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Family / Lifestyle blog. Sharing our life's fun and adventures with teenage boys living in London.
Interior Design

Canvas Champ review

Canvas Champ review

Canvas Champ review

I am sure I’m not alone when I say “as a parent I like to take lots of photos of my children to capture as many moments as possible”. Moments pass and our children grow so quickly. Having photos to look back on and remember special moments with our children is priceless, those moments with our children are precious. Being a mum of teenage boys, I love nothing more than an evening with my boys looking back and reminiscing over our fun, adventures and funny captured moments.

If I am honest I take thousands and thousands of photos which I am always being nagged for. Unlike a few years back when the boys were young, we find that we don’t really store our photos in albums anymore, they are stored away in a folder somewhere within our computer or on social network sites to share with friends and family.

When Canvas champ got in touch to ask us if we would like to review a canvas I thought it was about time to have an up-to-date photo proudly displayed up on the wall. Lee had been wanting to go and tour Barcelona football stadium for ages so we chose to have the photo of him at the stadium made into canvas for him to have that happy memory proudly displayed.

About Canvas champ

Canvas Champ are the leading canvas prints; custom canvas prints, personalised photo canvas prints, metal & framed prints retailer and distributor in the United Kingdom. Canvas Champ are a London-based company. All of their frames are handcrafted with passion and their state-of-the-art technology allows them to match the color depth and tone of uploaded images. Canvas Champ also offer a lightning fast delivery service and money back guarantee. They also have masses of positive feedback from happy customers.

Placing our order

Placing our order couldn’t have been any more simple. You simply select your product and size.

Canvas Champ review

Very reasonable prices. Starting at as little as £3.89

Canvas Champ review

There was plenty of choice on the design of the canvas. You can either have a nice wall display, photo collage, hexagon prints, split canvas or even a photo mosaic. We went for a canvas print as we was just wanting the one photo of Lee’s memory at the stadium.

We then went on to uploading our chosen photo which was so easy, quick and offered lots of different ways to upload.

Canvas Champ review

Lee’s photo was within a folder on our computer so we just needed to click on that option and then upload. We was then given an optional choice of color. There was a choice of Original, Sepia and GreyScale that was free of charge. Then there was the option of Pixel Painting at additional cost.

This was Lee’s chosen photo:

Canvas Champ review

This is our finished canvas:

Canvas Champ review

12 x 8 canvas

Lee can’t wait to get this up on his wall and hang it with pride. It is a very happy memory of his from his 16th birthday.

Overall experience 

We are very happy customers. The ordering process was very quick and easy to do using the very detailed and simple step-by-step process. The delivery of our item was very quick, our canvas was here within a matter of days.

For further information about Canvas Champ or to make an order visit www.canvaschamp.co.uk

Have you >>>met our family?

Disclaimer: We received a canvas in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own. 
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Garden

Hosting a Garden Party In ‘The Great British Summer’

Hosting a Garden Party In 'The Great British Summer'

Hosting a Garden Party In ‘The Great British Summer’

I think we’re all a bit paranoid when it comes to the summer garden parties, after all, British weather has a habit of being glorious the entirety of your working week and as soon as the weekend comes to visit the rain starts to pour down – sod’s law.

If you’ve been planning a garden party all week and you come to the weekend to find that you’ve been once again let down by the weather it can put a real dampener on things. That’s why we think you should plan for the worst eventuality, that way, if it rains you’ll be totally covered and if it doesn’t you’ll be laughing!

Here are some of our top tips for making your garden party the best it can be – no matter the weather!

BBQ’s aren’t the be-all-and-end-all

You may have pitched the party to your friends as a BBQ, but as long as they’ve got a burger in one hand and a beer in the other I doubt they’re going to care too much about how it’s cooked.

Making your food over hot coals may be a fun little novelty, but if the weather is dire, you’re going to need a back up plan. Cooking on an indoor grill and pre-preparing some food may be a good plan B to fall back on.

Hosting a Garden Party In 'The Great British Summer'

Get some shelter to retreat to

It’s not really much of a garden party if everyone is sat indoors, so why not get yourself a solution that means you can still sit outside while getting protected from the impromptu showers that may occur. A party tent from Garden Camping would be ideal in this case – there are plenty of options to suit every size of garden and you won’t have to worry about soggy burgers!

Waterproof speakers are a godsend

There are plenty of waterproof wireless speakers on the market and in having some at your party you won’t have to worry about writing off some expensive equipment when the rain comes flooding down.

What’s a party without good music to follow? Create yourself a playlist full of all-time party favorites (or, steal one of Spotify’s many playlists if you’re pressed for time) and your guests won’t care how many clouds are in the air. Make sure nobody is doing a rain dance, though!  

Prepare some indoor games

It may not be the weather you wanted – but that shouldn’t stop you from having fun! Getting some indoor party games sorted and your guests will be too busy having a ball to even take a look out the window. Beer pong is always a hit and probably one of the easiest games to set up.

Remember that just because it may look a little bleak outside doesn’t mean that you have to let it spoil your fun. As they say, a positive mindset is key to feeling happy, so don’t let a little rain drown your spirits – just play a little Singin’ in the Rain and have a ball like you were always going to!

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Disney

Disney Princess Teepee

Disney Princess Teepee

Disney Princess Teepee

As some of our regular readers may know, we often have our nieces Lexi & Demi come and sleepover at our house. Being a household of mainly men I really look forward to having some girly fun for a change. We was kindly sent a princess teepee to review on their next sleepover.

Disney Princess Beauty And The Beast Teepee Play Tent

Disney Princess Teepee

With our nieces only being young they instantly wanted it set up as-to-be expected. Luckily enough it assembled rather easily and quickly (less than 5 minutes). With them both being fans of anything princess they loved the design on the Teepee which features images of Mrs Potts, Chip and Belle’s silhouette and rose on a pink background.

Disney Princess Teepee

You simply pop the sturdy coated steel rods inside the dedicated sections of the Teepee cover. Feed the Teepee tie through the hole and tie a knot to hold the Teepee more secure. Once the Teepee is assembled it is 140 cm high and 130 cm wide so is of a good size and both girls could easily stand up inside. The Teepee cover is 100% microfiber and is machine washable.

Disney Princess Teepee

This Teepee makes a great den and is great for indoor and outdoor play. Us girls had hours of imaginative play with this Teepee. In the space of the weekend the girls was with us it was a hairdressing salon, nail shop, fashion stage (even Coco our dog ended up dressed as a princess) to a shop and then a beauty room where we done pretend makeup.

Disney Princess Teepee

In the evenings the girls insisted on having dinner in the Teepee and they loved to play restaurants, then sat reading before we put a movie on and camped out. We added lanterns for mood lighting. The girls have said next time they stay they would like to add a nice pink fluffy rug and pink cushions to make it even more girly. Sounds like they have a shopping trip planned for next time they stay.

Disney Princess Teepee

We did have a Teepee picnic planned over the park but sadly the weather was against us so we opted for an indoor one instead. Once this Teepee was set up it offered us hours on end of imaginative play. This Teepee is suitable for ages 3+ from Character World. Lexi and Demi really enjoyed their sleepover and playing with the Teepee. It gave us all hours of endless fun indoors – it was a no boys allowed Teepee. We do hope to get outdoors with it on their next sleepover very soon.

Other designs currently available are:

Disney Princess Teepee

When not in use it simply stores away back in the storage bag provided or simply stands folded away for quicker use next time. This tent has been great fun for our nieces sleepover.

Disney Princess Teepee

RRP currently on Amazon at £33.80

Do you know of a girl who would love her very own Disney Beauty And The Beast Teepee Tent? if so you have the chance to win her one via our competition below. Ends midnight 9th July 2018.

UK ENTRIES ONLY PLEASE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all entering 

Disclaimer: we was gifted this Teepee for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
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Education

Ways to help your child through their exams

Ways to help your child through their exams

Ways to help your child through their exams

As a parent of three boys, two of which have already experienced GCSE stress and worry and our youngest currently sitting his. We know all too well how demanding they are. We also know how much stress they can cause – both parent and child.

Naturally as a parent we want to help our children through in any way we can.

Here are a few tips on how we as parents can help our child:

  • It is very important to keep an eye out for any symptoms of stress or worry. Stress can affect people in many ways. Keep a close eye on your child’s behavior. If you notice any signs of stress or worry then try and get them to open up to you about what is worrying them so you can deal with it together.
  • Help them to be organised, they have a lot going on at this important time that things can easily be forgotten.
  • Make sure they are getting enough sleep. A good nights sleep works wonders. They will then be ready to tackle those dreaded exams with a clearer head.
  • Encourage time-out. This will help them to switch off for a little while. It will help reduce the stress levels. You could have some quality time together. Go for a meal out somewhere, enjoy some fresh air together for a while. Anything for time-out and a break away from it all for a bit. Let them have a friend sleep over to have a night off from worrying and studying. They can then re-visit the studying feeling refreshed.
  • Try and encourage them to drink plenty of water and cut down on the fizzy drinks.
  • Stress and worry can play havoc with your appetite. Make sure they are eating, even if little and often. Make them up a plate of finger foods to pick at whilst studying.

Ways to help your child through their exams

  • Make sure they have the space, peace and quiet to study. Having loads of noise and distractions can be hard when trying to study.
  • Offer to help, perhaps you can do some printing, photocopying, run some questions past them or even let them question you on a few things. We did that and it lifted the mood when we couldn’t answer the question – well at least it made them laugh!
  • Give them a break – their bedroom might be a mess but they have more important things going on at the moment.
  • Make sure they have all the essentials needed. Revision notes, resources, books, stationary etc.
  • Make sure that when they say they are studying they actually are. Some kids can be crafty and will actually be in their room on their phone. Perhaps try and encourage them to leave their phone with you to save any distractions, or do regular checks on them to see how they are getting on.
  • If study leave is given try and be home to offer support and to make sure they are taking regular breaks.
  • Work together with your child, perhaps draw up a revision timetable together that both agree on.

Ways to help your child through their exams

  • Try and motivate your child, get them talking about their goals in life and how they hope to achieve them.
  • Talk to them about their feelings and explain being nervous about the exams is normal. Perhaps ask the teacher to see if your child can look at past papers so they can see what they look like.
  • A reward at the end of it all can also help a great deal. If they sit every exam and try their best in each then an allowance set for a treat of their choice can help keep them motivated.
  • Give them plenty of hugs and reassurance. A hug can work wonders when we are all feeling stressed and worried.

Studying is important but it is also important not to overload our children with it all.  All we can really do is encourage, listen and support them the best we can. Let them know we are here to help in whatever way they need us to be.

Sending you all lots of luck

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Pet care.

Grain-free food: the benefits for your pet

Grain-free food: the benefits for your pet

Grain-free food: the benefits for your pet

Owners have a huge range of dog foods and cat foods today, however, choosing which is the best for your pet is sometimes tricky. A type of pet food that has a lot of people talking is ‘grain-free’ — but do you know why this kind of nutrition is proving popular?

Many pet nutritionists advocate feeding pets grain-free food to help them live better and healthier lives. Not only are there typically increased levels of protein in grain-free options, but this source is also supposedly good for animals that suffer from allergies and digestive issues.

Keen to know more? Check out our guide to grain-free food…

Grains aren’t great for pets

As carnivores, cats’ and dogs’ bodies aren’t meant to digest grain. Research shows that these creatures don’t have enough ‘amylase’ — an enzyme — in their saliva to break down grain sufficiently. Herbivores and omnivores have plenty of amylase to break down starch into simple sugars, which happens before food reaches the gut. However, dogs and cats produce amylase in their small intestines. Of course, many cats and dogs don’t get ill from eating grain, however, it’s worth noting that their bodies cannot break it down as effectively as other animals, which means they are less able to gain nutritional value from it.

Overall, your pet gets little benefit from grain, while feeding them it may cause digestive problems.

Fur

Healthy skin and a glossy coat are tell-tale signs of a healthy pet — but grain isn’t a great option to achieve this. Often, grain-free food is high in protein — so your pet gets a better dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which gives pets’ fur a thick and shiny look. Also, omega-3 strengthens hair, which means less moulting!

Allergies

The same as humans, pets are just as able to have food allergies and issues. Concerned that your cat or dog has a food allergy? Follow advice from some pet nutritionists and feed them a diet that copies what their ancestors used to eat.

Dr. Ian Billinghurst, a pet nutritionist, states that dogs should consume 60% meat and 40% vegetables/other foods — also known as the BARF diet (biologically appropriate raw food). This includes eating food like peas, carrots and apples (digestible fibre). Luckily, good grain-free pet food already contains nutrients contained in these foods — perfect if you want to save cooking time. If you have a cat go for roughage, like veg, to boost their immune systems and lower ageing!

A pet with a grain allergy may exhibit the following signs:

  • Diarrhoea.
  • Skin irritation (itchy or dry).
  • Ear infection.
  • Fur loss.
  • Rashes.
  • Inflamed paws.

Weight

Similar to humans, the UK dog population is also suffering from an obesity problem. According to an information guide by The Kennel Club, between 30% and 60% of dogs are overweight. And it seems that felines have are susceptible to this problem too. The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals found that there will be more overweight cats and dogs then healthy-weight pets by 2019. Obesity causes issues with the heart and joints, as well as contributes to breathing complications. Therefore, it’s key that you offer them a healthy diet today.

Lack of exercise and an overload of carbs can make pets gain weight. Grains often contain more carbohydrates than other foods — like meat. So, could this be another reason to make a nutritional change? Instead of grain, grain-free food features more meat, fish and vegetables, so they’re typically more nutritionally useful and help boost fullness.

A dog or cat that is carrying too much weight may show these signs:

  • Issues walking
  • Loses breath quickly.
  • Round face.
  • Ribs not easily felt.
  • Fat neck.
  • Reluctance to walk.

Liveliness

Are you walking your dog enough? Do you spare enough time to play with your cat in the evening? The government states that our dogs get a 30-minute walk every day, according to The Kennel Club, while PetMD suggests that you should engage your cat in activity for around half of that time. So, pets with energy to spare will help them get the exercise they require.

Protein is a pet’s main source of energy, and so, since grain-free food typically features a large dose of protein, it makes sense to consider feeding your cat or dog it regularly to help them stay fit. You could also offer your pet new toys to help get them more active when you’re not around.  

If you’re worried about your pet’s diet, exercise levels and general well-being, why not try grain-freed food? It could be the answer to a longer and happier life! Just remember to check with their vet prior to changing their diets.

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Summer

5 Things You Might be Doing in June

5 Things You Might be Doing in June

5 Things You Might be Doing in June

Can you believe that we are so very close to summer? It really doesn’t feel like five minutes since the Beast from the East covered the roads in snow and wreaked havoc across the nation. Now, though, we are thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and the long days, meaning that June should be a month to savour.

School isn’t quite out yet, but the children are on the final straight heading towards the long summer holiday. As exam season will be over, this is when most schools start to wind down and look ahead to the next academic year. With so much happening in June, we have compiled a list of five things that you might well be doing this coming month.

Watching the World Cup

Yes! The biggest thing happening in June is of course the FIFA World Cup kicking off in Russia. On 14 June, the hosts end the four-year-long wait as they open the tournament against Saudi Arabia in Moscow.

England and newly-appointed captain Harry Kane kick off the Three Lions’ bid to end 52 years of hurt on 18 June against Tunisia. Hopefully we will still have a keen interest come the final on 15 July. Come on England!

5 Things You Might be Doing in June

Going to the Cinema to See The Incredibles 2

You read that right, the long-awaited sequel to The Incredibles is hitting the big screen on 15 June and we know the kids (and adults) are super excited to see what Disney presents. It’s hard to believe that it has been 14 years since the first film came out, meaning that it is perfectly acceptable for those aged 25+ to get their hands on tickets.

Disney has a canny knack of producing films that adults grew up with, all the while keeping the magic and interest alive amongst what many would perceive to be their target audience. It’ll be the same story when Toy Story 4 comes out comes out next June.

Ramadan

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan started in May and comes to an end in June, at which time Muslim will celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr. It is traditional for Muslims to fast during the lunar month, the ninth in the Islamic calendar, as a mark of reflection.

Another tradition that many Muslims follow is making a charitable donation during Ramadan. Although zakat can be donated at any point of the year, many feel that Ramadan is the perfect time to make their donation.

Father’s Day

Sunday 17 June is Father’s Day in the United Kingdom, so the chances of finding the man of the house resting in his favourite chair with the remote in one hand and a drink in the other greatly increase. For some, this might just sound like any other day, but on Father’s Day it’s allowed.

Children young and old will be showing their appreciation for their old man with gifts and love. Perhaps breakfast in bed is on the cards? That’s if you trust the little ones in the kitchen, of course!

The Longest Day

Summer Solstice is on 21 June, which means that the nights begin to draw in once again (sad face) but don’t worry too much because we still have plenty of long summer nights to make the most of (happy face).

With sunset not due to take place until 9:28pm in the UK, families can make the most of the first official day of summer. Kick-arounds in the park and bike rides can go into extra time!

These are just some of the events taking place in June and we are sure that you and your family will have plenty more reason to celebrate. Whatever you find yourself doing this month, make it a fun one!

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health

5 Ways to Help Out Your Grandparents In Their Old Age

5 Ways to Help Out Your Grandparents In Their Old Age

5 Ways to Help Out Your Grandparents In Their Old Age

I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say that our grandparents are some of the most treasured people in our lives. It’s always difficult seeing them get older because it’s a constant reminder that they’re not going to be around forever, but they are indeed getting older and as a result of that we should really do our best to help them out when they need it!

If you’re interested in ways you can help your grandparents then read on – after all, they’d do it for you!

Ask your parents how you can help

If your grandparents aren’t as spry as they used to be, there’s a good chance your parents will already be caring for them in some way – so they’ll have a better handle on the situation than you. It’s best you ask them how you can help before you just blinding go do chores around their house – otherwise the same job will be getting done twice!

Pitch in with the cleaning

As people get older their joints start to ache and they become a lot less mobile than before – so therefore their house may fall into disrepair. It’s always a good idea to offer to do their cleaning once a week. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic, give the place a quick dust, hoover up any debris and maybe even mow their grass – nobody wants to live in a dump!

Help them get around

As I mentioned previously, their mobility can become a real issue when they reach a certain age. Offering to give them lifts in your car (or even just accompanying them on the bus) can be a huge support to them when they need to get out the house.

If they value their independence (and don’t we all) it might be a good idea to get them a mobility aid. A mobility scooter is the perfect gift for anyone who suffers with getting from A to B but absolutely refuses to let anything stop them from doing just that!

Cook up a storm

It’s probably a safe bet that they’ve cooked you plenty of lovely meals of the years. So don’t you think that it’s about time you repaid the favour? Don’t go serving them up any old rubbish though, give them some proper nourishment. Oily fish and green vegetables are a tasty and healthy way to keep your body in tip-top shape – they also do a great job in improving your mental functions!

Engage in a good old chin wag

They say the youth have lost the art of conversation, well, prove ‘them’ wrong! The elderly absolutely love it when you dedicate time to listen to their stories, after all, it can get really lonely sometimes when nobody wants to devote attention to you. Who knows, you might even learn a thing or two from all that sagely wisdom!

So there we have it, 5 things you can do to brighten up your grandparents day just that little bit more. Feel free to comment below if you come with any more!

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Finance, Lifestyle

Saving for summer

Saving for summer

Saving for summer

Being a parent and trying to save money can sometimes prove very difficult. Even more so for summer activities and a family summer holiday. I don’t know about you but it often feels as if money evaporates before our eyes. As the saying goes “every little helps”. A few small changes to spending habits can help a great deal and make quite a difference to the savings pot.

Saving doesn’t have to be boring, you can still have fun and save at the same time.

Here are a few saving ideas that may help you save a few pennies for summer:

  • Are you one for going off of lunch dates with friends? Try and cut out on the expensive coffee shops or pub lunches, try and meet for a picnic or even play host and take turns to lunch at each others house. That way you could save a few pounds but your still meeting and having fun.
  • Do you meal plan? Meal planning we find also helps watch the pennies. If meals are planned out in advance for the week it helps with budgeting the funds, it helps to cut out on the impulse buying and also food waste. I am guilty of always impulse buying and buying the “I may need this” item. I am always buying food products and forgetting that they are there and before I know it the food has gone out-of-date. Having a list to stick to and a budget in mind has helped massively. I now try and do online shopping to save the risk of temptation.
  • Voucher codes are always worth looking out for to help keep the costs down. A quick look online could help reduce your bill.
  • Having a sort out of unused items could bring in a few pounds to your saving pot. I think we are all guilty of having a junk area and unused things shoved to the back of the cupboard.  It may be worth having a sort out and advertising the products for sale, someone could grab a bargain and you make a few pounds.
  • Have a closer look at your usage to see what you truly need/use. We recently reduced our TV and internet package as half the channels we didn’t even watch. We are also going more energy-efficient around the home. In the long run the savings here will help keep costs down.
  • Comparison sites is always worth a browse. We never just auto-renew our insurances/contracts we always take a look at the end of every contract. This helps to keep the bills down each month.
  • Walking where possible saves us money and keeps us fit. Being a two car family due to both working and needing a car this means double the car bill. Where possible we leave the car at home and walk. This saves on wear-and-tear on the car, petrol and also parking fees.
  • Grow your own is something we done last year and really enjoyed. Have you ever tried growing your own fruit and veg? this saved us money last year and we hope to do it again this year. Home grown tastes so much better.
  • Try out cheaper brands in store, you never know you may be surprised and even like the cheaper brand. If you can change just a few items to a cheaper brand that could save you a few pounds to add to your savings pot.

These are just a few ideas that may help with saving a few pounds to put towards something for the summer. We are off on a few family holidays over the next few weeks, making a few changes will save on having to apply for a loan. Some may say short term loans can be a good solution but we would rather avoid loans as much as possible.

Do you have any good money-saving ideas?

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Travel

Reasons to visit Toronto

Reasons to visit Toronto

Reasons to visit Toronto

Toronto, the provincial capital of Ontario, is an attractive, cosmopolitan city located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. It is also known as the largest city in Canada with a major cultural and economical center of English-speaking Canada.

We have not visited Toronto yet but it is somewhere we would love to visit.

Our top five to-visit places are:

  1. CN Tower – The CN Tower is said to be a must-see attraction in Toronto.  The CN Tower is the place to go if you would like to take in spectacular views of over 100 miles away. These views can be enjoyed from the top of the tower, via the glass fronted and glass floor paneled elevators which will take you to the top of the tower in around 58 seconds.
  2. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.–  We would love to go and immerse ourselves with over 20,000 aquatic animals and enjoy an underwater experience. There are so many awesome programs to enjoy. Such as, sleeping with the sharks, discovery dive and dive shows and many more that caught our eye. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto.
  3. Toronto Islands – There is something for everybody to do of all ages, from swimming beaches, sports facilities, playgrounds, a boating marina, nature paths, picnic areas. There is even a light house to visit and a choice of restaurants. A perfect spot for anyone to enjoy!
  4. Enjoy a day trip to the Niagara falls – Niagara falls is somewhere we have wanted to visit for many years now. We would most definitely want to go on a full-day trip from Toronto to see the beauty of Niagara Falls. Niagara falls lie just south of Toronto and can easily be visited on a day-trip so we would be mad not to visit whilst in Toronto.
  5. Scarborough Bluffs – Somewhere to enjoy lovely views of Lake Ontario from 100-meter cliffs. Enjoy lovely walks in the meadows and along the trails bordering the Bluffs. I have also heard that it is a beautiful place to enjoy sunset.

With all the beauty that Toronto has to offer I can’t see us wanting to come home. It’s a shame we can’t move beautiful places closer to home isn’t it? as moving Toronto closer is one we would most likely want to do.

Where about’s would you love to visit?

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health, Lifestyle

Time to admit age is catching up with us

Time to admit age is catching up with us

Time to admit age is catching up with us

Our kid’s are no longer babies and are in fact growing into handsome young men. We are often being told how polite and helpful they are. They are growing up too quickly for our liking. Two out of our three boy’s now have girlfriends and are in full-time jobs making plans for their futures. Lee has only just left college and within days has got himself a job where his brother is currently working. Bradley our youngest is just about to sit his GCSE exams and is due to leave school in the next few weeks…..Yikes, how do we stop time?

Recently we dusted off our old photo albums from the loft and we all sat and had a lovely evening reminiscing, it was lovely. We was laughing at funny moments we had captured of our boys with dinner on their head from when they was learning to feed themselves, also funny potty training moments. The boys were laughing at each others outfits before they then started laughing at photos of us. Yes the comments was coming at us of “crikey dad you had hair”, and “mum look this was before you started going grey”. It was funny and sadly yes the comments were true. Age really is starting to catch up with us.

Time to admit age is catching up with us
Ian in 2001 (as the boy’s say “with hair”)

As working parents we spend our time worrying about our kids that we hardly take time-out for ourselves do we?

Well after seeing those photographs I fastly contacted my hairdresser and booked her to come and hide my grey, but poor Ian he really is going thin on top. Everyone tends to laugh at him for it and I do feel sorry for him, but he takes it in his stride and laughs it off but I know it does bother him. We have in the past bought him shampoos that have been recommended but sadly they didn’t work. I have taken to looking online and reading up on men who have suffered the same problem, most are saying that the they opted for hair treatmentsI had been browsing the internet looking up on the treatments as I was curious and asked myself “how does a hair transplant work“? I came across Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant results, wow what a difference.

Time to admit age is catching up with us
Ian now 2018

When chatting with Ian about going thin on top he seems to think it is a receding hair-line problem. He is fully aware that there is help out there for him should he wish to get help, but for now he said he enjoys winding the boys up and blaming them for him going bald, as he say’s he had hair before they was born and they made him pull it out. Cheeky bugger, he is a wind-up merchant.

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health, Top tips

Quit smoking – self-help tips

Quit smoking - self-help tips

quit smoking – self-help tips

Quitting smoking is something we always nag Ian about. He say’s he will give up smoking when we give up chocolate – yeah that’s no time soon then!

I will give it to Ian he has tried on many of occasions to give up but then he slowly starts up again. He says “there are too many things that make him start again”, like:

  • His social circle
  • Habit
  • Routine
  • Lack of will power
  • Work stress
  • It’s his way of chilling out and relaxing

I must admit that smoking has never really bothered me. I never have smoked and probably never will. I’d sooner a nice glass of wine.

Here are a few tips that may help with giving up smoking

  • Think positive – Having the right frame of mind will go a long way when wanting to quit. You have got to want to give up yourself to have the best chances of quitting. If you’re wanting to quit then tell yourself “you can do this” and get the right support in place.
  • Make a plan of action – Get a date set that you’re wanting to start a new non-smoking you. Get that date set and make yourself a promise and give it all you’ve got and go kick that butt!
  • Make a list of your reasons to quit – Make yourself a list of reasons that you want to quit smoking. Keep it close by and keep reminding yourself of your reason to quit. You made find it a huge support if/when you’re struggling.
  • Identify when you smoke – Take note before you gave up on when your cravings are. This will help to put things in place to help work around them, such as avoiding going outside with the smokers in the smokers area, not allowing smoking in your house, pre-warn friends and ask for support so they are aware not to offer you a fag etc.
  • Get support in place – Make friends and family aware of your decision to quit. Chat with your GP to see what support is out there in your local area. See if anyone would like to join you by quitting too and support each other.
  • Take up a hobby – Finding something else to occupy your mind may help you to stop thinking about having a cigarette.

A lot of people say the thing they found the hardest about giving up smoking was not having a cigarette to hold. Some people like a cigarette with their coffee, watching TV, or even whilst having a soak in the bath. For that reason a lot of people make a switch from cigarettes to Vape kits just for that cigarette feel of keeping their hands busy still. Whilst some are happy to switch to nicotine patches or gum.

Do you have any tips to help quit smoking?

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Garden, Lifestyle

Our top five summer must have items this summer

Our top five summer must have items this summer

Our top five summer must have items this summer

Hopefully the horrible cold wintry days are now behind us, and the sunny summer days will fastly be here. With that in mind it has got us thinking about our summer must-have items for this summer. There is nothing we enjoy more than relaxing evenings in the garden after work. Since last summer we have had a garden makeover, we now have a garden that can be enjoyed by us as a family.

Also since last summer I have had to reduce my hours at work due to illness so we are always looking for the latest deals to be had.

We love to entertain and we are known for our parties, especially garden parties. This will be our first summer in our newly revamped garden and are yet to update our garden furniture. This Rattan Corner Sofa has caught our eye, it will be a great way of bringing the comfort of our living room outside with us. A perfect way to enjoy summer in comfort whilst wearing lovely summer dresses.

Seating area

Our top five summer must have items this summerA swing chair is something we use to own previously at our old house, it is also something we miss owning and are considering purchasing again. It use to be a great way to sit back and relax whilst swaying in the breeze. Ian use to relax so much he’d fall asleep on it.

 

Our top five summer must have items this summer

Relaxation 

With my birthday luckily enough being in the summer I have added a hot tub to my birthday wish list. Owning a hot tub has been a dream of mine for so long now and we now have the space for one since our house move.  I think I have managed to persuade Ian to add a bit of luxury into our garden. What a perfect way to relax and indulge into some luxury than purchasing a hot tub.

Our top five summer must have items this summer

Garden maintenance

Back in January we welcomed Coco into our family, our Siberian Husky puppy. Since then we have worn our old pressure washer out keeping our garden clean and tidy. We are now looking for a new pressure washer with additional patio cleaning accessories for making this never-ending task easier and faster.

Our top five summer must have items this summer

Summer cooking

Now we have a nice new patio with a canopy over the top, we are now looking at replacing our existing coal BBQ with a gas BBQ so that we can then BBQ in all weathers come rain or shine. This will be a perfect addition when entertaining at our garden parties.

 

Our top five summer must have items this summer

What is your favorite way to pass time in your garden?

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Education, Lifestyle, teenager, Travel

National Citizen Service – Bradley’s adventure

National Citizen Service - Bradley's adventure

National Citizen Service – Bradley’s adventure

Have you heard of The National Citizen Service? no me neither. Bradley came home a few weeks back now begging to go away with what he called “NCS”. Back then we hadn’t a clue what he was on about if we are honest. Since then we done some research and our first thoughts was “wow” – we was amazed at what they offer for teenaged children.

National Citizen Service - Bradley's adventure

We sat talking, and then started to think how we don’t recall anything like this being on offer when we was younger. The National Citizen Service is a government backed programme established in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and turn into better citizens.

National Citizen Service - Bradley's adventure

Once we had seen what an amazing experience was on offer for him how could we refuse him to go. Bradley will be doing his GCSE exams over the next few weeks and this experience will follow on from that, so he now has something to look forward to at the end of his very important exams.

Such as:

  • Outdoor team-building exercises
  • A residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’
  • A series of challenging activities to help him develop his strength of character
  • He will be helped to develop leadership skills necessary to succeed in the workplace
  • The experience enables young people to connect with their communities through a social action-packed project
  • For every £1 spent, NCS 2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back into society
  • There is also an end of programme celebration event

How amazing does all that sound? our teens today are so lucky.

National Citizen Service - Bradley's adventure

Almost 400,000 young people have taken part in this amazing experience and more than seven million hours of community action have been completed. How amazing is that? in fact this summer more than 100,000 teenagers from different backgrounds will be taking part in NCS. That means one in six of the cohort of 16 year olds will live together, develop skills together and build community projects together.

National Citizen Service - Bradley's adventure

Bradley is so looking forward to his time with NCS in July. The programme cost us just £50, that is including food, travel and also his accommodation for the few weeks with them which is just amazing value for money. Bursaries are available on a case by case basis. Support is also on offer for children with additional needs.

We wasn’t sure if Bradley would be able to attend NCS at first as we have a family holiday in July that had been booked up for months, but chatting with NCS and they helped us work around it to ensure that Bradley could still attend. If you have a child that may like to attend the experience but are worried due to commitments already booked, NCS are very helpful in working around booked commitments.

Do you have a child in year 11? or know someone who has that may like to join this amazing experience? you can find out more over on the >>NCS website<< Bradley is really looking forward to a summer of fun living away from home whilst making new friends, taking on new challenges, building his confidence, self beliefs and learning life skills that can’t be taught in a classroom.  He has told us he hopes come home at the end of July an even stronger, better, more confident unstoppable person. We as parents are so excited for him, this just looks and sounds amazing.

What an amazing way to end his toughest year in school.

If you would like to follow The National Citizen Service on social media to show your support, you can do so by following them on >Facebook< >Twitter< >Instagram<

 

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Lifestyle, Pet care., pets

Opening up our home

Opening up our home

Opening up our home

Sadly, back in March 2017 we had to say a very sad goodbye to our loving Buddy who passed away in his sleep. Buddy was our German shepherd dog and was our fur-baby for just under 11 years.

Back then we said “NO MORE” dogs as the saying goodbye was just too painful. Time passed and our home was just too quiet. Come January 2018 we were welcoming our little Coco, a Siberian Husky girl into our lives and home, aged 8 weeks old.

preparing our home for a new puppy

Not long after our Buddy had passed away my Endometriosis started to flare up. Resulting in myself having to step down from my position at work and go in on a part-time shift. I found I was moping around at home, I got very depressed and if I am completely honest I ended up in a very dark place. Thankfully Ian got me back to some form of me again.

Getting Coco has really lifted my spirits. She gets me up and out everyday, whereas before I’d just get up and mope about – Coco is my anti-depressant.

Opening up our home

We go on lovely long walks with her, she comes out with us in the car. We go off into the countryside, walk along rivers. We visit dog exercise parks and stop off in pet-friendly pubs/cafe’s. She basically comes with us everywhere.

Coco is a very friendly dog and absolutely loves nothing more than to play ball, chase and no words can even begin to describe how much she loves her paddling pool…. she’d sleep in it if we’d let her.

With Coco being so friendly and her energy levels being so high we have decided to open up our home and become dog fosterers. We have been in discussions for a few weeks now with our local dog rescue centre and have been accepted to become dog fosterers.

Opening up our home

Coco with our sisters dogs at our sisters house.

What is a dog fosterer?

A dog fosterer is someone who is willing to open up their home and help provide a temporary home for a dog in need. To give lots of love and look after them, help build them up to get the best chance of a fresh start in life. Let’s face it we all deserve a second chance, even a dog!

We will be helping to play a vital part in the rehabilitation of the dogs which will help improve their chance of finding their new forever home.

We will be helping to build the dogs confidence if needed, building them up and helping them to get used to a normal lifestyle in a home environment. We will be giving the dogs the love, care and affection they deserve. They will have a friend forever with Coco.

Opening up our home

By fostering dogs, we will be doing a good thing by helping to build a dog’s confidence and helping to settle a dog with a new forever home with a loving family. Being part of that will be so rewarding.

Before we take in any dog, checks are made by the rescue centre and we get contacted from there. Coco will be meeting them outdoors first. Once they have met and if all goes well things will move forward from there and hopefully we can then help provide a safe loving home for a dog in need. Coco will love having a friend to burn off energy with.

We are really looking forward to fostering our first dog and opening up our home.

Opening up our home

Do you have any pets?

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health

Endometriosis and me

Endometriosis and me

Endometriosis and me

I first noticed my Endometriosis symptoms after I had Bradley my youngest son. I suffered real bad pains and periods to the point one day I took myself off to hospital in bad pain, I was seen by a Dr and sent for numerous tests, fastly beginning to feel like a pin cushion to then be told they wanted to admit me to hospital. Being on my own at the hospital and having my baby with me I was scared and felt alone as Ian was at work at the time, I didn’t feel the need to worry him as at the time he didn’t work local to home.

To cut a long story shorter I was told it was just a bad period and period pain and all should start to calm down given time. Did it? like heck did it!

I then went on to suffer every month from there. I went to see my GP several times who just repeated what I was told at the hospital….Just a bad period and it should calm back down….Grrrr

I then started to question myself and think is it normal, Is it just me being silly?

But NO, I knew my body wasn’t right and I knew my periods wasn’t normal but the Dr wasn’t really listening to me. I then began to start getting myself in a state and just didn’t know what way to turn.

One day I felt so down, I was in pain, I was tearful, I had three boys to look after so I contacted my GP surgery who gave me an appointment for later that day. I went along to my appointment explained my situation about whats been happening to just be sent away with anti-depressants. I really did feel like I was going mad at this point where I felt like no one was listening to me!

At this point I just felt like I had no option but to just get on with things the best I could. I knew things wasn’t right inside my body, but what could I do. Time passed and I did continue to suffer heavy painful periods to the point I was slowly becoming bed-bound for. I continued to see my GP, I was eventually offered an ultrasound scan at the hospital to see if it would show anything up, but nothing come of it to explain the pain or heavy bleeding.

I was watching morning TV one day and there was a lady on there talking about her suffering and long battle to be diagnosed with what was called “Endometriosis”. She was talking about her symptoms to help raise awareness to others who may be suffering the same or similar symptoms. My chin must have hit the floor as I had every symptom she had.

Some symptoms being:

  • Heavy periods
  • Painful periods
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Fatigue
  • Low mood
  • Bloating
  • Pain during sex
  • Some bleeding between periods
  • Painful bowel movements

I could not believe what I was watching and listening to. For the first time in ages I did not feel like I was going crazy. I went and spoke with my GP about what I had seen on the TV and explained my symptoms was the same as the lady had explained in her awareness to Endometriosis. I did not want to be ignored this time and pushed for further tests to be done. I had been bed-bound on too many occasions and my life was really being effected to the point I felt like my kid’s was missing out on a proper mum, a mum who wasn’t in pain so much.

I chatted with my GP about Endometriosis, we discussed my symptoms and then my GP went on to explain what Endometriosis is in more detail.

Endometriosis is:

Endometriosis is a very painful disorder in which tissue that would normally line the inside of the uterus – the endometrium – grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis can be known to affect the ovaries, bowel, Fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis. Endometriosis can even spread beyond the pelvic organs and stick to each other. Endometriosis is even know to sometimes cause fertility problems.

What happens is, each month cells like the ones in the lining of the womb can be found elsewhere in the body. Each month these cells act in the same way as those in the womb, building up and then breaking down, then bleeding, BUT….unlike those within the womb that have a way to leave the body as a period, THIS blood has nowhere to go.

A shocking 1.5 million women in the UK are suffering with Endometriosis. Endometriosis can affect women and even girls of childbearing age regardless of race or ethnicity.

This short video may help you understand in a better way.

Finally…

I was then referred to a gynecologist at the hospital as an out-patient. I had an appointment through within a few weeks and things finally started moving…..5 years after my first symptoms!

After a five-year battle and being misdiagnosed on many occasions I was finally under the hospital with a possible self diagnosis. An ultrasound scan was ordered but again didn’t show anything but with self research I had read that Endometriosis rarely shows up on an ultrasound scan and is mainly diagnosed via a laparoscopy procedure so this is what I pushed for.

Another referral was pushed for, I did not give up….I knew something was wrong with my body.  A few months later and I got my appointment through. It was then confirmed I HAVE ENDOMETRIOSIS.

The tears started to pour down my face and I was a bag of mixed emotions. I was scared, relieved and angry all at the same time. I also wanted answers.

Questions I wanted answering…

How could this diagnosis take so long?

why was I just left to suffer?

Why did I have to self-diagnose myself?

Why the big fight all the time to get anywhere/get things moving?

Sadly it just boiled down to lack of awareness. Endometriosis needs so much more awareness.

Once I had my diagnosis I was then given the right treatment to help me cope better. This only lasted for a while sadly and before I knew it was going back downhill again. The heavy painful periods started again and I felt like I was back to square one again. My GP referred me back to the hospital again for further discussions and to get an action plan put in place. After long discussions and many appointments and counselling the next step was arranged.

A hysterectomy was booked.

I was booked in to have a hysterectomy at the age of 27. My periods got so bad and I could no longer live with the pain as it was affecting my ability to be a proper mum to my boys. I was forever having to phone in sick at work, debts started to pile up and loans was having to be taken out just to help keep the bills paid. We did look at Lendgreen on a few occasions. Enough was enough at this point. The day fastly arrived and before I knew it I was heading to the operation, nervous but I knew it had to be done.

A hysterectomy IS NOT a cure.

A hysterectomy is not a cure for Endometriosis as I am still suffering today, 8 years after my operation, 16 years after my first symptoms. I am still finding myself phoning in work unable to go in as I am in so much pain. OK the heavy periods are no longer an issue but the pain is still there. I am currently under the UCLH in London receiving treatment. I am currently receiving injections, a three-month trial of Zoladex. I am on this treatment which is an injection in my stomach once a month for three months to freeze my ovaries as my consultant has advised me that my Endometriosis is hormone fed. I had a hysterectomy but my ovaries was not taken out due to my age at the time. If this three-month trial proves to be effective and help me then it strengthens my case to have my ovaries removed.

I am currently on this Zoladex treatment and just had my second injection. Hopefully this has positive effects for me and helps to ease things for me.

I hope me sharing my Endometriosis story raises some awareness to help someone get the diagnosis they need or even helps to give some form of help or support needed. Just remember you know your body better than anyone else, if you feel something isn’t right then it probably isn’t….Don’t give up seeking for help.

Posted to help raise some much-needed awareness.

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