Saturday 31 August 2019

Week 35 of #Project365 - A photo every day for a year!

We've had a busy week. A family day out, a birthday, shopping for the last back to school things and an enrolment at college. I will be glad when the kids go back to school so I can have a rest.

Now for a photo every day!

234/365 - 24th August
I went shopping at Tesco late on to see what reduced stuff they had! I did well! It should have cost £15.55 and I got it for £4.37!

235/365 - 25th August
I was sent the ZeroWater jug to try out and took some more photos for a blog post.

236/365 - 26th August
We had a day out to visit my great aunt and ended up at the seaside on the 2p machines. My dad and my fella were the most competitive. hehehe

237/365 - 27th August
Becky had been helping to paint one of my dad's fences and came home covered in paint.

238/365 - 28th August
Time to wrap Ellie's birthday presents! I did it again, bought more than I should have!

239/365 - 29th August
Ellie had a wonderful birthday! Lots of presents, a day out shopping, a meal out and a unicorn cake! 

240/365 - 30th August
Saw the advert for one of my favourite TV shows, The 100. It's back on Wednesday! I can't wait!

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Friday 30 August 2019

This week my Word of the Week is: Family! #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

One of the reasons we moved house from Northumberland to Scunthorpe was to spend more time with family and this past week we have certainly done that. I wanted the kids to know my dad and they have spent plenty of time with him over the past couple of months but this past week was what I had dreamed of. Doing normal family things and having the whole family around for special moments.

We had a great bank holiday Monday and spent the day with family. We went with my dad and his partner Sarah to visit my great Aunt at Hartlepool. We drove from Scunthorpe to Hartlepool and had so much fun in the car just chatting and singing along to music. I have a whole blog post about it next week but it was nice to spend that time together! The kids loved seeing my great Aunt and she loved it too! We ended up going to the sea front and playing on the arcades, mostly the 2p machines. It's was so funny we were all so competitive. On the way home my dad took us to his favourite pub for a meal. It was a carvery and it was one of the best I've had.

Yesterday was Ellie's birthday and it was the first time we've been around family when it's one of the kids birthdays. Ellie was spoilt rotten with presents and money. My nephews mother even popped over on her way home from work to drop a card in and arrange to spend some time together. Ellie had a fantastic day. We went out shopping for the afternoon. Goodness me, that child can shop! We visited all her favourite shops and she has now started adding things to her Christmas list. Eek!

This is what I've wanted, time with family. The kids are always popping to my dad's. He has some land and he's always doing little jobs which they love helping with. Only this week Becky came home covered in paint after painting a fence and last week Ellie was helping to lay concrete. They think it's fantastic doing new things. We're planning on descending on him over the weekend to pick all his blackberries and to see if his pears are ripe on his tree. All I can think about lately is apple and blackberry crumble. hehehe

The last week of the school holidays has been lovely. Becky starts college on Monday and Ellie her new school on Wednesday! Eek! 

Thursday 29 August 2019

Today my youngest turns 12.

Today is my youngest girls birthday. Ellie is 12 today and what a year she has had! I say it every year but she seems to have really grown up. This year she has had a lot of changes in her life and I am so proud of how she has dealt with everything!

This time last year Ellie was still being diagnosed for Autism, we were stressing about her starting secondary school about how she would cope and if she'd make new friends.

In true Ellie style she proved us all wrong and settled into secondary school so well. She really took to it like a duck to water. All the worries we had vanished within a couple of weeks. She knuckled down with work and there was no more daydreaming. When she started secondary school she was so behind her peers but at the end of the school year she had caught up and passed some of them in some subjects. Music, French and Art. She was diagnosed with social anxiety but to be honest she has grown in confidence so much over the past year!

We had fantastic support from the SENDco teacher with meetings every half term. She kept us informed and she was our go to person if we did have any problems. She made sure all of the teachers were aware that Ellie is deaf in one ear. I felt like my girl was well looked after at school.

Ellie made a good group of friends and even got herself a boyfriend which was a little older than her but he was a nice lad. She always struggled with making friends in primary school but in secondary school she was included and was even invited to a birthday party which was such a big deal! There was still of course bullying issues. I put it down to pure jealousy! The girls who bullied her in primary school continued in secondary. They would just not let Ellie be, they were not happy that Ellie had moved on and made new friends. It's a shame they couldn't move on and leave her alone. 

When we told Ellie we were moving house she was so excited. She took the move way better than we expected and loves living where we do now. She has had full control in picking the wallpaper and decor for her bedroom. She's now asking for a double bed, she has the room in her bedroom so it's something to think about for next year. The amount of teddies and soft toys she has in her bed, she could do with one. lol Ellie is excited to start her new school in just under a week. She already knows one of the dinner ladies and one of the teaching staff lives on our street. hehehe She is looking forward to making some new friends and doing textiles. She never had that lesson in her old school so it's something new.

Over the past year Ellie has started to play less with kids toys and now goes for older kids toys. She still loves her Barbie like dolls and of course Monkey! At the moment she is really into drawing and painting so I have bought her a ton of art supplies for her birthday.

We don't have any big plans for Ellie's birthday. She's having a special unicorn breakfast. Asda sell Unicorn shaped crumpets and unicorn raspberry spread. We are going to have lunch out while we do some birthday shopping and we have to nip to Becky's college so she can officially enrol, we're then going out for a meal, then home for birthday cake!

I am so proud of Ellie and the young lady she is becoming.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

(Ad - Gifted) The ZeroWater 12-cup water filter jug!

When we moved house from Northumberland to North Lincolnshire we noticed the change in water. In Northumberland it was slightly hard and here in Scunthorpe it is classed as being very hard. It has been taking some getting used to and I am not a fan of it at all.

Recently I was asked if I would like to try out the ZeroWater jug

ZeroWater’s 12-cup water filter jug is the first in its class to benefit from a sealed lid and reservoir which allows filtered water to be poured while water which hasn’t yet been filtered remains in the reservoir. This adds a further 2 cups of capacity to the 10 cups of filtered water in the jug. It also features a one-handed, pull and pour button spout for easy pouring from the fridge or for filling bottles.

Unlike other leading water filter jugs, ZeroWater benefits from a patented, 5-stage Ion Exchange Filtration system which removes virtually all dissolved solids from your water. This provides great tasting water without the dissolved solids which may include Minerals, Salts, Metals, Chemicals and Runoff. Moreover, it removes 99% of all Fluoride from your water!

As soon as we opened the box we noticed the little Water Quality Meter and wanted to test our water straight from the tap and it showed our water had 296 of nasties in it which is quite high!

We got on with setting the jug up which was very simple to do. You simply screw the filter into the bottom of reservoir and fill with water and let it filter through.

We waited for it to half fill and then we tested the filtered water!! I don't know why I was so shocked but the Water Quality Meter showed 0 nasties in our water!! It did exactly what it was supposed to do!

Then came the taste testing. We tried normal tap water and the filtered water and all of my family could taste the difference! The filtered water tastes amazing! I am not usually a big fan of plain water but I would happily drink it without any juice or anything added.

There is a YouTube video of Philip Schofield trying it out using red wine! It shows that if you pour red wine into the top, pure water comes out the bottom. It's of course a waste of wine but is good to show how well this works!

I think this is a fantastic addition to our kitchen and we will be using it daily. I've already had to fill it up again once today because the kids are now drinking plenty of water! My youngest did find it a little heavy to lift but that isn't a problem as there is a little button to push to bring it out of a spout at the bottom so there is no lifting involved!

I think the only thing about the ZeroWater jug that I am not so keen on is how long that it takes to fill up. You can only put so much water into the reservoir and have to wait for it to filter through then go back and add more. It does take time but I think it's worth the wait!

You can buy the ZeroWater 12-cup water filter jug for £39.99 from their website.  At the moment I think it is well worth the price but time will tell. 

I am interested to see how long the filter lasts. According the chart it should last for 55 to 95 litres. The replacement filters cost £19.99 to replace which seems a lot of money but I will see how we get on with it.

We were sent the ZeroWater 12-cup water filter jug free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

A grown up bedroom for my tween on a budget.

A couple of weekends ago Stu decorated Ellie's bedroom. She has chosen everything for her bedroom so far including the wallpaper which was an absolute nightmare to put up. We got it from Home Bargains for £6.99 a roll which I thought was such a bargain. I'm glad I got it when I did because it's sold out now. 

We had planned to wallpaper just one wall and have the other 3 white but we must have messed up with the measurements and there was enough to do the long wall and the wall where the window is. There was also enough to put on her little shelves. These shelves have served us well. I got them when Becky was little. They were My Little Pony ones. In time we turned them over so they were just pink and now they have been upcycled again!

There is still more that we have to buy but it will have to wait until September. August is an expensive month for us with birthdays, going back to school and this year moving house.

Pink Marble Effect Geometric Shapes Easy Care Duvet Set - £10.00 - Asda
Blush Velvet Light Shade 13" - £6.99 - B&M
Blush Velvet Table Lamp - £7.99 - B&M
Pink Geometric Rug - £25.00 - Asda
Flamingo-shaped Wall Clock - £10.00 - Asda
Unicorn Wall Head - £7.50 - Asda
Large Faux Linen Ottoman Pink - £17.00 - Wilkos
Be A Mermaid' Textual Art in Pink - £18.99 - Wayfair

Ellie is loving her new bedroom so far. It has more of a grown up feel to it. Next up we are going to do Becky's room which should be interesting as it's so small.

Monday 26 August 2019

Our weekly meal plan! 26th August - 1st September. #MealPlanningMonday

Last week's budget meal plan went well. We ate everything apart from Sunday's meal. It was far too hot for any type of casserole so we just picked out of the fridge. I have managed well not doing an online shop. I have been going to Tesco on an evening getting their reduced stuff. The kids are really getting into it too especially after Saturday nights visit where Ellie got Sushi and Becky got a sandwich which I wouldn't normally buy at full price. I got nearly £16 worth of stuff for just over £4. My favourite thing was the sunflowers though. Reduced from £4 to £1! 

We have a pretty busy week planned. Today we're off to see my Great Aunt in Hartlepool, we're going to help my dad with his gardening, it's Becky's enrolment at college and we of course have Ellie's 12th birthday!

This week on the menu we have:

Monday - Something quick and easy like beans on toast.
Tuesday - Slow cooker hunters chicken and potato wedges.
Wednesday - Pork and apple sausages and mash.
Thursday - We're going out for a meal for Ellie's birthday.
Friday - Pizza.
Saturday - Chicken fajitas.
Sunday - Mince and dumplings.

What are you eating this week?

Sunday 25 August 2019

All her hard work paid off. #MySundaySnapshot

My teen got her GCSE results this week and I am pleased to say all of her hard work payed off. The predicted grades she got earlier in the year meant nothing. She did way better than even she imagined! She said she'd love to go back to see some of her old teachers and say "in your face". hehehe 

She did amazingly well in Health and Social care and got the equivalent of 2 A's. iMedia was a fail with the coursework. She got U's but managed a pass with the actual written exams. It just goes to show that the teacher was not the greatest in the classroom. It was the one where spent the first year and a half doing homework and revision for other lessons and being taught hardly anything, she took it upon herself to revise for the exams.

Next week Becky goes to college for her enrolment and to hand her GCSE results in. I think they'll be surprised. She needed 5 GCSE's at C and above to get on the higher course and there was doubt she'd get them. She has the 5 and extra to spare. hehehe I am one proud mam!

Saturday 24 August 2019

Week 34 of #Project365 - A photo every day for a year!

What a week we have had. Decorating, shopping and the highlight was getting my teen's GCSE results. We had to wait for them to be posted out but it was worth it! We don't have any plans for the weekend. We have jobs we could be doing but we're going to have a lazy weekend.

Now for a photo every day!

227/365 - 17th August
The decorating of Ellie's bedroom started. It took a couple of coats of paint once the wallpaper had been stripped and the wallpaper was a nightmare to put up because of the pattern but it's done and Ellie loves it!

228/365 - 18th August
While we had the paint out I gave the back door a fresh coat of paint. I absolutely love this door. It's like a stable door where you can leave the bottom half shut and the top open. It lets a lovely breeze in without it getting too breezy!

229/365 - 19th August
My teen loves tinkering with her bike.

230/365 - 20th August
Becky and I went shopping to get the last of Ellie's presents for her birthday! It was crazy to see some of the Christmas things in the shops already! 

231/365 - 21st August
Some colouring in that Becky did.

232/365 - 22nd August
I am back into watching Glee. Such a fab show.

233/365 - 23rd August
We had to wait a day longer than most for Becky to get her GCSE results with moving house.  She did so well, better than we could ever have dreamed of. It turns out her predicted grades meant nothing, she did way better than all of them. All her hard work payed off. I am so proud of her.

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Friday 23 August 2019

This week my Word of the Week is: Anticipate!

This week my Word of the Week is:

We have had a week of waiting and looking forward to things!

The week started with Ellie's bedroom being decorated! She couldn't wait for it to be done. It took Stu a couple of days and a lot of cursing at Ellie's choice of wallpaper but it's done and she loves it! We are waiting until after all the birthdays to finish it off buying some accessories. She has a list of things that she wants. A fancy lampshade, a pink ottoman and some more prints for the walls.

Becky's bedroom is next to be decorated. We were going to do it this weekend but I think we're going to have a weekend off and not do much. We seem to have had busy weekends since we moved so I think we're due a break.

Ellie is at the point now where the excitement for her birthday is building. There's only 6 more days to go. Becky and I went shopping on Tuesday for the last of her presents. For the last 10 years I have done all of the birthday online but this year I have shopped more in real shops, in person. There is a Primark and B&M twenty minutes away so it would be daft not to. I got some great bargains and while Becky was with me she gave me some fab ideas what she wants for her birthday too. I have also told my fella to get in Primark and start shopping for my birthday in November. All the Harry Potter stuff is amazing!

The biggest thing we are waiting for this week is Becky's GCSE results. They are being sent out by post and we are hoping they arrive today. I am thinking it's more likely to be Monday but there's hope. We weren't that bothered about the wait until Thursday came around and saw the excitement with everyone else getting their results. I hope they arrive by Thursday because Becky has to go to college for her enrolment, take her results, get her I.D, bus pass and things like that.

I had a little stress this week. I filled in the forms to join our new doctors when we first moved and got a "new patient" appointment which we had yesterday which I was nervous about. I hate going to the doctors and really worked myself up over it. There was no need. The nurse we saw was lovely and really put me at ease. She didn't nag me about being probably more overweight than I should be, she answered all my questions and didn't pressure me into giving a blood sample or anything nasty. Phew! She has made us an appointment to see a doctor to discuss the kids hearts and their check ups which we have at the hospital every year. Our old hospital in Newcastle is keen to have us to still go there but it's such a distance away. We need to know what our options are regarding the check ups. Ideally Scunthorpe would be great for us but I have a feeling we're going to be sent to Goole hospital which is a couple of hours away by bus. We used to travel a couple of hours so that's no hardship. I'm going to try not to stress about it but can't promise anything. 

**UPDATE** Becky's GCSE results came today and I couldn't be any prouder. She did way better than her predicted grades and totally smashed Health & Social care, she got the equivalent to two A's! She can now go onto the higher health & social care course at college! I'm so happy with her!

Thursday 22 August 2019

It's GCSE result day but not for my teenager.

Up and down the country thousands of teenagers will be picking up their GCSE results today but not us. We moved house over 150 miles away from where Becky went to school. As much as I'd have liked her to have the experience of picking up her results from school, it just isn't practical. She's not too fussed. I'm glad she is a patient person, she will have to wait for them to be posted out. Eek!

It really doesn't seem that long ago that Becky chose her GCSE options. They were a sore subject for us. Becky only got half of the subjects she wanted to do. Geography and Health and Social Care were the one's she wanted and Statistics and Computer Science were the one's she didn't. 

Computer Science didn't last long as the teacher went on the sick and it was turned into iMedia and a new teacher took over which I wasn't to fond of. He didn't know Becky's name at parents evening despite teaching her for a good few months. It became a bit of a joke with Becky and I. I said I'd love her to get a decent grade but I wasn't too bothered if she didn't. She spent most of year 10 and the first few months of year 11 completing homework for other lessons and revising other subjects in her iMedia lessons. It was only towards the back end of year 11 the teacher started teaching.

I'm glad to say she seems to have done really well with Statistics. Her teacher was optimistic about Becky getting a decent pass. Fingers crossed she will, she worked hard!

Becky worked so hard revising for all of her subjects. I am so proud of her. She went into all of her exams feeling positive and came out feeling like she tried her hardest and that's all I can ask.

Next week she has her enrolment session at college to take her GCSE results in, get her security pass, bus pass and sort out all the things like that. When we went for a look around a few weeks ago we were surprised to find out Becky would be entitled to financial help. The college she goes to has a big budget and apparently most of the students get some sort of help with stationary or free meals which she is looking forward to and I am too. 

She is really looking forward to starting college but is slightly worried about getting the bus each day. She should be fine. There is a bus going from our village and drops her off right at college door. It's the last stop so she'll have to get off the bus. lol I am going to go with her a couple of times just to make sure she feels confident doing the journey. She's never got a bus by herself, she's always had someone with her whether it was a family member or a friend. It's going to be a big deal for her but I'm sure she'll be fine.

Becky has had a fab summer. She has found herself some part time work gardening and helping out in a shop. She seems to have really grown up since she left school. She is looking forward to the next stage of life and that envelope coming through the door telling her if all her hard work payed off.

I hope all the teenagers get the GCSE results that they want!

Wednesday 21 August 2019

(Ad - Gifted) Keep track of keys, bags & anything else by attaching a Tile!

As a family we are forever losing things. My fella his phone, Ellie school things, Becky Xbox controllers and me, the remote control for the TV. As a whole family we are always losing the back door keys too which have the key for the garage, garden gate and the little outhouse on. We waste so much time looking for these things but we have been sent something to help us out a little.

The Tile Mate is a small bluetooth tracker and easy to use app that finds everyday items in seconds. You can attach it to keys, wallets and anything else you can't live without and using the app on your phone you can track where your missing item is. 

It comes with a replaceable battery, has a range of up to 150 feet and a high volume which is easy to hear as well as smart home integration.

I opened the box and had it set up within minutes. I simply downloaded the app via the Google Play Store (you can use it with Apple products too) and linked the Tile and my phone together! I'm not good with technology so if I can do it anyone can.

For now the Tile is going on the back door keys. The kids are on their summer holidays still and I think we have more chance of losing the keys than anything else at the moment.

When you have lost your item that the Tile is attached to you go to the app and press the find keys or whatever you have named the item.  It then connects with it and plays a little tune to help you hear where your lost item is. When you walk towards your lost item there is a little circles on the screen which let you know if you're getting closer.

Not only does the app let you find say your keys, if you have lost your phone you can double press the button on the Tile gadget and it will make your phone ring too!

If you keep your Tile app running in the background it will remember the last place and time you had your item to help you find it too.

Here's a video from Tile which explains things probably better than I did.

Supported Devices include Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, Samsung Note, Nexus and most other Android devices equipped with Android 6.0 or newer. I have a Samsung S5 which is quite old now and it works perfectly with that.

As well as using them for house keys I think the Tile will come in handy especially for Ellie and her school things. I am tempted to put it onto her school bag so she can use her phone to keep track of it. 

Back to School can be a daunting prospect for kids and I am all for making the whole process easier! iPad’s, laptops, gym bags and even lunch boxes can be kept safe with the Tile Bluetooth tracking device. PE kits, book bags and musical instruments can be kept tack of too.

I think it will also be fantastic for the morning rush as we will be able to quickly find Ellie's school bag. Even if she's left it at school we can check where it was last seen on a map.

I think this is a fab little gadget. It's something I didn't know I needed until I got one. I think it's going to come in really useful and I know it's going to get plenty of use.

The Tile Mate has a RRP of £20 and is available from their websiteAmazon, John Lewis and Argos.

I was sent this free of charge in exchange for this blog post.