Tuesday, 25 February 2014

ADHD, autism (ASD) and our family. The good, the bad and the ugly. Remembering ADHD and autism is, and always will be, part of our everyday life.

ADHD, autism (ASD) and our family

Callum and his Dad. :-)

I felt I needed to write this post as I still feel I have to remind people everyday that our son isn't a 'typical' teenager. Well, he is, when it comes to being stuck to the Xbox for too long, he can't get up in the morning and he can't keep his room tidy. Yes that's normal! However being diagnosed with ADHD with autistic traits brings a whole new aspect to the Teenage years.

 A Before and After picture of his bedroom. This was about 18 months ago and I was 7 months pregnant when I had the task of tidying it. I felt like throwing it all away! This however, was a particularly bad time and it doesn't get like this any more, through my doing rather than his though. 

 Our son was diagnosed when he was in Year 5 at school. He had always been one of the lively ones through his school years but nothing that majorly stuck out until he hit Junior School and it all spiralled out of control.

Years 5 and 6 of Junior school were horrific and it got to the point where he was spending time between school and a Learning Resource Centre throughout Year 6. He also had a statement which meant he got extra help in school with what he needed. As he approached Senior School some people were quick to suggest that he needed a specialist school that could cope with his needs but after visiting one we knew this wasn't the case. He went on to a local mainstream school and managed to get through the 5 years and passed his GCSE's with very minor incidents occurring and with an extremely supportive network of teachers, LSA's etc....

It wasn't all plain sailing. We have 6 month check ups with his consultant at the hospital, we had regular meetings with school on progress as well as annual reviews on his statement. He did get excluded on a few occasions over the five years but no more than any other mischievous teen! This meant we also had meetings on the mornings that he went back into school after exclusion. I was also the Mum who was going up to the school because he had forgotten his medication, he had the wrong shoes on, he had forgotten his lunch etc.... etc.... At some points I felt like I should just stay there for a few hours.

He had a habit of wearing a baseball cap he knew he wasn't allowed, he didn't always have his jumper on him and he would go in his trainers rather than his shoes. Another thing he would do was to tuck his trousers into his socks, always! He was always told to untuck them but the next day he would go in and it would be the same again. He would never have any pens etc.... I could send him in with a fully stocked pencil case and it would be empty by the end of the day and he wouldn't be able to tell you where it all was.

All this running around also meant the younger ones were missing out. While I was at home giving them some attention while they were still young they inevitably got woken early from a nap as I had to make the dash to school for some reason or another or we had to cut short play dates or what we were doing at home as school had called, again.

His end of school Prom, well deserved after everything we went through to get him to GCSE's!

With his 2 younger brothers.

All of this combined with his inability to do almost anything for himself, constantly questioning if he is doing something right, is he wearing the right clothes for a particular event that is happening, has he done this right, has he used that right. Plus changes in routine completely throw him, he needs to know whats happening at what time and where we are going. I remember once I decided that as there was only a few days of the school holidays left I would take them on a surprise trip into London. I got everything packed for the day and everyone up and dressed. As I bundled them into a taxi and told them it was a surprise, it began. He was shouting and swearing because I wouldn't tell him where we were going, he wanted to go home, he didn't want to go out. Once I told him what we were doing, where we were going and what I had planned he was fine, he calmed down and we had a good day. I also learnt that nothing can be a surprise, it just won't work and it will end in disaster!

His social interaction with others is also very limiting combined with not wanting to try anything new for fear of getting it wrong, forgetting what he is meant to do, having to cope on his own. He won't use the bus as it means he has to speak to the driver and talk to people or sit near people he doesn't know. He won't go to the barbers on his own as it means he has to speak to the lady and explain what he wants doing. He won't go out and knock for friends but if they knocked on the door for him he would, occasionally, go out with them locally.

Recently my OH has been using the phrase 'when I was your age I was......' and I find myself thinking that at this age we weren't coping with having ADHD and autism. We didn't have something holding us back from doing what others were doing. We can't compare others to what we were doing at that age. Yes I had a job by age 17 as did OH but not everyone is the same. Not everyone conforms to what others class as normal or otherwise. We all have our own issues to deal with in every day life and to have people judging you because at the age of 17 you don't have a job, you don't go out and meet people often enough, you can't do X,Y and Z for yourself isn't going to help you get through and is only going to beat you down further.

He needs support and guidance and lots of it. Yes he's 17 and yes he is growing up but he also has a lot to deal with even just to do every day tasks that others don't even have to think about.

His diagnosis isn't going to go away any time soon and we can't hide from it. We have to deal with it and help him as much as we can in the hope that one day it will get easier and he will learn to do the things that he currently finds it very difficult to do for one reason or another. I'm not making excuses, I'm not going to push him out into the big wide world and tell him to deal with it by himself. We are in this together. I am also willing to accept that some things he does is normal teenage behaviour and I will get him to do certain things as we all feel like we don't want to do things that we have to do sometimes, but other things are out of our control.

Quieter times!! 

Yes he is hard work and yes most days I want to tear my hair out but I wouldn't be without him. He has grown into a bright, intelligent, yet challenging young man. We were given the challenge and I accept it!

We all  need to have a bit more understanding and to realize that, just because you can't see it, it doesn't mean it isn't there.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The lowdown and review of the Stokke Scoot, coming from a Stokke Xplory lover. How will it compare to the best that Stokke can offer?!

As seen on my previous blog post; Stokke Obsession! I am a HUGE fan of the Stokke Xplory. One of the best prams I have owned and I've had quite a few prams in my time, including around 15 Xplory's!. In fact I started writing a list the other day and every time I remember another pram I have owned I add it on. The list currently stands at 81 prams over 5 children but I seem to remember more every day! There are still more I would like to try out too, there are so many on the market nowadays to choose from that there are some I haven't tried, believe it or not!!

So, my current pram is the Stokke Scoot. I chose the new Urban Blue colour which is gorgeous and very eye catching. I was in the market for something small folding. Although I walk everywhere and it's nice to have a big pram, when it comes to going out in the car we have no space for a big pram. I would love to have a big pram for walking and a smaller one for the car but my OH is a meany!

So I wanted something that looked good, still faced forward and rearward and was a bit more substantial than a stroller and I found it!

Stokke market the Scoot as an urban, compact stroller. I agree with them and they have got their wording  right. It's compact when folded. In fact its one of the very few pushchairs I have found that will fit in the boot of a Vauxhall Zafira with all 7 seats up (in 2 piece fold). However, it is in no way a lightweight stroller. Weighing in at an impressive, and slightly overweight, 11.8 kg it is nearly the same weight as the bigger Xplory which weighs in at 12.1 kg, whilst the Scoot still tries to claim a nippy stroller status.

On the nursery walk through the woods, it handles well. 

It is lovely to push although I sometimes find I'm losing control slightly when pushing one handed. You soon get used to the feel of each pushchair and over time I fell in love. It is slightly heavier than other lightweight strollers when it comes to lifting up kerbs etc..... but it becomes less noticeable the more you use it and get used to it.

It has active and rest positions only, no in between. This is fine it works, I know some children prefer only a slight recline but my son is either awake, or very rarely, asleep in the pushchair so it works for us.

Other features of the Scoot include lockable swivel wheels, a generous shopping basket, raincover & mosquito net included in the package, protective hood and visor, multi position footrest and it still has a decent higher seating position than other strollers. Also available as an extra is the Scoot soft bag which makes the seat suitable from newborn and the soft bag can be used up to approximately 6 months.

Lockable front wheels

A huge bonus on the Xplory is the seating height which you couldn't get with a stroller, however the Scoot still has a high enough seating position that we could push it in at a table and use it as a seat for our son. This was always fab when I lowered the seat on the Xplory and used it this way so I was pleased the Scoot could be used in the same way, even if it didn't then go as high as the Xplory seat afterwards.

It is very easy to fold in one piece although we need it in two pieces to fit in the car, both ways are quick and easy to do. The fabrics are easy to hand clean if need be and it is easy to change the seat from rearward to forward facing too.

Folded in one piece and two pieces for comparison

Overall, it's fab. I've renamed it a 'tweenie' pushchair as it is not a big pram but it isn't a lightweight stroller either. I've given it a whole pram section of it's own!. I didn't want a stroller but I couldn't have a big pram for the car, this gives me the best of both worlds. I feel like I'm pushing a well built, sturdy pushchair whilst still having the benefits of a stroller and I can take it in the car too!

Stokke Scoot, sorry but the Xplory will always be my first love and will always be Stokke's favourite child but for a stroller category pram, you ticked all of the boxes for us whilst still giving us a decent sized, comfortable ride. 

My shoe obsession, but I don't spoil myself any more! Neglecting myself by buying cute little kiddies Converse, Vans, Uggs, Nike Air Jordans and more! What's on my child's feet and never paying full price!!

Two separate shoe collections! 

Yes I'm obsessed. I'm always browsing the Internet for new releases, what looks good, what colours are in this season. Is this for me though, nooooooo!

When I was younger I played shoes shops with my cousins, I would swap shoes with my best friend at school, I would go to the shops with my parents and tantrum if I didn't get the pair of shoes I had just seen and fallen in love with. When I got a Saturday job I went to the Curtess shoe shop which was a few doors from where I worked and bought my first pair of platforms that I wore to school. Yes, you all remember Curtess and you all bought some platforms too!

So why am I not buying myself all the gorgeous shoes that are out there for us ladies now. Yes I look, yes I drool and yes I wish. However, I get drawn to the cute little kiddies shoes and by the time I have bought shoes for all the little feet in the house there is no pennies left for gorgeous shoes for me!

I slob about in 1 of 3 pairs of Vans, I have a couple of pairs of heels that see the light of day on a rare night out and a pair of wellies!! How sad for someone who is so shoe obsessed. I am lucky that I have such small feet that I can still buy shoes from the children's section making them half the price than if you buy from the ladies section. Unfortunately this only applies to trainers, casual shoes etc.... Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik don't have a cheaper, kiddies size section!!

Kickers bought for school, I love the brown leather and denim combination on these

It's my own fault though. Since my youngest started walking I have been lured back into the world of cute toddler shoes. Yes I've been through it before but when child number 4 is now sporting Adidas Hulk trainers that are the size of boats the cuteness factor wears off slightly! Child number 5 now has a collection that is starting to resemble Imelda Marcos, well not quite, but for a child with only one pair of feet it's getting out of hand! He does wear hand me downs, he was given some wellies and slippers which were very handy but I didn't keep any shoes from my older son to hand down.

So, he started walking back in November. Even before then he had a pair of Converse that he had worn but not walked in, then he outgrew them before he had started walking. What was the point?! Since then his collection has grown and he currently owns 8 pairs of shoes. That's more than me! :-(

He currently has 2 pairs of Nike Air Jordans, 2 pairs of Vans, 2 pairs of Converse, 1 pair of Adidas, and a pair of Startrite shoes. One pair of Converse are The Simpsons Converse, you get drawn to them in the shop window and then you need to go home and find them online but cheaper, or with a discount code.

Converse are a favourite. When my others were younger they had Cat in the Hat design Converse, these were very cute and they had a few different designs. My daughter had gold glitter ones which looked cute too. They cover toddlers size 2 right up to adults sizes so you never have to be without a pair in your shoe cupboard!

Cat in The Hat Converse from their 2010 collection.

Nike Air Rifts are also a favourite. The children have had them in the past as have I and also hubby. They are comfortable, quick and easy to put on with velcro fastening and they look good.

Blake's current pair of Nike Air Jordans

I never buy unless they are on offer or if I find a discount code. I also buy next sizes up in the sales so that when their feet grow (and they do, too often!) then I have a pair ready rather than having to go out and ending up paying full price. With 5 children there is always a child whose feet have grown and they need a new pair of trainers, school shoes etc....

The girls currently wear Ugg boots as their main pair of shoes. Again these were bought at a local Ugg outlet shop. I fell in love and when Clarks are £50+ now for a pair of girls boots I would rather buy Uggs for the same price! My younger daughter has also got a pair of Lelli Kelly hi tops. Yes that annoying advert that we all hate but still sing along to. They want a pair of Lelli Kellys that are all bright and sparkly sequinned but really they are just as obsessed with the make up mobile that you get free. Again, these were bought at half price in the winter sales, I wouldn't pay full price for them!

William in his Ugg boots at age 2 and age 4 years. 

I say I wouldn't pay full price for them. I am that obsessed with shoes that if I desperately wanted them then I probably would pay full price however I very, very rarely need to. I'm up for a bargain, I like the sales and I am obsessed with discount codes! So most if not all shoes that I buy are discounted, half price or even more, or from an outlet store. Which makes me very happy!

The one pair I didn't buy was a pair of Armani Junior purple leopard print hi top concealed wedge shoes for my 7 year old when we were in Harrods over Christmas. Why, because they were £125 and that was half price, even more importantly I had my husband and parents with me. If they weren't there you all know what would have happened!!!! (Still lust after them, and a pair in my size too!)

The purpose of my post. To let you know the array of wonderful shoes that are out there. My toddlers feet are already growing fast and I predict he is going to be a big foot like his brother. This is my 4 year old who currently has the same size feet as his 7.5 year old sister!

If you can, shop around, buy in the sales, buy bigger to keep for when their feet grow and always search online for discount codes. There are always codes about for various different online stores at different times. Also if you can, wait. I saw a pair of Vans that I wanted but refused to pay full price, a month later they went in the sale at 50% off. That was a lonnnnggggg wait for a shoe lover!!! :-D

Blake recently in his Vans

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

BUGABOO refresh, recolour to release new colours & accessories for 2014 for Cameleon, Donkey and Buffalo. New Soft Pink and Ice Blue plus more!

Bugaboo refresh, recolour

Here it is, the news that a lot of people have been waiting for! New Bugaboo colours for 2014. With them also giving you the option of having an aluminium chassis or an all black chassis they have really opened up your options when choosing your new Bugaboo. 

This spring Bugaboo’s at no loss for soft, vivid tones to brighten up your pushchair. Introducing two new shades of pink and blue, the mobility brand continues to strike a perfect balance between timeless and trendy colours. What’s more, you can now choose between a black or aluminium chassis to match your tailored fabric set. Freedom of choice just became even better. 

The Bugaboo Bee will also have Soft Pink added to their range

The Donkey will have Petrol tailored fabrics available, the new Bugaboo Soft Pink & Ice Blue hoods, which will be brought out for the The Bugaboo Cameleon3 and Donkey and the Buffalo will have Dark Khaki and Soft Pink tailored fabrics.

New coloured Breezy canopies will come in Soft Pink,  Arctic Grey, Ice Blue and Dark Khaki.

Khaki and Pink Bugaboo breezy sun canopies

Petrol fabrics on a Bugaboo Donkey and Khaki on a Bugaboo Buffalo

These colours will cover parasols, seat liners, breezy sun canopies, bags, footmuffs and also the fabric sets which accompany any Bugaboo pram. Picking a shade for your pushchair is key. That’s why Bugaboo continuously adds new colours to its palette, making sure there’s always that perfect one for you. ‘Soft Pink’ and ‘Ice Blue’ are both bright and classically toned shades giving pushchairs a luxurious and decadent feel. Dark Khaki, Navy and Petrol Blue deepen the colour scope ensuring a broad and timeless range.

Navy universal Bugaboo footmuff

Colourful protection throughout the seasons
Using the highest quality fabrics, the new extendable sun canopy will be available for the Bugaboo Cameleon3 and Bugaboo Donkey and ensures the right protection on those sunny, rainy and windy days. The extendable sun canopy, already available for the Bugaboo Buffalo, will permanently replace the current non-extendable sun canopy. Needless to say, the extendable sun canopy comes in the new colours as well!

Various new Bugaboo accessories that are available in all new colours

The new colours and extendable sun canopy will be available worldwide from April 2014 and will retail at:
 Bugaboo Cameleon3 (aluminum chassis) £819 (black chassis) £869
Bugaboo Buffalo (aluminum chassis) £879 (black chassis) £929
Bugaboo Donkey Mono (aluminum chassis) £939 (black chassis) £989
Bugaboo Donkey Duo (aluminum chassis) £1149 (black chassis) £1214
Bugaboo Donkey Twin (aluminum chassis) £1279 (black chassis) £1344
Find your nearest Bugaboo retailer on the Bugaboo website with their handy stockist locator. 

Soft pink on an all black chassis Bugaboo Cameleon3

Ice Blue on an all black chassis Bugaboo Donkey

PLEASE NOTE; Bugaboo are also phasing out some of their old colours too. This includes sand, royal blue and hot pink fabrics for the Cameleon and Donkey, no more sand bases for the Cameleon, Donkey and Buffalo and pink fabrics also to be discontinued for the Buffalo.  

New Years Resolutions. Losing weight, slimming, reaching my goal and my Man V. Food inspiration from Adam Richman and thousands of other slimmers worldwide. :-)

Today I realized that my failings from this week at losing weight cannot go unnoticed. I'm not going to sweep the dinner out on Sunday and the Burger King meal that I ate yesterday under the carpet and pretend they didn't happen, because they did.  I need to face up to my failings and slap myself around the face and then move on. I will also remember this week that when I get weighed in at my weekly meet it's my fault and no-one else's that the scales aren't telling me what I want to hear as they cry under the weight of all the bad food I ate.

Today whilst doing my morning check in on Facebook I came across a picture of Adam Richman of Man V. Food fame. It was a before and after shot of him since he retired from Man V. Food. First of all, he looked goooood. Not that he didn't before, he was fab, we watched religiously as he chowed down on every food imaginable in immense portion sizes. My husband wanted to be him, my children couldn't believe how much he was eating and I drooled over most of the gorgeously scrumptious dishes he ate. I didn't envy the portion sizes at all and we were always dumbstruck at some of the speeds he put in when consuming these meals too. We all wanted to be on Man V Food, come on who wouldn't. I'm sure I would love to sit and eat my entire body weight in fries and philly sauce with bacon on the top, but I wouldn't (and couldn't!).

Adam in his Man V. Food days.

Of course it's understandable that if you retire from hosting a show like this that you are going to lose weight. Unless you still live a Man V. Food lifestyle on a day to day basis of course! However, this isn't just from retiring from the show. He has put a lot of hard work in too and coming from a place where you hosted four years of epic food eating for the whole world to see, I am sure it's hard to break a habit.

This is the same for all of us I'm sure. As this week proved I have found it hard to break the habit of saying No when I go out for a meal, as my picture of my pudding from Sundays meal out proves. We need to program in the changes, we need to learn to take the healthier option rather than deny ourselves completely. I'm not going to sit and munch on lettuce for the next few months to lose the weight I need to because I'm not going to continue the lettuce diet for the rest of my life. I would lose weight, start eating normally again and it will go straight back on. I need to eat properly and at sensible times. I need to learn to pick the piece of fruit when I'm hungry rather than the 20th chocolate bar of the day and I need to sometimes actually think if I am really hungry or just bored!

Yes I am meant to be slimming, so naughty of me. :-(

Adam lost 60lbs by following a healthy eating plan and adding in some exercise. He cut out white flour and dairy from his diet and stocked the cupboards full of healthy snacks. The results speak for themselves with the before and after pictures. He also says that his health has improved too which is great.

Adam's Before/After pictures of his weight loss

Before everyone starts telling me that hundreds of thousands of people have done this every day. I know they have and they are all just as inspiring. Our SW group leader lost an amazing 4.5 stone and another lady in our group has just reached her 3 or 3.5 stone goal. There are always inspiring stories in newspapers and magazines and I always read them and go 'Yeah, I can do that' when in reality it's harder than it looks. Not because we can't do it but we need to have the motivation, the encouragement, the reason to do it or the willpower! As I have proved this week, I have none.

I did go for a run the other night. I didn't get far but I tried at least and I went further than if I had kept my butt sat on the sofa all evening like it usually does. It's a start and I need to build on it. I have also started doing the 30 day shred which I can do from the comfort of my own living room. You don't have to join gyms or various different classes if you don't want to. Small changes could lead to bigger results eventually.

That's if you stick to the plan and don't Man V's Food your way through a meal out and the entire contents of Burger King like I did!

Well done to Adam Richman and to all the slimmers and dieters that have more willpower and determination than I do.

Gives myself a 'Must try Harder' stamp for my efforts.

Adam Richman doesn't resent his old job and when he watches past episodes he doesn't look back with regret. He is now set to host a new show called Fandemonium due to air on the Travel Channel on Sundays at 10pm looking at the wildest fan gatherings across the nation but doesn't involve him consuming large amounts of food!

(Although if we could meet up and swap slimming tips over a salad take out I wouldn't say No!) :-)