28 February 2016

My Sunday Photo - 28.02.16



25 February 2016

Review: I See Me! Snuggle Bunny Book

Easter is coming early this year and to be honest it's totally thrown me off. I'm normally quite organised but seem to find myself chasing my tail at the moment. As with all things Easter the first thought that springs to mind is chocolate eggs but chocolate isn't always suitable for everyone. There could be various reasons for this from age, allergies or you just don't like it so why not be different this Easter and get your little one something unusual to celebrate the holiday.

I See Me! are a fab company providing personalised story books of all shapes and styles. Here's a little bit about them in their own words: "Kids love being the stars of their very own stories, so just imagine their delight when they discover that their new storybook has a very familiar hero. Personalised storybooks from I See Me! make children feel special while encouraging important skills such as reading, letter recognition, and learning to spell their own names. Beautifully illustrated and professionally bound, customised books from I See Me! take quality and personalisation to the next level."

Harlow was lucky enough to be sent a gorgeous I See Me! book and plush toy to review and we were both thrilled when they arrived. My Snuggle Bunny Gift Set comprises of a gorgeous personalised Snuggle Bunny book complete with a super soft quality plush Jellycat toy. The Snuggle Bunny book can be fully personalised with your child's name in the title (i.e. Harlow's Snuggle Bunny), throughout the book, and when you open onto the dedication page you can add your child's photo plus a special message. I chose a Happy Easter message for Harlow since this is a perfect Easter present. Who needs chocolate when you have a gorgeous book with your name all over it and a cute fluffy bunny.

Inside the book is a count from 1 to 10 of all the special ways that Snuggle Bunny loves your child throughout the day. As an example number 1 is one hug in the morning and number 8 is eight snuggles in bed. The illustrations (by John Butler) which accompany the beautifully written story are simply stunning. They make this loving book even better and completely match the soft plush toy you receive with the gift set.

As you can see Harlow thoroughly enjoyed her Snuggle Bunny book and soft toy. It's a suitable book for her age too since the words are kept to a minimum on each page but the illustrations are colourful and eye catching helping to keep her attention for longer. One great thing is that having the soft toy means you can act out some of the actions from the book such as playing peek-a-boo, spinning the bunny round and of course lots of snuggles.

This book and gift set is available directly from www.iseeme.com with a shipping cost of £6.50 and 2 weeks turn around. For the book alone it costs $29.99 which is around £21.50 and for the gift set (which includes the soft toy) is $44.99 which is around £32.30. This really would make a brilliant gift for any little girl or boy out there and not just for Easter. It'll definitely be treasured for a very long time and if they ever outgrow the story they still have their very own Snuggle Bunny as a keepsake.

Please visit www.iseeme.com for more products and information. You can also see what they get up to on Facebook and Twitter so why not pop over and say hello!

I was sent the I See Me! Snuggle Bunny Gift Set in return for an honest review.

Laura's Lovely Blog

23 February 2016

Mother's Day Gift Ideas for Me!

There's tons of fab Mother's Day gift ideas floating around the blogosphere but I'm going to make mine personal this year and be slightly selfish as below are all the things I wouldn't mind receiving for my mother's day, haha. If I don't get them it's of course not the end of the world, spending quality time with my little family is above all else the most precious gift I could ever ask for. However just in case anyone was wondering *cough* these are some of the gifts I wouldn't mind receiving for Mother's Day. Or any other time for that matter, wink wink!

Charlotte Tilbury
I love Charlotte Tilbury make up. I once had my make up done for me at one of their make up counters in Selfridges. My mum and I had popped down to London for the day and since we were there super early we practically had the place to ourselves so a little make up shopping was perfect.

This Cheek to Chic Blusher is gorgeous and perfect for my rather pale skin. There's lots of different blends you can choose from but my favourite is the First Love.

Tick Tock Tea
Ever since I was sent a sample of Tick Tock Tea last year I can't get enough of the stuff. It's organic and naturally caffeine free which is great for helping to get a nice sound sleep. The thing is I go through tea like wildfire through trees so I'm always happy to receive a box of this as a pressie. Can't go wrong with a favourite tea.

Spa Day
Who doesn't love a spa day! There's nothing better than taking a trip with your girl pals or mum to a luxury spa where you get pampered from head to toe, as well as enjoying a spot of lunch and the leisure facilities. I really do need to book one of these soon. Some much relaxing time is needed.

Electric Toothbrush
You might think I'm mad but I really do need a new electric toothbrush. The one I've got I've had for years and the built in rechargeable battery has finally died. Well it only lasts for one use after a charge which shouldn't be happening so it's as well as dead. Time to get a new one or maybe someone else will treat me!?

A Long Lie
Sometimes all I really want is an extra hour in bed. I'm sure most parents will agree. Getting up at the crack of dawn every day with two kids can take it out of you and a little lie in wouldn't go amiss.

Being healthy and all that jazz is great but every now and again you have to indulge in a big box of chocolates. It's something I've been craving at the moment but I never normally buy it from the shops so my cupboards are empty.

So there you go, some of the things I wouldn't mind receiving for my Mother's Day. What are you hoping to be treated to?

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

22 February 2016

Harlow's Cake Smash Photoshoot

For Harlow's 1st Birthday the other half and I had planned to do a little cake smash photoshoot, however we never quite got round to this until the beginning of February. Only a month late but we got there in the end, hurrah!

On the day of the shoot we met up with the lovely Yemi King who was tasked with photographing our little princess. We had a small studio booked in Edinburgh and it was the perfect size for some cake smashing action.

So without more waffling from me I'll let these gorgeous photos do the talking themselves. These are just a handful of our favourites.

21 February 2016

My Sunday Photo - 21.02.16



19 February 2016

Review: Twenty Fingers Handmade Papercuts

Making a house a home is one of the great pleasures in life. Putting your own stamp on a property and turning it into your little sanctuary is a joy to see. One of the many ways of doing this is by having lots of family photos and personalised artwork displayed around your many walls, and lets be honest bare walls always look better when they're filled with gorgeous art that's personal to you. That's where Twenty Fingers come in. They're a lovely husband and wife team based in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire who have a passion for design and photography. Their specialty is designing and hand making beautifully framed papercuts that are personal to each individual.

Here's a little bit more about Lana and Ivan in their own words: "Although we may only have twenty fingers between us, we have a million ideas that are used to create our unique home d├ęcor gifts and quirky artwork. All of our products are handmade by ourselves, here in the UK. We put love, care and attention into every single item we make to ensure we provide gifts that you will be proud to give. We value quality above all and use natural materials such as paper, wood, glass and metal in the production of our handmade gifts."

With so many gorgeous papercuts to choose from it was a really hard decision for me to make, what should I review! In the end I chose a cute photo of Logan and Harlow that would be made into a papercut from grey card and framed in white. The plan was it would either be hung in the home office, living room or Harlow's bedroom. In the end I went for Harlow's bedroom as it looks really lovely up on her wall above the changing unit.

As well as children's papercuts Twenty Fingers offer a wide range of papercut options from; cats and dogs, family tree, family silhouette, text, lyrics and quotes, house papercuts, baby ultrasound scan, and some super cute new baby papercuts which can have a photo of your newborn included. How sweet. Prices start from as little as £29 for a 10" x 12" papercut and obviously increase if you want the larger 12" x 16" size or if you include a frame as well. The frames come in a handful of colours but there's a larger selection of colours for the actual papercuts. Everything from hot pink, black, white, yellow, green etc so plenty to choose from.

The papercut I received, like I said, is a standard 10" x 12" in grey with a white wooden frame and standard glass to complete the piece. Twenty Fingers do offer Invisible TrueColour glass which is awesome. I've seen it used at a local framers and it definitely makes the art work stand out a lot more. This is £15 extra for a standard papercut or £20 extra for the large. My personal papercut would have come in at a very reasonable £63 considering it's a personalised handmade work of art. Twenty Fingers do have special offers quite a lot so keep an eye out for them. They currently have a special £5 off discount code if you purchase a papercut before 7th March. Plenty of time to get your order in for Mother's Day then. Just enter 5OFF at the checkout.

So what do I think about my actual papercut? Well I love it. The craftsmanship put into this is superb. You can clearly see that time and care has been taken to create this beautiful gift just for me and it's a totally different take on a family photo. I love hanging family pictures around the house but this is something different, eye catching and definitely a little talking point for anyone who sees it. I'm very thankful to Lana for contacting me to review one of her papercuts, they're honestly brilliant. I even ordered one to give to a friend I liked it so much!

Please do check out the Twenty Fingers website www.twentyfingers.co.uk and drop by their Facebook, Twitter & Instagram to see what else they get up to.

I received this item free of charge in return for an honest review.

17 February 2016

Our February Trip to Leicestershire

Back in January the other half had spotted quite a good family break being advertised on HotUKDeals for down in Leicesterhsire. Even though it was a fair distance for us to travel I decided to book it up anyway since the schools had some holidays coming up. If I didn't book something then we'd all just end up sitting around not doing very much so a break away would be lovely.

Last week the school holidays came and we packed our bags and headed off for the long car journey to Leicestershire. Luckily we were well prepared and the kids behaved, to our delight, so travelling wasn't much of a fuss at all. We stopped off at Tebay Services for lunch going down and coming back which was nice, and we stayed at the Sketchley Grange Hotel down in Hinckley.

We arrived at our hotel just before 5pm on the first night and decided to go for a quick swim in their lovely pool before ordering up some room service and watching a bit of TV with the kids. The swimming was good and definitely brought on our appetite however the pool had a bit too much chlorine in it which made my eyes stings and left poor Logan coughing. It didn't dampen our spirits though and Logan couldn't wait to see where we would be going the following day.

The next morning we all had a tasty breakfast in the hotel then headed off to Twinlakes Park in Melton. It's quite a big theme park based on family friendly fun with rollercoasters, rides, a water park and falconry displays. Since it was winter though, and blooming freezing, some of the rides including the water park were of course closed. It was no bother though as there was two massive indoor play areas with soft play, big slide, hall of mirrors and rides for the little one to go on themselves or with a parent. We literally spent all day there from 10am when it opened to almost 5pm when it closed. Logan even had a nap in the car on the way back to the hotel he was that shattered, he never does this anymore so must have been an exhausting day for him.

The next day we were all up bright and early again, down for a tasty breakfast then off to Twycross Zoo. Logan loves animals but he doesn't particularly like looking at them for hours on end so after an hour or so of looking at the monkeys, gibbons, apes etc he was desperate to go back to the cafe area of the zoo as they had a massive soft play. It was good timing really as Logan and Harlow burned off some energy in there and we also got some lunch. By this point Logan was knackered and grumpy so the other half had to carry him on his shoulders because he was going to have a meltdown. After a nosy at the giraffes and elephants he wanted to walk again which was fine but we headed back to the car to see if we could squeeze in one last attraction before heading home at the weekend.

We managed to make it to the National Space Centre for just after 3pm and thought it would at least be open till 5pm but it wasn't! It closed at 4pm because it was out of season. I thought this was crazy as when we arrived the place was mobbed. Oh well, we looked around anyway and Logan managed to go on the simulator with the other half whilst Harlow and I trotted about and played with some machines and buttons.

All in all it was a lovely family trip and we can't wait for our Legoland trip in the next few months. I've booked us a full on pirate room which Logan is so excited about. I can't wait to see his wee face when we get there.

15 February 2016

Siblings in February

This month Logan has really wanted to be more involved with Harlow. I think this may be because she's getting bigger now and getting her own little attitude. Plus with her walking a lot there's more she can get into which Logan finds hilarious. It's been nice to see Logan trying to take an active part in her care now too. He's been trying to read her stories, involve her with tickle time, get the odd sneaky cuddle and just generally be a loving big brother. There have been the odd moments when he's found it funny to annoy her but thankfully those have been fleeting. 

Harlow is quite independent but for some reason, probably due to her cute size, she seems to attract all the other kids over to mother her and by goodness does she hate it! She seems to think that getting cuddles and being dragged around by the hand is going to stop her from enjoying herself so, much hand waving to shoo people and crying normally follows. She's the same with Logan unfortunately. I've noticed that when he does try to help her in a nice way she often find this offensive and starts crying. This in turn makes me think he's done something to annoy her which he hasn't so I'll have to watch missy chops in future. She's a cunning one. I don't want her poor brother getting into trouble for nothing but sometimes he can be a pest. Typical big brother and little sister behaviour. 

Apart from the odd spat here and there they really have been getting on like peas in a pod. It's been great to watch Harlow become more involved with what her brother's doing and of course Logan actually letting her join in. These little moments never tend to last long but it's lovely to watch them when they do. 

I've noticed Harlow seems to be looking a lot more like her big brother now, the more hair she gets the more of a resemblance I can see. When she was born she didn't have much hair but it was darker than it is now. It's definitely getting lighter and more towards the shade of Logan's hair.

Here are some photos I've managed to capture of the cheeky twosome over the past month.

The Me and Mine Project

Dreaming of a Summer Holiday

The family and I have been lucky enough to go on a summer holiday abroad every year, and in fact Logan's first holiday to a sunnier climate was when he was 9 months old. With the horrible weather recently, those pesky cold winds and freezing snow, it's had me thinking about jetting away to some where nice and warm. I've booked up a few short breaks for the family this year but everything's in the UK so we've yet to decide on our next destination abroad. I better get a move on soon though!

Since Logan's autistic the other half and I tend to stick to booking villas when we fly away. It's like a home from home for Logan and keeps things as natural as possible i.e. a home environment for him. We've tried hotel rooms before and for a couple of days that's fine but for a week or two it's a little bit too much. Plus in some hotels the restaurants don't open till later (around 7pm) and Logan can't wait that long. With a villa you can do as you please and take life easy which is perfect when you have kids. That's why we were really lucky for the past 3 years to stay at a gorgeous villa in Fuerteventura. It was owned by a friend who is unfortunately selling up, which makes me sad, so this means we'll need to look for a new family friendly place to visit. 

For those that want to know Fuerteventura is a brilliant island which is part of the Canaries and practically gets beautiful warm weather all year round. Even when it's 1 or 2 degrees here guaranteed it'll be at least 19-21 there. As I mentioned it's super family friendly as well. We stayed in Caleta de Fuste and it has lots of play parks dotted around outside cafes and restaurants, so the kids can play whilst you relax and eat. Oh how I wish we could go back this year.

To cheer myself up I've added in a few of my fav photos for you to enjoy.

Daddy and Logan pool time.

Harlow loving her travel cot.

All dressed up for dinner. Love a maxi dress.

Super yummy food, mmmm.

This is my competition entry for James Villa Holidays

14 February 2016

My Sunday Photo - 14.02.16



13 February 2016

Are We There Yet?

Travelling with children is never easy, whether they're one year old or eight year old there's always going to be something that crops up out of the blue and smacks you in the face when you least expect it. Only the other weekend Logan had travel sickness when the other half was driving along a bumpy country road. He never has travel sickness so it came as a complete surprise and major panic to get him out of the car before the sick unloaded.

We've got a few family trips coming up which involve a lot of hours driving so I'm going to share some of the things I've learnt and hopefully it'll help you prepare for long car journeys with kids.

The night before
The night before you say, yes I do! Make sure, whatever you do, that any kind of gadget/ gizmo etc is fully charged and ready to go the night before as on the morning of your travels you'll either forget or there won't be enough time. Be one step ahead of the game as well and set aside any in car chargers just in case.

Stop off points
If you're going on a long car journey then investigate some good service stations for stop offs well in advanced. I had never thought about this until my friend recommended a good service station for the kids when travelling down South. It's family friendly, has a bit of soft play and also does proper food i.e. no fast food chains. Something we'll definitely be baring in my for our up coming trips.

Snack time
Sounds simple enough but make sure and take plenty of snacks and of different varieties too so the kids don't get hungry or bored with the same thing. Make sure and pack plenty of drinks as well as you're definitely going to get thirsty after all of those tasty snacks.

Fun & games
Keeping the little ones entertained on a long car trip has to be the hardest thing ever! Or maybe travelling in a plane with them is as you can at least stop with your own car haha. Anyway make sure and have things for them to do in the car and don't bring all the good stuff out at once or the boredom will set in pretty quickly.

Things like computer tablets, portable DVD player, small fiddly toys, favourite toy, reading books, activity and sticker book, and family car games can keep the kids from a screaming match for a good while if you're lucky. Some good old family car games include; eye spy, nursery rhyme singing and count the cars (everyone picks a colour and see how many of that coloured car you can spot and count).

For younger children putting a mirror in front of them can provide hours of entertainment whilst also hanging different activity toys around their car seat and within reach can be a good distraction for the journey. I'm planning on dotting a few Lamaze toys around the car for Harlow's beady little eyes and grabby hands.

Be Prepared
Sounds like you're travelling with a pack of wild dogs but it's always best being prepared so take lots of wet wipes, some how they always come in handy, and pack a little first aid kit bag with plasters and the like. You just never know and chances are when you need a plaster you won't blooming have it.

Spare clothes are always a fantastic idea for the kids, someone always spills something, a leaky nappy might happen or travel sickness could set it! On that note bags with no holes in them are always a life saver and after Logan's sick incident the other weekend I'll definitely be sticking these in the cars from now on.

I'd love to hear your tips for travelling with children on long car journeys so please do share in the comments below.

9 February 2016

Harlow's 13 Month Update

My baby girl is now 13 months old and what a busy last month we've had. Since she's now on the move a lot more I've been taking her to a few new groups in and around our local area. I always think it's good to get out and about with your little ones if you can, and although it can be a struggle for mums and dads sometimes it's great for the wee ones to mix with other kids and get some social interaction. Harlow and I have been going to our local toddlers group which is wild but so much fun and everyone's friendly. We joined a new music group which is pretty great and I've also been taking her to some baby gymnastics classes on the recommendation of a friend. It's a great little group and the kids basically run around and do what they like which is perfect. When they're so little they never really listen so freedom to run riot is fantastic.

She had her much dreaded immunisations a few weeks back and thankfully Daddy was there to hold her as I get a bit emotional about it all. Daddy informs me she wasn't as strong as her big brother so was easier to hold, poor lamb. Thankfully it's 3 quick injections but she wasn't happy about it at all as you can imagine. Luckily the boob saved the day and after a quick breastfeed she was feeling much happier.

Harlow is quite the chatty little monkey and often shouts Dadada and Mmmum but we're not sure if these are actually directed at us in any way or if she's just playing with sounds. She does definitely know who her Mummy and Daddy are though and of course her big brother. She loves him so much and they've been getting on so well recently it melts my heart.

Miss diva chops can climb the stairs with ease now and bad Mummy here has forgotten to lock the child gate a few times! She sounds like a baby elephant climbing them, which is strange as she's like a ninja most of the time, so I always catch her. Note to self to keep those pesky baby gates locked at the back of me from now on. Continuing on the diva theme Harlow now doesn't want to sit in a baby bath seat anymore. She kept climbing out of hers which wasn't safe at all so she now just sits in the bath with her big brother when it's bath time. She seems to prefer this a lot more and there's less climbing around so definitely safer.

My little princess is still in 9-12 month clothes but eats like a horse! I think it's the constant moving that keeps her so slim now. She does laps from the living room to the hall to the kitchen and back again about a million times when we're in the house. There's a cupboard in the kitchen which I keep all the kids snacks in and she's figured this out already so is constantly snooping around in that cupboard to see what she can get her greedy hands on. Harlow is so greedy in fact I've caught her eating the dogs food a few times! It's dry dog food thankfully so I just pick it out of her mouth, the rascal, but she quite likes to tip the dogs water bowl upside down now and again which is a right pain. Oh and before I forget she got her first proper pair of walker shoes, hurrah! Definitely a big girl now.

The other half and I had been planning a cake smash for Harlow for her first birthday but never quite got round to it until last week. It was a great day and Harlow did so well, she did go diva on us come the end and refused to get photographed but the photographer had the images she needed so we were all good. We'll be getting the photos back from the shoot soon and I can't wait to see them but here's a little peak from behind the scenes.

8 February 2016

Author Spotlight: Deborah Brownson

Today's author spotlight comes to you from Deborah Brownson, a mother of two boys with Asperger’s Syndrome. Her book, He's Not Naughty, is ideal for those who have just had a diagnosis of Autism. Although created for children of all ages and abilities, this 67 page fully illustrated book, is a quick and fun way of explaining to family, friends and classmates why children with autism behave the way they do. It has also been well received by health professionals and teachers too. Coupled with the distinctive talents of illustrator Ben Mason, who has Asperger’s Syndrome himself, this book provides a unique visual representation of what it’s truly like to have autism. To keep the attention of young children, Jake’s favourite toy Ted Ted has been hidden on every page of the book and on Deborah's website.

Please read on to find out more about the wonderful Deborah and all her hard work for people with Autism.

1. So first things first, tell me a little bit about yourself and your family?
My name is Deborah Brownson, I’m 40 years old and am lucky to live in a small village in the Lake District in the United Kingdom. I live with my husband, two sons and our cocker-spaniel Loki. Before I became a mother I worked as a Solicitor in Manchester for over 10 years.

2. What made you decide to write a book based on Autism?
My childhood dreams of motherhood didn’t quite turn out the way I’d planned. After years of turmoil, stress, medical appointments, school meetings and an ocean full of tears, both of my beautiful sons were diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

As is often the case with this condition, it didn’t end there. My eldest son was also diagnosed with ADHD. My youngest son was also diagnosed with ADHD, an extreme Sensory Processing Disorder, Sleep Disorder including frequent horrific night terrors, a gluten intolerance, some Tourette’s Syndrome ticks and is currently under investigation for Dyspraxia. A veritable cocktail of medical conditions all bouncing around under one roof with sleep-deprived, exhausted and stressed out parents trying to keep it all together, living two hours away from our nearest relative, whilst my husband worked four jobs in order to keep me at home caring for our boys.

After diagnosis I was devastated, overwhelmed and crippled with worry about what the future would hold for them. I thought gaining a diagnosis would be the turning point for our family, but sadly it wasn’t. We got a label, but as is often the case, no help.

The title for the book, ‘He’s not naughty!’ was born out of utter frustration at the never ending disapproving looks as one or both of my sons had public meltdowns. If anyone could spend a day watching, feeling and understanding how hard life can be caring for a child with autism or indeed being a child with the condition, then they may think twice before making judgments. Sadly that can’t happen, so I thought I'll write a book.

3. What's the story behind your illustrator Ben?
Often having wondered how my children’s minds worked, I searched high and low for two years to find a talented illustrator who had also been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, in order to give a true visual representation of what it’s truly like to have autism. I found that in Ben Mason. He was recommended to me by a lady who was giving therapy to my son. She had been Ben’s teacher when he was the same age as my son and she said they were very similar to each other. I also thought that Ben’s success would give hope to parents like me, as Ben is an illustration graduate from the University of Central Lancashire. He was like my son but went onto graduate from university and has produced 67 of the most insightful illustrations I’ve ever seen on autism.

4. Did you have any help writing this book?
The project took over four years to complete with invaluable input from other parents, grand-parents, teachers, teaching assistants, Educational Psychologists, Consultant Paediatricians, Child Psychiatrists, Child Psychologists, School Sencos and even the Clinical Director for Children’s Community Health Services in Cumbria, so although I may have been at the helm, it was a team effort.

5. So where can we buy this fantastic book of yours?
You can download an E-book and purchase a printed book from our website:
www.hesnotnaughty.co.uk. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram too and I also share my experiences on Blogger. All links to those can be found on my website. I have also set up a support group on Facebook called Autism Support UK, which gives parents immediate 24 hour access to advice and support from people living the same life as them.

6. Are there any new books in the pipeline?
No new books as yet, however I plan to commission a whole range of ‘He’s not naughty!’ merchandise to remind all those surrounding your child that they have autism.

7. What advice would you give to the other Autism parents out there?
My hope is that my book will help everyone surrounding a child with autism understand him or her better and also that parents receiving a diagnosis of Autism don’t feel like it’s the end of the world, but see that it’s the start of a new and very colourful chapter in their lives.

My book helps explain why children with autism behave the way they do. If everyone around the child understands them, life can be good. Sadly even children with Autism who can speak, often cannot communicate effectively. This book does that for them. I don’t want any child to be placed in the heart-breaking position Jake was in ever again and if it helps just one child, then I’m happy.


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