The Blog Lowdown – AutismMumma

Today on The Blog Lowdown, I’m really pleased to be bringing you the lovely Jeanette from AutismMumma

Please Introduce yourself:
Hi, I’m Jeannette and I blog at AutismMumma. As the title suggests, I’m Mumma to two children with autism, T who has high functioning autism and is nearly 12 (just about to start secondary school *sniffs*) and D, aged 10, who has the classical form of autism with delayed speech, delayed motor skills and shed loads of anxieties. I also have an older child (C), who’s left home.

When did you start blogging?
I started blogging about 2.5 years ago, by accident really. I read other parents’ posts and they really helped me understand a bit more about the future challenges we could face. Blogging also became my own little account of our lives and I can look back and see already how far we’ve come.

Tell us a little about your blog
I’m never sure where AutismMumma fits in to the blogging world. Yes, it’s a parenting blog, but with a difference. I always try to write positively because, although I never expected to be an AutismMumma, it has changed me for the better and made me consider issues I may not otherwise have done. I do a daily diary post (which is great to look back on, with our highs and lows), recipes, book reviews (we love books!), Music Monday, wellbeing and other topics I feel may be of interest.

Who designed your blog?
It’s all my own design at the moment, I’m saving up my pennies for a revamp but until then, my header (and Twitter avi) are a painting of me, by D. I started out on bluecrisps.wordpress.com, got tempted over to a blog host (slight mistake because I lost control of content – they would refuse to put on badges/add in pages) and then I moved to self-hosted late last year.

Which of your posts have been the most popular? Are there certain types that get more interest?
I was amazed that a post was mentioned in the Huffington Post, a post that I’d compiled in response to a rapper insulting one of his followers by saying he looked autistic – Dear 50Cent
The Camera Does Lie is also a popular one
And certain reviews still generate hits

How do you promote your blog posts, and which methods do you find to be most successful?
I only really use Twitter. I keep wondering about Facebook and whether I should join up. I’ve just started using Instagram.

Which linkys do you most enjoy joining in with/reading?
I co-host Small Steps Amazing Achievements on alternate Wednesdays, on the other Wednesdays I host Wellbeing Wednesday, which encompasses diets, books, hints and tips for our wellbeing as parents/carers (this was previously Wobbles Wednesday).
I always join in with Word Of The Week, Magic Moments, Reasons To Be Cheerful and My Sunday Photo and link up with Tried and Tested, Country Kids and What’s The Story if I have a post.

When are your busiest days on the blog, and why? (if you know why!)
Wednesdays are my busiest days but there is usually a steady stream of visitors throughout the week.

Can you name 3 things that blogging has brought you?
An outlet, to be told that your child has a lifelong disability is absolutely gutting at first, you have to re-think any preconceptions you might have and then you accept and resolve to do your absolute best for them. Blogging is my outlet.

Understanding and Friendships. I connect with people that I never would have the chance to otherwise. People I may or may not ever meet but we “get” each other.

Blogging also can force me to revisit memories and experiences, some really quite buried, I meet them, blog them out and move on.

My Top Tips for Bloggers:
Don’t worry about the stats and numbers, be true to yourself and your blog.

Take the time to reply to comments, if people take the time to leave a comment I really appreciate it.

Don’t be afraid to turn down review and sponsored opportunities if you feel they don’t fit your blog.

Take a blogging break if you need it, just a few days off sometimes means you’ll return refreshed and full of ideas.

My Social Media Links:
You can find me on Twitter and Instagram

AutismMumma

Thanks very much, Jeanette. How fabulous to be featured in the Huffington Post!

If you’ve any questions for Jeanette, feel free to comment on this post, and she’ll pop by and check in. Next week, we will be hearing from Ellen from Mama, You Talk? so be sure to pop by for that on Tuesday morning. You can catch up the previous posts from other bloggers here, too, if you’ve missed them.

If you’d like to feature on The Blog Lowdown, just email me at jocelyn@thereadingresidence.com to get involved.

To ensure you don’t miss any blogger posts, you can now sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll always include The Blog Lowdown round up in those.

Other posts you might like:

My 20 Top Tips for Bloggers

A Blogger’s Guide to Pinterest

10 Tips to Get your Blogging Mojo Back

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The Start of a New Chapter

I remember Wednesday, 4th August 2010 like it was yesterday. And no, it’s not a special occasion or birthday in my family. It was the day that I dropped my baby girl to nursery for the very first time, aged 10 months old. It was also the day that I resigned from my career of 12 years. I hadn’t planned to do so when I dropped her at nursery, I hadn’t planned to do so when I arrived at work that day, my second day back from maternity leave. But I did. And I haven’t looked back since.

The following day I vividly remember feeling so, so happy and free. I’d been so sad and upset in the lead up to returning to work. I was determined that this would be the first day of doing all I could for my girl, and if she was missing out on the nursery experience, then I’d have to make it up to her somehow.

So we went to parks, went to playgroups, went to an array of classes, arranged play dates, but most of all, most of all we spent time together. I watched as she grew, she learned, she developed, she flourished. I was there for every single milestone, every single moment. Every scraped knee, every new story told, every new taste tried, every fear quashed, every lesson learned.

So why is it that I feel I’ve missed it? Why do I feel like I’ve wasted time, blinked and missed her growing up? Because tomorrow, my baby will be embarking on her biggest adventure yet, and I won’t be there with her to experience it all and smooth the way. Tomorrow she starts school.

I know that tomorrow everything changes. My constant companion will no longer be here, bouncing around me, singing, chattering away, and yes, oftentimes annoying me! She’ll be learning her lessons from someone else, learning things I have no influence over, making friends with people that I don’t know and just….well, just not being with me.

I yearn to turn the clocks back, yet time moves on inexorably and unapologetically.

And so I have a choice. I can dwell on what I am losing, or I can embrace what I am gaining.

I choose to embrace. I recognise that this is simply the next stage, a stage to enjoy and be proud of her. And I am well aware that I am so very lucky to have her in my life, to have her with me every day and that in the grand scheme of things, a child starting school is no biggy. She is happy, she is healthy, she will be fine, I will adjust.

My girl will grow, she will learn. She will soon be able to read and disappear into wonderful and magical worlds. She will make new friends, and she is a child that really enjoys meeting new people! She will grow away from me, but in doing so, her own personality will shine all the more brightly.

So here’s to tomorrow and the start of a new chapter.

My Boo

My Little Tikes Bargains

My Little Man is obsessed with those Little Tikes Cosy Coupe cars, as I suspect many small ones are. Whenever he sees one at a soft play or out on a trip, he makes a a beeline straight for it! But I could never quite bring myself to buy one, as they’re a little pricey, and he does often play in them when he’s out anyway.

But, I happened to pop on to eBay a couple of weeks ago, which I rarely do so it must have been fate, and I spotted one there with no bids on it, ending in 2 minutes time. I gave it a whirl, and yes, I got it – for just a fiver!

The Husband went to collect it that week, and the very next day, a work colleague of his was giving away a Little Tikes slide, so he brought that home, too. The kids are happy!

playing outside 1

playing outside

in his car

playing outside 2

It’s a shame the weather’s got wetter and cooler, but they’ve still managed to get out there and play. To be honest, Little Man is very proprietorial over his car, so there can be rows over that one, but I know that once she starts school, these two bargains will allow me to get lots of gardening done, whilst Little Man plays to his heart’s content!

I do love a bargain!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Word of the Week – 29/8/14

Thank you so much for continuing to share and to link up, I do appreciate and enjoy reading every single WotW post.

If you’re new here, Word of the Week is a nice and simple weekly linky, with everyone welcome to pop by and share. You reflect back on the past week and sum it up in one word. Then share your word with us in a blog post, with as little or as much explanation as you like. I comment on and tweet out every post, and it’s a friendly place, so come join in! All that I ask is that if you link up, you link back to me, and visit as many of the other blogs as you can and comment on their words.

My word of the week this week is:

savour

I nearly went for ‘final’, but that sounded, well, too final and somehow quite negative.

I’ve been very aware this week that it’s the last week of the school holidays, which for us, means the last week of having Boo at home with us most of the time. She’ll be starting in reception next week, albeit just half days until the following week. This is also Little Man’s last week of being 1. Yes, my baby turns 2 next week, and I can’t believe where the time has gone with either of them. And so I’ve been savouring the moments, the ordinary moments. The lazy mornings, the way they sit right next to each other at snack time, Little Man sleeping in his cot (a new big boy bed will be here soon!), the playtimes together, sometimes calm, sometimes chaotic. I’ve even savoured the bickering, and I’ve been freakishly patient with them this week, which isn’t something I’m that good with normally, but seeing it in a different light has had me savouring every single moment.

What about you? What one word sums up your week best? Please grab the badge, link up and share.

The Reading Residence



Linky opens at 6.30am Friday, to midnight on Sunday.

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£150 Wayfair Gift Card Give-Away

Well, have I got a treat for you! Yes, the lovely people over at Wayfair are offering my readers a chance to win a giftcard to spend at Wayfair.co.uk.

Wayfair is an an online homeware retailer with over 350,000 products currently in stock. They offer products from top manufacturers around the world and guarantee absolute satisfaction, and when I had a good browse, I was impressed by both the vast range on offer, and the delivery and shipping costs and speeds. Wayfair are huge in the US, and I’m quite sure will soon be so in the UK, too. Plenty to choose from in homeware, for the garden, for the kids – believe me, you’ll find something you like there!

I was drawn to the range for children’s rooms, with everything from bookcases and rugs to beds to toys. And then once I’d satisfied myself that I’d put the kids first, I tootled off to check out all of the kitchen appliances, storage and linen on offer, as we’re just starting to think about redecorating our kitchen. Very practical of me still, I feel, so I then fully indulged myself and searched for a writing bureau (regular readers will know that I so want one!) and I was so excited to see that they not only have them, but they have several and they are gorgeous! Ah, to dream…..

colorful150

What would you look for? Do you fancy having a spend with them? I’ve got one £150 gift card to give-away to one lucky reader, so to be in with a chance of winning it, comment on this post letting me know which of my other posts you’ve been most enjoying, and then you need to enter using the rafflecopter below. Competition ends 25th September 2014, open to UK residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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Our First Build-A-Bear Workshop Experience

Yesterday saw us having our very first Build-A-Bear Workshop experience. We’d popped in to the shop a few weeks ago, as at the moment they have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles available, right at the front of the shop, so Boo spotted them, and as regular readers will know, Boo adores those turtles! When we were offered the opportunity to go and see what Build-A-Bear Workshop is all about, I was always going to have to say ‘yes’!

I was interested to see what it was all about, and Boo, well she was bouncing about and near to exploding with excitement! We went into Solihull’s Touchwood store, and were greeted with smiley, friendly staff, who were great at chatting to both of the children throughout our visit, and really putting Little Man at ease, as he can by shy around strangers.

So, step by step then. First up, you choose your ‘bear’. Unsurprisingly, Boo led us straight here…

leonardo

She knew that she wanted a Leonardo as he’s her favourite, so she then spent a few moments choosing the right one. Little Man went for a Beach Buddy shark, which is also a hand puppet. There are loads of toys in the range, with plenty of different bears to choose from, including ponies, dogs, cats, zoo animals – believe me, there are loads!

Next stage is putting the stuffing in. Both of the kids liked this part, as Boo got to put her foot on the pedal to ‘operate the machine’, and then they could choose to add in three different things. They could add a sound, which I declined (they’re going to sleep with these, so I don’t want them rolling on them in the night and waking themselves up with them!). They could add a ‘Scentiment’ – they loved this! Both of them took their time to smell the 3 options available, frosted icing, bubblegum and strawberry. Boo chose strawberry and Little Man liked the bubblegum. The scent was rubbed on the toys, and then placed inside their tummies. And finally, they each added a heart. We went for the soft hearts, though beating hearts are also available.

build a bear stuffing

The next part was Boo’s favourite, and I think judging by Little Man’s happy face, probably his, too (though he really liked sniffing those Scentiments!). They went over to the grooming area to give their new friends a clean and a brush…

Build-A-Bear grooming

Then you pop over to the computer and input yours and your bear’s details, to print out a birth certificate…

build a bear computer

birth certificate

The final stage is popping your bear into their box, which Boo loved and was very happy to then proudly carry him about…

Boo at Build A Bear

Whilst Little Man had fun peeking through the windows, checking on Sharkey..

Little Man at Build A Bear

And when we got home, Boo set about colouring in Leonardo’s box, with him looking on, of course. I do like this additional touch. I’m sure not every child would be interested in this, but Boo enjoys colouring in, and the fact that it’s for her new turtle’s home makes it all the more special to her.

Boo and Leonardo

And then? Well, then they went to bed….with their new toys!

The Verdict:
Sharky retails at £12, which I think is good value for a big cuddly hand puppet anyway, aside from the addition of this experience. He is part of the Beach Buddies range currently in-store, which also features a dolphin and an octopus. The TMNT toys are more expensive, starting at £19, but then I’d expect that of a big brand that’s very popular at the moment, so the price tag seems reasonable.

Personally, I think the experience and quality of the soft toy is worth the money, though I’d reserve it as a special occasion treat, such as birthdays. The excitement and happiness from the kids was just so sweet to see, and I think having chosen and carefully made their cuddly toys themselves has somehow bonded them to them all the more. It put me in mind of buying a pet, with all that that entails, with both the fun and caring aspects. All much lower maintenance, too! The only downside that I see is getting caught up in buying lots of outfits and accessories. You may see that as a fabulous plus, or maybe a dangerous addiction – I’m a little afraid of it! Fortunately, Leonardo doesn’t require clothing, and Little Man’s not spotted this opportunity yet, so we made it out without all of that. But, I’ve a feeling that this is just going to be the first of our Build-A-Bear Workshop trips, so I may not get off so lightly next time…..!

Have your children tried the Build-A-Bear Workshop experience? What did they make of it?

Disclosure: We received the toys FOC for the purposes of this review, though all words and opinions remain my own.

My Living Room Makeover with Superfresco Easy Wallpaper

We’ve been wanting to redecorate our living room for months. It felt really dated, and in need of a facelift. The room’s painted, though we’ve wallpaper in the 2 alcoves.

Living Room before

We’d got as far as several trips out to choose wallpaper, but despite being keen, we still hadn’t made any progress…until now.

When Superfresco Easy wallpaper got in touch, I though ‘at last!’ It gave us the push we needed to actually make a decision, and the range that we were browsing was just gorgeous. We ordered a few samples, hoping to find one that we liked, and we ended up liking them all and struggling to choose! But, we did make a decision, going for Glade for most of the walls, and then Winchester to cover the chimney breast.

Superfresco easy wallpaper

Initial impressions were good. The paper felt nice and thick and good quality. And our favourite thing? It’s paste the wall paper. No need for a paste table, and it’s apparently faster.

I’d read mixed reviews on this, with some people saying they had to still paste the paper, and others saying it worked as it should, so I was unsure what we’d end up with, really. I’m pleased to say that we (OK, so not actually ‘me’ in that ‘we’ but you know what I mean!) did just paste the wall and it was fine. We bought paste the wall paste, so whether that makes a difference, I’m not sure, but it was right there next to the normal paste so I went for that instead.

You see, just paste that wall…

wallpapering

Cut the paper and apply, sponging it down to smooth out any bubbles…

wallpapering 1

And voila!

living room makeover complete

A few close ups of the paper, and you can see how comfortable the dog is in there, too!

living room wallpaper

It took the Husband and his dad about 6 hours to do the whole room. The Husband says he feels it is a task you could do alone, as the paste the wall does make it easy, but obviously it’s faster with two. The Father-in-Law, who has wallpapered many a room in his time, was very impressed with the paper, and the technique. They felt it was easy to put up, the paper doesn’t stretch and because it’s lovely and thick, you can’t put your fingers through it and rip it.

The verdict? Fab stuff! We’d definitely use this again in the future. At £20 per roll, it’s not the cheapest wallpaper around, but it’s far from the most expensive either, and for the quality, the range on offer and the ease of putting it up, it’s worth every penny, in our opinions.

Have you tried this?

Disclosure: We received the wallpaper FOC for the purposes of this review, but all words and opinions remain my own (and the Husband’s and Father-in-Law’s). 

We're going on an adventure

Papery Peep August

It’s Papery Peep time! Yes, it’s that time in the month when I share a whole pile of papery pretties, and invite others to do the same.

It’s all part of my Bring Back Paper series, where I call for more books and reading to be going on, more snail mailing taking place, and an attempt to induce more stationery addictions worldwide..! If you’re new here, do check out the series, along with some of the more popular posts such as How Do You Read Yours?, Anna’s Wonderful PostCircle and be inspired by the creativity of making Book Flowers.

Onto this month’s Papery Peep, which is all about this month’s #BringBackPaper activity. It’s all been taking place over on Instagram, and it’s a photo a day challenge..

#31DaysOfPaper

I have been loving it! Browsing the hash tag has been a papery delight this month, as people have been sharing so many pretty and diverse interpretations of the daily prompts. It’s been a total pleasure to be involved with, let alone have introduced it, and I do hope that those who have dipped into it have enjoyed it, too? Do pop over and take a peek yourself, just search the hash tag #31DaysofPaper.

So I’ve been ‘#Papery Peeping’ all month, really, sharing various snaps from my books, stationery and more hoards, but I thought today I’d pick out a few of my favourites…

A selection of snail mail received for ‘S’

People were loving my family organiser, for ‘useful’ – I wouldn’t be without it!

Sharing this one for ‘favourite’, inspired me to then write a post all about Keeping a Book Journal

Loving my ‘cute’ washi tape, from my somewhat extensive and ever-growing washi collection…

And my most popular share was this one, for #precious’…

These are books that I keep for each of the kids, that I write in on the evening of their birthdays, telling them about the day and a little update on the past year. I love doing it, and I hope they’ll enjoy reading them when they’re older.

Now it’s your turn! Come link up and share any papery posts with us this month. Maybe a book you’re loving, a new stationery purchase, a letter stack, or perhaps your own #31DaysofPaper highlights? Just grab the badge in my sidebar there and link up :)


Linky is open until midnight 2nd September 2014 Hope you enjoyed peeping?! What do you think of #31DaysofPaper?

The Reading Residence

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The Blog Lowdown – Family Fever

Today on The Blog Lowdown, I’m really pleased to be bringing you the lovely Kate from Family Fever…

Please Introduce yourself:
Hi, I am Kate and I blog over at Family Fever. I am a mum to Gemma (8), Jacob (6) and Max (1) and we live in Devon.

When did you start blogging?
I started blogging about 18 months ago, when I was pregnant with my 3rd baby. I used it as an online memory bank, recording all the things we got up to, what my pregnancy was like and little things the children got up to.

Tell us a little about your blog
Family Fever is first and foremost a record of our lives. I try to think carefully about what I write, as I know that I want the children to be able to look back on it when they are older. There are lots of photos, days out and little personal things that have happened. That said, it is also MY corner of the web, so it has also become a place for me to write about things that are important to me, such as premature birth, postnatal depression, eczema and education.

Who designed your blog?
The idea came from me, and the whole design was put together by Zoe Corkhill from Mama Geek (who also helped me make the move from Blogger to self hosted WordPress), and the header was designed by Magic Feather Designs.

Which of your posts have been the most popular? Are there certain types that get more interest?
There are a few that get continual high hits:
Prematurity
Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Postnatal Depression
Personal posts seem to get the highest readership – ones that other people can relate to.

How do you promote your blog posts, and which methods do you find to be most successful?
I use Facebook and Twitter, and have recently started venturing into Google+. Pinterest and Instagram are great for sharing pictures and drawing people on to the blog too.

Which linkys do you most enjoy joining in with/reading?
I run Tried & Tested every Tuesday, which is a linky for sharing reviews. I also love joining in with Country Kids as we nearly always have an outdoor fun type post to share, as well as Magic Moments and Project 365, which I am really proud that I have managed to keep up with! I also take part in Silent Sunday and My Sunday photo every week, and have just come across the Black and White Photography project which I am enjoying too.

When are your busiest days on the blog, and why? (if you know why!)
Weekdays are much busier than weekends – I assume it is because most of my readers are parents, and weekends are family time.

Can you name 3 things that blogging has brought you?
Blogging has given me the chance to earn a small income and be able to stay at home with the children.
Blogging has brought me a whole new circle of friends.
Blogging has given me a place to be me – to talk openly and honestly about things such as postnatal depression without the fear of being judged.

My Top Tips for Bloggers:
1. Use Instagram, and include a link to your blog in your profile. If people like your photos, they are likely to visit your page.5 great tips for bloggers
2. Forget the stats and blog for you – rankings are just a number, what matters is that you are enjoying it, and are blogging about the things that matter to you.
3. Make an effort with linkys – I run my own, and I spend a lot of time visiting every site that links up, leaving a comment and tweeting their post. People really appreciate it, and not only do they keep coming back, but they spread the word too.
4. If you can afford to, invest in a good camera. A lot of my posts are quite photo heavy, and taking a good picture is important to me. I have had a lot of comments on pictures, and it seems that readers enjoy them. Not only that, they add life to your reviews, and they can also capture some priceless family memories much better than words can.
5. Find your niche. Have a purpose to your blog. Dont try and be everything – if you can find a voice for your blog, you will stand out a lot more. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.

My Social Media Links:
You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram

FamilyFeverBadge

Thanks very much, Kate. I can relate to so much of your blog journey and tips, even down to investing in a good camera, as blogging got me interested in photography, too.

If you’ve any questions for Kate, feel free to comment on this post, and she’ll pop by and check in. Next week, we will be hearing from Jeanette from AutismMumma so be sure to pop by for that on Tuesday morning. You can catch up the previous posts from other bloggers here, too, if you’ve missed them.

If you’d like to feature on The Blog Lowdown, just email me at jocelyn@thereadingresidence.com to get involved.

To ensure you don’t miss any blogger posts, you can now sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll always include The Blog Lowdown round up in those.

Other posts you might like:

My 20 Top Tips for Bloggers

A Blogger’s Guide to Pinterest

10 Tips to Get your Blogging Mojo Back

Follow on Bloglovin

Visit The Reading Residence’s profile on Pinterest.

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