What the ladybird wore

World Book Day 2018


wbdlogoThe wintry weather experienced in the UK at the beginning of March threatened to make Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman the most popular costume for this year’s World Book Day celebrations.

However, the depth of the white stuff meant schools and nurseries were shut and the literary-inspired day postponed.

My little ladybird in March 2017

Willow wasn’t attending her nursery on the day of their rescheduled Alice in Wonderland tea party although she’d previously helped to make some of the heart decorations.

Luke’s school saved their crumpets and hot chocolate for the following week too, highlighting the pleasure and importance of bedtime stories, but that meant he merely needed to don his pyjamas for the day rather than choose a costume even though I’d saved last year’s just in case.

My little ladybird in March 2018

So it was left up to Faith on this occasion to fulfil mummy’s desire to dress up at least one of her children on a semi-regular basis.

And just look how much my little ladybird has grown!

On the verge of sitting independently, she still rocks a red and black outfit at any angle and I think Julia Donaldson’s rhyming tales will be a staple of storytimes in our house for many years to come.

But will I be able to find a ladybird costume in her size next year?

Behind the Scars

A photographic project by Sophie Mayanne

Scars are very rarely made the focus of a camera lens, let alone in a positive light.

But one photographer aiming to adjust our gaze to these natural signs of healing is Sophie Mayanne.

Her Behind the Scars project aims to celebrate the beauty of these apparent flaws – “a badge of victory in a fight, recovery from an accident or illness, a long awaited ‘fix’ Behind the Scars is a celebration of beauty, of flaws, of battles won and obstacles overcome.  It is about survival, living beyond that and capturing the memories” – and to provide a platform for the stories that accompany them and the people they adorn.

And what stories she has uncovered!  A quick glance at her Instagram account and you are welcomed into worlds of treatment of congenital conditions, fighting life-threatening illnesses, suffering severe burns, overcoming issues with self-harm, recovering from traffic accidents, the results of acts of violence and even survival from a gas explosion.  Along with all their individual roads to self acceptance.

Photo: Sophie Mayanne #BehindTheScars

We are honoured that, through her involvement with Zebedee Management, Faith has had the opportunity to take part in #behindthescars and her photograph and experiences featured alongside all these stunning stories.

The youngest person so far to take part in #behindthescars, this is what we wrote for her.

“Faith had open heart surgery when she was nine months old.  That part of her life story will be forever written on her skin by the keloid zipper scar that is still healing, even though she is now already one year old.

“When she was recovering in Glenfield Hospital, Mummy was speaking to one of the cardiac nurses about Faith being signed up by Zebedee Management, who asked if they would show her scar.

“#BehindTheScars means we can now tell her that they’re not just showing it, but celebrating it.  Celebrating it as a testament to that nurse’s loving care, and the immense skills of her colleagues, and Faith’s strength and determination.

“It represents all of the extra love and joy her brother, sister, Mummy and Daddy will experience by having her in their lives for longer.

“It is beautiful, because she is beautiful.

“Currently we’d like it to just finish healing so she can get back to splashing in the bath, and on with the next stage of her development.  In time it might help her connect with people who have had similar experiences to her – in the same way her Down’s Syndrome has led us to discover a fabulous community offering a very warm, friendly welcome.

“But right now, Faith just thinks it’s a bit itchy.”

Visit Sophie’s website at http://sophie-mayanne.com/ and her Instagram account at www.instagram.com/sophiemayanne/ 

Daddy Malpi has a scar on his hand from a knife cut that happened when he was working as a butcher whilst studying at university.  Mummy has a scar under her chin when she slipped and fell in one of her primary school classrooms, one on the back of one hand where some medication burnt her skin and a c-section scar from the emergency procedure that welcomed our eldest mini into the world.

What part of your story is written on your skin?

Stepping into the spotlight

In the spring of 2017, at just a few months old, Faith was signed by new talent agency Zebedee Management.

As well as obviously having impeccable taste, the two driving forces behind the company – Laura Johnson and Zoe Proctor – are truly inspirational.  Building a business from scratch in a notoriously difficult industry, with the aim to increase the representation of people with disabilities in fashion and the media, in just their first year they have already helped their talent work with such household names as Disney, the BBC, River Island, Matalan and Mothercare.

Photos by Chris Waud, Go!Photo

Being such a mini model, Faith requires regular updates to her portfolio to capture how quickly she’s growing and changing.  She missed the last regional group photoshoot when her heart operation was suddenly brought forward so we were really grateful when Lincolnshire photographer Chris Waud offered Zebedee models the chance for a portfolio update in his Market Rasen studio.

As you can see, she had a great time and Chris managed to capture a cheeky glint in her eye too.

He also won over Faith’s big brother and sister who never need much encouragement to perform for the lens and wanted to get in on the act too.

I know I’m slightly biased but I think they all scrub up rather nicely!


To book a Zebedee model or find out more about who they represent, visit the agency’s website at www.zebedeemanagement.co.uk and follow #teamzebedee on Instagram.  

Celebrating 40 years of adventurous fun

Belton House adventure playground

When you become a parent one of the things you look forward to is sharing the highlights of your own childhood with your children.

For Daddy Malpi many of those special memories were the trips he made to the adventure playground at Belton House near Grantham.  Fast forward two or three decades and he has already taken the minis on numerous trips to the National Trust’s playground which was extensively renovated three years ago.

The adventure playground's birthday (2)
Photo: National Trust

And now that playground is about to celebrate 40 years of making memories for all its visitors.

Opened by Peter Purves on Easter Sunday in 1978, the Blue Peter presenter will be returning to the outdoor site four decades later to help mark its anniversary.

His appearance will be part of a full day of play on Thursday, March 29th, including puppet shows, children’s outdoor theatre, bush-craft activities and face painting and more to kick-start this year’s Easter holiday.

The playground, originally called Jungleland because of its woodland setting, was created by the Brownlow family who owned the estate until 1984.  Today it is the National Trust’s largest outdoor adventure playground, offering challenging play in the woodland setting that’s made it such a well-loved destination for generations of families.  

The playground is open from 9.30am every day, closing only on Christmas Day. This event is free, but normal admission charges apply.  For more information, please  visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house 

National charities join forces to link up two popular visitor attractions

A major project of up to £1.2 million aims to link up two treasured visitor attractions to create a wide expanse for people to explore and enjoy.

The Woodland Trust and National Trust plan to open up borders on the land connecting the eastern part of Belton House and the more recently created Londonthorpe Woods

The area once formed part of the 17th Century Brownlow Estate but over time this historic landscape has become fragmented.

The project will create unprecedented access between the sites, allowing people to seamlessly explore a combined area of 225 hectares of woods and parkland so that people can discover both its secret history and environmental treasures.

Thanks to players of the National Lottery, the project has already received a funding boost of £64,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This development funding has been awarded to help the Woodland Trust progress their plans to apply for a full grant of £428,800 at a later date.

Ian Froggatt, Londonthorpe Site Manager, said: “We’re thrilled to get this initial piece of financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Lottery players which we hope will lead to a much larger grant to deliver the project.

“The project will allow visitors to not only enjoy the attraction of Belton House but also explore much of the wider Brownlow estate, including what is now  Londonthorpe Woods.

“With a winning combination of history and nature, it has the potential to be the green lungs of Lincolnshire enabling visitors to enjoy and experience a wealth of health and social benefits”.

The National Lottery grant will allow the project to work towards creating a warm welcome with engaging information which will enable everyone to learn more about these two special places.

A programme of events and activities will be organised to actively involve the local community and visitors from further afield.

Conservation will also be at the heart of the project, it will work to restore and enhance key wildlife habitats, helping to ensure their protection long into the future.

It will also seek to protect and enhance built heritage and parkland features, ensuring the continuation of the Brownlow legacy who had first acquired land in the area in the late 16th century and created Belton house as their family seat.

An extensive consultation programme will kick off in summer 2018, and the charities are looking for as many people as possible to get involved with this.  Work on the ground is due to commence from summer 2020.

However, this project will not go ahead without match funding for the potential National Lottery grant, and the two organisations still need to secure another half a million to make it a reality.

To drive-through or to walk in?

coffee2aThe imminent opening of a drive-through coffee shop near where we live is causing a bit of a stir in our city’s social media pages.

Other than trying to decide whether to drive-through or drive-thru, the celestial-deer named outlet has left me pondering whether I think the whole concept is a good idea or not.

Objectively, I don’t like the way, as a society, we are becoming more and more like automatons isolated in our tin cans with less and less human interaction required.

Subjectively, as the mother of three aged 5 and under, and it’s a big Hell Yeah! from me (as long as they serve orange juice through their window as well because I don’t actually drink coffee…).

I regularly use a drive-through petrol station because why go to the hassle of getting up to three small children in and out of a car, potentially waking them up and/or putting them in front of pester power sweet displays, if you don’t have to?

So I asked some other family bloggers what side of the fence I should come down on.

Linda Hobbis of Mother Distracted, concentrating on fast food drive-throughs, agrees with my objective side – “Hate them.  Cheap, unhealthy food chucked at you in a brown bag.  That’s no way to eat.  Not to mention the nation’s ever growing girth.  Better food and better priced food at service stations is what I would prefer”.

Household Money Saving’s Pete Chatfield joins me astride the fence.  “I love them, apart from two things.  Some of them are designed so badly that when it rains, it drips from the roof into your car when you’re ordering.  And I hate being sat in a queue of 12 cars to see that it’s empty inside.  Despite that, it means I don’t have to move from my car and use my legs.  I would like to see a drive-through Toby Carvery though.”

And other parents also cherish the route of less faff.

“I love them because I don’t have to worry about all the hassle of getting the baby out of the car, into a pushchair, somehow carry the food and manage a pushchair and then get everyone and everything back into the car,” says Laura Chesmer of Autumn’s Mummy.  “Sometimes when my daughter was tiny I’d drive around to get her to sleep then got to the drive through to get some lunch in peace.  It was the only way sometimes!”

And Sinead Latham agrees, “Drive through Sbux has saved many a long motorway journey with just me and the Small.  Don’t have to worry about waking them up and dragging them out of the car when they are sleeping.”

As does All Things Pink’s Maya Dupre, “Love Starbucks and it’s so much easier when they have a drive through especially when you have a baby.  It saves you from getting out the pushchair just to walk in and grab a frappe and then juggle that, your purse and bag back to the car!”

And, for some parents, this practicality can be even more important for them as Ann Hickman of Rainbows are too beautiful explains.  “Drive throughs can be super useful for us.  Two of our kids are autistic and can find the process of going and getting things in a shop stressful.  This way we can get things in our car and the kids can go in when/if they’ve got used to it and the food.  Big thumbs up from us.”

Some mums are such big fans of the idea they’d like to see more services functioning in the same way.

“I’d like a drive-through doctor for routine appointments because I’m tired of sitting for an hour in a waiting room full of sick people for an appointment that’s two minutes long anyway!” says Welsh Mum Christy Bruckner.

“My friend has often told me about the drive through nurseries they have in Texas – she used to drive to the nursery, the staff unbuckle the kids then you drive off!  It’s the same with pick-up.  No fighting for a car parking space or playground politics.  Sounds like the dream!” says Samantha Rickelton of North East Family Fun.

“Obsessed with a drive through!!!” Jenna Newell of Then There Were Three admits.  “They’re so convenient when you have kids.  I wish we had drive thru cash machines here like America, or where I can order my shop online and go to a drive thru to collect it.  Or a drive thru Nando’s!”

And Welsh Mum Writing Helen Trehane agrees with the need for a step up from supermarket click and collect, “Love a drive-thru coffee franchise.  The car is the only place my son will nap now.  I’d like a proper drive through shop.  I’m not talking click and collect, I just want to sit in the car, with Boy asleep, open the boot and let someone load it with my order.”

But it’s Lauren Gordon from Dilan and Me and The Mummy Monster’s Nicola Wills that share my desire for a particular new drive-through service.

“Love them,” says Lauren.  “So good when the baby is asleep and you don’t want to wake them.  I really wish there was a drive through Tesco express type shop, just to pick up the basics like bread and milk without getting out of the car!”

“I want a drive through essentials shop!!!” agrees Nicola.  “I hate having to get the boys out when all I need is milk!!”

Do you love them or hate them?  If you have another genius idea for one then let us know below!

And when they were up they were up…

Down Syndrome Bloggers Network: High highs, low lows

The Down Syndrome Bloggers Network group monthly prompt for January is “They say when you are a special needs parent the highs are higher… and the lows are lower.  I have found this to be…”

FaithReflectionThey say you shouldn’t compare.

But it’s really hard not to isn’t it?

I would’ve thought that we’d have been used to it after Luke decided to set his own schedule when it came to milestones but I can’t pretend it’s not still difficult.

Whenever it’s just us and I can see Faith’s individual progress, it’s fine.  Then I see another baby of a similar age and it’s not as easy.

At just one year old I’m not sure we’re far enough into this journey together for me to be able to answer this month’s prompt with any surety.

Whenever any of your children achieves something it makes your heart swell but the harder someone tries to do something the greater the resulting celebration and I know when Faith reaches a milestone it comes with a whole bucket load of relief too.

For now I remind myself that life is not a race that you want to finish first, that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses that may change and develop over time, hope that she’ll never need open heart surgery again and let my heart swell threefold everytime she shares a smile or giggle with us.

Read more from the Down Syndrome Bloggers Network on the theme of highs and lows:
Trista Park – Highs and lows