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Guest Post from Cancer Research Uk: Tips for Surviving the Flu Season

Autumn is officially upon us now – we’ve dug our winter coats out, turned up the heating and said goodbye to our sunnies for a while. And with the new season, it is inevitable that soon enough we shall all be under threat from colds and flu. But how can we prepare for this and start battling off the symptoms of runny noses, sneezing and sore throats? Take a look at our top tips for surviving the flu season and then sit smugly as you watch everyone else succumb to illness.

Image CC via Flickr

1. Stay Indoors

Okay, so obviously we don’t mean that you have lock yourself away from the outside world, but why not consider switching your mad Friday night drinking session for a cosy night in front of the TV? We all know that alcohol isn’t great for us, but cutting down around this time of year can significantly improve our chances of avoiding the flu as it weakens your immune system, giving nasty viruses the opportunity to take advantage. Plus, clubs and bars are an absolute haven for viruses. Anyway, with weather like this, a nice hot chocolate and a bad film sounds somewhat more appealing that a chilled glass of Pinot!

2. Stay Hygienic

Again, let’s not get over the top with this one. There is no need to freak out everytime somebody with a slightly red looking nose comes near you, but at the same time, it doesn’t hurt to take a few extra precautions around this time of year. Try keeping a small travel sized bottle of antibacterial gel in your bag, and make sure you’re using it at times when you come potentially pick up a bug, for example after you’ve been on a train with lots of people, or if you have been eating in a communal area. Just try to find the right balance between squalor and germophobia!

3. Know Your Vitamins

Understanding the correct vitamins to take can significantly boost your immune system and improve your chances of resisting illness as long as you remember to keep taking them. To avoid colds and flu, try vitamin C or the lesser known Echinacea, which helps strengthen your immune system. You can get it in both drops and tablets, depending on your preference, from all good health stores.

CC via Flickr

4. Sleep, sleep, sleep

This may sound like simple advice, but it is amazing how many people fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis. Of course a lack of sleep can make you feel run down as it is, but recent studies have also shown a link between sleep and the production of disease-fighting white blood cells. So, next time you feel bad about having too much of a lie in, just remember that it’s for the sake of your health!

5. Avoid the Gym

Okay, so most of us don’t need an excuse to skip a visit to the gym, but the fact is that, if you’re not feeling great, it’s a place to avoid. To start with, it’s a pretty close environment and there’s a real risk of either picking up a bug from someone else. If you’re already feeling rough, there might be a temptation to exercise through it, in the hope that it’ll speed up the healing process. Truth is, you’ll just risk infecting other people and making yourself feel worse. Listen to what your body is telling you: if you’re ill, rest is the fastest way to recovery.

6. Wrap up Warm

There’s a persistent myth that colds and flu can actually be caused by being too cold. In reality, both are caused by a virus that you can only pick up from someone who already has it, or from coming into contact with something they’ve been using. If you’re already ill, though, nothing will make you feel worse like being cold, and you’ll soon see your symptoms exacerbated.

This was a post from the health bloggers at Cancer Research UK, providing information and support to those suffering with breast cancer and those who know someone who is.

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Special Birthday Film Night

Last week there was a little boys birthday in our house.  Thanks to the lovely Claire from Cheshire Claire, and talking to her about the successful film night that she had for her son’s birthday a few weeks ago, I decided to copy her and have a few friends over to play for littlest (ahem, sit and quietly watch a film was the plan).

There was much excitement for the planning of the party to come and littlest spoke of nothing else for about a week before the actual day.

The invitations went badly when a few of the children he asked turned him down flat.  School has been difficult for him recently and living with his brother is not easy, so I was sad to see him being distressed about it all and I decided to make it extra special for the boys who did manage to come.  I asked a few boys whose mothers I know and who do actually like my boy, rather than the popular crowd he would like to be in with.  With a few confirmed film nighters, it was down to me to arrange the quiet peaceful night to come.

I had strict orders of what had to be done for the party.   There were to be no brothers in attendance which I thought was fair for him, since he carries a heavy burden day-to-day with his older brother – and at times he is expected to act older than his years.

We started off with some fireworks.  Apologies for the poor quality photos for this post, but we were all so busy having fun that photos took second place to being mum for the night and I think that just set the boys off into mischievous mode.

I ordered a huge “beast” pizza from our local Snappy Pizza place and I wish I had managed to get a picture of the HUGE box, but alas, the kids dived in far too quickly for me to be able to get any worthwhile photos as I dished out and served up slice after slice of monster pizza, but I did manage to snaffle elders plate as he sneaked upstairs with his pal and their plates of swag from the party food.

This plate is for an 11 year old, and he came back for a double helping.

Now, onto the quiet part of the night.  Was film night as nice and quiet as I had imagined it?

I’ll let you decide that for yourself while you listen to the shy and retiring children play with the fabulous Hexbug Nanos that  we were provided to brighten up littlests night.  You will need your sound on to appreciate the peaceful and calming environment of the evening.

Did they watch a film – not on your Nellie.

The boys were here from 4pm and all picked up at 8.30 so it was a looooong party.  After they all left, I scooped out a lovely tub of ice cream and whipped up a sauce of condensed milk, the Nutella spread that was so thoughtfully gifted to us, and added  Smarties and Fudge.

Wickedly sinful, but perfect end to the day.  Yum.

And to the wonderful PR that provided us with the Nutella and the Hexbugs to make his party go with a bang, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The Hexbug Nanos made the night extra special.

Scottish Mum



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Adoption Week Part 1. Not the Step Forward I’d Imagined

It has been adoption week this week, and as someone with three adopted children, I thought I should add my tuppenyworth to the discussion and share some of my “ranty wisdom”.  I will also do a jollier post later this week about more of the positives.

I felt like taking my remote control and throwing it at the TV when I began to see some of the coverage that adoption was getting this week.  The Cameron man on the telly moaning on about the process just got my back up, but that’s not unusual for me.

And to top it off, my hackles rose when I watched the segment about the woman complaining about the process and how long it takes to be assessed here, but who had plenty of dosh and managed to find the readies to go abroad and adopt the youngster she wanted.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would have gone abroad if I hadn’t managed to find my forever children in the UK, but come on, complaining about the system you have to follow to get those children is just plain wrong if you don’t even adopt from here.

Let me tell you about how the adoption process was before they made it that little bit tougher.  We went overnight from no children to 3 children who were not fully socialised.  Foetal alcohol babies are hard work, I can tell ya.  Imagine your trouble with a crying baby with colic who doesn’t sleep, and multiply that by a factor of 1000 x 1000 with knobs on and that could be the potential.

All those wannabe mums out there think that a little bit of love is going to make it all right – well it doesn’t.  Those cute little bundles may very well end up as aggressive, troubled tots who don’t get the help they need to survive.  Lots of families disrupt, even now when they can’t cope with the changes that children with high needs means.

Make no mistake, if you have a diagnosis of Autism, or an “acceptable” condition, the world will sympathise and help you with your children.  If your children have a diagnosis of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome or your child is Drug affected, you are going to hit your head up against a brick wall to get help.  And if you do say what the diagnosis is, people will think you are a raving alcoholic and start crossing the street and avoiding your kids party invites.

The bottom line is that most of the young children in care nowadays are disabled, alcohol or drug related births.  There are some who are orphans or young mums not wanting the responsibility, but they are certainly not the norm, and potential parents HAVE to get it through their heads that love is NOT enough to bring up drug and alcohol affected children.

I HATED the adoption process.  With an enormous passion.  I thought it was too long and I thought it was ridiculously monotonous and repetitive, but the authorities HAVE to try to suss out as many of the nutters who try to adopt for other reasons as they can.  If they handed over kids to a ring of child abusers, we would all be up in arms that the process wasn’t comprehensive enough.

Lets get down to the nitty gritty.  Adoptions take so long because there is NOT ENOUGH MONEY in the pot to get the work done that needs to be done to keep everyone safe.   Social workers have too many groups to assess, and to be frank, lots of approved adoptive parents sit waiting for the phone to ring rather than being pro-active and finding their future kids across the country.  There are also some fabulous homes not being used because there are not enough staff to get the meetings set up, organised, pulled together and finalised.

I do think the inflated considerations about race and ethnic backgrounds are pretty crap to be honest.  Lets just chuck kids into uncontrolled and often violent childrens homes eg just because they might be black and christian and a council only has white protestant adoptive parents on their books.

If I get the religions wrong, I apologise – as being a non-believer I just don’t care what religion anyone else is as long as they don’t try to sell me their faith.  That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t happily support a child who needed to learn more about their own faith and culture.

I’d like to see the kids put into homes that will stick with them through thick and thin, support their race and ethnic backgrounds, and to hell with the rules of what colour skin, race or nationality we should be before we can help a child escape from institutionalisation, temporary parents and abusive homes.

After care is rubbish.  Yes, there are “supposed rights” but considering post adoptive care says there is no money in the pot to provide anything, then it really is an empty promise unless it is desperate in my experience.

I am afraid that the negativity far outweighed the positivity that it should have showed, and would put people off finding out more, or moving forward with a process that needs to be shored up.

Right down to basics, adoption is about being parents.   In the same way that parents take on responsibility for children and have to fight for their needs, there is nothing different.    There is no special treatment in being an adopter once you are there so think about it long and hard, and treasure the preparation process because it is there for a reason.

If Mr Cameron wants to make the system work, stop complaining and support the Councils who are mostly doing their best with the means they have at their disposal (money, people and imposed rules) and ringfence pots of money for adoption and disability.

Yes, there are problems and yes, there are always nasty people who don’t do their jobs right, or get in the way of things happening, but they are in the minority.

I saw those segments, and rather than feel good about what was being said, I was conscious that if I were a new potential adopter, that it would massively put me off if I thought that the system was as difficult to breach as it sounded.

Mr Cameron needs to put his money where his mouth is to find alternative methods of moving adopters through the system and helping approve positive matches for families with support to help families cope with the potential problems they will face.

I’ve said my piece and now I will settle back and sort out my three adopted boys photos for christmas cards.   The whole process was worth every rotten moment it took to get through.