Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Save The Children - Syrian atrocities update #savesyriaschildren

Earlier in the year I wrote a blog post about the Syrian massacres, not because I  wanted to but because I felt I had to, I had to do something even if it was just to write a blogpost in hope of raising awareness of what was happening in Syria.

It is that same need that has again compelled me to write about the Save The Children Syrian Campaign update.  'Save The Children are working with these children to help them come to terms with the devastating psychological impact of their experiences, providing specialist support to children showing signs of distress including self-harm, nightmares and bedwetting' Yes you read it right they are working with children, children that have seen and witnessed things I do not want to even imagine happening, atrocities that make me feel sick to my stomach to read, children younger than some of my own that have seen those around them tortured and massacred. Shocking is a completely understated word to use when you read things like this: 

“Dead bodies along with injured people were scattered all over the ground. I found body parts all over each other. Dogs were eating the dead bodies for two days after the massacre.” Hassan, 14 

“This six year old boy was tortured more than anyone else in that room. He only survived for three days and then he simply died.” Wael, 16

“They hung me from the ceiling by my wrists, with my feet off the ground. Then I was beaten.” Khalid, 15

 “There was nothing that they did not use to hurt us.” Nur, 9                                                                                               
Now tell me this is not important.  Tell me that is right in any form of the word.  Tell me I shouldn't want to speak about such things - I would rather I didn't have to think about or speak about these atrocities but these things and many things like them ARE HAPPENING.  You can stop reading now but I would rather you didn't. I would love you to get involved.

Here's how:

Find out more about the campaign here: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/syria

Sign the petition here: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/syriaact

Link to donate: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/syriagive

Watch the Save The Children video 'Stop The Crimes Against Syrias Children' here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsjL3PLHQi8

Tell the world, get involved, write about it, ACT ON IT. We all have a voice so lets use it.

Nawara, five, peers out from her tent in Za'atari Refugee Camp, Jordan

Monday, 24 September 2012

Dear Diary..... The Vampire Diaries first series on DVD

I missed out on watching The Vampire Diaries when it first aired on television and loving all things supernatural and horror like I was a little sad I missed out.

Warner Brothers have come to the rescue and sent the first Vampire Diaries series for me to catch up on and I have to say I am loving it!  Having watched the Twilight films I promised myself I wouldn't compare the two but as the story lines are quite similar - small town American girl (Elena) and a story in her past meets an easy on the eye new guy in town (Stefan) who, with brooding good looks, intrigues her and gives her new focus following the death of her parents in car crash the previous year.

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Apart from some shared special effects that is where the Twilight versus Vampire Diaries similarities ends.  The Vampire Diaries has in my opinion more longevity, each episode sees a little more of the story line unravel and it has definitely got that 'can't wait for the next episode' factor to it.  In my opinion it is a more grown up and darker version than anything Twilight offers.

Just from watching the pilot episode I was hooked.  It sets the scene for the series and introduces the characters brilliantly.  From the title you can guess there is a diary element to the show but the way that this is incorporated into the show to allow you to get to 'know' the characters and to add parts that are crucial to the ongoing story line is very clever.

If you love the vampire and supernatural genre but want something more intense than the Twilight films then The Vampire Diaries is for you.  Full of bloody violence ( well vampires and blood just go together after all!) and scenes that definitely require the suggested viewers age rating age of 15 but intermingles with a girl meets boy (and then a brother shows up... enough about that though, you will have to check out the series for yourself) Highschool set series.

With a new series due out in October I am thoroughly enjoying discovering the first series on the 5 disc, 22 episode DVD that is out to buy now.  I need to find and watch the further 3 series as the show is now into series 4 but I am sure judging on the first episodes I will be doing just that.
Review disclosure

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 22 September 2012

James Rizzy 1000 piece puzzle - Ravensburger Puzzle Club review

After last months fantastic Disney Pixar Montage puzzle we were really happy to receive yet another of 'our kind' of puzzle in the James Rizzy 1000 piece jigsaw.

We love puzzles that depict a montage or mixture of images in the one jigsaw and were not disappointed in this months selection.  The James Rizzy puzzle is a characterful picture showing drawn people collated together to celebrate Times Square.

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Using our Ravensburger Puzzle Store we started by finding all the edge pieces and making the outline of the puzzle first.  This was actually quite easy considering the amount happening in the picture.

Next came the job of adding to the edges to increase the puzzle picture piece by piece.  Here is a montage of our our puzzle went....

James Rizzy, 1000 piece puzzle, Ravensburger, jigsaw, puzzle, Ravensburger puzzle club, review

I love the hand drawn effect of the picture and how each person has a totally different character to the next and there are so many events and imagery in the puzzle as a whole which really draws in the eye in.  The hardest part of the puzzle for us was the multi-coloured buildings that run down the centre of the puzzle as the bright colours and similar coloured individual buildings meant you had to really concentrate.

When the puzzle was nearly finished and we were down to the last few pieces I have to say we were a little sad as the jigsaw was quite a challenge and had kept us busy for quite a few nights.  I love the way a puzzle brings the family together in order to make a singular creation.

For the first time in all the Ravensburger puzzles we have created one of the puzzle pieces came apart, not totally, but the image lifted from the cardboard backing.  This was easily remedied with a small dab of glue but I wanted to draw attention to this in order to provide my honest opinion in using the puzzle.  This had not happened before so I do not think it is necessarily a fault and could easily have been caused by over eager puzzle makers!

A fun but challenging 1000 piece puzzle that will have you coming back for more each time you put it away for the evening.  We are already looking forward to what Ravensburger have in store for us in the Puzzle Club next month....

Review disclosure

Saturday is #Satcap day don't you know?!

My daughter was recently invited along to the Heroes Tour which was attended by many of the swimming, water polo, diving Olympic athletes and Para-athletes.

As you can imagine I took loads of photos of people like Michael Jamieson (blog post to follow) but this photo of the silver medal winning swimmer is just crying out for a caption don't you think? Strangely I don't remember swimming 'trunks' that small in the Olympics!!!

Michael Jamieson, Swimmer, Olympic swimmer, silver medal, Heroes Tour,

Add your caption and make me smile and better still pop over and join that Red Haired Raven of Blogging - Annie and join in with your own ...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Feel like joining in with a photo for Wordless Wednesday? Great join here...

Yes they make noises, cry and move to!

Its not often I rant on the blog  - ok now and then but I tend to save that for the hour long phonecalls to my long suffering friends but this has kind of got me upset.

The other day I took Pre-teen for a orthodontic appointment.  With having a nearly 2 year old and a husband that works and no family to leave him with, Little Man obviously came with us.  Upon arriving at the appointment I was greeted  with a set of steps up to the building - bit difficult with a pram but not impossible.  I steered the pram up after taking Little Man out as they were quite steep.  This meant that he was out of his pram and anyone that has or remembers toddlers will know that means he IS NOT going back in without a lot of noise and fussing.

I signed in to reception and asked if there were stairs to the dentists rooms and this was confirmed and that I could leave my pram in the waiting room.  Little Man by this time was in his element and discovering the sofas in the waiting room and having a great time sitting in the 'big boy' chairs.  He was babbling away and perhaps a little noisy but nothing I would call out of the ordinary for a child his age.

When it was time for our appointment Pre-teen, Little Man and myself climbed the stairs to the dentists and was immediately met with a comment of something like so you are whos making all the noise?  I apologised as I tried to keep a toddler on my hips in a room full of things he would like to discover and without the benefit of my pram that was having to stay in the waiting room.  Being a toddler he was struggling to get down and wanted anything other than to be held - understandable I think really.  Having spent over an hour in the car to the appointment venue, then a trip in the pram as there was no near by parking to then have to wait in the waiting room and then be quiet and still in the room was, I thought, asking a little much of such a small child.  This was the dentist I was referred to so presumably the closest and I had been told the whole session would be done in 30 minutes.

Little Man continued the noise and struggling to get down for a few more minutes before the dentist turned to me and said something like this consultation is almost impossible like this. Can you take him out and come back in 10 minutes? I was stunned!  He was abrupt and to my mind quite rude rather than feeling sympathy for a smaller sibling accompanying an older sibling to an appointment.

My daughter is old enough to tell the dentist anything he needed to know and I had filled in a questionnaire on my arrival so I took Little Man across to a grassed area opposite for a chance to get down and walk - he was instantly happy and quieter.

I gave him a couple of minutes and then returned to the waiting room for my daughter.  Pre-teen returned we discussed a few things with the dentist who had come to reception and left.  The being asked to leave bit was hard enough but apparently my daughter said that once we had left the room some words like thats better and can you come with your other parent next time? were used - again shocked!!

Toddlers make noise - Fact.
Toddlers want to be independent and not be held for long periods (unless they choose of course!) - Fact. They get bored - Fact.
They at times cry to get what they want - Fact.
Not all parents have someone to leave their children with - Fact
Most child care services do not offer ad hoc care for a child under 2 - Fact

Surely parents cannot be expected to put a toddler in childcare for just a morning for an appointment? I don't know of any where local to me that offers a one off service for a child under 2 for a start and why should I feel the need to use it for such a thing. I understand the dentist had to hear and speak to my daughter but it was the way he said it like Little Man was an nuisance and in the way - he is a toddler!!

I left having decided to ring my normal dentist and ask to be referred to an alternative orthodontist for the next appointment as I felt so upset. I didn't say anything to him as I was seriously ready to explode.  Toddlers are people, they have needs, make noise, get excited, bored and frustrated - Fact.

I don't think I over reacted to the words spoken to me and perhaps in an ideal world I could have and would have left Little Man to play happily at home with a suitable carer whilst we went but this is not and was possible for that appointment.  As a parent with a young child I have to generally take them everywhere I go unless it is a weekend when my husband is home. I am sure is the case for most parents of young pre-school age children not just me. I will not go into the offence that could have been taken about bringing the other parent next time should I have been a single parent!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Whats in your carpets? Rugdoctor review

I am sure I am not the only one that has cream carpets and children.  They look lovely when new but believe me with 4 children and pets that isn't the case for long!

I recently was loaned a Rugdoctor carpet cleaning machine to give my thoughts on after trying it out in my home and I have to say I was amazed at the results and got first hand proof of whats in my carpets and although I am someone that has a 'no shoes upstairs' policy (when the children remember as they dash upstairs) I was more than a little surprised at the dirt that came out of my carpets.

The Rugdoctor machine can be hired from many outlets including Homebase for either 24 or 48 hours and work by covering the carpet with a solution of carpet cleaning detergent (sold separately) and hot water whilst the machines vibrating brush works the solution into the carpet.  This is then sucked back up via the vacuum suction in the Rugdoctor machine - along with the dirt hidden in your carpets.

Although my carpets looked relatively clean to the naked eye I soon found out that they would look quite a few shades lighter when I had finished!  As with most vacuum cleaners they can only get to so much dirt as much of it becomes embedded deeper down in the carpet fibres.

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Rugdoctor, review, Rugdoctor carpet cleaner, carpet cleaning, dirt, dirt removal, clean home, spring clean, carpets,

The machine was really very simple to use.  Using the Rugdoctor range of cleaning detergents (available from where you hire the machine from) simply remove the plastic dirt collection tub, add the detergent to the machine according to the bottles instructions, top up with hot water  - there is a clear maximum fill level on the machine itself and again instructions on the detergent bottles. Replace the detachable plastic collection tub on the top, secure in place and then turn on the machine. This is explained far better here on the Rugdoctor website.

The cleaning process is just as easy. First vacuum the carpets using your normal hoover then ideally the most effective and easiest way to get the whole floor clean is to remove the furniture from the room. With limited space I had to move the furniture to one side of the room, clean using the Rugdoctor and then return the furniture once dry to then move all the furniture to the now clean side of the room to start the process again on the uncleaned side.  I was a little disappointed in how long the floors took to dry compared to the suggested possible 2 hours on the website on shorter fibred carpets.  Long pile carpets naturally took longer to dry.  I had to leave the windows open to allow them to dry properly and this took overnight in some cases.

The machine is used by pulling backwards slowly whilst holding the spray bar on the handle to spray the mixed detergent solution across the carpet under the machine and as you move backwards this spray is then vacuumed up along with the dirt.

Once I had filled the dirt collection tub once and seen what came out from my carpets I got a little addicted and became like a woman possessed cleaning every inch of my carpets. I have to say I got a great deal of strange satisfaction with each tub load of dirty water I removed from my floors.  It was literally a cleansing experience!

Rugdoctor, review, Rugdoctor carpet cleaner, carpet cleaning, dirt, dirt removal, clean home, spring clean, carpets,
                                                  Rugdoctor, review, Rugdoctor carpet cleaner, carpet cleaning, dirt, dirt removal, clean home, spring clean, carpets,

One thing I would warn you about is that the machine is very heavy once filled with the detergent solution so don't make the mistake I did at first by filling it anywhere other than in the room you want to clean, otherwise it is just too heavy to move.  You can wheel it full but it is just so much easier to add the solution in the uncleaned room even if that means carrying a bucket of solution to the machine.

I ended up cleaning all the carpets upstairs in a weekend which was quite tiring, what with moving the furniture as well, but I was pleased with the results.  Although a few marks remained these were mostly, so I worked out, where the children had dropped sticky tack that they use to put up posters which had then stuck to the carpets and become embedded into the fibres.  Dirt then stuck to the tack leaving a dark splodge. The Rugdoctor did a great job at removing the dirt on the top and softening the tack which then once dried I simply flaked away with my nail or used a course brush on (with care as not to damage the carpet)

With the spilled paint drops, the Rugdoctor lightened these well - a lot of paint these days is water based -but did not remove completely. They are so faded now that I don't think you would notice them unless you knew they were there.

So next time you are thinking of hiring a carpet cleaner or getting in a professional have a look at a Rugdoctor loan machine - you may just be surprised (and embarrassed!) at the results - I was.

Rugdoctor, review, Rugdoctor carpet cleaner, carpet cleaning, dirt, dirt removal, clean home, spring clean, carpets,  results, dirt

This is my experience of using the machine loaned to me by Rugdoctor.  (Results may vary - only use according to the manufacturers recommendations which include testing any areas to be cleaned for colour fastness.  Always read any instructions fully before use and check all manufacturers guidelines.)

Review Disclosure

Friday, 7 September 2012

Bringing the fun of the beach home - TP sandpit review

How lucky are we with the weather right now? Sadly with the school summer holidays over day trips to the beach are far less likely but we have our own beach at home...

TP Toys Wooden Lidded Sandpit is a rather clever design as the wooden lids, when removed, become the backs to the seats on the side of the sandpit.  Not only that but a covered sandpit stops any cats from getting  in (and well you know what cats might think!)  The sandpit itself comes flat packed with full easy to follow instructions and a liner for the base.

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At first I thought a wooden base would have been nice but for drainage purposes as well as to stop the wood inside from eroding if it became filled with water I can understand the choice of a liner instead.

Once we had constructed the sandpit the liner was simply placed in the bottom before adding the play sand (play sand and toys not included).  I would say to make sure you place the liner right up to the edges of the sandpit before putting sand in to avoid any from escaping underneath the sandpit or liner.

The wood was very good quality although my only thought was that one or two of the sawn pieces of wood that make up the construction were cut, it appeared to me, after the wood had been treated.  Although the edges were not particularly rough I thought about how they would weather compared to the treated pieces.

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After construction the sandpit (according to the TP Toys website) measures 100cm x 90 cm and is approx 27 cm in height not including the seat backs.  Sand is not included but I have to say I found play grade sand in my local DIY store for around £3.50 for a 25 Kg bag and I used 2 bags to fill the sandpit to just below the bottom of the seats.

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I love the design and in my opinion 2 children could play in the sand together quite comfortably in this size of sandpit. The seats are a great idea and although they do take some of the actual sand area up Little Man made a place for his cars under the seats and it is also a handy place to store spades and small buckets or sand toys. The recommended user age is 2 - 8 years and a maximum of 40 Kg in weight per seat.

With the prior changeable weather I have been impressed at how the wooden sandpit has weathered this far and with the liner rather than a wooden base the sand has been quite quick to dry out after any rain just by removing the wooden lids and allowing the sun to dry it.  The only thing I have noticed is that the lids can be a little hard to slot in place as seat backs on the one side after changeable weather but as wood expands and contracts according to temperature this is I think to be expected.
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Little Man has been in his element, digging and creating, and happily plays for ages in it.

So even if Autumn is on its way I think this sandpit will be used for most of the year - wrapped in warmer clothes when the weather gets colder, children can have their own beach available whenever they want it!

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Review disclosure