Tag Archives: shopping

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.

20130910-071648.jpg

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.

20130910-071742.jpg

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.

20130910-071831.jpg

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.

Advertisements

Here Comes The Sun – Tips To Help The Sensitive Child Cope

13 Jun

As the days and nights become increasingly warmer your sensitive child on the autism spectrum may require a little help in coping with the sensory issues that summer may bring.

20130613-221611.jpg

So here’s a few tips aimed at those parents of the sensitive child! After all everyone deserves to have a great summer don’t they!

1) Does your child show a dislike to most sun protection products? Little man doesn’t enjoy the application of sunscreen and will spend half the day refusing to comply with my request to apply it. The dislike of sunscreen by a child on the spectrum could be due to a number of factors all of which are a result of the child’s senses. Little man hates the feeling of the lotion on the skin (protests that all feel sticky). This is as well as the smell of the lotion and the fact he needs help with the application process. Here’s some suggestions…
A – Try a powder protection like the one from bare essentials its odourless too.
B – Let your child learn to apply the sun lotion themselves using a mirror then try to cover hard to reach areas that will be exposed to the sun with clothing (thin and cool material)
C – Experiment with different brands of sun protection. Many have different smells and textures and most brands offer sample size bottles or sachets.

2) Try to organise outdoor activities around the midday sun. Children with autism who are sensitive to the suns rays will thank you for it.

3) Use a good insect repellent! No one likes getting bitten by insects and its a 1000 times worse for the child who is tactile defensive. Clothing that comes into contact with the skin is already an issue for these children but if clothing rubs causing friction to an insect bite things become intensely over sensitive. Then there’s the issue of infection to bite. Little man doesn’t listen if I tell him not to scratch a bite, he really can’t control the need to do so, having no power to resist. Your best bet is to just be safe and avoid insect bites altogether. As before experiment in till you find the right product for your child. Another good tip is to use fly nets at the windows or an air conditioning unit at night.

4) Cover up with a hat! As you should for all children insist your child on the spectrum wears some form of sun hat. Your child will be more comfortable in the sun and this will reduce the risk of sunstroke and little mans most feared pain… The headache! If your sensitive child refuses to wear a hat then try alternatives such as a sun umbrella and whenever possible, staying indoors during the hottest point of the day (the midday sun).

5) Does your child with Autism have a fear of flying insects? It isn’t a trait as such, but not uncommon for children with autism to have such a fear. Sometimes its due to factors such as the noise these insects make… Noises such a buzzing from bees, flys and wasps. It can also be down to a fear of getting bitten or stung due to it happening perhaps one day in the past. Regardless of the reason, its usually an intense fear, one that children on the autism spectrum will struggle to deal with. Its all too easy to hide away from those things we are scared of! However this only makes things more difficult in the long run as one day them fearful critters will sneak up on us. My tip… That its better to deal with fear head on by facing it! This can be made much harder when the child who is scared of such insects has a type of autism. But it can be done! It normally just takes a little longer. Ideas…
A) Let children learn more about the things they are frighten about. Use the Internet with them to unravel exciting facts.
B) During warm months use Mosquito nets at windows.
C) Be persistent when helping your child face their fears. Keep on trying on a daily basis.
D) If extreme (to the point your child wont leave the house) then speak to child practitioner for information, advice and ideas.

6) Use a thin 100% cotton sheet instead of a duvet at night! If your child is already a poor sleeper the heat could potentially make this issue worse. Try offering your child lighter cooler bedding. In the summer months little man will often use a sheet instead of a duvet. As long as its 100% cotton we don’t have any tactile issues.

7) Whether appropriate clothing! I found that during the colder months I have to fight the little man to wear his coat, yet in the summer he refuses to go out without it. Experiment with different coats that are appropriate for the current climate. If your child insists on wearing a coat in summer then give them thin cotton summer jackets. Be sure to make sure the material is suited to your child’s tactile needs (little man will not wear waterproof material)!

8) Head to the beach! Being by the sea is always much cooler with the sea breeze. Little man always seems so much happier when we are spending time at the coast. We try to visit less crowded beaches to keep his stress levels down.

9) Avoid the shops! If like little man you’re child on the autism spectrum hates shopping at the best of times then avoid shopping trips during them hot summers afternoons. This is a recipe for meltdowns… You’ve been warned.

10) Cool down! I’ve found that by giving little man a battery operated hand fan he manages the summer heat much better. We did try using cool mist but spraying this on the little man’s face didn’t go down to well. See what works best for your child but if you do opt for a battery operated fan then be sure batteries are fully charged and maybe keep a spare set in your handbag just in case.

Well that’s about it for now. Hope these small tips help and if you have any of your own, then please share in the comments section. Thanks.x

I’m Sorry If My Child Offends You

27 Feb

Being a parent to a child with Aspergers means I’m somewhat used to the reactions of others when my child says something a little off the wall. I’ve found myself having to explain away inappropriate remarks, actions and more in between! Do you know how many times I’ve found myself saying “Sorry” on Little man’s behalf? If you do, please let me know as I’ve honestly lost count.

Well… These days I find myself somewhat reluctant to do so. Why? Its just manners right! Because sometimes its just not necessary anymore.

There are days Little man decides to tell the checkout girl she’s over weight or announce to the entire supermarket that his now going through puberty and I find myself cringing with embarrassment as I feel a thousand eyes fixed upon me. Sometimes I’ll explain that he didn’t mean a comment to intentionally offend, yet some of the responses I’m greeted with are of such an offensive nature in themselves that I then feel any need to apologise instantly melt away.

I don’t find myself constantly announcing that he is on the autism spectrum, especially in his presents as, as his aged I’ve decided that by doing this in his presence could make his condition become something of an issue for him and I don’t want that!

What I do now is try and remind Little man that his chosen words are not appropriate and maybe he should keep them to himself. Little man then has the option to apologise if needed.

As a parent of a child with Aspergers, as time progresses we ourselves go through a series of emotions. Back in the early days I found myself to scared to take him anywhere in fear of incidents occurring. I’m not stating that I still don’t have days when I feel this way but what I am saying is I’m now inclined to take chances! After all we can’t live our life’s hiding away, after all we are a family and we have nothing to be ashamed off.

Yes… You can sometimes find me saying sorry for some inappropriate comment but you won’t ever find me saying sorry for Little mans Aspergers.

We as parents of children who sometimes find it difficult coping with the world they live in, don’t make it our aim to bring up children designed to offend you. We often struggle to find solutions to such outspokenness (not rudeness)! What we don’t need is a dose of judgemental crap from those who haven’t a clue about our life’s.

We don’t all drag up our children… Sometimes there is just more to a situation than actually meets the eye.

Win 3 Valentines Bibs From Funky Giraffe

17 Jan

Afternoon everyone. With valentines day fast approaching I’ve been offered the opportunity to offer readers the chance of getting their hands on some Funky Giraffe new Valentines bibs for their little ones. Two readers will be randomly drawn to win 3 bibs each so your little ones will look super funky this valentines day.

Here’s a little more about this adorable new line of dribble bibs and what Funky Giraffe are all about.

Baby accessories company Funky Giraffe have launched their latest exciting designs especially for Valentines Day! These cute baby dribble bibs start from just £2 and are the perfect gift for your loved one. Whether it be your baby’s first Valentines Day or just another excuse to make your baby look even more adorable, these bibs are a must have for Valentines Day.

20130117-180043.jpg

20130117-180130.jpg

20130117-180316.jpg

Funky Giraffe was set up in 2009 by Yasmin Drury, having worked for a major retailer she was all too aware of the cost of production and the massive mark up charged by companies. As a mum herself, she knew what she wanted for her son and set out to produce funky designs at a reasonable price.

The current range includes
Bandana bibs (also known as Baby bibs) from £1.98
Personalised bandana bibs from £4
XL bandana bibs from £3
Playsuits/rompers from £7
Burp clothes from £4
Hats from £4

I was pleasantly surprised at just how fashionable yet low cost these bibs are. The online store have lots of fantastic designs on offer plus some amazing deals like 5 bibs for £11.

Compulsory: For your chance to be one of 2 winners winning 3 valentines bibs just leave a comment telling me your plans for this very special day.

For extra entries you can do the following…. (Leave a separate comment for each)

Tweet: I want to win valentines bibs with @Clairelouise82 & @FunkyGiraffeBibs adding the URL for this post.

Follow @FunkyGiraffeBibs on twitter

Follow @Clairelouise82 on twitter

Subscribe to this blog leaving a comment telling me the email address you have subscribed with.

Pin this competition on pinterest.

One additional entry is given for each action. One comment should also be left for each action taken.

The competition will close at midnight on the 5th Feb

Two winners will be drawn at random from all the entries submitted on the 6th Feb 2013 and will be notified by either tweet or email.

Terms and conditions… Competition is open to those in the UK Only! Entries not following the rules will not be entered into the final draw. Winners have 48hrs to responded with details. Prizes will be sent directly from Funky Giraffe. Entries entered after the closing date will not be submitted into the final draw. An email or twitter I’d must be left with your comment so I can contact you if you’re lucky enough to win.

Prize 2x winners will each win 3x Valentines Bibs

ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

Help your child with Aspergers to get the most out of Christmas

3 Dec

1 – if like my little man you’re child with Aspergers isn’t big on surprises then simply don’t surprise them! I used to hate that little man used to get anxious about what I was getting him for Christmas. He would worry himself sick that I’d get it all wrong so now he buys his gifts with me.

2 – Plan well ahead for Christmas Day. If possible try to spend Christmas at home so there isn’t to much change.

3 – We all know its the month for advent calendars. Little man can’t help but to open all the doors on day 1, just to munch the chocolate (sweet tooth like his mother).This year we are trying the LEGO Advent calendar and given he can’t eat the Lego this is working out pretty well.

3 – Let your child become involved in the overall planning of the day. Make a visual timetable together and let them hang it in their bedroom at least 3 weeks before the date.

4 – if your child has extra sensitive hearing and therefore freaks out every time someone decides to pull a cracker, then why not introduce an alternative to crackers. I shared a post on my sister blog mummy of many talents where I made cute table flavours made with a paper doyley and ribbon. You can pack this out with cracker treats and paper crowns so no one loses out.

5 – If your child is a fussy eater then its worth making a separate meal plan for them. however, do encourage your child to try some of what your serving up. Little man has gone from only eating a small selection of Christmas dinner to most of what we eat which makes dinner time a much each time.

6 – Don’t be surprised if your child with Aspergers just laughs in your face when you announce that Santa is watching to see if his been bad or good. Little man was just 4 years old when he informed me that he knew Santa was a fictional being. He told me it just didn’t make sense and was not logical for a man with a white bead and fat belly to be able to deliver presents to every single child in the world, let-alone fit through their chimneys. Yes, it broke my heart but this is the way he is and I expect this (as long as he doesn’t ruin it for his siblings)!

7 – don’t over do the tape when you wrap the Christmas presents. Little man struggles more than most as he has difficulties with his fine motor skills and he becomes all fingers and thumbs as he sits frustrated as he tries to rip the paper of his gifts… I then have to sit unwrapping the gifts I’ve spent the night wrapping.

8 – Little man has a lot of trouble sleeping and Christmas Eve is no exception. If your child takes melatonin then try to stop giving it to them around 5 days before Christmas Eve. This means that when you reintroduce it come Christmas Eve the body is more excepting and it therefore works much better (after all there is nothing worse then meltdowns on Christmas Day).

9 – Let your child have time to unwind and relax doing what they want on Christmas morning. Don’t be offended if your child offloads the gifts to their bedroom and then wraps the duvet around them why they settle on the sofa watching cartoons. Little man does this. Its not that his not excited about his gifts its just that he needs time to unwind and fully wake up before opening anything… Things will soon liven up so just enjoy the peace and peel the spuds.

10 – Don’t forget batteries! Every child will throw a wobbler if you do, but the child with Aspergers just don’t get how you forget and meltdowns can be mighty.

11 – Avoid doing the food shop with the kids in toll. Its bad enough taking your child with Aspergers to the supermarket but if you take them at this busy time you’re just asking for trouble.

12 – I’ve been trying for years to stop little man asking family and friends how much they paid for his gifts and where they brought them from. Its just that he can’t help but know it actually eats him up inside if he doesn’t. Family have come accustomed to his probing and we try to not make to much of a big deal of it now. My mum will go as far as leaving the prices on for a peaceful life.

20121203-152508.jpg

Be A Smart Shopper And Save Money

15 Oct

“I need to cut back on stuff for a bit. Just in till I’ve gotten myself back on my feet.”

“I’m just being careful with the pennies over the next few months to ensure I’ve got enough money for our family holiday!”

The two statements above are ones I’ve heard all too often. Would It be wrong to assume that those reading this have stated one of the above or at least something along them lines. If you haven’t then I’m impressed! Your smart!

You, see saving money should never be a short term goal! It should be a way of life, one that isn’t a chore to undertake. A depressive process that makes us feel restricted and starved of some of life’s pleasures. It should be easy, yet rewarding… Something we do without thinking about it. Bottom line is… Saving money should be a normality.

Changes may need making, though not all will need to be grand or life changing. In fact, we find its a collection of the smallest things that amount to the most significant savings.

Budget planning and careful documentation of finances has provided me with the proof that small changes, even if it means a few switch over of services, can actually amount to some long term substantial savings.

So., why listen to me? Admittedly I’m no well known money saving adviser! What I am is a mother to three children who is extra vigilant with her income.

My eldest son is on the autism spectrum and is registered disabled. I’m therefore his full time carer and this means that other than the benefits we we get including Carers Allowance, we have no other means.

I help other parents of children with autism to get the services they require whether it be educational or personal and do so on a voluntary basis. For this reason I’ve also got an extensive collection of tips and info on ways these families can save money and gain access to services. I’ve incorporated some of this information within this post.

Household Utilities

Energy Bills: If like myself you are on a Pre-pay meter for your gas, electric or even both, you maybe feeling a little ticked off with the constant need to top up your key or card. However, Not having unexpected bills or unpaid direct debits is appealing and was my motivation for opting for Pre-pay meter in the first place. Nonetheless, pre-pay may seem the safest option but in actual fact isn’t the most cost efficient.

Weigh up your options between Pre-Pay and Monthly billing to see what works best for you. Call or visit your service providers website for information and policies on switching from Pre-pay to billing!

Don’t be afraid to switch providers if you find a better deal elsewhere. Shopping around is always a must and should always be done before any signing on any dotted line.

If you find a better deal, give your current provider the chance to match this in order to keep your custom.

Important: Don’t act harshly! Wait till the end of November when all providers should have already updated new prices following any decisions to raise this winters energy prices.

In the meantime, keep bills lower by trying some of these quick tips…

Replace normal light bulbs with the long life energy efficient type.

Never live off your emergency credit. Usage is automatically more expensive per day. You will find that as soon as your on the emergency, electricity and gas is consumed at a much faster rate than if you were not.

If your not a home owner check with council, housing association or landlord if your able to apply for loft or wall cavity insulation. A number of energy suppliers are actually offering both its costumers and non costumers free loft and wall cavity insulation (links will be provide in reference section located at the bottom of the post).

Remember that the DWP automatically send cold whether payments to families on certain benefits such as disability living allowance. Payments are applicable when the weather is recorded to be an average of zero degrees Celsius over seven consecutive days.

The elderly, those with a disability (including a family member) or families caring for someone suffering from an illness may be able to receive greater discounts up to £130.00 from their suppliers under the home-care support programme.

The EDF energy trust, an independent charity can provide grants to low income families receiving certain benefits. (You must be a customer of one of their boards to apply.) The charities focus is on improving poverty by providing help in the way of grants to clear debts of gas and electricity as well as other household debts. The charity also provide grants to those in need of essential items such as appliances.

Mobile phone billing:

Those on contracts who don’t use all their data or call/text allowance should consider requesting that they change their call plan and therefore reduce the cost of their bill for the remainder of the contract. After all why pay for a service you are not using?

Those using iPhone or other smart phones should take advantage of certain apps available to them. Many Apps allow you to send text and multi media to fellow app users. This does only work with an Internet connection but if you use your wifi it does practically make it free saving you a fair bit of money.

Sometimes however, its just better to opt for pay as you go. Most mobile providers offer great deals and bundles such as bolt Ons and family and friends (call certain family and friends who’s numbers you have registered on your plan, free of charge). Basically by opting for pay as you go you can only use your phone when its topped up therefore avoiding any huge scary phone bills.

Sometimes you will find that your mobile provider offers services for home phone and broadband and vis-vesa. They will usually be happy to give you a quote. Given that you are an existing costumer to one of their services, discounts are offered and are usually very good. This really worked out well for me and made the accounts so much easier to manage.

Say No to 0870 is a great website that searches for alternatives to high cost numbers such as 0870 & 0845 by listing their equivalent geographical number. Using this site has saved me a fortune.

Shopping:

Food and daily essentials…
If possible shop online! Don’t stay loyal to one retailer/supermarket but instead be sure to go with the one offering you the best deals. Many offer huge discounts for first time shoppers and I’ve had fun trying them all out.

Be sure to search for the best deals via a comparison website. Also check out one of the many voucher code sites or apps where you can find some fantastic voucher and promo codes that could greatly reduce your shopping bill.

Be sure to take advantage of store loyalty cards and those odd money off coupons you took from the mornings newspaper.

Try to buy certain products in bulk, especially if you find an discount or offer being run on a product you use on a regular bases. Bulk buying may cost more at the time but will certainly save you money in the weeks to follow.

Shopping for other items such as clothing, toys, homewear, electrics and more….

Again scan the Internet for all the latest discounts and introductory offers. Big costly items should be fully researched via review sites, blogs and forums. This way you have a better idea about the product and may even change your mind for an alternative. Be sure to have covered every corner of the web before committing to payment of your purchase.There is nothing worse than later discovering that fabulous deal you missed out on.

Be sure to use a reputable comparison site to find the best price available. Always read T&C before committing to a transaction. This will highlight any hidden extras and charges before you hand over your money.

If your also a bit of a giver you can also donate to a chosen charity without actually sending a penny extra. Just use a platform such as the one provided by ‘Give as you live‘ to enter your chosen store.The greater your spend on an item the more taken from the final sale price and donated to your chosen charity. What’s great is its free, your not spending more than you planned yet your still able to feel good about yourself.

I myself am a huge bargain hunter and love a good charity shop. Other places you may find a good quality homeware, clothing and more include… Jumble sales, bootfairs, high street and online sales, eBay, clothes swapping sites and best of all freecycle. Everything added to the site is free to local collectors. I’ve had some amazing items from vintage lighting to my garden fence.

What’s important here is not to rush into any big purchase decisions! Explore all options and buy with confidence. Also remember that sometimes the more expensive products are cheaper in the long run. It may be more expensive but may last longer and therefore provide better value for money.

Travel – Train, Coach etc…

I’m off to bristol this Saturday with my 10 year old daughter her best friend and my mum. Trying to get the best fare didn’t exactly go as smoothly as I’d first hoped and I quickly discovered the horrifying prices attached to rail travel (even that of advance tickets). After lots of ramaging and much online reading I started to get wiser as I began to discover how to play the travel provider at their own game.

Firstly the earlier you book the better (12 weeks is recommended for best priced tickets)

Use a fare finder like the trainline or red spotted hanky. You can get anything up to 80% discounted from your fare.

It’s great if your flexible as you will often be shown cheaper options for one maybe two dates either side of the original date you had opted for.

Split ticketing. Basically find out the stops on your trains route and then try splitting the fare but not the travel. You simple search for return tickets to the station normally around half way to your destination. Then again search for returns from the halfway mark to the final destination. For some its cut the fare down by half. You end up with double the tickets but the journey remains the exact same… Just ensure the train does stop at the halfway mark to make it work. You don’t even need to get off the train.

Remember sometimes its cheaper to get two singles as opposed to a returned ticket. Apps like the red spotted hanky will show you the best option out of the two.

If you travel on the train a lot as a family or with friends I’ve discovered it’s much better to buy a family and friends rail card for around £26.00 per year. This will get adults up to 30% of their travel and 60% off the child price when you travel together. Family and friends rail cards can even be used in conjunction with most reduced price ticketing and promotions therefore saving you a significant amount of money.

Note: If you are caring for a family member with a disability you can get them to apply for a disability pass from their local council which entitles them to free travel in and around london.

For longer journeys its worth looking at a disabled person railcard which cost £20 for the year and entitles the person with the disability plus an adult companion upto 30% each of their travel.

Family Days Out…

If you and the family are planing a day out which requires you to use the train, london southeastern run all year round offers that give you 2 for 1 entrance at many top attractions if travelling by train.

Families consisting of Pre-school children should consider visiting attractions on certain days around term time. These dates are always cheaper and many attractions offer special price packages for families with toddlers.

If planning a family trip to an attraction during term times advance booking online and collection of tickets at the gate often results in reduced prices.

If you visit attractions more than once per year many places offer annual family passes. In most cases you can buy these at a good reduced price if purchasing on a day you’ve already been visiting the attraction. However this means you have to buy them before leaving the park when many families feel they have simply spent enough.

Always check prices for children with disabilities. These will often come under concessions and many places offer a reduced ticket rate for carers.

Most cinemas are part of a programme that entails a carer of a disabled person who is buying a cinema ticket, a complementary ticket free of charge. Those with disabilities must have a CEA card which cost around £5 and can be ordered online.

Now, I could go on and on all night. After all we haven’t even touched on insurance policies, banking and more. But I guess I’ll have to save this for another time.

Below you will find a reference section with links to some of the services I’ve mentioned above. If any families of a disabled child are reading this please look out for a post I will be publishing later on in the week. This will provide a list of some charitable organisations providing assistance to families of children with certain disabilities and special needs.

REFERENCE SECTION

SMART PHONE APPS TO SAVE YOU MONEY… If you have a smart phone be smart and use it to save money.

WhatsApp: Free messenger (iTunes price 69p) Send text, picture, audio & video. Twitter handle @WhatsApp

IUU: Free Messenger free to download.

Text Me!: Free texting of SMS and IM style messages. Free to download.

Energy bills

Cold Weather payments from Direct Gov

Warm-Home Discount Scheme info on Direct Gov

British Gas Free loft and wall cavity insulation

The EDF energy trust (charitable trust)

Travel Savings

National Rail railcards (RailCards)
Disabled persons Railcard
The Trainline (cheap fare search)
Red Spotted Hanky (cheap fare search)

Voucher Code Sites

vouchercodes.co.uk
moneysavingexpert.com
Savoo
vouchercloud.com

Comparison Sites
USwitch
price runner
MoneySupermarket

This post is my entry into Savoo UKs smartest shopper competition. The prize is for £10,000 a new money saving blog.

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!

20120928-040822.jpg

Escaping to the seaside

30 May

So, I did it, I got away for a night. I left for Brighton on Sunday afternoon and returned on Monday evening.

Ok, Ok… this isn’t the longest of breaks, but a break this was which I sucked every minute out off.

My recent post “I don’t feel like me anymore” displayed my somewhat depressive state and as a result I shared my escape plan with you all.

So, how was my 24 hour break away? It was Bloody fabulous, that’s what it was!

I wasn’t alone in my escape for “me time” I took along a close friend also in need of TLC and as we sped off down the M25, music playing loudly with the wind in our hair we were itching to reach destination Hotel Du Vin.

Thanks to my Mad Blog Awards win back in September, I was able to book a room at the Hotel Du vin with the gift card I won. I had longed for this night for so long and now the pending realisation that I was finally getting it was shown as pure delight upon my smiling face.

Like Thelma and Louise (minus the crime) we were on a mission.

Destination reached, we unloaded our overnight bags from the boot of the car and headed to the hotel entrance with a hop and a skip in our step.

The hotel was stunning and for me it screamed relaxation. Given I was using my gift card I ordered a lovely room with a Monsoon shower (a room in itself) and the object of my desire… A roll top bath that I visited countless times during my one nights stay (I told u I sucked every minute out of it) laid in a mountain of bubbles, book in hand, I peacefully indulged my senses and for the first time in weeks failed to hear my own continuous whining voice within my own head.

20120530-072210.jpg

20120530-072241.jpg

God, it felt good to be me.

To really get the most out of my short but relaxing break I booked a table at the Bistro Du Vin and as much as I love my children, to be able to eat a whole meal uninterrupted was something I really enjoyed, something I’d forgotten to be possible. I guess the fact it wasn’t a nibble of the kids popcorn chicken or sausage and mash that made it even better. Feasting on a three course feast is something this mum isn’t used to, to say it was a treat would be very much an understatement!

In case you’re wondering what it was I ate (and even if your not I’m telling you regardless) here it is…

20120530-073028.jpg

A starter of fresh crab from the sea on French toast. The picture is a tad dark and really does it no justice. Take my word for it, it was mind blowing.

Then I had a main of Salmon

20120530-073408.jpg

Dessert, well this actually failed to make it into the album because as soon as it hit the table I decided to hide it in my belly… You know… Just in case they decided to take it away again. The “it” I’m referring to was in fact the best Chocolate pave ever, what can I say… I’m only human!

Following a stroll beside the moon lit water, a good giggle and yet another swimming session in the bath, my head hit the pillow and my body received a long overdue dose of kip… When you hardly experience such a normality you begin to sodding appreciate it’s beauty when it comes your way.

Having slept I woke up ready to face a day of shopping in the Lanes finished with a couple of hours lazing on a deck chair with my toes dipped in the sea… Bliss.

First though it was breakfast which I’m told is the most important meal of the day! Yes this may be true nonetheless I never have any, I simply never have time in the mornings! Little man isn’t the easiest child to get out of bed, this sometimes takes a lot of asking over many hours (I guess the fact that he normally doesn’t fall asleep until 4 AM really doesn’t help this situation)! By the time everything is done and the children are of to school i’m simply no longer hungry. Today though things will be different! Me and my lovely friend were shown to a table and told to help ourselves to the cold buffet while our hot breakfast was cooked. I really enjoyed it, I actually didn’t know what to start on next, everything was just so scrummy.

20120530-104410.jpg

20120530-104429.jpg

Having filled our bellies in a way I’ve never experienced at such an early hour, we checked out and said a reluctant goodbye to what had become my sanctuary for the night. Slowly strolling through the beautiful Brighton Lanes in the morning sunshine was a rare treat but such a pleasurable one.

Then resting my tired feet on the pebbled beach I wondered if I felt any differently within myself. I was more relaxed that was apparent, I’d smiled and definitely laughed a lot, this is also apparent…

20120530-105115.jpg

… So maybe I wasn’t depressed after all, maybe… just maybe I’m tired. Some days are good others are bad, I know that. I just sometimes feel that I’m drowning in my own craziness, and yes sometimes this causes me to feel a little guilty. Why? I don’t know? I’m the mother, it’s meant to be stressful at times… Maybe that’s why?

I’m home now and I’m not hiding behind the bricks that make up the walls of my home, there are no curtains drawn and no box of
Kleenex by my side. That’s just got to be a good sign right?

Bottom line is I don’t know what the future holds… Who does?

Something I do know is that I had a sodding good time in Brighton! That much I’m sure on.

With that I’ll leave you with a few pictures as proof… See I told you I had fun…

20120530-110120.jpg

20120530-110139.jpg

20120530-110232.jpg

20120530-110308.jpg

Chocolate Cake = Independence

16 May

Little man came home from school today carrying a smile on his face and this very yummy craftsmanship of his.

20120516-164547.jpg

Now little man is 11 years old and attends a day special school for children with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome, it’s this school who have converted my son into a budding master chef who’s destining for the championships of any cook off.

Now it’s not just the cake his brought home. Over the last school year his brought home an array of taste bud tickling delights.

His gone from baking scones to quiche, curry and more. This whole double chocolate cake has to be one of my favourites… Its dangerously yummy and really does taste as good as it looks

20120516-164641.jpg

Seriously, I’m no cake baker, I will shamefully admit with head hung low, that my baking skills are not great! Little mans are however far greater and I’m bursting with pride as a result!

But this isn’t just about cooking and baking! No, for children like my Little man it’s much more than this! It’s independence something his special school are teaching very early on to enable the children they teach, a good chance of succeeding in the quest to become a fully fringed independent young adult.

As well as cooking up a storm the children also take weekly trips to the supermarket in order to purchase the essential ingredients for their culinary delights.

As a mother of a child with Asperger’s syndrome I believe that learning the skills to become fully independent is just as important as learning the skills of literacy and mathematics. Most will take it for granted that their children will be fine in the big wide world, this is something I never do.

For this I am extremely grateful to my son’s school for teaching him such a needed skill!

I’m also immensely grateful for them teaching him how to bake such a deliciously, chocolatey, yummy scrummy cake…. Amen!!!

20120516-164745.jpg

Review – Baby and More

26 Apr

My Little sister quite recently helped the extended family grow a tad more when she gave birth to her beautiful baby boy “Riley” who is now just over two months old. 

Riley is absolutely adorable and growing so fast (as they tend to do). My sister is a young mum and is currently finishing off her last year of college meaning I’m able to get my mitts on my adorable nephew during the odd day throughout the week. Yes, its great being an aunty as you get to give them back and to be honest my own three children are more than enough to contend with. 

As the exciting word spread about the newest addition to the family I was contacted by the guys at Baby & More to see if Riley would like to give some of their products a try. 

Baby and More specialise in baby solutions inspired by mum’s. Stocking high quality, practical baby products that are designed to make life that little bit easier. 

The guys over at Baby & More sent us a PaciGrip and a double packet of “Lots to Say” baby soothers.

The PaciGrip is a universal soother holder meaning it can be used with lots of different brands and designs of soother and works well for the soother that doesn’t have a handle (like the “Lots to Say” baby soothers we reviewed). The PaciGrip also does a great job to grip some toys too, so its great for use in the pushchair. 

The PaciGrip comes in a number of colours and designs, Riley was sent a blue striped PaciGrip. There really is nothing extra special about this soother grip’s design but it works and works well! The strong clasp means once clipped to clothes it stays this way. The grip’s cord isn’t overly long which is great because it reassures the parent (or in this case aunty) of babies safety. I’ve seen some really long thin cords and in some cases beaded cords which just screams out disaster waiting to happen!

The PaciGrip is durable, non-toxic and thankfully washable. Priced at £2.99 it wont break the bank either. 

The “Something to Say” Soothers by BooginHead are super cute. Each displays a cute word or phase and these come in a whole variety of colours. Best of all these are BPA, PVA and Phthalate FREE. Teats are Orthodontic Silicone and are designed for babies 3+ (note, Riley has some suck on him hence the reason his using these already). 

Myself and my sister loved these, we received a packet of blue and red soothers one with the word “HI” and the other with the cute phase “Volume Control”

These are currently on special for £4.95 as opposed to the original price of £5.50

These worked great with the PaciGrip too, check out Riley modelling them below.

Disclaimer: This is a review post, however all opinions are that of my own and 100% honest. We were not paid for this review but received the product to try in-order to share our opinions. 

%d bloggers like this: