Wednesday, 11 September 2019

This is how September Should Be

It's been a while since I've blogged.

I was in a fog and family life, my mental health and the real world kept me away. I would type a post then bin it, positive that nobody would want to read my drivel anyway.

Then yesterday on my memories on Facebook an old post popped up; This Isn't How September Is Supposed To Be and I remembered that as lovely as it is to have people read a blog post, it's ultimately more therapeutic for me and I was inspired to write again.

So we are now a year on from that blog post. A year on from daily tears, daily battles to get into school, and daily battles to stay in school for more than 2 hours and I can quite honestly say in the terms of school it's been a bloody fantastic year.

J has been in his school for one year now. Full time.

The school don't have your typical year groups of Reception, 1, 2, 3 etc although they are loosely based around those ages they also focus on abilities so there are some children in J's class that are a year older and some that are younger.

J initially started in a lower class as they had no educational assessments to base his levels on as he wasn't accessing learning in mainstream.

Part way through the year he changed classes to the next one up. The original teacher couldn't keep up with his thirst to learn.

From a child who hated school my boy had suddenly become one who loved to learn.

He settled into his new class brilliantly, forming some fantastic friendships and developing a fondness for his teacher Amanda - whose name we had many a jestful argument about as J would always pronounce it with an H. On school reports and parents evening she would rave about what a kind, caring young man he is. How settled and focused on learning he is despite his issues.

When I talk to the staff at J's new school about how he was in mainstream  they are always shocked, because it's something they have never witnessed themselves. J in a SILC is completely polar opposite to the J that was in mainstream and that's a great thing not only because my boy is doing so well but because I had to battle my own thoughts regarding sending him to a SILC as for a while I felt like I was writing him off and that hasn't been the case. We've allowed him to flourish. He is in the best possible setting he could be.

Academically in terms of reading, writing etc he's still majorly behind the level his peers are at but he is making such fantastic progress that I'm not worried anymore, I used to think those things would never happen but now I know they will. He has developed my addiction for notebooks and pens and always has one to hand to draw in, or do math, or try to write words.

His drawings are brilliant, he used to struggle with even a simplistic stick man but now they have so much detail and he spends time colouring in too, focussing on not going over the lines. For a child who can never sit still to find something he is so passionate about that his brain bypasses the urge to move and fidget is wonderful. (It's also good for comping as he now loves entering the more creative comps and has even had some fab wins from them!)

I had a wonderful summer holiday with him that I genuinely dreaded him going back to school in the fear that we would have undone all the good progress of the past year but I needn't have worried. The days are long for him due to a change to school transport (thanks Leeds City Council!!!) so he leaves the house at 7:20am and gets home around 4:40pm but so far so good.

He's always eager to go to school and he's always eager to tell me about his day.

He came home with some very exciting news yesterday. He has been put forward for Class Rep on the School Council! How cool is that?

So yes, this is how September should be.

Danielle

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Creating the DREAM bedroom for my little boy.




When I was younger I used to fill art pads with drawings and designs of houses. 

I'd plan out the layouts, the decor, the finishing touches. 

I used to love the IKEA catalogue and would spend several thousands of imaginary pounds on furniture for a house that one day I would create.

 I wish I'd had the opportunity to progress with that dream, maybe take up a career in it. However that wasn't an option for me and so I shall have to make do with decorating my own home. 

As I posted in my wins from March I was lucky enough to win a £150 Homebase voucher so it seemed the perfect opportunity, combined with some other wins I'd been saving to tackle J's bedroom. 

J is 6. I asked him what type of bedroom he wanted and he gave me a very specific brief:
  • To sleep in the sky
  • A ladder bed with a den underneath
  • A LEGO bedroom
  • Somewhere to sit and read 
Firstly we had to tackle what was already in J's bedroom - a very large cumbersome car shaped bed, some wonky furniture that had been abused and a very dark blue focal wall that had some of Stickerscape Space theme stickers on. We dismantled the bed and disposed of the wonky furniture. Carefully peeled away the stickers - which I must say came off really easily despite being on the wall for several years. Then we had a blank canvas.


Due to the different things J wanted from his bedroom we decided to split the room into areas so we had two focal walls and then the remaining walls we kept neutral. We opted for Wilko's paint. The neutral colour we picked was called Grey Whisper and then the focal wall colours we chose Turquoise and Elf. I must say I was a little bit nervous when we first opened the tin of Elf.


For the furniture we used the Homebase voucher and bought two of their cube storage systems with some storage boxes in blue and green to complement the wall colours. The units are perfect for toy storage, books and displaying LEGO. The smaller 3 cube bench is being used as a seating area. 


The mid-sleeper bed was the main focus of my hunt and I ummed and aahed over so many different beds wanting to get the perfect one. I didn't want anything too high in case J fell out and I wanted something sturdy and that I knew would be resilient to J's stimming (he bounces himself to sleep and also bounces in his sleep). We looked at brand new and second hand and then I spotted that the Childrens Bed Shop had an eBay store and were selling brand new beds that had been returned with torn boxes at clearance prices. The only issue being they were collect only from Durham. A £10 winning bid and £15 in diesel for Ant's work van and we had the perfect bed for J. We kept his original mattress and underneath have put an LED strip light kit which J thinks is brilliant. He loves his Steens Memphis mid sleeper and the great thing is when he has had enough of being in a mid sleeper it converts back to a single too. 


Whilst on eBay I also found some amazing MDF creations for his bedroom. Some cloud shelves - perfect for the sky theme wall which I painted with the Grey Whisper paint. Some LEGO shelves which I painted with Wilko Lemon Zest paint and some LEGO Blackboards. 



Once the walls were painted, the bed and storage furniture built it was time to add the finishing touches.

The balloon lights are from IKEA. We placed them alongside his cloud shelves. On those shelves we added his LEGO alarm clocks (competition win), Grimms Rainbow and also a little Cloud light. 

The bedding, fleece blanket and cushion were a competition win. 

Whilst in IKEA we also bought some pop up baskets to store J's soft toys in and a small ladder shelve system to display his minifigures. 

The wall art was from ukposters and some competition wins. 



J is really happy with his bedroom and so am I. 

Danielle 


Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Things That I won in April

Happy 1st of May everybody.

As many of you will know, I'm a comper which means I enter competitions in my spare time to win treats and nice things for my family. April has seen a two week half term, a Bank Holiday and me and my partner redecorating my sons bedroom (more on that to follow in a separate post) so spare time has been limited this past month and so I've had my worst month in terms of number and value for quite a while.

I've still had some lovely wins though...

My first win was £17.50 from Boom25 mainly made up from bonus. This is the first time I've won from them as I tend to go via cashback apps for online purchases usually.

On Instagram I won a bundle of facemasks, footmasks and bath bombs from @Cherryzuk.

I also won a selection of puzzle books from Take a Break on twitter. There were a few competitions inside them which I've made sure to enter too as it's lovely to win a prize on the back of another prize.

Another twitter win is a selection of the Zoella fruity range from Superdrug. I can't wait to receive this as the range looks amazing!

I've won some biscuits from Fox's Biscuits on Facebook.

Whilst most of the World Book Day competitions were effort related I entered a couple of others including one with Go Girl magazine which was a gleam competition. I was lucky enough to win a copy of Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of the Dark for J.

Another book win from a kids mag this time was Ultimate Superstars.

I took part in an online egg hunt competition with Jean Patrique cookwear and won a gorgeous knife set worth £40. They are super sharp and really good quality.

I left buying Easter eggs till the last minute and our local shops had all sold out of the ones that J would like, luckily I won two eggs from a local shopping centre.

A delicious Isle of Arran Cheese hamper arrived from a twitter win that I found by searching for competitions that were ending that day.

I also won a Mary Kay highlighter on twitter where you had to tweet them a picture of an egg they had hidden on their website.

My final win of the month was for J where I received a phone call from Pop tv to tell me he'd won a selection of Superzings.

So there you have it. 12 small wins. All appreciated but hopefully the list next month will be a bit longer.

Have a fantastic May.

Danielle

Monday, 1 April 2019

My March Wins - Pancakes and World Book Day

I didn't post an update of wins for February as I just wasn't well enough and the energy I did have was spent on creative competition entries because March had some of my favourite comping events - Pancake Day and World Book Day. Whilst there weren't many pancake comps this year I'm happy with my efforts. I do still have a list of wins for February though which I may upload at some point but for the time being here is how my March fared. 

My first win of the month was a WTC from Pop Fun a children's channel and was for a Mighty Beanz Play Set. 

J also received a set of Fireman Sam puzzles from a Children's Magazine. 

Then it was Pancake Day and there weren't many competitions about but I entered the few I did find. It's common when there is another popular day nearby for there to be less comps, which in this case was World Book Day. I received some good feedback for my LEGO pancakes though.


The 7th March is my late Mother in Laws birthday. Her ashes are scattered in Studley Deer Park in Ripon which borders Fountains Abbey. I spotted a comp that was for a National Trust Pass to visit and entered on Facebook. It was supposed to have ended and been announced earlier in March but on the 7th I received a message letting me know I had won. It was like a sign my MIL was saying we needed to go visit.


For World Book Day I made J a frog costume and he was the frog from the Oi! books. It was made from leggings and a long sleeve top which I dyed green with Dylon and then I made a head, feet and hands with cardboard and masking tape which I painted green. Then an old cardboard box became a log for the purpose of this photo. I had a tweet from the illustrator saying he loved the costume which made my day! Then I had the following wins: 

  • 2 Leather bound mini journals from Scaramanga
  • Book bundle from Buzzybooks on Facebook
  • £10 Amazon voucher (we used it to buy a David Walliams Worlds Worst Children book) 
  • Weekend box full of craft projects 
  • James and the Giant Peach notebooks 
  • £10 Waterstones Voucher (used to buy the Pinch of Nom cookbook)
  • A bunny teddy from Park Holidays UK
  • A Letterland Phonics Set - which J LOVES!!! 
  • Stories for Boys Who Dare To Be Different book 
  • Superkitty book 
  • £20 Usborne books bundle 
  • Scholastic Book bundle 
  • Very Hungry Caterpillar badge 
  • Sanctuary treat - Sanctuary trio of travel products and a £5 Amazon voucher. 






I won some Clairol root touch up on Instagram.

Then J received another set of Fireman Sam puzzles, exactly the same as the earlier set but from a different magazine! A lot of the magazines offer similar prizes at times and as they are entry form with a few months before end date duplicates do happen..... 

Another Instagram win was some Anti-colic bottles which are being put away for my friend who is expecting. 

I won a £20 Debenhams voucher on twitter from Hyper Recruitment.


J then received another set of jigsaws from a kids magazine - this time Mickey Mouse themed. 

We had another set of duplicate prizes received a week apart from kids mags of  Minions Aquabeads sets. Our duplicate kids prizes get put aside for when J gets invited to birthday parties but we also take a bundle with us to his hospital appointments too as it's nice to put a smile on poorly children's faces. 

Then J received another jigsaw prize (he loves jigsaws!) from a kids mag and these ones were Incredibles 2 themed, 

Another reason I love March is it's Science Week which massively appeals to me. I always joke that March is geek month as you have a day dedicated to books, a day dedicated to Math and a week dedicated to Science too! I found a low-ish entry competition on Facebook and added a picture of J doing some science experiments at home last year and they picked us as a winner of Galt Frightful First Experiments.


I had given up all hope of a Pancake Day win but received a message from Good To Know to let me know I had been chosen as one of their winners. I could choose between a Unicorn pan or a Pug pan to make shaped pancakes so I've opted for the Pug one and look forward to practicing my pancake art before next year! 

I've won a fruit spinner from Fruitbowl on Facebook but they say some winners will receive an extra surprise so we will see if I'm lucky when it arrives.

I then received a text to say I'd won on the Glade weekly competition of 6 months premium Spotify which I am super pleased about as my Amazon Unlimited Music trial has recently run out and J loves asking Alexa to play him music. 

I won 2 Cineworld tickets in an Instagram competition. Which I will be saving till my grandparents are back from Oz so that me and Ant can have a date night. 

I received a tweet from Dead Horse Media to say I had won a copy of the new Spiderman Homecoming film on DVD. We took J to see this at the cinema and he loved it and so it's a great win for him. 

Our last (7th!) kids mag win of the month is a set of Stink Bomz toys for J from Beano. Apparently they don't stink too horrible. Not like the nacho cheese smelling thing he won last month that made me gip. 

My last win of the month was actually won by my friend but she tagged me in it and so we both won. £150 Homebase voucher! Which is brilliantly timed as I really want to redecorate and I need a new fence panel after the wind destroyed one of mine. 

So all in all a great month for J especially with lots of books, puzzles and things to do in the school holidays. 

Have a great April and be lucky x 

Danielle 










Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Jacobisms- Things The Boy Says

I’ve recently posted a few of Jacobs little snippets on social media and a few friends and family had a chuckle so I thought I’d share some of them here.

Me: Did you have a good day at school?
J: It was mediocre
Me: What does mediocre mean? (He’s six!)
J then holds one finger up on each hand: This is good, this is bad. Mediocre isn’t good or bad it’s just kind of in the middle, mediocre.

J’s school rang to say he was ill and needed collecting and bringing home. On the way home my partner rang me on speakerphone.
J: Mama I need some alcohol
Me: Do you mean calpol?
J: Oh yes.

J: Mama can we get chicken for delivery? (Takeaway from sandwich shop)
Me: Not today I’ve got no money I can’t afford it and we’ve got things in for dinner.
J goes off looking for money and comes back with loose change.
J: How much have I got is it enough for chicken?
Me: 97p and that’s not enough. We need paper money.
J sits for a while thinking.
J: Can’t you just print some off. Google paper money find a picture and print it and we will spend that.

A few days later also on the thought of money:
J: Mama we could get some penny moulds on eBay and melt metal and make our own coin money.




Friday, 1 February 2019

What I Won In January 2019

It's oh so quiet, ssshhhh, ssshhh. 

I've found January rather quiet. It's been a mixture of lack of comps I've wanted to enter, lack of motivation to enter, miserable weather, miserable moods and lack of wins, illness and sleep deprivation. I know from social media that a lot of my fellow compers have felt the same way. 

In the same vein some of the comps that are around, but not suitable for my family to enter, have been amazing, such as the Heart Faces For Florida. I've loved seeing fellow compers get creative and win once in a lifetime holidays. Heart have been really generous with the holiday prizes this month and for a comper it's inspiring to see such great efforts be rewarded. 

I've done things a little bit different this month and created a video of prizes as they arrive. Sort of like an unboxing video, but without me in it because I'm still not comfortable with that. Some of them are wins from December and some are things I've won this month. I will still list what I've won as well as the video as not everything has arrived yet. 

What I've Won:
1) Allel Skin Genial Eye Cream - Won from Instagram in a simple like and comment competition

2) Amazon Echo Dot - This was a rather generous promotion run by Aster Sales on Social Media. You had to download a Christmas Tree template and colour it in then add it to social media with a specified hash tag. There were 30 prizes of an Echo Dot and you could have unlimited entries. I coloured a tree and then J coloured a tree and I uploaded both pictures and received a notification to let me know we had won one once the competition was over.

3) Festival Face Glitter Make Up - Another Instagram win which was a like/comment/tag and had multiple winners. It will come in handy for creative seasonal competitions I think.

4) Magic Spell App - Won from the Dyslexia Association on Facebook. They were really low entry and you just had to comment. I've downloaded it on the iPad for J as he struggles a bit with b d p q and n u  so I thought it may help him a little bit.

5) Super Wings Vroom and Zoom bundle - a win from Super Wings on twitter this was from one of their advent competitions.

6) Fingerless Gloves and a Teddy Bear Soap - an Instagram competition to tag and comment. These are actually coming in super useful at the moment! I can wear them and have warm hands and still type or use my phone!

7) Swizzels Sweets Hamper - Instagram win from Swizzels. Another advent win and just a simple comment and tag. It didn't specify what the prize would be but it turned out to be a little wicker hamper filled with their new Choos range and then a few old favourites like Refreshers and Parma Violets.

8) Turtle Swim Pack - won for J from Turtle Pack on Instagram. It's a fab idea. The turtle shell is a swim float and has 3 layers that you can add or remove as your child gets more confident in the water. J has loved wearing the Turtle Shell and Swim Cap around the house (and in the shower!) and can't wait to try it out at swimming. We also got a bag, book and turtle teddy toy.

9) Gravitrax Starter Set - Nigel Clarke is a TV presenter/blogger and runs lots of competitions on his blog and Facebook. He was asking for people to comment what they would like to see on his blog and there was a large bundle of goodies up for grabs. I wasn't lucky enough to win the bundle (my friend Robyn did) but he liked my answer so much that he awarded a runners up spot prize of a Gravitrax Starter Set which is great!

10) Crate Creature - this is our first and only Kids Mag win this month - boohoo! Won from an entry form in a children's magazine.

11) A Crème Egg from the Spot The Crème Egg competition Cadbury's are currently running.

12) A Neos Smart Camera - won from Neos Smart Home on Blue Monday. This is my favourite win of the month. I've got it set up on my window sill in the dining room so that it is overlooking my front door. I can use the app to look and see who is outside of my house and it records sounds/movement it detects on my phone which is pretty cool. As someone who suffers massively with anxiety and doesn't like to open the door to strangers as well as being kept awake at night through a fear of being broken into it's added a little bit of a sense of security and I'm really impressed.

13) Gruffalo bundle - this is a fab little bundle won from Arla Milk. A few comping friends had mentioned this comp and not seeing winners on one of the social media groups I'm on and it was whilst I was commenting on their post that I decided to enter. I didn't receive notification of the win it just arrived in the post. Consisting of a Gruffalo backpack, Gruffalo's Child finger puppets, colouring pencils, personalised notebook and an activity book it's a lovely prize!

14) March of The Penguins DVD - came with no compliments slip or anything so I have no clue where it is from.

15) £20 Amazon Voucher - Won from Cartoon Network after filling in a survey for them.



January wins in total: 15
January wins RRP: £595



January Prize Deliveries:





Have a fantastic February everyone, be lucky. 

Danielle 


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

It's the end of the year as we know it.....

It's the end of the year as we know it..... and I'm feeling great.

Here is a recap of my comping year in 2018.

I won 407 prizes with an accumulative RRP of approx. £17000. I don't have an exact figure at the moment as I'm awaiting several bundle prizes that I'm unsure of the exact contents/value for.

Of those 407 wins the most productive platform for me was Instagram where I had 126 wins - this is even with me taking a couple of months off! Here is a pie chart to show how my wins breakdown across platforms. The 'Other' category refers to apps as I was lucky enough to win on a few apps such as Snapchat and MediaRewards this year and didn't feel those wins would fit in any other category.


My best month wins wise was August which saw me win 45 prizes followed by December with 44 but generally I was winning over 30 prizes a month apart from April, September and October where I was having issues with J and schools. It works out at an average of 1.12 prizes per day.



Value wise my average prize value is £41.77 per prize but this is massively skewed as there are small wins such as my lowest value win of a Chocolate bar valued at £1 to a highest value win of a pair of designer watches worth £1600 followed by the amazing Enid Blyton book win worth over £600!


I did partake in several effort competitions this year although I could have done more but we did well with what I entered. My favourites being Pancake day which saw us with 8 wins and Halloween with 5.

I tried my best with the Heart Family Challenges which frustrated the hell out of me as I had great feedback from everyone except Heart themselves!


At the start of the year as a family we create a Wishlist and out of 25 items we managed to tick off 17 which I'm really pleased with especially as they were things I've wanted to win for years like a PS4!

We have another Wishlist prepared for 2019 to get working on!

My favourite win of 2018 has to be the tickets to Cbeebies Summer Social as J got to meet Andy Day who is one of his idols. It was amazing to see his face light up when he realised it was the real Andy and he could touch him and talk to him about dinosaurs. 


It's because of prizes like that that I comp as it gives me the chance to give my family the treats and experiences they wouldn't normally get. It's allowed me to provide J's old school with a large quantity of books to restock their library. It's allowed me to feel like Santa and take a large sack of puzzles, toys and DVD's with us to our appointment on Christmas Eve for the children who aren't able to spend Christmas at home and it's allowed me to keep my nan stocked up on enough lotions and potions to see her till she's 305.

This is how September Should Be

It's been a while since I've blogged. I was in a fog and family life, my mental health and the real world kept me away. I would ty...