Monday, 30 April 2012

Diabetes! How Much Do You Know?

There has been a lot of information in the press recently about Diabetes... but that's all they ever say Diabetes. How many people know there are actually THREE types of Diabetes?
  • Type 1 Diabetes 
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gestational Diabetes
Three years ago, whilst pregnant with my youngest, I was diagnosed as having Gestational Diabetes which disappeared after the birth only to return again last year when I was diagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes. Until I had been diagnosed with Diabetes I didn't know much about it apart from the usual stereotypes

"If they've got Diabetes it's cos they eat too much sugar"
"They're not fat so they can't have Diabetes cos only fat people get it"
"Well if they didn't eat so much junk food they wouldn't have Diabetes so it's their own fault"
"Haven't they outgrown it by now"
"Surely they should be better by now"
"I blame the parents, they're the reason they have Diabetes"

But this is because there is a lack of information about Diabetes. Especially Type 1 Diabetes! Everyone knows that if you're overweight or obese then it increases your risk of Diabetes, but you cannot get Diabetes just by eating sweets and sugar (although eating lots of sugary and fatty foods can lead to being overweight which will increase the risk of developing it). You also cannot catch Diabetes like a cold, or even an STD or develop it from an accident. Diabetes is also a hidden condition, and unless you know someone is suffering from it, then you can't tell they have it.

But what IS Diabetes? 
Whenever you eat anything your body turns that food into glucose (a form of sugar). An organ inside your body, called the Pancreas, then secretes a hormone called insulin. Insulin then allows this glucose to enter all the cells in your body to be used as energy. When your pancreas cannot create enough or any insulin, then the glucose builds up inside your blood and can cause serious health problems which can lead to blindness and amputations. 

Gestational Diabetes
When I was pregnant with the baby (now aged 2), I was diagnosed as having Gestational Diabetes. Gestational Diabetes (GD) is a type of Diabetes that arises during pregnancy when the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the extra demands of the pregnancy. A simple blood test, called the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT), can test for GD. A blood test is taken on a fasting stomach and another blood test is taken two hours after a sugary glucose drink. Then comparing the sugar levels with both tests, they can see how well your body coped with the glucose. But having GD, whilst increasing your risk of developing Diabetes or GD in another pregnancy doesn't mean you will develop either. In fact I know of friends who have had GD with one pregnancy but not with any subsequent ones. In fact with all 4 of my pregnancies I had the GTT but it was only on my 4th pregnancy that I failed the test and developed GD.  

Because most cases of GD are diagnosed during the second trimester of pregnancy, the baby's major organs are fairly developed it means that there is less risk to the baby than someone who already had Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. It also doesn't mean that there is more chance that the baby will develop Diabetes as it grows up or that the baby will be born with Diabetes. However it's better for both mother and baby if GD is diagnosed, instead of being left undiagnosed and untreated, which can be dangerous for both of them.

Once I was diagnosed as having GD I was referred to a dietician and a diabetic nurse to discus my diet and my blood glucose. Whilst most pregnant women can control their GD with diet and excercise, I was given insulin and a finger prick testing kit as well and shown how to use it. I was told to note what my sugar levels were and what I was to try and get the levels below as well as being shown where and how to inject myself. At first I was really scared at the thought of pricking my finger and then injecting myself as I don't like needles, but it was easy to do and didn't hurt too much! As my due approached my consultant took the decision to induce me 2wks before her due date as I had had a previous big baby and the GD. The baby arrived 9 days early by VBAC (Virginal Birth After Caesarean) weighing 8lb 15oz and thankfully the GD disappeared shortly afterwards. 

Type 2 Diabetes. 
Last year I was feeling unwell and my doctor decided to test me to see if the Diabetes had returned as one of the biggest risks of GD is that it will return as Type 2 Diabetes. Unfortunately that's what mine had done, a year after the baby was born. Most of it is my fault as I didn't take my warning with the GD seriously and lose weight following the birth of the baby. If I had lost weight like I had originally planned I would have halved the risk of the Diabetes returning. 

Type 2 Diabetes is when the body still produces insulin, but not enough or the insulin produced isn't working properly. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of Diabetes and accounts for about 85-95% of all people with Diabetes (statistics taken from Diabetes UK).

Type 2 Diabetes is often controlled by a change in diet to a healthier one and increased physical activity as well as medication (such as tablets which is what I am on) or Insulin injections. 

Type 1 Diabetes
This type of Diabetes is rarer and is the one that few people are aware of. Type 1 Diabetes is when the pancreas doesn't produce any insulin at all because the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. Nobody knows why these cells have been damaged and there is nothing you can do to prevent Type 1 Diabetes. If you suffer from Type 1 Diabetes then you will need insulin injections for the rest of your life. and means that you will need insulin. Type 1 Diabetes is also the most common form of Diabetes in children and is not caused by bad parenting or giving the child too much sugar, nor did the mother do anything whilst pregnant to cause the child's pancreas not to work properly.

Hopefully this information will help you understand Diabetes a little better and also help you to think before you speak to someone who suffers from Diabetes, especially a child, and not just assume that it is their fault they suffer from Diabetes and that its because they eat too much sugary foods.

How do you know if you have Diabetes?
With Diabetes, because some or all of the glucose stays in the blood and it isn't being used as fuel for energy, the body tried to reduce blood glucose levels by flushing the excess glucose out of the body in the urine. This means that the main symptoms of undiagnosed Diabetes can include:
* Passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
* Increased thirst
* Extreme tiredness
* Unexplained weight loss
* General itching or regular episodes of thrush
* Slow healing of cuts and wounds
* Blurred vision

In Type 1 Diabetes, the signs and symptoms are usually very obvious and develop very quickly, typically over a few weeks. The symptoms are quickly relieved once the Diabetes is treated and under control. 

In type 2 Diabetes, the signs and symptoms may not be so obvious, as the condition develops slowly over a period of years and may only be picked up in a routine medical check up. Symptoms are quickly relieved once Diabetes is treated and under control. 

If you are worried or suffering from any of the above symptoms then contact your Doctor as soon as possible and a simple blood test can confirm whether you have Diabetes or not. Early diagnosis, treatment and good control of diabetes is vital to reduce the chances of developing serious Diabetes complications. 

For more information check out the Diabetes UK website. They are also on Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, 26 April 2012

#R2BC A Different Child

Today I took my 5yr old daughter to hospital for a check-up following her grommet operation a few months ago (See Happy Patient). She was excited about going to hospital, but I think she thought she was going to stay there as she was very upset that after her operation she wasn't kept overnight!

She had her hearing test and she co-operated fully with them. Last year, when we started this journey and discovered she had poor hearing, she wouldn't co-operate at all with the hearing test and there was talk of giving her a hearing aid to see if it made a difference with her hearing, but thankfully a different audiologist managed to get a hearing test off her using a wand-like machine, but no one had been able to get her to wear headphones and test her ears individually, but today they did!!!

Afterwards we saw a ENT consultant and he told me she had passed her hearing test with flying colours. He checked her ears and said the grommets were still there, in the correct places and were obviously still doing their job. He then asked me if I had noticed a change in her since the operation, to which I replied "She's a different child!"

To understand my comment I need to go back a few years... DD2 has always been a shy child, but as her older sister was I wasn't worried too much. She is also quite small for her age, so we would forget how old she actually was and we would baby her, especially as she was our baby for the first 3 years! 

As she got older I got a little bit worried about her speech, but since her older sister has a SLI (speech and Language Impairment) I wasn't sure if I was concerned because of her sister, or not concerned when I should be as I understood her. 

When she started playschool at 3 I began to notice that outside of the house, DD2 would not utter a word! Not even to me! At home she would chatter away, but as soon as she left the house she would clam up. Her playschool teacher actually asked me if she spoke at home, because she didn't utter a single word whilst at playschool, but then I wasn't too concerned as DD1 never spoke at playschool either, but she soon started chatting when she started the nursery class at school. She soon made friends with my best friends daughter who then asked if DD2 could go for lunch and play with her daughter, so I sent her. When she came home my friend (who DD2 has known all her life) told me that she hadn't uttered a word, not even whilst playing with her daughter. 

She soon left playschool and started the nursery class at school and I hoped she would be like her sister, who started chatting away within her first week, but DD2 was still refusing to speak outside of the house, although she would talk at nanny and granddad's house. 

By now I was beginning to get worried that DD2 was suffering from Selective Mutism which is an anxiety disorder where a child will refuse to talk in certain situations (like outside the house) when they are able to talk. It's not that a child is being naughty and deliberately refusing to talk, and often they do want to talk but cannot because of the anxiety they are suffering from.  So I decided to refer her to speech therapy and I spoke to DD1's speech therapists about my concerns. They decided they would monitor her to begin with and told me not to make an issue of her refusing to speak, to give her the chance to speak but not force her or make it into a big deal or talk about it if she refused to speak. 

Then, last summer, it occurred to me. If I'm trying to arrange speech therapy, maybe I should get her hearing tested as that had been one of the first questions the speech therapist had asked when DD1 had started speech therapy. I asked her doctor to arrange it and he did and her appointment arrived. I went in quite happily expecting her to pass as I'd never really noticed her seeming to not hear, yes she did go into a world of her own but I just thought that was her (which it was as she still does it now!)

We arrived at the appointment and the audiologist put some headphones on her ears and asked her to put a toy in a boat when she heard a sound but she just sat there looking at me, even when I could hear the beep, she would just sit there. So then they took the headphones off her and put some toys on the table and asked her to pick them out but she just looked at them.
"Does she know what they are?" they asked me. 
"Yes." I replied and asked her to pick the horse up, which she did. But what I hadn't realised was, I'd raised my voice and said it quite loudly.
"Do you have to raise your voice?" She asked me, but I hadn't realised I had. So they tried, asking her a little louder and she did what they asked, but if they put their hand over their mouth she just looked at them. Finally they told me they had some concerns about her hearing but as she hadn't co-operated with the hearing test, they would have to refer her to the ENT.

After a little while, I started phoning the hospital to find out about her appointments, as I've learnt the hard way how people can fall through the gap and be missed, plus I figure if I keep hassling them, they'll speed up her appointment to get rid of me!!!

She soon got an appointment with an ENT and again she refused to co-operate with the headphones so the ENT consultant decided that the next step for her would be to try her with a hearing aid and see if it made a difference. If it did then they would give her grommets, and if it didn't they would see what they could do next to help her. I wanted to cry at the thought of my 4yr old needing a hearing aid, but I knew if it would help her I would do it! 

By now DD2 had started to gain a little confidence and had settled down in school and began to talk. In fact she'd come out of school one day with a massive sticker on her jumper and she came running over to tell me "Mummy I talked!". Her teacher even came over with a big grin on her face and you could tell she was thrilled as well as she asked me if DD2 had told me why she'd earnt a sticker. Her teacher then told me that when she spoke, one of her classmates had turned around in shock and said "She TALKS!"

Again I hassled the hospital and she soon had another appointment, this time with a different audiologist and a different ENT consultant. We arrived at the appointment and it was a joint clinic and they had an ENT consultant at the appointment as well as a audiologist and someone who would go into schools and help children with hearing problems and their teachers adapt and work together to help. The audiologist was wonderful with her. He sat down at her level and gave her some toys to play with and he joined in, building her confidence and trust before he began. He also decided not to try her with the headphones but used a handheld machine which made beeps and asked her to put the little men near the handheld to listen for the noise and when she heard it to put them in the boat. She enjoyed that game and for the first time she co-operated with a hearing test! Then he decided to try her with some little headphones which went behind her ears and used the handheld again and she carried on playing the game! She did really well and he said so as well and he said because she had done so well he didn't want to push her by using the headphones to test her ears individually as they'd got enough to go by already. He said that she did have some mild hearing loss but that she wouldn't need a hearing aid as grommets would probably help her, which the ENT consultant agreed after looking in her ears and he would arrange for the grommets to be done as soon as they could. 

She soon had another appointment and saw another ENT consultant and this is the one she would remain under. As soon as he looked in her ears he said he could tell she had glue ear (mucus behind the ear drum which can't drain out and keeps building up causing hearing loss) and he was happy to do the operation as soon as they could. At first he thought she was only 3 as she is small for her age, but because she was just about to turn 5 it was perfect as they don't like operating before they are 5.

Then earlier this year she was given an appointment for her grommets, but unfortunately she couldn't have the first one as she caught a cold, but a few weeks later she finally had it done.

Now I have everyone coming up to me and telling me how chatty she is and how she will talk to people that she knows, but that wouldn't have spoken to before. Especially at Rainbows as her sister has moved up to Brownies and is no longer there to help her out so she has to be more assertive.

I still look back and I'm so amazed at how far she has come in just a few short months! She still needs some speech therapy to help her as her sounds aren't very clear, but then if she couldn't hear properly it's understandable as she learnt to say what she could hear!

So that's my Reason to Be Cheerful for this week! I'm feeling happy and cheerful because my daughter is coming out of her shell and feeling more and more confident and assertive (she still has a way to go, but I'm more confident now than I was that she will get there).

Now it's your turn! Take a minute and think about what's making you feel cheerful at the moment. No matter how bleak you might think things are, finding little happy moments can make things seem a lot better! Don't forget to link up with the R2BC linky below and on Twitter as well using the hashtag #R2BC. Don't forget to pop over to the other blogs as well to see what's making them feel cheerful and help spread the love!

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Reclaim Your PPI For Free

Every time I see an advert on TV, Facebook, in the paper or spam in my inbox about reclaiming my PPI I get annoyed. These companys promise to reclaim your PPI payments but they don't mention that they will charge you for this privilege. 

Yet there is a FREE and easy way to reclaim your PPI payments by doing it yourself using free templates provided by Martin Lewis at Moneysavingexpert

It is so easy to do, I don't know why more people don't do it, which is the reason for my post. A few years ago, using the advice and templates from Moneysavingexpert I managed to reclaim over £800 in unfair bank charges. All by myself, and without having to pay anyone to do it for me. 

If you get a firm to do it for you they will charge you 30% of whatever you recover. This means if you manage to reclaim £3,000 they will charge you £900 in fees!!!

But what is PPI and why are people reclaiming it?

PPI stands for Payment Protection Insurance and is designed to cover your loan or credit card repayments for a year in the event of an accident, sickness or unemployment or sometimes just accident and sickness. Yet, whilst it sounds like a good idea in theory, it has been widely mis-sold with thousands of loans, leaving many paying hundreds for potentially wothless cover. The insurance cost often dwarves the interest, so many believe its the most overpriced financial product around. Sales staff, dressed as advisers, were hugely encouraged to sell PPI whenever possible. Many were under so much pressure they strayed far from the truth. 

How do I find claim if I believe I was mis-sold PPI? 

If you don't have your policy details and you don't know whether you paid PPI,  then you can write to your lender asking for a copy of your policy (this might cost £1 but Moneysavingexpert provides a template letter to help you with this).

Once you've checked your policy your next step is to check and see if you were charged for PPI and whether you were mis-sold it. (See Moneysavingexpert for the mis-selling checklist to see if your eligible)

The next step is to write a letter to your lender and ask for a refund. This is easily done now that the banks have given up fighting in court and have agreed to repay those who were mis-sold PPI. All you need to do is fill in and sign a copy of the questionnaire which can be found on the Moneysavingexpert website. Include copies of any paperwork that backs up your case, and send the form by recorded delivery to your lender (keep a copy yourself). 

To make it even easier, Moneysavingexpert have written a guide to take you through it step by step. It's written in Microsoft Word so you can easily cut and paste sections or have it next to you as you fill in the form. If you're still having problems, then you can call the Ombudsman on 0800 0234 567 (0300 1239 123 from a mobile) for more help.

The most important thing to understand and remember is; don't be put off if you're rejected. You may also need to go to the Ombudsman later, but you need to have written to the lender first. If you still haven't received a satisfactory conclusion, it's time to make a formal complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, again full help and advice is given on the Moneysavingexpert website.

In fact, one of my favourite things about using the Moneysavingexpert website is that if you need help, all you need to do is ask in the forums and someone will always have the advice you need.

So you see, there's no need to PAY someone to do something which you can do yourself for FREE!

This article was written by me, using information from the Moneysavingexpert website. I wasn't paid, or asked to write this article. I wrote this myself because I wanted to share this information and stop people paying for something they can do themselves for free)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Terrible Twosday - Not so Terrible Toddler

Usually on a Tuesday I post about the baby and her Terrible Two's but today I'm actually feeling proud of her and I'm going to break from tradition!!!

I'm actually amazed with her and her knowledge. 

She turned 2 at the beginning of January and already she can...

Count to Twelve

Separate the Green and Yellow colours

Complete her jigsaw on her first ever attempt.

So whether your toddler has been a nightmare or an angel this week, why don't you join in with The Crumby Mummy and her Terrbile Twosday Weekly Linky

Monday, 23 April 2012

Movie Star for the Day

Last summer our school won the Tesco School Uniform Competition and won a free embroidered school uniform for every child at the school (See School Uniform Competition... Did We Win?)

Once we'd received our free school uniforms, I thought that was the end of it... But I was wrong!

A fortnight ago, as I was getting the children ready to go out, I received a phone call from a PR company. Tesco had asked them to make a documentary about back to school after the Easter holidays and how our community came together as one to help us win the school uniform competition. Once completed the video will be about 5 minutes long and will be a promotional video for Tesco to use on their website to promote the competition when they relaunch it again later this year. The PR company wanted to know if I was interested in appearing in the video and being interviewed about it, I was one of a few names they mentioned and I agreed to do it. 

That was on the Friday and the following Tuesday I received a phone call from the director of the video. He was arriving the following day and he wanted to meet me Wednesday evening and then to film me getting the children ready for school on Thursday morning. I didn't really want him to film us getting ready for school as it's chaos in my house, trying to get 4 children washed, fed, dressed and out of the house for 9am, but he said that's what he wanted. The reality and the chaos!

In desperation I contacted my best friends. I pleaded with them, begged even for their help. We hadn't gotten around to decorating the lounge since we'd moved in and it looked a mess with scribbles all over the walls and not something I wanted seen in a documentary. My friends, such wonderful friends that they are, answered the call and came the following morning armed with paintbrushes to help me out. (Thank you guys... Did I ever tell you how much I love and appreciate you!). Finally, just a few short hours after we'd started, my lounge was done. Hubby couldn't believe how quickly we'd managed to get it done when he came home from work!

That night we met the director and he seemed really nice. He told us all about a documentary he was making about following a $10 dollar bill for a month as it travelled across America, and a quick google of his name showed me he'd worked with some music stars I'd heard of on their music videos (inc Dido, Stereophonics twice etc). Whilst he was here, the kids were hyper and showing off a lot. They knew he was going to film it and they were excited. 

That night though, as I lay in bed, panic began to set in! What the hell had I let myself in for? Why was I doing this? Normally I'm a very shy person and I'm always the one behind the camera not in front of it. Not to mention that I'm not model material. I'm overweight and not very pretty and I wondered who on earth would want to see my ugly mug on this video! I posted how I felt on Facebook and within minutes I had some lovely responses from my friends (and not just my close friends either) all telling me I could do it and not to put myself down so much. I ended up in tears as I read it as I felt so loved and I knew I could do it.

The next morning before they arrived the kids were ordered to be on their BEST behaviour. Any misbehaving would mean I would sell the PS3!!! Once they arrived I took the kids for breakfast, thankful that the night before whilst I'd been having doubts, hubby had taken it upon himself to give the dinning room a quick coat of paint where the chairs had bashed against the wall leaving a brown streak. The kids were well behaved and chatty, although DD1 was her happy cheeky self. When asked "Do you like living here?" she goes "No!" and shakes her head. "Don't worry" lauged Ben the director (or Big Ben as the kids nicknamed him) "I'll edit that bit out!" 

It was quite a strange sight seeing two cameramen filming my kids eating their breakfast and this big boom hovering over their heads! I wish I'd taken pictures, but I completely forgot and never thought to ask hubby to take some! The other strange part was wearing a radio mike, I was too scared to go to the bathroom as they would hear everything!!!
After breakfast they chatted to me briefly whilst the kids ran to get dressed in their bedrooms, and then filmed them in the lounge putting their jumpers and shoes on and me brushing their hair. 
"Do you look out for each other at school?" Ben asked.
"Nope" replies DS
"Yes you do." I reminded them "Remember when those boys bullied you and took your coat and your sister went to get it back for you?" at which point DS decides to name and shame the boys in question. 
"Don't worry." laughed Ben again. "I'll edit that out as well!" 

At one point Ben said to me (after being told the night before by the kids) "Here's a loaded question... Where do you work?"
Laughing I replied "Tesco!"

Finally all ready for school and slightly earlier than usual (thanks to being well prepared, hubby home and kids bribed to behave) we left to school and I took them along the prom, showing off our scenery as best as I could as I raved about my town and the community and how well we all come together when needed, whether it's to bring home the body of a young lad who sadly passed away whilst on holiday, to win this competition or to help support the parents of a 9yr old girl who was in Great Ormond Street Hospital waiting for a heart transplant. Not to mention the pride people took in our town with lots of little groups such as two to tidy up the look of the town with plants and trees and benches etc 

It was very surreal, walking along the prom with the kids on their scooters being followed by two camera's and a big microphone boom, people in the cars that sped past all stared at us, whilst I tried to ignore them as I was nervous enough as it was. 

At one point I was asked if I liked living here and I told them I loved it, that I was "English by birth, but Welsh by choice" and they loved that and said it would be my catchphrase!!! I also made a comment about "Where else can you walk to school and see that view!" as I gestured to the beach. 
"I missed that" said Ben, "Can you do it again?"

Finally we got to school and the kids ran off to tell all their friends about the exciting morning and I gave the radio mike back after introducing them to our lollypop lady who has been there for over 35 years and used to walk me across the road when I was a child and is now crossing my children!

Later that afternoon they came back to my house as they wanted to film a little more and to interview me again without the kids. This was even more nerve wrecking than the morning had been as I didn't have the kids to hide behind. They told me that when they'd been at the school that morning, my kids had been getting a lot of kudos for knowing the film crew by name and having been interviewed and filmed. 

When I went to pick the kids up, they were very sad to learn I didn't have the film crew with me and kept asking if they would see them again and saying they missed them. In fact that night, DS stole my phone and sent Ben a text asking him to come over for an hour, poor Ben thought they'd done something wrong till I told him it was DS. 

That afternoon they'd interviewed another friend of mine, who is also one of the school dinnerladies and then Friday morning another friend of mine who runs a B&B was interviewed and we all met at the school in the morning so they could interview us together. Unfortunatly it decided to rain Friday morning so we had to do the interview inside the school!

All in all it was a very interesting experience and I'm glad I did it. It will be a good memory for the kids when they get older and Ben has promised to send an extended copy of the documentary for us to keep!

The Sound man Horrid Henry (as my kids called him)
filming the sunset

But the best bit, the one that really pleased me, was watching DD2 with them. I thought she would be shy and hide and not say a word as she suffered from Selective Mutism until recently (See What a Difference a Year Can Make) but she was happily chatting away to them as though she'd known them all her life! It was amazing and incredible and I was so pleased!!!

Tom the camera man gets a shot of the beach

Now we just have to wait for the documentary to be completed as this week the film crew is filming the school who were the runners-up in the competition. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

School Uniform Competition... Did We Win?

In July last year Tesco held a competition on Facebook where two lucky schools would win an embroided uniform (jumper and t-shirt) for every single child at the school. One school would win based on votes and one school would be picked at random.

I discovered the competition on Facebook after my friend in Scotland posted it on her wall and soon the entire community pulled together, along with friends and family around the world, and we soon found ourselves in the lead. 

Then, suddenly, another school entered the fray and before I knew it, our school was in second place. That's when the excitement started as it became a two-horse race between our school and another school from down south. 

The two schools kept leapfrogging each other and our newsfeeds soon became full of everyone asking all their friends and family to vote for our school. In fact I remember one of my friends saying she would be glad when the competition was over so she would have her newsfeed back to normal! Everytime you logged on to look at the leader board, the score would change, and as the final hours counted down it became nail biting! It finished at midnight and I had never seen so many friends online at that time of night before!!! 

Finally it finished, but we didn't know who had won as the leaderboard had disappeared! Was it us or was it the other school? We had to wait until the following day for it to be announced! 

The wait was terrible, we knew it had been close, but how close? Who had won? Had one of the schools pipped the other at the last second?

On the Clothing at Tesco website, there were lots of comments about the competition! Who had won? When would we find out? 

It was between the two lead schools, both small schools in deprived areas, both with fantastic community spirit who had come together to support their own school. Yes, there was a little bit of cat-fighting, but on the whole I believe both schools behaved with dignity and when one person from the other school made a very rude comment, the other members of that school were quick to say that they didn't agree with that person!

In fact, I was one of the first people who commented on the Facebook page saying that Tesco should award the runners-up a prize as well! Something that was quickly picked up by others. Surely such a large company like Tesco could award the runners up a uniform as well as the winner and the school picked at random. Especially as the two lead schools are such small schools when Tesco must have budgeted in case a larger school won. 

That afternoon, the day the children broke up from school for the summer holidays, the headmaster came out to give us the news.... We'd WON!!! Everyone cheered and had stupid grins on their faces. In fact it was lovely because that afternoon, everyone I saw had a goofy grin on their faces and it was the talk of the town. Our little town had pulled off a miracle and had actually won. 

In fact it was very very close. The score had 32 votes in it, we had 1608 votes and the other school had 1576!

But that wasn't all! Tesco had listened to our suggestions and decided to award the runner-ups an embroidered school jumper for each child in their school as well!

Once the children went back to school after the summer holidays had finished we received our vouchers and ordered our free uniforms and that was the end of it.... or so I thought!!!

Rhyme Robber by Orchard Toys Review

Because my two daughters suffer from speech problems, Orchard Toys sent us the game Rhyme Robber to try out and to see if it helped with their speech at all.

Rhyme Robber is a game where 2-4 players aged 5-9 have to fill their swag bags (cards) by matching words that rhyme, whilst avoiding the robbers (other players) who would steal their words. 

With DD1 (aged 7), I know her IEP (Independent Educational Plan) in school wants her to work on her rhyming and recognising and pronouncing words that rhyme and DD2 (aged 5) is just starting to learn about words that rhyme. 

During the game if the child has a card which rhymes with another players card or with the top card then they say "Hat rhymes with Bat" which gives them both the chance of practising saying rhyming words out loud, but I would also have them say each word aloud to help them realise which word rhymed with which word and whether any of the words did actually rhyme as this, like using tongue twisters, helps them with their speech and gets them practising saying certain sounds and words. What I also liked was the game board with a list of what word rhymes with what word, so if they weren't sure whether the word rhymed or not they could check with board. What my children also spotted, to make it even easier to match the rhyming words, each word that rhymed had the writing in the same colour. This also helped my younger daughter to recognise colours as well. 

I also had the girls practice piling the words into rhyming sets so they would get used to recognising rhyming words and how to spot them, as well as making it easier when they played the game with their older brother who at 9 has had more experience matching rhyming words, and as they were piling them up I made them say the words out loud to give them the practice they need with sounds and words and forming the words. 

All three of my children really enjoyed playing this game, although the 5yr old needed a bit more help but her older siblings were willing to help her as they played which was nice to watch. 

It's nice to find a game which is fun to play but is also educational. According to Orchard Toys this game helps;
* Encourage observational and language skills
* Develop sound recognition and rhyming skills
* Develop social communication through communication and turn taking
* Links with National Curriculum English Key Stage 1

The only negative thing I would say about this game is that the instructions are a little hard to understand, I had to sit down and study them carefully before showing the children how to play the game, but once I had shown them they quickly picked it up and were able to play on their own.

I would definitely recommend this game, and its nice to find a game which will help with their speech as well as helping them with the education. 

Rhyme Robbers is available from Orchard Toys online or from all good toy shops.

Orchard toys are also on Facebook and Twitter

We were sent Rhyme Robbers for free to review with an understanding that once we had tried the product we would review it and share what we thought of the product. The above review is written in my own words (apart from where stated) and is my own honest and unbiased opinion of the product.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

#R2BC Feeling Blessed

Once again it's Thursday and that means linking up with the fabulous Mich at Mummy From The Heart and her weekly R2BC - Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

This week it is the easiest R2BC than I've ever had to write as I'm feeling very blessed and loved!

1. I have some fantastic friends who will drop everything to help me decorate my lounge with just a few hours notice and will help me getting it decorated in just a few hours! I know that if I need them all I have to do is call them and they will be there for me, whether its a shoulder to cry on or babysitting, whatever it is I know I can count on them and they know they can count on me. I truly have the best friends and in my heart they are my sisters!

2. This morning I had a film crew filming me getting the kids ready for school (more on that to come) and last night I was feeling very low and nervous and I had cold feet. I didn't want to do it and I was feeling very fat and ugly and frumpy and thinking who would want to film or watch me! I put how I felt on my personal facebook and within minutes I had all my friends (and not just my closest friends) sending me encouraging words to make me feel better and loved and giving me the confidence to go through with the filming. 

3. I live in a gorgeous area of Wales, in a beautiful town with a FANTASTIC community spirit. Whenever there has been something going on, the town has pulled together to support it. When one of the town died on holiday, the community raised money to help bring his body home, when a 9yr old girl was in Great Ormond Street hospital waiting for a heart transplant the community again pulled together to raise money for her parents to help support them whilst they were with her, and of course the reason of the film, when Tesco held a competition to win a free school uniform for every child in the school our community came together and WON!

Now it's your turn! Take a minute and think about what's making you feel cheerful at the moment. No matter how bleak you might think things are, finding little happy moments can make things seem a lot better! Don't forget to link up with the R2BC below and on Twitter as well with #R2BC and pop over to the other blogs to see what's making them feel cheerful and help spread the love!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

#TerribleTwosday - More Mess

The baby has a new favourite game... I noticed it over the Easter holidays.

Every time one of her siblings was told to tidy up the lounge, she would wait until they'd finished and then....

Empty her toy boxes all over the floor!!!

Her siblings were not happy and this Easter they have been fed up of having to clean after their baby sister, so I told them to get her to help them by making it into a game. Of course this meant she would just empty them again to play cleaning them up LOL

This is my post for Terrible Tuesdays, a chance to share what naughtiness our children have been up to this week. So why not join in with me and The Crumby Mummy and her weekly linky

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

The other day we decided to go and meet daddy from work. Problem was he had the car and we had the car seats, so we had to carry the car seats on the train.

But can you think of a caption for this picture?

Friday, 13 April 2012

Win a fabulous Rangemaster Cooker

Rangemaster is Britain's best loved range cooker brand. They made the world's first range cooker in 1830 on the very site in Royal Leamington Spa where they continue to design and maufacture all their range cookers and other products today. 

As the nation's best loved cooker brand, they combine quality, integrity and guarenteed performance. With a Rangemaster suitable for every kitchem; large or small, traditional or contemporary there is plenty of choice from a variety of colours including stainless steel, silver and black, modern controls and a streamlined profile or classic styling and features all available in a variety of widths. 

Rangemaster range cookers are at the heart of more homes than any other, helping to create memorable family moments.

But why buy a Range Cooker?

  • Range Cookers look fantastic in any kitchen - Whether you are planning a traditional or ultra contemporary kitchen, there is a range cooker designed to fit perfectly in your design scheme. 
  • Range cookers can be a more cost effective choice - When you purchase a range cooker, you only have to buy a single item rather than all the other pieces associated with buying a built-in option e.g. worktop and cabinets
  • The ovens in a range cooker are bigger - Typically 20% bigger than an average 60cm built-in oven which means you can cook more and worry less about timing your dishes and keeping food warm. 
  • Range cookers have two ovens - So you can cater for bigger groups and, because there is plenty of cooking space all your dishes can be cooking at the same time leaving you free to enjoy being with your guests.
  • Range cookers have a dedicated grill - Most range cookers offer a dedicated high powered grill designed to grill or brown dishes to perfection.
  • Range cookers have more burners - A 90cm range cooker offers five burners and a 110cm product offers as many as seven burners giving you all the flexibility you could need to create the most sophisticated of menus.
  • Most range cookers have a wok burner - For some dishes such as stir fries, you just need power, a wok burner will get you there faster and help you product the authentic taste of Asian cuisine that an ordinary hob cannot. 
  • Range cookers help you make the most of the space you have - Whether a small or large kitchen, range cookers start at 90cm wide and include two ovens, a seperate grill and five burners in that space. 
  • Range cookers have storage space - Some range cookers have a handy storage draw which is ideal for storing all those baking trays and roasting dishes you want to keep out of sight. 
  • Range cookers are available in a variety of colours - While stainless steel looks fantastic in many kitchens, it needn't be the only choice. Bring your kitchen alive by choosing a range cooker from an array of stunning colours. 
  • Range cookers reduce cooking odours - Range cookers vent through the rear of the cooker so cooking odours and steam are more readily extracted through the cooker hood. 
  • Many range cooker models have multi-functional ovens - Multi-functions can include defrost, fanned grilling, browning element, rapid response and fan-assisted oven.
    *** All the above information was taken from the Rangemaster website ***

So here's the exciting news...

Rangemaster are hosting a competition on Facebook where you can WIN a Rangemaster Professional Deluxe 90 Range Cooker worth £2,000 and two runners-up will also win a set of Rangemaster Pans worth £129. 

Professional styling and deluxe features make this 90cm width model a cook's dream in a small space. 

The compact model within the Professional Deluxe range, the Professional Deluxe 90 prides itself on a host of practical features. The hob benefits from five burners, with wok ring and griddle plate included, with a flexible multi-function oven to cook to perfection, twinned with a tall fan oven - ideal for batch baking!

Key Product Features
* Available in electric or dual fuel
* A rated ovens giving the best possible energy efficiency
* Mult-function oven
* Rapid response - reducing heat up time by 30%
* Porthole door, so you can check food without having to open the oven door
* Includes Griddle and Wok Cradle
* Handyrack, adjustable rack attached to oven door making it easy to tend roasts
***Information on the cooker provided by the Rangemaster Website ***

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize you need to go to is;
* Go to 
* Click on the "Win A Rangemaster" application. 
* "Like" the page
* then enter your contact details
* Share the competition with your friends

Competition closes on Monday the 30th April 2012

So go on... What are you waiting for?

I haven't been paid for this review or promoting this competition. By promoting this competition I have been entered into a competition to win £150 M&S vouchers as well as the ability to enter the cooker competition. The above review is written in my own words (apart from where stated) and is my own honest and unbiased opinion of the product

Family Funday Friday

Today there was a family funday at the local leisure centre which I took the kids to.

They all had lots of fun bouncing on the bouncy castle, building with the soft play shapes, making bracelets and getting tattoo's, DS enjoyed playing hockey with his friends. I didn't win anything in the raffle, but the kids all won some chocolate in the Egg Hunt.

But the person who impressed me the most was the baby, I was watching her by the giant connect 4 game and she was tidying up the hoops for the game but she was sorting them by colour! Impressive as she's only 2!!

Now tonight they're camping out in brothers bedroom!!

#FF Follow a Newbie Friday

My blog has only been live for 3mths now, but I've learnt so much, but that's the thing about blogging is that you never stop learning or growing as a blogger.

But one of the biggest challenges to Newbie is building a following and getting people to notice your blog, which is why I was pleased to see that another newbie blogger From Slummy to Yummy Mummy has started this weekly link where you can give a big shout out to newbie bloggers and help them get started. 

But what is a Newbie and how do you know if you're a newbie? Being a newbie is a more a mindset, it all depends on how whether you consider yourself a newbie regardless of whether your blog has been live a week or years!

So why don't you join in, its easy to do and it would be great if you could
  1. Take the time to read some newer blogs and keep a week note of them. If you can try, write a wee comment for them or give their post a wee tweet/facebook shout out if you've particularly enjoyed it. 
  2. At the end of the week, pull your favourites together into a wee blog post for others to find them too. It doesn't matter if they've been highlighted before, and there's no set number - 1 or 101, it's up to you. Do try to add a hyperlink to their blog so that not only can people find them but they get a wee ratings/Google boost.
  3. Link back to From Slummy to Yummy Mummy's recent Follow a Newbie Friday post in your blog so that your readers can find their way back to a longer list of blogs to read over the weekend. 
  4. Use the weekly linky to add your blog to the blog hop then join in by reading the others that have been added.
So here's my very first list of blogs that I recommend. 

Mummy From The Heart - Although not a newbie blogger, her New Bloggers Fortnight offers lots of interesting tips and tricks to help a newbie blogger who is just starting out (or restarting). 

Being Mum - The author of Being Mum is my friend in real life and our 4 children are all in the same classes at school. Being an ex-teacher now a SAHM Being Mum has lots of interesting idea for crafts and for educational games. I loved her post on Maths at Home which was full of good ideas on introducing maths at a young age. 

Missing Sleep - Another friend IRL and the one first started blogging in our friend group and encouraged me and Being Mum to get started. She has a lot of fun competitions on her blog so worth a look. 

Don't forget that you can join in with Twitter as well using the hashtag #FF

Thursday, 12 April 2012

#R2BC Our Easter Weekend

Well Thursday is here again and that means linking back up to Michelle at Mummy from the Heart and her weekly linky Reason's To Be Cheerful #R2BC and of course a big thanks to Fay at Glass Half Full for hosting last weeks linky. 

My reason to be cheerful this week are that there is only 4 more sleeps until the kids go back to school (If you've read any of my posts this week you'll see I've been struggling with mess!). I also got to see my niece and my nephew who turns 15 on Sunday (gulp where did that go!) I used to be very close with him and his sister but they moved down south to Norfolk almost 5 years ago!)

Of course the biggest reason to be cheerful was that Sunday was Easter and that meant we all got to spend time as a family.

Sunday morning Hubby got up early and took DS with him to a car boot sale to sell some stuff (and even better the car boot was too raise money for their school). Hubby did quite well, selling a few bits although some of our profits went on the kids as they kept asking for money to buy this and that! (I have no pictures of hubby selling at the car boot, I need to get into the habit of taking pictures of everything!!!)

Then I took DS, DD2 and the baby to church whilst DD1 stayed with daddy. The baby usually goes to Sunday School quite happily but today she was very clingy and wanted me to go with her. I don't know if it's because we tried her in nursery and she screamed for the whole hour and the nursery is where Sunday School is, or because nanny and granddad weren't there (she went up the aisles looking for them), so I ended up going through with her. In Sunday School they listened to the story of Easter and then made Easter Egg which they all enjoyed and the lady in charge of Sunday School even thought to make DD1 one there even though she wasn't there.

After church the 3 church kids went to Nanny and Granddad's whilst I went to help with the last of the car boot sale, and I'm pleased to say we did quite well and got rid of a few bits. Once that had finished we went up to Nanny and Granddad's and had an Easter Sunday Lunch and went looking in the garden for any Easter Eggs the Easter bunny might have left, which is a family tradition now and the kids look forward to hunting the Creme eggs in the garden and my dad loves playing the Easter bunny and finding places to hide them.

Later on DD1 complained of tummy ache after eating too much so we came home and the kids had another Easter Egg hunt, this time in their bedrooms looking for anymore Easter Eggs they might have missed. By now her tummy ache had miraculously disappeared!

Ignore the mess in DD1's bedroom.
She's back in with her sister whilst we wait for some
plastering to be done in her room and re-decorate it to get rid of her scribbles

The funniest part of the day was when DD1 and I walked home from the Car Boot Sale. We were trying to race daddy home who was in the car when he passed us. DD1 ran behind the car shouting "Daddy... daddy!" and the looks on the passer-bys was priceless!!!

So all in all a good Easter all around. I hope yours was just as good. 

This is my reason to be cheerful for this week. That we were able to spend the day as a family doing lots of fun things, especially as daddy has been working all Easter holidays and didn't even get the bank holidays off, and I work Saturdays so Sundays are the only days we get to spend together!

Why don't you join in with this linky and share the reasons why you're feeling cheerful this week. Even if everything seems to be going wrong and you think you can't possibly be feeling cheerful about anything, take a moment and look for the silver lining and you'll find something cheerful and feel better for it! To often in live we focus on the negative and this is your chance to find something positive! Then when you've posted why you're feeling cheerful, pop back and add your post to the linky below. Don't forget to check the other posts as well and see why everyone else is feeling cheerful and remember to comment as everyone loves a comment and to know people are reading their blog and it gives them an extra cheery feeling!