Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Lushious Treat!

Last week I was delighted to attend my first ever bloggers event courtesy of Lush in Southampton.  Now, rather like Marmite, people always have an opinion on Lush.  They either adore the smell that envelops you as you wander down the high street or they would rather cross the road finding the Lush-ious smells too heady and over powering.

I adore Lush, in fact I could spend the whole day just meditating in those gorgeous smells which remind me of my favourite incenses.  I sadly rarely get to indulge myself in a quiet 30 minute amble around the store getting my fix since adopting the children.  Katie would love the shop but would spend the entire time either harassing me to buy her lots of bath-bombs or would shove things under my nose to smell and Pip would either just scream to get out of his buggy or quite simply take great delight in rearranging the carefully stacked piles of goodies.  The experience with both children would rather negate the relaxation impact that the shop has on me.  Needless to say I was excited to be invited to attend this event and meet other local bloggers and to also be going solo....sans enfants! It's been an incredibly difficult holiday period which I will write about separately.  I will just say that a treat was very much anticipated and appreciated by me.

Upon arrival were greeted warmly by the staff running the event and offered a choice sparkly wine or a selection of sparkly fruit juices.  There was also an array of fruit and delicious cupcakes....I was in Seventh Heaven to see that there were gluten-free carrot cupcakes for me.  Glass of fizzy in hand I had some time to wander around the store, greeting some of the other guests who were mostly beauty and lifestyle bloggers and just taking in the ambiance of the event and wondering what we were going to be doing.

I chatted with Christine, one of the members of staff, and learned a lot about the ethics of Lush and the fact that their products are mostly all vegan.  I also learned about the Lush factory/kitchen based down in Poole and the interesting fact that there is a spa linked to it.  As you can imagine my mind is busy plotting how I can get me to that spa post haste!  I discovered that the team members in charge of concocting the amazing products which include skincare and makeup actually have to take exams.  Once they have passed those exams they can have their sticker on the products that they have been overseeing the production of. 

First off we all did an ice-breaker which involved us pairing up with another blogger and giving each other an arm massage with one of the solid massage bars.  I paired up with the lovely Catherine over at Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder who is a massive Lush fan and who confidently chose the gorgeous smelling Each Peach (and Two's a Pear) massage bar for us to share.  She chose well and we bonded easily sharing our massages and information to nervously feed back to the group afterwards.

Next up we were put into groups to learn all about the Emotional Intelligence make-up range and also how to make face-masks.

The Emotional Intelligence experience is really good fun and based on colour therapy which is a subject very close to my Healer heart.  Colour therapy is based on the concept that colours have a big impact on how you feel and you can also enable and uplift your emotions by the colours you choose to wear.  Lush have created a range of make up colours that link with this concept using makeup.  Sitting comfortably on a chair next to the wheel, dry ice is poured onto the wheel to create a mystical ambiance.  Closing your eyes as the wheel is spun you take several deep breaths and relax.  Once the wheel stops you open your eyes and choose the first three colours that stand out the most to you.  The colours you choose highlight how you are feeling also also colours that would enhance your emotional well being.  I selected Feeling Secure; Strong; and Believe.  Interestingly, very interestingly considering everything that is going on at home at the moment, they all words that I deeply resonated with so there is definitely something in this.  At that moment in time I felt very strong and confident and I believe very much in myself and the journey that I am on.  I rather liked the lip colour that I chose for "Believe" and will be popping back to Lush soon to check that and the gorgeous eye liners out. What is really interesting about the products in this range is that you can wear them as eye or lip liners, the only difference is the brush used in the packaging.

After we had finished our Emotional Intelligence session we excitedly gathered around these inticing ingredients.....

We were going to learn how to make two Lush face-masks:

Catastrophe Cosmetic 

  and Cupcake

It was fascinating and I was riveted.  We sniffed, well we inhaled, and poked at every ingredient as it went into the bowl and discovered that the Cocoa Butter used in Cupcake comes from a peace community in Columbia whose residents choose not to be involved in the conflict and, as a result, are targeted by rebels.  Lush protect the residents and in return they are able to produce this lovely cocoa butter.  Where possible though Lush use local products and environmentally friendly packaging.  Catastrophe Cosmetic contains fresh blueberries as an antioxidant and rose for it's anti-inflammatory properties.  The result is, quite simply, cosmetic alchemy at it's finest.  Heaven Scent you might say!

For me, the event provided some much needed respite and I left with a spring in my step, carrying a bag full of gorgeous goodies including the two face masks we made and a Bubblegum lip scrub that Katie and I are fighting over, feeling the love of the local blogging community, many of whom I will be meeting up with in October.  Before we left though we had a group photograph outside which I share courtesy of Jessica over at Chique Unique Critique (that's me in the back row on the far right).

If you're not already following me on Facebook I have a lovely giveaway courtesy of Lush to give away to one lucky reader.  All you have to do is follow Life with Katie on Facebook and like and share this post.  I'll randomly draw one name out of a hat on 1st September at 5pm.

All that remains is for me to say a big THANK YOU to Lush in Southampton and to Rosie and all the staff for taking such lovely care of us all.  I had a Lushious Time!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A Little Update


Sorry I've been a bit quiet just lately. The holidays have been very full on and quite tough and it's taken most of my time and energy just to keep things ticking over. Lots to blog about properly when I get the time. Things are settling a bit on the bedtime front. TCM and I are doing as much ignoring as is humanly possible and Katie is definitely getting to sleep a little earlier than she was (I think it must have been by 8.30pm tonight which is a holiday record thus far).

We set our butterflies free this week and I can't wait to share all the pictures of our butterfly growing experiment. We all enjoyed it immensely and letting them go was a beautiful moment. We've spent some time with the children's brother, Kip, and hope to see him and his family again this coming week. We've made way too many loom bands. We've met a new addition to the family and spent time with cousins so we've not been idle. It's just been delicate and, at times, plans have needed to be scaled down so as not to over-stimulate Katie too much. 

We're finding it hard living in our rented house. The lack of space is getting to us all. The constant distraction of the house-build is both interesting, emotional and frustrating because we've not had as much family time as I'd wanted. Still it will be worth it when the house is finished.  I can't wait to get home but it will be at least 6 months yet. 

We had a wonderful two day trip this week to meet up with some of our dear adopter friends from our online adoption group. It's always nice for us all to spend time together. Seeing the children just fall back into their friendships always brings a lump to all our throats and the adults just pick up from whatever conversation we were having online the previous day.  Pip had his first train ride and trip to the beach (seeing his delight really made me feel guilty that we've not taken him before). Katie was delighted to spend time with her friends again. So delighted in fact that I barely saw her. It was particularly wonderful to meet a dear friend who came all the way from Scotland to be with us. We've spoken online and on the phone and text but never met before. It was a joy to finally meet and for our children to hang out together. 

How are the holidays treating you all? Better than you hoped or worse? Can you believe there's only two weeks to go until school resumes? This makes me happy and sad in equal measure. Happy because I want some normal routine back for me, as well as the children, but sad because I'd hoped to do more these holidays but Katie's behaviour has made that difficult at times and our ongoing house build has kept TCM away from the family.  Katie is making progress though and we've seen a lot of improvement over the month so far.  We've already got school uniform and shoes sorted so, hopefully, we can enjoy the final bit of freedom. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

Who Needs Sleep?

I'd love to be writing this post saying that there has been a fundamental shift since I last wrote about bedtime but unfortunately I'm not.  That's not to say it's all doom and gloom because there have been some small shifts and we've managed some really nice daytime activities but the upshot is that Katie is still not getting enough sleep.

The start of the summer holidays has been pretty full on and I also wish I could be writing this post saying I'm enjoying the holidays thus far.  I wish I could write that the adjustment from school to being home was seamless and without drama and with lots of smiles and happiness and we're all skipping through the daisies singing "Tra la laaaa".  I wish I could write that I'm missing Katie intensely whilst she attends a week-long daily workshop all about Frozen this week. Just having one crazy bonkers child to manage this week is a blessing I am grabbing with both hands whilst simultaneously congratulating myself for knowing that I needed to book Katie into something for a week for my own sanity and probably hers.  I wish I could write that I felt like I was managing all the stresses of two crazy bonkers children and a house build and living in a very small house, but my nose would be twice the length of Pinocchio's if I did.

 It's all just a bit too full-on and everyone in the house is stressed.  TCM and I are stressed about Katie's behaviour whilst also managing the house move and the house build (yes I know we only have ourselves to blame!).  Poor wee Katie has been full of every emotion it's possible to fit into one small body.  Her behaviour is often aggressive and rude and her feelings seem to change like the wind - one minute fun and happy and then the next angry or very anxious.  Trying to keep up with what she is feeling and why is a full-time job let alone actually trying to help her with her emotions.

Pip in the meantime continues his X-Men morph from a quiet and calm baby into a totally off-the-chart hyper toddler.  He makes my brain hurt just watching his exploration of the world like a speeded up video clip, you know one of those nature programmes when they show 30 days in 30 seconds?  When I say he doesn't stop all day (except for the blessed nap time) I'm really not exaggerating, in fact I'm under-stating by a long way.  He's up and down and round and round and over and under and running everywhere in every direction at full speed.  I certainly can't keep up with him. He's funny with it, most of the time, well except the times that seem to be most of the day when he's melting down into full blown toddler tantrums, rather like Katie. You only have to breathe "Let's go and change your nappy" in his direction to be treated to a face-down drop to the floor with a piercing shriek! Changing his nappy requires a dummy and his blue bear before he'll even allow you to take his nappy off and even then it's questionable. He kicks and screams at the top of his lungs.  I can only imagine what my new neighbours are making of our little family at the moment.

I'm mentally exhausted! And that's just during the day.  Bedtime then looms.  As a friend pointed out we are now starting to anticipate bedtime from the moment we start dinner.  It's there waiting to pounce.  The feeling of dread as the battle commences again.  First the argument over staying up and the usual response that she isn't staying up until she starts to show she can go to bed nicely.  The the refusals to get into the bath or out of the bath and then into her PJs.  Then she is running away refusing the clean her teeth or brush her hair.  She's in our bedroom bouncing on the bed or running around naked.  Story-time is peppered with complaints that she wants to stay up. Then our entire evening is spent on edge listening to her padding up and down and getting in her bed and out of it again; going to the toilet...thump, thump, thump"  We sit there wondering what to do.  Shall we go up? Shall we ignore her?  We generally ignore her unless she comes downstairs or we suspect she's climbing onto the window ledge.  We are getting no down time because, by the time Katie falls asleep, it's generally around 10pm (and sometimes even 11pm) and not far off our bedtime. I'm now going to bed later and later just to get a bit of time before sleeping to wind down a bit.

For the first few days of the summer holidays I thought I would just lose it.  We ended up barely leaving the house because Katie's behaviour was just plain out of control.  TCM and I decided that we just needed to be home and deal with all the fall-outs in the safety of the house. Whilst stressful, this did help.  There was very little external stimulation.  Just me mostly and TCM occasionally and the children.  We made some loom bands and played a few games, erected a tent for Katie to use as her den and ate lots of ice-creams and lollies because it was just so darn hot and this house is like an oven - which really isn't helping the situation at all.  We sat in the tent when there was a blessed rain storm and watched the raindrops falling down the tent walls.  My instinct though was to stay home, to not add any external stimulus.  This helped a lot.  I did a bit of reading up on hyper-arousal and realised that Katie is responding externally and aggressively.  I realised I am also revisiting my own issues with hyper-arousal, but I withdraw.  My way of coping with aggression and violence and arguments is to withdraw.  That was my coping strategy of choice as child growing up in an aggressive household and it appears I'm still holding onto that way of dealing with the stress.  It's not helpful though because emotional withdrawal from Katie will probably only unsettle her more. I'm glad I realised it so I can work on that with my counsellor.

Bit by bit Katie started to unravel and calm down a bit and finally we were ready to go out again and met friends at Marwell which was wonderful but a trip to see The Lion King highlighted to me just how anxious Katie currently is and how difficult she is finding anything out of her normal experience. For two days prior to the theatre visit she worried whether she would like it and I started to get very nervous about taking her, particularly because the ticket prices were extortionate.  We watched clips of the show on You-Tube and talked about the animals.  On the actual day we set off nervously (Katie) and anxiously (Me).  We took it a step at a time.  By the time the lights went down she was doing pretty well and she even coped when the actors appeared literally right next to us in their costumes.  I excitedly talked to her about their costumes and how they were making themselves look like the animals and we guessed which animals they were.  She loved it!  She took it all in her stride so I was able to reflect with her about how worried she was but how much she enjoyed it.  This is an ongoing issue with Katie and one that we revisit constantly yet this overly anxious child was the first one to feed the exotic birds with their meal worms at Marwell showing no signs of fearfulness as she held the wriggly meal worms and threw them to the birds.

Once things settled sufficiently during the day we turned our attention to bedtime. First we tried, unsuccessfully, to a) lay with her and then b) let her play on her Hudl or read with no time restrictions and c) homoeopathic remedies with no positive outcome. Laying with her highlighted how twitchy she is at bedtime.  We were left with the realisation that Katie either couldn't or wouldn't settle herself, yet she was totally able to settle herself only 3 weeks before so we erred on the side of wouldn't due to the changes we have been experiencing.  Katie does have a history of bedtime difficulties when there is any change - even a change in wind direction is a good enough excuse! The bottom line was that Katie wanted to stay up and until she decided she was going to go to sleep there was very little we could do about it.

With this knowledge we then decided to be tough and bring in a big consequence for not staying in her room after stories and lights out (no point telling her to sleep because if she can't/won't then she can't but I wanted her to just stay in her room). No sweets or sugary foods or drinks the next day.  I told Katie I was concerned that she was reacting badly to sugar and we needed to see if that would help her.  After two days of no sweets or ice-cream or ice-lollies or nice drinks she finally went to bed nicely and was asleep by 9.30pm.  Now this is still way too late in my opinion but at  least these were bedtimes without dramas. She managed two more days of staying in her room before it all went pear shaped again.  The night of TCM's birthday was just awful.  Katie was laughing and running around manically like someone had spiked her drink.  Totally off her head!  TCM went upstairs to try and manage the situation because I just needed a time-out at that point before I lost my temper but it got worse and worse.  In the end I went upstairs and just watched it all unfolding and asked the universe to send me the right words to calm it all down. I just didn't know what to do short of picking her up (again) and putting her back in bed. The trouble with that approach is that everyone gets angry.  It solves nothing.  Then all of a sudden I heard myself saying......

"Aaaaaaah Daddy?  I've just realised what all this behaviour is about tonight.  It's your birthday and Katie wants to spoil your birthday again".

It was like the wind had suddenly dropped and the sails fell silent and unmoving.  Katie stopped in her tracks and said "I'll go to bed now". And that was that.  She went to bed.  I tucked her in and she went to sleep.

Talk about hitting the nail on the head!  Food for thought indeed and highlights that our instinct that Katie is making a choice about bedtime is probably right on the money. So the no-sugar penalty is back in force.  TCM had another awful bedtime last night whilst I went to Reiki.  Rome wasn't built in a day - we will keep plugging away at it and also keep naming the emotions and actions that we are seeing to help Katie recognise that we can see and understand what she is feeling and doing in response and hopefully enable her to understand that as well.  We are also working towards using more Non-Violent Responses and I'll be writing more about that soon.

One thing that has been really lovely has been our butterfly project and I will be writing about this over the next week or so..... that has been surprisingly healing for me as well as Katie.  Here's a sneaky peak.....

Just to finish, here is a song that is running around in my head that is rather apt. It's by one of my favourite bands the Barenaked Ladies....

Monday, 4 August 2014

Penguin Racer!

Because of the age gap between Katie and Pip they generally have different needs when it comes to toys.  I am always trying to find ways for them to play together though because I am keen to encourage their bond in shared play.  Katie is all about loom bands and drawing and writing letters at the moment which Pip finds hard to join in with (other than to eat the pens and the loom bands which pushes all my Mummy Health and Safety buttons!).  I was excited to be contacted by to ask if we wanted to review one of the toys on their Baby&Kids section.

Katie and I looked carefully to see if there was a toy or game that both she and Pip could play with and we settled on the Hawkins Bazaar Penguin Race game although we both found it difficult to ignore the lovely range of Jelly Cat toys they have on the site because we both love Jelly Cat!  They were a big distraction for us both.  I might have to sneak back onto the site and order myself one at some point when the children aren't looking!

Handpicked Collection has been set up with a fairly large panel of buyers who look out for great ideas for the home and outdoors as well as the children.  They even have food!  It's worth a look. I will definitely be checking the site out more thoroughly for some forthcoming birthday presents.  The panel include some well known names and have a lot of experience between them all.

Our Penguin Race game arrived within two days of ordering which is pretty speedy in my opinion and we eagerly opened the box to set it up.

It was really easy to set up the three tracks and they are cleverly numbered so, if you are a bit haphazard like us and have a tendency to lose instructions, you can easily put the track back together again minus said instructions.  You do need to provide a battery though.  Luckily we did have a "D" sized battery lurking in my trusty battery box (yes I was a Girl Guide!).

Battery in and we were up and running, much to the delight of both children. The penguins slide down the three slide/tracks and, at the bottom, bounce back up the steps to the top.  

That's pretty much it but it is a toy that both a 6 year old and 21 month old could both enjoy together. Katie and Pip actually did play quite nicely with it together. Pip, it has to be said, is transfixed by it.

I couldn't resist including this video footage of Pip playing with the game.  His delight at the game is contagious.  I will just add that we've not seen hide nor hair of the penguins since I filmed this so I will be going on a penguin hunt later on.  Pip does have a tendency to hide things in interesting places (a sort of toy version of Wherever I Lay My Hat) so I'm sure they will turn up somewhere unexpected.

As usual all the comments are mine and the children's.  We've not been coerced or offered Jellycat toys to persuade us to say nice things about Handpicked Collection.  I will just say a big Thank You to Handpicked Collection though for the game which has been a lovely treat for both children.