Friday, 25 November 2011

Christmas Preparation part one

Ok so now it’s the end of November I start organising Christmas (actually, this is a small lie as I’ve already made the Christmas Cake and Puddings).

As a self confessed gadget geek, I’m afraid most of my planning starts on the computer. I have a folder saved on my external hard drive called Christmas. In here I have a sub folder called music (I have a very cheesy and eclectic range of Christmas music which is played for the whole of December) and the remainder are outlined below.

There is my master Christmas Card spreadsheet. There is a sheet for me & my husband and a further sheet for each child. These are grouped in order (such as family, friends, work friends) with their addresses so I don’t have to look each one up individually. There is also a running total of the number of cards required with tick boxes for when the card has been written.

Next is the Christmas present spreadsheet. Again a sheet for me and then each family member has a separate sheet. It includes for whom, gift idea, gift bought and budget so I know how much money to put aside each month ready for next year. I also keep previous year’s Christmas present lists so I don’t buy the same present for someone each year.

As the boys like to make some of their presents for close family, I have a word document full of ideas I have accumulated off the internet. Also ideal ideas for teachers Christmas presents.

When wrapping presents, I use one of these type tape dispensers. They make wrapping quicker and easier.

In January, I review all these documents and purchase next years Christmas cards, advent calendars and gift wrap ready for next year!

Next week I will be detailing personal preparation required for the party season.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Peer pressure

Ok so this weeks rant blog is about Peer Pressure. I am blessed with two gorgeous children for whom I would happily lay my life down. However, it seems I cannot protect them from the words and statements their ‘peers’ (and I use the term loosely) quote. My eldest is a 10 year old boy and for some reason I thought Peer Pressure wouldn’t be so bad for a boy. Oh was I wrong.

Within his circle of associates (he has an active social life) the usual comments of “those trainers aren’t (add some trendy name)”, “your parents are fat” and “we’ve been to Disney Land” I can usually answer. However, when the chosen subject is similar to “you haven’t got a six-pack” I start to worry. These boys are 10 for goodness sake and they’re already concerned about body image!

Even at the tender age of 4, my youngest son is comparing his scooter to other children’s scooters in his class. Does it have 2, 3 or 4 wheels? Does it rotate 360o or a measly 180o?

I was listening Chris Moyles on BBC Radio 1 last week and he too was talking about peer pressure and how he has always managed to stay on lager whilst others are downing tequila.

If my children are concerned with peer pressure already, how are they going to cope when it involves their health such as drink, drugs and alcohol? I can only hope by constantly striving to set a good example and building their own self-esteem, they will have the courage to ignore the peer pressure.

Thanks for listening to my ‘chuntering’. How do you cope with any peer pressure which affects you or your children? Let me know in the comment box below.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Why a Filofax

My main Filofax is an A5 Finsbury in Raspberry. I would love a lilac coloured, luxury feel A5 Filofax with good interior pockets but have yet to find one.

As a busy working Mum who is also trying to run a business from home, I find a Filofax invaluable for staying organised. As some of you know, I am also a gadget geek. I love the latest, fastest and shiniest smart phones. However, I just cannot see at a glance, other than on paper, where my family’s commitments are for the week. I need either my kitchen calendar (not good when I’m out and about) or a WO2P (Week on 2 pages). I do tend to either be sitting at a desk or near my car so carrying my A5 Filofax is not a problem.

I still love my gadgets and 99% of the time, carry my smartphone with me. I’m currently using a Windows Mobile phone and love the integration of Outlook from my smart-phone to my laptop. How does this affect your Filofax I hear you ask? Thanks to the wonderful contributors at, who have the most amazing knowledge I learnt I could print and punch Outlook pages into my Filofax. This way, I can quickly check on my phone for appointments and update where necessary. The beautify of an A5 Filofax means I can then print my Outlook calendar out onto A5 plain paper and put into my Filofax – bliss. I usually have WO2P printed for a couple of weeks in advance and then a MO2P (Month on 2 pages) for future 12 months.

To take my visual ability a little further, using the labels and categories feature in Outlook, each member of the family has their own colour code so when the calendar is printed, I can see immediately who is where. Organisational nirvana for me!

Birthdays, annual events, holidays are all carried forward automatically (also colour coded). For any changes to my schedule after it has been printed, I use matching coloured coded Frixion pens. Erasable, coloured ink – another blog topic!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Has your family got nits? - That got your attention didn’t it!

Head lice or nits are tiny wing-less insects which cannot fly or jump. Therefore, they can only be spread by direct contact (ie having a cuddle with parents or head-to-head contact whilst at school). It is estimated that 10% of school age children are affected by head lice at any one time.

Old Wives Tales dictate that poor hygiene was part of the cause but this has not been found to be the case.

How will I know if my child has Head Lice? Bites from head lice can cause intense itching and irritation on the scalp, but these symptoms may not appear until at least two months after the lice move in. A rash at the nape of the neck may also develop. I suggest a weekly check and if you're lucky, your child's school will contact you if they have a Head Lice outbreak.

Don't forget to contact your childs school or child care provider if you do find evidence of Head Lice and treat the whole family on a 6 day cycle to break the Head Lice's life cycle.

The best way we have found to check for head lice is by purchasing a nit comb and carefully combing though wet hair. If possible, get your child to tip their head over a piece of card or light coloured paper and starting at the base of the neck work your way forwards. Take small sections of hair and placing the comb close to the base of the hair, comb from root to tip. Now check the comb. If you notice any lice, rinse the comb.

You will know from previous blogs that whilst chemical alternatives are usually available, I try to use natural products wherever possible. Therefore, along with the combing method I also use The Aromatherapy Company’s Nit Protect Kit. It is completely natural and organic and does not contain any harmful chemicals, synthetics, Parabens or SLS. The kit contains an organic shampoo, conditioner, preventive aromatic water spray and nit comb!! Priced at just £14.95 it comes in a handy clear plastic wallet and is really portable. If you would like further details, please contact me by writing your comment below.