Lucky Gecko saves those rainy summer holiday days!

The summer holidays are here, and whilst it’s a lovely long break, it can feel a BIT long for us long suffering parents, when the days aren’t nice enough to throw the children out into the garden to play, or to get out and about and have fun. I am not a creative or crafty person so whilst I do do things with the kids, I sometimes struggle to come up with things to keep them busy when they are stuck at home. I recently had a knee operation AND the children broke up a week earlier than other schools so we had a week at home where we were pretty much housebound and whilst they were really actually quite good, we did have some moments where they were bored and I questioned my sanity! We survived, just. 

Thanks to Lucky Gecko, though we did have some fun things to do, as they very kindly sent us some of their fun boxes to try out (well, technically for the kids, but I had to have a look and a play too) 

A little bit about them, then I am going to let the children tell you what they thought…

“Learning sometimes gets a bad rap. For many adults, it conjures up images of being trapped in a classroom, being talked at and repeating things like a parrot. It’s the thing we had to do before we were allowed to do the things we wanted to do.

We’re determined that the next generation won’t grow up thinking like that.

Learning should be an adventure which will last a lifetime. It is what makes the world exciting. The more we know, the more we want to know. The more we search, the more mysteries we find.

Here at Lucky Gecko our mission is to inspire children to think differently about their education and take back control of how they learn.

Lucky Gecko Discovery Boxes are designed to get children connecting the dots between what they learn at school and the world around them. Knowledge doesn’t (and shouldn’t) break down into simple, separate chunks. Geography is History, History is Literature, Music is Maths and Sport is Science. Everything connects, and finding those connections is both inspiring and empowering.

Lucky Gecko Discovery Boxes teach children about the world, about themselves and about others.But they also give them the confidence to be curious, to dream and to think for themselves. 

Who are we?

Charlie, the founder of Lucky Gecko Discoveries, worked for more than twelve years as a tutor – providing out-of-school support to hundreds of children aged between 7 and 18.As well as helping students prepare for exams, stretch themselves or improve their marks in a particular subject, Charlie was passionate about helping students develop confidence in their own, unique abilities. She found that getting them to believe that they could do something was often the key to making it happen.

Lucky Gecko Discoveries was founded on exactly the same principles. Our aim is to use our experience and expertise to inspire children to think beyond the classroom, understand their own learning style and embrace their unique set of talents.

We want to help educate, challenge and inspire the whole child – not just focus on getting them through their next exam. We want to get kids out in the world – exploring, inventing, creating and asking questions; believing in themselves and trusting in their abilities.

We believe learning should be fun. The world should be exciting. And imaginations should run wild. We only get one shot at childhood. Let’s make theirs amazing.”

Excitement. Something has arrived that might keep us from getting bored!

Beautifully wrapped and LOOK at the contents. These boxes seriously impressed the parent in the house, and were full of fun things for both the kids. 

What did the kids think?

Emily says: My box was really good fun and had LOTS of different things in it. Some of the things were for me to do, and to help me learn and experiment and some of them were to keep me quiet and busy (a book and a comic) and a booklet with instructions for everything and puzzles and quizzes too. (there was even one for my mum to try and do, which she WASN’T very good at! I really enjoyed the book, and the making a robot craft and they were easy for me to do without bothering my mum too much! 

Matthew says: I really loved my box. It was so fun to open and find out what was in it. I like puzzles and things that make me think, and my favorite was the Morse Code kit (mummy had to explain what that was then we had fun trying it out) and I really enjoyed the puzzle egg and magnetic puzzle and I am playing with them lots. 

Both kids really enjoyed their boxes and there is enough in them to keep them busy with different things for a good while. The boxes are aimed at old children and really are perfect for keeping minds occupied but also are a fun way of continuing their learning. 

What did mum think?

Mum was REALLY impressed. These boxes are brilliant and good value for money for what comes in them. The thought and attention to detail is really impressive, the contents are well thought out and good for both girls and boys, and I have to say, I would quite like to play with some of the contents (if my kids would let me!) and these are ideal for holiday time to keep kids busy, or as a gift, or for when you want something fun but also to help with learning. 

So if you are looking for a box that is fun but educational with lots in it to keep your kid(s) busy, then we would highly recommend these. We were delighted and they helped make a week of Mum being off her feet much more bearable and if you are looking for a subscription box for then these are worth checking out!

Thanks Lucky Gecko for helping us out and for giving the kids plenty to do! 




Posted in Family Life and Parenting Tagged with: , , ,

5 tips for maintaining a clean house when you have children and pets

Even if you live alone, it can be difficult to maintain a spotless household. This becomes even more complicated when you add children and animals into the mix. However, it’s not impossible! There are plenty of ways for you to create a happy and clean environment that the whole family can enjoy. All it takes is a little forward thinking, some clever investments, and the will to make it happen. Below are five tips for maintaining a clean house when you have children and pets.

Have a huge clear out

One of the best ways to achieve a happy household that functions smoothly is to have a huge clear out. Are you constantly tripping over possessions that you don’t really need? Is your house filled with cupboards and draws that you’re scared to open? Could you use a little extra space? If your answer to these questions is yes, it’s time to be ruthless. If you find it difficult to make objective decisions about what should stay and what should go, invite a close friend or family member round to your house, and encourage them to be as brutal as possible when it comes to giving you advice. You could also take the approach of getting rid of anything that you haven’t used in the last month. Or, another technique is to take each item in your hands and ask yourself whether or not it brings you any joy. Whatever you do, make sure that your efforts will make a real impact on your living space.

If you don’t like the thought of being wasteful, why not take your old possessions to a thrift shop or a homeless shelter? This good deed will encourage you to find as much as possible to give away. If you are looking to make some money, you could always hold a yard sale. It is also an option to sell certain items to recycling plants. Clearing out your house will ensure that you have plenty of extra space for the equipment required to raise young children and take care of family pets. It is important to evaluate their items as well. Both pets and children are always moving from one toy to the next. Why not invest in a specific storage space? This way you can make sure that your home doesn’t become overrun with unnecessary bits and pieces. Perhaps introduce a one in one out rule. For instance, if you buy your pet a new bed, the old one should go. Or, if your child gets a new toy, one they never use should be passed on to a new home.

Stay on top of pest control

If you have pets and children in your household, it is especially important that you stay on top of pest control. Just imagine the harmful germs that your little ones could be picking up on a floor that has been infected by vermin! You might find that your children and animals are always running in and out of your property. You might also find that taking care of pets and babies has increased the amount of garbage your household produces. This could potentially increase your risk of a pest problem. At Go-Forth Pest Control, you can find solutions to mosquitos, rodents, cockroaches, termites, ants, and much more. This will help you to protect your family from the dangers of an infestation. You can also receive advice on how best to avoid future issues with pests and what you can do differently to take care of your household. If you are struggling with pests, it is important that you resolve the problem as soon as possible. Your pets and your children alike may not understand that pests are to be avoided at all costs. That is why it is so vital that you protect them from any potential dangers.

Make sure that your house is easy to keep clean

If you are looking after a young family and a pet, you may find that a great deal of your time is taken up by cleaning. Try to prepare for the inevitable event of a mess being caused. Why not invest in wipe clean wall paint? This is a fantastic way to protect your home from muddy paws and sticky fingers. Instead of being furious when your little ones draw on the walls, you can relax in the knowledge that all the mess can be wiped away. With popular brands such as Dulux stocking wipe clean wall paint, your practical decisions don’t have to ruin your design scheme. You will still have the choice of a range of colours, only this way you know that they’ll stand the test of time.

However, when it comes to buying furniture for your little ones or pets, longevity needn’t be a priority. Instead, try to find the best deals available. In the early years, you’ll find that your children are constantly in need of new possessions. This is also true of pets who will quickly wear out their beds and blankets. If you are concerned about keeping up appearances, why not buy slightly cheaper products that you don’t mind replacing? You could visit your local thrift shops or look online. Other parents or pet owners will be in a similar position, so you may be surprised by how easy it is to find the item you require. You should also consider investing in easy to clean floors such as linoleum. Perhaps you don’t want this throughout your house, but it could be the perfect choice for a playroom or a washroom for your pets. This way you don’t have to worry about getting tough stains out of expensive rugs of carpets.

Steam clean your home

If you do decide to opt for expensive rugs or carpets, you should also invest in having them steam cleaned. Most carpet manufacturers only stay true to their warranty if the carpet they’ve supplied is steam cleaned on a regular basis. This process is the best way to remove any difficult stains. It will also help to reduce the amount of harmful bacteria that collects on your floors. This is a huge benefit to anyone who has a home filled with young children and animals. For instance, say you have a cat who has just used their litter tray. They will walk all of that bacteria over your carpet. Then your small child may drop a toy on that carpet, pick it up, and place it in their mouth. If this happened all at once, you could intervene, but if these events are spread out, you may not even know they’re happening. That is why it is important that harmful bacteria is not allowed to fester away on your carpet. Instead, it should be dealt with as soon as possible.

Instead of hiring out a steam cleaner, you may want to consider purchasing your own model. This will be sure to come in handy, as a steam cleaner can be used on more than just your carpets. It can be used on your upholstery, mattresses, curtains, tiles, mirrors, kitchen appliances, and car interiors. This device is especially handy for pet owners and parents. It can be used on pet beds, blankets, cages, and litter boxes. You can also steam clean children’s toys, prams, and baby changing stations.

Use eco-friendly products

If you are hoping to maintain a clean house when you have children and pets, you may think that now is the time to stock up on cleaning supplies. Before you do, it is important to know exactly what you need to buy. Seemingly harmless products can actually be incredibly dangerous. They can give out harmful toxins that affect your hormones and can even interfere with your ability to conceive. In a house full of children and animals, it is important that only the most natural products are used. Babies are beginning to learn about the world around them and are extremely sensitive to strong smells and harsh chemicals. Animals have incredibly strong senses that can be irritated by certain products. Why not consider making your own cleaning products? This is one way to make sure that you know exactly what is being used in your home. If this sounds a little too time-consuming, you could always invest in eco-friendly products. With a growing interest in caring for the environment, these products are becoming increasingly easy to locate.

Going green, in regards to your cleaning products, can also help your bank balance. There are many natural cleaning remedies such as lemon juice and vinegar. These can be purchased at a much lower cost, or may already be located in your pantry. If your children are slightly older, using green cleaning products could be a simple, yet effective way for you to set a good example. Not only this, but if you rely on products that don’t contain harmful chemicals, it will be easier for you to encourage your children to take on a wider variety of chores.

*this is a collaborative post*
Posted in All things pet related, Family Life and Parenting

How to Make a Romantic Proposal

There is a time and place for romance, and the pinnacle of any romantic relationship is your proposal. You will remember this day for the rest of your life, and so it is important that it is done with style, panache and confidence.

You do not need to spend a fortune on the proposal itself, if you plan it with military precision and fuel it by love. Whether you just wish to wow her with dazzling pink diamond engagement rings in an intimate setting, or go the full hog and make the proposal an occasion for the whole family to enjoy; here are some ways to make your proposal a little extra special.


Have you got a favorite mountain trail or beach? Plan ahead and ask your friends to set you up a luxury picnic at the site of your favorite view for a set time. You will be able to take a leisurely stroll to the location and then surprise your loved one with a candle lit table or a ready laid picnic blanket with your partner’s favorite foods. You do not have to go overboard, sometimes less is more!


Have you got a favorite love song? Arrange for a band to come and serenade you both with your love song while you are out at a restaurant or even round at your house. The addition of live music to your proposal will provide a sentimental backdrop to this momentous occasion.

Photo Shoot

Arrange for a photo shoot session to capture your special moment forever. By choosing a photo shoot session, your partner will have done her hair and dressed up thinking you are just getting a regular couples photograph session. You will have permanent reminders of your proposal, and the photographs will capture the surprise and joy.

Family and Friends

Can you trust your partner’s family and friends to keep the secret? If the answer is yes, arrange a surprise ‘she said yes’ party and invite your nearest and dearest to help you celebrate. You could ask your partner at a different location and have your invitees hidden in the back yard for when you return home. Everybody loves a celebration.

Scavenger Hunt

Take your partner on a scavenger hunt trip down memory lane. Start off where you first met, and include clues to notable locations: where you went on your first date, where you first kissed, and perhaps end it outside of the church where you will get married. This adds a great sense of sentimentality and romance, as you remember your shared history.


Bide your time and choose to propose when you are both on vacation. You will both be relaxed and be able to enjoy the moment without everyday tasks and chores to take away from this magical moment. You will be able to get the scenario just how you want it – you could write the proposal in the sand, ask a waiter to bring the ring over on a silver platter between courses, or even have room service bring up some flowers with your proposal in the attached note.

Whatever you decide, you know your partner best, and however you choose to ask her it will be the right way. Remember to keep your ring safe though, and choose one wisely as it is a long-term investment to show that you love her.

*this is a collaborative piece*
Posted in Me, beyond just being "mum"

Coffee in a bottle? I’m up for that…

If you follow me at all, on any social media or here, you will know that I am a big coffee lover and frankly, for me, coffee is life. I can pretty much manage anything the world will chuck at me, if I have a cuppa in my hand. 

However, I am not very good at making my own coffee. I don’t know why. It never tastes as good as it does when it’s made by a barista in my favourite coffee or by the husband who is a total coffee snob and spends a lot of time and effort making us perfect coffee. When I am at work, I either buy myself a coffee or I make it, but whilst it’s coffee, it’s not quite up there in my desire for that perfect cup. 

So when the team at BottleShot Brew delivered a freshly made bottle of coffee for me to make my own, I was pretty excited to see how it would work for me. I am not up for all the faff of grinding coffee beans, measuring out scoops, getting the water temperature just right, when I am rushing around and about my day, so the concept of pour the right amount, add water and milk and you are good to go, appeals to me. 

Also, the way they brew it makes it slightly better for you. So coffee that is easy to make and a bit better for me? I am up for that!


We bottle and deliver to be convenient, but it’s our brew that makes the difference. Thanks to the beans we use and our brewing process, our coffee is delicious and healthier for you. 

Our baristas soak the best Arabica beans in cold water for 16 hours to make the perfect concentrate. It’s tastier with better caffeine, and healthier for you. 

Better flavour (less bitter) 
Bigger power (cold brewing preserves the caffeine) 
Less acidic (better for your teeth and stomach)

Also, they deliver to you. So you can have it delivered to work, home or wherever you want, if you live in London and the bottle fits nicely in a fridge. You can arrange for a weekly delivery or once off orders. It’s sort of like having your milk delivered, but much more fun! 

But is it easy to make and what does it taste like?

It was easy to make. Basically, pour the measured amount into a cup, add hot water and top up with milk. You can’t get much easier than that. Once it’s opened you store it in the fridge and you are good for a week!

And it tasted perfect. Not bitter, not too strong and just right for my daily cup of coffee before I start work every day! 

Each bottle contains enough for seven servings which works for my daily cup before my working day starts. Budget wise, it works out well because if you buy yourself coffee each day then this actually works out slightly more economically. 

So, coffee in a bottle? I definitely approve! 

BottleShot Brew have a fab offer of a free bottle of coffee for new subscribers to their service, so what are you waiting for? You know you want to try it!!

*I was very kindly sent some coffee to try but my opinions are my own*
Posted in Me, beyond just being "mum" Tagged with: ,

A Look at the Most Common Causes of Car and Truck Accidents

Far too many people think that car and truck accidents are a matter of bad luck and fate, instead of things they can actively work to avoid and prevent. Let’s take a look at the most common causes of car and truck accidents. We’ll also address the steps you can take to prevent these root causes or minimize the risk of these types of events from occurring. You can’t prevent all accidents, but awareness and actionable steps on your own can reduce your risk of a wreck.


Speeding has long been known as one of the major causes of accidents, and this is the justification for giving people tickets for going faster than the posted speed limit. The tickets penalize those caught going too fast and encourages everyone else to slow down. Speeding contributes to accidents by shortening the amount of time you have to stop and making it more likely you cannot stop in time when visibility is low or the road is slick.

Drivers can reduce their risk of accidents by driving the posted speed limit. When you’re approaching school zones – where traffic fines double or triple when the school zone crossings are in effect – slow down even more. Traffic fines also tend to multiply if you’re driving through a construction zone, something implemented to reduce the number of construction fatalities caused by people zipping past road crews and killing them because they didn’t see the asphalt spreader in time.

Distracted Driving

Distracting driving is starting to rival drunk and drugged driving as a source of accidents; distracted driving is now the number one cause of accidents not caused by speeding, traffic law violations and drunk driving.

News magazine shows showed how digging for a cell phone, opening it up and making a phone call took one’s eyes off the road for critical seconds with each step. Text messaging is actually worse because one must take their eyes off for each of these steps and the process of entering the text message. This is why several cities started a campaign telling people better unread than dead, that it was better not to answer that text message due to the risk of an accident. If that phone call is truly important, you can pull over and answer it. If the message is somewhat important, they can leave you a voicemail.

Note that phones are not the only cause of distracted driving. Trying to eat and drink while driving to the point you don’t have both hands on the wheel is sufficient basis to receive a traffic ticket. Parents should note that if you’re turning around to yell at your children while driving or trying to monitor them through the rear view mirror instead of watching the cars around you, you can be found at fault in an accident because your eyes weren’t on the road. A new variation of this problem is the drivers messing with the GPS system while navigating traffic, putting themselves at risk of an accident because they changed their minds about where they wanted to stop.

Drunk and Drugged Driving

Drunk driving has long been known to be a cause of accidents, particularly deadly ones. Drunk drivers have delayed reaction times, altered sensory input and a greater risk of outright passing out while driving. A whole host of laws was passed to reduce this risk from raising the drinking age from 18 to 21, lowering the legal blood alcohol limit, outlawing open alcohol containers in one’s car and authorizing checkpoints on major holiday weekends to check every driver for drunkenness.

In the western United States, the legalization of medical marijuana is leading to more people pulled over for driving under the influence of weed versus alcohol, though the altered state is as dangerous for the driver and others on the road regardless of the cause. When one’s mind is addled by drugs, legal or illegal, one isn’t safe to be driving. A truck accident attorney Baton Rouge can help you file a lawsuit seeking reimbursement for your property damage and medical bills if hit by a truck driven by a drunk or drugged truck driver, whether driving a big rig or F-150 pickup.

Sleepy Driving

When you’re tired, your senses and mind are as dulled as if you’d had several beers. The worst thing you can do is pull up alongside someone sitting with their head outside the window hoping the breeze will keep them awake. Instead, you should call the police to deal with a driver who really should pull over and take a nap.

Obey the Road Signs and Signals

The United States causes confusion for many foreign drivers with the sheer proliferation of signs. Yet drivers are still legally obligated to obey all of them. Running a red light is a basis for receiving a ticket, and it puts you at high risk of being hit by people who truly have the right of way. If a driver runs a red light, they open themselves to a wrongful death lawsuit when they kill someone in a side-impact collision. Play it safe by waiting for the green light and watch for oncoming cars.

Running stop signs is one of the major causes of side-impact accidents and vehicle rollovers. If you don’t heed the road sign, you’re the one at fault for the accident and can be slapped with a ticket as well as a lawsuit.

Another issue that comes up is illegal U-turns. Someone making a U-turn in an intersection that doesn’t allow for it could be hit by the traffic that is turning right; these drivers are not expecting the turning car to keep turning and show up in one of the lanes heading the opposite direction.


Impatience is a common cause of avoidable accidents. Someone doesn’t want to wait for the school bus and zips around it, hitting one of the first children to disembark. Or they try to whip around a car driving at the speed limit and end up hitting an oncoming car in the other lane. Tailgating behind someone because you want to try to encourage them to speed up makes it your fault if you hit their rear bumper. Driving aggressively around other cars and cutting them off raises the risk you’ll hit someone, and the accident will be your fault.

Another version of this is the people who think the railroad crossing shouldn’t come down at this moment and try to drive between the arms instead of waiting for the train to pass. This risks your life and that of those on the train.

Another example is the person who ignores yield signs. By refusing to wait for clear openings in traffic, it is the fault of that driver for not yielding the right of way to the people who should have it.

Young and Inexperienced Drivers

New drivers of any age pay the highest auto insurance rates because they are more likely to get into an accident. They don’t know how long to wait at an intersection and run into people. They misjudge stopping distances and crunch bumpers. They fail to judge distances properly when merging with traffic and get into an accident. The solution to this problem is practice and experience. Sending a teen to driving school is a minimum. Taking your teen out driving for hours of practice in all types of weather helps teach them how to handle these road conditions properly instead of assuming the summer driving school course prepares them for icy weather.


Driving at night is dangerous; the risk of accidents double when the sun goes down. You can reduce your personal risk by turning on your lights as soon as the sun starts to set. You see even greater benefits by leaving your driving lights on all the time.

Another variation of this issue is the mistake too many people make of trying to drive without their glasses. If you need the glasses to drive, wear them. Get your vision checked regularly so you don’t get into a wreck trying to make an exit because you couldn’t see the sign until it was almost too late. If your vision is deteriorating due to glaucoma, diabetes or macular degeneration, take all steps possible to control or slow the condition – and turn in the car keys when you pose a threat to other drivers. Health problems like dementia, decreased reaction time due to age or Parkinson’s disease and other age related issues are severe enough that many jurisdictions start checking your ability to drive on a regular basis once you hit 65 or 70, treating 80 year olds as if they are as dangerous as 15 year old drivers.


Speeding is one of the most common causes of car wrecks. Distracted driving remains a major cause of accidents, though what was distracting the driver has shifted over time. Drunk driving is now rivaled by “drugged” driving, though sleepy driving remains a serious problem. Failure to obey traffic signs and signals and sheer impatience cause many accidents. Inexperience is enough of an explanation for young drivers having accidents, while health problems like deteriorated vision with age are an increasing reason for car crashes.

*this is a collaborative piece*
Posted in Family travel Tagged with:

You don’t need to go broke in the summer holidays….

I don’t know about you, but I find the summer holidays can be a bit expensive. My kids seem to eat more (anyone else feel like they are running a 24/7 cafe for what seem like permenantly hungry small hobbits?) we do more days out, and when it’s rainy and miserable, we are at home but we do extra things like crafts and activities to keep us busy and them happy (and so I get some peace!)

Food, crafts, household items, cleaning products, beauty and skin care, things for the garden, things for your summer holiday (if you are lucky enough to be going away, or you may be planning a staycation) and then of course, as soon as the kids are on holiday for the summer, you start to think about “back to school” in September and the things that requires. 

Grabbing a bargain or a freebie is always handy, and whilst you can’t always save money on everything, if you can make your pennies go further, buy one get one free, or use a voucher to save some money, then why wouldn’t you? 

Gratisfaction is a fab spot where  you can find bargains, grab money off vouchers or sign up for free gifts and grab those things you love for a little bit less. 

“Gratisfaction is the UK’s fastest growing freebies site. We bring you the latest free offers throughout the day, every day to bring you the very best free stuff for you and your family”.

So, if like me, you like to save money, or get your hands on freebies, or get money of things you love, then it’s most certainly worth checking them out and seeing what deals would be right up your street. It won’t make the kids stop demanding snacks and second breakfasts or make the weather any better when you are stuck inside on a rainy day, but if it helps stretch the budget a bit further, that can’t be a bad thing at all can it? 

Warning, spending time on this site is slightly addictive and you will find bargains and free stuff that will make you smile… 😉

*this is a collaborative post*
Posted in Family Life and Parenting

We love pretty things – A giveaway with PomPoms & Pretty Things…

I love social media. It’s been such a fabulous way for me to connect with some amazing bloggers and brands, and I have got to know some really lovely people through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

I first came across PomPoms & Pretty Things on Instagram, when I spotted that they make rather adorable Unicorn Key rings. You all know I am ahem, slightly obsessed with all things unicorns, so of course, I had to buy it. Ever since then I have enjoyed keeping an eye on all the lovely things they make and sell in their Etsy Store

 I have to stop myself from buying everything I see. They have SO many items from sparkly Christmassy decor to little things for every day, and something to suit all tastes if you love hand made or hand created items, like we do! They make perfect little gifts for weddings, baby and bridal showers, birthdays, and they also do cute little personal items, as well as mobiles, key rings, creative decor  and a whole host of other lovely things. 

We are celebrating our blog birthday month in August, and we are delighted to be sharing a little giveaway with PomPoms & Pretty things. 

One winner will get a cute and cuddly Worry Bunny. These are soft, hand made and pretty, and perfect for someone to have to cuddle and give them something to comfort them when they are in a moment of worry or just need cheering up and they may be perfect for someone going back to school (they can be made in school colours too, which is clever) or for someone you know who would love something like this. I think they are adorable and a perfect give for someone special. 

So who would you choose a Worry Bunny for? Yourself? Someone in your life? What colour do you think they or you would like? Tell us in the comments then head on over via the Rafflecopter link to complete your entry. Don’t forget to complete all the entry requirements, and read the terms and conditions and good luck. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions

Entrants must complete all options required to enter
Spam entries will be deleted
No cash prize alternatives
One winner will be chosen and sent the item.
UK entrants only
Winner will be chosen at random and notified via e-mail.
If winner does not respond in 14 days then an alternative winner will be chosen.
Ends 28/08/17


Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Celebrating International Cat day with some fascinating facts about cats & dogs…


If you read our blog you know that we LOVE our pets and we are cat lovers, although we are seriously considering getting a puppy or a dog next year (the cats WILL NOT be happy)

Today is International Cat Day, so of course we are celebrating in our house with cans of tuna all round for the cats! 

Did you know that Sainsbury’s Bank have done some research and come up with some facts and figures about pet ownership in the UK. It makes for very interesting reading and shows we do love our cats and dogs. 

19% of UK households have a dog.

19% of UK households have a cat.

8% of UK households have both a cat and a dog.

Newcastle is the city with the highest level of dog ownership in the UK – 41% of households have a dog.

Brighton is the city with the lowest level of dog ownership in the UK – 14% of households have a dog.

Norwich has the highest level of cat ownership in the UK – 44% of households have a cat. 

Attitudes to Pets

Nationwide, 46% of people prefer dogs compared to 30% who like cats better

Belfast has the highest proportion of dog lovers in the UK; 63% of people there prefer them.

Brighton and Norwich have the joint highest percentage of people who prefer cats – 40%.

Pets and health

88% of dog owners say that they feel happier and have a better quality of life because of their pets

85% of cat owners say that they feel happier and have a better quality of life because of their cats

29% of people said that their pet helped them overcome loneliness.

28% of people said that their pet helped them improve their overall fitness.

24% of people said that their pet helped them combat depression.

18% of people say that their pets have made them more sociable by helping them meet more people.

6% of people say that their pet helped them to cope better with a disability.

So it just shows you that we really do love our pets and they make a difference to our lives. We wouldn’t be without ours, even when they are naughty!

Are you a pet lover? What’s your favourite? Does cat or dog win for you?


Posted in All things pet related, Family Life and Parenting Tagged with:

Bringing Home Your First Dog – What You Need to Do to Prepare Your Home

For many people out there, a family isn’t complete without a dog. If that sounds like you, and you’ve made the big decision to adopt your first dog, then there’s no doubt that the household is filled with excitement and anticipation. Before you bring home your new furry family member, however, there are a few things that you can do to prepare your home for the dog’s arrival. These are steps that will keep the dog safe, healthy, and happy and make the transition experience easier for all involved.

Do a Backyard Check

Because your dog will be spending time outdoors, it’s important to do a thorough backyard check. This involves checking for places the dog could escape out of the yard, looking for things it could get into that wouldn’t be safe for the dog, and possibly installing a spike/stake in the ground that you can attach a lead to. These spikes are perfect for people who don’t have fenced in yards.

The other option is to look into invisible fencing, which is installed under the ground. The dog then wears a special collar while outdoors and this collar will produce a zap if they should cross the fence line. Keep in mind that there will be training involved with this option so the dog can learn its boundaries.

Invest in an Outdoor Dog House

While on the topic of the yard, it’s also a good idea to provide your dog with their own personal space in the form of an outdoor dog house. Spending some time to find the best dog house for sale for the size and type of breed you plan on adopting, means you’ll have a very happy dog on your hands.

A dog house is a very special place for your pet where they can feel safe, secure, and comfortable. Your dog can go there to relax and enjoy privacy whenever they want. With so many types of dog houses available, it can be tricky to find the right one for your dog. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Shop for a house that is large enough for the dog once it reaches its full size. The door should be big enough for him to easily move through, and the house itself should offer him enough space to walk inside and get comfortable.

Search for a house made of durable materials that will endure a variety of weather conditions. Some are even insulated, which helps to keep them more comfortable in cold, wet, and windy conditions.

Look for a house that can be staked to the ground to ensure it is stable and secure.

Make sure it allows for proper circulation in the hot months so the dog doesn’t overheat in the house.

Look for flooring that detaches to allow for simple cleanup.

Some houses provide door flaps, which will help keep the nasty weather conditions out.

Depending on your DIY skills, you may want to search for a house that is simple and quick to assemble.

The most common materials used for dog houses are wood, metal, and plastic. Each has its own pros and cons, and should be weighed against the size of your dog, where you plan on placing the house, and the type of weather conditions you get.

Stock Up On the Necessities

If you already know what kind of dog breed you are getting, you can stock up on the necessities for inside the home. This includes such things as a dog bed, a couple of dog-friendly and size appropriate toys, a leash and collar, treats for training, a brush for grooming, and bowls. It’s a good idea to hold off on purchasing food in advance as you may want to keep the dog on the food they are used to eating and then gradually transition them to your preferred brand.

Puppy Proof the House

The next step should be to puppy proof your house. Even if you are bringing home a dog who is past his puppy years, you still will want to take time to do this step. What this means is that you walk around your house and look at things through a dog’s eyes and their vantage point. Be sure to remove any items that could be unsafe, or that are special and irreplaceable.

Be sure to remove any houseplants they can reach, place chemicals and harmful materials on high shelves, install gates if necessary, and tape down any loose electrical cords that they may be able to chew. Experts recommend actually lying on the floor and looking around so you can see things at their vantage point.

Discuss the Rules of the House

It’s also a good idea to discuss the rules of the house where the new dog is concerned. Where will the dog sleep, are there any rooms that are off-limits to the dog, what will happen with the dog when everyone is out of the house – where will it be, will the dog be allowed on furniture, who is responsible for walking the dog, who will feed the dog and what time of day, who will train the dog and how, etc.

It’s important that everyone is on the same page so that the dog isn’t sent confusing or conflicting messages once they arrive. If this is a family pet, the entire family should also share in the responsibilities of pet ownership. It’s a great lesson in caring for a living creature, and at the same time it helps promote bonding between the dog and everyone in the home.

You’re Ready to Welcome Your New Family Member

By taking the time to properly prepare your home and discuss the house rules, you will find you have a much smoother transition when your new dog comes home. It makes it easier not just for the humans living in the house, but also for the dog who is trying to learn the rules and where it fits in.

*this is a collaborative post*
Posted in All things pet related, Family Life and Parenting Tagged with: , , , ,

Breastfeeding – I did it. Would I do it again?

It’s world breastfeeding week. Social media is flooded with the promotion and discussion of breastfeeding and all the issues surrounding that. The good, the bad, the ugly, the happy, the sad. The why and why not.

I don’t talk about breastfeeding much on my blog any more. It’s been almost 5 years since Matthew weaned, so it’s been a while. 

I breastfed both my children. Emily for nearly 18 months, and Matthew for 27 months. They both gently weaned themselves until they were down to one last feed a day then stopped. 

I am proud I fed them both. I did it. I am not sure, however, that I would do it again. If we had had another baby, I don’t know that I would have chosen to breastfeed. 

You see, breastfeeding was hard on my mental health.

After Emily’s very difficult pregnancy and traumatic birth, I was DETERMINED to breastfeed. I was devastated I didn’t get the all natural, happy, glowing birth that my ante natal classes had somehow made me think I should have. I had read all the books on natural birth, and how it was supposed to be, so of course when pre eclampsia and a birth where I tore very badly and hemorrhaged landed on me, I was pretty broken both mentally and physically and felt that my body had let me down, I had let me down and I was damned if I was going to fail at breastfeeding because that was also what my body was supposed to do.  It was hell, frankly for nearly 4 months. She was sleepy and not interested at first, then her latch was awful and I had no idea how to make it better. I was given very poor advice in hospital, and told to pump to make sure I was making enough milk for her. She as quite jaundiced but I was told not to give her formula and to carry on feeding. Those first days in hospital were hell. I couldn’t walk due to the surgery I had to repair the tears and bleeding, and I was in pain, exhausted and overwhelmed. I had no sleep, and no help, because at that time, partners were not allowed to stay over. I begged for her to be given some formula one night so I could sleep for more than an hour at a stretch. They refused. They persisted with trying to get her to latch. People I barely knew came into my room and grabbed her and my boobs to try and get her to feed. Finally, we went home and I carried on. My nipples were raw and bleeding, and within ten days I wound up back at the hospital with a raging case of mastitis and needed antibiotics (lets not get me started on how they tell you you can’t take the antibiotics because they aren’t safe for breastfeeding but then at the same time you are being told “breast is best” and not really given much help) thrush, more pain, more mastitis, a diagnosis of reflux and a dairy intolerance for her, and massive milk over supply for me (thanks to my hormone condition, they don’t tell you you can end up with too much milk, I pumped over 1000 oz which I donated to our local NICU as we didn’t need all that milk for her) and then finally it settled into a reasonable routine. I cut all dairy out of my diet, we figured out her latch, I learned how to deal with my oversupply, and we settled into breastfeeding. In the meantime, I was having a slow and painful mental health breakdown, with post partum anxiety and depression clouding my mind and my judgment. More than once, I sobbed as I fed her. Terrified to give up, because “breast is best” but all the while feeling like I just wanted my body back, that I needed help but didn’t know who to ask. When she was a year old, and we realized I was desperately unwell, I was told I could take medication, but that they weren’t sure it was “safe” for breastfeeding. I know now it probably was ok, but I couldn’t bear the idea of her precious little body getting any traces of medication I might take, so I didn’t take the meds. I refused to feed her formula, because even when I suggested to my health visitor that it might be an option, I was told “it’s much better to breasfteed, you have come so far, why would you stop now”. 

I loved parts of feeding her. I loved the fact that it was the one thing I could do for her, that no one else could. I felt I had let us down with her birth. Breastfeeding wasn’t going to beat me. She loved nursing and there were real times when I felt ok about it. But a lot of the time I hated it, questioned if she was getting enough, battled with more bouts of mastitis, lack of support from medical staff, and my own anxieties. More than once I was given permission by those around me who loved me, to stop, and not in an unsupportive way, but in a “you need to look after you” way. I know now they were right, but at the time it just made me angry and that I would be a failure. The WHO says until two, was my mantra…

When we were pregnant with Matthew, after therapy and counselling, and treatment for my anxiety and depression I was able to make more rational choices and realize that whilst breastfeeding is the optimal feeding choice and the biological norm, that for me, it was pretty awful, and if we faced a difficult birth, or issues with feeding after birth, I wouldn’t fight so hard and that formula would not be the end of the world. That my mental health had to be a priority. I was calm and rational, because I could see that whilst breastfeeding is a good thing, that it almost broke me the first time round. 

Matthew was a text book baby, he even did the famous breastfeeding crawl to get to my boobs post birth, he had an almost perfect latch from the get go, and he seemed to know how to feed. I was more confident and calmer, and knew what I was doing. He gained weight, had minimal jaundice and thrived. By six weeks he had gone from almost 4kg at birth to 6kg and was the talk of the baby clinic because he was doing so well. It seemed easy and most of the time, I managed to feel ok about feeding him. It was less emotional, and in the back of my head I knew I could stop, if my mental health was suffering. He refused to take a bottle, pretty much so I didn’t have the freedom I had with his sister, who did take expressed milk (I want back to work when she was 10 months old) and for the first year I fed him on demand. We in fact continued to 27 months, because breastfeeding was his comfort when his sleeping issues started and he was also diagnosed with a dairy allergy, but refused all the special formulas so I cut all dairy out of my diet and fed him. 

My body did me proud, when I think about it. It fed two humans. However, I am not sure I would do it again. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know breastfeeding is what we are supposed to do. When you read all the information, and research, and when you think about our biological design, it’s clear it’s kind of what nature intended. But for me, it wasn’t necessarily best. I do know that the trauma from birth, and the lack of consistent support from those around me professionally didn’t help. I was firmly of the mindset that BREAST IS BEST before I had my children and when I gave birth, and I had no idea that breastfeeding wasn’t as easy as the movies and posters in hospital make it look. I had no idea it could be painful, and problematic. I had no idea it would contribute to the mental health damage I was suffering. In a way I was between a rock and a hard place. To give up breastfeeding would have made me feel more like a failure but in reality I needed help for my mental health that would have made that first year and beyond so much easier and the pressure to breastfeed didn’t help.

So, for me, breast wasn’t necessarily best. Best for my babies, yes, and I don’t regret that I did feed them. Would I do it again? It would depend. I have the clarity of mind now to see that no, formula would not hurt my baby, when breastfeeding was agonizing and I was sobbing through feeds and getting no sleep and on my third round of antibiotics for masitis. If it was working and going well, I probably would carry on, but if I was having issues I would stop and feel no guilt. I am firmly of the mentality now that a happy mum = a happy baby and how we feed them is only a tiny part of motherhood, and whilst there are “bests” and recommendations each woman has to make the choice that works for her. We need to stop judging and comparing and pressuring mums. 

For me, breast wasn’t best. Would I do it again? I don’t know, maybe not, and I am ok with that. 

Posted in Pregnancy, birth & breastfeeding
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