Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Back To School

I Just Love It Back to School

This time last year I was preparing to send my baby boy off to his very first day at school, in the months that followed that initial day in the school environment he settled, he made friends and began to enjoy his time away from me. That first year was not without it's struggles though, Leo has found school life pretty difficult and as we prepared for a new school year, we took all of Leo's needs into consideration so that we can help him adjust back into the school setting for a brand new academic year as a student in Year 1.

As we have been preparing to get everything ready for September 5th, Leo has begun to realise that the Summer holiday's are drawing to a close, and this prompted him to talk to me about his concerns about returning to school. 'Mummy year 1 is going to be really tricky. I find the work hard'. Hearing my little guy worrying about returning to school melted my heart, it was heartbreaking hearing him worrying about the impending work load and how difficult he finds school.

I told Leo that we were all going to do absolutely everything that we possibly could to help him learn to read and write, and that he is going to need to help us so that we can help him. That means that every night after school we will be sitting down to read before absolutely anything else, we will practice our writing and our numbers, but Leo needs to co-operate so that we can get the most out of our time together in an evening. I have made a pact with Leo, and if he co-operates and lets me help him, when we get him reading I will buy him a treat, a big treat that will be the perfect incentive for him to knuckle down.

I Just Love It Back to School

Over the Summer Leo and I moved into our own little home, and I am really hoping that our own space and new routine is going to really aid Leo's development and drive. It's quiet, and with it being just the two of us all of the distractions that have plagued us for so long have been removed from the scenario, which gives us a fantastic opportunity. One of my biggest priorities has been Leo's bedroom, my ultimate goal is to provide Leo with a clutter free space that he can use to work when he needs to, and play when the hard stuff has been completed together. I have ordered Leo a new high rise bed that is complete with a desk, and we have also been putting the Venturer BravoWin through it's paces.

Venturer BravoWin

The Venturer BravoWin is the perfect starter product when it comes to computer needs, making it a great tech addition for children starting to use computers for their school work. It's a tablet and laptop in one handy package, it can access the world wide web and also be used for word documents and everything else that Leo will need in his early school years. Leo started using this a few weeks ago and initially began it for gaming, which was a great way for him to get used to the controls and learn how to navigate his way around. Now he's more familiar with it, we have been using it a lot on the Teach Your Monster to read website, which is a great learning aid for children who are looking to learn their letters and start to put words together. As the Venturer is also a tablet, it means you can remove the keyboard entirely. and use it like any other tablet. I love the ease of being able to switch between the tablet and laptop mode which makes sitting down and completing Leo's school pieces that much easier as we can do it at his desk, or in the comfort of the lounge. 

I will be writing a full review on the Venturer BravoWin in the coming weeks once Leo's new bed has arrived and we have his new room up and running. We will be putting together a Vlog so that you can see how Leo gets on with the laptop and so that he can talk to you himself about his new gadget.

Last year I think it is fair to say that Leo and I were both a little un-prepared on the school front, neither of us really knowing what to expect and the whole things pretty much catching us off guard, before it threw us completely out of our comfort zones. This year I have promised myself that this won't happen again, and I am approaching this new school year with what I hope to be military precision (Or my very best attempt at it!) so let's have a look at the kit that Leo will be sporting in our back to school operation:

Lunch Box

Leo ordinarily has a cooked school lunch, but on those days where a school trip crops up I always find myself playing 'hunt the lunch box'. Now this shouldn't be such a mission now that we have moved into our new home and there aren't other people moving things without us realising... But I always feel like it is good to have two lunch boxes so that in the instance one has gone walkabout, you can still look overly prepared in front of the other parents (because there is nothing worse than being the parent who always forgets and misplaces things!).

Smiggle Camo Double Decker Lunch Box

Leo is returning to school with 2 brand new lunch boxes, the first one is the Smiggle Camo Double Decker Lunch Box which is an incredibly fun design that Leo just loves (and it also fits in with my new military mindset!). It's such a great size and the two tiers mean that I can pack it strategically without squishing the sandwiches or spoiling the fruit. It has a carry handle and each tier has it's own zipper so that you can keep food seperate, and can even fit your drinks bottle in one which is super. There is even a space for you to write your name so that it can be easily identified as yours if you happen to misplace it (which always happens at school right?)

We have decided to use this lunch box for those days at school when he isn't have a school dinner, which always seems to be the most incredible treat for Leo and he gets so excited the night before!

I Just Love It Back to School

Leo's second lunch box is the Personalised Space Adventure Lunch Box from I Just Love It. Now for me my favourite part of this lunch box is that you can add your childs name to the front when you order it. I am always forgetting to add Leo's name to these things when I buy them, so this was such a convenient addition for me, and Leo loves that his name is featured on the front.

Leo's new bedroom is a space theme, and when I saw this lunch box I fell in love with it's space adventure theme, and the fact that it had a matching back pack and water bottle should you choose to add these to your basket too (More on these further down!). This lunch box is going to be fantastic on future school trips and Leo is already looking forward to being able to use it with the set when that time rolls around!

Pencil Case

Smiggle Kick It Hard Top Pencil Case

Smiggle Kick It Hard Top Pencil Case

For the reception year Leo didn't require a pencil case as the school provided everything that he needed, for Year 1 I wanted to supply Leo with the essentials because there is something exciting and grown up about having your own case and of course pens and pencils! Leo has returned to school with the Smiggle Kick It Hard Top Pencil Case, which for a football lover may just be the best pencil case in existence!

The pencil case is a great size for everything Leo needs, granted I am not filling it completely at this stage as I am allowing for the fact that Leo may loose bits and pieces, so just sending in the essentials seems to be the best option at this stage. What's really fun about this pencil case is that it comes with 2 sets of football legs, 2 goal posts and 2 football erasers. I have had to take these out for school purposes as I didn't want to distract Leo from his school work (it has to be noted that Leo is easily distracted!) and these will be kept on his new desk at home.

Water Bottle

I Just Love It Back to School

The school gave Leo a water bottle last year and it really helped in getting him to drink more water. Unfortunately this bottle soon disappeared as all of the other children had that exact same bottle, so this year Leo is using the Personalised Space Adventure Water Bottle from I Just Love It. The bottle matches his lunch box and school bag, and even comes with his name, so there is definitely no confusing his bottle with anyone else's!

School Bag 

I Just Love It Back to School

Another area we lacked last year was having a school bag that was big enough to fit everything Leo needed inside, so poor old Leo often had to take canvas bags that I had accumulated at blogging events throughout the year (At least he knows how to answer people when they ask him about BritMums Live now!). So this year Leo is really excited about his brand new Personalised Space Adventure Backpack from I Just Love it!

The bag is such a generous size and can fit absolutely everything that he needs inside for a day out with school. The lunch box fits perfectly inside the front pocket along with his water bottle, and he even has space in the main bag compartment for everything else that he might need for the day, like his winter coat, rain coat and even sun cream, The shoulder caps are padded and he has informed me that it is comfortable to wear, and the straps can be adjusted to the child for a snug fit.

The Summer Holiday's have really flown by, and I cannot believe my boy is already heading back to school, and he is already starting his second school year. This year we are setting some serious goals, with the new house and space behind us, we are really taking full advantage and intend on smashing some new goals. I for one am really looking forward to putting these new learning aids in place for Leo and watching him enjoy the new academic year.

Monday, 15 August 2016

The Power of Reading a Good Book

The Power of Reading a Good Book

Just imagine it - having the time to curl up in a quiet corner with a good book. Whether it’s a dog-eared paperback from the local charity shop or a hardback carefully selected from a polished oak bookcase, the power of losing yourself in a good book is hard to beat and here are some great reasons from Furniture Plus Online why you should pick up a book.

With Book Lover’s Day being celebrated on 9th August, there’s never been a better time to read. But did you know your favourite pastime has proven health benefits, too?

Books Boost Brain Power
We all know it’s important that children learn to read. But did you know that reading a book exposes a child to 50% more new words than watching a TV programme? And all that vocabulary helps them score higher on intelligence tests.

And in later life, flexing your brain muscle by getting to grips with a good story helps to improve brain function and slow mental decline.

Books Raise Empathy
Losing yourself in the fictional lives of others gives you a much greater insight into how others think and act. That empathy is a useful skill when it comes to navigating complex relationships in the real world.

Books Increase Analytical Skills
You know those racy thrillers and whodunits you love but are a little bit ashamed about reading? Don’t be - working your way through a complex plot to solve the mystery helps hone important analytical skills.

And by mentally critiquing the plot and characters, you’ll be sharpening those skills further. Useful if you’re a member of a book club.

Books Improve Concentration
You’re on Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. Or you just have to check your email and Skype your best friend. Stop. See that bookcase over there, full of tempting volumes? Choose one and give it your full attention.

You’ll soon find you’re immersed in the story and caught up with the characters. Feel the stresses and strains of the world flow away. Focus on the characters in a novel or the complex arguments in an article. Try reading on your commute for 15-20 minutes and you’ll be surprised how much more productive you are.

Books Reduce Stress
If you need to escape the pressures of the world, you don’t have to turn to a glass of wine. Open a book - a real book, with pages - and in just six minutes your heart rate slows and tension in your muscles will ease.
In fact, reading brings your stress levels down by 68% - that’s more than listening to music, having a cup of tea or going for a long walk.

Books Make You Creative
You’ll notice that the more you read, and the more you increase your vocabulary, the better your own self-expression will become. Absorbing different styles of writing - the rhythms and cadences of great fiction will inevitably influence you.

Books have an intrinsic beauty - from paperback cover art to a particularly skilful hardback binding. And what better way to display them than in a solid wood bookcase that showcases that beauty? There’s nothing as classy as having your own library of books on display.

Books Are the Best Entertainment
A local library is a wonderful thing, offering millions of stories to enrich your imagination for free. If you don’t have access to a library you can download millions of books for free to an e-reader.

Using your imagination to lose yourself in great writing is better than any movie. Your brain will thank you for it.

Having Fun with the Olympics

The Olympics are now in full swing, and I have been enjoying watching all of the excitement that is currently taking place in Rio. Even Leo has enjoyed watching GB bring home the medals and because of this I thought he would enjoy an Olympic based game. Leo absolutely loves his games (he's recently got his own laptop to help him with his school work!) so he has been spending a bit of time getting to know it. The games are helping him to navigate the keyboard and learn his away around, and of course I am on hand to aid him when he isn't sure. 

Last week I came across a new game that I knew would be a big hit with Leo, it's called Olly's Medal Run. It's a free arcade-sports game from Poki. Leo has used Poki in the past and he was really excited when I told him about this interesting Olympic game called Olly's Medal Run

In Olly’s Medal Run, you guide a cartoon athlete through a series of ever-changing obstacles that are known as “mini-games,” these include a variety of different sports that you can currently see on the Summer Olympic Games!  There is a swimming round, hurdling track, football match, and even a boxing ring, which thankfully is pretty tame!

Before starting the sports competition, there’s a very fun character selection screen, which Leo has been loving as it allows you to decide whether Olly is a boy or a girl. Then, you can try on a selection of different costumes that might just make you laugh the way that Leo chuckled when he saw the fluffy animal outfit! There is also a big maraca suit, and a sundae costume, not to mention the outfit’s colours change based on the country you choose. 

The mini-games start as soon as the game does and you flow through them all one by one, Leo's especially loving the boxing, but my favourite had to be the hurdles and the swimming. It's all very easy to do and the swimming mini-game requires you to press different buttons on the keyboard as you swim toward the gold! There's no time limit but you do need to keep Olly near the top by pressing the buttons pretty quickly (else he will sink towards the bottom and you will loose one your hearts!).
The hurdling is a bit trickier (this is why I personally liked it!), it means you have to be on the ball (or the hurdle as it is!) as you have to jump at the exact moment, which for the younger ones like Leo can sometimes be a bit trickier, but that being said, Leo was amazing at it.
The football mini-game is anther of Leo's favourites. He loves nothing more than having a kick about, and he liked that he could do it in the Olympic setting of Olly's Medal Run. You run Olly accross the pitch kicking every ball as you go!

The boxing game has you running along and punching the training machine, there's no gore or anything that could cause distress so it is absolutely fine for the younger children to have a play at.
If you really want to get in to the Olympic spirit, give Olly's Medal Run a go and see what you think. It's been a great distraction to Leo when I have to do the washing up or entertain our 9 week old Dalmatian Puppy! We loved the game and will be continuing to play when we want a quiet 5 minutes (which there have been quite a bit of over the last week since bringing our puppy home!).

Join your country’s squad in the game, or try to win gold for a different team!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Bringing Lux Home

Dalmatian Puppy

On Saturday we picked up Lux, our 8 week old Dalmatian Puppy. It was a long drive to Hull, 3 hours to be precise, and I was a little worried how he would cope on the way home. It was all going to be so foreign to him after he had spent his first months of life with his Mum, brothers and sisters, and now he was being taken by people he didn't know and leaving everything that he knew behind him, and on top of that he had to be in the car for a lot longer than I would have liked.

We arrived just after 10am (after one very early morning) and seeing him again after a month, it was incredible to see just how much he had grown. He was bigger, stronger, more active and his spots were becoming so much more defined. You could see it was Lux though because of the markings on his face and the two love hearts on his left ear. He was immediately placed into my arms and we sorted out the paperwork, food and payment with the breeder. 

Back in the car on our homeward journey, he was such a fidget and about 10 minutes in I looked down at my lap and faced the biggest pile of dog sick I had ever set my eyes on. He hadn't even made a sound as he had done it, and thankfully it didn't have any particular odor to it! Luke pulled the car over and we sorted it all out (thankfully I had already put the pet cover on the back seat!). We set off with strategically placed puppy pads throughout the back of the car, just in case I had to catch any other bodily fluids along the way (which of course I did!).

Dalmatian Puppy

Lux went to sleep for the majority of the journey and did so well, we stopped at a service station so Luke could grab some food and a drink but I didn't feel like eating after the earlier incident... So I sat in the car and gave Lux some water to keep him hydrated. He couldn't get enough of it and had drank the entirety in a matter of seconds.

Upon getting home we let him stretch his little legs and introduced him to some of his toys, and soon enough he was running around like the mad man that we now know that he is! Lux loves his toy balls and chases them all over the front room, he chews on anything and everything particularly loving his chew toys (and now has a new love of playing tug!).

Over the last 5 days we have watched him start to show us his personality, and already I can tell you that we have a real character on our hands. Lux is absolutely beautiful, he plays brilliantly with Leo and he is already a much loved member of the family (Even Luke secretly likes him despite what he may tell you!).

Dalmatian Puppy

Dalmatian Puppy

Since we brought Lux home he has destroyed 1 large house plant (they can only tolerate so much pulling and swinging from their branches!), he's pooed and weed on the laminate flooring more times than I can recall (his best game is to run up and steal the toilet roll as your mopping the floor, or to run off with the puppy pads!) but everyday he has been getting that little bit more confident and comfortable with us and that is just lovely to see, he's even getting pretty good with using the puppy pads now!

As for sleep, he has been pretty amazing from the get go. So many people told me I was crazy for bringing a puppy into our lives, told me they were more work than a newborn baby, and their reaction was even more priceless when they discovered it was going to be a Dalmatian Puppy! As for that theory though, he woke up once on the first and second night at 2:30am, going straight back to sleep after a little fuss. Then on the 3rd and 4th night he slept straight through, not a peep was heard from him. 

Dalmatian Puppy

Dalmatian Puppy
40 Winks Grey & Cream Snuggle Plush
He's a real playful little guy, he has a mad half hour and then conks out for the next few having a nice long snooze, and that's exactly what he is doing right now. Which is precisely how I can sit here and write this post, because he also likes to chew on the laptop... I currently have his lovely Rosewood Pets 40 winks bed in the wash, as yesterday I witnessed him stand and pee in it... So he is currently sleeping by my feet. 

Dalmatian Puppy
Meaty Chicken Takeaway Bone
Tough Twist Textured Fish
Lux cannot go outside just yet as he has only had his first set of injections, which Leo and I took him along too on Monday. We will be taking him back for the second lot on the 22nd August and then a week after that he can start to venture outside, and that will of course open up new ways to start wearing this cheeky pup of ours out and help him sleep! 

Dalmatian Puppy

Disclaimer: Lux was sent a selection of items from Rosewood Pets in exchange for monthly pupdates.

Female Hair Loss and Transplants

Female Hair Loss and Transplants

A woman’s hair can be her crown and glory, and it’s not uncommon for thousands of pounds to be spent maintaining it over the course of a lifetime.
There can be a number of reasons behind female hair loss; from lack of adequate nutrition and stress, to traction alopecia or hormonal imbalances. Whilst hair restoration is a good option for nearly 90% of the balding men, women can also benefit from hair transplant procedures. .
Are You a Good Candidate?
Hair loss in a woman should never be considered "normal"; however, the cause should be pursued until a diagnosis is established. The women who tend potential candidates for surgical hair restoration are:
  • Women who have suffered hair loss due to mechanical or traction Alopecia (non- hormonal)
  • Women with alopecia marginalis, a condition that looks very similar to traction alopecia.
  • Women who have a distinct pattern of baldness, similar to that of male pattern baldness. This includes:
    • hairline recession
    • vertex thinning
    • A donor area that is not affected by androgenetic Alopecia
  • Women who have had previous cosmetic or plastic surgery and are concerned about hair loss around the incision sites.
  • Women who suffer hair loss due to trauma, including burn victims, scarring from accidents and chemical burns.
The most common reason why a woman would not be a great candidate for a hair transplant would be because they don’t suffer with pattern baldness.
If you do suffer however, and for the other aforementioned reasons, then you may benefit from this procedure.
The U- FUE method for women
Hair transplant clinics such as the renowned Crown Clinic is one of a few clinics that can perform the U-FUE hair transplant. The U simply stands for unshaven or undetectable. A traditional FUE hair transplant is performed with the donor area shaved to have access to the maximum number of hairs possible to harvest. The U-FUE however, is next advancement in the treatment of hair loss.
The walk-in, walk-out method which requires no hospital stay and leaves no visible scarring, works through the extraction of individual follicles from a donor area which are then transplanted one-by-one into the area that needs to be treated.
With a regular FUE transplant, a small section of the back or side of the scalp is shaved to obtain the donor hair follicles.
With an U- FUE, this is eliminated entirely; making it perfect for those with longer hair. Patients can keep their original hair in the same style and length both during and after the procedure, meaning it is entirely undetectable.
The Result
A professional and skilled surgeon will only agree to perform the treatment if they believe the final result will be beneficial to your needs.

Transplantation is the only way to restore hair in areas that have lost their follicles completely, providing your donor areas is acceptable to harvest.  If it is the case, then your surgeon will be able to perform an undetectable transplant.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Top tips when buying a used car


Buying a used car is a great way to cut the cost of driving, car's are one of the most expensive assets that you will ever own, but by waiting a few years for the price of a new car to depreciate, you can reap the rewards at a much more attractive price tag.

Growing up my Father always had a BMW and this was a tradition he carried forward each time he purchased a new car. They were never brand new, they were a few years old when he purchased them and it was he who taught me that you can still get what you want, even if you don't get it right away. 

When buying a used car it is important to take the time to do your research and make sure that you know you are purchasing a sound car


These top tips below are aspects that we should all consider when we look to purchase a new motor.

Budget ahead
What is your budget? Will you be looking to finance it or pay it out right? Get your financial details together before you start viewing so that you know what ££££ you have to play around with, and you can look at cars that fit your price bracket.

Get insurance quotes and check car tax rates before you make any decisions.

Put in brand and model research
Know ahead of time what brand and model you are going to look for so that you can compare price guides, and have the heads up on any known issues or common faults with a particular brand/model.

Only view cars during the day
This goes without saying, as if you view the car after night fall or in adverse weather conditions you will not be able to check the motor out fully and may miss damage to the bodywork or other problems that may be lurking. Make sure you can see the vehicle in it's entirety before moving forward. 

Service History
All cars need work completing on them at one point or another, so owners of the car should have collected an array of garage bills for work, parts, past MOT Certificates and annual services. 

- If there is no service history, ask why.
- Does it look like there is an issue that has not been resolved?
- Does the history correspond with the vehicle in front of you?

V5C Registration document

You should insist on viewing the V5C Vehicle Registration Document, this document shows who the registered keeper is and not the legal owner. This will be able to show you whether the present keeper is in fact the person selling you the car.

The V5C shows all of the details of the previous owners too, so if you really wanted to do your homework you could potentially contact them to find out more about when they owned the car, as previous owners have no vested interest so their comments will be truthful and honest.

MOT Certificate 

If you know the vehicles registration number and have the document reference on the V5C then you can actually check the MOT status and history online right back to 2005. 


Test Drive

The test drive is your only opportunity to put the car through it's paces before you decide to make the purchase or not. Driving the car will make or break a deal and is the perfect time to check the car's general mechanical condition and to find out for sure if it's the car for you.

- How does the engine sound?
- Is it jumpy or smooth?
- Is the driving position comfortable?
- Can you operate all of the controls easily?
- Do the child seats fit?
- Does the pushchair fit in the boot?

Monday, 1 August 2016

Long Distance Driving

Dalmatian Puppy

This coming weekend we make the 3 hour drive back to Hull to collect our new family addition, Lux, our Dalmatian Puppy. I cannot wait to get in the car early on Saturday morning, because it means we are one step closer to bringing our little best friend home and the fun can commence. Along with the excitement of picking him up, I am also slightly nervous about my car on such a long drive, it has been known to be unreliable at times, and of course setting out on such a long drive can sometimes make you paranoid to every bump in the road or unusual noise.

I have been known to drive along with the radio turned down as low as it will go, and just listening intently to each and every whirl of the motor. That's not how driving should be, those long jaunts in the car shouldn't be stressful, you should be able to trust in your car to get you from point A to point B without the engine over heating and spurting water all over the place or the tyre popping until you are literally running on the metal...

Mini Cooper S Convertible 2005

Yes both of these instances have happened (in the past 12 months within 2 weeks of one another...).

I have been thinking about my future car plans for once I finally break ties with my Mini (Which through all of the car troubles has been a much loved car). I sort of feel like the my Mini Cooper S was a car I needed to have for a short part of my life, just once. Sort of like a mid life crisis in the sense that it worked for us but realistically is completely impractical. If I had gone on to have another baby in that time frame I would have been locked into the finance deal, and I would have had no room for a pushchair and only 4 seats within the car. Of course now we are bringing Lux into the fold, I am going to have to cover my leather seats with some protective covers to stop him clawing the leather. 

Of course all of these factors feed into what I actually need and expect from my next car, and only 2 years after collecting my Mini, my requirements have completely matured. I now want and need something that is more realistic than small and sporty. I need a larger, more recent car with great boot space, with the potential to have a dog guard and of course still have room for a pushchair (because one day this will need to be essential). 

I haven't narrowed down the complete selection yet, but I am thinking of a few brands that I think have the possibilities to meet my over all needs:

- VW
- Ford
- Kia

On Saturday we will be hitting the road early so we can arrive in West Yorkshire with plenty of time to spare, we will be cruising down the motorway hoping for a straightforward drive with no hidden adventures in store for us. We will make all the essential checks before we leave to eliminate anything that we can prevent going wrong, and we will bring our little pup home. 

The count down is on.

Dalmatian Puppy