Sunday, 17 May 2015

Shortlisted for NCT Stars Award

I have been volunteering for NCT for over a year now, and am about to be voted in for another year. It's been an interesting year, I started just for something to do to stop myself being brain washed by CBeebies and use the skills I already had in customer service. The branch was needing new blood and new thinking, I was shocked to find that in this day of age, social media wasn't being ultilised to communicate not only with their members and the community.

A few months after my introduction I took over their social media pages and am very proud of the growth they've experianced over the past year. I still get chills when I read the stats, all those, "Are you on our Facebook?" questions has been worth it. I haven't done it alone, the team have stepped up and chipped in their ideas and posts when I haven't been able to and they've done a better job than me in some circumstances.

Beth this week has had another bad cold, keeping me up until silly times in the morning. Friday was no exception, I crawled into bed at 8am and woke at 11am to find an email in my inbox annouching the short list for NCT Star Awards for the South region. The awards are acknowledgment to the volunteers and am nominated by your colleages and parents who we help. As a district we had 5 nominations, the highest other than one other district nationally, some amazing hard working people in there.

Imagine my surprise to see my name appear towards the bottom.

I have never, ever been shortlisted for any award ever, and it's even better it's for something that I really love doing and feel like I am giving support to people who felt just as lost as I do/did as a parent. The results are on 12th July at the end of a training day, with the winners going to the national awards. I am also shortlisted with another blogger who works for the Aylesbury district, Cassanda from Mummy on a Budget so if I don't win, then it would be nice to see her win it.

I do want to thank people for my nominations, it really does mean a huge amount, a lot of people forget that we volunteer our free time to make sure that their playgroups and Nearly New Sales happen. The amount of work that goes on behind that scenes is significant but we do have a huge laugh doing it and the team we have is just amazing.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Mental Health Awareness Week; Mindfulness

This year's theme is Mindfulness, which is perfect timing as I have just started exploring this after reading Ruby Wax's book on the subject called Sane New World. Mindfulness just you to focus on the here and now using breathing techniques and meditation. Stop pulling that face, it's not a "new age" thing.

Mindfulness is not about clearing the mind, it helps people observe the way they think and feel about their experiences, whether good or bad. This can really change the way you manage and react to stressful situations, giving you a valuable tool to stay mentally healthy, and an ever-expanding body of evidence shows that it really works.

For me who suffers with anxiety and worry, it makes me acknowledge that I can experience these things and its normal for me. Once I labelled the emotion and the physical attributes it made it feel smaller.There are different versions, but the most common and most useful I've found is RAIN:

Recognize what is going on;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with kindness;
Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying
with the experience.

Mental Health Foundation is promoting a four week course with Be Mindful and most importantly it's free.They want to be able to introduce this as part of the range of therapies offered currently as it has been proved to be successful and will hopefully help people awaiting treatment.

For me, it has already helped more than CBT as I'm not going over past events which can make me feel more anxious. I find it's more soothing and I come out of it refreshed. I do as little or as much as I want, I also use Buddify app from Google Play (£1.99) which provides guided medications for different situations. It has been a revelation to my mental health.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Bethany Update - Month 15

 We have had our first, unsteady little steps on our 15 month birthday. She stepped away from Hubby and did a few steps towards me, we made a huge fuss and chocolate buttons were rewarded. For the next half an hour all she wanted to do was take a few steps between us, getting to the point she was turning herself around to go again. Beth slept very well that night.

 Before this we conquered the stairs that lead to our flat, we decided one night just to see if she could as she doesn't often encounter stairs. A few steady steps later and it was like she has been doing them for months. 

 To me, it seems that this month she's grown into her toddler self and lost the last of her "baby" features. She's also got taller, where she couldn't reach the second shelf of our unit last month, this month she can clear the shelf of DVD's. Beth is still a petite little girl, only just finally fitting into her 9-12 month trousers and tops. I did get her measured for some shoes but she's so petite that she just sneaks into infant shoes and has been recommended to wait a bit longer (Note: How expensive are children's shoes?! My mum said they only last a few months too!). 

We still go to our playgroups, NCT on Monday which I help run and two during the week. Her independence is starting to come through she is happy to go and play with other children, we have had a few bullying problems but working with the Mum's we are working it out and harmony is starting to happen. Her favourite play things at the moment is pretend toys like tea set, an old mobile phone, and a teething necklace. I have an kitchen set hidden away that I cannot wait to get out for her as I think she'll love it.

Her talking is coming on, the babbling is turning more in words, granted I don't know what most of them mean, but you can tell that she wanting to talk more. She loves sitting in her buggy, waving and chatting away to everyone. She'll give toys, books or food to people after passing her initial shyness, she's warm, joyful and I really don't want her to lose that.

Apologies for the lateness of this post, please refer to Colds, Conjunctivitis and Ear Infections

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Colds, Conjunctivitis and Ear Infections

This time last month, I had a tickle throat, thought nothing of it as it was hay fever season for me. It's part of the allergy for me, so I carried on. The next day it's developed into a cold, no problem I feel a bit rough for a few days and battle through. I really wish I knew what I knew now.

Hubby fell ill within 12 hours of my symptoms starting, we were fighting over the tissues as well as the cold. A few days came and went, we both still sniffling and getting worse. I waited to let it ride it's course until I woke up one morning with a crusted up eye and ear ache, got an emergency doctors appointment which then they took one look and said that conjunctivitis and ear infection. I was given eye drops and an ear spray to use for a week.

A week I did, the eye was better within days, but the ear got worse. As I now battling an infection, the cold hanged around so I was still blowing my nose still. One night my ear went pop, which is not unusual with a ear infection. A few days later I woke deaf on my left side with a swollen face and still not feeling any better. 

Back to the doctors to be told that I had burst my ear drum and the medication I had been given had spread the infection around my head. A course of antibiotics for a week cleared the infection but my hearing took weeks to return, the final part of the ringing finally went over a week ago.

During this time we had Easter, our wedding anniversary, my birthday and my husband's birthday which was quiet affairs as we both very ill (my husband was later diagnosed with a chest infection and has just finished his course of antibiotics). We took it in turns to rest and look after Bethany, we were constantly drained for our infections and medication. Bethany had sniffles for a few days and was fine the rest of the time, none of this touched her as bad as both of us (thankfully).

It wasn't all doom and gloom, we tried to make the most of the times we felt better and enjoy the sun and celebrations.

Feeding the ducks for Daddy's birthday

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Pea and Cheese Mini Muffins Recipe

I am very late to Pininterest party, but last week I decided to join and see what the fuss is about. I lost 2 hours pinning lots of things like nails, funnies and food. I came across this muffin recipe from Feeding Olive, like myself she struggles what to feed her little girl but is also portable for when she's out.

These sounded perfect for what I needed and after investing in a muffin tin (madness that I didn't have one already!). I slightly adapted the recipe to accommodate what I had, I also went a little mad on grating the cheese and had more than it originally stated so I changed the amount of cheese to vegetable amount.
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup milk (cows milk/breastmilk/formula)
  • 3/4 Cup of vegetables (in this case I used solely peas but Feeding Olive recommends a good list of mixable veg).

How to do it
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Put muffin cases in tray
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together. Give it a quick stir to make sure the baking powder is evenly distributed. Stir through veggies and cheese. 
  3. Pour oil and milk into a jug then crack the egg into the jug and whisk it all together. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and pour in the liquid. Mix until just combined, giving you a thick batter. (I did put mine all in the food processor and mixed together in one lot, still came out perfect.)
  4. Spoon batter into muffin tray and bake in the oven for 15 - 20 mins, until the muffins are nice and golden on top. Remove tray from oven, and cool muffins in tray for 5 mins, then turn out onto a rack to cool. 
Makes 12 muffins (I was more generous with my mixture and made 9)

As you can see with the food processor I got the peas in small pieces so they hide better in the muffin, Beth likes peas on their own but doesn't like them in chunks in other food so this disguises it well. The flavour has a sweetness from the peas (I used Petite Pois) and a milky tang from the cheese (a mild cheddar). 

The biggest test was Bethany as she can be very cautious with food I had made from scratch, but a few bites and she had her hand out for more. She ate a majority of it before having enough, which I am really pleased about. I now have a small supply ready for when we go out so she has some lunch to nibble that I know what is in it. 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Bethany Update - Month 14

I thought this month I'd be writing that she is finally walking, nope, we've had a few false starts. The past week she likes to let go of furniture and balance on her feet for a few seconds before landing on her bum, so there is at least progress. I also brought her a My First Walker Toy for her to use like a zimmer frame when she's walking as you can see within a day of having it she was whizzing round.

We also have a new word, "yeah" which has greatly increased the communication as she shakes her head for, "No" but says, "Yeah" for yes. Of course, there are those moments where she just repeats it over and over again, Beth is becoming chatty, most when she's sitting down somewhere so her high chair or pushchair, just natters away to the world.

The main photo is from a photo shot she did a few weeks back to enter a local competition that goes live next Friday so expect it being plugged then! The photographer was brilliant and when you see the photos there is a bad one amongst them. I would like her to, tell me parent who doesn't, but for me it was wonderful to get some professional photos of her rather than chasing her with a camera!

That cannot be comfortable surely?!
Her new favourite food is peas, we went out for dinner one night and would only eat the peas. I now have to make sure she eats her other bits before she knows there are peas or nothing else gets eaten. On the other side there are worst things for her to become food obsessed over (until the next fad).

Just as Beth gets over one cold, she then gets hits with another. This is we ended up in the walk in clinic at our local hospital with a high fever, was told there was nothing they could do. We also got told that it was very likely that Beth would be a candidate for Eczema in the future as her rashes have come back. Another week on the steroid creams.

This doesn't seem to bother Beth too much, she still is the happy, bright little girl that I love who can be a little mischief.

Her first drawing (now on the fridge)
Sofa and reading time

Monday, 16 March 2015


I've been part of the The Orchard by Tesco for a few months now, it give shoppers the opportunity to try different parts of Tesco and give their feedback in exchange for reduced or free items. The invite for this programme arrived at the right time that I was re-focusing on trying to get a bit healthier and fitter.

Over the past three years Tesco has been working towards reducing calorie, fat, sugar and salt content of thousands of our own brand products, like fruit juice, cereals, yogurts and soups, but still tasting the same.

I got to try three different items from the range: Healthy Living Red Berry Yogurt, Golden Syrup flavor Oats and Healthy Living Lentil and Vegetable Soup.

The Oats were convenient and quick, really useful when Bethany is wanting attention and I needed something really quick but can keep me going until she goes to nap and I get lunch (sometimes this can be 3pm!). The syrup gave them a sweetness so you thought you were getting something a little bit naughty with your nice. It is cheaper to buy a bag of oats and syrup but sometimes you need that connivance.

The biggest let down for me were the soup, the flavour was OK and made a filling lunch. A whole can is 156 calories BUT is 40% of your salt allocation for the day.I commend that Tesco are trying to reduce the salt content but I found it strange to see this on a "Healthy Living" product, at least it is not hidden in the same print and people can make their decision to include. With this in mind I always made sure that the rest of my day balanced and not take on too much more salt.

The hit of the three with both Hubby and I was the yogurts. The Red Berry has two cherry and two strawberry, this has yogurt as well as pieces of fruit. It a reasonable sized dessert for 64 calories, it has the right level of sweetness and bitterness of the fruit. I have my eye on the Toffee and Vanilla which are 66 calories but I need to go to another store to get them.

I agree Tesco has made some in roads to make their ranges a lot more healthier but I do feel there is some more room for progress. However, if this is what they have so far then its a good place to start.

*I am no obligation to blog for The Orchard programme (where I received vouchers to try products) and I may receive extra compensation for this.