Posted in Book, Review

Our Altered Life – Book Review

When I got asked did I want to review the book Our Altered life I said yes not really knowing what to expect.

From the moment I started I was can I say proud of how Charlie puts all her emotions straight out there. Would proud be the correct word when I don’t even know her?

I’m guessing to start people will be outraged! How can she say that? How can she feel that? But I thought she was so brave. She is saying what everyone else would be thinking. I’ve not been in that position but I know I’d think it, it has to be human and would you even be human if you didn’t.

As I went on through the chapters, I couldn’t put it down. There were certain areas that Just reminded me of my own son, so of course I had to keep reading.

I laughed and I had tears. When family events happen you can just feel the love as your reading the chapters.

It must have been extremely hard. The boys sound so much fun, and to be able to joke about missing body pieces adds to the funny side of the book.

It’s one of those books that even if you don’t have anything in common with you would read it and smile. I read it in a day, I really couldn’t put it down.

Since I read the book had to follow their journey over on instagram and the boys really are lush!

Its well written and easy to read. Chapters are quite short so I’d like me you have to finish a chapter before you can do anything else it’s great!

Our Altered life is now out to buy.

Posted in Review

Adventure Belt Review.

When I saw this over on instagram I knew I had to try it with Z. I emailed to make sure that at nearly 5 he wasn’t going to be too big.

I was kindly offered one to review *

A few people have said that I couldn’t use a dogs lead, yes, I’ve thought about it numerous times, and just last summer I was attaching Z to the pooch and walking that way. Meaning Z couldn’t run off! This summer when we’ve gone we’ve been taking Z’s bike I can’t attach the pooch to the bike too!

So that’s where the adventure belt comes in to play.

The first little walk we went on was to the park, it was great, Z had his independence was happily walking away, the pooch walking by his side.

So simple that when we got to the park I unbuckled Z and off he ran, the belt around his waist didn’t hinder him playing at all. He was still able to play in the swing. There’s a little bag on the belt, Z wouldn’t be interested in putting anything in it, but I did think of my keys!

He was willing to be buckled up to walk back home too.

Our next trip was going to be the big tester! The park with the lake.

I’m not going to lie I was a little nervous as if it didn’t hold up and Z ran we’d both have been very wet!

Obviously this is Z, autism don’t follow instructions so we were led by him, and we done pretty well.

He did drop and flop, but got back up, he did try to run but once he realised he couldn’t actually keep going he stopped. The expandable elastic I made slightly shorter so that he couldn’t really pull as much as he wanted to. But he will learn, this was only our second time using it.

Of course if he really wanted in he would have got in. But I had my hands free, I wasn’t trying to hold him and make sure he wasn’t going to get in. Think that meant he was calmer, he didn’t really try to get in the water!

This is going to make going out walking much easier on us all, the safety side is Z can’t just run away when he’s had enough. He can’t just run across roads. He can drop and flop but won’t need to squirm out of my grip as he’s quite independent on his belt. His hands will be free to carry what ever he wants to carry without having to worry about holding my hand.

I’m hoping this will be the start of helping Z learn how to walk safely out and about with me, and starting to rely less on the buggy or the back carrier!

Now when we leave the house he grabs his belt and the pooches lead!

You can purchase the adventure belt here.

* I was sent the adventure belt to review, all opinions are mine.

Posted in Review

Around the world in 80 Days – Review

Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to watch Around the world in 80 days at New Theatre Cardiff. * I took along three friends who each deserved some cheering up.

I didn’t think I would make it, but I’m really glad I went. As a family show I wish Z was a little older and I did debate taking him along but I think he’s just a little bit too young. There were some children sitting next to me and it was lovely to hear them laugh at points that other members of the audience didn’t. Maybe slightly awkward for the parents when Ann summers was mentioned as the audience laughed, as I could hear the one asking what’s Ann summers! Eekkk!!

I think it could have quite possibly been the best show I’ve seen!

I’m not going to lie, but the opening scene I did think what on Earth am I watching! Is is going to be a mime, are they not going to speak much? Are they going to break in to song and dance?

The stage set up as a staircase made of old suitcases and a cupboard under the stairs and basically that was it with a map of the world behind.

I wasn’t sure on what to expect, and I’m sure at one point my face may have even given that away!

When the show got going I didn’t stop laughing. I think Michael Hugo who played Passepartout stole the show! The show may have been about Fogg ( Andrew Pollard) getting around the world in 80 days but passepartout was just so funny. I’m pretty sure that at some parts he may have even gone off script!

The props stayed the same throughout, but the cast used their bodies which had great effect. So when they were on a train the few suitcases were removed and sat upon with the actors actually bouncing as if they were on a train ride, when they were on a boat they would all be swaying back and forth, even people in the background would be swaying and swaying the tables, I’ve never seen this effect before but it was brilliant.

Everything from the use of lighting helped, blue light swirling on the floor when they were on a boat all added to the effects of being on a boat.

I actually loved the audience participation, again, I’ve not come across this at the theatre before. I’m glad I was at the top and not down the front mind!

At first when the first member of the audience was pulled up I wasn’t quite sure if it was staged, but I don’t think it was! It was possibly part pantomime by this point of the hissing of the one character.

There were parts when I’m still not sure if they actually forgot props, or it was all part of the act either way it worked well and made it just more laughable.

To think the whole show was done on just the few actors was good going, they worked well together.

I wasn’t expecting the amount of action in the show, between the fighting scenes which were just so funny, to the slow motion scenes, again the actors using their bodies for added effect, but the best mode of transport had to be the elephant, it was one of those that’s never going to work, to

is this show for real, but it was brilliant and worked so well. Simple and I’d say stupid but so funny.

When I had told people I was going I had oh I’ve seen that advertised but don’t quite fancy it.

I didn’t know the story, I’ve never seen the old film but I would really highly recommend it.

Around the world in 80 days is showing at New Theatre Cardiff from Tuesday 19th – Sunday 24th September, Tuesday – Saturday evening 7pm and Thursday Saturday and Sunday matinees 2.30pm tickets from £15.50 and can be booked here.

This really is one of those shows you have to go and see, we left laughing and possibly a little sea sick!

* I was gifted tickets for my review, all opinions are my own.

Posted in Death, family

Nan.

You put up a pretty good fight. You fought till the end, proving that if dementia hadn’t got you you could quite possibly be still fit and healthy.

I’m glad I came to say goodbye. I was adamant I wasn’t.

Dementia took my Nan away from me a few years ago. That’s what’s kept me going, I’ve asked about you but couldn’t really master the courage to come see you waste away in a home.

Hospital is different that’s where people die and I think that’s what made me come,

not sure what changed my mind but something did and that’s when there was no turning back I knew that then was going to be the last time. I wouldn’t come back again, you weren’t my Nan laying there either. Maybe if I was a braver person and come to see you all the time it would have been different.

All those memories came flooding back. Ok, you didn’t look like my Nan but laying there you was still my Nan.

The memories of going walking on a Saturday, you’d take us miles all with a handful of mints in your pocket, and start our journey on a bar of chocolate! Never a drink in sight!

Down the Taff Trail, some days as far as Aberfan, now that’s a fair trek! Remember running down the path past the farmhouse and down to the rubble of the old Rhyd Y Car cottages.

Some days we’d take our bikes or go on skates.

We’d go over to the ‘bumpy’ hill with my little red bmx bike. Feed the horses on the left on the way.

Some days we’d walk up to cyfarthyr park, that always felt longer than walking to Aberfan.

We’d go shopping on a Saturday afternoon that’s how I started collecting trolls, you asked as what we wanted and I wanted that troll with the red hair!

Remember when the market opened and we’d buy sherbet, you hated it, you told us it brought the ants to your kitchen. You made us put it on a plate!

We’d play you up, yes we were naughty and you’d never tell our parents.

You were visiting your friend the one day, well most probably going to give her her diner, you looked after all the old people I bet they weren’t actually that much older than you were they?! Anyways, July, you came back to Christmas music and your decorations up, told us take them down and if we didn’t you would chuck them all in the fire. We all loved that coal fire, ‘Nan, this is rubbish can we burn it?’, how often did we say that !

Remember when H swang those potatoes all the way up the tip, you told her all the way stop swinging them, when we hit the top the bag broke and were chasing potatoes down the hill laughing. You weren’t impressed told us we couldn’t have as many chips for tea! Or when G wouldn’t listen as he ran across the pitch, you shouted no there’s a puddle and next thing he’s up to his waist in mud. Or when K was walking the dog the day before she was to be bridesmaid and she fell and cut all her lip. You were terrified of telling my Mam and your soon to be daughter in law!

We’d walked miles, we were always out walking, you fell a few times and we laughed. When you were taking to some guy and his dog knocked you over I couldn’t help you up as I was laughing so much! The guy was mortified but in all fairness you took it well and laughed!

The night we were all going to sleep I the garden, you said no but we did you told us you were locking the back door, you didn’t! You woke up to all four of us on the living room floor! You knew we wouldn’t stay there and I’m guessing you didn’t actually go to sleep until we were all in.

One of my last clear memories of just you and I was walking down the road the day or two before the cars were allowed on it. Just you and I we didn’t see anyone all the way, we didn’t half think we were the kiddies, walking on a freshly tar marked road, again with just a handful of mints out of your cardigan pockets. That Friday evening walk, before home for toast and brookside!

You’d chase us with your wooden spoon when we misbehaved, we knew you wouldn’t chase us that far up the street, so we’d leg it out the front door laughing.

We’d ask to help polish all your brass. I’m sure you went back over it after we had gone! We used to play sword fighting with your rhubarb you’d tell us off! We’d collect the black currants off the little bush in your garden and you’d make pie, you’d take us collecting blackberries and nuts and we’d eat the nuts and you’d make blackberry pie and we’d eat it with either ice cream or custard.

We went on lots of adventures, you’d never tell us what was at the top of the hill and I’ve never found out. I don’t think I’d even know how to get there, as I’m older I’m guessing the other side is Aberdare. We collected tadpoles that the birds went for and we made you kept them for a week by the time we came back they were near enough frogs!

Toast, you made the best toast, no one can make toast like you could.

I could go on and on! The more I’m sitting thinking about the more I can remember.

All those hours spent playing with the puppy in my pockets, using the brass iron as a boat! The pegs being put in the holes we’d spend hours making patterns, now Z plays with those!

When you’d come up to babysit at ours and it was still light out you’d take us to the park well we’d go on a little walk but always end up in the park!

I’m glad that before dementia took you away from us completely that you were able to be at my wedding, at that point you were struggling with your memory, but you made it. I’m also glad you met Z, you knew I was having him, well some days you told me loose weight! That’s fine. You met Z he ran around your house. You remembered you knew him. You may not have remembered me but you knew you knew Z. I don’t think you ever really knew his name but you knew that little boy with the smile.

As time went on it was harder to come see you, you were disappearing right before our eyes, and at the early stages we would laugh, because if we didn’t laugh we’d leave your house crying. You would ask us if we wanted tea or coffee, you’d put the kettle on to boil and forget and turn it off, we’d have cold water in our coffee.

Christmas would become too much for you, all of us at yours Christmas morning you couldn’t work out why and you were putting your gifts away or trying to give them away! With the ‘well I don’t need another cup!’. I can’t say this is the first Christmas we won’t see you as I didn’t come last year, that was the first year I hadn’t seen you on Christmas Day.

You’d sit and look at the garden whilst we were sitting in the kitchen telling me if grampa were here that would be an allotment and a lawn. Around this time is the only time I’ve ever managed to get anything out of you about grampa, about how you used to meet on the bridge over the river Usk. Memories that I know that maybe not even your children do. That you’d walk half way each time until the one day grampa walked to your side.

Talking one day about your own parents you never spoke of them, this day you were saying about walking around Lord Bucklands grounds with you dad about catching poachers who were after the pheasants. All these stories you wouldn’t tell us when we were younger, but you would happily tell us before dementia wiped your memory completely. How you moved to here, if I remember correctly you followed your brother, and it was to do with jobs, how grampa had a job here so you moved too, along with your parents. Stories I’ll never get you to tell me again. Stories now I wish I could remember correctly.

Those days when you were willing to talk about your family were the days I could listen to you for hours but they were just snippets of your past, you would jump from meeting Grampa on the bridge to your son not going to school and that’s why he has bad knees from mitching! Back to how the garden would be a lawn and what Z’s name is. Those stories that I wish I could remember now that if you had told is growing up we’d remember them clearly.

Don’t forget your promise to me either!

R.I.P Nan x

Posted in Death

Vascular dementia is horrible.

When you have the sad news of the family has been called as your Nan has taken the turn for the worst.

As sad as it is it’s a blessing, I just hope it’s quick and as painless as can be.

Vascular dementia is unlike Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s you can get good and bad days, you maybe able to remember loved ones, sing along to your favourite songs. Vascular dementia you don’t.

I lost my Nan around about two years ago when she stopped speaking.

No I didn’t go to see her, the last time I seen her she didn’t talk. She was just about walking, a few weeks later she stopped walking.

My Nan is like a baby, she doesn’t talk, walk, gets fed and has her nappy changed. How mortified she would be if she knew what was happening.

When she got diagnosed with vascular dementia it was a death sentence a waiting game. There is no medication for vascular, Alzheimer’s you can have medication that may help vascular there’s no hope, nothing. That one organ that does so much that I’d say is equally as important as the heart is dying, a also agonising death.

I remember being told in 2011 that she had dementia no one knew then that it was vascular, as soon as it was known that was it, no help, nothing. Slowly she has resorted back to a newborn. Unlike a newborn with vascular dementia you can loose the ability to swallow. Being a prisoner in ones own brain, being unable to eat, drink, walk and talk.

Without the ability to talk how do we know when she’s in pain? How do we know what you are feeding her she likes? She can’t tell you she don’t like that food.

How is that a quality of life?

Yes you can say I have no right to write these things I’ve not seen her in two years. I have heard how much she’s deteriorated over the last two years and dying will be a blessing. She won’t be in any pain. She won’t just be going through the motions of being woken, being fed, having her bum changed, being put to sleep. Starting at the same four walls, not knowing what’s happening.

How do we know a brain dying isn’t causing her any pain, we don’t.

Of course wishing death on someone doesn’t sound like something a granddaughter should be doing.

Look at it logically it really is out of love, yes I’d love to spend one more day walking the mountains with my nan, sitting and eating jelly and ice cream but that’s not going to happen she isn’t going to come back. She’s not going to offer me a mint she has lost the ability to talk, the ability to communicate with anybody. She has forgotten she is a mother a grandmother. All those precious memories she can not remember.

How is that fair? How is that fair to keep someone alive that can’t remember any thing? So yes when I say I hope my Nan don’t make it to see tomorrow it’s for that reason.

I know everyone will not see my logical thinking on this one and I’m not asking for you to agree with me you can disagree with me all you want.

Posted in Competition, Uncategorized

Around the world in 80 Days

When I was asked if I’d like to go and see Jules Verne’s Around the world in 80 days and take just under two and a half hours at New Theatre Cardiff of course I said Yes!

As my regular readers will know up until last year I’d never been to the theatre I’m starting to become a little bit of a pro and look forward to it. Possibly because for me they are all new stories! Around the world in 80 days isn’t going to be any different!

I know the story is a classic 1872 novel by the French writer Jules Verne and that Philes Fogg is an inventor living in England, he bets his life’s fortunes that he can travel the globe in just 80 days, after another inventor challenges him to the trip. He sets off with passepartout on a big adventure.

We’ll travel the world with a cast of 8 who’ll take on 125 characters starting from the club in Victorian London to the Wild West and the exotic subcontinent!

Andrew Pollard who plays Phileas Fogg. He will join Michael Hugo as his loyal manservant Passepartout , Dennis Herdsman as inspector Fix,Pushpinder Chandi as MrNaidu. Matthew Ganley Colonel Proctor, Simi Egbejumi -David as Captain speedy, Joey Parsad as Miss Singh and KirstenForster as Mrs Aouda.

The cast between them have an extensive list of theatre credits and television including Emmerdale, spooks, casualty, shameless and Hollyoaks.

The show is on in New Theatre Cardiff from Tuesday 19th – 24th September 2017, and you can purchase tickets here

For a chance to win family ticket (up to 4 people) for the opening night of Around the world in 80 days on Tuesday 19th September 2017 7pm . Answer one simple question and leave your answer on my around the world in 80 days post on first time valley Mam on Facebook .

Entry’s will close Saturday 16th September 11.59pm.

Who wrote the book around the world in 80 days?

Terms and conditions

Prize is family tickets ( up to 4 people) to the showing of Around the world in 80 days on  Tuesday 19th September at New theatre Cardiff.

The competition will close on Saturday September 16th 11.59pm

There is no cash alternative or any other prize, the prize is a family ticket for up to 4 people to the showing of around the world in 80 days on 19th September 2017 7pm

First time valley Mam reserves the right to end the competition and cannot be held accountable for third parties not providing the prize.

First time valley Mam will not be accountable for any loss or damage.

The winner will randomly be chosen from all correct entries.

First time valley Mam will notify the winner by 12pm on Sunday 17th September if the winner cannot be contacted and haven’t acknowledged they are the winner by 11am Monday 18th September then another random person will be chosen on Monday 18th at 12.pm

Posted in school

Good luck teachers!

Back to school day!

I’m so excited!

Teachers!

He’s now all yours!

I’ve done my job of keeping him safe fed and watered these last six weeks. Now it’s your turn to have him back!

I know how much you love having him, there was a time around week four when I could have happily have gone through the phone book and drove around looking for your houses. My little gift to you! My darling little tornado.

But I didn’t want to get arrested for any stalking offences. So I’ve resisted the urge!

Obviously with all his new words that you will be greeted with, ‘mammy, daddy, ‘sorry’ ok’, not sure what that means! ‘Picture perfect’ is from sherif Callie. ‘Oh no, is when he has a dirty bum. Something sounding like hur hur that’s something he’s said a lot before attacking B, so that maybe his ‘growl’ warning sound?! There’s many more, ‘really Z, is what I’ve been saying to him when he’s tipped yet another pile of pringles over the floor.

We have also been working on the word sorry when he attacks random kids at soft play for eating! You can’t mistake finger family song. Help me help me is from the rabbit song. ‘…. shoots me dead !’ Thanks YouTube!

So think I may have covered basics!

Again his pack lunch has loads in as he’s gone fussy!

Good luck trying to sing any songs… unless it’s away in a manger!

Did I say how excited I was about school!

No tears here or do tears of joy count?!

If I could send in some party poopers and wine and chocolate I would!

So here’s to the next six weeks you’ll be counting down the days to the holidays. Roles will be reversed.

Good luck with this inquisitive 4 year old who likes to open everything by standing on them.

I can’t wait to see what you teach my stamping, popping loving, inquisitive tornado.

I hope those six weeks has rested you for the next six weeks. You really are going to be well rested!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

So a huge thank you for keeping all us parents sane by taking our little darlings off us all day!

Here’s to the next year, here’s to reception!

Posted in school

First day at school.

Tomorrow you start ‘official’ school.

Yes I know you’ve been there full time for a year but you’re one of the lucky ones, most children in nursery have been part time.

You start reception.

When did my tiny under 5lb baby get so big?

Reception class.

I can read many posts of other parents tears about their children starting school.

I’m really sorry but I don’t have tears.

I can’t wait for school.

I can’t wait to wave you off with a smile on my face!

I can’t wait to get home and have a coffee in peace.

Am I a bad parent?

I don’t think so.

As much as I love you I really do. You need school, you need routine, you need to see your teachers.

You really have struggled these holidays. You’ve missed school, you’ve missed the teachers, don’t forget for the last year they’ve had you longer in the day than I have. They know you, in someways maybe even better than I do.

No I’m not jealous, ok maybe they get you all day but they also get sleep! I think this year you’ve also missed your little friends, I’ve never seen you play before but to see you play with G was great. You really were playing, you knew who one another were you are friends.

Maybe the first day nerves are not there as I know who’s looking after you, I know you’ll be fine, safe and well looked after. You’ll be happy to run back in. I know your usual person won’t be taking you off the bus, I’m guessing the excitement of tomorrow that’s not really going to bother you. How you’ll react going into a new class with some missing I have no idea. But as bad as it sounds that’s the new teachers problem! I’ve had a confused wild child for six weeks, I’m sure tomorrow you’ll be fine you’ll take it all in and be smiling coming back to the bus when I collect you.

Reception class, where you should be learning to write, you should already be writing your name, you should be learning to write numbers. You should be learning things like tying shoelaces, as you should already be able to put on your clothes do your jacket up etc, but you are learning in different ways. Since you’ve been more vocal these last six weeks I know you know your colours, shapes, animals, and I know you can read, only yesterday you read chicken McNuggets off a box! So just because there’s things you can’t do that you should be doing I’m sure if I actually put you in a mainstream reception class you’d wow them with what you can do and not what you can’t.

Think the nerves are more with me, new children on the bus, new parents to meet. That’s always scary!

I know it’s only 10.30am, you’ve been up most of the night, I’m pretty sure a lot of that time school was said, maybe trying on your new uniform got you excited? Maybe you thought you were going today. So I really think that after I’ve had a quick tidy up I’m going to get your bag packed, uniform ironed, and we’ll be ready to go!

So again, I’m sorry for not shredding a tear, I’m sorry for counting down the next 24 hours with a huge smile on my tired face!

Here’s to the next chapter of our never ending story.

Go get reception Z!

Posted in autism

I wish you knew

Continuing on my #send30daychallenge day 25

I wish you knew.

I wish you knew I try my best.

I do eventually get to the point I’ll scream I’ll shout, and I have sat you down and walked away, but I always come back calmer and ready to try again.

I wish you knew that I do appreciate you even though I never say it!

I wish you knew that as much as some days I can’t wait for the day to end, I really don’t want it to! I don’t want you getting older and growing up!

I wish you knew how grateful I am to you, I know how hard you work everyday.

I wish you knew how hard it was, how hard it still is and how hard it’s going to be.

I wish you knew I do worry, I do stress about what you can’t do right now. What will you be able to do in the future.

I wish you knew how much I think of the future the what ifs the do I do this or that.

I wish you knew how proud I am of you, of how much you’ve grown and how much you’ll continue to grow I’ll always still be proud of you.

I wish you knew how much I’ve fought for you and how much I’ll continue to fight for you, you may get married and have

kids one day and I’ll still fight for you!

I wish you knew that when I take you places it’s you I think of, I’m thinking in the future it has to help if you know lots of places.

I wish you knew not everything in life is easy, it’s not all a walk in the park, there will be struggles, there will be tears, there will be tempers and tantrum, there will be meltdowns but there will also be lots of laughs and love along the way.

I wish you knew how much I just sit watching you, observing you with a smile on my face.

I wish you knew you made me into the person I am today.