Photo: Hugs

Morning cuddles!

Morning cuddles!

Posted as part of the Britmums Snap it. Pin it. Tweet it. #SnapHappyBritMums

Pancake day!

Since Little Mr A started school no ‘holiday’ big or small (Diwali anyone?) goes without a celebration in our house.  Last week he came home very excited as he had had pancakes at school (they are on half term this week so had them a week early).  He has been pestering me all week for pancakes and finally, today, I was able to let him have some!

Here are some pics of me and my helper making our pancakes:

Making the batter...

Making the batter…

Mummy are they ready yet?

Mummy are they ready yet?


Mmmm.... Chocolate spread!

Mmmm…. Chocolate spread!

Enough pictures now, I want to eat them!

Enough pictures now, I want to eat them!


The aftermath!

The aftermath!


Roll on Easter!

Review – Magic Moves Wand

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about Little Mr A’s love of technology and said I was looking for new technology to get him up and about and more active.  When I saw the opportunity to review the Magic Moves Wand made by Educational Insights and sold in the UK by Learning Resources I thought it looked like a great way to get him moving.


The idea of the wand is that when the ‘play’ button is pressed the wand will light up and tell your child an action to perform.  Music will then play whilst your child performs the action.  If they miss what has been said they can press the ‘repeat’ button to hear it again. There are 90 different actions to be performed and 26 different musical tunes, each one having it’s own different light show.  The actions are things such as ‘Hop like a Frog’, ‘Wiggle like a Worm’, ‘Grow like a Beanstalk’…

At intervals, whilst performing the action, the wand will tell them to ‘Freeze’ or ‘March’ to add a different element to the game.  Also, at certain times the wand will say ‘Lets Dance’ which has it’s own three different tunes, ‘Techno’, ‘Afro-Pop’ and ‘Latin Salsa’.

The wand is aimed at children aged 3+ and the idea is that it gets them up and moving to exercise whilst also helping with creativity and listening skills.

Here is Little Mr A demonstrating how the Magic Moves Wand works:

At first, Little Mr A loved the wand.  He really enjoyed carrying out the actions and dancing around to the music, however, after the initial enthusiasm the wand has been left lying in his bedroom, unplayed.  I think perhaps he is a bit too old for the wand and it would be better enjoyed by younger children as there is not much to keep older children engaged for long.

I am sure 3 year olds would love the wand, particularly if they are into animals and the different sounds/actions they do.  Little Miss A was very taken with the lights and music!

I do like the concept of the wand as I think it is a good way to encourage children to move and dance, however, as I said above, I think it is more aimed at younger children.  I am sure if Little Mr A had a friend over they would probably play with it for a short while but cannot see it becoming a regular toy in his play routine.

Priced at around £15-£20 I do not think it is too unreasonably priced and would make a nice gift for younger children.  It is great quality, feels really sturdy and robust and comes with batteries included.

I think the wand would be great for playgroups and nurseries as I think children would have a lot of fun together performing the various actions.

Overall a good toy for younger children and groups and a reasonable price.

If you would like the chance to win one please head over to Learning Resources’ Facebook page, they have 5 to give away!

Guest Post – How to combat allergies in children

Allergies hit many people hard, but children seem to be especially vulnerable. That may be because most allergies first appear during infancy or childhood, and some later fade away by adulthood. But children aren’t just more susceptible to allergies because of their bodies. They’re more susceptible because of their growing minds and their active lifestyles, which put them into more regular contact with potential allergens. Whether it be food, pet or outdoor allergies, children have a harder time than adults coping with this problem. But there are steps you can take to make life easier and safer for your child.

Here are a few:

1. Keep Yourself and Your Child Informed

Learn everything you can about your child’s allergy. Share with your child whatever they are able to understand. Help them do some online research of their own. Encourage them to ask questions of their allergist, and make sure they understand everything the doctor tells you. Encourage them to talk to other students with allergies and learn what they do to cope and prepare. Stay up to date on new developments and medications.

2. Plan in Advance

Of course, it should go without saying, but take whatever steps are necessary to learn the cause of your child’s allergy. Then make a plan with the allergist and involve your child in every step. Get an EpiPen and keep it near your child at all times, whether that be in their pocket or with their teacher, depending on school policy. Stock up on other necessary prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. Practice with your child to make sure they know what to do in case of an attack.

3. Learn School’s Food Policies

Does your child’s school label foods that contain peanuts? Eggs? Dairy? Does the school keep EpiPens on hand for emergencies? Is the school generally considered to be allergy-conscious? Most schools are improving in their awareness of childhood allergy concerns, but some are much better than others. These schools train their staff for emergencies, have snack policies that limit interaction with dangerous foods, and segregate foods in the lunchroom that contain allergens.

4. Avoid Triggers

If your child is allergic to pets, don’t get any. If you already have one, keep it out of your child’s room at all times and try to keep it away from your child as much as possible. If the allergy is serious, you’ll have to give the pet away. If your child is allergic to dust mites, cover their crib or mattress with a mite-proof cover, remove stuffed animals, keep their room clean, get rid of carpets and heavy drapes. If it’s an outdoor allergy, use an air conditioner to filter allergens and keep windows closed. Wash their clothes and linens frequently. If indoor allergens are the culprit, get rid of household cleaners, perfumes and other strong chemicals, and ban all smoking (which you should really do under any circumstances if you have a child in the house).

5. Learn the Seasonal Patterns

If your child has an outdoor allergy, you’ll need to develop seasonal habits. Avoid the outdoors during high-pollination times, which will depend on when their particular allergen is in bloom – whether it be weeds, grasses or trees. Pollination is usually most intense between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Keep windows closed during these times. You may also want to run an air cleaner and keep pets from leaving or entering the house.
Allergies can take a hit out of anyone, but they’re especially hard on children. Whether it be food allergies, pet allergies or dust mite allergies, their bodies are vulnerable and their young minds aren’t well prepared to deal with the problem. But that’s why you’re there to help, and these tips can make the job a little easier.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

My family…

Over the past couple of weeks I have realised I have written some very moany posts, sometimes about my family, sometimes about other things!  This week has made me realise how lucky I am to have my family around me and I don’t want my children looking at my blog in a few years and thinking what a miserable, moaning Mummy they have (they will work that out for themselves soon enough!).  With Valentines day coming up it has inspired me to try and make a video to let them know how much they mean to me and how much I love them.

Here goes (I am not very creative and don’t really know how to use the video software properly so it is my best attempt!)…



Star of the Day!


Star of the Day!

Little Mr A got star of the day again today for all of his hard work!

Living with Hidradenitis Suppurativa

I have been umming and ahhing over whether to write this post for some time now.  Do I really want people to know about such a horrible condition I have?  Most of the time it makes me feel dirty and smelly, when I am not!  I came to the conclusion that most people that know me know about it anyway and for those that don’t it will explain why I don’t often wear vest tops, etc. in the summer and, if I do, why my armpits look such a mess!  If I can help someone else who is suffering and maybe doesn’t know what it is then that would be great.

So what is Hidradentis Suppurativa (HS)?  It is a painful, long-term skin condition that produces abscesses and consequently scarring to the skin, usually of the armpits, groin, buttocks and breasts, basically anywhere you can think of that is going to be (a) painful, (b) unsightly and (c) cause the most aggravation!  Lumps can also form elsewhere, I have a recurring one on my neck which, thankfully has not come back for a while.  Some poor people have them on their face and I am praying this never happens to me.  At least on your body you can hide them with clothes, no matter how painful, I cannot imagine having pus leaking lumps on your face.

At the moment there is no known cause for HS but it has been linked to inflamed sweat glands and blocked hair follicles.  It is estimated that around 1% of the population suffers, however, this could be more as it is quite an embarrassing condition to seek treatment for and therefore some people may not bother.  It has been featured on Embarrassing Bodies on a couple of occasions.

HS ranges from mild to severe.  At the moment, I am lucky and would say mine is more mild, however, from time to time it does flare up very badly and is incredibly painful.  I can’t remember the last time I was completely symptom free!

The symptoms include red lumps, blackheads, cysts, scarring and channels in the skin which leak pus.  Sometimes these lumps can become infected which cause an infection requiring treatment with antibiotics.

There are 3 distinct stages to the disease and, unfortunately, at present, no cure.  These stages are as follows:

  • Stage 1 – single or a few isolated abscesses without scarring or sinus tracts.
  • Stage 2 – recurrent abscesses in more than one area and the beginning of the formation of sinus tracts.
  • Stage 3 – widespread abscesses with many interconnected sinus tracts under the skin. There may be severe scarring and continuous leaking.

HS usually starts around the age of puberty, but it can appear at any age.  It is less common for HS to occur before puberty or after the menopause, leading some experts to believe that hormones have some sort of influence on the disease.  I am absolutely convinced my HS is hormone related.  I only vaguely remember having light symptoms before I became pregnant with Little Mr A.  Whilst I was pregnant all of the symptoms disappeared.  As soon as I had had Little Mr A the symptoms came back worse than ever. I did seek medical assistance at this point but the only thing they would offer me were really strong antibiotics and I wasn’t allowed to get pregnant whilst on them or for 6 months to a year after finishing them as it could seriously affect a baby.  At the time we were considering another child and therefore I put up with the symptoms.  When I became pregnant with Little Miss A, again, my symptoms all but disappeared.  Since giving birth this time, I have gone back on the pill and my symptoms do not seem to have come back so bad, however, around ‘that time of the month’ they do worsen.  The Doctors never seemed convinced it was hormone related, however, I think all the evidence in my case strongly suggests hormones are to blame.

HS can run in the family and I really hope I have not passed this horrible disease onto either of my children I really do not want them to have to suffer with it.

It is said that smoking and being overweight can make HS worse so it is recommended that you lose weight and stop smoking to see if there is any improvement.  I cannot say for definite that giving up smoking has helped mine, but, I have not started again since having Little Miss A and, as I said before, my symptoms are not too bad at the moment.

In the early stages, the disease may be controlled with medication, however, I was constantly on and off antibiotics in the early days and, whenever my course finished, the symptoms would return!  Persistent and severe cases may require surgery.  I was offered steroid injections into affected areas, however, I could not face having injections into my armpits, particularly when they were already painful from the lumps!

I have learnt to live with HS over the years.  Yes it’s still painful and embarrassing and, no matter how hard I try, sometimes it does really get me down and I think ‘why me’?  It is especially frustrating in the summer when I want to wear strappy tops.  Somedays I cannot shave my armpits it is so painful and I just don’t feel comfortable having that on show!  Even at home, if I wear a strappy top, Little Mr A now notices and will not come for a cuddle unless I put another top on to cover it up.  That really hurts.

Whenever symptoms are really bad and I am feeling upset I do try and pull myself out of it. It is not a life threatening illness it is just frustrating and painful and I know things could be a lot worse.

For more information please visit the NHS website.  For support there are various help groups and websites such as The Hidradenitis Suppurativa Trust and even a Facebook group.

I am not brave enough to put any pictures of my horrible skin on here, but, if you want to see what it looks like there are plenty of images if you search on Google!

The Mummyfesto – Linda Green

MummyfestoWhen I saw the opportunity to review The Mummyfesto by Linda Green I jumped at the chance.  I love ‘chick lit’, give me anything by Marian Keyes, Jill Mansell, Louise Bagshaw, Helen Fielding and I am well away so I thought it would be a great way to discover a new author.  Since having Little Miss A I have not been reading as much as I would like as I just don’t seem to have the time or energy so it was also a great way to get me back into reading again.

So what is The Mummyfesto about?  It starts with three friends, Sam, Jackie & Anna campaigning to save their local lollipop lady from redundancy with the help of their children.  When a TV reporter asks if they fancy standing in the general election they decide to form the ‘Lollipop Party’ to fight for causes they, and other parents, believe in.  With the help of social media and blogging they put together a ‘Mummyfesto’ to include all those issues that real people would like to see happen.

This book though is not just about politics.  Although politics forms the base for the book, so many more issues are covered.  Sam has a child with an incurable disease and works in a children’s hospice that is struggling for funding; Jackie is struggling to conceive a much wished for second child whilst trying to cope with her Mum’s ever worsening Alzheimer’s; and Anna is dealing with her teenage children’s drinking and bullying problems at the same time as struggling to keep her loveless marriage on track.

I was really impressed with how many issues were tackled in this book and all of them with so much knowledge and compassion.  I have laughed and cried whilst reading it and really became involved with all of the characters’ lives.  I am sure most people will be able to relate with at least one of the issues in this book.

I thought the politics issues were written really well and did not go into so much detail that it was confusing.  At the end of the day they are normal people standing up for issues they believe in, not politicians.  There was one paragraph in the book which I felt summed up the ‘politics’ side of things really well which I would like to share with you…

What we were proposing here was to tear up the rule book and not even bother to write a new one.  We were going to work on gut feeling as to whether something was right or wrong.  The same gut feeling that parents the world over relied on when they were trying to decide what was best for their child.  Sure, occasionally they might get it wrong, but as long as they had been motivated by love, by an honest intention to do the best by their child, then nobody could ask for more than that.’

In their Mummyfesto they cover lots of important topics that mean something to them and their families.  Lots of serious and not so serious suggestions were brought up, but my favourite has to be ‘All roads and road signs should be colour-coded…So if you want to go from Leeds to Manchester you just follow the purple line along the road.’  Why no-one has come up with this before I don’t know!  It got me thinking, if I was going to rule the country what would I like to see change…

My ‘Mummyfesto’

1.  An issue important to me (as you have probably gathered if you are a regular visitor!) is the fact that bottle feeding Mums are not given the same support as breastfeeders.  I would want that changed.  Obviously there are benefits to breast feeding which need to carry on being provided to mums to be but I think that support should be provided to those who chose not to.  Also, more investigations and reports need to be done into effects of tounge tie on bottle fed babies so that no-one has to be treated the way we were.


2.  School holidays should be more flexible and the six week holiday should be shortened and spread out.  For working families it is a nightmare trying to find childcare for every school holiday, especially as your children get older and don’t want to be ‘babysat’ anymore.  Most parents will not be able to take all school holidays off.


That’s my serious ones over, the rest are just silly ones that I think would improve every parents life!

3.  A free cleaner for working parents once every 2 weeks mainly to clean bathrooms and change the bedding!

4.  A free babysitter for all parents once every six weeks.

5.  Locals only private roads or times when holidaymakers are banned from the roads, particularly during holiday season.  If you’ve ever lived near a tourist town you will know how frustrating it is to try and get around to do your normal everyday jobs!

If you were in charge of the country, what would you change?

To mark the release of The Mummyfesto a website has been set up to start the debate on what you would change.  Why not visit and let them know your thoughts – you could even win a signed copy of the book!

The Mummyfesto is already available for Kindle and is released in paperback on 14th February.

I will definitely be reading Linda Green’s other novels now!

Review – East Park, Hull

DSCF2533The one thing I miss now we don’t live in Hull is being able to pop to East Park.  We only used to live just around the corner so could often be found there on a Sunday afternoon or I would take Little Mr A when we had our Mondays off together.

When you think of a park you think of a bit of green space and maybe a few swings, slides etc.  Well East Park has this but also so much more.  As well as the usual play park which is full of activities for all ages, there is also 130 acres of parkland to enjoy ranging from open space to more wooded areas where you can spot many a squirrel!


There is also a lake with splash boats and rowing boats in the summer, an animal education centre and a great cafe.

The animal education centre is a great place for children.  There are so many animals to see including snakes, tarantulas, millipedes, beetles, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, deer, alpacas, wallabies, chickens, parrots and peacocks.  There is also a walk through aviary which includes exotic birds, Koi carp and a waterfall.  Be warned though, once when I took Little Mr A there was a peacock stood in the middle of the path as we went in.  It had it’s feathers up and would not let us pass.  It was quite scary as once you are in you cannot get out without walking all the way around and there was no-one else about.  Eventually I managed to sneak past hiding behind the pushchair, we must have looked ridiculous to anyone watching!  Another great thing about the animal education centre is it is free.


If you need to take a break there is a great cafe where you can get tea, cold drinks, cake, paninis, etc and when it’s cold you can warm up with one of their lovely hot chocolates!  The cafe can get quite busy as they cater for a lot of groups but there is seating outside and you can take the food out with you.  They do have a few children’s toys and books in one corner so when it is quiet in there it is a nice place to sit with your children and they can be kept occupied whilst you have a nice cuppa!


If you like to be a bit more active you can hire a bike to go around the park, I have also seen running clubs there to but have never found out more about this as I am hopeless at running!

Throughout the year there are often events taking place.  The main one we always try to visit is the fair in October.  When Hull fair finishes a lot of the rides and attractions take off to different parts of the country but some of them stay and set up in East Park for a weekend.  I’m not keen on taking Little Mr A to Hull fair when it is on as it is so big and busy I can’t relax and worry all the time I am going to lose him (I know I need to losen up a bit!) so this is a great compromise.  He gets to go on the fairground rides but there is nowhere near as many people around!

So if you are looking for something to do with your children on a visit to Hull that doesn’t cost much, I would highly recommend East Park!

For directions and more details please click here.