#LittleLoves May 2019




I'm not even sure where May has gone but June is tomorrow which is my birthday month. This month though we've enjoyed bug hunting, flower spotting, trips to the park and a visit to the local children's centre, where Blake got to enjoy the sensory room. The weather has been all over the place recently with it raining one minute and the next the Sun has been shining.  It's been a hard month for me with feeling low and struggling with anxiety so it's made it really hard to want to do much. I promise my little loves next month will be much better.

READ

9 books read this month. I've definitely found myself when feeling low opting to read. I feel like its an escape from reality for a brief while. 

Hinch yourself happy by Mrs Hinch 
The first book of the month because I've got into the I've been hinched bandwagon. Yep I now own more cleaning supplies than we probably need. This also includes random items such as tea towel clips.

The reason I jump by Naoki Higashida 
A memoir to help change our thoughts on the world around us. Naoki wrote the reason I jump at the age of 13 that takes you into the mind of a severely autistic boy. I found it to be an emotional insite into the world of autism.

Too Close to breathe by Oliva Kiernan 
A well written thriller by this debut author. Too Close to breathe features twists and turns throughout and is a must read if you love crime genre.

Don't turn around by Amanda Brooke
She died, your next, now he's coming for you. 10 years ago Meg killed herself after failing to escape an abusive relationship. Now Megs ex is back and Jen's domestic abuse helpline has started getting frightening calls from a girl who knows things about Meg. Details only the dead girl would know or the guy who hurt her. Jen tries to uncover the past but someone is determined to stop her can she help or is history about to repeat itself.





Now you see her by Heidi Perks
Charlotte is looking after her best friends daughter when she vanishes and swears she only took her eyes off for a second. Deverataed Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. You wouldn't expect them to trust each other again however they need to as 2 weeks later they are being questioned separately by police. Someone is hiding the truth about what really happened to Alice.

The great alone by Kristen Hannah
Alaska 1974 a family crisis that is the ultimate test of survival. A wonderfully written book and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

In the dark/ no way out  by Cara Hunter
I love Cara Hunters gripping thrillers with Di Adam Fawley.  In the dark and no way out are her 2nd and 3rd book in the crime series and I'm excited with her 4th book coming out just after Christmas.

A curse so dark and lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
A modern retelling of beauty and the beast featuring Prince Rhen who is cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year. He thought that it would be easy to get a girl to fall for him until he turned into a viscous beast. Harper with her father long gone, mother  dying and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy. Harper has learned to be tough enough to survive and when she tries to save a stranger on the street she is pulled into the magical world of Emberfall.  I loved this retelling and am excited to know a second book is being released in 2020.




WATCHED
I've watched 3 great series on Netflix this month. 

What/If
Featuring favourite Reene Zellweger.
In this neo-noir thriller, cash-strapped newlyweds accept a lucrative -- but morally questionable -- offer from a mysterious female benefactor.

The Society 

Busloads of Connecticut high school students head off for an extended camping trip, but a storm forces them to return home.Upon their return, the teens realize that all of the town's adults are gone in this modern take on "Lord of the Flies." Their newfound freedom is fun at first, but it quickly becomes dangerous. While they struggle to figure out what has happened to them and how to get the town back to normal, the teens must establish order and form alliances in order to survive.

Dead to me 

Jen's husband recently died in a hit-and-run, and the sardonic widow is determined to solve the crime. Optimistic free spirit Judy has recently suffered a tragic loss of her own. The ladies meet at a support group and, despite their polar-opposite personalities, become unlikely friends. As the women bond over bottles of wine and a shared affinity for "The Facts of Life," Judy tries to shield Jen from a shocking secret that could destroy her life as she knows it. The dark comedy -- which explores the weirdly funny sides of grief, loss and forgiveness -- features a cast that includes TV veterans Christina Applegate and Ed Asner.

HEARD
I've mainly been listening to two albums this month.

Pink - Hurts to be human
I love Pink she is such a strong women and I'm loving her new album

Jade Bird 
I love her song motto so was excited to see she now has an album out so I've been  listening to her album a lot this month.





WORE
Nothing new

MADE
Plans for our garden now we just have to save up to get it done. We want to get artificial grass, a patio area and space to grow some fruit/veg. It's taken us time and going to the drawing board to plan a layout as our garden is small.

AND LASTLY..
A lovely lady contacted me on Facebook as she wanted to make up and send Blake a personalised bag fob. We love it as not only is it personalised but Blake loves stars and on one side is autisim jigsaw print fabric.

I also can not mention this delicious shake I got from Sweetbox in Retford I fully recommend popping in I you are ever in the area as they sell so many other sweet treats too.




Bookabees Kids Book Club

Books have always been a part of my life. I always read at least one chapter a day myself, and I've read to Blake since he was a baby.  We've had countless trips to the library and Blake's own book shelf is overflowing. Even so we still love new books so when Bookabee contacted me to try out their subscription service we were happy to oblige.

 Bookabees is a unique children’s bespoke book subscription service that turns reading into a magical and educational experience. Bookabees curate and send personalised book boxes to make reading fun and exciting and they have budget options to suit every lifestyle. Their mission is simple. They want to inspire children to read more by learning the choices and preferences of each child, providing books and activities to excite and challenge them, and to get the right books into more children’s hands to keep story time magical.






 Bookabees monthly personalised box is the perfect way to give both parents and children what they want and create magical family time together. You can choose how many books you’d like for the month. Books are handpicked every month to suit your child’s age and interests, and these choices can be easily viewed and changed by you. After all  children’s interests vary from day to day.

Bookabees offer two monthly plan types to fit any family’s lifestyle: FLEX or KEEP. With FLEX you can enjoy the books, purchase any favourites and easily return the remainders when you’re done, for free. With KEEP it’s simple – you keep the books forever. Along with the books your child will also receive bespoke games and crafts to keep things fun and bring excitement into reading whilst being educational too.


When ordering your Bookabees subscription box they ask for your child's age and interests. So for Blake who is 4, I opted for space and pirates as that's what he is into at the moment and then we just waited for his box to arrive. 

Blake was so excited when his box arrived and was eager to see what was inside. The three books we were sent are all books we luckily didn't have and are:
- The night pirate
- The cat in the hat 
- Ailens love underpants

We were sent the keep box which we are definitely happy about as we would've wanted to keep all 3 books that were selected for Blake. We like the concept of the subscription service and that the flex box is an option. I can see it being handy for parents that can't always get to the library. The keep box is a great subscription idea as a gift. We especially love that you can choose if you want to recieve 1, 3 or 5 books a month. I do however feel its on the expensive side for what it is. The keep box we got with 3 books is £19.99 which isn't something we would be personally willing to pay ourselves. 

If you are interested in Bookabees and want to know more about their service than I fully reccomend having a read on their website.

ACE stain removal products

As busy parents our life resolves around cleaning and laundry as well as taking care of our children. I swear there must be more than just the 3 of us living in our house with the amount of washing we do.

The last thing you want when sorting out the laundry is to have to deal with stains and spend ages scrubbing at an item of clothing, and loosing the will to live at the amount of time its taking. You don't have to anymore thanks to ACE and their range of products. 
Like most people I do have an undersink cupboard of cleaning products and I do also have a basket of laundry products that I love to use. However ACE are now my favourite when it comes to stain removal products.

I was gifted a bundle of the products pictured above and wanted to share with you my thoughts on the range. 

I've been a fan of the ACE for colours for awhile now.  ACE for colours is formulated to remove the toughest of stains and yet is gentle on even the most delicate of clothing.  It's great on removing typical stains such as mud and is suitable for everyday use.  It's also great at preventing fabrics from bleeding  or transferring on to other fabrics. I was excited to find out I was sent the new powder version to try out as well and am so far finding it works just as well as the liquid. 



ACE for whites is great at removing stubborn stains from lighter fabrics. Prior to receiving my ACE bundle I hadn't tried the ACE for whites however I was very impressed with the results. Using ACE for whites I washed my bedding, bras and a few white tops I have. I wasn't too sure how well it would work as some of the items were getting dull and grey. However when getting my washing out of the machine I found them to be much more brighter.


ACE stain remover spray / ACE power mousse are both suitable for use on clothing and around the home. The stain remover spray is great at removing grease and stubborn stains  on coloured clothing. You just need to spray on the area and leave before popping into the machine. The spray is great to use for cleaning stubborn stains around the home as well. The power mousse has the power of ACE for whites but in spary form. It can be used around the home and also on clothing to pre treat stains on lighter fabrics.





What I like about the whole ACE range is that the products can be used in many ways. Around the home, for soaking, pre treating clothing as well as in the machine. 

Shopping & Autism

I've found shopping with an autistic child challenging to say the least. Many people who are autistic find shopping to be a struggle. When you think about it somone who is autistic tends to really struggle with sensory processing. Shops tend to be an overwhelming environment for thouse with autisim because of being overloaded with noise, sounds and smells which can be too much for them. Shops are unpredictable places especially with aisles changing often because autistic people don't like change they find it hard. 

Blake's way to cope is to cry and scream when it gets too much. This often means that we can mistake his behaviour as being naughty rather than it being  his way of coping.  It's tricky as most children play up when out shopping which can usually be because of not getting there own way. 


There are a few things we have started to do recently that we've found helpful with Blake. 

- Prewarning 
We've found that he seems to react better when he knows in advance that we are going to the shop's.  

- Getting down to his level
We give him cuddles and reassurance if he gets upset and getting down to his level and speaking in a lower tone seems to be working

- Getting him involved
We've also found getting him to help when in shops has made meltdowns less often. 

Of course this may not help for others but it seems to be what is currently working for us.





Some shops are now also starting to find ways at supporting autistic customers. Many supermarkets are now implementing quiet hours which is obviously  good thing. Autism is one of many hidden disabilities with more than 1% of people in UK being on the spectrum. 

We've actually yet to visit a supermarket during quiet hour however know that our local Morrison's does quiet hour every Saturday morning 9-10 am which is very handy. During quiet hour stores will do the following steps:

  • Dim the lights
  • Turn music and radio off
  • Avoid making tannoy announcements
  • Reduce movement of trolleys and baskets
  • Turn checkout beeps and other electrical noises down
  • Place a poster outside to tell customers it’s Quieter Hour

There are other ways we are planning to support Blake when it comes to shopping trips:

- Books on shopping 
- Visual images
- Sticking to a routine for e.g. going the same route 

I'm hoping that over time we will find shopping a more easier experience and find more things that work for us. 

Plans for our first home

If you are a regular reader you will probably know that after 10 years of renting Stuart and I finally bought our own house back in February.  We've now been living here for 3 months and have slowly been doing updates on our home. 

We have quite a lot to do and are currently saving up to get bits and bobs done. It's definitely going to take us time to get everything how we want it and I wanted to share with you our ideas.


Living/Dining room

As you walk into the house you walk straight into our living/dining room with the stairs straight ahead. The living/dining room is the room we want to really get done asap but will cost us a fair bit. Currently the walls are painted purple and grey with purple tones. There is also a feature wall which has purple rose patterned wallpaper. We want to paint the walls all one shade of grey and for the feature wall we have found a stunning silver/grey wallpaper we love.  Before we can do that though we want to sort out the fireplace as it is currently covered with tiles. Our plan is to take them off and sort out getting a wood burning fireplace put in if possible. We also plan on replacing the skirting boards along with ones in other rooms around the house. 



Kitchen

In regards to the kitchen it's more about updating the painting to make it look more fresh and new looking. The kitchen was replaced by the previous owners not too long ago and we are actually happy with the units and flooring.  I'm not a huge fan of the current black and cream tiles though so we may end up eventually replacing them. I'd like to bring a bit of colour into the room and am thinking blinds would be a good way to do so I've also been looking at Lionshome to give me some inspiration. 




Blake's Room

When you head upstairs Blake's room is the first room right at the top. We aren't a huge fan of the green theme going on in there and Blake doesn't seem a fan either. I've been using Pinterest for ideas and am thinking of painting the walls a neutral colour and just use accessories to brighten up the room. As children tend to grow out of things easily i thought this would be the best way to go. Currently Blake's into pj masks and has bedding, a rug and cushion in his room and these can easily be changed when the time comes that he moves onto something else.


Hallway

The hallway is small and narrow. I think we will be sticking with the grey and just add photos on the walls. At the end of the hall I'd like to get a full length mirror eventually. 

Bathroom 

The bathroom doesn't really need anything doing. We are happy with the design and I love our LED lights on the beams. We may replace the shower door eventually but that's it.

Our Bedroom 

The room is currently painted all grey and has a good size built in wardrobe. We are still trying to decide how we want our room, however we have blush curtains so I'm currently thinking of neutral walls with one wall wallpapered. As for the built in wardrobe we want to give it a proper revamp inside including the flooring and change the doors to sliding ones. 



Attic

Last of all is the attic which will be the last room we do as it needs a lot of work. Currently we are using it for storage and I can't get good enough photos to share. We are thinking of blue walls and painting the brown beams white to bring more light into the room. We need to get the floor fixed properly and are considering laminate like the majority of the house is. There is also a little area that looks like the previous owners were trying to turn into a small toilet that we are unsure what to do with. With that said once the room is done up we can use it as a spare room for family visiting.  I've found some desks I really like the look of from Lionshome too so could even use the room as an area for blogging. 

*In collaboration with Lionshome 

Finding the right childcare solutions with Childcare.co.uk | AD

*This is a paid post in collaboration with Childcare.co.uk

Having relocated back in February we no longer live close to family and friends. This means that if Stuart and I fancy going out one evening, we would have to find a childcare option that is suitable for us as a family.  We recently came across childcare.co.uk to help to take the stress out of finding someone. 

Childcare.co.uk is a free platform where you can register and search your local area. All you have to do is register and then create a profile by filling in your requirements. This is all very simple to do as the website is super easy to navigate.  For us we would want someone who has experience with a child who has  additional needs as well as having some kind of childcare qualification along with an up to date CRB check.  

Childcare providers are able to look at your profile and message you if they think they would be suitable and you can then discuss your options further with them before deciding to meet up.




As i mentioned ankve the website is easy to navigate and you can search for a specific childcare provider or all types within however many miles of your chosen location. This way you can find someome close to home or work. You can do this easily by searching by postcode, town or county. Postcode is the option for us as we would want someone close by for ease and this gives the most defined results.

Once you have done the search the results are easy to read. Each babysitter shows a summery of themselves which includes their qualifications, experience, availability and fees. You can also read reviews from other people as well as leave your own too. This is a great way for you to see who has been recommended to put you at ease.


When using childcare.co.uk we had 7 results within our area that fit our requirements. I feel that's a good amount considering in my search I specified for babysitters with special needs experience.  Luckily we would only need someone occasionally for example once a month for a few hours so Stuart and I can have time to ourselves. We found that quite a few babysitters are flexible too, so if something was to come up such as an important appointment I know where to go to look for somome who's available.

childcare.co.uk is great in that it is free to use  and a stress free way of finding childcare from the comfort of your own home.

Custom art canvas with Pictabulous

*We were sent a canvas from Pictabulous in return for an honest review. 
All thoughts and opinions are my own.


I love taking photos and capturing memories. Like most parents the majority of my photos are of my child. I try to get photos printed off for family members to pop in albums or on  gifts such as mugs but for some reason rarely do the same for ourselves.  There are too many photos taken that just get left on our devices and now we are homeowners we are no longer restricted to what we put on our walls. 

Having worked with Truprint a few times in the past I was contacted to see if I wanted to work with their new brand Pictabulous. Pictabulous are a team of creative and passionate artists who are on a mission to make unique photo based pieces of art work that are more affordable and personal for you.



When choosing which canvas design to go for you can choose from 3 artistic styles fantasy, fun or fine art. Looking at the options for fine art I decided that I wanted a oil painting design. Oil painting gives photos more depth and texture and I chose to have my favourite recent photo of Blake done to give it a lease of life. 

Creating your print is easy with 4 simple steps. 
1. Select the style of pint you want
2. Upload the photo you want and customise it
3. Add to cart
4. Complete checkout 

Once your order has been made within 4 days you will be sent an email for you to see the image to approve just to make sure you are happy.  Then it's created for you and should arrive to you within 10 days.


I chose a 8 x 12 portrait canvas print which is a great size. We currently have it up temporarily in our bedroom until we have sorted out our corner shelving and other photos in our living/dining room.  For this style and size of canvas it's £35 which isn't at all bad pricing for something that's excellent quality. 

I love how  enhanced Blake's features are so you can see them much more clearly such as the creases around his eyes and his little dimple on his chin. After sharing the image on my personal Facebook profile I've had lovely comments on how  gorgeous it is.  I think the canvas print from Pictabulous are a wonderful addition to our home and would make wonderful gifts for family and friends. 

Fussy Eating Solved! Get Your Kids To Eat Anything by Emily Leary

One of the biggest challenges parents face is feeding their child. It's even more of a challenge for us, as part of Blake's fussy eating is down to being autistic. I'm planning to do a seperate post about Blake's eating habits and why it's challenge for autistic children in general.

As a parent I've found since day one, when my son was born I was in a constant worry about how much milk he was having. Then weaning happened and I was worried about if I was giving him enough and what we were able to give him. We tried the puree route which didn't go well so moved onto baby led weaning.  Then he was ill with the norovirus just after his first birthday and then fussyness kicked in and he has such a limited diet since.


Recently blogger Emily Leary has released a cookbook and guide Get Your Kids To Eat Anything. I was lucky enough to get a copy and am looking forward to trying out some of her recipes. I'm always looking for new recipe ideas and ways to encourage Blake to try a more variety of foods. 



Get Your Kids to Eat Anything is a unique 5 phase programme looking at the issue of fussy eating in a way that links imagination with food. It also great for the whole family, to try out new recipes and not revert to  the same meals each week. We as a family are definitely guilty of this and tend to have the same meals each week out of lack of inspiration.
So what is the 5 phase approach?
Phase 1 – Put the unfamiliar into the familiar
Phase 2 – Educate
Phase 3 – Discover the fun in food
Phase 4 – Step into the unknown
Phase 5 – Cement variety
I love the idea of breaking it down into phases and this is definitely much more than just a cookbook. Emily tells about how she came up with the approach, as well as how to adjust your mindset and prepare the family. Emily touches on meal planning which is something I really struggle with and also lists must have ingredients to stock up on to get you started. At the end of each phase Emily has added a section for you to  reflect on the recipes you have tried so you can work out what was liked and disliked. All of the recipes Emily has included in her book recipes that  look delicious and easy to make. I'm definitely looking forward to trying out her ideas the jacket pototo with homemade baked beans seems a good one to start with for us. Huge thanks to Emily for sending me a copy.