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Monday, 27 February 2017

Hack Your Home On Tour: Scientific Fun For Kids From The Royal Institution

Professor Danielle George
Monday 13th March 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm 
National Museum of Wales, Cathays Park, CF10 3NP

When I was in school, our science lessons were decidedly low tech and uninspiring.  Back To The Future it was not.  More a cloud of chalk dust, bunsen burners and strange smells.

Every year, my dad made my sister Sarah and I watch The Royal Institution CHRISTMAS LECTURES in the hope to get us enthused and the programmes were always much more fun and grown-up than our school lessons.

Credit: Paul Wilkinson
And now kids of all ages have the chance to indulge their inner science geek and experience the magic of the CHRISTMAS LECTURES in our home town of Cardiff.

I'm sure you are aware of the impending arrival of smart meters to help us measure and better control our energy usage.  And there are already numerous smartphone apps which let you switch your heating or lights on or off.  We are bringing science in to our homes and daily lives more and more and at an increasing rate too.

Professor Danielle George, an Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at The University of Manchester, is currently presenting "How To Hack Your Home on Tour", an exciting and inspiring event which will show how you can use your creativity and imagination to engineer amazing things.

Professor Danielle George:  Credit Paul Wilkinson
You'll learn the simple scientific principles which underlie much of the modern world whilst watching a host of hacked robots perform amazing musical feats and witnessing everyday objects being turned into something wonderful - even a loaf of bread!

The lecture is suitable for all ages but particularly for ages 10+.

As a mother of a daughter, I think it is incredibly important to get girls interested in science and thinking about a science-based career.  And Professor Danielle George is certainly a bit of an inspiration!

How to buy tickets

You can buy tickets here and tickets are buy one get one free.

How to get involved with The Royal Institutions

Families in Cardiff area can get also involved with Ri programmes by becoming members of The Royal Institution and on the Ri website you can also find some great simple science experiments you can do at home.  You can also connect with the Ri on Twitter @Ri_Science.

Ticket giveaway

I also have 4 tickets to give away.  Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget and my usual terms and conditions apply.  UK entrants only and the giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Wednesday 8th March.

Please note attendee names and email address must be provided no later than Friday 10th March.

This looks to be a fabulous fun event and Caitlin, Ieuan and I will be there to learn as much as we can.  We hope to see you there too.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck.

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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Diabetes in Children: Focus On The Positive

It can be one of the most overwhelming challenges any parent can ever go through, and that is because there are so many different things to think about when it comes to managing your child’s diabetes.

We, as parents have enough to think about, we already have to handle the immense pressures of doting on young ones, so having the added pressure of dealing with diabetes can be horrendously daunting a lot of the time.


pexels-photo-160191.jpeg
Image credit

But don’t despair and don’t pull your hair out, because chances are you are doing the most fantastic job.

However, if you are doubting yourself now and then, or just want a little bit of advice on how you can make thing easier, then the following tips may help.

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Image source

1. Management tasks

It doesn’t matter what age your child is, you are going to need to take a really proactive role when it comes to the management tasks of diabetes.

This will not only make your life easier, but it will help them understand what they need to remember, which will encourage these steps to become a habit.

This includes meal planning, monitoring glucose levels in their blood, insulin injection and pill management. All of this is part of your life, it is just a matter of adjustment.

2. Understanding

Understanding what diabetes is, what can help and what can inflame is a tough task. It requires a real dedication to gaining knowledge. However, there are a few areas which you can concentrate on, and do as a family.

These include things like exercising, and knowing how, when, for how long and at what intensity they should be exercising. It includes things like understanding the importance of daily foot care, how to apply Allpresan, how to do a thorough foot exam and what footwear is best.

Above all, it also requires a detailed understanding of high and low glucose levels, how to treat and how to prevent.

3. Medical Team

Don’t just find a good medical team, work as closely as you can with them. Learn as much as you can from them, try and tap into their knowledge, especially when it comes to pediatric diabetes.

Speak to everyone on the team that you can; doctors, nutritionists, educators, mental health experts, and anyone else you can. It will all help, and it will all help hugely. The less stress, worry, and pressure on you the better, so do what you can to reduce that stress.

4. Honesty

This is so important and so underrated. The worst thing anyone can do in life - whether it involves diabetes, bereavement, cancer or anything else - is to suffer in silence.

So talk to your child about anything they may be feeling. Ask what they are struggling with, help them remain positive and upbeat. Tell them about all the things they are doing so incredibly well, and build from there.

It is easier to help them improve on their weaknesses by focussing on their strengths,; it will help their mentality. But don’t stop there.

Be honest with your medical team; tell them what you are struggling with and what your child is struggling with too. This will allow them to react accordingly and help you both make the right moves.

5. Focus

Don’t make their life all about diabetes, because it isn’t who they are it is just something they live with.

Talk to them about other stuff too, about school, friends, girls, hobbies and everything else you talk to your other kids about.

The last thing you want to do when your child comes back home from school starts asking them about their glucose levels and focussing on this again. Let them tell you off their own back.

Just ask them what they got up to and whether their friend Jack is still is still captain of the football team. Take the focus away from diabetes for a moment.

6. Normal

Yes, your child has diabetes, a condition that requires monitoring and attention and concern, but let them have a normal childhood too.

So many parents let the worry overcome all else, so much so that they forget the child has their own life to lead and one that they want to be as normal as possible. So let them play sports and have their friends over for sleepovers and go to parties and stay up late watching films with you once a week.

That is the best way to help them feel strong and not powerless, happy and not caged, grateful and not bitter. It is about mentality, and normality, both of which you will have a huge amount of sway over.
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Saturday, 25 February 2017

I Had My Babies In My Forties


If you had asked me when I was a young career girl just setting out in the world whether I would be having a baby in my forties, I would probably have told you absolutely not. Despite this, I had my children at 43 and 45 (I'm now 52) and I know that I have been extremely lucky.

My grandmother had a child at 45 so, whether or not there is a genetic predisposition to being able to have children later in life, I'm still aware that I managed the best feat of my life just in time.

Mum holding a baby's hand

Can you have a baby in your forties?

What was surprising was just how long it took. Despite being in my 40's I somehow thought that conception would be nothing short of immaculate and, when it took over a year, I found myself reading numerous books on improving your fertility the natural way and taking my temperature every morning to track ovulation.

My temperature never seemed to budge. Tracking the 'ten most fertile days' made sex (or iggly boo as one of my stranger friends calls it) about as exciting as cardboard.

I suffer an early miscarriage

I lost my first child at approximately 6-7 weeks. The charmless consultant gynaecologist we saw made it clear that he viewed this miscarriage as nothing more than a missed period. "You can hang on to see if there's a heartbeat", he told us, "or we'll have you in and whip it out". A managed miscarriage at home was the option we eventually took, wanting to see if the initial scans were wrong. They weren't. 

Caitlin, born 2007
It was back to the temperature taking and the headstands for about another year until, one Valentine's evening, having practically given up, we went out for a romantic meal and got ever so slightly sloshed.

Caitlin was born the following November. And then, the October before Caitlin's 1st Birthday, Ieuan was conceived. Having waited so long for Caitlin, we assumed it would take a couple of years to give her a sibling. I should have listened to my wonderful midwife who told me that once you have had a child, it's as if your motor starts to work properly, and that I shouldn't be surprised if it didn't take long.

Pregnancy Scans

We were aware of the risks of late pregnancy. I had a nuchal translucency scan with Caitlin and amniocentesis with Ieuan. What we would have done in the event of any genetic problems, I still couldn't tell you.

Why didn't I do it sooner?

I have friends older than me who have had children at an equally late age. I also have quite a few friends in their mid thirties who think that they have all the time in the world to reproduce, when the truth is, the clock is ever ticking. Some of my friends must look at me and think "well, SHE did it" but it's easy to kid yourself isn't it.

I regret not having had my children at least ten years ago. In the end, my career (as a Marketing Manager and later Director) simply could not match up to the joy of having kids but I didn't meet my husband until I was 41.

This is the dilemma facing many women. Do we put our heart and soul into a career and hope that Mr Right will just come along, by which time we may no longer be fertile or able to carry a child? Or do we pursue a partner and children whilst we are still in our most fertile years, hoping that we can resume our education and career when the children are in school?

Can Women Ever "Have It All"?

I am a great fan of the late Helen Gurley Brown (who, with her husband, created the Cosmopolitan magazine empire) and read her book "Having it All" (still available from Amazon) from cover to cover in my early twenties. Helen believed the sky was the limit - primarily in terms of work and sex, but I think most women will agree that, today, "having it all" is an impossibility. That said, I'd still recommend Helen's work just to admire her incredible work ethic and zest for life.

I'm now faced with the prospect of staying as fit, healthy and mentally 'young' as possible. Not so much because I worry about the opinion of other mothers (although I'd be lying if I said I was totally immune to it), but for the sake of my children. As Hubby says "well, we just can't conk out early"....

Whatever our decision, we have to live with the consequences - but my two 'consequences' are pretty wonderful.
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