Alder hey children's hospital

The amazing work of Alder Hey children’s hospital

As parents our natural instinct is to protect our children and keep them safe and well.

So when they’re unwell it can be scary and stressful and we want to do anything we can to make them better.  Knowing they’re getting the best possible care is a big help, and for a lot of families that comes from the staff at Alder Hey Hospital.

Alder Hey have been sharing some stories of children who’ve been treated there, and the amazing work that the people who work there do.


One of the stories that Alder Hey have shared to show some of the amazing work they do is that of Daniel Bell.

Daniel was a typical busy, happy toddler until his personality suddenly changed when he was three.  He started to get grumpy where he had been happy before, and went back to sleeping in the day after dropping his naps.

His parents took him to A&E after his mum recognised that the symptoms he was showing can be signs of a brain tumour.

The doctors there quickly realised that his condition was serious and Daniel was transferred to Alder Hey where he went straight into surgery.  After an operation to drain fluid from his brain Daniel had more surgery the next day to remove the tumour.

The surgery took 9 hours, and was helped along by Alder Hey’s pioneering MRI scanner which allows surgeons to scan the brain in theatre.

Alder Hey hospital is the first hospital in Europe to use this particular scanner, and amazingly it was paid for by Alder Hey Children’s Charity.

After his operation Daniel spent 6 days in the HDU, and then another week on the neuro ward, and has now made a full recovery.  He’s now a happy, healthy, active little boy and his parents are incredibly grateful to all the staff at Alder Hey who helped them along the way.


One of the things that makes Alder Hey so special is the work of the charity that supports it and provides so much life-saving equipment.

There are all sorts of things people can do to help raise money for Alder Hey Children’s Charity, from hosting a bake sale to organising a charity car wash.

One of the most popular fundraising ideas though is running in an organised charity race.

With this in mind Alder Hey Children’s Charity have created a running hub full of useful information and inspiration to get you lacing up your trainers.  The site has running training plans, healthy and tasty recipe ideas, and helpful running tips.

So if you’re looking for a reason to get active then pop over and take a look at the running hub for some inspiration and see if there’s a race coming up near you that you can sign up for.  Then you can get healthier and raise money for an amazing cause at the same time.

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post

Buying vs adopting a family dog

Buying vs adopting a family dog: What is the best option?

Adopting a pup can be a great deed, and literally, saving a dog’s life. But adopted dogs have often gone through tough times and it takes a certain kind of owner and family to take care of them.

A lot of people still think that the difference between adopted dogs and regular dogs is minimal, but you can’t raise an adopted dog the same way you would any other dog. And you can’t expect them to behave the same way either.

Here are a few tips that will allow you to know whether buying or adopting a dog would be better for you.

Cases when adopting a dog may be a good choice

Adopting a dog is a good choice if you don’t mind taking in an older dog and if you’re already familiar with dogs. 

Another thing is that you don’t want to put them through the stresses of adoption all over again because you or your family couldn’t take care of them. So, before you adopt a dog, you have to be ready for some of the potential challenges that come with dog adoption.


Mistakes to avoid when adopting a dog

A lot of people make the mistake of overwhelming the dog at first with too many activities. You have to leave them time to settle and adapt to their new situation. Give them the time to adapt to you and the rest of the family first before you take them out. Don’t start taking them to the store with you or to family functions. You can’t overwhelm them with too many new faces, and they might react fearfully or aggressively to excessive contact with strangers.

Some people also don’t take enough time to bond with their dog. They may expect their new dog to instantly connect with them, but it’s much more complicated than that. Chances are the dog has had to go through many owners or might have been traumatized from living in a shelter. They might be withdrawn at first or have strange behavioural patterns. This is why you should consider taking the time to bond with the dog, even if it means taking a little bit of time off work.

You have to make sure that your first month is spent observing the dog and giving them the love and attention they need. This is the only way that you and your family will be able to form a bond with them.


When buying is the best option

Buying a dog is a better option if it’s your first time around and want to know exactly what you’re getting as far as breed and history goes. You’ll be able to talk with a breeder, see what type of conditions the dog was bred in, and even look at the parents. You’ll have a complete and accurate health rundown of the dog and what you can expect.

You’ll also have the chance to raise them from the time they’re puppies. This will not only allow you and your kids to ease into dog ownership, but you’ll build a much stronger bond with the pet as well.


What you should look out for when buying a pet

One of the first things you’ll have to assess is if you’re actually ready to own a pet and actually have the finances. First of all, you could expect to pay in the thousands for a dog if you get it from a breeder. This is why it’s important that you check breeders thoroughly to make sure that you get what you paid for. If you are buying a puppy? Here’s what you should look out for.  This informative blog post from cat and dog insurance provider Everypaw informs you of things to consider when buying a puppy.  

Another thing you’ll have to consider is healthcare costs and insurance. Know that certain breeds will cost significantly more to insure than other types of dogs, so make sure that you include that as part of your research. You also have to buy the right type of coverage depending on the breed. Some policies are better for dogs that are known for developing certain chronic conditions. This is where Everypaw can help you out.

Also, make sure that the breed that you pick is compatible with your family. Some dogs that you may think are perfect for a family may not actually be, so make sure that you do your research on any breed and don’t go by assumptions or even opinions from other people you know.

For some people, adopting a dog could be a great option.

This could give you the opportunity to give back and give a pup a second chance. But this isn’t for everyone. Make sure that you weigh both options and see which one would be the best depending on your situation.


Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Beat photographers child syndrome

How to beat photographer’s child syndrome

I’m sure there’s a statistic out there about how this generation of children that we’re raising are the most photographed generation so far.

We take 22.7 billion photos of our children a day.  Maybe.  I don’t know.

Sometimes it can feel like I take far too many photos of my children.  I’m not going to stop any time soon, but I know there are times when they get tired of seeing my face hidden behind the camera.  There are days when they just don’t want to smile for me and sit still long enough to have their photo taken.

In the photography world those moments when your children are utterly uncooperative in having their photo taken is known as a symptom of ‘photographer’s child syndrome’.  And I think this syndrome is spreading as all parents, as well as photographers and bloggers, are asking their children to get in front of the camera more and more.

So this post is for all of you.

The tips you need to know to beat photographer’s child syndrome and get your children to be happy to be photographed again.


Set limits and then stick to them

Yes I’m talking to you with your ‘just one more quick photo’.

If your children aren’t in the mood for taking loads of photos then ask them for just 5 minutes to get the shot you want.  Then actually set a timer for 5 minutes, and put the camera down when the 5 minutes are up.

If you always break your word and keep asking to take a few more photos then they’ll never trust you.  Stick to your word and they may well be more willing to give you what you want next time.


Get them excited about photography

Let your children get behind the camera now and then to understand what it is about taking photographs that you love so much.

If your children are old enough then show them a bit about the settings on your camera and let them take some photos of you with it.  For younger children you might want to keep it simple with a basic point and shoot camera.

Nerys has the Kidizoom duo camera and really loves it.  The images aren’t amazing quality, but she can still get creative with it and photograph her world the way she sees it.

Another idea is to use a remote trigger to take photos.  Set everything up on the camera and then let your children use the remote to actually take the photos of themselves.

You can also get them involved in the process of taking photos by letting them be the creative directors.

Let them decide where to go to take photos and give them the chance to do whatever crazy poses they want.


Keep them entertained with something new

I love photographing my children when they’re busy doing things.

And if your children are really, really resistant to having their photo taken then giving them something new to do or play with might distract them enough that they don’t even notice you grabbing the camera and snapping a few pictures.

What I love about this approach really though, is that you end up photographing more than just what your children look like.

When you give them a new lego set to build, or a new pack of crayons to colour with, or a new recipe to bake together you have the perfect opportunity to capture memories of them doing the things they love to do at this age.


Take breaks

If your children really are not in the mood to be photographed then just stop.  Put the camera down.  Try again another day.

On days when they’re happy to have their photo taken but you know their attention span won’t last all that long, then be as quick as you can.  Get the photos you want first.  Then take a break.  Spend time just being with them.

Then if you get the chance you can take some more relaxed candid photos later on.


Try a bit of reverse psychology

If you have more than one child you’ll know how competitive siblings can be at times.  So use this to your advantage next time one child isn’t being all that cooperative about having their photo taken.

Tell them that it’s ok, they don’t have to be in the pictures.  Then get their brother or sister in front of the camera and make a big show of how much fun you’re having taking photos.

Chances are it won’t be long before they all want to be in on the action.

This also works when you want nice big smiles in your photos.  Tell your child that no matter what they do, they are not to smile.  You want their grumpiest faces on.  No smiles at all.  No, not even a tiny smile.

Go overboard with these instructions and it’ll make almost any child start to smile.


Let go and have fun

Let go of your ideas for the perfect photo of your children.

I’ve said this before and it is one of the biggest things for me.  So often we have this idea in our head of the pinterest-perfect photos we’re going to take of our children and honestly they almost never work out.

And if we’re not careful we get stressed and snappy and no one has any fun at all.

So take the focus off perfection and on to just having fun.

You may not get the photo that you want, but the photos that you do get will hold so many positive, happy memories for you when you look back on them.

Print your photos

Now this tip is one we all need to take on board in general.

Print your photos.

Don’t leave them to get lonely and lost on your hard drive.  Print them out, frame them, stick them on your fridge, put them in good old fashioned photo albums.

One added bonus of having prints around that your children can hold and look at often is that they’ll be more likely to let you take more photos of them in the future.  When there is a tangible outcome for them to touch and see, they’ll understand more why you want to take so many photos of them all the time.


How often do you take photos of your children? 

Do they ever suffer from photographer’s child syndrome?

If they do then hopefully these tips will help you all get through it!


This post is linked up with KCACOLS with A moment with Franca.

Ace for colours winter refresh

Refresh your winter wardrobe with Ace for colours

Can you feel it?

That crisp chill in the air that means that autumn is well and truly here, and winter is on its way too.

The change in weather’s meant that we’ve had to start digging out our cosy winter clothes from the backs of drawers and cupboards.  And the stash of hats and scarves and gloves are coming out of their hiding place in the airing cupboard.

I absolutely love rediscovering my warm hoodies and jumpers at this time of year.  The problem is that after months of sitting unloved in my wardrobe they could always do with a bit of freshening up.


This autumn though, it’s not a problem at all.

I’ve been sent some Ace for colours to test out and I am so happy with how it’s breathed some life back into my favourite cold weather clothes.


Over the last few years I’ve started picking out clothes that are more colourful, after far too long living in blacks and greys.  And I really want them to stay vibrant and not start to fade over time.

It’s the same with my children’s clothes.  Nerys in particular has lots of bright pinks in her wardrobe and I want them to keep looking fresh and colourful.  With kids being kids she does get all sorts of stains and marks on her clothes so I have a feeling this box of Ace for colours will see a lot of action over the winter months.


I’ve been testing the product out over the last week and have been so impressed so far.

You can use it in 3 different ways and I’ve tried them all.

When you mix a spoonful of the powder with a few spoonfuls of water you can use it to pre-treat stains before washing.

I did this on some white school tops that had been marked with mud and strawberry juice.  What made me think that strawberries would be a good snack to take to school to eat while wearing a white top?!


I rubbed some of the mixture into the stains, left it for a few minutes and then popped the tops in the wash.

And I can honestly say I’m really impressed with the results.


You can also use Ace for colours to soak things that need a bit of love.

We have some blankets that we like to wrap up in on chilly mornings before school and they really did need a bit of love to be brought back to life for winter.  I soaked them in warm water and some Ace for colours and then washed them as normal and they have come up beautifully.

Nerys has had this particular blanket since she was born, and now she likes to lay it out on her bed as an extra layer to keep her really snug in the cold weather.

With Ace for colours I can wash it as often as it needs it, knowing that the colours will be protected and kept beautiful and bright.


I think the way to use Ace that I’ll use most often though will be just adding some to the wash.

You just pop a couple of spoonfuls into the machine drawer with your washing powder, then let it do its thing.


Ace for colours uses active oxygen to gently remove stains.

So it really cares for your clothes, keeping them looking great even when you have to wash them as often as you do when you have young children around.

It’s suitable to use on whites as well as colours, and what I love is that it helps to remove odours too.  So it is perfect to use to bring your winter wardrobe back to life when you bring things out again for the colder weather.

I also really love that it comes in a Tetra pak box that is fully recyclable instead of coming in a plastic bottle or tub.  It also works brilliantly at 30 which is a real plus for me.


With two school-age children in the house, and two adults, I relate far too much to that meme about the neverending story as an adult being the pile of washing that you can never get to the bottom of.

So I love any products that make the whole process easier and take the hassle out of getting our clothes clean.

My children come home from school with all sorts of things spilt over their clothing.  Some days its paint, some days its mud.  Some days its yoghurt when they didn’t even eat any yoghurt that day.

It does make me happy to see the signs of a day well spent learning and exploring at school all over their clothes.  But it does mean that the washing machine is on most days of the week to try and keep up.

I think I’ll get in the habit of adding a scoop of this Ace powder to my washes now though, because it really does help keep colours bright and clothes looking like new for longer.  And that makes me happy knowing I can get as much wear as possible out of my favourite winter clothes.


This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEWinterRefresh Challenge, sponsored by ACE for Colours Powder.

Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper and pick up the range at your nearest Morrison’s store or buy online on Amazon

ways to get your children to do what you want

5 brilliant ways to get your children to do what you want

If you find getting your children to do what you want a bit of an uphill battle then this post is for you.

Whether it’s tidying up their toys or being able to trust them not to eat the treats you’ve put aside for Christmas, there are a few psychology-backed things you can try to get them to do what you want without feeling like you’re nagging all the time.


1. Ask them early in the day

If you want your children to make a choice that might be hard for them, like picking out some old toys to give away to charity, then the best time to ask them to do it is early in the day, but after they’ve eaten some breakfast.

The science behind this is that making hard decisions uses a fair bit of brain power in processing and thinking, so our bodies need higher blood sugar levels to do it.

When our blood sugar levels are low our brains take short cuts and we go to the default, easiest answer.  In this case your child will most likely default to not wanting to give any toys away.

When we’ve recently had breakfast though and our blood sugar levels are nice and stable then we’re better able to make these harder decisions.


2. Put more mirrors up at home

This is an interesting one.

If you want your children to be more trustworthy, they try hanging mirrors up at home so that they can see themselves more often.

Studies have shown that people are more trustworthy and collaborative if there is a mirror on the wall of the room they’re in.  One study in particular placed people in a room by themselves, with a jar of cookies.  They were able to buy the cookies with an honesty box type approach, with no one checking whether payments were made or not.

The researchers found that people were more likely to make a payment for the cookies they took if there was a mirror in the room.



3. Give them a reason.  Any reason.

Various studies have found that you’re more likely to get what you want from someone if you give them a reason.  Even if the reason you give them doesn’t make any sense.

One study in particular involved office workers.  When someone asked if they could jump the queue to use the photocopier with no reason given only 32 % let them.  But when they gave a reason for needing to push in 92 % of people let them.  This figure was pretty much the same when the reason was ‘because I’m in a hurry’ and when it was the ridiculous reason that they ‘needed to use the photocopier’.

So next time you want your children to do something, anything, just give them a reason why.

Tell them you need them to tidy up their rooms because it’s nearly lunchtime.  Or that they need to put their shoes on to go out because it’s Friday.

The reason you give doesn’t seem to matter, just the fact that you give a reason is enough.


4. Get subliminal

If asking your children directly to do something isn’t working, they try planting the idea in their heads instead.

You don’t have to go to full-on inception style lengths to do this, just casually mention the thing you want done in conversation.

Lets say you want your toddler to put all their toys away.

You might say “Look at how much fun we’ve had with all these toys.  Now I wonder who might put them back in the baskets”.  Or “It would be nice if these toys were back in their baskets, then we could ….”.  What you’re doing then is putting the idea of tidying up the toys in your child’s head, without directly asking them to do it.

It might not work on every child but a lot of the time doing this will be enough for them to do what you want, while thinking it was their idea.


5. Focus on positive reinforcement

Make a point of praising and thanking your child when they do what you want, and try to ignore it when they don’t.

So going back to the tidying their toys example.

If you notice they haven’t done it, don’t say anything.  Don’t nag them to get it done.

Try instead to make a bit of a show when they do tidy up.

You can also do this on a much more subtle level.

If you want your child to sit and eat nicely at the dinner table then catch their eye, smile and nod when they’re doing well.  And try to ignore the moments when they are a bit wriggly or picking up their food with their fingers.  This is something that Derren Brown does to control what people do.  He’ll keep a blank face and have his head still most of the time, but nod his head when people do what he wants.

This subconscious reward encourages them to keep doing what he wants them to do.


Have you ever tried any of these things with your child?

Which do you think would be most likely to work to get them to do what you want?


This post is linked up with KCACOLS with A moment with Franca.

Get great photos of children together

The tips you need to know to get great photos of your children together

If you have more than one child you’ll probably know how much of a challenge it can be to get photos of them together.

I know that a lot of time I take photos of my children by themselves.  It’s just so much easier than trying to get them in the frame together!  I do make sure I get at least one photo of them both each month though, for the siblings project.

If you want to get more (and better) photos of your children together then here are the tips you need to know:


Pick your moment

This has to be one of the most important tips.

If you want great photos of your children together then you need to pick the right time to do it.  Don’t expect them to pose and smile nicely for you when they’re tired, or hungry or have been busy winding each other up!

The best thing to do is keep your camera handy so when you see a moment where everyone is happy and getting on you can snap a few photos.


Get creative and take photos in unexpected places

Photo opportunities with your children won’t always come when you’re at the beach or the park.

If you carry your camera with you though, or your phone, then you’ll start to see all sorts of other places can be great locations for photos of your children together.

It might be them sitting together in the back of the car, looking at a painting at the art gallery, or choosing books at the local library.  Once you get comfortable taking photos in public places then the sky’s the limit really.

What’s so great about these kinds of photos is that they build up a beautiful record of your ordinary, extraordinary daily life.


Play with composition

Once you’ve got the classic photo of your children, with them in the centre of the frame, then you can play around with composition.

You can have fun with the rule of thirds, positioning your children on different points of the imaginary grid.

Using layers is also a great way to add some more interest to your photos of your children.

Think about keeping your aperture closed down to around f/8 to keep everything in the shot in focus.  Then include one child in the foreground and the other in the background.  Or you could use tree branches or playground equipment as frames around the edges of the photos.


Move around the scene

When you spot a moment with your children that you want to photograph, then try to capture it from a few different angles.

Get the straight on shot and then move around the scene.

I personally love to photograph my children together from behind, when they’re not really aware of me and my camera.

You can also see if you can get up high and shoot from above, or get down low and photograph them from below.  Try getting in close to the action and then moving further away to capture more of the wider scene.

If you’re really feeling creative then see if you can capture your children’s shadows or reflections.


Give your children something to do

If you know that your children won’t just sit nicely and smile for you to take a photo, then give them something else to do instead.

You can set up an activity that you know they enjoy, like painting or playing with play dough, and then photograph them as they play sitting alongside each other.  Or you can keep it really simple and get them to tell each other jokes.

If you want them nice and close for the photos then ask one child to whisper a secret or a silly word into their sibling’s ear.  This can be a great way to get genuine smiles from them too!

For competitive siblings then a challenge like ‘who can jump the highest’ can hold their attention quite well and you can then get photos of them in action.

Just let them be

One of the biggest tips for photos of children together is to let go of your ideas of perfection.

Accept that you might not get that shot of them all looking at the camera and smiling.

Instead aim to capture their true personalities.

Step back and watch and wait for your chance to snap a photo of them genuinely interacting or just ‘being’ together.

Try a bit of reverse psychology

If you really want that photo of everyone smiling at the camera then this trick could work.

Tell them to look at the camera but whatever they do, they are NOT to smile.  Go over the top and silly with how much you really don’t want them to smile.

Most children will end up laughing and you get the photo you want.



Hopefully these tips will help you get some photos of your children together that you’ll all love to look back on.

And if all else fails there’s nothing wrong with a bit of bribery in my book.  The promise of some smarties or chocolate buttons is quite often all you need to get a few smiles for a few quick photos!

gently stop breastfeeding

Try this little trick to gently stop breastfeeding

I think most women will agree that the early days of breastfeeding are hard.

Really hard.

When you don’t really know what you’re doing, and you’re exhausted and sore and wondering if you can do this.

Then you sort of find your groove with it.  You start to trust that you can ride out any tricky stages and get through the non-stop feeding that comes with growth spurts.

The next big challenge comes when you start thinking about stopping.


Figuring out the best way to stop breastfeeding can be really tricky.

If you want, or need, to stop when your baby is little then you need to find a way to move over to formula and bottles instead.  We were lucky with Rhys that we moved him to bottles really early on and he took to them straight away.

You might find that getting your partner or a family member to try giving a bottle works well, if your baby isn’t too happy about taking one from you.


If your baby is older and you have time to wean gently then there is an approach that worked well for me and Nerys.

Don’t offer, don’t refuse.


This approach to weaning is basically as it sounds.

You don’t offer your child a feed, but you also don’t refuse when they ask.


What I love about this approach is how gentle it is.

It lets you both adapt and adjust to breastfeeding less, with your child leading the way.

If you need to go back to work or need to stop breastfeeding quickly for another reason then this approach won’t really work for you, but if you’re in a position to take your time and wean gradually then this is a great way to do it.

At times of the day when you would normally breastfeed, try offering a cuddle instead or distracting your child with a book or game.  If they do then ask to breastfeed then go for it, but don’t be the one to offer it.


If you breastfed your child, how did you go about stopping? 

And if you’re still breastfeeding at the moment, have you thought about what you might do when you’re ready to wean?