Archives for August 2013

Where there’s a will…

We are all going to die one day.

How does this statement make you feel? We all know it to be true, it’s the one things that really does unite us all is the cycle of life… We’re all born and we all die (eventually, hopefully a long long time from now). We spend a lot of time talking about birth. This is especially true recently, with the birth of Prince George of Cambridge (and that’s probably as much as I’m ever going to say about him). However, talking about death is often an uncomfortable conversation. Most people don’t like to think about their mortality.

I have been thinking about mine since Mushroom was born. I had postnatal preeclampsia and every time I felt the signs of eclampsia coming on and rang that little red bell, I prayed. ‘I have to live’ I thought, ‘I need to be here for him.’ I gave a lot of thought in those days to what would happen if I wasn’t here to care for him and swore that I would write a will as soon as possible after his birth to ensure that he is provided for. Then of course, I went home and got better and kept thinking I would ‘do it soon.’ Two and a half years on I still hadn’t done it.

So, when I received an email from Ade at Maximum Inheritance Specialists asking whether I would be interested in his will writing services, I immediately said ‘yes.’ If, God forbid, something were to happen to both Mr B and I, we would want to ensure that Mushroom was cared for by someone we both agree on – someone close to him, who would raise him in a away we are comfortable with. This is so important to prevent confusion and potential disagreements if the worst did happen but it’s something so many couples never discuss. Life insurance to provide financially yes, but guardianship of the children? Even though Mr B and I had discussed this and agreed on who we would want it to be, we hadn’t written anything official down, anywhere. Until now.

The first time I spoke to Ade I, knowing very little about wills beyond how important they are, asked several no doubt silly questions. Ade was very gracious in his responses, and arranged to come to our house, at a time that suited us, for a consultation. He even said that if we were unable to arrange childcare for Mushroom, it wouldn’t be a problem if he was there.

When Ade did come round we had a chat about what we would want to include in our wills – beyond the obvious – leaving any property etc. to Mushroom and the issue of guardianship, Ade also raised some things I had not thought about. What if Mr B were to remarry, for example? Although the subject matter was at times uncomfortable to think about, it is important to consider all possibilities and Ade somehow made it feel like a pleasant chat. The whole consultation was over in less than two hours and Ade promised to send across our wills for checking as soon as he could.

Soon, was much quicker than I expected! The next day, Ade had emailed us our wills, along with a ‘jargon buster’ commentary, which explained everything in language we could both understand. We still had a couple of questions so we fired off an email and Ade responded quickly, clearing up our concerns.

Less than a week later, our wills came through the post (Ade had offered to come round again with them but we said it wasn’t necessary), we signed and returned them to Ade for safekeeping and that was that! Of course, we kept copies for our records and to share with those named within.

So, we now know that Mushroom’s future is protected. While it’s not something that kept me awake at night before, I do feel a slight sense of relief in knowing that it’s all sorted. If it’s something that you’ve been thinking about, I urge you to go ahead and do it. Hopefully we’ll all got plenty more years ahead of us but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

Disclosure: The will writing service was provided for free in exchange for this review. However, the views are my own. I would not recommend Ade if the service was unsatisfactory. I certainly wouldn’t have let him write my will! Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. If you would like a no obligation consultation with Maximum Inheritance Specialists, just fill out this form.

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Silent Sunday





Transportable Toys for your Toddler’s Education

This is a guest post from Galt Toys.

Someone once said a child is like a sponge and never has it been truer. We plead with them to say just one new word, yet as soon as we let something slip that we would rather was never repeated, they are all over it and the word or phrase becomes their favourite.

No matter where you take a toddler, there is something for them to absorb. Even on bus or car journeys, there are things to learn, and you can maximise these opportunities by nabbing some educational toys to take along. Here are some fab ideas for transportable toys and activities to help your toddler learn on-the-go.

Interactive Books

Books are fabulous, but some books have little activities to help them get more involved with the book’s content, such as finger puppets, buttons to press when certain images occur in the story and more. Not only will they teach your child picture-sound recognition or co-ordination (depending on the activity), the story will feed their creative side. Most children’s books do have an educational theme or something to learn from them, so this lesson will hopefully be picked up along the way.

Peter Rabbit finger puppet book

Activities That Mimic What You Are Doing

Taking your tot in the car for a trip out? Why not get them a steering wheel to mount on the dashboard and get them to copy you. Talk them through what they are doing (turning left, turning right, approaching the roundabout etc.) so they can learn new words while doing exactly as you do.

Drawing Equipment

Pens and paper are always a hit (but make sure you take washable drawing paraphernalia if you want your clothes and their clothes and every surface in sight to remain in a respectable state) no matter where you go or what you do. Let them scribble all over, or encourage them to draw using a colour they can see. For example, if they can see a leaf, suggest they use green. If near water, get them colouring in blue. This will help them learn colours while creating artwork that will be stuck to the fridge for years to come.

Mushroom creating his latest masterpiece

Baby Puzzles

One of my favourite activities to take out and about for toddlers are Galt’s baby puzzles. They are simple jigsaws where you have to match one half to the other and there are a number of themes, including transport, farm and jungle. Tasks like this help them to develop co-ordination as well as problem-solving skills. They will also learn the names of different animals or items and where they can be found if you play along and talk to them about what they are doing. These types of puzzles are ideal to take on days out such as picnics or the beach, where your child may want to sit and rest for a little while.

About the Author

This article was written on behalf of Galt Toys. Galt Toys have been manufacturing toys for over 175 years, and know a thing or two about toys…and having fun!


Silent Sunday





Mushroom’s potty about pants (a potty training diary)

When I was thinking about potty training Mushroom, I regularly took ‘how-to’ manuals out from the library, reading as much as possible about how to do it ‘right.’

While I was still busy thinking about it, Mushroom was already ahead of me. Having had him in pull-ups for a while (he simply wouldn’t sit still for nappy changes from about 16 months), it didn’t take him long to figure out how to pull them up and down. The first time he did this we were in a busy family pub with friends! I wasn’t sure at this stage whether he was ready for potty training or just wanted to be naked, so I just asked him if he wanted his nappy changed and carried on as normal.

Only a few weeks later we were playing at home and I told him I was going to the loo. “Mummy wee wee?” He asked. I nodded. He seemed more curious than usual. Suddenly, he ran to the toilet ahead of me, pulled down his pull-ups and lifted himself up onto the loo. He did a wee. At this stage, I probably didn’t need any more signs, really. He’d been using the potty before his bath every evening and he was clearly demonstrating his readiness. Was I ready though? No.

All of the potty training books say different things but the one thing they all have in common is this advice: “The child has to be ready. And so do you.” So I did nothing – said “We’ve got too much on, I need to clear my diary.” It would have taken a few phone calls. Or “I want to be at home with him, not hand potty training over to nursery.” I work part-time! Now, though, I’m ready. I’ve finally caught up with him. So, to all those who are where are was a few weeks back, here’s yet another potty training diary to reassure/terrify (delete as appropriate) you before you get started!

Pre-potty training

In the end, I went purely on instinct with this one. I ignored all the books had to say about not using pull-ups because it’s confusing. He was already using them and going to the toilet when he felt like it so here’s what we did:

  • We talked about potty training. A lot. We read books, we looked at pants and we chose some together
  • We bought some different pull-ups and I explained they are special learning pants while he learns to listen to his body about when he needs the toilet
  • I started asking him if he needed to use the toilet or potty when we were at home. He usually would give it a go. The one time he did a poo in the potty it shocked the life out of him, he wasn’t expecting it. The look on his face was hilarious. I tried not to laugh and congratulated him. In the end he seemed quite pleased with himself
  • We bought some underpants together and talked about how he would be wearing them soon like his friend Strawberry*
  • When he had a dry morning, I told him he was getting so good at using the potty, that he’d be able to try wearing his underpants really soon. This was on a Saturday morning. He was at nursery Mon – Weds and we started with pants on the Thursday.

Potty training proper

Potty with stickers

Mushroom wasn’t bothered about reward charts so we stick stickers on the potty to decorate it, which he loves doing.

Day 1

We talked the night before about how he’d be wearing his new pants in the morning. I explained that it was a special day and we would just stay at home together and he’d have my undivided attention all day.

In the morning, he chose a pair of ‘robot’ pants (from ASDA** – I’ve found the George range to be the best fit for Mushroom) and put them on himself. He had his first accident not long after. This was to be expected. We simply cleaned him up and put new pants on.

By the end of the day, we’d had 16 accidents and and used up all but one pair of pants. Thank God the weather was good! He made it to the potty just once or twice and we were both getting a bit stir crazy.

Day 2

I decided we’d have a playdate (with a close friend. At home!) to ease our boredom a bit. His friend is potty trained so I thought this might help. He did sit on the potty when his friend refused, which was good. But he couldn’t go. About 20 minutes later he had an accident in the hallway. I was so glad to have someone to talk to as it was beginning to get frustrating and of course I was trying not to show it (to Mushroom)! We managed a short walk to the corner shop, which eased things a little. He did make it to the potty about three times, albeit with wet pants but at least he was starting to get the idea.

At the end of the day, we’d had 9 accidents and three proper successes (all in the evening when I was starting to feel like giving up already!).

Day 3

Mushroom put on his pants in the morning and stayed dry all morning. We went to the park (I put him in bambino mio training pants** for this, just to give me more confidence without resorting to pull-ups) and he went on the potty twice in the park (we have a Tippitoes travel potty**)! Result! He also had three potty successes at home, one of which was totally unprompted. I started to feel much better about the whole thing. After his nap, he stayed dry until 7pm and even did a poo, unprompted, on his potty. We were celebrating when he had his first accident, which was messy enough to bin a pair of pants. Then he did a wee all over the kitchen floor. He seemed distressed so we reassured him. Then he went into the garden and had another accident…. I was busy with the mop and disinfectant all evening! He needed a lot of reassuring after the long day, which I think had given us all a false sense of security.

In total, by the end of the day, we’d had just 3 big accidents and had to throw out one pair of soiled pants. Still, a good day I think and certainly an improvement on day 2. He was definitely starting to get it.

Day 4 

This was an interesting one. We kind of backtracked a bit. He had three accidents in the morning but two of these were on the potty – with his pants on. I don’t know if he forgot to pull them down or just left it too late but at least he tried to make it! The afternoon was better but an exciting ‘Uncle’ (family friend) visited and we had a couple more evening accidents.

At the end of the day, we’d had 6 accidents but he was definitely becoming more aware of when he needed to go and at least trying (most of the time)!

Day 5

Nursery day! I was a bit apprehensive about how this would go as Mushroom has only just started to open up since he moved to the toddler room (he takes a while). Last month he wasn’t even speaking to the grown-ups so I hoped he would ask to use the toilet when he needed to. I needn’t have worried. He had a totally dry morning and it’s hard to tell about the afternoon as they did water play in the paddling pool, which I’m sure they were all ‘having accidents’ in.

He only had one accident that evening. Yay!

I think that’s more than enough detail so I won’t list any more here but we are now a couple of weeks in and Mushroom is having on average between one and three accidents a day, which I think it pretty good going. The first day was hard but that was expected. The second day was the most frustrating and I was considering giving up at one point. If you’re here, don’t give up! Day three made it all worthwhile and now I know he understands the concept it’s only a matter of time before we graduate to toilet training proper, with ping pong balls in the bowl to help him perfect his aim!

Whether you’re about to potty train your child, in the middle of it, or it’s a distant memory, I’d love to hear about your successes/horror stories – so do leave a comment below!

*Strawberry is a boy (in case you were wondering). He just likes strawberries.
**The underpants mention, and the travel potty and training pants links are recommendations, this post is not sponsored in any way. Read my PR and disclosure policy for more info.