Meeting up with friends: A big milestone

Saturday, 24 June 2017

So today we had a big milestone in Mikey's life; meeting up with friends. At nearly 13, that might not sound all that much, but to Mikey and our family, it's huge.

As you are all aware, Mikey has multiple severe food allergies, which were diagnosed at only 10 months old. Since then, our whole family have been on high alert at anything that poses a danger. It might sound overprotective, but as a toddler and at primary school, it can be hard for little ones and Mikey himself to understand why he can't have a cupcake or share a packet of crisps.

Over the years, we've slowly (and I mean SLOWLY!) eased up slightly as he has become older and more mature. I've written before about how proud I am of his maturity towards his allergies and medicine. Today was no different. I couldn't have been prouder of him.

He was meeting up with an old primary school friend. They went to different secondary schools, but recently got back in touch with each other. I know his friend and remember how lovely his family are (they used to be so good with Mikey and his allergies), so I knew there was no problem there.

So, after making arrangements to 'hang out', I found a dozen questions coming out of my mouth; Where are you going? What are you doing? Do you have your puffer bag? Do you have your Medicalert bracelet?  All of which were answered with a bit of eye roll and a short answer!

And with that, Mikey headed out of the door. With me telling me to ring him if he needs anything and that I'll see him at five o clock, I watched him race down the driveway towards the meeting point with a smile on his face. Suddenly, he ran back, gave me a hug and went back on his way!

He's not long come back in came in, with a beaming smile on his face and asking to go out again tomorrow! He did confess that he was nervous to be going out without anyone watching over him, but he had a blast, which was fantastic to hear.  :)

He used to feel left out when he was younger. He couldn't go to sleepovers or tea around a friends house after school. He couldn't go to parties without me doing a background check(!) on the parents, children and location and then escorting him to said parties and hanging around with the host's mum until it was over.

I want him to feel 'normal' and like every other child his age. I don't want to keep holding him back because I'm scared of what will happen if I let him go.  Today was a major step towards that, for both him and us and I couldn't be happier :)

Activ8rlives: Body Analyser Smart Scales

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

As, you may already know, my husband and I are competing in a weight loss challenge, The Biggest Loser and I love my gadgets (my brothers and sister call me a geek!) , so I'm very excited that I'm lucky enough to try out Activ8rlives new Body Analyser Smart Scales :)

Not only do they tell you how much you weigh, the scales can also show you the percentages of body fat, visceral fat, (the fat that sits around the organs), muscle mass and bone density. The data uploads via Bluetooth to Activ8rlives' free app, so you can track your BMI and body composition.

I can honestly say, the scales have been helping me with weight loss. Usually I write how we've done each week in a notebook. It's easy to write in, but then it's forgotten about until the next weigh in day. With Active8rlives' Body Analyser Smart Scales, I can keep track of exactly how far I've come.

You can also add a target weight, which is brilliant! I've just done that and was happily surprised when I was shown this:

As each week goes by, it tells me what my target weight should be, to keep me on track with my goal. I love this!!

I can honestly say, it is definitely a great addition to our weight loss journey. It is so easy to think that it doesn't matter about what I eat or how little I exercise I do,  until the day or two before weigh in day, but seeing it on a screen really makes me think. I don't want the charts to go back up!!

I've only been using them for a short time, but I will be keeping you all posted on how I get on with them every month. Now I definitely have no excuses!

You can find out more about Activ8rlives and the Body Analyser Smart Scales, (which retail at £49.99), on their website You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook :)

Disclaimer: I was sent the Activ8rlives Body Analyser Smart Scales in return for an honest review. As always, all opinions are our own.

Tips for Potty Training

Friday, 16 June 2017

This past week we have started potty training. Those two words can strike fear in the hearts of even the strongest of parents, but it needn't be that way!

These are just a few of my tips and things that have worked for Dorothy and me this past week. Hopefully they can those of you who are embarking on the journey of nappy-less little ones :)

(Drawing courtesy of Mikey!)

Make sure they are ready

I know as a parent, you sometimes want your child to reach the next milestone a little bit earlier than other kids, (I'm definitely guilty of it!), but when it comes to potty training, you really can't rush it. If you are pushing your child before they are really ready, there will be a lot of tears of frustration, from both of you!

Look for the signs

There are a few signs that your toddler will display when they are ready for potty training. You may have seen this on the Huggies Pull Up site:

Don't worry if they don't show all the signs at once, but if they're ready, your little one will show three or four of them.

Potty and toilet seats  

You may not think it makes much difference which potty or toilet seat you buy, but I have found that it does!

I thought that buying a normal potty from the supermarket would be fine, but I was wrong! Dot refused to use it and so I let her choose her own. Within reason of course (!), but I let her choose from a couple I was willing to buy. Including her in the process made things a lot easier.
The same happened with the toilet seat. Although sitting on the toilet can be very daunting and scary to a toddler, having a seat that they're happy to sit on makes the world of difference :)

Pull Ups or pants?

The debate between using pull ups and pants has been going on for a while. I have used both, with mixed results. A couple of weeks before I was starting potty training properly, I switched Dot's nappies to pull ups. I thought that it would help her pulling up and down, but she continued to use them as nappies and it didn't go well.

I then made the choice to buy her pants and go 'cold turkey', apart from at bedtime. Like the potty and toilet seat, I took her shopping with me and she chose her own underwear. Dot was so proud to hand them to the lady at the till herself :)

Dot having pants has been a complete change. She has only had two accidents this entire week and I think quite a bit of her success was her having her own pants that she wanted to keep wearing.



It can be so easy to get cross or disappointed when your child has an accident, but don't let yourself. (easier said than done, I know!)

Your little one needs all the encouragement they can get when potty training. It can be scary and difficult when they start out and they desperately want you to proud of them, so praising them even when they had an accident is a key part to them wanting to continue with it.

Have a reward system

You don't have to have a reward system, but I have found that it has really helped Dot. Within a day, she had already grasped that if she did a wee on the potty or toilet, she would earn a sticker. If she had an accident, it didn't matter, we'd try again later.

She was almost desperate to earn a sticker! As the week went on, she was using the potty even for the smallest of tiny wees if it meant that a visit could earn her a choice of smiley faces and ladybirds!


Keep to your routine

I know that when you start potty training, you think that it means you can't go out, but it needn't be that way! We have managed to go out and about and carry on as normal. We've not been locked in the house as I wanted to make it as normal a thing as possible for Dot.

If we need to go out, I make sure that Dot has a 'going out wee' before hand (something my mum taught us and I still have to go before I leave the house!) and then go out making sure that I have her bag with spare clothes just in case. (including socks- people always forget socks!!)

We also carry on playing in the house as normal, but making sure that I ask her every so often (half hour or so) as a reminder in case she's engrossed with her toys.

So there you have it! It's only been a week and it's early days, but I'm so proud of Dorothy. She's done amazingly well!

Hopefully, these tips might also help you if you're embarking on potty training soon :)

Brilliant blog posts on

One Messy Mama

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The Garden Makeover: An Update

Sunday, 11 June 2017

So, here we are....the end!

It is has been over a year, but we are now on the home stretch! The garden is almost complete!

You may have seen my last update, but here are some, (okay, a lot), of pictures of what it looks like now and how far we've come!

So, this is what it looked like to begin with.....

and in the last update, I showed you that Mark created Gabion cage walls for the bottom half of the garden, along with some raised flower beds and borders.

well, over the past few months, Mark and his mum and dad have been working really hard to get the garden finished, and this is now what it looks like....

We now have artificial grass, a hammock (!), and some planting....

I have to say, I felt bad for not really helping. I was in charge of making tea and coffee, but that was about it!

However, I did choose the colours of our new garden furniture. I was even allowed to paint it, which for those of you who don't know me, is a really big deal! (I'm not one to be trusted with a paint brush!)

I also planted up some lavenders into our new pots!

A post shared by Laura (@dotmakes4) on

One of my favourite things though is our new addition....

So there we have it. I'm so proud of Mark. When he first told me his plan, I thought he was mad! To be fair, when it looked like an episode of Time Team during the winter, he thought so too, but it is better than either of us could imagine.

It's taken over a year to get the garden sorted, but it is now a garden that we're using it almost every day. We have already had a few BBQs!

I wonder what the next project will be?!

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


Pink Pear Bear

BookBeat: What we've been listening to

Saturday, 10 June 2017

You may have read my review about BookBeat audio books back in April. Now, I thought I would update you on what we have been listening to over the past few months!

For those that don't know, BookBeat is a digital streaming service that was founded in Sweden in 2015, with Finland following shortly after. In March this year, it was released in the UK.

Bookbeat allows you to listen to thousands of audiobooks right on your mobile and tablet. You'd think that this would be expensive, but it is only £14.90 a month, the price of a couple of books!

So here are three books that we have been listening to:

The Teenage Brian: A Neuroscientist's survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults by Frances E. Jensen M.D.

I'm still listening to this audio book, but it is a great listen. Mikey is becoming a teenager next month and I am a little worried that he may turn into Kevin the Teenager!

I don't normally read, or listen to books like this, but this is good. Frances Jensen is a Professor of Pediatric Neurology,  but she is also a mum and so she adds not only scientific details about the teenage brain, but also offers practical suggestions on how to cope with the odd and crazy things that teenagers do and how they themselves respond to the world around them.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

This is one of my favourite books, so it was great to find it on BookBeat!

 For those who don't know this story or never watched Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds,  (where have you been?!), it is a tale of the adventures of a young man, D'Artagnan who leaves his home to travel to Paris to join the Musketeers of the Guard.

The Slightly Annoying Elephant by David Walliams

Dot loves her stories, so it was great to find an audio book that she can enjoy too. Plus, you can't go wrong with a David Walliams story!

This audio book is also read by David Walliams, which is a great touch! It all begins when a great, big, gigantic, enormous elephant appears at Sam's front door...

So that's just a taste of what we've been listening to :)

We've only been listening to BookBeat audio books for a few months, but I am already loving them! There is something for everyone and I am finding new stories all the time!

I'll update you all again soon. Happy listening :)

To find out more about BookBeat, you can find them on their website and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclaimer: We were given a subscription to BookBeat in return for a review. All opinions are our own.

The Biggest Loser: Our Weight Loss Challenge Update #1

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

You may have seen my previous post about our Biggest Loser Challenge. For those that haven't, Mark and I have embarked on a weight loss challenge.

We both need to lose at least 2 stone to be in a healthy BMI range, but as we both find it easy to revert back into old habits, we decided to make it a bit more fun and make it a little competition!

The person who loses the least amount in percentage lost has to do a forfeit!

We've now been doing the Biggest Loser challenge for a month, so I thought it was time that I updated you on our progress!

Biggest Loser 2017

Initial Weigh In

Mark: 194 lb
Laura:  177 lb

Week 1                                                                              Percentage loss

Mark: 193.8 lb                                                                       0.1%
Laura:  173.6 lb                                                                     1.92%

Forfeit: 20 (verified) push-ups every morning!

Week 2                                                                              Percentage loss

Mark: 192.6 lb                                                                       0.6%
Laura:  173.2 lb                                                                     0.23%

Forfeit: 30 (verified) squats every morning!

Week 3                                                                              Percentage loss

Mark: 191.6 lb                                                                       0.52%
Laura:  171.6 lb                                                                     0.92%

Forfeit: 60 seconds of hand walks!

Week 4                                                                              Percentage loss

Mark: 191.6 lb                                                                       0%
Laura:  170.6 lb                                                                     0.58%

Forfeit: 20 (verified) burpees every morning!

Weight lost so far                                                                             

Mark: 3.4 lb                                                                      
Laura:  6.4 lb                                                                   

So that's the past month's stats. We've not lost as much as we'd like, but we're on the right track. Slow and steady which is good. Plus, apart from one week, I'm beating Mark, which is an added bonus!

Mark has been really good and started running a couple of times a week, but as he's been working on the garden (new update coming soon!) he is famished and eats over his calories!

As well as going for a long walk every Monday with my sister and the girls in pushchairs, I've started going to a local spinning class (!) with a friend and am going to go back to jumping with my sister this week, so exercise is not a problem!

I still have to sort out my diet and make it a bit better. I've found that I do better if I eat little and often throughout the day, but it's harder to do with Dot. If she sees me eating, she wants to eat too. It's bad enough already, as she asks for her dinner as soon as her breakfast is finished!

Next month, I'll update you all on our challenge. Hopefully, I will still have avoided forfeits!

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


Turning #TearsIntoSmiles with Elastoplast

Friday, 12 May 2017

As you know, we love to get out and about. It's always great to get outdoors and blow the cobwebs away, especially if you've got little ones. If they spend too long indoors, they become like caged animals. I know mine do!

Like all children,  mine love to run and jump and climb whenever they can. I love to see the smiles on their faces when they're enjoying the freedom of playing outdoors.

Unfortunately, when they fall over, especially Dot, those smiles can quickly turn to tears. Elastoplast is celebrating playing outdoors and the freedom of playing outdoors brings to children, and turning tears into smiles when they fall down.

It's such a lovely video :) Falling over shouldn't make playing outdoors a bad experience. Here are a few of my tips for turning those frowns upside down:

Big hugs

Nothing helps to stop the tears better than a big mum or dad hug!

Do a little dance!

Sometimes, when Dot hurts herself at the park we do a little dance to stop the pain. It's a little bit like when you stub your toe at home, but with more jumping up and down and a few strange looks from other parents!

Tell off the inanimate object!

If Dot trips over on the path, it always makes her laugh if I tell the path off! She thinks it's very funny and on one occasion has told me that it needs to sit on the bottom step! 😂

Use funny plasters!

Seeing a plaster with a funny face on or a well known character can make everything all right again, just like Elastoplast's range.

I had no idea, but Elastoplast is nearly 100 years old!
Since 1924 Elastoplast has sold in six countries across the world: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Elastoplast products have been continually renowned internationally for their quality. 
Elastoplast is a worldwide brand that you and your whole family can rely on – they offer modern and high-quality solutions to the demands and small inconveniences of everyday life, like the little ones falling over!

Falling over isn't nice, but it is a part of growing up. With a few great tips to help turn those tears into smiles, playing outdoors can be a fantastic experience for children.

This post is an entry for the BritMums #TearsintoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Family Board Games Night 2017

Sunday, 7 May 2017

We love board games in our house! We have a games cupboard that is overflowing with different games, from a vintage Sorry! (a game we loved to play at my Grandparents growing up) to a favourite from my childhood, Escape from Atlantis.

If it was up to me, we would play one all the time. I've probably told you before, but me and my brother once played a three day marathon of Monopoly! We weren't children then though. We were grown up adults! He even called in sick to work so we could carry on playing!


I couldn't believe it when I was told that Pork Farms was running the National Board Game Championships for a second year in a row, in association with the Micropub Association and with games supplied by Hasbro.

I'd never heard of it before, but it sounded amazing!

What I liked about it was that anyone who loves board games could get involved, with the winners going to the grand final during National Board Games Week, which is May 8th- 14th.


But don't be disheartened that you've missed this year's competition. You can also join in the fun from home by hosting your own board games night!

Don't worry, you don't have to use the five games from the official competition. You can play anything on the games shelf ( or in my case, cupboard) from Uno and Top Trumps to Beat the Parents and Scrabble Slam!

Sign up here and Pork Farms will email you a free games night pack! 
You can also share photos of your board games night with Pork Farms through their  Facebook or Twitter for the chance to win a stack of board games and a year’s supply of pork pies!

We have our games night planned for National Board Games Week! We've been practicing for the night by playing one of the Hasbro games from the National Board Championships, Taboo.

We picked Taboo because not only did we thought it would help with Mikey's English, but I used to love playing a homemade version with my pupils in English lessons!

I have to say though, it's much harder than it looks! When you're under pressure, it is hard not to say the words you can't! I was useless at it!

We had such a laugh and were in constant fits of laughter! Mikey's favourite part was making sure that no one cheated and seemed to be in constant control of the Taboo Squeaker!

I can't wait to see what craziness will happen when we play at our Family Board Game Night!

Don't forget to download your Family Board Games Night 2017 and join in the fun this National Board Game Week!

Disclaimer: We were sent Taboo for the purposes of this post. The opinions are as always, our own.