A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Friday, 31 March 2017

Please support MEDAPTI - A Safer & Easier Way To Give Babies Medicine

I have just learned about a brilliant new invention by mum of two Dora Dyk. It is called MEDAPTI and it will make giving medicine to babies much easier.

Whilst I was lucky enough to have few problems with Caitlin and Ieuan in getting them to take medicine, for example from the plastic syringes that are supplied with infant medicines such as Calpol and Nurofen, many babies struggle - particularly babies with reflux.

I can recall occasions where I accidentally shot the medicine into their mouths too quickly making them cough. It's so easy to get it wrong when trying to administer medicine to a distressed, poorly little one. Upsetting for baby and mum.

Dora is seeking support and crowdfunding to get her invention to market. This is the last week of her campaign for funding (ending 6th April) and health professionals in hospitals such as Great Ormond Street, Alder Hay and Sheffield have already expressed an interest in MEDAPTI.

MEDAPTI could also be used to give medicine to the disabled and the elderly.

Here is her story. Please support her if you can.

My name is Dora and I am a mum of two boys. When they were little, I struggled to give them medicine safely and effectively, especially my second baby.

My first son was on reflux medication for a long time and I was always worried about hurting his tiny gums with the regular plastic syringe. I had a bigger issue with my second baby who completely refused to take the medication. He either spat it out, was sick on it or the medicine would just end up all over him, me or the floor which meant I never knew what dose he took.

It was heart breaking to see him so distressed. I used to cry with him a lot of the times because I was so overwhelmed with the whole experience. I just couldn’t find a safe enough solution. I used a medicine dummy which helped as at least I wasn’t worried about hurting his gums but as he didn’t like dummies, I had to use the plunger and many times accidentally shot it too fast down his throat and made him choke.

There were countless times when I would walk around the room rocking my baby to calm him down and I couldn’t stop thinking: ‘There has to be a safer way!” This is how the idea of MEDAPTI was born.

Why is MEDAPTI different from anything that’s out on the market?

* It directs medicine to the cheek which is the safest way as it prevents from choking. This way also helps to avoid taste buds and makes it harder for a baby to spit the medicine out which in result minimises the risk of baby taking an incorrect dose.

* It helps to keep the syringe in baby's mouth even if the baby is moving around or refusing to take the medicine, which also minimises the risk of baby taking an incorrect dose.

* It is soft, protecting baby's mouth and gums.

* It is simple and mess free.

* It only requires the use of one hand when dispensing the medicine, leaving you with a free hand to hold your baby.

A lot of people think MEDAPTI is just like a medicine dummy. It’s not. It might look similar to a dummy but it works in a different way and is suitable for babies that do not like dummies or bottles.

It has been just over four years since I first thought of MEDAPTI and what an exciting journey it has been! Challenging for sure BUT amazing! With no previous experience in product development, I had to learn it all step by step…intellectual property, design, manufacturing and so many other things!

I have to admit, juggling between kids, day job and MEDAPTI project isn’t the easiest thing and we have to make sacrifices as a family but I believe it will be worth it.

Fortunately, I have a lot of support and encouragement from my family and friends. My boys, 5 and 7 years old are my biggest supporters and my very valuable advisers J My youngest said to me the other day: “Mum, when I’m big, I’d like to do MEDAPTI with you.” My eldest came from school one day and said: “Mum, I invented something today!” It would be a dream to take them to a supermarket one day and show them MEDAPTI on one of the shelves! They would not believe it!

I am extremely proud of how far I got with the development of my invention. Articles about MEDAPTI were published in The Sun, The Mirror and second best-selling newspaper in Poland last year.

Just within the last two weeks, I was featured by ten different blog and baby sites, including Mummy Pages. I never thought that just the idea I had in my mind would travel across the globe for someone to write about it!

The more feedback I get, the more I realise that MEDAPTI could help so many people. Not just parents and carers of babies but also disabled and elderly. Something I am especially proud of is the fact that I had interest from health professionals in hospitals like Great Ormond Street Hospital, Alder Hay and Sheffield.

It just shows that giving medicine to babies is a real issue. One of my guest blog posts is also a proof of that. A mum blogger whose daughter was born with half a working heart said that MEDAPTI would have really helped with her baby when she was born. It’s incredibly moving to think that my invention could help those babies who need extra medication or anyone else who struggles with giving medicine.

This is why I desperately need your help! I am raising funds on Kickstarter so I can pay for the tooling and produce the first batch of MEDAPTI.

Please support me and PLEDGE. There are many Rewards to choose from. I will be forever grateful! The campaign finishes next Thursday, 6th of April at 8pm so there is not much time left!

Here is the link to my campaign where you can see a short video and find out more about me:


Please support Dora if you can.

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 14 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

How are you all this week?  The Husband is off on his sales week in Canada so I've been manning the fort alone.  I've needed a large glass of wine a couple of times, I can tell you!  I felt much the same last year as you can see from this post.

Did you catch my review of Into The Air by A.K. Downing?  It's a fabulous debut novel for young adults set in a post apocalyptic world with a feisty young female heroine searching for her lost father.

As usual, there are some great books on the linky - and don't forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of the book love.

Don't forget that I still have plenty to be won on my competitions page and don't forget my problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures 
Beck Valley BooksCinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | Colorimetry | The Ultimate Fan Blog Mother Distracted
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeDeal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this weeks awesome selection!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Problem Page Edition 13 2017

This week - how to stop your boyfriend from smoking, why your ex would block you and whether flirting could be 'creepy'.

Purple heart hanging decoration

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here are this week's questions.

Q: Why would my ex block me and then unblock me?

A: It depends how long ago it was you split up. 

If it’s recent, it may be that they have had a change of heart or, if the break-up was their fault, they simply feel guilty about blocking you. 

If, on the other hand, you been messaging them with anything angry or vindictive, or openly criticising them on timelines etc, you shouldn’t be surprised at being blocked, particularly if your messages were visible to their friends and family. Social media is not the place to air your dirty laundry. 

If things ended a while ago, perhaps they feel that now your relationship is in the past, it is OK to remain friends. 

The only way you will know is if they make contact with you directly. 

If you did nothing to warrant being blocked, I would feel pretty annoyed and not waste any further time on them. It’s pretty childish behaviour, don’t you think?

Q: My boyfriend smokes a lot. How can I make him understand that he has to end? 

A: Smoking is an addiction so it’s not as easy as telling someone they HAVE to stop. Unless they’ve been living in a cave, they’re well aware of the damage they are doing to their health. 

Perhaps in the first instance it would be better to encourage them to cut down. 

You may find some ideas in my post about this "Will This Help Your Loved One To Reduce Their Smoking Habit?" 

The more you nag him to stop, the more he will continue I suspect. 

If his smoking is a deal-breaker for you and he won’t stop, then I think you need to tell him that the passive smoking he’s putting you through is harming your health as well and you want a boyfriend who respects both his, and your body. 

After all, if he won’t choose you over smoking then that doesn’t bode too well for your future relationship. 

I think someone who wants to be with you will at least be willing to agree to some sort of compromise. 

But he’s not a child and he really needs to decide to stop for himself. 

Q: Will he come back if I take time away? 

My boyfriend ended things because he wasn't happy with himself and was tired of my lack of trust. I know he had been feeling this way for a while; the breakup wasn't abrupt. The breakup had us both in tears however he said he wasn't getting back with me. If I let go, will he come back? Advice?

A: My question to you is, if you don’t trust him, why would you want to take him back? 

It sounds, I’m afraid, as if he has made his mind up and is spinning you the old “It isn’t you, it’s me” line. 

But is there more to it? 

If he has been miserable for a while, has he been suffering from depression for example. Has there been someone else in the background whilst all this has been going on? 

I am sure you feel heartbroken but the best way to inspire him to come back is to build a life without him and don’t let him see you are hurting. 

Desperately trying to hang on to him may make him more determined to go - and I think you should have pride enough not to give him the satisfaction. 

It doesn’t sound as if this was going anywhere and with time apart you may meet someone far more suitable, and someone who you can trust. 

Very often if we don’t trust someone, our gut instinct has come into play and is shouting a message at us. 

I suspect it may be time to listen to yours. 

Q: Does she like me, or think I'm creepy? 

There's this girl in my coworking space. I always catch her taking a quick glance at me, but I pretend not to notice. She does the same thing walking in the building when I'm already inside. I feel like she's keeping tabs on me, than showing actual interest. Why would girls do this? 

A: I’m guessing you don’t have much experience with women. Hasn’t it dawned on you she might be flirting with you? 

Lots of girls still believe the guy should make the first move, old fashioned as that may seem. And if you are reacting as if she thinks you’re a creep, it’s not really surprising she’s not started up a conversation is it? 

If you’re interested then return her smiles. Say hello. If you’re not interested then carry on ignoring her. She’ll get the message soon enough. 

Q: How would you feel if you were sleeping with someone and suddenly they tell you that they're engaged to their ex? And they declare it to everyone.

A: I would ask them to pack their stuff and get their cheating backside out of my home and then never see them again. 

How you feel is immaterial. What you do about it is what matters. 

By the way, how can they be engaged to their ex? Their ex is very much not an ex then surely. 

I do wonder how much you knew about this person but if they had led you to believe that you were in a bona fide relationship I would be absolutely livid. 

Tempting as it is to tell the fiancee I’d do the decent thing and keep schtum. She’ll find out what a rat he is soon enough. 

You just need to move on with your head held high and ask a few more searching questions next time. 

How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page.

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 

Post Comment Love

3 Things To Consider With Your Child's Education

Many parents develop a love-hate relationship with their children's education. Naturally, it has to be appropriate, and it can be a drama if your child doesn’t perform as well as you had hoped.  As parents we all derive great personal pride when our children do well.

Far more important, however is the question of how well your child's education is preparing them for adult life.

Little girl colouring in her book in school

Will they leave school equipped for higher education and with a clear idea of the kind of job that will excite and motivate them? 

In the end, our role as a parent is to make sure that our kids have all they need in life, and this includes an education that allows plenty of room for self-growth. 

Here are three areas in which you can help them best. 

How Are Your Kids Doing In School?

First of all, the unavoidable parents’ evening at your child’s school is the best way for you to take the temperature. Parents’ evening is often a bit of an ordeal for many parents, but this is a necessary step to finding out first hand how your child is doing. 

A lot of parents will use the evening as a way of sharing their parenting opinions with the teachers, but it's important to attend for the following reasons.

The teacher is there to give you an overview of your child’s social interactions, school performance, and overall behaviour. This is the evening in the year during which you can find out from an adult specialised in working with children, whether yours are having difficulties making friends, getting their heads around maths, or sitting quietly in class. 

This is an important step on your parenting journey to help them and a key opportunity to find out where the issues are and discuss possible solutions with the teacher and other parents.

Consider The School Equipment

If you are still in the process of choosing your child’s future school, or if you are visiting the school for an appointment with the teacher, then make sure you take the time to look around. 

Do they have modern playground equipment for schools in the playground? Are they using digital technology in the classroom? Is there a computer room, and if so, what types of computers are there? 

Schools need to provide a healthy mix of modern equipment to help your child get prepared for the modern life. For some children, the school is the only place where they can get to see a digital tablet or read a book. So it’s important that they can use relatively current equipment so that they are best prepared for the active world that awaits them. 

Smiling girl hiding behind a book in a lecture theatre with blue chairs

Help Them To Discover Their Passion

Finally, as a parent, it is your role to help your child develop his or her passion. Passions are notoriously difficult to find, so help your children by planning cultural outings such as an afternoon at the museum or theatre, even an art gallery or how about a library?

You could even plan a cultural holiday abroad, but it's probably best not to do that in term time unless you have the permission of the head teacher!

There are plenty of things that you can do to help your child broaden their horizons. But as you do, you are getting them one step closer to defining a future path that they will love. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Review: The S+ - Your Personalised Sleep Solution By ResMed

It seems that the new frontier for managing and improving our health is sleep. Everyone is talking about how important it is.

Co-founder and Editor of the Huffington Post, Ariana Huffington, has even written a book about it entitled "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night At A Time" in which she asserts that only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives.

Collage of S+ Sleep System by ResMed
Gwyneth Paltrow's book "Goop Clean Beauty" contains a whole chapter on sleeping soundly and the effect of a lack of sleep on our hormones (clue, it can make us fatter) and I recently reviewed "Breathe Better, Sleep Better" by Anandi The Sleep Guru which offers ways to bring your being back into balance and regain your sleep by breathing better.

Those of us approaching menopause or suffering from stress and anxiety may find that our sleep is one of the first things to suffer.

Screenshot showing My ResMed sleep data

So what if there were a gadget which monitored both the quality and duration of our sleep - and offered ways to improve it?

Even better, what if there were a gadget you didn't have to wear?  I don't know about you but wearing a fitness tracker in bed has always seemed a bit odd to me.

The S+ by RedMed is the world’s first non-contact, fully comprehensive sleep tracking system, which features patent-protected SleepSensor technology. It makes it possible to track, analyse and improve sleep at home without a wristband, electrodes or mattress strips.

“Sleep is arguably the most important thing we do in our day. It’s easy to underestimate the impact that lack of it can have on our overall wellbeing.” said Dr. Guy Meadows, Clinical Director at The Sleep School and author of "The Sleep Book – How to sleep well every night." “We know lack of sleep can be harmful to our physical and mental health, yet we are doing very little to help improve our sleep. With its unique features, the S+ is the perfect present for those looking to improve not only the quantity but also the quality of their sleep.”

The S+ by ResMed comprises a device that sits beside the bed, a cloud-hosted Sleep Mentor system, and a free mobile app (Apple iOS and Android).

Its features include:

*highly calibrated respiratory and bio-motion sensor to measure and analyse sleep stages

*recording of the movements caused by the expansion and relaxation of the chest with breathing, and overall body movements such as position changes, arm twitches and shrugs

*delivery of sleep scores and sleep charts to a connected phone or tablet,

*personalised feedback and suggestions to help users improve their sleep.

The S+ also has a range of features to help improve sleep:

There's Relax to Sleep which provides a choice of soothing sounds that synchronise with breathing patterns to help with the process of falling asleep at bedtime.

Then there's Mind Clear allows users to record a voice message or type a text note to help clear their mind when trying to settle to sleep.

And Smart Alarm allows users to set a window of time for the S+ to naturally wake them when they are in light sleep, enabling them to wake feeling more refreshed.

My sleep data from the S+ RedMed for the night of 28th March 2017

At first I wondered if this gadget was going to be a gimmick but one week on and I'm hooked.

For a start you wake each morning to a sleep score which rates the night of sleep you've just had. Set-up couldn't be simpler - simply download the app, answer some basic questions and then sync your phone wirelessly with the main unit (which you place on your bedside table).

The S+ has a series of lights which indicate what the unit is doing. For example, there's a green light to indicate that the unit and your phone are connected and a red light to indicate that they're not - simple!

I am happy to report that once you start the app working as you go to sleep the light goes out completely.

As someone who has to cover those annoying red standby lights on TVs in hotel bedrooms because they keep me awake, I was very happy to find no such problem with this gadget. (High maintenance - me?).

There's also a second port in the main plug adaptor for you to charge your phone at the same time which is very useful.  I have found this very handy as the kids have always commandeered the charging cables for their iPads.

The app will also show you your breathing pattern in real time which is fascinating.  I have no idea how the S+ does this but it's great.

The S+ will also give you noise and light levels in your room.

Hypnogram from the S+ RedMed website for my sleep March 28th 2017

You need to start up the app before going to sleep and you will be asked about your caffeine and alcohol consumption for that day, how stressed you were and how much exercise you've done.  (Too much, too little, extremely and when the heck do I have the time - are strangely not admissible answers).

You then have the option to clear your mind using Mind Clear.  Simply tap and record a helpful note or text to yourself.  You can also use this if you wake up in the middle of the night and remember that you need to do something important like buy lightbulbs or rearrange your crockery in order of size.

It's a very useful function for us bloggers too!

Once you have answered the questions, simply tap to start the app (which very sweetly bids you good night) and drift off.

Once you awake, simple hit the app button to switch off and look at your sleep score (this becomes a bit addictive).

You'll know how much light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep you had, plus how recharged your body and mind are.

Through the day, the S+ also does some subtle nagging my mother would be proud of - viz sending messages about the effect of too much caffeine on sleep.  I haven't had a message about alcohol or lack of exercise yet but I suspect it's only a matter of time.

If you want to relax during the day, the unit also has a range of peaceful sounds (for example the sound of the ocean) which you can play via the app.  These are designed for you to breathe in time to which has an automatically calming effect.  An extra benefit for a Tinnitus sufferer like me is that focusing on your breath takes your mind off your Tinnitus. And, as you might expect, sleep is something that Tinnitus sufferers really struggle with.

The S+ is a brilliant system which allows you to explore the quality of sleep you are getting and to make some informed decisions to improve it.

There's a difference between knowing you're not getting enough sleep and seeing that you didn't even get 7 hours for the past three nights.  Equally, we all know that too much caffeine affects our sleep but confessing to 6+ cups every day does make you wonder whether you should try camomile tea or decaf (the devil's brew) instead.

S+ RedMed advice about caffeine

The contactless aspect of the S+ is, to me, its major advantage over fitness trackers. The unit sits in a metal frame but you can remove it and place just the white box on your bedside table.  You do have to make sure that the unit is positioned correctly and near enough your head to pick up your breathing but the accompanying instructions make it a doddle to work out.

I loved the app which is complemented by the website Mysplus.com, where you can log in and see all your graphs and statistics full size with more data and advice about improving your sleep hygiene.

I discovered that I was actually sleeping better than I thought I was but nowhere near as well as I could if I took more exercise and drank less caffeine.  Obvious but sometimes you need to see it in front of you and to have the gentle push to do something about it.

The S+ is available at £129.95 from Amazon and John Lewis - the price of a top of the range fitness tracker.  If sleep is your main health niggle, then I think it is a worthwhile investment.

For more information about S+ by ResMed, visit http://splus.resmed.com/ and follow @FixMySleep on Twitter.

Dear Bear and Beany

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Review: Lego 75153 Star Wars AT-ST Walker Building Set

From a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away comes LEGO Star Wars and with it comes the chance for your kids (and you!) to build all your favourite ships and characters as well as some pretty cool vehicles. Each box provides suggestions for starting the play activity and you can also download the free Force Builder App.

Lego 75153 Star Wars AT-ST Walker Building Set Box

We were sent this particular set, LEGO Star Wars AT-ST Walker (RRP £44.99), to review from www.kidstoysclub.co.uk who provide recommendations, detailed toy reviews, pictures of play gadgets your children will like and articles about anything toy related.

The LEGO Star Wars AT-ST Walker set comes from the Rogue One film and this is the scenario:-

"Go on the hunt for Baze and the Rebel Trooper aboard the All Terrain Scout Transport. Open the top hatch, load up the AT-ST Driver and move the legs to speed into action. When you’ve tracked them down, turn the wheel to rotate the top and prepare to fire the spring-loaded shooters! Can Baze and the trooper escape the advancing AT-ST? That's for you to decide."

The three bags of Lego pieces in the Lego 75153 Star Wars AT-ST Walker Building Set

The set comes in a medium-sized box with 449 pieces split into 3 bags to help you build the walker in stages. The instruction book is excellent and takes you through the construction piece by piece in with large graphics.  I would have welcomed some written instructions in some places though.

The set is designed for the 8-14 age group.   I hadn't tried my hand at Lego building for a while and found that rather than the traditional way of building by clipping bricks together, there's quite a bit of slotting pegs in holes.

Caitlin & Ieuan assembling the Lego 75153 Star Wars AT-ST Walker Building Set

I found this slightly tricky and had to be rescued by the Husband (oh the shame) so kids at the lower end of this age range may need adult help to assemble the walker.

You build the legs and feet first and then assemble the walker in stages.  The body is more of a traditional type of build so that was a bit easier.

The build goes on - Lego 75153 Star Wars AT-ST Walker Building Set

There are plenty of moving parts to play with. The front and side cannons are mobile and you can fire the lasers.  The upper body rotates if you turn a dial on the back and both the top hatch and the entire cockpit roof open.

The Lego 75153 Star Wars AT-ST Walker assembled

The only negative point is that the walker is slightly wobbly and I think it would easily come apart during any rough play.

The set comes with three minifigures.  There's an AT-ST driver with two facial expressions to choose from, a Rebel trooper and new Rogue One character Baze Malbus, complete with his signature heavy blaster.

Lego 75153 Star Wars AT-ST Walker Building Set side view

Once assembled the Walker is really impressive, if a little fragile.  We enjoyed building this set but I would say that it is suitable for kids toward the higher end of the 8-14 age range.

Caitlin & Ieuan with the Lego 75153 Star Wars AT-ST Walker Building Set

*We were sent this product to review by www.kidstoysclub.co.uk
Family Fever

Monday, 27 March 2017

The ONE Question You REALLY Want To Ask At Your School's Parents' Evening

This week it's Parents' Evening at our children's school and since the Husband has managed not to be in the same postcode district as usual, the task falls to me.  At least Caitlin and Ieuan are finally in the same school and on the same site!

Caitlin and Ieuan at St. Fagans, Cardiff

I have to be quite honest here.  Attending Parents' Evening is not my favourite thing to do.

Even though I love to see their artwork on the walls and thumb through their project books, spending 30 minutes past your allotted time for 5 minutes with their teacher doesn't seem the most effective way of gauging their progress.

And, by the way, if you're one of those parents who feels compelled to discuss your holiday / DIY / the cat's health with teacher, please try tuning in to the huffing and tutting of the irritated queue of parents pretending not to listen behind you.

It's a form of parent one-upmanship which is amusing and annoying in equal measure.

But as I squat like Pocahontas with intestinal problems on one of those mini chairs, I find myself rehearsing the questions I'd really like to ask but don't dare in case I come across as a babbling neurotic.

These are the questions I reckon we'd all really like to ask.

Does my child have friends?

Are they being picked on and would you tell me if they were?

How do they compare with their classmates?

[Remind me - have we completely banned any form of competition in schools now and replaced it with a new set of stickers - "Well done, you managed to exist again today"?]

Do they seem happy during the school day?

Now that my child has formed an emotional attachment to you, do you promise not to leave?

Do they eat their dinner?   Do they eat their vegetables?  Are they using cutlery?

Why does my child never get a decent role in the school play?

Now that all weaponry in school plays has been banned, how do I explain what goes on in the Armed Forces?

Why is so much learning screen based? Can't they risk bronchial problems through chalk dust inhalation like we had to?

And all of the above can be neatly summarised in this ONE question.

Do you think I'm an OK parent?

Because that's what it's really about, isn't it?

Most of the time parents' evening is not so much about your child's academic performance as it is a barometer of your parenting skills

This is why Facebook this week will be awash with "well done Timmy, mummy is so proud you have got an A level in Astrophysics and you're only in year 3" type posts.

How this makes parents of children who are struggling feel, I dread to think, but there it is again, that element of competition.

I've an idea.  Why don't we let our kids compete a little bit more and then perhaps the focus of parents evening might be more about their performance and a little less about ours.

Do I get a sticker?

My Random Musings

Why Flowers Aren't The Cliched Gift You're Led To Believe

There are so many articles and posts out there that give ideas on what gifts you can give people to make a positive impact on them - except most of them bash flowers in the process. ‘Give these gifts instead of flowers’, they say, and yet fail to realize that there’s a reason flowers have made such a popular gift for years. 

lady carrying a beautiful bouquet of pink and red flowers

Turns out, flowers aren’t the cliched gift that many think they are. Here’s why!

They Bring Life To A Room

A nice bunch of flowers can bring life to just about any room. Whether you want something to greet guests in the hallway or lighten up your living room, they are going to add something to your decor and bring joy to all who see them. If you think something is missing from a room, chances are, it’s a nice bunch of flowers.

They Have A Positive Effect On A Person’s Brain

Flowers are actually one of the only gifts that can have a genuine, positive effect on a person’s brain. Sure, something ridiculously expensive might make somebody happy on the surface, but is it really having an impact on their brain? Flowers can actually reduce mental health issues like stress and depression, and many people who received flowers as a gift reported having a positive mood that lasted for days. 

Selection of bright blooms on a desk with a white porcelain coffee cup

They Give A Sense Of Wellbeing

Studies have shown that for mature people, flowers can give a much greater sense of wellbeing and satisfaction with life. This is why getting your grandma a lovely bunch of blooms has never been a better idea!

There’s Something For Every Budget, Occasion And All Tastes

There really is something for every budget, occasion, and taste when it comes to flowers. You can buy a cheap bunch from the supermarket if you’re running low on funds, or you could look for an interflora discount code for something a little higher quality. There are flowers for weddings, birthdays, ‘thank you's and so much more.

Flowers Can Make You More Productive

If you send somebody flowers at work, you may just inadvertently help them to get a promotion. Keeping flowers at work can make you happier and more productive, so just think of the effect your gift will have on the receiver when they keep them on their desk!

It’s Good For Your ‘Chi’

You might be wondering what ‘chi’ is; in short, it’s energy. The ancient practice of Feng Shui talks about this a lot. There are many principles to this practice, but one of them is to have flowers in the home to improve positive energy!

Giving Flowers Says Something About You

Don’t forget, giving flowers also says something about you as a person. People who send flowers are viewed as successful, caring, emotionally intelligent people. This goes for both men and women! If you enjoy giving flowers a lot, this might just be the reason why.

So, have you changed your mind about flowers after reading this? Leave a comment and let me know!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Keeping Your Wallet Healthy and Your Kids Happy

Children can be needy—it’s normal. They want the latest games, they want McDonald’s, they want a pet dog and they also want a new laptop. However much we love our children, the one thing we probably hate is how they expect us to spend so much money on their toys and games, only for them to throw them out in a week’s time or use them so much that they need to be replaced.

If you want to keep your wallet healthy and make sure your kids are happy, then here are a couple of money-saving tips that will help you stay out of debt.

Image Source

Buying second-hand or refurbished
Let’s say your children want the latest Nintendo console. Unfortunately, not only is it very expensive, it’s also sold out in most locations. This is when we can turn to eBay and second-hand stores. If it’s cheaper to get something refurbished or pre-owned (it usually always is) then why not get it for less? Your children might not enjoy the fact that it’s second-hand, but at the end of the day, the device will still work, you’ll save money, and your children will be happy. When being second-hand, pay attention to any terms and conditions the seller might have—especially if you’re buying from eBay.com. Most of the time, you’ll have some protection from fraud and scammers thanks to PayPal and eBay’s terms and conditions, so try to avoid buying with cash from someone local.

Refurbished products typically have a warranty policy as well and are repaired to state that is close to factory new. In some cases, refurbished products are even better than factory new because if there are defects within the original manufacturing run, they are typically fixed in refurbished versions. A good example of this is game consoles that have heating issues. A refurbished unit usually comes with a better cooling solution to make sure it runs smoothly.

Looking for a deal
Depending on what your kids want, you can usually get better deals if you wait for sales or look at websites such as DontPayFull.com for coupons and offers. If it’s a video game that your children want, then you can usually wait for summer or winter sales before getting it. If it’s a games console or some kind of electronic gadgets, then Black Friday is the perfect time to buy them if it’s coming up. Make sure you search online to find the lowest price you can pay for something. It doesn’t take long to head over to a search engine like Google.com and type in “cheapest x”. Just keep in mind that occasionally, the price of shipping will push the cost of something over your desired budget. You might also get great deals by searching in local stores.

When grocery shopping, it’s never a bad idea to buy your kids’ favourite meals and snacks in bulk when they are on sale. However, don’t make it a habit of giving them all of those goodies in one go. Focus on locking them away in your pantry so that they don’t stuff their innocent faces with sugary snacks, or make it a treat when they eat up all their veggies.

Budgeting advice

If you aren’t already doing it, then you should start using a budgeting app to help you manage your finances. You basically need to split your expenses into things you have to pay for and things you would like to own. Once you’ve calculated how much money you can spend on your children each month, you can make more realistic approximations to what you can and can’t afford to buy them.

By teaching your children about budgeting, you prepare them for the future when they finally get a job. You can teach them valuable lessons about money, such as saving money for future purchases, being frugal and not being wasteful.

Image Source

Resale value

If your children go through the latest electronics and keep on nagging for replacements, then consider making them a deal; tell them that if you can sell their old electronics and toys, you’ll buy them updated replacements. It’s a great way to teach your kids how to manage their finances and not be wasteful. Electronics that are only a year old can sell for close to 80% of their initial price, meaning you’ll get a nice chunk of money back and you won’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money every year to buy them new toys.

Not only is this the perfect solution to constant tech upgrades that we see today, it’s also a fantastic way to clear out the clutter in your home and make more space for storage and other things. Sooner or later, your home will make you look like a hoarder with boxes and crates everywhere that are full of toys and video games. As long as you keep those items in good working condition, you’ll be able to sell them for a decent chunk of change.

Make a stand

Far too many parents cave in and buy their children things that they can’t afford. Whether it’s taking out a loan, buying something on finance or being guilt-tripped into paying money for something that your children don’t need, you need to make a stand and you have to maintain some level of authority over your children. Their tantrums won’t last, their arguments will die down, and they will eventually appreciate what they have.

You never want to spoil your child. Be it the types of food they eat, the games they play or the toys they own, you need to discipline them about saving money to that you don’t let them force you into debt with incessant whining and crying. You have to learn to manage your finances and your frugality has to rub off on your children if you want them to be successful, smart and responsible with their money in the future. Think of it as tough love, it’s something you need to do in order to teach your children lessons about life.

Hopefully, these points have given you some idea on how to control your child’s urges while also maintaining some level of financial freedom. Having a child isn’t cheap, and keeping them happy can cost a lot of money. But as long as you take a stand and teach them how to manage their money from an early age, they’ll grow up to be frugal and obtain financial freedom.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Skinn Skincare - A Birthday Gift From Idealworld.TV

It's Idealworld.TV's 17th birthday this March and to celebrate they have a great offer on one of their hero skincare products - the Skinn Collagenesis range from Skinn.

Skinn skincare products from Idealworld.tv

Skinn is a top selling international skincare and colour cosmetic brand and the brainchild of industry veteran Dimitri James, a professional makeup artist and licensed esthetician whose work has been seen on the runway and the red carpet, as well as national and international TV shows and magazines.  As well as training makeup artists and estheticians for renowned beauty brands, he is the author of two books, "Becoming Beauty" and "Naughty Makeovers for Nice Girls".

Skinn say they focus on what goes into the jar and how it will make you look, using the company motto “what counts is inside” and they only use pure, natural ingredients and traditional methods of preparation. It is this, they say, that makes Skinn different from other cosmetic brands.

I was sent four products to try:-

* Skinn Collagenesis 24 Hour Cream 50ml
* Stem Rejen Face Serum 30ml
* Stem Rejen Eye Serum 15ml 
* Lip Stem Rejen 15ml

The 24 hour youth preservation cream is fortified with plant derived peptides, Collagenesis which contains no waxes, no parabens, no petrochemicals and no mineral oil.  It can be used both day and night to help keep skin feel softer as well as help to even the skin tone and firm the skin.

The facial serum is formulated has three key ingredients, Glacier Water, Snow Algae Powder and Alpine Rose. Glacier Water helps to keep the skin moisturised, whereas the Snow Algae helps to increase the longevity of skin’s smooth, radiant appearance. Alpine Rose helps to enhance skin’s natural vitality and allows skin to cope better with climate changes.

The eye serum is formulated with a natural plumping active derived from the resin of the Indian tree Guggul, as well as the key ingredients from the facial serum.

Lastly the Collagenesis Lip Stem Rejen Serum Elite 15ml is formulated with a naturally derived active obtained from sesame seeds that help to smooth lines around the lip including, marionette and nasolabial folds, for a more rejuvenated and youthful appearance.  You can use it morning and night on your mouth area and laughter lines and as and when needed throughout the day.

I liked the value for money advanced skincare formulations, the elegant packaging and the lovely colours of the potions - a bright pink and yellow.  I found the 24 hour preservation cream curiously springy in texture but with all four products a little went a long way.

I found the products to be gentle on my skin, easily absorbed and unfragranced which my skin certainly appreciates.  I have found that as I have got older, my skin has become increasingly sensitive and prone to break out.

My favourite of the four was the lip serum designed to minimise those annoying tell-tale lines around your lips - you know the ones - the lines that seem to absorb red lipstick!  I found it had an instant effect and will be popped in my handbag.

If you would like to try the four Skinn products above, you can find all of them at Idealworld.TV. Usually this collection retails at £120 but from Wednesday 29th March they are giving you a birthday gift by offering them at £39.99.

Not only that but they are including two extra products, Skinn Insta-Fill for Eyes,  a line filling treatment designed to instantly create smooth skin around the eye area, and Insta-Fill for Lips,  which will stop your lipstick from feathering and make your colour last longer.

Skinn Insta Fill Lips

Skinn Insta Fill Eyes

If you would like to try premium skincare at a budget price this March then remember to visit Idealworld.TV from the 29th March.

Disclosure: I received a selection of Skinn skincare for review. The opinions below are my own and unbiased.


Friday, 24 March 2017

No Or Low Cost Mother's Day Gift Ideas

It's Mother's Day this Sunday and if you haven't bought a gift yet or are struggling to find the funds to get your mum something nice, the following articles list a selection of cheap gift ideas which are within most people's budgets - or even free.  Just click on the link.

Every mum wants the chance to relax!

This is an American site so the costs are in dollars but the ideas would work just as well here.

Sample ideas:-

* Create a Memory Journal

"Every family has made plenty of funny, sad, and crazy memories over the years... Ask everyone in the family to write down their favorites in a journal. It can be serious or silly, whatever you choose, and you can continue to add to the memory journal when the next Mother’s Day rolls around.

* Give the Gift of Sleep

For mums of babies or young kids, this is the ultimate gift. Let her sleep in for once, and make sure she knows beforehand that she has the entire morning to lie in bed. Alternatively, consider setting aside a few hours during the day for a much-needed nap...

Last Minute Mother's Day Gifts That Are Cheap, Easy & Surprisingly Thoughtful - Time.com

9 more brilliant ideas from our friends over the Pond.

Sample idea:-

* List the reasons you love her

Among the DIY Mother's Day gifts suggested by Today.com is a decorated mason jar stuffed full of adorable and funny messages about why mom is the greatest. For example: "You give the best hugs," or "You don't snore as loud as dad." The idea is that mom can open up the jar each day or whenever she needs a pick-me-up, and get a reminder about how amazing she is, and how much all of you appreciate her".

Pink candle and crystals on a bed with white bedding, glasses, cup of tea, magazine and laptop

24 Ridiculously Easy DIY Mother's Day Gifts - Buzzfeed.com

Sample ideas:-

* Transform thrifted tea cups into candles to dress up any tea party.

* Stencil your mom's most inspiring words on a tea towel to let her know you've been listening.

* Make a DIY box for your mum's favourite bon-bons

Cheap Mother's Day Gift Ideas - The Balance

Sample idea:-

* Cut flowers are nice, but they don't last very long. For a gift with longer-lasting appeal, choose a flowering perennial for her garden instead – she'll enjoy your gift this Mother's Day and every one thereafter. For an even cheaper take on this idea, just place a packet of seeds inside a card, and schedule a time to help her plant them.

So there you have it - plenty of ideas to make Mum's day special.  In my book though, you can't go wrong with letting Mum have a nice lie in and bringing her a cup of tea in bed.  Bliss!

What's your favourite Mother's Day treat?

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 13 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

How are you all this week?  It's Red Nose Day today so Caitlin and Ieuan have duly gone to school wearing their noses.  I'm not sure I'll be sitting through tonight's telethon although I know a lot of people are excited about seeing the cast of the film Love Actually back together again.

Happy Red Nose Day!

The clocks go forward on Sunday (just in time for Mother's Day) so lighter evenings are on their way. Time to get out in the garden and hose down the garden furniture in time for a little early evening reading with a glass of wine.

Did you catch my review of Into The Air by A.K. Downing?  It's a fabulous debut novel for young adults set in a post apocalyptic world with a feisty young female heroine searching for her lost father.

As usual, there are some great books on the linky - and don't forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of the book love.

Don't forget that I still have plenty to be won on my competitions page and don't forget my problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures 
Beck Valley BooksCinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | Colorimetry | The Ultimate Fan Blog Mother Distracted
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeDeal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this weeks awesome selection!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Problem Page Edition 12 2017

This week - your partner's cheating when you've just had a baby and jealousy when your friend makes it big and you feel left behind. Plus, can gift giving mean you're hitting on someone?

Woman's arms hugging a man's back

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here are this week's questions.

Q: Would you date someone you’re not attracted to because they offer you financial security?

A: Interesting question. In the past, marriages were often made entirely to secure land and wealth but then women didn’t really have much option.

Personally I couldn’t marry someone I didn’t love - particularly if they didn’t know I didn’t love them. Big lies like that have a habit of coming back to bite us.

And seeking financial security from a man is still a little 19th century, don’t you think?

Wouldn’t you feel better about yourself if you made your own way, earned your own money and took control of your own destiny?

Rather than letting a well off bloke you don’t fancy all that much lock you in to a relationship with all the appeal of mud.

Q: If a female friend gives a guy a gift, do they automatically assume she has an ulterior motive? 

My friend got accepted to nursing school (he is the first college attendee in his family). I got him an antique book of medicine that we love. I am afraid if I give it to him, he will think I'm hitting on him. Anyone who knows me knows I am a giver- it is in congratulations for this big step.

A: It’s a lovely gesture you are considering, but there’s a chance he may wonder if it is a romantic overture.

I guess it depends what kind of relationship you have and whether you exchange gifts at any other time - Christmas, birthdays and so forth. If you don’t this may come a bit left field. 

Do you know his family? Have they met you? 

If you will get a lot of pleasure from giving the gift then just accept he may wonder about your motives and shrug it off. 

I think lots of people would say the gifts should be coming from his family though.

I would look for a new boyfriend I can actually spend time with on a regular basis - and closer to home.

Q: I have a best friend who made it to Harvard and I feel worthless when I see all of his achievements. How do I stop comparing myself to him?

A: You know that everyone has different talents and abilities. 

It does not make one person better than another, just different. It is natural to envy someone’s success and to compare their life with ours. 

Rather than wallow in self pity though, why not ask yourself a couple of questions like did your friend work his butt off to succeed? Are you as dedicated? Do you work as hard? Did your friend have a clear idea of his goal in life? Do you know what you want? 

My point is you can use these feelings to examine your own life and see whether you need to make changes. 

In this case comparison might be the impetus you need to take stock and then take action. 

I am entirely sure you are not worthless and even if he succeeds at Harvard that is not necessarily a golden ticket to a dream job, a dream family, a dream life. It’s just a very good starting block to run from. 

Why not make a list of your achievements and then ask yourself what you’d like to add to it in the next few years. 

And go for it.

Q: How bad is it that my boyfriend is very upset with me and I don't really care? 

He stormed out just now and I was just relieved that he was gone. Why? Now I don't have to hear him curse at me or listen to his angry rant about me going out while he does the exact same thing way more often. 

A: It does seem an extreme reaction from him if the only issue is that you go out without him and he goes out without you. Is there more to it than that? 

If not, your boyfriend is being a hypocrite. It sounds like there’s a battle for control going on here and it certainly doesn’t sound like a fun relationship to be in. It also sounds pretty immature. 

You sound as if you have had enough of him and you shouldn’t put up with anyone cursing you or ranting at you. 

I think the pair of you have to sit down and have an honest conversation about what is acceptable in a relationship to both of you - and whether there is enough to salvage to make it worth putting more effort in. 

Because for it to work, BOTH of you might have to change. 

And if you’re already too angry to care, it might be time to find a new boyfriend.

Q: I have just found out that the father of my 6-month-old daughter has been cheating on me with his female friend. What should I do?

A: I am really sorry if this is the case because when we have just had a baby our self confidence may sometimes be at an all time low as we adjust to the pressures of becoming a mum (whether for the first time or subsequently). 

I am sure you are torn between feeling awful and wanting to kick him to the kerb. 

Pregnancy is often a difficult time for fathers to be and affairs during this time are very common. 

Some men do not have the maturity to cope with lack of sex during their partners pregnancy or may feel pushed out of the new family unit as their partner is totally (and naturally) absorbed with the baby. 

This is no way excuses this behaviour and men like this need to grow up fast. It may, however, explain the reason for his wandering. 

Was everything OK before the baby? You have no doubt heard the term “sticking plaster baby” where a couple is having problems and decides that having a baby will make everything better. It very often doesn’t. 

Do you have proof of the affair? Make sure you have your facts straight and then sit down with him and ask him for an honest explanation. I would speak to him first before you speak to the ‘friend’. 

If he confesses then you either forgive him and gain his reassurance that this was a one-off or you tell him to leave. 

Either way the trust has been broken and it will be difficult to put it all behind you and move on. 

He may, however, be a useless partner but there is no reason why he can’t, in time, be a decent father.

Your initial job is to find out what happened and decide whether your relationship is worth saving. And the female ‘friend’ needs to go if that is to happen. 

I doubt very much that this was anything to do with you. Time for your partner to grow up and face his responsibilities. 

How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page.

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 

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