Tag Archives: 2012

The Year That Was… 2012

31 Dec

The year of 2012 will soon be over, we will wave it farewell as we enter a new chapter.

Is it because I’m getting older or do the years really fly by so quickly? It seems not so long ago I was sat here writing a post summing up 2011 yet here we are again fast approaching the year 2013… I can hardly keep up!

So, how was 2012 for us? Well, amazingly it was pretty drama free (just the way we like it)! With little man now really settled at his new school things have been… Well… “Normal” I mean I no longer get daily phone calls from head teachers demanding I collect little man! I’m actually able to go shopping without that niggling fear that my mobiles about to ring as soon as I start loading the supermarket trolley.

We have had some wonderful highlights to this year one being our second Mad blog awards win where the blog was crown most inspiring for the second consecutive year in a row. It was a truly wonderful surprise and one we didn’t expect. Lets just say I woke up with a somewhat sore head the following morning.

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I was also a runner up for most inspirational blog in the BIBs (brilliance in blogging wards) run by Britmums.

At the beginning of the year I got to attend Little mans first ever sports day. Ok, his 12 years old so that may seem strange for some. But those who like me have a child on the autism spectrum will likely have experienced the same… Their child being excluded from everyday activities as they are branded something of a health and safety risk.

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Little mans attendance at his new special school has brought with it a lot of “firsts” this year, including his most recent Christmas performance that almost had me in floods of happy tears. I also attended the school Christmas lunch which is such a big deal when you have got to the stage of thinking “You’re child will never be given such opportunities” such negative thoughts are all based purely on the bad experiences of the past.

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Other wonderful things that have happened this year include, being chosen as Toy R Us Toyologist. Alice and little man were blue group reviewers and lots of fun was had reviewing all the great toys in the run up to Christmas. Little man discovered his love of making review videos and mini tutorials, his confidence grew and as a result his only gone and started his very own youtube channel.

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We were also invited to be LEGO Family bloggers this year and as you can guess, that news had the little man excited beyond belief.

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Another really big surprise was being chosen to be one of Butlins Ambassadors. Next year we will be visiting Bognor Regis resort and I’ll be able to share with readers our experiences including how the park caters for children with additional needs and sen. We start our holiday on the 1st April and I for one really can’t wait.

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October see me as one of ten bloggers and writers who were chosen as finalist in the Savoo smartest shopper competition. I was in with the chance of winning a prize of £10,000 plus the chance to write my own money saving blog. No I didn’t win! But looking back I do realise what a wonderful achievement it was to be in the final amongst the red hot competition.

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This year seemed to be the year for competitions. What with Alice being a runner up in the Ice Age Jr reviewer competition winning a fab trip to Bristol, Little man bagging himself an iPad Mini on an online raffle that was organised by his school reward system Vivo, and that of Alice finding out on Christmas Eve that she had won £750! This was for her amazing entry into the post card from Santa competition run by Travel Supermarket (the entry & video can be seen on my sister blog mummy of many talents).

20121231-133607.jpgAbove… A beautiful trip to bristol

On the whole the year has been a kind one. Sadly we do still have the worrying situation involving my sister and the SS (see the blog post peek a boo) following us into this coming new year. As a family we are continuing to support her the best we can while fighting the system that is destroying her.

So… What will next year bring? New opportunities, more school plays and sports days. I don’t hope its a good one I’ll be sure to make it a great one.

A Christmas Message For Our Readers

25 Dec

A message from the boy himself to wish our readers a very merry Christmas.

Love Claire, Little man and and family.xx

Ikea stocking fillers in aid of Save the Children & UNICEF

19 Dec

IKEA are back again with their annual Soft Toy Campaign! For every soft toy and children’s book sold between October 21st and December 23rd 2012 the IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to UNICEF and Save the Children, to support worldwide education programs, ensuring more children around the world can go to school. This yearly campaign has so far raised a total of €47.4 million since 2003 and has helped improve the lives of more than eight million vulnerable children.

I’m writing today to share a couple of the items included in this years campaign, and what with it being under a week till christmas and the final week of the campaign, I urge you to get yourselves down to Ikea to take advantage of the brilliant, reasonably priced toys while raising much needed funds for UNICEF & Save the Children.

The two items we were sent came from the KLAPPAR CIRUS range of toys. This range is bold, bright, and reasonably priced, all the things I like in a soft toy.

We reviewed the KLAPPER CIRKUS Finger puppets that can be brought for just £4.99.

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This is a fabulous stocking filler, a traditional toy that reminds me of those you purchase at Christmas markets. The puppet stand is made from brightly coloured card so not the most durable but all the little finger puppets are beautifully stitched felt with lovely detailing and considering there are eight of them, a fiver seems little money to pay for this set. These puppets are bright and fun and the toddler absolutely adores them.

We were also sent KLAPPAR CIRUS – Soft Toy Rabbit which cost just £4 to buy.

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This super soft white bunny is ultra cuddly. His of a nice size and good quality. I love his floppy ears and long whiskers. What gives him that something extra is this bunnies sense of style. He looks dashing in his purple glittery jacket and top hat and reminds me somewhat of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

Again the toddler loves this toy and the white rabbit has now become a permeant fixture to the end of his bed.

For £4 the soft white rabbit makes a lovely Christmas gift for very little money.

Other toys in the ikea soft bear campaign include soft toys and books for as little as £1.

Here’s a few other ideas for those Christmas stockings.

VANDRING HARE – Soft Toy Rabbit £5

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VANDRING IGELKOTT – Squeaky toy hedgehog £2

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VANDRING – Book ‘The Hedgehog Leaves Home’ £5

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I love this statement made by Ikea! It really sums up what the campaigns about and while you should pop along and buy your child a soft toy from them this Christmas…

“At IKEA, we believe all children deserve the right to simply be children – free to play, learn and develop, that’s why we work hard to give millions of children a better start in life. By buying a Soft Toy from IKEA this Christmas, not only are you giving to your child, but also to millions of underprivileged children around the world.”

I was not paid to write this post but did receive two toy samples so that we could share our honest feedback on these products. All words are my own and have not been Influence in any way.

The True Magic Of Christmas

13 Dec

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This enchanting, charming, beautiful house is located at 25A Hayes Lane Bromley Kent. The family who live here have been showcasing their ever growing collection of Christmas lights for some 25 years now?

Why?

Well, its all done in the name of charity. The festive home owners have helped a number of charities by putting on a spectacular Christmas light display in the hope of raising funds for those less fortunate, national and local charities and even children with special educational needs.

I first saw the house earlier in the week when I was asked to collect my son from school due to illness. Of course it was the middle of the afternoon so the lights were not yet switched on. With that I decided to take the children back tonight for a closer look and let’s just say we wasn’t disappointed!

The house is absolutely smothered in twinkling fairy lights.You will find an assortment of Santa’s displayed on the roof top, as well as a range of giant snow globes and a Santa loaded hot air balloon.

If that’s not exciting enough, the front garden has been totally transformed into something of a magical winter wonderland that leaves children bedazzled.

The first thing that catches your eye as you approach the house is a beautifully lite mini Ferris wheel with a host of festive faces upon it (Santa and a Snowman included)!

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Nutcrackers and toy Soldiers line the pond area while further along the grass the scene of a nativity really blows you away with festive cheer.

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Everywhere you turn, every inch and every corner, you will find something to amaze you. A beautiful wishing well and a life size moving Santa. Colourful wooden trains, talking elves and more.

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As you walk about exploring your surroundings, traditional Christmas tunes can be heard playing through mini speakers. They even have a special red post box just for posting letters to Santa.

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Here’s a little video I made to try and capture just how lovely the light display really was.

As I stood looking at the amazing display that has brought families from a far to see it, I realised just what a truly amazing thing the family living inside are doing for others. The surrounding communities get the privilege of visiting with their children while many charities are indeed lucky enough to benefit from such a place.

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I noted the television flashing in the window and realised that the family were probably sat indoors doing what you or would be doing… only just outside their window, their home was now something of a tourist attraction. But here they are for their 25th year… Seriously how amazing is that? That means these guys were putting smiles on the faces of children while raising essential funds for charity since I was 5 years old.

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I dunno about you guys but I think whoever is living behind door number 25 must be a pretty amazing family.

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As a mum to a child who benefits from such kindness (as you know little man has Aspergers and special educational needs) I just wanted to spread the festive cheer and if possible get those who are able to visit the house to do so.

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Children will not be disappointed. We drove 3 miles to see the lights and would of driven further if needed.

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Sadly, this is in fact the last year that the family will be transforming their home into a beautiful Christmas winter wonderland. So… Wouldn’t it be amazing to finish this lovely tradition on a high? I would love the family to make a lovely large sum of money in donations for this years chosen charities. I plan to go along again before the end of this jolly festive season, so I can give a little more! I haven’t got much but I know every penny counts.

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So, are you local to Hayes Lane, Bromley? Have you seen the magical wonderland? If yes, I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you haven’t yet visited and are within traveling distance why not pop along and help make this a beautiful end to a magical tradition.

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Hama Beads Fashion Jewellery Set

3 Dec

We are a rather creative household, however Hama Beads is something we have yet to discover, that is in till now.

With our Santa’s little helpers feature well underway, Alice had the opportunity to review a Hama Beads Fashion Jewellery Set from DKL Toys.

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The contents of this set is approximately 2440 Hama Mini beads and approximately 60 Miss Hama beads. You also get 3x small pegboards in hexagonal, heart and butterfly shapes, plus 2 lots of strings, a colour printed design sheet & Instructions, ironing paper and 1 storage tray with lid to store it all in.

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Alice informs me she has had the fun of creating things with Hama Beads at a friends house. She was most excited to have a kit of her own.

The fashion jewellery kit allows you to make necklaces with awesome Hama bead pendents. You can also make pretty cool bracelets with your kit.

The beads are also very pretty with some fantastic metallic colours and some very pretty flower beads.

Alice had so much fun creating a heart pendent and I’ve got to admit that having watched her the little girl within me had me wanting to make one too (which I did).

Once your creations are done, you simply cover with the ironing paper and iron. The heat seals the beads perfectly.

This set is really great, the peg boards can be used more than once and your given a huge amount of beads within your kit allowing you to create lots of different jewellery pieces and other stuff besides. We have even started making pretty beaded Christmas tree decs. The possibilities really are endless.

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Checkout the Hama beads fashion Jewellery kit plus other fab kits at DKL toys.

You can also check out the DKL blog and that of their Facebook and twitter pages to keep up to date on everything DKL

#Win Personalised Thank You Cards For Christmas

8 Oct

I was sent a beautiful pack of personalised thank you cards to review and add to this years Santas Little Helpers.

The cards are designed by Nessie a busy working mum of four who is in the process of just launching her brand new website. However the original one is still accessible and you can check it out Here

I love stationary and thisisnessie.com has some beautiful products over on the site. Nessie’s Christmas products include some beautiful cards depicting the 12 days of Christmas that can be personalised to suit and come in packs of 12 for £8.50.

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Whats more, for every pack sold thisisnessie will donate £1 to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The design I received is so simple yet very pretty with a little festive picture and personalised message beneath.

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These Thank you cards don’t open out but instead are made to resemble that of a post card. There is plenty of room both under the design or on the back to add your message or even personalise further if you wish.

I’m a really creative person and enjoy making items such as Christmas cards and thank you notes. But these are a fabulous way to keep things personalised and meaningful for those who simply cannot find the time to do something like this themselves. They show that you still made time to say thank you. After all it is the little things that count!

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These are well made on good durable card. The design I received was one that resembled a hand drawn and coloured picture of a row of reindeers. The personalised thank you reads “Love From Claire Louise”

The postcards are priced at £6.95 per pack of 10 and include matching envelopes.

I found these cards to be super cute and think these could be used in many other ways too. Example being… personalised notes with gifts.

Visitors to the site can choose from a huge range of hand-illustrated and personalised stationary. They can even commission their very own bespoke design.

You can check out these and many other designs and gift ideas, over on the “This Is Nessie” website.

Competition Time

Readers of the blog have the opportunity to win themselves a personalised pack of Thank You cards right here .

Its simple just answer this question.

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

Additional entries….

For extra entries use any of the share buttons below (excluding the email and rate it buttons). Leave an additional comment for each action taken.

Pin this competition and comment to let me know how to find your pin.

Tweet: “I want to win personalised Christmas Cards with @clairelouise82” then comment to let me know how to find your tweet.

Competition will close on the 10th November 2012 at midnight.

Terms and conditions. Competition is open to UK residents only. No entry submitted after the closing time will be accepted or counted. Drawn at random. All the above steps must be followed for your entry to be valid. Winner has 5 days to respond to the winners notification.

MUM I’M PROUD OF YOU #Madblogawards

1 Oct

It was a cold rainy day, sat in the nail shop I asked myself “Do I feel up to this?” I wasn’t referring to my nails but what lay ahead after that! I needed to rush back home, shower, do hair and makeup before finally squeezing myself into my magic underwear and somehow wiggling my legs into my tights without laddering them with what was soon to be my new nails! Then there was the dress, the one I’d only just brought following a disaster with the last (disaster being the sudden realisation that it made me look like a beach whale). This one was short, I hadn’t done short in I don’t know how long! Even with tights I was already feeling a tad self-conscious and I didn’t even have the thing on yet.

I needed to get my party head on and fast. Don’t get me wrong its not that I wasn’t looking forward to the Mad Blog Awards, I really was! I was just a little drained and maybe feeling a little sorry for myself.

Nails done I’m now stood at the bus stop. Time is ticking by and I seriously need to get my butt in gear! Having waited 15 minutes for my bus to come along, it stops, the driver looks at me but doesn’t open the doors… He then proceeds to just drive off like I’m not even stood there in the rain like a prat. Two seconds later what happens, yeah along comes a double-decker bus. Not my double-decker ‘I’m waiting on one of those single decker buses that drive all round the houses making what should be a five minute Journey a 30 minute one instead! This double-decker is racing up the road, his in a rush like me, I could do with this guy driving my bus. Then something crap happened… Splash… FFS, I know resembled a drowned rat! As I stand like a wet lemon, I hear the giggles of the over excitable teens stood behind me. I tell myself he didn’t do it on purpose… But really deep down I knew he did! Could things really get any worse?

Once home and finally done up like a girl with a place to be, I receive a phone call just as I’m about to leave through the front door. As I’m stood explaining my rubbish day to my friend who’s called to wish me luck for the awards, I suddenly realise I’ve missed my train. “It’s a sign, I’m not meant to go” I moan. But being reminded things could only get better I loaded my 5 inch shoes in my bag at speed then slipped on my comfortable flats. I then ran for it, over the road, through the park to the station while continuously yanking down my dress in a desperate bid not to flash my magic granny knickers in the process.

Thankfully I didn’t get lost and as I stopped on the street corner to slip on my heels It suddenly hit me that by doing what I was doing where I was doing it, dressed as I was, one may mistake me as a lady of the night. Walking at speed (and not very well may I add) I escaped into the comfort of the Rassiden Edwardian Hotel the venue of this years Mad Blog Awards.

Hot, messy and out of breath I arrived just in time. My fellow finalist were just about to take there places at the table. Having quickly adjusted the magic knickers, reapplied the lippy and made myself that bit more presentable in the toilets, I then took my place at table number 2 which was filled with some very talented ladies with a great view of the stage.

Was I nervous? No, not up in till now I wasn’t! I really hadn’t the time to be! I just remember feeling relieved to have finally made it. I felt as if My mood was instantly lifted by the wonderful company I had around me. I was sat next to the lovely and talented Luschka (Diary of a first child) as well as the lovely Jen from Mum in the mad in the madhouse , Mika from All baby advice, Kate (WitWitWoo) and a few others (all equally as lovely). The atmosphere was wonderful and all finalist were in high spirits.

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The room looked amazing and it was obvious how much hard work the lovely Sally Whittle, Jen Walshaw and others from the mads had put into making this an event to remember. Everything had been perfectly personalised around each and every blogger in the room. Two large LCDs showed pictures of us bloggers and our families. In between each slide, live tweets were shown (and as the wine flowed the spelling mistakes grew). Even the tables were decorated with confetti made from tiny snippets of our blog headers.

Despite each category having its own sponsor we wasn’t bombarded with advertisements! The awards were very much a social event that did an amazing job to celebrate the brilliance that are parent bloggers. How awesome is that!

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The 3 course meal was of course Devine… The dessert however was in a league of it own…. Amazing. The wine was flowing around the table and for a woman who drinks little (maybe the odd glass of white every now and then) I did really managed to put some away. I was feeling a little giggly and I did almost use the men’s toilets by mistake (the greeting of a man leaving the cubical was a good indication that I was in the wrong place). But luckily I wasn’t to merry as I was about to receive a little shock when my name was called out and I was announced as the winning blogger of the mads most inspiring blogger for 2012.

20121001-061742.jpgA Meal fit for a finalist and I cleaned the plates

What I’m about to say may make you roll your eyes while muttering the words, “they all say that” but honestly, it was a shock! I really didn’t think I’d win. I was up against some of the best blogs in the blogosphere and the fact I’m subscribed to a few of these blogs meaning every new post they publish gets ping to my inbox just made me doubt myself even more so. Honestly who wants to be up against the much loved mammywoo or the very talented but equally as lovely Wendy from Savette Gazette? Yep …. I rest my case.

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You may roll your eyes once more when I tell you I wasn’t pimping my blog 24/7! I made a video that I attached to a blog post. This didn’t have an excessive amount of hits! I also sent out some tweets… I honestly only sent a small amount this year. Of course I sent out a few shouts on my Facebook page, but again this was just a few. What made me laugh this year was how members of the page had replied to say they had already voted for me. Knowing you have such a supportive readership is heartwarming. I guess the only other thing I did was appear in the local paper, just as I had the previous year. I didn’t want to become a spammer, end up driving my readers and followers nuts. My point is that winning without super pimping is possible and this left me feeling proud of myself, shocked but very proud.

As I stood up to collect my award I suddenly thought “Shit… What am I going to say?” I can speak to whole rooms of people in an advocate, teacher-like fashion. When it comes to advising you on education law or the latest autism campaigns its programmed into me… It’s what I do! But accepting an award is different and just like last year I felt a bit of a tit with nothing to say. With white wine in the blood stream giving me a needed kick up the backside I thanked everybody and stated that if it wasn’t for my readers I wouldn’t be able to raise such awareness for autism! With that I did a runner with my award and a lovely bottle of bubbles presented to me by the lovely sponsor for crazy soap.

Back at my table, sat back down I watched some more fabulous bloggers go up and collect their awards I felt so honoured to be part of it all.

My 2012 Mads highlights: speaking to my little man on the phone…

LM: “Mum I saw it on twitter, you won”
Me: “I know, great isn’t it”
LM: “I’m proud of you mum”
Me “You are?”
LM “You inspire people mum, you inspire me”
Me: “That’s a really lovely thing to say, thank you!”
LM “I have water in my eyes as I’m happy you won”
Me: “I have water in my eyes too, because you do”

When we have this type of conversation it’s magical, rare but magical. He really was happy I’d won! He took the award and polished it and put it next to last years on my dresser. He is now blogging himself… Maybe he will one day collect his very own award to add to the collection.

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Other highlights:

Kerry Aka Multiple Mummy getting the recognition she deserves for her amazing blogs. And the emotional speech from Emma and multiple dad when collecting her awards. And as Emma states… One is actually half hers 🙂 Emma and Kerry both write Science sparks.

Messaging my dad to tell him Myleene Klass was at the awards… Evil laugh (he kinda fancies the arse off her)!

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Thank you to Sally… Your an amazing woman. Not forgetting the lovely Jen and others who helped make the awards really enjoyable for all.

My lovely readers, all those who nominated and voted for me… I could t do what I do without you all.

The lovely Crazy Soap for being a lovely sponsor from start to finish. I’m sure my fellow inspiring finalist would agree.

Littlewoods, I may not have wore the dress you sent but you sent it so quickly and even offered to send me another on the actual day of the awards. If I hadn’t found something in time it’s quite likely that you would have saved the day.

My family and friends for supporting me.

And most importantly, my three beautiful children both with and without Aspergers… You all inspire me to write and do what I do. So, mummy sends you a million hugs and kisses from the blog…. I love you.

Silent Sunday

30 Sep

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Awards, Flu, Birthdays And Financial Relief

28 Sep

This weeks been a really mixed bag, one of those up and down weeks.

I’ve been feeling a tad crap and it would seem that something’s going about as the Little man has been off school most of the week. Though its not only him… His entire form group and teacher have also been hit with a bug. OK, its not as extreme as I first make it sound! There are only 3-4 children in little mans class so I guess it’s easy to all come down with a sickness bug at the same time.

This means I’ve pretty much had the little guy under my feet all week and what better opportunity to bang on about your birthday! Seriously, I can’t wait for it to be over! I’m losing hair over this.

Little man hasn’t been dealing with the bug all that well. Having a blocked nose causes all kinds of sensory triggers and his been freaking out about not being able to breath and suffocating inside his own head. Needless to say we’ve gone through a hell of a lot of Vicks this past week.

Having children off school sick isn’t meant to be an easy ride. It Just doesn’t help when you have so much to do. Today is the Mad blog Awards and having had a dress disaster I had to do an emergency shop yesterday! As many know, shopping with a child on the autism spectrum (especially for yourself) is never fun nor easy. So, not wanting to spread his virus to my fellow shoppers and obviously wanting to avoid a meltdown I called his father in for babysitting duties. Thankfully, after what felt like hours I found a dress. I now have my outfit from head to toe sorted and enjoyed last nights stress free evening.

I still can’t believe today is the day for the awards. I’ve had little chance to focus on the event… Hence the reason all my organisation skills have been a little delayed. This time last year (that for the record only feels like yesterday) I was dead excited by this point! In all honesty I haven’t had much chance to get this way this year and I’m only just beginning to feel the waves of excitement run through me.

I’m now really looking forward to tonight’s awards. I’m not staying at the hotel this year which feels a little strange. Myself and the children have a date with London Zoo early tomorrow morning. But what I’m really looking forward to most is meeting up with my fellow bloggers. It’s lovely to meet up with those you talk to almost daily via social media. Getting to see some of the bloggers I met at last years awards and other blogging events throughout the year is really exciting within itself.

Other news this week, Little mans DLA renewal has now been processed which means we shouldn’t have any gaps in the payments he receives. He has again been reward the high rate and its not up for renewal for another 5 years so no more form filling (for now anyway). The fact we don’t have to do any type of battle to get him what his entitled to is a huge relief (I feel that we’ve done enough fighting to last me a lifetime)!

So, that’s about it! A week full of illness, fashion dilemmas, awards and financial relief. Here’s hoping that Little man is fit and well this Monday when he will be celebrating his 12th birthday… At last!

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We’re Toys R Us Toyologists

13 Sep

As some may already know myself and the children have been selected as 2012 Toys R Us Toyologists which means from now till Christmas we will review and share some fantastic toys.

Last week we received our first box and we’ve had great fun with the toy testing.

The reviews we will be doing are aimed at those aged 7+ so its Alice-Sara and the little man who have the exciting job of testing all the toys. Though I’m sure Harley will find his way in there some how.

We are so pleased to have been selected as part of the blue group of Toyologists. We were one of just 24 families from over 800 who were selected. How cool is that!

Yesterday we did our very first review. Below is the trailer…

Visit the Toys R Us Toy Box to read the review and discover who the other 23 Toyologist are and what they are reviewing.

Plus check out the Toys R Us Facebook page for all the latest Toyologists news, including future applications for the TRUtoyologists programme.

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