Taking dad to Grand Designs LIVE!

Written by Emma. Posted in Uncategorized

Last Friday I zipped up the motorway to Birmingham to the Grand Design Live Show at the NEC.  I like watching the TV show and often dream of how I would have an amazing home if I won serious money.   I mean I love my home now – but if money was no issue there are other plans I would make! I took my dad with me as he is a man of all trades and loves nothing better than designing and mooching about looking at homes and interiors.  This is the man afterall, that drew the plans and built my above garage extension he then went on to do the the plumbing, electrics and everything else.  He is very talented.  He did make me promise not to let him near any section that encourages you to build your own home from a scratch and a kit as he just doesn’t have the time or the land to do it!

We arrived and liked that everything was split into zones with similar products grouped together.  We first wandered through the food and home areas which were full of new products and dad even gave a powerplate a try out!  As driver I also watched dad whilst he got to sample some toffee flavoured vodka!

Grand designs

Afterward snacking on plenty of samples of cheese we went to have a look at the new inventions section.  There were some beautiful designs from cars, to lamps and taps.  Dad being dad did point out that although the tap looked shiny and was very clever he did point out to me just how many things could go wrong with a tap that had so many wires and tricks!  Typical dad ever the practical!

I adored this light fitting and really want it in my lounge which I hope to decorate next year.


By then I was searching for coffee and thankfully British Gas were on hand not only giving great advice about smart meters and being more environmentally friendly they were also making coffee!  They had a great lounge area where you could rest for a while and just chat with their team.

Grand designs 2As we looked in the interior section I was glad I didn’t have Dylan and Lee with me as there were some beautiful dining tables that sswiveled to become high quality snooker tables.  Anyone that knows my boys knows just how much they would want this!  Thankfully I also found the massage chairs where I could have stayed for hours had I not needed to get back to pick up the children from school!

Going to the show was a great day out, it was inspiring and makes me think about what I’m buying when I win the lottery!


Disclosure:  I’d like to thank British gas for the complimentary tickets.


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Signs and symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Written by Emma. Posted in DDH

Mobility is something that most people take for granted but not us.  I had never even considered hip problems and lack of mobility until after we had Erin.  As a parent you watch and wait for those first baby steps, Chloe had walked before her her fist birthday and Dylan at about 14 months.  Yet with Erin we kept watching, we kept waiting and when it didn’t happen that’s when you start to look for reasons.  Most readers will know that Erin was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia just before she turned two. As a result she has undergone major surgeries and was in a spica cast for months. One of the frequent comments that parents of children with hip dysplasia are asked is ‘that they look ok’ ‘what will happen if it is not fixed?’ and why does it need to be fixed in childhood if it doesn’t cause pain?’

All are obviously valid questions, some children do seem ok with DDH, Erin actually had a pretty profound limp so she didn’t exactly look ok. But the other questions are more difficult to answer because it is a medical condition that varies so much. Erin didn’t weight bear for a longtime and whilst I don’t know what pain, she certainly did not want to walk or weightbear. We were clearly told that unresolved DDh would be a long term complication and would lead to further problems with her mobility down the line.  We have been warned that Erin’s hip will not ever be as strong as someone who did not have DDH.  We know that Erin is at a greater risk of osteoarthritis and that she is likely to need a hip replacement in her future much sooner than her peers will.  DDH should be diagnosed at birth and treated quickly with a harness.  This alone would fix 95% of cases.  However there is a huge quiet scandal going, whereby too many children are not diagnosed when they have the chance of recovery.  Children like Erin are not being diagnosed until one, two or older.  After this time the hip socket is misshapen and bone has formed.  Shallow sockets cause sublaxing and dislocation which means that normally growth does not happen.  This is why early treatment is paramount.

We continue to watch Erin for hip issues and this infographic really spells it out.  This week is National Arthritis Week so know the signs and know where to go for help.  Erin still uses some aids around the house to make life easier for her, we have an extra step down to the garden and we have a stepped raise to the toilet for her.  If you know someone with reduced mobility have a look at what might make their life easier for example stair lifts from Stannah.

Osteoarthritis in the UK

Stannah are a British family run business based in England, making lifts of all types since 1867 and stairlifts from 1975.



Disclosure:  This post is in association with Stannah.


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Life sometimes catches you by surprise.

Written by Emma. Posted in DDH, Education, Erin and DDH

When I was at primary school I dreamed of being a ‘nanny’ I was encouraged to consider teaching and I thought about it. At University I studied Social Policy a degree I thoroughly enjoyed and I studied topics that are still important to me now, especially regarding equal opportunities. Little did I know then that my dissertation on disabled students and their access to higher education would combine the two things that would shape my future.

After having Chloe I found myself in the classroom surrounded by teenagers. I started as a teaching assistant and immediately realised I was good at conversing with teens and especially those who found school a little hard and especially naughtier boys. Lee was already teaching and it seemed the obvious next step that I would qualify. Teaching gave us quality family time together 13 weeks a year and I loved teaching both English and Sociology. As we added Dylan to the family we both took on more responsibility at school. I thought then that my career was mapped out. I imagined becoming a Pastoral Head in the future and thought that my skills were destined to go that way. And they probably could / would of, if I hadn’t changed my track. In order to achieve those dreams I would have needed to be a full time member of staff and I wasn’t ready to do that. The feminist inside me suggests that women can have it all and I’m sure some women can. But I decided that I didn’t want it all – well not at the same time.

I’m not old, not yet even in my 40’s but even my 30 year old self would probably be surprised at where I am now. If I had a crystal ball or used psychics maybe I would have known that everything would fall into a place as just a few years ago I would have doubted it.  Just a few years ago we were reeling from a ddh diagnosis and what it meant for Erin;s future.

When we decided to complete our family with one more addition in the shape of Erin I could never have realised that she would be the driving force behind such big family changes. When Erin was diagnosed with a dislocated hip and we realised just how challenging life was about to become I sobbed. I sobbed with shock, frustration and worry. However through all the surgeries I found an outlet and strength in writing and I knew that I would not be going back to full time teaching anytime soon and that becoming a Head of Year was no longer my ambition. My new ambition was to raise awareness of DDH and support my children through their Education. For me a straw that broke the camels back was when Chloe asked me to help her with her homework and I said ‘no not now’ because I was marking. Over the past three years my goal posts moved massively, it became more important for me to be at home and slowly I have carved out a new career. Changing career is scary and it was a decision we came to over the period of a year, these tips from The Circle are helpful if considering changing focus.  Blogging may not ever have been on my lips as a career when I was 16 or even when I was 30 but it has changed everything for me. It is amazing to think that if I had imagined my now, even five years ago could not have envisaged how everything has changed for the better. Right now I etch out a wage writing, this allows me to be at home for the children before and after school. It allows me to do all those hospital visits we have. Importantly it still gives us those amazing 13 weeks as quality family time when the five of us are together and we do as we please.

Therefore going back a full circle and writing that dissertation about Education and disabilities was mapping out my future I just had no idea of the relevance at the time and the job I would be doing some 20 years later.  As a family we are stronger and better than before and it is what we have been through that makes us appreciate where we are now.


Disclosure:  I was given a voucher to compensate me for this post.

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What do I do all day?

Written by Emma. Posted in family, Home design

What exactly are you doing all day? This is the question that I have been asked the most in the past two months.  Finding a satisfactory answer isn’t always easy.  I tell the husband I have been doing loads of blog posts and reading other blogs.  Some days that simply isn’t true but I feel that I need to provide a substantial answer.  If truth be told I have had lunch out with friends a couple of times, I even went to Costa with the bestie rather than having a coffee at home.  I am running again – even on days like today when it was raining.  I spend too much time browsing Facebook and not quite enough time doing housework but I am loving it.

I have won a couple of competitions and written some articles for my client’s blog.  I am slowly getting there but need to build up a few more writing gigs, but its a funny game a you don’t see many blogging opportunities advertised.

Family life is running smoother and I actually cook and feed us all better food which I am really pleased about.  I am on hand to help the children with homework more and seeing as both Chloe and Dyl are getting more this year that is good. Everything is calmer and we all feel organised.

Last week I took ownership of a new Vax steam cleaner and I actually have had time to really use it. I also caught the husband using it in the bathroom at the weekend! It seems to be a household appliance that men like to use too, not sure if its because it is so easy to use or because he thinks my cleaning isn’t up to scratch!

We received the steam fresh combi multifunction 15 in 1 steam cleaner.  I picked this has it promised to help get my home sparkling it has different attachments that can be used on a plethora of surfaces.


It is also the ‘Which’ Best Buy which I liked and wondered wether I would agree!  The cleaner was very easy to assemble and I quickly worked out how to fill with water and detergent and gave it a good first outing.  We have floor tiles downstairs so this makes cleaning it much easier.  I was often still using a mop and bucket but this leaves the floor wet for too long.  This is a huge problem for me as Erin is not the most stable on her feet and has fallen on my wet floor in the past.  With a dodgy hip that isn’t ideal!  However this product suggests the floor will be dry within three minutes, it was nearer five by my counting but that is much better than my previous efforts.  It also cleans much better than a mop, the triangle shaped head means that it gets right into the corners and edges.  i especially noticed this around my cooker.  The steam (obviously) gets really hot too which makes it more hygienic and cleans better.


The star feature for me is the hand held part which is really easy to remove from the main body of the machine and use in a multitude of ways.  This is what I spotted Lee using in the bathroom!  I have cleaned the inside of my oven and the oven door this way.  They was some serious layers of grime but t his literally blew it away!

The length of the cable is brilliant and I can do all of my downstairs with just using the socket in the hallway.  This can also be used to do spot cleaning on carpet.  I tried this out with a spot on the sofa arms which were looking a little grubby.  It definitely made a difference.

Vax steam cleaner 15 in 1


So there you have it, when I am not on facebook or blogging I am cleaning – right who is free for a Costa or lunch outing?



Disclosure:  I was gifted the steam cleaner from Vax but the opinions are all my own.

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