lit up, ideal for D’s room (sorry Hubbie) as the batteries are totally encased as it’s very easy for her to turn off and on herself.

I had a retro moment with my next find:


Now this instantly took me back to spending my pocket money on 1p and 2p sweets and receiving them in a little paper bag.  This glass snack jar is going to look brilliant filled with (my absolute retro sweetie favourite) lemon bon-bons! 

As you’ll know from reading my blogs, I love to crochet and this absolutely fascinated me:


Yes, that is a knitted clock! I’m intrigued as to how it all works and this might have to go on my next birthday list. 

Something else that caught my eye was this tea cup stool, perfect for use as a garden side table or use as a stool:


RedCandy offer a variety of delivery options so there is still time to order something individual for Father’s Day or an upcoming wedding.

Disclosure: we received the ballon light and glass jar as part of our review, my words and views are my own.

A Real Schoolgirl 

By | June 13, 2017

Oh, that blog title makes me laugh, it’s a statement that one of D’s classmates said to her last week, something she’s only just told me.

School uniform hasn’t been compulsory at D’s school, before and ever since she joined.  It’s suited D because she’s a leggings and tshirt/sweatshirt girl, as buttons and zips proved to be fiddly for her.

In her time in mainstream (Reception and one term of year 1), she had to wear school uniform and – because she’d spend a lot of time hiding due to anxieties and sensory issues/rolling about on the floor – it became very clear that skirts and dresses were out for our daughter.

She’s been very happy wearing her own clothes in SN school, she went through a phase of tutu skirts over leggings and practically all her plastic jewellery worn at once about two years ago and I put that down to her having her “girlie princess phase” about 5 years later then her peers.

And then, just after Easter, something changed in D, she decided she wanted to wear school uniform and we had our first real spell of pestering about it.   This – quite fortunately – coincided with her SN school deciding to make school uniform compulsory from this September (good timing eh?).

We’ve received permission for D to continue wearing her leggings as long as they’re plain and not see-through (they aren’t, they’re Next gym trousers and really do stand up to busy school days).

So, we have two children who head off to school in blue v-necked school sweatshirts now.  Which is quite funny really because I can imagine the scenario if T wore D’s school sweatshirt and vice-versa, one would find it quite funny and the other definitely not so!

We’re very pleased that D made up her own mind about school uniform, rather that it being an unwelcome compulsory decision, she would seem to be a “real schoolgirl” now, according to her classmate anyway.

And the obligatory “Just why did you want a picture of me in my school shirt?” shot.  She’s only recently learnt the “eye roll” and does it very well!! 

My summer bucket list #scarfeet

By | June 11, 2017

I was reading a post earlier today about a bucket list that a fellow blogger had written for the summer, it sounded like a good idea, something to refer to and tick off as wishes are fulfilled.

It made me wonder what would be on my list for this summer?

Well, first and foremost, I’d wish for sunny weather – not the “oh blimey, I can’t sleep at night” humidity, nor the sort of heat where you put on make-up and it just slides off within half an hour – just warm enough for a paddling pool and a little bit of rain during the night to keep the gardens happy.

Everything else really depends on these:


(Sorry, hope you weren’t eating, they’re not really that colour, I changed the filter to emphasise those yucky scars)

Yep, scarfeet as I have christened them.  Two lovely unmatched scars running down the sides of my feet and I have two more scars, between my big toe and the second one in.  Those slightly bobbly bits are where the stitch bobbles will eventually disolve.

I don’t like them ATM so, for me to post that picture is a BIG deal.  They remind me of the post-op complications last October, the fact that the procedure didn’t work and that they intermittently hurt, not usually 24/7 but I have a moment or two when I wake up and have that sense of no pain in scarfeet before they scream “good morning J!” and start their process of finding new places to project pain (the nerves in scarfeet have been damaged).

I’m due for another operation at the end of July, with another probably late September, timing depending on healing as they’ll be separate operations on each feet and I’ll have probably three new scars on each feet after that, as my big toes and second toes on each foot will be fused.

All good fun eh? So, any thoughts of bucket list additions are very much dependent on how I am post-op and how the children cope with a feet-up Mumma.

The positives are that my children have such anxieties about being around other people anyway, that a stay-cation will suit them just fine, weather permitting and that I’ll (hopefully) catch up with blogging, get some reading done and crochet away without feeling guilty that I should be clearing out the garage/gardening because I simply won’t be able to! 

So, my bucket list for the summer has three items:

Get through operation numbers 2 and 3

Made sure the children are happy 

Put my feet up!

Boring by comparison to others, but necessary, thanks to scarfeet! 

What are your summer plans? 

Bringing back memories with @prestigeflowers

By | June 9, 2017

Just like the first few lines or chords in music, a certain smell can suddenly transport you elsewhere.

Some can be unpleasant (for example, I couldn’t walk past a butcher’s shop when pregnant with T) and some can be rather nice (the smell of fresh strawberries on a market stall – mmmm, “pick your own”), all having the ability to momentarily take you elsewhere.

One of my favourite scents has to be freesias, such a delicate fragrance but bringing back oodles of happy memories for me as I had these – and only these – in my wedding bouquet and as corsages/buttonholes when Hubbie and I got married, in Jersey, just over fifteen years ago.

It was a beautifully sunny day when we said our “I do’s”, funny at times as the registrar’s assistant couldn’t work out how to start our music (imagine “Jeannette, it’s not working” in a very French accent) and then emotional as we said our vows. 


There we are, in a flurry of confetti and my beautifully scented bouquet of coloured freesias.

So, when Prestige Flowers got in touch and asked if we’d like to test our their floral delivery service, there was only one choice for me:


Freesias!   

They came accompanied by a really nice simplistic vase, which always concerns me slightly (vase = potential for breakage), but the vase came very securely wrapped in a cardboard box and bubblewrap, in the bottom of the delivery box.


The flowers themselves didn’t arrive in water at the bottom of the packaging but – and I thought this was very clever – in water-absorbent padding which kept them very fresh.

Care instructions were also included and some chocolate truffles (yippee)!


And they’ve lasted really well, we’ve had them for six days now and they look and smell fabulous, bringing back very special memories. 

Disclosure: we received a bouquet in exchange for this review, my views and words are my own. 

An autism diagnosis and beyond 

By | June 7, 2017

It was strange, thinking back, how the course of our daughter’s life changed in a moment. A moment that took place in a portacabin, painted with cheery cartoon images but a portacabin nonetheless.  The floor had gently bounced as we’d walked along to the meeting.

“Your daughter has a diagnosis of autism”. Not unexpected but the tears still flowed as a bundle of leaflets were passed to us, together with a box of tissues.

Our daughter didn’t notice the diagnosis nor the tears, she carried on lining up her toys, her little toys in the small bag she carried everywhere for security. Under her arm was her bunny, who went everywhere with us, a comforter for her.

We knew that we’d be receiving a diagnosis at the meeting but hearing the word “autism” spoken still cut into our hearts, the feeling that her life would now be defined by a “label”, one that was necessary to enable support to be granted at school.

Telling family members provoked different reactions, one didn’t mention autism by name but sent us a note referring to our daughter’s “problems”, another said “well, there’s never been anything like that on our side of the family”. I did wonder if they felt that same intense sense of grieving for the child we wouldn’t have, coupled with an immense sense of fear for our daughter’s future. 

In the weeks that followed, I find it hard to talk about it without crying, I guess the masses of emotions rushing around in my head had to find a way out and they did, through tears. I found myself imagining the events we probably wouldn’t see for D, like a wedding, children, a life partner, which was quite ridiculous really as it only served to upset me more.

I was a childminder at the time and couldn’t help but compare the happily playing children in the garden with our daughter, who’d put toys/books into a pile in the centre of the room and walk around them, with a totally blank expression, not responding to prompts or offers of a cuddle, totally in her own zone.

I don’t know exactly when my mindset changed to a “can do” approach, I think it was around the time that she very hesitantly traced the letters of her name on a piece of paper sent home from school, that produced happy, proud tears. Way behind the other children in her class, D could count to 50 by age 3 but had very stilted speech, reading phonetically wasn’t happening and the (mainstream) teachers just seemed exasperated at her meltdowns, her unwillingness to enter a noisy/busy classroom, her reluctance to join in, describing D as “flighty” – which hurt. D’s TA was fantastic though, understanding that D needed a “softly, softly, get down to her level” approach.

It took a while to get a Statement of Special Educational Needs for D, the first one was rejected and the second granted, it took about a year in total. It added so much stress to our lives, wondering why the “powers that be” were treating our child solely as a budget figure and not the individual that she was (and still is). We had realised by now that mainstream education didn’t suit D and there wasn’t a chance of a SN school without a statement, the pressure felt immense and, all the while, we could see just how much D was struggling in the mainstream environment, it wasn’t for her.

It seemed a difficult decision to make for our then five year old daughter; do we stick with mainstream education with exams at the end of her schooling or opt for the SN school, which didn’t offer exams but instead focussed on life skills and social skills and offered a smaller class size and higher staff ratio?

There was no contest really, we chose the environment we felt would make D happy and where she could fulfill her potential – the SN environment and, from that very first afternoon and D’s smile as she rushed towards me, we knew we’d made the right choice.

Eight years on we know we made the right decision. Our daughter is now a teenager and we know she wouldn’t have fitted into the secondary school environment. She’s never going to be an academic, preferring crafts, music and low-contact sport, she’s (generally) happy, we’re happy.

The above was a blogging prompt in my inbox that I missed the deadline for, but decided to write anyway.  

Small Steps Amazing Achievements – 7/6/17 

By | June 7, 2017

Welcome to this week’s Small Steps Amazing Achievements, we’re back after a little break and looking forward to reading what you’ve all been up to.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last time.

If this is your first time reading this, you can find out about the Small Steps Amazing Achievements linky here, we do hope you join in. Posts can be old or new and please don’t forget to visit and comment on other posts too.

Here’s the badge code if you’d like to grab it:

“Our
<div align="center"><a href="http://ourlittleescapades.com/small-steps-amazing-achievements/" title=“Our Little Escapades" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1322.photobucket.com/albums/u565/EthansEscapades/Wordpress%20Blog/SmallSteps_zps72385117.jpg" alt=“Our Little Escapades" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Jane at @ourlitescapades and I enjoy reading and commenting on your posts and sharing them via the #SSAmazingAchievements hashtag.

Here’s my highlights from the 17th May link up :

H is now a sixer and has increased responsibility over at @ericahughes

@rainbowsaretoo shares the pledge that Singing Hands have undertaken 
And 

For @earlyrisingmum Sir is now asking what he wants and needs as opposed to guesswork (something we’re very familiar with here!)

We’re looking forward to reading your posts, please don’t forget to share the linky love and visit the other posts linked up too.



Free Fidget Spinner giveaway 

By | June 6, 2017

Fidget Spinners, they’re the playground must-have at the moment aren’t they, if schools haven’t banned them, that is.  

I’m very lucky today to be able to offer my readers the chance to receive a free fidget spinner.

I can see why they’re so popular, there is something quite mesmorising about watching the spinner, similar to a candle flame or a fireplace.

As readers will be aware, I have two autistic children and I wanted to test with them just they’d find them.  

As I envisaged, D found them very soothing, they have worked as a distraction when she’s over-anxious and they are extremely portable as well, very easy to pop into a pocket or handbag and take out and about. I also like that, they can be a communication tool between SN and NT children, opening up opportunities for friendship.

So, how would you like to get your own fidget spinner?

It’s a very simple process, just sign up here on the Simply eLiquid site before 12th June 2017 and one will wing (or spin) its way to you very soon.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and the colour of your spinner will be a random selection, but all the colours are wonderfully bright aren’t they?

Do your children like fidget spinners? 

Pop me a comment and let me know how calming they are for them/how they play with them.
Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.

Money Saving Tips for Parents 

By | June 5, 2017

While having a family may be the best thing in your life, the cost of raising one can be expensive. As the sole breadwinner, you need to provide all the basic needs, education, and even settle bills that come with the same. According to research, the cost of raising one child to adulthood is approximately £200,000.

 

Just because raising a family is expensive for some people doesn’t mean you should run away from the responsibility. Whether you already have a family or are planning to have one, proper budgeting and prioritising are some of the best ways to keep everything running smoothly. Some of the fun and savvy ways that can help you save money as a parent are discussed below.

 

1. Buy foods from the reduced aisle

Supermarkets employ various means to reward their customers, with the reduced aisle being one of them. Many are the times when you will find food materials selling at reduced prices in different aisles as compared to others. Taking advantage of such reduced prices on food offers can help you save good money in the long run. This is particularly important for those who cook their food from scratch. Take some time to learn when these offers are available, and even spend some time in the supermarket to find these aisles.

 

You can also save money by creating/cooking bulk meals (lentils and cereals), then freezing what is left.

 

2. Toys

Kids don’t really bother knowing how or where you get their toys from. Instead of buying toys from big expensive shops, why not check out the local charity shops and other affordable places. The best thing about shopping for toys in local charity shops is you will always find a different variety of toys to choose from. Kids also love going to these stores” take them with you when you go shopping for the same.

 

3. Make use of cashback sites & freebie sites

Cashback apps and sites offer fantastic ways to save money on anything you shop from their stores. Receipt Hog and Quidco are among the best sites to use for cashback offers and points. CheckoutSmart is also a good example of an app you can use to get a host of exclusive discounts and freebies on the market. By using these sites and apps, you get to accumulate points that can be converted into PayPal transactions, hence more money back into your pocket. You can also Google freebies and you will see lots of free stuff sites that offer good kids freebies to keep them entertained.

 

4. Plan Meals

Meal planning gives you perfect control over what makes to your dining table and also ensures you have well-balanced meals. Having a timetable for all meals can save your monthly food bills hence a wise idea.

 

5. When booking holidays

Most people spend more than they should when booking holidays. While you should avoid last minute rushes, waiting up until it is 48 hours to your trip can help find a cheap and affordable hotel wherever you wish to go. Holiday planners and even hotels will always have a spot to fill towards the ends of an offer, which gives you a perfect way to grab the spot and save money. You could also use Ebookers to help price match your hotel.

 

 

6. Sell on eBay

eBay is not only a perfect place to get items for a bargain, but also provide you with an amazing way to convert unwanted items into some cash. Some people even make a career out of it. All you need to do is identify the items you wish to sell, create an account on eBay, set up a PayPal account, then wait for orders to trickle in. Selling items on eBay can help you save for major holidays such as Christmas and New Year.

Have you found ways to save money? Pop a comment below if you have.


Disclosure: this is a collaborative post 

What was inside our Charming Candle? #notjustacandle

By | June 4, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, D reached the grand age of 13.  I know! Where HAS the time gone?

She was extremely excited about becoming a teenager, but not a “naughty teenager” (her words). I enjoyed looking back in a blog post, she has taught me so much about issues I might otherwise not have known about (SN education, mental health and of course, autism, the latter I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning about).

On her birthday, she rode about on her new scooter, enjoyed her cards and presents – although she later told me she’d really wanted a tennis racquet, I need to add mind-reading to my list of things “to do” and we had the chance to try out a luxury jewellery candle from The Charming Candle Co.

This is most definitely a candle with a difference, not only did it smell absolutely wonderful and has been hand poured in the UK but, waiting to be found after the candle has been lit a while, was a piece of jewellery – which D simply couldn’t wait to see!


Once the candle was lit, we waited a while and, can you see the foil-wrapped package starting to appeal in the melting wax? All the while with the most wonderful scent (Paradise Beach) delicately wafting.


The box has clear instructions that you:

– Burn the candle until your gold foil package is revealed 

– snuff (or puff by the birthday girl) out the flames, remove the foil with tweezers and let the package cool


(There we are, above, the white disc held the package onto the side of the candle)

– unwrap the foil to discover your beautiful jewellery surprise 


(Very secure wrapped, with two layers of foil and the jewellery piece in a tiny plastic envelope)

So, what did we find?


A lovely little ring which D was overjoyed with, I don’t know if you can see in the second picture but the ring has hallmarks which makes it perfect for my sensitive girl – she, like me, cannot wear gold/silver plate, we’re (swishes hair a bit) “worth it”!

Isn’t it lovely? I can imagine these being absolutely perfect as bridesmaid gifts or an anytime gift for someone special, you have the option on the website of ordering a candle with either a ring or charm bead waiting to be discovered and with over a hundred different designs, the surprises are endless.  It’s nice to know that by buying these, you’re supporting a U.K. business too.

Disclosure: we were sent a candle for the purpose of this review, my views and words are my own.

Singing – My #WOTW

By | June 3, 2017

This week’s one word to sum up our week could be illustrated by a picture, our D:


Singing and loving it.
This picture was taken at a superstars concert at school, there’s also a video which we’ve played a few times and wanted to burst with pride watching her singing and smiling at the applause she received at the end.  She sang “Rule The World” by Take That, a lovely song which I will always associate with our girl now.

You might think, D? Really? Her mum’s always mentioning her anxieties, sometimes so crippling that D can’t go into a supermarket or walk past strangers, really?

Well, the concert was rehearsed over and over, both at school and by D singing at home.  It’s something that she knew was happening and how long exactly the song would go on for, D also kept her eyes firmly on a music teacher at the back of the room who was encouraging everyone participating and signing the lyrics.

A bit different to not being prepared, not knowing how many people would be in a shop/walking toward her and the sensory issues associated with an area full of strangers.  

Singing and music are something that D really enjoys, I’m glad, I do too.  Music has the ability to lift a mood, to remember happy times and not-so happy ones, to provoke memories you’d thought were long gone.

Singing is also a useful way for me to talk to D if she’s over anxious, I’ve found that if I sing something I want to say, she’ll respond, maybe it’s the change of pitch.

It’s also been our wedding anniversary this week, 15 years married and 17 years together, both celebrated on the same date, 30th May.

We went out for lunch – having prepared D – and she did very very well, reading her book in between courses to take herself away from the noises and smells as the other diners ate their food.  It was lovely.


And this was our picture from D, she’s got us both down to a T, except I very rarely wear dresses, maybe I should sometime! D’s favourite part was drawing the roses, she told us.  

It would be lovely if she could do some sort of art course at college when the time comes, although having said that, I don’t know how she’d get on with tasks where she didn’t have specific instructions, something to look into. 

How’s your week been?