Me and my girl and boy, raising awareness and acceptance of autism

Archive for the ‘Items of interest’ Category

Getting the garden ready for the summer holidays

The sun has been trying to peek through the clouds and the children are counting down to the summer holidays. They’re not that far away, 5.5 weeks (ish) if you’re in England, 3.5 weeks if you’re reading this in Scotland.

It’s time to think about activities that are going to energise wear out the children, keep them occupied and happy. As I used to get told “you’re only young once”.

Despite the fact we’re in early June, there are sales starting and an opportunity to grab some bargains.

Chad Valley at Argos have got some great offers on outdoor play equipment going on at the moment and I wanted to share my favourites from their vast selection:

Firstly, a trampoline. So beneficial for children and my two not only use it for activity play but also as a calming mechanism. I liked this one as it’s perfect for the smaller garden, the enclosure being a must-have:



Chad Valley 6ft Trampoline and Enclosure
The Chad Valley trampoline and enclosure is a fun and safe way to get kids actively playing. They are a big hit with children and the perfect disguise for a bit of exercise! The trampoline includes comfort padding on frame and poles as well as an internal safety net and safety pads made from weather resistant material. Great for improving strength and co-ordination.
· RRP: 84.99

Next on my list of “likes” was a bouncy castle, this is not only great for single play and multiple children too. I defy anyone to go into a bouncy castle and not smile. Not only can you take a shed load of balls in there and watch as they bounce everywhere but D’s always enjoyed taking balloons in there (weather permitting):



Chad Valley 6ft Bouncy Castle
The Chad Valley Bouncy Castle allows children to have their very own party experience in the safety and comfort of your garden. A great way for youngsters to socialise with friends whilst exercising by jumping, leaping and bouncing about. A fantastically fun way for children to improve balance in cushioned surroundings.
· RRP: £99.99

And lastly, a pool. We’d had this size of pool for a few years, it doesn’t take long to fill and it’s big enough for a few children to be in at once. Small enough to fit into most gardens but big enough for fun!

Chad Valley Family Swim Centre Inflatable Pool
Not only does the family paddling pool provide the perfect opportunity to cool off on a hot day, it allows children to interact with their siblings and parents whilst playing in the garden. It’s size means children can stay moving and active while mum and dad relax and enjoy the sun.
· RRP £19.99

Get in quickly with these prices as they’re reduced for a limited time only.

Happy Summer! Jx

Ecover sending out a “Message In Our Bottle”

Recycling is something we participate in actively in the Bluecrisps household. Plastics, tins, foil, paper, cardboard are all sorted and left out each week for the council workers to collect. Glass goes to the bottle banks. Plastic food wrapping and carrier bags are taken to the container in the supermarket and we attempt to re-use and up-cycle as much as possible. But however hard we try, we’re all responsible. Our materialistic chuck-it-away-and-get-another-one lifestyle isn’t helping the planet.

It’s frustrating when we walk past other houses on rubbish/recycling collection day and you can see the cardboard, the tins, the glass and the paper through their flimsy bin bags. Walk past the area near the local secondary school and the plastic bottles and rubbish are discarded carelessly, even though there are bins nearby and no doubt recycling facilities within school.

Our planet is so beautiful and we all need to preserve and nurture it for future generations. Any initiative that a household name commits to can only be a benefit, which is why I’m supporting wholeheartedly the Message In Our Bottle campaign with Ecover.

The information contained in the image below speaks for itself.

Cleaning the seas, one bottle at a time

Cleaning the seas, one bottle at a time. Visit The-Splash for more information and to read our pledge.

I’ll be supporting Ecover’s aim to “clean the seas, one bottle at a time”, please join me, for all our sakes.

#Goodwork for 25 years of Comic Relief

Every so often something happens within the blogging community that makes you want to SQUEAL with excitement and pride.

Last week was one of those moments when #thesecretthing was revealed.

The Secret Thing was for Red Nose Day, and three wonderful blogging ladies (aka #TeamHonk – @mummybarrow @mammasaurus and @aresidence) headed off to Ghana for two days to visit 4 projects and see the #goodwork that Red Nose Day has performed during the last 25 years.

They are now all safely back home and I have been lucky enough to receive a digital post card from a health centre in Ghana they visited to share with you all.

My postcard came from Penny @aresidence:


“Dear Jeannette

What a beautiful baby and proud mum. Nurses in action at the Health Centre here in Ghana, putting mums and babies at ease as they give vaccinations. Diarrhoea accounts for 10% of deaths among Ghana’s under-fives. Rotavirus, which causes gastroenteritis, can lead to severe dehydration and accounts for 40% of these diarrhoea-related deaths.[i]

Comic Relief has given GAVI a grant of $200,000 to provide rotavirus vaccine in Ghana to help prevent against this potentially fatal condition.

Love Penny”

This is a digital postcard sent from Team Honk during their travels with Comic Relief in Ghana celebrating #goodwork.

For the past 25 years the money raised through Red Nose Day has been changing the lives of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa. Let’s Keep Up the Good Work. Find out how at

For other digital postcards please do join up and check out the linky on

Step away from the laptop, Ms Jones

Yes, that’s right you, Liz Jones.

Put the lid down/click “shut down” and walk away.

You are becoming a mockery of what I used to read your columns for. I used to bypass the snide comments at your neighbours, the constant references to spending extravagant amounts of money of curtains (£16k?) but, at the same time, pleading poverty. The does-he-or-doesn’t-he-exist Rockstar boyfriend. But you were humorous, you aren’t any longer.

But what do I know? I’m a stay-at-home mum, a mummy blogger. One of those women you decided to attack in print, following your appearance at a Mumsnet gathering (LJ’s post here). At the time, I decided you were writing to get the “hits” onto your page and drew my own conclusions from accounts of the bloggers who had attended, who witnessed how unhappy you seemed.

And you are unhappy aren’t you? It spills out in every paragraph of your diary. How must your family have felt, reading what you write about them, about your mother?

And yet, you carry on, writing, alienating people. This time around, it’s those middle-class mums who have children in their 30’s (LJ’s post here).

Why Liz? What void are you filling by writing this? If it’s simply to get reactions and comments, well take-a-bow, you’ve hooked me.

You are constantly writing that people don’t understand you and would prefer you not to write about them…here’s a tip, don’t then.

Step away, turn the computer off, cuddle one of your many animals and TALK to a professional. Tell them about your failed relationships, your eating disorder, your empty womb.

Find peace with yourself first and you’ll feel better and maybe, people will read your columns and enjoy them again.


#Runningaway – please RT/comment and help support Railway Children

Mumsnet are working with Aviva and their charity partner Railway Children to try and get folks talking and thinking about the issue of children who run away. This Christmas and winter time this issue seems all the more important and we’d love you to help.

Did you know….

It’s estimated that a child runs away from home or care every five minutes in the UK

In a recent survey, one in 11 teenagers aged 14 to 16 admitted to having run away overnight at some stage in their life

It’s impossible to know the true scale of the problem: two-thirds of runaways aren’t reported as missing to the police, and many are too vulnerable or scared to seek official help

It’s estimated 2000 children will run away over Christmas

We know this is every parent’s big nightmare and that it can happen to anyone – it’s nothing to do with family economics or where people live.

There’s lots of info on Railway Children and the work they do here

Why am I blogging this?

For each blog post from a MN blogger Aviva will donate £2 to Railway Children. And every post that receives comments, they will donate another £2 for each comment and also for any tweets sent, or mention on Facebook. Aviva will donate up to £200,000 by the end of 2013 as part of the campaign.


What would I like you to do?

Please leave a comment below, whether you’ve experienced a child running away or simply leave a message to support Railway Children.

As mentioned above, Aviva will donate £2 for every comment received. Share this post to twitter and Facebook for more donations.

Click on the link for more information.

Thanks for reading and please do comment and share Jx 😘

Moving to a “big boy’s bed”

I’ve written this post in response to a question, it’s our experiences and I hope it helps.

This isn’t about D, but T – our as yet undiagnosed but probably on the aspergers end of the spectrum. I say “probably” but you know….etc.

Right from birth, T preferred snuggling in with us. It was a hard habit to break and right up until 5 years old, he was still spending the majority of the night in our room. Not necessary in with us, but on a little cot bed at the end of the bed. He always had a particular song that I had to sing to him too.

D, by complete contrast, was a very independent baby. In her room, in her cot, took a while to settle (hence melatonin from 4.5 years) but she’s always preferred her own space, coupled with a strict adherence to evening routine.

With T, however, it was a battle of wills and accepting that he had a lot of anxieties about sleeping in his own room, inevitably tiredness crept in and sometimes it was easier to just say “okay, come on then”.

What really helped make the transition was getting him actively involved in choosing his bed, his bedding, the decor etc. He chose a bed with a desk underneath as he does like to sit and write out his stats/match reports.

Another thing that really benefited him was – just by his pillow, on the wall – I put Hubbie and my handprints and wrote Mummy and Daddy underneath them. I told him that whenever he felt scared to put his hand on our handprints. He could knock on the connecting wall too if scared – and he did.

He also had anxieties around a wedding photograph that he could see from his bed (he used to say the eyes were watching him) and the streetlights distorted through the bathroom window, so we always make sure the bathroom door is closed.

I would say that the handprints on the wall worked best, no matter how fab his room looked, he still needed that reassurance that we were not far away.

He’s happy now to sit at his desk and do some writing, before he settles. Bathroom door firmly closed and photograph out of sight.

If Hubbie is at a late night meeting/football then he does like to settle in with me, but will sleepily head off when Hubbie is back.

D meantime snoring away and cuddling Bunny…

Very different experiences with both T and D but they are both very individual children, bless them.

Thanks for reading Jx 


Upgrading a Nintendo 3ds

It was T’s birthday yesterday and one of the things I wanted to do was upgrade his Nintendo 3ds to an XL version.

T and D enjoy playing on their 3ds consoles, especially “Face Raider” – the 3d effect is always turned down low – but I was concerned about the size of the screen.

Both their standard 3d consoles are under a year old and the trade-in value per 3ds console at Game – if you’re buying goods in part-exchange – is £86. It’s less if you just want the cash (about £20 less).

What they don’t tell you in advance is that you must trade-in with a charger (or buy a charger at £10), which seems a bit daft to me as the Nintendo 3ds XL does NOT come with a charger as standard.

Here are the comparable pictures, the blue one is the 3ds XL, the red one is the standard size:



The screen difference is pretty impressive side by side.

My next step is to upgrade D’s sometime before Christmas, as part of her Christmas present. But, so that we don’t lose another charger to the trade-in, I’ve just ordered a charger from Amazon £2.27 with free postage. Simples…

Dear Ann Coutler, please don’t use the “R” word

Dear Ann Coutler,

I’m sure you’ve been inundated with tweets ever since you sent this out:


I appreciate you’re putting your viewpoint across and yes, there is such a thing as freedom of speech but did you really have to use the “R” word?

No matter how much you’d like your candidate to win the Election, resorting to cheap, offensive jibes isn’t the way to do it. Your tweet has had so many RTs too – people agreeing and finding it humorous or people offended? It would be interesting to know.

I know you weren’t using the “R” word in its medical context, a term that is still used in clinical diagnoses in the USA.

Someone who has special needs or care for a special needs individual are deeply offended by the “R” word used in a derogatory or insulting way, there is no place for its use in (what I hope is) an enlightened society.

How many of your followers will now think it’s acceptable to use that word as an insult? Please see my post It’s a matter of taste.., something I wrote in response to the comedians that mock the special needs community for a quick laugh.

This is my daughter, she has brown hair, blue eyes and autism. She has learning difficulties, motor delays and sensory issues. Please think of her and the many other photos of special needs children you have been sent before you use that word again.


There is a website where you can pledge “to eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word” click here it would be so good for awareness if you pledged.

Thank you.

Jimmy Savile – childhood memories

I guess like most people “of a certain age” this week, I’ve watched and listened to the ever-increasingly damning evidence about Jimmy Savile and shuddered.

He was the man that 80’s memories were made of, with “Jim’ll Fix It” and his bizarre presentations of Top Of The Pops.

To find out that this man – who millions idolised – who raised so much money for charity (and made sure everyone knew about it), who was photographed with royalty, was destroying young girls innocence and leaving them too scared to tell anyone is horrific. AND those young girls were from a school for “disturbed” individuals so, chances are, they wouldn’t be believed anyway…words fail me.

Like millions of other teenagers, I wrote to “Jim’ll Fix It”, I wanted to meet my favourite band and sit next to that iconic red chair, everyone did. I remember sitting in my bedroom composing a letter, next to me was my best friend, also writing to him. Neither of us heard back…thank goodness, I guess.

I saw him in person once. I used to live near Crowthorne – where Broadmoor is located. An institution for the criminally insane, whose inmates include the Yorkshire Ripper, and one of the beneficiaries of his charity efforts. I remember I was in a newsagents – must have been about 12 or 13 years old – and he came in, all track suited, gold jewellery jangling away and a cigar hanging from his mouth. Despite the fact I knew this was the man who could “fix it” for me, I hid behind a card display. I remember that uneasy feeling very very clearly.

Something instinctive or shyness? I don’t know but having listened to those poor women, all telling their very similar encounters and the blind eyes that seem to have been turned – even by Esther Rantzen (who established ChildLine) I’m glad I did.

I’m guessing there will be more and more revelations in the weeks to come. I really hope those women who were brave enough to come forward are listened to, taken seriously and whatever is needed to help them move on from this, is readily available.


Thanks for reading.

19th October:
Email on front page of “The Times” today which indicates that the BBC were aware of allegations of abuse:


Blogging tips

I was asked if I’d provide a few blogging tips, I’ve only been doing my blog since January but have found it’s been a benefit to both myself (avenue to rant and vent occasionally) and (I hope) to others.

So here goes…

Research which blogging platform you want to use. If you feel you will be blogging on your phone/iPad more than a laptop/computer then make sure there is an app for it. One of the reasons I chose WordPress is that I can blog anywhere (signal permitting). My evening blogs are usually started in the bath (on my phone) because it’s peaceful there!

Make sure your “about” page is completed and up-to-date. If someone is visiting your blog for the first time, it’s where they’ll find out about you and the reason you blog.

Similarly, if your header includes a “just another WordPress (or similar) site” change it to something more personal to you and why you’re blogging.

Most blogging platforms come with free themes, take some time to choose your theme. Make it appropriate to your blog content. For example, blogging about your childcare establishment with a skulls and crosses background might look funky, but it will detract from your content.

Use pictures and images, they add interest to your blog but…

Remember that once a post is published, it’s out of your control. Yes, you can delete the post but it might have been seen and shared before you do. Therefore, consider the pictures you put on and how you would feel if they were used inappropriately. For similar reasons, my children are referred to by initials only.

If you are sharing content/words from another site, be sure to reference them. It’s not only a matter of politeness, not to do so is plagiarism. I have had whole chunks of a post replicated and set up as another person’s Facebook page before, it really upset me and the person doing it completely denied it. Not a nice experience.

If you say you are going to do a daily/weekly/monthly blog then stick to it. Once you are blogging regularly, you build up an anticipation. But at the same time…

Don’t let it become a chore. Blog because there is a purpose and you enjoy it. If you become tired of blogging it will reflect in your words.

Make sure your terminology is correct, so that no-one reading your posts is offended.

Acknowledge when people RT (retweet) or comment on your blog, it’s polite. It shows that you appreciate them taking the time to do so.

Proof-read your post before you hit “publish”. An absolute must if you are blogging at the end of the day. It doesn’t take long and that typo is very quickly corrected.

Be careful of your wording, try not to use words that could bring the wrong readers to your site – for example (and I’m spacing these out)
n a k e d
p o r n
b a t h
s e x etc

Don’t get hung up on your blog stats. Everybody leads busy lives and publishing a post during a major event (ie 100m Olympic final) means it won’t be read very much, republish again in an hour or so.

Be truthful to yourself. Blogging has an anonymity to it but only to a degree.

Clear out your spam comments regularly, don’t give them another thought and definitely don’t click on any links!!

Add in the “share” buttons so readers can share to twitter/Facebook etc.

Hope this helps, please feel free to add in your own tips/comments.

Thanks for reading Jx 😘

Updated with some comments/additional tips below:
“once you’ve built up a reputation as a blogger, look at hosting your own site. Get your web domain and be creative. You can still use WordPress to blog, but instead of hosting with WP, you host off your own site. It also means you can have a web email address dedicated to your blog and looks great especially if you want to turn your blog into a business” – Becca

“use widgets on your site, it allows users to share, follow your twitter feed and there’s lots of other cool stuff too.
Also, join a blogging group ie. BlogHer, they will reference your blog on their site and you can interact with other bloggers.
For mums and parenting try BritMums” – Becca

“comment on other blogs and link to other blogs as much as possible, that’s when the networking side of things really start to build” – Nicky

“don’t get too bothered about what other bloggers are doing. Focus on creating your own identity and do what is comfortable for you. Also I’d recommend people take time to comment on as many other blogs as possible as this will help them to get known in the blogging world. It can also lead to more comments on your blog” – Deb