Easter Gift Guide 2020

With Easter just around the corner, I have some fab gift ideas for all this Easter! It's not just about the chocolate eggs anymore, I have been gifted some fab items from several brands to be featured. Just click the highlighted section after each product for a direct link to buy the item.
First up is the Lamby Dreamimals DayDream key charm, rrp £8.95. The keychain comes in three super cute designs that will put a smile on your children's face. Choose between Lamby, Sharkie and Pinkie . The keychain comes with our dream cards to encourage your child to write down or draw their dreams and wishes. Super soft and gentle. Ideal as a little toy pillow for cuddling and snuggling and take anywhere you go. All Dreamimals are made of high-quality stuffed plush made from 100% all-natural cotton
The gift pup letterbox hampers, rrp £19.99 are the perfect gift with the added convenience of being able to fit through the letterbox! No more 'Sorry we missed you' cards, or your recipient having to re-arrange delivery for a package they weren't expecting. This hamper is packed to the brim with delicious chocolate to brighten up anyone day. Included is a gift card which can be personalised with a short message. Press 'personalise this gift' to add your message to the lucky recipient. The perfect gift for your receivers who don't live locally.
Treasure X Alien Ooze Eggs have landed and they are about to hatch! Break open the hard outer shell to discover a squishy alien egg inside! Squeeze to hatch and watch it explode! Inside, covered in alien ooze is a collectable mini alien. Search through the ooze to discover an alien treasure. Will you find a real gem treasure inside? These strange little aliens love sucking up their ooze through their mouth and nose. Squeeze the sides of the alien and watch them slurp it up and spit it out! Can you collect all 12 ooze sucking aliens? Available at Smyths Toys Superstore priced at only £4.99 they are the perfect alternative to an Easter egg.
I have a fab selection from Creative Nature and they are perfect for my nephew who has allergies. These are all vegan, gluten, dairy, nut and wheat-free. The brownie mix retails are £5.49 and available in Tesco. The gnawbles (my personal favourite) are available from wholefoods. They are so like one of my favourite chocolates that its hard to tell the difference, I love the hazelnut flavoured ones! The bars are available from larger Sainsburys stores and my nephew really enjoyed the orange cacao bars. I think these are a fab Easter option for those people that you may struggle to buy for with allergies.
Now the middle aisle at Aldi is one of my absolute favourite places to visit and the new playroom and slumber party range. It has everything from wooden rocking boats to play tents to entertain the kids. The Toy Story and Frozen bouncy balls are light up flashing balls and loads of fun. The perfect little gift for fans of the movies and only £1.49.
These stickers books are fab and a great idea for keeping the kids busy on Easter Sunday when on the chocolate come down. These are only £1.49 each! Whether they want to stick them in their pictures or make collages you can't go wrong for the price at all. We were sent the animal and dinosaur sticker books, check in your local store to see what's available.
Now, how adorable is this!!!! Its soft, cuddly and a sleeping bag with a teddys head for a pillow attached. As soon as we took it out of the box Mr C demanded it went into his room. It's super soft and the zip down the side makes it easy peasy to get in and out of. Perfect for when he has friends sleeping over, or family are visiting and pinch his bed! I think this is super cute and is available for only £19.99.
Pretend cleaning has reached new heights with this stylish Henry branded cleaning trolley from Casdon. This Deluxe Henry Cleaning Trolley is supplied with a hand held vacuum that has working suction! Also included is a Henry Mop & Bucket, long handle brush, dustpan and brush, simulated detergent bottle, simulated spray bottle and paper debris container. Pretend cleaning has never been so realistic! Also available in Hetty pink. This is a fab set for encouraging role play and priced around £29. Its really well made and took me minutes to build, always a positive in my books. Great gift for your mini cleaners.
It’s true what they say, a  party without cake is just a meeting, and OGGS® is launching the first vegan celebration cake in UK supermarkets. Already known for having a sweet reputation, OGGS has created a chocolate Celebration Cake to be shared no matter who you are; from birthdays to Bar/Bat Mitsvah’s or the local village fate this cake was designed to bring people together in those moments with a slice for everyone. Like the rest of the OGGS range every element of the cake, including the edible stars and glitter sprinkled over the top, is vegan friendly, with the sponge itself made using OGGS patented Aquafaba, an all-plant liquid egg substitute. The OGGS mission is to create plant-based alternatives to everyday foods, that taste as delicious as you’ve always known them, whilst doing their best to positively change the future of the planet, animals and people, with every little bite. Available in Waitrose priced at just £8.
How cute is this Easter chocolate pizza from Gourmet Chocolate Pizza? Featuring handmade white chocolate bunnies, along with candy coated chocolate mini eggs, milk chocolate curls and Spring coloured rainbow drops, Available in 2 sizes, 7 inches for £11.75 or 10 inches for £16.50. You can smell the chocolatey goodness as soon as you remove the plastic film. I'm going to struggle to save this for the kiddies for Easter!!
How fab are these indoor toys from Wicked Vision, ideal for our current isolation situation! Jump like a pro with the new Wicked Mega Jump, £7.99. Whether you're a complete beginner or an advanced level jump roper, super smooth rotation is key, that's why Mega Jump has high quality ball-bearing axles for super silky smooth spins. Of course, the rope first needs to be the correct length for the jumper so we've made it super easy to adjust the length to suit each person, thanks to our specially designed rope release mechanism. Just take of the cap, remove the clip and cut the rope to size, it's that simple! The best indoor boomerang in the world! The Indoor Booma, £6 is made of soft, safe foam, so it won't cause any damage. This isn't just any foam though, it's our specially engineered 'memorang' foam, which can be 'tuned' for different flight paths. The Kick, £8 is tipped to be the biggest playground craze of the year! Fusing elements of badminton and street football, the aim is to keep UKick off the ground for as long as you can. Use your hands or feet, play alone or with friends.
Everyone loves Haribo don't they and with prices starting from just £1 they suit everyone's budget. The HARIBO Bunny ‘n’ Friends gift box makes a perfect Easter gift, containing cute bunny, sheep and chick shaped sweets all wrapped up in a bunny-shaped gift box. HARIBO Chick ‘n’ Mix is a cute gift box filled with TangfastChicks, Starmix’s favourite Fried Egg, Jelly Bunnies and Spring Time Friends – tweet, tweet!
Now, who loves cake? What about cake delivery? bakerdays offer cake delivered straight to your door no matter what the occasion.  They have several easter cake designs to choose from and a range of sizes. Obviously, the letterbox cake, rrp £14.99 is a great idea for people who are in isolation currently as it fits through the letterbox. They serve 2 to 4 people and are available in a traditional sponge, chocolate chip, lemon drizzle, fruit and even a vegan sponge. Cake by post what better way to say you're thinking of someone.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
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School Leavers 2020

My final year 11 school picture
I remember being in school and being desperate to leave, that was 22 years ago and I've spent some of the past 22 years wishing I was back in school. I don't think you realise how simplistic life is when you are in school, it's only when you leave and have to adult you think wow it was so much easier in school.

I fondly remember my last weeks in high school it was filled with anticipation of the future, sadness at leaving friends and excitement of what's to come. We had our final assembly, final school trip (Alton Towers), prize giving assembly, the final day when everyone signed your shirt, sitting our GCSE exams and finally going to pick up our exam results in August and seeing your friends that one last time before college.

Ready for his next chapter
Life is all about firsts and lasts, I remember L's first day at school, he was newly diagnosed as autistic and we knew the education journey would be fraught. But we were still excited as it was a first. He was incredibly supported through primary and successfully transitioned into high school. He started year 11 in September so this school year has been all about his lasts. It's not been the easiest of years so far and yesterday's news was the final piece of the puzzle.

Yesterday so many year 11's school journey was cut short and they will miss out on all those lasts. They won't sit their GCSE's, won't get to pick up their GCSE results, won't have the fear or nervousness of sitting their final exam. They were all told yesterday that they won't be sitting any exams and that it was their final day of Year 11! I know most us thought this would be the case with the current situation, but I think to some it was still a massive shock. I saw so many social media posts from shocked and upset parents and kids, It wasn't just our year 11's either it is pretty much the same for the year 6's leaving for high school and missing their SATs. 

I feel so bad for all those kids who have crammed for their exams, wrote revision notes, been going to booster sessions after school. Have worked so hard all this time for such a sad premature end to their efforts. For L the early end of school has come as a relief, he isn't too academic, struggled a lot for the past few years and was counting down the days till the end. He is in a minority feeling this way, but for him, the end is a relief, his anxiety is so much better all ready.

I don't think this has ever happened before so I am sure this is something all those year 11's will be able to recount to their grandchildren one day. The tear of 2020 when exams and school were cancelled and we all had to stay home!!
Stay Safe
Mandy
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Autism, Health Anxiety & Covid-19

We have had an awful week with the eldest boy and its been building for the last week and a half. The media frenzy surrounding coronavirus isn't boding well for L's health anxiety and he's really struggling. There is literally no escaping info on Corona and he's hearing it everywhere even in school. They have a poster on the office doors with health advice relating to it. It's on social media, the news, the papers and the radio. Aside from social media, L doesn't bother with the latter on the list but since this, all surfaced he is instantly checking for updates. The news bulletin about covid-19 being named as a pandemic has peaked his anxiety even further.

The news of events being cancelled places closing and travel suspended makes it all-consuming for him. I have tried all different approaches to calm his anxiety but so far have failed to reassure him in any way. He's on the peak of an epic meltdown, I can feel it coming and it is the midst of exam season which isn't helping. 

The news that most other countries seem to be being proactive in preventing the spread and ours isn't is bothering him. I can't answer this question for him sadly. I honestly think an imposed school closure would do him the world of good at the moment and calm his anxiety, he's so worried about being outside!

For someone like me who isn't autistic, I can't say this whole thing has overly worried me. I am concerned for my children's mental health and how it's affected them, but I can honestly say I am not at all concerned about catching the coronavirus in the slightest. According to the governments latest info, we fall in the high-risk category and suggest we should social distance ourselves.

As of yesterday, we are all at home, aside from Dave who works in retail and has to go into work. This will continue until he is told otherwise. Our plan is to stay home unless we need to go out, I had to go out yesterday as I was at Pop's scheduled stoma nurse appointment. So far her surgery is still to go ahead on the 31st, I'm keeping my fingers crossed this remains. 

I have a weekly delivery slot booked for my food shop, but these crazy panic buyers are clearing the shelves. This weeks shop and 8 substitutes and 5 unavailable items. I had an email today to say all items are limited to just 3 of each item. I totally get it, but when you have autistic kids who only eat certain foods it's a bit of a pain. I refuse to go out and panic buy and put people worse of than myself in a situation where they cant get their essentials. We will be doing our usual weekly shop and going out early to pick up the bits that aren't available online.

My boy's high school have loaded lots of online work onto the school homework system, so they have plenty to keep them busy. My younger son's school don't have the resources to be printing off workbooks like some other schools have so have issued a list of handy online resources. 

My personal advice through all of this is only to take advice from real government and NHS websites. There are so many fake news reports our there, even the media are making false reports now, its ridiculous and damaging to peoples mental health. Do what YOU think is best for YOUR family.
Stay Safe
Mandy
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Treasure X Aliens - Alien Ooze Eggs Review

With Easter just around the corner and half-term holidays approaching we have been sent some fab surprise eggs to review from Character Toys. All toys that contain a surprise are a big hit with all children at the moment and they all have their favourite surprise element toy. All my gang love a toy surprise and one that involves slime or goo is even better!
Treasure X Alien Ooze Eggs have landed and they are about to hatch! Break open the hard outer shell to discover a squishy alien egg inside! Squeeze to hatch and watch it explode! Inside, covered in alien ooze is a collectable mini alien. Search through the ooze to discover an alien treasure. Will you find a real gem treasure inside? These strange little aliens love sucking up their ooze through their mouth and nose. Squeeze the sides of the alien and watch them slurp it up and spit it out! Can you collect all 12 ooze sucking aliens? Available at Smyths Toys Superstore priced at only £4.99 they are the perfect alternative to an Easter egg.
Spud was eager to give these ago and didn't hesitate in ripping the wrapper off and cracking the egg open to get to the soft squidgy egg inside. He said it felt soft and gooey and he could feel the alien surprise inside, he was excited to give it a squidge and see what popped out!
The egg feels a bit rubbery but once you give it a good squeeze your alien surprise will pop out, along with the goo and slime inside the egg! I recommend doing this at a table as the slime will go everywhere. Make sure once your alien is out you have a feel around the deflated egg for your piece of treasure. As in the description above, each treasure egg contains an alien, slime and a piece of treasure. There are 12 different alien creatures to collect!
As a parent, you will be pleased to know its not lots of slime inside the egg, but enough to cover the alien.  It's real easy to clean up too, if you have a bit in your hands you can just use it to collect the rest, easy peasy. So the kids will love it and its easy to clean, win-win I say. 
If your kids are extra gross like mine then they will love the next feature! The aliens all have open-ended noses/nostrils that such the slime up if you squeeze the alien, squeeze it again and they splurt the slime back out! How amazingly gross! The kids love it though.
The Treasure X Aliens are available from Smyths Toy Superstore priced at just £4.99 each and with 12 to collect your kids are definitely going to be wanting to collect them all! Head over to Treasure X for your chance to win your own treasure x goodies.
Thanks For Reading

Mandy

Indigo Boxes Review and Giveaway

We have been sent a beautiful photo box from Indigo boxes to feature in our Easter gift guide. The box arrived earlier this week and I absolutely love it so I decided it deserved a post all of its own!  Indigo is a brand new company just starting up and I love this idea, perfectly handcrafted and personalised just for you. The ideal gift for any occasion.
Each box houses 24 photographs of your choosing hidden beneath 4 layers. As you removed each lid a layer of photographs is revealed. Each of the inner flaps that the photos are attached to are pouches, so perfect for storing other photographs in. You could even write little cards with details of what the photographs are of.
I opted for the coloured box design, the box itself is black but you can choose what colour you want to patches to be. I opted for blue as its Mr C's favourite colour. I had all the photographs from his first time travelling on holiday abroad in the box. I knew he would love it and its a great memory for him to keep for years to come.
The very centre of the box is empty for you to place a little gift of keepsake into. The team over at Indigo popped a little Easter chick and some chocolate to eggs in the middle for Mr.C to enjoy. To see the Indigo box in its full glory go check out our Youtube video.
The team have allowed me to offer one of these fab photo boxes as a prize for one of my readers. So for your chance to win a one for yourself just enter the giveaway below. Do read the terms and conditions before entering.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms And Conditions
1. Open to Uk and Ireland entrants aged over 18
2. One winner will be chosen via the widget and announced on the widget
3. Winner will be contacted via email and has 28 days to respond to winning email before a new winner is selected
4. Your details won't be passed to any third parties
5. Entries made using software or bulk entries will be disqualified
6. By entering you agree to your name being shared on social  media as the winner
7. Giveaway op
en till 12th April 2020

Easiyo Yoghurt Maker Review

We have been sent the Easiyo yoghurt maker for review and I was excited when I got the email offering it to us. We eat yoghurt daily in our house, especially myself since I started watching what I eat again. I usually bulk buy my favourite yoghurts, but they come in single-serve pots which isn't great for the environment. We are avid recyclers and are always looking for ways to cut down our recycling output, the Easiyo system will save us around 15-20 single-serve yoghurt pots per week as a family of 6!
The Easiyo is so simple to use that even the kids can get involved, it's a simple 2 pots system. I love theta the tubs store inside each other which means they are great for storage. The system retails at £22 and comes with 2 yoghurt mixes to get you started off on your yoghurt making journey. The packs I got were greek style with coconut bits and greek style apricot flavour.
Making the yoghurt is really easy, there are markers on the side of the screw lid yoghurt pot. You fill to the first line, pour in your chosen mix, screw on the lid and give it a good shake. Take the lid back off and fill to the second line and give another shake.
You need to boil the kettle at this point and take the lid off your large Easiyo tub (mine is pink) inside there is a red spacer. You need to fill with hot water until the spacer is totally covered. Then pop the lid on and leave for 8-12 hours, you can leave it for as much as 24 hours.
Once the time is up your yoghurt is ready to eat and you can pop it in the fridge for use at your leisure. I couldn't believe how thick and creamy the yoghurt turned out. I was dubious when I popped it in the tub as it was just runny liquid! 
We have now tried both of the yoghurt flavours and I think the apricot is definitely our favourite. Its yummy topped with some fruit. The litre will last us a few days and as you can reseal the tub it will last longer, The kids don't always want a full pot so be able to use as much or as little as we need it ideal. The single pouches of yoghurt mix are priced at £2.79 and there are lots of variety packs available. I love this system, and this will get a lot of use in our house, saving money and kinder for the environment, win-win really!
The Easiyo yoghurt maker retails for as little as £16.75, the price is dependant on which option you go for. The above bundle which is the pink Easiyo and 2 yoghurt mixes is only £9.95 (price correct at time of publishing) which is a great 50% saving.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy

The Month That Was February

It feels like February was a very busy month for us but with not a lot happening if I'm honest. It started with me deciding I wanted a bit of a hair colour change. I've got really dark brown hair and getting colour to stick is a nightmare, so I decided to bleach it! I actually bleached it 3 times within a week and lost half of the hair in my head in the process!! I was rocking about with half yellow half white hair for a few days. I was walking round with my hood up as it was AWFUL. I then had a temporary colour put on as my hair was in no condition for a permanent colour with peroxide in. So I had a lovely shade of lilac hair for a while before I was able to put the purple colour on it I wanted. My hair is now just as dark as before I started and I have a lot less hair!! But I love the final colour, I've had a lot of hair masks between then and now to help repair my hair and the condition is getting better everyday!
Around the 10th of Feb was the start of the crazy storms that swept through the country and are still lingering in some parts. We were quite lucky and had no flooding, we live in a built-up area so are thankful for that. We did, however, have a portaloo blowing down the road we live on which was pleasant!! The news was full of hundreds of people flooded out of their properties, business and the clean up is still an ongoing process. I have to say its the one thing that puts me off living somewhere a bit rural.
Also in February, it was happy gotcha day for our little Honey! I can't believe we have been dog owners for 4 years. It feels like she's always been here and she is just as crazy as she was when we got her. When she came home she looked like a little frog with her eyes on the side of her head. Our family wouldn't be the same without her.

February was also the month we found out the Pops will definitely being facing colostomy surgery. We knew it was coming following her failed botox procedure in December. I was searching #Stoma on Instagram and discovered Buttony Bear. They are a wonderful charity based in Scotland who make teddy bears with stomas and colostomy bags. I got in touch and asked how I could buy one for her. They told me they send them out for free via sponsors who donate to their charity and one was made and sent for Pops. Its been great for explaining to her what's going to happen and for her to be able to see a tiny colostomy bag attached to the bear. We are hoping to get her operation date through soon. I'm not overly worried as Pops loves a hospital visit, although she is having a full-on operation. I do think she will be weirded out my a piece of her bowel being stitched to the outside of her stomach! But shes going to have a much better quality of life this way and do so many things she currently isn't able.
At the very end of the month, our youngest turned 9!!! bloody 9, I feel old. He had a wonderful birthday surrounded by his family and friends. We celebrated his birthday a few days early with a day out at the cinema and treetops golf with his little girlfriend. He was actually in school on his birthday, poor lad, but getting home to his most wanted present he asked for made up for it! He adored his Nintendo Switch Lite, even if our bank balance didn't!!! It was a lot more expensive than what we would normally budget for a birthday, but it was the one thing he asked for and he never asks for anything so we decided sod it and got it anyway. He deals with a lot sometimes having 3 autistic siblings and being swept along in our rigid routine. He was chuffed to bits with it.

So that's us in February, so what happened on the blog? Well the start of the month I updated all about Pops bowel condition in the blog post titled Bowel Saga Update. If you want to know more about why she's having a stoma and colostomy do head over and have a read. Next up was a post about L, he's got a place at college and we are so proud of him. The post College When You're Autistic and Not Academic explains a bit about the type, of course, he's going to be doing and the outcome of the course in the long run. With it being his birthday 9 Years of Mr C just had to be a feature didn't it. I also published a Mothers Day Gift Guide, I am actually still waiting for a few items to arrive, so do check it out for some fab gift ideas. The last post of the month is a fab giveaway, I teamed up with Skates to give one of my readers the chance to win a fab Grit Atom Stunt Scooter in time for Easter!

So that's our February round-up, as I said at the start it felt really busy, but nothing much happened! I'm hoping to write one of these each month and ending it with a few goals I want to achieve over the following month. This month I want to:

  • Lose at least half a stone! I have rejoined slimming world in a bit to lose a few lbs and feel healthier.
  • Rejoin swimming and go at least 3 times a week.
  • Hit my 10'000 daily step target, even at weekends. On a weekday incorporating school run, I hit it no problem, but weekends are always a struggle.
  • Try to drink at least 2 litres of water a day!

Thanks For Reading

Mandy
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