Just Charlie G

Me and Lip Smackers have a long history! Back in the 90’s there was a chain of stores called Bow Bangles here in the UK, it was bought in the mid nighties by Claires Accessories, and thats how it still is today.

When Bow Bangles arrive in Exeter it was a treasure trove the like of which we’d never seen before and my friends and I were particularly addicted to Lip Smacker lip balms. Prior to learning about Lip Smackers, your only flavoured lip balm options were Chapsticks and this was a whole new world of lip balm pleasure and quite possibly the reason I still have more lip balms than I really know what to do with these days!

These are the ones my friends and I were totally into.

Lip-SmackersAt some point in time I forgot all about them but over the last year, having daughters, they have crept back into my consciousness and in fact I bought some as stocking fillers this Christmas.

I was really pleased to be sent a Lip Smacker Coca-Cola Party Pack* to try out.

Lip Smacker Coca Cola Party PackI’ve managed to try them all but theres been a bit of a battle with the Chloe and Lola over ownership. That’s the magic thing about Lip Smacker lip balms, they just appeal to all ages!

My absolute favourite is the Grape Fanta, with Cherry Coca-Cola coming second, but they are all lovely! Chloe likes the classic Coca-Cola flavour and Lola likes Pineapple Fanta. They don’t just taste and smell good, they are very moisturising and protective too.

I’m happy to see the Lip Smacker brand going strong, they will always have great appeal to all ages I think.

This Party Pack is £12 and available from Claires along with lots of other Lip Smackers…. I’ve got my eye on the Disney Frozen ones (Blueberry for Elsa and Coconut for Olaf) but again I think it’ll be a battle with Chloe and Lola!

*Product received free of charge for review purposes

27. 05. 2015

Just sending over a quick post to apologise for the radio silence!

Not only is half term and by the time the kids have gone to bed I’m too tired to blog, but its been super busy with my birthday and Lola’s birthday and party!

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I’ve got a list of things waiting to be reviewed here, some really awesome products, so I can’t wait to get to them, I just need some spare time!!

Back as soon as possible and thanks for sticking around! 🙂

 

When it comes to branding and packaging, I’m an absolute sucker and here’s a new brand who I think are getting it absolutely spot on.

This fantastic little suitcase turned up on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago.

Professor Scrubbingtons Emporium of Clean (1)Those fantastic stickers were dotted all over the case, its very appealing and not just to me, Chloe and Lola were keen to know what was inside too. Fortunately for them the products contained within were from the fabulous Professor Scrubbington’s Emporium of Clean*.

Professor Scrubbingtons Emporium of Clean (2)A small but comprehensive range was contained within, with absolutely gorgeous packaging. The complete range, as shown, includes a Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair and Body Wash, Hand and Face Wash as well as a roll on Deodorant. I really love how some of the products have a little tale on them…

Professor Scrubbingtons Emporium of Clean (3)The entire range, with the exception of the deodorant, is based on foam. The principle being that foams are easy to apply, economical and they don’t slip and slide out of small hands when in the bath tub, they stay there until applied to the body or hair.

To activate the Magically Foaming Formulas, you simply pull down the tip of the “lid” firmly (which can then remain permanently open as it won’t leak) and squeeze the bottle.

Professor Scrubbingtons Emporium of Clean Professor Scrubbingtons Emporium of CleanWe found the mechanics a little hit and miss to start with, but once we got going the products worked well.

Being for young folk dear old Professor Scrubbington opted to keep things as natural as possible, so the products are Paraben and SLS free and the scent is gorgeous and used throughout the range. The scent itself can best be described as fresh and clean, and importantly unisex.

I pondered what to do with the deodorant, with 5 and 8 year olds it wasn’t something I’d thought about giving the kids yet, but as its not an antiperspirant I gave it to Chloe. At age 8 I don’t think using a product under her arms daily is a bad habit to get into at all, she loves the smell and loves using it.

Both of the kids are really enjoying using the products and I’m enjoying having fragrant kids. They’ve always loved bath time but they are loving it even more at the moment, there’s something really fun and novel about using foam for them, but its not just a novelty, its practical too. Washing with foam uses around two thirds less product as a liquid soap, and less water too!!

Professor Scrubbingtons Emporium of CleanIt is worth adding also that Chloe has really quite bad eczema and these products have not aggravated it in anyway. Probably due to the lack of nasties in the formulas. I hear there are plans for Professor Scrubbinton to add new products to his range of concoctions and we are excited to see what they may be!

Prices start at £5 per product, but you can buy the whole range for £20 with free postage on the Scrubbington’s Website which is a great deal and I think I’ll go and order it myself in a moment because we’re definitely going to be needing backups of all these.

 

*Products received free of charge for review purposes

 

 

Hi all,

I’m absolutely delighted to be offering you another giveaway today, this time its one for the animal lovers!

You might remember my post about PetShop.co.uk? Thor was pretty excited to receive a load of goodies from them to review.

P1160771We were so happy with the products and service, Thor and I have teamed up with our favourite online pet shop to offer my readers a chance to win a £30  voucher to spend at Petshop.co.uk. The winner will receive a voucher code by email, with no expiry date so you can take as long as you like to spend them. Their range of products is extensive and I’m absolutely positive you’ll find something for you and your pet, regardless of whether you have a dog or fish!

All you have to do is follow the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below. Please note, when you provide your email address you will be subscribed to the Pet Shop Bowl newsletter. Full Terms and Conditions can be found at the end of this post.

The Deadline for Entering is 31st May 2015 at 12.00am.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of Luck Everyone!

Terms and Conditions:
• Entrants will be signed up to the PetShop.co.uk newsletter.
• Entries close at midnight on the closing date. The winner will be selected at random within Rafflecopter.
• The winner will be contacted by email after the closing date by PetShop.co.uk, if they haven’t heard from you within a week, then another winner will be chosen.
• The voucher code will be sent out by PetShop.co.uk directly to the winner.
• JustCharlieG cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go missing and if any issues occur then the winner should contact PetShop.co.uk directly.

If you’re following our story, you’ll know that Chloe, age 8, is currently on a waiting list for Autistic Spectrum Disorder Assessment. It’s a long old process which I’ve covered in other posts. Her anxiety has really stepped up a gear over the last few months, with panics daily or every other day for a period of time, thankfully that seems to have settled down again but the anxiety attacks always return at some point.

We now have a second referral in place for Chloe, after a meeting with the ASD team, they were extremely concerned about Chloe’s anxiety levels and suggested a referral to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service).  Again, nothing happens quickly and there’s a long wait for this, so I’ve been forced to find other ideas to help us get through these panic attacks.

We’ve long been aware of how important breathing is and as soon as we (either Chloe or me) become aware of what’s coming we start with the deep breathing. A problem for us is that most of Chloe’s panics occur when she’s alone in bed, so by the we are aware there’s a problem Chloe is usually too far into a panic to come back easily.

So I came up with the idea of putting together a little kit of things that can help her to relax before we get to full on panic attack stage. I thought I was being super clever, but it turns out that such kits are already a “thing”, and are known generally as Self Soothing Boxes, because the idea is for the child to use them to calm themselves.

So putting together our kit was quite easy, I had lots of ideas, some of which I’ve not yet done, but will mention at the end of the post. The items I included for Chloe are quite specifically chosen for her, some of her needs (and indeed issues) are very sensory, so I chose sensory products to go inside our box.

So I started by buying a box, something pretty and appealing for an 8 year old girl.

I think this one was £6.99 in W.H. Smith from memory.

Self Soothing Box Kids Anxiety (1)Inside I put two chewy bangles. Chloe gets great satisfaction sometimes from chewing, I mostly like her to have chewy jewellery because if she doesn’t have it, she chews her hair or clothes, these cute little bangles are from Gumigem.

Self Soothing Box Kids Anxiety (3)Next I added a little Taggy. Now, parents with babies may already be familiar with Taggies as they often used for babies. I bought this one from Ebay, Chloe, does love a good skull, and I bought it for two reasons. Firstly the fleecy fabric and ribbons feel nice, and for a sensory person, touch is important, and soothing. Secondly because I also bought a bottle of Lavender Essential Oil. I really believe lavender is a relaxing scent so I had the idea to add some drops to the Taggy, so that it was scented. The Essential Oil does not live in the box permanently, but Chloe is under instruction to let me know whenever the fabric needs topping up with scent.

Self Soothing Box Kids Anxiety (4) Self Soothing Box Kids Anxiety (5)Next I added a Fibre Optic lamp. This little bargain was £3 in B&Q in the sale, but they had themed ones (Hello Kitty, One Direction, Moshi Monsters etc) for £6.99. These are really gorgeous, beautiful colour changing lights, and very tactile (but because it was a cheap product I can’t imagine it’ll last too long).

Self Soothing Box Kids Anxiety (7)

Self Soothing Box Kids Anxiety (9)

 

Next I made up some home-made stress balls. Now I can’t take the credit for the idea but I can’t for the life of me recall where I got the idea from, however, they are so simple to make, basically just stuff some balloons with play doh, that’s it. Mine need a bit more work as they are a bit small and the biro faces are just rubbing straight off, but they work and Chloe gets satisfaction from squeezing them. I have bought stress balls but they never last longer than five minutes!

Self Soothing Box Kids AnxietyThe final item is a bottle of Rescue Remedy. I’m going say straight off that I think Rescue Remedy is a load of nonsense, I don’t believe it does anything. I’m not an 8 year old girl though. I had hoped that there would be a placebo effect when entering a state of high anxiety, so if I told to take some Rescue Remedy to help calm her down, then she would willingly. Again, this item doesn’t  live in the box, but its part of her kit and its where she can see it but can’t reach it, she just has to ask a grown up if she wants a drop.

Self Soothing Box Kids Anxiety

 

That’s everything in Chloe’s box right now but its a work in progress.

Self Soothing Box Kids Anxiety (2)Things still to be added:

I’m sure I’ll get more ideas and keep adding to it. It seems to work well, sometimes she goes and gets it out  herself, and sometimes I have to give her a nudge, and sometimes she’s so far gone its just too late, but I’d recommend it for anyone, even kids who don’t have anxiety. A little box of favourite things to touch and look at can be really calming when a child is a bit over excited!

I’m also expecting delivery, tomorrow hopefully, of a weighted lap pad for Chloe, I don’t really know if weighted items will work for her but I’ve heard a lot of good things about the effect of weighte blankets on children with ASD and sensory issues, so I’m optimistic, but I’ll update on that another time.

I hope this post has been helpful to someone out there anyway.

 

 

 

As a Mum to 5 and 8 year olds, I learned a few things along the way. I’m no expert on parenting, far from it, as you’ll know from previous blog posts I have more than my fair share of stresses, worries, doubts and parenting mistakes, but despite this, there are a couple of things that I learned along the way that I feel can benefit any parent, but in particular new parents, or about-to-be parents.

Giving advice when unasked for is one of my absolute pet hates and this starts the minute the world learns you are pregnant. People have opinions on what you should wear (seriously!), what you do, what you eat, pretty much everything. My first piece of advice is follow official guidelines and take advice from friends and family you trust, and always ask for advice when needed, but those people who just throw unsolicited advice at you willy nilly? Ignore. As a new parent you are plagued with doubts often enough without people throwing more spanners in the works, and sad to say, some of those people will be people close to you.

My second piece of advice is something I’d been told first time round. Listen to your instincts and don’t sweat it. In the first year of Chloe’s life I worried about everything. Obviously on reflection, we now have reasons as to why some of the problems we had were such problems, but worrying about them and trying to fix them made very little difference.

Take weaning for example, from six months old to a year old, Chloe refused all solid food, she either refused everything or threw everything up as soon as it went in her mouth. I spent six months worrying myself to death, repeatedly visiting health visitors (who just kept insisting “you must make her eat”, with no advice on how to actually do that), but thing is, she wasn’t losing weight, she wasn’t suffering and not long after she hit one, she started eating solids. All that worry, all that stress for nothing. When she was good and ready she did it.  As an 8 year old, she doesn’t eat everything but she eats well and she’ll try anything and everything at least once and she LOVES food.

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Obviously, when your baby won’t eat, you must see a professional, you must make sure they are not losing weight, its important, but don’t worry yourself endlessly, like I did.

Another example would be potty training. We tried potty training Chloe at 2 in earnest. It took months but she was starting nursery at 2 and a half, and they needed her to be potty trained, so we had to try.  I read books, I tried everything. There’s a big thing about potty training, in that if you start it, you need to see it through, putting a child back into nappies sends mixed messages, so once you move to underpants, you have to stick with it…it’s all well and good until your child is so petrified of going to the toilet they just won’t go. Resulting in days of constipation, pain and huge amounts of distress. Again I consulted professionals, “oh have you tried reward charts?”… eventually, after a course of laxatives and deciding I wasn’t going to put her through this any more, I put her back in nappies. We tried potty training again when she hit 3. She got it straight away, no upset, no stress, no pain, no medication. Again, huge amounts of stress and worry and upset, for nothing. When my child was ready, she did.

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Honestly there were a lot of things like this, things where I worried myself to death because we weren’t doing what I thought we should be doing (or OTHER people thought we should be doing), but things that all came good in the end.

Let me be clear, when things don’t work out as they should with small kids, it always pays to seek some professional advice (not least to rule out medical issues), but in my opinion, unless your child is suffering, then there’s no point worrying, in most cases, our children will reach targets when they are ready, we are all different after all!

When dear Lola came along, I didn’t really worry about anything, I learned the hard way… there’s no point!

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21. 04. 2015

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I try very hard to not care about ageing, after all, there’s nothing I can do about it. Yes there are fillers and botox and I’m not opposed to the idea of those things at all, but alas, they are far beyond my financial means, so no, there’s not really anything I can do about it. I gave up smoking a few years ago and I look after my skin but I’m fighting a rapidly incoming tide.

My grey hairs are coming thick and fast now, I’ve taken my hair a lighter to try and make them less obvious when my roots come through and it does work, but still, there’s billions of them and they start appearing within a fortnight of having my roots done.

My face though, things are going downhill really fast. I hit 40 last year and since then things have started to deteriorate quickly. Until a year or two, I was always someone that people thought looked younger than I was. It’s not the case any more, fine lines under my eyes are not so fine any more and I’m getting some pigmentation going on there too, it looks like I have dark circles all the time, but its actually little patches of coloured skin which is unfortunate, and then there’s the loss of firmness, everything is starting to sag. My make up routine is having to change also, eyeliner isn’t as easy to apply on crepe-y lids and I’ve started having to wear one of those clear lip liners with bright shades because of colour bleeding. And thread veins. Red veins on my face that shouldn’t be there!

And then there’s my hands. I bought this amazing set of rings from Topshop a couple of months ago, it had some normal sized rings and some midi rings… well when I put them on my hands it became clear that that style of ring looks better on younger hands. I hadn’t even realised my hands had aged, until my midi rings nestled into the wrinkles!

And then there’s the clothes. The clothes I love are all for people much younger and much slimmer than me. And yes, I can do something about my weight and yes I do feel that people should wear whatever they want to wear and whatever they feel comfortable in, and in fact I’d defend anyone’s right to do so, except me. No, no, there are things I definitely should not be wearing.

Oh and there’s the fact that in my head, I still feel 20.  Its a bit hard to look in the mirror sometimes and see a 40 year old face when you feel so young. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying myself to sleep each night, I don’t think about it a huge amount, but I do think about it, and its partly linked to mortality I think, not just vanity, growing old reminds me that I’m going to get older and eventually one day, die. It doesn’t help that kids are notoriously blunt about such things…”Mum, cos you’re getting older you’re going to die one day aren’t you?” was last night’s gem from Lola.

Generally speaking I’m fairly pragmatic about ageing, but I can’t help feeling worried a bit, I don’t like what is happening to me. I think maybe its a midlife crisis, and adjustment period now I’m 40. I can’t imagine I’m going to feel like this forever, but if there’s anyone out there that has had this adjustment period of getting used to their new older self, please tell me how it affected you and how you got over it, if you did!

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It’s a misleading post title I know, as those of you who have been with me a long time will know this Aspergers Assessment journey has been going on for many years already. You could say it started when I repeatedly saw health visitors when Chloe was a baby, because she wouldn’t take a bottle (she never did), she wouldn’t let me brush her teeth (or tooth), or because I couldn’t wean her onto solids (she was over a year old before I got her to start eating), or when potty training caused us so much distress she would spend days crying because of her pain and need to go to the toilet but her fear of going stopped her (going back to nappies and a course of laxatives in the end). Or you could say it started when she was about two and a half and I couldn’t manage her gentle assertions and refusal to do anything I asked, and I attended a one to one parenting course to try and help me parent her better, or you could say it started when she went to school and I she was spending all her lunch times and break times alone and I was being called in daily because she couldn’t abide by simple rules (we moved schools and its all been better since then). Or you could say that the journey started when a Family Support Worker failed to support us and I went to the GP. At this point we were referred for assessment. Some months later we attended an initial assessment with a paediatrician who agreed it was worth proceeding to full assessment. The wait for which is two years in Exeter. You’ll of course know some or more of that from my last post on the subject.

Since I wrote that frustrated and angry blog post, things have changed a little, we now have a Support Worker who I connect with , who isn’t suggesting reward charts and going out more at the weekends, he understands the problems and he has suggestions I like and understand. At that time (back in January) I decided that the two year wait wasn’t good enough, things at home have deteriorated in a variety of ways, Chloe has multiple panic attacks a week now, Lola is still a victim of Chloe’s bullying day in and day out and we have been to the hospital re her teeth and lack of self care in that area, and she has to have seven teeth removed. I started reaching out to anyone I could and eventually struck gold when a Specialist ASD Practitioner suggested I go in for a meeting to discuss  the situation. I have since learned that actually, the assessment process begins from this point, today, so thank god, the two year wait is is no longer the Case for us. I do appreciate that from this point in time things will not move quickly, and that in the scheme of things, we are probably low priority (although living with it day in day out, it doesn’t feel that way) so this is just another step along a very long road.

I am a ball of nerves and anxiety today myself, I don’t know how long I’ll have, I don’t know how much I will have to push, I don’t know what to expect, but at the same time I am relieved, relieved to be at the point where someone that can help us will be sat listening to what I have to say.  There’s fear too, fear that after all this, they may not agree, they may not see what I see, they may not offer a diagnosis, and if that is case… where do we go from there? Does that mean there’s no reason for the issues we have? Does it mean we’re shit parents? I don’t know, I’m trying to not let those worries take over and concentrate on being optimistic, my beautiful Chloe deserves help, she deserves my positive outlook and she deserves to hear her concerns and worries are being addressed.

For other parents who are on this journey, I offer the same advice that has been given to me over the years, you will need to push and fight and keep going to get heard. Don’t stop. It will be hard, it will be exhausting, it will be stressful, but don’t give up. Don’t just settle, keep fighting for your family and for your child. Eventually, you will be heard.

09. 04. 2015

How’s your Easter been? Lovely that the weather has turned s sunny for the second week of the school holidays… alas that means bad times for my migraines, but I learned a long long time ago that moaning about the sunshine causes other people to view you as a killjoy, even if it wrecks your health!

The school holidays have been a bit up and down for us, Chloe has spent half of it being spectacularly horrible to her sister, her sister has been particularly sensitive to everything, crying a lot. Both kids have been suffering with a hint of cold and some nasty coughs, and my ears have been all congested making me dizzy and my migraines have been pretty bad. Poor old Thor had a tooth removed yesterday and he’s feeling pretty upset about the whole thing today.

That aside we’ve had some pretty nice times, and some pretty good chocolate.

There were walks with tree climbing and duck feeding.

IMG_2359 924485_1374770232852556_317820080_n IMG_2357 IMG_2351 IMG_2349IMG_237711093069_481723531978412_1923863933_nThere were alcoholic lollies… just for me of course!

11116629_848629825204893_1500492142_n And new trainers for me that I had to hunt far and wide to find!

11116695_406440479528752_744760286_nThere were rides on carousels at our local theme park, Crealy. Complete with Bunny Ears for Lola, well it was Easter Sunday!

IMG_2369 IMG_2367And time has been spent just chilling in the garden.

P1170121Oh and there have been some glorious sunsets!

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There are still a few days left before the girls return to school, they are out today with Nana at Crealy and I’m sat here blogging, waiting for the trail end of a migraine to disappear, but I’d imagine we’ll just be relaxing, with maybe a trip to the park tomorrow, winding back down before school starts again. I’ve got extensive notes to write up, ready for my appointment with the Specialist Autistic Spectrum Disorder team next week, re Chloe. I’m going to make sure I go armed to the teeth with information to support what I’m saying about there having been issues at home! After this Easter break, I’ve got more to say than ever.

All in all though, it’s not been a bad break, sometimes the school holidays can be unbearable, this one was about 50/50, still, I’ll be glad when life is back to normal and school starts up, it’ll be nice not to hear crying and arguing all day every day for a while!

 

30. 03. 2015

The Easter Holidays have started. I’ve diffused three fights, lost one child’s sandwich to the dog, tripped over a scooter left in front of the front door, repeated myself multiple times for each request made, it’s only lunchtime on day one.

The point being, posts maybe sporadic and please wish me luck, it’s going to be a long two weeks…..

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