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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Free toucanBox!!

Fancy receiving a craft box for free?

Check out toucanBox and simply enter your emaill address and submit to receive a code.

Then, enter the code at the checkout to get the first taster box for free, thereafter £3.95 each month per box.

You can CANCEL at any time as this is a subscription based service.

Each taster box contains a unique craft to make, design and play. Children will love direct, creative investigations into all manner of themes; from insects to outer space, superheroes to safaris. With over 50 themes (and growing) there is no limit to where the imagination can go!


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Octonauts: Peso Pumpkin Stencil

Here is my last Octonauts pumpkin stencil..... PESO Penguin!
So cute! If you do use any of my stencils; please do send me a picture.
Be sure to check out my other Octonauts Pumpkin Stencils (Captain Barnacles and Kwazii)

Peso Pumpkin Stencil

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Octonauts: Kwazii Pumpkin Stencil

Next up in my Octonauts pumpkin stencil series is..... KWAZII Kitten!
This one is my favourite! If you do use any of my stencils; please do send me a picture.
Be sure to check out my other Octonauts Pumpkin Stencils (Captain Barnacles and Peso)

Kwazii Pumpkin Stencil

Monday, October 07, 2013

Octonauts: Captain Barnacles Pumpkin Stencil

Here is my first Octonauts pumpkin stencil..... CAPTAIN BARNACLES Bear!
If you do use any of my stencils; please do send me a picture.
Be sure to check out my other Octonauts Pumpkin Stencils (Kwazii and Peso)

Captain Barnacles Pumpkin Stencil

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cambridge Diet; 9 week progress report!

Thought I would check back in and update you all on my weight loss journey. I am still on the Cambridge diet!! Woooooohoooooo!!
So, since I last updated you I have continued to loose weight, it has slowed down and I have noticed I have a bigger loss then a smaller loss.
I am still on Step 1; Sole Source; and will continue on this until I have been on the diet for 12 weeks.

In my previous update; I told you I wasn't very well and the doctors had put me on anti-biotics and steroids. I was concerned they would slow down my weight loss that week and lo and behold they did. That week I lost a miserable 1lb but my waist did shrink 1 inch!

Following the disappointment, and completing the course of medication I knew this week would be better. I went to my councillor knowing I had done well and I had; another 4lbs lost, but my waist had stayed the same.

The next week I went to get weighed and I thought I had done well, but I had not. Only a 1lb loss. I was a little disheartened because I had not eaten anything I shouldn't have. The only thing I thought it could be was the water flavouring. I love that stuff, I love it strong! Turns out, I was using to much because I loved the taste and I was knocking myself out of ketosis.

I made the decision that for the following week I would not use ANY water flavouring. This was tough as I couldn't stand the taste of water; but I persisted and found a new addiction - fizzy water!! I attended my appointment with the councillor and I had lost 3lbs!

Either there is a patten going on with my weight loss now; or the water flavouring really was knocking me out of ketosis. I have decided to have another week without it just to see.

My total weight loss for 9 weeks is 34lbs or 2 stone 4lbs! My waist has shrunk a total of 4 inches.

My current weight is 201lbs (14 stone 5lbs), my waist is 35.5 inches and my BMI is 34.5.

I have achieved my 2 stone loss on week 7.

I will keep you updated, so check back in a few weeks! I am so close to my 3 stone achievement!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dora the Explorer Pumpkin Stencil

Following the success of my previous years pumpkin stencils, I have decided to make a few more for you this year. First being Dora the Explorer.

If you do try any of my pumpkin stencils; please do send me a picture as I would love to see!

Keep a look out for more pumpkin stencils to come.

You can find my previous stencils here:

Some useful pumpkin carving tips can be seen here.

Friday, September 06, 2013

The first week at school

Your child will probably be really tired during their first week with all the new experiences, early morning and long days. Make allowances for this, and so not try to pack the time after school with too much activity, play sates or clubs as your child needs plenty of time to recharge their batteries.

Tip: Remember that, although you have tried to prepare your child for their first day at school, each day this week will bring new experiences as your child enjoys the whole week's timetable. Try to treat each day as a first day at school.

If you have concerns or questions that have arisen during the first week try to avoid speaking to the teacher at the start of the day as this is a really busy time. Children need to be settled and get started with the activities that have been planned for that day. Waiting until the end of the day is much more suitable, and, if the teacher thinks it would be better to make an appointment to discuss any issue further, it will be easier for them when the classroom is quiet.

Don't forget that other parents may have the answers to some of your questions, or may be wondering about the same thing, so it is good to start talking to other parents of children in your child's class. However, resist the temptation to become involved in the 'What my child can and can't do' discussions that can go on in playgrounds.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Your first day away from your child

If you know that you are likely to feel anxious about your child starting school, then make plans to do something unusual once they have been dropped off, such as having a haircut, going swimming or meeting a friend for a coffee. This will help to distract you from worrying about your child who is probably quite happy and enjoying the exciting things on offer!

It is not unusual for young children to have a bit of an emotional wobble at the start of the day but generally they will be fine within a few minutes of being in a classroom with experienced adults who are used to working with such young children. This wobble can come at any time and so so not be alarmed if your previously settled child suddenly becomes upset at the start of the day. There are usually simple reasons behind this, such as being really tired, not feeling very well, worrying about something at home and in very rare occasions something at school. Again, make sure you talk to your child's teacher to share any information about possible causes and to work together to settle your child.

Make sure your child has time to relax, rest or play after school before you have dinner and start the bath and bedtime routine. They may bring home a reading book to share with you but this can wait until another time as at this stage this has already been a really busy day! A shared story before bed is a good time to have a quick recap of the day and may help your child to allay any anxieties and settle down so that they relax and have a good night's sleep.

Tip: At the end of the first day, and for the whole of their first week tour child will probably be really tired. Try not to keep asking about what they have done as children will usually volunteer information about the days activities in their own time. If you are curious then ask 'What did you really enjoy today?' as this is less intimidating that 'What did you do today?' and is also more likely to get a response, even if that response is simply 'playtime' or 'lunchtime'!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Starting School; The week before

Now is the time to label absolutely everything your child will be taking to school. Many schools offer advice on the best place to get labels for your child's clothes but it is definitely worth shopping around for the best method which suits you.
You can buy labels which need to be sewn on, ironed on or just stuck in. Sometimes, a combination of iron on labels for clothing and stick on labels for items such as water bottles and 'show and tell' toys is the most appropriate. - a combination of both iron on and stick on name labels with or without a wide choice of picture symbols. - easy fix clip on nametags, iron on labels and stick on labels. - woven name tags for sewing onto clothes

If at all possible choose labels with pictures as well as a name so that your child can recognise not just the word but the symbol in their early reading days.

Although you may have already done this, take a walk along the route that you will cover or drive along at the right time of day. This will show you any new potential roadworks or obstacles which might mean you have to change your timings on the first day. Try and pick out some key landmarks long the journey so that during the first week you can ask questions as a fun way of engaging your child's interest, for example, 'What do you think we will pass next?'

Invite your child to practise putting on their school uniform and PE kit if they have one, and taking it off. Try to make this a fun activity, for example using an egg timer, and sharing a reward if the child succeeds in the given task.
If necessary, explain as well as you can the term PE. It will probably be the first time your child has heard this term but one they will be using often in school and the teachers may assume that your child knows what to expect. Explain that, after changing into exercise clothes, they will able to play lots of games and run, jump and skip about.
Organise a pretend PE lesson with some dolls or soft toys and ask your child to get ready and join in. Ideally, dress and undress the toys too. The PE lesson then becomes something to look forward to rather than a situation that provokes anxiety.

Tip: Don't put too much pressure on your child as this is a week for being relaxed and minimising stress and anxiety. Avoid a countdown to the start of school which might add unnecessary pressure. This should be a time to enjoy together before formal education begins.

As the week progresses, start to build up your morning routine. Talk to your child about all the things they need to do in the morning and in which order. Take photographs of your child doing different events in the morning routine, such as eating breakfast, getting washed, putting on clothes, brushing teeth, fastening shoes, and so on. Print them out and make them into cards so that you and your child can arrange them into a sequence and talk about each event and what it involves. You could then stick them onto a large piece of paper and hang it up in their bedroom so they know which steps they need to be getting on with.

Tip: Try getting up at 'school time' to get children used to the earlier mornings, aim to have had breakfast and be washed and dressed by the time you need to leave the house.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cambridge Diet; 5 week progress report!

I am pleased to say I am still on the diet and doing well! I never imagined I would be able to get past the first few weeks without giving in.
Since my last post I have continued to shed the pounds and even inches; the losses are no where near as much as the first 2 weeks but still, it's a loss!
I am still on Step 1, Sole Source and will continue on this step until I am at 12 weeks.

I forgot to mention my start weight in my first progress report; it was 235lbs (16'11) and my waist was 39.5 inches and a BMI 39.5.

On my third weigh in my councillor informed me she would be going on holiday for just over a week. Inside I felt I wouldn't be able to manage without seeing her; and this was true. My loss for 12 days was a disappointing 3lbs. I knew the reason why I lost so little; I actually attended two birthday meals at Nandos and the sauce on the chicken must have knocked me out of Ketosis, also, not having all of my packs would have contributed to the weight loss slowing down.

The following week I knew I wouldn't be defeated and I was determined to loose more than last week! I had all of my packs and drank the water I needed to each day. I got on the scales and I had in-fact lost 4lbs. I was so happy!!

Last week, I felt had been a good week until I got a cold and really didn't feel well. I just wanted to eat lots of comfort food and feel sorry for myself. But I knew I would be totally out of ketosis again, and it would be a hard to get back into. I continued on, even though I had to force the packs down me. The day came where I went to see my councillor and I got on the scales and lost 3lbs. I am pleased with that, considering I was still ill.

I've since been to the doctors and they have put me on a steroid and anti-biotic. I hope these don't slow down the weight loss. Only time will tell!

So, for my total weight loss for 5 weeks is 25lbs or 1 stone 8 lbs! My waist has shrunk 2.5 inches.

My current weight is 210 lbs (15 stone) and my waist is 37 inches and a BMI of 35.5.

I am still having 3 packs a day; 1 chocolate mint shake in the morning, 1 chicken and mushroom soup late afternoon and another chicken and mushroom soup in the evening.

I will post back in a few weeks updating you on my progress!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Brain-boosting games and activities for 2-5 year olds.

Play is fun, and learning though play allows a child to learn in the natural, relaxed way that suits them best. With your support and gentle guidance, a small child can feel confident though not to give up at the first hurdle. Lack of stimulation has implications for brain development, but that does not mean all stimulation is good. Care should always be taken to fit the activity to the child's personality and to their current mood. Last of all, remember that if a child is pushed too hard by their loved ones, their only option is to switch off. Ambition must come from within. It is always better to attract a child to an activity because they cannot resist rather than push them into it so they cannot avoid it. If they do not wish to play the game today, then leave it. There are lots of tomorrows.

Talking and listening to your child helps to bring you closer together. Talking is not only essential for good communication but is also linked to effective reading and writing.

Find a rhyme
Can your child think of a rhyming word?

  • Think of a word such as 'box', and ask your child if they can think of another word which rhymes with it.
  • If they find this difficult, give them a clue. For example: say: "I know a word which rhymes with 'box' - it's an animal with a long bushy tail."
  • When they have found a rhyme, let them think of a new word for you.
  • See how many rhymes you can think of for just one word, for example, 'box', you could have 'fox', 'socks', 'locks', and 'clocks'.
Follow the trail
Learning how to follow spoken directions is essential to a child's development. 
  • Hide a small toy or book where your child can reach it.
  • Explain that they can find some 'treasure' if they move exactly as you tell them.
  • Put a red sticky dot on the back of their right hand and a blue sticky dot on the left.
  • Describe each movement in precise detail, using the dots to help your child.
  • Once they are in the right room or area, give them some false directions first. Then, give true directions and praise them when they find the 'treasure'.
My feelings
Help your child to understand and express their emotions.
  • Tell your child that you're going to think of something that makes your feel happy.
  • Name the thing and say why it makes you feel good.
  • Ask your child to name something that makes them feel happy. Encourage them to explain why it makes them feel good.
  • Repeat this game with other emotions.
What if?
Giving a favourite story a new twist will challenge your child.
  • Read your child a story that they know.
  • When you have finished it, go back to some key points in the plot. For example, the moment Cinderella loses her shoe at midnight, or the part where the three bears find Goldilocks asleep in Little Bear's bed.
  • Ask your child what might have happened if Cinderella hadn't lost her shoe, or if the bears hadn't spotted Goldilocks.
  • See if you and your child can come up with a whole new ending for the story.
Mad sentences
Create sentences and have fun playing with words.
  • The aim here is to make a sentence that sounds fine, but doesn't really make any sense. Start off with your own made sentence. It could be something like "My talking dog eats chunky chips for breakfast."
  • Then ask your child to make up a mad sentence. If they find it hard, help by suggesting a few opening words.
  • For an older child, make the game more difficult by saying he has to include words which rhyme.
Alphabet snap!
Make your own pack of cards to encourage your child to recognise the letters of the alphabet.
  • Cut out 52 small cards and divide into pairs. Working through the alphabet, write a letter and draw a corresponding picture on each pair.
  • Shuffle the pack of cards, then divide the pack into two. Keep one pile and give the other to your child, face down.
  • Take it in turns to lay down a card.  If two are the same, shout, "Snap!" (allowing your child plenty of time) - whoever shouts out first keeps the pair. At the end, count up the pairs and the person with the most pairs is the winner.
  • For children who are new to this game, you could use fewer letter pairs and build up to the full alphabet.

Gaining confidence with numbers will give your child a great head start when it comes to more formal leaning at school. Keep it simple, giving them lots of opportunities to play with numbers, patterns, counting and sorting.

Bricks galore
You can adapt this counting game to match your child's improving number skills.
  • Help your child to sort the building bricks into sets of colours.
  • Ask if they can build a red tower with two bricks.
  • Then ask if they can make a blue tower with three bricks, and so on, depending how confidently they can count.
  • You could also build a row of towers made with different numbers of bricks, and see if your child can count how many bricks have been used in each tower.
  • Finish by taking turns to add a brick to the tallest tower in the world, counting aloud as you go. Whose final brick will send the tower toppling?
Guess how many?
Learning to make a sensible estimate is a useful skill that you can help to develop with this fun and easy game.
  • Find a clear plastic jar and a mixture of small items to put in it. For example, shells, pebbles and paper clips.
  • Show the jar to your child, and ask them to guess how many things there are inside.
  • Once they have guessed, tip all the items out onto a tray and count them together, to see how close their estimate was.
As tall as ten
This game helps your child to compare the size of familiar objects.
  • Find some bricks that can be stacked easily.
  • Then, find a large toy, such as a teddy and stand it up against the wall for support.
  • Stack up the bricks next to the teddy until your tower is the same height as the teddy.
  • Together with your child, count how many bricks it takes to be as tall as the teddy.
  • Play again with a different toys of various sizes, taking away or adding more bricks as appropriate.
Calendar countdown
If your child is looking forward to a special event, such as a birthday party or a trip, this activity will increase their sense of excitement.
  • Find a piece of paper and a pen. Help your child to draw a row of boxes to represent the number of days left until the big day. Seven to ten days is a reasonable amount for a five-year-old.
  • Mark each day with a number from '10' to '1', counting down to the final box; which is the big day.
  • For the big day, your child could draw a picture to show what it is you're planning to do, such as a birthday cake for a party or a suitcase for going on holiday.
  • Your child can tick off each day as it passes, or colour in the box.

Holding and controlling a pencil comes naturally to some children, while others need plenty of practice.

Finish it off
Recognising patterns is a valuable pre-maths skill.
  • Draw a very simple pattern, using two colours, such as a line of alternative red and blue circles.
  • Explain how the pattern works, and then ask your child to continue it.
  • If they can do this easily, introduce another element, for example, a third colour, or a blue circle followed by a red triangle.
  • Continue creating new patterns for your child to follow, then see if they can design one of their own.
Use child-safe scissors for this activity that encourages hand-eye co-ordination.
  • Draw round a plate on white paper and cut out the circle.
  • Ask your child to fold the paper circle in half, and then in half again, so it forms a triangle shape.
  • Using scissors, show them how to snip little sections from along the sides of the triangle, including the curved edge along the bottom.
  • When they have finished, they can open out the circle to reveal a beautiful snowflake.
  • An older child could colour or paint through the holes onto a fresh piece of paper to create another picture.
Brass rubbing
It is fascinating for your child to watch a complex pattern emerging through paper.
  • Find an object with a clear pattern or marking on it's surface, such as a coin.
  • Put a piece of paper on top of the coin.
  • Using a soft pencil or wax crayon, show your child how to rub over the coin gently, without letting it slip around under the paper. Make sure you rub over all the outside edges so you get a complete outline.
  • Try other items, such as dried leaves or shells.
  • Your child might enjoy making a display by cutting out each of their brass rubbings and sticking them on to a piece of paper or card.
My name's Dot
Learning how to write their own name is a skill which gives a child great satisfaction.
  • Use a pencil to write out your child's name in large letters on a piece of paper.
  • Go over the letters with a crayon or felt-tip pen, but use firm dots instead of a continuous line.
  • Give your child a crayon and ask them to draw over the dots so that they write their own name. Try to encourage them to start from the right place by putting an extra-big dot at the appropriate point on the letter.
  • Once they are confident with this, they might be able to try writing their own name without the help of dots.

A good memory is a great asset that's invaluable throughout life.

Tell me the story
Read a story, then ask your child to retell it.
  • Read your child a well-known story, such as Little Red Riding Hood.
  • When you have finished, close the book and ask your child if they can remind you of the story.
  • If they have trouble starting, give them a clue by saying: "Let's see, the little girl had to go and visit her grandmother, didn't she. Now, who didi she meet in the forest on the way?"
  • If they get stuck half-way , go back and look at the pictures in the book to remind them of what happened next.
Use Snap cards or traditional playing cards to play this matching game.
  • Lay all the cards face down on the floor.
  • Let your child turn over any two cards to see if they match. If they do, they can keep the pair and turn over two more cards. If they don't, he must turn the cards back over.
  • Now, you turn over two cards - keep them if they match and put them back if they don't.
  • Continue until all the cards have gone. The person with the most pairs wins.
  • With younger children, use a smaller number of pairs.
All about me
Make a book about your child so that they can look back on their childhood.
  • Take a few sheets of paper, stack them and fold them all in half to make a 'book'. Add a coloured cover if you wish.
  • Find some photographs of your child as a baby and a toddler and stick them into the book.
  • Ask your child what they would like you to write under each photo as a caption, for example, 'when I was a baby, I wore a nappy'.
  • Draw around one of your child's hands on one of the pages, and around their foot on another.
  • Finish off with a list of your child's favourite things, such as their favourite colour, food, toy and game.
Places I've been
Keep a record of special trips or events to keep the excitement alive.
  • Every time you go on a trip, for example, the zoo, a farm or on holiday, collect a few mementoes to take home. For example, a tour guide, some postcards or a leaflet; or just some shells, leaves or bark.
  • When you get home, stick the mementoes in a scrap-book with a big tittle page for each occasion and perhaps some family photographs and a drawing or two.
  • Put the scrap-book on your child's bookshelf and every now and then, take it out to look at instead of reading a story.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ideas for Halloween party games

Pin the wart on the witch

Draw a witch outline onto a cardboard box which has either been painted black or covered in a black bin liner. Don't worry; it doesn't have to be perfect as most kids won't mind. Don't forget to include the witches had and pointed nose!

Stick the witch up onto the wall and decorate it with plastic spiders and fake web.

Cut out large wart shapes from a green felt material or paper. Stick tap to the back or use blue-tac to enable the children to stick them onto the witch. You could also use play dough or plasticine.

Use a dark coloured scarf as a blind fold and let the children take turns trying to stick the wart onto the witches nose! Older children could be spun around before their go to make it a little more difficult!

You could use the same game idea and draw a spiders web onto cardboard and put it up on the wall. Draw spiders onto paper and get the children to try and get the spider onto the web.

Halloween bingo

Click the line above (the title) to print out the PDF file which contains all the images required to be able to play Halloween bingo.

Halloween feel box game

Using cardboard; this can either be a cereal box or a shoe box. Divide the inside of a large box into 4 sections (or how many you wish). Cut holes into the sides of the box - make sure these are big enough to allow a hand inside but not large enough to see inside. Put something from the list below into each section of the box and have the children or adults put their hands into the holes and try to guess what it is just by feeling.

  • Dried apricots - dried up tongues
  • Cooked, cold spaghetti pasta - worms or veins
  • Slime
  • Soft flour tortilla - skin (can add a little oil)
  • Peeled grapes - eyeballs
  • Fake fur
  • Over cooked rice in olive oil- rotting maggots
  • Raisins covered in applesauce - boogers
  • Dried apple slices - ears
  • Peeled tomato - heart
More party games can be found here!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Starting School; The month before

The bedtime routine

Start to prepare your child for the routine of school with a regular bedtime routine about a month before the big day. If you already have a routine; you may need to look at moving the process forward a little in preparation for starting school.
Research suggests that children of three to five years need between 10-12 hours sleep a night to be able to function and learn properly at school. 

The shopping trip
A few weeks before starting school, you can take your child to buy the remaining school uniform. Make this a special outing so that your child feels excited and confident about the forthcoming event. You might enjoy going for lunch together or buying a small treat. Check with the school first whether they will allow you to buy none logo specific items and make a list of what is expected in terms of colours and styles.

Tip: Don't buy the uniform too early to ensure that the items you do purchase still fit properly on the first day. Children grow quickly and many articles of clothing are not necessary.

School shoes will probably have to be either black or blue and a good sturdy pair which have been fitted; this will be one of your best investments. Sometimes cheaper shoes tend to be false economy because inevitable wear and tear in the playground means you might end up buying more than one pair a term. Try to get your child's feet measured at least once a term as they often grow quickly in those first few months!

When buying a coat or jacket, try to make sure your child can manage the fastenings. For example; some children have difficulty with toggles and zips, while others find them easy but cannot fasten buttons.

Your child will enjoy choosing a water bottle or lunch box as these now come in many designs, often featuring a favourite character that can easily be recognised. Try to make sure everything is easy to open and close for your child and that the water bottle have a secure lid.

If your child does not have a school uniform, try to buy hard wearing clothes that are for school only. This avoids any disagreements about what to wear in the morning and saves favourite clothes for home.

Tip: Remember not to send your child to school in their best or designer clothes as they will inevitably get dirty and possibly wet!

Labeling your child's clothing is a must as you don't want to loose anything at school. If you are not a confident sewer then a black permanent marker is essential for marking bags, lunch boxes and the inside of shoes. You will probably only manage your child's initials inside shoes so make sure your child is able to recognise their initials as well as their full name. Marking your child's initials under the tongue of their shoes will help to identify them easily and they will not get rubbed off by sweaty feet and socks, but most importantly, make sure your child knows where to look for their initials.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Halloween pumpkin stencils would you like?

With just over 2 months to go until Halloween; I would like to start getting some pumpkin stencils together to post through out October.

So far I've done Waybuloo, Peppa Pig & In The Night Garden. (You can click on these links and you can view them!)

Please comment or tweet me with some characters you would like me turn into pumpkin stencils for you to use.

HaaHoo & Makka Pakka Pumpkins

Pink Lining Pumpkin

Upsy Daisy Pumpkin

Iggle Piggle Pumpkin

Peppa Pig Pumpkin Stencil

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Cambridge Diet; 2 week progress report!

It's been about 2 weeks since I started The Cambridge Diet and I thought I would update you with my progress so far.

After a difficult first week; I had lost a huge 9lbs! I couldn't believe it; such a large loss for my first week! The first 3-4 days is always the hardest as your body needs to get it's self into ketosis (fat burning mode). My mind was constantly on food and it was so hard cooking a meal for Jack as I just wanted to eat it! It helped having my large water bottle by the side of me; drinking my way through the 2.25 litres/4 pints of water which you need to drink each day to keep hydrated and lets your body eliminate its waste products.

At my next weigh in I was sure I wouldn't have lost much as mother nature had decided to visit me after 4 years! I was a little worried that having a period after 4 years of not having one wasn't normal but the Doctor told me it was due to a hormonal change in my body and was most likely linked to loosing weight. Anyways, I went to see my councillor not expecting to have lost more than 2lbs, then once I had got on the scales I had lost another 6lbs! I was so happy that the diet was working and weight was finally going!

In just 2 weeks I have a lost 1 stone 1lbs or 15lbs. I am so proud of myself for having the motivation to sick to the diet and follow it through as it is a hard diet.

For my meal replacement shakes for the first week I could only drink Chocolate. I wonder if thats because I have such a sweet tooth! The following week when collecting my packs I decided to try a different flavour along side chocolate and that was Mango. I was really looking forward to the shake once I had made it; I tried it and it was discussing! I knew I wouldn't be getting that one again.
This week I have got some Chicken and Mushroom soup as I am missing the savoury taste. This is lovely in a large mug with black pepper on top. I also got Apple and Cinnamon porridge, I'm hoping this tastes nice as it would be a different texture and I could have it in the morning.

I have chosen the Sole Source programme which is Step 1 on the cambridge diet. On Sole Source there's no calorie counting, no food groups to combine, no weighing and measuring food, no books to read or recipes to follow - just eat three Cambridge Weight Plan products per day and drink 2.25 litres/4 pints of fluids over the course of the day. Daily fluids can be made up from black tea or coffee, herbal teas or Cambridge water flavourings.

Sole source is a VLCD of 400-555kcal per day and is only suitable for you if you are at least one stone above BMI of 25. You need to be drinking a minimum of 2.25 litres/4 pints of fluids daily, spread throughout the day as this will help your body to eliminate its waste products. You will be on Sole Source for one week minimum and 12 weeks maximum.

Monday, August 05, 2013

10 Tips For Positive Parenting

1. When your child wants to show you something, stop what you are doing and pay attention to your child. It is important to spend frequent, small amounts of time with your child doing things that you both enjoy.

2. Give your child lots of physical affection – children often like hugs, cuddles, and holding hands.

3. Talk to your child about things he/she is interested in and share aspects of your day with your child. 

4. Give your child lots of descriptive praise when they do something that you would like to see more of, e.g., “Thank you for doing what I asked straight away”.

5. Children are more likely to misbehave when they are bored so provide lots of engaging indoor and outdoor activities for your child, e.g., playdough, colouring in, cardboard boxes, dress ups, den making, etc.

6. Teach your child new skills by first showing the skill yourself, then giving your child opportunities to learn the new skill. For example, speak politely to each other in the home. Then, prompt your child to speak politely (e.g., say “please” or “thank you”), and praise your child for their efforts.

7. Set clear limits on your child’s behaviour. Sit down and have a family discussion on the rules in the home. Let your child know what the consequences will be if they break the rules.

8. If your child misbehaves, stay calm and give them a clear instruction to stop misbehaving and tell them what you would like them to do instead (e.g., “Stop fighting; play nicely with each other.” Praise your child if they stop. If they do not stop, follow through with an appropriate consequence.

9. Have realistic expectations. All children misbehave at times and it is inevitable that you will have some discipline hassles. Trying to be the perfect parent can set you up for frustration and disappointment.

10. Look after yourself. It is difficult to be a calm, relaxed parent if you are stressed, anxious, or depressed. Try to find time every week to let yourself unwind or do something that you enjoy.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Is your child Ready for School? For parents of School Starters by Prof. Matt Sanders of Triple P

I found this article from my Local Children's centre page and thought I would share these very useful tips for parents with children due to start school this September. I know Jack is both excited and also a little worried about going to a new school he isn't familiar with.

Some children cannot wait to start school and eagerly look forward to their first day.  For other children the reality of starting school creates anxiety and worry. Children cope better with these transitions when they are well prepared.

Here are some ideas for preparing children to start school.

  • Talk or read to your child about starting school.  Answer questions and talk about school, but don't overload the child with information all at once. Check out a local bookshop or library for children's books on starting school. These books can be read often to children as a way of preparing them for what lies ahead.

  • Tell your child when school will start and make sure they are familiar with the surroundings.  You may have already taken your child to visit the school but if you haven't, make sure they know where the toilets, lunch and play areas are.
  • If possible, involve your child in buying things for school such as stationery, schoolbags, lunch box, clothes or uniform.
  • Let your child know that you will be there on the first day.  On the first day, some schools may permit parents of new entrants to stay with their child until they are settled.  This is reassuring to a youngster who may be feeling anxious.  If you say you're going to stay, make sure you do.
  • On the first day at school stay with your child as long as you are required.  Make yourself as unobtrusive as possible but gently prompt your child to become involved in the classroom's activities rather than clinging to you.  Some children who have had separating problems at preschool may experience similiar problems now.  If your child usually gets upset when you leave but settles quickly when you're gone, be prepared to explain you are going, say goodbye, and leave. It might take a few days for your child to get used to being in the new situation.  However, most children quickly adapt to the excitement and challenge of starting school.  Occasionally children can develop a marked fear of going to school (school phobia).  Usually such children are not frightened of school per se, although some can be, but they are afraid of separating ftom their parents.  If your child is extremely difficult to get to school, complains of aches and pains on school mornings, screams and in other ways protests about going to school, seek advice from the class teacher on how best to handle the situation.  Generally speaking, it is very important that such a child miss as little school as possible.
  • Getting Into a Good School Morning Routine.  School mornings are smoother for everyone when children are in a good morning routine.  This involves children learning to do what's required and learning to do most things for themselves, without constant reminders.  At this age your child can be expected to be more independent in getting themselves out of bed, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, packing school bags and being ready to leave at a particular time.
Difficulties arise when parents do everything for the child, are late in getting up, or are disorganised in the morning.  In some homes the morning routine is unpleasant, with parents yelling at children to get them out the door.  Here are some ideas for making the morning routine more pleasant and less stressful.
  • Put your child to bed at a reasonable time. This is important as children with insufficient sleep find it hard to wake up and are often grumpy and irritable in the morning.
  • Be organised.  Get everything you and your child need ready the night before.  Make sure school clothes are easy to locate and put on and get up in plenty of time yourself.
  • Start an activity schedule for the morning routine.  This will help your child learn the steps they must follow in the morning.  An activity schedule is a simple chart to help children learn to do tasks in a particular order.  It involves having a picture, drawing or words that can be placed on a velcro strip to represent the "step".  The strip can be attached to the wall in a convenient location (e.g. kitchen wall, bedroom, bathroom).  When your child completes each step, the velcro strip can be removed and placed in a container under the chart.  For the first few days, you can give your child reminders, but keep them to a minimum.  Children will not learn to do things for themselves if they become reliant on reminders.  Once your child can do each step with only one prompt, phase out reminders.  Make sure you pay particular attention and praise your child when they perform a step on their own, without first being reminded. Avoid getting angry or irritated.  Speak to your child pleasantly in the morning.  Getting angry and irritated makes it harder for children to learn what is expected of them. Provide a reward.  If the child completes all the steps without having to be reminded, give your child a reward, such as a special snack treat in their lunch or a special game or activity after school if there is not time in the morning.  Once your child is in a good school morning routine, you can phase out the activity schedule.
* Professor Matt Sanders is Director of the Parent and Family Support Centre at the University of Queensland and founder of the Triple P.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Choo choo - All aboard the LEGO DUPLO Number Train!

LEGO DUPLO Number Train

Jack was lucky to be sent a LEGO DUPLO Number Train to test and review. He had lots of fun building his very own toy train, then turning it into a cool number tower. He was very proud when he had finished and loved counting along each of the carriages; recognising each of the numbers.

A very proud Jack!
Watch out; Here comes the Number Train!

There are bright colourful bricks to make up the train carriages, with selected bricks featuring numbers from 1-10 to help develop basic counting skills during play. What better way to introduce children to numbers? The additional bricks will stimulate young imaginations, so why not make a number tower, station or a platform? Plus, every train needs a driver, so guide the train with the driver and let his dog guard over the station.

Odd numbers one side; even numbers the other.
1, 2, 3!
Bright blocks full of numbers!

Offering so many different ways to play, LEGO DUPLO is perfect for stimulating creativity and encouraging learning through role play amongst pre-schoolers ages 2-5 years. Designed for small hands and big imaginations, the colourful bricks are the ideal introduction to creative play and building, enabling a different adventure every day.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Photo Lottery

The instructions are:

1. Open the first (oldest) photo folder in your computer library 
2. Scoll to the 10th photo 
3. Post the photo and the story behind it


This was our first photo-shoot together. I think jack was around 4/5 months old! Such a cute photo; I wish my fringe was clipped back so you could see my face but I love Jack's facial expression!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Battling with weight

I have always been a large & curvy girl. I would classify myself as an emotional eater. I eat when I am sad, happy, excited or even worried.

Back in 2006/2007 while at university, I started The Cambridge Diet and within 6 months I had reached my goal weight of 10 stone with a BMI of 24; I was full of self confidence and even took up a bit of modelling! It was great not being classified as OBESE.

During the last few weeks of my first year at university my hair became thin and I thought I had alopecia. I went along to my doctors and she said she would need to rule out pregnancy. I laughed and said "Ok, but there is no chance as I am on the pill". Within minutes of doing a test it turned positive. The doctor seems shocked and carried out another just to be certain. Again, this turned positive! I couldn't believe it. She felt my stomach and said I couldn't have been any more than a few weeks as I was not showing. She booked me in for a scan the following week.

I could not get my head around being pregnant. I didn't know what to tell my family. What would they think? I had just completed my first year at university; I didn't want to let them down. So, I said nothing until I had the scan. In my mind I would have an abortion if I was under 6 weeks.

Scan day came around quickly; as soon as the ultrasound wand touched my tummy, I looked at the screen and saw a perfect little baby with arms, legs and a strong heart beat. The technician confirmed I was around 18 weeks pregnant. I couldn't believe it. There was no way after seeing the little baby on the screen I could go through with an abortion. I had NO bump, I was STILL taking the pill and I had been out drinking over the easter bank holiday weekend.

I knew I would have to tell my Mum soon as I wasn't sure how long it would be before I started showing. I remember telling my Mum while standing at the top of the stairs; her reaction was totally unexpected. She was pleased to be a Nanny!

After I had Jack in December 2008 I was determined to loose the "baby weight" which I had gained. I wanted to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. But thats when I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. I was lucky to have the support of my Mum and my Health Visitor. But thats when the weight started creeping on. The more weight I put on, the less motivated I was to do anything about it. My relationship with food had become a tasty habit which needed to stop. 

I started to become more and more depressed. I'd stay in the house all the time and I turned down many social invitations. I didn't want to be seen. I felt like everyone was staring and judging me over my weight.

I have tried many different popular diets; but the weight still was creeping on. I felt embarrassed being weighed in front of a group of strangers, and I was always the girl with the most to lose. A lot has been going on with my life and it wasn't until today that I realised I NEED to do something about my weight. I am no longer happy & confident with myself.

Today, I feel I have taken the right steps and I am going to loose this weight.
I am back on The Cambridge diet. I am not doing this for anyone but myself; it's my choice and I truly want to be successful.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

More Angel Delight Recipes!

As my last Angel Delight Recipe post has been so popular; I have found some more recipes which I thought I would share with you all.

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream (Serves 4)
Fancy an After dinner mint with a difference? Add them to Angel Delight Ice Cream to serve with a coffee; great for using up any leftover mints too.

You will need one packet of Angel Delight Ice Cream mix and 8-10 After dinner mints (any time will do!) Optional; green food colouring to give it a minty green colour.

First, follow the instructions on the packet to make the Angel Delight Ice Cream. Chop up the mints and then gently mix them through the ice cream. Next, pour the ice cream into a plastic container, seal with a lid and freeze until it's completely frozen (a minimum of 4 hours). Finally serve in either shot glasses or wine glasses with a coffee at the end of your meal.

Yummy Swiss Roll Dessert (Serves 6)
Yummy dessert made in minutes by placing slices of Swiss Roll into the base of a dessert bowl then top with Angel Delight of your choice and decorate with any fruit you like.

You will need one swiss roll (any flavour), one sachet of any flavour of Angel Delight (try to match the flavour of swiss roll to the Angel Delight flavour), 300ml of cold milk and one large dessert bowl.

Place thin slices of the Swiss Roll at the bottom of the dessert bowl. Mix up the Angel Delight with the 300ml of cold milk as directed on the pack. Finally, pour the Angel Delight all over the Swiss Roll then place into the fridge for at least 10 minutes before serving. You can even decorate with fruit (such as strawberries or raspberries) or chocolate to make it look even more yummy!

Angel Summer Berry (Serves 4)
You will enjoy this easy pudding layered with biscuit crumbs, Strawberry Angel Delight and summer fruits.

You will need one packet of Strawberry Angel Delight, eight digestive biscuits, one medium banana and twelve strawberries.

Make the Angel Delight as per the instructions on the packet and leave to chill in the fridge while you prepare the fruit and biscuits. Place the biscuits into a freezer bag and hit them with a rolling pin until they make crunchy crumbs. Next, peel the banana and cut into twelve pieces and each of the strawberries in half. Once the Angel Delight has set, layer the biscuit crumbs on top and place the fruit over the biscuit in a pretty pattern. You could try other combinations of Angel Delight flavours and your favourite fruits.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A day out at Ladies' Day!

I was kindly invited to attend the Aegon Classic tennis tournament Ladies' Day at Edgbaston Priory Club. Ladies' Day is now in it's second year at the event and was a fabulous day out. There were a whole host of activities to do on the day including the Beauty SOS tent, jewellery to try and buy and hat makers Sharper Millinery were debuting the results of the design-a-hat for Ladies' Day competition.

In the Beauty SOS tent you could get your hair styled by stylists from Lisa Shepherd Salons. There was also a nail bar where you could get a manicure and even a brow bar - just incase you needed your eyebrows sorted!

On display from the House of Fraser was a selection of Mary Portas new clothing collection and also skincare from Elizabeth Arden.

Mary Portas clothing line

Inside the marquee was a selection of independent accessory and jewellery displays, hat makers Sharper Millinery and a number of competitions.

Ladies' could enter the best-dressed competition by having their photographs taken for the chance to win a fantastic prize thanks to Harvey Nichols and the LTA. 
The prize consisted of:
  • a Luxury Personal Shopping Package
  • Expert consultation
  • Elemis facial and massage
  • Complimentary two course meal for two
  • Harvey Nichols makeover
  • A day out at The Championships, Wimbledon for two people
Michelle Heaton, Ladies' Day ambassador came with her friends to judge the best-dressed competition.

Michelle Heaton and friends
Ladies' Day best-dressed winners with Michelle Heaton
Emporium England
A luxury online accessories store for women, men, children and brides

Jewellery and Accessories

Unfortunately due to the weather (heavy rain) we waited until 3.30pm to see a Tennis Match; but when we did it was good. Having not watched Tennis live before I found it difficult to understand the rules and the scoring. Thankfully my Nan was on hand to fill me in and keep me up-to-date on what was going on.

We got to see Daniela Hantuchova vs Kristina Mladenovic. This was a real battle and was hard to know who was stronger and would win. When the match finally ended, Hantuchova won 6 sets to 4.

Daniela Hantuchova
Kristina Mladenovic

Shortly after the first match finished the second one started as the weather had held play up. Next was Sorana Cirstea vs Bojana Jovanovski. This was a quick played game and from the start you could sense who would win. After two sets it was 1-1. The final set would be the decider. Winning 6 sets to 1 was Sorana Cirstea.
Sorana Cirstea
Bojana Jovanovski

After the second match we had to leave as it was 7.30pm and had to travel home! Even though the heavens opened for a good part of the day, it didn't matter as there was plenty to look at and do. The day was thoroughly enjoyed by myself and my Nan.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Come to Ladies' Day at the Aegon Classic!

Ladies Day - Thursday 13th June 2013
Ladies’ Day will return bigger and better to the Aegon Classic this year, taking place on Thursday 13th June at the Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham. 

Ladies’ Fighting Breast Cancer is the charity partner for the day, with £2 from every full price adult ticket being donated to the charity.

Michelle Heaton, Ladies' Day ambassador, will be coming on the day with her friends and will be judging the best dressed competition, which is being run by Harvey Nichols.

We’ve also teamed up with to deliver a fantastic day-out for you and your friends. The day is set to be a real pamper fest with the likes of hair styling, a nail bar, cocktail making, bespoke jewellery, hand massages and much more.

Keep updated @aegonclassic

Best dressed competition by Harvey Nichols – presented by Michelle Heaton
Prize includes:

  • Luxury Personal Shopping Package at Harvey Nichols
  • Champagne on arrival 
  • Expert consultation
  • Elemis facial and massage
  • Complimentary two course meal for two in the cafĂ©
  • Benefit makeover
  • Plus a day out at The Championships, Wimbledon for two people on Saturday 6th July 2013 (Ladies’ final)

On the day you will have a chance to win a host of fantastic prizes
Courtesy of the Mailbox:
First prize:

  • An overnight stay at Malmaison in a luxury suite (Fridays and Sundays only, subject to availability)
  • Champagne Breakfast at Malmaison Brasserie
  • £500 shopping spree at The Mailbox
  • Two treatments at Le Petit Spa Malmaison
  • Dinner at Cote Brasserie
  • Complimentary beauty treatment at Harvey Nichols
  • Free parking for 24 hours at The Mailbox 
  • A two star car valet at H20  

Runner up prize:

  • An overnight stay at Malmaison with breakfast in a Superior Room
  • Dinner for two at Malmaison Brasserie
  • Free parking for 24 hours at The Mailbox 
  • A two star car valet at H20  

In addition to this there will be spot prizes on court where if you’re in the lucky seat you could win one of the following:

Spot prizes:

Takara Jewellery
£200 gift voucher to commission or purchase jewellery
2 x £250 shopping spree vouchers
Sharper Millinery
£200 voucher to commission or buy a hat

Beauty SOS Tent
Get glammed up on arrival or get your make up touched up in our beauty SOS tent. All free on the day and based on a first come, first served basis.

To include:
Make-up by top make-up artist Jules Cardozo Marsh
Manicure station
Brow bar – Browtec
Hair stylist – Lisa Shepherd
Manicure station – Helen Taylor

Public Marquee
Sharper Millinery – showcasing key hats and fascinators to wear on Ladies’ Day or to purchase for future glam days out
House of Fraser – showcasing key trends for the summer
Mailbox – fabulous prize giveaway
Jewellery display by Takara Jewellery

Retail Unit
Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer booth

On court
Fashion show run by The Wedding Club on court between first and second matches.

Hospitality marquee
Jewellery display by Takara Jewellery

10:45 – Cardio Tennis demonstration on court
Between first and second match – fashion show
Between second and third match – spot prizes on court
Between third and fourth match – presentation of best dressed

Official after party
Fleet Street Kitchen – bring your Centre Court ticket at any time during the week to receive £20 off your food bill. (T&Cs apply).

*Provisional activities for the day. Please not some activities may change.