Monday, 24 September 2018

The Difference a Week Makes.

What a difference a week makes.

Last time I posted I was upset, I was angry and I was frustrated. I was struggling to get answers as to when J would start his new school, I was being promised phone calls and emails and I was hitting a brick wall. I got so much support from so many people. I needed that. It genuinely helped.

Things were still stagnant and getting no further. Even J's Speech and Language Therapist got involved in trying to get answers and usually medical professionals don't get involved with school admissions. He got me a number for the admissions officer who was dealing with J and told me what days she worked. I rang her up and was promised a phone call back. Guess what? It never happened. The Old School had tried chasing, I'd tried chasing, now medical professionals were trying to chase too and still no answers? It wasn't good enough. It would be really easy to get annoyed with the new school but they had no proper knowledge of J or our situation and that's why they couldn't provide answers. Apparently our case worker who dealt with the EHCP and assigning us a school doesn't have the best track history. The SENCO and a learning mentor  from school had had enough and went to the new school. This was on the Wednesday. They wanted to get things sorted and were willing to wait as long as it took. They meant business. They came back with answers.

On Friday we said goodbye to the old school for the second time.

Monday came and I dressed J in the uniform for the new school and my grandad picked us up. As we didn't know how long the journey would take we set off in ample time and were too early. A lot of waiting around didn't help with J's anxiety and he was a little disruptive and I filled with dread. Mrs W his one to one from the Old School came to help with the transition and I left J there for an hour. He had a great time. The next day my grandad again drove us to the new school. I was told this time do collect him up at 11am this time. Again they reported another great day. Wednesday he had lunch there and I collected him at 12:45 and then on Thursday he went full time!

After over a year at being in mainstream and only doing 2 and a bit hours a day he had managed to transition to a SILC and full time in just 4 days! Not only that but now he was full time he was going via transport so was picked up from home at 8am and dropped back home at 4:30pm - a long day for a 5 year old but he took it all in his stride.

So now he's in full time school. His class has 4 or 5 staff members to around 7 or 8 children. They have their own dedicated sensory room and their own rebound room with a swing and trampoline and other physical equipment as well as a private outdoor space. School say he is doing brilliantly for someone who has had no real access to learning as he was never in a classroom they've really surprised him by how well he's doing.

The difference in him in a week at home has been amazing too. I've never made it a secret that he can't read or write, or that we struggle with phonetics or even getting him to commit. Yet on Thursday he went and got a pear and came back in the living room.
''Mama, what letters are in pear? P. E. R - PEAR''
Now I know he missed a letter out and it would be so easy to correct him but I was just so pleased that he had sounded out the word as it's something he'd never done before. He can now spell out his name and the word CAT from memory. He's constantly asking me what letters are in words and is really interested.

He's also shown an interest in the time - digital not analogue and asks to check the time on my phone to tell me what time it is. This again is a massive thing as he's reading the numbers left to right whereas he would read them backwards before.

These may sound like small things but in the grand scale of things it's amazing .

Monday, 10 September 2018

This isn't how September is supposed to be...

J got his EHCP.

It was granted a little bit late - during the summer holidays - but it was granted and finalised and in place.

It named the new school we wanted.

This was everything! A fresh start, new beginnings, my son getting the education he not only wants and needs but deserves. Or so I thought.

August zoomed past us at a rate of knots and I'd heard nothing from the new school. I tried ringing but because it was the summer holidays there was no answer. September approached and I bought J's uniform based only on what I had read on the schools website as nobody had told me what he needed. Then I bought a version for the old school too, and I'm glad I did.

The 3rd September arrived and I dressed J in his new uniform for the old school and I took him back there. It was 8:55am and the play ground was manic. He used to start at 9:15 to avoid the crowds and the noise and the dangers. Groups of people with a child who is a flight risk are not good! School admitted they hadn't expected to see us, but where else was I supposed to take him? Why does no school want to take my son? They had one of his old one-to-ones on hand just in case who I'd happened to bump into in Asda a few weeks before and explained what was happening. I had major anxiety. In my head there were a few possible scenarios:

  • I take J and they say no sorry, he's not our responsibility any more take him home
  • I take J and they ring me within an hour to say he'd kicked off and could I collect him
  • I take J and he has a brilliant time and then I wonder why on earth we are changing schools.
As it goes he had his first melt down by 9:03am, I cried, in fact I sobbed. Someone asked how I was and I broke. I asked at the office what time should I collect him and they didn't know because he shouldn't be there. I arranged to pick him up at 11:30 the time I picked him up last year. 

11:30 came and I arrived at the school and the Head was waiting for me. Uh-Oh! He said that due to the year below having a phased start there were a few safety issues so could we alter J's hours whilst we chase the new school. So now J has gone from a 9:15 - 11:30 day to a 9:15 - 11:15 day. 2 hours a day education. Well I say education except he's not really learning. He's in a class of his peers who are all ahead of him. He just wants to do his thing, he just wants to play, he doesn't want to join in with lessons because he can't read, write or do math and it frustrates him. 

So now we are in the second week of the school year, and this morning I got a phone call from the Old School. The new school is ignoring them. They aren't answering calls or replying to emails. I'm having the same issue. This is not on. They are the named school on my sons EHCP. The magical document that is supposed to make everything easier! ha! So J has gone back to the Old School to do a 2 hour day in a place that doesn't really want him and can't really meet his needs. 

I've fired off an email this morning, which my friend says is too polite, but yet still to the point asking for answers. I've tried to not lose my temper as I worry about repercussions on J but I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated that once again things for my boy who deserves the world and more are not straight-forward and once again I'm having to fight! 

I hope I get a reply. 

I hope I get a start date. 

I hope the new school eventually live up to the expectations and promise. 

I am quite laid back and chilled usually but I will turn into protective Mama Bear for my boy, and I will fight to the ends of the Earth for him. 

I give it a week. I feel that is ample time. Also it means J does a full week at the Old School as I don't want him to be confused doing a few days at Old School then moving the the new one, I want him to start a fresh on the Monday so he can have the weekend to prepare. If no news in that time and still a lack of response to calls or emails my next port of call will be to arrange someone to take me to the new school and I shall sit in the reception area and refuse to move until they sort it out. 

For the second year running September has gone to the dogs. What is supposed to be a happy and exciting time about going to school is stressful and frustrating and my son is once again pushed from pillar to post and his needs forgotten about.  


Saturday, 1 September 2018

An Awesome August Recapped

August is the month when school holidays are in full throttle and you've already exhausted all your fun ideas in the last week of July. So with that in mind I was determined to try and win some fun things to do, or if possible win some of the back to school things we need in order to lessen the to do list. It also meant comping time was limited so I did more social media comps and purchase comps this month that were quick and easy to enter although we also spent a bit of time on an effort comp or two but they were ones where my son was involved with helping me or taking part too. 

Anyway on to the wins.... 

The first August win was for J from a kids mag and was a Lost Kitty blind box. J is obsessed with anything 'surprise' he loves watching the opening videos on You Tube so was excited by this. (I however didn't realise they had playdoh in them and had a mad panic when he opened it on my rug ha ha) a small win but a nice one to keep the boy busy for a few minutes. 

I also was lucky enough to win some Kidtropolis tickets which was an accidental win as I tagged a friend to let her know to enter and they took my tag as an entry. My friend is happy to be getting to take her son though so it's all good! 

I've mentioned last month and also on talking to people on Facebook groups etc how I've wound down the amount of Instagram competitions I've been entering. Even though it has previously been where I got a lot of my wins from I found it quite draining so I've only been entering the odd few I come across on competition listing sites rather than searching my own out. However if you need someone to tag feel free to tag me - danigraves87 just please don't be offended if I don't respond. I'm still adding pictures so my account is still active and I may get back into entering a lot again when the boy is back in school. We shall see. After all that I actually had an Instagram win of some fantastic Stem Quest books. They are brilliant and I've actually really enjoyed looking at them myself, they are a bit advanced for J yet but will put them aside for him for when he is ready. 

I then had a second Instagram win of a runner up prize from thegroovyfoodcompany which had a jar of coconut oil in as well as a make up bag and some lovely wee treats like Urban Decay make up. A nice treat for me. 

On the 3rd August I got a WTC to say J had won tickets to CBBC Summer Social Festival in Liverpool, it was happening that weekend so we decided to head over on the Sunday. We had an amazing time, J got to go on rides with his daddy, see favourites such as Mr Tumble and Hey Duggee perform and his absolute favourite CBBC star Andy Day performed with his band the OddSocks. J loves watching Andy and the Dinosaurs and so was amazed to see him up close and personal, this was only made better by the fact we managed a meet and greet with him and J got to give him a high five and tell him how he always watches him on TV when he goes to Grandma's house. He then rang his grandma to tell her he'd met Andy and he was real and it was such a precious moment for him that he is still talking about weeks later. 


On the way back from Liverpool we popped into a services station. Hubby got a can of Carabao and J got a fruit shoot. We won £5 on the Carabao and then there was a text comp attached to the Fruit Shoot and we won a family bowling game. 

One of the effort competitions I mentioned was to do with Disney and their 24 Hour Challenge to encourage children to be more active. You had to sign up to the challenge and try it out and then give your feedback on a post on Mumsnet. Now J is a very active little boy anyway but my mobility issues mean me not so much however we signed up and gave it a go and I left feedback and thought nothing of it. So I was super surprised on the 6th to get an email telling me we had won tickets to Disney on Ice, train tickets and a hotel stay! We've chosen to go to the Manchester show on the 14th October which is the day before J's birthday! The PR who organised it all has been amazing and we have our hotel stay the night before so that we can make the most of a weekend in Manchester. 

I received a tweet from Here Come The Girls to tell me I had won a Baby Jack-Jack plush. I mentioned last month how I had been eager to win goodies for J and had searched lots of comps out, this one was found with a quick twitter search and had only 3 entries!! 

Apparently there is a day for everything now, and August included Yorkshire Day. I was notified on the 9th of August I'd won the Seabrooks Yorkshire Day competition. 48 packets of crisps and a large bouquet of white roses. The crisps were sweet chilli and a bit too much of a kick for me so hubby took them to work and popped them in the staff canteen and was very popular, and I had to borrow a vase from my Grandma as I've never been bought flowers before so didn't have one. 



I received a winning text message from a Freddo competition to let me know I had won a Giant Jenga game. It's a Jacques London one and is fab quality. I never usually have much luck with text comps but I keep trying. The set is fab and although we've not played Jenga with it yet J has been using them as building blocks to make forts for his figures and things! 

J received a parcel of some Peter Rabbit puzzles from a kids mag win. They'd had to switch one of the puzzles out for a more classic Beatrix Potter version rather than the film version so that's been put to one side but J has had great fun doing the larger puzzle and he's getting quicker and quicker. 



I had entered a competition with Nigel Clarke TV for an Incredibles bundle and had an email to say I was a possible winner but there were a few stipulations - I couldn't post on social media, had to reply in a set time, had to agree to post photo's etc. I replied within minutes and agreed to all stipulations but didn't get confirmation we had won until the 9th! It was such a long wait and I was checking every day on Facebook and emails. The toys have arrived and J loves them! 


My next 5 wins were £5's on Carabao. I have seen some people buy excessive amounts to chase a win on this comp and it kind of puts my 2 at a time to shame but I still seem to be doing reasonably well with it so whereas I'm not actively chasing to look for the comps if the supermarket has stock when I am doing a shop or hubby pops to the petrol stations we will grab 1 or 2 cans. 

J had another kids mag win delivered of a little Tonka Tinies playset. 

I won an Access All Awkward book on twitter from TeenBookHoots. 

J then had another kids mag win! This time a LEGO Friends bundle! We love LEGO in our house. 

OUPChildrens publishers on twitter did a comp for a bundle of their new releases which we won and received 4 fab books. We are really enjoying reading Bee Boy Attack of the Zombees. 


Another National Day was National Tell a Joke Day. I recorded Jake telling a joke and posted it on a couple of comps. He has a few favourite jokes but the one we used most was:
''Knock knock.
Who's there?
Narnia
Narnia who 
Narnia Business''
It won us a runners up prize from Brother Max of a Bath and Room Thermometer. 

I had a notification to say I won a picnic hamper from Aunt Bessies on Facebook. Perfect for days out with the boys and J is obsessed with picnics thanks to an episode or Mr Tumble. 

I subscribe to Compers News magazine and was really pleased to spot my name on the in-house winners list this issue. I've won a £30 H&M voucher from completing one of their puzzles. Although I've won competitions on their forum this is the first time I've ever won from the magazine puzzles. It's definitely given me the incentive to keep trying and I really enjoy doing the puzzles. 

Another Facebook win from Swizzels Love Hearts. You had to fill in the blanks of a song lyric they posted using only emojis. I wasn't sure what I would receive but got lots of sweets, a tea towel, lip balm, trolley token, coaster, and a tin of sweets. It's a really nice prize. 

I take part in the Disney Junior tea party every week if I can. They have a lot of different prizes based around themes or new shows. They were doing a back to school one. I won a Tangled Lunch bag set which I am going to give to my friend for her daughter. 

Speaking of lunch bags I really wanted one for J. We aren't sure how he will manage school dinners as he always used to finish school before lunch time and come home and he's such a fusspot with foods only eating certain things that I wanted to have a lunch box/bag ready just in case so when Di Coke posted about the Anchor Dairy purchase competition and that you could keep entering I made sure to buy a tub and enter and after a few days I received an email letting me know I had won one. 

Another thing I wanted for back to school was a car seat or a booster seat. We have one in our car and my grandparents have one in theirs but J will be going to a school nearly 9 miles away and although he will get transport (hopefully) there may be times when I have to taxi it to get him there or get him home so having something I can use in those instances was really important to me. So I was really pleased to receive a message from Muddy Puddles on Facebook to let me know I had won a Mi-Fold portable booster seat. This was won from a competition where you had to give a back to school tip and I posted a picture of a chest of drawers we use that are labelled Mon - Fri and have a full days uniform in each one. 

I received an email from another kids mag to say J had won another set of Peter Rabbit puzzles. The picture in the mag shows the same as what we should have won from the earlier set but which were substituted so we will have to wait and see if the same happens again. If we get the same puzzles they will go in the Christmas/Birthday cupboard. 

Cully and Sully Soup are running a competition for Souper Ambassador's and they said the more creative and fun the entry the better so I really pushed my boundaries to enter. I don't like pictures of myself much less video's as I get worried about what people will say about me or think of me and it causes me massive anxiety. However I decided to be brave and try something I had in my head. I rewrote a version of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air's theme and made it all about Cully and Sully soup. I set a tripod up in my living room and I did my recording. I had to do a few takes - crap memory (mine not the device I was recording on), J being loud during it, him blasting bubbles into my face and me nearly choking on a bubble, the usual. However I got an edit I was happy with and posted it on to the competition post and was really pleased to be notified a few days later that I had won a Fitbit Charge 2. 


I won a pint of Lager on the Carling football comp. I'm not a drinker but hubby enjoyed a cheeky beer while we were out for my birthday. 

I had 5 more carabao wins spread over a week and a half totalling £30 

A text comp win for cinema tickets came in at just the right time on the 28th as it was my birthday on the 31st and we always go to the cinema for my birthday so these combined with free drinks thanks to the leftovers on a cineworld voucher i won months ago meant we got to go see The Meg for free and my birthday night out cost nothing but petrol to get there and back. 

I had a fab email from Encore to say I've won 2 Merlins Magic Passes meaning me and Ant can go to London for a few days in November and have tickets to the London Eye, London dungeons, Sealife Centre, Shrek Adventure and Madame Tussaud's. We are going to try fit in a Harry Potter trip if possible.

I had an email from the Acorn books blog to say I've won a collection of Dinosaur Adventure books for J. You had to comment saying what your favourite dinosaur was. 

Jackson Reece do a regularly freebie Friday competition on Facebook. I won for the 3rd time this month and won their toiletry range which looks fab. We love their nose nuzzlers.

We closed the month on a couple of small wins. 

A delivery from a kids mag for J of some activity books. They both look really good having flicked through and will give us something to do on an evening. 


A crate of 12 bottles of Mango drink from Pago on twitter. 

Finally a Bikybiky vest on Facebook which I'm super pleased about as we are trying to teach J to ride his bike. 

Overall a pretty awesome and amazing month! I'm looking forward to September but at the same time I'm apprehensive as J will be moving schools and it's a big deal for him so it won't be just a case of back to school, feet up and comping, plus I'm hoping to sign up a learning course of my own to learn BSL. 

Monthly recap: 
Total prizes won: 45
Prize RRP: £1790




I hope everyone has had a fantastic summer.

Danielle x












 

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

July - the month where we all melted

As I mentioned in my previous post July was a bit of a battering ram on the whole head and body for me, added into it the heat which wiped me out and saw me permanently sat next to a tower fan I'm really pleased with how July turned out for me in terms of wins. 

My first win was for J of some MLP Top Trumps cards from a kids mag, these have gone in the birthday box to be used as birthday presents when/if he gets invited to parties. 

Hallmark ran a competition for people to nominate their children's teachers as superheroes. I nominated Jake's one-to-one Mr Smallwood for everything he has done for and with Jake. He really went above and beyond and it was because of him and Mrs Winestein that Jake actually started to enjoy going to school. So I was delighted to be contacted and told that we had won and Mr Smallwood would be receiving a Superman Itty Biggy toy and a card to thank him. Alongside this they asked how many children were in Jake's class and sent them an Itty Bitty each. This was a wonderful prize for us because Jake has now left that school and will be attending a specialist school in September so it was lovely to give the friends he will be leaving behind a little gift each. I did go out and get Mrs Winestein a Wonder Woman Itty Bitty as well so that she knew how grateful we all are. 


I won a Salcura bath milk on a Facebook competition and they sent a big box full of samples as well so we can try their other products. 

Preloved ran a competition on twitter about recycling so I sent them a picture of Jake and an alien he'd made out of a toilet roll tube and won a copy of book called Rag Doll Lost. 

I think I've previously mentioned J's love of glasses so he was really pleased with a win of some Real 3D Dinosaur glasses from the new Jurassic World movie. 

I haven't really been entering many Instagram competitions this month so I was really pleased to win some beautiful byri earrings and a coconut cream Muri candle in a colab they did. 


I follow quite a few sensory toy pages on Facebook and Sensory Treasures did a giveaway for a bath turtle where the last person to comment won, I kept the post open in a tab on my browser and just popped back to comment every now and then and won. 


I'd seen a couple of my friends win the weekly competition with ThePyjamaFactory on Instagram and I'd spotted they did Incredibles pyjamas and I really wanted them for Jake so I set it so I would get a notification every time they posted and I made sure to comment and like every post and I won yay! So Jake got his new pj's which he loves!!! 


Cheeky Chomper did a colab with TotsBots to win a swim kit which is super handy as we've started going swimming regularly and the wet bag and mat will be super useful! 

I won a 'goody bag' of Screwfix goodies on Instagram from GetHerTrade. I use the term goody loosely, I will be honest I only entered as I wanted a drill shaped stress ball as shown in the original picture. I didn't get one. The hard hat key-ring is cute though and the post it notes have come in useful. but yeah - beware of random goody bags! 


When I was at the cinema seeing Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom one of the promo's was from Oasis for a double ended bottle which looks like a fun way to get soaked or no drink but I won one from a Facebook comment competition and I'm looking forward to seeing who gets drenched most. 

How It Works do regular competitions on twitter and I won a Dinosaur Bookazine from them. 

Another twitter win was a selection of Posca pen goodies from Uni-ball. I'm looking forward to attempting to do rock painting with J which is a big craze at the moment. 

Aldi are another company who do regular comps and I always enter them and I finally won with them. The prize was a £20 voucher and it came during a skint week so was super useful! 

I took Jake to see the new Incredibles 2 movie and he absolutely loved it so I set myself a challenge of winning him some Incredibles Goodies! As well as the earlier pj's I did quite well. I managed: 
  • a baby Jack Jack plush from @Supermommy83 on twitter
  • a baby Jack Jack plush from Dear Bear and Beany blog 
  • a Personalised Incredibles 2 book from Pukka Gifts on twitter
  • An Incredibles2 Bundle from our local cinema on Facebook 


All were found just by doing a simple keyword search every day. 

I had a sudden influx of prizes for Jake
Two Fireman Sam puzzles from a Kids Mag 
A Dino Wars book from twitter
A SlimeBlaster and zimpli kids slime bundle from a Kids Mag 
Computing for Kids Books from Miles Kelly on Instagram
Animal Ark book from Toppsta 

Then it was back to my turn to win again. 

I won a beautiful silver peony necklace from Kate HH Studio on Facebook 

A super heavy solid wood chopping board from Worktop Express on twitter. They run a competition every week. I've been using mine as a lap tray in the living room rather than a chopping board though. 


In my mag group a lovely lady ran a draw for a prize she was no longer able to use - a family ticket to Madame Tussauds in Blackpool. I was really happy to win and I'm looking forward to taking Jake at the end of the month. 

I actually won with B&M on twitter. They run a lot of comps but they always have loads of entries so I was really pleased to get the message telling me I had won a bundle of Silverline tools and £50 of vouchers. Something for both the hubster and me and Jake! 


Jake had another kids mag win of a Sea Monkeys Zoo. I always wanted one of these as a kid but my parents said no so I am super excited about them and just hope they hatch and work haha. 

A quick comment on Facebook saw Jake receive a pen-pal letter from India. This is actually really cute and came from Our Little Globe the letter is full of interesting facts about India and comes with some cute fact sheets, recipes, a packet of spice and some stickers. 

Two more book wins of How To Be a Lion and Pirate Baby - both from twitter comps. 

I managed to win the Popcorn Shed ShedSharingSunday competition - they asked what you couldn't live without and I replied ''Sleep. I don't get much as it is but if I got any less I'd be intolerable, although my hubby says I already am!'' I can't wait for it to arrive! 

My last wins for the month are from the current Carabao cash promo. I've so far managed to win 10 prizes of £5 on that comp! The money has already hit my bank balance too which is awesome! 



Month recap:
Total Prizes: 42
Total Prize RRP £922

 

Hope everyone has an awesome August. 

Danielle xx













Where's Your Head At?

This post has taken the best part of a month to write. I wrote bits, I deleted bits, I spilled every little thought that was in my head when I felt I couldn't say them out loud and then I wiped the slate clean because I didn't think anybody would want to listen to me, or would understand.

I was asked earlier this month 'Where's your head at?' and ever since all I've had stuck in my head is the music video from Basement Jaxx with the monkeys in the science lab. I wasn't able to answer the question at the time because I just couldn't find the words.

July has been a little bit turbulent and a little bit stressful.

It started with a Next Steps meeting with the school and SENSAP. SENSAP stands for Special Educational Needs Statutory Assessment and Provision team.

A quick recap and some terms:
Earlier in the school year we applied for an EHCP for J (Education Health and Care Plan) which would provide a plan that would set out what help and support J needs whilst in education. Due to miscommunication on SENSAP's behalf we were declined an assessment. I contacted Sendiass (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Services) who assigned us a case worker who knows all the policies and is able to offer me advice. The lovely Imogen came out and we looked at our options which were - appeal, mediation or reapply. We decided due to it being a miscommunication that we would reapply. This time Lydia the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) from school added as much info as possible to our application and me and Imogen got together and wrote a statement about what Jake wants and needs. This time our application (which was about an inch and a half thick and very very thorough) was sent to MAP (Multi Agency Panel) and myself, Lydia and the Headteacher met with the panel made up of Educational Psychologists, Social Workers and caseworkers from SENSAP to argue our case - and it was a bit of an argument as I wasn't leaving that room with a no. The MAP eventually agreed that they thought J may need more support and they would look at reports as well as assess him and decide if he needed an EHCP and that would be determined at the Next Steps meeting.

Fast Forward to now and we get to the Next Steps meeting and I am told they have done their assessments and J definitely needs an EHCP - Hooray! We read through the draft plan which has been put together by a caseworker from SENSAP and make some suggestions on edits as I have 15 days to confirm the plan and then we get to the elephant in the room:

 The School Setting. 

It has been very apparent to us for a while that KSS wasn't a suitable school for J and that he would need to change to a different school. Which isn't an issue apart from the caseworker was going on holiday in 7 days and schools broke up for the summer holidays in 10 days. Time was of the essence. 
One big thing that worried me was that I didn't think it would be a good idea for J to go back to KSS in September and transition to Year 1 to then be pulled out and have to transition to another school, yet the SENSAP case-worker said he thought J would be there till December! A school already noted as not being suitable for him! Both myself and the Head objected and said this wasn't acceptable. Without being harsh the Head said he didn't want J back and that we needed a new school ready for September. As devastated as I was to hear that because I love KSS I had to agree. 

Me and Ant visited a local SILC school which is a Specialist Unit attached to a mainstream school, a couple of days before the Next Steps meeting and we were really really impressed and so I mentioned this and was told it was full so not really a possibility. Crap. They mentioned several other schools but they were all specialist only provisions and I will admit I was put off. J hasn't got a formal diagnosis yet and because he's not been able to be in a classroom setting none of us really know his full academic potential so I was a little worried a Specialist only Provision would be putting a ceiling on him and stopping him from reaching his full potential. I will be honest now this is purely due to my own preconceptions based on a unit I worked in when younger which dealt with extremely disabled children and they didn't do academic learning which is something I still want J to access. 

I agreed to consider them though but in the meantime I rang the school we had visited and asked if I could take J up to look as if he liked it we could name it and ask the LA to make adjustments to accomodate him there. This was where things kind of went a bit wrong. Just a few days earlier me and Ant were convinced this was THE ONE and then I took J there and he hated it. I can't really explain what was wrong with it, I've even said I'm not sure if they were trying to dissuade me due to being full but something just didn't feel right.

 J was very vocal about the fact he wouldn't be going there and so I relayed this to the SENCO who mentioned another school that had received a preliminary copy of the EHCP and said they had a space and could meet J's needs. They are a Specialist Provision and sounded fantastic on paper, the only issue being they are 8.5 miles away and as I don't drive and rely on help from family to help me get J to and from school or a mix of walking/taxi's that was going to mean we will need to apply for transport from the LA. I also worry that if he is there and something happens I won't be able to get there as quickly as I could KSS. I kept an open mind though and I agreed to go have a look.

A learning mentor from KSS went with me to look at the school and we sat in the entrance waiting with two other parents who were looking at sending their children there. I was nervous and still doubting, especially as I now knew this was my only choice. Then, Sam appeared. Sam is the Primary Manager at the new school and just his introduction to us to say hello changed the mood in the room. He was lively, bubbly, passionate, warm. He showed us round the school and you could see how much all the staff enjoyed their jobs and what they did. I loved that they had rebound rooms and sensory spaces and wildlife gardens. I met children who went to the school and they made me smile with the things they were doing and saying and I had such a great feeling about things that I was sure this was it. But, I'd felt that way before and so I needed to make sure Ant and J felt the same way.

Ant is very much in denial about J and how he is, and so is my granddad. They both dismiss any talk of autism and just say he's a bit hyperactive. I'm not sure if it's because it dents their male ego's but Ant was very much anti-specialist school and wanted to send J to another mainstream school and so I needed to get him on board. I arranged for Ant and J to go view the school and so we met up on Ant's lunch break and Sam showed us all around, and I saw Ant melt the same way I had earlier in the week, I saw him warm to the school and by the end of our visit all three of us were in agreement that this was the one.

I quickly emailed the SENSAP case worker confirming this was our choice and hoped I was in time but I had no reply and it was a waiting game. Imogen has checked the online system and says that the new school has been notified of our choices but I'm still waiting for any formal notification. I hope it comes through soon.

The whole process has really taken it's toll on me both physically and mentally. With my health issues having a week where I was having several meetings a day with different professionals, rehashing through all the negatives about J really exhausted me and it even got to the point I was having nosebleeds from being so run down. Mentally well, what can I say, I suffer with depression and anxiety and I was on high alert for most of the month, constantly questioning myself about my choices and actions, worrying I was a bad mum, worrying I was failing J, crying, feeling numb, having panic attack upon panic attack and having nobody I could talk to because I felt like such a bad person. I felt broken and sad and I struggled to do normal things, although I'm still having dark days the start of the school holidays has really helped.

Summer is long, and it's hard keeping J active and occupied but the pressure of no meetings, and no school, and no having to make choices that massively impact my sons future is nice.

So that's where my head is at. Muddled but clearing. 


Saturday, 30 June 2018

June in a Nutshell, how it panned out.

It's the end of June already! We are already six months through the year and it's zooming by.

June has been my worst comping month so far this year. I've had 30 prizes so stuck to my average of 1 per day which is great but value wise it's my lowest value month and there are a few reasons for that.

The first week of June hubby was off work and we finished decorating then had lots of lovely day trips to places like Yorkshire Wildlife Park and Harrogate Valley Gardens and Grasshoppers in Tong. It's great when he's off as he can drive so we can go further afield but it also makes taking Jake out easier as I struggle alone and I can't do all the things he wants to do.

We've upped Jake's hobbies! He was doing gymnastics once a week at special disability classes but we are looking for other avenues for things he loves and enjoys too. So now I take him swimming one lunch time a week with the help of my Nan, leaving us both quite tired afterwards but he's showing such progress after just a month of sessions. He's also started quad biking, if you follow me on social media you will have probably seen pictures and videos of him in his full motocross gear zooming around my Dad's factory, it's a bit heart in mouth sometimes but he loves it so is doing that a couple of times a week.

Other reasons involve breaking my laptop screen - it's still a complete mystery how it happened but it rendered me unable to comp on the laptop for a week unless I hooked it up to the TV and used the TV as a monitor, although it's fixed now. The final reason is it's been so sunny we've been playing in the garden or in the paddling pool and snoozing or just too warm to be bothered to comp. I've gone from doing a couple of Instagram comps a couple of times a day at interim periods to doing a couple of Instagram comps once every couple of days and my wins definitely show that.

Anyway, enough waffling.

Here are my wins:

The 1st of June saw my first win from Annabel Karmel of a micro-trike, this was a purchase competition where you had to buy a children's ready meal and they had 50 a month to give away I think it was. I only entered in the last month but was pleased to win as it's perfect for my niece and nephew.


Jake had his first kids mag win on the 2nd. A Poopeez Toilet Launcher play set. It is as grim as it sounds. Poopeez are the new collectibles rage at the mo, delightful little figures in the shape of different poops, wee
s and even trumps such as Silent But Deadly! The Toilet Launcher came with two figures and you put them inside the toilet and then after a few seconds they pop up and jump out.

Lots of World Cup promos on this month and Coca Cola have a few including win a FIFA FUT code for the FIFA 18 game of downloadable content. I wouldn't usually class this as a win but as between us we've won about 8 I've decided to class it as 1 solitary win but I'm not valuing them highly.

I won two bottles of Fizzics Apple drink on Instagram it came in a lovely wooden box.

Finally after years of trying I cracked it with the Sun Puzzles and won £50 in their weekly wordsearch competition. They pay via BACS so do need you to send your bank details over which I know a few people are wary of doing but the payment hit my account and I've had no issues. Cash always helps!

John Adams was running a comp asking about peoples favourite flowers on Facebook and everybody was saying the typical ones such as Roses, Daffodils etc. My favourite is Senetti which is a beautiful white purple daisy. We won an Ezee Beads Garden Bugs and Flowers set which was a fun little activity for Jake to do.

Another copy of Maze Runner: The Death Cure arrived with no note or anything so I have no clue where from. I had entered a few before I won a copy last month.

The lovely Kate Eccles on twitter @KEEccles ran a giveaway for a copy of Monster in My Wardrobe and I tweeted a picture of Jake sat on top of one of my wardrobes saying we hadn't found a monster in the wardrobe but we had found one on top. It was a lovely read and the publisher wrapped it like a present which was a nice touch.

Another twitter win was a Femme Cup from the Powder Room. I was the only entrant and it was just a case of retweet and reply with a hashtag tagging a friend.

Jake won some Shopkins Cutie Cars from a children's magazine.

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Harry Potter. Bloomsbury Publishing have brought out some new special editions of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and they ran competitions on their social media to win a house special. I entered for Gryffindor and you had to say what password you would give for the Gryffindor house. I said Voldemort - because most are too afraid to say his name, but Gryffindors are brave, courageous and daring!

A Win It Wednesday twitter win of Halibo children's vitamins from twitter.

Frubes have a no purchase necessary competition to win colour changing goodies - I keep forgetting to enter (I am rubbish at dailys!) but managed to win a colour change wristband.

Jake had another delivery! (He's done bloody well this month from children's magazines!) This time it was some Mickey Mouse jigsaw puzzles. 

On Instagram I won a Sister gift box. I actually found this when looking for twitter comps that were ending soon, you could enter on both twitter and instagram and it was ending soon with low entry numbers. It's a nice gift box with necklace, hot choc, notebook, bath bomb and chocolate mallow treat in.


Another twitter win this time from KBB Ark of a Kohler speaker that goes inside a shower head! Super cool!

ANOTHER win for Jake from a kids mag of a DC Match game, there were 10 prizes up for grabs and my mag group managed to win 8 of them so I was super pleased, although a clean sweep would have been lovely!

I won a lovely stationery bundle on Instagram that I can't wait to receive as I love stationery and all the bits look super cute.

A local shopping centre ran a competition for Love 2 Shop vouchers. I always enter their competitions but this is the first time I've ever been lucky with them. I won £25 which we had to collect in person, they originally wanted to take publicity photo's but when I explained my anxiety of having a photo posted publicly and people being able to criticize me due to my physical appearance etc they were lovely and said I didn't have to. I used the vouchers to buy The Greatest Showman and Coco on DVD as despite lots of trying I never managed to win them. We've only watched Coco so far but it was so good! The other £5 I used to buy ice lollies in Iceland - much needed in this heat haha.

I also won a Darkest Hour DVD from a web comp.

Oh look, another win for Jacob, this time some Paw Patrol books.

I won a MojMoj toy on Instagram these seem to be along the likes of L.O.L Dolls and the type of opening a surprise.

I won a copy of No Guilt Pregnancy Plan  from Mumsnet, here's hoping me and hubby get the chance to use it!!!

Milkshake magazine had a twitter competition where they wanted kids to make a mask and send a picture with a hash tag, there were hardly any entries and we got ours in last minute and won a copy of Chicken in the Kitchen.


2 Scrub Daddy sponges and a stand were won from Instagram. I love how they are smiley faces but I've been sat using one as a stress ball all afternoon as I love the way it feels when you squish it, it's hard but soft at the same time.


Every Tuesday on Facebook Disney Jr have a 'Tea Party' with multiple prizes where you have to answer questions. We won a Mickey's Racers bundle on it this week. Two soft toys, a cup and a toy driving license.


You can tell I started to get back into Instagram a little bit towards the end of the month as I had two more wins on there. Some gorgeous leather sandals for Jake from Chipmunk Sandals and an Aquabeads set from one of their daily comps.


One last kids mag win for Jake of an Ookiverse book, we already have this so when this arrives we will pass it to my cousin.

My last win of the month was a fab bundle of DVDs from Movie Weekender. There are some classics in there and a couple I've not seen before.


So there you have it. In a nutshell my June has consisted of DVD's, Books and Children's prizes haha. It's almost as if the comping Gods know the summer holidays are on the way and we may need things to keep us busy!

Have a great July everyone, I hope the lovely weather holds up for us all.

Danielle x

 My stats for the month are:
Total Number of Prizes: 30
Total RRP of Prizes £664
Breakdown of Prize type:







Friday, 1 June 2018

My Marvellous May..

Another month is over with and we are now in the 6th month of 2018, June. Where oh where has the year gone? It feels like only yesterday I was writing a blog post about what we had won in January. Comping has been very hit and miss this month, other engagements have meant that there have been times where I've just not bothered with entering comps, in fact there have even been days where I've not even turned the laptop on when usually it's on everyday, even if just for a little while. Whilst I haven't won such big prizes like the Little Tikes bundle last month I've still had some fab wins and it's proof that you don't have to enter everything to win but just focusing your attention sometimes can be a big help!

My first win of May was a Willow and Wild box on Instagram. They are a craft and gardening subscription box aimed at children and Jacob received the Snapdragon and Radish box. We planted the seeds and they are currently on my kitchen windowsill. We haven't had chance to do the craft projects yet.


BookTrust have a campaign running this year called Bath Book Bed and so there were lots of blog competitions around to win bundles and we were lucky enough to win one. It came in a lovely cotton bag and had Peppa Pig shower/bubble bath, Peppa Pig toothpaste and Peppa Pig toothbrushes and then 3 different books.

One of Jake's little obsessive quirks are glasses; normal glasses, sunglasses, toy glasses, he loves them all. So he was really pleased when I won a pair of  Hulk 3D glasses in light of the new Avengers film. He was even happier when 2 pairs arrived so we could both be Hulk!


QVS Beauty on Instagram gave away bundles of make up brushes and I was lucky enough to win some.

Another Instagram win was from lauren_loves_xx she does regular giveaways and had posted she would be doing some random giveaways through the day where she would post a picture and the first person to reply tagging friends would win the item in the picture. I turned my notifications for her posts on so that as soon as she posted I could click on and I was lucky enough to win a Revolution Concealer.

Both me and the hubby won Pepsi Glasses and a Walkers bowl on the current purchase necessary promo. We keep trying for the tv.

On May the 4th there were loads of Star Wars comps about and I used tweetdeck to hunt some out. Although it's not technically a Star Wars prize I found a comp for a children's app called Peg and Pog which I won.

The Star Wars prizes didn't allude me though and we had some fab wins!

A Star Wars Block book from Abrams Chronicle Books


A fab double sided cushion from Character World that I loved so much I've bought a second one!

A brilliant bundle with Central Retail Park that had a light saber, a Storm trooper back pack, an R2D2 night light teddy and a BB8 Alarm clock!



I also won some Star Wars pin badges after saying I'd love them for my back pack and sending them a picture of it in its pink storm trooper glory complete with Porg key-rings.

Our first kids mag win of the month was a Bizzy Bub. It was an entry form from Mixit Magazine and they'd missed the space for the competition off the entry form so I wrote it on a post it note and stuck it to our entry form and we won.


We won a book from Scholastic Kids called Dinosaur Firefighters and J has really enjoyed it so it's become our current bedtime story.

Another book win was Iguana Boy Saves The World from Toppsta. I thought it might be a good introduction to chapter books for Jake but he's not hundred percent taken with it at the moment.

WKD picked me as a winner of a crate of their bottles on Instagram, I expected them to just send a coupon out in the post but they sent the actual crate of glass bottles!

A small prize of baby socks on Instagram have gone in the baby box in the spare room.

I also won a Too Faced Lipstick on Instagram from greencatbeauty


I won a personalised Carafe on Instagram from smartphoto and chose to have the quote 'It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live' which is from Harry Potter engraved on it and then I have filled it with fairy lights. The photo doesn't do it justice. It's lovely.

My first Facebook win of the month was a Mowgli Street Food book. You had to say what your favourite street food is and I said a slice of pizza from dough boys. There is a recipe in for butter chicken which I'm looking forward to making this weekend.


I won a make up bundle on Instagram which was a simple comment and tag and then I won a £15 credit for next of kin apparel and I ordered this cute bodysuit as I love that it's similar to The Offspring lyric, I also got a romper with a different design too.


Jake was off School ill and so it was lovely to receive two parcels for him from Kids Magazines to cheer him up, one was a book called Emmeline The Cheeky Pup and the other was this awesome Grossery Gang Bug Strike bundle!


With the new GDPR rules coming out in May there were lots of promotions to opt in and sign up to newsletters and 'clubs'. A lot of people question if anyone ever wins from newsletter sign up competitions. Well I'm happy to say I won a gorgeous Minnie Mouse Chamilia necklace from signing up to the Chamilia club, I think I saw the advert on Facebook. It's worth £95 and is super pretty, although possibly a little bit too delicate for a klutz like me.


I won with Peter Rabbit Magazine on Facebook again, for the second time this year, this time a DVD which will come in handy for rainy days and make a change from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 which I have watched 17 times this half term as it's what Jake wanted on!


It was Coeliac Awareness/Gluten Free Awareness week and I was lucky enough to win a bundle of Pieminster Gluten free pies. I'm not sure if you've ever tried to do gluten free baking, but I have and it wasn't very successful so I was a bit nervous about what the pies would be like but Oh My Days they were delicious! We will buy them again but they are quite pricey (isn't all dietary needs food?) so they will be for a special treat.

I received another 2 copies of Big Bones books this month although I'm not sure where from?

Another two small Instagram wins came in as we headed into the last week of the month. A craft bundle from Nu who usually do notebooks and a tub of Oppo's new flavour ice cream from guessing what their new flavour was.

I had a nice bank holiday win of the new Maze Runner film on DVD which we are looking forward to watching at some point over the next few days.

I also won some Scolaquip goodies on Instagram which are paint sticks (similar to Little Brian ones) as well as some which you can use on fabric and some which are for using on your face!

I managed to tick something off my wish list this month too! I've been trying for ages to win with Colour Freedom and I finally won some hair dye! I miss having bright coloured hair so I can't wait for it to arrive.

Then it seems the comping fairy decided it's about time I start looking after myself as I had the following wins:
A Tefal Optigrill from Muscle Foods
A Nutribullet from the Belvita purchase competition. Which as well as making smoothies will be used for it's ice crushing abilities to make cocktails with the Cocktail Recipe book I won on Instagram.
Reveal Magazines top 25 beauty buys
and finally,
a crate of bottled water and a bundle of skincare products, again from Instagram.

As you can see Instagram really was my friend this month. My partner has the first week of June off so I won't be doing much comping as we are in the middle of redecorating and also hoping to enjoy some days out with Jake as well as trying to find him a new school as it's been decided a mainstream school isn't suitable and he needs a specialist school.

 My Stats for the month are:
Total Number of Prizes: 38
Total RRP of Prizes: £1018
Breakdown of prize type:





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