Alice Is Chosen As One Of Tesco’s Toy Testers

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A month or so back, myself and ten year old daughter Alice Sara were invited into london for a very exciting reason. My daughter was off to try out for a spot on the tesco toy testing team.
If Alice passed the audition then her voice would be heard amongst thousands as she casted her opinion on some of the top toys this Christmas.

Was she Nervous? Hell no, not my daughter! To be honest she couldn’t wait to get in there and see what tesco had on offer. Let’s just say she wasn’t disappointed, not when she found these guys waiting to be played with.

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Turns out that the toy she picked to play with would be the one she took to the casting room. As soon as she saw the two monster high dolls her face lit up like a traffic light. We chilled out, had something to eat before it was finally Alice’s turn to do her thing! Of course it was the monster high dolls that she chose to take with her to the casting room, and as we entered I felt the butterflies flutter in my stomach for her. Nonetheless I don’t think she felt a thing. Alice confidently said her hellos to the three people sat on the panel before jumping right in and doing her thing. The fact she has 32 of these wonderful dolls sat in her bedroom must have gone some way to help as even I didn’t know she know as much as she did about these freaky but totally chic monster fashion dolls.

I felt so proud of her. She didn’t seem to flinch an inch and took the whole thing in her stride. A true star in the making they told her and I for one couldn’t have agreed more.

So yes we had a fantastic day but did this little star make the final cut? Of course and I didn’t doubt her for a second.
Alice was truly over the moon when the email inviting her to london to make the toy testers video popped up in my email feed. Yes, she will now test two great toys in front of the camera. This all took place at the end of October when we headed off to the Camden studios for a spot of filming.

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It was a long morning but Alice loved it. Tesco’s did well to keep the kids entertained when not filming and Alice was actually sadden when it was time to go home.

Alice was a star in front of the cameras as she demonstrated a new Lego friends toy and a monster high colour me chamber.
And here’s that little star in the final video! I think her opinions and that of the other children will go along way in helping parents when facing the huge task of Christmas shopping. After all children are the toughest critics and definitely the most honest!

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#silentsunday

13 Oct

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The Challenges That Come With Independence

12 Oct

So, its been a while since I blogged, all reasons beyond my control.
Well, Little man is officially a teenager now. On the 1st October he turned 13.
As a result his special school felt that he was ready to make a huge step forward into the world of independence.
Instead of of being collected by the school bus every morning he would walk to the train station through the park, take the 20 minute train ride followed by short 5 minute walk to school. Was I hesitant? Of course I was, what mother wouldn’t be? You see, little man had an intense ‘Special’ interest in trains that lasted many years. He was therefore very excited about this big new step he would be taking! Me I was worried sick that firstly we may find him over obsessing about transport once more. It may seem harmless to most but when a child with Aspergers is obsessive nothing else in the world matters.

This however was not my only concern! Little man is a child that struggles to sleep of a night time and if he had experienced one of he’s ‘All Nighters’ then how could I possibly let him ride the train to school? He could fall asleep and spend hours going back and forth to Hayes and Central London… What if he woke up in central london? At least if he was getting collected our morning battle would come to an end once I’d physically removed him from his bed and got him on the transport. But he hated everything about the new transport system, the one he had been placed on this September with little warning of any changes! Little man was used to taking a taxi with two other children and an escort which is provided for by the councils SEN team. This September no more than one day before the return to school he discovers that his escort has gone and will be replaced by another. He also discovers that there is no longer a taxi but a mini bus with a new driver and a heap more kids too. The battles to get him onto the bus were anything but easy! The last week before his independence training started someone from the SEN travel coordination team called me to say that little man was on his last warning! Apparently the new escort couldn’t handle the children, especially little man. I hear a fight broke out between my son and another boy. As a result the escort was pushed (not by little man but another child who as a result had been taken of the bus for good).

So, with this and little man’s pleas I decided that the transport plan drawn up by the school would probably be best at this current time.

To cut a long story short, since little mans been taking the train his had more days off than I care to remember! The first few days were fine. He loved the feeling of independence traveling to school gave him (he still does) however, his sleep pattern has once more gone up the wall and getting him out the door has been a fight that I’m losing. Even when he has left for school his been leaving late. With this and the constant warnings, Little man is on his very last chance and this time its with me!

I’ve made the decision to reintroduce the melatonin despite how its effects make him more drowsy during the school day. What else can I do? It gets to 4 am and I’m seriously at my wits end! Just the other night (well, I say ‘night’ but really mean early morning) I found myself screaming at him… “Why can’t you just go to sleep?” Only for him to look and me and reply “I want to but I can’t… I just cant.” its frustrating… Its frustrating for him, for me… And for the school, especially when they can see his a bright young boy with heaps of potential.

I find myself becoming so angry at life, for we go through these battles, get over them only for them to resurface months later. Its one hell of a rollercoaster, one I have no choice in riding.

Little man doesn’t tend to talk about thinks that may have upset or confused him during the school day, which sadly can lead to all sorts of difficulties, leaving me playing the private eye game. Switching of isn’t easy for most, especially when we have worries and troubles laying heavily on our minds. This for little man, a boy who has difficulties expressing them worries, a boy who already lacks precious sleeping hours, is a struggle on a level most would fail to reach. Its stuff as such as this that makes those morning and night battles that little more difficult than it currently is.

I do sometimes wonder how many other parents there are out there… Going through the same nightly and morning battles that we do. I know there are plenty but at times its a real lonely place.

Shopping At Westfields With Kids

10 Sep

I dread shopping with kids but during the summer holidays I’ve learnt that shopping with kids doesn’t have to be as hard as we think it is.
On a recent visit to Westfield Shopping Centre in London’s White City with the toddler I actually experienced a stress free days shopping.
Myself and my sister Charlotte both took our little ones with us on a trip to the shops and both came out alive!
There was no tantrums, no bored faces, not even a single whine.

Westfield’s have made it there mission to make shopping with kids easier by providing ways to keep them entertained and happy. We started our shopping experience by trading our pushchairs for some funky kiddi cars. The boys were dead impressed with their stylish new wheels and we were impressed by how simple these were to Manoeuver around the shopping centre.

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Then it was off for some fun. There was plenty of stuff happening inside the shopping complex to keep the kids happy. We got creative making pasta sun flowers and pretty pictures. The staff were excellent, really friendly and helpful. This event was taking place near the food court in the middle of the shopping centre so it was really easy to find. The area had been converted into a child friendly space with toad stool seats and tables, balloons and fun and exciting games to play.

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Once done we checked out the shops. I love Westfields and the selection of stores on offer. What’s more given the children were aboard their kiddie cars they didn’t mind the constant popping in and out of shops. I must admit that the kiddi cars made the whole shopping experience a much more stress free process.

By lunchtime, myself, sister and our boy racers had built up something of an appetite so it was off to the ‘Greek’.
I used to work in Greece so appreciate the beautiful food they make. The Greek is located just outside the main centre so we were able to sit in the beautiful sunshine. The staff at the Greek were very accommodating they parked our kiddi cars and showed us to a table which was half inside and half outside, this was great as it allowed us to keep the boys shaded from the sun.

The lunch menu was very pleasing with lots on offer. The kids were given croyons and a colouring book to entertain them, avoiding boredom as we waited to eat. The food was absolutely amazing. The kids had beautiful chicken and I had a beautifully cooked lamb koft with rice. We tucked into flat bread and a vast selection of dips before the boys wolfed down some strawberry ice cream.

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The day was finished with a last round of the shops. With the end of summer nearing :( there was a good selection of sale items in the various stores. We spent a good proportion of the day in the Disney store and the entertainer were the boys got spoilt with Mickey Mouse toys.

We were itching to visit the Vue cinema which is located on the top floor in Westfield’s. Yes, I fancied seeing the new Disney planes movie but as we had my sisters little boy who is just 18 months with us that day we decided to give it a miss as we didn’t think he’d be able to sit still for an entire film. We instead decided this would be left for another day another time.

After all… Our days shopping had been so stress free there was no need to ruin it now.

So there you have it! Shopping with kids doesn’t always have to be a nightmare… And believe me I never thought I’d hear this mum say that!

Westfield’s always lay on entertain during the summer holidays and school half term breaks to ensure shopping trips are fun for all! To find out what’s happening at Westfields and when, then just check out the website as well as their twitter and Facebook pages.

The Lollibop 2013 Queen Elizabeth Park

29 Aug

We are a Lollibop loving family who have made it our mission to attend the festival for little people ever year. With its new location (Queen Elizabeth Park) in Stratford, we couldn’t wait for this years event.

So… What did we think?

This year attending the event was myself and my sister, her 3 year old toddler Amy and my daughter Alice and toddler Harley. We opted to visit this years event on the Saturday (day two of this three day festival). With the new location being in Stratford this was meant to make it a whole lot simpler to get to! That was true except London Transport had decided that Saturday would be the perfect day for some engineering works on the DLR completely throwing our travel arrangements into chaos. This meant that instead of the one DLR train into Stratford we found ourselves having to take two trains, making our journey a little longer than first planned.

Once we arrived in Stratford we found there were plenty of staff designated along the main route to the festival to guide festival goers in the right direction. We arrived in the afternoon and given there had been a little rain that day the festival wasn’t as packed as I’d first expected which was fine by us as we got to do some of the things we had previously missed out on last year such as face painting and various other activities.

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We saw Katie from cbeebies ‘I Can Cook’ and also Sid and Andy entertaining little festival goers in a big top style tent. The characters dotted around the festival were awesome, there was always someone to surprise us and make the kids laugh. This lovely bird was one of our favourites from the day…

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The kids also had meet and greets with the Mr Men (much to the toddlers delight)! We had great fun getting creative. The kids used stamps to decorate Bandannas and we all enjoyed making sheep out of clay.

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I think the biggest highlight of the day was watching the little ones get their groove on as they danced half the afternoon away. My three year old niece also bagged herself a prize in one of the dance offs and Harley was still dancing on the way home.

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On site this year there was plenty of toilets avoiding long queues and little accidents. A buggy parking lot was provided which was undercover just incase of unexpected rain (which we experienced a little off throughout the afternoon) what’s more the buggy park was attended meaning we didn’t have to worry about our buggy going walk about.

The staff on the day were most helpful and we enjoyed a good proportion of our time down by the Heart FM tent were the kids had their face painted, danced to the music and played with the giant outdoor games provided, while we were able to relax and take a breather on one of the many deck chairs dotted about outside the tent.

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We brought our own picnic along this year and found that there were plenty of picnic benches dotted around the festival site. Out stuff wasn’t to badly priced such as the balloons (£3 for small and £5 for large) we opted to buy ours before we left as we saw many balloons flying off into the sky throughout the afternoon. Lucky for the toddlers ours made it home in one piece. Our only complaint was the prices in which the ice cream vans were charging… £2 for an ice lolly and £3 for an ice cream! When there are 5 of you that really isn’t an option!

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As we had expected the festival was a total hit with the children. Will we return for more Lollibop fun next year? Without a doubt we will… We can’t wait!

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To find out more about the Lollibop festival and all its upcoming events check out there website, Facebook and Twitter Pages.

Smurfs 2 – A Review

20 Aug

I remember the smurfs when I was younger, lets just say that these days they are far more hip than ever before.

I haven’t seen the first smurfs movie and wondered if there was any point me viewing the second but it seems that doesn’t matter.

Going to view the movie was myself, a friend, my 10 year old daughter and 3 year old son (little man opted to stay behind claiming smurfs were not cool!) We had been invited to see the movie by a PR team which meant it was an early start at the odeon in covent garden london. So… Here’s what we thought…

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Story Line… Basically the smurfs are on a mission to rescue Smurfette from the evil Gargamel in Paris where he is some big time celebrity magician now. Only in order to do this they will require a little help from there humans friends. Once the smurfs have blasted themselves into our world together with their human friends the search begins in Paris. Gargamel has created two little naughties (a cross between a troll and a smurf called Vexy and Hackus) and its there job to befriend Smurfette making her feel she belongs in order to prise the secret spell receipt from her… The one that turns you blue. Gargamel doesn’t only want to turn his naughties blue but he has an evil plan to turn the world blue, create more blue naughties and take over Smurf land. With Smurfette feeling as if she doesn’t belong, after all the smurfs forgot her birthday! Will she turn naughty and give Gargamel what he wants?

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We all enjoyed the film myself included. There are moments when the kids laughter could be heard and other times they were let on the edge of there seats. Of course Alice’s favourite was Smurfette and Harley love’s Puppa Smurf. Myself, I kinda loved Vanity (you’ll see why when watching the movie).

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After the film the kids were able to meet some of the smurfs and play some games. They even got to try out some of the new toy range. Harley loves the little figures and the miniature smurf houses. His made me promise to buy him one of his own.

Here’s Harley checking out the toys.

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Tips For Parents Of A Child Entering The Assessment Process.”

18 Aug

1) No child should receive an Aspergers diagnosis on a first appointment or assessment. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. Yes, you maybe dead certain it’s Aspergers though professionals have a duty to explore every avenue and give your child a detailed assessment clearly observing them and then providing you the parent with a detailed document of his or her findings.

2) Be prepared, its likely (what with these awful cuts) that your child will not see the same psychologist more than once. You will feel that the continuous string of professionals are not making the assessment process any easier when you find yourselves being bombarded with the same questions over and over. ‘Yes we often ask ourselves… Do these people communicate with each other’

3) When assessing a school age child for Aspergers the team involved will usually request feedback from your child’s teaching team and school SENCO. Is your child’s school acknowledging your child’s condition? If not this can really slow the entire assessment process down. In the end the communication team at CAMHS had to go into my sons school to assess how he coped and acted in the school environment.

4) Remain on the ball. Often we are Frobed off by professionals with statements like they are awaiting a certain professional to get back to them or an appointment slot for your child to meet with the SALT therapist for an assessment. It’s at this times you often find yourselves dangling in thin air and before you even realise it its been months… Your slowly slipping through the net. Bombard the team working with your child with daily phone calls. Who cares if we are getting on their nerves? If we are silent we are forgotten and no one wants to be forgotten.

5) Keep all reports and assessment papers and letters filed within their own folder. This will help you to stay ontop of things. You will have dates at hand and be able to produce any needed documents at ease.

6) Keep your own written records. I’ve found that I’ve been told a lot of stuff of the record that could Potentially help my child but won’t in its undocumented state. I therefore make everything formal but taking notes at every meeting, during phone calls and any other time my child’s case is up for discussion.

7) Try not to miss important appointments as you will often find that its months before contact is even made and new appointments given.

8) Ask questions no matter how silly you think they may sound.

9) Trust Your Instincts. If you don’t agree with the professionals conclusions its your right to ask for a second opinion.

10) Its a long road, be prepared, don’t just go with it, be part of it! After all its your child and diagnosis could be a way to the services you require.

Is it a bird or a plane? No it’s A Flutterbye Fairy

13 Aug

Flutterbye fairies by Spinmaster toys are super cute dolls that just happen to have wings and fly.
Recommend for children aged 6+ Alice 10 couldn’t wait to see what they were all about.

Heres what Alice Said… “Firstly these fairies are really pretty, they have lovely hair and beautiful wings. I didn’t think they would fly like they do I thought they wouldn’t be that good! But mine flys really high and I can control it by guiding it with my hand. It’s actually really cleaver and a lot of fun.”

20130813-184311.jpgAlice and her little flatter friend

Alice was super impressed with her little flutterbye fairy and to be honest so was I. The spinning skirt is constructed from a soft material so even if it hits your beloved widescreen it won’t damage it! Well, it didn’t ours and it hit numerous times during her first attempts at fairy flying. One person who looked slightly unimpressed had to be dad when the fairy accidentally on purpose flew at his head at speed (I really should leave the flying to the kids… Evil laugh!).

20130813-184427.jpgUp…Up…

20130813-184557.jpg</a>…And Away

The charging base is pretty simple to operate.The fairy charges reasonably fast and you get a good degree of flying time on a full charge. Yes, this does take a high number of batteries, six to be precise however, good quality batteries have lasted the test of time and we are still currently on the same batch we started with.

20130813-184714.jpgFlying lessons were had

Alice is 10 and loves the flutterbye fairy I’m pretty impressed to at 31. The fairy is aimed at kids 6+ and I feel this is a good age. Once you get the hang of using the flutterbye its as easy as riding a bike so 6 year olds will fully enjoy the challenge and achievement when mastering their pretty little fairy.

We love it and therefore recommend it to others with confidence.

Taking A Blogging Break Helped Me Get Over Depression

13 Aug

Usually you’ll find me saying that writing is the only thing that keeps me going, not this time! Blogging has been a big part of my life for the last five years or so, its provided me with a way to let it all out, acting as a type of therapeutic therapy. Suddenly all that changed!

Its no secret that the last couple of months (well 5 to be Precise) have seen me riddled with depression the way to deal with this type of hurdle has always been for me to write about any issues or problems weighing on my mind. But this time the thought of even sitting at the computer made me feel Physically sick. Everything seems a huge massive effort when your depressed, even the the most simplistic things like making a phone call or talking to friends. I noticed that this episode had me withdraw completely, even from my online existence, Twitter included! “Hell yer! Not tweeting! It’s gotta be bad.”

Slowly I’ve been getting back in there. I’ve been adding posts here and there instead of just going at it like a blogoholic! This hasn’t been easy for me! I’ve discovered that blogging isn’t like riding a bike. You do forget how its done! Well, the social media side of things at least! I’d forgotten that a tweet button and facebook share button was sat on my dashboard with the aim of getting me noticed, I’ve just been writing logging off and then going about my day.

I guess I did get to the point where blogging was no longer helping me but feeding a depressive episode that I was in denial about even experiencing. The things I loved about writing and blogging in particular, were slipping away from me! Looking back I realised that I was just going with it, blogging in zombie mood, doing it because its what I felt I had to do! After all I’d been blogging almost daily for years now.

Blogging is something I love dearly, something I enjoy doing and want to keep on doing. In order to be able to do so I needed to step away from the computer and deal with the crap clouding my mind. Only then would I be excited about the prospect of blogging once more.

At first things were strange, seeing my stats come crashing down was in all honesty somewhat frightening! I’d always proclaimed that I didn’t give a monkeys hoot about states but when you see them drastically plummeting you suddenly thing… “SHIT!” As you frantically make your way back to the computer to save your online identity. I didn’t though, I couldn’t, and that’s how I knew I had come to a point where I couldn’t even if I want to… I just simply couldn’t!

That didn’t mean to say I’d forgotten those who support me! My readers and of course other bloggers who I know consider friends.

Then there are the blogs I follow, and yes I may have been sat wallowing in self pity but I still read them I just couldn’t bring myself to comment as even that was a step to far for a girl on the edge! “Communication? No way! Say they replied back?” Yes, I really wasn’t quite myself.

So with two blogs on hold I went at fighting this crap head on! I don’t want to jinx things but hay I’m feel Ok.

Oh and guess what? I actually woke up and felt excited about blogging today.

Look who’s Going To The Lollibop

9 Aug

The WotWots Zoom into Lollibop Festival
The Big Bash for Little People

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Date: August 16, 17 and 18 2013
Meet and Greet Times: The WotWots will be making appearances at intervals throughout the day
Location: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford

The WotWots will zoom into this year’s Lollibop Festival to meet and greet all their special little fans.

The WotWots have come from outer space in their steam-powered spaceship to explore and marvel at the extraordinary diverse life on Earth. In season one of the television series, SpottyWot and DottyWot arrive in the middle of a zoo and in the second season, they land on a farm and meet strange and friendly farm animals as well as travel to the seashore.

Also in August, Channel 5 will welcome the adorable SpottyWot and DottyWot back for Series 2, narrated by British broadcasting legend, Nicholas Parsons OBE.

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The WotWots is produced by Pukeko Pictures.

For tickets to this years event visit the official Lollibop site

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