Friday, March 14, 2014

Whimsical Parties and Pretty Things

In honour of a true friendship I held a hen party way back in 2013.  I had the perfect theme in mind and, all in all, it turned out to be one of my favourite days of the year: surrounded by friends, cakes, prosecco and fine millinery, who could ask for more?

Mairi Brunning is a super talented milliner and I have had the pleasure of working with her on two commissions - one for Sweetpea's wedding and the other for the wedding of the Good Egg and the ever graceful Lady of Camptoun.  On both occasions Mairi was patient, creative and inspirational as we worked together to create two millinery pieces I simply adore.

I knew that Mairi had previously run a class on making beautiful fascinators so I contacted her directly and we set to work planning the day with Whimsical Hen Parties (her new exciting venture!).  The hens were ready, the afternoon tea set - with the surprise addition of divine macarons by Mademoiselle Macaron - and a table covered in colourful flowers, ribbons and just general gorgeousness awaited us.

Oh! and did I tell you that we were joined by the lovely Carolyn Hendry masquerading as Mairi's assistant?  Carolyn is a very talented lady in her own right too at Carolyn Hendry Photography - anyone need a wedding photographer?

Under Mairi's direction and supervision, and with Carolyn's assistance, the hens busied themselves in silence - with only the occasion sip of prosecco passing their lips - creating works of wearable art.  I think that everyone was stunned by the(ir) sheer natural talent, brilliance and originality of the fascinators created.

So, what did we think of Whimsical Parties?

It's a truly glorious and beautiful resounding hat's off to them!

It proved to be a great way to celebrate a Hen Party - or any celebration really! - with the opportunity to spend time with friends and be creative too; a girl couldn't ask for more!

We would highly recommend Mairi and her brilliant millinery skills.

Disclaimer:  This post was not sponsored nor did I receive any fees for writing this glowing review.  I did however hugely benefit from a fun filled few hours and I really couldn't ask for more.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Paper Rose

A parcel; for me?
It is for me - how wonderful!
I wonder who it is from?

A white rose by bookish
for being such a good friend.

I believe that 
friendship has the power to lift 
you high above the clouds:
just as this gift did today.


Pride and Prejudice Literary Paper Rose by bookish

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Results: it's legal but is it safe?

Remember I asked you a favour in January?  To complete a survey about children riding up front and shotgun in the car?  Something I was interested in asking after stopping for a moment while on the school run and wondering whether it was legal or not.  Through my role as a BRITAX Mumbassador, I asked BRITAX for an answer but I wanted to know if mums and dads are aware of the legalities and recommendations of children riding up front and shotgun.  Well, I have the answers for you today; sorry about the delay!

source: unknown

So, drum role, if you please:

62 people completed the survey - powered by SurveyMonkey - which was a fantastic response!  Thank you.

And here are the results:

Do you allow your child to sit in the front seat next to you?
Yes 58%
No 42%

If so, how often do they sit up front?
Rarely 42%
Occasionally 39%
Always 19%

Do they use a car seat or booster?
Yes 96%
No 4%

Do you know if allowing your child to sit next to you is legal?
Yes 60%
No 5%
Don't know 35%

Are there any safety concerns to consider if your child sits next to you?
Yes 77%
No 3%
Don't know 20%

What safety points need to be considered before allowing your child to "ride shotgun"?
There were 46 written responses:

24 shared the need for the airbags to be off
10 stated that the correct car seat was used
9 said it depended on the age, size and height of the child
5 commented that the car seat should be placed as far back from the dashboard as possible
2 proposed that the children know the "rules" eg not touching anything, no distracting the driver
1 mentioned that the child locks should be on if possible

And some quotes from the responses:

"surely it's just not safe?"

"A child must be 12 years old before being allowed to ride in the front seat. Airbags can kill children."

"Children are distracting! Air bags? Are they too much for children? I do not let my children in the front unless absolutely necessary."

"Proper booster connected to seat belt Have air bags so more protected?"

"That they are in a booster seat? I'm really not sure! Possibly putting the seat back away from the dash board?"

"put seat as far back as possible to limit airbag damage to them"

15 people responded to the final question, 

Do you have any other comments, questions, or concerns regarding this topic?

"This post greatly interested me because I live in the USA and here it has been illegal for children under the age of 12 to ride in the front seat for >10 years now. Airbags can kill children in the event of an accident. I'm really surprised that Scotland doesn't have similar laws or at least recommendations."

"my eldest (4) only travels in the front rarely when we have a friends child in the back and can't fit 3 seats in across the back"

"Do people still do this?"

"My child is 9 and a half, 5ft tall and weighs 48kg! He's a big lad! So occasionally he does sit in the front of the car."


"You should have asked child's age youngest is 8. Rarely let her sit in the front because I have an air bag."

"Does the seatbelt work ok in the front seat with a booster?"

"I regularly see children aged 4-10 with no car seat at all not even a booster.Local councils should enforce child safety and educate parents about legislation."

"Is it legal?"

"Is it legal? I just do it as a treat for my daughter- must get these answers!!"

"My children are 3 and 6 and have never sat up front. Would consider it when they are tall enough not to need a booster."

"Less distracting for me next to me than behind"

"Would never, have never"

"I don't do it because its a lot of effort to move the car seat and make sure it's secure. My son's uncle moves my son to the front when he has him so he can see him better"

"I think children should travel in the back so most of the time mine do!"

In summary this shows that there is confusion regarding the legality and safety of allowing our children to sit in the front of our cars while we are driving.  The advice that airbags should be switched off if you are travelling with a child in the front seat is widely but not exclusively known, with some parents wrongly thinking that the airbags provide extra protection.

There is no clear consensus or legislation here in the UK, not on government pages nor on the road safety channel THINK! other than the advice that  "children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall and deactivate any front airbags before fitting a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat".  Further afield, each state in America has a different opinion from no law at all to recommendation that all children under the age of 16 sit in the rear of the car.  In New Zealand "A child under 15 years old may sit beside the driver only if they are restrained by a child restraint or safety belt (whichever is appropriate for their age and size). However, they are always safer in a back seat than in the front."

So, what does the man from Car Seat Safety Expert from BRITAX have to say?
“Yes, it is legal to carry a child on the front passenger seat in the UK  in a child seat appropriate for its weight and size. In the case of a rear facing child seat, this MUST NOT be done if an active passenger airbag is present. In the case of a forward facing child seat for an older child, you should always refer to the vehicle manual for advice on the position of the front seat and the airbag status.
In general terms, as more accidents tend to happen at the front of the car it is wise to carry children in the rear of the vehicle and away from the most likely impact zones.”

To conclude, on drawing this wee bit of research to a close, I have three "asks":
  • I ask that the powers that be consider the question "Is it safe for a child under the age of 12 to sit in the front of the car or should all under 12s sit in the rear when travelling?"
  • I ask that the Police consider a campaign highlighting the safety issues surrounding us allowing our children to sit upfront.
  • I ask that Car Seat Manufacturers consider including a leaflet on Car Seat Law with each new car seat, explaining what must be done in the event of a child sitting in the front of the car.

For the moment, my advice is this: if you are in any doubt, keep your children in the rear of the car; they are so very precious and are safer there.

I should add that I was not asked by BRITAX to do this research or to write this post.  It is not a sponsored post; it has been fuelled by my genuine interest in the safety of our children.  I am just lucky that I was able to ask the right person at BRITAX the question.

The BRITAX KIDFIX XP: Sitting Comfortably?

We were lucky enough to be able to review the KIDFIX XP as part of my BRITAX Mumbassador role.  Being a BRITAX user - with the EVOLVA 1-2-3 Plus - we were excited to be given this fantastic opportunity.  The seat arrived some weeks ago and Eilidh had been trying it out since.

This is the first ISOFIX system that we have had and I can't believe how easy it is to install in the car with the assurance that it is fitted properly - mind you it wasn't so easy in a little car that we had for a short period while the E-Team van was away being fixed after a high speed ramming by Eilidh and Snappie!.

When given the choice, I had asked for this new model as it had the XP-PAD which reduced the energy forces if involved in a head on, frontal collision - Eilidh has poor truncal control and muscle tone so tends to slump forward when braking suddenly and I thought that this would help maintain her position in the car seat better.  I believe that it does have some benefit for Eilidh in day to day driving but can't comment on this in relation to a head on collision as, very fortunately, we haven't been involved in one.

The seat belt guides are much easier to use than other models we have had with an easily operable shoulder clip, making the instillation process much quicker and less of a fankle overall.

The seat itself is cushioned and Eilidh finds it "comfy" but the shoulder space is relatively narrow; we have had times when she just hasn't been able to sit back comfortably with her shoulders in place.  For long journeys, I'd prefer the model to me just marginally wider; this would also be useful for the winter when coats are thicker and warmer.

Overall we'll give the 

KIDFIX XP 7.5/10,

 losing points only for it's narrow build.

This car seat is not the perfect one for Eilidh - given her special needs she will probably need to move to a more specialised (but SO much more expensive) car seat - but none the less, it's a well engineered and manufactured car seat which is a great addition to the BRITAX range.  

KIDFIX XP Specifications:

Forward facing installation from 15 to 36kg
XP-PAD – Setting a new safety standard for Group 2-3, in the event of a frontal impact it takes 30% of the energy forces away from your child’s neck vs the adult seat belt alone
ISOFIT system allows direct connection to the car’s ISOFIX anchorage points for a simple and safe installation
Intuitively positioned seat belt guides ensure a repeated correct positioning of the adult 3-point seat belt to maximise protection for your child
Deep, softly padded full side wings provide optimum Side Impact Protection for your child along the entire seat
V-shaped backrest ensures a perfect fit throughout your child’s development
Height-adjustable headrest and belt guide allow the seat to grow with your child whilst keeping the adult seat belt in the correct position over your child’s shoulder
Seat secured with ISOFIT system even when not in use – no need to remove or install the seat with belt when not in use with your child
Installation indicators confirm the seat is installed correctly
Retracting ISOFIX arms allow the ISOFIX connectors to be stowed during storage or when used in belted only option
Softly padded washable cover keeps your child comfortable in their seat and can be easily removed for washing

Disclaimer - I have been asked to review this through my role as a BRITAX Mumbassador - a unique and exciting community of parenting bloggers who work closely with BRITAX to review their products, discuss topical parenting issues and to share fun family experiences with!  I have received no fees for this post - but instead benefited from being able to keep the KIDFIX XP for a comfortable driving experience for Eilidh.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Only Human

While writing the last post, this song came on;
it resonates deeply at the moment as I have a tendency to
"fake it 'til I make it".
I have to be more gentle on myself - 
I am only human after all.

"I can hold my breath
I can bite my tongue
I can stay awake for days
If that's what you want
Be your number one

I can fake a smile
I can force a laugh
I can dance and play the part
If that's what you ask
Give you all I am

I can do it
I can do it
I can do it

But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
'Cause I'm only human

I can turn it on
Be a good machine
I can hold the weight of worlds
If that's what you need
Be your everything

I can do it
I can do it
I'll get through it"

Monday, March 03, 2014

Where are You now?

A realisation:
not one single moment
but a slow,
that I cannot

My lips still.
I am silenced.
My mind quiet.
Barriers rise
and I feel

When did this happen?
How could this happen?
Why has it taken until now
for me to feel this

I remember,
not so long ago,
sitting in a church,
and at
There was no
and in the
silence I heard
His words.

And now?
I am blinkered,
deaf and
I try to utter
His name;
I stick on the first
I want to call out
but am

I am sure that
walked beside me
on my journey
to this moment,
but now
lost -
not abandoned but rather
bewildered and
frightened and

I am unable to reach out to
I am unable to pray
for those I love,
for my family and friends.
I am unable to pray for myself.
I am unable to ask for
His help.

Why has my relationship
And without me being
Why have I abandoned Him
when before
He offered
Where has my trust gone?

I have lost my way:
all maps and signposts are
foreign to me.
I could call out,
seek help
but something holds me back.
What am I frightened of?
That He has forgotten me?
That He has deserted me?
I know that He is near...
So what holds me back?
I do...
I am holding myself back 
because if I call,
if I seek Him,
I am sure that I would
before Him,
seeking to be saved and

This is my life, 
with glimpses of 
radiant, joyous light.
It cannot be healed - 
it is what it is! 
I am impotent:
why call when this
life has been
gifted by
How can He help?
What good will He do?

And to this end
I remain silent,
mute and refrained,
until I feel the time is right
to surrender in front of
to admit that life is not 
all that it seems
and that I need His help,
that I need to be saved.


"Oh God, where are you now?
And what you gonna do
About the mess I've made?
If there was ever a soul to save
It must be me, It must be me
Dear God, oh how can I survive?
Will I make this drop this dive?
When it all comes to this
I'm looking down at the abyss
Where you don't exist, you don't exist
But if you hear me if you can see me
I know I can't be that strong
'Cause everything I ever did went wrong
Everything I ever did went wrong
Oh God, now where do I come in?
Gone and broken everything
So I hope you'll understand
If someone needed a helping hand
It must be now, it must be now"

Annie Lennox

This post was scribbled in a notebook some time ago, but it remains - sadly - relevant.  When I heard the Annie Lennox song last week, I knew that it was time to share the post, however difficult it may be to do so.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Am I MAD in 2014?

My family is MAD?

Am I worthy of a MAD?
Perhaps not, but...

Is SMA worthy of a MAD?

I think so,
but then I am biased!

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disorder that affects nerve cells so that muscles can't be used and become wasted, or atrophied.  SMA affects the nerves in an area of the spinal cord called the anterior horn. The nerve cells become damaged, breaking the link between the brain and the muscles. As a result, the muscles can't be used and waste away. This can lead to problems with breathing as well motor activities such as crawling, walking, feeding and head control.

SMA is a genetic disease and types I, II and III are autosomal recessive conditions meaning that if both your parents are carriers, you have a 1 in 4 chance of having the disease.

After cystic fibrosis, (SMA) is the second most common lethal autosomal recessive disease in Caucasians.
Approximately one million people in the UK are SMA carriers (about one in 50 people)

Approximately one in 20,000 babies is affected with severe SMA and dies before they reach a year of age.
Type II is the most common form of SMA and the form that my daughter has.
So why am I appealing to you?  It's not because I think that I am one of the top blogs in the parenting blogsphere but I do want to shout out about SMA...
Why do I want to be nominated? So that SMA can be recognised, so that awareness can be raised, so that research can be funded and supported, so that the lives of those living with SMA can be improved.  SMA deserves more recognition: help me spread awareness by nominating Touch and Tickle in the MADs 2014 - it really is that simple!

Thank you. 

MAD Blog Awards