Adapting a home for disability

When my grandma broke her arm, it changed her life forever.

If the same thing had happened to me I expect my life would’ve been back to normal within a couple of months, but when you break your arm in a place that cannot be plastered, the risks of an operation are too high and you have osteoporosis, that arm is never going to heal. Not properly.

That was a catalyst for huge changes in both her life and mine, and my grandma’s house had to undergo several adaptations in order to accommodate her new needs. Her broken arm, coupled with her already poor health and deteriorating mobility, meant we needed a whole new normal.

I gave up my job and became my grandma’s carer, and together we learned how to get along in our new roles. I have worked in care for many years and I’ve seen all sorts of gadgets and aids, so my family set to work and made sure my grandma’s quality of life was as good as it could be.

Her main bathroom is downstairs so we had a shower cubicle fitted in the smaller upstairs bathroom, giving her the independence to manage her own personal care, since getting in and out of a bath was now impossible.

We had a stairlift fitted so that she could continue to sleep upstairs. Until then, we were managing with a bed downstairs but that isn’t ideal at all. With her arthritic knees deteriorating week by week, this was an absolute godsend, and although stairlifts aren’t cheap there are companies like Ideal Stairlifts that will provide second hand and affordable stairlifts, which is what we plumped for in the end.

We had grab rails fitted to make getting in and out of the house easier – it really is the little things that make a big difference sometimes and this means that although she still can’t go out independently, she can at least enjoy the garden.

There are also smaller aids that make a big difference. Things like a cradle for the kettle, weighted utensils and home alarms all contribute to peace of mind for families and service users alike.

I know first hand that it isn’t an easy transition to make from being totally independent to being cared for, nor is it easy to be the carer of someone who hasn’t ever needed to reply on help. If you need help or advice in this respect, call your local authority who will be able to advise you. You can also find out more about the help that is available to carers and those they care for at  the Age UK website.

Preparing for my friend’s funeral

As many of you already know, my friend of over twenty years passed away last week. Ashlee has been in my life to varying degrees since before I was a teenager and over the last five years I’ve seen her fight harder than I thought any person ever could, firstly against breast cancer and then against subsequent secondary cancers. She lost her fight aged just 32 and left a husband and young daughter. It’s truly tragic.

Next week, I have been tasked with reading at Ashlee’s funeral. I’ll  be reading a poem written by Ashlee, from her daughter’s perspective. I imagine it’ll be one of the most emotionally challenging things I ever have to do, but I’ll do it. I’ll do it for Ash. I won’t share the poem with you now though, as it’s a personal piece of writing that really isn’t mine to share.

It’ll be difficult, but I want to do a good job of it. Ashlee was very well known – it was as though she knew everyone – and there are many, many people who would be honoured to be reading at her service. I’m truly lucky to be one of the few who have been asked.

I think the only way I’ll be able to get through it without choking up will be to desensitise myself from the meaning of the words and just to read them as though they are simple words on a page with no emotional attachment. I have a week to get it right, so I’ll just keep going over it.

Another thing I need to prepare is my outfit. Funeral outfits are usually pretty easy, but Ashlee was the life and soul of the party and really did bring sunshine to everyone’s day, just by being in it. She has requested that funeral attendees wear bright colours, but that her closest friends – who she refers to as her angels – wear white. Ashlee would love people to really make an effort for the service; hair, nails, new frock – she loved a bit (a lot) of bling! So goodness knows what I’m going to wear.

If you’d like to send good wishes, positive vibes, prayers or whatever your version of those are, I’d be grateful if you’d keep Ashlee’s family and friends in your thoughts in the coming days. My reading is going to be a breeze compared to what they’ve been though and continue to go through.

For now though, it’s back to practising my reading.


Photo courtesy of Niki Mills photography


Get help to quit smoking

If you’re a parent and you smoke, you’ve probably thought about quitting smoking. After all, you probably don’t want your children growing up around cigarettes. What’s more, you almost certainly want to kick the habit so that you can be around for your kids as long as possible. Sadly, stubbing out a smoking habit is a lot easier said than done. It is, however, worth the effort.

The biggest problem with smoking is, of course, its affect on a person’s lifespan. You’re probably already aware that cigarettes and cigars contain carcinogenic chemicals that can cause cancers to develop in the smoker’s body and that these cancers can significantly shorten their life expectancy. Smoking is also linked with a number of other deadly or debilitating illnesses and effects, including heart disease, strokes and vascular dementia (which is the impairment of brain function due to problems with blood circulation to the brain).

With so many potentially fatal or crippling consequences, it’s only natural that you should want to throw out your cigarettes. The worst aspect of these negative effects, however, is that they may directly affect your children. Because second-hand cigarette smoke can be breathed in by those around you – including your kids – it’s not just your own health that a smoking habit can damage. Even more problematically, children who grow up around cigarettes are more likely to become smokers themselves in later life.

Luckily, there are many ways you can kick the habit. For some people, simply binning their cigarettes and going cold turkey is an effective method. If you need a little more help freeing yourself of the habit, there are plenty of methods that you may not be aware of.

One quitting strategy that modern smokers can take advantage of is switching to e-cigarettes. Vapouriz E-cigarettes allow you to control the amount of nicotine released each time you inhale, allowing you to gradually phase out the addictive chemical and reduce your dependence on it until you can do without it altogether. In the meantime, e-cigarettes are a little less harmfulthan traditional smoking and also reduce the problem of second-hand smoke because they don’t need to be lit.

You could also use nicotine patches in a similar fashion, though it is harder to control the exact dose of nicotine you receive through these. Alternatively, you could consider hypnotherapy, which can be used to plant subliminal edicts against smoking into your subconscious, either cutting you off from the desire to smoke or (more usually) giving you a better chance of fighting it. Hypnotherapy isn’t universally successful, but it can be a useful tool for some people.

Whatever method you choose, you owe it to yourself and to your children to try to kick the habit. Don’t be smoker; be a quitter!

Mini Creations: Rowan’s plate

Rowan was quiet.

He had the majority of the craft box contents scattered around the lounge and was quite happily singing away to himself as he worked on what I imagine he considered to be the next award winning piece of artwork.

After a little while Rowan came to me with his new masterpiece, his little face beaming with pride. How could I tell him off when I noticed that the basis for this artistic wonder was actually one of my side plates!

Not only had he created something he was proud of, he had also been practising his literacy skills. Using some sticky backed foam letters, he’d spelled out our names. Well, sort of. Some of the letters were missing so together we ‘doctored’ some remaining letters to make what we needed.

I’m not entirely sure why my husband is referred to as ‘Dad’ while I’m ‘Karen’ … maybe there weren’t any more ‘M’ letters!

A simple, child-led craft that cost £1 and a side plate now takes pride of place in the kitchen. Rowan is still very proud of his creation and so we are, too! We’re linking up with Mini Creations this week – click the picture below and find craft inspiration.

Rowan's plate

Mini Creations

Something for Me 10/06/15

Each week, I’ve been trying to remember to write down something I did over the last seven days that was just for me. A little treat, not necessarily of great proportions, all of my own. I wanted to make it a weekly feature here on the blog but somehow life gets in the way of writing down the good stuff. I last posted about some cute shoes I treated myself to but that feels like ages ago now. A whole three weeks!

Well this week my sister and her fiancée saved me a  job when they brought me this back from their trip to Miami...


Lucky, aren’t I? It’s 360 by Perry Ellis and I love it.

Perfume is something that I rarely buy. There are some that I really like but I tend to just wear whatever I get bought for Christmas/Mothers Day/Anniversary etc. because I don’t like to spend that amount of money on something for me. I can’t decide if I’m selfless or just tight!

I adore this scent and I’m wearing it every day, though unfortunately that might mean it won’t last all that long. I can buy this online in the UK but not in the beautiful gold bottle I have now. Perhaps Hayley will have to return to the U.S to get me another bottle when it does run out! I’m sure she won’t mind …

What do you do that’s just for you? Is it just making sure you have some time for yourself to wind down at the end of each day? Maybe you run (not likely to ever happen here!) or go to the gym? If you could treat yourself to one little gift right now what would it be?

Maybe you know someone who deserves a little treat? I’ve got a great competition coming up this afternoon to win a hamper from Serenata Flowers. Keep a look out!

Kind Club makes a comeback

Grumpyish Mum

A little while ago here on the blog I ran a series of posts about Kind Club. It was something that I did once a week with the boys consisting of a Wednesday afternoon ‘meeting’ around the kitchen table and a good deed for the week sometime over the following seven days. The boys were interested at first but their enthusiasm began to wear off after a few weeks, as did mine. In the end I didn’t write many of our good deeds up for publishing on the blog.

This week Rowan asked me if I remembered Kind Club and said he missed it. I wasn’t sure whether ‘missed’ was the exact feeling he had about it, so I nodded in agreement and no more was said about it for a few days. Since then he’s asked me twice more if we can do Kind Club again, so we’ve decided we’re going to give it another try.

It won’t be a linky like before, because I don’t know how long it’ll last, but if we do get into the swing of it maybe I will add the option for bloggers to link up their own stories of kindness.

There is so much wrong with this world, what harm can spreading a little bit of happiness do! It’s a great way to teach them how to consider other people in their every day lives and it’s very rewarding to do a good deed so everyone wins.

Our first Kind Club good deed was to make a donation to help those in Nepal after the horrendous earthquakes they suffered recently. Louis and I were watching TV when Philip Schofield appeared on our screens, asking for text donations for the children of Nepal.

Louis asked me if the footage of the devastation was real, and was visibly upset when I confirmed that it was.

Can we send £5, Mummy? I’ve got some money in my wallet.

So of course we did.

Nepal text

We’ll be having our first meeting this evening after school, to decide what our good deed will be for the coming week. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them, just leave a comment below or come over to my Facebook page.

If you’d like to follow our story you can sign up for notifications by email when a new post goes live, or you can watch out for us on twitter. If you’d like to get involved yourself that would be amazing!


My 7 day weight loss meal plan

I’m back to publishing my meal plan this week because I’ve got a wedding to go to in just over four weeks and my dress is too small, so once again I’m trying to lose a few pounds.

I did buy the dress in a size smaller than my usual dress size, and I think that if I manage between 7 and 10 pounds it should fit. I can get it on and fasten it up but it isn’t very flattering just now.


So this week I’ll be following the Slimming World plan (again) and am hoping to have shifted at least half a stone by 10th July, though the actual numbers aren’t really a goal this time, it’s just the dress.

This week then, I’m looking at a menu like this:


Overnight oats: 35g porridge oats topped with a fat free yogurt and frozen berries or fresh fruit. Leave in the fridge overnight and enjoy in the morning. This is really filling which surprised me really because 35g of oats isn’t much at all. I sometimes add sweetener in the morning depending on what fruit I’ve used.


2 Weetabix with semi skimmed milk, topped with banana


Bacon, Sausage, Egg, Mushrooms and beans (fat cut off the bacon and syn-free sausages)


Jacket potatoes with tuna, lemon and pepper

Low fat Super Noodles

Prawn salad

crust free quiche


Fajitas (everyone else at home eats them with the wraps, I wrap mine in Iceberg leaves)

Ham Salad

Chilli con carne

Chicken curry

Salmon stir fry

Sausage, mash and beans

Tuna pasta bake

I’ll also be trying to drink more water and move a little bit more too. Not sure I’ll be using the gym membership I pay for (whoops) but I’ll perhaps walk the dog a little further each day or even walk the kids the 2.5 miles home from school if it’s nice.

Snack-wise it’s be fruit, fruit and more fruit and one little treat in the evening – all counted towards my syn allowance of course!

I’m linking up to Sim’s Weight Loss Wednesday and Hannah’s Blogging to Jogging. With any luck reading the other bloggers goals and achievements will provide a little extra motivation.

Until next week …

Sim's Life

Let’s talk about Mum


I saw this list of questions posted on Facebook and asked my four year old to answer them about me. I’m not sure who he thinks his mother is, especially when it comes to question 10!

The guidelines were ‘Without any prompting, ask your child these questions and write down exactly what they say. Its a great way to find out what they really think.

1. What is something mum always says to you? Go to bed

2. What makes you happy? Going to Diggerland

3. How does mum make you laugh? Doing funny faces

4. What makes mum sad? Being naughty

5. What was mum like as a child? I don’t know

6. How old is mum? 33

7. How tall is mum? Really tall

8. What is mums favourite thing to do? Play with me

9. What does mum do when you’re not around? Play with my brother

10. What is your mum really good at? Running

11. What is mum not really good at? Walking

12. What does your mum do for a job? Go to grandma’s and look after her

13. What is your mums favourite food? Chilli

14. What makes you proud of your mum? Me getting a big trophy

15. What do you and your mum do together? We go to Legoland

16. How are you and your mum the same? Because Jesus made us the same

17. How are you and your mum different? We’ve got different kinds of hair

18. How do you know mum loves you? Because you ask me if I want to go to Jungle Mayhem or Legoland

19. What does mum like most about dad? That he’s always nice to you

20. Where’s mum favourite place to go? To Grandma’s

21. How old was mum when you were born? 30

I was really surprised by some of Rowan’s answers. For a start – I only ever run if it’s absolutely necessary and we’re not particularly religious so the Jesus answer threw me a bit. I’m not sure he understood the question about pride, but I’m pleased he feels I play with him and his brother. The thing that surprised me most though was that he didn’t mention me being on the laptop. I spend a lot of time online and I do sometimes feel guilty, even when it’s work related. This Q&A session has been a worthwhile exercise for me.

If you have kids why not ask them some of these questions? I’d love you to let me know what they say!

Springtime Camping Tips

There’s little to no chance of snow during May, so surely it’s time to break out the tent?

As avid campers, we try to get pitched up as early in the year as possible to get plenty of use out of the camping season. Camping in April and May isn’t for the light hearted though, so here are five tips to keep you snug and warm under canvas in Spring.

spring camping tips 1


If the days are still quite breezy, you might be better off avoiding coastal sites. Stick to camping on sites that are more enclosed, or in forest sites. We’re actually off to one soon in Snowdonia National Park and in the middle of a forest. Perfect setting for early in the season. Hopefully!

spring camping tips 2


The weather is going to be your biggest concern, so make sure you pack the right stuff for getting out and about during the day. We take welly boots on every camping trip regardless of season. Sometimes we don’t need them, but more often than not they come in handy. Hats, gloves and sunglasses at the ready! Inclement weather doesn’t  have to mean an end to outdoor fun as long as you have everything you need. Also, if you remember one thing from this list, remember this: LAYERS. From base layers to merino wool, layers are the key to keeping warm in less-than-perfect conditions.

Spring camping tips 3


If you’re going to camp while everyone else is cosy in their lounge at home, you deserve to enjoy the open space in which you’re pitched! Make the most of the outdoors by geocaching, foraging or simply by playing sports games in the empty camping field!

Spring camping tips 4


Despite all of the other advice I’ve just given you, I’m not completely delusional and know that sometimes, it’s just too miserable outside to unzip that door. Instead, plan ahead. If you’ve got children this is absolutely imperative! I always have ‘busy bags’ for the children to use in the car, and making a couple of these for wet days or evenings is a great idea. For busy bag inspiration, Twinkl is my go-to website for family entertainment that takes up very little space when packing. Just print at home, pop into a folder and you’re ready to go!

spring camping tips 5


If you can, I would definitely recommend paying that little bit extra for electric hook up, or EHU, when camping. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t camp without it now for more than a couple of nights. Cold? Plug in the heater. Too dark? No probs, just stick the lamp on. There are, of course, ways around this with battery operated equipment and ever-improving sleeping bags, but for me EHU is indespensible, particularly with children.

So there you have it.

What would you add to the list? Do you disagree with any of my suggestions?

Tree Fu Tom DVD Giveaway

TFT_Tom Saves the Day DVD
Snuggled up on the sofa, wrapped in blankets and listening to the rain lash down onto the windows, the boys and I love a good telly day from time to time.

One of Rowan’s favourites is Tree Fu Tom. To the uninitiated, Tom is a resident of Treetopolis, where magic is created by movement!

Tom may look like a normal boy but when he puts on his magic belt and performs a series of magical moves (known as Tree Fu) he transforms into a tiny but mighty, magical superhero.

Tom, Twigs and woodland friends have lots of amazing adventures around Treetopolis but when trouble strikes it’s up to him to save the day! With viewers help Tom can make Big World Magic and tackle anything from warbling Warble Weeds to stopping those naughty Mushas make mischief! Tree Fu Go!

The DVD features six action-packed episodes:-

  • Ranger Tom: Super Helper
  • Tom and the Warble Weeds
  • Super Squirmtum
  • Ranger Tom: Fun Guy
  • The Golden Spore
  • Twigs’ Tall Tale.

Now, courtesy of Abbey Media, I have the wonderful opportunity to offer you, my lovely competition loving readers, a copy of Tree Fu Tom’s latest DVD. It hit the shops on 6th April so it’s all new and sparkly, and it would make a great gift! All you need to do is complete the Gleam widget below.

Tree Fu Tom Saves the Day DVD

Good luck!