Dot Makes 4: 2 Years Old and a Giveaway!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Next month, Dot Makes 4 will turn two years old. I can't believe that's it's been that long already!

Like a toddler, we've had to have a few timeouts, but at the end of the day, you realise that it's all worth it! I love blogging and have learnt so much about it and myself in these past two years.

I decided that as it's a birthday, I should cebelerate by holding a giveaway. You could win an Usborne Farmyard Tales Stories Box Set :)

I've loved Usborne books ever since Mikey was little and Farmyard Tales are perfect stories to introduce little one to reading. Plus, you can hunt for the little yellow duck!

All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Two winners will be selected after the competition closes.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition terms and conditions can be found here

Being a #freefrom Parent: #1 Katy

Monday, 9 January 2017

As you know, Mikey has multiple food allergies and I write quite a bit about how we cope and deal with them as a free from family.

I thought that it would be great to share other parents' stories of their children and what it is like Being a #freefrom Parent.

Today, Katy shares her story......

My daughter Daisy is 10 months old now and has been diagnosed with CMPA (cows milk protein allergy) for 8 months already. In this time we have learned a lot about how to feed and nourish a baby with CMPA, also, we have learned a lot about how the NHS work when it comes to children with allergies. Today I want to talk to you about how we managed to get our daughter diagnosed with CMPA.

When Daisy was 11 days old, on the 1st of April, she projectile vomited for the first time. I was covered, as was she. She laid there, shaking in shock from the sheer force and speed of the vomiting. At the time I joked with my husband about how she was 11 days old and already playing pranks on us for April Fools Day. I was sure that she had vomited an unusual amount for such a small baby but my midwife was happy that she was still gaining weight and doing well so I didn’t worry at the time. 

Over the next 2-3 weeks Daisy began to projectile vomit regularly. First it started at night. I would place her in her cot and in the following few minutes she would proceed to vomit with such force that my tiny baby (born at 5lb 13oz) would cover the walls, the floor, herself, her cot and sometimes even our double bed too! We attended the doctors several times and we were prescribed infant gaviscon, which made no difference at all. 

It was at 5-6 weeks old that Daisy began to projectile vomit after every single bottle. She started to lose weight and one evening she vomited three feeds in a row. I rang the NHS 111 service to be told that a Doctor would call back. When they did they advised me that it ‘was not possible for a baby to have been crying for 5 solid hours at such a young age’. I was being dismissed. Just like that. Daisy managed to keep a few ounces down and then she slept. At 5am the vomiting began again. Projectile vomiting as before. I rang the NHS 111 service again and this time I was asked more in-depth questions by the Doctor who rang. He advised me to attend A&E with Daisy as she had a sunken fontanelle and was at risk of becoming dangerously ill.

We attended A&E at 7am and by 8am Daisy was admitted to the children’s A&E. She had severe dehydration. Through the course of the day she had her urine tested, and a blood test carried out. We then spoke with a consultant and it was determined that Daisy was suffering from CMPA. We were advised to switch from breastfeeding straight to prescription formula, as Daisy was already in a bad way, so we did so. 

For a few weeks the formula we was prescribed, Nutramigen, was working perfectly for Daisy. The vomiting stopped, her weight gain increased, and we were thrilled. Then Daisy started to get the classic symptoms of reflux/CMPA once again. She was constantly ‘full of cold’. She seemed to be sneezing, coughing and wheezing all the time. Then the vomiting started once again. We rang the consultant that we had been referred to and he advised that Nutramigen still has some of the cows milk protein, just more broken down, as it is cheaper than the formula without the protein and a lot of babies can tolerate it. So the cycle began again. Daisy was switched to a more expensive milk, Neocate, and we had to ride it out for several weeks while her symptoms subsided. This time Daisy was also prescribed Omeprazole, to help with the symptoms of GORD. 

Finally we had a prescription formula that worked! Daisy is now 10 months old, she weighs 21lb and is doing fantastic. She no longer has all of the cold like symptoms of CMPA and as long as she isn’t accidentally given anything containing dairy she is rarely sick. Daisy has gone from being underneath the centiles to the 75th centile and has stayed there for several months now. 

For us we have found that persistence is key when it comes to getting a diagnosis. Particularly if you are a first time parent. It is not unusual for parents to worry, sometimes unnecessarily, about their children. This means that naturally Doctors are cautious about just making diagnosis that may lead to long term medication or expense for the NHS. We had to visit our Doctor several times, and persist with ringing the Consultant too later down the line. Daisy was given an ultrasound, to rule out pyloric stenosis, and finally then we were able to get her GORD officially diagnosed.

If you are a parent who is worried that their child may have CMPA then I would advise that you persevere. It can be frustrating when you are initially just given a prescription for Gaviscon, however, try this first. It may be what helps your little one as all babies are different. Not all babies with vomiting and CMPA like symptoms actually have CMPA. Some are suffering only from reflux, which in itself can be pretty hard to cope with! Remember that you are the parent and you know what is right for your own child. If your child is unwell and you are worried then persist with visiting your GP. I know I’d much rather be labelled as a worrier or a hypochondriac than have my child suffering. 

Katy is a mother to one daughter, Daisy and wife to Thomas. She is a full-time blogger who specialises in making money online from home. Katy's website is full of ways that you can make and save money both online and offline. 

You can also find recipes that are suitable for weaning a CMPA baby. To find out more, head to Katy's website She can also be found on Twitter , Instagram and Facebook

If you would like to take part in the new Being a #freefrom Parent, please get in touch!

Our Family Fun List 2017

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Last year we sat down together and wrote a small list of what things we wanted to do as a family throughout the year. We managed to get most of it completed, so we thought it'd be a great idea to write a new one for 2017!

After deciding on a name for the list, (sidenote: Mark actually spent time trying to come up with a name for the list!) we got down to writing things down.

So here is our list so far:

Exploring the UK 

For Christmas a couple of years ago, we bought Mikey a UK Scratch map. Every so often we like to try and scratch some more off, so our plan is to get quite a bit uncovered this year!

Going to Wistow Maze

You may have seen my post on Wistow Maze. It is a maize maze that changes every year. It has different questions dotted throughout, which is just as much fun for the adults. We have now made it an annual trip :)

Climbing at Altar Rock

In Derby, there is a place called Altar Rock, which is a rundown church that has been converted into a climbing facility. For Mikey's birthday, my Aunt kindly bought him some climbing sessions with
his dad. They had a ball, although my husband got stuck in the cave section, much to our amusement!!

  • Walking more
  • Spend time together
  • Plant some flowers (and keep them alive!)
  • Have a trip to the seaside
  • Go swimming
  • Read more (this one is mine!)
  • Have a family movie night

Have more occasions where the extended family can get together

When we have a family get together, there is usually upwards of 20 people. I love it! At Christmas, I held a Christmas party which began with quiet conversations and eating a few nibbles but ended in a hilarious pub quiz and a very funny Christmas parcel game. Never have I seen a pair of dice thrown with such determination!

It was a fantastic day and I hope to do both the party and more things with us all together again this year :)

This is all we have so far, but we intend to add lots more too it! 

Do you have a family fun list for the year? Do you have any suggestions for the list? 

New Year: A Different Type of Resolution

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year!

As the new year has been approaching, like many of you, I've been contemplating resolutions. 

 I wanted to choose a resolution that I would actually stick to. That meant no more promising to lose weight, to reach January 2nd and find myself working my way through a box of Christmas chocolate that was hiding in the back of the kitchen cupboard!

I don't smoke and I don't really drink either, so it was hard to find something that would be something I could stick to and that was meaningful.

That was until Christmas Day when I unwrapped two presents. I loved all my presents and was extremely lucky, but these two in particular stood out. 

Firstly, my husband, (with a nudge in the right direction from my Sister-in-law ), bought me a ring that says "to thine own self be true". I love Shakespeare and Hamlet is one of my all time favourites.


Then a dear friend gave me a snowflake pin badge with a message that read:

Both of these are amazing presents, but it got me thinking. Time and time again I find myself a bit envious of others, sometimes for their body shape, their confidence or something else. 

For example, I always wanted to have curly, dark hair like my sister as my hair is dead straight. However my hair naturally has so many different colours in it, people pay a fortune for hair just like mine and then they straighten it. I get it all for free!

I've decided that this new year my resolution will be a simple one, to be myself.  It doesn't matter if I'm not as confident as others or if I'm not a size 10. I'm a bit overweight and self confident, but I'm also funny, both ha ha and weird (just ask my family!), I'm clever, kind, loyal and above all, I'm me! 

I will endeavour to make 2017 the year that I will be true to myself and as the snowflake reminds me,I am as unique as a snowflake and should celebrate it!

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

The Magic Chair: Search for Santa

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

It may only be November, but some of us, me included, have been thinking about Christmas for a while! 

When choosing presents for people, I like to really make an effort, and can spend ages hunting down the right thing and make it personal to them.  For example, it usually means something childish and Toy Story related for my 27 year old little brother!!

Now we really love books in our house, so to combine something personal with a book is brilliant.

The Magic Chair has a new personalised book called The Magic Chair: Search for Santa, which we were asked to review.

From the start, I was really impressed. The website is really easy to navigate and allows you to not only personalise the name of the main character (not Santa!), but also the features. 

The book arrived in less than a week and was beautifully wrapped...

... and looked even better than it did on the website! 

As soon as it arrived, Dot and I snuggled down and read it through, three times! She loved pointing out "Dorothy" on every page as well as trying to find Santa. 

Both the illustrations and rhyming story are truly lovely. The Magic Chair: Search for Santat is my new favourite Christmas book and it is definitely something that we will read not only on the run up to Christmas, but also every year. I've already promised to read it to Dot again tomorrow!

The Magic Chair: Search for Santa is a really lovely book and is a perfect gift and keepsake for any little one :)

The Magic Chair can be found at, on Facebook  and Twitter 

We were given a free copy of The Magic Chair: Search for Santa in return for our honest opinion. All opinions, as always, are our own. 

Moving to a Toddler Bed

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

So the past few days have been crazy at our house. Dot's bedroom has transformed from a baby room to a big girl's room.

It all begin at the weekend, with Dot climbing out of her cot. I know most toddlers do it, but it was a shock to us as she hadn't done it for months. We were all settled down for the evening and suddenly  heard someone walking around upstairs. Upon investigation, there was Dot smiling happily from the stair gate in her doorway!

I put her back in, settled her down and decided to sit at the top of the stairs to see if she did it again. Over the five minutes that followed, I lost count of how many times she climbed out and back in again!

We decided that it was much safer for her if we made her cot into a toddler bed, so guess what I was doing on Monday morning? Yep, there I was first thing in the morning with Dot, transforming her bed.

Yes, it would have been a lot easier without Dot's help, but I am too impatient so I couldn't wait for Mark but more importantly, where would be the fun?!

After a few hours, her bed had been converted, her room had been stripped and her chest of drawers had locks on, otherwise she'd have a floordrobe!

I wasn't sure she'd like it, but I was wrong! She loved playing on her bed and in her room. We spent over two hours playing in there!

Dot happily slept in it at nap time, but the evening was an adventure! She loved the freedom of getting up and running about and it was nearly 10pm when she finally gave in. It's been a long time since Dot kept us up late, so we really felt it.

Last night was much better though. Yes, it's still a novelty to her, but Dot fell asleep at quarter past 8, so a vast improvement!

Update: It's now been the better part of a week and Dot has slept really well :) One evening, she even asked to go to bed!

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Days Out with Aldi Mamia

Sunday, 9 October 2016

As a mum, it can be hard to make sure that our little ones are eating healthily, especially when we're on the go.

That's changed though. Dot has been luckily enough to try some of Aldi Mamia's award-winning 100% organic baby food range. Although Dot isn't a baby anymore, (in fact she turns two soon), the range is wide enough to have food suitable for toddlers too :)

Developed in response to the needs of real mums and dads, with the ongoing support of the Mamia Parent Panel, Aldi Mamia's baby food range is 100% organic and with prices from 59p it not only reinforces Aldi's commitment to brand-like quality at low prices, but is also perfect for mums on a budget!

Aldi Mamia was also recently awarded the Loved by Parents top Platinum award for the best organic baby food range!

As Dot is a but older, we didn't try the pouches, but we did try the Junior Mini Rice Cakes in two different flavours on a recent afternoon out to our local country park.

Dot's first conker!

After a busy time of collecting conkers, leaves and helicopters, we stopped for a rest and a snack :)

We let Dot try a couple of each rice cake to see what she thought. We were very surprised, but happily! Dot doesn't normally like rice cakes, but we had to almost tear the bags away from her. She loved them!

Although Dot didn't try the whole range, I'm really impressed with it. It's all organic and has no added sugars or preservatives. As a mum, I feel bad for giving Dot any pre packed snacks, but with Aldi Mamia's wide range of food, I don't have to!

 I have to admit, we have never shopped at Aldi before as there isn't one in our town, but I can see myself driving a little further afield to check it out and maybe get Dot some more Junior mini rice cakes!

On a side note, we gifted the baby pouches and Purees to my baby neice and have it on good authority that she also loves Aldi Mamia's Organic Baby Food Range!

This post is an entry for BritMums #MamiaDaysOut Linky Challenge, sponsored by Aldi Mamia.

All opinions are honest and my own. We were sent some Aldi Mamia family essentials in return for our honest opinion.

KidloLand: Free Printables

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Back in June, Dorothy and I reviewed an app called KidloLand. (you can find it here)

I loved how the fun songs helped with Dot's learning, so when I was asked if I would take part in a free colouring project, I was happy to :)

KidloLand have come up with an idea of continuing the learning and fun when the app isn't open, through colouring!

I really like that although Dot just sees it as colouring at the moment, she is getting used to seeing the letters and words, so eventually as she gets older and colours these pages in again, she will be able to recognise and read the words.

I also like that it's free, so I can print off as many copies as I want!!

To get your free copy, Click here to download :)

To find out more about KidloLand, head to the website:, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

The app can also be downloaded from these links:

5 Things That Make Me Smile- Week 1

Monday, 12 September 2016

So as you may know, I've ben struggling with all the different projects I take on, as well as the normal day to day family things. I let it get me down and it's taken me a while to find my feet again, but I'm getting there!
I have seen my Aunt write every day on Facebook about what she is thankful for and it got me thinking that something similar would be great in getting me back to writing. I can't write every day, but I will write the 5 things that have made me smile each week. :)

So, here goes!

1. Mikey started Year 8

Last Monday, Mikey went back to school and into Year 8. It was so lovely to see him so confident and, although not overly pleased for the holidays to be over, he was excited to start back, especially so he can practice his upcoming school production of Alice in Wonderland, where he will be playing the Cheshire Cat.
His enthusiasm is so contagious! I kind of wish I was going back to school with him!

2. Dorothy and the library

Every Wednesday afternoon our local library has Story Time. I used to take Mikey to it and last week I took Dot for the first time. She was unsure to begin with, and began helping herself to other library books and reading them, but she soon got in to it.
What really made me smile was that her older cousin and my nephew also goes, so it was great to see them interact with each other. Especially when he helped her with the nursery rhyme actions at the end. So sweet!

3. Usborne Books

I've briefly mentioned that I am now an Independent Usborne Organiser, and last week really made my smile. Although I've only been with Usborne since the end of June, I was named my team's "Star of the Month" due to my enthusiasm. I was shocked but I love my job, so it was the sprinkling on the top!

4. Mikey's Thoughtfulness

Every weekend, Mikey is up super early for cartoons and yesterday was no exception. What was a surprise though was that when we went downstairs, we found that he had forgone his cartoons to tidy the living room, fill the dishwasher and the washing machine. He even made both Mark and I a cup of tea. He is such a thoughtful little boy. (Or not so little!)

5. Dorothy

I often call Dorothy 'wilful'! She is such a cheeky monkey and wants to be so independent. She often makes me laugh, but last week she really did. Upon asking her a question, She replied "um.......I think so." Now that in itself probably doesn't seem that funny, but it was also accompanied by a finger on her chin and her looking away as if she was thinking about her answer!
She often copies people, but I don't know where she learnt it. Either way, it really made me smile!

So that is my first week of things that made me smile. It was great fun trying to think of only 5 and it made me laugh on more than one occasion while writing this!

Hot Pink Wellingtons

Taking a step back

Monday, 29 August 2016

Life has a way of getting so busy that sometimes you feel like you don't have time to take a breath. As a mum, that is par for the course, but I also have a tendancy of taking on extra projects.

I've been writing Dot Makes 4 for nearly 18 months, but I have recently become an Independent Usborne Organiser, my husband's unofficial secretary for his football coaching and for the local football club's supporters club.

The problem is not only that I throw myself fully into every project, but that I don't like to let anyone one down, so I keep taking on things and I don't like to say 'no'!

It's been a decision that I really had to think about as I love doing all these things, but if I didn't take a step back, I'll go potty (although if you ask anyone who knows me, I always have been!)

So, after discussing it with Mark, I've decided to take a bit of a step back from everything, for example, I am still my husband's secretary for his coaching and the supporters club, but I will no longer attend the football matches for a while.

But, don't panic! I will continue to write Dot Makes 4. I found myself trying to keep up with others, writing and tweeting and so on everyday, but I just can't. I will try to write once a week, but apologies if I don't!

Since making a decision, I finally feel like a weight has been lifted. I've now realised that saying 'no' and taking time for yourself isn't actually a bad thing.

Hot Pink Wellingtons

Our Summer Holiday in the Lake District

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

It's been a long time with no writing, so I thought I would update you all on our recent holiday to the Lake District.

We decided to keep it a secret from Mikey. I love surprising him, but it's so hard now he's older. He's always getting wise to what I'm planning!

The rest of our family knew we were going away and we packed the car up the night before. We even borrowed a fold up pushchair from my mum so we could get everything in the boot, rather than things around our feet!

We all piled into the car, persuading a suspicious Mikey that his Dad was working from home that day and we were just going for a day out. This little fib worked for about an hour, then the questions came. We managed to get away with it, until we had to stop at a services for a break!

The questions and lies continued for the next few hours until we reached a part of Hadrian's Wall. It was a strange feeling to be standing next to, and able to touch a piece of history.

We walked for a while, with both Mark and I checking the time every so often as we couldn't check in to our cottage until 4pm!

Finally, the time came to check in. Mark parked up and I took Mikey with me to unlock the door. It was only when I told him that we were staying for the week and showed him around that it clicked! He was so excited! Bless him :)

Our week was a really eventful one! We made sure we did something every day and that we did something that everyone wanted to do.

Some of the things we visited were; the Lake District Wildlife Park; the Roman Army Museum; Carlisle Castle, where we met Mary, Queen of Scots and Birdoswald, where Mikey learnt how to be a Roman soldier, and I learnt that although we say Centurion, it was actually pronounced Kenturion!

We also went over the border to visit Gretna Green. My favourite thing there was that after a while of watching a piper play, we asked him if we could take a photo. After a chat, we told him that it was Mikey's birthday. With that, he played Mikey "Happy Birthday"!

I really loved the South Tynesdale Railway, which is a small, volunteer-run railway line that runs from Alston to Lintley. It takes about 30 minutes to get from one end to the other and is great fun for little ones. It was the first time Dot was quiet throughout our holiday! She was watching out the window and taking it all in.
I almost volunteered to help, but then realised that I don't live there!

Overall, my favourite place was the Puzzling Place in Keswick centre. It's small, but full of Optical Illusions and a room that made Dorothy look like a giant! It's also very reasonably priced, which means it's perfect for popping in on a rainy day after shopping with the kids as well as part of a family fun day out.

It was a hectic, but amazing family holiday. There is so much to see and do in Cumbria and we will definitely be going back :)

Why I'm No Longer Comparing

Monday, 8 August 2016

As a parent, it's really easy to fall in to the trap of comparing your child with others but a lot harder to  get out of.

It is a trap that until recently, I was firmy stuck in, especially with Dot. She has a cousin who is only 6 1/2 weeks younger than her, so I find it really hard to not compare their development.

I have to say, Dot is a clever girl. At 20 months, she can already count to 10 and can understand and speak quite well. She can also be very independent and 'wilful'!

This past week, I've been trying to potty train Dot. She was showing some signs of readiness and had successfully used the potty a few times before so I thought we were good to go.

However, I was completely wrong. Dot had a lot of accidents, and after three days, she was really tearful and tired of using the potty. The forth day ended in tears and hugs (not just for Dot!)

I felt so bad for trying and putting her through it, but I definitely learnt something. I assumed that because Dot has reached other milestones earlier that she should do other things at an early age too. I am happy to admit that I was wrong.

Two days after the 'traumatic event', we have put the training on hold. Dot is back to her happy and wilful self and I am more relaxed as a mum. I am no longer going to compare Dot to others.

Dot will get there at her own pace and I am no longer going to push her. I am quite happy for her to lead me.