Education · Review

TutorFair Review

tutorfairAs you’ll know if you’ve read this post, Sausage is a super bright girl, but thanks to being let down by a previous teacher, she lacks confidence in Maths and related topics. So when we were asked by Tots100 if we’d like the opportunity to receive a couple of tutoring sessions with TutorFair in a topic of our choice, we jumped at the chance. TutorFair offer teachers in a number of topics, including instrument tuition, but it seemed prudent for us to take advantage of some extra help with maths, if only to show Sausage just how capable she actually is.

The TutorFair website is one of my favourite things about the whole experience – it gives you the ability to narrow down what you’re looking for by subject, area, even budget, so you don’t end up trawling through a list of irrelevant teachers at prices you can’t afford. It also gives you an overview of the experience and qualifications of each tutor; the young man who came to see us was a Physics graduate and did his post-grad teacher training at Cambridge University, which is pretty impressive!

On the day, our tutor Sam arrived early for the session but jumped straight in (after taking his shoes off at the door, despite my protestations – excellent manners!) and gave Sausage a special programme to work through on his iPad to show him exactly where she was in terms of her knowledge. This allowed him to see exactly where she needed help and meant that their time together was properly optimised.

Using a combination of iPad and traditional pen and paper, Sausage and Sam worked through a whole load of topics (with me hovering around to get a good overview for review purposes) and it seemed like he was really able to connect with Sausage and pass on some new techniques for doing certain sums. I try not to criticize the UK’s free education system too much as it’s fantastic for most families, however there can be a slightly “one size fits all” approach to teaching when class sizes are large which means that some kids catch on quicker than others. Extra tuition like the sessions Sausage received are a brilliant way to solidify knowledge that’s passed on during school time and make sure that all of the new concepts have really sunk in.

In terms of cost, the tutor who came to us would usually cost around £38 per hour, which is by no means the most expensive session on the site and could be well worth it if your child is having a lot of problems with a subject. There are also tutors who offer help with 11+, GCSE’s and A-Levels and Sam told us that, in some cases, 11+ tuition begins as young as 8 years old.

All in all, I felt like we had a really positive experience with TutorFair. Sausage felt a lot more confident even after one session and it’s something that we would definitely consider continuing with, should she need the extra help. As a final point, another thing we liked was that, if you were a normal TutorFair customer, all payments are made via the website, so there’s no awkward exchange of cash at the end of the session – this may sound like a silly little thing, but it just made me feel like I’d be a lot more comfortable about using the service in the future.

For more information on tutors in your area, visit the TutorFair site.

Family · Travel

Travel Sickness and How to Deal With It

travel sicknessDizziness, cold sweat, and vomiting are the main symptoms of travel sickness, also referred to as motion sickness. According to the Telegraph, it affects more than 20 million people in Britain with children, aged between 2 and 12, particularly prone.

Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth, a GP from Cambridge, explains what causes this nasty sensation: “If the driver throws the car around, tiny particles of chalk suspended in liquid in your inner ear push against microscopic hairs. This tells your brain that you are on your side. Meanwhile, your eyes are sending different information and it’s this that makes you feel sick.”

But what can you do to prevent travel sickness from occurring? We’ve put together a list of different cures, which might help to alleviate the problem.

Choose the right seat and keep still

People suffering from motion sickness should try to find a seat where the motion is minimal. On a plane the calmest seat is in the middle near the wings. On a ship you usually experience less motion in the lower cabins near the centre. When travelling on a train, make sure to sit facing forwards and if you’re travelling by car, then it can help to sit in the front seat rather than in the back.

Relax and keep calm

Focus on your breathing, try to remember poetry, listen to music or engage your brain in other mental activities. Try not to worry about getting travel sick as this might end up making it worse. This also means avoiding contact with other people suffering from travel sickness as hearing them talk about it can make it worse.

Medication

In severe cases, you can get medication from the drug store. Most medication has to be taken a few hours before the journey begins. The NHS lists hyoscine (also known as scopolamine) and antihistamines as often used cures. It’s essential that you talk to your GP first before using them or giving them to your children as they have to be used with caution.

The right food

Avoid eating anything “heavy” prior to and during your journey and ask your fellow travellers to avoid eating food with a strong odour when you’re around. Snack on some pumpkin seeds or ginger products such as ginger biscuits or ginger tea. Ginger is sometimes used to treat nausea and although no scientific studies have been conducted yet to verify its abilities to cure motion sickness, it has been used to treat vomiting and nausea for centuries.

Fresh air

Open a car window or stand on deck if you’re travelling by boat – taking deep breaths of fresh air can stop you from feeling hot and stuffy and can prevent motion sickness.

There’s no guarantee that travel sickness can be cured by these tips. Many children simply just have to grow out of the age where they experience this nasty feeling. However, by being prepared, you can at least have an influence on the severity of the condition

Baby · Beauty · Health · Pregnancy

The Realities of Being Fat and Pregnant

A couple of weeks ago, I read a viral Facebook post about a pregnant woman who’d been fat shamed after posting a series of photos online that she’d had taken of her and her bump. The story was then picked up by the Huffington Post after the woman was asked to take part in “The Honest Body Project”, a photo series which gives an honest look at women’s bodies.

The whole story was something which really resonated with me. Brittany Dykstra, the woman in the photos said “I’m 35 weeks pregnant and just last week I had maternity pictures taken to celebrate this horrible, but beautiful pregnancy. For the first time in about 35 weeks I felt beautiful, and was so excited to share this moment with my friends and family.”

She goes on to say “Later that day we got the sneak peak pictures back and I posted them on Facebook thinking my friends and family would think I was beautiful and would love them, however that wasn’t the case. All I received were negative comments about how huge I am, about how unhealthy I am, and about how they think my baby is going to be a 10 to 12 pound baby by the looks of how much I weigh. I literally went in the bathroom and cried for hours. It’s so hard being plus size, pregnant, sick, and getting negative comments about the way I look. If I’m happy and accepting of my body, why can’t everyone else just be happy for me?!”

Before I fell pregnant with Sausage, I wasn’t huge, probably around 12st, so a little overweight for my 5’4″ height, but not horrendously so as I have a large frame and huge boobs which tends to mean even at a ‘healthy’ body shape, I’m a little over what BMI charts say I should be. I gained a lot of weight during that pregnancy; for the first 4 months, I could barely eat anything at all and actually lost weight because of hyperemesis gravidarum. Then I developed gestational diabetes and despite trying to eat a low GI diet, the weight piled on. Once I’d given birth, I was in a cycle of depression and PTSD which meant that I never lost the baby weight and by the time I fell pregnant with Burrito Baby 5 years later, I was pushing 14 and a half stone.

I’d had every intention of losing the weight BEFORE getting pregnant again, especially as I was already diabetic, but I fell pregnant a lot quicker than I thought I would after having my implant removed, which meant dealing with pregnancy with a much higher starting weight than I would have liked. Like Brittany, once I reached a certain point in my pregnancy, I also felt a little more body-confident; my shape was suddenly defined by the life growing inside of me, not the amount of biscuits I ate, and while I wasn’t about to post photos of myself in lingerie on Facebook, I totally understand whet she meant about feeling beautiful for the first time in a long time.

According to the story, Dykstra started receiving abuse from family and friends regarding her weight, although no examples are given and I can’t help but wonder how much of this “abuse” was unwanted but well-meaning concern for her obvious weight problem. Because, while I am against the idea of ‘fat-shaming’ (lets face it, us fatties do tend to KNOW we’re fat, we don’t need to be constantly reminded), I do think it’s deluded to think that being overweight doesn’t cause health problems, especially during pregnancy. Being “happy” with your body is one thing, but being aware of health ramifications is also hugely important.

On a medical level, obesity during pregnancy can increase the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, infection, problems during labour, increased birth weight, birth defects, babies with a high birth weight and even miscarriage. This isn’t about ‘fat shaming’ or ‘thin privilege’ – these are REAL risks, caused by being overweight.

On a personal level, I definitely found that being overweight during pregnancy adversely affected me. Hauling around a giant bump AND a giant body was genuinely exhausting and I honestly think my SPD and mobility would have been slightly better had I not been putting so much pressure on my pelvis with my excess weight (although and friend of mine, who is very slim, also had SPD, probably worse than my own, so I’m not saying obesity is a cause or necessarily means I suffered more, just that I don’t think it helped at all).

I’m not saying that Brittany Dykstra deserved to be abused for being overweight, nor am I saying that she deserved to feel any less beautiful than other pregnant women who enjoy the glow of carrying a child, but tip-toeing around the issue of obesity isn’t right either. Lots of women get pregnant at a less than ideal time of their lives and I’m sure that, given the choice, women would always choose to be in peak health when conceiving but it doesn’t always happen that way.

The thing is, weight is such a hot-button issue for most people. I know I’ve taken offense, even from medical professionals who’ve tried to talk to me about being overweight. It’s one of those things that people are hugely sensitive about because it’s so closely tied to their self-esteem, so choosing a moment where a mother-to-be is feeling good about herself to give her a lecture isn’t the best timing, not to mention the fact that she probably already KNOWS the issues AND has a team of health professionals telling her the same thing, but that doesn’t alter the fact that being fat and pregnant can be a problem, so it’s not simply a case of whether a person is happy with their weight.

What do you think? Are people overstepping the mark by expressing concern for her? Have you experienced pregnancy as an overweight person? I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences because this whole story has obviously struck a chord with me.

Family

Have you heard of these motoring acronyms?

car-482683_1280Do you know your ABS from your AFM? How about EDC and ECU? Many motoring terms can be quite complex, necessitating industry-standard acronyms that are easy for people – mechanics, salespeople and drivers, to remember. Some are now readily familiar as they have become shorthand for common features sold with every car, such as AC, yes; even in Newcastle cars need air conditioning from time to time! Here’s a list of some of common acronyms that it’s good to keep in mind when shopping for a new car…

ABS – Anti-lock Braking System. If you need to slam on the brakes in a hurry, your ABS will kick in with a series of electronic sensors to prevent them from locking up, thereby stopping the car from skidding, or at least cutting the risk of it. Basically it releases and then reapplies the brakes in rapid succession, simultaneously reducing speed, thereby letting the driver steer and maintain control. Note that it is not a substitute for a sensible stopping distance!

PAS – Power Assisted Steering. Larger, heavier cars, the adoption of front wheel drive in many vehicles, and wider tyres all mean that it would be difficult to effectively steer many cars at low speeds without PAS. You can have a hydraulic or electric system depending on the type of car you drive, and if you’ve ever tried steering a car without PAS, you’ll have noticed the difference immediately.

SRS – Supplementary Restraint System. This is your airbags. Using a series of sensors dotted around the car to determine likely impact should you have a crash, the airbags deploy as a further in-car safety measure, working alongside your seatbelt to cushion you from the blow. The algorithms used to deploy the airbags are increasingly complex, and may now take into account not just the speed you’re going, but your weight, whether the seatbelt is being used, and where you’re sitting in the car to judge when and at what speed to trigger the airbag.

EFI – Electronic Fuel Injection. This is now the primary means of getting the fuel into your car’s engine, having replaced carburetors over the last few decades. The fuel is atomised and then injected through a tiny nozzle at high speeds – a more efficient and environmentally-friendly method than the previous suction technique, that will also save you money. Similarly, DDI, for Direct Diesel Injection.

LPG – Liquid Petroleum Gas. A mix of propane and butane that can be used in some vehicles as an alternative to petrol or diesel. While it is considered to be more eco-friendly, burning more cleanly and containing fewer particulates, it is generally thought that LPG-powered vehicles have a higher fuel consumption.

ECU – Electronic Control Unit. These are your car’s brains. Think of your car as like an octopus. Its eight arms each have a mind of their own, able to coordinate and problem-solve, do their own thinking almost, without needing to consult the octopus’ main brain. Modern cars have many ECUs, up to around 80 in some vehicles, each with their own function, such as controlling the powertrain or the suspension. They are all connected to the car’s main computer(s), which collects and collates data from each ECU and passes information to the driver so decisions can be made.

ACC – Automatic Cruise Control. This one is very clever. When your car is in cruise control on the motorway, on-board sensors note the proximity of traffic from vehicles ahead of you and adjust throttle or brakes to keep you a safe distance away. Expect this to advance in the future to use satellites and radar, and even cooperation with a similar system in the car in front to prevent crashes.

Basically, if there are any acronyms listed for the car you want to buy that you don’t understand, ask for them to be explained before making a purchase, as they may be important. Got all that? OK, TTFN.

Family · Holidays

Enjoy Your Summer With a #HolidayatHome

Having Chuck, our 11 year old bull terrier cross, means that going on holiday is pretty much impossible. Asking someone to look after him would be a no-no as he can be difficult to walk unless you’re used to him and we promised, after getting him from a rescue home, that we’d never put him into kennels.

Every summer, we try to make the most of things though, by going on day trips and also trying to do as many “staycation” activities as we can. We’re lucky enough to live near the coast so trips to the beach are a simple matter of walking a mile or so and avoiding the holiday traffic. There are also some excellent activites along our seafront; it was Sausage’s birthday last week and she asked if we could spend the morning at the arcades playing games, before going to the fountains to play.

Southend Seafront Fountains

We also try to make the most of spending time at home; movie afternoons are a favourite when the weather isn’t up to much and we’ve also made some pretty cool dens for the girls to play in. Making S’mores is an absolute must, too!

Carpetright have just launched the brilliant #HolidayatHome competition, where the lucky winners will nab some amazing prizes, such as a Champneys spa day for two with pampering treatments and a three course lunch worth £408, as well as a luxury picnic hamper from British Fine Foods. All you need to do is share a photo of yourself or your family enjoying fun staycation activities via social media, to be in with a chance of winning some great prizes. Don’t forget to include the hashtag, so that Carpetright can find your entry!

In the meantime, we thought we’d give you a list of our favourite staycation activities to inspire you on yours:

  1. Go to the beach
  2. Go to the pool
  3. Take a long walk (preferably ending in a pub lunch!)
  4. Take naps!
  5. Play a sport
  6. Have a water fight
  7. Visit friends/family
  8. Have a home spa day
  9. Have one day where you eat out for every meal
  10. Do a pub quiz

The most important thing is that you remember to have plenty of fun!

 For more information about Carpetright’s carpets and other products they offer, click the link to visit their site.