Friday, 6 March 2015

Team Honk Red Nose Day #Danceathon

This weekend I will be boogying, at Wembley, for SIX hours non-stop. It's time for the Comic Relief Red Nose Day Danceathon and I will be proud to be there as a member of Team Honk.
Team Honk consists of bloggers from across the UK who come together annually to raise money for this great cause, spearheaded by the inspirational Penny, Annie and Tanya. You can read about all the amazing things they have done by checking out the Team Honk webpage.

I know I mentioned this Danceathon once before on my blog, but that was ages ago. Time has flown (can you believe it's March already?!) and the Danceathon is taking place in Wembley Arena THIS Sunday. 

Yikes.

So much for all that exercise and dancing I was going to do as training. I don't suppose there's much point dancing for six hours solid tomorrow, the day right before the actual event, just to prove that I can do it. Still, if all else fails, maybe we can just recreate the flashmob?!: Mad Blog Awards Flashmob.



We'll be dancing along to Jive, Swing, Street Dance, Hip Hop, Disco, Bhangra, West End Musicals and the best bit - 80s anthems!! There has GOT to be a bit of Take That in there somewhere... maybe Gary will even show up?!

So I've packed plasters for blisters and my #selfiestick in my bumbag (seriously) and have ironed my tutu and legwarmers (OK, I may be lying about the ironing bit), and I've even worked out our route to Wembley (no thanks to unhelpful tube cancellations on the day). I am READY!

The only thing left to do is to see if I can raise just a little more sponsorship money.... I don't like to harrass people for anything, but I do think SIX hours of dancing is worth just a little donation if you can.... money all goes to Comic Relief and their great projects in the UK and abroad. 

http://my.rednoseday.com/sponsor/stephcurtis

Best bit of all of this is that you can follow at home by using your BBC red button - you may even get a glimpse of me dressed up and sweaty on your TV screen if you're really unlucky! More likely though, that you'll get to see some of the amazing Celebs who are leading the dancing - Davina, of course, plus Rufus Hound, Caroline Flack, Claudia Winkleman and some amazing cameos by people like Judy Murray, Jo Whiley, Rachel Riley, Emma Freud, Alex Jones, Arlene Phillips, Alijaz and Pascha and MORE!

Below are some facts about where your money will be spent:


£50 could pay for a girl, in a Kenyan slum, to do an apprenticeship + gain vital, life-changing skills and knowledge 
£20 = school uniforms for 2 street children in Ghana, so they can get the education they need 
£25 = a sport session for disadvantaged UK young people, keeping them safe & off the streets 
£30 = 15 elderly people, living with ‪#‎dementia‬ in the UK attending a weekly support session 
£15 = 6 mosquito nets, to protect 6 children in Uganda from contracting life-threatening malaria 
£50 = replacement care so a young carer can sit exams without worry about their loved one 

Thanks and Happy Dancing - even if it is in the comfort and safety of your own home!


Sponsor me for the Dancethon!
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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

This is our PDA story (week 7)

Welcome to week 7 of 'This is our PDA story'. I'm hoping that more and more people are reading, and understanding what it is like to live with PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance). If I can help just one person more eash week think about what the cause of certain behaviour might be, and then think about what strategies may help, I'll be very happy.

This week I'm very excited to be able to bring you words directly from Julia, who was diagnosed with PDA when she was much younger. I'm so pleased that she feels able to open up and share her story, and that she is willing to try and explain to us all which ways life is difficult for her. She also blogs, over at Me, Myself and PDA and she'd be delighted if you visit her site to read more of her recent posts.

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I was asked by the lovely Steph if I would like to write a guest post for her blog and how could I say no. I decided to keep a sort of diary. For the first day I chose a day where I had nothing planned and for the second day I chose a day when I had prearranged outings planned. I wanted to show the contrast between days when expectations and demands are low and when they are high. I've also recorded how I was feeling at each given time with regards to anxiety, fidgetiness (physically and/or mentally), anger (if any) and how much my heart was racing (if any).

DAY ONE: A "NORMAL" DAY

Background: I suffer with ongoing daily headaches and other neurological issues. This was a typical Saturday in our house.

6.33am - I woke up because the cat was being sick!!! Had to get Paul up because he deals with it.

6.46am - I've just taken my Ritalin. Now sat, under a blanket, watching the Murdoch Mysteries. Paul's gone back to bed but there's no point in me trying - I'm wide awake now.  Anxiety: 4. Fidgetiness: 8.

6.49am - I hate waking up alone. It's so lonely. Even the cats have gone back to bed!  Anxiety: 5. Fidgetiness: 8.

7.40am - Paul is up. I've just had a cup of tea.  Anxiety: 2. Fidgetiness: 3.

9.30am - I've just had scrambled eggs and toast that Paul made for me. Still watching Murdoch Mysteries. I need to try and sleep. I woke up a lot last night and the pain is still quite bad too.  Anxiety: 2. Fidgetiness: 1.

11.20am - I'm feeling a lot better now - I just needed that little bit of extra sleep. Paul's nowhere downstairs so I'm guessing he's in the shower. I'm just snuggled on the sofa in my dressing gown. Not sure what Paul's plans are for today, work I would imagine.  Anxiety: 2. Fidgetiness: 1.

11.31am - It turns out he was having a nap on the bed. Guess that's what happens when you're woken up at 6.30am by a cat being sick!  Anxiety: 1. Fidgetiness: 1.

11.43am - My mum has just come in because she's just had the final bill for my stepdad's 30 days in the care home. Eek, that's not cheap!  Anxiety: 2. Fidgetiness: 5.

2.20pm - I've been watching the Murdoch Mysteries all day. So far I've not washed, dressed or moved from the sofa. Paul has just made me soup for lunch.  Anxiety: 2. Fidgetiness: 2.

5.15pm - It's been quite an afternoon really. Still part-watching Murdoch Mysteries. Lots of admin to get through. Ive been busy filling out forms on behalf of my stepdad with Paul. #boringbutneedstobedone.  Anxiety: 5. Fidgetiness: 7. Heart racing: 4.

5.44pm - Paul has just got back from Tesco. It's turning cold again. I'm currently listening to some music and chilling mentally. Hopefully having a shower in a bit. Still not dressed but then that's nothing new and it's certainly not something that I worry about anymore - life is too short for all of that.  Anxiety: 3. Fidgetiness: 3.

6.19pm - I've just listened to "music" by John Miles. I haven't heard that song in ages! Brings back some very happy childhood memories.  Anxiety: 2. Fidgetiness: 2

7.06pm - I've been playing "guess that tune" on Spotify with Paul. Lots of tunes added to my playlist now. Still mostly 80s. Paul is now peeling the spuds and I'm doing some admin/replying to pleas for help.  Anxiety: 2. Fidgetiness: 4.

9.37pm - I've caught up on admin, had a lovely dinner that Paul cooked and we caught up on Neighbours. I'm now about to have my shower and settle in and watch Celebrity Big Brother.  Anxiety: 2. Fidgetiness: 2.

Bed at about 1am

DAY TWO: A BUSY DAY

Background: Today is a rather busy day for me. I don't go out often but when I do it seems to all happen on the same day. Today I'm off to the local ASD support group coffee morning, a council planning meeting - at which I'm speaking to voice my concerns and then straight after we are off to the theatre to see Avenue Q.

7am - I've just woken up. Slept on the sofa again. Took Ritalin. Went back to sleep because of pain.

8am - Just woken up again. I made proper porridge and watched Murdoch Mysteries. Not long until I have to go out.  Anxiety: 7. Fidgetiness: 8.

9.37am - I've done all my admin from overnight. Checked stats, emails and Twitter. I'm just about to start getting ready for ASD coffee morning. Looking forward to going. Mum's just been in with an update about my stepdad. I'm really looking forward to tonight - I've been waiting to see this show for months now!  Anxiety: 8. Fidgetiness: 9. Heart racing: 7.

10.17am - I arrived at the coffee morning a little late but still okay. Paid for our Longleat coach trip in March. Really looking forward to that. Currently sitting at the big table writing this whilst the others are talking. I wish Paul was here but he's busy working.  Anxiety: 9. Fidgetiness: 6. Heart racing: 5.

10.32am - It's been quite a quiet meeting, which I like. Everyone's chatting away. I'm trying to join in but it's not easy.  Anxiety: 4. Fidgetiness: 3. Heart racing: 2.

11.05am - Had quite a varied conversation - we've talked about weight loss, knitting, lumbar punctures and MRIs.  Anxiety: 4. Fidgetiness: 2.

11.36am - Listened to a talk on the transition from statements etc. Won the raffle - nail polish so very happy.  Anxiety: 7. Fidgetiness: 2. Heart racing: 3.

11.45am - They've just announced to the rest of the group that I'm going to be speaking about PDA at the next coffee morning in March. I already knew this of course but my anxiety still shot up! Lol.  Anxiety: 9. Fidgetiness: 7. Heart racing: 7.

12.28pm - I'm back home now. Paul picked me up in the car. He was a couple of minutes late (traffic) but I was okay with that. Now sat watching Murdoch Mysteries again. Paul is making us cheese on toast for lunch. I need down-time before tonight.  Anxiety: 8. Fidgetiness: 5.

2.56pm - I could scream right now! I've been trying for well over an hour to get some sleep before tonight but my stepdad has been calling up every 15 mins or so! I feel sorry for him but I have my own needs too. I just need this shutdown time before I go out again but it doesn't look like I'm going to get it so I will just have to suck it up and carry on. I just want an hour or so of peace. I need it. This morning stressed me out and I'm going out again later.  Anxiety: 9. Fidgetiness: 5. Heart racing: 6. Anger: 7.

3.09pm - Given up on Murdoch Mysteries for now - I can't focus. Listening to music now instead. Just waiting for the next phone call from my stepdad. He's called 4 times so far since 2pm! I wouldn't mind so much if it was going to be a pleasant conversation but because he's so angry at everyone at the moment it will just be a barrage of swearing and shouting. Enough already! I'm too tense to sleep now.  Anxiety: 5. Fidgetiness: 4. Heart racing: 7. Anger: 7.

3.24pm - Sodding red tape! Just had an email that makes no sense. Looks like I won't be speaking at the meeting this evening after all now!  Anxiety: 7. Fidgetiness: 2. Heart racing: 6. Anger: 6.

4.36pm - Right, looks like I'm still speaking. Bloody hell! Thankfully it was just a silly mixup. I still need to have a shower but I'm waiting for a call and I know the second I step in that shower the phone will ring so I'm holding off for as long as possible. I really do need to chill but I can't. I've done all admin, emails and stats so now I have nothing to help keep me calm. Anxiety: 8. Fidgetiness: 2. Heart racing: 5. Anger: 3.

4.53pm - I'm just sitting here doing some more admin. Just when you think it's all done someone else requests to join or has a question. It's a never ending task but I really do enjoy it. Feeling more relaxed now.  Anxiety: 5. Fidgetiness: 2. Heart racing: 3.

5.45pm - Surprise surprise, I've been running round trying to get ready! Some things will never change! Lol. I was just about to start eating dinner when I got that call I'd been waiting for. Nowhere near ready and we have to leave by 6.30pm! At least I've managed to squeeze in my shower!  Anxiety: 7. Fidgetiness: 3. Heart racing: 5.

6.21pm - We are just about ready to leave for the planning meeting and theatre. They are aware we have tickets so hopefully I'll get to speak early on. We must leave by 7.20pm. Anxiety: 8. Fidgetiness: 5. Heart racing: 7.

10pm - What a brilliant show that was! So funny and very rude in places! The smoke they used throughout the show was a bit much though and made my eyes water. Guess the "normal folk" don't consider "us" with those sorts of things. I was fairly calm throughout because we had front row seats so I wasn't worried or bothered by loads of people in front of me. When they are behind you it's like they don't exist! At one point during the show some of the cast left the stage and came into the audience. One of the puppets/people got a bit too close for comfort "asking for money". It was really strange. The puppet had really big eyes and he was looking right at me - it made me feel very uncomfortable for some reason! Lol. The planning meeting went well too - I stood up and spoke, no problem. Our car got blocked in because of road works so we had to leave it and walk home. Slightly annoying but it was our fault for ignoring the signs and being super lazy. This was fine because there was hardly anyone around. It was bloody freezing though!  Anxiety: 3. Fidgetiness: 2.

11.09pm - Paul's gone to pick up our car as the road reopens at 11pm. I'm in my pyjamas catching up on tonight's admin etc and trying to defrost! Lol. I'm knackered. Watching Murdoch Mysteries (again) in the background.  Anxiety: 3. Fidgetiness: 4. Heart racing: 2.

Bed at about 12.30am


I hope you enjoyed reading this and that's it's given you a little bit more of an insight into just how much anxiety we feel and just how often we feel it too. Even though it might not show on the outside doesn't mean that it's not happening on the inside. Thank you for reading.

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As always, please do leave any comments of support below as they are much appreciated.

For more reading, different experiences, please check out previous weeks in this series by clicking below:

Week 6

Week 5

Week 4

Week 3

Week 2

Week 1


Linking up with the lovely Jenny from Let's Talk Mommy for #ShareWithMe.


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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Shopkins So Cool Fridge Playset Review

My girls have both loved the Shopkins range for several months now. If you haven't seen them, these are mini collectibles in the shapes of common grocery items - and they are sooo cute!


Steph's Two Girls

So as you can imagine, I turned into best Mum of the year again when I told them that we were about to receive the Shopkins So Cool Fridge Playset to review. This product was released in America before the UK (poor old us, second favourites again!) so they'd already seen it on videos from one of their favourite YouTubers, Cookie Swirl C.

It's a great new addition to the range, which we've blogged about before in our post Shopkins Small Mart Supermarket.

The box contains the fridge, plus two exclusive Shopkins characters, an ice dispenser, egg seesaw, stickers and removable trays. The cutest toys ever though, are the 6 mini eggs with faces on which are also included:



In the short video below, our eldest girl talks you through what's in the box - did you know there's a whole craze for 'unboxing' toys online these days?! I so wish I'd kept some of my old (now vintage) toys so I could join in.... Please give her a like/thumbs up as she'd really appreciate it.



With over 100 Shopkins characters per series (they are onto Series 3 now!) there's always room for more little ones in our house - and they don't tend to hurt your feet when you step on them, which is always a plus point. This fridge can currently be found for just £14.99 online, which I think is a great price point for the hours of endless role play to be had from it!



Disclosure: We were sent the above product for the purpose of this review, but have not received payment. All the views expressed here are our own. 
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Friday, 27 February 2015

Are we about to hit School Refusal?

For a certain special event two years ago, I bought the present below for our eldest girl.



I told her that I hoped she would keep these special stones close, as they were all things I wished for her to have in life. At the time I bought them, I also bought the same for Sasha, thinking she would go through the same special event two years later. Well, that hasn't worked out, but I do still hope for the same things in Sasha's life.

Last night at bedtime, Sasha told me 'all the people I like don't like me, and all the people I don't like, like me too much'.

I wasn't too concerned about the second half of this, as I could easily understand where she was coming from, even though her feelings were a little mixed up. She was very poorly with tonsillitis over half term and was off school until Wednesday this week, meaning she hadn't seen any school friends for a week and a half. She was nervous about returning to school and wasn't looking forward to being crowded by her classmates (particularly the boys; there is one who tells her he loves her all the time apparently, but this is no laughing matter. It annoys her immensely). Sensory issues play a big part in this; too many voices asking questions of her and over-excitement in the air are very stressful and cause overload.

We got to the playground this morning and sure enough the lovely girls from her class came dashing over to ask how she was, and if she was better, and to tell her what she had missed. Sasha just buried her head in my coat and refused to talk to them, which of course seems a very rude thing to do. I'd been expecting this and had even tried to talk to her about it at home beforehand so she could try and react appropriately, but that just wasn't possible for her. Her peers have been in class with her since Reception, 4 years now, and they are pretty understanding. Actually, I'm not sure they can or do really understand, but fortunately they seem to not take Sasha's actions personally.

The first half of her expression last night was the first indication we've had that Sasha doesn't feel like she is part of the friendship groups. Up until now, we've not felt that she was aware of her differences, she was more focused on having the control she needs. Whilst autism is not a secret in our house, it's not something we've had chance to discuss directly with Sasha as we've been waiting for the right moment, for when she starts asking her own questions. It'd be a bit heavy to just sit her down and come out with it one morning... 

When we saw the out-of-hours doctor at the weekend, he asked me several leading questions about her refusal to take medicine, meaning I eventually did have to tell him in front of Sasha about her autism, something I was trying to avoid doing as it's not been discussed with her. I thought the diagnosis would be written clearly on any doctor's notes, but apparently being an out-of-hours appointment meant they get no notes... Sasha was drowsy at the time though, and it didn't appear she had heard me. Maybe she did?

At bedtime tonight, Sasha came out with the following, unprompted:

'I don't like school, it's only about reading and writing and I don't like doing those. It's so boring. I don't like learning. I don't like writing no matter what, it's so boring. Nothing at school is fun. Nothing at all is fun.'

I tried to talk to her about this, and explained that we may have to try other ways of learning, and find ways of making it fun, but she said 'there is no way'. I explained how learning was necessary for everybody as we grow up, so that we can hopefully get jobs to earn money to buy the things that make life fun, and her response was 'I don't feel like doing work when I grow up, I don't feel like doing anything. I just want to do what I want to do.'

She had an upset tone when saying all of this, and was getting progressively more worked up about it as we talked, so I couldn't discuss it too much or it would have led to a full-on meltdown.

I know it's difficult to read these words and understand the significance of them when you haven't met Sasha, when you can't hear her speak them for herself. Even when you know that Sasha is diagnosed with autism, it's difficult to grasp the full picture here. This wasn't a petulant 'I don't want to go to school'. This was a cry for help.

As I lay on her bed it felt as if we were at the very start of a long, dark, narrow passageway which meanders on indefinitely to CAMHS (children and adult mental health services). This has been blocked off by a heavy wooden door previously, but right now it feels as if an invisible, cloaked gremlin has just started to creak that door open a tiny bit, beckoning us in.

I'm scared. I've heard from so many other parents of children with special needs of how their children are being brought down by mental health issues; low self-esteem, self-harming, or constantly talking about and then attempting suicide. These parents are trying to reach out for help, but nobody is there. No-one is listening to them; they are being passed around like hot potatoes, rarely making it to the front door of any service and if they do, very little help is offered.

Sasha told me that she hates Golden Time. Friday afternoons, the one time in the week which is supposed to be fun, a reward for the children at the end of their busy week. When asked why, she replied that it was boring because it was just about doing what the teacher wanted, playing her games or watching her DVD choice.

I think we're not far off school refusal, and I'm scared. Being trapped indoors for all of half term and the days after gave me a glimpse of how easily my own independence could be taken away - how selfish of me! I applaud loudly those who choose to home school for their own good intentions, but I applaud even more those who are forced into the situation and try to make the most of it. I can see how easy it would be to be pulled down into a depression; the fear of not doing a good enough job would be a key factor. I wasn't born to be a teacher; I don't know enough myself! Couple that with the fact that I can barely remember what happened last week and I'm thinking it's a real recipe for disaster.

Tonight Sasha has gone to sleep with a tear running down her cheek, grumpy with me for not being able to make school more fun. I told her I'm working on it. We need help though. I feel sad for her, and for me if I'm being honest. I need to dig deep for that steely determination in me, to find an answer that we haven't yet come across. How will we provide our little girl with the education she needs?



Linking up with the lovely Victoria at VeViVos for #PoCoLo, in the hope that somebody, somewhere, has the answer.
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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Mother's Day gifts from Truprint - and free card giveaway!

Mother's Day follows quite closely on the heels of my beautiful Mum's birthday, and this year it's extra lucky that I've found the Truprint website in time as I know just what to order following her special celebration which I've written about recently (look away now, Mum!).


Truprint would like to make lots of mums smile and so they are giving away one million personalised Mother's Day cards (but sssshhh, no need to say you are saving money!). 

There is a wide variety of designs to choose from - some you can drop your own photo into like this:


Or maybe one with words rather than a picture:


The site is easy to navigate and order from; the most difficult bit is making the decision!

To order your free Mother's Day card, please visit www.truprint.co.uk and use the code MUMINAMILLION at checkout to claim your card (*for terms and conditions please see below). Be quick though, last order date is 9th March but if you will have to post it on to a Mother who lives further away then you'll need to factor that in!

I have to admit that I generally still always think of Mother's Day with relation to my own mum; it's not that I forget that I'm a mum now too, but I guess I don't expect to be rewarded for it. It's my job, and I love it! Saying that, there are lots of nice photo gifts on this site which I would of course be delighted to receive..... 

How about some breathtaking wall art? Or a photobook of special moments shared? Maybe a mug, magnets, a keyring or some placemats? It doesn't have to cost a lot - stickers start at just £2.49 and photo posters from £3.99. Check out the great range at www.truprint.co.uk/mday15.






Disclosure: I received a credit for the Truprint site to test it out and order a product.

*Terms & Conditions:  Awards one free 7x5 folded card, Standard P&P charges apply (99p), Ship to recipient not available, complete with envelope, code is one time use only, strictly one code use per household.
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