Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Starting Now: How to Financially Prepare for Your Child's Future

Kids Scooter in use

Managing your own finances can be stressful and difficult. When you add a child or a new baby into the mix,  the situation can become even more panic-inducing. Budgeting for your child's future helps to realise that the situation doesn't have to be stressful or overwhelming. In fact, it can be a relatively simple process, provided that you have the right tips and know what you are doing. Here are some tips on how to financially prepare for your child's future.

Get Your Own Finances In Order - If you're expecting a new child, this is the ideal time to begin getting your own finances in order. One of the best ways that you can get your own finances into shape is by looking for the best basic bank account offered by different banking institutions. Your current account may be charging you too many maintenance fees. That's money better saved and invested for your child's future.

Cut Excess Expenses - A good idea is for every household to examine their monthly expenses and determine if anything can be cut from their budget, in order to save money. If you find that you're eating out too often or perhaps spending more than you have to on entertainment, you may want to begin scaling back on those purchases.

Start A Savings Account For Your Child - A savings account is a perfect way to begin saving for your child's future. You don't have to have millions of pounds in the bank in order to create a useful and meaningful savings account for your child. Even if you can only afford to contribute a small amount each month to this fund, the investment will be worthwhile and make a positive impact on your child's future.

Plan Ahead - Smart families with children know that money shouldn't simply be spent casually. Rather, families should create budgets that are strictly adhered to. Learn how to create a budget for each month and make a point of sticking to it. If you do this, you will save money that can be put towards your child's future.
New parents may have to spend some time getting used to planning for their child's future. However, if you follow these guidelines, you will ensure that your family and your child are both financially secure. Budgeting can be an adjustment, but it can be more than worth it.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

When you believe

Although there are many hand books available for purchase to walk you through the first weeks..Months and early years of your child's life. Nothing can ever really prepare you for all that there is to come. Those books are guidelines, mere text on paper, which is great should you have a text book baby, a text book toddler, a perfectly 'normal' pre-schooler. We all know that it's not that straight cut, babies, toddlers, children, no two are ever alike. They are all individuals weaving their way on their very own path, but they will all get where there supposed to go, in their own good sweet time.

If you have followed my journey with Leo over the past 17 months or so, you will know that we have had a bit of a bumpy ride. After being let down by our health visitor, and having to watch on as Leo was scored way below where he 'should' be on his development time after time, I got to the point where I expected to hear negativity in every direction, everyone seemed to have concerns, but nothing positive to say? Was there something underlying with my beautiful boy? Was I being naive? Should I stick to my guns? Of course I knew that everyone just wanted the best for Leo, just as I did. I happily accepted all the help offered to me and of course to Leo. I attended sensory play, speech therapy, nursery appointments, before the health visitor finally met with Leo again.

That appointment completely blew my mind, I really thought that we were going to get referred to the pediatrician, in fact I wanted to be referred. We could finally get one over all opinion and some answers, maybe some proper support to help Leo should he need it. The health visitor sat with us and decided there and then that Leo was absolutely fine, which in my heart of hearts I had known all along. Of course with that resounding declaration from the health visitor, there were now conflicting opinions rocking the boat, yet again. I had nursery telling me that Leo was severely behind and actually at the development level of a 22-36 month old, and the health visitor was adament that Leo performed exactly where he should be and beyond, actually placing him between the level of 4-5 years old.. 

While concern after concern for his speech was being raised, and the little boy I could see shining brightly on a daily basis wasn't being recognized in the nursery setting but was coming along all the time in my company, I couldn't understand how no one else could see it. How no one could see him learning and absorbing everything around him, a little sponge in this big wide world. I decided a long time ago to throw caution to the wind, to accept every bit of advice that was made available to us, but to trust my instinct. It may sound crazy, but I didn't worry about Leo. I had every faith in him finding his way, finding his voice and his confidence. You can't rush a child, I knew this, how didn't anyone else? So he didn't speak as well as Joe Blogs!? So he was quiet and reserved? Does that mean we have to pin a label on him?

Flash forward to today...

Today was Leo's second parent's evening. I went straight from work, and you know what? I was ready to hear all about the things Leo wasn't doing. I was mentally ready to look at that development sheet and see where Leo was...and where he 'should' be. To hear the worries about Leo starting school in September.. Only... This evening was the most positive feedback I have received from nursery in the history of Leo's time there.

He counts, recites his days of the week (over and over again!), joins in, dresses himself (at school anyway!), Sings NURSERY Rhymes (The boy that never did!), Asks questions, has many friends, talks with peers, initiates games... Not one negative item of feedback. All glowing, all singing all dancing! 

Leo got there. He GOT THERE! 

I was balled over. Knocked for six. Proud! 

So very proud. 

I have always been proud. Every milestone, bump in the road, smile and tear. This is his path, his time and there is no expiration date on learning. I have kept my cool and somehow my hair throughout this entire ordeal. I have watched Leo learn new words, try new experiences and come on all the time. 

Then one day his confidence just exploded. Out of nowhere, that beautiful boy of mine suddenly had the get up and go that had lay in hibernation until he was ready. Now he is un-stoppable, his vocabulary is widening all the time, oh the things we talk about. He may just be the only 3 year old who asks for a Costa Babycino and puts up the perfect argument as to why he NEEDS one. 

I can honestly say that tonight I sit here and write this post with an unbelievable pride, A pride that only comes when the battle is won, or at least when the waters calm and you can see through the storm to the reality of what you believed all along. That existence for me is that Leo was learning in his own good sweet time, and now he is picking up momentum, the cogs were always turning but suddenly the pace is gaining speed. There's a hunger to be filled, a curiosity that is propelling him forward, and I have been a part of it all. I believed in him, and I believed in myself, my instinct as his Mum. 

Guidelines... PAH! Guidelines are exactly that...Guidelines! That line they draw that your child is above or below doesn't exist. Every child is different. They learn when they are good and ready. 

I am so glad that I had the faith in my clever boy, and in myself!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Shine Bright

Time has run away with me of late, the days and weeks have passed in the blink of an eye and life as I knew it has changed rather dramatically, rather amazingly. In the right here and now I am so excited for the weeks and months ahead, of learning and challenging myself in a field that I am passionate about. 

I have always said that everything happens for a reason, that when one door closes another is just waiting to open. When I was made redundant on the 27th April, I knew that one way or another everything was going to be ok. When I was called upon on first thing on that usual Monday morning I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, it was the usual run of the mill Monday morning. Only this Monday morning I was to be in a meeting with the managing director, and a number of my fellow co-workers. I made my way promptly and no one really knew what it was about, but not for one moment did I think that my time with the company I had spent the last 5 years with was coming to an end. 

It was however coming to an end. We all took our seats and awaited the arrival of the director, I don't think any of us really saw it coming. Within seconds of the director arriving our fate had been sealed. 'Your jobs are at risk of redundancy'....'We will be starting the consultation period...'. In those seconds following the news, I don't recall sadness, shock...anything? In fact I was surprisingly calm, collected even. I guess you never know how you will react until you are staring into the eye of the storm, but ultimately it depends on how YOU want to conduct yourself. I wanted to leave on good terms, and celebrate the 5 years that I had served with the company. 

I smiled as I went back to my desk, made a green tea and made my way to my first consultation meeting. I smiled as I walked in the door, and I made light of the situation in my way of trying to let my line manager and HR manager know that it was just one of those things It's not personal, it's business after all. They read from a script as my fate was further cemented into the hard reality that it was, I kept thinking that I should feel more, say more, but I just felt at ease with everything that was happening. Like it was somehow meant to be, that it was my time do actually do something. 

Only the week before all of this happened I had wrote a post about how I was going to spend those 2 days a week I was going to find myself with after Leo started school. I was going to fill them with blogging, putting 2 whole days into my hobby. I was going to take a look at college courses and see what took my fancy, I had ideas, but no set direction set in my mind. Suddenly that direction seemed cloudy and un-certain, but that was ok. It was time to pick myself up, dust myself off and get right back out there. I figured I had two options, I could sit at home and dwell on it, or I could start making changes right there and then. So that's what I did. 

If one thing has surprised me in the weeks that have followed, it's that this here blog, that has been my best kept secret for well over 3 years, is now no longer secret. It's out in the open to friend, family and everyone I once worked with. The reactions following the un-veiling have surprised me, and I guess surprised them in turn, and you know what? I am pleased that it's known. I have worked hard on my little corner of cyber space, had some bigger than life opportunities and met some fantastic people, it was a part of my life that has been kept under lock and key. It's time I shout it from the roof tops, because I am so proud of everything that is documented here. 

I had absolutely no idea that the twists and turns of the weeks that followed were going to put a big smile on my face. I have now officially left my old job, and I am embarking on a exciting new adventure that came along at that exact moment when one door closed. As that one door shut, another door crept open and set me on a new track, one that I firmly believe I am meant to be on.

Sometimes things have to fall apart before they can fall back together, keep smiling. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Life Through the Lens

I have always been one to take many photos. I love to capture our everyday lives and capturing it through the camera lens means that, that one moment in time has been captured forever. It's flawless, a time capsule that brings back those feelings that were felt in that one moment. Laughter, love, the emotion that you just cannot re-create. Photographs tell the truth, one facial expression, one simple glance at another, it's a true reflection of the people your looking at through your camera lens. 

One of my most memorable days, was the day Leo entered the world. It's hard to believe that it is now coming up to 4 years ago. Even in the throws of labor it was important to me that we capture the day, from the birth through to that very first meeting, it's a day I will never forget. From being in the birthing pool, to the seconds after Leo hurtled into our lives, to every moment that has followed since. Each photo taken that day caught a different emotion, a once in a lifetime facial expression of becoming first time parents. It was the most magical, scary, emotional, exhilarating, spectacular, tiring and amazing day all rolled into one. Looking into our first born babies eyes, holding him tight and breathing in his newborn baby smell and counting his ten tiny fingers, and his ten tiny toes. You can see the look of uncertainty on my face, the look of pure shock at how quickly everything had progressed, the look of a proud new Mum.

Those photos are the most treasured out of all of the photos I have taken, because they mark the very moment that my little family was born, and cemented together for always. I have always stored my photographs on my laptop, and following the birth of Leo back in 2011, my laptop hard drive decided to fail. Absolutely everything was lost, my holiday photos, even the photographs taken back in the day at school. Thankfully I still had the photographs from Leo's birth on my camera's SD Card, and although I was devastated at losing the rest of my treasured memories, I was comforted in the knowledge that all wasn't lost. That the most important photographs were safe.

It took my hard drive failing for me to realise how important it is to back everything up, and I very quickly invested in an external hard drive. I don't back up as much as I should, but I am relaxed in the knowledge that everything is backed up, so if the inevitable does happen, I can restore my photos, and keep those special memories alive. I had no idea what I was looking for when I began searching for an external hard drive, I didn't know what I would need, the space I required or really have a clue what I needed.

The fist thing I did upon receiving my external hard drive was immediately back everything up. 

I still love flicking through the photos from Leo's day of birth. I remember every moment, I study each facial expression and marvel at just how much we have all grown in every day since. How much we have all learnt, how far we have come. 

Written For Tesco

Thursday, 30 April 2015

What if you were washed up on a desert island?

It's a scenario that has been asked for as long as I can remember, but the answer to that one question differs for everyone. So I pose it to you. Which 3 items from your home would you want to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island? It could be absolutely anything, your television, your hair straighteners, even your make up bag.  Say you hopped on a plane tomorrow and you got washed up on some isolated island without much hope of being rescued. Which 3 items could you not live without?

I have thought about this scenario long and hard, and I have actually found it a pretty tricky question to answer. Being on a desert island it kind of makes certain things obsolete. It may come as a surprise to you but I won't be adding my hair straighteners or my make up bag to this list! Like I say... I have given this a lot of thought, and my top 3 items are as follows:

Number 1: My memory foam mattress. Now I know this is not something that you usually take on a plane, and the chances of being washed up on a desert island with it is not a likely occurrence. But if there was a choice in the matter, then my memory foam mattress would rank pretty high. I love nothing more than a relaxing nights sleep, and after camping recently on nothing but the tent liner for comfort beneath me... I know that if I was to be bracing the elements, I would certainly want somewhere comfortable to sleep!

Number 2: My Nutribullet Blender - Let's just in vision for one moment that this island is similar to the one featured in Lost, that it has electricity and the potential for me to make use of my most used kitchen appliance. Just imagine all of the exotic fruits that I could whiz up, all of the taste tantalizing smoothies, Banana, Mango, Coconut and even Pineapple! I know, it's quite a random item to long to have on a desert island, but seriously this would make life so much easier and really spice up the meal plan for those stranded with you! Fruit alone can get a little tiresome but smoothies are just my favourite thing ever!

Number 3: Last but not least... My final item that I would want to be stranded with are my Nike running shoes. As some of you know, I am really into my fitness right now, and I have the most beautiful pair of Nike Airmax shoes. Just because I was stranded on a desert island, it wouldn't stop me running. In fact it may even spur me on, imagine those serene beaches and the waves lapping up against the shore on that mid evening jog just as the sun is setting over head. This would certainly keep me running! 

They may be the most random items to wish to have if I was stranded on a desert island, but I think they are pretty creative. Did it get you thinking about your top 3 items?  

You can't ever really prepare to be stranded, so I guess it all comes down to your personal circumstances. Of course there are far worse circumstances than being washed a shore a stunning beach right!? A burglary, a fire, but I guess that's exactly why we have home insurance right!?

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Star Stables - A Review

My school days saw the rise of the internet, and in those years so much changed. You could log online and a whole new world was presented before you, and it was in those years that I discovered the virtual reality of online games. Of course 2015 is a whole new ball game, the internet has exploded and now expectations are set so much higher when it comes to online gaming. 

The popularity of these online games has continued to grow, and the kids of today are spoiled with choice. Take Star Stable for instance, when I first saw this game I thought it must be a game you have to purchase on a CD Rom (That right there show's how old I am right!), because of course in this day and age you just download everything straight to your computer. There is no waiting around (here I wanted to come out with the 'Back in my day....' line!) but that really does just demonstrate how far the internet and games have come.

Star Stable is the online horse game where you explore the beautiful island of Jorvik on the back of your very own horse. I know that if this had been around when I was younger I would have swooned over it. I had such a passion for horses as a little girl and longed to learn to ride, of course it is more difficult than it looks! In fact... The last time I attempted to ride a horse I actually managed to end up clinging on for dear life around the horses neck after he decided to spring into a canter and caught me completely off guard!

You can see the trailer for Star Stable here, and I have to admit that after having a little play with it recently that it's easy to see why it's so popular.

What I really like about Star Stable is being able to explore the fully functional 3D world, and not to mention being able to do it by horseback. I once proclaimed that I was never going to learn to drive, instead I was going to learn to ride a horse and I was going to ride absolutely everywhere, even to school. Unfortunately this never became my reality...But online with Star Stable my childhood dreams have become virtual realities for little ones. The game play allows you to take part in competitions and embark on exciting quests as you watch your story unfold before you.

You can enjoy Star Stable for free up to level 5, this is a great sample of the game and gives you an idea of whether or not the game is for you. After that you need to become a Star Rider Member. Becoming a full member unlocks the following bonuses to you:

  • Progress beyond the free-player level cap all the way up to level 15.
  • Access to thousands of member-only quests and exciting adventure areas.
  • Access to special member-only clothes, equipment and horses.
  • Receive a weekly allowance of 100 Star Coins every Saturday morning.
As a grown up who admittedly enjoyed the game play of Star Stables, I can see why it is so popular with the younger generations. 

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


For years I didn't have the time or inclination to treat myself, I didn't feel overly great about the way I looked and this put me off buying clothes. Of course as we were living in our own home, we didn't really have the expandable income to just buy things willy nilly, and for those years Leo was the only one who really befitted from any lovely new clothes. That was because Leo needed new items, he was a growing boy, and as fast as I could kit him out for the one size, he was moving on up into the next one! Leo is turning 4 years old in 2 months time, and I have been buying age 4-5 for the last few months now, just so that he can get the maximum wear out of his wardrobe.

It just so happens that yesterday I was made redundant from my job, so now money is looking to be a little tighter again. With that being said though, it is always down to budgeting, and it just means that I need to be a little more refined with my spending, which these days seems to happen much more freely than back in the days where I didn't feel I could pull of anything I wore...  

Of course it's times like these that you see all the items that you would just LOVE to buy. It sods law, and it literally is as though someone is having a really good giggle at your expense. Trying to tempt you to purchase that gorgeous new dress, or those shoes that would go perfectly with that bag you already have at home... But you know that you need to save. You need to be a grown up and make sure all of those bills of yours are paid each month, because you don't really know what is going to happen over the coming months. When will you be back in work again? Will you be able to cover all of your bills until you get back on your feet?

It's times like these that you really think about what you would do with an extra £100, and right now I can think of so many different things, from necessities that I really should be focusing my full attention on to all of the shiny items that capture my attention without trying. However right now my main focus is on my little man's birthday. Leo has been promised a Nintendo Wii U for his upcoming fourth birthday, of course this was before my job was on the line. An extra £100 right now would work wonders towards making my little guy's birthday. Leo is Mario mad at the moment, so he is hoping for Mario Kart 8 to accompany the console, and Mummy is going to be cooking up a storm in the kitchen baking a Super Mario Kart Birthday Cake!

I may have to have a look into the TSB Plus Account!

For now I am applying for jobs and deciding what I want to do with myself. I left my position yesterday after finding out that my job was now redundant, as I felt that I would be in a better position to think the situation and make the changes that need making from home. I feel like I have had a productive day, and I have even looked into the possibility of returning to college. One thing is for sure, I certainly have some decisions to make over the coming weeks.

What would you do with £100 extra this month?

Disclaimer: This is a featured post.