What to watch on TV (and Netflix)

Lately, I have found myself spending more time away from my laptop and watching TV. I think my mind is so drained by the end of the day that I need to just vegetate and watch TV rather than try to do any blog work. With the recent end of winter programmes/ start of summer programme period I have found myself trying to find some new things to watch and so I thought I would share with you some of the programmes I have been watching…

LOVE ISLAND

If you haven’t heard of Love Island you must have been under a rock for the past few weeks! It seems to be taking over the majority of the reality TV loving population – even passing out Big Brother this year by the looks of it. It is pretty much exactly what you think… an island full of people looking for love (just so they can win £50k!). It’s on every night on ITV2 at 9pm.



PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

This programme has taken 7 years of my life. If the final episode this week doesn’t make my jaw hit the floor I will be disgusted! PLL is on it’s seventh and final season at the moment (all seasons are on Netflix). It begins with 4 girls whose best friend has died. They begin to recieve weird text messages with information only she could know…….

Another one loved by the masses. OITNB is based in Litchfield women’s prison and follows the goings on inside. I have just started to watch season 5, the newest one and I am hoping it lives up to the last one.

RUPAULS DRAG RACE

YAAAAASSSSSS Queen! I only began to watch drag race when Finn was born! Fast forward couple of months and I was totally up to date. There are 9 seasons in total now (and 2 all star seasons which are possibly even better!) – some of which are available on Netflix. It is a competition where drag queens compete to become America’s next drag superstar. And win $100,000! It is so funny and some of the make up skills are jaw dropping!

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES

An oldie but a goodie – I remember watching this when it was on television years ago and loving it! To me it’s like FRIENDS, one of those programmes that stays with you probably for the rest of your life (does that sound kinda sad? haha). I decided to rewatch it and already there are so many parts I had forgotten about!

THE CLIENT LIST

Ok, so this is kind of a love-hate currently. I really enjoyed the client list. It is an easy to watch, light programme. It had enough drama and suspense to keep you hooked but wasn’t too hard to follow or anything. HOWEVER, there are only 2 bloody seasons and it ends on a massive cliffhanger!!!!!!! Can you tell I’m still upset about it?




Let me know what you’ve been watching in the comments below because as you can see a lot of my shows are coming to an end soon.

 

Makeitwithwords – Perfect ‘Instagram’ Gifts | Review

I am one of those people who loves to buy someone ‘the perfect gift’. At times like Christmas, I prefer giving presents than receiving them (I still love getting presents too – don’t get me wrong!) and can spend lots of time and money on each one. Last week the lovely people from Make It With Words emailed me to ask if I would be interested in some of their products. A quick look at their site and I could immediately tell it was right up my street! Their range is right on trend with monochrome, brush prints, baby name frames and so much more.

They also have a Father’s Day range – because I know I definitely find men the hardest to buy for! It has personalised coasters, prints, luggage tags – all useful but thoughtful gifts!

If you’ve been around a while you will know that we have just moved house so instead of picking one of those gifts for Clayton I decided on the ‘home sweet home’ Handbrush Print. It was something that I think he will really like and it fits perfectly with the decor of our living room (something I’m sure he is totally oblivious to). ‘Home’ is such a massive thing to him and I thought that this was the perfect gift when I saw it! It arrived in a beautiful white box frame with the fittings already on (nothing worse than a frame you have to add bits to before you can even hang it). It is a high-quality frame and fitting which you would expect for an extra €30. The print alone costs €29.99

 

Another thing that is obviously massively important to him are the boys so I went with the Children’s Personalised Photo Print (which you can get a caption underneath but I honestly didn’t know what words were ‘perfect’ enough. I chose the only photo of the two boys together smiling. It is such a huge step in our family and a moment we don’t ever want to forget so it is something we will both cherish. This print costs €34.99 with the option again to add a frame for an extra €30.

Overall, I think the quality and range of products is fantastic. There is a gift for everyone on the site and they are personalised and unique. The turnaround time was only a few days so it could be ideal if you’re running out of time too. (And if anyone is wondering what to get me – I have my eye on the Baby ABC block frames *hint hint*)

*DISCOUNT CODE! If you are planning to order something for Father’s Day you can bag yourself 20% off with the code ‘MAKEITFORDAD17’. All orders or Father’s Day must be in by Tuesday 13th of June to guarantee delivery by Sunday.

Life Update | Moving, Autism, Vegan

Life Update – surely every post a blogger writes is a life update of sorts? Anyway, considering I have been pretty absent on here especially in relation to our life and what has been going on I thought the best way to get back would be to catch you up to where we have been and what’s been happening.

So where do I begin?

We moved house.

Originally it wasn’t by our choice but in the end, we actually could have stayed at our old house if we wanted. By pure chance, we found this house and we all love it! I got the decorate it all how I want, and while it is still nowhere near finished I am happy with how it is coming along. It is not far from our old house, which means it’s not far from my parents or Clayton’s work either and the school we plan to send the boys to is really close by.

I originally wondered how Aidan would adjust. Overall he can handle day to day change but his bedroom is somewhere he is most relaxed. It is his personal space away from all the struggles of the world. We brought him up a good number of times before we moved in (we lived with my parents between houses because our bed and sofa deliveries took FOREVER!) and he seemed to really like his new playroom. We also kept his room the same colour as before and all his furniture came too. He took it all in his stride overall and he has settled in brilliantly. Finn sleeps better here than he ever did in his life – thankfully because we were literally running on empty for far too long.

There is a house tour video on our Youtube channel if you want to check that out.

Autism.

Some of you are probably wondering what is going on with Aidan and our autism journey but honestly, that is a post in itself. It is such a LONG and complicated process – so for parents who may be searching the internet looking for as much information as possible (like I did/do), I don’t want to skim over anything. I promise to do an update on where we are with Aidan’s journey and any information I have gained along the way soon.

Going along with that we are nearing our 1 year GFCF anniversary (is that a thing? If not it should be because it is an achievement!). So I also plan to do a post on that and I will include other GFCF blogs and pages I have found with great recipes and success stories. While I know it doesn’t work for everybody I have heard so many great stories that I think if you’re on the fence TRY IT! (Do I sound like those people selling Forever Living? I’m sorry!)

Vegan.

Oh, I have also started eating a plant-based diet (I find when I say vegan people judge me). This means cutting out meat and any animal products. Why? Not because of animals or the environment (sorry real vegans!) but because of my acne. I found that I was always having breakouts in the ‘hormonal’ areas – so my chin and jawline.

I found a video on Youtube and it kind of turned on a lightbulb for me. Everyone knows by now that there are growth hormones in meat and dairy in order to bulk up animals or help produce larger volumes of milk, etc. so it stands to reason that this may be what is causing my own hormones to act up and resulting in breakouts specifically in that area. I didn’t know how I could live without cheese or chocolate but guess what – I really don’t miss them. I know acne can be something lots of people struggle with so I might do a post about my results in case it helps anyone.

 

So, that is really it – our life update. Probably not very exciting considering I have been gone so long but I am always on Instagram and Snapchat (ellen.okeeffe) if you want to see me daily. Not that considering that’s how I update you after 5 months I’m not really selling myself very well!

 

Farmer’s Market Sorting Set | Review

farmers market sorting set

You may have seen on my Instagram that we are now part of the Learning Resources Testing Team! As you can imagine we were delighted to get on board. Over the next few weeks we will be reviewing some of their different toys covering learning areas like numbers, letters, colours and sorting. We will review each product and also give alternative ways we used it.

First up we received the Farmers Market Sorting set. The set consists of 5 baskets and 25 different fruit and vegetables. The aim of the set is to have the child sort the foods by colours and put them into their corresponding baskets.

farmers market sorting set

The first thing I noticed with this set was that the food included is not that plastic flimsy stuff you usually get. It is a rubber type material that is durable and doesn’t dent and lose their shape. (Trust me they have attempted to eat the ‘grapes’ on more than one occasion). The food is also very realistic and it is easy to identify each one. The baskets are a good size and fit all their corresponding foods easily with room for you to add extra bits if you wish.

Aidan liked to sort the foods by colour but he never really got the idea of putting them into the baskets. He also likes to sort them into a fruit pile and a vegetable pile. We use them in different counting games, to learn colours and names of different foods. I can 100% say that the Farmer’s Market Sorting Set has been played with every day since we got it. It was so hard to get any pictures because I literally have to wrestle it from him.

Alternate activities for the Farmer’s Market Sorting Set:

The foods were ideal as props in different songs about foods. This really helped him to link the words to the object. Even if he does still insist that broccoli are ‘trees’.

We used them alongside some coloured numbers. So Aidan would put two foods beside the number 2, three beside number 3, etc. If your child is more advanced you could have them sort by number and colour – four red foods beside number 4.

The set is ideal for pretend play in a kitchen/ shop/ market setting.

…..and apparently washing them in the garden is fun too!

 

Family Snacks with Organix #ad





As you can imagine two kids under three have LOTS of energy. This means that we try to get them out in the air as much as possible so that they sleep lights out at night (or at least we live in hope!) We love farms, beaches and nature walks which we are lucky to have plenty of nearby. We pack a picnic, load up the car and head out. Especially in the nice weather we have been having lately!

As you probably know Aidan is on a gluten and dairy free diet which means that if we don’t pack food for him his choices can be extremely limited or non-existent depending on where we go. And as you can imagine with both boys so young they always want what the other one has – which can be a problem where snacks are concerned. I used to have Organix when Aidan was younger but as he grew and his diet went a bit crazy* all snacks were ignored. Since Finn was coming up for 12 months I began to introduce snacks back and guess what?! Organix not only have a no junk promise but they also have many gluten and dairy free snacks! Now to some people, this might not be a huge deal but in our house it’s massive! It not only gives us a new avenue of snacks for Aidan but it also means that the boys can have the same snacks on our days out. Win-win.

organix snacks

Here are a few of the things we have been packing lately….

  1. Cocoa & Orange Crispies
    Aidan was never a fan of chocolate luckily but he did enjoy dark chocolate from time to time so he did like the crispy bars. Took him a while to come around the texture of them but not too long 😉 They now need to be rationed!
  2. Banana & Date Fruit Bars
    Without a doubt, these were Finn’s favourite. The soft texture is somewhat moldable meaning that he was able to fit it right into his fingers (before ramming it into his face!) He found the empty wrapper off one in my bag yesterday and cried for about 20 minutes because we had none left. 5* from Finn!
    Aidan wasn’t too keen on these possible because of their softness. I am going to pick up the Apple & Date flavour because he is an apple lover.
  3. Gingerbread men
    Unfortunately, Aidan couldn’t have these ones because they contain gluten but fear not Dad was on site to help Finn polish them off. He told my Mam she needs to buy then for her house ”for Finn”. The gingerbread shape was ideal for Finn because not only could he grip them easily it also stopped him from shoving it all in his mouth at once (Which he does – a lot!). I think the size of them is perfect because one or two were plenty for Finn meaning you get 7 or 8 lots of snacks from one pack.
  4. Carrot Stix/ Noughts and Crosses
    I have stashes of these in our house, my parent’s house, my Nans house and basically anywhere the boys may visit. These were the first Organix product I found that was gluten and dairy free and was something both the boys loved, and still do. I think Finn may slightly prefer the carrot stix but Aidan loves them both equally. This is my 5* pick!

organix snacks

It is great to find something you kids enjoy that contains no unnecessary ingredients, is organic and has so many different products to choose from! This is something even more important for Aidan because when you eliminate dairy and gluten many brands substitute with a high sugar content which is not good for children. Overall, I could not be happier to have found a convenient but healthy brand that both my boys can enjoy on our days out.

 

*This post is in collaboration with Organix but all opinions are my own.

St. Patrick’s Day Netflix Picks

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Our day will be spent hopefully going into the parade (or watching the Dublin one on TV – weather determining), a little stroll around town, grab some dinner and home to chill. Since having the boys our nights out are a thing of the past. We much rather relaxing on the sofa and getting sleep while we can. Crazy, I know! Anyway, I thought I would share some of the Irish gems on Netflix at the moment in case your night is as exciting as ours!

The Young Offenders

(We will 100% be watching this tonight! We went to see it in the cinema when it was out and honestly it was hilarious. Seriously – watch it!)
Never ones to think things through, two Irish teens steal bicycles and set off to the coast to find a bale of cocaine from a smugglers capsized ship.  

The Siege of Jadotville

Nominated for seven IFTAs, The Siege of Jadotville tells the true story of Irish Soldiers who were besieged by overwhelming enemy forces while on a UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo.  The heroes led by Commandant Pat Quinlan fought for five days and heroically defended their outpost.   A Netflix Original film, based on the book Siege at Jadotville: The Irish Army’s Forgotten Battle by Declan Power.  Stars Jamie Dornan, Jason O’Mara, Mark Strong and Sam Keeley.  https://youtu.be/9_JHsiQTTmg

Sing Street

In 1980s Dublin, a teen whose family is falling apart transfers to a tough school, where he forms a rock band to fit in and win a girl’s attention.

Standby

A luckless tourist at Dublin airport reconnects with this love of eight years earlier, who is on standby for a flight back to the US

Brooklyn

The life of young Irish immigrant forever changes when she visits 1950s New York.  But when summoned home, she finds herself torn between two worlds.

The Guarantee

On 29 September 2008, the Irish government decides to bail out Ireland’s six largest banks, plunging the nation into financial crisis.

Haywire

A last minute mission in Dublin turns deadly for stunning secret operative Mallory Kane when she realises she has been betrayed.

 

*Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and received a Netflix subscription in return for posting updates and reviews. However, all opinions are my own. I also already had a personal subscription before joining the Stream Team.

Sharing my ‘talking tips’ for Speech Delay

Hey guys!
So as you will have noticed I have been a bit absent on here since around Christmas. This is partially due to me just losing my blogging mojo, having no spare time because my children never slept at the same time and moving house. Mostly though it is because Aidan has really begun to find his voice. Since Christmas, his speech has come on so much!

No lie, Christmas week Aidan had one word. Apple. That one word brought us all so much joy because it gave us hope. It showed us that he could learn words and understand what things were. That being said he still had a very little grasp that objects had names. So he had no idea a cat was called a cat or what a ball was. He couldn’t point one out in a book or any other object for that matter.



In the 3 months since then, he has come on so much! If you follow me on Instagram you will know that he now knows about 30 animals, their sounds, the whole alphabet (to say and by sight), numbers 1-12 (We are aiming for 20), some shapes, foods and is starting to take turns in nursery rhymes. Even in the 4/5 weeks between appointments the speech therapists they were shocked at how much he has come on. Including the improvement of his attention span.

I should probably point out now that around the beginning of January we were 6 months gluten and dairy free. From everything I read online before starting the diet, it takes 6 months from your body to be completely free of gluten. Now it could be completely coincidental that Aidan’s speech burst onto the scene around the same time but it seems to me that this diet has been nothing but beneficial to Aidan. We can tell straight away if Aidan is after having dairy because he takes a massive step backwards. I will do a post more about the diet soon.

Anyway, I have decided to share my all the things I do with Aidan to help his speech. This will include everything we learned at the Hanen ‘More Than Words’ course which is more focused on helping your child’s social skills and teaching them to communicate whichever way suits them -verbally, gestures or using visuals. I will also talk more about Aidan’s diet, things that have worked for us and things that didn’t work for us personally.



I will try and do a blog post and video for each one if I can but some things are had to explain without a visual. My first video about our learning folder can be found on my Youtube channel,. It is a folder that I try to do everyday with Aidan to help him to learn words.

If you have any questions or any videos/blogs you would like me to do then just leave a comment or pop me an email.

Busy B Planner

I’m Ellen and I am a planner addict! Stationary and I have had a long term love affair but I am relatively new to the world of planners. Just before Aidan was born I realised that if I planned to have any sort of order to my life I would need to keep lists and written reminders – thus my planner addiction was born.




BUSY LIFE DIARY

I have had a Busy B planner every year since. Although this years one got savaged my a toddler around May! I love the busy life planners from Busy B. They are a week on two-page diaries but not in the format used by many others. The busy life planner has Monday to Sunday on each page of the two page spread meaning you can use one side for personal and the other for work – or however you choose. I usually put all our personal appointments and to-dos on the left and all my blog and youtube information on the right.
bbjournalpages

There are also side boxes for reminders. I use these for meal plans, shopping lists and blog post ideas.

Every year quarter has a pocket page to keep any important documents as well as a full grid page for reminders or important dates. Other useful pages included are a month at a glance pages at the beginning, notes and contacts at the back. The planner has an elastic strap and a pen holder to keep it all that little bit neater.


FAMILY CALENDER

Every year I vow to get a family calendar but I never do so I am so excited to finally have one for 2017. The Busy B family calendar is perfect for a family – obviously! It has columns for 5 different people with a sixth one for birthdays and holidays. Each month has a pocket to keep relevant documents. The calendar also comes with a sticker sheet with cute stickers for birthdays, days off and several other multi-purpose ones.

bbcalenderpage

Busy B has such a wide range of planners, diaries and stationary that you are bound to find something that will suit your lifestyle perfectly. They are a reasonably priced brand whose products are great quality. To see their full range and prices visit busyb.co.uk

 

*I was sent a Busy B diary and calendar for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Focus Ireland Christmas Campaign

Today I walked through my small City to pick up a few bits for Christmas and I was shocked to see people living in doorways and the hollows of the medieval walls. It is truly heartbreaking to think that people will have to spend Christmas this way – that includes 2,400 children across the country! This year Focus Ireland are running a Christmas Campaign to raise funds to help the 1,100 families that will be homeless this holiday season. No matter how small I am sure any donation will be extremely appreciated. Obviously, this is an expensive time of year but if you can spare some funds here is the link to donate: https://www.focusireland.ie/donate/

 

This is the press release which tells of all the work Focus Ireland does and the people it is hoping to help in the future.

FOCUS IRELAND LAUNCHES CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN TO HIGHLIGHT THE DEEPENING FAMILY HOMELESS CRISIS

 

—   Charity makes urgent appeal for donations as record number of over 1100 families now homeless  ——

 

Sr. Stan launched Focus Ireland’s Christmas appeal today with a hard-hitting campaign that  highlights a record number of  over 2,400 children and nearly 1200 families are  homeless nationwide.  The new campaign makes an urgent appeal to people  to donate to support Focus Ireland’s work challenging homelessness.  The campaign features  TV, radio and outdoor ads and runs over the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. The outdoor ad features a mother and her child alongside the stark line: “Homelessness. We can’t  live like this anymore.”

 

Focus Ireland launched the campaign outside Government Buildings in Dublin with an admobile featuring the charity’s new poster.  Sr. Stan spoke passionately of the terrible impact being homeless has on children – and families – as she said: “Christmas should be one of the happiest times of year for children and their families. However, it breaks my heart to think that up to 2,500 children will be homeless on Christmas day this year.”

 

She added: “I know from meeting families who are homeless that we support it’s the children who feel it the worst. Many times a family who are homeless are often squeezed into one hotel room – 3 or 4 people in one room, nowhere to cook or for children to play. There are also many single people and couples homeless and they all need a place to call home.”

 

Sr. Stan highlighted the vital role Focus Ireland’s lifeline services play in supporting people   as   Focus Ireland reported that its family team services have supported   230 families and just under 450 children   in Dublin to secure a home and escape from the trauma of homelessness in the first 10 months of this year   *   ( * In partnership with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and local authorities) The charity also supports hundreds of families who are still homeless and  living in hotels and b”bs.

 

One mother Gillian who was homeless but has now secured a home with support of Focus Ireland said:”When you have a home you don’t realise how lucky you are…. my daughter was only two weeks old when we became homeless,  I don’t think I’d even be here now if it wasn’t for Focus Ireland,  I wake up every day now and  think ‘I have a home,”

 

Sr. Stan said: “We are working hard to support these families every day and not just at Christmas but we depend on donations at this time of year more than ever to raise vital funds so our services can cope with the rising demand. I am asking people to please give what they can afford to support our urgent Christmas appeal.  Any donation will help us to directly support these families and also help fund our work to prevent other families and single people from becoming homeless in the first place. People can donate at https://www.focusireland.ie/donate/   or 1850 204 205.”

 

 

The charity said this Christmas will be a very challenging time as demand for its services continues to rise following the charity’s busiest year ever last year as it supported over 12,500 people who were homeless or at risk. Focus Ireland stressed that every euro donated counts in the battle against homelessness as 89 cents of every euro received by the charity goes directly to services to support people who are homeless and those at risk.

 

Focus Ireland said its new campaign aims to keep homelessness firmly on the public and political agenda in the countdown to Christmas.  The charity works to support over 12,500 people each year and aims to  provide 600 more homes by 2019 to help tackle the growing homeless crisis. Focus Ireland aims to deliver 150 homes a year over the next four years – to double its current housing stock.

 

Sinead Compton co-director of fundraising Focus Ireland with her two children Arron and Meabh with Sr Stan as they launch the charity's urgent Christmas appeal.
Sinead Compton co-director of fundraising Focus Ireland with her two children Arron and Meabh with Sr Stan as they launch the charity’s urgent Christmas appeal.